The leaders of Mennara now fully understand the true nature of the dragon runes, and their lust for power has left the realm a war-ravaged wasteland. In the north, the destructive magics of reckless wizards have brought unnaturally long winters, and in the south, the Winds of Al-Kalim threaten to blanket the land in desolation. Once lush forests are now little more than barren shadows of the past, their only inhabitants withered trees and sun-bleached bones.

And yet, even in the face of such devastation, the drums of war beat on. The great races, desperate for any advantage against their foes, have enlisted the aid of powerful new armies. The ranks of would-be heroes have likewise swelled; adventurers from across Terrinoth come seeking fortune and glory, tempted by stories of an ancient golden city hidden beneath the sands. It is a time of great uncertainty, but lasting peace shall only come through vigilance and sacrifice. Unfurl the banners of war!

Banners of War is an expansion for Runewars , Corey Konieczka’s epic board game of conquest, adventure, and fantasy empires. With over 50 new figures and hundreds of new cards and tokens, Banners of War builds on the strategy and diplomacy of the struggle for the dragon runes.

New forces, and the heroes to lead them

In Banners of War , each faction gains two unique unit types to add to their forces. Using a reinforcement reference sheet that displays initiative, special abilities, and more (placed to the right of the faction sheet), a player can seamlessly supplement his existing army with compelling new choices.

Despite the dangers of the war (or perhaps because of them), Terrinoth’s greatest adventurers continue to seek fame and riches. Now, however, a select few have taken to the battlefield, leading massive armies against their enemies. The “Commanders of the Battlefield” variant allows a player to promote one of his heroes, including any of the eight new characters included in Banners of War , to the role of Commander.

Commanders are special heroes who take part in battles in their areas, conveying a special ability to the troops beneath them. These special abilities, prescribed by randomized Commander cards, offer a range of advantages in combat. “ A Thorn in Their Side ,” for example, is a Commander card that allows particularly agile heroes to sneak into enemy lines before the battle, using diversionary tactics to confuse and delay otherwise efficient units. Banners of War ’s new hero abilities present a range of compelling strategic 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?

Master your fate

In war, uncertainty and misinformation can be as deadly as steel and arrows. The wise leader seeks to mitigate the unknown, to manage his luck rather than be managed by it. Banners of War includes several enhancements that allow players to devote resources toward reducing the impact of fickle fortune.

Among Banners of War ’s 32 all-new Tactics cards are an impressive range of diplomatic, offensive, and underhanded maneuvers, all of which can be shuffled into Runewar ’s existing Tactics deck. Among these, however, is a new card type: the Tactical Fate card. These versatile cards can be played to utilize their text effect (as with any Tactics card), or they can be played during battles instead of drawing a Fate card! You can either risk your fate, or make your own luck...but is such certainty worth the loss of a potentially valuable Tactics card?

As the careful leader knows, it is sometimes better to wait, to build your resources, and to bolster your defenses. For such times, Banners of War offers two new cards: the Garrison Order and Guildmaster of Merchants . Garrison is an Order card that lets you prepare for an immanent attack, and since its number is zero, it ensures that your turn will come early in the round. Meanwhile, the Title card Guildmaster of Merchants lets its holder get the most of his annual harvests while avoiding the dangers of drought, locusts, and other agricultural obstacles.

Build your own Runewars experience

In addition to its added units, cards, and more, Banners of War presents a number of optional variants that can be included in any combination, allowing players to design the specific game they want.

“Commanders of the Battlefield,” a variant that allows heroes to accompany troops into battle, is described briefly above. But players can also include powerful Development cards, alternate city tokens, and more!

With the Development card variant, the Supremacy Bonus of the Harvest Order takes on a new importance. In addition to choosing a development (a token that attaches to your stronghold, offering additional benefits), players who earn this Supremacy Bonus can also choose from one of eight new faction-specific Development cards. These cards offer players unique strategic paths, while further differentiating each faction’s individual character and play style.

The “Rise of the Free Cities” variant replaces the game's existing city tokens with new, more valuable tokens. These exceptionally wealthy cities offer more influence, units, Tactics cards...and even dragon runes. But since the stakes are higher, you’d better be able to defend any city you claim.

With scores of possible variant combinations, you can build the game experience for you and your group. The great races of Terrinoth are raising their banners as they prepare to march. Gather your legions and decide the fate of the realm!