Descent Legends of the Dark from Fantasy Flight Games – Preview

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Steve Mayne
Steve Mayne
Writer, delver, story-teller, gamer, & Hawaiian shirt aficionado. he/him.

introduction

A New Beginning

Recently, Final Fantasy Games held a livestream where they previewed several features of their upcoming Descent Legends of the Dark game. This is a new stand-alone Descent that, at present, has no plans to link to the older Descent games by more than setting. I watched the livestream, took some notes, and have thought about it for a couple of days and wanted to share my thoughts on the event. If you want to check out the livestream for yourself it’s available on both Twitch and YouTube. It takes an hour and I found it very interesting.

Seasoned Veterans

As with previous Descents this one is brought to us by Fantasy Flight Games. The livestream featured two designers, Kara Centell-Dunk and Nathan Hajek. Both designers have been working with FFG for some time and have credits on several of their games including Mansions of Madness, Descent Journey’s in the Dark, and Lord of the Rings Journey’s in Middle-Earth. These are all games I personally enjoy and are one of the reasons I’m excited for the upcoming game.

Who’s behind It

What is it About?

Learning the Way

As with previous Descents this is a story based dungeon crawler. Additionally, in the style of Lord of the Rings Journey’s in Middle-Earth and Mansions of Madness the game is app driven. While I understand that will be a turn off for some players who will be hoping for a non-app based way to play the game they did reveal during the livestream that several features would only work through the app. One of these was trinkets, but more on that later.

The game seems to hold several mechanics that anyone who’s played Descent before will recognize but with a bit of an update. In a previous livestream they talked about fatigue and how you gained and removed it over the course of the game using a new mechanic that revolved around flipping equipment and character cards to the opposite side opening new modes, abilities, and requirements. This makes resting a more strategic choice that can give the player different benefits based on when they do it.

One of the other mechanics they touched on in this livestream revolved around the dice. While they didn’t talk at length about it there was mention of how different dice were designed to impart different styles of play. The D6 is the basic dice and is focused on successes, the D12 is built around rolling advantage which in previous games could be spent to trigger additional effects and powers, while the D8 is built around advantage which allows you to take on fatigue to gain successes but also can be interacted with by some characters to trigger other powers.

New keywords were revealed in passing; you can infect or scar cards but there was no indication of what that meant. One of the playable characters flips shadow cards and no description of that was given. They showed off a few of the items from the set, looking at some consumables and some trinkets.

And since we’re back to trinkets we might as well discuss the app. They took time to point out how trinkets were one of the things they could only do with the app. One of the specific examples they gave was for the trinket Lucky Charm. Its two effects on the card were, “After you test and input your results into the app an additional 0-3 successes are added,” and “Also, you are uniquely lucky.” While they didn’t give any specifics they made it sound like there would be effects that only occurred while you were holding the charm.

The game will be very story driven and the app looks to be focusing the story for the players. They started the app and played the opening bit of the game up to the first gameplay influencing decision and stopped there. While it didn’t show off much if did give a sense of the four starting characters and where their stories begin.

Moving from there, the game features six playable characters, four of whom will be available from the beginning. The game also allows for players to be added and removed as you play and the campaign’s difficulty to be changed. There’s a lot going into this mechanically and I’m really looking forward to seeing the final product.

Non-mechanic bits of the game were the 3-dimensional terrain pieces. They showed off some of the bits that made up the games boards and they look good though I’d like to get hands on them to see how sturdy they are, I’m a little worried about some of the pieces on the trees in particular. The storage for the game seems well thought out as most of the large box was empty space set aside for the assembled terrain. I like that they did this as FFG has historically made some unconventional choices in their packaging; the FFG trench for example. The miniatures looked amazing on stream and the vacuum pack trays to hold them seem nice. However, they looked to be having a little trouble getting the pieces out of the trays a couple of times and that worries me for when they’re painted. Again, this is a feature I’d like to get hands on to see how well it holds up but I’m currently optimistic.

A Touch of Divination

Right now the website lists August as the release date. This suggests that they originally had a GenCon release planned however, that’s been pushed back to September so I’m not certain if they’ll still go with the August launch or push back to the con.

When’s it Coming?

What Comes Next

That Which Follows

They made no specific mention of future products but I think we can expect at least one large box expansion in the year after release along with one or two smaller ones. Whether these will focus on enemies, new heroes, additional terrain, or anything else we can only speculate.

With Great Anticipation

I’ve already said I’m optimistic and that’s true. I’m trying to be cautious, especially considering the price point of $174.95. Right now I think the game looks like it might deserve that, but again I can’t be certain without seeing more on the mechanics, the story, and the quality of the pieces.

While they currently have no plans for it, I do hope they eventually bring the older sets forward to the new system. I understand that it will be difficult considering how each hero is built into the story. I think it would be nice if they could add some $4-$6 dollar story expansion that dropped new campaigns for the older sets. After all, Journeys in the Dark had its own story and if they just updated it to be in the app with the heroes for that set I don’t know how much work that would take, though I imagine more than I would estimate. So, it probably won’t happen soon if it ever does.

The hinted that the next livestream would feature gameplay and I’m looking forward to checking out exactly how the game works. When they drop that I’ll come back here to give my thoughts on stream much as I have here today. Right now, we can only wait to see what else comes of it. I’d love to hear your thoughts, what do you think? Are you interested in the game? Is the App a plus or a minus?

Until next time, stay safe and be well.

Conclusion

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