Descent: Journeys in the Dark 2nd Edition – a board game the boys can’t get enough of!

Descent: Journeys in the Dark 2nd edition board game

The game comes packed with a ton of game goodies.

I don’t think we’ve had a board game that our boys have begged me to play as much as Descent: Journeys in the Dark (2nd edition). It has been such a hit at our house that I have many praises for the game!

The biggest praise is that my boys are eager to spend time with me playing the game. They’re chomping at the bit to play as soon as I get home from work or the instant we finish dinner.

And yesterday, as soon as I walked in the house from a scout overnight camp, there they were with the game set up, begging to play some more. (I was able to hold them off while I cleaned up and settled in, but we did end the night with another quest in our ongoing campaign.)

Since we got it for Christmas just a month ago, we’ve already played 17 times!
How’s that for some father/son bonding time!

But before I go too much further, why not hear if from directly from Trevor in his video review of Descent. It may be our longest review video, but that’s what happens when he loves it so much. Even with his excitement for the game, he still just scratches the surface on the game play. It will give you a great sense of the general game play and what’s in store for you.

Descent: Journeys in the Dark 2nd edition board game battle

Can the heroes take down the Shadow Dragon, Cave Spiders, and Goblin Archers?

Descent is the first “dungeon crawl” board game we’ve played. As I’ve looked into board game with a dungeon theme, I’ve wondered if it would be a type of game that our boys and I would like. And over the years, the dungeon board game that hits the top of the reviews lists has been Descent. So when Fantasy Flight Games published a new version of Descent in 2012, I started taking a closer look.

The biggest talk was that the game had been simplified a bit and didn’t take as long to play. Those two elements caught my attention and I added it to my board game wish list. It fluctuated around in different positions on the list for a while, but just before Christmas when I saw it on sale, I jumped.

Descent: Journeys in the Dark 2nd edition board game monsters

A wide variety of monsters for great quests.

After opening presents on Christmas morning, Trevor gravitated to Descent to play. Of course I knew it would take a while to go through the 23 page rule book and understand how to play it, so I had to delay him a bit. I was able to get in a few minutes here and there throughout the day to read up on it so by that evening we could play our first quest.
It seemed to be an instant hit with immediate calls for more.

Since there’s a lot going on, we missed a number of elements in the first time through, but we were able to get a good handle on it after playing a couple encounters that night. And by the end of their Christmas break, we had played enough times that Descent: Jouneys in the Dark landed near the top of our most played games of the year!


How long does a game of Descent last?

It’s easy to play a game many times when it’s only a 5 or 10 minute game. That’s how a game like Hive can make a “most played” list. But with Descent it’s another story.

Descent: Journeys in the Dark 2nd edition board game elemental

Fantastic miniatures, engaging artwork, and well organized cards.

When recording how many times we’ve played Descent its really a matter of how many ‘game sessions’ we’ve played because of how the game is structured.

Descent is made up of Encounters, Quests, and Campaigns.

  • Encounter: A single scenario with objectives for both sides – the team of Heroes vs. the Overlord and may take around 1 hour to play.
  • Quest: Typically comprised of 2 Encounters where the results of the first Encounter play into the second Encounter. Some Quests are a single Encounter.
  • Campaign: A series of Quests all strung together where heroes and the overlord earn experience points which let them get additional powers and level-up between quests along the way. The subsequent quests are also chosen based on which side won previous quests. The Campaign options in the base game is comprised of 9 Quests!
Descent: Journeys in the Dark 2nd edition board game hero card

Stellar heroes are up for the challenge.

So when people play a game of Descent, they simply chose how much they’d like to play – a single Encounter, a Quest, a number of Quests, or dive into a Campaign. That’s why rather than record each game encounter, I’ll just record that we sat down and played (whether it be 1 or more different encounter or quests in one sitting). So having recorded 17 game sessions means a lot of Descent this month!

As you can see from Trevor’s enthusiastic video review – he loves the game. But his review was filmed before we played through a Campaign. A descent Campaign adds even more fun to the game. After diving into a campaign I think Trevor’s rating goes up to a 7 out of 5. And our other boys would do likewise.

Descent: Journeys in the Dark 2nd edition board game dice

How lucky are your dice rolls?

I’ll also add that Descent is amazingly open-ended. The 45 page Quest Guide has a ton of set quests that offer a huge variety of play. But players can also create their own encounters, quests, and campaigns. When you sit down to play, there are a ton of options.


Can’t get enough

Even when we’re not playing, the boys can’t stop thinking and talking about the game. They talk about the past quests and how things turned out or what else could have happened and what special cards they should have upgraded to. They read ahead about the upcoming encounters and worry about what they might face and jump into planning their strategies.

Descent: Journeys in the Dark 2nd edition board game boards

Double-sided boards are great for building endless adventure.

But either way, it’s just so cool to see them carrying on together. When they’re getting along so well, talking together and planning what they want to do in the next quest, I’ll gladly play the overlord any day and let them come at me.

And even as I write this, I can hear Trevor and Jaden laughing downstairs as they construct their own quest. Since I beat them as the overlord on our last encounter, they’re anxious to get in a quest of their own. So they’re designing a game quest where the heroes have super-crazy, unbeatable abilities and the overload can’t take a step without being defeated or something like that. But they’re having a blast just talking about what they’re going to do on their next self-created encounter.

We’re currently in the middle of a Campaign so we’ll play an encounter when we get the chance, but they can hardly wait between sessions. It’s also led to a number of nights staying up past bed time to finish out a quest. Of course, then they also have a hard time falling asleep because of the tension in all the dice rolls and the close finishes.

Love it!


How does Descent: Journeys in the Dark 2nd edition score on the “Let’s Play Again” game meter?
Descent: Journeys in the Dark 2nd edition board game

Do I really need to answer this question? I believe it’s pretty obvious from our video and written game review, that Descent tops the chart with regards to “let’s play again”. In fact, since we started playing Descent, there’s a table in our house dedicated to Descent where a quest is always set up and ready to play. We did have to clear it off for a couple days last week, but that was temporary. 🙂

Chances are high that it will be a very long time before Descent drops from the list in our right side-bar of “Recently Played Games”.

With how much they love Descent, I don’t know when we’ll ever get another game to the table.

Ok, that’s a bit extreme, but I think you get the picture – Descent: Journeys in the Dark (2nd edition) gets a big 5 out of 5 from the boys!

Update: Love it so much, we picked up a copy of the Descent Journeys in the Dark 2nd Edition Conversion Kit. Check it out.

The Board Game Family Game Ratings
Caleb: 5.0 Meeples Caleb
   Has not played Brooke
Jaden: 5.0 Meeples Jaden
Trevor: 5.0 Meeples Trevor
   Has not played Mom
Dad: 4.5 Meeples Dad
AVerage: 4.85 Meeples Average


Comments: 11

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Thanks for the review, this is one that I definitely want to play someday especially since this edition doesn’t take all day to play.




LOL it’s funny how these fantasy and war type games seem to always have ‘has not played’ beside Brooke and Mom! I like some thinking but not sure I’m ready for a lot of fantasy and military themes (though I AM looking forward to trying Memoir ’44 thanks to your review and played a fantasy game called Cave Troll a week ago – it’s out of print it seems but someone had it at a game group). so glad you guys found one you can really get into together!




    Yep – they’re not the games that appeal to the girls/women as much. Mom likes lighter games and doesn’t get into any fantasy themed stuff (or Memoir ’44 even though I’ve tried). But that’s also why I was so surprised that Brooke loves Defenders of the Realm. With so many games to play, there’s plenty for everyone to find what type they like.




      I know they make games appeal to certain people but honestly there are so many aspects to these war and fantasy games that girls could really learn a lot from and do well in as well – getting past all the ‘theme’ stuff a lot is basically common sense strategy! maybe a boardgame set in the mall at Christmas – between the parking lot and crowded stores it’s about the same as maneuvering through a dark cave with trolls and ogres after you! 🙂 but guys would likely take one look at that setup and run out of the room!
      haven’t watched the review of this one but will – don’t get video/sound on computer at work and on work days/nghts it’s work then sleep so will check it out when I’m off – love the reviews for the enthusiasm as much as anything even if I don’t care for the game!




I’m starting to think into diving in a “miniature” game and a lot of people pointed Descent 2.0 as THE game to get.

It’s great that you had a review for this one as well 🙂 thanks.




How does your youngest handle the game. I have a 6 and 8 yr old




    Our youngest loves Descent. In fact he’s setting up another quest right now. He was 10 when we first played, and had been playing strategy board games for many years prior to that. Because it’s semi-cooperative though, younger kids can still have fun being on the hero team and working together to defeat the evil overlord (dad).




Oddly enough, my girlfriend and my mates girlfriend loves playing this game. 🙂




Played a game last night with a 14y, 12y, 9y boys we all had a blast. Sure do love this game. Its my top favorite. Wish my wife would play it though she doesn’t care for fantasy games. Any ways my top favorite game and bought largely off of your guys review. Please keep up the good work!




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