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Subject: First Whack at Runewars rss

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Marc Q
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So on Monday, Adam sent me a text message with the following:

"Wednesday it's on. Runewars"

Having never played the game, but having heard of it spoken in the same breath as my all time favourite boardgame (Twilight Imperium, 3rd Edition), I will admit I couldn't wait. I watched a few review/tutorial videos here on BGG, read a few strategies and after-action reports, and mentally prepared myself for another war game that wasn't REALLY a war game.

I even picked my general strategy... get one of the "Good" races (since I don't play to win, aesthetics are very important to me... and the Evil races are both ugly), then stock up on three heroes as fast as possible, take the Hero-Lord-role card, and do my best to stay out of everyone's way while accumulating rewards and shards.

Ah, the best laid plans o' mice and men ganst gast iglay.

Our draw for race choice saw me choosing last... which sucks, because I really wanted the elves! I liked their mobility, I liked their high intiative, I liked the sniper-aspect of their numerous weak archers! But picking last? No way I was getting the elves...

Adam picked first and took the elves... no, wait, he claims he's changing his mind... and takes the humans. Onick pounced on the Undead like a cat on a wounded bird, and after some brief consideration, Jeff took the daemons.

Wait, what? I got the elves! Uh oh... what does everyone know that they're not telling me? Oh well... onwards!

The map was pretty linear, with Onick and Adam very clearly isolated on the "North" half of the map, and Jeff and I on the "South". In fact, the mountains made it so that if anyone wanted to attack Onick, it was only possible via stabbing through the center of Adam's territory... but neither Jeff nor I ever bothered, so it was a moot point.

We drew starting heroes and quests... I got the one that lets you look at adjacent runes (notable because right before I drew it, Onick said "I hope you don't get stuck with the useless hero that lets you look at runes... she sucks"). I did luck out with the quests, as they were both in the 8s and almost directly next to my home territories.

The first round saw some quiet expansion (the season cards for the first year and a half had absolutely no impact, as they were things like "Spend 8 Influence" when nobody had over 4, or "Heroes of other alignments must pay..." when we only had our starting heroes), with some interesting tactical decisions... specifically, Onick, myself, and Adam all claimed territories with cities, only to abandon them the next season in order to take other places (in my case intentionally, in both of their cases accidentally). Onick also played a Tactics card which allowed him to steal influence from everyone else (he had 0 at the time).

On my end of the board, I quickly realized that my elves were going to have a problem with food... namely that I didn't have enough to feed the caliber of armies I wanted. Even with the resource-boost on my starting fortress, I had only 4 food... but since the goal was to field heroes, this wouldn't be a problem!

Except that I couldn't seem to keep influence for love or money. My Good quest was to accumulate 8 influence and spend it for a Dragon Rune... which, I figured... awesome and easy since I start with 4 (half way there!)... but those 4 influence were gone by the second turn, spent on an auction that gained me... the right not to lose one of each resource. Bah.

The second year started with Adam destroying several neutral units in the center of the board and claiming a 2nd city, while Onick spread out to meet him. Jeff raced around and claimed the largest empire (he had fully 9 hexes under his control, while I had 6, and Onick and Adam both had 7), but had a bad season-draw and was forced to give Dragon Runes to every other player. By winter I had my first casualty of starvation (an archer who was supposed to die fighting a giant, but we successfully killed it without breaking a sweat).

Year three saw Jeff invade one of my border territories... which is noteworthy because it held one of my precious food resources, AND he did it on the same turn I Harvested... lowering my food stat! Gah! Timing! I played my Lighting Spell, destroying the lone archer defending the territory along with 4 of Jeff's 6 units, and retaliated immediately, claiming the territory back in the next season. Sadly, since I already harvested, I was stuck with 3 food when winter rolled around, and lost 3 more archers across the board. I did, however, recruit a sizeable force back home (4 warriors, 2 pegasus, 2 archers) immediately after having to feed my troops, and the Fortress Jeff had built right next to my front-lines seemed a tempting target.

I should point out that at this stage, my one hero had failed an Agility check quest (4 checks, all fails or neutrals, when I needed a success), and I had just managed to purchase a second hero (Red Scorpion... I could only afford one hero card, in order to have any hope of ever earning the 8 influence I needed for my Quest). So much for my Heroes Lead to Success strategy!

Year four started with my Conquest of Jeff's Fortress... I assaulted with both my pegasus, 4 archers, 2 warriors, and a sorcerer, against Jeff's 3 berserkers and his 1 flesh-ripper.

My archers fired, and missed. His flesh ripper managed to route two of my units (an archer and a warrior... although in retrospect I should have routed both archers). My pegasus attacked... and missed. His units attacked and two berserker sacrificed themselves to kill 2 archers and inflict 2 wounds on a pegasus. My sorcerer attacked... and missed. My warrior attacked... and missed.

Just for the sake of clarity: that's 8 attacks IN A ROW which I missed. Not routed, no special-abilities... missed. Nothin'. It was incredible.
To add insult to injury, Jeff had a card that allowed his 2 units to double their values for determining the winner of the invasion, bringing his total up to 6 (5 -3 for Conquest, +4 for the 2 units he had). If I un-routed my units (I had a card to do exactly that), I would have a total of... 6 strength. And ties go to the defender.

My forces limped back to my frontier realm. Both my heroes managed to complete quests this round, earning a Lighting-thing (route units equal to my wisdom?) and a Cloak of Deceit.

You'll note that I have not mentioned much about Adam and Onick... the simple reason is that, compared to the horrible failure of a warmachine my elves were turning into, their half of the board was an epic clash of titans. Armies were rent assunder, heroes were coerced and slain willy-nilly, and neutral armies where diplomatically swayed back and forth. Jeff and I were insulated by the thin land bridge that separated us, thankfully, but it did not save us from what happened next.

Adam, in a masterstroke, duelled and killed all three of Onick's heroes, claiming a total of 4 Reward cards (one of which was a shard). The then played a tactic card to take one of the "Role" cards, bringing his total up to three, finishing his Good Quest (I think he needed three... maybe it was only 2?) and earning a Dragon rune. He turned in three of the treasures into another rune, changed the shard into another, and adding the 1 rune that Jeff had to give him back in the 2nd year... brought him to 6 and us to the end of the game.


Thoughts: Well... I finished with 3 runes, 1 military victory (albeit a small one) and 1 military disaster... I do like the card-instead-of-dice mechanic, but had remarkably bad results a few times. Also, the fact that I couldn't feed my armies really ham-strung my war efforts... as well as my failure to ever get enough influence to either finish my Good quest OR to hire slews of heroes (which, as you may recall, was actually my intended plan!).

I can see the comparisons to Twilight, but TI:3 still stands as the much better game in my opinion... but I'd be willing to play Runewars again.

But next time... Epic version, for sure. And someplace with more food for my starving elves!
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Aaron Riggan
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Marx09 wrote:
Also, the fact that I couldn't feed my armies really ham-strung my war efforts...


Precisely why I mention the lesser food for the elves whenever I teach this game. It really makes a much bigger difference than folks realize.
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Marc Q
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Yeah, I can see that... ironically, the Undead across from me were overflowing with food.

I spent some time last night trying to analyze my play, but there wasn't really anything I did "wrong"... one bit of bad timing, sure, but it's not like I lost track of the goal (get Runes, not win wars), nor made any serious tactical blunders... I think if I had played an optimal game, I maybe would have had 4 runes at game end, instead of 3, but that's about it. There just wasn't enough time for me to get much of anything going!

Still, fun game! Gotta try it again!
 
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Kyle Meighan
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When you are the elves its all about influence management and control. I have played only twice with the elves and both times won a landslide victory. I added the influence mod to my stronghold, and I utilized my heros to their maximum, used my armies to spred just far enough to keep my opponents honest and to take cities with the most influence, and then used my influence to win dragon runes and gain neutral allies.

-One Wolf
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Ed Bradley
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One_Wolf wrote:
When you are the elves its all about influence management and control. I have played only twice with the elves and both times won a landslide victory. I added the influence mod to my stronghold, and I utilized my heros to their maximum, used my armies to spred just far enough to keep my opponents honest and to take cities with the most influence, and then used my influence to win dragon runes and gain neutral allies.

-One Wolf


Pouncing on weakly-defended home-realm runes using an all-Pegasus strike force from long range is also somewhat effective

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Scott Lewis
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Fwing wrote:
One_Wolf wrote:
When you are the elves its all about influence management and control. I have played only twice with the elves and both times won a landslide victory. I added the influence mod to my stronghold, and I utilized my heros to their maximum, used my armies to spred just far enough to keep my opponents honest and to take cities with the most influence, and then used my influence to win dragon runes and gain neutral allies.

-One Wolf


Pouncing on weakly-defended home-realm runes using an all-Pegasus strike force from long range is also somewhat effective


Even with Pegasi this can be hard to do, though, since even flying units cannot move through enemy areas. Even weak 1-unit picket lines will block the Pegasi (and Razorwings and Dragons) from attacking your home.
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