News for December 2009
Designing Combat Worthy of Mennara 23
Corey Konieczka discusses the combat system for Runewars
Runewars | Published 17 December 2009

Today we’re pleased to offer a second designer diary by Corey Konieczka, who was willing to take the time to share his insights into the combat system for Runewars, the upcoming board game of combat, adventure, and fantasy empires!

. . .

Last week I talked a little about the evolution of the Runewars game design and its inspirations. But even with the most interesting characters, setting, and victory conditions, a game of armies and empires would surely fall flat if it did not have exciting and engaging battles.

When I first set out to design the combat system, I thought about what I wanted it to accomplish. First, the system needed to be immersive and thematic: it had to make necromancers feel like necromancers (and I don’t mean cold and clammy). Second, it had to be quick, and never become cumbersome. With these goals in mind, I set off on my quest... but unlike many of the quests in Runewars, this one required neither strength nor agility.

I wanted a system that would make each unit unique. Many games use a simple “hit number” system. In this type of system, a die is rolled for each unit and if the roll is high enough it “hits” (deals a measly point of damage to its opponent). This is a great basis for a system, but simply did not provide enough options for to satisfy my vision for Runewars.

The freedom to do more than just succeed or fail was another design goal; Mennara, like our world, is not just black and white, but full of many shades of grey. In Runewars, units can deal degrees of damage, rout varying numbers of units, and have different chances of triggering their super special thematic abilities (and yes, the dragons in Runewars can breath fire).

It is for that reason that I decided that only cards could provide the flexibility and wide range of options that my vision required. Furthermore, by dividing each card into multiple areas, a single card type could replace the need for various types of dice. Lastly, and most importantly, cards went hand in hand with my aspiration to make combat quick while removing the need for any cumbersome reference tables.

When designing Runewars, one of my goals was to create an epic empire building game that did not grind to a halt when two players entered combat. No matter the system, players not involved in combat often find themselves sitting back and waiting. My plan, however, involved minimizing the twiddling of thumbs. This was done in a number of ways, and once implemented made the game play in less than half the time of similar games.

One way this was done was by avoiding forcing players to make constant use of references tables. By giving each unit type a different shaped base, we were able to remove the need for such tables and allow players to easily asses their opponent’s forces.

Two other things helped create a fast combat system. First off, by limiting each combat to five rounds, we prevent the never ending battle dilemma. Second, by making the most important decisions happen before combat (such as deciding which units to bring to the battle), we remove analysis paralysis.

From a purely mathematical standpoint, the final combat system for Runewars is similar to that of Twilight Imperium, but with more of an emphasis on variety in the outcome of the battles. Simply turn the dice into cards, add a cup of options, a bucket of thematic flavor and a pinch of Battlemist’s initiative system and you’ve got the recipe for a fantastic strategy experience!

. . .

Thanks Corey! Keep checking back in the coming weeks as we continue to explore the many facets of Runewars.

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 (23)

David Spangler
Published: 12/23/2009 3:04:00 PM

Vallour, Starcraftan otherwise great gamenever seems table time in my family either because of the card-resolution combat system, which we find confusing and clunky to use, but I think that's because of how the card system is implemented: it's often too hard and too much trouble to connect the little icon pictures with the right figures and it's just not as satisfying as using dice.  But in Middle Earth Quest the card combat system works very well and we enjoy that game a lot.  So far as i can tell, the Runewars system seems more like the latter than the former, in which case it will be well received.  I hopeful anyway.

And still hopeful the rules come out today or tomorrow, or at least the video.




Published: 12/23/2009 2:50:14 PM

I Love the movement/ combat card system in Middle Earth Quest,  This sounds as if it may be similar- looking forward to learning more about this game. 

Published: 12/22/2009 7:16:18 AM

Quoting TheKingOfBlades

What does it means that  "the final combat system for Runewars is similar to that of Twilight Imperium" but we change dice with cards?

Resolution Combat System in TI3 (I've just the base set) is dice-based...I'm really interested in Runewars , but this foggy description  increase dramatically my doubts...I'm waiting for the rules

Merry Christmas to all





Published: 12/21/2009 9:31:34 AM

Please consider moving to a dice resolution.  I have friends who will no longer play Starcraft the board game because of the annoying card resolution.  I do  not want to buy a board game that does not hit the table.  Please move to a dice resolution.  There is a thrill in rolling dice that simply cannot be matched by cards.

David Spangler
Published: 12/21/2009 9:23:28 AM

Hopefully this week the trailer will show up and perhaps even the rules.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everyone!

Published: 12/21/2009 2:38:17 AM

I think this system sounds great.  The card system worked a treat in Warrior Knights, so i am looking forward to seeing how it goes here.  This is an excellent looing game and an excellent looking system to handle combat.  I am looking forward to it!



Published: 12/18/2009 11:41:58 PM

 DarkKami:  I cry bullsh*t about your imaginary poll.  Smells like a bad lie to me. 

David Spangler
Published: 12/18/2009 8:27:56 PM

I think the rule book may be our Christmas present.  Here's hoping, anyway...

Published: 12/18/2009 3:23:02 PM

I dont really like this preview I wish he told us more on how combat actually works. All they really said is its fun fast and exciting. I want to Know how it works. hopefully we will get the rulebook very soon

Published: 12/18/2009 9:47:11 AM

"Most games use the 6 sided dice, because people are familiar with them from Risk and Axis and Allies."

This makes no sense to me what so ever. How many people that are going beyond your basic hasbro, milton bradly board games and buying FFG games are not "familiar" with dice other than 6 sided? Seriously! Anyone buying a board game that has hundreds of pieces, tokens, modular boards and/or any combo of stuff beyond 'monopoly and clue', that is not comfortable with anything beyond a 6 sided dies is looking in the wrong gaming section.

Published: 12/18/2009 9:38:14 AM

Darkami: For a game like this why would you poll non gamers? This type of game is WAY to long and complicated for a non gamer to even care about let alone try to play. 

If the were trying to make Risk or something non-gamer friendly maybe your poll would matter.  Otherwise.. who cares what a non-gamer thinks?  Any game over 30 minutes is too long for them.

But I do however agree... I prefer dice to cards even if it does take longer. But then that is why i will always return to Descent. :-D

Carrion Prince
Published: 12/18/2009 7:28:51 AM

We're not worthy! We're not worthy!! We're not worthy!!!

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