SHOPPING GUIDE TO RUNEBOUND (PART 1) - The Basic Expansions

SHOPPING GUIDE TO RUNEBOUND (PART 1) - The Basic Expansions Hot

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One of the most common questions that the new Runebounder asks is “Umm, what expansions do I get?” With the game having 20 something expansions to date, things can get rather confusing for the poor soul who is jumping onto the game now, but fret not, because hopefully this little guide I have written should help you sort them all out.

The problem with the above question is the answer is really "depends on what you are after." In my opinion none of the expansions are terrible – of course I like some more than others, but if my house burned down and I had to replace my Runebound gear, I'd be re-purchasing them all. Therefore instead of writing reviews which would all be variations of "it's good," I'll give a brief description about what you get in each one and hopefully give you enough information to make up your own mind.

While there are many expansions, you can group them all into several different types, and the key to knowing what to get is to work out what type of expansion you are after. This first article will deal with what I call the "basic" expansions, ones that expand the game but don't change it too much.

 

The Base Game: Runebound (2nd Ed)

 

This is the main 'normal' game. Comes with everything you need to play, and none of the expansions are playable without it. The adventure it contains is "Rise of the Dragonlords" where players win by either killing Margath or collecting 3 dragon runes, all of them represented by red gems on the board.

If you want to play Runebound, you basically need this.

 

Market Decks

 

Relics of Legend

Artifacts and Allies

Champions of Kellos

Walkers of the Wild

Rituals and Runes

Weapons of Legend

 

Market decks are small 30 card expansions that give you more equipment to buy. You simply mix them in to the existing market deck and that's it, they will become a permanent fixture in your games. You can use these in conjunction with almost all of the other expansions. Since equipping your hero is the main way to customize them, those looking for more character customizing options should get some of these.

 

Relics of Legend

This contains mainly of a new kind of Artifact called a Banner, with a few Weapons and Allies thrown in for good measure.

There are 6 weapons and 2 armor items (costs 4 -10) which are pretty straightforward in effect.

There are 4 standard relics (cost 3 – 7) with straightforward effects.

There are 12 banners (cost 6) which are a new type of artifact. These are duplicated, with each banner having 2 copies. Banners allow you to put tokens on them when you fulfill certain conditions, and you can later spend those tokens for some benefit.  Many of the banners involve PvP, most are fairly useless with a couple being overpowered. Overall these are the weakest aspect of this deck.

There are 6 Allies (cost 8) which are all animals. Though expensive they are all quite good.

Overall the banners drag this deck down, and make it one of the weaker market decks in my opinion.

 

Artifacts and Allies

As the name suggests this deck contains artifacts and allies, with some allies being of a new type – familiars.

There are 16 artifacts (cost 1 – 10) but a whopping 8 of those are duplicates. Most of the artifacts tend to be fairly cheap, but they tend to be a bit crappy. Almost all of them attempt to put more 'player interaction' in the game, but it is quite a ham fisted attempt that never really works. Others try and put adventure deck manipulation into the game, but they seem more hassle then they are worth. Overall most of these are rather skip-able.

There are 8 normal allies (cost 3 – 9). 2 specialize in PvP, the rest have various funky effects. Overall they are quite good and the strongest element of this expansion.

There are 6 special allies called familiars (cost 3 – 8). You may hire 1 familiar without it counting towards your ally limit. Familiars have crappy combat stats, but have other effects that make up for it, such as taking wounds for your hero or stealing items. They are cool but far from essential.

Overall the less than stellar artifacts, which make bit of a mess of the Runebound rules, make this the weakest of all the market decks.

 

Champions of Kellos

The 'gimmic' with this deck is that some items take up 2 slots rather than just one, for example the "Sword and Shield" takes up both a weapon slot and an armor slot for your character. These items are therefore less flexible when it comes to building killer combinations for your characters with the benefit of being cheaper, so they are great for early and mid level characters.

There are 10 weapons and armor cards (cost 4 -10). 2 are duplicates. Many of these have several different ways of using them making them a little more complicated then the standard item.

There is one rune and 7 artifact cards (cost 2 – 12, 1 duplicate). Most are fairly cheap and useful.

There are a whopping 12 allies (cost 1 - 10) the majority of which only cost a handful of gold. They all have funky abilities and make great cannon fodder.

Overall this is a fantastic deck to start with, great cards which tend to be cheaper stuff which is of great help to the low and mid level hero.

 

Walkers of the Wild

Has a very similar presentation to Champions of Kellos with the same 'gimmic'. Again it concentraits on lower cost stuff, with the items being slightly cheaper than those found in Kellos while the allies are slightly more expensive.

There are 11 weapon and armor cards (cost 1 – 7, 2 duplicates) with the majority costing less than 5 gold. Ideal for starting characters.

There is 1 rune and 6 artifact cards (cost 1 – 11, 1 duplicate), with only 2 of these cards costing 5 gold.

There are 12 allies (cost 1 -10). Most are cheap but there are a few higher powered more expensive ones for the richer characters to buy.

Like Kellos this is a great deck to start with, lots of cool items which players can afford from the very start of the game.

 

Rituals and Runes

This is an odd market deck as it contains only Runes (which have been a little neglected in expansions up until now) and rituals, a new kind of item.

There are 10 runes (cost 3 – 10) in the deck. If you want more runes in the game, look no further.

There are 20 rituals (cost 1 -12). Rituals are a new kind of item, they have many and varied effects, but the catch is you have to spend movement dice to 'charge them up' before you can use them, which may take a while. It's a fun system and some of these cards are very powerful.

Overall this is a fantastic deck recommended for people who feel like adding a new wrinkle into their Runebound games.

 

Weapons of Legend

This is a pretty standard market deck whose focus is on higher cost items.

There are 9 weapon and armor cards (cost 4 -15). Some of these take up 2 slots (see Champions of Kellos.) These are great items which may require heroes to sell their mothers.

There are 3 artifacts (cost 7-8), useful but not cheap.

There are 12 allies (cost 1 – 12). Most tend to be on the more powerful and more expensive side.

There are 6 Equipping Allies (cost 2 – 12) which is a new kind of card which, when brought can either be taken as an ally with no abilities or taken as an item. Overall I found these a bit lackluster.

Apart from the Equipping Allies this deck is recommended for those who want more powerful items and allies.

 

Adventure Decks

Terrors of the Tomb

The Dark Forrest

Drakes and Dragonspawn

Shadows of Margath

Traps and Terrors

Beasts and Bandits

Adventure decks simply add in more adventure cards for you to encounter, and you shuffle them into your existing adventure decks. These are obviously for those who are tired of encountering the same monsters every game and want more variety. Like Market decks these are a permanent fixture in your games. They can be used with all small deck expansions but NOT the big boxed expansions which replace the normal adventure decks you use including any of these expansion adventure decks.

 

Terrors of the Tombs

This deck has an undead theme, and is of a standard difficulty.

There are 12 Green Cards – 4 Encounters, 8 Challenges.

There are 8 Yellow Cards – 3 Encounters, 5 Challenges.

There are 8 Blue Cards – 2 Encounters, 6 Challenges.

There are 2 Red cards – both challenges related to the 'rise of the dragon lords' adventure.

Note that there are no Events in this deck, so mixing this deck in dilutes the chance of counter refreshes occurring on the board. This deck uses skill checks more heavily then those in the base game, and adds a slight bit more player interaction.

 

The Dark Forrest

This deck has a corrupted nature theme, and is of standard difficulty.

There are 12 Green Cards – 4 Encounters, 8 Challenges.

There are 9 Yellow Cards – 3 Encounters, 6 Challenges.

There are 7 Blue Cards – 2 Encounters, 5 Challenges.

There are 2 Red cards – both challenges related to the 'rise of the dragon lords' adventure.

Note that there are no Events in this deck, so mixing this deck in dilutes the chance of counter refreshes occurring on the board. Like Terrors of the Tomb this deck uses skill checks more heavily then those in the base game, and adds a slight bit more player interaction. 

 

Drakes and Dragonspawn

This deck has a dragon theme, as the name implies.

There are 12 Green Cards – 2 Events, 2 Encounters, 8 Challenges.

There are 9 Yellow Cards – 2 Events, 2 Encounters, 5 Challenges.

There are 6 Blue Cards – 1 Event, 1 Encounter, 4 Challenges.

There are 3 Red cards – 1 Encounter and 2 Challenges, all related to the 'rise of the dragon lords' adventure.

This deck adds a bit of history to the Runebound universe, so those interested in such a thing will enjoy this deck. Overall it is tougher then the standard adventure deck, so good for those after harder encounters.

 

Shadow of Margath

This deck has no real theme, but delivers many 'classical' monsters like vampires, mummies and werewolves.

There are 12 Green Cards – 2 Events, 2 Encounters, 8 Challenges.

There are 9 Yellow Cards – 2 Events, 2 Encounters, 5 Challenges.

There are 7 Blue Cards – 1 Event, 2 Encounters, 4 Challenges.

There are 3 Red cards – 1 Encounter and 2 Challenges, all related to the 'rise of the dragon lords' adventure.

This deck has a slight emphasis on causing nasty effects on other players. Apart from that it has the 'easiest' challenges of all the expansion decks.

 

Traps and Treasure

The theme of this deck is traps, as you no doubt guessed!

There are 12 Green Cards – 2 Events, 2 Encounters, 8 Challenges.

There are 10 Yellow Cards – 2 Events, 2 Encounters, 6 Challenges.

There are 6 Blue Cards – 1 Event, 1 Encounter, 5 Challenges.

There is 1 Red cards – 1 Encounter that is related to the 'rise of the dragon lords' adventure.

This deck above all others utilizes skill checks and involves weird effects. A great deck of standard difficulty for those looking for encounters that are quite different.

 

Beasts and Bandits

The theme of this deck is thieves and money, be it making it or more often than not losing it!

There are 12 Green Cards – 2 Events, 2 Encounters, 8 Challenges.

There are 10 Yellow Cards – 2 Events, 2 Encounters, 6 Challenges.

There are 6 Blue Cards – 1 Event, 1 Encounter, 5 Challenges.

There is 1 Red cards – 1 Encounter that is related to the 'rise of the dragon lords' adventure.

If you want to make your games harder this is the adventure deck to mix in, as it's probably the hardest one released to date.

 

For more information on other Runebound expansions:

SHOPPING GUIDE TO RUNEBOUND (PART 2) - Miscellaneous - Part 2 deals with Miscellaneous – or unusual – expansions.

SHOPPING GUIDE TO RUNEBOUND (PART 3) - Adventure Variants - Part 3 deals with Adventure Variants.

SHOPPING GUIDE TO RUNEBOUND (PART 4) - Big Boxed Expansions - Part 4 deals with the Big Boxed expansions.

 

SHOPPING GUIDE TO RUNEBOUND (PART 1) - The Basic Expansions There Will Be Games

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For more information, reviews and articles on Runebound: Second Edition click here
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Posted: 29 Oct 2015 17:05 by Frohike #213709
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I know Mr Skeletor has deserted these parts, but the legacy of this article lives on. I'm picking up Runebound 2nd ed stuff on a lark and noticed this article had some broken links, etc. So I'll fix 'er up a little, if no one minds.
Posted: 29 Oct 2015 17:39 by jason10mm #213714
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Aside from the Midnight box and (I think) 1 class deck, I have everything for this game, so if anyone has any questions I might be able to answer them. I've not opened or played anywhere near all of it, been saving it for my kid when he can play :)
Posted: 29 Oct 2015 17:49 by Frohike #213715
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Cool, I might have questions for you in the future. I just picked up the base set in a BGG auction and Sands of Al-Kalim on eBay (ouch). I'm not sure I'll be getting any of the other "big box" expansions anytime soon but I'll probably pick up the small packs regularly for awhile.
Posted: 29 Oct 2015 18:04 by stoic #213716
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So, does this mean a "NO" to the upcoming Runebound (3rd edition) with its diceless token flip combat mechanism? Are people dumping the second edition and expansions in anticipation of this upcoming new one?
Posted: 29 Oct 2015 18:09 by Frohike #213717
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I'm basically flipping the bird to third edition. But it might turn out fine... in which case I'll pick it up eventually. I've just learned my lesson when it comes to FFG "streamlining" things, particularly in the case of Descent 1st edition. I'm glad I kept all of that stuff.
Posted: 29 Oct 2015 21:54 by jason10mm #213735
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There was a point right before third edition was announced where a full package of RB2 was going for quite a bit of money. Once they announced the new combat mechanic I think prices went UP even more! I've not checked recently to see where the prices are at but it was tempting to sell as who knows if the kid will care for these old ass boardgames. Of course that logic applies to nearly every game I own....
Posted: 29 Oct 2015 22:44 by SuperflyTNT #213739
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There's a 0.00000001% chance I will ever go Full Runebound (3). They got me for at least half a grand on the 2nd edition. It's a great game, and the token flip "mechanic" (read: flip a coin! It's a hoot!!) can bite the big one.
Posted: 29 Oct 2015 23:13 by Frohike #213740
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jason10mm wrote:
[...] it was tempting to sell as who knows if the kid will care for these old ass boardgames. Of course that logic applies to nearly every game I own....

Protip: play it with them early and let nostalgia do its thing. My kid started playing Descent first edition when he was 7 or 8. We'd set up scenarios and play them for a couple of days or chip away at our Road to Legend campaign. He would even solo stuff during summer break and it sort of became his toy for awhile. He eventually stopped playing but was livid at the changes in Descent second edition; we sold that one but he didn't go back to first edition for quite a long time either. I kept it around since I didn't have much else in the genre. Then he saw me take it down to re-arrange some games after a big set of trades and he told me flat out to "never sell or trade this game... ever" then set up a scenario that weekend ;) He's 12 now and is starting to understand the cult of the old, I think. Or rather that revised editions can often be bullshit. Of course the nostalgia works too.
Posted: 30 Oct 2015 06:24 by the_jake_1973 #213745
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I would love to score a copy of Midnight to complete my RB2 collection. Plus I would have more characters to port to DungeonQuest. I have a feeling that the price commanded for the Midnight box will forever be too expensive. Like trying to get a copy of Avalon Hill's B-17 Flying Fortress game.
Posted: 30 Oct 2015 06:29 by Mad Dog #213748
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How do you port RB characters to DungeonQuest?
Posted: 30 Oct 2015 08:58 by the_jake_1973 #213757
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Here is a link to my Google Drive location with the character files:
DQ Characters

Enjoy
Posted: 30 Oct 2015 09:15 by Jackwraith #213759
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I have everything for 2nd Ed. except Midnight and have played all of it extensively, so I'm also available for opinions/questions. The fact that I still own (and even occasionally play) all of that is also why I'm passing on 3rd Ed. I'm happy with the game as is, even with its rough patches. We usually use the market rules developed on BGG (Go to the bazaar where you randomly draw three things and can buy or ignore them or go to a specific merchant where you have to buy something.) Our favorite big adventure is probably Sands of Al-Kalim, but there are really good things to be said about Frozen Wastes and Mists of Zanaga, too (including heroes that never made it into Descent on the latter for some reason.) Favorite small expansions is either Cult of the Rune or Scepter of Kyros, as the endgames in both are more interesting than the base set. Here's a class deck review I wrote on BGG almost 9(!) years ago: www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/142649/comp...ve-class-deck-review (Octavian basically dared me.)
Posted: 30 Oct 2015 10:10 by SuperflyTNT #213762
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Honestly, I don't get the hubub about Midnight. As an expansion, it's not all that shit hot and really changes the game into a 1vsMany game. Not Runeboundy at all, really.

Al Kalim is good but I think the Mists big box. Island of Dread is cool too. The best of all the small ones is Cataclysm, IMO.
Posted: 30 Oct 2015 10:20 by Frohike #213764
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Just traded some stuff for Frozen Wastes. I'm on the lookout for Island of Dread & Mists of Zanaga but I don't think I'll ever pick up Midnight. Too scarce & expensive.
Posted: 30 Oct 2015 10:20 by mads b. #213765
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I love Runebound 2nd and have played it a lot, especially as a solo game. But I'm definitely gonna get 3rd edition also - it looks to be a shorter and more focused game than 2nd ed which could get really long.
Posted: 30 Oct 2015 10:34 by Frohike #213766
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Since I'll mostly solo or duo the game and park it overnight like we do with Descent first ed, I don't mind that aspect. In fact, I'm not sure that I want a shorter game, but I'll have to confirm that once I've played it a bit.
Posted: 30 Oct 2015 10:39 by mads b. #213767
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Runebound 2nd is a long game when you play with more than two people - very long. Also, while I actually like the combat system, it's easy to zone out when another player is fighting. It's usually something in the line of somebody saying a target number, but you don't really know why it's that number or what will happen if she fails the roll. So while flipping tokens could make for a more slow combat system, I like that it's easy to see what's going on and that it involves more than one player.