2-4 players, Competitive, Quest-Based Adventure
Designer: Lukas Litzsinger
Artwork: Wil Springer
Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games
Overview of Gameplay
Runebound has players taking up the mantles of hardened adventurers traveling the lands of Terrinoth seeking quests, fighting off brigands and monsters and ultimately trying to stop an arch evil from destroying the entire board, er world….land? They are just wanting to destroy things. So to prevent those dastardly acts players will be taking 3 actions per turn to move, adventure and draw a card, train up some skills, rest if hurt or even shop in the cities markets.
Out of the box the game comes with a couple main story quests that you can attempt. One of which is about this evil necromancer that basically summons up zombies all over the place and the other is about this evil dragon that’s sole purpose is to decimate the capital city of Terrinoth. The game is played out over two Acts in which there are 12 rounds per Act. 1 round ends after each player takes their three actions. SO as players are moving about the land there will be these particular story event cards that you draw, 4 per Act actually, that elevates the particular adventure you chose to do. So for example the card you draw might be something that adds even more zombies to cities if you are playing the necromancer questline. So players will want to try and keep all these happenings in check while at the same time adventuring on the many tokens on the board.
Usually once round 2 starts the situation will escalate drastically with either the necromancer or the dragon actually showing up on the board and with their arrival, rules for what needs to be done to win the game. Complete the quest and players win! From my experience the game really felt like the first Act was time to gear up in prep for Act 2. Make some coin doing quests, hit up a city and buy some gear.
As far as quality is concerned these components are excellent. The cards are of a high quality, the board is fantastic and the tokens are all durable. The minis especially are crazy detailed and the sculpts look awesome. HOWEVER there is one component in particular that is well below average, the dice. I’m not exactly sure why Fantasy Flight went astray here, perhaps budget issues idk, but goodness gracious these dice are probably the lowest quality dice I have of all my games. So to explain a bit, the dice in this game are not your standard pip dice, you don’t calculate numbers rolled in this game. The dice are used for movement and when you move you roll however many your character is set up to roll and based on the terrain images that you roll, those are the terrains you can move to. It sounds wonky I know, making movement a luck based thing like this but I like it, it’s unique and interesting. Anyway, so their options were to either heat print the terrain images, make regressed custom dice…OR, stickers. Ugh. I am never a fan of stickered components in board games. I just don’t trust them to stick or myself to get them on straight. Not only that but they feel cheap. These dice are super light-weight plastic, a little oversized even but they just look and feel so cheap, especially with the stickers on them.
Ok enough with the dice. The other major difference in components in the game are the runes. Now I have read much controversy about these little babies. Basically when in combat you toss into the air these double-sided runes (little discs) and depending on how the runes fall depends on your attacks. When I first started playing I was pretty hesitant about them as well as I prefer dice BUT I’ve come to appreciate them more and more. The mechanics built into the game behind them are especially clever and unique. You see the characters you play as come with 3 runes each, which differ from each other characters runes depending on their traits. But the game comes with a downpour of extra runes that directly tie to the market items you can shop for in the cities. When you shop and buy a new sword for example or maybe a piece of chainmail, you collect the appropriate run and add it to your set. This could award you extra damage possibilities or even other abilities depending on what you bought. So this system is really cool, although the runes are pretty light weight…..I bought some coin holders and encapsulated all my runes. Gave them more heft and felt better when casting them.
Standard Fantasy Flight box with no storage solution. Prepare to find some (a lot of) baggies to store all these components. Actually this is one of my biggest gripes of this game, the setup time is horrendoussssssssss. The amount of different tokens and cards in the game is borderline absurd in both a good way and bad. Because of the lack of storage insert you will inevitably bag up all this stuff, but you will find that there are a BUNCH of runes and different tokens and cards in general that all need to be separated. But of course this also increases take down and set up time considerably and not only that but man it is DAUNTING when you take this game out after a few weeks to play to be greeted by a million bags of components. I’m talking Three different types of decks of quest cards THAT will need to be shuffled with whatever quest you are doing, A huge pile of market and skill cards that need to be shuffled separately, the particular adventure card deck (which isn’t too bad). On the token side you have good sized piles of market tokens that will probably need to be separated by the letter that is listed on them unless you want to search through a huge pile of tokens every time you buy something. And even then you still have to search through a smaller pile. Then the placement of ALL the quest markers in denoted spots on the board and setup of whatever quest you happen to be doing with setup of each characters starting stuff.
I guess my point is, I would love a great insert for this game to make this less of a struggle. As it stands there have been a couple times I have went to play this, opened the box eyeballed the mess for a bit and closed it right back up.
Visual Appeal /Theme
The theme is pretty fantasy generic to be honest. I mean it does delve into the world of Terrinoth that (I think) Fantasy Flight developed. But there really isn’t anything in this land that stands out at me as unique or different from any other fantasy trope I have read or seen. That said, it doesn’t mean it’s bad! I love fantasy and this game delivers that excellently. The thing though that I really love in this game is the board. The colors are bright and vibrant and the artwork is gorgeous. The little details all over the board are very interesting and I often find myself peering in just a little closer to get a glimpse of some missed detail of a land rife with adventure. There are swamps and mountains and forests all with interesting names such as “Blackwing Swamp” or “Mountains of Despair” or even the “Moonglow Marsh”. Again very generic but I love them nonetheless.
I think the thing about this game that made it harder than others was the sheer fact that there are just SO many different components and cards. Also the combat is super unique with the rune tossing. So even though this game has the two rulebook thing that Fantasy Flight does, a rules reference and a learn to play manual, it was still a challenge. That’s not to say the turns are complex at all, quite the opposite in fact. You just take three actions and boom done. It’s the little thing in between like the combat and skill cards that makes the game more complex. I would have enjoyed a player turn reference card though.
Table Talk/Fun Factor
So out of the box this is a competitive game, which, feels weird. I mean you can go through the entire game not even crossing paths with another player since the board actually has plenty of real estate to explore. Which of course drops the player interaction and table talk to null. You can all start kinda close together if you want a higher level of interaction and there are some quests and events that actually do revolve around interacting with other players. That said it is SUPER fun to explore the land and do those adventures, shop at the cities while all the while trying to manage the dragon or necromancer threat. I just didn’t feel the table talk was nearly as high as I wanted it to be with the base game.
Optimal Player Count/Replayability
So two player would probably be ideal to keep downtime to a minimum although that would probably lessen interaction even more. However this would keep the game running at a smooth pace and give you another player to help? with dire situations. The replayability is actually pretty high even though you only have two main evils to contend with for the game. There are 10 adventure event cards that are included for each and only 8 of those will ever be drawn per game so there is a tiny bit of variability there. Also the specific quests for those adventures are shuffled into the base quest decks so you may or may not see a lot of those as well. Add to that the sheer insane amount of market cards and skill cards that you may or may not see per game. AND there are a number of completely different characters you can choose to play as with different abilities and skills. So there is variability all around BUT ultimately you are always going to end up trying to stop the dragon from destroying the city or trying to take down the evil necromancer.
So there have been a number of expansions released for this critter. I have had the honor of playing most of them and have some thoughts about these. The first couple are basically just character packs, “The Mountains Rise” and “The Gilded Blade” which include a new hero to play as each as well as some new cards to add to the quest decks to add more flavor. On top of that you get 20 more shops items and 10 new skill cards with each pack. I mean for the cost these packs are pretty awesome, adding even more variability to the game.
After that I have also played the “Fall of the Dark Star” Scenario pack expansion. This one adds a totally new main scenario which will give player something new to focus on rather than the necromancer and dragon. It also includes yet another new Hero to play as which, in my opinion, is the MOST unique of all heroes yet. This particular expansion is…ok. I mean more stuff is always welcome and the hero is super different from the others in more ways than one but the scenario itself is SUPER PVP oriented. So taking from the base game of everyone kinda being indifferent to everyone else, with this expansion everyone is prepping to battle each other in a final showdown. So if you enjoy the pvp aspect of the game then you will most assuredly enjoy this expansion, if not, then you might want to pass on this one.
The last one that I’ve played is called “Unbreakable Bonds” and this oneeeee is a must buy. This is one of those fabled expansions that improves the game to a point where I wouldn’t play without it and actually makes the game more enjoyable. You get 2 new heroes to play as, a couple new scenarios to play, tons of new cards for all the decks AND a cooperative and solo mode built in! It also has updated rules for the old scenarios from the base game to play those as solo or co-op. I mean for me personally the solo option is just amazing as it incorporates these new huge cards that act as enemy AI for combat and since all the win conditions in the scenarios are all about stopping some big evil bad thing, it’s not all that difficult to convert them to solo as your goals are pretty much the same. For those wanting to play cooperatively with others you now have party quests and cards that can be utilized that helps out your teammates. You can also quest together in groups which is super cool and would considerably up the table talk as well.
Positive Final Thoughts
All things aside this is my favorite fantasy adventure game once you get to playing. I love the board and artwork and the amount of variability in all aspects keeps me coming back. The quests are super fun and I actually like the dice rolling move mechanic. The heroes are all interesting to play as and the components are (mostly) excellent. For a pure adventure exploration game this is my favorite.
Negative Final Thoughts
The setup time is terrible and would be much better with a proper insert. The dice are stickered and cheap feeling. And one more thing that I’ve been pondering, the pacing of the game seems off to me. I almost feel like two Acts is just not enough time to REALLY get into the game. It seems off that after only 6 rounds ALL the past explorations areas that were explored are reset. It’s almost like the game is designed to just keep players in very specific sections of the board and NOT venture out into the land. Which would make sense but that just goes against the name of ADVENTURE. Perhaps three Acts would be better……..