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Subject: Midnight: review rss

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Martin Larouche
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RuneBound: Midnight, the second large expansion for RuneBound 2nd ed.

Since this is an expansion, i'll assume you know how the basic RuneBound 2nd ed. works...

I'll start by going over the basic rule changes and additions for the base game that comes with this expansion. I'll be brief so if you want full details, you should check the official rules of this expansion on the FantasyFlightGames.com.

I'll then go into my presonnal thoughts and appreciation, some of you might want to skip right there if it's the 3rd review on the game you read
__________________________________________

First, the RULE CHANGES!!! ...

You think you know about RuneBound and it's strategies? well just forget about them completely.

RuneBound: Midnight is set in FantasyFlight's Midnight universe. This means, for those who know even a little bit of it's background, that evil has won against the light. Heroes are hopeful to get rid of the evil regime, but they really don't have time to go against one another.
This makes Midnight a COOPERATIVE game for the heroes, instead of a competitive one like the basic RuneBound.

It's one player playing the bad guy VS all the rest.

First, the heroes:
The heroes move differently than in the basic RuneBound game. ANY terrain symbol can be used to move in ANY terrain. You can use some of the dices from your pool to barter goods(goods in midnight = gold in basic RuneBound) by rolling those dices and hoping for getting the terrain symbol you are in. Same for healing...
This basically means that there is a possibility for something close to a market step everywhere instead of just in towns.

On the map, there are numerous "strongholds" which contains the red encounters. On each stronghold is a "black mirror" token worth between 1 and 3 points. For every black mirror "destroyed" (when the red encounter is gotten rid of), the heroes gain the corresponding "black mirror" points. If the heroes gain 10 mirror points, they win.

The heroes have one additional ability: the creation of items. In Midnight, the old RuneBound market deck is not mixed with the Midnight market cards. It is kept in a separate pile. Those market cards from the basic RuneBound game are used on their "back" and used as goods.
However, when a hero gains a level, he can use a basic RuneBound 2ed (TM) he has in his goods and ADD it's special ability (if it's a "permanent use" or an "activate" good) to an item from the Midnight expansion he have.
This means that you can have a spear that possess the ability of the basic RuneBound's RunePlate (protect one damage every round).
Those item creations add strategy to the game. If you add the leather armor to the spear you have, your armor space will be used (remember you can only have one armor). If you later find a better armor and if you really want it, you'll have to discard the upgraded spear.

Heroes will also have trouble sneaking into town or strongholds. The more rich he is, the more trouble he'll have. He must make a skill test of 10 + his highest costing item to enter a town or a stronghold.

Second the bad guy, A.K.A, the knight kings.
The bad guy player will play one out of four available bad guy, which are the minions of the evil dark lord.

The bad guy essentially plays like a souped-up version of the basic RuneBound's Doom Track. His goal is to attain level threat 10. Every turn brings him closer to that goal. Every turn he gains a Doom Counter, then rolls 2D10 against his threat difficulty (usually 16) + the number of Doom Counter he has. If he has more than his threat difficulty, he gains a threat level.

The bad guy doesn't get a figurine, instead he will constantly INFLUENCE the combats of the heroes. in every combat, he can add to the difficulty of challenges in Ranged, Melee or Magic by rolling terrain dices. Some knight hings are better in ranged, melee or magic (1 bad guy will have plain symbols for his ranged influence and swamp symbols for his magic, giving him a better chance to influence ranged combat than melee as he need to roll the corresponding terrain symbol to increase the encounter the heroes stumble upon).

The bad guy can also move around patrols (which move not like the heroes, but like in the basic RuneBound game, by rolling the terrain dices). These patrols are represented by the number 1 to 6 undefeated challenges. When a patrol encounter a hero, the knight king will choose 3 encounters from a color that depends on the level of the hero being attacked (stronger he his, stronger the color) and attack him with it.
The hero will not gain experience nor any reward for these encounters. He may also have a few of his items activated and some exhaustion and damage because of adventures he had on his turn, making it more difficult for him.
Note: there are no roads on the Midnight board and no special abilities relating to it, making that terrain symbol useless in game.

Everytime a hero his knocked-out, he doesn't lose his highest costing item like in the basic game. Instead, the bad guy player (tm), will get a free roll to increase is threat level, bringing him closer to victory. He also gets a free roll if the players escape a challenge or fail to enter a town or a stronghold.

The bad guy, on each turn, gains a number of gold coins that he can spend on special ability, such as giving him the opportunity to "heal" injured patrols, give combat bonuses and giving him more chance to succeed at his threat rolls.

Gold can also be spend on gaining levels for the bad guy, giving him more powerful special abilities.

Optionally - before game - you can give the bad guy an advantage by providing him, for a cost, the ability to raise the DAMAGE of an encounter the heroes face. His threat difficulty is increased accordingly.
You can also provide the heroes with a few advantage before game, such as starting equipment, and reduce the threat difficulty accordingly.
_________________________________________

Personal thoughts:

I have RuneBound 1st ed, Shadows of Margath, the 6 small card expansions, Isle of Dread and Midnight. I'll most likely have the class decks as soon as they come out.

I think i'm already sold on RuneBound...

Yes i like Midnight.

However it play VERY differently from Isle of Dread or the basic RuneBound, which is a good thing.

Observations:
- Some players may not like the time limit that is the bad guy. Some will love the fact that the game CANNOT drag too long before the bad guy wins.
This time limit forces the players to take more chances, especially since they don't lose any equipment by doing so.

- The different movement mecanics between heroes and patrols means that in Midnight, players tend to hide in mountains and forests where it's harder for the bad guy to reach them. Quite the opposite of the basic RuneBound...

- There is more interaction between players. They exchange more items and goods between themselves and the bad guy player (tm) is always there to screw-up their fights and make their life a bit more miserable. More interaction is always a good thing.

- Sore losers get less frustrated than in the basic RuneBound with the Midnight expansion since this is a cooperative game. They also "expect" the bad guy player to hinder their progress, it's his job... not just because he don't like a player. The bad guy player also has "remote" access to the game. He "influence" the encounters and does not participate directly in them, giving the bad-guy player less dissatisfaction about losing, instead simply cursing bad luck.

- The market cards in Midnight should not be mixed with the basic RuneBound game, but they have the same backs. I didn't find anything that prevent them for being mixed in the basic RuneBound game for a Rise of the Dragon Lords or an Isle of Dread game... The market cards seems to be balanced enough, even with their cost in goods converted directly into basic RuneBound gold.

- There are absolutely NO ALLIES in Midnight. Characters instead gain extra attacks in each round every few levels.
_____________________________________

Perplexing points:

- You can use the basic RuneBound and Isle of Dread characters with Midnight and vice-versa with no problems. The Midnight rules even mentions the character of Silhouette from the basic game in a Midnight game.
However, this creates the first big imbalances between characters i have seen in RuneBound. What about Andira Runehand from the Island of Dread (if that's her name, i'm going from memory here) or that simling conan-like warrior (can't remember the name too) from the basic game? Those characters have the abilities to enhance allies powers or reduce their cost. Midnight makes their abilities completely useless since there are no allies in it.

- There is an optional rule that provides movement bonuses according to the hero played. of each of the 8 characters provided in Midnight, each have a special terrain linked to them that allows for faster travelling. How about the characters from the base game or Isle of Dread? What are their respective special terrain? Does this mean we can't use this optional rule with other characters than the Midnight ones?

Conclusion: Market cards and heroes from Midnight seems to mix more into Isle of Dread or Rise of the Dragon Lords than the opposite.

- Towns are lot less useful than before: You can essentially market anywhere by spending a few movement dices. Going to a town is a lot less useful because of that. In-game strategies are more to avoid patrols, level-up and combat bad guys than by reaching items to help you.

- The games plays for around the same amount of time than a basic RuneBound game, but faster than an Isle of Dread one.

- I looked at my old copy of RuneBound 1st edition. You know, if you disregard the 1st edition characters and play only with the characters from Midnight, i think this expansion is fully compatible with RuneBound 1st ed. with absolutely no tweakings. Only thing that will be missing are the Doom Counters that can be replaced by anything really, use pennies for example... The market cards from the first edition are less expansive than those in 2nd ed., but since the basic game card's costs are not used in Midnight, this CAN be used with the first edition.

REVIEW ERRATA:

- About Midnight compatility with the 1st edition of RuneBound:
I forgot one small detail: The price of the basic RuneBound market cards is used for one purpose: putting a limit on covenant item creation. Therefore since the 1st edition RuneBound cards are cheaper than the 2nd edition ones, compatibility with 1st edition might require a limit of 2 gold per covenant item "level" instead of the 3 mentionned in the rules.

_______________________________

Conclusion:
Midnight is a very good expansion that is a very different experience from both the base game or any of it's expansion.

RuneBound has now become a HUGE with all of it's available expansions. Each of them provides a very different experience to gameplay, providing LOT of replay value.

Unless you are a VERY BIG fan of Runebound and play TONS of it and can't get enough, i wouldn't get every expansion like i do. My suggestion for a more casual player is that i'd get the basic game, 4 of the 6 expansion decks (removing the two "adventure variants") and selecting your story variants from there. Chose Isle of Dread or Midnight or the adventure variants.
Get everything and every story expansions in the RuneBound game will get played only "once in a while".

Still, if you're like me and love RuneBound... get everything as every expansion is worth it and brings something new... even with the few glitches Midnight might have that are easilly corrected. This is also a RuneBound 1st edition compatible expansion game.

Enjoy Midnight, i know i will...

Now bring me those class decks
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Ryan
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Great review! I just bought Midnight and can't wait to play it with my group.

Here are some answers to your questions:

Quote:
where do the heroes start on the board?


Game Setup #13 (pg. 3)- Each player then takes the plastic Hero figure that corresponds to his Hero card and places it on a town space of his choice.

Quote:
How many market cards in town market stacks at the beginning of the game?


Game Setup #8 (pg. 3)- Place one market card from the deck, faceup, on each of the top six market stack spaces.
 
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Mika R.
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Wonderful!

This review was the perfect remedy to quench my desire for Midnight information at the moment.

There's still some questions I'd like to know your opinion on: How would you estimate the playtime in the Midnight expansion in hours? Also, is it comparable or shorter than the basic Runebound game with Faster variant (2nd ed.)? Does the game feel balanced (since it is asymmetric competitive) and how much fun does the evil player get out of it (are there enough strategic/tactical options at his disposal)?
 
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Martin Larouche
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Thanks concerning the few rules that escaped me during our first few plays (though i did find them after a while ).

The play time is similar to basic RuneBound 2nd ed. and shorter than Isle of Dread. The bad guy being a time limit on the game by it's simple presence, the game cannot drag on endlessly... I "estimate" the game to last around 2 to 3 hours with 4 experienced players.

Some of our group don't like much to play the bad guy. If the heroes get too powerful, some of them felt that he couldn't do much and complained that they were only "watching" the other players have fun.

I do not feel that way when i play the bad guy... I beleive he has enough options at his disposal to oppose even the strongest players, given he takes enough time to prepare himself against the heroes onslaught and the right encounters against the right heroes. (Using an encounter strong in magic if the hero is only good in range for example while boosting it's range stat to ensure it's survival for the first few rounds of combat).
I guess it's all a matter of tastes when it comes to playing the bad guy. Some will like to control encounters an influence them on the board while others will much prefer to have a direct influence on play.

As for balance between bad guy and heroes. It's very hard to know since the bad guy doesn't have a direct effect on the game. Some games might be over too quick to provide the players any chance to win at all (because of some lucky threat rolls by the bad guy).
In other games, the heroes might simply breeze through the encounter that the bad guy throws at them as if they were mere flys that needed to be squatted because they got the items made specifically for their type of character early on (a bow that provides +2 damage to range and +3 to mind to an character already strong in mind for example).
In the games we've played, the bad guy has won around 70% of the games (with some games where the bad guy won because of a really bad roll on the heroes part right at the final battle against the last red encounter that needed to be beat). Of course, we didn't play as much of Midnight as the basic game as of yet. We are still adjusting to the rules change and the new strategies involved. Therefore right now, with a few games behind us, the fact that the bad guy or the heroes have an advantage are more based on luck than skill.
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Jeff
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Good review... thanks

 
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J. P.
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Hi,

fine review.

The towns are still very important I think. Of course you can try to barter or heal on a river space (best chance), but in a town every roll is successfull (there are many items for 1 or 0 Goods), plus the patrols won't reach you, for example entering a town and having 3 dice left for healing/bartering and than get a Market step is a great turn sequence (or starting in a town, using 3 dice there and than moving)



eikka wrote:

There's still some questions I'd like to know your opinion on: How would you estimate the playtime in the Midnight expansion in hours? Also, is it comparable or shorter than the basic Runebound game with Faster variant (2nd ed.)? Does the game feel balanced (since it is asymmetric competitive) and how much fun does the evil player get out of it (are there enough strategic/tactical options at his disposal)?

I played some 3 player games, they took about 3 hours, so I think one hour less than the basic game (I never used the Doom track in the basic game).
The game is balanced because the Night King player gets more money when the heroes get more experienced.
As in the basic game sometimes one hero is more experienced than the other and/or has better items, but the colour of the drawn patrol and the amount of influence dice refer to the amount of experience counter (level) of the heroes.
Tactics: Every escape, knock out or failed infiltration test will give you a free threat test. A refreshed hero without a wound counter wouldn't get knocked out or escape, so only following him is sometimes the better way. The hero has to "shake of" the patrol before entering the next adventure or he will have some activated items or wound counter when the patrol attacks (better chance to get a threat test due to an escape or knock out) Every turn without an adventure or healing/bartering is a lost turn, cause the threat level will definitely increase.
I liked playing the bad guy, but playing a hero is more funny.




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Mika R.
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Superb!

Each time I hear more about this expansion, I get more tempted to buy Runebound & Runebound:Midnight as an alternative for the ~5 hour long (plus set up) Descent sessions (which are generally very enjoyable but require much room in your calendar).
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Scott Everts
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I'm really torn on picking this one up. Seems with many of the expansion decks not useable with this one I'm not sure I want to buy it for now. Might wait until we exhaust the basic, decks, and dread expansion first.
 
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Fazekas Tibor
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deedob wrote:
On the map, there are numerous "strongholds" which contains the red encounters. On each stronghold is a "black mirror" token worth between 1 and 3 points. For every black mirror "destroyed" (when the red encounter is gotten rid of), the heroes gain the corresponding "black mirror" points. If the heroes gain 10 mirror points, they win.



First of all, nice review!

Second, the black mirror points needed for victory must be equal to the number of Heroes + one. That means, if there are 3 heroes, they will need 4 Black Mirror Points to win. (it can be for example a BM worth 3 + a BM worth 1.)

I only tried it once, but the game seems to be very solid.

 
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