Sunday, January 27, 2013

Board Game Review - Descent 2

You should not buy second-edition Descent. I think I can make my case pretty clearly for why you definitely should not get involved with this game.

For starters, Descent 2 is addictive. If you buy Descent 2, you will want to play it. And if you play it, you will not want to stop. You will be sitting in your living room, watching a perfectly good television program, and you will say to your friends, 'I think we should turn off this show and play Descent, because we all know how much we love it.' And do you know what will happen? Your friends will agree. You will never find out if Joey marries Jeannie on the uncharted island. You will only find out if Splig the fat goblin king manages to make off with the shadow binder.

In fact, when you play Descent 2 and discover that it's about as close to a role-playing game that you can come without having to work on a fake English accent and learning to use 'methinks' in a sentence, you may find that you cannot stop thinking about playing this game. When you discover that you can play out exciting stories, even an entire campaign with continuing, improving characters, and never have to do any accounting or erasing on a three-page character sheet, and never have to recalculate move speed in feet per round or carry weight for encumbrance, you may find that you lose your friends because you quit showing up at the Saturday D&D 73.75 Edition sessions.

And it gets worse. Because when you play Descent 2, you will be inclined to spend an awful lot of money. Yes, you can get by with the base game - but you won't want to. You can expand your experience with the Lair of the Wyrm expansion, and then you will want to spend more money. And when you hear that all you need to play with every single monster ever published for this version or the last is a relatively affordable card expansion that restats the monsters for this version of the game, and then when you further learn that you can actually use all those monsters in the base version of the game without having to change anything, you will want to go out and buy every single expansion for the first edition of Descent despite the fact that first edition Descent is Latin for 'look something up.'

You should also avoid supporting a company as diabolical as Fantasy Flight Games. They have created a game that will appeal to you on so many levels - tense adventures, fast gameplay, exciting battles, and thrilling stories - you will be powerless to stop yourself from throwing more money at them. You will want to buy one or two extra sets of dice, so that you don't have to pass the blue die around the table every turn. You will want to get an account at the FFG site so that you can access the quest vault and download more adventures. You will want to spend all your free time creating adventures, or more immediately, playing the crap out of this horrifyingly awesome game. Should you really be giving your money to a company so willing to profit off of your addictive nature? No. You should not.

Some of you may remember first edition Descent. You might laugh at my warning, because you remember how effortlessly you shrugged off the advances of the original game. You may think that you can as easily ignore the second edition, just because you remember the clunky mechanics, the constant puzzle-solving trying to make sure every corner was covered, the endless accounting of gathering and spending evil points (or whatever they were - second edition Descent has made me block out painful memories of the original). But don't be so sure you can resist the siren call of Descent 2. Everything that was wrong with first edition is gone, and everything that was great about it is improved. Descent 2 is better than its predecessor in every insidious way, and you will not laugh off its seductive allure so easily.

You may even decide that you can just dip your toes in the pool, that you can try Descent 2 without becoming hopelessly addicted. Well, heed my warning - just because you finish the main campaign that comes with the base game does not mean this game goes away. Because FFG is supporting your developing habit with a burgeoning online resource where you can try dozens of new quests, your addiction will not end simply because you finish with the quests in the base game. There will be no limit to your new addiction. You will be helpless. Descent 2 will come to your house, open your wallet, spend your money, and then force you to spend every waking moment either playing this incredible game or thinking about the next time you can.

Still not convinced? Heed this last, personal warning - Descent 2 is better than Warhammer Quest. And until I allowed myself to be hooked by this devil in disguise, Warhammer Quest was my favorite game of all time. But now, after my own failure to tear myself from the clutches of Descent 2, I am a victim! I am a slave to my new addiction! I cannot wait to play Descent 2 again, and I have hundreds of dollars of Warhammer Quest stuff that will now be collecting dust!

Please, for the sake of your family, don't play Descent 2. FFG has made a game so habit-forming that it may take professional counseling to turn away from it, and in the meantime, your social life will suffer (at least, your social life outside the people with whom you play Descent 2). Your wallet will suffer (well, only as much as you want it to, because you really can get by with proxies if you get the conversion kit). Your love of other games will suffer (because this one will make other games look like used kitty litter). And most of all, you may find that you don't need to own seven-hundred games, that you only need this one, and then nobody will be impressed at the photographs you take of a bunch of cardboard boxes on the bookshelf in your game room.


2-5 players

None. This game is evil and insidious.

Fixes everything that was wrong with first edition
The closest thing I've seen to an RPG in a board game
Online resources and a conversion kit mean you can play hundreds of hours with just the base game
Beautiful art and fantastic miniatures
Very, very addictive


Andrew said...

Better than WARHAMMER QUEST?! Coming for you, that is a big endorsement. Hypothetical; if your house fell into a sink hole, or was sucked up by a tornado, taking all of your games - would you replace Warhammer Quest or Descent 2nd ed.? Because in my hypothetical, you only get to choose one...

Also, are your pros and cons reversed? I may be too stupid to get the humor this morning, or I need another cup of coffee. Maybe both.

Andrew said...

UPDATE: I get it! You're being cheeky! Fun review. Keep up the good work.

NOTE: 2nd cup of coffee did the trick.

P.S. Horton said...

I agree with this review whole heartedly. Expansions cannot come soon enough

Chris Cisne said...

"Descent 2 is better than Warhammer Quest."


Random Logic said...

As much as I hate to admit this, I have to agree that Descent 2 is better than WHQ. I recently started playing WHQ again after being away from the game for 10 years. As much as I enjoyed running it again, I had forgotten how slow and bogged down it can get.

I have only played Descent 2 once, but have been invited to join a regular group. And I was happy to switch. The games run at a much faster pace - which I really like. You can knock out a scenario in an hour or two. In WHQ, it often took a 6-hour session just to finish one level of a multi-part dungeon.

And so, it seems that I, too, am succumbing to the insidious nature of this game.

(BTW: Fantastic review! I loved it!)