Deep beneath sun-scorched sands, an ancient city slumbers. Buried by long centuries, this relic of bygone generations should serve as a silent reminder of ambition’s perils...but instead, new leaders blindly seek to control its power. It is rumored that this lost city was built in worship of a dragon rune, and that the greed, excess, and paranoia of its inhabitants led to its ultimate downfall. Now, its riches rest beneath the desert, tempting a new generation with dangerous promises of power.

Last month , Fantasy Flight Games announced Banners of War , an upcoming expansion for Runewars that builds on the strategy and diplomacy of the war for the dragon runes. In our previous article , we looked at the “Commanders of the Battlefield” variant, which elevates heroes to a new level of strategic importance. We also began to see how Banners of War ’s modular design lets players incorporate only the variants they choose, resulting in a tailor-made Runewars experience.

Today, we’ll look at two new additions (one optional and one required) that enhance the importance of city tokens. With the “Rise of the Free Cities” variant and the Lost City mechanic, these centers of civilization may provide your empire with far more than new troops... they may just deliver the dragon runes you need to claim victory over Terrinoth.

The Rise of the Free Cities

This simple variant enhances Runewars ’ emphasis on cities, offering alternate city tokens to replace those of the base game. In addition to an increased number of units, Tactics cards, influence tokens, and new quests, these all-important locations can even offer dragon runes! This means that your battles for areas containing cities will have higher stakes than ever before, and since you can’t build strongholds in these areas, they’re sure to become the sites of vicious back-and-forth struggles.

It’s important to note that when playing with this variant, players need one additional dragon rune to win the game... but since an area with a city can also contain a separate dragon rune token, a single area could potentially be worth two such tokens to whoever controls it! Use caution; such a prize will surely attract unwanted attention, and Tactics cards like Raze a City will take on even more importance.

Buried Beneath the Sands

Of the new map tiles offered in Banners of War, the most sought after is sure to be the one containing the legendary Lost City. Until the city has been discovered, this single-area tile offers little to its conqueror: a sandy wasteland producing only one ore. But once the Lost City rises from beneath the dunes (and its overlay is placed on Map Tile 12), this long-forgotten paradise provides an abundance of food, Tactics cards, and even a dragon rune! A handful of quests can result in the discovery of the Lost City, including Slumbering Titan , The Dragon’s Egg , and The World Chart , and a high wisdom rating is often helpful in this archeological undertaking.

Map Tile 12 and the Lost City Overlay

The Lost City presents a few other details that must be kept in mind. First, the ever-shifting sands represented on Map Tile 12 make construction impossible, so players are forbidden from building strongholds in this area. What’s more, if the Lost City is sent back beneath the sands by game effects (like that of Raze a City ), it can be found again through subsequent questing.

Three of the Quest Cards that
can reveal the Lost City.

Will you unearth the secrets of this ancient treasure? And if you do, will you possess the military might to keep it safe from your enemies? Find out when Banners of War hits store shelves in the forth quarter of 2011, and in the meantime, keep checking back for more previews!

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.

More News [+]