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Subject: Detailed Report and First Impressions (pictorial) rss

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Merric Blackman
Australia
Waubra
Victoria
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Well, I've played my first game of Runewars, and my impression of the game is largely positive. What follows is a description of what happened in the game, along with a bunch of pictures that, if you look at them closely, will reveal a few rules we got wrong.

Before I go into what happened in the game, I'll explain the major two errors that occurred in the game:

The first regards the set-up. The board was rather odd with regard to the set-up rules: all of us were pretty much 3 away from the nearest region. Then, when the home tiles were placed, we were even closer than that! We definitely mucked up a couple of things here, leading to a somewhat lopsided board. In retrospect, I should have been even further away from everyone than I was... but not in such a good position to take territories. That certainly altered the flow of the game.

The second error comes from what happens when we gained Dragon Runes. Here's a hint for rulebook writers everywhere: when you have a topic called "Gaining Dragon Runes" (and similarly in the index), don't put on the cards "Receive a Dragon Rune". Indeed, in the index, you should have "Dragon Runes, Gaining" rather than "Gaining Dragon Runes". This is dreadful rulebook design, and something that FFG needs to address. So, when we "received" dragon runes we didn't get one blank and one non-blank and put them on the map - all we did was place a real one on the map each time. As it happened, this affected only two plays in the game, and so the effect could be mostly ignored.

SET-UP
Nash was first player, and took the Uthuk Y'llan faction to play. I don't know quite how to describe this faction: perhaps as worshippers of Chaos is the best way to approach it. I was second and chose the Latari Elves. Tim took the Daqan Lords (humans), and Michael took Waiqar the Undying (necromancers & undead).

We placed the map pieces we'd randomly been assigned to create the world we'd be fighting for and then placed our starting areas - a 3-hex piece that contained our starting resources. We also placed our stronghold and starting hero and armies in those areas. (As noted, the placement of our areas was slightly wrong).

In the picture that follows, Nash is at the bottom left (red), Tim at the top left (blue), Michael at the top right (purple), and me at the bottom right (green). Of particular note is where Nash has placed his stronghold: at the back of his territory. We'd learn soon enough that this was a very bad place for the stronghold, as you recruit new armies there, and so Nash's lines were more extended than the rest of us.



YEAR ONE

Spring: Long Winter
The game is played with one action for each player every season, with four seasons in a year. After six years, the game ends - if someone hasn't won by then. Before we can take actions, each season has a couple of special events to work through. One is random, the other happens every season (well, there's a "spring" event, and a "summer" event, etc.)

"Long Winter" was the event for the first spring of the game, and it had no effect. It did, however, show us how the events could shape the game. Each turn, you play four different action cards, picking them up again in the spring to be available for the next year. Long Winter prevents you from picking them all up. So, no effect for the first year, but it gave us a taste of what was to come...

The other aspect of the game is that the eight actions are numbered: if the action you play is the highest numbered you've played this year, then you get an additional effect. So, playing them in the order 1, 2, 3 & 4 is recommended. Playing them in the order 8, 3, 5, 1 isn't: you're going to restrict yourself. It wouldn't stop us, but the game makes it less likely.

Our first turn went like this:

Merric: Strategize (1): I moved my hero and my armies into the empty city province in front of me, conquering it and adding it to my lands.

Tim: Strategize (1): Tim moved his army into the empty province in front of him.

Michael: Mobilize (2); Michael moved his undead army into the empty land in front of him and did not engage any neutral armies. This was a mistake for two reasons: the first is that he could have done this with Strategize. The second is that once you move into a region (activate it) with Mobilize or Conquer, you can't move any of the troops in that region for the rest of the year. Conquering early isn't always wrong, but Michael would have done better with a Strategize.

Nash: Mobilize (2): Nash moved two armies, one entering and conquering an empty land (and its city), the other sent a Warlock and a Flesh Ripper against some neutral (white) Beastmen units. We got our first taste of combat, and Nash discovered how hard it could be: both Beastmen survived, his Flesh Ripper was killed and his Warlock retreated.



Summer: Fires of Heaven
My, my. Are we in a Robert Jordan book? (Not that I'd complain). This was the first "Wizards' Council" event - everyone got to bid influence, with the highest bid getting to destroy a city. My elves were the most influential of the starting factions, with four influence (Nash was the least with one). We made our bids, and Tim and I tied on 2 each - ties broke to whoever had most influence remaining (still me), and I destroyed a city between Tim and Nash - but not the one Nash had conquered. I was kind for this, our first game. It was the last kindness Nash would feel for the game.

Every summer, the universal event is that you get to move, train or heal your heroes. In addition, if your heroes move, they can quest. We all had one hero, so they wandered off into the wilderness. My hero couldn't get close enough to anywhere to make a difference, Michael's hero trained, as did Nash's, and Tim's hero attempted its first quest... and died. I guess you want more than a 2 stat when you attempt a quest, huh?

Heroes and their quests are a minor part of the game. Heroes only really move in one turn out of four (summer), although the Strategize action might allow them to move a second time. Mind you, they can have significant events, as we discovered later.

Now it was time for our regular actions: I mobilized and conquered another region, with my bigger army proving too much for the neutral sorcerers that lived there. I did actually have the option of trying diplomacy: it just didn't occur to me this turn! Everyone else recruited, and placed new troops in their lone stronghold.



Autumn: Frozen Crops
The main event meant that anyone with 5 or more food on their resource dials would lose one food: no-one was that abundant yet, so it didn't occur. Then the fate deck got reshuffled and we all got to draw a tactics card or gain 2 influence. For most of the game, I gained influence whilst most of the rest of the players gained tactics cards. (I think Tim and I both took influence this turn, it was a rarity!)

Now, time for our action cards:

Michael: Strategize - Michael reinforced the city he'd captured earlier (all the better to attack with in the new year). This would have consequences in the winter...

Merric: Harvest - I'd taken quite a few areas this year, so now was the time to reap my reward. The resource dials in this game are quite unusual: they don't show what your lands produce at the moment, they show what your lands produced when you last harvested, and then get moved downwards as you build (not recruit) things. It's a very interesting and elegant mechanic. I had a lot of food after my conquering, but I was very much lacking wood. Where were the trees for my elves?

Nash & Tim: Rally Support - This action allows you to take bonuses for the cities you control (either in neutral units/mercenaries, Tactics cards, Influence or Quest cards) and also to recruit heroes. Tim didn't have a city: he wanted the hero! Nash took the mercenaries and the hero.



Winter: Abundance of Power
We didn't realise it yet, but at the end of the year the random event *always* gives you a chance to get more dragon runes. Abundance of Power gives everyone a dragon rune if the total amount bid in an influence bid is more than the number of players. Tim bid 1, everyone else bid nothing. Hmm. (All bids are secret and simultaneous). So, no extra dragon runes for now.

The other thing that occurs every winter is that your armies are restricted by the amount of food your resource dials show: I had five food, so my maximum army size was five. Michael had four food... so only four. Oops - this was bad when you considered he'd moved those extra troops into his city last turn.

We allowed him to retract some of the movement, so he didn't lose anyone (well, maybe one animate). Now we knew about winter, and it was horrible.

Tim: Conquer - A winter strategy, Tim conquered a land with a solitary hellhound and approached the gates of Nash's city.

Michael: Rally Support - Michael took mercenaries (a hellhound) in his city, and recruited a second hero.

Merric: Acquire Power - I gained influence, and then spent 3 Influence to gain the first title of the game, "Primarch of the Wizards' Council". Titles are really important: they provide you with further ways of gaining Dragon Runes, as well as other bonuses. To gain one, you need to use the Supremacy bonus of the Acquire Power action and spend more influence than the last person to take that particular title. There are three in all, and I was making sure with my 3 bid that no-one else would be able to take it.

Nash: Acquire Power - Nash gained 1 influence, took a title, "Captain of the Heroes League" (which meant his heroes would never desert him and he could exchange reward cards for dragon runes), and showed me that my bid for the Primarch of the Wizard's Council held no weight before the power of the tactics cards: Political Control allowed him to wrest it from me for nothing. (At least he had no influence on the card, which would allow anyone else to take it from him for 1). The power of Tactics cards were now painfully apparent to me. You ignored them at your peril!

So the first year ended, with Nash the dual Primarch and Captain. All of us had our starting two Dragon Runes, and the next year was ready to begin...



YEAR TWO

Spring: New Recruits
Everyone got to recruit for free (but no-one could play a recruit card this season). No-one complained. Perhaps not surprisingly, three of us played cards to move our troops around, with Michael actually conquering a new area. Tim, meanwhile, Fortified, and built a new stronghold in the area next to Nash's city.

Strongholds are really important: they provide a massive defensive bonus which makes them very difficult to take, and you recruit new armies there. However, as they require the "8" Fortify card to play, if you play them first action in the turn, you wipe out the possibility of getting Supremacy Bonuses from your other actions this year. It's a dilemma, but Tim wanted that army.

Summer: Drought
Drought is nasty: if troops or heroes would retreat, they get destroyed instead. Nash's hero found this out the hard way, whilst my hero was the first to successfully complete a quest!

The mechanics of questing are fairly simple: get to one of the locations on your quest card, draw a number of cards equal to the key ability on your character, and if one of those is a success, you succeed! (You can get success, neutral or failure - quests vary in effect and deadliness). Successful quests allow you to gain a reward, and so I was very happy to gain the first reward of the game: a item that would make my hero a lot more potent in duels.

Unfortunately, Michael had other ideas: he had a Tactics Card that caused my hero to desert to him (albeit at the cost of 4 influence). Argh! I had no heroes! The power of tactics cards was now even more apparent to me.

I fortified my most forward position with a stronghold (alas, you can't build strongholds to protect cities: they're very vulnerable in this game). Everyone else went a-conquering, with varying levels of success: pretty good if you were Tim or Michael, pretty awful if you were Nash. We were now all encroaching on each other, and I was very glad for the rivers and lakes that separated me from Michael's troops. Of course, you can cross these borders in the winter, so watch out!



Autumn: Threatened Home Realms
The first "let's shake up the game" event now took place: each of us had to take two dragon runes in our home areas and place them in friendly or neutral areas elsewhere. This made the runes of everyone a lot more vulnerable to capture by the others, and made military force all that more important. Ooh, boy, it's hard to plan for everything in this game!

I mobilized and sent a large force against a Giant (one of the most dangerous forces on the board), but this time I remembered that I had an option to use diplomacy. You spend 1-6 influence - I spent 2 - and draw that many cards. On a positive result, he joins you. On a negative one, you either retreat or attack. On a neutral one, he flees. Both my cards were neutral, so the giant fled (and was eliminated as there were no lands for him to flee to that weren't mine).

Tim recruited into his stronghold on the borders of Nash's land, whilst Nash and Tim used Rally Support to gain another hero each.

Winter: Power for the Pious
This was fun: the *lowest* influence bid (who was Tim) had to give a new Rune token to each of his opponent. (Not from his supply, but brand new ones). As you might expect, Tim placed them in areas that were fairly close to him and quite accessible. At this point, we all controlled 3 Rune Tokens except for Tim - and we needed six for victory.

I harvested, Nash mobilized, Tim strategized troops into his forward stronghold (eep!) and Michael Fortified, building his second stronghold. At this point, all of us except Nash had a second stronghold.



YEAR THREE

Spring: Stormy Weather
No-one had any influence at this stage (I think the combined total was 2), so no-one bid to prevent this effect: as a result, any card we played with a value of 1-4 (Strategize, Mobilize, Conquer or Harvest) was treated as blank for this season. That was terrifying! No movement!

It also meant that if we played a 5-8 card, our attacks this year would never have supremacy bonuses - so playing a Strategize (1) did have its attractions. No-one was attracted though: Nash and I recruited, Tim Acquired Power, and Michael Gathered Support. Tim took the third title at this point: Lord Commander of the Warrior's Guild, and it was going to serve him well for the rest of the game. In any battle in which a dragon rune token was present, offensive or defensive, he'd gain +2 power. Nash would soon feel the power of that title!



Summer: Mandatory Disarmament
Another influence bid, and this one was won (once again) by Nash, who made me discard 2 random tactics cards. That wasn't nice, and I was now down to 1 card - everyone else was doing a lot better for these cards, drawing and playing them well.

I Rallied my support, and drew some tactics cards and gained influence. Everyone else was getting good cards, so I wanted some as well. Controlling two cities was proving very useful indeed. I also spent the two influence I'd just gained to recruit a hero - an evil one, as it turned out. Not what I wanted, as I was good-aligned, but I hoped I'd be able to hold onto her for a bit.

Autumn: Revealing their True Nature
I was not able to hang onto my hero at all! This event caused all heroes who were of the wrong alignments for your faction to desert back to the draw deck unless you paid them influence. As I'd just spent my influence gaining my hero, I couldn't do that! Argh! At least Michael had to discard *my* hero as well. Nash, as the Captain of the Hero's League, was immune. Those titles were proving useful.

Nash's city fell to Tim, and Tim's position was now looking rather solid - especially if Dragon Runes were involved! Unfortunately for Nash, he'd chose to Rally Support - and by the time his action was resolved, he didn't have any cities in which to rally his supporters! Oh, dear...

At least I could Rally Support myself. At which point, I hear you wondering how I managed to play two Rally Support actions in a row - the answer lies in the tactics cards I'd picked up last turn: there's one that allows you and another player (I chose Tim) to pick up one of your played Order cards and play it again. I took advantage of this then. With hope springing eternal, I hired my third hero of the game. Could he survive longer than the others?

Winter: Elect Arbitrator
The next of the "Dragon Rune" events was drawn, and no-one wanted to bid on it, so Tim was elected the arbitrator: he could place a Dragon Rune in an enemy or uncontrolled area of his choice. He chose to put it in the territory that held two giants between himself and Michael: not a bad place by any means!

Nash then attacked one of my cities and took it: I retreated out rather than taking the damage.

At this point, I played Acquire Power, and used it to take back the Primarch of the Wizard's Council title. This was going to be very, very important in the seasons to come.



YEAR FOUR

Spring: Prepare for the Coming Year
Good advice from the event, what it *actually* allowed us to do was to draw a new objective card. What were objective cards, for I hadn't mentioned them before? In this game, they weren't that relevant; however, what they actually are is a method of allowing you to gain a dragon rune. None of the ones we had were easily completed, so we never bothered with them. In future games, they're likely to be much more important as one of the few ways of gaining Dragon Runes - and this event is one of the more important events.

I played Strategize, but completely miscalculated where I could move my hero, so he didn't and the entire action was somewhat wasted. Well, somewhat - my troops came out of giantland and up towards my city. Nash fortified, and finally built his second fortress - in a position from which he could attack Tim. Tim harvested, and Michael recruited.

Summer: Reroute Supply Caravans
Another influence bid, and one that I was determined to win - and did. Not that anyone could stop me: I had the only influence in the game, and I broke ties (thanks to my title). As a result, everyone else lost a point from all of their resource dials - a very nasty event indeed. Our heroes moved about - I moved my hero into an area that Nash had abandoned and held a dragon rune (an actual dragon rune!) Now to see if I could capture it - but my troops were far away.

My hero was joined in that area by one of Tim's troops, scuppering a plan I had based on a tactics card (Lost City; place a damaged stronghold in an uncontrolled region your hero is in). Now Tim controlled the area! However, it left Nash's city that he'd captured off me surrounded with nowhere for his troops to retreat, and Nash then felt my full wrath as my army descended on him. The city fell and was mine again (although I took losses I didn't want to take), and, once again, Nash had played a Rally Support card which was made useless by his city falling before it resolved. Nash was not impressed.

Michael was spending his time building up his forces until eventually he attacked a neutral area with an all-consuming force. It fell, with his necromancers creating more animates in the area.

Autumn - Revealing their True Nature
Oh, boy - was I to lose my next hero? This time I had the influence to pay him, so I did - everyone else was unaffected.

Nash attacked Tim's stronghold with a big force, only to be met by Tim playing a tactics card: Summon Lightning. Both forces took four damage, which pretty much wiped out Tim's forces, but left Nash's not strong enough to take the stronghold which was supplemented by the Dragon Rune (and Tim's Lord Commander title). Nash's surviving Chaos Lord retreated back to its stronghold, cursing.

Meanwhile, I recruited more forces. Somehow - and I'd missed exactly when it had happened - Tim had withdrawn the troop that was in the same province as my hero. This allowed me to play my Ruined City card, placing a damaged stronghold in the area... and with the Recruit in the same action, I had an army to protect it!



Winter - Gifts for the Rich
This was a massively important event: the richest player, that is, the person whose Resource dials added up to the greatest tally, gained a Dragon Rune. Thanks to last summer's rerouting of the supply caravans, that person was me! I did have to sacrifice 1 food, 2 wood and 2 ore to do so, but it was a price I paid willingly. It also meant that one of my troops had to be disbanded, as I no longer could feed him, but that was insignificant.

Nash recruited, to recoup the losses caused by his failed attack on Tim's stronghold. Tim also recruited, and Michael harvested.

I played Fortify, built my fourth stronghold, rebuilt the Lost City (now my stronghold), and wondered what had happened to my resource dials: they were now all pretty much empty. However, I now controlled five dragon runes: two from winter events, and the third in the province which I'd gained control of thanks to my hero and the Lost City card.

Oh, and that Lost City rune? The Fortify action also allowed me to place it back in my home territory - leaving the stronghold free of runes (and not as tempting a target for attack).



YEAR FIVE

Spring: Prepare for the Coming Year
Another repeat event. I took advantage of it, but the new objective card wasn't that useful.

I harvested, my resource dials reset and I felt a lot happier about the world. Nash mobilized, and finally retook his city from Tim. (Hooray!) Michael and Tim also harvested, rebuilding their resources.

Summer: Broken Allegiances
This was bad for Nash and Michael: each of their neutral troops went on a rampage, killing 2 units in the province unless they spent influence (which they didn't have). So, they lost one of their own units and a mercenary unit as well. Ouch.

Now we moved heroes, and I was able to complete another quest: by reaching Nash's home area with my hero, I was able to claim a reward... and it proved to be a Dragon Rune. All I needed was to get him home to store it.

I haven't been talking that much about the exploits of the other heroes - controlled by Nash and Michael - this game. To be honest, they didn't impinge on my game much, mainly because my own heroes were dead for most of the game - or traitors! In fact, they had been questing (or training - in Michael's case) each summer, and gaining quite a number of rewards cards. Mostly those cards were only of use in hero-on-hero duels, which made Nash think the questing was quite pointless. However, the heroes have important roles to play: consider my play of the Lost City card for one - and there were other cards that could be equally significant.

(Nash could have gained the services of a dragon or two giants if he'd realised the full potential of the Flute of Obedience - alas, he didn't until it was too late!)

Looking at the board, I realised now that I could win and no-one could stop me. My final action card for the game was #1: Strategize. My hero stood adjacent to my Lost City - he moved there, revealed the Timmorran Shard he held, and placed my sixth Dragon Rune. I turned them all face up, and announced I'd won the game - to the surprise of Tim and Michael, and the quiet resignation of Nash.



Thoughts and Analysis

Runewars is a moderately complex game. By no means is it a difficult one to learn, but there's a lot going on. It was only when we reached the end of the game we could look back and see some of the patterns in the game: the way the titles worked, and how each Winter's event would give more dragon runes (with an advantage to the holder of the Primarch of the Wizard's Guild title). Nash had three reward cards controlled by his heroes, which he could have discarded to the heroes league to gain a dragon rune. Tim, as the Lord Commander of the Warrior's Guild, could have gone on a campaign of conquest of the dragon rune areas with great effectiveness.

Influence was gravely unused in this game; my concentration on it (and not neglecting the military) had eventually given me the game.

Final rune totals: Merric 6, Tim 3, Michael 3, Nash 2

The game took about 4 hours - of which 45 minutes was rules explanations and setting up. It wasn't "full length", but we were very slow choosing and executing our orders, especially at the beginning of the game. While this is never going to be a short game, three hours or a little under seems entirely achievable. Turns seemed to be mostly between 10-15 minutes.

I'm curious as to how it would play with fewer players, but I'm not sure if it would play as well: 3 player seems too prone to kingmaking, and you don't get the same interaction in 2-player. Still, it might be worht investigating.

Although the game doesn't intrigue me as much as the last game I bought of FFG's (Middle Earth Quest, which is absolutely excellent), it seems a worthy addition to my collection and I'll be happy to play it again. Perhaps tomorrow, but likely in the near future. I hope you enjoyed this report!
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Mr G
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Hi Merric,

Another excellent, detailed piece - thanks.

If anything, however, this has put me off the game. It looks as though there are multiple distinct elements going on at any one time, rather than joined up thinking, and a lot of reactionary play rather than a 'grand plan' with tweaks to deal with the problems reality throws up.

The board kinda looks 'busy' and inelegant, but I guess that is a personal thing.

I know that we are both big fans of CC:E. It is very elegant and intuitive - Runewars looks not to be. Am I right or way off the mark?

Or perhaps soemone could make a comparison to Advanced Civ, which is an area based empire building game with many individual mechanics but a seemless whole.

Regards,

Fentum
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ŁṲÎS̈
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Great session report as usual, Merric!

MerricB wrote:

The second error comes from what happens when we gained Dragon Runes. Here's a hint for rulebook writers everywhere: when you have a topic called "Gaining Dragon Runes" (and similarly in the index), don't put on the cards "Receive a Dragon Rune". Indeed, in the index, you should have "Dragon Runes, Gaining" rather than "Gaining Dragon Runes". This is dreadful rulebook design, and something that FFG needs to address. So, when we "received" dragon runes we didn't get one blank and one non-blank and put them on the map - all we did was place a real one on the map each time. As it happened, this affected only two plays in the game, and so the effect could be mostly ignored.


Agreed that this is a bit confusing. I wonder if it's because they were toggling between rules for standard and epic handling of Runes. It should have been consistent.
 
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ŁṲÎS̈
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fentum wrote:

The board kinda looks 'busy' and inelegant, but I guess that is a personal thing.


I think the green table and the low contrast of the images might have added a bit to that. The game is indeed busy, but the components are very nice looking.
 
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mateo jurasic
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excellent review/session.
Its a great way to review a game. It helps explain a lot of your thoughts about the game, as you struggle learning strategies and explain rules errors that affected your gameplay.

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Scott Lewis
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For what it's worth, this game plays excellent with 2. Sure, not as much multi-player interaction, but with 2 you have a much smaller board, and at least in the games I've played, there is plenty of interaction with the other player.

Sure, there are different strategies than with 3+, but it still is an excellent 2-player game. It scales well.

I've not played a 4-player game yet, but I have played a couple 2-player games, and while you CAN have the "gang up" or "kingmaking" issues arise, I haven't seen that happen in my games yet.
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Barry Kendall
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I've only played two-player so far (Elves vs. Undead; Undead are potent!) and it's very enjoyable. Thinking on it, one thing that makes two-player fun is the Neutrals, which add unpredictability (along with lots of other variables in the game) but also lend a sense of Other Creatures being present in the world beyond those under a Player's control.

The variable alignment of Heroes also adds to this lack-of-perfect-control sense that spices up two-person play.

My vision is normal for a guy in his mid-'50s--meaning I have to lift my glasses and squint to read counter strengths in most wargames--but I had no trouble seeing things on the board. In "live" binocular vision, there is very good contrast between tiles, symbols on tiles, and playing pieces that gets lost in 2-D photographs. It doesn't look nearly as "busy" as photos make it seem.

The first play of any game teaches more than it entertains, but the reviewers has highlighted some important tips that only experience really provides, such as the importance of homeland orientation. I'm thinking that how a player places the home "capital" will foretell a lot about that player's mind-set in play--defensive vs. offensive, questing/influence vs. campaigning/conquering--depending on whether the mobilization city is "on the border" or deeper into the realm.

This said, it doesn't matter all that much once a Stronghold is built, for that "advance base" will see most of the mobilizing unless the homeland is threatened--which depends a great deal on the board layout.

Thinking about it, if there's one thing that "funnels" game play, it's the ability to place that homeland last of all, almost always insuring that there will only be one good avenue of approach to the home realm.

Given the victory conditions as written, this doesn't look to make much difference, as enough runes will be gained before home territories are overrun much more often than not, but I'd like to see a variant developed that allows placement of one additional terrain piece per player AFTER homelands are set down. Easy enough to do, especially with less than four players.

Nice write-up, and I appreciate the effort to document the game photographically. I'm lovin' this game.
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mateo jurasic
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this game has a lot of secret information (rewards, objectives, quests, and dragon runes). I find this has prevented any kingmaking in all my games, as you never know exactly how many dragon runes any player has. You might have an idea... sure, but if you time things right, you can pop out 3-4 in one year (capture one, turn in a shard with your hero for a second, reveal your completed objective for a third, and turn in 3 rewards for a rune using the heros league for a fourth.)

This is not to suggest that winning is easy, just that part of the strategy is to not be so obviously ahead and near winning so that you unite all players against you. I also STRONGLY recommend playing with epic rules, as winning with 6 runes tends to make for a "too quick" game

again... great report. I just might have to do the same style myself.

Mateo
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Sean Shaw
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Lots of pictures and nice descriptions. thanks.
 
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Robb Minneman
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Jackasses? You let a whole column get stalled and strafed on account of a couple of jackasses? What the hell's the matter with you?
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Correct me if I'm wrong, please, but isn't that an incorrect board setup? Shouldn't there by four hexes between each of the home realms? Three is allowable between two home realms if absolutely necessary, but you've got two spots on that board with two hexes between home realms, and that's against the rules.
 
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robbbbbb wrote:
Correct me if I'm wrong, please, but isn't that an incorrect board setup? Shouldn't there by four hexes between each of the home realms? Three is allowable between two home realms if absolutely necessary, but you've got two spots on that board with two hexes between home realms, and that's against the rules.


Read the third line of the report
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monteslu wrote:
fentum wrote:

The board kinda looks 'busy' and inelegant, but I guess that is a personal thing.


I think the green table and the low contrast of the images might have added a bit to that. The game is indeed busy, but the components are very nice looking.


I think it's the board. I appreciate the artist's work, but at least in my eyes it does look messy. For gaming purposes something more abstract would have worked better. Perhaps 'abstract' is not the right word, something more symbolic, map-like I mean.
 
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pajavasara wrote:


I think it's the board. I appreciate the artist's work, but at least in my eyes it does look messy. For gaming purposes something more abstract would have worked better. Perhaps 'abstract' is not the right word, something more symbolic, map-like I mean.


It's definitely the low-contrast, overhead shots that give that impression. I've played this several times in low-light conditions and there has never been a moment where any figures were visually lost during the game. However, the discovery tokens do have the potential to get lost if certain ones are laying over particular colors on the board.
 
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pajavasara wrote:
monteslu wrote:
fentum wrote:

The board kinda looks 'busy' and inelegant, but I guess that is a personal thing.


I think the green table and the low contrast of the images might have added a bit to that. The game is indeed busy, but the components are very nice looking.


I think it's the board. I appreciate the artist's work, but at least in my eyes it does look messy. For gaming purposes something more abstract would have worked better. Perhaps 'abstract' is not the right word, something more symbolic, map-like I mean.


ha!
and having played the game, I wish there was more unique detail on the hexes, with distinguishing landmarks and hex names (not just number/letter designations).

I think when you play the game, you may change your mind and realize that the hexes are not distracting... The only thing I dont like is having to search around for the hex number to see where I have to send my hero.

 
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robbbbbb wrote:
Correct me if I'm wrong, please, but isn't that an incorrect board setup? Shouldn't there by four hexes between each of the home realms? Three is allowable between two home realms if absolutely necessary, but you've got two spots on that board with two hexes between home realms, and that's against the rules.


Strangely enough, the initial board layout did allow us 3 spaces between each homeland... but once my homeland got placed, it gave use 2 spaces between mine and Nash's. We then thought we'd made a mistake and adjusted positions a bit - and still had 2 spaces between realms, but decided to keep it as it was (without changing it back to where it started). Oops.

By this time - we'd spent some time trying to get ready - we were rather eager to get going rather than more fiddling with the board.

EDIT: Here's a picture of our initial placement.


Cheers,
Merric
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mateo jurasic
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Strangely, the map setup is the most difficult part of this game, and the most complex part of the rulebook.
Its also a lot of fun, as each game has a unique feel due to the variable set up. They made the setup rules so complex in order to balance unique, variable maps with fair starting positions. Its not perfect, but I personally can't think of a better way of doing it.
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I love reading your session reports, Merric!

All those different things (tactics cards, heroes, influence, titles) to keep track of are different elements one can choose from to gain victory. And you will find that some work better for certain factions than others. Uthuk and Undead need those tactics because they have no influence and are mostly going to win through brute force.

The elves, as you found out by the end of the game, are all about defense and influence. Not only do they start with the most, they win all ties (including when everyone bids 0). Horde that inflence, and use it wisely and you can find a way to win the bid on those winter "rune gain" events you noticed happening. You had some ba luck losing the Wizard's Council card, but you had it back by the end of the game. Just hunker down and use your influence. And you'll find the other players suddenly using (i.e. wasting) their time gathering influence just to try to stay in the game the way you were using time to get tactics cards that don't really fit your faction.

Pick a strategy at the beginning and stick with it. Trying to have a little bit of everything means you don't excel at anything. The goal is to get 6 runes, not to have as much influence, tactic cards, whatever, as all the other players.

I think now that you have an understanding of the different elements, you will enjoy the game more when you play again. You already have discovered some subtle things that some don't discover until several plays (like the power of the title cards other than Wizard Council).

And I think the game scales very well with less players, especially with 2. Kingmaking (Kingmakering?) doesn't come into play as often as other games in Runewars. It's possible one player gets squeezed, but it's difficult to just hand runes to someone else. If both are attacking the poor guy in the middle, sooner or later they have to worry about each other. And they may find the "poor guy in the middle" has 3 heroes, all carrying rune shards and suddenly showing them for a sneak victory!
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Grimstax wrote:
I love reading your session reports, Merric!


Thank you very much - and thank you for your additional insights.

Fun fact: this session report took me about 3 hours to write, about as long as I spent playing the game in the first place!

Cheers,
Merric
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i kinda want to criticise your report and start flaming it, so that you can get some rebound thumbs ups....

people dont thumbs up positive reviews as much as negative reviews
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Excellent report Merric! Middle Earth Quest was also the last FFG game that I bought. I have been following your reports there avidly. I think the first 2 games or so of this one are always going to be filled with little rules that were overlooked. Like you said, it isn't that hard to learn but there is a lot going on.
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Thanks for the report. Having played the game once (4 player) I could identify with your comments. We also missed the acquiring a blank dragon rune each time you receive a real one. Caught that on my customary post-game re-read through of the rules after our first game.

Our first season card was also the extended winter card - no effect for the first turn.

The objective cards also didn't play a big role in our game (they are difficult - at least the ones we had). However, that said, the player taking his turn before me (he went first that season, I was to go second - this was the spring of the 6th year) won the game... but had he not, I would have fulfilled my objective card, received a dragon rune, and won the the game that very same spring.

Excellent report.
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MerricB wrote:
robbbbbb wrote:
Correct me if I'm wrong, please, but isn't that an incorrect board setup? Shouldn't there by four hexes between each of the home realms? Three is allowable between two home realms if absolutely necessary, but you've got two spots on that board with two hexes between home realms, and that's against the rules.


Strangely enough, the initial board layout did allow us 3 spaces between each homeland... but once my homeland got placed, it gave use 2 spaces between mine and Nash's. We then thought we'd made a mistake and adjusted positions a bit - and still had 2 spaces between realms, but decided to keep it as it was (without changing it back to where it started). Oops.

By this time - we'd spent some time trying to get ready - we were rather eager to get going rather than more fiddling with the board.

EDIT: Here's a picture of our initial placement.


Cheers,
Merric


The problem there is that you have to count anywhere the home realm would touch when you place the setup markers, not just where the setup marker itself touches. So in your example image, you did have one home realm setup marker that was 2 away from another.
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Jackasses? You let a whole column get stalled and strafed on account of a couple of jackasses? What the hell's the matter with you?
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wardac wrote:
The problem there is that you have to count anywhere the home realm would touch when you place the setup markers, not just where the setup marker itself touches. So in your example image, you did have one home realm setup marker that was 2 away from another.


Is that true? The rules don't specifically say so, but the setup example on page 9 implies it.

And I caught the point from monteslu about the third line of the report. Mea culpa. I skimmed that bit.
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wardac wrote:
The problem there is that you have to count anywhere the home realm would touch when you place the setup markers, not just where the setup marker itself touches. So in your example image, you did have one home realm setup marker that was 2 away from another.

That's not actually what the rules say, though; all they say is to count from the markers themselves, not where the realms will be.
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sigmazero13 wrote:
wardac wrote:
The problem there is that you have to count anywhere the home realm would touch when you place the setup markers, not just where the setup marker itself touches. So in your example image, you did have one home realm setup marker that was 2 away from another.

That's not actually what the rules say, though; all they say is to count from the markers themselves, not where the realms will be.


It's one of those things we'll know about for our next game.

Cheers!
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