04 September 2013

Descent 2nd Edition: End of campaign thoughts

The campaign ended earlier this summer, but for some reason I had forgotten to upload the pictures and found them by accident among my digital camera folders. So here are the pictures and a quick recap and some thoughts of the campaign.

We played a reduced number of Act II scenarios since we had played 1 scenario too many during Act I. This did not matter, as the heroes were all geared and leveled up, some of them - like the Halfling Rogue and the Orc Shaman could now pull of completely ridiculous combos with their own skills and some of the equipment purchased. It was really hard playing as the Overlord since the cards you can play become weaker and weaker the further into the campaign you go.

Even if you upgrade your Overlord deck with some powerful cards they will always be in minority and most of your deck will still be based upon the starting deck. The heroes on the other hand will grow significantly stronger over the course of the campaign, and you can feel the difference each turn and in each scenario.

The heroes hacked and slashed their way to the very last encounter, which is the only one where they can actually die, and it was really the first time that I think they felt vulnerable. Up to this point, they could never be killed in any of the scenarios, and losing a scenario was not too severe in its consequences (one XP one way or the other).

The campaign ended with me focusing on killing the most annoying and powerful characters, the Orc Shaman and Halfling rogue - something which I managed. But the remaining two characters, Dwarf Berserker and Human Paladin finished off the end boss with a combined effort and use of power strikes.

I talked a bit with the guys about the experience of the whole campaign afterward, as it had felt a bit weird over the latter half of the campaign. What I think we could agree on is that the basic gameplay and mechanics are really solid, but the scenarios and the campaign structure leave a bit to be desired.

For instance, the scenarios often felt tilted either towards the heroes, or the overlord in their difficulty. And granted that the "invulnerable" heroes thing was somewhat offset with the standalone mission objectives for the overlord, but the scenarios often felt rushed - or as if they were in a rush to be finished. You can finish most of them within an hour, often within a lot less than that. It is also a bit repetitive when the scenarios limit what kind of monsters you can use, which results in the Overlord being more or less forced to recycle the large monsters since they are the only ones that actually can offer a challenge to the heroes - while the weaker minions end up being too few to be worth taking.

Additionally the campaign structure while good in the way that you can pick and choose what scenarios to play - is very disjointed as the scenarios have very little to do with each other and the story pretty much comes and goes as it pleases. It is also a bit disappointing that there were so few big area scenarios, and when they do appear they don't feel like they unlock their full potential due to monster group restrictions.

Overall, I think that the core campaign can be used to learn the game and inspire players to create their own adventures. I suspect that a lot more fun could be had with a stronger narrative and perhaps custom scenarios made by the dungeon master/Overlord player. Amp up the challenge by using more monsters and perhaps add a bit of exploration with uncovering the next part of the dungeon (though still following a strict map layout that the Overlord keeps on paper).

Just because the official campaign feels a bit flat and empty does not take away anything from the really god gameplay and mechanics. There certainly is enough monsters and tiles in the core box to allow for a lot of cool custom games. And if I play this game again I will definitely come up with my own scenarios/campaign.

4 comments:

  1. The dwarf is a Dragonlslayer now! Muhahaha! After living an anonymous life behind the Half-orc-machine-gun, a thiefing little Hobbit and the Half-orcs lover, he steps up and saves the day!

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  2. I have played through the campaign 3 times as overlord twice and players once, granted your player characters are no doubt better than the competition I faced when I was the overlord. I still found the game was more tilted to the overseer unless the players played very aggressively.
    In respect to the games feeling rushed I agree and they are generally built that way, if the players don't plow through to the objectives the overlord will usually win, which encourages the players to have a mandatory runner to get loot, if the players do not get loot it they will be at a huge disadvantage. This does not sound like your players, they sound like I played, I had a halfling set up to run and get all the gear, I had the talent to discard loot so if it was a 25 g i would discard to maximize the amount of treasure cards overall I got.
    In terms of overlord playing, you do have to play very nasty to remain competitive, the mechanic I don't like is that there is no reason to use any cards in the 1st half. I always do because I feel if I stockpile more than 4 or 5 I am cheating. I have thought in regards to the monsters maybe ignoring the regulations and randomly drawing, that would definetly make you take some new strategies, since I will take an ettin, shadow dragon, or giant any day of the week

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for the input Brian, very good read. Totally agree about the monster restrictions. If we play this game again I will just play with the monster groups that I think fit into the scenario whether or not they are allowed :-)

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