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Subject: Runestone: a review rss

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R Vale
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This game was available in the mid-1990s in the UK in a chain of shops called “Past Times” which sold a number of games with historical themes, eg. Cathedral. Runestone is a simple dice game for two players. It is quick to play (usually less than 15 mins).

The game is played on a board consisting of 30 runes arranged in five rows of six. Each row is a different colour. Corresponding to each row there is one die with the six runes of that colour printed on its faces.

Each player also receives 5 plastic markers (tiddlywinks) of their colour and a big shiny transparent stone (which in my opinion is the nicest thing in the game, although the dragon printed on the board is also quite good).

To begin play, the first player rolls all five dice and places their 5 markers onto the corresponding runes on the board (so that there is one in each row). The second player does the same. If any die shows a rune that is already occupied by a marker, then it is rolled again. Now both players have one marker in each row.

The first player now rolls any one die and places their big stone onto the corresponding rune. The second player does the same, and from there, the players take it in turns, rolling one die once per turn. If your stone is at the end of a row, you can choose to roll the die corresponding to the row you are in, or the row above, or the row below. But if your stone is not at the end of the row then you must roll the die of the current row (so there is no choice).

There are three things that can happen in your turn:

(1) You land on one of your markers. In this case, you collect the marker and it is removed from the game.

(2) You land on one of your opponent's markers. In this case, you can place the marker on any empty rune on the board.

(3) You land on your opponent's stone. You can again place the stone onto any empty rune on the board.

That's it. The first player to collect all their markers from the board is the winner.

It's (2) and (3) above which add a little strategy to the game, since you have to decide where best to place any markers on which you land, in order to make them hard for the opponent to collect. But it is not usually very difficult to decide.

It can get a bit frustrating if you are trying to move your stone out of the current row. You just have to roll the same die over and over and there is no chance to move out until you manage to roll one of the runes on the end.

Summary: a pleasant game with nice components but not very exciting to play.
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