I wanted to start a collection of all the details we know about 2nd edition and then start a discussion about them. In looking at the previews and on some of the cards and dice there are two major differences I see from the first edition.
One, that there is now armor dice rather than a single armor level. I notice on the character sheets that there is a section for Armor and it shows a number of white die. So I would assume that characters still have a built-in armor rating as well as extra armor that can be worn that allows the player to roll more armor dice. This means that even weak monsters have a chance of inflicting damage on even the most heavily armored hero. I personally do not like this. I want Descent to be more like chess and that means less randomness, not more. In my games when the heroes stack all the armor on one or two heroes I simply ignore them in favor of easier kills. This forces them to spread the armor out somewhat and use smarter tactics to cover each other. It also encourages smart playing rather than relying on dumb luck (which is why I prefer less dice rather than more).
The second thing I noticed is that the Overlord no longer collects threat. Instead, he draws cards and is allowed to play them when the triggering condition is met. Again, I don't like this. I thought the threat system was great because it allowed me to build up threat over a period of time and then unload on the heroes all at once. It's far more satisfying (as well as effective) to do it this way and get a total party kill. Playing the cards as I get them gives the heroes time to run back to town for healing, preventing me from getting kills. I also enjoyed having more things to keep track of - how many cards are in my hand vs. how much threat I have vs. what are the triggering conditions for me to play each card. I hope they haven't dumbed down the Overlord position. I liked the challenge.
On the other hand streamlined rules, faster sessions, and a class-based hero system all sound great.
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One, that there is now armor dice rather than a single armor level. I notice on the character sheets that there is a section for Armor and it shows a number of white die. So I would assume that characters still have a built-in armor rating as well as extra armor that can be worn that allows the player to roll more armor dice. This means that even weak monsters have a chance of inflicting damage on even the most heavily armored hero. I personally do not like this. I
I'm fairly ambivalent about the armor dice, myself. It may be true that a weak monster CAN hit a tanked out hero, but it's still less likely than ganking the runner (one would assume.) Thus, the dynamic of ganging up on the weakest link, thus forcing the heroes to spread out their resources will probably still apply just as well.
I also assume monsters will have armor dice as well. The net effect will be to speed up game play by increasing the chances of causing damage all around. Instead of hacking away for an hour against a creature (or heavily armored hero) that you can MAYBE do 1 point of damage to IF you roll well on the attack, there's now a chance that a moderate attack roll will penetrate a poor defense roll.
Normally I prefer less dice rolling just because it's less dice rolling (more about saving the effort and not needing to do math than an opposition to randomness itself), but in this case I can see it being good for the game engine to keep things moving.
The second thing I noticed is that the Overlord no longer collects threat. Instead, he draws cards and is allowed to play them when the triggering condition is met. Again, I don't like this. I thought the threat system was great because it allowed me to build up threat over a period of time and then unload on the heroes all at once.
Who's stopping you from hoarding cards and unloading them all at once in the 2e system? Most traps in 1e still had triggering conditions that had to be met, regardless of how much threat you had in your pool. Removing the threat pool simply ensures that the OL will never be left unable to play a trap card because he ran out of threat - in other words, MORE traps flying around at the drop of a hat.
Doom didn't have a threat system for the Invader player, and there were still plenty of opportunities to play nasty surprises on the marines. I'm reasonably confident that the impact of removing threat will be minimal at best. I seriously doubt it will result in the heroes being able to waltz through the dungeon at their leisure, returning to town as needed to heal and thus remain invulnerable.
Other things I've heard, particularly about the campaign mode, make it sound like there will be branching plot lines based on the success/failure outcome of individual quests, which I understand is something FFG implemented already in Mansions of Madness. In fact, I've heard several people say Mansions feels a lot like Descent in a Lovecraftian setting. I wouldn't be at all surprised if 2e Descent brings a number of mechanics from MoM back to the fantasy setting, so if you want to get a sneak peek at potential new rules, I'd start by reading the MoM rulebook and trying to imagine how those rules might be applied to Descent.
(Of course, I doubt it will be IDENTICAL, either, so don't get all worked up about things you can't see fitting into Descent's play style. FFG is good about building on past mistakes to improve a product.)
MP3 killed the radio star
The defense dice addition I don't mind. I'll take it either way and if they think that will work better I'm all for it.
The removal of threat is an idea I REALLY don't like the sound of. Going back to the DOOM system would be a huge mistake. The threat system needed the values on the cards tweaked, not to be removed entirely. Still, if they can give the Overlord some other resource management system that makes Hand Management interesting and does so in a balanced way, I'm all for it. Removing the choice of "Which card do I play?" by going back to the DOOM system (to which the answer would be "All of them of course"), would be a huge step backward in my opinion and might actually be a deal breaker for me on 2e. I am hopeful for a new resource management system though, especially since the OL cards have numbers on them.
I am glad about both changes. Just goes to show how different player experience can be.
The defence dice are great. I never liked the fact that the most tanked out hero was near invincible, or just not worth going after. At least when I have a monster that cannot reach the weaker ones, I at least have a chance to still do a hit against the tanked out character (I always play OL). Makes the game more fun IMO, I like a bit more randomness in this area! It also means that the owner of the high armor hero is never truly invincible, which I very much like (and of course this also holds for a powerful boss monster).
As for the threat, coming from Doom (which I also think is superior to Descent), I never liked the addition of it anyway. With already so much tokens and stuff to keep in mind, I can really do with one less thing to keep track off. More streamlining is something Descent needs. They will have to take care not to make the OL deck too powerful though. They made that mistake with the Invader deck from the original Doom boardgame.
Regarding tactics, You'll still have to make meaningful decisions, as the cards still need to be played at the right time to maximise their effects.
All in all, I am really waiting for this new edition. All the changes I've heard about up to now sit well with me, so bring it on!
Indeed it does show how different groups of players view things. My group liked DOOM, but once we played Descent we've never even looked back, we felt it was superior in every way. There were several significant changes that helped it, threat was probably one of the single largest IMHO. Oh well, clearly YMMV.
Here is a link to a discussion similar to this one started by me over on Board Game Geek if anyone's interested in finding more opinions of various aspects of the game.
Never tried Doom, but I've played Mansions of Madness and it is very "Descentesque" in some aspects like collecting threat to play cards, keeper vs. investigators, modular map and quests/stories with variable victory conditions. Still there are some major differences like the simplified character action phase (one move & one action or two moves Last Night on Earth style) and puzzle solving to obtain clues which in the end tell you how to win the scenario, no character resurrection etc. It is a game that I can warmly recommend to any Descent fan and for our group it was a lot better fit as the time needed was a lot shorter and each quest created a unique story that unfolded over the session. MoM is a very good game, although less of a tactical miniature war game than Descent 1st edition.
For me defence dice sounds like a ok addition as it can represent the parry or dodge of a character. He has armor, but also does try to avoid the damage actively, thus adding the success/failure factor to the damage system. Sounds very rpg style to me and I like it although there was nothing wrong with the static armor stat system either.
I like the idea of no-threat OL play as I'm sure that it will speed up the gameplay. I also want to believe that FFG makes sure that the playing as the OL will not be too simplified and boring, so there will be other tactical dilemmas for him to solve than counting tokens.
Overall it will be interesting to see how much of the 1st edition will there be in the 2nd edition. Will Descent 2nd edition be upgraded version of the Vanilla rules or will it be a completely new system that delivers the "Dungeon delving adventure" -slogan more effectively. For what it is worth the 1st edition came out 2005 and since then the board game systems have developed quite a lot. We tried the 1st edition 2010 and back then it already felt rules heavy, slow and clumsy system. Now it is 2012 and I wholeheartedly hope that Descent 2nd edition will steal the dungeon adventuring crown back from Claustrophobia (which is an awesome game, but unfortunately plays well only with 2 players).
I like that defenses aren't fixed anymore. Like the preview said, knowing exactly what you needed make for ponderous calculation and less than exciting results.
I don't mind losing the Overlord's Threat chips, as this should speed up play (Descent needs all the speeding up it can get). I do hope they found a way to make it so that the Overlord's deck can contain all cards in the game, not just the ones everyone knows are better. Most Overlords ignored a good 50-75% of the cards when building their deck, because a small subset were just way better than the others. I wouldn't mind a random subset of cards for the OL deck.
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