Rune Age Review
So, Realm of Terrinoth is not a stranger for FFG Ameritrasher in the world of board games. It’s a fantasy realm created by Fantasy Flight Games for some of their games (Runewars and Runebound). Right now, the newest title that using the same realm as it background is no other than Rune Age. Rune Age is a deck building card game from Fantasy Flight Games, designed by Corey Conieczka, the man who brought us Mansion of Madness, Battlestar Gallactica, A Game of Thrones: The Board Game, Descent: Journey in The Dark (2nd Edition), Runewars, REX and many other Amaritrash board game titles. So, let’s look this 2-4 players card game a bit closer, is it good enough for your taste or not.
Basically the game has high thematic value with strong story and background from the realm. There are 4 different factions involved in the game which each of these factions has different approach to the game based on it behavior. Such as the thematic implementation of Reanimate unit, Berserker’s berserk ability and Foot Soldier unit. The thematic is not stop right there, the 4 scenarios available also induced with powerful thematic elements. This is shown from the different feel of the scenario game style. A semi cooperative play, full cooperative and also competition play.
When looking at the artworks of the game, it’s clearly a solid fantastic artwork done by many good artists. The consistency of the realm visual appearance is the key on the artworks. Rune Age succeeded to maintain the illustration and appearance consistencies from the Realm of Terrinoth. The cover is amazing, you can see the beautiful artwork from only the cover, depicting a grand city from a far with a dragon and it’s rider in the close up.
3. Game Components
Most of the game components are cards, hundreds of them (around 250 cards) with good quality card stock and linen finish. The rest are the damage tokens and a single custom six-sided dice with skull icon engraved to some of it’s sides. The damage tokens should’ve came with different shapes based on the denominations for easier recognition during game play.
The box comes with a nice looking insert with monotone version of the cover illustration. Not a crucial part but better to keep it than throw it away. One thing to keep in mind though, the normal use of the insert might impose problem in the storage. The simple solution is to invert the folding direction of the insert which would give you 2 separate spaces. This would do the trick, the center inside of the insert could also contain deck of cards.
4. Game Play
Rune Age is basically a deck building game with variable player powers. The game shares some core mechanics from Dominion or Thunderstone. In short players take turns by playing cards from their hands. After the last player’s turn, event phase is resolved. The objectives of the game varies depending on the chosen scenario. Each player controls different faction with different units and abilities. The 4 different factions give the game an asymmetry approach to the game play and strategy. The play area is broke down into several parts. Each player barrack, play area and central area (which consists of neutral, gold and city cards).
There are 4 scenarios that can be chosen. The first is considered as an opening scenario for new players (Resurgence of The Dragonlords) as in this scenario, the challenge is a bit light and there is a semi cooperative element in it. The second one however (The Cataclysm) offers high level of challenge. You can say it’s not meant for the faint-hearts. The Monument scenario is likely for players who do not want direct confrontation, since player who first build a monument win the game (no combat against home realms). The Runewar scenario is more dynamic version of direct confrontation that the first scenario has to offer since there are dragon runes that can be used for players advantage. Not only different units a faction has, the neutral units and cards make the game more balance for it scenario purpose. Yes, each scenario has different setup on the event cards and neutral cards. There are 4 basic factions in the game (Human, Elves, Undead and Evil), these factions have several strategies and game play styles to choose for. The Human and Undead are factions that almost alike, they have cheap units that can do chain combos from their discard or draw pile. The Uthuk Yllan is the evil faction, which really into sacrificial thing with their units. The elves on the other hand, is the most delicate factions on the game, which is quite hard to master for they manipulate influence and not base their strength on pure strength value.
There are 3 basic currencies used in the game, they are gold, influence and strength. Players use gold to buy units from their barracks. Use influences to hire neutral units, gain wealth and also tactic cards. Strengths are used for resolving combats. There also an Attrition die (a black custom six-sided die) that is used for battling against enemies from event cards. These attrition die is rolled to determine how many unit will be destroyed by the enemy every time a player facing up an enemy. For each skull symbol on the side of the die, the player must destroy a unit in combat immediately. The attrition die has from none to 2 skull symbols distributed on it’s sides.
There are basic concept of the game about ‘wound’ and ‘destroy’ which closely related on the combat phase for each unit. When wounded, units are destroyed (back to barrack or neutral cards area) in the end of combat phase which they still contribute their strength. On the contrary, when destroyed, units are immediately returned to barrack or neutral cards area which they do not contribute to the combat strength.
5. Replay Value
I must say there are different levels of replayability options here. The combination between different factions and scenarios are the general replay values. Players can experience 4 different scenarios combined with 4 different factions, this could led to 16 different plays. In addition, a single faction also has different strategies to choose for thanks to different units available at players’ disposal. That’s been said, so the replayability is quite high. And with the additional expansion, Oath and Anvil, the game gets a powerful booster as 2 new factions, 2 new units for each basic factions, new neutral cards with mercenary cards are available. There are also 2 new scenarios that can be chosen and new event cards for basic scenario.
My Thought of The Game
I love this game, it replaces Thunderstone (which also a game that I like) in my collection. So, why do I choose this over Rune Age? The reasons are simple, the game has different scenarios, so rich on the game play, different factions specialized the game play and strategy, and the most important thing is, Rune Age offers more direct interaction between players with combats and such. The expansion is a must have in my opinion, it adds more balance to the game with new units and 2 new factions with different styles. I personally think that the Ascent of the Overlord is an interesting and great scenario to have one player against many. My favorite factions are Waiqar, The Undead and Uthuk Yllan. For those who like deck building game with a rich fantasy theme and various game play to choose for, this game is great for your collection. I almost forget to mention that this game offers you solitaire play in some of the scenarios (The Resurgence of The Dragonlords and The Cataclysm).