Fantasy Flight Games really wants to tap into the D&D market. So much so that their own version of it (the lands of Terrinoth) has multiple gaming systems out now to really try expand the lore, values and feel for this land.
What is it?
Runebound plays more like an choose your own adventure with large decisions to make based loosely off what your dice rolls predict your best manoeuvre will be that turn.
What do you get?
Runebound is good value for some very high quality content, excellent artwork, nice plastic miniatures, dice and of course a FFG favourite, stacks of cards.
How does it work?
The rules are really well laid out making for faster gameplay when it counts. Combat in this edition is done through double sided counters, normally a 50% chance then of having very different results. As you go through the game obtaining items or levelling up you gain more encounters to take on the final boss. Each player begins as a unique character and the objective is known to everyone. For the most part, the winner is normally determined as the player that takes down the boss first although multiple variants of the game exist to change this as you see fit.
Is it any good?
Runebound is a very tidy game for what it attempts to do. Having characters with options to buy items in several market places, quest for glory through unique game points or simply do their own thing and hope for the best, it’s a strange affair because luck is a huge element in Runebound. Not only with rolling dice hoping you can move to the desired location or combat swings your way, but items, enemies and events to all work in your favour. In a sense, this game feels very real in that you are a passenger in the world and you move through it.
Runebound is a real ambitious attempt to create a bigger story around you. It largely succeeds in that too, where it is let down the most is perhaps in its pacing at various intervals. Combat is relatively quick but it’s not that exciting most of the time. It’s funny when the monsters win but then, there isn’t a real feeling of peril to that as you just lose some actions which are perhaps cheap. We got the impression that FFG didn’t quite know how to handle a lost fight in this game as it would seem a bit of a waste of time if you went out right away and then you don’t want it to be too easy either.
Gaining the tokens is fine and an understandable mechanic but it gets a little fidgety in the bigger fights. The best part of Runebound is how the events work. Cleverly creating a unique experience depending on the boss, they control the overall type of events that will come into play each turn. There is something very fun about revealing each quest too. Shopping has never felt so much fun either.
The action points you get in Runebound feels appropriate and there is a lot of merit there.
One issue we have with Runebound is replayability. Once you complete a mission it wouldn’t feel right to do it again. In total there about 8 missions and that includes the expansions. There should have been more there for starters.
As a multiplayer game, it probably works best with 2 but there is a theory that 4 should be really good fun but it adds hours onto the gameplay. There is a solo mode to it too but it’s passable as the game wasn’t intended that way, just merely adapted it.
Runebound despite its flaws is a very good game. It’s very solid with a lot of its design decisions and going forward to a 5th edition it would be nice to see an improved combat system and just streamline the game a little more. The best parts are the random card draws and the movement. Everything else could be improved just a little. Of course, we’re just trying to suggest how this could have been an amazing game rather than a great one.