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Welcome to the Seventh installment of Gaming on a Budget, my series of reviews specifically tailored to people with a limited budget for games. This time around I have the honor of reviewing an expansion for the first time, being the first on BGG to review it, and having it be an expansion I have anticipated so eagerly I was as giddy as a High school girl on prom night to play it. So draw your sword and ready your spell book, because it is time to charge right into the gaping maw of Descent Journeys in the Dark Second Edition: Lair of the Wyrm!



My criteria for what makes a good game are many and varied, and as often as not depend more on what type of game it is than anything else. But for an expansion I have but one criteria, one thing I want above all else, and that is: more. If I am expanding a game, that means I like/love the base game. So what I want is more of everything that makes the base game worth playing. I’m not looking for a retooling or anything, just an increase in the amount of game to love.



So, what does LotW bring to the table? Well, as you can tell from the pictures you get a lot of new stuff in this box. New everything really. Tokens, cards both large and small, figures, tiles, etc. Since there are so many new and wonderful things here I’m going to cover it in three sections.

For the Players:
The first and most exciting new thing is, of course, two new characters and two new classes to go with them. It should be noted that as far as I can tell these new classes can be chosen by the old characters as well provided they have the right class symbol. Our two new characters are Reynhart the Worthy and High Mage Quellen. The two new classes are Champion and Geomancer. Reynhart, as a Champion, is a melee fighter who specializes in enhancing both himself and his allies through the generation of ‘valor tokens’ that can be spent for various effects. Quellen, as a Geomancer, uses his ever growing number of summoned stones to unleash some truly devastating attacks.



There are also several new shop cards for both acts, a pair of mighty new relics, and most exciting of all a new search card that leads to a whole new aspect of the game: secret rooms. When a player searches and draws a search card they may now get a secret room search card. When this card is drawn a secret room entrance token is placed where the search token was, a secret room card is drawn and referenced for setup, and the player who found it may spend one movement to go inside. Once inside they will find a number of search tokens that when revealed have either an attribute test to pass or a monster to fight. After undertaking all the challenges in the secret room the secret room card reward(s) are resolved and the player(s) continue on with the current quest.



For the Overlord:
First and foremost, to the delight of overlords everywhere, a whole new overlord class with nine new overlord cards to torment players. These are some big ones too, I don’t want to spoil all the surprise but suffice it to say most overlords will be very happy with these new cards. You also get two new monsters and a never before seen large size lieutenant. And don’t forget the new relics can be yours too. You even get a new token for marking inactive monster groups.



Also, the overlord player has a whole new type of card: rumor cards. These cards have a variety of effects, from tormenting the player from all angles (such as messing with them during the shop phase), to introducing the new quests. But more on that in a minute.



For everyone:
I really want to mention something for everyone that I was very excited to find: a new condition. From now on, players and monsters alike have to fear catching on fire! That’s right, the new condition is Burning. Burning will require a special action to put out, and until then the entity effected will be taking damage every turn. And really, what better thing is there to add to an expansion centered on a dragon?

We’ve also got some new travel cards for the journey to the many quests, a nice new pile of double sided connecting map tiles, some extra health and fatigue tokens, and of course new quests.

Wait, did I just say new quests? One of my favorite parts to this expansion is that not only are the new quests very cool, but the way they integrate is pure genius. Instead of having a whole new campaign track for these quests, you play the standard campaign and visit them through the use of the Overlord’s new rumor cards. When the Overlord plays a rumor card linking to a quest, whoever is choosing the next quest may opt to go to the new one instead. These operate like side quests in that they don’t really affect the main storyline, but create kind of a parallel one inside of it.



So, does LotW accomplish the things it should? In my opinion it does a fantastic job. Sure, there are new rules but these are rules to go with the new features and characters and the like not a redoing of the old stuff. This expansion does such an amazing job at integrating itself into and growing the original game that you really are getting more for less. More game in almost every way, with less explanation of new stuff required than you might think. Heck, even the expansion watermark is cool.


Quality: Very High. This is Fantasy Flight at its finest here folks. Not only is it the usual high quality of components, but they give you a big pile for what you’re paying. You can even fit it all back in the box easy, and the rules are simple and well laid out.

Learning Curve: Very Low. If you know Descent 2, this is only going to take you a quick skim to figure out. Only really about three pages of new ‘rules’ per say.

Strategy/Depth: High. It takes what Descent 2 has and piles even more options upon it. I mean, come on, you can set dudes on fire now. Secret rooms, rumor cards, and so on.

Theme: Very High. If you are thinking Descent 2 plus even more then you are on the right track. Two stories going on at once, separate but interwoven, how cool is that?

Gameplay: Very High. Did I mention setting dudes on fire? Or finding secret rooms in the middle of a quest? Or new quests outside the quests? The Overlord can screw with your shopping experience now. It’s just nuts.

Replay: High. The only reason I can’t give this one a very high is that there is still a finite amount of quests. You can change between overlord and pc, change classes and monster choices, but eventually you will have done it all.

The dragon queen lies bleeding, and stepping over the tattered remains of heroes and monsters alike you exit the cave and find…



Overall Score: 10/10
Budget Rank: Buy it!

At $22 plus or minus you get a serious pile of stuff with this one. You already know you like Descent 2 (and if you don’t, why are you reading a review for its expansion? ) so it’s less of a gamble than buying a new game. Plus the artwork is, if anything, even better in this one while still keeping that familiar theme and feel. I really wanted to find some complaints worth mentioning, I’m not a fan of gushing, but this one is straight up wow. And now, ready your armor and draw your worn greatswords fellow champions as we cry “Once more unto the breech dear friends!”

(Geeklist for GoaB can be found here)
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Good review, but please : Thats not players and overlord as a RPG, this is Heroes Players against Overlord Player as in a competitive boardgame.
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Thanks for the review.

Clearly, you focused on the components and broadly on the new game play aspects. It would be too early for you to have experienced some of these things in action yet.

I'm still wondering how well some of these new things will intergrate into the game: notably the rumor cards. For instance, if it is soly determined by the Overlord whether or not these new quests even come into play via a rumor card, why should the Overlord do it in the first place? I don't see any inherent reason for the Overlord to give the heroes an additional mission to select, unless he/she feels that the quest favors the Overlord, speaking from a purely tactical standpoint. Am I missing something? And we know that some quests can end up favoring one side over the other; whether that is designed intentially or not. I kind of wish there was an aspect where these quest options could be enabled by the heroes.

I'm also curious about the secret room. While I will happily take it over a Nothing card, exactly how often will the secret room really get explored? In the best case scenario, it would get drawn in the first encounter on the first search token, giving the heroes the most to work with, but even then, would people choose to send a hero or two or all in there at the expense of the encounter objectives? I'm not sure. I could see the heroes drawing the secret encounter, sending a hero into the tile, search the nearest token or two (because that's all the time they have for it), and leaving, while trying to get something out of it.
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dustwhit wrote:
Thanks for the review.

Clearly, you focused on the components and broadly on the new game play aspects. It would be too early for you to have experienced some of these things in action yet.

I'm still wondering how well some of these new things will intergrate into the game: notably the rumor cards. For instance, if it is soly determined by the Overlord whether or not these new quests even come into play via a rumor card, why should the Overlord do it in the first place? I don't see any inherent reason for the Overlord to give the heroes an additional mission to select, unless he/she feels that the quest favors the Overlord, speaking from a purely tactical standpoint. Am I missing something? And we know that some quests can end up favoring one side over the other; whether that is designed intentially or not. I kind of wish there was an aspect where these quest options could be enabled by the heroes.

I'm also curious about the secret room. While I will happily take it over a Nothing card, exactly how often will the secret room really get explored? In the best case scenario, it would get drawn in the first encounter on the first search token, giving the heroes the most to work with, but even then, would people choose to send a hero or two or all in there at the expense of the encounter objectives? I'm not sure. I could see the heroes drawing the secret encounter, sending a hero into the tile, search the nearest token or two (because that's all the time they have for it), and leaving, while trying to get something out of it.


There are rewards for winning the quest on either side, so if the Overlord thinks he can win one of the Lair of the Wyrm quests, it absolutely makes sense for him to play it. Additionally, there is a new Travel Event card that essentially forces the Overlord to play a Rumor card that opens up a quest, whether he wants to or not.
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Thanks for the quality review.

How are the new map tiles looking? Can you post a few pics of them? In particular I'm hoping there's some interesting terrain on them. I saw one with a huge lava pool in the middle, looks like that will be a difficult tile to traverse thru.
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Dexter345 wrote:


There are rewards for winning the quest on either side, so if the Overlord thinks he can win one of the Lair of the Wyrm quests, it absolutely makes sense for him to play it.


I'm curious: what qualities must a quest posses in order for an OL to think that he has more of a chance of winning it than the heroes?
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dustwhit wrote:

Clearly, you focused on the components and broadly on the new game play aspects. It would be too early for you to have experienced some of these things in action yet.

unless he was a playtester


The Secret Room mechanic is a nice aside, though it rarely comes up. The quests though, the final reward for the OL is very nice, so definitely worth playing.

Best thing about this expansion: the mini campaign.

-shnar
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bleached_lizard wrote:
Dexter345 wrote:


There are rewards for winning the quest on either side, so if the Overlord thinks he can win one of the Lair of the Wyrm quests, it absolutely makes sense for him to play it.


I'm curious: what qualities must a quest posses in order for an OL to think that he has more of a chance of winning it than the heroes?


Until the polls come out for everybody's opinion on which quests favor which side, I don't think there's any concrete way to say a quest favors one side for everybody, but I do think that an overlord can get a sense for what his particular group is good at, and weigh that against the victory conditions. If he's up against a lot of beefy characters with healing abilities, then he knows right away that he's at a disadvantage for any "defeat the heroes" quests, for instance.
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Thanks Phil - now I want to go out and get this.
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I've not seen it mentioned by others, but I wish they would include figures for the Lieutenants with the game/expansion. I'd rather the game/expansion cost a little more and get a figure, instead of cost a little less and buy it later on your own (at probably a greater cost). A cardboard cutout can be a little anticlimactic.
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dustwhit wrote:
I've not seen it mentioned by others, but I wish they would include figures for the Lieutenants with the game/expansion. I'd rather the game/expansion cost a little more and get a figure, instead of cost a little less and buy it later on your own (at probably a greater cost). A cardboard cutout can be a little anticlimactic.


This has been argued to death in other threads, but basically (in case you didn't know), it's not the number of individual figures that increases the cost of the game (the cost of the plastic is minimal) - it's the number of different *types* of figures that add to the cost (it's the moulds that are expensive).

So just to pluck a number out of the air that seems reasonable, if every different type of figure adds $5 to the price of the game, then by adding just one extra figure to the expansion you would be increasing the cost by $5.

Better to keep that as a separate cost that people can opt-in to rather than force it on everyone and drive away potential buyers.
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bleached_lizard wrote:
This has been argued to death in other threads, but basically (in case you didn't know), it's not the number of individual figures that increases the cost of the game (the cost of the plastic is minimal) - it's the number of different *types* of figures that add to the cost (it's the moulds that are expensive).

So just to pluck a number out of the air that seems reasonable, if every different type of figure adds $5 to the price of the game, then by adding just one extra figure to the expansion you would be increasing the cost by $5.

Better to keep that as a separate cost that people can opt-in to rather than force it on everyone and drive away potential buyers.


I feel arguments starting to churn in me, but I'll resist if its already been debated to death.
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dustwhit wrote:
bleached_lizard wrote:
This has been argued to death in other threads, but basically (in case you didn't know), it's not the number of individual figures that increases the cost of the game (the cost of the plastic is minimal) - it's the number of different *types* of figures that add to the cost (it's the moulds that are expensive).

So just to pluck a number out of the air that seems reasonable, if every different type of figure adds $5 to the price of the game, then by adding just one extra figure to the expansion you would be increasing the cost by $5.

Better to keep that as a separate cost that people can opt-in to rather than force it on everyone and drive away potential buyers.


I feel arguments starting to churn in me, but I'll resist if its already been debated to death.


Yes, the heroes, I know. But can you imagine the outrage if *they* were represented by cardboard?
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D6Frog wrote:
SomewhatDamaged wrote:
Wait, did I just say new quests? One of my favorite parts to this expansion is that not only are the new quests very cool, but the way they integrate is pure genius. Instead of having a whole new campaign track for these quests, you play the standard campaign and visit them through the use of the Overlord’s new rumor cards.


It sounds like you were not aware that there is a downloadable mini-campaign as well...

http://www.fantasyflightgames.com/ffg_content/descent-second...



Actually I am aware, but thanks for mentioning it. I worded it that way to work as a segway into talking about them and more importantly the new mechanic.

IKerensky wrote:
Good review, but please : Thats not players and overlord as a RPG, this is Heroes Players against Overlord Player as in a competitive boardgame.


Uhm, maybe I am missing something but did I ever call it an RPG?

demonhanz wrote:
Thanks for the quality review.

How are the new map tiles looking? Can you post a few pics of them? In particular I'm hoping there's some interesting terrain on them. I saw one with a huge lava pool in the middle, looks like that will be a difficult tile to traverse thru.


My girlfriend does the photos, as per your request she says they will be up on the game page soon

bleached_lizard wrote:
dustwhit wrote:
I've not seen it mentioned by others, but I wish they would include figures for the Lieutenants with the game/expansion. I'd rather the game/expansion cost a little more and get a figure, instead of cost a little less and buy it later on your own (at probably a greater cost). A cardboard cutout can be a little anticlimactic.


This has been argued to death in other threads, but basically (in case you didn't know), it's not the number of individual figures that increases the cost of the game (the cost of the plastic is minimal) - it's the number of different *types* of figures that add to the cost (it's the moulds that are expensive).

So just to pluck a number out of the air that seems reasonable, if every different type of figure adds $5 to the price of the game, then by adding just one extra figure to the expansion you would be increasing the cost by $5.

Better to keep that as a separate cost that people can opt-in to rather than force it on everyone and drive away potential buyers.


Not just that, but in this case the cutout for Valyndra is good enough to create a sense of size that a figure could not without taking up the whole board IMHO.

dustwhit wrote:
Thanks for the review.

Clearly, you focused on the components and broadly on the new game play aspects. It would be too early for you to have experienced some of these things in action yet.

I'm still wondering how well some of these new things will intergrate into the game: notably the rumor cards. For instance, if it is soly determined by the Overlord whether or not these new quests even come into play via a rumor card, why should the Overlord do it in the first place? I don't see any inherent reason for the Overlord to give the heroes an additional mission to select, unless he/she feels that the quest favors the Overlord, speaking from a purely tactical standpoint. Am I missing something? And we know that some quests can end up favoring one side over the other; whether that is designed intentially or not. I kind of wish there was an aspect where these quest options could be enabled by the heroes.

I'm also curious about the secret room. While I will happily take it over a Nothing card, exactly how often will the secret room really get explored? In the best case scenario, it would get drawn in the first encounter on the first search token, giving the heroes the most to work with, but even then, would people choose to send a hero or two or all in there at the expense of the encounter objectives? I'm not sure. I could see the heroes drawing the secret encounter, sending a hero into the tile, search the nearest token or two (because that's all the time they have for it), and leaving, while trying to get something out of it.


Actually, don't ask me how but my preorder from CoolStuffInc got to me before the game should have actually been released. The rumor cards are alot of fun, but you asked about quest integration. First, the rewards. Even on a quest your not sure you can win, if the prize is something you really need/want wouldn't you go for it? Second, sometimes playing them isn't a choice. And third, he has some wickedly cool monsters in the new quests. Well worth playing just to bust out Valyndra the badass heh.

As for the secret rooms, they will get explored because once every search token inside is gone you resolve the rewards for that room on the secret door card (not the secret door search card). Also, the rooms aren't very big so completing them won't take to long. Same reason really you took the time for regular search tokens in Descent 2, only bigger and better. You won't always do it, especially at a critical moment, but it is a very cool feature to have.
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somewhatDamaged wrote:
My girlfriend does the photos, as per your request she says they will be up on the game page soon


While were putting requests in, could she take some photos of the secret room cards? I'm curious about the rewards that are possible. Tell her I authorize you to take her out for ice cream; a double scooper.
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SomewhatDamaged wrote:
bleached_lizard wrote:
dustwhit wrote:
I've not seen it mentioned by others, but I wish they would include figures for the Lieutenants with the game/expansion. I'd rather the game/expansion cost a little more and get a figure, instead of cost a little less and buy it later on your own (at probably a greater cost). A cardboard cutout can be a little anticlimactic.


This has been argued to death in other threads, but basically (in case you didn't know), it's not the number of individual figures that increases the cost of the game (the cost of the plastic is minimal) - it's the number of different *types* of figures that add to the cost (it's the moulds that are expensive).

So just to pluck a number out of the air that seems reasonable, if every different type of figure adds $5 to the price of the game, then by adding just one extra figure to the expansion you would be increasing the cost by $5.

Better to keep that as a separate cost that people can opt-in to rather than force it on everyone and drive away potential buyers.


Not just that, but in this case the cutout for Valyndra is good enough to create a sense of size that a figure could not without taking up the whole board IMHO.


I'm not really sure I understand this. Isn't Valyndra the same size as a Shadow Dragon (2x3)? What do you mean that the cutout creates a sense of size that a figure could not?
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The cutout is the size of a shadow dragon, yes, and it is a picture of mostly her head. So if her head is that big, imagine the rest of her Thats just my interpretation though.
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dustwhit wrote:
somewhatDamaged wrote:
My girlfriend does the photos, as per your request she says they will be up on the game page soon


While were putting requests in, could she take some photos of the secret room cards? I'm curious about the rewards that are possible. Tell her I authorize you to take her out for ice cream; a double scooper.


No problem, she should have em all up by the end of the day, geekmod willing. Just keep an eye on
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The pictures are being uploaded now.
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Princess Superman wrote:
The pictures are being uploaded now.


Thank you, and enjoy your ice cream. Might I recommend Cookies n' Cream?

- - - -
I was able to take a look in GeekMod, and yes, some of the rewards on these search room cards (laying out several item cards and choosing 1 for free, for example) would make it worth it to potentially put an encounter at risk; and some of them make it more easy to accomplish with the right character (attribute test). It's probably still highly situational, but I like it.
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P.S. guys if you like the pics she made for you she only needs a few more images to hit 3 thumbs to get her microbadge
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shnar wrote:
The Secret Room mechanic is a nice aside, though it rarely comes up. The quests though, the final reward for the OL is very nice, so definitely worth playing.


I actually like the fact that it rarely comes up. Makes it more special. Wouldn't be much fun if every encounter had a secret room.
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Chubby wrote:
shnar wrote:
The Secret Room mechanic is a nice aside, though it rarely comes up. The quests though, the final reward for the OL is very nice, so definitely worth playing.


I actually like the fact that it rarely comes up. Makes it more special. Wouldn't be much fun if every encounter had a secret room.

yeah, but it'd be nice to see it more than we have. In the 4bathroom games we've played, it hasn't come up once...

-shnar
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In our campaign, it appeared about 2-3 times.
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So other than being forced to play Rumor cards sometimes, is there still no answer to the "why would the Overlord ever play a new quest card" question? I think people seem to be missing that even if the new quest has incredibly great rewards for the Overlord, it still does nothing but help the heroes to give them an extra option. Is there a mechanic that punishes the heroes for not choosing it or something? Are these cards literally *only* going to get played by a rational Overlord when the choice is taken out of his or her hands?
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