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Tag: Runewars

6/100 Games in 100 Days: Rune Age

This is just going to be a quick update!

We just set up our stall at CanCon. This is our 4th year there and we have a massive range of stuff. It took us 4 hours to setup. That’s a whole lot of Catan (and a million other games) :S

Lacking the time needed to really play a game I had to rush to my portable stack of solitaire games to play during the downtime.

Enter Rune Age.

It is so hard to break out of the deck building mould. God knows Rune Age tries.
I mean it almost feels like it tried to bite off more than it could chew but somehow it just feels right.
Four different sides.
Four DIFFERENT game modes.
Competitive game play.
Solitaire play.

All in a tight Fantasy Flight Silver Line box.
Solitaire with the game is a race to defeat the customary evil before the game decides to chew you up and spit you out.
I still haven’t played this with more than one.

All my elves are on fire.
All of them

Till Tomorrow (CANCON D: )

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Upcoming Fantasy Flight Goodies!

There are some great new games in the pipeline from Fantasy Flight Games, well-known publisher of high quality, thematic, exciting games. For those of you who haven’t been keeping an eye peeled on their website, let’s check out some of the goodies!

Rune AgeRune Age
This is FFG’s entry into the most popular game genre of recent times—deck-building games. Set in their fantasy world of Terrinoth (also the setting for games such as Runewars, Descent, Dungeonquest and Runebound), Rune Age is for 2-4 players and, uniquely, driven by scenarios that set the parameters of each game. So a game can be competitive or cooperative. Players develop their decks of cards as the game progresses, playing one of the four factions first introduced in Runewars: the Daqan Lords, the Latari Elves, the savage Uthuk Y’llan, and Waiqar the Undying and his undead hordes. Each of these factions has its own unique strengths and weaknesses, and each offers a wealth of different deck-building options. Definitely one to look out for if you enjoy deck-building games like Dominion or 7 Wonders!

Elder SignElder Sign
Arkham Horror, the game of investigation, combat and terror set in the horrific worlds of H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos, is a Fantasy Flight success story and has spawned many expansions. Recently we saw a new spin on Arkham Horror which concentrated more on storytelling with the very atmospheric Mansions of Madness game. But fans of Lovecraftian mystery and horror can never get enough! FFG’s latest announcement is a dice game called Elder Sign, in which investigators desperately search a museum for Elder Signs to stave off the coming of an Old One and the destruction of the universe as we know it! This is looking like a clever mix of card game and dice game. As in Arkham Horror, there’s a selection of Ancient Ones to defeat, a Doom track that ticks inexorably down to their arrival, and the imminent threat of sanity-blasting horrors around every corner. The museum the adventurers explore is built up using Adventure cards, and different investigators have unique talents, strengths and weaknesses which you must strategically manage in order to defeat the game’s challenges. Best of all, you can enjoy all the fun and atmosphere of a Lovecraftian game in just one to two hours!

Blood Bowl Team ManagerBlood Bowl Team Manager
A lot of people thought this one was vapourware, since it was first announced way back early last year. It seems it’s undergone some heavy development and changed from a deck-building game into something completely different! 2-4 players guide their teams through a series of head-to-head highlights, adding Star Players, equipment upgrades, new staff and gathering new fans, all in a lead up to the decisive Blood Bowl trophy match! There are 6 teams to choose from: the Reikland Reavers (humans), the Grudgebearers (dwarves), the Athelorn Avengers (wood elves), the Skavenblight Scramblers (skaven), the Gouged Eye (orcs), and the Chaos All-Stars (chaos); and they all have their own style of play to explore. This is looking like a must-buy for Blood Bowl fans!

Gears of WarGears of War
Another game that’s been on the backburner at FFG for some time is Gears of War: The Board Game, based on the very successful video game that is now up to its second sequel. I’m a big fan of the old Doom boardgame and this looks like a step up from that—excellent miniatures, beautifully illustrated floorplans—however this one is fully cooperative (and, as a bonus, can be played solo), with players working together to face off against the horrific Locust alien hordes. Apparently the aliens are controlled by an innovative and adaptable ‘AI system’ that keeps the monsters reacting in distinctive ways that are appropriate to the situation. And you have limited ammo … There’s nothing like a good tactical combat game, and this one should raise the bar!

Pyramid of HorusThe Adventurers: The Pyramid of Horus
Fans of The Adventurers: The Temple of Chac will be excited to see another game in what possibly be a series exploring all the classic Indiana Jones-like locations. After exploring (and hopefully surviving) the ancient Mayan ruins of the Temple of Chac, we now move to Egypt to enter The Pyramid of Horus. It’s a new stand-alone boardgame that shares the basic mechanics of load level versus speed that defined the first game; but now a new set of adventurers will be encountering falling blocks, crocodiles—and of course, mummies! Great art, miniatures and fast-paced gameplay whould make this one a winner.

There are some other bits and pieces coming our way too: the new Talisman expansion Talisman: The Dragon; a revised edition of the card game based in Cadwallon, Arcana, an expansion for the excellent fantasy empire-building game Runewars called Banners of War, and of course the first new adventure packs for The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game: The Hunt for Gollum, A Journey to Rhosgobel, and Conflict at the Carrock.

Whew! That’s a whole lot of great gaming! As always, keep an eye on this blog for news and reviews, and we’ll let you know when all of these fantastic new titles hit our shores and the shelves of Games Paradise, your favourite online game store.

Anatomy of a Gaming Weekend

Gaming Weekend

As my friends and I get older, it gets more and more difficult to organise one of our favourite leisure activities—the playing of games. Jobs and children take up a lot of time, people move further and further apart, and a date for a game session often has to be set far in advance. Getting five of us together for a session of, say, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay becomes as difficult as the judgement of Paris!

So it was a rare opportunity recently when an old friend and I found ourselves with an entire weekend just to play games. I travelled to his house with a boot-load of games, his wife and kids were away, and we set up a large table, a fridge full of beers, and settled down to enjoy some of our favourite games. Here’s a personal look through those favourites and how the baton of victory passed back and forth over the weekend.

About lunchtime on the Saturday, the first game to hit the table—and I can tell you, this one really takes over a big table—is my personal favourite game of all time, War of the Ring (by the way, there’s a new and improved reprint coming soon from FFG). We were playing with the mammoth, fully-painted Collector’s Edition—not the easiest thing to transport, in its huge and heavy wooden box—but of course you can still get your hands on the standard edition. Personally, I think War of the Ring is one of those games that just has it all. There is the sweeping conquest and mighty battles between great armies, the personal stories and travels of single heroes, the punishing blows of unexpected bad luck and the joy of seeing strategies play out successfully. The way WotR balances the ‘big picture’ of military conquest and the ‘little picture’ of the Ring making its way to Mordor—building up a story all the while—is remarkable, and somehow the games always seem to come down to the proverbial wire.

In this case, after the fastest game we’ve yet played, some four and a half hours, victory slipped from my grasp as the Free Peoples player. Throughout much of the game Frodo and Sam suffered very little Corruption, but on the Mount Doom track in Mordor all the Corruption I’d avoided began coming back to haunt me, and just as Frodo was one step—one step!—from the Crack of Doom, and Sauron was threatening the Dwarven stronghold of Erebor to win, I drew a 3 Corruption counter and Frodo succumbed to the power of the Ring. Curses! A dark shadow was drawn over the lands of Middle-Earth …

After the packup—and the usual long-running jokes about the imaginary games SetUp! and PackUp!—we decided to bring out something a bit ‘lighter’ (in rules complexity, if not in theme). I’d spent quite a bit of time painting the figures for the new Fantasy Flight Game Mansions of Madness, so I was eager to try it out (and give my brain a rest from the more complex games!) It didn’t take long to get used to the style of the game, and I greatly enjoyed playing the Keeper and subjecting my opponent to the horrors of the first scenario. Although he was victorious in the end—just—there were some hilarious moments, notably when a zombie rose from the bed in the main bedroom, and he turned to find all the doors in the room had disappeared. The horror!

Another perennial favourite is the scifi conquest Starcraft: The Board Game, combined with the essential expansion Brood War. However, after setting the game up, re-acquainting ourselves with the rules (here’s where my rules summaries really come in handy), and playing a couple of turns, we realised ‘Gamer Fatigue’ was setting in, and retired to laugh at some old Not the Nine O’Clock News episodes on DVD. Yes, even the most avid gamers can reach their limit!

The next day, after a refreshing dip in the ocean only ten minutes away to clear the cobwebs, we sat down to tackle Starcraft again, clearing away the aborted game and starting again with one of the special 2-player scenarios from Brood War. Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before the game’s complexities defeated us again. Let me stress that this is one of my favourite games, but it does require a clear head and a bit of concentration, qualities that, for the moment, were in short supply!

ClaustrophobiaObviously it was time for something much lighter, and what better than a good old dungeoncrawl—Claustrophobia perfectly fit the bill. This game brings a bit more to the genre by making players assign dice rolls to their choice of statistics (for the heroes) or action options (the Demon player). We played the second scenario, ‘Holding Back the Invasion’, where the heroes (such as they are, being a rabid cleric—the Redeemer–leading a band of condemned criminals) must reach a pit that leads to the bowels of Hell and destroy it with explosives!

Playing the Redeemer and his men, I immediately began having a hard time of it. The second dungeon tile drawn was the horrible Hungry Tunnels; a room full of blood-sucking tentacles that doubled the damage from any hit. I kept getting forced back into this room, until eventually my strongest character—the condemned Brute—was trapped and killed, and my remaining warriors became doomed to fight off the ever-increasing horde of troglodytes, desperately struggling through flooded corridors and narrow passages, dying by inches, until only one was left, blindly racing forward, only to find himself stumbling into a troglodyte spawning lair, with the objective still three tiles away! Aaaaaaarrrrrrrgh!

RunewarsRunewars is a big, deep game very much in the spirit of War of the Ring, as it combines the grand sweep of large armies with the adventures of individual heroes. The trick is balancing the two, as evidenced by our game. My opponent, controlling the skeletal hordes of Waiqar the Undying, swarmed out through the mountain pass protecting his kingdom, built a stronghold across the valley from where my Latari Elves had done the same, then, after a turn in which I’d failed to account for the fact that I had only four food and had to reduce all my armies, feinted with an attack on the city in the centre of the map (which failed), then in the next phase unleashed the real attack on my stronghold, an assault with the aid of a Tactics card that reduced my stronghold defense to three, which overwhelmed the five defenders and carried the day!

Next turn I played a card which gave me the last of six Dragon Runes—and I won the game.

It may seem that in this case strategy was overturned by luck, but on the contrary, it was a perfect example of the game: I won by stealth and cunning, using my heroes to sneak about the board collecting Runes, while my opponent was trying to win by brute force. The puny Elves trounced the nasty Undead … even as zombies devoured the Elven dead among the ruins of their stronghold …

Runewars is definitely one of those games that you want to play over and over, trying different strategies as you get to know the game better. It seems very complex at first, but it quickly begins to ‘flow’ and the mechanics fade into the background. A definite favourite.

Another game my opponent and I would like to see on the table more often is Tide of Iron, as it’s quite complex and to really enjoy the game you need to be familiar with the rules. Perhaps not the best choice for the last game after a long weekend of gaming and a bit of a hangover then. We decided to start the campaign in the expansion Tide of Iron: Normandy, which of course begins with the Allied invasion of Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944. It’s an extremely difficult scenario for the Allies of course, who have push onshore and through a single choke point whilst being battered on all sides by machine gun emplacements and bunkers firing heavy machine guns. It can also be a little bit uninteresting for the Axis player, who pretty much has to stay dug in and just fire at anything that moves—or doesn’t!

My opponent did manage to get off the beach and win however—despite terrible luck with his supporting artillery—but only by taking out a few machine gun nests with sustained suppressive fire, assaulting a bunker with a flamethrower, and eventually losing about half of his force. He did make a few fundamental rules errors though; this is a game where there is a lot to keep track of, and again I highly recommend my reference sheet and rules summary to get things playing smoothly.

He has since told me if he played the scenario again he would concentrate all his forces in the centre of the beach and send a third of them to scale the cliffs while the others suppress all the machine gun nests—since if only the bunkers can fire, the worst than can happen is you can lose two squads every turn until you silence them.

It was late on Sunday when victory was declared and we were well and truly ‘gamed out’; but what an excellent weekend of gaming it had been! Everything from epic battles on Middle-Earth to dungeoncrawling to the D-Day assault—what else but boardgaming can provide this amount of variety and enjoyment? If there was one lesson we learned however, it’s not to play too many complex games in a row; it can get a bit much for the old brain cells!

Feel free to tell me about some of your more enjoyable gaming sessions below in the Comments section—it’s always fun to hear about the experiences of other gamers. Until next time, get your friends together for some good gaming this weekend!

Fantasy Flight Announces Rune Age

Rune AgeFantasy Flight Games have just announced a new deck-building game set in their ever-expanding Runebound universe—Rune Age!

Ever since the release of Dominion, deck-building games have become the latest phenomenon in game design, and this looks like an exciting addition to the genre, with all the high production quality and rich theme for which FFG is known. Check out my earlier article on deck-building games for more information about this style of card game.

But what of Rune Age? Created by the amazingly prolific and talented Corey Konieczka, designer of great games like Battlestar Galactica, Runewars, Starcraft and Tide of Iron, Rune Age is set in the Runebound fantasy world of Terrinoth. 2-4 players each control a faction, raising armies, taking control of cities, and obliterating their foes. One interesting twist is that the game is scenario-driven, so the victory objectives, and even the type of game—co-operative or competitive—change according to the scenario chosen. There are four included in the base game and no doubt the inevitable expansions will see more available in the future!

The four factions will be familiar to players of Runewars: the noble human Daqan Lords, the enigmatic Latari Elves, the demonic Uthuk Y’llan, and the undead legions of Waiqar the Undying. All of the factions have their own strengths and weaknesses and unique deck-building strategies.

Each player has a Home Realm—which they may have to protect while attacking their opponents’ home realms, depending on the scenario—and faction-specific Unit cards. In addition, shared Gold cards, Neutral Unit cards, and Tactics cards give the players further defensive and offensive options.

No word yet on a release date, but you can be sure this exciting new game will be available at Games Paradise as soon as it’s released. Stay tuned for more information!

Upcoming Games

I keep several boardgaming-related websites in my bookmarks list so I can keep an eye on the next batch of games that are in development or on their way. The big North American gaming convention GenCon has recently come and gone in Indianapolis, so a lot of new games saw their debut at the show. Here’s a quick look at some of the new games that should be out this year or early next year.

Fantasy Flight Games is, as you’ve no doubt guessed by now, my favourite publisher, and they have a stack of new goodies in the pipeline for release this year (hopefully). The two surprise announcements recently were Dust Tactics and Cadwallon: City of Thieves. These  were originally to be published by Dust Games, but that company suddenly found themselves short on the resources required, so have done a deal with FFG to hand over the games. Dust Tactics is a tactical miniatures boardgame set in an alternative 1940s world created by the comic book artist Paolo Parente. It’s been in the works for a surprisingly long time; originally it was to be released by Rackham Entertainment, who then went on to release AT-43 instead. Dust Tactics is quite a spectacular-looking product, featuring over thirty detailed, individually-sculpted miniatures (including four huge tank/walker figures). The initial game consists of eight scenarios fought on a set of cardboard terrain tiles (with some model terrain), but later there will be a set of rules released for fighting battles on a tabletop, like a normal miniatures game.

The miniatures in the game come primed in a flat colour which you can paint, if you desire, but there is also a Collector’s Edition set on the way, with all the miniatures fully painted to an incredibly high standard. The Collector’s Edition will be pricey, but for the non-painters, I’m sure it will be worth it.

There are already plans for several expansion sets to the core game of course; introducing such things as artillery robots, strange creatures, new heroes, aircraft, and even an alien race, the Vrills. It’s all shaping up to be an amazing system, and it will be interesting to see the reaction to the core set and watch the future of this game.

The other game to arrive at FFG from Dust Games is Cadwallon: City of Thieves. This fast-paced boardgame of thievery and skulduggery is set in the Rackham fantasy city of Cadwallon, the subject of a short lived roleplaying/combat game. It’s a perfect addition to the FFG stable, with gorgeous art and miniatures dripping with character. You lead a gang of thieves sneaking about a district of Cadwallon, grabbing loot and avoiding the militiamen hot on your tail. Individual scenarios bring variety to the game play. Again, the miniatures are not pre-painted, but you’ll be able to buy a separate set of painted miniatures if you so choose.

Another exciting game from FFG in the works is a Space Hulk-themed cooperative card game set in the Games Workshop Warhammer 40,000 universe, called Space Hulk Death Angel: The Card Game. This will accommodate anywhere from 1-6 players, and sees you taking Blood Angel Terminator combat teams into the twisting labyrinthine corridors of an abandoned space hulk, to join combat with the horrific alien Genestealers. The game is playable in under and hour and comes in a small ‘Silver Line’ box. This looks like a great choice if you feel like a quick, theme-rich game experience.

Sticking with card games, there are two more on the way from FFG: The Lord of the Rings Card Game and The Blood Bowl Team Manager Card Game. There’s very little information yet about the latter but it’s certainly exciting news for Blood Bowl fans, and I certainly count myself a member of that group! Apparently it will be a frenzied game of deck-building for 2-4 players, and you can choose from Human, Dwarf, Wood Elf, Orc, Skaven, or Chaos factions and play through an entire season. The LotR Card Game will be another of FFG’s very successful Living Card Games, so they’ll be a long series of expansion card packs after the 216-card core set. 1-2 players (or more if you buy a couple of core sets) cooperate to select heroes, gather allies, acquire artifacts and complete quests in the land of Middle-Earth. Players can shape their decks to create their favourite combination of spheres of influence: leadership, lore, spirit and tactics. It looks like they’ll be lots of spectacular artwork and a huge amount of variety in this game, and hopefully it will be a must for any gamer who’s a fan of Tolkein’s world.

But wait! There’s more. The long-awaited return of the Games Workshop classic, Dungeonquest, is imminent. Anyone who played this cut-throat game back in the 80s knows that it’s tough work surviving that dungeon—but that’s all the fun. FFG have re-themed the game to set it in their world of Terrinoth (and cleverly cross-marketed the new characters by supplying components for them for Descent, Runebound and Runewars). Dungeonquest is a fast and fun game of dungeon exploration for 1-4 players.

Keep an eye peeled for some other FFG games on the horizon as well: Bruno Faidutti’s magnum opus, Isla Dorada, two army expansions for Battles of Westeros, various expansions for Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay and the Warhammer 40,000 roleplaying games, a quick card game called Dragonheart, Kevin Wilson’s new game, Civilization: The Board Game (inspired by Sid Meier’s video games), a new small-box version of the classic Lord of the Rings Board Game by Reiner Knizia, the new Tide of Iron expansion Fury of the Bear, and a new expansion for Talisman called The Sacred Pool. Not to mention the usual regular Living Card Game releases.

Well, there are other game companies in the world apart from FFG I admit, and another company with a hectic release schedule for 2010 is Z-Man Games. The company is known for releasing an eclectic mix of titles of all different styles and themes. Check out this list of titles: Earth Reborn, Parade, Burrows, The King Commands!, Power Struggle, Magical Athlete, Malta!, Prolix, Kings & Things, Mines of Zavandor, Trollhalla, Inca Empire, Pocket Battles: Orc vs Elves, and De Vulgari Eloquentia. Whew!

There’s certainly been some buzz about the new game from Christophe Boelinger, the creator of Dungeon Twister. It’s called Earth Reborn and it’s a post-apocalyptic scenario-based tactical combat game. It’s also one of the first forays by Z-Man Games into the world of plastic miniatures, and the ones that come with the game are looking mighty impressive. Parade is a quick 30 minute curious card game by Naoki Homma for 2-6 players. Hansa Teutonica is a tense game of route manipulation and economics by Andreas Steding for 2-5 players; players are merchants jostling for position and standing in the Hanseatic League. Power Struggle is a game about becoming the top-dog in a corporate empire by reaching milestones in investing, corruption, influence and position. In Burrows, you’ll find yourself trying to keep a group of fussy Gophers well-housed, using tiles to build a twisted network of burrows. Bottle Imp is a trick taking card game by Gunter Cornett. And of course, don’t forget the car-racing mayhem of Road Kill Rally; the new game by the creator of Duel in the Dark, Duel of the Giants, a tank-battle game; pirate fun with Merchants & Marauders; and a real-time strategy computer game-inspired game called The Ares Project. Zev from Z-Man must be run off his feet!

As for other publishers, there’s a new game coming from Asmodee and Antoine Bauza (Ghost Stories, Mystery Express) called 7 Wonders, a a civilization-building card game. Wizards of the Coast are releasing a Dungeons & Dragons board game called Castle Ravenloft that looks to be a classic dungeoncrawler with a simplified set of D&D 4th Edition mechanics. And Flying Frog Productions, makers of Last Night on Earth and A Touch of Evil, continue their series of crazy, fun games with photographic art with their new one, Invasion from Outer Space: The Martian Game, which pits alien invaders against circus freaks in a Tim Burtonesque carnival.

Well, if that lot doesn’t keep gamers happy I don’t know what will! There’s obviously no shortage whatsoever of great games on the way—all we need do now is somehow find the time to play as many as possible …

by Universal Head

For more information about the games mentioned in this article, visit the publisher sites or BoardgameGeek (www.boardgamegeek.com). There is a Dust Tactics site at www.dust-tactics.com. Z-Man Games can be previewed at www.zmangames.com. You can also find rules summaries and reference sheets for many games at Headless Hollow (www.headlesshollow.com/freebies_games.html).

Universal Head (www.universalhead.com), has been designing for clients across the globe for more than twenty years, and playing games for much longer than that. He’s responsible for the graphic design of several boardgames, notably ‘Tales of the Arabian Nights’ by Z-Man Games, and once spent an entire year recreating the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza in 3D for a computer game. In between he’s designed just about every form of visual communication: corporate identities, websites, packaging, brochures, even postage stamps. He also created the game websites www.tekumel.com and www.battleloremaster.com. His blog site www.headlesshollow.com is an obsessive repository of professionally designed rules summaries and reference sheets for popular boardgames.

Video Review: Runewars

Runewars available from gamesparadise.com.au

Runewars is an epic board game of conquest, adventure, and fantasy empires for two to four players. Designed by Corey Konieczka, Runewars pits players against each other in a strategic game of battles and area control, where they must gather resources, raise armies, and lay siege to heavily fortified cities.
Runewars takes place in the same popular fantasy universe as the best-selling board games Runebound and Descent: Journeys in the Dark, and dozens of fan-favorite heroes and monsters play their part. The wars for the dragon runes are beginning, and only one faction will emerge victorious. What would you do to claim the ultimate power?
Runewars includes:
A thorough 40-page instruction guide
Nearly two hundred highly-detailed plastic miniatures
Over two hundred tokens
Over two hundred cards, both small and standard sized
13 map tiles, each composed of multiple hexes and including stunning three-dimensional mountain terrain!

What do you think?