Hall or Nothing Productions Ltd: Preview of Descent: Journeys in the Dark Second Edition

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Preview of Descent: Journeys in the Dark Second Edition

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Last year, we announced Descent: Journeys in the Dark Second Edition, the updated version of our classic dungeon-delving board game. This all-new presentation of the 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. With its accessible rules and updated components, however, Second Edition remains deep enough for long-time veterans while inviting newcomers to join the adventure.
Today, we’re pleased to present the first in a series of previews of this upcoming release. First, we’ll offer a broad overview of what you’ll receive with Second Edition, which will lay the groundwork for more in-depth previews in the coming weeks. Then, we’ll see a few words from designer Adam Sadler in which he discusses the elements of Second Edition that excite him most.
A new take on classic dungeon-delving
Descent: Journeys in the Dark Second Edition is a board game in which one player takes on the role of the treacherous overlord, and up to four other players take on the roles of courageous heroes. Featuring double-sided modular board pieces, countless hero and skill combinations, and an immersive story-driven campaign, Descent: Journeys in the Dark Second Edition transports heroes to a vibrant fantasy realm where they must stand together against an ancient evil.
This updated version of the classic board game of dungeon-delving adventure features a host of enhancements, including new heroes and monsters, accessible rules, a class-based hero system, campaign play, and much more. In addition to its nearly 50 detailed plastic figures, 48 map tiles, nine custom dice, and much more, Second Editionoffers a comprehensive Quest Guide with 37 original maps.
What exactly does that mean? Take a look at the game layout above. This introductory setup, entitled First Blood, is a single-map quest designed to get players acclimated with Second Edition. Typically completed in about 45 minutes,First Blood pits the heroes against a rampaging ettin (a man-eating, two-headed giant) and his goblin minions.
First Blood is unique among Second Edition’s quests in that it consists of a single “encounter”; other quests are made up of two linked encounters, which are meant to be played back-to-back in a gaming session of just under two hours in length. So getting back to the Quest Guide’s 37 maps, they consist of one introduction, 17 two-part encounters, and two possible interludes (longer maps that divide the narrative at its halfway point). All together, Second Edition offers enough content to ensure years of replayability!
Also noteworthy is that each quest (again, consisting of two encounters) can stand alone, or work as part of a larger campaign narrative. This close interrelation between maps is just one of the ways in which Second Edition shines; the outcome of the first encounter of a quest affects the setup of its second encounter. Did the heroes manage to save any villagers in part one? Is so, those same villagers may become useful allies in part two.
Extending this concept to campaign play is another matter. Second Edition features an engaging “plot tree” system that presents different encounters depending the heroes’ victories and defeats. Keep reading for Second Editiondesigner Adam Sadler’s insights on the game’s immersive and adaptive campaign system, plus the increased strategic options of the overlord!
A word from the overlord
As a longtime fan of Descent: Journeys in the Dark, I was thrilled to get the chance to design Second Edition. Overall, the biggest challenge the design team faced was updating certain elements of the game while still staying true to the vision of the original. Right out of the gate, I knew that campaign play had to be a major element. While we wanted to maintain players’ ability to fully enjoy the Descent experience in single, self-contained sessions, it was equally important to include options for long-term character development and wider narrative arcs.
This brings me to the first aspect of Second Edition that I find most engaging. To keep campaign play interesting and varied, players will not always experience the same quests, or experience them in the same order, when playing through The Shadow Rune (the included campaign) multiple times. In fact, there is a well developed narrative driving the campaign that can branch off in different directions. Depending on whether the heroes or the overlord win certain quests, the players can actually influence how the overarching plot plays out. This brings a sense of light roleplaying to Second Edition, while giving players a feeling of ownership over their heroes’ fates.

A pad of these campaign tracking sheets is included with 
Second Edition,
allowing players to record the winning team for each quest. In addition to
determining what the next quest will be, this record helps establish other, more
subtle narrative factors throughout the campaign.
Another element of Second Edition that I think players will appreciate is the enhanced role of the overlord. I wanted to ensure that the overlord player would have plenty of compelling choices to make during a game.
Like the hero players, the overlord can choose a class in which to specialize, and he can customize his overlord deck to better suit his play style. The different overlord classes allow the overlord player to focus his tactics in the areas he wants. This deck customization creates a very different play experience for both the overlord player and the hero players; the overlord can change his tactics as he goes and the heroes won’t know what to expect!
Working on Descent: Journeys in the Dark Second Edition has been a challenging and enjoyable experience for me. I look forward to fans of the first edition getting a chance to try the new game, as well as seeing newcomers begin their own adventures.
Thanks, Adam! With Second Edition’s momentous release on the horizon, we’ll be ramping up our web coverage. Check back often for more, and prepare to enter the dungeon this summer!

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