Game review: Descent Road to Legend and Kindred Fire app: play without an overlord player
Posted June 23, 2016
The epic dungeon crawl board game Descent, Journeys in the Dark by Fantasy Flight Games is the reigning monarch in the present fantasy adventure board game market. It has elements of a roleplaying game combined with miniatures, cards, beautiful dungeon passages, dice and easy to learn rules.
Up to this point, the game has accommodated up to five players, including one player who acts as a competitive game master called the overlord. Now gamers have a different option. A new companion app to the board game called "Road to Legend" allows four players to compete together against a computer AI that manages a bunch of the fiddly parts of the game as well as unfolding a multi-adventure campaign storyline.
The app is free to download and intuitive to use. Users touch a few screens to get started by creating a new campaign or loading a saved campaign. One cool aspect to the app is the ability to add any of the actual game expansions, lieutenant packs or monsters and heroes packs to the virtual content manager portion of the app so elements from these expansions can be used to build a more in-depth game experience in the app. The more expansions a person owns, the deeper the experience.
At the moment there are two story campaigns to choose from. In "Rise of All Goblins," players will enjoy a four-quest campaign involving a known enemy named Splig, the king of all goblins. The goblins face some kind of unknown threat and the heroes are asked to please help. The second campaign, "Kindred Fire," is a full-length campaign adventure with eight story quests and even more side quests that open up depending on what physical expansions a person owns. In this campaign, players will go head to head with the necromancer Merrick Farrow, a corrupt sorcerer cursed by magical power.
After choosing which campaign to play, gamers must decide whether to play the game in normal or hard mode. Then it's on to create an adventuring party. Choose four heroes to form a group, select classes for each, name the group and begin play. A nifty tutorial is also included to help new players learn how to use the app.
At the core of the app is the board game Descent, but a few liberties were taken to make the app integrate well with the game. For example there is no basic or epic play variant. The app only supports campaign play. Also, setup is determined by the app and the board is only partly revealed at the start. Finally, instead of the heroes taking all of their activations followed by the monsters, the heroes and monsters alternate and monster actions are determined by the app.
One thing about the Road to Legend app that is somewhat unforgiving is the negative effects that can happen when players' characters get knocked out. In the board game, there are no negative effects, but in the app there is team morale and each time a hero is knocked out, morale decreases. If morale drops to zero, the quest is immediately over and the heroes lose.
Furthermore, there are perilous events that can happen between fights with monsters. If heroes dilly dally around, peril increases and some nasty things can happen. It's wise to keep moving, even if players think they need a rest.
In between adventures in the world of Terrinoth, players can upgrade their skills and equipment. In town, as items are purchased and skills upgraded, the app will keep track of everything. It certainly saves a lot of book work.
The most exciting part about this app is the potential it has for the future of gaming in the world of Descent. New adventures, campaigns and side quests could be created for the game to continue the fun for years. Another thing to consider is how the app provides so much help in managing the game. There is more time to actually play the game rather than manage content. This kind of app could be used for other Fantasy Flight Games as well. Could there be something similar for Star Wars Imperial Assault on the horizon? Help us Obi Wan, you're our only hope.
The Descent: Journeys in the Dark Road to Legend app is free and can be downloaded for an iOS or Android device from iTunes, Google Play or Amazon. More information on the app and the board game can be seen here.