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Episode 73 - Double Time

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Bugs: Recent Topics Paging, Uploading Images & Preview (11 Dec 2020)

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From the Depths: Runewars

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10 May 2021 00:00 #322996 by Jackwraith
How can I do a From the Depths when the...

A Fantasy Flight Games classic that had good and questionable things to present about the DoaM/4X genre.

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10 May 2021 10:29 #322997 by Msample
Replied by Msample on topic From the Depths: Runewars
Great write up. Have not played this in a very very long time, but still kept my copy. I think the expansion really helped integrate the heroes better.
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10 May 2021 10:56 #323000 by Jackwraith
Thanks. Yeah, I agree that the main step forward with the expansion was making the heroes seem like an actual part of the game, rather than something that was added on because "Runebound." I think a couple of the added units helped shore up gaps in a couple factions (Leonx, Blood Sisters) or at least give them other strategies to take aside from the glaringly obvious ones. But it was still mostly about the heroes stuff and the alternations to the endgame.
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10 May 2021 13:45 #323006 by southernman
Crikey, I'll need to finish your article later - so much good stuff to read and think about.
But this is a favourite game of mine and my group loves playing it when it hits the table, and it doesn't sit by itself in my shelves - TI3 keeps it company (and Tide of Iron looks down on it from one shelf above).
It is a magnificently designed game - the Season cards, the unit initiatives for battles, the card combat, the Neutral units you can try and recruit or have to fight, down to the Resources shown on dials on your player boards that also then determined what units you could recruit. Even the Heroes can just as easily be regarded as a alternative strategy option, and as for the length of the game well the simple answer is just to reduce the number of Shards to collect and/or how many years to play for.
Again, those Season cards were brilliant.
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10 May 2021 14:21 #323011 by mads b.
Replied by mads b. on topic From the Depths: Runewars
The season cards were nice, but the greatest innovation was the ressource dials. Basically your dials tracked how many wood, food, and ore you had, and each level on a dial would unlock cards, influence or units. But the thing was when producing units, you would only get them from two of the dials. This meant that you still had a choice in what to produce and how to build your army, but production was swift and didn't require a lot of counting which is always a huge source of downtime in games such as TI.

I don't recall that the heroes made the game faster. It always felt like questing was cool, but also something that took a lot of time. But we also constantly tried to house rule ways to add more runes to the board in order to actually contest the middle of the map. But while playing the game was a lot of fun, we never really had a cool finish.

One thing I did hate about the game though was setup. Setting up a reasonably interesting and/or balanced board was a pain, and I always felt like the game would have been better with a couple of pregenerated maps. But then again, I always hated building the galaxy according to the rules in TI because it usually resulted in someone being screwed over from the beginning of a 6-8 hour game.
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10 May 2021 17:15 #323016 by Jackwraith

mads b. wrote: One thing I did hate about the game though was setup. Setting up a reasonably interesting and/or balanced board was a pain, and I always felt like the game would have been better with a couple of pregenerated maps. But then again, I always hated building the galaxy according to the rules in TI because it usually resulted in someone being screwed over from the beginning of a 6-8 hour game.


Same. For the last several games of TI3 we played, we just used one of the pre-gens because the map setup was lengthy, often unbalanced, and generally a pain in the ass unless you had a group that really understood the nuances and wanted to exercise that part of the game. Even then, it still often ended up unbalanced. You're absolutely right in that Runewars would have benefited significantly from having 3 or 4 tested pre-gens to make setup easier.

That's also a great point about how the dials made unit production so quick. Everyone places two or three units without having to count stuff and everyone's resources are easily visible to everyone else, so very little chance for mistakes or shadiness. It's another one of those smart design points that was a little clouded by some of the other stuff going on in the game.

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10 May 2021 17:27 #323018 by Shellhead
Replied by Shellhead on topic From the Depths: Runewars
I played Runewars once, several years ago, in a four-player game with just the base set. I felt like the game got in the way of itself and outstayed its welcome by a couple of hours. A variety of mechanics and chrome just bolted together, and the heroes felt like an underdeveloped element.

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10 May 2021 21:21 #323026 by dysjunct
Replied by dysjunct on topic From the Depths: Runewars
The seasons cards and the icon dials were brilliant; the rest seemed a little haphazard. A stronger hand at development could have shaved off the rough edges. Plus ditching the Runebound elements.
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10 May 2021 21:26 #323027 by Gary Sax
Replied by Gary Sax on topic From the Depths: Runewars
This article has got to be like the best thing written on the internet about this game. Thank you!
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10 May 2021 23:21 #323031 by Jackwraith
Wow. Thanks! It was certainly easy to write. I blasted through 4500 words in a couple hours. I think it took almost as long to set up and do the pictures.

@dysjunct: If by "Runebound elements" you mean the heroes, again, I think there is some value to them, especially post-expansion. But I agree that they still feel like one of the more "foreign" parts of the overall design. But in order to create the fantasy version of TI3 (aka Battlemist), I think they felt like some connective tissue between this game and Runebound was necessary. Otherwise, you're basically creating a whole new universe when you already have one ready to go and also expand further into (Rune Age, etc.)
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11 May 2021 03:25 #323034 by mads b.
Replied by mads b. on topic From the Depths: Runewars
I'm pretty sure that the questing heroes were part of the original Battlemist game. So while they obviously tied them to Runebound by making them heroes from that game (which made no sense since Runewars takes place prior to the Runebound game), having heroes was pretty much one of the things that made the orginnal different.

And it did to some extent. Maybe the game would have been better without them (I never got to play with the heroes as commanders from the expansion), but they certainly made the game *feel* different.
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11 May 2021 07:09 #323036 by southernman

Shellhead wrote: I played Runewars once, several years ago, in a four-player game with just the base set. I felt like the game got in the way of itself and outstayed its welcome by a couple of hours. A variety of mechanics and chrome just bolted together, and the heroes felt like an underdeveloped element.


I think this was just not a game for you and your crowd, it has a fairly decent rating on BGG for an Ameritrash game and did the DoaM thing extremely well with enough differences to set it out from the crowd.

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03 Jun 2021 10:12 #323666 by blarknob
Replied by blarknob on topic From the Depths: Runewars
Thanks for this. I love this game and I'd hate to see it forgotten.
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03 Jun 2021 11:13 #323671 by Jackwraith
My pleasure, really. Obviously, I'm also a fan and I thought it deserved some mental space, even if it has a harder time getting table space these days.

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