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The Ascent of Descent - Review

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01 Oct 2021 12:14 #326923 by san il defanso
Yeah, this is probably a good time to add that I'm in no position to make serious critiques of most of these games, since I haven't played any major crawler since Silver Tower. It's more a reflection of me simply not seeing anything in reviews or ad copy to convince me otherwise.

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01 Oct 2021 12:51 #326924 by hotseatgames
The dungeon crawl genre is fascinating to me. Ask 100 people to describe the perfect dungeon crawl, and you will get 100 answers. I personally adore the concept, but most games leave me wanting.

The fact that a dungeon crawl can be so many things means that you will continue to see different designers' takes on them, and I think that's perfectly fine.

Perhaps the key to breaking up that monotony described in "enter room, clear monsters, repeat" comments is player-driven change. Most games are the same thing over and over if you really break them down. Every game of Nexus Ops has people clamoring over the center space, etc. But the details of how those games play out are what make them different or memorable.

I personally have some crazy ideas for my own dungeon crawl that I may create some day. I don't know if I will be able to realize them, because they are EXPENSIVE.
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01 Oct 2021 14:08 - 01 Oct 2021 14:10 #326925 by dragonstout

san il defanso wrote: I still have a huge issue with dungeon crawl board games, basically what you said dragonstout. It feels like they are at their core either too simple or too fussy. For me the basic appeal has always been the narrative unpredictability of dungeon crawls. The player freedom, solving puzzles, interacting with NPCs. Aside from a very select group (limited to Dungeonquest and Silver Tower) I think I would be fine never playing another board game designed to emulate an experience that, to me, fundamentally belongs with TTRPGs.


Completely agree that DungeonQuest and Silver Tower are the two best dungeoncrawls I've played, despite major nostalgia for Descent 1E (though honestly, as much as folks here seem to hate 1 vs. all games, I think that might be exactly what's necessary to have an interesting tactical challenge, so maybe part of the issue is in giving up on that approach). Silver Tower is still kind of monotonous, but short enough and without all the pointless administration of the others.
Last edit: 01 Oct 2021 14:10 by dragonstout.
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01 Oct 2021 16:21 #326927 by san il defanso
ST focuses on narrative and atmosphere above all else, which is what I want from a game like that. It’s not a game for people who really want tactical depth, but I don’t care much about that.

It’s helped a bunch by its Age of Sigmar setting, kind of how Planescape Torment is helped by Sigil. It doesn’t read like regular ol’ fantasy. I also really like the “scripting” for the monsters. It’s just predictable enough, and makes all the creatures feel really distinct.

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01 Oct 2021 16:32 #326928 by Shellhead
Blackstone Fortress offers the tactical depth that is missing from Silver Tower. Both games tend to be a bit easy, but if one or more heroes manage to get a couple of injuries, the game becomes pretty challenging. The boss fights in Blackstone Fortress are all very challenging, and the final boss fight is brutal. There is still some degree of grinding in the normal missions, but the variety of map layouts and opponents keeps everything relatively fresh.
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01 Oct 2021 21:55 #326932 by mtagge

hotseatgames wrote: The dungeon crawl genre is fascinating to me. Ask 100 people to describe the perfect dungeon crawl, and you will get 100 answers. I personally adore the concept, but most games leave me wanting.

The fact that a dungeon crawl can be so many things means that you will continue to see different designers' takes on them, and I think that's perfectly fine.

Imperial Assault was it for me. Yes, it is Star Wars themed so not a traditional dungeon crawler, but it had so much going for it.

-Mission deck with side missions for each character.
-Missions had extreme variety. Some were kill everything, some were survive, some were exploration, some you were running everywhere, getting crates was more important than killing.
-Enemy power and skill varied drastically and the Imperial player could go fully themed. Enemy spawns were based on a points buy with the Imperial getting a set amount of buy each turn (with additional due to scenario or events).
-Characters and their skills were all unique and set them down a unique playstyle. There was even a guy who was good at throwing enemies down the saarlac pit when playing the Jabba campaigns. One of them had reduced cost allies so would come along with rebel troopers for free.
-Imperial agenda cards generally affected the meta or side missions and there were at least a dozen agenda cards sets. For agenda cards played in mission it wasn't like Descent 2nd where the overlord would hoard them and play a dozen on the last two rounds.
-Imperial player had a class as well and it affected gameplay and style (Imperial Might would see stormtroopers everywhere, Bounty Hunters would see Bossk hunting the players at every mission).

This doesn't sound as good as Imperial Assault.
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