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Subject: Epic Epicness of Epic Proportions rss

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David Dixon
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Mauldin
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I will assume, for the moment, since you are here in this forum, and since you have clicked on this review with its admittedly ludicrous title, that you seek a truly epic game, a game in which the celebrations of the victor are drowned out by the cries of his opponents as he sells their vanquished families into slavery, sacks their temples, pulls down their monuments, lays waste to the countryside, puts their cities to the torch and their populations to the sword, and sows the land with salt--and not, say, a tightly focused Euro with elegant deterministic mechanics simulating the 18th Century Dutch trade in carpets and spices, or a light filler to play between games of something else.

No, folks, this game is The Main Event wherever it happens to be played--it takes up multiple tables, has the requisite Fantasy Flight level of chits, cards, cards to keep up with chits, and chits to mark other chits keeping up with cards. This game is long, and full of wild swings of fortune, and mountains of plastic. This game has something going on at all times, and a lot of it.

If you're looking for epic, this is that game.

Let me run down a list of things that can and will happen in a game of Runewars:

Daemonic armies making use of hidden goblin tunnels underneath a mountain range to emerge and take unawares an elvish force plotting that very demon host's destruction? Check.

Shambling hordes of undead making use of secret paths through enchanted forests to emerge unlooked-for in the Empire's rear areas, only to be blunted by a sacred alliance of the Empire and wild giants? Check.

Massive eagle-riding humans clashing with elves on winged horses? Yup.

Undead sorcerers reanimating fallen corpses to power their unholy army in battle? Uh huh.

Your opponents laughing with glee as your desperate armies starve to death in winter while they look haughtily at you from the walls of the cities they wrested from your grip? Definitely.

Your opponent's army fleeing in fear as your Chaos Lord drives their numerically superior forces from the field? Yep, that'll happen too.

Building strongholds? Your victorious forces setting alight opponent's fortresses? Destroying cities? Oh yeah, got that as well.

Taking advantage of the winter's frost to march your army of Giants, sorcerers, and elvish warriors across a frozen winter to strike their way into your opponents metal-rich mining territories? You got it.

Heroes questing deep into opponent's territory in search of relics of unimaginable power? Every game.

Those same heroes barely escaping with their lives out of some godforsaken dungeon with said relic only to be set upon and murdered by someone else's greedy adventurer? *Nods*

Your forces heroically rallying to stay on the field, despite just being driven to the brink of destruction? Oh, yeah.

You want to scheme and bluff your opponents for control of the powerful Wizard's Guild? No problem, go ahead.

You want to toy with your opponents by dangling what appears to be a scared dragon rune before them, only to have them commit their army and discover the rune you held before them was a ruse to get them to commit so that your skillfully negotiated alliance with your opponent's former ally can come into play as the undead hordes pour into his homelands? In spades.

You want dragons? Giants? Demonic hounds of hell? Giant bat-like creatures that instill fear in all who face them? Siege towers? Chaos lords? Demon blades, frost axes, and magical armor? Bribed allies? Yup.

If you're looking for that sort of game, this is where to find it.

In my mind, it's the best blend of the "Holy shit I this game has everything" from Twilight Imperium (minus the, "My God, is it still his turn--I think I'll read a book), the cruel and unforgiving supply system and excellent influence bidding from A Game of Thrones (but slightly more predictable), the awesome feeling of raising armies from Starcraft (without the "who the hell thought this was a good combat mechanic?" cardplay), all wrapped up with some tight role selection decisions that actually make gameplay somewhat true-to-life (or as true-to-life as epic fantasy can be) by rewarding you for fighting early in the year and harvesting and building and fortifying as the year goes on (but you can still do things out of order if you want).

If you sit down to play this one, know with all that epictude comes lots of pieces, as discussed above, know that for every rule in this game, there is a card that offers an exception to that rule. Then, further accept that your opponent may be holding that card at a most inopportune time or for you and that your opponent may have wound up with that card out of sheer dumb luck.

Accept the fact that when you've got your opponent on the ropes, he may in what seems to be one of those Robert Jordan-scripted "well, that's pretty damn fortuitous, don't you think?" moments, successfully recruit four or five giants and a dragon and come screaming out of the hills at you, thus upsetting your best-laid plans for his destruction.

When that happens and you want to curse your luck, remember, though, that you pushed those dragons and giants there in the first place, earlier in the game, in an attempt to hem him in.

That said, if you're still reading this review, you're probably pretty comfortable with that sort of thing.

Don't get me wrong, it isn't that the game doesn't reward planning--because it does. As an example, take my last game. It was a loss; my initial response was to, as my opponent did, blame it on one very fortuitous cardplay. However, as I thought about the game a few hours later (because it's that kind of game), I realized that while I did have a very bad spot of bad luck at that moment, it needn't have ended my empire's hopes.

Why didn't I go ahead and divert some resources in securing more mines, like my opponent did, so that I could ramp up and build the most terrifying units in my army? If I would have done so, then him recruiting those giants wouldn't have been such a big deal because I could have killed them. Why didn't I seize control of the Wizards Guild from him earlier when I could have, that way he wouldn't have had all the influence he needed to recruit those giants in the first place? Why didn't I try to recruit those giants too? After all, they bordered my territory as well.

I say all that to say that yes, Lady Luck does play a large role in the game, but she definitely doesn't have the only speaking part. The game rewards your ability to manage your luck, and insulate your forces and plans against your opponent's luck.

If you're looking for an epic game that, in my mind, is pound for pound (pun intended) better than Twilight Imperium, the oft-praised gold standard in epicticity, this is it.

More importantly, it is an absolute blast to play, win or lose, and will inspire the kind of "remember that time" gaming moments that we play these epic games for anyway.

Diis





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John Di Ponio
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Great review David! I totally agree with you on this one. It's one of my favorite games to get to the table and play.
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David Bohnenberger
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You had me at the title!
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Scott M.
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Love Runewars...the game rocks.devil
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David F
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Luck in games, in measured doses, is the catalyst which enables shocking game-changers that you'll remember and talk about forever.
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Spot-on! Especially with this:

Diis wrote:
In my mind, it's the best blend of the "Holy shit I this game has everything" from Twilight Imperium (minus the, "My God, is it still his turn--I think I'll read a book), the cruel and unforgiving supply system and excellent influence bidding from A Game of Thrones (but slightly more predictable), the awesome feeling of raising armies from Starcraft (without the "who the hell thought this was a good combat mechanic?" cardplay), all wrapped up with some tight role selection decisions that actually make gameplay somewhat true-to-life (or as true-to-life as epic fantasy can be) by rewarding you for fighting early in the year and harvesting and building and fortifying as the year goes on (but you can still do things out of order if you want).


There are some little complaints I have from time to time, like how fiddly the Fate deck is, how lame questing can often be etc, but, every time, I just rub my eyes and look at the board (or think to myself after the game), think of EPIC-ness and I'm good.
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Chris Walkley
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This game had drifted off my want list. You just put it back on again!
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Terence Lee
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cdwalkley wrote:
This game had drifted off my want list. You just put it back on again!


Seriously, back on my list as well after that well written review!!
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Thel Schuhart
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Two things...

I love Runewars. It is still my "Game" that I always want to play.

I liked the combat card mechanic in STARCRAFT!!!!

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Ryan R
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Great. Now I have to get this in the queue. After I get War of the Ring (First Edition) played and off the table.
 
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Arkard
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I like the game more every time I play it .. (with the expansion of course ) and that's saying something as I thought it was pretty fantastic from the start!
 
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Colin Houghton
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OOohhh... what to buy?? I was going to get Battles of Westeros (love GoT) and then I thought nooo... Mage Knights looks better- then saw this review... Oh dear what to I do? I can't afford all three!

I suppose I should assess and compare what my fave games of all time are, and whether Runewars will fit the Bill.

They are: War is Hell:Stalingrad (superb game mechanics)
Call of Cthulhu LCG (but too many cards!!)
Arkham Horror (honeydrips theme, but too damn long)
Warrior Knights (perfect)
Elder sign: (bit light if you love HP Lovecraft and too much die-rolling)
Band of Brothers (fine antidote to ASL)
SmallWorld (but it just go to be a monster- too many factions, variations blah blah)

I did have Runebound, and quite liked that... but that was single character and not... epicy enough!

At the moment I think Runewars has the edge as it seems to have so much in it.

I will probably play solo and two player, occasionally three player. Is that good?

How about replayability?

Thanks for the review and thread contributions- I always find BGG has great think-fodder for would-be-purchasers like me!


 
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James Gambrell
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"and then I thought nooo... Mage Knights looks better-"

Don't waste your money on Mage Knight, its a pointlessly complex bore.
 
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Eddie
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Paladin165 wrote:
"and then I thought nooo... Mage Knights looks better-"

Don't waste your money on Mage Knight, its a pointlessly complex bore.


angry MK boring? Far from it... and it has no complexity it doesn't need imho. You can truly play the game after a few games never referring back to the rulebook except for some advanced card effects interacting (look, Thunderstone has more "complexity" actually once you're playing, IMHO).

That being said from what I saw above... Chou4555 might want to try out MK, since I saw Elder Signs/AH , but if AH is considered long, well, MK is similar...
 
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Calavera Despierta
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Tucson
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mike m
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in other words, "mambo muerto"?

but i don't consider this thread that old, really.
 
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