On the Road Again--Adventures with Descent: Road to Legend (Part 1)

We're trying something a little different today on Theology of Games. I (Firestone) have collected Descent 2nd Ed. and the expansions over the years, and my kids and I have run through a few scenarios as one-offs, but I never had the time to run a campaign. But then Fantasy Flight announced Road to Legend, an app that acts as the Overlord, and this seemed like a perfect opportunity for me to play with my kids, without having to run the game myself. 

So I'm running a series of posts that chronicle my time playing with my kids--which will also act as a review. This first article is an overview of the app. The next post will include things to keep in mind as you start to play. These first couple of posts won't have any spoilers, but subsequent ones likely will have at least mild ones, but I'll warn you beforehand. So let's dive in!

The Road to Legend is a free app, available on iOS, Android, and Kindle devices, that acts as an Overlord for games of Descent 2nd Ed. That means you'll play it completely cooperatively, or even solo. It comes with a free introductory campaign called The Rise of All Goblins, which includes four quests, and a number of side quests. Fantasy Flight also decided to make the first full-length campaign--Kindred Fire--free as well. That includes eight story quests, and a batch of new side quests. Further campaigns will cost you--I've heard they'll be $10 each, but can't verify that.

The first thing you'll do, before you even start a campaign, is tell the app which expansions you have. Some quests have set monsters that appear (all of those would come from the base set, which is the only one necessary to play Road to Legend). But many of the main and side quests include "open groups," and the app pulls from your own collection to populate these. So even if you play the same quest over in another run, it'll feel different because it'll probably have different monsters. 

After that you'll tell the app which Heroes you're playing and which Class each of the Heroes is. Then you'll decide if you're going to run through the tutorial quest. I'd suggest doing that because it takes you through the basics of the game and the way the app works.

First you can go to the city and stock up on Items (which will change as you come back to the city), or you can spend XP to upgrade your Hero with new Class cards. The app keeps track of which Items you've purchased and which Class upgrades you've made. 

There are two major differences between the app and the physical game. 

  • First, unlike the physical game where the entire map is known to both sides, in Road to Legend the map is slowly revealed as you move through it--a sort of fog of war. At the beginning of the quest you'll be instructed to set aside certain map tiles, transitions, end caps, and so forth. But you only assemble them when instructed to do so. 
  • Second, unlike the physical game where Heroes all activate and then monsters all activate, Road to Legend has Heroes and monsters alternate activations. 

So the app will tell you to set up these certain map tiles in this configuration, and to place these certain monsters on these certain spots. Then it will tell you the objective, which might be to defeat all the monsters. Or you might have to search tokens to find a key to open a door. Or you might have to do skill checks to stay on the trail. There's plenty of variety in just the few quests available now.

The app doesn't care where, exactly, Heroes and monsters are on the map. It gives instructions as to how monsters will move and behave each turn, but it doesn't need to keep track of where everyone is. It's brilliant. If you search a token, you just click on that token in the app and tell it you searched it, and the app tells you what you found, or to draw a card from the search deck. 

If Heroes accomplish the main objective, you'll get rewards and go back to the main map screen. Then you can go to town and buy new Items, upgrade using XP, and decide what to tackle next. But you can fail. Your team starts with Morale equal to the number of players in the game. Each time a Hero is knocked out, the Morale goes down one. When your Morale is at zero and another Hero is knocked out, you fail the quest. 

Those are the basics of the app. In the next post, I'll share some things to keep in mind as you delve into the adventure. 


The Verdict

So what do I think of the app, and what it brings to Descent? I LOVE it. 

I've had so much fun playing this with my kids. My 8-year-old wants to play this every single day. EVERY. DAY. He'll go downstairs and plan his moves. He'll plan our moves. He'll think through activations and abilities and everything. 

The app is great. It only focuses on what it needs to, and that means you're not bogged down in spending most of your time with the app, and then moving pieces on the board as it tells you. You spend a great deal of time moving, attacking searching, rolling, groaning, cheering, and crying--and with the actual pieces on the board. 

For some people, Descent really didn't connect, and you stuck it in a closet somewhere. I would encourage those people to pull that stuff out and give the app a try. It's free so you have nothing to lose. 

For some people, they've been on the fence about whether this provides a good co-op or solo experience. To those people, I would say that Road to Legend does provide a great experience. 

Firestone's Final Verdict--We haven't even dived into the Kindred Fire campaign yet, but we're still having a blast. Road to Legend is a HUGE success in my book. 

Look for my next post in the series where I'll talk about important things to keep in mind. Until next time, thanks for reading!