News for December 2009
A Game Within a Game 20
A look at heroes, duels, and quests in the upcoming Runewars
Runewars | Published 03 December 2009

Silhouette gripped a dagger in her right hand as she stared into the blackness of the cave, searching for the source of Bogran’s voice. With her left, she fumbled at the leather satchel hanging at her side. So much blood had already been spilled for the contents of that bag, but more was to come... “You want the bag, Bogran?” mocked Silhouette. “Take it!” In a swift motion, she thrust the satchel downward, sending the glittering azure shard that had been inside rolling out across the stone floor. The darkness was replaced with a piercing blue light, and in that moment, Silhouette saw Bogran the Shadow crouched in a nearby corner and temporarily blinded. She did not hesitate. Lunging at him, Silhouette felt her blade pierce his boiled leather hauberk, right through to the soft flesh of his belly...

If you’ve been keeping up with our recent previews of Runewars, the upcoming epic board game of conquest, adventures, and fantasy empires, then you’ve already learned much of what will make it such a unique gaming experience. You’ve seen the four factions fighting desperately for control of the dragon runes, while at the same time learning about the mechanics behind resource management, combat, hidden objectives, and diplomacy.

Today, we’ll look at another exciting aspect of Runewars, and one that truly sets it apart in the genre of territory control board games: Heroes and Quests.

To be sure, an effective player must successfully raise an army, manage that army’s resources, and march it on his or her enemies to take control of their dragon runes. But the clever player – the one most likely to win – cannot neglect the game’s other methods of acquiring these runes. We’ve already seen how Objective Cards can help, and there are even a few seasonal events that can result in the acquisition of dragon runes.

While the wars of the dragon runes rage on, however, there is another, more subtle war being fought... between the heroes of Terrinoth. These well-known characters venture out on perilous quests, train their attributes, find rare artifacts to aid them, and (with a bit of luck) ultimately claim Timmorran Shards for their controlling factions. In this way, Runewars masterfully blends two beloved board game genres: territory control and adventure games.

But how does it work? At the start of the game, each player receives a random Hero Card (that matches his faction’s alignment) and two starting Quest Cards. Over the course of the game, more can be acquired, for example by playing the right Order Card, or by drawing a certain seasonal event.

These heroes then go on to quest during the summer of every year (the Quest Phase is always included on “summer” Season Cards), and during this phase, they may move (and possibly attempt a Quest or start a duel), heal themselves, or train an attribute.

Let’s take a look at a Hero Card. In the upper right corner, you’ll see an icon (in this case a gold star on a white flag) indicating the character’s alignment. Silhouette is a “good” character, while some, like Mad Carthos, are evil, and some are neutral, like Bogran the Shadow. Beneath this icon are the hero’s three attributes: Strength, Agility, and Wisdom, which are used in determining success when Quests are attempted. Beyond that, each hero has his or her own number of hit points (in this case three), and a unique ability described in the text of the card.

The land of Terrinoth is vast and perilous, but it holds ancient mysteries and treasure beyond imagination, waiting for brave heroes to uncover them. At the beginning of the game, each player draws two starting Quest Cards, and any of that player’s heroes may complete any of his or her quests. After a quest is completed, a player draws a new one... each time hoping that its completion will bring them an all-important dragon rune!

Completing a quest most often involves a test of one of the hero’s three attributes, which can be improved if you spend your Quest Phase “training.” In the case of the example to the right, the hero is trying to read an ancient book, and must test Wisdom. Other quests may simply involve traveling or spending Influence.

Testing an attribute works similarly to the process of diplomacy, and uses the Fate Deck as its randomizer. A player draws one Fate Card for each point in a given attribute, then looks at the icons at the top of those cards, and chooses the best one. If Silhouette, our example hero from above, were attempting this test, she would draw one fate card, because her Wisdom rating is one. She might consider training first, improving her odds of drawing a favorable Fate Card.

In the case of this quest, Silhouette receives a reward even on a failure (if she’s not dead afterwards). How generous! She’ll now draw a card from the Reward Deck.

Often, you’ll find yourself hoping that your reward will be a Timmorran Shard, but rewards offer all manner of other benefits to the heroes wielding them. The two examples above each give their hero an alternate special ability during dueling (as opposed to the special ability that all heroes have). Dueling works much the same way as combat, by drawing a series of Fate Cards and checking the “circle” quadrant (all heroes have circular bases) for the results. This proceeds for four rounds of combat, after which the vanquished hero (if the fight wasn’t a draw) must surrender all his or her Reward Cards to the victor! This means that a perfectly viable strategy is to simply wait until your opponents have completed their difficult quests, then prey on them while they’re recovering. Why risk your own skin for what you can simply steal at sword point, after all?

But if you’re going to make a hero powerful through training and loot, you’d best be sure that your trust isn’t misplaced. Remember, all heroes have an alignment, and if your hero’s alignment isn’t the same as that of your faction, keep a watchful eye. Some Season Cards can cause a hero to desert your cause, and your opponents may even play a Tactic Card to steal them away!

Your quest for next week is to check back here often, and if you do, you’ll find the reward that awaits you to be one of great power and value...

Runewars is an epic board game of conquest, adventure, and fantasy empires. Two to four players raise armies, gather resources, and race to collect the elusive and powerful dragon runes in the high-fantasy universe of Runebound.

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Comments (20)

Published: 12/3/2009 5:11:25 PM

Love the vignette at the beginning of this preview.

Alignments? Wow, that rocks. At least the concept of good, evil and neutrality exists. I thought that all the heroes were just a band of neutrals that are out for no one but themselves. Cool! Perhaps I can use the concept of alignment on my next Runebound game.

We love you FFG. Keep it up!

David Spangler
Published: 12/3/2009 4:37:10 PM

One of the online stores lists the game as available and shipping on Dec. 31.

Published: 12/3/2009 3:09:00 PM

So, maybe the game will be available before the holidays ... ?

Published: 12/3/2009 2:54:49 PM


My thoughts

Published: 12/3/2009 2:51:45 PM

I'm guessing the "reward that awaits [us]" that is "one of great power and value..." is the rulebook :)

Published: 12/3/2009 2:49:34 PM

This game will see much time on my game room table.

Published: 12/3/2009 2:43:50 PM

This is going to see some serious play time on my table. Can not wait.

Published: 12/3/2009 2:38:15 PM

Fifth preview only 3 days after the fouth preview ?

Does this mean we can get the rules up around the week-end ?

Is the game upon us ? :)

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