“This siege draws on endlessly, and the enemy grows stronger while our own supplies dwindle. Worse yet, the men’s morale is waning by the day. Uthuk fires light the horizon throughout the night, and rumors of unholy rituals spread despite my explicit warnings that they stop. This latest tale is the most troubling: the men claim to have caught glimpses of the Uthuk warlord, and describe him as a corpulent and disgusting abomination who dines on the flesh of our captured comrades. My lords, you must send reinforcements if this siege is to be broken.”
      –excerpt recovered from a fallen Daqan messenger

Back in July , 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. So far, we’ve seen how heroes can take command of massive armies, how ancient cities hide valuable gifts for your faction, and how a range of developments can contribute to your war effort. Today, we’ll take our first look at the new unit types joining the fight for the dragon runes.

To begin, Banners of War introduces a special reinforcement sheet to each faction’s play area, which lists all the pertinent information for their new units. By placing this reinforcement reference to the immediate right of their faction sheet, players can quickly and easily reference these alternate units’ initiative values.

But how do you recruit them? Each new unit has a base game counterpart that it can replace, at your discretion, whenever you execute a Recruit Order. For example, the Daqan Lords’ Novice Wizard is the recruitment counterpart of their Bowmen. So if the Daqan player has four wood, he can play a Recruit Order to gain two Bowmen, two Novice Wizards, or one of each.

The best and brightest

And with the Novice Wizard’s special ability, you’ll want plenty of them in play. The University of Greyhaven is bound by an ancient treaty to serve the Daqan Lords in times of war, and has sent its most talented young minds to honor this agreement. These battle-ready wizards are adept at magically undermining the efforts of their enemies; they have a special ability that forces opponents to discard Tactics cards. What’s more, as circle-based combatants, they have a higher likelihood of triggering that special ability than any other unit type.

Novice Wizards aren’t without their disadvantages, however, meaning a savvy leader will mix them wisely with Bowmen. First, their tactic-denial special ability has no effect on unallied neutral units; in such a battle, triggering it is tantamount to missing. Second, they are are slower in initiative than Bowmen, meaning quicker units could destroy them before they get a chance to respond. As with any unit, they’re best used when complementing a diverse army.

Fleet of foot

Meanwhile, the Latari Elves have formed a pact with the sleek and nimble leonx of the Aymhelin forests. Now, their finest fighters ride these great catlike beasts into war, darting across Terrinoth’s most treacherous landscapes with ease.

Recruited in lieu of the Elves’ slower but more powerful Warriors, Leonx Riders have a number of assets that make them a viable alternative. With their Fast ability, they can join their Pegasus Rider kinsmen in quickly traversing the map for a surprise attack. Their amazing speed is likewise represented by their lower initiative, as well as a special ability that lets them run down fleeing foes!

Fueled by an unholy hunger

But the dark forces of Terrinoth won’t sit idly by as the Latari and Daqan rise in power. In Banners of War , the self-mutilating Uthuk Y’llan reach new depths of sacrilege, selling their souls to demons of gluttony to achieve a bloodlust that can only be described as obscene.

The Obscene is a bloated, disgusting abomination that gorges itself on the flesh of the fallen, its cannibalistic atrocities demoralizing all who look upon them. With an initiative rating of four, these bulbous warriors can be recruited as an alternative to the mighty Chaos Lords, but the most effective armies will include one of each. The Chaos Lords’ tendency to rout enemy units fits perfectly alongside the Obscene’s ability to exploit such units, creating a potentially devastating combination.

Rising again to plague Terrinoth

Finally, the forces of the Great Betrayer will stop at nothing to claim control of the dragon runes, even wielding dangerous powers unseen since the Dragon Wars. In ages past, the land was ravaged by the Great Wyrms, winged monstrosities capable of raining destruction from on high. The Dragon Wars saw these beasts slain and driven off... but now their massive corpses have risen again, this time in the service of Waiqar the Undying.

Great Wyrms can be recruited as an alternative to Dark Knights, and on the surface these two units seem similar. Both have an initiative rating of five, both have the Fast ability, and both have four health points. The Great Wyrms, however, differ in two important respects. First, their Flying ability brings a new strategy to Waiqar’s arsenal: the option of traversing otherwise impassable terrain. Second, the Great Wyrms’ Plague Breath lets them deal impressive damage to their foes, and while perhaps less potent than the Dark Knight’s Intimidate special ability, it’s also less situational.

Whatever your play style, the wealth of options introduced in Banners of War lets you tailor the army – and the game experience – you’ve been looking for. Keep checking back for more in the coming weeks, and look for Banners on War on store shelves later this quarter!

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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