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The Ascent of Descent - Review
dragonstout wrote: While there might be same total number of minutes spent reading as in, say, Arkham Horror 2E, in that game, the reading is divided up into small chunks throughout the game.
Pet Peeve: People who read the entire card instead of just the area they're in. The game is long enough already.
"From the moment this game was revealed, people have been moaning about how “weird and gangly” the characters look. “Look at the size of her stupid helmet!” they've been bellowing, crumbs of Oreo spraying all over their divorce papers. “Is that dwarf a black woman?”, they've gasped, leaning on their pile of unopened Kickstarter pledges for support as their spindly legs wobble on the precipice of self-realisation."
^from Rab Florence of early boardgame internet video fame
Another excellent review. Getting some strong triangulation from multiple reviewers about good and bad aspects.
hotseatgames wrote: I'm surprised Charlie's review didn't drill into the app issues he experienced.
I carefully considered this. My hope is that it doesn't appear I hid or buried those by not addressing them.
The problem with Fire devices was corrected a day after I posted here, although I moved to PC at that point. I had zero problems on PC.
Since those issues were corrected, I struggled with whether it was worth mentioning at the cost of another paragraph. I feel like my review is already too long for the average reader so I had to carefully consider what to address and what not to. I assume, possibly incorrectly, app issues won't exist for the most part going forward. So raising that as an issue or criticism is fleeting.
I think a significant takeaway is that despite being overcome with strong frustration, the game ended up blowing me away.
So, in the above review, SU&SD basically ended up savaging this game. Quinns gushed about a lot of the things that other people have also gushed about (the beauty of the minis and terrain, the heroes are interesting, the story is at least somewhat compelling, etc.) But the fatal flaw that he found was that there really isn't much game to the game. The variety in combat and gear and feats is interesting, but what it boils down to is doing as much damage as possible and killing things as fast as possible in order to get to the next room to do the same thing. Now, many people will say that, at its most basic level, that's pretty much what a dungeon crawler is. And they'd be right, so if it works for you that, as he says, the most important thing is just to be able to walk up and attack twice, regardless of how you attack, fine. It works for you.
But what bugged me is what he showed in the context of that description, in that the game, such as it is, is ALL ON THE SCREEN. You can build that nice terrain and move those beautiful figures, but you don't really have to do any of it because all of the important actions are happening on the screen. That's what I said was the fatal flaw for me in another thread without ever having played it. I spend all day staring at screens. I'm doing it while writing this. When I'm playing a board game, I want to be looking at the board and the people I'm playing with. I don't mind having an app-assisted game. As I've noted before, I really liked Alchemists, which is app-assisted. But the game in Alchemists is still on the board and that doesn't seem to be the case with Descent (or at least not as much as I prefer it to be.)
SU&SD are neither infallible nor totally in line with my tastes. I watch their reviews because I think they're insightful and I find Quinns to be hilarious, but I don't always agree with them and have found them to be hypercritical about games that I really enjoy, like Root. I just found this one to be especially interesting because it dovetails nicely with both the concerns I had about things I was aware of and things that I wasn't. Of course, the post right above mine in this thread is Charlie's, whose opinion I also seriously respect, saying that he was blown away by this game that Quinns says isn't really a game, so take it for what it's worth, I guess.
Saying that you can ignore the playing area completely would be just as valid pointed at any dungeon crawler. You could just compare attack and defense and roll without ever moving a figure.
The combat mechanics are not deep or as involved as something like Gloomhaven, but I think they're very smart. By having you flip cards and components they make you feel clever, but they also physically draw you to the table and away from the app.
The magic of the game isn't really in the combat, it's in the scenario design and exploration element.
However, I wouldn't recommend it to you if you are concerned about the app. You should likely trust your instincts. It's far too expensive to take a gamble on.
I'm surprised they have this criticism of Descent but not Gloomhaven because, in my experience, it's absolutely true of the latter.
Jackwraith wrote: But the fatal flaw that he found was that there really isn't much game to the game. The variety in combat and gear and feats is interesting, but what it boils down to is doing as much damage as possible and killing things as fast as possible in order to get to the next room to do the same thing. Now, many people will say that, at its most basic level, that's pretty much what a dungeon crawler is
Sure, dungeon crawlers are about moving to room to room and fighting monsters. But wargames are also about that and they have more thought and depth.
That said, I completely agree with SUSD's assessment that the game is basically nothing but "move and attack twice", and is pretty boring as a game. The card-flipping is not interesting basically at all. That said, while I had some serious fun with the Road to Legend campaign for Descent 1E back over a decade ago, this has been how basically every dungeoncrawl game I've ever played has been: monotonous and simple at their core, Gloomhaven included, with major pacing problems given how monotonous they are. Always lots of fiddling and administration work.
Folks have raved about the scenario design for Descent, and while the scenario design SEEMS creative, it all ends up still being same ol' same ol'. The best example of this is the dream sequence: how creative and cool is it that there's a dream sequence mid-game???!? Super cool! Until you actually play it, and it amounts to nothing more than one character moving and attacking twice, or, if after the first attack the monster's dead, opening a door. It was EXACTLY like every other turn of the entire campaign so far, and there is quite literally nothing for the character in the dream sequence to think about or decide (ok I exaggerate, there is ONE moment of actual decision). This has been how it's been for every single one of the theoretically very creative and cool ideas so far: cool in theory, but in practice all the same.
I know that's not how everyone feels, for a lot of reasons. But for my own purposes I have not yet found a justification to buy any of these games when I already have lots of 5e, DCC, and OSR stuff around. I like those better anyway, even though I still don't play them as much as I'd like. Every time I am tempted by something like Gloomhaven or the new Descent, that's what I have to remind myself.