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Claustrophobia Board Game
Board Games 549
Rating 
 
4.0
This distills most of the action I want from Descent into a shorter and more tense experience.

Available actions for players on the human side are bound to hit points. Lose a hit point, cancel an action slot. Rolled a die that would let you use that action slot? That character is exhausted (only able to sit and defend his exhausted self). As can be guessed, very little damage needs to be dealt in the game before the tension ramps up and choices start to get difficult. Since the opponent (demon) can never be substantially crippled beyond the span of one turn, time is definitely on the demon player's side. The only action boundary for the demons is the luck of the dice and how many threat points they've stockpiled during their mini game of demonic Kingsburg.

The combination of these two dynamics makes the game play very quickly and viciously. The decisions, while tense, are often very clear, so down time is minimal unless the demon player starts to get some AP over dice allocation (this goes away with more practice).

A negative: after playing several scenarios repeatedly, I'm starting to see just how much luck is involved in their unfolding. Each team has some ways of mitigating luck, but even some of those methods are themselves greatly affected by the item/action cards that are received at random before the game begins (another layer of luck). It comes down to making the best with what you have, but I can't help but think that some scenarios can sometimes just be screwed from the start for one of the players.
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