In Descent, Journeys in the Dark Second Edition:

  • Campaign: Shadow of Nerehkal
  • Mission: Civil War
  • Encounter 2

How do the leaders work in this mission?

The rules regarding leaders appear to be smeared across three different sections of the mission rules, and it's unclear which rules apply when. How can they be dealt damage through the various phases of the mission, and what happens when a leader is defeated?

I found this discussion, but it doesn't cover all cases and has some disagreement.

1 Answer 1



  • Leaders can only take 1 damage at a time and only from an attack (not from other effects).
  • When a leader is defeated, one of the two players wins the mission; exception: if the Overlord picked the "Purge the city Guard" influence effect and it's the first leader defeated, keep playing.
  • When a leader attacks, they get +1 damage for each guard of their faction on the board.

Leader Damage

There are several challenges in the layout of the rules for this encounter. The most consistent reading is to consider all of the rules in effect except for any that are contingent on a specific influence effect.

The three relevant rules to leader damage are:

Each time a leader or guard suffers any amount of damage, reduce the damage suffered to 1.

Each leader can only suffer damage as the result of attacks targeting or affecting them.

Each leader gains +1 damage on attacks for each of their guards on the map.

While the second and third of these are in "The Traitor Revealed", they specify how the leaders work and so it should be considered always in effect (though the third rule only matters once the traitor has been revealed and players get control over the leaders as the leaders can't attack before then). Given leaders have 10 health, it takes a 10 successful attacks to kill a leader. This number can be increased or decreased during setup by 1 per villager token the overlord got in encounter 1.

Also, note that leaders get +1 damage on their attacks for each guard of their faction still on the board, not +1 health. The heart symbol means damage and the rule specifies attack

Defeating Leaders

The "Victory" section is a bit confusing in layout as well; essentially, it has two conditions specified for the heroes to win and two conditions specified for the overlord to win.

The heroes win if:

  • They get a loyal leader to the second secret documents. This requires uncovering one of secret documents first to be able to control a loyal leader and move them to the documents.
  • They defeat the corrupt leader. This requires the overlord to have picked "The Captain" or the "Lieutenant" as the influence effect; it doesn't necessarily require getting the first secret documents to have been uncovered although it is risky because the heroes could kill the wrong leader if the overlord is bluffing.

The overlord wins if:

  • They picked "The Captain" or the "Lieutenant" as the influence effect and defeat the loyal leader. This does not require the heroes to have gotten the first secret documents.
  • They picked "Purge the city Guard" as the influence effect and they defeat both leaders or they defeat all the guards. This also does not require the heroes to have gotten the first secret documents.

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