Saturday, November 22, 2008

Argh! You evil £$%&#!! Etc.

Regular readers can be reassured that this past 4-week bloglag wasn't caused by a descent into the slough of despond, but was instead down to a family visit and the same dearth of inspiration I noted a couple of months ago. Gaming in the past month has continued to be as steady a diet of Descent as availability for Sunday sessions would permit. The Descent score is now Overlord(s) 7, heroes 0. Tony and I almost managed to take Andy down, but, well, I decided to pull some fancy footwork to get the game over and done with so's I could get to work on the dinner, and instead of being the hero I ended up the goat.

It was quite funny really. There I was, a puny magic user outnumbered in close combat with 2 master monsters (the tougher ones of each kind, for those who don't know) because my supposedly game-winning blow with the nemesis relic Sword of Mighty Piercing Stabbiness against the pesky Invulnerable Beastman Minion had, well, missed (a mere 1/6 chance, sheesh!). I died, inevitably. No worries I thought, Andy could kill my hero 4 or 5 times over before we'd have to worry about losing. Then, when it was his turn, Andy rather shamefacedly moved the pesky Invulnerable Beastman on top of the only weapon which could hurt it, and then pointed out that he had won the game, because we couldn't get the weapon

Andy was right too, in the end. Feeling guilty at such a cheesy win in a game in which the heroes had had everything their way thus far, he chipped in to help Tony and I find a possible winning strategy. There was one, which involved raising all the cash we could to invest in skills, in the hope of getting Acrobat, which enables a hero to enter an enemy occupied square. (I've since discovered that there is also the Telekinesis skill which could've moved the damn thing.) But no, our luck wasn't in.

Andy's winning tactic has provoked some discussion since, with both Tony and Andy voicing thoughts that there was perhaps something wrong with it, one way or another. Painful as it was to have to admit it though, I had to disagree. As Andy evidently swithered over his move I quickly concluded that it would be asinine to expect him to throw a game just because he was embarrased to exploit my stupidity. Beyond that I also reasoned the scenario's designer must surely've been aware of this possibility, and nothing had been written in to preclude it. Further, I thought there was something tragically apt about the whole fiasco.

The dungeon in question was very lucrative, so that Tony and I were soon tooled up with lots of lovely treasure which we used to cut a gleeful swathe of destruction through everything that Andy could throw at us. We were cruising to what looked like an easy victory, only to fall foul of the relic rules, which we were seeing in action for the first time; the most important of which being that, unlike everything else heroes carry, relics are dropped on the spot when a hero is killed (to be sent back to town). Awesome treasures, carefree carnage, a deadly relic, and hopes of easy victory cruelly dashed thanks to my complete failure to grasp the implications of my extravagant scheme falling through; this rollercoaster ride of a game wasn't just fun, but it was thematically satisfying to see an evil Overlord win because of a hero's hubris!

When I first commented on Descent last year, I noted that it "might represent a real breakthrough in dungeon-bash boardgaming". Recent games have convinced me that this is indeed so, even if only because it gives me the "honest-to-god dungeon-bash in a box" I set my heart on when I first heard about Talisman 25 years ago. I just hope I'm not the first vanquished Overlord as I was the first losing Invader player in Doom: the Boardgame last year.

More anon, for sure. In the meantime, there should be an extra player tomorrow, so that the heroes can take a full party of 4 into the next dungeon. And I think it's Andy's turn to be the Overlord again. So, I'm off to have a look at some heroes... ;)

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