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Subject: Review & Minor Variant of Solitaire Play rss

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Hassan Lopez
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Review

I am an unapologetic fan of Runebound. I find it a very relaxing way to spend a Saturday afternoon, and enjoy both the role-playing aspects of it (writing a story as you play) and combat mechanics. As such, I have acquired several of the expansions and have been particularly interested in the "alternate ending" adventure variants that have been published.

The Seven Scions is one of the most recent, coming in the third wave of expansions. In the deck, you get 6 Scion cards which represent powerful forces & allies that can aid you in your quest, as well as a number of Storm cards that exist to make your life more difficult. The basic set-up and play of the game is quite similar to "vanilla" Runebound. You will move your hero around the board, fighting challenges, acquiring gold and experience, leveling up as quickly as possible, and trying to buy some decent items and allies. Your eventual goal is a "final showdown" with a Stormlord - who are about as tough as a single red card in the base set. I should note here that the Red adventure cards are not used in this expansion; you keep them in the box.

Stormlords


What makes Scions different, fundamentally, is the pace. This is quite possibly the fastest game of Runebound you can play. The reason behind this is that there is a built-in "doom track" which ticks away at the end of every turn. More specifically, a doom token moves up the 8 town icons located in the town-market stacks. If you don't defeat a challenge in a turn, or defeat a green challenge, it only moves up one space. If you defeat a yellow, 2 spaces; blue, 3 spaces. Once it reaches the top and "pops", you have a Storm Encounter. These can be nasty events that require tough skill checks, or combat challenges. The first Storm Encounter will be "green" level, the second "yellow", the third "blue", and the last one is "silver". If you defeat the silver Storm Encounter, you win the game.

Green Storm Encounters


It's a simple, clever mechanic that replaces the Doom track variant in the base rulebook, and Mr. Skeletor's popular Threat track variant (which is excellent for any other game of Runebound). It also means that you don't have a lot of turns before the game comes to its final end - something around 25 would be typical. You will likely be around level 5 or 6 at this time, and hopefully have a few items and maybe an ally to help you out. If you're thinking, "how are you supposed to defeat a red-level challenge at that point?", part of the answer is that you can enlist the help of a Scion.

To awaken a Scion to help you, you need to visit a Red adventure counter and complete some task - possible win a combat, pass a skill check, or have a certain number of items or levels. The Scion will then join you and help you in your final combat. They are basically very tough allies - for example, in my last game I awoke the "Archmage" who not only has 6/3 magic attack, but also allows you to re-roll one combat roll in your final battle.

Scions


As such, the final battle can be tense but is certainly do-able. The play seems well-balanced and I very much enjoy being able to complete an entire game of Runebound in 1-2 hours (with snack breaks!). The basic gameplay is similar to vanilla, so this isn't a complete reinvention; The Seven Scions is not like The Cataclysm, for example, which plays quite different (I think) from vanilla Runebound. But the Storm encounters break into the standard leveling-up routine periodically and force you to get your hero ready for devastating events. Furthermore, there's a small quest-facet to the game, as you desperately try to awaken a Scion before all hell breaks loose.

-----------------
Variant

So, now that I've provided a brief review, I do want to address some issues that specifically apply to the solitaire game. In particular, the role of Scions during gameplay is a little unclear as stated in the rules. The rules state that every time you draw an Event card from an adventure deck, each player can draw a Scion token. This token can be cashed in to provide you with a particular benefit (like +3 Magic, for example). It is not clear, BTW, how long this benefit lasts and when you're exactly allowed to use it. Therefore, I generated the following house-rules to deal with these ambiguities. Note that these rules have only been playtested in solitaire games.

When an Event card is drawn, roll 1d6. If the matching Scion-token is still available (e.g. the Archer is "1"), you may take it and use that Scion's ability as long as you have the token. If another Event is drawn, you must discard the token you have (return it to the box) and roll 1d6 again. If the rolled Scion is not available anymore (the token was returned to the box), you don't get any benefit. In addition, once a Scion's token has been discarded, you can no longer awaken that Scion. This does mean that it's possible for you to receive a "blessing" from all 6 Scions as a game progresses, but then not be able to awaken any of them.

So far, I have found that these subtle rule clarifications and changes make solitaire play interesting and well-balanced. This also prevents you from always being able to awaken any Scion you want. In a multi-player game, other players would potentially be taking the Scion you had an eye on - in solitaire, you need another mechanism.
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Mark
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Nice review, Severian. I've been playing this expansion lately, too, and find it to be one of the better adventure expansions. Like you, I especially enjoy the pacing built into Scions. Runebound soooo struggles with pacing unless variants are added. Speaking of variants, I like yours listed here! Happy adventuring!

Noogs
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Hassan Lopez
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Thanks, Noogs. I've enjoyed reading your reviews and variants as well. Adding Traps & Terrors to Sands, in particular, is a fantastic idea. Here's hoping FFG continues to support and expand upon this great game.
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Salty Skwib
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Should I eat the Cuttlefish and Asparagus or the Vanilla Paste?
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severian73 wrote:
Review

I am an unapologetic fan of Runebound. I find it a very relaxing way to spend a Saturday afternoon, and enjoy both the role-playing aspects of it (writing a story as you play) and combat mechanics. As such, I have acquired several of the expansions and have been particularly interested in the "alternate ending" adventure variants that have been published.


Charge me guilty as well, for all the same reasons. Thank you for the solitaire suggestions on Scions-- I will definitely try that out.
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