[Gaming] Runewars

26 07 2011

Back to the salt mines with me! Or rather the toils of talking about board games. Today, we’ll talk about one of the jewels of my collection, Fantasy Flight Games’ epic fantasy strategy game, Runewars!

Released just last year, it’s probably one of the better entries into the strategy genre and one FFG’s finest new designs.

So what’s it about? Well, it’s a two to four-player strategy game based in Fantasy Flight’s own Terrinoth setting. Your aim is to get your faction to reach seven to nine dragon runes, depending on how you want to play the game. These runes are gained by battle, quests, and political maneuvering – and they all balance out quite well; which is why I insist on calling Runewars a strategy game than a war game – though it may look like throwback to Milton Bradley move-and-roll combat games. Here’s a look at the sprawling spread of a game in action.

That’s a lot of bits right there. Every game is unique because instead of a set map, the players themselves build the map using randomly chosen hexes and preset rules of placement. With four equally-balanced races represented, the strategies can also change.

So how does it all work? Over a period of several game rounds called years, there are four turns which are named after the applicable season: Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter. Each turn, every player will each play one of their order cards simultaneously. Then the event cards for that season are applied – they provide special rules and effects. For example during Winter, political bids are usually done and water freezes over – allowing for water crossings; it also brings famine so you need to have stocked up on food.

The order cards are the other half of the engine of the game. Each order card allows you to do one thing during one season and also determines who goes first – it also limits the amount of attacks that can be done each year since you only have two attack orders. This puts pressure on thinking ahead. Attacks are resolved semi-randomly using cards instead of fice  and a good plan is always better than overwhelming force – especially if you’ve got some cool tactics card in hand.

Of course, the map would be useless if you didn’t have figures to put on it. The game comes with a whole ton of figures that represent your forces, neutrals and your heroes. They’re a bit soft plastic-wise, but they’re durable enough.

Overall, it’s a pretty good game that scales well – it can handle two to four players and still have that strategic edge to it. The great news about it is that FFG is releasing an expansion to it – which will add a whole new dimension to the game.

If you want a copy, you can buy it locally at hobby game stores for 4500 pesos, or you can order from Gaming Library for around PhP 3,500.

Images courtesy of Boardgamegeek

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