Erik Miller
United States
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The Mountains Rise is an adventure pack expansion to Runebound Third Edition. It comes with 1 hero, Nanok of the Blade (AKA Nanok of the North in our gaming group), 15 adventure cards, 20 assets in 2 decks of 10, a new 10 card skill deck, and all the tokens you need for everything to play. The assets in this pack focus on combat, and the new deck is a spirit skill deck. Costing $17, is The Mountains Rise worth it, or are you better off leaving them in the dust?

Here’s a picture of everything you get, sans tokens, thanks to CristiQ!

There are a few new rules added to this expansion. First, now that we have new adventure cards, when creating the adventure deck, you shuffle all of the non-scenario specific adventures together and draw 20 of them, making your adventure deck out of a random grouping of these cards. It’s not a huge change, and doesn’t take long to do at all, but it’s worth nothing.

Secondly, when creating the asset deck, you now have these 2 additional (and even more, with other expansion like The Gilded Blade) asset decks. So pick 6 asset decks of your choice and shuffle them together to make the main asset deck of 60 cards. You can mix/match 10 cards set in whatever order you want.

Thirdly, when creating the skill deck, you now have an additional spirit deck to add to the mix. Pick 6 skill decks (2 of each type) and shuffle them together. Additional expansions, like The Gilded Blade, add even more mix/match choices for you.

Finally, we have a new token symbol- Charge. It looks like the end of a spear. You can spend X charge tokens together (or individually) to deal X charge damage. Your opponent cannot block charge damage, but after you spend a charge token you cannot block any damage for the rest of the combat round. This is a great token! It takes an important part of combat, positioning and charging your opponent, and turns it into a useable token in the game. You have to decide if it’s worth it to get the damage in, or to save it. The fact that it is unblockable is even better, and this is a solid token ability. I love Charge, and am glad it is included in the game. It require adjusting your strategy a bit, and making some new changes, like when you use charge, is it worth costing you’re your defense, etc. Charge is a great ability to have.

Allright, so onto the new hero- Nanok of the Blade. He has 3 body, 0 mind, and 2 spirit, with 3 movement dice, 10 HP, and a 3 skill hand size. His setup ability is that he can move to a combat adventure within 3 spaces of him, and he starts in a stronghold. He has 2 gold and his combat tokens are axe/2 shield, initiative agility/shield, and pierce/initiative blank token. His first ability is that, once per combat round, when you deal pierce damage, you may remove 1 of your foe’s tokens with a single skull on it. His other ability is that, as a combat action, you may exert and spend any number of shields to deal an equal amount of physical damage. So if you spend 3 shields, it counts as 3 physical damage instead. Handy ability! I like Nanok- he’s absolute murder in combat encounters with his high HP value and his killer abilities, allowing you to either put up a nice defensive wall while still hitting your enemy for 1 unblockable damage with pierce (as long as you don’t use pierce first!), or letting you dump your defense for a massive attack of 3 physical damage instead, as well as pinging away some of their damage at the same time. He is an absolute monster in combat, especially if you can grab some nice combat skills, and his main focus should be combat encounters. My only complaint is that his ability to remove a token with a single skull doesn’t work in the few PVP encounters that you have (like during Fall of the Dark Star)- no hero can cast a skull token, so it’s of no worth. It’s a tad annoying, but it would probably make him just a PVP monster, so it works, and plus PVP isn’t a huge part of the game either. My other just slight weirdness is that he doesn’t wear armor (seriously- on the back of his card it references that he has given up on all armor except a pair of bracers) yet he starts with the highest defense of ANY hero so far, including the well-armored Lord Hawthorne. Maybe this represents his ability to shrug off wounds, since his is a barbarian, or maybe he’s really good at blocking with his axes, but it’s whatever in the long run. Nanok of the Blade is a combat-focused beast, and adding an extra token or two to him makes him an almost unstoppable force in combat. He’s a great hero to play, and does well in a race game against Jonas and/or Lord Hawthorne and/or Red Scorpion, but he isn’t so overpowered that he just steams ahead of everyone (besides Zyla. She’s just… unique).

Allright, so onto the new adventure cards. There are 15 of them, 5 for each color. They focus on mountain-types enemies/encounters, and here’s a pic of some of them thanks to mako2413

See? All mountain/ice themed, and awesome. Trolls! OUCH! Wendigo! Giants! All heavy hitters, and a blast to fight. There’s also a frost mage, meeting up at a drunken party, and many other adventures to be had. All in all, these are some great, fun adventures, and are well worth adding to your game. They drop some harder/nastier enemies to fight, or some interesting encounters (do you join in at the party, or try to steal some of their money while they are passed out?) and add some fun, interesting decisions to the game. All in all these are a solid addition to the game, and worth adding.

Here’s a picture of some of the new asset cards thanks to mako2413

These assets add a good amount of pierce tokens to the game, and are an interesting lot in and of themselves. Much like the base game, each set comes with some goods/cheaper to more expensive assets, and there are a lot of nice weapons here. Repeating crossbow is a blast, and a solid damage dealer without its named ability. Immolation is a great risk/reward item for the magic-type characters, and everything else is interesting too. Some goods are free to pick up and give you 3 gold when you drop them off, but at the cost of -1 movement die when you are holding them. Other assets focus on exploring/movement, such as letting you exert to add 1 water symbol when exploring, or adding a mountain to the results that you roll when moving, etc. All in all these are a solid group of assets, giving you additional ways to fight, especially with pierce, or ways to move/explore, which really helps with quests and getting across the map. All in all, another solid addition to Runebound.

Finally, here is a picture of all the skill cards thanks to mako2413

These are a fun, albeit slightly random, grouping of skills. They are kind of like a bards set, but here’s some great standouts to me- Cacophony is a great way to hit everyone (including yourself) for 1 unblockable damage, which is actually handy if you have more HP/someone is almost dead, Aria of War is just a blast to give you additional HP, always a perk, and Quick Anecdote is a great way to help you beat your quests. All in all, these are some fun, bard-type skills that really help your hero out, especially. A Tale to Tell. Just hover around someone with low HP, or go and attack them if you are Corbin, and that’s that. Either way, these are some great skills, especially for the spirit characters in the game. Giving Elder Mok +3 HP from Aria of War is just great, and I like what they add. Again, another solid addition to Runebound.

Final Thoughts/Comments:

The Mountains Rise is another solid addition to Runebound and is well worth picking up. Nanok is a beast and a blast to play, and the assets/skills/adventure cards are all interesting. They don’t only add more variety, which is great, they also don’t really add any additional rules (besides pierce), the impact during setup/takedown is pretty small, and they are interesting, worthy cards to add to the game. The Mountains Rise is a solid pack and I highly recommend picking up if you play and enjoy Runebound- it adds more of what we have, plus a new rule, and a great hero to the game, expanding your options of what you can encounter/learn/purchase during the game, without really increasing the rules overhead. This is a great addition to Runebound.

Check out my other reviews at Reviews by Mil05006
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