I’ve never done a comprehensive review for Runebound 2nd Edition, but I’ll probably make one soon. It’ll be long and rambly, for sure, because this is still my favorite board game after a good 10 years in the hobby. And part of that is because I’ve used it as a design playground, making and trying out variants and modules.
One thing I’ve often tried to “fix” with the game is the length. It can be a long game, typically 60+ minutes per player. So, I’ve lately been toying with some variant rules to help address this and the randomness.
- You have an “Adventure Log” which is a hand of adventure cards you play instead of resolving random adventures.
- Events are pulled from the adventure decks and put into a single event deck that resolves every 3 turns.
- It costs 3 experience to level regardless of player count.
- You can spend your turn Camping, rolling the movement dice and healing wounds with dice matching your space, healing exhaustion with any dice.
- You can take exhaustion to get +1 to your roll for each exhaustion you take (up to max stamina).
I also tried out the popular variant of sorting the Market deck into 4 decks: weapons, armor, allies, and runes/artifacts.
I’m playing with a custom character based on my character in Final Fantasy XIV. I had been using a special program to make custom cards, but for some reason, the Runebound plugin isn’t working, so I made a card from scratch inspired by FFXIV’s UI design.
A few turns into the game, I had a run-in with one of the toughest green adventures. He gave as good as he got, but I limped away the winner. He’s many times been responsible for early game deaths. A turn-one nightmare.
After spending my spoils in town, I have a new dwarf ally and a weapon. For heroes that don’t have 2 damage in any combat, it’s good to get a hold of something with damage when you can. My first level was on Mind for the bonus to ranged combat, that way my first attack with my ability has better odds of hitting.
After I had to use my armor against the ferrox, it was up to my ally to finish the enemy, I couldn’t activate my weapon in melee. But the dwarf only has a 0/1 in magic. What are the odds of that hitting? Well, how about rolling a 15? I like it when my allies earn their keep (aside from dying for me).
A few rounds later and I get a nice find in town, the Dragon Breath rune. Considering my character is a Dragoon in FFXIV, this is the perfect rune for me! It also helps me hit harder in melee, which I’ll need before taking on blue adventures. My stats are looking pretty good too, though I’d feel more comfortable with a magic ally.
We then had a strange combat with a dragon. The dwarf managed to hit in ranged, but then I missed my melee attack and took 1 damage (blocked 2 with my armor), and then took another damage in magic. However, in the second round, the dwarf missed. By 1. And died.
RIP, Honor Sword. At least I was able to finish off the dragon after that but was quite beaten up.
Sometimes, there are opportunities for clever strategic moves. Here, I defended easily in ranged and melee, then used the Bone Lich to automatically deal 1 in magic. I had to since I didn’t have a way to deal 5 damage before the magic phase, and he would have ripped me up with 18/4. But with the Bone Lich, I didn’t have to roll and could finish him off in round 2.
Thanks to a timely event, an item I got from a dragon was double in value. Since it’s an activated item, it doesn’t work well for me since I already have a bunch of other activated items (you can only activate 1 item per round of combat). But I was able to sell it for its normal value (selling normally cuts the value in half). Not bad.
With the talisman sold, I was able to afford a new ally. The Highway Guardian was a reward from an encounter card. Now we’re a real party. The Belt of Strength was a reward from another dragon. And now we’ve got a mix of blue and red adventures in hand, ready to start on the end game.
What a whirlwind of events. First, an encounter gives me the final boss. He’s optional, but if you kill, you immediately win. But boy is he brutal. We’re not prepared to fight that thing.
When we first take on a red, the Beastmaster managed to get the killing blow. This is a big help as the reward is really good!
However, I then lose my Belt of Strength after rolling a 4 on the Tinker test. Even with all my bonuses and exhausting myself, I’d still be short on the roll. The belt was the item that came up. There was a health potion I would have happily lost instead, even my armor would have been acceptable. But losing the belt means my next level up is going to be Body to help make up the difference.
After a long hike down south to find another red adventure space, the Beastmaster comes in again for the final blow on the last boss, completing the 3 dragon runes for the win. The timer was also running out, though I think I would have survived the end game if it ran out.
The event deck worked really well. The Adventure Log worked well too but might need a bit of tweaking. The different market decks are great and really help with finding useful items. The experience for leveling, Camping, and taking exhaustion for bonuses all worked great. I only camped I think twice, and that feels about right. Taking exhaustion for bonuses helped a handful of times but even after taking +2 stamina, there were rolls that still failed because I couldn’t push them enough. It felt perfect, but it might be hero-dependant. Some heroes have little stamina while others have expensive abilities, leaving them exhausted all the time. But this makes the stamina upgrades more valuable (instead of ignored). The overall length (about 80-90 minutes) wasn’t really improved, but I think I know how to fix that.