Converting RISK Elf Archers into Descent Deep Elves

Published: April 20, 2013 | Updated: August 21, 2014

I recently purchased the adventure board game Descent: Journeys in the Dark, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed playing it with both my wife and fellow board-gamers in Ogema, WI. The adventure game is for 2-5 players and consists of the player team of heroes versus a single player controlling the mosters. Gameplay takes place on a grid with miniatures representing both the heroes and monsters.

Descent Gamplay Overview

Descent overhead view – boardgamegeek.com

This latest publication of the game is the second edition and features 8 heroes and 9 monster types with unique miniatures for each hero and monster type. Descent has been so immensely fun that I purchased the Second Edition Conversion Kit, which provides instructions and cards for all the previously-published heroes and monsters – adding an additional 48 heroes and 25 unique monster types. The problem is that I don’t have the miniatures to represent those heroes and monsters on the board! Solutions?

Descent Miniatures

Sampling of Descent miniatures – boardgamegeek.com

Option 1: Purchase the old first editions of the original Descent and expansions.

Unfortunately, the original game was published in 2005 and is no longer in production or well stocked, either online or in store. Both Amazon and Ebay have some sets for sale but far beyond what I’m willing to pay, up to $200 for an additional 5-10 heroes and monsters. I’ve had some luck finding additional heroes in the used section of my local board game store, but no additional monsters. Which leads me to the next option…

Option 2: Purchase miniatures from miniature manufacturers.

There are a few companies that sell plastic and cast metal miniatures, Reaper being the biggest supplier. While I may end up purchasing some miniatures from Reaper, at around $3.00 to $5.00 per miniature they’re still not incredibly cheap. There must be a lower-cost option available…

Goblins - Reaper Miniatures

A pack of goblins by Reaper Miniatures – reapermini.com

Option 3: Substitute and/or convert miniatures from other board games

At last an economical solution! I know I have some games lying around I can scavenge some pieces from…

A quick browse through my old board game collection turned up RISK: The Lord of the Rings Trilogy Edition, which has several great fantasy-themed miniatures.

RISK: Lord of the Rings Trilogy Edition

RISK: Lord of the Rings Trilogy Edition box cover – Amazon.com

The question now: Can the RISK miniatures be used to represent any of the monsters or heroes from the Descent conversion kit?

If the title of this article was any clue, the answer is yes! There are elves in the LotR RISK game, and lo and behold there is an elf monster in the Descent kit! Here’s what an elf straight from Middle Earth looks like:

RISK: LotR Elf

An elf from RISK: The Lord of the Rings Trilogy Edition

And here’s the monster card for the Deep Elves from Descent:

Deep Elf Card

Deep Elf monster card from Descent: Journeys in the Dark Conversion Kit

Descent Deep Elf

Image from the Deep Elf monster card

Hmm…there is one inconsistency here. The Deep Elves are melee units that appear to have daggers in the photo, while the LotR elves are equipped with bows. The elves of Lothlorien each has a blade strapped to his back, but that bow just doesn’t fit with the melee requirement of the Deep Elf.

Again using the article title as a clue, I’m sure you’ve figured out that there is some conversion involved here. I wasn’t sure how it would turn out, but I took an X-ACTO knife in one hand and prepared for surgery.

Modified Deep Elf

Most of the bow and arrow carved away to make a Deep Elf!

Cutting the top part of the bow off was easy – carving the bottom of the bow away from the foot and the arrow away from the chest was a little more difficult, but nothing a paint job shouldn’t cover up. I also lopped the arrows off of the quiver on the back, and while the bag looks slightly out of place it isn’t horrid.

Deep Elf Back

No more arrows

All in all, I’m extremely surprised with how well the results turned out! Painting the miniatures should only serve to add more realism, but that’s a job for another day.

The only question I’m left wondering is how Tolkien (or the elves themselves) would feel about the high elves of Middle Earth serving as the monsters in another fantasy universe!

Elves Side by Side

Elves side by side