Things Have Not Gone According to Plan…

So originally the idea was to post one Rabbit Hole Day Post, five artists posts and a Behind the Screen post. Of that expectation I have met 1 and 1/5th. Hmmmm…

So, some rescheduling. Artist Week has now been extended. On Monday, I’ll post my next artist and will also link some work of his as well, so as to whet appetites and so forth…

I’m postponing Behind the Screen for next week, while I gather some thoughts upon where the idea evolves to next and also gather some new material. At some point though I’ll have to run the game so I can talk about that.

Last night, instead of our usual role-playing session, parts of our group had brought back a boardgame for us to try while plying their talents on the interstate circuit. It is called ‘Descent’.

I’d heard of this game before only in name and so had a few preconceived and, let’s face it, unfair ideas as to what this game would entail. Mainly I was expecting it to be the boardgame version of the PC ‘First Person’ spaceship adventure that shares it’s name.

Well one has spaceships and the other has dragons so Strike One on that.

The second theory was the staggering amounts of fun I DON’T have playing D&D on any kind of grid, platform or board. Attacks of Opportunity, combined with an unrealistic monster level do not make for fun and so I wasn’t keen to inflict that upon myself simply because it had a different name.

Well, no Attacks of Opportunity, and the foes, while numerous, were capable of being killed by our virgin characters, so  Strike Two.

Probably time to talk about what the game actually is.

Basically for those of you who may be familiar with Warhammer Quest, it’s an evolving jigsaw of a dungeon, populated by monsters, treasures and traps.

For those of you familiar with it’s predecessor, HeroQuest: It involves numerous players thwarting the machinations of another player who acts as ‘The Overlord’, directing the actions of monsters and traps.

The other players have a plethora of characters to choose from, differentiated by their points in melee, ranged or spell combat and each are of varying quality. The idea is to conquer the objective of the dungeon while retaining at least 1 Conquest Token, which The Overlord attempts to take from you by way of killing you off. Lose the Conquests Tokens and this time, death sticks.

With no real idea of what to expect, and a desire for speed and randomness, we, three players, one Overlord, drew our characters face down from the deck. Ness drew ‘Landrec The Wise’ an old man with an air of magic about him, so back of the party. Mark drew Spiritspeaker Mok, who was also magically inclined but, of all of us, actually had a melee skill, so he became ‘The Tank’. I drew Bargron The Shadow, a tusky nefarious dude with a penchant for backstabbing and ranged weaponry. Rhys, owning the game, took on the role of Overlord.

Well, first of all, Spiritspeaker Mok, by virtue of his skillset, or by Mark’s crappy dice rolling, did not make much of a tank and so was quickly killed. Landrec The Wise also turned out to be Landrec The Cannon, one-shotting many deadly foes with his magical staff. Mark decided to let Spiritspeaker Mok rot in the grave and produced another character, also of a magical bent who could equal Landrec’s damage dealing capacity.

Bargron The Shadow was played exactly as the character inferred: Lurk in the shadows, send the others on ahead to distract the enemy – or set off any traps – and shoot beasties from behind cover. Something done to rutheless effect as Bargron was equipped with skills that allowed him to ignore cover and also convey an extra action to either himself or another party member. Bargron also was the only character not to die as, taking precautionary measures, was equipped with the sturdiest armour he could afford.

Bargron ensured that he did
not lose any Conquest Tokens through dying. A point he used time and again to justify his running ahead to steal treasure.

What impressed me about this boardgame is not just the level of detail you get with the maps and minatures, but rather the complexity of strategy fused with a simplicity of rules. The players obviously have teamwork and plays to make to ensure maximum carnage or minimum loss, but the Overlord’s role isn’t merely to facilitate the opposition: He is very much a part of the game and very much against you. For him to win is for you to lose and the strategy, and gambling necessary to produce monsters and traps is no less involved than the players actions to prevail.

At any rate, we didn’t end up finishing, but have resolved to pick up where we left off this Tuesday.

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