Altar of Despair

Quest #1, "The Thing in the Pit"

1 January 2008, Game Kastle 2

For the New Year Game Marathon at GK I ran Descent using the Well of Darkness and Altar of Despair expansions. A couple of Descent regulars joined me, as well as two new players. The quest chosen was "The Thing in the Pit" (Quest #1 in Altar of Despair).

Player - Character

Lisa - Ispher
Jeff M. - Trenloe the Strong
Jeff K. - Runewitch Astarra
Rob - Runemaster Thorn
Kris - Overlord
The party of heroes was split between warriors and wizards.

While the heroes set up their characters I set to work tailoring my Overlord deck using the Treachery points. One thing I noticed in this dungeon is that there are only 4 Glyphs of Transport and they are fairly far apart. It's also a large dungeon so the heroes will probably need to use the Glyphs a lot. I saw that with my Treachery points I could corrupt 3 of the 4 Glyphs. I bought one Glyph of Power, one Sundered Glyph and one Glyph of Summoning. This left only one uncorrupted Glyph for the heroes to use. The 4 Glyphs are then put into a stack and randomly distributed among the Glyph locations in the dungeon.

In Descent the heroes must never run out of their supply of Conquest tokens. If they do, they lose the game. Heroes gain Conquest tokens by activating Glyphs, finding certain treasure and accomplishing quest goals. They lose Conquest tokens by dying, or when the Overlord draws the last card in his Overlord deck and reshuffles (a game clock that keeps things moving).

We finally got the game going at 8 PM. This would be tight as we had to end at midnight. My goal as Overlord: defeat the heroes by midnight!

The first few turns were spent in the Start Area and Area 1. The monsters went down pretty fast, so this was a good warmup for the new players. Both the heroes and the Overlord were making silly mistakes. I'm sure I felt the flu coming on--I dreaded losing a game to the heroes because I wasn't Overlording at my best! I have a reputation to keep up.

On turn 3, I got my first hero kill: It took the entire mob of my monsters in Area 1 to punch through Trenloe the Strong's armor and kill him in one turn. Not very effective use of damage but he was holed up in a doorway and the monsters couldn't reach the softer wizards in the back ranks. Astarra had the familiar, Boggs the Rat, so I couldn't spawn monsters behind the party and make my famous Monster-Hero-Monster sandwich.

The next turn the heroes activated the Glyph in Area 1: a Glyph of Power! They can use the Glyph to teleport to town but when they do the Overlord gets to draw 2 Overlord cards, keep one and discard the other for Threat tokens. In addition to giving the Overlord more power, this burns through the Overlord's deck faster. Time will run out much faster every time the heroes use this Glyph.

Over the next 7 turns there wasn't any outstanding plays on either side. The heroes were slicing their way through the monsters but they were also burning up resources. I managed to get Evil Genius in play. I could now draw 3 Overlord cards each turn, instead of 2. Time is running out for the heroes much faster!

The heroes were freeing prisoners to gain Conquest tokens, but some hero deaths were eating these away. Every time a hero returned from the dead, they really had to use the Glyph of Power--time was running out. By turn 12 the heroes were running low of Conquest tokens, but not enough to make them lose... yet.

On turn 13 Runewitch Astarra took a gamble to run towards the Glyph in Area 2 and activate it. The heroes felt they needed the Conquest tokens gained by activating the Glyph and the party could teleport into the dungeon at this new Glyph. A good, if somewhat desperate plan. Unfortunately, it was the Sundered Glyph! It was only worth 1 Conquest token (instead of the usual 3) and it couldn't be used for teleporting! Despair set in as the heroes' plan is ruined! The troll kills Runewitch Astarra, leaving the heroes with only 3 Conquest tokens between them and defeat.

Turn 14 saw the monsters block the heroes from the next cell holding prisoners (and more Conquest tokens needed to stay in the game). On the Overlord turn, I saw I had only 3 more Overlord cards before the deck ran out and the heroes lose 3 Conquest tokens. I drew my cards, took the last of the Conquest tokens and defeated the heroes hopes of victory!

The time was 12:10. Ten minutes past my goal of a midnight defeat. I must be coming down with the flu.

Overlord Tactics

My pregame decision to corrupt as many Glyphs as possible really paid off. The Glyph of Power had to be used so much it really gave me a lot more options and it ran out the game clock faster. When Astarra found the Sundered Glyph, the players knew they were doomed. Having Evil Genius in play early sped up the game clock too, and contributed to the early defeat.

Player Tactics

This seemed to be a pretty straightforward scenario. The players hadn't gelled as a team yet, but they played well. I'm not sure what they could have done better.