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In the Descent 2nd Edition expansion pack Call of the Wild there is a new hero named Ronan of the Wild. His hero ability gives him the familiar named Pico.

Pico's card states:

During another hero's turn, if that hero is adjacent to Pico, he may search a search token in the space containing Pico (this does not require an action).

Does this mean that Ronan himself cannot use Pico's ability, or is Pico being considered the hero in this sentence?

If Ronan cannot use this ability himself, what was possibly the balance decision behind that? Would it hurt the game much to allow Ronan to use Pico's ability himself? I understand that the #1 reason heroes get too strong is from gear, which is obtained by getting search tokens, and that getting them basically for free is fairly powerful, but I do not understand why Ronan himself can't do it, when it is his own ability.

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Yes, this does mean that Ronan cannot use Pico's ability himself.

How is this balanced? Pico's ability grants something that, while it sounds minor, is actually very significant: several free actions.

In a typical Descent map, there will be around 6-10 search tokens, meaning that to collect all of the tokens the heroes will collectively need to spend 6-10 actions during the course of the game. These actions are not used for other purposes, such as Attacking to remove enemies, Moving to progress through the map, or even Resting to recover temporary resources like Fatigue. The cost of gaining the gold and effects associated with those search cards is the opportunity of doing something else.

By giving any other hero the ability to complete Search action for free this is recovering those 6-10 actions for the players, allowing them to be used for clearing monsters faster or recovering Fatigue or Wounds. Combine that with the fact that Ronan himself is a Scout archetype who can take the Treasure Hunter class, and you now have a single character that nearly eliminates the opportunity cost of searching for the entire party.

So to balance out that powerful ability, FFG decided to limit Pico's power to only apply to other party members, making Ronan a Party Support character that compliments other characters rather than standing out exclusively on his own.

  • I didn't know some maps have that many search tokens. The most I have seen on a single map so far is 5, but also haven't played more than a single mission. That is an absolutely massive amount of gold if the players get all of those. – TheWall Feb 1 '17 at 19:38
  • Really what the limitation on Pico enforces is group cohesion, right? Ronan helps the party hoover up any treasure along their way, but he can't run off and search the entire map solo in record time. – Alex P Feb 1 '17 at 22:22

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