Descent: Journeys in the Dark Second Edition, the updated version of our classic dungeon-delving board game, is coming this summer! This all-new presentation of a beloved title maintains the core experience fans enjoy – an epic semi-cooperative adventure in which brave heroes venture into dangerous caves, ancient ruins, dark dungeons, and cursed forests to battle monsters, earn riches, and attempt to stop the evil overlord from carrying out his vile plot.
Last time, we saw an overview of what’s included in Second Edition’s Quest Guide, and we heard from its designer, Adam Sadler. Today, we’re pleased to present an in-depth preview of the anatomy of Second Edition’s all-new Hero sheets, leading into a discussion of some of its exciting new gameplay elements.
A hero of the wilds
A master of the bow and fearless defender of nature, Jain Fairwood stands ready to oppose the vile machinations of the overlord alongside her fellow heroes. Her speed and stamina give her the commanding ability to traverse nearly any terrain with ease, while her preternatural, almost animal-like awareness helps her detect hidden threats.
Take a look at Jain’s Hero sheet, above. Since her archetype is Scout, Jain will be able to choose from one of two classes: Thief or Wildlander (we’ll learn more about classes in future previews).
Aside from her name and portrait, you’ll likely notice three main sections: her characteristics in a column down the center, her attributes in the lower left corner, and her text effects on the right. While her Hero Ability (upper right) can be used any time its triggering condition allows, her Heroic Feat (lower right) is a special once-per-game ability that is "spent" by flipping her Hero sheet over. We'll explore Abilities and Feats in more detail throughout future previews; for now, let's focus on those numbers.
Fans of the first edition of Descent: Journeys in the Dark are already familiar with the purpose of a hero’s characteristics. Speed determines how many spaces a hero may move, Health is the amount of damage she may suffer before she is defeated, and Stamina represents the number of fatigue points she may “spend” on various benefits. It’s the fourth characteristic, Defense, that signifies the first major difference between Second Edition and its predecessor.
The gray cube in that fourth circle represents Jain’s Defense characteristic, and it indicates that she rolls one gray die (a medium-level defense die) when attacked. As in the first edition of Descent: Journeys in the Dark, Defense is a means of deflecting incoming damage. However, Second Edition’s custom Defense Dice ensure that an attack can never be “mathed out” in advance, better reflecting the uncertain nature of personal combat.
The true test of heroism
This brings us to another major change introduced by Second Edition: attributes. In the lower left corner of Jain’s Hero sheet, you’ll notice four more statistics that serve a different purpose entirely. Unlike characteristics, attributes aren’t spent and don’t tend to change over the course of the game. Instead, they represent the core strengths of a character, and are “tested” to perform difficult maneuvers, resist special monster attacks, or avoid traps played by the overlord.
From left to right, Jain’s attributes are Willpower, Might, Knowledge, and Awareness. These versatile stats underscoreSecond Edition’s focus on compelling narratives; a scenario might call for a test of Might to move a boulder blocking a path, or a test of Awareness to avoid an ambush by sinister goblins. Even new versions of classic Overlord cards likeCurse of the Monkey God depend on a character’s attributes. This underhanded spell can only be resisted by a display of superior intellect, represented in-game by a Knowledge test.
With a Knowledge attribute of only three, Jain may be in a bit of trouble if the overlord targets her with Curse of the Monkey God. To test an attribute, a player simply rolls one gray defense die and one black defense die. If he rolls a number of shield icons equal to or less than his hero’s applicable attribute, he passes. Can Jain roll low enough, or will she spend her next turn swinging from the rafters by her tail?
Now that we’ve examined a hero, let’s take a look at what heroes do each turn. As we’ve mentioned previously, one of the goals in developing Second Edition was to make the game more accessible. This shows not only in how information is presented on the game’s components, but in the intuitiveness of its mechanics. For example, rather than having to consult the rules to determine movement point costs, players can keep this simple rule in mind: On each turn, your hero can perform two actions.
What are these possible actions? As a constant reminder, they’re printed on your Activation card, which is situated in front of you during the game (it’s this card that you flip to indicate your hero has acted in a given round, and the other side lists the Overlord’s Turn Summary). On each turn, your hero will perform some combination of two of the following (or may even perform the same action twice):
- Move a number of spaces equal to his Speed.
- Attack a monster.
- Use a skill that’s marked as an action.
- Rest, recovering all fatigue at the end of his turn.
- Search an adjacent space containing a search token.
- Stand up if he’s been knocked out. This is the one and only action that a knocked out hero may perform.
- Revive an adjacent hero who has been knocked out.
- Open or close an adjacent door
- Perform a special action, as defined by the scenario
Now that we’ve seen a broad overview of how heroes function in Descent: Journeys in the Dark Second Edition, we’ve set the groundwork for a series of more in-depth previews in the coming weeks. Check back often as we go into detail on some of the actions listed above, the different classes of heroes and their unique skills, the powers of the vile overlord, and much more.
And remember, the Descent: Journeys in the Dark Conversion Kit offers forty-eight Hero sheets, three Familiar cards, and fifty Monster cards that allow you to use your first edition plastic in Second Edition! Curious about how your favorite classic hero will be portrayed? Follow us on Facebook, where beginning tomorrow, we’ll reveal a converted classic Hero sheet from the Descent: Journeys in the Dark Second Edition Conversion Kit each week. You can even vote on which classic character we’ll spoil next!