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: 12/4/2009 12:07:17 PM

Seems like they'll finally get the quest system right . . . . now this game will be PERFECT . . .

Published: 12/4/2009 7:52:53 AM

@ Joram:

How many movies and other stories would have ended much quicker (and probably in a villainous victory) if the bad guy didn't stop to gloat over the hero?  It may be cliche but it's a time honoured storytelling device.  As for why Silhouette wasn't blinded, maybe its because she's MAGICK!  (Or maybe she looked away from the bag, knowing what would happen, whereas Bogran looked towards the noise of it hitting the floor and ended up staring directly at the new light source.)

Published: 12/4/2009 2:22:45 AM

I can not wait for this game . when tax refund comes back this game will be a welcome addition to my game shelf. I like the world of Terrinoth, and its really cool to have another style of game based there. Give us the rule book already!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Published: 12/4/2009 1:09:26 AM

In few day the game should hit the stores, I think we will see the rulebook soon, I hope. It all looks amazing, this will be one of the greatest strategy fantasy games ever! It an my wishing list for this Christmas.

Published: 12/4/2009 12:33:54 AM

Why isn't Silhouette also momentarily blinded by the piercing blue light?

And why didn't Bogran just stick her while she slept? He doesn't seem to have any scruples about selling the world to chaos and destruction (respect for a rival maybe?).

However, I must say that the non-italicized parts are extraordinarily interesting.

Published: 12/4/2009 12:23:46 AM

This sounds amazing. I need to see the rule book. I really really hope this fate card system doesn't work the way I am predicting in troop combat, because everything else looks amazing. Still hate the Army sheets art but I can always make my own. =)

Next week when the rules release I am scrolling straight to troop combat to lay my fears to rest.

Published: 12/3/2009 11:41:26 PM

Which would be awesome, since I already have all the Descent figures painted up and could steal them from there instead of (or more likely, while I work on... I'm an incurable mini painter) painting all the heroes over again.

Published: 12/3/2009 11:39:10 PM

Im guessing based on all the heroes being round base figures that they are reusing the Descent/Runebound hero sculpts, so I would assume that the other fogures in this game are of a similar scale.

Published: 12/3/2009 10:54:09 PM

You can still get a Shard of Timmoran as a randomly chosen quest reward?  That was a flaw in the original Battlemist, since it made for too large a dose of luck.  Hopefully the ability to attack other heroes for their quest rewards makes this a little less arbitrary as a source of shards.

Published: 12/3/2009 8:27:16 PM

Bring on the rulebook!!!  :)

Published: 12/3/2009 7:33:55 PM

The scope of this is absolutely phenomenal. I've never seen anything quite like it. Great job on the previews FFG!

I don't see how any gamer could not be excited. 

Published: 12/3/2009 7:01:08 PM

After every preview I want this more and more! I can't wait!

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