LCG News!

Wow, folks! Just, wow! Things seem to be getting a little bit crazy in the Living Card Game world at the minute, with FFG announcing the end of one of their most successful LCGs, Android Netrunner just days after the announcement of a new co-operative card games, Heroes of Terrinoth!

Android Netrunner

The news that Netrunner is ending is quite the shock, I have to say. I’d always been under the impression that it was one of their biggest product lines, and thought that would be too much to let it go. While the article, Jacking Out, makes it sound very much like the decision was made by FFG, and the game was just at the end of its natural run as a product, there are other quotes scattered around related news articles that refer to “the unfortunate news about the Netrunner license”, which makes it sound more like they’ve lost that license, rather than anything else. A lot has been made in the past of FFG wanting to focus more on their in-house IP, which we’re now seeing with the second-edition-style of Terrinoth games such as the RPG, so I can see why they’re looking at things like the Warhammer license and perhaps choosing not to renew (though what exactly happened there, we don’t know!) Star Wars is doing well for them, and I think A Game of Thrones will continue to be an earner, as well. But it still feels a bit odd that they’re just letting this one go, especially so soon after the rotation period.

Android Netrunner

I’m going to be sad to see Netrunner leave the stable, even though I stopped following the game after rotation. I’ve had a lot of fun with this game over the years, and I still remember the excitement of that very first game I had back in the summer of 2013. When I used to live in my flat, I had neighbours out the back who would hold a massive birthday party around the 4 July weekend every year, which would invariably go on into the small hours – Netrunner proved to be my coping mechanism for that, as I’d just settle down to a night of watching the Naked Gun trilogy, and (initially) sorted out my entire card pool into each faction (up until this point, I’d kept them sorted by expansion). Year after year, that 4 July weekend would be when I’d go through the card pool once again, and see about mixing up my decks for the coming months. It sounds a bit strange, but I came to really enjoy these times, all the same! Netrunner was the game with which I somehow managed to infect my entire local community with the LCG bug, and led to one of only two official tournaments in which I’ve competed. I don’t want to turn this into some kind of eulogy for the game, but I’ll be sad to see it go.

Heroes of Terrinoth

Going back to in-house IP brings us nicely on to the news from earlier in the week, where another co-operative card game has been announced: Heroes of Terrinoth. This game looks like it is strongly influenced by the mechanics of FFG’s Warhammer Quest card game, something that turned out to be a one-shot before the license went away back in 2015. While I wanted to like it, ultimately I wasn’t really a big fan of that iteration, I have to say, which makes me a little wary of saying this, but I’ve been waiting for a Terrinoth LCG for what feels like centuries!

It feels at first glance a bit like Arkham Horror LCG, with heroes coming from a specific class. However, with eight quests in the core set, and a focus on dungeon-delving to slay the monster and grab some loot, I think this is more akin to Descent: the Card Game, than anything else! Maybe that’s just me being immersed in these games from the start, though…

It’s definitely got the potential to be a lot of fun, at any rate, something that I think has been the hallmark of the first batch of Terrinoth games such as Descent. While FFG has looked more at the tribal feel of the setting through factional games like Runewars and Rune Age, I think it’s interesting that they’re returning to the hero-driven style with this new game. It seems to be an aspect that a lot of people appreciate – and I’m guessing that if they had introduced another factional-based game, it would have the potential to be too similar to Legend of the Five Rings. Building a deck as a hero rather than a warlord has that classic RPG feel, which I suppose is another of the hallmarks of Descent-era Terrinoth games. It’ll certainly be interesting to see where this game goes next, and if the tribes such as Uthuk Y’llan or Daqan Lords will make an appearance. It could be telling that the announcement article mentions the setting as Mennara, the entire world of which Terrinoth is only a part, so perhaps we’ll branch out beyond any of the other games FFG has yet produced?

While it isn’t another LCG, I’m guessing that the distribution model will be very much akin to it, with campaign boxes bringing more quests and the like, and potentially class-specific upgrade packs to further kit-out your decks. A huge negative for the Warhammer Quest game was its lack of replayability, but with eight quests off the bat, this should at least be better in that regard.

It’s worth pointing out, incidentally, that all mention of the deck-building card game Rune Age has been removed from the products pages now. You can still find it if you search for it, of course, but I wonder if they’re planning to quiety do away with that one now that they have the LCG on the horizon?

There’s also the State of the LCG article up on the website, which looks into how the Netrunner announcement will potentially affect the other games on the roster. L5R is naturally a big component of this right now, and while I’ve not been paying attention to the latest of the living card games, it does seem like this is perhaps their principal thrust for the time being. The approach of releasing all six packs for a cycle across six weeks, rather than the usual six months, I find really interesting, as it was always something of a contention for the games I used to follow really closely, waiting for that one sweet card that I knew was in pack six, and having to stand by while seeing other factions getting awesome stuff. Warhammer Invasion was always a pain for this, but to a lesser extent, I’ve also seen it a lot with Lord of the Rings, when a card would come out in pack six that would have made the experience with quest #3 so much easier!

It’s interesting to read how the designers think the other LCGs are doing right now, and seeing their priorities for the future. Arkham Horror and A Game of Thrones also seem to be pretty big for the company right now, and seeing the designer insight for all four of the games here was really interesting as showing just how unique each game is now being encouraged to be. While it strikes me as a little funny that A Game of Thrones seems to be morphing a little into its first edition, it’s cool to see such attention to the story being given in Arkham Horror. It’s also kinda fascinating to see the differences that each game is trying, with stuff like the Return to the Night of the Zealot box for Arkham Horror that seems to function almost as a Nightmare Deck deluxe, and the intro decks for each House in A Game of Thrones.

Lord of the Rings still troubles me a little, though I think there is still the potential there to keep going for a while. We’re poised on the brink of the Ered Mithrin Cycle, of course, which is exciting as it feels like we’re going back into the heartland of Middle Earth after being away for so long, but there’s a part of me that wonders, will this be the end? I think a lot of players have been guilty for a long time of thinking the end is nigh, but with the launch of the new digital edition, it does seem that this is more of a possibility now. With seven full expansion cycles, not to mention all of the Saga expansions and standalone decks, would this be the right time to draw the game to a close? The glimmer of hope, for me, is seeing Caleb’s thoughts about implementing campaign play with the game now that the main six-part Saga expansion era is over. Not that we should be reading so much into it these days, but perhaps something like a Return to the Night of the Zealot box could be coming, marking a return to some of the older scenarios to make them into a more cohesive campaign. I think it’s really exciting to see them return to some of the encounter sets from the Core Set in the upcoming deluxe expansion, so maybe this could be a thing once again?

Anyway, this has been a very long and rambling post about Living Card Games, so I think I’ll stop here. I’m curious to see what other people think, though, so do feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts!

Battlelore!

Hey everybody!
It’s part two of my game day blog special thing, looking at two games on the Battlelore system. Following last week’s look at Battles of Westeros, it’s time to take a look at the fantasy version, Battlelore itself!

Battlelore

The second edition of the game, Battlelore came out late in 2013. Set in the same universe as the hugely popular Runebound, but featuring the factions that we’ve all come to expect from Terrinoth in this post-Runewars age, the game pits the human Daqan Lords against the abominable Uthuk Y’llan. The game is a pretty strategic tabletop wargame, and prior to the launch of the Runewars miniatures game earlier this year, I’d have said it was probably the premier such game from Fantasy Flight.

If you’ve read my Battles of Westeros blog from last week, you’ll have a fair idea for what to expect from this game, as well. I think Battlelore is the more enjoyable game, in part because the fantasy theme elevates it somewhat from the gritty battles in the earlier game. There are also a number of different elements changed in Battlelore that make it just more interesting, to me! Let’s take a look at some of them now.

Battlelore

The system is of course going to be similar to BoW, so it should be no surprise that there is a Command Card system that is used as the main mechanic. You order your troops about the field by selecting from a hand of cards, and then over the course of the round those orders are carried out. That does make it sound quite simplistic, of course, and I think it’s important to note that there is a tremendous amount of strategy involved here, as you try to ensure you manoeuvre your troops into the best possible position.

Battlelore

The troops have similar-looking cards to those in BoW, but I just want to talk a moment about the deployment here. The game also comes with those smaller cards shown at the bottom of the above picture. These deployment cards all have the same back, and at the start of the game you pick these cards out and place them in the hexes on your side of the board face-down. There are also Decoy cards, so an element of bluffing is introduced as to where your big threats actually are.

There is also a really cool element to both army building and scenario generation for the game. Similar to BoW, there are scenarios to play through, though rather than having the prescriptive feel of Westeros, here the scenario is generated by players each taking a scenario card, which shows one half of the battlefield board, and marks out their deployment zone as well as detailing victory conditions. It’s a really interesting way to ensure the game feels fresh whenever you play.

Additionally, armies are generated by a points-based system. Those small deployment cards show the points of each unit as a “muster value” in the bottom-left corner. Armies are generally costed up to 50 points, and the game comes with a few suggestions for each of the factions within.

 

Battlelore

So how does combat work?

Well, there are fancy dice that you throw, the number of dice being equal to the attack value (in the red circle) of the attacking unit. The dice have sword symbols for melee attacks, and bullseye symbols for ranged attacks, and for each hit you score, you remove a model from the unit. Each unit in Battlelore also has special abilities that can take place during combat, adding to these basic mechanics. It makes combat fairly straightforward overall, anyway!

If that’s the battle, what about the lore?

Battlelore

The dice also have a weird diamond symbol on them, which is the lore symbol. This allows you to gain one lore token – these tokens are then used to play Lore cards that can have different effects over the course of the game. Each faction has their own distinct deck, which allows for the theme to come through quite strongly here. As you can see in the picture above, the cards show when they can be played, but there is still a very strong element of strategic depth to how you use these effects over the course of a game.

In a fairly broad nutshell, that’s it! Battlelore is not the sort of game that I get to play a lot, primarily I think because of the wargame aspect it has. Similar story to Battles of Westeros, really! However, it is a great deal of fun to play, and there have been a good deal of expansions to the game over the last four years, from “Reinforcement Packs” that feature a single miniature that you can draft into your army, to the Undead faction released back in 2015. The symmetry with Runewars has been off for a while of course, as we still haven’t had the Latari Elves released for the game – and now that the Runewars miniatures game has landed with such force, it has me wondering what the future of Battlelore will be. I can’t claim to have any insider knowledge, of course, but anecdotal evidence seems to be supporting the idea that Runewars miniatures game is selling well, perhaps due to its appeal to the disenfranchised Warhammer Fantasy players. Given the fact that Runewars miniatures and Battlelore have such close parallels as to almost be the same game, it makes me wonder if we’ll actually see any further support for it, or if instead the game will just quietly sit in the inventory as Runewars had been for so many years before it.

I suppose only time will tell on that front!

Unbreakable Bonds

It’s a game day extra here at spalanz.com!

As it’s Fantasy Week here, in celebration of the blog’s third birthday on Friday, I wanted to talk a bit about the upcoming Unbreakable Bonds expansion for Runebound third edition, which provides a co-op/solo alternative to the game.

There hasn’t been a great deal of news for the new edition of Runebound for quite some time, which has had many folks fearing the sky would soon be falling on the game. But feat not! This bad boy is coming in the third quarter, with new stuff (including new heroes) to add to the game.

To start with, there are five scenarios presented in the expansion – two new ones, and co-op/solo versions of both base game scenarios and Caught in a Web. I like this idea a lot, as I feel it could leave the door open for FFG to produce further co-op/solo expansions that do the same for any subsequent expansions they put out. I’m sure plenty of people will complain that this not only requires the base game, but also other expansions in order to play, but I’m sure there are plenty more completionists for whom this won’t be an issue. And the smaller expansions FFG have put out so far seem so packed-full of stuff, I don’t think you’ll be wasting money on them…

The way that combat is being handled in this expansion has interested me a great deal, as rather than having specific rules to essentially bolt-on a monster AI, there are new “combat boards” for four different monster types, along with the respective combat tokens. This could well future-proof the game for Unbreakable Bonds to work with whatever is next for Runebound third edition – though of course, we’re still waiting to see any kind of big box expansion come out here.

It’s definitely an interesting twist, and has come at a time when I’ve actually been on the cusp of trading off this game as one that I haven’t played since my first foray almost a year ago. I might just keep hold of the game and wait to see what Unbreakable Bonds has to offer me, after all!

Lair of the Wyrm

Hey everybody!
It’s game day here at spalanz.com, and today I thought it’d be cool to take a look at some expansions for Descent 2nd Edition, a game that I first featured on the blog here back in 2015: let’s look at the Lair of the Wyrm!

Lair of the Wyrm

The treacherous Wyrm Queen Valyndra has awoken from her slumber, unleashing her foul hybrid minions on the countryside to burn and raid as they please. Her lust for gold has lured her from her lair, and now it’s up to a few brave heroes to drive her back into hiding and destroy her cruel servants!

The first expansion for Descent, Lair of the Wyrm came out in 2012, and is what I suppose you could now call a small box expansion for the main game. As such, it comes with more of everything, which is never a bad thing as far as I’m concerned! We get new items, new enemies, and new heroes, as well as new tiles and five new quests that link into a new campaign to go on as we delve into the lair of Valyndra, the wyrm of the title.

First of all, let’s look at the heroes. We get two: Reynhart the Worthy, and High Mage Quellen. Reynhart is from the warrior archetype, and comes with a new Champion class, while the mage Quellen brings the new Geomancer class with him. Both of these allow for more options for all manner of heroes, of course, which is something that I always enjoy seeing.

Again, the item cards provide more of the same, though a new aspect of the game is introduced through something called Secret Rooms, which allow you to place a whole new tile that can be searched, in a mechanic that feels very similar to the secret door cards in DungeonQuest. Unlike in that game, you don’t start a whole new area of the map, but rather continue on with the current quest once the Room has been resolved, but it just feels very similar, and I thought I’d mention it!

Lair of the Wyrm

Moving on to monsters, there are only two new types included here: Hybrid Sentinels (the bat-like creatures) and Fire Imps (those little dudes coming out of the flames). The fire imps in particular tie into the theme of the expansion, through the new condition of Burning! Yes, if being poisoned and all the rest of it wasn’t enough to worry about, you can also catch on fire in the dungeon! Well, it makes sense, because you are delving into the dragon’s lair…

Lair of the Wyrm

Valyndra herself is a Lieutenant for the Overlord, and as such is sold separately as a miniature, though there is a large cardboard tile the size of her base to represent her in the game if you don’t want to add the mini. She’s pretty huge, and very detailed, and I can’t imagine anyone who wouldn’t want to have this model on the tabletop as a final boss monster. Valyndra comes with all the usual lieutenant pack stuff, and the Overlord in general gets some nice new toys in this box, including the new Punisher class that can be pretty brutal on the heroes.

Lair of the Wyrm is also used in the co-op scenario Dark Elements, which successfully blends the base game with the expansion in a new and exciting way. The co-op scenario plays a little like Shadows of Brimstone, if you’re familiar with that game, whereby the heroes are progressing through the quest in the light of a single torch that illuminates only a few squares around them. The elements involved in this quest include both enemy units from Lair of the Wyrm, along with the Elementals from the base game and – my favourite enemy type so far in the game – merriods! If you’re looking for a great co-op expansion for Descent, and want to use the bits from Lair of the Wyrm, then this is definitely it!

Descent Dark Elements

Lair of the Wyrm is an incredibly flavourful expansion to the Descent line, and definitely worth picking up if you find yourself in need of some dragon goodness for your games (and let’s be honest, who wouldn’t want dragon goodness in their games?) As of the time I’m writing this, I believe it’s getting quite difficult to find, being one of the earlier expansions for the game, but definitely worthwhile picking up if you can!

RuneWars, the Miniatures Game

Hey everybody,
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!

Exciting times ahead!

GenCon 2016!

Hey everybody!
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!

Warhammer 40k Death Masque

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…

Runewars Miniatures Game

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?

Interesting stuff there, looks like FFG are making a lot of these app-driven games since X-Com…

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!

X-Wing Wave X

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!

This is here because I still can’t get over my shock!

I’ve been seeing a lot of positive vibes around this game across Twitter, so I’m thinking that I’ll definitely try it out once it’s released…

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…

But what about the other companies out there?

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!

What’s very interesting, to me, is this news:

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!

Of course, FFP don’t have the only Oriental-themed game coming soon:

My favourite game designer, Eric Lang, has come up with, well…

…with beautiful minis, as always!

I should try to contain myself, though that might be very difficult!

That’s all for now! I’ll be updating here whenever I find more interesting stuff to share, so don’t think it’s over yet!

New Runebound

Happy Tabletop Day, everybody!

I’m very excited today, as I finally got round to playing the new edition of Runebound that was released back in November. Having bought it at the time, I was still unconvinced by the changes from second edition, which remains one of my all-time favourite games. However, the announcement of expansions had gotten me interested, and so in the spirit of the day, I’ve given it a whirl! And it was amazing.

While this new edition of the game is still set in Terrinoth, and follows some old favourite heroes on a very familiar map, the game feels a lot different to the old version, almost to the extent that you’re pretty much playing through a new experience. I was learning the game as I went, so it took me over 2 hours to play through (solo), and I didn’t read any of the lore on the cards as I was making sure I was getting the mechanics right, but I have to say, the experience is really smooth, and you get the gist of it really quickly, thanks in part to the new method of writing rulebooks.

Runebound 3

The game is no longer merely a ‘level-up until you can destroy the bad guy’, but a scenario-driven game that uses a timer somewhat reminiscent of the doom track ideas from the previous iteration. The time track is run through twice, first comes Act One, then Act Two, which interacts with the scenario in some way. Each scenario has a set of ten story cards, which are drawn at set points on this timer track, and most of them have a Quest effect that usually benefits you in some way, though the picture above is a bit of a hindrance as well.

This benefit often takes the form of giving Lore tokens, which have some way to interact with the scenario: I was playing the Ascendance of Margath scenario, and Lore tokens here give you the boon of reducing the big dragon’s health when you eventually fight him.

On your turn, your hero has three actions to choose from among moving, resting, training (gaining skill cards, more on this shortly), adventuring, and shopping. You no longer throw all five dice all the time, but have a speed that denotes how many dice you can throw. Movement is also different insofar as many of the hexes have rivers running along their edges, and you need to expend the water side of a die in order to cross it (rather than choosing to spend, say, a forest side to move into a forest space). This does present some interesting options, though there is also a wild symbol that can be used for any terrain type. There are only four Free Cities on the new board, but a multitude of smaller features, such as strongholds and shrines, which you can often interact with in a manner similar to cities (healing and trading, for instance).

Runebound 3

Skill cards are gained through training, though you do start with a basic hand of them. When you train, you draw three cards, then discard down to your hand size, so this can be a useful way of cycling through unwanted cards. Whenever you test an attribute, rather than rolling a d10, you instead draw a number of cards off the Skills deck and, for every card with a starburst icon on the top-right, you score a success. This means the deck is going to cycle through a few times during a game, especially with more people playing.

The attributes are body, mind and magic, much like second edition, though a major difference here is how you level-up. When you complete adventures, you don’t take the adventure jewel token from the board, but instead you take the card. You then use these cards to essentially “buy” skill cards – the icons along the top of the cards show how many adventure cards you need to discard in order to buy them. I find this really interesting as, not only does it mean you can level up after potentially only completing one adventure, but you actually get useful skills to use in the game, rather than just buffing your stats in a specific category.

Runebound 3

Adventures come in three types: combat (orange), social (purple) and exploration (green). These three decks have all types of cards within each but, as a rule, the green deck will have more quests – requiring you to interact with a specific hex on the board to gain benefits – while the social deck will have more events – cards where you can essentially choose what happens – and the orange deck obviously has more enemies. Rather than going through progressively more difficult colours of enemies, the orange deck will have enemies of all levels for you to face.

Runebound 3

Combat is where the biggest (to my mind) change comes, and one of the most controversial changes, at that: combat tokens. Instead of d10s, each hero starts with three combat tokens specific to that hero, and has the option of buying items at market in order to gain more tokens to add to the pool. Enemy cards always start with five combat tokens, and when Act 2 hits, a sixth token is added. Final boss monsters also add a seventh token to the mix specific to that monster.

These tokens have various symbols on them, such as shields for defending wounds, axes for hero damage, skulls for monster damage, the lightning-bolt icon (“surge” for you Descent fans) to trigger a character ability, etc. There’s also a double-up icon, that one roughly in the centre in the above photo, which allows you to place another token on top of it in order to double the effect, and a feather-icon that allows you to flip one of your tokens after casting if you don’t like the result (the smaller circle on each token tells you what’s on the reverse). Lastly, there’s a kind of splatter-type of symbol that represents magical damage specifically.

During a combat round, you take your token pool and “randomize” them, before casting them either like dice, or flipping them like coins. I treated mine essentially like dice, though tried to do a bit of a flourish as if I were casting runes or something! Simple things. Some icons are golden on the tokens – the person with the most gold icons has initiative and goes first. In the case of a tie, the monster goes first.

The rules state that another player takes control of the monster when you fight, and decides the order of battle etc, but I was playing solo in order to get to grips with the rules, so just cast them all at once, and always chose the most beneficial act for the monster. It wasn’t as complicated as it might seem, and I actually got knocked out a couple of times as a result of dealing double damage to myself… At any rate, Runebound 3 appears to be a pretty decent solo experience, much like the second edition.

I actually really enjoyed the combat tokens aspect of the game, which surprised me because it was the aspect I was most unsure about. The fact the dice are blank plastic cubes that you put stickers on kinda put me off, but the tokens felt like the worst part to me. The fact that FFG have actually released duplicate tokens struck me as a lack of faith in their durability, however the cardboard is the usual FFG stock, and I’m usually real careful with my games, so I hope they’ll be okay for a long while yet.

Runebound 3

The scenario I was playing, Ascendance of Margath, was a lot of fun. Once Act 1 ends, Margath is spawned on the board by means of a token, six or seven hexes outside of Tamalir. Once Act 2 is over, at the end of each round you roll all five dice and move him one hex for every wild space rolled – if he gets to Tamalir, it’s game over. The first couple of times, I either rolled none or 1 wild side, so felt a little cocky and tried to keep going in my adventure, which I’m glad I did because it allowed me to gain one final skill before the final battle on the outskirts of the city!

I was playing as Elder Mok, who has this really useful “surge” ability that allows you to test your Magic attribute +1, and deal magical damage equal to the number of successes you draw. When doing attribute tests like this, there’s a useful rule that lets you “exert” by discarding an unused skill card to draw another – as it turned out, this was exactly what I needed to do enough damage (plus those Lore tokens!) to destroy the big dragon and win freedom for Terrinoth!

Runebound 3rd Edition

I really enjoyed this game. I think I surprised myself just how much I enjoyed it, seeing as how I like the second edition so much that I was not entirely convinced this would be a good successor. Sure, when it was first announced, I was pumped, but once I got it in my hot little hands, I felt a little sad about things like the dice and the tokens. However, now that it’s spent some time on the table, I have to say, I’m sold. The game is re-implemented so well, I’m really looking forward to a long future with this side-by-side with the second edition.