Thursday, February 16, 2012

Descent: Beast Men

A thing I’ve always wanted to touch more upon on this blog is board games, but I’ve refrained from doing so due to my limited experience with them. Not that I haven’t seen my fair share of the more popular candidates on the market such as Munchkin, Junta, Betrayal, Arkham Horror, Bang and so on.  I just don’t spend enough time with them to have anything remotely interesting to say, except for joyful outbursts when I win and whining when I lose.
One game that definitely does deserve mentioning, however, is Descent: Journeys in the Dark. Or, to be more precise, the later expansion(s) that were added by its founder Final Flight Games, among which we’ll find Road to Legend among others.
If you’re already familiar with Descent you’ll perhaps agree with me that it’s one of those games with a certain learning curve for the inexperienced. Those of you uninitiated; think of the old board game ‘Hero Quest’ , now on steroids.
If you don’t know about either you’re either young or ignorant (or both) and really ought to give them a go, although the premise of these games might seem almost archaic to some, now that pretty much the same thing can be achieved on the computer.
At the core of the game, up to four players each chose a character with special powers (in Hero Quest you chose between a barbarian, an elf, a wizard and a dwarf) and you went down to the dungeon in order to smash up monsters. Said monsters dropped loot that allowed you to purchase meaner weapons so you could more efficiently smash monsters. And so on. Old formula.
A lot of people I know got into D&D by playing Hero Quest or its much less renowned cousin ‘Dragon Strike’. For the same reason, a lot of people wished for an updated version of this brilliant game and in the end, the dark abomination known as Descent: Journeys in the Dark was conceived.
Without getting too much into details and rules about Descent (and trust me; there are a LOT of rules in Descent) this game followed the same mechanics but was way more involving. First and foremost, the Dungeon Master (or, Overlord as it might be now) is no longer your friend and story teller. It’s his job to absolutely screw with you, slay, maim, abuse and foil you at every turn. He hates you and if you don’t see him as your primary antagonist, you’re setting yourself up for a bad position way from the start.
As you and your three friends choose your heroes, you quickly notice you’re way past the original four from Hero Quest. In fact you chose from more than 20 or so, if you count in the expansions. Each excels in either melee, archery or magic some way or the other, and an important challenge is matching up a party that covers a lot of ground. Secondly, as you traverse the dungeons you have to absolutely forget your inbred D&D thoroughness. Descent is a race, the Overlord grows stronger for every.single.turn. For every move he gets to make he draws more cards, traps and ‘mana’ to power his moves. He can summon additional monsters or traps out in the open, and thus clearing an entire dungeon is pointless. You WILL get overwhelmed if you dally.
The heroes are stronger than the monsters but they’re by no means invulnerable. Foolish moves will annihilate them, and for every hero the Overlord slays he becomes more powerful. Descent is therefore a game of priority management and endless line of sight debates above anything else. So much that I at times get seriously pissed off about it.
Yet, it also helps me understand people living in abusive relationships, somehow. Why do we always come back?
As for Descent, this game does have an undeniable charm to it. It’s very thoroughly executed, illustrations and miniatures are quite nice and in general it can be really good fun. But it’s beyond doubt a game that seriously benefits from having an entire group of seasoned people.
So, getting to the point, I sat down and decided to paint something else besides Warhammer. It was time to work on those Descent-minis. Actually, a lot of my first painting ever took place with these models. And it showed. They were downright ugly. So it was on with the brush and getting off the old layers first, after which I threw myself at the Beast Men. The shock troopers and piper tigers of the game, easily able to overthrow a hero in one turn, but they get torn apart easily. Therefore, I might as well start with them:

They are made to look good at distance, so going closer reveals their lacking amount of details. They do look really nice, actually even better than on the picture I think.
As for the colors I went with

Flesh: Tallarn Flesh, Ogryn Flesh wash, (optional for darker models) Devlan Mud wash, Tallarn Flesh highlight, Tallarn Flesh+Elf Flesh (roughly 1:1) highlight, Pure Elf Flesh highlight.
Mane: Fortress Grey, Devlan Mud wash, Fortress Grey
Loin Cloth: Gretchin Green, Devlan Mud wash, Gretchin Green highlight, Gretchin Green+Bleached Bone (roughly 1:1) highlight, Pure Bleached Bone highlight. As for the blue I simply used Ice Blue and Mechrite Red+Blood Red for the red. The dolls were done with Ivanden Darksun.
The tiles on the base were made by:
Khemri Brown the entire base
Paint different tiles with Kommando Khaki, Codex Grey, Tausept Ochre and Astronomican Grey. Give them a faint wash with Devlan Mud and highlight the edges with the original color. Easy as that. It gives a really good blend into the Descent dungeon tiles.

Coming up next: Hell Hounds.

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