Saturday evening, I played my second session of Runebound, with two players to whom I shall refer as J and L.
The original plan was to play a boardgame of some sort, but due largely to my obligation to paint the dining room ceiling, we started a little later than planned - 7:30 pm rather than the hoped-for 6 o'clock.
After a certain amount of dithering, and factoring L's requirement to get a bus home at 9:50, we decided to play Runebound (2nd edition). As with my one previous experience of the game, I sold it on the premise that it was Talisman, but done rather better. L elected to play whatsit the Mad, chosen largely for his name, and J picked the Orc. Seeing that unbalanced* characters were clearly flavour of the evening, I elected to play ranged-assassin girl**, lethal at range with 2 damage, but not terribly skilled.
The rules are apparently simple enough that even I can remember them, since I had to look up only one rules point while explaining gameplay. J seemed taken with the fancy terrain dice, and got quickly into character. I have to admit that having a genuine American accent made his film-trailer readings of card flavour text pretty darn entertaining; by comparison my own tones of quiet menace left me somewhat unsatisfied.
Having learned from my one previous game that allies are terribly, terribly useful, I shared this information in the interests of fairness. L took this to heart, and quickly acquired two allies who were rather tougher than he was; he took relatively little part in any subsequent combats, preferring to supervise his minions from a safe distance. J took a more hands-on approach, using his Orc shaman follower to do a little damage at range; the Orc party seemed to take more damage than any of the others, but their glorious leader proved unsurprisingly adept at smashing things over the head with an axe.
My main contribution to the game lay in sacrificing my followers to take damage that would otherwise have killed me. In my defence, I think that I only asked two or three of them to lay down their lives in my cause, and in any case it seemed thematically appropriate.
We moved up to yellow encounters much more quickly than in my first game, and after a slightly shaky start in which I nearly died, demonstrated that we were quite capable of dealing with tougher opponents. One slightly counter-intuitive side effect of the slaughter that we inflicted on the yellow challenges was that, although L magic-blasted the Necromancer Vorrakesh early on, said necromancer was frequently referred to as a mover and shaker in later combats - one can only assume that, given his profession, death proved less of a bar to his continued activities than might otherwise be expected.
We didn't complete the game, but I think we did rather well for a two-hour session. I can see that it should be possible to complete the game in around three hours, particularly given that the speed of the game appears to pick up as the characters grow stronger.
** note to self: look up the names. Or don't.