Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Descent on Friday, 22 Dec 2006

Okay, here's an official post for Friday's planned gaming. I'll be there at 1000 AM to begin setting up. It will probably take me at least 30 minutes to get all the pieces of the map put together and everything laid out, so others showing up might want to bring a filler game or two to occupy your time while I do my Evil Overlord thing.

My out of the box impression of the Descent expansion is that its amazing! A major feature of the expansion is rebalancing the game by strengthening the Overlord. Now as Overlord I get to do a bit of deck building, swapping out weak cards in my deck with some very nasty ones at the beginning of the game. The degree to which you're allowed to do this depends on the scenario. The expansion also replaced the original beast man and skeleton cards with new patched versions that make them more than just cannon fodder.

FFG also added a ton of new characters, spells, character skills, monsters, traps, etc., etc.... And this is supposed to be the smaller of the two expansions coming out... Wow, these guys know how to do an expansion right!

41 Comments:

At 9:39 AM, December 20, 2006, Blogger Rob said...

sweeet.... I just noticed that I'm on call Thrusday night. I'm now looking for someone to split the shift up with (so that I can leave by midnight).

This makes me want to play BattleLore....

 
At 9:59 AM, December 20, 2006, Blogger Ben said...

I'm off work next week and BattleLore beckons... as does the pile that just arrived this morning from Boulder: Space Dealer, Pompeii... oh, and a little game called Twilight Imperium 3: Shattered Empire (with annoying printing error included, though FFG should be commended for their smooth recovery).

One of the more interesting new characters in the Descent expansion is the barbarian. He isn't allowed to wear armor, but his defense is always equal to his melee power +2. Plus he starts with 3 melee skills and takes 16 hits to kill (!, most other characters are 8-12 hits), which pretty much makes him a total killing machine. If someone picks him, plan on being a target of many traps.

Another cool feature of the expansion is the giant rolling boulder trap (ala' Indiana Jones). In fact, one of the scenarios is a sort of "raid the lost temple" homage to Indiana Jones that looks pretty fun.

 
At 10:05 AM, December 20, 2006, Blogger Simon said...

Spot=Reserved.

 
At 10:51 AM, December 20, 2006, Blogger Dennis Ugolini said...

I'll be there promptly at 10am (barring another emergency like last time).

 
At 11:08 AM, December 20, 2006, Blogger Ted Kostek said...

I just discovered I have 4 hrs of floating holiday I didn't know about, and if I don't use it by Fri it goes away. Can't let that happen, so I'm taking a 1/2 day Friday.

Therefore I could arrive by 1:00p and stay till ~5p.

Is Descent flexible enough to allow some one to drop in?

If not, would some one like to try something else starting at 1? I'm up for anything of moderate complexity and 3-4 hr length.

 
At 11:13 AM, December 20, 2006, Blogger Ben said...

There's up to 4 players plus the Overlord, so it appears with Jon, Simon, Dennis, and Rob that we're full.

 
At 11:15 AM, December 20, 2006, Blogger Ben said...

Oh, I just saw Ted's post.

Ted, someone would have to drop out for you to join in. Man, I feel like I'm in negative brownie point territory already!

 
At 11:20 AM, December 20, 2006, Blogger Jeff said...

Ted

I might be free Friday afternoon.

 
At 12:59 PM, December 20, 2006, Blogger Rob said...

Ben ! I got my Space Dealer.....oooooh...8 player Space Dealer..... although, you don't really interact with the people that are more than 1-2 planets away (the 3 players in front of you) because it takes way too much time. So I prefer 4.

 
At 4:04 PM, December 20, 2006, Blogger Rob said...

CRAP! They keep piling up. Shogun is on its way to me... Combat Commander should be here by the end of the week (?)

 
At 4:22 PM, December 20, 2006, Blogger Brian said...

My copy of Combat Commander just arrived.

 
At 5:25 PM, December 20, 2006, Blogger Simon said...

Ben: I no longer have admin privileges since the switch, so I can't mess with the blog in any way. The new Blogger also seems to have some security certificate or cookie issues; I'm getting security info alerts every click...

 
At 5:26 PM, December 20, 2006, Blogger Simon said...

I also notice I'm not listed as a contributor! Negative one thousand BP for you, my friend!

 
At 6:45 PM, December 20, 2006, Blogger Rob said...

I propose Space Dealer as the pregame to Descent....while Ben prepares it for us.

It's exactly 30 min (well, plus 10 for explanation).

 
At 7:33 PM, December 20, 2006, Blogger Brian said...

I will probably be there on Friday (for non-Descent) but I'll have to leave around 2pm.

I will host Friday night, if people are interested.

 
At 7:36 PM, December 20, 2006, Blogger Rob said...

re: combat commander....
ahhhh... I haven't received it because they are going in alphabetical order .....hmmmm...and I asked them to send it with Here I stand. yeah. that's it.

(I foresee a call to GMT soon...)

 
At 9:11 PM, December 20, 2006, Blogger Chad said...

I only have to work a half day on Friday. I'll try to come by around 1.

I picked up the Descent expansion as well and I dig it. I like the replacement cards for some of the weak Ranged weapons from the first set and the new traps rock. I'll be trying out one of the new scenarios this weekend with my other gaming group since they love Descent.

 
At 9:18 PM, December 20, 2006, Blogger Ben said...

Another "other gaming group"?!! Do we need to break out the Spanish Inquisition again? My paranoid mind smells games of Twilight Imperium 3 being secretly played!

Man, I'm so far into evil brownie point territory that I might as well stay here. Besides, evil brownies sound pretty good right now...

Simon, I deleted you and re-added you again just now, so you should be set. So far under the new version posting seems a lot faster. We really didn't have a choice if we're going to keep the Blog on Blogger, so hopefully some of the oddities work themselves out.

I cancelled my Combat Commander pre-order a few weeks ago when I started adding up the amount of shelf space deficit I was going to be running right about now. Same thing with Shogun. I'm highly motivated to play both though!

It'll be nice to see Space Dealer played. The game comes with some sort of DVD that I may watch this evening.

 
At 9:47 PM, December 20, 2006, Blogger Rob said...

The "dvd" is actually the game's soundtrack. It lasts exactly 30minutes. It's got some space music that turns into techno/trance at some points, and a robot-voice counter. Pretty cool for added ambiance. Already recorded it in my ipod (does anyone have small speakers with an 1/8" jack?)

It does also have an instructional video clip though. The question is, sie sprechen Deutsches?

 
At 10:53 PM, December 20, 2006, Blogger Ben said...

I love how Spacedealer in Deutsche is apparently pronounced, "Spacedealer." Love the guy's haircut too!

 
At 11:21 PM, December 20, 2006, Blogger Al said...

Shoot, I'm disapointed that I'm too late to get in on Descent. So, I have a counter plan. Maybe those of us who didn't get in on Descent can play Here I Stand or Struggle of Empires (my two favorite games I've played in this club so far) at a different table. Should I start a new thread for this?

Alvin

 
At 9:13 AM, December 21, 2006, Blogger Ted Kostek said...

I was thinking of Struggle.

I'm a firm believer that games of this magnitude should have an agreed upon start time, and I don't think we can get that in this case.

Therefore I suggest we stick with euros in the ~1 hr range: T&E, Puerto Rico, Settlers, etc

 
At 2:37 PM, December 21, 2006, Blogger Ben said...

If anyone wants to hang around after Descent, I can probably stay until around 8 PM or so... I'll bring a few extra games.

 
At 5:54 PM, December 21, 2006, Blogger Brian said...

I'm not gonna make it after all.

 
At 11:24 PM, December 22, 2006, Blogger Dennis Ugolini said...

I can't seem to start an original post for a session report, so I'll put it here. The title was going to be, "12 Hours Of Gaming...Is Just About Right."

Space Dealer
We played one quick 4-player game with the basic rules, but that was enough to tell me one thing -- there needs to be more real-time board games. There is no AP in Space Dealer! I started delivering too soon with a half-full ship and came in last; Rob won. Would love to play again with more people and advanced rules.

Descent (with expansion)
I've been dying to play this one for a while; I probably would've impulse bought it if so many of y'all didn't already have it. Now that I've played it...I'd play it again, because I like the system, but I prefer Doom. The funny thing is that while I prefer the dungeon crawl theme, that theme is what eventually undermines the game for me:
- Fantasy = lots of popcorn spawns = longer game (5-1/2 hours in this case).
- Heavy creature density = less mobility = less strategic choice (80% of my actions were Battle due to the target-rich environment).
- Less mobility and fast creatures = pretty much have to kill everything, unlike Doom where fleeing is an option.
- Traps = not as fun as things like "Sealed In". I preferred the "Shatter Weapon" card because it made people think, whereas there's nothing you can do about a trap.
- Treasures = mighty "Touch of Death" heroes = every attack is a miss or kill, unlike Doom in which weapon upgrades come and go with ammo.
And so on. Still, there were some great moments (since at its core this is a good game), such as the double pit, or the "Bump, Set, SPIKE" double-guard action on a Razorwing. We made it to the final boss room with only two Conquest tokens left, where all of the Spider Queen's helpers overwhelmed Rob's character for the last kill. Way to go Rob. Thanks to Ben for setting this behemoth up.

Evo
At this point Jeff, Amy, Jon, Simon, and I transition to the Wiley homestead for lighter fare. A scarcity of horns and legs tempted me into the "flying death dino" strategy, but I paid way too much for the genes early, and couldn't make up the difference. I finished third but well behind Amy and Simon -- one beat the other by a single point, but I can't remember who.

Trias
It's probably unfair to even label this "Trias". "Pangaeic Drug Fantasy" might be more appropriate. The winner was Satan, for the extra chaos his tool brought forth unto an unsuspecting world.

To Court A King
"Yahtzee with strategy". I like it, especially once I could wrap my mind around the dozen or so special powers. I'd play this again in a heartbeat. Amy got the King first, but Simon won the final dice-off with nine 6's, despite not having a General.

Coloretto
Yes, Simon, there *is* a reason to think on even the second card of a round. If I drew a card that two people other than me wanted, I put it on another card that two people other than me wanted, thus leaving more stacks as potentially beneficial to me, and diluting the *future* benefits of that stack for whoever took it, because others would be competing for those same resources. With 5 people, though, it's unclear if I had just the illusion of control. But going ultra-conservative in the last round (taking just one card on each of the last two draws) helped me squeak out an 86-85-85-85-74 win. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

Balderdash
I'm starting to look forward to this as a closer. Early on Jeff scored the perfect round, guessing the correct definition and having every other player choose his bluff ("flutes of a Corinthian column" -- who the hell says that?). Even getting a definition right ("capo") left me in a *very* distant second at the end.

All that gaming plus the Tanga puzzle (the last four have been really good) have left the wrinkles in my brain smoothed out. I'll be sucking egg nog through a straw while watching my fantasy All-Injury team crash and burn in the final this weekend, so I'll see y'all Tuesday or so. Happy Holidays!

 
At 11:52 PM, December 22, 2006, Blogger Simon said...

Ahem, I won Space Dealer thank you very much! -And Evo, too...

 
At 11:23 AM, December 23, 2006, Blogger Ben said...

My thoughts on Descent in no particular order:

1. I think a big part of the reason I enjoy this game so much is because I remember many afternoons with friends setting up huge dungeon battles of lead fantasy miniatures and fighting it out using D&D rules. Descent is a beautiful, well produced recreation of this gaming experience.

2. The deck-building options in the game shift the play balance nicely back to the middle. Having the heroes very nervous as they enter the final boss fight is really just how it should be and with all the variables in play with this game, getting the balance this close was not trivial.

3. Almost all of the new scenarios in the expansion are designed to be challenging for the heroes and add interesting twists such as separating everyone at the beginning. Perhaps I should have picked a Care Bear scenario from the original game...

4. A key factor to a hero victory has to be speed. Especially with the "Sloth" card in play, which takes a conquest token every time you teleport to town, its really better to go down fighting rather than to keep running back for potions.

5. I think its best to save your cash to buy silver weapons when they become available. The copper stuff just isn't that great.

6. I checked the official errata, and we did play the teleport pads correctly. The heroes can only use the pads they activate (i.e., not the starting pads) to return to town. The starting pads are for returning to the dungeon if you're killed early. I think I saw Rob violate this before entering the big second area, but I looked the other way...

7. I understand why the traps seem a bit harsh on the players, but they are very true to the dungeon crawl theme and help balance out the ultra-killing power of the players. The expansion boosts this aspect of the game considerably with the Kobolds (trickster ability), scything blades, dart fields, and the deck building that allows you to further beef up you deck's trap content. I did this intentionally yesterday, swapping out spawning cards for traps when deck building, plus adding in additional Kobold cards.


My sincere thanks go to Jeff and Amy for bringing the fantastic cookies. I'm not sure how we could have survived the marathon game session without them!

 
At 1:27 PM, December 23, 2006, Blogger Brian said...

Thanks for the Session Report. At 5.5 hours, I'll just wax nostalgic.

 
At 2:18 PM, December 23, 2006, Blogger Simon said...

Ben, I think you need to play on the side of the heroes once and then you'll see how the level of bitching and moaning was totally appropriate and accurate.

1) The game didn't need to be balanced more; it was fine the first time! Remember how we LOST in the care bear version, too!?

2) Traps are BS. They aren't creative and they're superficial. They should at least be strategic instead of instant damage whenever you want.

3) Splitting up the heroes for a long period of time, DESTROYS the point of the game. Our turns were totally mechanical for the first two hours because there was no need to plan, converse with your party, or make any decisions. It sucked hard (and not because we were being beat down, but because it was boring and lame). Having Jon sit out to pull a switch for another hour probably wasn't too fun for him either. It was a really stupid, badly designed scenario - plain and simple.

4) The “Sloth” card was dumb. I don’t see why it was needed as town is often the only way to circumvent death. Making you discard a conquest token to avoid discarding three is a kick in the bag.

5) Breaking weapons is really, really unfair. I highly disagree with that addition as well.

Doom is the superior form of this game because there are fewer, stronger monsters which shortens the game, and there are fewer options which forces you to be more clever and work as a group.

I don’t mean to sound like a jerk or anything, but when you say “Care Bear” and complain about all the “whining,” you’re not realizing how we lost horribly in an utterly unfun fashion despite playing well and using two potentially broken familiars to aid us. I mean I could understand if we made some mistakes or created a bad plan that lead to our demise, but we got screwed by overpowered cards and too many spawn cards. We were such a powerful team, that I fear to see how a regular group would have folded.

We all noticed you could have been spawning things upstairs to bring down later to whack on us, but decided not to say anything since we were all losing so badly. In hindsight we probably should’ve so we could’ve ended it an hour earlier (and I love dungeon crawls).

Think on that a little.

 
At 2:40 PM, December 23, 2006, Blogger Ben said...

Wow! That's a pretty negative opinion of that game. I had a great time, and I enjoyed the experience of being off work and gaming for the afternoon. Sorry it didn't work out better for you.

 
At 2:59 PM, December 23, 2006, Blogger Simon said...

Way to dodge the content of my post, Ben.

I'm not alone in my assessment. Everyone who didn't play the Overlord agrees.

 
At 6:12 PM, December 23, 2006, Blogger Ben said...

Simon, I just don't think its worthwhile to engage in a debate on the merits of the game. I respect your opinion, its just different from mine. I'm certain its not intentional, but the tone of your posts seems a bit hostile. I think its best just to agree to disagree and move on.

 
At 6:56 PM, December 23, 2006, Blogger Rob said...

there there now....no need for hostility over a freaking game. I'm addicted to this shit too, but in the end, it's all cardboard and plastic. Plus, if the game sucks, it's not because of Ben... the game is the one that sucks. Ben was just playing his cards as evily as possible. But I do agree, he should try it from our side.

I do have to agree that for the first 2hrs, all we did was pure hack and slash. No strategy at all. It reminded me of DiabloII were you just brainlessly kill MILLIONS and MILLIONS of creatures until you finally reach a semi interesting boss. In Descent, we just pushed hard against the oncoming masses until after 2 hrs, we could all reach the door that was just a few steps away. Once we all met, the plans/strategy/interaction (read FUN) flowed better.

"No no Rob, wait...wait for Dennis and I to open our door too, THEN open yours"

"Jon, knock the dude back towards me so I can take a shot at him" (ki ki killer combo).

Of course, this was then followed by more painful inching our way to the final lair, hacking and slashing the innumerable masses that kept plugging up the hallway, followed by ass-kicking traps that made the crawling even slower. No, not scary, or concerning, just not fun.

Being the fair guy that I am (never truly picking a side on most things...sometimes considered a weakness in me), I'd like to try this again with a different "grouped" scenario...not split up.... with less but more powerful creatures.

And in all honesty, ignore everything I just said. I like this group way too much to see it crumble over crap like this. Kiss and make up?

 
At 7:14 PM, December 23, 2006, Blogger Ben said...

Sounds good to me!

Maybe Jon or Chad (the other owners of the game I know of) would like to run a game sometime as the Overlord. I'd love to play as one of the characters.

 
At 9:18 PM, December 23, 2006, Blogger Ben said...

For those interested in reading other takes on this debate, there are lively threads going at FFG's website:

http://tinyurl.com/yhpjcq

http://tinyurl.com/y8g74w

 
At 12:42 AM, December 24, 2006, Blogger Simon said...

Hostility? Wha~?

Certainly, ZERO hostility was directed at Ben (sure, the game maybe). I was slightly offended by the "whining and "Care Bear" comments but other than that I have a hard time seeing how my post could be read as hostility toward any particular person. Try reading it as if I were saying it at the gaming table (i.e. sarcastic half chuckle).

In any event, Rob said what I wanted to much more eloquently except for the last part:

"And in all honesty, ignore everything I just said. I like this group way too much to see it crumble over crap like this. Kiss and make up?"

If anyone was actually thinking that, they may be a touch too hyper sensitive...

You are allowed to point out flaws in a game, you know. Jeez, calm down people.


P.S. I saw the Trans Siberian Orchestra tonight and they freakin' kicked ass! There's nothing quite like turning Beethoven into cock rock with pyrotechnics!

 
At 8:45 AM, December 24, 2006, Blogger Rob said...

No Kiss and Make out...I mean 'up'? where's the love?

That painfully reminds me that I also missed Mannheim Steamroller on 12/10. crap...

 
At 11:17 AM, December 24, 2006, Blogger Rob said...

Oh, and eloquence you want, huh? Allow me to explain why I would jump in the fray then...

Voilà! In view, a humble vaudevillian veteran, cast vicariously as both victim and villain by the vicissitudes of Fate. This visage, no mere veneer of vanity, is a vestige of the vox populi, now vacant, vanished. However, this valorous visitation of a by-gone vexation, stands vivified and has vowed to vanquish these venal and virulent vermin van-guarding vice and vouchsafing the violently vicious and voracious violation of volition. The only verdict is vengeance; a vendetta, held as a votive, not in vain, for the value and veracity of such shall one day vindicate the vigilant and the virtuous. Verily, this vichyssoise of verbiage veers most verbose, so let me simply add that it's my very good honor to meet you and you may call me V.....I mean Rob


I maaaay have borrowed this from a recent movie.

 
At 11:18 PM, December 24, 2006, Blogger Ben said...

I really do think Simon raises valid points about Descent. Pretty much everything in the expansion pack adds new toys and powers to the Overlord: monsters, traps, deck building, insanely hard scenarios. All of this makes it a ton more fun to play as Overlord, which is probably why I had a great time.

That said, I can see after further thought how most of this would add to the suck factor on the player side if there weren't some strategic way to counteract these new powers.

Looking at the FFG website, its clear that groups throughout the world are having similar experiences. In fact, I'm not seeing a single report of any players winning any of the tougher scenarios in the expansion set. Yes, we played one of the shorter, easier ones...

I really do enjoy the concept and spectacle of the game, so I hope FFG does something to make it fun for everyone to play. I haven't really played much of Doom yet, so I'd like to try it to see how its a better incarnation of the system.

Oh, and just to prove Simon and I are still buddies, I'm going to give him the next Dice Tower I build after I finish Rob's and Jon's this week. :)

 
At 12:24 AM, December 25, 2006, Blogger Simon said...

Score! God, I love our group!

Happy Holidays everybody. Have a good one. Here's to good games and good friends.

 
At 9:41 AM, December 25, 2006, Blogger Rob said...

Yes, we played one of the shorter, easier ones...

Ok I take back the thing about playing a different scenario in the future. hehehe

Merry xmas to all!

 

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