It is a time of war. The scribes and sorcerers of the land of Terrinoth, having begun to tap into the power of the mysterious dragon runes, have unwittingly set the wheels of conflict in motion. Though they comprehend only a fraction of these artifacts’ true potential, the rulers of the realm understand all too well that he who controls them controls Terrinoth. The leaders of Human, Elf, Undead, and Uthuk Y’llan raise massive armies and march against each other. At the same time, brave heroes venture forth from their home cities on perilous quests, with the hope of claiming a dragon rune for their king and eternal glory for themselves.
Yes, folks, it’s time to look at another juggernaut of a board game in today’s game day blog, as we lift the lid on the second coffin-box game in as many weeks – it’s time to look at Runewars, the fantasy board game of conquest, adventure and fantasy empires from Fantasy Flight Games!
This is one of those games that I had held on to for a number of years, before finally sitting down to a game with my buddy Tony in the summer of 2013. Looking back, I think it was the first proper tabletop wargame we had played up to that point, although we both didn’t really know what we were in for when we sat down to it!
In Runewars, you control a faction fighting over the ancient land of Terrinoth – either the human Daqan Lords, the Latari Elves, the undead Waiqar, or the Chaos-infused Uthuk Y’llan. Your goal is to expand your own empire and defeat your foes, controlling the territory that encompasses the most dragon runes in so doing. The game was designed very much as a re-implementation of one of Fantasy Flight’s earliest games, Battlemist, with the same factions as seen in the earlier game, but with new mechanics and ported over into the same universe as Runebound and Descent which, around the same time, were doing really well – you can read all about this over on the official site.
You can recruit heroes along the way to help in your cause, which is where we see the link with the more familiar Runebound universe come in, as we see familiar faces from the earlier game, but this is (I think) the first time we have been able to play with the new style of faction-driven Terrinoth games, which later encompass such games as the new Battlelore, the Runewars Miniatures Game, and my old favourite, Rune Age.
The game was incredible. It is a little bit daunting, for sure, but as we got into it, the gameplay just flowed, and while I don’t remember who won, I just remember being so excited by it at the end – it was quite a rare reaction, really, and the only other game I can remember having a similar experience with was Mansions of Madness. There’s a dual-layer to the game, as you control armies with which to conquer the land, but also have a hero miniature who is questing for the dragon runes. There is a real depth from a resource-management, empire-building game which comes from the whole Seasons mechanic. It’s really excellent, but as I say, the amount of stuff going on in there can be quite daunting at first.
Of course, it’s not going to be for everyone, and outside of a single expansion, Banners of War, there seemed to be very little love for the game. I think that’s perhaps due to the fact that this game came out towards the end of the period of time where boardgames like this were really popular. I’m not intending to sound like some kind of hipster-snob here, but around about 2010-12, boardgames underwent the evolution from being in two quite distinct categories of “serious and heavy” and “Monopoly and stuff”, to being a lot more accessible across the board. Companies shifted with the times, and seemed to stop making games that were specifically targeted at hardcore board gamers, and instead made games that strove to be streamlined and accessible to all. Wil Wheaton’s TableTop has had a profound effect on this sort of thing, as well.
As a result, games like Runewars, and last week’s Horus Heresy, have been a little bit sidelined. It is a bit of a shame, as I do feel there is still an audience out there for the sort of game that takes an entire afternoon and evening to play through.
Interestingly, though, Runewars didn’t end with the whimper of being forgotten on the shelf. Back in 2016, FFG announced a new miniatures game set in the same universe, with new miniatures and a new game system that used a lot of the mechanics previously seen in X-Wing. It was announced shortly before the news broke that FFG and GW were parting ways, the timing suggesting the move was initiated by FFG, though GW have long since held the notion they wanted to take back control of making their own games. Most notably, of course, the game features rank-and-flank combat with a movement-tray style, which was no doubt intended to replace Warhammer Fantasy Battles for all those people who found Age of Sigmar somewhat lacking.
The Runewars Miniatures Game looks amazing, and is so far still going really strong, with new expansions coming out all the time. Having seemingly replaced both Runewars the board game, and Battlelore, I’m really happy that the game has, up to now at least, managed to retain its traction with the market.
I’m in that place now, where I’m not really looking for this sort of game. But I know that, had I not discovered Games Workshop in my quest to learn how to build miniatures, I would most likely have picked this game up, and be hopefully trying to recruit new players to test out my armies against. It’s really cool to see FFG producing games in this market, and while I may not be buying into it these days, I still love the fact that Runewars is living on!
I’ve been missing out on a lot of new game stuff coming out over the last few days and weeks, so following the news about new 40k yesterday, it’s time to get caught up!
So first of all, we’ve got Commander 2017 coming on 25 August. August? I always thought these things came out later in the year! Well, anyway, Bank Holiday weekend will no doubt be full of digesting all of that stuff. Four new pre-constructed decks coming, based along a tribal theme rather than the usual colour-based design, I’m excited for this for a number of reasons. First of all, getting four will be cheaper than five, and since the C16 decks have sold out so quickly and I’ve missed out on at least the Atraxa one, I’m planning to buy all of them this time around just in case. Secondly, I love tribal stuff, so I’m sure there will be a lot here that I’ll enjoy. Definitely looking forward to seeing what’s going on here!
The Commander Anthology is of course coming out in June, and that’s something else that I’m feeling the need to pick up before it becomes impossible to find a Kaalia deck once again.
We also know the name of the next set after Hour of Devastation: Ixalan! It has that vaguely Mesoamerican sound to it that came through from the “leaked” packaging a while back, though with a different name. Hopefully it’ll still have that sort of aesthetic and will be wonderful, anyway!
Iconic Masters will apparently be a thing, but crucially the Reserved List is going to remain unviolated and intact. While I’m a huge proponent of allowing people to play the game rather than supporting people who want to hoard the components of a game and not use them for their intended purpose, I’ve recently changed my mind and have come to appreciate the fact that having a Reserved List adds a depth to the game that elevates it above its competitors.
And, I don’t think I want to actually play with cards like Kukemssa Pirates, Tracker or Boris Devilboon. I’m sure there are plenty of more interesting cards on the list (dual lands, anyone?) but by and large, I’m actually content to have the new stream of cards coming out.
Another famous CCG from back in the day, L5R is being reimagined as a LCG from Fantasy Flight and is due out at the end of the year. It looks like a really interesting game, a bit of a cross between A Game of Thrones and, well, Magic. I’ve noticed that I’ve been buying fewer actual games lately, partly because I’m saving up to buy a house, but also I’ve been throwing a lot of money at Magic singles. L5R looks like it should be a good experience, so I’m actually looking to get this thing and see what it’s all about!
We’ve got the next deluxe expansion for Arkham Horror LCG, while we’re on the subject of the living card games now, The Path to Carcosa. I mean, first of all this expansion has already been spoiled on the internet by a European game shop (I believe), so I suppose it’s about right for them to show it off here before too much thunder has been stolen.
I’ve not actually been delving too much into Arkham Horror LCG since I first played through the core set at Christmas, but I’ve picked up a couple of the expansions that have come out since, so really should get back into this game. It seems to have been really popular locally, and the boardgamegeek forums are lighting up daily with threads, so a part of me is slightly concerned that it might actually overtake Lord of the Rings LCG soon, because –
The final Saga expansion for Lord of the Rings LCG has finally been announced, and it looks splendid! We’ve got two scenarios that follow Frodo and Sam through the spires of Cirith Ungol and to the fires of Mount Doom, with the third depicting the clash on the Pelennor Fields. I am really excited to see this box, even might get me playing through the entire Saga at last!!
Ever since The Black Riders was announced, there have been rumblings about the future of Lord of the Rings LCG, with an almost consensus being that the game would lose a lot of momentum once we dump the Ring into Mount Doom. I’m hopeful that FFG will have room for two co-op LCGs in their stable but, given that they have previously cancelled one LCG in order to start up another (Warhammer Invasion for Warhammer Conquest, for example). If Lord of the Rings hasn’t got anything further to offer once we’ve been to The Mountain of Fire, and it will be retired in favour of Arkham Horror.
As much as I would love to see more content for years to come, and as much as I’m concerned that we might not see this happen, I’m sure my wallet will be relieved to have one less game to pick up each month!
Runewars has been released, and while I haven’t actually dropped the £80 on a core set, I have actually been tempted by that Rune Golem model. It does actually look pretty decent, though, and I’m concerned that my resolve will waver if I walk into my local store and it’s still on offer there! But the fact that I don’t know anyone who has even expressed a passing interest in the game has managed to keep me away from it for the time being. Maybe at some time I’ll see if I can get a demo in, and see what it’s all about.
FFG have already announced the Latari Elves expansion for the game, which I find funny, so I might actually be tempted to get it if they bring the Uthuk Y’llan out and they also look as good. For now, I’m resisting, though!
It’s been a while since we’ve had anything new come out for the DC deck-building game, but finally the next Crossover pack is apparently out and available, so it’ll be time to try and sniff that one out soon enough. We’ve also got the artwork for the next Crossover pack, Birds of Prey. The Multiverse Box has recently had another preview over on the Cryptozoic website, showing some of the new content that will be coming out in the box, which is really exciting! Anything that just adds depth to the game is always welcome by me, anyway! Looks like there are elements from the Crisis packs being ported over into the more standard game, which I like, so I’m excited to pick that up, anyway!
Today’s game day is all about this bad boy that was announced last week at GenCon: RuneWars, the Miniatures Game. Yes, I’m still reeling!
I mean, wow!
First of all, something I talked about briefly in my GenCon blog last week is how big for the company this development is. FFG have previously made wargames, such as Dust Warfare, but for years now they appear to have been happy to produce more regular board- and card-games. Edging back into the market that is still primarily dominated by Games Workshop is a really interesting development, especially considering the fact FFG license Warhammer. I find this really interesting, and can’t wait to see where they go with it!
The game itself looks a whole lot like X-Wing, with movement dials and templates, even the upgrade cards. I actually can’t decide if this is a good move or not – though it does feel right that FFG have their own mechanic for all their wargames. The rank-and-file thing I can kinda take or leave, though I know a lot of wargamers like that. Something that put me off the idea with Warhammer was how it would limit the modelling options of some units, as you’d need to get them to fit together. However, it seems as though it won’t matter here, as the models are pre-assembled (but not pre-painted)
With all the templates, dials and cards, not to mention the custom dice that are also involved, it looks like the game could get a bit messy, but I suppose that will depend on how the rules for army-building work – I mean, the only video overview of the rules I’ve come across from the convention so far suggests games last no longer than 90 minutes, so I don’t imagine armies will be that large…
At any rate, this game looks pretty epic, and I’m actually really excited to see FFG launch this game with the Terrinoth theme! While some folks are sharing their uneasiness over what this means for Battlelore, not to mention their relationship with GW, I’m sure it’ll be a hit, and as I’ve already said, I look forward to seeing what they do with the line in the future!
It’s GenCon 2016, the best four days in gaming, and this is my attempt to round up all of the stuff that I think looks particularly amazing as the weekend rolls on!
Let’s start with something not announced at the con, but is definitely worth a mention all the same – Death Masque, the new boxed game for Warhammer 40k that appears to be replacing the current intro box, Dark Vengeance. Games Workshop are really pushing Deathwatch stuff, it seems, following the Overkill boxed game earlier in the year. Along with the game, which features Harlequins vs Deathwatch Marines, they’ve got the new codex and data cards available for pre-order this weekend, to allow for quite the launch for the latest additions to the 40k line. I really like the whole Deathwatch idea and lore, so will no doubt be picking up the codex next weekend, though the box set might have to wait for a while. Especially seeing as how I’ve got so many other projects on the go!
Fantasy Flight Games are always the company I’m most interested in at GenCon, so let’s move on to see what they’re currently up to. In recent years, they’ve taken to making most of their announcements in the weeks leading up to the convention, saving just one or two showstoppers for the actual event itself, and 2016 is no different there. I’ve already talked about the new Star Wars dice game here, but let’s take a look at what else is going on…
Imperial Assault is getting a new small-box expansion later in the year, centred on Jabba’s Palace. Looks amazing, though this is a game I have unfortunately barely played, so I’m questioning the need to actually buy this when it launches. You can bet your ass, of course, if I manage to make this game into a regular thing, I’ll be snapping it up! Jabba is also one of the new hero/villain releases accompanying the game, as well as a new Luke Skywalker.
Mansions of Madness is a Descent-style game that I’ve owned for years but never gotten round to featuring on the blog. It’s a really great, thematic game, but there hadn’t been any news on it for a long time, until FFG announced the new second edition a couple of weeks ago. Looks to involve an app similar to the Road to Legend app for Descent, though I’m currently undecided – I’m not about to go buy the second edition, owning all of first edition anyway, but I’m not sure if it would be the same experience. The game launched at GenCon, anyway, and seems to be getting a lot of hype from folks across the internet, so there is that!
More exciting from my perspective is the new Arkham Horror LCG. I’d heard about this recently as a rumour, but the announcement last week really got me excited for what looks to be an awesome gameplay experience! Looks similar to Elder Sign in parts, though the RPG-like feel to the whole thing has got me incredibly excited, so this is definitely on the Christmas list!
Doom is a classic of the boardgame world, though I’ve never had the opportunity to play it previously. All I can say on this right now is, the miniatures look incredible! And speaking of miniatures…
I was honestly not expecting this, and I’m still not entirely recovered from my shock following yesterday’s announcement! The “original” Runewars is a game I’ve played but once, though it’s still fantastic, and I’ve been wanting to feature it on the blog for a while now. Set in the same universe as Rune Age and Battlelore, it’s a game I’d thought dead, especially given the popularity of Battlelore nowadays.
It’s not just the fact that this is a new game set in the Terrinoth universe, this is a huge deal for FFG. A rank-and-file miniatures war game is a huge thing for any company, and to see them do this really warms my heart, as it feels like we’re seeing more games that have that juggernaut feel to them from the company. Horus Heresy, Runewars, and Twilight Imperium are all games that fit the classic mould, and it looks like FFG are perhaps making a return to that style of game here.
Very exciting times are ahead, I feel!
What’s been going on at the In-Flight Report this year, then?
Announced a while back, Legend of the Five Rings has another year to go before it arrives, but that should allow for FFG to make it pretty awesome. I’m not slavering for it, but it’s probably going to be picked up when it comes out, so there is that! Any LCG from Fantasy Flight is amazing, after all!
Looks like a pair of “expansions” to second edition of Mansions of Madness, which feature content from the first edition core set and expansions. Seems like second edition might be worth looking into more deeply after all!
Wave 10 for X-Wing (sorry, Wave X!) is coming, with ships from Rebels and The Force Awakens. I’m genuinely surprised they’ve managed to keep going so long with this game, I thought they would have shifted to a cards-only supplement style of expansion before now!
I still can’t get over this Runewars announcement…
While there was a lot of amazing stuff coming out of the In-Flight Report this year, I’m more surprised by what hasn’t been announced at GenCon this year – a new big box expansion for Eldritch Horror, and anything about Warhammer Quest the card game. I find this lack of anything fairly suspicious, so it’ll bear keeping an eye on in the future, I think…
Star Wars and Carcassonne… I don’t even… I mean, why?! Carcassonne is a good game, but I feel that perhaps some of the expansions for the main game have shown just how far that game can be taken, so instead we’re getting a lot of re-skins, which I suppose are okay if you like the theme, but seriously, why don’t you just get the main game? Hm.
Having recently bought the boxset to rediscover my love for Buffy, this is perhaps some of the most exciting news to come out of Gen Con for me this year! A co-op game sounds super interesting, and I love the Legendary thing, so definitely going to snap this one up when it comes out, that’s for sure!
Okay, so I had the game Mythic Battles, and I sold it after having never played it in the 2+ years of ownership. These miniatures look so incredibly beautiful, however, that I may have to keep an eye on this bad boy…
Flying Frog haven’t officially shared anything (yet), but a few people have been posting up pictures of the stuff they’re picking up as part of wave 1.5 of Shadows of Brimstone, and it does look kinda neat, I have to say. I’m still a bit bummed by the fact that I don’t have a lot of the stuff that I backed, but as many others have pointed out, the kickstarter was a hell of a deal, so I’m not complaining too loudly!
It’s interesting to me because I don’t have a lot of games with this theme, but it’s something I would like to explore in more depth. The fact that it’s going to be a kickstarter is not exactly getting my juices going, but y’know, I think FFP might have learnt from the Shadows of Brimstone experience, and perhaps things will be better this time around. I’m cautiously optimistic, though I might pass until it actually hits retail, so I guess we’ll see how things pan out. Of course, I’m quite sad they’ve had to put all of their other games on hold while they fulfill the SoB pledges, as I’m keen to see where they take Fortune & Glory, and A Touch of Evil, next!
Tuesday is once again game day here at spalanz.com, apologies for missing it last week! Today, therefore, I’m doing something a bit special (for me, at least), and taking a look at the first card game I ever bought for myself: Rune Age.
I’d played card games before, of course, but after splitting up with my ex, I’d stuck to just the one board game, Runebound. After a few weeks of indecision about investing in the Lord of the Rings LCG, I eventually decided to try a smaller card game from FFG first, thinking I’d see what they’re like and whatnot. As I love Runebound so much, Rune Age seemed like the logical choice so, taking the plunge, I bought a copy. I still remember sitting down, having set up the cards as described by the manual, and feeling a little nonplussed by how to start. However, that didn’t last long, and away I went! The game was fantastic, and the rest is history!
Rune Age is a deck-building game from Fantasy Flight Games, designed by Corey Konieczka, who is, at the time of writing, the Executive Game Designer at FFG. Set in Terrinoth, the same universe as Runebound, the game is in what I have been referring to lately as Stage 2 of the company’s Terrinoth games, the post-Runewars phase. In case you don’t know, Runebound and Descent (1st edition) were set in the universe, where heroes battled monsters as they went up against various threats, such as Vorakesh and High Lord Margath. Runewars came out at the end of 2009 and changed the world significantly – while there were still heroes, the predominant feel was now of warring factions, as the game universe was blended with that of Battlemist, a game from the late 1990s that was somewhat derivative of Warhammer/D&D. Battlemist was designed by FFG’s CEO Christian Peterson, so it’s perhaps understandable that he would want to reintroduce some of his earlier ideas into his current games line-up. Runewars brought four factions to the table: the Daqan Lords, the Latari Elves, Waiqar the Undying, and the Uthuk Y’llan (each one derivative of the Empire, High Elves, Vampire Counts and Chaos Daemons from Warhammer, respectively).
Rune Age came out in mid-2011, and translated much of the sprawling wargame of Runewars into card-game form. The same four factions were featured, using the same four unit types in each, and the card game even included one scenario called Runewars. The choice of a deck-building game is perhaps a little odd, but overall the format really works well. Looking back, I’m still really impressed with it, and would say it’s one of the best non-collectible card games that I own.
So what’s it all about?
Players take command of one of the four fantasy races and compete in one of four scenarios while building their deck. Unlike, say, DC or Street Fighter, where the goal is to acquire victory points – and, even, unlike Thunderstone, where you build your deck to delve into a dungeon, but you’re still competing for victory points – Rune Age has different victory conditions depending on which scenario you play. It’s this aspect that makes it truly a breed apart from the other deck builders out there, and really makes the game fresh each time you come to it.
If you didn’t want to watch the video, or you just like to read my rambling discourse, then continue!
Each of the four scenarios is different, ranging from all-out war to fully co-operative. Each one also uses different cards from which the players build their decks, leading to different gaming experiences in each scenario. So let’s have a look at each one.
Rise of the Dragonlords
This scenario should be familiar to anyone who has played the base game of Runebound. Players are trying to defeat the dragonlords as they appear, including Kalladra (of DungeonQuest fame) and Margath himself, before defeating one final card, the scenario objective itself. The dragonlord cards can give you bonuses when you come up against the final objective, so that you stand a better chance, and the person who does so is declared the winner. I play most of my Rune Age solo, and this scenario is fine for that, as you’re fighting the event deck itself.
This is an all-out war scenario, and Runewars fans will no doubt appreciate the nods to the wargame here and there. Basically, players are fighting each other, besieging each others’ home realms and friendly cities, in order to eliminate each other from the game, with the last faction standing declared the winner. At the outset, the players receive one random Dragon Rune card each (the two cards at the bottom-left and -right of the above picture), which provide varying bonuses to the players throughout the game. When you eliminate a player, you also take control of his Dragon Rune, and you can use it instead of your own. I haven’t played this much, as I’m not a big fan of player elimination games like this. Plus, if I want to play Runewars, well, I’d play Runewars!
Another race game, in The Monument the players are trying to build their faction’s beacon of power. As you can see in the picture above, each faction has a unique Monument card that has a gold cost in the bottom-right corner. The object of the game is to get enough money that you can build your monument with one hand of cards before your opponents do. The “evil” factions seem to have the upper hand here, as their monuments are cheaper than the “good” factions. There is less player interaction than in Runewars, with each player trying to gain enough gold while the event deck itself messes with everyone. While some cards will provide gold bonuses, much like the dragonlords in the earlier scenario, there are also cards that force the discard of gold-providing cards throughout the game. I quite like this scenario, as it has the right amount of competitive play for me. And, as you’re trying to build your monument while the event deck tries to stop you, it also works reasonably well solo.
And finally, we have a fully co-operative scenario. Again, fans of Runebound will no doubt be pleased to see this one, which utilises a similar mechanic to The Cataclysm adventure variant to that game. While in previous scenarios the players have been fighting against the event deck to varying degrees, here the event deck is really out to get you. The object of the game is basically to survive against it, and if the players manage this, they all win – however, if anyone is eliminated, the players as a whole lose. Now, I really liked the Runebound adventure, and I do quite like this one, too – however, I must say that this scenario can be brutal if you’re not focused on it. I’ve played it a few times, but I believe I’ve only managed to outlast it twice. Really good one, this one!
As I said before, each scenario brings with it its own cards. Now, players obviously have their own ‘barracks’ of cards to buy that make up their particular faction, but there are also neutral cards for purchase, which can often really help you. These cards are divided into two types, units and tactics:
The unit cards are similar to the unit cards in each faction’s barracks, but the tactics cards are similar to event cards in other card games, providing a one-time benefit when played. As you can see, each card has an icon in the bottom-left corner, which denotes to which scenario it belongs; the scenario objective cards show these icons on their reverse, allowing you to build up the central play area for each scenario. This is a really impressive way of going about things, I feel, and one of the ways the game is kept fresh each time. The only other game I’ve played that comes close to this is Thunderstone, but without any specific rules, that game all becomes a little random.
Anyway. The other feature that is available in the central play area, besides the money cards, are the Neutral Cities. These correspond to the eight Free Cities on the original Runebound board, and a proportionate number of them are available for each game at random. They provide bonuses for the players, but they must first be won! They also have some of the best artwork in the entire game:
This brings me on to the currency of the game, something that I also really like about it. Gold is obviously a currency, but you also have Strength, denoted by a shield icon, and Influence, denoted by a jewel icon (that last also a nod to Runewars). A card’s cost is displayed in the bottom-right corner, and the bonus it provides is shown in the top-left. This used to confuse me no end, and indeed, whenever I introduce new people to the game, it confuses them, as well, because most people (myself included) automatically assume the cost is in the top-left. Anyway, it’s a small point, but still. The city cards shown above also have a number below their Influence value, which is their auto-defense bonus. I’ll get onto that shortly.
We’re ready to begin!
As is usual with deck-building games, players begin with some money and some comparatively weak-powered cards, and try to refine their deck as they go. Usually, it’s rare that you can take on one of the enemy cards within the first couple of rounds, as you’re mainly building up your deck. Players can, however, use their low-powered units to build up their home realm by buying Stronghold cards (shown in the bottom left of the above picture), which have a Gold and a Strength cost. These cards provide Influence, which is used to buy the neutral cards in the centre, either units, tactics or gold. Influence is also used to keep cards in your hand – ordinarily, players discard their hand and draw back up to 5 cards at the end of their turn, but if you have a particularly useful card, you can exhaust an Influence card to keep it in your hand.
When you go up against an Enemy card, you play your units down and compare the strength of your army with that of the Enemy. Some Enemies will force you to roll the attrition die, which will possibly subtract strength from your army depending on how many skulls you roll. If you equal or exceed the Enemy’s Strength, you defeat it, and either claim it as a Reward, or else place it in the discard pile.
Unit cards have various effects that often lead to some wonderful synergy, and my favourite faction to play for this is the Uthuk Y’llan. Above, you can see that my total army Strength is 13; however, I have also played the Battle Cry tactics card, which adds 1 Strength to each unit in my army. 17 is still not enough to go against the Rise of the Dragonlords objective itself, but this is where the synergy comes in – my Chaos Lord has an ability that lets me wound one participating unit, which I have used on my Berserker (hence he’s slanted a bit), whose own ability allows me to add 2 Strength to that unit, giving me 19 in total. I rolled one skull on the attrition die, which leaves me with 18, meaning I have defeated the objective and won the game!
The mechanic of wounding cards reflects the bloodthirsty nature of the faction. It basically means, at the end of the combat, that card is ‘destroyed’ – put back where it came from, either the barracks or the central play area – rather than discarded.
In addition to attacking the event cards, players can attack each other throughout the game by conducting sieges. When doing this, the besieging player declares his target and lays out his army, while the defending player lays out his. If the besieger is going after one of the Neutral Cities, that card’s auto-defense bonus is added to the defending player before the siege is resolved and, if the siege is successful, the city changes hands. If the besieger is attacking a player’s Home Realm, however, he deals as much damage to that Realm as the defending player didn’t block – all Home Realms can take up to 20 damage before that player is eliminated.
I’ve had a lot of fun with Rune Age, but was overjoyed when, in April 2012, an expansion was announced for the game: Oath and Anvil.
This expansion offers a whole host of awesomeness to the original base game. Foremost among this are two new factions, and two new scenarios.
The scenarios reflect what I have now taken to calling Stage 3 of the Terrinoth games, which coincided with the release of Descent 2nd Edition, which was released shortly before Oath and Anvil. One of the scenarios, Ascent of the Overlord, is basically the game of Descent brought under the Rune Age formula. One player is the Overlord, against whom at least two Allied players are fighting. The Overlord is trying to eliminate these players, with help from the event deck, which provides a series of boons to him that the Allied players will need to work towards to defeat.
The second scenario is called The Quest for Power, which replaces the Neutral Cities from the base game with eight Landmark cards, including such notable places as the Obsidian Library (as seen in Runebound: Island of Dread), as well as the Empyreal Vale, the home of the Latari Elves. The scenario is called “complex” by the rules sheet, but isn’t really all that difficult to grasp. Players are competing for Power in a similar way to competing for Gold in The Monument scenario. Power is represented by an icon on each Landmark card, and players collect this Power on their Home Realm in the shape of damage tokens. Players receive Power tokens at the start of their turn equal to the Power provided by the Landmarks he controls. Players can besiege each other and either steal the Landmark or steal 2 Power tokens, and the first person to 20 Power wins. Marvellous!
The Quest for Power is definitely my favourite of the new scenarios, as I enjoy the jockeying for Power than results from the game. It’s also somewhat less confrontational as, while you are besieging other players, you’re not trying to eliminate them in the same way as you are in Runewars, so for me this is an improvement on that earlier scenario.
Rune Age: Oath and Anvil comes with an absolute slew of cards, however. Obviously, both the new scenarios also come with new neutral cards you can buy:
There is also a new group of cards called Mercenary cards, which I was really excited about when I first read about them. Basically more neutral cards, these guys can be added to any scenario following a nicely-executed system. Where the scenario icons are located on the usual neutral cards, mercenaries have a wax seal with I or II in it – you take two different I cards, and one II card, and add them to the set-up along with the scenario specific cards.
Most of the mercenary cards tend towards player-vs-player play, so as I play mostly solo I don’t get an awful lot of use out of these guys, but there are nevertheless some really good cards here, and the entire mercenary mechanic is something that I really like. As you can see, with cards like the Flesh Moulder and the Shadow Dragon, we’re seeing a lot more of Descent in this game than ever before.
Finally, but by no means the least, Oath and Anvil gives the core set factions and scenarios new cards. You may have noticed that the two new races have six unit cards rather than four? Well, with two new units apiece, the core races aren’t forgotten:
Oath and Anvil introduces a new unit type, Mythic units. These Mythic units are represented by a golden shield in the top-left corner, and are extremely powerful members of your faction’s army. In addition to their effects, Mythic units are discarded when they are destroyed, meaning you only have to buy them once (which is a good thing, considering their price!). Something that I thought quite interesting at the time was that the new units introduced in this expansion corresponded to the Runewars expansion Banners of War, which was released shortly after the core set for Rune Age. The new scenario cards are a nice feature, as you can often cycle through these cards quite a lot, depending on how well the game is going, so it’s nice to introduce some fresh blood like that. (There is also the option of playing Rise of the Dragonlords fully co-operative with a variant introduced here).
Rune Age: Oath and Anvil is, quite simply, a required purchase for any fan of the base game. The vastly increased gameplay options presented by the box contents can lead to even more hours of fun, and I can highly recommend getting it if you haven’t already. The new races have a wonderful, distinctive feel to them, and the new scenarios add a nice twist to the whole.
I’ve often seen Rune Age in comparison with the other Terrinoth games from FFG. When it was released, it was highly comparable to Runewars while retaining strong links to Runebound (which wasn’t as dead back then as it is now). Oath and Anvil has brought a big portion of Descent into the game, while retaining the original feel. While Descent remains at the forefront of FFG’s Terrinoth line-up, the recent news from GenCon that we’ll be seeing more for Battlelore has got me wondering whether there will be a move to integrate Rune Age more fully with that game. There are already strong ties, of course, but those are more by accident than design, as Battlelore drew as strongly on Runewars as Rune Age itself originally did. Whether there will be further integration when we see the new Battlelore stuff will, I suppose, remain to be seen.
Indeed, it’ll be interesting to see if there’ll be anything new coming for Rune Age. Christian Peterson did say at this year’s In-Flight Report that, unless they categorically say so, no game on the FFG roster is actually abandoned or dead. I have previously contacted the company suggesting the use of Print on Demand for new scenarios, rather than generating a whole new box of material, but while they thanked me for my input, nothing has yet appeared. We’ll see what happens next year I suppose, when Battlelore has had its new stuff.
Until then, get yourself a copy of this game, and bask in its excellence!