SHOPPING GUIDE TO RUNEBOUND (PART 4) - Big Boxed Expansions

SHOPPING GUIDE TO RUNEBOUND (PART 4) - Big Boxed Expansions Hot

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Runebound: Island of Dread

While most of Runebound's many expansions come as a small deck of cards, Runebound also has a number of more traditional 'big boxed' expansions as well, which come with lots more cards, miniatures, tokens and board overlays.

In this final part we will take a look at these.

Boxed Expansions

The Island of Dread

Midnight

Sands of Al-Kalim

 

Runebound Big Boxed expansions are essentially the same as Adventure Variants (see part 3) but much larger in scope. Whereas adventure variants throw in a few new cards and maybe a couple of tokens the big boxed expansions replace nearly everything, including a new board to traverse on and entire new themed adventure decks to replace your current ones with.

This means that oddly enough despite getting the most amountof stuff in these expansions, the vast majority of it is only used for that particular adventure and that's it – you never leave all of the expansions mixed in together for an epic game like you do with Arkham Horror or Talisman. Below I separate what parts can be used as permanent fixtures for your Runebound games if you so wish.

The only expansions that are really compatible with the Big Boxed expansions are Market Decks and the Class Decks – and even then there are exceptions. Like Adventure Variants parts that are not permanent fixtures have different card backs and are not shuffled in with base game cards so changing expansions is a quick and painless exercise.

 

 

The Island of Dread

 8 new heroes (permanent fixture)

11 Market Cards (permanent fixture)

77 Adventure cards in 5 different colors

14 Captain Cards

A bunch of new counters and tiles

A board overlay depicting 5 islands and their surrounding sea. This replaces the existing board.

 

In The Island of Dread, a twisted God called Torue Albes has risen from the sea and it is the adventurers job to find the Isle of Dread and kill him.

 

The 8 new heroes who come with the game will be familiar to those of you who own Descent, and are pretty stock standard. The only exception is Trenloe the Strong whose special ability allows him to level up quicker, making him the most (and arguably only) overpowered figure yet released for thegame. If it's a real problem you can leave him out easily enough, the rest fitin well enough that you can use them for any of your Runebound games from now on. The market cards too are pretty stock standard, and seem to be designed to be mixed into the market deck and left in their permanently.

The adventure cards replace the ones you normally use and contain challenges and encounters with an Island-y theme, such as orc pirates and marsh monsters. There are no blue jewels so players are forced to grind longer on yellow before moving up to red.

The main difference between Isle and standard Runebound is that players will have to travel the seas to go between Islands; this is done by hiring a Captain at a town, which is basically like a temporary special Ally. If you have a Captain you may then move across the board via shipping channels, but the sea is a dangerous place so you will be forced to draw blue adventure cards as you move along the channel. The blue cards rangein difficulty from simple to difficult, so traversing the sea is a gamble. You can also discover Legendary Items in the seas, however, which are one use power boosts.

When a player is ready he can attempt to win the game by heading to the Isle of dread. Here he continuously draws and resolveschallenges from a special silver deck until he gets to Assif Shib-Sa whom he must defeat to win the game. While Assif is easier to find than Margath, he is much harder to defeat.

Island of Dread is basically a longer, harder adventure for Runebound which introduces some new mechanics but keeps the game play similar.

Recommended for those who feel like upping the difficulty or want a new bunch of heroes to play with.

 

 

Midnight

8 new heroes (permanent fixture)

52 Market Cards (can be a permanent fixture but notrecommended)

72 Adventure cards

4 Night King tiles

A bunch of new counters and tiles

A board overlay depicting the harsh Midnight world. This replaces the existing board.

Unusual in that this is the only expansion not set in Terrinoth (instead, it's set in the Midnight RPG setting) this expansion is byfar the most ambitious expansion Runebound has had to date, changing the game nearly completely. Rather than each player racing to be the first to completethe adventure, in Midnight one player assumes the role of the bad guy (called the Night King) with the other players being the rebels who work work co-operatively. In this way the game becomes more like Descent, with one player vs the rest.

The heroes are useable in standard Runebound but tend to be slightly weaker than normal, most doing less damage. It's also interesting to note these are the only Runebound heroes to not crossover into Descent. The Market Cards share the same card back as the market cards in the base game so they can be mixed together, but their costing seems different to all the other market decks available, so I wouldn't recommend doing so. Indeed, when playing Midnight you can only buy from the new market decks, not the old. This adventure is not compatible with any other expansion.

The heroes' objective is to journey to the different strongholds of the Night King and destroy a certain number of black mirrors (which are guarded by red challenges.) They only have a limited amount of time to complete there quest, otherwise the Night King Player wins.

There is a whole host of new mechanics for the Night King player, who doesn't actually get a figure but rather influences the game in a role similar to that of a DM, sending patrols out to move along the board trying to catch the heroes, buying upgrades for his challenges and so forth. The game comes with 4 different Night Kings whom all have different powers for added replay ability.

The heroes also get new mechanics – movement has totally changed, with heroes being able to move into whatever space they like, instead rolling dice to conduct healing or find a town to barter at (towns tend to be too dangerous to buy goods at as players need to sneak into them or be discovered.) Heroes can create Covenant Items, which are customizable items stacking market cards. They don't get Allies (not enough heroic people in Midnight!) and when assaulting strongholds they may take on Challenges together.

 As you can see there is a lot of new stuff in this expansion, almost turning it into an entirely new game completely. Unfortunately its ambition does not quite match it's execution, and this expansion suffers from some problems, mainly that by default it is simply too hard for the heroes to win, and secondly that the Night King role is rather boring to play – so boring in fact that I developed rules to 'automate' that player, which is what started me on my solo rules. I'm still very glad I own this, but I'd have top recommend the other expansions over this one – it's for Runebound fanatics only.

Note that this is out of print, and will most likely stay that way.

 

Sands of Al-Kalim

6 new heroes (permanent fixture)

56 Adventure cards

25 Quest Cards

23 Ally cards

A bunch of new counters and tiles

A board overlay depicting a desert kingdom. This replaces the existing board.

 Disclaimer: I was a playtester for Sands of Al-Kalim

As the name suggests, Sands of Al-Kalim contains an Arabian nights flavor, with the heroes traversing the dessert in order to be the first to complete four Legendary Adventures and become a legend.

The 6 new heroes are the only things that can be added permanently to your Runebound games, so those looking for permanent fixtures may besome what disappointed.

Sands of Al-Kalim has less emphasis on combat then the other expansions, and more on movement and trials. Players collect quests as they play, and the first to complete 4 (there are 25 in total) is the winner. In addition each time a hero completes a quest he gains a 'legendary item' which will help him from then onwards. Quests range from delivering items across the board (including a rather stubborn elephant), fighting monsters at certain areas ofthe board and completing feats of daring. Heroes therefore have to split theirtime between completing quests and leveling up as normal.

The adventure cards all have an Arabian theme, and the game also comes with it's own set of allies which replace any you draw from the market deck – these too having a Middle Eastern theme.

The terrain in the desert is different to that on the normal Runebound board, so moving is a slower affair here. Players also must choose if they are traveling during the day or night – if during the day players risk getting sunstroke, costing them precious fatigue. On the other hand most monsters are stronger at night and there is a chance you may get ambushed.

Other new mechanics include a sandstorm that rolls acrossthe board, Survival gear that you can purchase and a 'story phase' where players roll a movement die to see what events happen – it could be they find some gold or healing, or perhaps a legendary lost city is discovered.

Sands of Al-Kalim can suffer from bit of an anticlimactic ending –there is no big bad guy or anything to fight at the end, but it more than makes up for that with the fun you have with the adventure along the way. In fact Sands of Al-Kalim is pretty much regarded as one of the best adventure released to date for the system which plays a little shorter than the normal Runebound game, and I pretty highly recommend it for all.

For more information on other Runebound expansions:

SHOPPING GUIDE TO RUNEBOUND (PART 1) - The Basic Expansions  - Part 1 deals with the basic 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 There Will Be Games

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For more information, reviews and articles on Runebound: Second Edition click here
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