Descent is a neat game made by Fantasy Flight Games. It’s a board game, but shares a lot with war games. The basic setup is that you have an evil overlord controlling all the monsters, and a bunch of other players acting as a team of heroes. And unlike many RPGs, the Overlord isn’t just trying to give you a fun challenge, he’s out to crush you without mercy.
Tactics are a big thing in this game. Line of sight is precious for a lot of reasons. Being able to hit the enemy, but for the heroes it’s got the added bonus that the Overlord cannot spawn additional monsters within line of sight. This makes board position critical. Not unlike the idea of threat ranges in most war games, like a battery of Lascannons deterring tanks from zipping around in the open. What order the heroes go in is a big thing as well since each has unique options and abilities and can lead to some sweet combos. Sounds a bit like Warmachine in that one.
Another key factor is how you kit your heroes out, and what treasures they find along the way. To give you an example from my last game, we had to fight a nasty giant with basic town gear, but then he got back up again. One of us managed to run in and grab some upgrade from the crappy town gear. The mage got a super nice staff that’s basically a tank cannon, while another got an ice storm rune that’s more or less a bazooka. Suddenly the game was much easier and we went from a near-hopeless situation to practically assured victory.
Many things are randomly generated when you play, too. What treasures you get is a draw from a card deck. The attack dice are different colors, some offering better range, some more damage, and some with a chance to miss entirely but solid range and damage potential. The Overlord’s spawns and special abilities are drawn from an evil overlord deck. The skills of your heroes are drawn from different skill decks for range, melee, and magic. So much like a war game, a big part of your tactics and skill will be in trying to tip the odds in your favor as heavily as possible. Like sitting a squad in cover, or bringing backup units that can fill in when one goes down.
In the end, it’s a very fun game, but also very challenging and if you’re not careful it can become quite frustrating. But if you can relax a bit, and keep an eye out for opportunity, you’ll have an excellent time J