Cardboard Children: Descent 2nd Edition

By Robert Florence on July 29th, 2012 at 11:19 am.


Hello youse,

Today I invite you to celebrate my birthday with me, and before we finish I’ll try to get our list of Some Games underway. I want to thank everyone for their reaction to last week’s column. The main reason why it’s an honour to write on a site like RPS is that the quality of comment is usually so very high. You are a bunch of smart-arse clever-clogsies and I like you all very much.

Oh, and by the way… Descent 2nd Edition is out.

DESCENT 2ND EDITION

This week I dropped into one of my local board game shops, just for a wander. That’s what I always say – “Just for a wander”. After last week’s column, though, I told myself that I would NOT be buying any new games. But, forgive me – this week I had no chance, because Descent 2nd Edition was on the shelf, and I did not expect to see that.

I did not expect to see that sitting there.

Now, I’d been told that I would probably be sent a review copy of the game, but I was happy to shell out the 65 quid there and then so that I could take it home. Here’s how I see it – I played Descent 1st Edition like crazy. I got my money’s worth and more. I was comfortable with just laying out that cash for the new edition sight unseen, play unplayed.

I played it that same night.

I played it twice that same night.

I played it twice, in about two and a half hours, that same night.

Anyone who has any experience with First Edition is probably now, at this point, calling me a liar. The first edition of this dungeon-crawler was an enormous, slow-moving thing. A group of heroes fighting an evil overlord for five hours (or more) in a series of tactical, grindy battles in a dungeon full of re-spawning monsters. I’ve played many a session of First Edition where we didn’t even get to finish the scenario. We’d have to call it, because we would be (no joke) falling asleep at the table. This, you would think, is the mark of a deeply flawed game. But our group loved it, regardless. We learned to love its many issues.

Second Edition is still Descent, but it feels like a very different game. And when I say “a very different game” I actually mean “a game so different it’s pretty much a different game, by which I mean actually a different game”. It still wears Descent’s beautiful old rags, but under the rags is the buff, hard body of a muscular new dungeon battle game.

I haven’t put enough time into Second Edition yet to call this anything like a review – I’ll continue with my coverage of the game next week, but here are my first impressions, in handy bullet-points.

  • The game plays quick. The rules are so streamlined that the game can be explained in minutes and the bones rolling a few minutes later.
  • Setting up First Edition used to be a hassle. Second Edition is much easier. There’s less “stuff” and less exploration. The scenarios are smaller too. This is now a game that doesn’t have to be “planned for” on a “special night” like you would plan sex during a marriage.
  • Combat is so clean and quick that you start to wonder what all that weird First Edition clunky crap was all about. There is no slowdown for people doing sums, working out their hits. It can be read fast and the hits applied fast.
  • The miniatures are beautiful. Great quality.
  • The class system (more of that next week) offers a lot of variety. In fact, “variety” is the key word of Second Edition.
  • The scenario book is thick, and full of great stuff. Where Descent quests were once theme-light slaughterfests, there is now narrative and variety in objectives. (There’s that word “variety” again.)
  • The overlord’s job is far easier. His cards can be played on the heroes without any mechanical fuss, and he can focus on moving and attacking with his monsters. This makes the game more fun for everyone at the table.

There’s something major I need to mention here. There was a massive flaw with First Edition that made the game far less fun than it could have been. In First Edition, the Overlord gets rewarded for killing hero players. After death, the hero returns to full health and comes back into the dungeon in a later turn. What this actually meant was that the Overlord always focused his attacks on the easiest to kill member of the hero group. To play the game properly as a competitive thing, as intended, the Overlord always defaulted to bullying one or two players. Where was the point in attacking some tough, high HP hero? He’d take ages to kill, and would then be back at full strength soon after. Pointless. It was always a much better idea to start chasing some poor wizard around the dungeon, as the other heroes tried to keep skeleton archers from popping him with arrows.

Second Edition deals with this beautifully. First of all, the scenarios are objective-based, meaning that hunting heroes is rarely a priority. But the main difference is how death is handled. There is no death. Instead heroes are “knocked out”. Every time a hero gets knocked out they can choose to “Stand Up” in their turn if they’re not revived by another hero first. Whenever a hero comes round from being KO’d, they need to roll to see how much health and fatigue they recover. They will be back in the game, but they will be weakened. I absolutely love this. I love it.

Speaking as someone who always played the Overlord in sessions of First Edition, I was never comfortable with that whole bullying thing. It just felt shitty to be letting loose on one player so often. But you couldn’t choose not to do it. You couldn’t choose to let the weak player live just this once to keep everyone at the table happier. That would change your role to something along the lines of an RPG’s GM, and that’s not the point of Descent at all. I would often hear of people playing the game that way and it would blow my mind. “Oh, when I Overlord I always GM things a bit. Sometimes I choose not to play a card that would win the game for me if I feel that the heroes deserve their victory.” What bullshit is that? If you want to GM, play an RPG, don’t waste time on Descent. Descent is a board game about a bastard trying to beat a bunch of good guys by being as much of a bastard as possible.

Second Edition lets you do this fairly, in a way that feels good. And it’s all because of that KO system. Whether you put down a weak character or a tough character, they’re both getting back up weaker than they started, and almost ready to go down again. Suddenly everyone is equally as vulnerable. I mean, think about it – an adventure could start with some low HP wizard being the vulnerable one, right? A few KO’s later the big tough warrior is the one with the low HP, shitting himself at every trap card you play. That’s such a massive shift that when it hit me during play it completely sold me on Second Edition.

Oh, and it’s so… so… beautiful.

I’ve loved what I’ve played so far. More next week once I’ve looked into the campaign elements of the game.

SOME GAMES

As we start to compile and discuss this list of Some Games, some board games that will do, some board games that are enough, I ask you to keep adding input. If you disagree with my additions, tell me why. The list can change. If you have anecdotes about playing the games, or variants you use, or cool additions you’ve made, write them down in the comments. I can add the best to the page for each game. We’ll try to create a beautiful thing.

There can be no doubt in my mind about which game I’d put into the list first. Many of you suggested it last week, and there is a huge reason why it’s one of the perfect games to have if you’re only going to have some games.


Last week, in the comments section, Stromko said this about COSMIC ENCOUNTER:

“It’s a complex game with great replayability, but it isn’t hard to teach and doesn’t take long to play (usually). I find it less stressful and easier to do well at than something like Settlers of Catan. There are aspects of luck, such as what cards you have available, and how effective your alien powers are in the current situation, but luck has a place I think. Games where you aren’t given a set amount of resources provide a chance for less experienced or weaker players to win.”

While I don’t agree that Cosmic Encounter is necessarily complex, the replayability factor is inarguable. And that whole luck thing, that chaos thing giving inexperience players a leg up? Absolutely. That’s a big tick in the accessibility box. Pantsman (look, that’s his name, okay?) totally smashes it with this:

“Cosmic Encounter – Combines great social dynamics (bargaining, bluffing, backstabbing) with a rule-set of practically limitless variability to create glorious chaos. Takes a while to explain but easy to understand once you get into the swing of it. Always gets people shouting, pointing, laughing, and glaring. My brother almost broke up with his girlfriend when she sided with me instead of him for a shared victory, probably my favourite moment in my entire board-gaming experience.”

Cosmic Encounter, as I’ve said a million times, could be the greatest board game of all time. But that’s not enough to make it onto our list. If you’re only going to have some games, those games need to last. They need to be great forever.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve played Cosmic Encounter, but I can tell you that it is a different animal every single time you let it out of the box. A simple space conquest game, about establishing colonies on your opponent’s planets, becomes a hilarious, unpredictable riot of a thing when the different alien powers crash into each other. And there are a LOT of aliens in the box, and a lot of powers. Here’s a board game that you can’t prepare for. You have to just deal out the aliens, reveal them, and then try to work out how to approach controlling a surreal new universe.

“Practically limitless variability.”

Yes, Pantsman. Yes. Exactly. Exactly, man of pants.

I put it to you all that the first of our games, the first of some games, must be Cosmic Encounter.

What do you say?

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81 Comments »

  1. RF says:

    The only issue I have with board games is just that they are so damn expensive.

    • Kohlrabi says:

      Steam sales for boardgames would be great. :)

    • Grargh says:

      Most of them cost no more than a concert ticket. I think that’s pretty fair for the entertainment you (hopefully) get out of it.

    • phuzz says:

      In our house, we sometimes split the cost of a new game, a bit like getting one of those bundle deals on Steam for (eg) four copies of L4D for a cheaper price.
      That cna bring the price of a new game down to a sensible individual cost.

    • baby snot says:

      You are actually getting a physical as opposed to digital copy of a thing. If I wasn’t a bum my house would be full of boardgames by now, all thanks to this amazing column.

    • grnr says:

      with our group we started a pot for a while – every time we played, folk would chuck in a couple of quid each, or whatever they could afford, and every few weeks for a while we got a new game. worked well!

    • Joshua Northey says:

      They are only expensive compared to video games if you steal most of your videogames. They are otherwise roughly the same $/hr of enjoyment. Also if you cannot afford to drop $50 on extremely cheap entertainment once in a while you shouldn’t really be browsing a website like this and should instead be looking for a better job.

      • malkav11 says:

        Most of the games I’m most interested in are $65-100 and might get played once a year if I’m lucky – I don’t have a nearby audience for them. (It’s not that I don’t know other local boardgamers, it’s that most of them want to play things like Carcassone and Zar, with occasional forays into the heady heights of perhaps a Catan game, whereas I want to play things like Arkham Horror, the Horus Heresy boardgame, Mage Knight, Descent, etc.) So not only are they more expensive than a videogame, they are vanishingly less likely to get played.

        • Ragnar says:

          Invite them over, hand me a beer, say “Check out this new game I just got,” and break out Descent. That’s how I first played Descent (except the owner came to my house, and brought it with him).

          Once they’re at your house, enjoying your hospitality, are they really going to say “No, I don’t want to try it” when you open Descent? If they do, then they just suck, and you are well within your rights to take back your beer and kick ‘em out.

    • Chmilz says:

      My problem is I have no one to play with :(

  2. Crowl says:

    I picked up 2nd Edition on Friday evening and we played for a bit on Saturday, and I would have to say that everything you said is 100% spot on. I foresee us playing the hell out of this one. Now we just need the 1E conversion kit!

  3. tobias says:

    Happy Birthday Mr Florence! Your columns are superior.

  4. Qwentle says:

    100% on Cosmic Encounter. I’ve only got a collection of around 40 games, but Cosmic Encounter beats out everything as far as replaying is concerned with my group. With the expansions to bring it up to 7 players it’s utter madness that works every time.

    Interesting to hear Descent 2e is great. I’ve been staying away from 1 recently as though it was great fun, we normally had to play it over a weekend which got annoying. I think I’ll pick it up. Does it have the over-world questing aspect of the 1e expansions or is that coming later (or compatible, I never picked it up but was always interested?)

    • Crowl says:

      There is a basic overland map on the back of the quest guide, and campaign rules. They are not as elaborate as Road to Legend but its a serviceable campaign option until a full blown expansion comes out.

  5. AlwaysRight says:

    Happy Birthday RoFlo, I hope James Purefoy buys you Dark Souls the Boardgame.

  6. Xantonze says:

    Thanks for the column, very interesting as always.

    A little idea for the “Some games” guide:
    it would be great if you could mention the “optimal” number of players for each game.
    I find this info often lacking in game reviews, and some games can really lose a lot of interest if they’re not played with the “optimum” number of people, even though the box says something like “from 2 to 5″ players.

    A good example would be Cyclades, which I would rate like this:
    Best with: 5 players
    Good with: 4
    OK with: 2
    Avoid: 3.

    Of course it is subjective, and you could insert just some of the above criteria, but if everybody who played the games would share their opinion on this (and perhaps explain why they feel the game is good/ok/bad with {X} players), you could come up with some kind of “average” advice.

    Cheers, keep up the nice work!

    • DellyWelly says:

      I second this idea. I would love to look through a list of games that are actually good with three players. Three has to be the saddest number, one short of four, and TWO short of five. I could keep going up, but that would just be counting.

      • Xantonze says:

        Some good games with 3 players, played recently:
        -Le Havre
        -War of Honor
        -Carcassonne
        -Pandemic (and all the coop games)

      • hoobajoo says:

        Dominion, Thunderstone, Mage Knight, and Galaxy Trucker all spring to mind.

        • Groove says:

          In my mind 3 players is the BEST number for Thunderstone.

          2 players and the piles almost never run out, 4 players and all the good piles will run out quickly. 3 players provides balance.

    • Jesse L says:

      In case anyone doesn’t know, BoardGameGeek.com has information about recommended number of players for every game, and the sample size is probably much larger than what we could gather here.

      • Xantonze says:

        Well, usually, the BGG pages state “best with” and then “recommended for…[any number of players, usually as written on the box], which isn’t exactly helpful ;)

  7. McDan says:

    Happy birthday indeed Mr Florence! I’m very much looking forward to getting Cosmic encounter, I think there’s little better that my student loan could be spent on. I do so love your boardgames writings, keep it coming.

  8. chairmanwill says:

    Great recommendation. I bought Cosmic Encounter based on your incessant hyping (plus those other two chaps) and have never looked back. Not only is it a fantastic game for people who already love cardboard, but it’s incredible at getting new people into gaming. There’s several games I own that people soon buy their own copies of, but Cosmic Encounter is the only one where they buy all of the expansions too.

    I also second Xantonze’s comment about how useful it is to know the ideal number of players. IT seems to be quite common for game boxes to say “2-8 players” when anything less than four is just rubbish.

  9. Duke of Chutney says:

    Happy birthday good words. I owned deskent 1 but never got round to playing it in half a year, so traded it for war of the ring. Cosmic is awesomes and i agree an obvious choice on the list. I wouldnt put cyclades on the list, i dont think its a bad game, but it isnt the best DOAM, not enough turn by turn satisfaction because you have to get a turn where you can actually attack (either by Ares or one of the cards) to really hit the fun.

    id have;
    1.Cosmic
    2.A Richard Borg system game, i dont think it matters which one, choose the theme you like most. I have C&C Napoleonics.
    3.One high interaction card game either; Citadels, Resistance, Werewolf or Intrigue
    4.One big multiplayer war game: A Game of Thrones, Eclipse, Twilight Imperium, Successors, Dune or Titan
    5.One hide and seek game either; Fury of Dracula or Letters From Whitechapel
    6.Survive
    7.One two player intense tactical game either; Sekigahara, Ares Project, A columbia block game, or possibly a CDG like Hannibal or Twilight struggle
    8.An adventure game; Talisman, Mage Knight, or Dungeonquest, depending on whether you want light, heavy, or death
    9.Tales of Arabian Nights
    10. One interactive! economic/euro game; Chinatown, a light 18xx, Colonial or possibly settlers of catan or high frontier if you have balls.

    also the downtime town cosmic video is a classic, possibly the best boardgame video ever

    • DellyWelly says:

      Only want to play Game of Thrones ever ever. It’s ruined my happy go lucky board gaming experience. If it’s not GoT, I’m simply just going through the motions. I want to be your friend for most of a a game and then turn round and make you cry by taking Highgarden, hahahahaa!

    • Stromko says:

      Happy birthday Rob!

      Duke of Chutney: I’m also tempted to recommend Mage Knight the Board Game for anyone’s collection, but haven’t mentioned it so far just because it’s new and I’ve only played it about five times. Four out of five of those games were the tutorial scenario as I got new players up to speed with it. Only played the ;main’ Conquest mode once with other players and we weren’t able to finish it in the time we had at our venue.

      I’ve had a blast with Twilight Imperium every time that I’ve played as well, though that’s only been twice and a year apart each time (convention). Hard to say if the anticipation of it is what makes it so good to me. Every gaming group needs a big epic game to sink their teeth into, though, so something like it is definitely necessary for any collection.

  10. josua says:

    Congratulations! I wish you only the best!

    3 Things:

    1. The some-games-article really hit me! i would like to read more about boardgame-topics “around” the games themselves
    2. i just bought Cosmic Encounter and last week we played it for the first time – it was great – thanks for your neverstopping recommendations!
    3. I love Burnistoun. Watched the whole thing for the second time now. Gave me a good time (again) !

    My only contribution for the some-games-list will be “The Resistance” because i think it won’t get old. I like the new Czech version with the Mafia theme (perhaps matches the taste of some people better).

    (Please excuse my English)

    • The Greatness says:

      Heheh, you’ve got to love The Resistance. I almost think it’s worth adding to the list purely because it costs (relative) chicken feed and because I’ve never found a game that’s so quick and easy to explain. It’s like the rules don’t even exist!

  11. Jake says:

    This is probably too specific for the great board game list of Some Games, but I’d be interested in what party/4-8 player game to play with people who probably won’t want to learn too many rules. Also it would help if I could take it on holiday (so no giant box).

    • Shadram says:

      Dixit! If you get Dixit Odyssey (the 3rd one) you can play up to 12 players, the rest go up to 6. But when you buy one, you’ll probably then buy all the rest anyway.
      Rab did a video on it a while back: http://vimeo.com/12142294

      • Ragnar says:

        I second Dixit, and also recommend Apples to Apples – which becomes more fun the more ridiculous you play it, or when you ignore what the cards say and start pandering to the players, and Red Dragon Inn – a lighthearted game of screwing each other over which stays light, fun, and jovial throughout – which with the expansion can play 2-8.

  12. Vinraith says:

    I’m disappointed to hear Descent has become so streamlined and stripped down. That’ll drive the price of first edition materials through the ceiling.

    • Shadram says:

      From what I’ve read/seen, the streamlining is only a good thing, and you don’t really miss not having so many monsters since (as the overlord) you’ll be doing more than just trying to kill the heroes.

      Can’t say first-hand yet, it’s not available in NZ until the end of August. :(

  13. wodin says:

    Solo games. Please, please do some solo game recommendations. Or games with solo rules that are still just as fun as with others and not some tacked on stripped down version of the game which isn’t as good.

    So please for those who have no real life mates who would show a glimmer of interest in cardboard..please recommend some solo games.

    • Severian says:

      I play a number of solo games and here are my recs:

      1. Lord of the Rings LCG. Unless you hate deckbuilding and are wary of spending too much money.
      2. Castle Ravenloft/Wrath of Ashardalon/Legend of Drizzt. Love these games solo or with a couple mates. Good AI system. You might also check out the Gears of War boardgame which is also cooperative.
      3. Ghost Stories. If you’re masochistic. Love it.
      4. Arkham Horror. If you have the table space and time and don’t mind fiddly-ness.
      5. Death Angel card game. For a quick fix of Space Hulk action.

      • gwathdring says:

        I’d second Arkham Horror as a solo game. It’s great fun–some of my best AH moments have happened in solo play. It’s more fun with folks, but not many games keep as much of their spirit in the solo game as Arkham. Not sure if that says more about the solo play or the team-play. :P

      • JiminyJickers says:

        Yeah these are good. I have Lord of the Rings, Arkham Horror, Wrath of Asharladon, and Death Angel and I mostly play them solo.

        Need to find some more mates, haha.

    • Duke of Chutney says:

      I’ve solo gamed quite abit and i’d say that Mage Knight is possibly the best solo game on offer atm.

    • Martel says:

      Good question, I’m in a similar boat. Got a few games thinking I could get a few coworkers to play and haven’t even unboxed them. Might be resorting to some solo games myself

    • Shadram says:

      Pretty much any co-op can be played solo, just set up for 2-3 players and manage both yourself. I’ve had a few fun evenings with Castle Panic and Pandemic, and when you get your arse kicked (so most of the time with Pandemic) you’ve only got yourself to blame…

    • hoobajoo says:

      Mage Knight and Space Hulk-Death Angel are both great solo, and both will play larger groups as well, so they pull double duty. Quinns reviewed Phantom Leader on SU&SD last year, it’s a pure solo game about running airborne missions over Vietnam, and it sounded very interesting.

    • Groove says:

      Thunderstone has a pretty good solo varient. The original solo rules are in the 1st expansion, but I know they’re available online and none of the components in the expansion are specific to solo play (so any set can be played solo).

  14. Severian says:

    I’m very intrigued by Descent 2nd edition, but would likely only play it with 2 players typically. Is it good with just 2? How many heroes would need to be controlled by the one player for it to be fun?

  15. Selifator says:

    A question for people outside of the UK who buy boardgames through the interwebz, are there any good sites that use paypal, ideal or other means that do not require a credit card? Amazon does have many boardgames but the lack of a credit card means that I can’t buy those.

  16. MythArcana says:

    Happy birthday and enjoy!

  17. Screwie says:

    Wow, Descent 2nd sounds like it’s fixed all the barriers I had to playing the original – there was no way I could fit 1st edition around my group’s gaming evening schedules.

    Looking forward to your proper review!

  18. Benkyo says:

    It ‘s weird. I love Cosmic Encounter, I think it should play beautifully and I want everyone else to love it too.

    Everyone I’ve ever played it with, with the notable exception of 3 male teenage friends about 15 years ago, has hated it. Why? I don’t know, and they haven’t been able to articulate why either, but on each occasion everyone (else) has agreed it’s a crap game and they don’t like it. Even I haven’t been able to enjoy it with all the negative energy at the table.

  19. 23YearOldBedWetr says:

    So, Bob, you don’t play all your boardgames…
    That doesn’t matter ! You are a collector, a scholar of boardgames, it’s not necessary that you get hours of enjoyment out of each one. You can’t stop the growth of your collection now – be more curatorial perhaps; but to quit cold turkey, my goodness.

  20. Nick says:

    Any word on this 40K themed game using the Talisman ruleset?

    • malkav11 says:

      http://www.fantasyflightgames.com/edge_news.asp?eidn=3446

      Since it’s finally been announced, I’m pretty sure I can now say that I playtested it some time ago (I think it was back near the start of the year) and it was flipping amazing. Everything I’ve always liked about Talisman, but with elements that address a lot of my complaints about Talisman, and of course the lovely Warhammer 40K theme. Of course, it’s probably evolved since then and this past Friday night, I saw Jon Goodenough (who took over Talisman development, along with some other Games Workshop properties), and he said he was now working for Alderac Entertainment, so I assume someone else has taken over development on Relic.

      • Nick says:

        Sounds good, shame about the busts rather than Minis, but thats easily (expensively) rectified I suppose.

        • malkav11 says:

          Fantasy Flight’s licensing agreement with Games Workshop is apparently pretty strict. And one of the things that Games Workshop will not allow is for them to produce miniatures. The busts were as close as they could get.

  21. gwathdring says:

    Cosmic Encounter would be first on my list, too. I can teach it in a couple of minutes and I’ve yet to play it with someone who didn’t want to play it again soon. My gamer friends almost always want to play it again immediately.

    While it takes far longer to teach, I’ve had the same results with Space Alert. Every person who has learned how to play has had a blast. I think Space Alert would be my second. Especially since I found this:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fzkSpgH1eNA

    BGG isn’t responding properly at the moment, but if you google Space Alert Flash Turn Processor you’ll find this gem. It doesn’t include the expansion materials, sadly, but it’s adorable and makes the turn-processing step of the game more fun for my friends and I.

  22. kert says:

    Descent ? Can you shoot virus-infected robots in mines in it ?

    • malkav11 says:

      That was the association I first made with it too, especially since it’s an expansion of the design ideas that went into Fantasy Flight’s DOOM boardgame. But no, it’s a fantasy dungeon crawl set in their Runebound universe.

  23. arrjayjee says:

    I enjoyed the first Descent but it always felt clunky and slower than it should be. I just bought the 2nd edition since your description seemed to fix all the issues I had with the 1st edition.

  24. Lu-Tze says:

    Cosmic Encounter is the only game where every other player has banded together to all win at the same time, purely out of spite of making me be the only loser. After turns and turns of backstabbing, negotiation and war… all everyone wanted to do was make sure that I lost.

    I was never so proud of a group of first time players.

    • gwathdring says:

      :D

      I am routinely stirred to pride by the acts of vicious gamesmanship showed by first time Cosmic Encounter players. :)

    • Hammers says:

      Haha, that happened to me just this weekend! The look of realisation on the other players’ faces when they figured out they could all win together was something to behold and to have new players decide to take me down as one united front was one of the best bits of boardgaming I’ve ever had occur to me.

      That game never ceases to amaze and please me :)

  25. Jorum says:

    Quick question someone here might be able to answer.
    I have the original cosmic encounter (from 70s with the hippy painted artwork) and first three expansions I think. Would there be much point splashing out on the newest version?
    Seems to work out about same number of aliens as I’ve already got, so mechanically would there be much difference?

    • Shadram says:

      I’ve not played the old editions, but from what I understand, the core mechanisms are unchanged, but FF did a lot of work around clarifying the timing of powers, etc, so that there’s less confusion over what happens when. Also the components are fantastic.

      I guess as far as new things go, there’s some new variants like the Technologies in the base game, and in the expansions you have the reward deck (Cosmic Incursion) and the hazard deck (Cosmic Conflict). Cosmic Alliance adds extra cards for use in 7-8 player games (the draw pile is pretty tiny otherwise, and Cosmic Quakes abound), and rules for a team variant. And you obviously have the extra alien powers, it’s 110 total with all 3 expansions, about half of which are brand new for the FF edition.

  26. Pantsman says:

    Woah! My own humble comment, quoted in these hallowed web-pages? You just made my day, Rab. Honest. Thanks so much.

    (For what it’s worth, I’m Canadian, and over here we understand “pants” to mean trousers, never underthings. (No I’m not the VG Cats guy.))

  27. Reapy says:

    Arg, going to have to grab it. I was really upset at d1, the combat dice math and ganging up on one player, town trading juggling, insuring los is covered etc just ground the game to a halt. My group had a lot of players that wanted 100% optimal moves, so combined with all the mechanics it just had us doing 6 hour games, Arg.

    Though I’m probably going to end up dropping 150 for this plus conversion kit, cause I really didn’t give d1 enough games for it’s price.

  28. JigxorAndy says:

    I’ve played dozens of games of Descent 1 with my friends and it really does take forever! Some of our games took 6 hours +. It’s great to hear that Descent 2nd edition seems to fix these problems and streamline the whole process. I’ll have to pickup a copy! Thanks for the great review.

  29. mavis says:

    I can see a major problem with this list of “some games” – I’m not going to own any of them and then I’m going to have to go and buy them…….

    Which seem to be rather an odd response to an idea founded on buying less games. But there you go. :-)

  30. Noodle2977 says:

    I loved Descent 1st Edition despite its (many) flaws. Having had a quick game of 2nd Ed, I think Fantasy Flight have fixed many of the previous issues & I’m thoroughly looking forward to playing it again soon.

    My suggestion for the ‘Some Games’ list is King of Tokyo. Without a shadow of a doubt the game which has been played the most this year in my group. Good with 3, 4 or 6 players. You can get a game played in 15-45 minutes (depending on players & the style of play) but most importantly, it’s great fun & can’t be taken too seriously.

    For a more in-depth experience, Eclipse is the best game I’ve played in a long time. Having only played it once, I can’t recommend it for the ‘Some Games’ list yet but first impressions are excellent.

  31. Kdansky says:

    よつば:パンツマン!まだ来たの!

    And that’s where Pantsman has his name from. Book 1, I believe.

    Somewhat related: Are there any great board-games that pass well through a language barrier? Ability cards with text (for example) are a huge issue when one of the players can’t read them well.

    • Pantsman says:

      The name was just something I came up with when I was 15 as a silly idea for a superhero, and then decided would make a good online handle. No idea what you’re on about I’m afraid, but now I’m curious. Is that a manga or something?

  32. Groove says:

    Thinking about it carefully, there are 3 games in my collection that I think would fit onto this list (there are a lot of games not in my collection).

    Dominion is the table-top game I’ve played most, ever. Even counting childhood games, or 10 minute-long drinking games. It’s simple enough that anyone can learn it within 5 minutes but it has actual depth and a crazy amount of card synergies to discover. There’s enough random chance to allow people a leg-up but better players almost always win. It gets hugely more varied with expansions but crucially it doesn’t need expansions to be brilliant. It’s pretty cheap as board games go, which must be a point in it’s favour. Also, it’s a great game with any number of players, including as a two player game.

    7 wonders is actually fairly new to me, but my limited experience was epic. I bought it for myself as a birthday present, played it with 4 players on Saturday and we played it 5 times. I’m not sure I’ve ever played one game 5 times in one sitting before. This is hugely helped because it’s ACTUALLY 30min-45min long, without losing any depth. Things like how everyone takes their turns at once, it cuts out so much flab and wasted time. I also really enjoyed how my group got objectively better over time, since by game 4 and 5 everyone’s score had raised by a full 10 points over game 1 and 2. It shows it’s a game of skill over luck, and that it’s fairly easy to pick-up, since we had 2 experienced gamers and 2 fairly inexperienced.

    Summoner Wars is like randomised chess with a theme. Randomisation gives variety as well as helping newer players. It’s also rather cheap to get started with a starter set.

  33. Synesthesia says:

    “Oh, when I Overlord I always GM things a bit. Sometimes I choose not to play a card that would win the game for me if I feel that the heroes deserve their victory.” What bullshit is that? If you want to GM, play an RPG, don’t waste time on Descent. Descent is a board game about a bastard trying to beat a bunch of good guys by being as much of a bastard as possible.”

    Speaking of which, how do you people play Mansions of madness when you play the house? I find it hard not to GM things a bit, given the inmense power one gets when being IT.

  34. Ribonizer says:

    Yes! Yes! A thousand time yes!
    Cosmic Encounters must be first!

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