Crusaders Games

Descent 2nd Edition

Descent 2nd Edition is the definitive all round dungeon style game experience. It was originally designed to pit an overlord dungeon player against a group of heroes but has now been adapted into a co-operative style dungeon crawler as well. A series of scenarios build together to form a campaign where players level up the skills of the characters with new abilities. To combat this the dungeon overlord gets stronger monsters and better dungeon cards to play. The game features many expansions, with new heroes, monsters, lieutenants, campaigns and tiles. Here are some details and thoughts on the boxed expansions, bearing in mind that i also like to create custom dungeons so this does influence my views.

Core Set (5 stars)          (my set 100% painted)

The core set comes with 8 excellent and varied heroes with different upgradeable skills, and 9 amazing key monster groups. The many double sided outside / dungeon tiles are the best i have seen for a game of this style. The rules and campaign are well produced and fun to play, and you really cannot fault this box set as it offers enough replayability for most people without ever needing expansions. However collect the expansions and paint it all up, and this game can become as much a hobby as a board game. It has so many different playable options now.

 
Lair Of The Wyrm (4 stars)          (my set 100% painted)

This has a fire theme, a dragon monster boss and introduces secret rooms and a mini campaign. Both the heroes i really like, a worthy warrior champion and high mage geomancer. The monsters are fire based imps and some tough sentinel dragonkins which both fit the theme well. The Wyrm boss is a great end dragon boss (a nice lieutenant model is available separately). Overall the general theme and additional tiles are great and i do enjoy the fiery hot caverns focus of this set.

 
Labyrinth Of Ruin (5 stars)          (my set 100% painted)

A bigger and more costly expansion with a full new campaign and a cool spider boss monster. The 4 new heroes are pretty decent, but except for the outstanding Pathfinder Durik and his wolf, they are not any better than the core set. The monsters though are a superb addition with volucrix reavers, spider crab hybrids, snake drakes and goblin witchers. Tiles and cards are very similar in theme to the core set and so fit well as a direct content expansion. The Queen Ariad spider boss (an amazing separate lieutenant pack model is available), the new monsters and a great campaign make it a worthy all round expansion.

The Trollfens (5 stars)          (my set 100% painted)

A swamp theme with new disease conditions a prevalent feature. Along with a very cool troll boss monster called Bol’Goreth (this separate lieutenant model is amazing), this box has two interesting monster groups in the harpy and flesh worms. The two heroes are also very likeable and enjoyable to play, the female loner tracker elf and a prophet dwarf. Overall this box has a strong theme and great heroes, and represents excellent value to make it a highly recommended all round addition.

 
Shadow Of Nerekhall (4.5 stars)          (my set 0% painted)

Another bigger expansion set in a mysterious city with a new campaign plus 4 heroes and monster types. Of the heroes i liked Rendiel and Orkell the Swift in particular, with the others solid if not overly spectacular. The monsters however are all great with changelings, rat swarms, iron guardians and some amazing Ynfernal demon models. The lieutenants, like the core set, are more humanoid based but do include a rat king, and the tiles have a city street style. Overall this is another lovely expansion with a nice new city style location, and the campaign is generally highly praised.

 
Manor Of Ravens (3.5 stars)          (not purchased yet)

I really like the manor house as an idea. The new heroes, a female righteous knight and a witch hunter with a repeater crossbow, are two really nice additions. The monsters include the wraiths which are useful to add an undead dungeon theme, but the human bandits and the golem boss lacked real excitement for me. Overall this has not been an immediate purchase, and i feel it could have been a better theme than it is, but that may just be due to my monster preferences.

Mists Of Bilehall (5 stars)          (my set 100% painted)

This expansion features an undead theme with a new campaign and 3 new monster groups including broodwalkers, skeleton reannimates and bone horrors, all of which look really cool. Unusually there are no heroes in this pack, so this is more for the overlord player and new story campaign, but then there are so many heroes available elsewhere that you shouldn’t mind this by now. Three new lieutenant models were released alongside, with an excellent skeleton leader called Ardus Ix’Erebus and an elf sorceress Zarihell. This set offers a chance to set up a proper undead themed dungeon, and the monsters make it one of my favourite expansions available.

 
Chains That Rust (4 stars)          (not purchased yet)

This expansion continues the undead theme and campaign from Mists of Bilehall and has 3 new monster groups including shambling colossus, the dispossessed and marrow priests. It also bring in hybrid classes which mix two together such as the Monk, a healer and scout. A new harrowing tainted condition is also introduced. Whilst the new monsters did not match my higher excitement levels of the previous expansion, the other new ideas and ongoing campaign still look very interesting.

Lieutenant Sets

These small boss sets offer expansion choices for the overlord, and allow you to create your own showdowns, but some models certainly seem to offer much better value than others. The packs provide new cards and strategies for the overlord to use. Most of these packs I would place in the 2-3 stars category, but some do stand out as rather special and enhance other box expansions:

4.5 stars lieutenant models – Bol’Goreth the troll, Queen Ariad the spider, Ardus Ix’Erebus the skeleton.

4 stars lieutenant models – Splig the goblin leader, Verminous the rat king, Valyndra the Wyrm, Zarihell the elf sorceress.

3.5 stars – Raythen & Serena combined hero and lieutenant packs, Skarn the golem.

 
Hero and Monster Sets          (Treaty of Champions set 87% painted)

These are great additions if you want even more characters and monster types, adding in 4 new heroes each box set plus 3 monster groups. There are 9 released so far and i suspect your choice of pack will depend on what models you most like the look of. My own preferences are highlighted below:

Oath of the Outcast (4.5 stars) – great for Terrinoth creatures with Bane Spiders, Razorwings and Beastmen. Favourite hero character and model Laurel of Bloodwood.

Crown of Destiny (3.5 stars) – includes the amazing Chaos Beasts, plus Lava Beetles and Giants. Heroes are slightly less exciting though. Favourite hero character and model Lindel.

Crusade of the Forgotten (2.5 stars) – some rather unexciting monsters with Golems, Medusae and Sorcerors.  Favourite hero character and model Tetherys.

Guardians of Deephall (4 stars) – Wendigos and Crypt Dragons are amazing models, plus some Dark Priests. Favourite hero character and model Lord Hawthorne.

Visions of Dawn (3 stars) – A large size monster box with nice Trolls, plus Ogres and Manticores. Favourite hero character and model Master Thorn.

Bonds of the Wild (3.5 stars) – great monsters with Kobolds, Hellhounds and Dark Elves. Heroes seem similar, three have familiars. Favourite hero character and model Challara.

Treaty of Champions (5 stars) – undead monsters with Skeleton Archers, Crow Hags and Demon Lords. Favourite hero character and model Grey Ker, Krutzbeck, Jonas the Kind and Zyla – all of them are excellent although the Dwarf model is quite big.

Stewards of the Secret (4.5 stars) – Ferrox, Blood Apes, Nagas all really great looking monsters. Favourite hero character and model Okaluk riding Rakash.

Shards of Everdark (4 stars) – excellent monsters with Minotaurs, Ice Wyrm and Shades. Heroes seem on a slightly larger scale size but they include a minotaur, giant and orc which can explain these at least. Favourite hero character and model Steelhorns.

The set i wanted the most was Treaty of Champions which contained some superb hero models and also brought the undead theme further to life to help with Mists of Bilehall. It is the only set of these i have bought so far, although i do want more.

 

Co-operative Adventures (4 stars)

The three co-operative adventure packs are Forgotten Souls, Nature’s Ire and Dark Elements were at one time my favourite additions to the game. These individual scenarios provide players with a way to work together as heroes, as the dungeon is automated against them. Each scenario has a custom storyline which plays out in a random order. They are well scaled and offer a neat adventure experience allowing for solo or co-operative play. Trying out different combinations of heroes against the dungeon is a real treat. During each adventure you will be able to obtain new weapons and items, and even level up your heroes, all in just one short game, which is awesome. If you like dungeon crawlers, or your playing time is limited and large campaigns just seem too much to do, then these expansions help you get more from the game. However Road To Legend has now largely replaced them now as the way forward for co-operative play, but they still have uses for creating your own dungeons.

Road To Legend (5 stars)

This free app provides a series of campaign, where the overlord control is passed over to your tablet, allowing you to explore a new quest together in co-operative format. There is a storyline to follow and whilst the quests are pre-written there is scope for random monsters to appear depending on which ones you have bought so far. The app will let you know how the monsters are reacting to your party and which tiles to spawn next. Given the increasing number of kickstarter projects providing a dungeon questing experience (Sword & Sorcery / Massive Darkness), this may save Descent from being knocked off its lofty position. It is breathing new life into the game, allowing you choose the way you want to play. It is doubtful that there will be any more new co-operative adventure packs to buy such as Forgotten Souls as the app pretty replaces them. A new delve option now makes this into a random dungeon crawl too. A superb game addition.

Heirs Of Blood (4 stars)

This hardback campaign book is an add on for the core set and brings a new set of adventures to play through. Regarded as much better than the originally boxed campaign it is now included as a softback version within the core box itself. The hardback book is for those with earlier versions of the game, but is in itself a beautiful item with background and pictures which build up the world of Terrinoth. For those who need this as an expansion the product is good quality which makes it feel like a worthwhile addition to your game.

Quest Vault

The vault is where you can obtain further quests and campaigns written by game owners, with two published by FFG. This is a great resource if you want to find some new quests. I have written 3 quests which follow a co-operative dungeon crawl exploration style of game rather than a tactical battle with the overlord. I have called these the solo series:

Death Keep – discover the secrets of the forgotten keep which has been taken over by a dark sect of acolytes. Uses the core set and optionally makes use of the Forgotten Souls monster cards.

Spiders Lair – gigantic mutated spiders have established a colony in the underground caves and you must eliminate their threat. Uses the core set and Labyrinth of Ruin and optionally makes use of Nature’s Ire monster cards.

Fire Caverns – distant flames at the lost caverns light the night sky. You must establish what is happening there and whether it is a threat. Uses the core set and Lair of the Wyrm and optionally makes use of Dark Elements monster cards.