Saturday, December 19, 2015


Today was the last day my friend Jeff, Jim and I can get together for 2015, so we ended the year with an epic game: Runewars by Fantasy Flight Games.

I didn't read the background fluff and I know there are other Rune games set in the same gameverse, but really, it's high fantasy which is very Tolkienesque. There are Orcs, Elves, Men and the Undead, though called different things, but we all know the stock characters and assumptions that they are built on. They even have alignments like it was AD&D or something.

Jeff were the Elves,

 Jim was representing Men (the Daqan Lords)...

 and I was representing the undead.

I admit I like to play the Necromancer and control skeleton warriors... That 1960s  Jason and the Argonauts movie caught my attention as a kid and I still eat that stuff up with a spoon.

Your resource card shows the food, wood and ore that you need to build up troops and strongholds as well as the stats of your armies.

My troops were skeleton archers, necromancers, skeleton swordsmen and cavalry. Come on, what more can you want. My necromancers can raise the dead and add them to my army, after all.

I understand that the revised edition that I have is in a smaller compact box than the original coffin sized first edition. That being said though, this game takes a lot of room...

However, though production quality was high, with lots of beautiful art, I found the minis that come with the game very fragile. I had some units already broken and I kept advising Jim and Jeff to treat the minis gently.

Here is an example of a broken skeleton trooper...

Not a happy camper in that regard, but overall, the game is very pleasing to look at.

Lots of tiles, cards and counters to manage..So much so, that it took me an hour to set up the game.. Just getting the right tiles on the board and in the right place is a process in itself, though it does look nice once set up.

Lots of symbols to know though.. Since this was our first time playing, I had to write out what all the cards do..

Combat is done through "fate cards" that you draw and look at a whole bunch of symbols matched to the geometric pattern of your trooper's base.

Here for example, a triangled and circled based trooper would have inflicted one damage point on the enemy if this was their round if say, this card was pulled.

I admit we struggled a bit in the first hour or two, constantly flipping the rule book to get clarification, but that is normal though in any game, especially one that has lots of moving parts like this one done.

The object of the game is to get 6 Runes and to successfully manage your resources, your influence, what areas you need to capture, your army, your heroes as they go off on quests or duel other heroes, what to explore, when to build a stronghold, etc all the while not knowing who will go first every round. Throw in seasonal stuff like famines, heroes deserting you, monsters on the board, etc, and you get the picture.

But it all works together. The game is dripping in High Fantasy theme.. I love that heroes in the midsts off all the army jockeying for position, can still go off exploring hexes and exploration tiles (which we didn't know and had to always consult the key below)

And there are stock fantasy monsters who could, if you be diplomatic and take the risk of spending influence points, have them join your team.. Or alternatively, just fight them. These monsters in a tan colour were all over the map, in your way, so you had to deal with them no matter what.

Here for example, I got 3 monsters allied with me (in purple) in one hex, but an independent Giant in the adjacent hex.

Allied monsters join you in a fight, and sometimes they are tougher than your regular troops. Here for example, my Necromancer and my reanimated dead skeletons are joined with 2 sorcerers and a razorwinged monsters in an impending fight.

Of course, all three of us tried to recruit monsters and both Jeff and Jim made extensive use of dragons, hellhounds and giants (in tan colour) to supplement their troops.

You use influence to get on important posts that could help you, like I did twice as the Lord Commander of the Warriors Guild..

and the Primarch of the Wizard's Council..

So, there is an auction mechanic in the game. 

All that stuff though takes a backseat to the Runewar(s) going on with everyone building up armies.

I thought Jim and Jeff were going to go head to head near a lake, both sides building up a massive army..

but Jim suddenly swung his huge army South to my undead (purple guys), and all of a sudden there were massive battles in the center..

Jim came at me with allied dragons and giants...

Overwhelming me at first, I rallied my guys and counterattacked, pushing him back, resulting in routing his army, including his dragon and giant.

Neither Jeff nor I could finish him off in the center of the map though, given he built a stronghold there and we exhausted all our moves..

While my army was on the march successfully, my heroes' results were less than spectacular.. I sent one hero on a quest to the Sacred Bog of Bator in tile 9A, but soon found his head on a spike, dead as he failed this quest..

Another hero I sent off to duel one of  Jeff's heroes, but she failed me, and then, when a seasonal card came up, she deserted my cause (her alignment was good while mine was chaos, and I didn't have enough influence to keep her with me).

Thanks for nothing, Runewitch Astarra, thanks for nothing. 

Anyways, a great game, truly, and I'm glad I have it my collection. I definitely want to play this game again, and almost tempted to get the sci-fi version called Twilight Imperium.

Thumbs up!

After 6-7 hours playing it, Jim and I then played the fantasy game Battle Merchants once Jeff had to leave. It was similar to what I described here when I played it weeks ago.

Anyways, a good boardgaming day.


  1. great writeup and intro to the game! My favorite game! To manage game time better, we usually play to 4 runes and use road to legend rules (once you have 4, you can declare and then have to hold on and have 4 still one year later). That brings the game down for 4 players to aobut 4 hours, which is more manageable.

    1. Thanks. Glad you appreciated it. 4 runes sounds like a good idea!