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The Battle of Five Armies» Forums » General

Subject: An unboxing review rss

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Atanasije Stojkovic
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At least a few more thorough playthroughs are gonna be needed for a real review, but I thought I'd do an unboxing review just to give away the very first impressions.

Production quality: firstly, when it comes to production quality, everything seems absolutely superb. Someone wrote a while ago that Runewars might feature possible the very best fantasy miniatures in a board game, but I very dismissively disagree. The quality of miniatures of Ares Games is exceedingly superb; they seem very hard to brake and safe to store in the box insert without fear even during transport and in general seem superior to what I've ordinarily seen from FFG. Of course, this doesn't compare to some of FFG's huge, gigantic miniatures, but in terms of proportion, I'd think Ares Games has won, at least slightly, in this one.

The cards are beautiful. The art style is impeccable; there is only one minor printing error (on the front of the Great Bats reference card, explaining their secondary, combat-related, ability; that same card has got a minor ripping at the upper right angle on that side, which should not be that big of a problems since it's not a playing card; not sure if appropriate sleeves of those dimensions even exist). They are a bit folded, as the package seemingly might've been a little too tight for them. Will probably look up for some straightening advice from experienced gamers after putting them in sleeves.

There aren't only a few tokens but it's still very manageable and I like that they've fit everything perfectly on a sole punchboard. The board is also very nice; the white folding lines are unfortunate, but also, I think, completely unavoidable.

Having said that, the token production quality doesn't seem to be as of high grade as the rest of the game. It is quite unfortunate that one of the Fate tokens (and especially due to it being a secret-reveal type of game token) is damaged, with the paper on its back separated from the interior. I'm not sure how precisely can we fix this quickly, before after a few games it becomes a bigger issue, but I think it is already very easy after a single game to remember that the one with damage is the 2+fata, meaning it's better the Shadow player avoids that one. It'll depend on some honest gaming with the Shadow player promising to draw that one if he felt it, which kind of ruins the effect, at least until we can think of an alternative (either through fixing it somehow or perhaps ultimately replacing the fate tokens altogether as a last resort should it become more of an obstacle).

The stand for the Gandalf/archery ruler seems a bit tough to continually use (putting it on and off) and, at least at first hand, not quite easy to mantle. I think we'll be trying to avoid it and I do think I've seem watching through reviews across Youtube and on the web many people don't seem to use it. I guess we could put it on as a permanent solution, though I am not sure that's such a wise idea due to the question of storage.

The rulebook is quite nice, also coming with two sheets of recommendation. No complaint there, though I'd really like if the reminders had included full lists of all Event and Story cards in the game, to the style of Twilight Struggle. I know this probably may not be as important as it is in that game (where it is crucial) but sometimes it can be a factor and it would really make a nice edition, at least for the first several games or so (but not the very first one, where everything is still quite new).

The dice are wonderful, all of them. I don't stand alongside the critique of the battle dice; they're in my opinion more than fine. The only criticism and also pertaining to a thing I quite cannot fathom is why they've included only 10 (5+5) combat dice. For a game of this price range and overall quality, I would expect more. Some may say it's a little trifle if it happens in turn, but I think overall after all battles are counted, simultaneous rolling and rerolling actually may significantly imprive playtime.

After counting all the figures, I thought there might've been an error, however all the errors come from extra components. The box contains 13 Warg Riders instead of 12, as well as 8 Shadow dice instead of 7. This has led very briefly to some confusion regarding the dice, with SP getting one more than usually. I've decided to use the extra warg as a supplementary point tracker along the fate track, which also becomes a VP track. No definite idea for the extra die, but I thought about putting it to the Evil eye's side and on number 10 on the track, as a reminder regarding the necessary VPs.

I really like when companies take effort to create box inserts. This is a huge plus when it comes to this game as well. It even actually seems enough space has been left to precisely sleeve all the cards and place them there. I do not, though, understand why the reference cards insert is so small. It is so small it literally barely fits, leaving a large empty, unused space under the insert. Frequently the cards just slide off due to that. And it is also a bit weird the space for reference cards is just barely made to fit, while the one for the playing cards is so deep, as if announcing a few minor expansions which add new cards (of which there had been no insinuation so far).

It is my personal consideration that using the War of the Ring sculpts might've been a bit lazy. Note that this is not a major complaint. The fact that it clearly fits the "WoR universe" from a BG perspective is actually a positive thing, however, despite insisting on being based upon the books and being heavily thematic, BoFA in literally no instance gives off the impression that the Wargs were actually one of the five armies and an intelligent and cunning species with bigger brain than the Goblins, perhaps?). In here they just seem like Orc mounts (albeit a very strong army unit per se). I hope that the reapplied sculpt (originally designed for "Half-orcs" in the expansion for the 1st edition of WoR) doesn't get used in future expansions / games from something else, especially if totally different than the Goblins of the Misty Mountains.
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