|Mastery of Body and Mind
A Preview of The Trollfens, a Descent Expansion, by Guest Writer Mark Pollard
|Descent: Journeys in the Dark Second Edition | Published 25 July 2013|
In June, Fantasy Flight Games announced The Trollfens, an expansion for Descent: Journeys in the Dark Second Edition that introduces new heroes, monsters, classes, quests, and more. Over the course of its five new quests, which you can play as side quests to a larger campaign or as their own mini-campaign, heroes can investigate secret rooms and rumors while the overlord spreads infection and brings a powerful new lieutenant into play: the massive troll Bol’Goreth.
Today, guest writer Mark Pollard presents our first preview of The Trollfens: a look at its new heroes and classes.
Adding to the Arsenal
Labyrinth of Ruin and Lair of the Wyrm have added six hero classes to the base game’s arsenal, providing players with plenty of options at the start of a campaign. As some fans have noted, however, “small” expansions like Lair of the Wyrm come with just two classes, leaving the current choices for each hero archetype a bit lopsided.
From the standpoint of classes, then, The Trollfens is therefore a welcome and much anticipated counterpart to Lair of the Wyrm; it introduces new classes for the Healer and Scout Archetypes, and in doing so evens up the distribution of available classes across all Second Edition products.
But what heroes and classes does The Trollfens add, specifically? Roganna the Shade, designed to complement the new Stalker class, is a Scout of unparalleled cunning and valor. Meanwhile, the Healer Augur Grisom is an ideal candidate for the new Prophet class who can provide solace to his allies through his mere presence in the fray. Let’s take a closer look at both.
A Fatal Bite
“Keep perfectly still. It may look small, but that creature is aggressive, and its bite fatal.”
–Roganna the Shade
Finding a Latari Elf skilled in the ways of wilderness isn’t a difficult task, but even among her kin, few could claim Roganna’s prowess. As a reclusive sort at home in any portion of forest, plains, or swamp, Roganna will live anywhere as long as it lies far removed from any irritants of civilized life. She prefers seclusion above all else, even avoiding her own people, and as the march of progress continues in the lands around, Roganna finds herself retreating deeper and deeper into the wilds.
Roganna long ago learned the importance of keeping her enemy at a safe distance, whether that enemy is cornered prey or a thrashing Plague Worm. To that end, she boasts an impressive speed value of “5,” and her Hero Ability reflects her preference for personal space. What’s more, Roganna’s Heroic Feat allows her to extend this philosophy to her fellow heroes; with it, she can prevent ranged attacks against her entire party for a full round!
The strike-and-run tactics that these abilities suggest are a perfect fit for the new Stalker class. An authority on traps and lures, the Stalker excels at hastily constructing deadly contraptions to poison, explode, or otherwise incapacitate her unwary foes. The centerpiece of the Stalker’s repertoire is her Set Trap ability and the trap tokens it places. Once placed, these powerful tokens can become a bane to monsters or a boon to heroes, depending on the Stalker’s line of training.
With Makeshift Trap, for instance, the Stalker can turn her traps into sources of rest and regeneration; heroes adjacent to trap tokens recover at the start of each turn. Similarly, Lay of the Land allows heroes to search without spending an all-important action.
Helping your fellow heroes is certainly admirable, but players selecting the Stalker class will likely want to hunt their foes like wild animals...and the the Stalker’s Class deck offers plenty of opportunities to do just that. Poison Barbs lets you choose the perfect moment to fire toxic darts at nearby monsters, while Ambush grants you a surprise attack. You can also help take down difficult bosses with Hunter’s Mark, which lends a to any hero attacking the Stalker’s target.
The implications of a trap-laying class in Descent: Journeys in the Dark Second Edition are particularly exciting given the number of quests in which the overlord must send his minions from one end of the map to another. For example, you can imagine the benefits of planting deadly traps in the corridor down which the goblins must run in the base game’s quest “A Fat Goblin.” Even in other quests, trap laying suggests some highly useful cross-class synergies. The Geomancer from Lair of the Wyrm can use the Gravity Spike skill to move monsters against their will. What if he moved them directly into the path of a newly set trap? Traps have long been the exclusive dominion of the overlord. With The Trollfens, the heroes will finally get a chance to prepare a few surprises of their own.
What Is Yet to Come
“An endless sea of possibility lies in what is yet to come. Even a tiny glimpse will drive most mad.”
An individual claiming knowledge of the future is rarely well received, especially not amongst the serious-minded Dunwarr Dwarves. Realizing this and even having received visions confirming such a truth, Augur Grisom departed the mountains long ago. With decades of wandering, he has made a life in helping others, often before they’re aware of requiring it.
A Healer through and through, Augur Grisom is a handy character to keep nearby. His hero ability lets his fellows recover whenever an attack targeting them fails to connect, so it combines well with high armor and reroll effects like those of the Prophet (as we’ll see below). For a more potent mass healing, Grisom’s Heroic Feat grants and to everyone in his line of sight!
If you’re interested in providing powerful healing effects for your team, the Prophet class is a solid choice. What sets it apart from other Healer classes is its use of a new token type, Insight, which is granted with the Prophet’s Soothing Insight skill. Insight represents the Prophet's ability to project his spirit into the bodies of others, imparting a small portion of his formidable powers; it’s used as a sort of spiritual currency, which heroes then discard to trigger a range of effects.
To continue along a healing line of training, a Prophet could learn Focused Insights, which extends his healing effects to a group of his fellows standing in tight formation. Meanwhile, Lifeline provides a last-chance effort to save a defeated hero, and Victory Foretold grants use of the green power die and a potential for significant recovery!
But what would a Prophet be without a few prophecies? The class’s ability to see the future takes shape via the effects of a few key Class cards. Grim Fate forces the overlord to reveal the top card of his deck, and can be used to avoid his most devastating abilities. The Prophet can also teach his fellow heroes to predict their foes’ every move in a fight, granting a reroll with the Battle Vision skill. Finally, Omniscience warns its user of an incoming strike, causing an attack to miss completely.
Although they each introduce their own new token type, the Stalker and Prophet present two wildly different play styles. Which will you choose?
Now that you’ve previewed the new heroes and classes coming in The Trollfens, you can better imagine how you’ll confront the perils of the Valdari Marsh and the brutal troll lieutenant, Bol’Goreth. It is time, then, to take the next step to bring these prophecies to fruition: head to your local retailer today to pre-order your copy of The Trollfens!
Descent: Journeys in the Dark Second Edition is a story-driven board game for 2-5 players that takes a party of adventurers deep into the dungeons of Terrinoth for adventure, treasure, and glory. Players will embark on a campaign of linked quests as they develop characters based on four fantasy archetypes.