Rune Age Review
I know what you first think when you read the title above and i can assure you that no, it’s not about Burger King, the junk food brand mogul from the US. So, if the title make you hungry all of a sudden, you can get a whopper before reading this. Okay, Rune Age is one of the new deck building games available in the market and it really marked the hype on the trend. If you are into deck building games like Dominion, Thunderstone, Ascension, Warhammer Invasion or Lord Of The Rings: The Card Game, you should check this out. Published by Fantasy Flight Games, from the mind of Corey Konieczka, the man behind Runewars, Mansion of Madness, Battlestar Gallactica, Gears of War and many more. Rune Age has set a revolution into deck building genre. A revolution from the complexity and mass of cards quantity into a streamlined and light cards quantity with possible different scenarios in one pack medium box.
An age of innovation and discovery is at hand. With war on the horizon and whisperings of a prophetic storm approaching, now is the time to gather all your strength and set out to forge your place in Terrinoth’s book of legends!
Rune Age is a deck-building game of adventure and conquest for 2-4 players. Set in the fantasy realm of Terrinoth (Runebound, Descent: Journeys in the Dark, Runewars, and DungeonQuest), Rune Age puts players in control of one of four races, vying for dominance in a world embroiled in conflict.
Okay, what’s so special about it anyway? I let you know right after this with the review. I owned the game not over a month (in the late September) and have been playing it more than 15 times (20 times currently). With that flight record i guess it’s reasonable that i bravely enough to said that I’m qualified to review this game. Okay let’s get down to the game through 5 major aspects like i used to do.
1. The Theme
Rune Age is set in the fantasy world of Terrinoth. The same world of Runebound, Runewars, Descent and DungeonQuest. Since there were many games that set in the same world, Rune Age had easily known by the community tailing it’s popular predecessors. The fans of the fantasy world would likely eager to play this game or even own a copy of it. There are 4 races in Terrinoth, with each separate and different background though still connected each other through the background story that shape Terrinoth. Those 4 races are The Daqan Lords (Human Race), Latari Elves (Elven Race), Waiqar The Undying (Undead Race) and Uthuk Yllan (The Demon Race).
2. The Artworks
One word: Awesome! Yes, the artworks are stunning and very outstanding. A team of various artists made the artworks of Rune Age very compelling. I love the box cover. It was made very thematic (a dragon with it’s rider over a city in Terrinoth) with high detailed illustrations. It’s cover only made you drooling for a copy of this and yes, i drooled. These artist made each card looks so powerful and unique with bold and thrilling artwork. If you love a fantasy world and theme, the artworks going to work very well on you.
3. The Game Components
Okay, when i first look at the box, i was surprised (and quite amazed) that the box was rather small compared to what i expected. I thought it as FFG medium box like Arkham Horror or Chaos in The Old World. It’s small enough to be carried around with one hand, just like a small pizza box. When you open the box, you’ll found two neat deck of cards with counter sheet and a dice. The box is small and providing the content of the box it could have been smaller than that. The cards are made in high quality linen finished which is really good for the game really need shuffling. The damage counters are a bit annoying. They’re hard to read since the number really blend in with the background. The font color is supposed to be white or other light colors. The attrition die seem shine pretty well, black die with glossy finish and skull custom symbols. It’s one of my favorite dice (we’re talking about War of The Ring‘s action dice, Ankh Morpork‘s 12 sided die and Arkham Horror‘s custom set dice). The contents came up with a cardboard insert tray with monotone illustrations from the cover, which i immediately removed to reserve some space for separated and sleeved cards (which won’t fit the insert tray).
4. The Game Play
In this game, there are 4 scenarios you can choose, providing with different feel and style of play that really gives more variants to the game play. For those who prefer challenges are likely be satisfied with Resurgence of The Dragonlords or Runewars scenarios. But for those who want a semi co-operative play and avoid direct confrontation can look for The Cataclysm and The Monument scenarios. The game is simple, like any other deck building game, but with a twist. The play area is divided into 3 different areas:
The Central Play Area – In this area you can find gold cards stacks, neutral unit and tactic card stacks, neutral city cards and the last, the objective card and event deck.
Player’s Barrack – Each player has a barrack area, consisting of specific unit cards and strongholds (for each race).
The Player Play Area – This area is reserved for a player’s action play area. Which later in the game would contain draw deck and discard pile.
Each player will get 5 cards of 1 gold and add 3 cards of his 1 strength unit as his starting deck. Shuffle it and draw 5 into his hand (always draw 5 or up to 5 cards unless the event state otherwise). Each player starting from the first player will take turns (in clockwise order) play the cards in his hand. Each player is free to do whatever actions which are possible for him during his turn. There are 3 main resources in the game, gold, strength and influence. These resources will proof to be essential during the game as a currency for a player’s action. In each player’s turn, he can spend gold cards (discard to buy unit from his barrack or stronghold); spend with influence to acquire gold cards, hire tactic and neutral unit cards; attack multiple targets (enemy, neutral cities, other player’s home realm or cities). At the end of his turn he discard all his played, unplayed and recently achieve cards and draw from the draw deck up to 5 cards (while other players replenish their had to 5 cards). After the last player finish his turn, the event deck is drawn and the effect is resolved.
The Attrition die. The game is also came with a die, it’s not a simple shiny black die. The symbols on it’s sides are customs. There are 2 symbols, skull and 2 skulls symbols and 2 blank sides. This die is used when a player attacking an enemy from an event card. Most enemies has a die symbol in their card. The attrition die is rolled after a player play his unit cards and before the resolution of the battle. This die result will take effect of the player’s unit in play. A skull symbol will destroy a unit, while 2 skulls symbol will destroy 2 units.
Each scenario has it’s own objective and setup (mostly for the unit and tactic cards). I’ll explain briefly the 4 scenarios available.
The Resurgence of The Dragonlords – In these scenario, players will back to back (thematically) to face the coming of The Dragonlords and it’s dragon minions. This scenario is one of the two scenarios that are possible to be played solitaire. The event deck mostly contain enemies and divided into 2 phases. The player who defeat the objective wins the game.
The Monument – In this scenario, players will race to build monument as fast as they can. Players cannot attack other players home realm but can still attack their cities. The game ends when one of the player has build his monument.
The Runewars – In this scenario, each player will be given a random dragon rune that can be used each turn. The last man standing win the game.
The Cataclysm – In this scenario, players will back to back to survive the threat of the event cards. Players win when they cannot draw an event card from the deck (the event deck run out) or all players lose when one of the players eliminated.
5. The Replay Value
What do you think about this game? Will you play it a lot? Well i did (I’ve been playing it 20 times under a month) and i still want to play it more. First i thought that it has a good replay value for it has 4 different races with it’s own unique abilities (variable player powers) and 4 scenarios. Well, that must be deep for a simple and small game like this, but i was wrong, on second thought, i thought the 4 races seems going to dry off the game play, since every race would build that same mechanic / combo for each play. But from play to play, i was wrong again. The game play wasn’t dry off, it still interesting, as a matter of fact the game is quite challenging. I know if you play the same race it’s gonna dictate what your actions would be. Well, yeah it would but i guess i have another feeling in the game, the challenging scenarios and other players would sum the game to it’s pinnacle state. Maybe I’ll get bored with it for another 20-40 more plays.
Each race has it’s own unique abilities, which can trigger chain link or combo reaction that provide more benefits. These uniqueness are so compelling me to understand each race powers more better. The human really shines with Footman Units, while The Elves really maximize the use of influence. The Undead really work well with summoning (Reanimate & Necromancer) and The Uthuks are powerful in chain combo units between Berserker and Flesh Ripper.
Once you getting the hang of each race you will unleash a great power from each race. This game is a deck building game, which really important that how you build your deck. The thinner your deck is, the better you’ll get your wanted cards out. So, improve your deck with better cards and get rid of the bad cards.
My Thought of The Game
Okay, i played my first 2 sessions with my friend’s copy and instantly like the game. I ordered it online as soon as possible and get hooked up with it for 20 plays under a month. Can you believe that? I know you can. The game is simple, easy, unique and offer varieties. And the game time is quite quick and short, which you can squeeze this game into almost your free time. The small box made the game easy to carry around and it’s quite light weight. This game is my most worthy game ever so far, with the cheap price with this kind of game play and replay value, i honestly testified. More plus factor is, you can play solitaire in two of the four scenarios, this could be great if you have a free time but have nobody to play with.
The deck building mechanic is like most any other deck building game, such as Thunderstone or Dominion. I own Thunderstone and i like it, very much. Rune Age mechanic is quite similar to Thunderstone but it gives you more twist and take you to the edge of deck building game. As in Thunderstone you only have 2 option, either go to dungeon or village. And all those actions are limited, which mean you cannot attack more than 1 target or even buy more than 1 item. In Rune Age, you could and allowed to do any actions with his cards in hand. The only restraint is you cannot attack the same target twice during the same turn. And with the scenarios available you can team up with other players, gang up a players, attack each other, backstabbing or race to victory, it’s your call. Like i said in the title, have it you way! These various play breaks the boredom or dull feeling of Thunderstone. Not that Thunderstone is boring, but when you asking for more from Thunderstone, Rune Age is there for you.
The Cataclysm scenario really pique my interest. I played this scenario often and often me and my friends were beaten down. Yeah, some said it’s to overwhelming. This why some gamer thought that Corey really did a great job with this one. It really challenging and being beaten down is not a reason to give up or dislike the game. I notice that this scenario is harder when you play with more players. When you play solo or with 2 players, there’s a good chance to survived. Maybe there were things we missed, like strategies, tactics or else.
I recommend this game to any player who likes card game, especially deck building, who likes fantasy theme and prefer shorter game time. But i guess it’s kinda heavy for a beginner, since to understanding a deck building mechanic is not an easy task for newbie. If you ever tasted a deck building games and like it, maybe you should try this one.
*Images courtesy of BGG users
You can check the same review in BGG here.