A mystery box filled with miniatures to enhance your RPG campaigns. All official miniatures and for a bargain price!

Buy Miniatures Box »

Not sure what game to buy next? Buy a premium mystery box for two to four great games to add to your collection!

Buy Premium Box »
Subscribe Now »

If you’re only interested in receiving the newest games this is the box for you; guaranteeing only the latest games!

Buy New Releases Box »
Subscribe Now »

Looking for the best bang for your buck? Purchase a mega box to receive at least 4 great games. You won’t find value like this anywhere else!

Buy Mega Box »
Subscribe Now »

Buy 3, get 3% off - use code ZATU3·Buy 5, get 5% off - use code ZATU5

Descent: Legends of the Dark – A New Player’s Take



Descent Legends of the Dark came onto my radar after we were short on players for a DnD session and the DM brought along his Copy of Descent: Journeys in the Dark (second edition); with Descent: Legends of the Dark being effectively the third version and boasting a slightly different name and re-worked playstyle.

The group had a somewhat mixed response to Descent: Journeys in the Dark; some missing the roleplay elements and not appreciating the random feel to encounters. It was described as “Descent is Gloomhaven Lite, in the same way that Gloomhaven is DnD lite”.

Searching for a copy, as I thought it was a potential gateway game to experience with my children, I discovered that there was an even newer version. Then seeing it on offer on Zatu, I took the plunge and purchased.

What You Find in the Box

As noted in the original review, in Descent: Legends of the Dark you are greeted by a selection of beautifully sculpted and ready constructed (with the exception of the large demon creature that clips together) miniatures that I really wish I had the painting talents to do justice. You can find better photos than mine online, but I thought the reveal that you are greeted with on box opening was worth sharing 😊

In conjunction with these come a selection of punch-out card that includes 3D scenery, counters and health dials. There are also printed cards on thinner card for use in the game, that includes the hero cards, skill cards, items, injuries and weapons.

There is also a rulebook and accompanying Lore Book. The Lore book gives some background if, like me, you want to immerse yourself in the story and the world you are playing in.

Finally, you’ll find a set of custom dice in various shapes/colours used in the game.

The box also serves as a good place to store all that 3D scenery, which is a really nice touch. You’ll probably want some storage to keep counters arranged and in order though.


To play the game you need to be running the Descent: Legends of the Dark App to guide the game. This can be downloaded onto mobile devices, however, I think you need a reasonable sized screen so use a laptop.

I have the laptop setup on the end of the table. All the board pieces ordered by number for ease of use, then the cards and counters. You’ll also need the scenery and miniatures to hand (a huge table or second surface is useful; I use a set of wooden steps and any spare seating for storage of less frequently used elements).

Each player has a hero card, and two weapon cards back-to-back in a sleeve that acts as a single two-sided card, with each side representing one of your weapons. As you progress through Descent: Journeys in the Dark there are skills cards and alternative/upgraded weapons to choose from that you’ll want access to.


With the Descent: Legends of the Dark App Loaded you start with a mission designed to act as a tutorial. It enables you to play and experience the game with minimal challenge/pressure.

The app shows the board pieces to place. With “sight tokens” and “explore tokens” that will reveal more as you discover it, meaning there is a sense of trepidation shared in the group since you have no way of knowing what is next.

In Descent: Legends of the Dark, the players main gaming takes place in the Hero Phase, followed by a Darkness Phase where the enemies take their turn.

In each hero phase you take three actions, one of which must be a “manoeuvre” (movement). There are standard actions available to all:

Attack: Use your current weapon to attack an enemy in range.

Explore: Interact with an explore token or most items of 3D scenery.

Ready: Flip a card to access the other side and remove the tokens from it.

Manoeuvre: Gain your characters movement value of spaces to move. Wonderfully these can be split between other actions too. E.g. Move 2 spaces, explore a tree, move a space and attack.

Your hero card, weapon card and skills cards are double sided. Each side of the card has different effects. Management of which side of the card you are playing with is a core mechanic in the game.

An important element in connection with this is the fatigue mechanic. When rolling a dice, you can convert an advantage (+ symbol) to a success (¶ symbol) by placing a fatigue token on a card. Fatigue costs can also be placed on a card to unlock special effects.

The fatigue limit of a card prevents you keeping the same side in play at all times.

What is incredibly clever about the game is that each of the six playable heroes, despite having the same core mechanics underlying, feels different and unique. This is achieved by how their ability cards synergise to fit their character.

After each hero has taken their actions, you begin the darkness phase. At this point the app takes the place of a DM you’d have in more traditional game. It decides which hero each enemy targets, what damage their attack does and notes any additional effects.

There are various other elements of gameplay but this covers the core back and forth of play.

Initial Playing Experiences

My first times playing in Descent: Legends of the Dark, I played with my children and family. Whilst the mechanics feel simple to a person that frequently plays games, it was difficult for less experienced players to follow and I found myself talking them through every choice. You do need to learn the game more than it might initially seem.

I then introduced the game to the group of friends that I regularly play Gloomhaven with. We have worked our way through three missions of Descent: Legends of the Dark and settled into the game, but have yet to fully escape the mechanics of our usual game. This immediately leads to comparisons of Descent: Legends of the Dark with Gloomhaven. Firstly, there are a few differences in play that we seem not to have gotten our heads around yet. We continually worry about health, however, the injury mechanic in Descent: Legends of the Dark is very different to most Dungeon Crawler style games. The first time you are reduced to zero health, you inform the Descent: Legends of the Dark App and it gives you a minor injury; with a disadvantage introduced to reflect your struggles. Similarly, the second time you are reduced the card is flipped with more severe disadvantages. It is hard to get past the idea of “death” on zero health not meaning the end of your part in the adventure; but I like the way that this gives the feel of a mission becoming a struggle as you fight through.

We also struggle to get away from the idea that the nearest hero to the enemy is the target, something that is not always true in in Descent: Legends of the Dark. The App allocates a preferred target for each enemy, it will only attack the nearest in the case this chosen target cannot be attacked.

The Good the Bad and the Gorgeous

5 Good Things:

I like the cooperative approach in Descent: Legends of the Dark. The App manages party equipment so there is no infighting over treasure and sharing of spoils since everything is owned collectively.

The flexibility of the actions on offer mean that you have a lot of options available, you can move quite freely and add in the intractability of the terrain and it does introduce an open world feeling.

The App “Rules Reference” is incredibly helpful and saves a lot of time looking through books. Whilst being sophisticated, the rules are also clear and easily interpreted so this quick reference is very helpful.

“Cut Scenes” in the app help tell the story and give the tale depth and feeling.

The selection of 6 characters that you can actively switch between means that you have flexibility to try out something new and keep the game feeling fresh.

4 Bad Things:

Having read that Descent: Legends of the Dark runs through sixteen scenarios and having now played through three of these, I am worried that the opportunities to craft equipment may be limited within the games playing time.

Challenge increase following the first scenario feels quite steep. The opening experience is quite sedate without interruptions until you come across them, however, in the two scenarios that we have played since we have been kept under a constant pressure by enemies.

The modular board sections have seemed to quickly outgrow my table, especially once you have a home for all the other resources you need. You can sometimes remove sections that have been used already but we have experienced enemies appearing in these and had to rebuild the game. As a result, I have learned to play across multiple surfaces.

Once revealed, an enemy is immediately removed from the screen on the app so you need to remember to place them as they are displayed, otherwise it is easy to lose where they are to be put. Sensible since you do not track enemy and character movement in the app and only a minor thing but something that has thrown me during play.

3 Gorgeous Things:

The minis in Descent: Legends of the Dark really are brilliant and of the highest quality.

The 3D terrain and board pieces are amazing and add a depth to gameplay.

The packaging of the game. It looks good and is really functional acting as storage for components that enables a quick easy set-up. Booting the laptop and opening the app is honestly as much bother.