For a long time I looked for a dungeon-delving board game the likes of Milton Bradley's HeroQuest, which I had largely ignored as a teenager in favor of more complex RPGs like Dungeons and Dragons. As an adult and father, I wanted something easier to teach my kids and to play in a single sitting, with more emphasis on miniatures than role-playing. Unfortunately, HeroQuest is outdated, and maybe slightly too simplistic. After checking out some of D&D's own beginner games and others like it, I decided Descent: Journeys in the Dark Second Edition was the best combination of quality, quantity, and compelling rules. Though not perfect and certainly a bit more complicated than advertised, it has been an extremely enjoyable hobby. I've been playing for a few years now, primarily with a group of friends in a monthly game night, but also with my wife and kids.
One thing I knew I'd never do, though, is paint the little plastic miniatures, which is otherwise a time-honored tradition in this arena. I just wasn't committed enough and doubted my artistic ability. Then my brother Michael - one of the regular players in my monthly group - acquired Imperial Assault, a Star Wars-themed version of Descent made by the same company (Fantasy Flight Games). He quickly painted his miniatures, and realizing he had a knack for it, offered to paint some of mine, too. Since I own the base game of Descent and most of the expansions, I doubted he'd be able to paint very many of them. Instead, he has now nearly finished my current collection, and the results have been phenomenal!
I never could have guessed how much it adds to the experience to play with painted figures. Some might wish they came painted already, but I've thoroughly enjoyed waiting to see my brother's latest work. Though I've been a bit stingy about sticking to the artwork, he has added just enough creative touches and stylistic choices for these to bear his signature, which is way more meaningful to me than figures painted in a factory. So naturally, I have to show them off! I can't do it all in one post, so to start out, here are the figures from the base game campaign, "The Shadow Rune." Michael took the pictures, too, but stood them on Imperial Assault map tiles because he didn't have access to mine (they look identical from a distance).