News for July 2011
Taking Command 11
A preview of Banners of War, the upcoming expansion for Runewars
Runewars | Published 28 July 2011

The Daqan general looked up from his battle plans and gruffly acknowledged the adventurer. Outside, the camp was teeming with activity, but the air in the pavilion was still and heavy. “I hope you have good news.”
Without a word, Trenloe tossed his leather satchel onto the large parchment map, scattering pebbles that represented Uthuk forces. Seemingly unimpressed, the general set it aside. “Good. Then I have more work for you. The demon-worshippers are advancing on our position, and we’re readying a response. I aim to meet them in the field, and...”
“And you want me to scout ahead of your army, right?” interrupted Trenloe. “Send back reports?”
“No,” the general went on. “I want you to lead them.”

Earlier this month, Fantasy Flight Games announced Banners of War, an upcoming expansion for Runewars. With over 50 new figures and hundreds of new cards and tokens, Banners of War builds on the strategy and diplomacy of the war for the dragon runes. But perhaps most exciting is Banners of War’s modular design. While many of its core mechanics are mandatory (including Tactical Fate cards and supplemental units), several others are optional. This allows players to include or omit them at will, tailoring their own Runewars experience.

One such variant, “Commanders of the Battlefield,” elevates heroes to a new level of strategic importance, allowing a player to promote one to the role of Commander! Today, we’ll take a closer look at this variant, and we’ll see how the presence of a hero can tip the balance of an all-important battle.

Brilliant Maneuvers

Commanders are special heroes who take part in battles in their areas, conveying a unique ability to the troops beneath them. These abilities, prescribed by randomized Commander cards, present compelling new hero-related choices. Will you continue your quest for ancient and powerful artifacts? Duel other adventurers to rob them of their wealth? Or will you place your greatest hero in command of a mighty army?

To begin, each player receives two starting Hero cards matching his faction’s alignment, and one random Commander card which he may then “attach” to one of his heroes (to mark a Commander on the board, simply place its figure on top of a Commander token like the one at the right). Commander cards offer a range of advantages. For example, Flanking Charge essentially increases the initiative of all units with the Fast ability, while Zealous Fanatic can give a boost to your weaker units. Meanwhile, Iron Will lets high-wisdom heroes (like Landrec the Wise) influence the outcome of battle with their superior intellect!

The Pressures of Leadership

But it’s not all surprise attacks and deadly strikes. Commanders are subject to a number of restrictions that manage their movements and actions. Essentially, Commanders are no longer “heroes” for purposes of many mechanical interactions, but nor are they considered “units.” Here’s a quick rundown of a Commander’s characteristics:

  • They may no longer complete (or even attempt) Quests during the Quest Phase, but they may still use their hero abilities, move, duel, train, or heal.
  • They may use Rewards (but since they can’t Quest, they may find it more difficult to acquire them).
  • They may move like units when resolving a “Strategize,” “Mobilize,” or “Conquer” Order card. They cannot, however, move out of activated areas or move when routed.
  • When present during a battle in a contested area, a Commander provides the ability on his Commander card. However, if he loses the battle, he must retreat as if he were a unit.
  • They cannot be targeting by unit special abilities during combat.

As you can see, this new category of figures combines some of the properties of both heroes and units, resulting in a figure type that bridges the gap between the two. What’s more, since Commanders aren’t considered heroes per se, the presence of one doesn’t count against your normal hero cap. You can have three heroes, plus a Commander, on the board at any given time!

Meet the new boss...

But what if your randomly drawn Commander card doesn’t fit in to your strategy, and you want to replace it? For that matter, what if your Commander perishes, or you simply want to retire him and replace him with some new blood? Commander status isn’t permanent, and it’s a simple matter to demote one hero and promote another.

To replace your current Commander card, just earn the supremacy bonus of the “Rally Support” Order card. You’ll pay influence to draw cards, as usual, but instead of drawing Hero cards, you can draw Commander cards; then choose one (or retain your current card) and discard the rest. Use this option to cycle through the Commander cards until you find one that fits your play style, or keep your enemies guessing by constantly changing your Commander ability!

Looking for a change in leadership? To promote a new Commander, simply wait until the start of the Quest Phase, when your Commander card can be transferred to any hero currently at a friendly stronghold. Did your Commander die valiantly in battle? Unfortunately, he took his Commander card to the grave, but you can use the “Rally Support” supremacy bonus to get a new one, then promote a new hero at the start of the next Quest Phase. So whether your Commanders have a tendency to die young, or you want to transfer power to an army half a world away, the “Commanders of the Battlefield” variant gives you the strategic flexibility you’ve been looking for.

Keep checking back for more on Banners of War, and look for it on store shelves in the fourth quarter of 2011!

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 (11)

Published: 8/10/2011 7:32:34 AM

I seriously wanted a 5-player expansion for rune wars.

We fequently get 5 players wanting to play a board game for the evening. That makes runewars unplayable, we arn't going to say the the last person... "The first 4 here are playing runewars, you can watch if you like..."

When we have 6 or 7 players, it's easy, we can play 2 games of Runewars. But 5 players just doesn't work...

Published: 7/28/2011 2:18:59 PM

Kartigan - I'm in that group, too; more races would be fine, but I don't think that RW would work well with more than 4 players without some significant changes.

Published: 7/28/2011 3:25:01 AM

Love the rules concept of the heroes. I do have one complaint. The art on that card looks like it isn't from this games theme. Looks Roman in my opinion.

Published: 7/27/2011 1:26:23 PM

 sweet just painted the monsters! cant wait for this one!!

Published: 7/27/2011 7:44:15 AM

 Yeah, Kartigan, Six players maybe be over the top. But five I think could work pretty fine. I too agree that more options would have been my first choise. More races, heroes, landtiles and seasoncards.

Published: 7/27/2011 4:53:05 AM

Commanders "aren't units", so stands to reason they don't count for unit limits.  But, then again, we'll haveta wait for the rules to be uploaded to be crystal clear.

Ken on Cape
Published: 7/27/2011 4:32:10 AM

Because they are now part of an army, do commanders count towards the unit limits for food in winter and  units in spaces?

Published: 7/26/2011 9:49:50 PM

 Curse my inability to find an edit button, that should be "the only player who does not have that on their list" in that last paragraph.

Published: 7/26/2011 9:48:25 PM

 This expansion is looking very fun, can't wait to pick it up.  

On a related side note, am I the only one who does not want an expansion to make it possible to play with 5-6?  I'm all for new races (like dwarves and orcs) in order to give more choices to players at the beginning, but bumping the number of players up to 5 or 6 seems like it would cause too many headaches.  Downtime would increase considerably, and overall playtime I would think would be much higher.  Plus, I have a feeling if the player across the board from you was winning you'd have a hard time doing much about it, as interacting across a board that big and clogged could get very hard.

Now I'm not really saying that I actively oppose 5-6 players for Runewars (I mean, if it was really all that bad I'd just ignore it and still only play with 4).  But I'm starting to wonder if I'm the only player who does have that on their list of things they'd like in an expansion for it. 


Published: 7/26/2011 8:31:37 PM

This is sweet, but what did they mean by alternate units?

Published: 7/26/2011 7:57:59 PM

This is oh so cool! Though I would have wanted to see maybe three four new races and possibility to play with 5 or six players, this is really a good start! Keep'em coming FFG! :D

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