News for May 2014
Forge Your Path
A Guest Article for Descent: Journeys in the Dark Second Edition

Descent: Journeys in the Dark Second Edition pits up to four noble heroes against the monsters and schemes of the cunning overlord. Forming a winning strategy as the overlord can prove challenging, however, especially if the heroes seem to rebuff any strategies you employ. It’s important to remember, though, that you have access to myriad weapons and tactics. Even if one seems ineffective at first, you can often find ways to neutralize the heroes’ counters by using Overlord cards, monsters, or other tools.

Today, Justin Hoeger offers his thoughts on how to force the heroes into your traps by using changelings and a specific Overlord card first introduced in the Shadow of Nerekhall expansion.

Justin Hoeger on Traps and Solidarity

The overlord uses many weapons in his battle against the heroes, but some of the most dangerous are the Trap Overlord cards. Many of these cards have potent effects, but you’ll generally have to contend with the heroes good fortune in making attribute tests. When a hero makes an attribute test, he rolls a grey defense die and a black defense die. If he rolls shields equal to or less than his attribute value, he passes, but if he rolls more shields than his attribute value, he fails the test.

Many Traps require a hero to test Awareness, but your opponents may have chosen heroes with high Awareness attributes. On the other hand, there might be one particularly gifted hero who constantly undermines your efforts to ensnare the heroes. Either way, you'll have a tough time getting your best Traps to be consistently effective, unless you turn to other methods to gain the upper hand.

One of Shadow of Nerekhall's Universal class Overlord cards invites you to build a Trap-centric Overlord deck even when facing a high-Awareness party – all you need is a single weak link to focus your efforts against. The Overlord card you need is Solidarity. This card is played at the start of your turn and allows you to choose a hero. Until the start of your next turn, whenever a hero makes an attribute test, he must use the attributes of your chosen hero instead of his own attributes. With a little advance planning, you can play this card to thwart the heroes whenever they try to pass the attribute tests on your Trap cards, or any other important attribute test.

Two other new Universal cards can ensure that you have Solidarity in your hand when you need it. Refresh allows you to shuffle the Overlord discard pile into the deck and draw a card, putting Solidarity back in your deck after playing it, and Upgrade invites you to discard a card from your hand to search your deck for a card with the same trait. You can play Upgrade to bring Solidarity back to your hand if you have another Event card to discard. Alternatively, you could use it to find the exact Trap you need at any given moment.

Fluid Strategies

Solidarity requires a hero for you to target, but if there's no single hero with the lower attributes you need, you can create your own weak link with the help of the changelings. Master changelings have the Hideous Laughter ability, which decreases the attributes of every hero within three spaces. Because changelings are available in many Shadow of Nerekhall quests, this option for creating a weak link is often open to you during a Shadow of Nerekhall campaign.

What's more, all changelings have the ability to use Whisper as an action. Triggering Whisper forces all heroes adjacent to the changeling to test Willpower. Any heroes that fail are moved one space in the direction of the overlord’s choice! Whisper can force heroes aside when they block the way or cause them to move into lava, hazard, and pit spaces. You could even move the heroes adjacent to a monster with a punishing ability, such as the changelings' demonic master Gargan Mirklace, a lieutenant in Shadow of Nerekhall. If the heroes are already suffering from the effects of Hideous Laughter, it's a cinch to force the heroes into a tight formation that allows you to maximize the effect of the Imploding Rift Trap card. Imploding Rift forces a target hero and each adjacent hero to test Willpower, suffering fatigue up to their Stamina if they fail.

Other changelings can contribute by attacking and using their Wither ability. Wither causes a hero to take fatigue, but if he’s already taken fatigue equal to his Stamina, additional fatigue is translated to damage, helping you bring the heroes to their knees. Otherwise, a changeling can inflict Bleed, which causes more fatigue when a hero takes an action other than clearing the condition. If you have the foresight to play the Word of Misery at the beginning of your turn, you can inflict even more fatigue and damage on the hero party.

An excellent follow-up Overlord card is the Mistrust card from the Shadowmancer class, played at the end of your turn. This card causes each hero to suffer fatigue whenever he enters a space adjacent to another hero for the duration of the heroes’ turns, maximizing damage unless the heroes scatter. Another good move could be playing Shadow of Doubt to force a key hero to take his turn last. If you time this correctly during the quest, advancing without taking wounds from surplus fatigue could become impossible. The most important thing to remember is there’s always a counter somewhere: even if the heroes hope to counteract your efforts by using a Stamina Potion, the Overlord card Placebo flips the card facedown before they can use it.

Strike from the Shadows

Thanks, Justin!

The overlord has countless ways to plague and attack the heroes, but true mastery is judged by how the overlord adapts to the heroes attempting to escape him. Will you lead the heroes to save Terrinoth or will you use your monsters to send the heroes back to the mud? Decide in your own games of Descent: Journeys in the Dark Second Edition, and look for more Descent guest articles in coming weeks! 

Descent: Journeys in the Dark Second Edition is a story-driven board game for 2-5 players that takes a party of adventurers deep into the dungeons of Terrinoth for adventure, treasure, and glory. Players will embark on a campaign of linked quests as they develop characters based on four fantasy archetypes.

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