|Runewars | Published 13 November 2009|
Verikas crouched under the shade of a large boulder to inspect the spoils of his duel. His winnings had not come easily; his foe had been quick and muscular, and that damnable rodent kept getting in the way... but already Verikas’ wounds were closing, and he could feel his dark master’s power surging through him once again. Nearby, a carrion bird landed, drawn by the smell of death, but it cocked its head in a confused sideways glance and flew off, complaining loudly. Opening the blood-spattered satchel, his eyes gleamed with an unnatural blue light. “I’ve found it,” he muttered. Had his lips not rotted away years before, Verikas the Dead would have been smiling. “My master will be most pleased...”
Welcome to the second preview for the upcoming board game of conquest, adventure, and fantasy empires, Runewars! Last time, we took a look at the mysterious and cunning Latari Elves, we broke down the various parts of a Faction Sheet, and we discovered the significance of resource gathering in a faction’s ability to generate units, Influence Tokens, and Tactic Cards. If you haven’t read that preview, you should do that first.
Today, we’ll catch a glimpse at another exciting faction set to storm the lands of Mennara this winter: the vile undead armies of Waiqar the Undying. We’ll also check out Runewars’ innovative card-based combat system, and we’ll see how the all-important Tactic Cards have the potential to affect the outcome of the game.
Before greed filled his heart and foul necromancy twisted his soul, Waiqar was among the most respected generals in Mennara, and he was a great friend to its people. But it was in response to his betrayal that the wise scholars of Terrinoth spread the Dragon Runes across the realm, and Waiqar the Undying has since been single-minded in his pursuit of their power.
The Faction Sheet of Waiqar the Undying, lord of the undead. Click the above image to enlarge.
In battle, Waiqar the Undying commands legions of animated dead, including monstrous Skeleton Archers, wicked Necromancers, and fearsome Dark Knights. His unholy control over them gives him expanded tactical options in combat, and as you can see from the Faction Sheet above, the undead begin the game with three Tactic Cards. These cards add options that can surprise unwary opponents on the battlefield, and if played cleverly, Tactic Cards can mean the difference between victory and defeat.
Battle Cry can bolster the attack strength of your armies, while Summon Lightning can be used to draw an overconfident enemy into a costly mistake.
Tactic Cards aren’t only about battle, however. Many of them, in fact, affect the more diplomatic or economic aspects of the game. With Establish Trade Route, you can grab a much-needed resource when you need it... as long as you’re willing to similarly benefit one of your opponents.
We’ve demonstrated that Tactic Cards can be vital to your plans both in and out of battle, but how does battle work in the first place? How do you know how powerful a given unit will be in combat?
First, take another look at the units available in Waiqar the Undying’s army. As we established in our last preview, the numbers on the far right side represent Initiative. When combat occurs, it takes place over five rounds; all of the “Initiative one” units attack, followed by the “Initiative two” units, and so on. It is therefore possible that your formidable (but slow) Dark Knights never see any action, if your weaker (but faster) Skeleton Archers wipe out the competition early.
What about the other elements of a unit’s description? First, each unit has a combat ability represented by a shape; a triangle, circle, rectangle, or hexagon can be found near the portrait of each unit (also, these shapes are the bases for the game’s plastic figures). These four shapes are the cornerstone of Runewars’ innovative card-based combat system.
When any number of Skeleton Archers attacks, the player controlling them draws a Fate Card from the appropriate deck. Fate Cards serve as a sort of all-purpose randomizer, and are used in battle, hero duels, diplomacy, and even setup! Take a look at the fate card to the right; if a Skeleton Archer were to draw this as his combat card, we would look at the quadrant of the card that shows a triangle (the upper left, since that is the shape associated with the unit in question). There, you can see an icon indicating that one point of damage has been inflicted.
Had the triangle corner been blank, this would indicate a miss by the Skeleton Archers. The triangle corner might also have revealed a flag icon that routs an opposing unit, taking them out of play (but not killing them) temporarily, or an orb icon that triggers the Skeleton Archer’s special ability, Mortal Strike. These special abilities are yet another way that each faction displays its unique play style; Waiqar the Undying’s Necromancers, for example, can raise Reanimates quickly, and overwhelm opponents with hordes of shambling undead!
Keep checking back! Mennara is a vast realm, full of many perils. In future previews, we’ll look at the two remaining factions. We’ll also see the terrifying neutral forces that roam the land, as well as how they can be tamed through diplomacy!
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.
The 'initiative' mechanic seems similar to that in Nexus Ops, except here the weaker units go first instead of last.
sounds great, hoping it will be availiable in december.
They're flipped from the top of a deck when necessary - they take the place of having multiple custom [expensive-to-fabricate] dice or having to consult a table. Pretty elegant.
In case you missed the link in the article, I thought that this www.fantasyflightgames.com/ffg_content/runewars/previews/preview2/runewars-combat-guide.png really helped bring the idea of the fate card into focus on how the percentage of try/fails would work and all that.
TheHunterBoy: I took it to mean that for each combat (maybe not all five steps?) you draw a fate card and that determines how your units behave for that round. In the example triangles will hit for one damage, rectangles whiff, hexangonal get to do their unit special ability from the big card and circles rout the enemy or maybe only rout the first wave enemy thus the one in the flag.
It sounds great! I can't wait...but.....
....but I still didn't understand exactly how the Fate Cards work: must they be drawn and then suddenly played or could they be kept in the player's hand?
This is sounding really good. Can't wait to see the rule book.
I really can't make my mind up about this game yet. I love Runebound and Descent but this seems more like War of the Ring. Which whilst great just takes too long to play for me these days.
By Christmas? please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please pretty please?
Great looking game. I'm imagining a full coffin sized box full of cardboard and plastic- and I can't wait. I love the undead faction. I hope I don't have to fight someone for it.
Wow! One of my favorite characters in Runebound and Descent gets his own army! Awesome!