Runebound 3rd Edition

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Runebound 3rd Edition

Game Information

Game Name
MSRP $
59.95
Year Published
Fantasy Flight Games

Welcome to Terrinoth, adventurer! Runebound is a fantasy adventure board game for two to four players, inviting you to play as one of six heroes wandering the realm and taking whatever quests you may encounter. But all is not well in the realm: evil is awakening once more in the form of Margath the Dragonlord or the Corpse King, Vorakesh. Only you and your rival heroes stand a chance of stopping this threat before all Terrinoth is consumed in darkness.

Two distinct scenarios give shape to your adventures in Terrinoth, challenging you to battle undead or outwit a dragon, even as you explore lost ruins and forgotten forests and take on quests across the realm. New adventure cards and story cards for each scenario make every game unique, alongside the ability to customize your hero with over one-hundred different skills and assets. Whether you play as a mage bristling with spells or a powerful warrior, every game of Runebound invites you to experience an incomparable adventure. Take your first steps into the world of Terrinoth!

How does Runebound compare to previous versions of the game? Although you may recognize some elements and mechanics, this version of Runebound is a reimagined vision of the game and is incompatible with previous editions.


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"Meaningful Decisions" Murder the Story
Rating 
 
3.0
tl;dr — A solid storytelling/adventure game that's best with 2 players; the token-casting combat system is better than dice. Can end up feeling more mechanical and rushed than evocative, however.

There's something deeply satisfying about taking a whip and an axe to a necromancer.

Say, friend—are you looking for a game with

- expendable sidekicks
- wizard-scalping
- the "Festival of Scabs"
- and a French-kissing ettin?

Well, this is it! I found these things in the box—and more!—and so can you!*

*DISCLAIMER: Specific instances of absurd fantasy tropes may or may not actually be in box and may instead reside in very specific skulls, one of which may or may not be yours. Horrible Black Void where prohibited.



After 10 plays: (5x 2p, 3x 3p, 2x 4p)

Comparison with 2nd Edition.
I am a HUGE Runebound fan—having burned through 1st Edition and collected a complete set of 2nd—and I really like what 3rd is up to. It's an entirely different game, and doesn't supersede or obsolete 2nd in any way. I will continue to play both, for different reasons: 2nd to bask in a fully-realized fantasy adventure world, 3rd to explore the new thing. Comparisons between the two at this point are useless—remember how thin and spare 2nd was when it first came out? 3rd is just a new beginning...

Emergent narrative.
When it comes to games in general I'm most interested in the stories they tell; when it comes to adventure games it's all I care about. I don't give a fig for the systems, mechanics, or underlying math—I just want a good story. My only questions are "Was it fun?" and "Was it memorable?" 3rd nails both, and so far the stories have been fantastic.

Build the character you want.
Everyone I've played this with really enjoys the fact that you can build pretty much any kind of character you want to play. Though each character starts on a path you are not forced down it—you can change it up based on how skills and gear come out. Lord Hawthorne can become a powerful mage even as Master Thorn deviates into a combat monster, leaping from wall to wall lopping off heads... It's cool to hunt for killer combos of abilities/skills/gear—there's a lot of very powerful synergy hidden in the game.

Play time.
Count on at least one hour per player; you can knock 30 minutes off the total if everyone's experienced. This means 2p in 90 minutes (!) but you're still looking down the barrel of 3½ hours for 4p.

Player count.
This is, first and foremost, a story game—and as such it suffers at max player count where there's just too much story to pay attention to. With 2p you have your story and your opponent's story (as well as being engaged in every round of combat, either doing it or running the monster); delightful. With 3p you have two other stories to pay attention to; a stretch, but not unreasonable. With 4p you have three other stories and I find it's just too much story flying around as all the action becomes a mishmash of narrative elements to no good effect. The sweet spot is definitely 2p.

Final analysis.
While I could go into more detail about what I've come to love about this, I won't, for the simple reason that it's a game of exploration and adventure—and that means it's best experienced in person over time rather than laid out for you here. You're going to have to figure out for yourself how to become a hero in this world—how best to prepare for that final fight as the clock ticks down; how to interleave movement toward your next goal with mundane pick-up-and-deliver jobs and exploration quests; how best to utilize and sequence your interactions with the three kinds of encounter decks... and so on. You could sit down, read all the cards, and min-max your way into an empty, soulless win bereft of surprise or novelty—or you could just play, explore the world organically and become that hero through trial and error across many raucous sessions with friends. The resulting stories are the real treasure here.

After 20 plays: Utlimately, this ends up as a third-tier adventure game for me—meaning I would rather play Talisman or Runebound 2nd Ed. instead. There are two key issues: 1) the mass of mechanical processes and 2) the countdown timer, both of which actually make it harder to experience a satisfying adventure. The game's various systems—included here to increase the number "meaningful decisions" and ameliorate any feeling of lack of control—end up working at odds with good storytelling, rather than enhancing it. Often I am left with the soulless sensation of moving cardboard levers in service to math, and find myself struggling to keep my head in the glorious mind-movie I originally sat down to experience. This is a personal failing, and one you might not suffer from, but for me it leeches all the gold from the magic circle. And the countdown timer, a great idea on surface, ends up making the game feel rushed—there's no time to luxuriate in the world, or explore its corners, or take side quests "just because"... In other words, there's no time for adventure. The whole thing feels like a bucket of mechanisms to be rushed through as the clock ticks down.*

*"Balanced" has all the letters in "Bland"—and in the right order, even.

Don't get me wrong—I will still gladly play this, it's just that it's much more of a struggle to find and maintain the narrative thread than in other adventure games. And sometimes I don't want to have to put in the extra work this one requires.
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Egg Shen's Avatar
Egg Shen replied the topic: #207570 31 Jul 2015 12:50
Just saw Dice Tower mention this on their twitter feed. FFG must being doing their annual "In Flight Report". Dice Tower mentions that it is streamlined...innovative and fun. We shall see.

I'm sure it will be announced on FFG's website soon.
Space Ghost's Avatar
Space Ghost replied the topic: #207573 31 Jul 2015 12:56
I have everything for 2nd edition, so it will have to be something spectacular to get me to switch (which I doubt).
Deleted's Avatar
Deleted replied the topic: #207574 31 Jul 2015 13:02
"Streamlined" scares the shit out of me.

I'm with Stan the Man - It would take a huge, spectacular, mind-blowing system to replace the old one in order for me to buy in. I'm like Buddy from the Incredibles...the biggest fan (besides Mr. Frank Skeletor, perhaps).
Deleted's Avatar
Deleted replied the topic: #207575 31 Jul 2015 13:05
This.
ChristopherMD's Avatar
ChristopherMD replied the topic: #207577 31 Jul 2015 13:09
I'm good with my second edition copy. One of my favorite 2-player games.
Egg Shen's Avatar
Egg Shen replied the topic: #207583 31 Jul 2015 13:26
They posted a video on youtube. My main complaint about the google earth-ish board has been fixed. New board looks great for a fantasy adventure game. Movement is still roll and move....combat. Well, combat is, wait for it....token based. Yep, POG combat. OK then. Gonna need to see a rulebook folks! On a positive note they make character development seem pretty open, which could be great. We shall see...we shall see.

Ken B.'s Avatar
Ken B. replied the topic: #207596 31 Jul 2015 14:07
No dice for combat? No buy. Sorry, FFG.

In Fury of Dracula I'm ok with it because the dice system was something that gave a little variance to the rock/paper/scissors system they had going. But tokens for Runebound combat? Get dafuq out of here. I'll keep my second edition, thanks.
Michael Barnes's Avatar
Michael Barnes replied the topic: #207598 31 Jul 2015 14:21
Oh, so the game will no longer be watching other people roll a D20 hundreds of times?
The*Mad*Gamer's Avatar
The*Mad*Gamer replied the topic: #207599 31 Jul 2015 14:22
Funny how the Dice Tower never knocks FFG, hmmmm
Ken B.'s Avatar
Ken B. replied the topic: #207604 31 Jul 2015 15:06

Michael Barnes wrote: Oh, so the game will no longer be watching other people roll a D20 hundreds of times?



Well, now we'll just watch two of the players fiddle and fumble with tokens repeatedly, then consult a chart over and over again. I'm not sure that's better.
Michael Barnes's Avatar
Michael Barnes replied the topic: #207605 31 Jul 2015 15:09
If there were an infomercial for the new Runebound, it would show 2nd edition being played in black and white footage, with the players having an EXTREMELY HARD TIME with rolling the dice and being really frustrated. Then cut to 3rd edition, with everyone flipping tokens or whatever. IN COLOR.

When will these game designers learn that the best combat resolution is punching each other in the face until someone passes out.
Ken B.'s Avatar
Ken B. replied the topic: #207607 31 Jul 2015 15:17

Michael Barnes wrote: If there were an infomercial for the new Runebound, it would show 2nd edition being played in black and white footage, with the players having an EXTREMELY HARD TIME with rolling the dice and being really frustrated. Then cut to 3rd edition, with everyone flipping tokens or whatever. IN COLOR.


Don't forget the red ex and the blaring air horn over the old footage. Also make sure that one of the players angrily blows the bangs out of their face, grimaces and shrugs.
Josh Look's Avatar
Josh Look replied the topic: #207613 31 Jul 2015 15:47
Why is there a Buffalo Wild Wings banner behind the dude at 0:48?

I cannot stand Runebound, nothing about this video really sold me on a new version.
Ken B.'s Avatar
Ken B. replied the topic: #207615 31 Jul 2015 15:57

Josh Look wrote: Why is there a Buffalo Wild Wings banner behind the dude at 0:48?

I cannot stand Runebound, nothing about this video really sold me on a new version.



Well, you can fumble with tokens while you gently jiggle your balls.

Still interested?
Michael Barnes's Avatar
Michael Barnes replied the topic: #207617 31 Jul 2015 16:03
Why are we wasting time on this, where is the Loopin' Chewie coverage.
Josh Look's Avatar
Josh Look replied the topic: #207618 31 Jul 2015 16:05

Ken B. wrote: Well, you can fumble with tokens while you gently jiggle your balls.

Still interested?


Well, when you put it that way...
Space Ghost's Avatar
Space Ghost replied the topic: #207619 31 Jul 2015 16:06

Josh Look wrote: Why is there a Buffalo Wild Wings banner behind the dude at 0:48?

I cannot stand Runebound, nothing about this video really sold me on a new version.


I noticed that too and thought it was weird. The video about put me to sleep....
Egg Shen's Avatar
Egg Shen replied the topic: #207621 31 Jul 2015 16:10
The main thing that struck me about the FFG staff was just how young they all appeared. There ain't nothing wrong with that. But they all came across as these baby faced gamers. None of them seemed comfortable on camera.

I'd much rather see a marketing guy talk about the game than hear from the designers/creators. Rule #1 of any video content....don't be boring.
VonTush's Avatar
VonTush replied the topic: #207624 31 Jul 2015 16:31
They're not tokens...They're two sided dice.

Actually it looks kind of interesting - At least I won't dismiss it out of hand (especially since I sold all my old 2nd stuff in anticipation of 3rd). It reminds me of the way Mr Jack Pocket determines what actions are available for the turn by tossing a handful of two sided dice into the air. At least it looks more engaging than rolling dice, adding modifiers then looking at numbers dozens of times. And quicker than setting up and playing a separate mini-game.

As far as the video goes, well that's just the results of planned marketing. Can't spoil any details because other promotional materials rely on that reveal later.

Rule #2 of any video content is to reveal just enough to allow the fanatics to pause, transcribe and pontificate endlessly on what they see and what they thin it means.
Mr. White's Avatar
Mr. White replied the topic: #207629 31 Jul 2015 16:41
Why are all these (this, the warhammer quest, and the Fod) game promo videos showing dudes in front of computers? These all feel like promos for upcoming videogames.

Is this how games are designed now? Being hip at the computer?

EDIT: I'm not saying there's anything wrong with these dudes, but it feels so...sterile in away. I dunno. I guess I always go back to the GW guys smoking cigarettes and listening to Bolt Thrower albums as the way to put out designs with heart. I'm just getting old I suppose...
Space Ghost's Avatar
Space Ghost replied the topic: #207632 31 Jul 2015 16:42
Will there still be allies? Because that is Rule #1 of Runebound.
VonTush's Avatar
VonTush replied the topic: #207633 31 Jul 2015 16:50
Let's go to the tape!

**scans video***
Results are...Inconclusive.
Space Ghost's Avatar
Space Ghost replied the topic: #207635 31 Jul 2015 16:54
One fear would be getting rid of the allies is a superficial way to really streamline the game; however, I thought that was one of the more strategic parts.
Ken B.'s Avatar
Ken B. replied the topic: #207636 31 Jul 2015 16:56

Space Ghost wrote: One fear would be getting rid of the allies is a superficial way to really streamline the game; however, I thought that was one of the more strategic parts.



Allies always were the biggest thing that gave me the SNES RPG feel from Runebound. There was you, the main character, leading a party of shmoes of varying capabilities. By the time you tanked up at game's end, it was you and your crew versus the world.
Wetworks's Avatar
Wetworks replied the topic: #207653 31 Jul 2015 20:57
If it doesn't solo well I'm out. The only reason I was interested in Runebound 2.0 was that it was one of the better solo adventure games.