Okay, I’m taking Space-Biff! across the threshold into true nerd territory. This is nerdier than a sixteen-hour game of Runewars, a GLaDOS pumpkin, or dressing up as characters from RAGE… alright, less nerdy than that last one.
I’m writing this because if there’s one thing I can’t stand (and trust me, there’s at least one thing I can’t stand), it’s poorly-designed board game boxes. That’s right: When the box is too big, too small, won’t play Tetris with other games, or falls apart after a year, it really ticks me off something mighty. And I’m sure there’s at least one other person out there who feels the same way. Cue The Board Game Box Review.
It is with tremendous relief that I compile the index of everything I’ve written—or will write, I hope—about Runewars. Our game of Runewars took about 15 hours to complete—much longer than average—and over four times as long to write up. So without further ado (though with one further “read more” click), I present the index:
I recently wrote a series of articles on a recent gaming session (well, sessions) of Runewars and its expansion, Banners of War. It was humbly entitled Runewars Mega (Part 1 here, and Index here), and I wrote it as a story—a retelling of the narrative that four friends created together. The reaction to this series was encouraging, but I kept getting the same question from readers: “But how does it play?”
In writing about the story of our game, I entirely neglected to explain much about the game mechanics themselves. In so doing, the only applied information I seem to have imparted was that Runewars is incredibly complicated—which, sure, it can be. So now I’m writing this as a sort of formal apology: this is how the game plays, and why I believe it to be one of the best games on my shelf.
Well, our story is drawing to a close. By the end of this year, one of the four nations will have gathered the necessary eight dragon runes and put themselves onto the Dragon Throne—that’s right, both.
At the beginning of the eighth year of the War, it really could have swayed in one of three directions. Waiqar the Undying had taken a few lumps, but his dark empire still spanned quite the distance, and his ranks had swollen fat from a combination of seven years of war and the efforts of his necromancers. The Daqan Lords had a small military, but their alliance with the Uthuk Y’llan barbarians meant that they could focus on expanding without having to protect their flanks—and they had the plans of Andira Runehand to guide them. And the Latari Elves were in possession of nearly half of the entire continent of Terrinoth. Each of the four nations were well-aware of the many prophecies floating around, and it seemed that all the peoples of Terrinoth held their breath at once, eyes fixed on the Lost City.
As the slow sixth year of the War came to an end, each of the four nations found their ranks swelling with volunteers (well, “volunteers” is a loaded term in Waiqar’s army). Hedge-prophets and scrying witches claimed that the coming conflict would dwarf the combined bloodshed of the last six years, and that as winter fell on the eighth year, a new lord would be seated on the Dragon Throne and Terrinoth would have its king.
There are no invigorating wars, and the War for the Dragon Throne was no different. As it entered its sixth year and third act, the nations of Terrinoth were exhausted. Two of the Seven Cities had been thrown down, and two of the four nations were all but beaten. But even though the Latari public was declaring their mission accomplished, and though the Daqan Lords were on the cusp of surrender, the war’s resolution was yet a long ways off.
The Uthuk chieftain was emboldened by the Year of the Drought. The Daqan Lords had been beaten to the verge of submission, the Latari apparently had no stomach for warfare, and Old Man Waiqar would surely be outmatched by the sheer numerical power that was now flowing east through the red corridor. The chieftain’s head was full of shifting plots, and his warlocks were powerful after years of access to the libraries of Forge, Vynelvale, and the Lost City.
Unfortunately for the chieftain, this is where my tale twists, and the people of Terrinoth find themselves trading their terror of one horde for terror of another.
In those days very few humans had any talent for the magical arts. Still, there were a few among the Daqan who fancied themselves privy to future events, whether by methods of scrying or reason. Their petition to their concerned lords was one of avoiding war: they claimed that with Old Man Waiqar now amassed on the borders of Uthuk holdings, the two dark threats to life in Terrinoth would soon enter into a bitter struggle, thus annulling any real danger to humanity.
The Daqan Lords were divided. Of course, to believe that the horde would halt their advance was a fool’s hope. Andira Runehand would have pointed this out had she been present at court, and it’s possible that her voice would have been enough to sway the more timid lords. However, she was still in the mountains observing the tides of Uthuk reinforcements that were now free to march straight from the baked lands to the Lost City, and so her counsel was never given. And so the Daqan Lords were unprepared for the fourth year of the War for the Dragon Throne, which has come to be called by historians the Year of the Drought.
News of the Uthuk defeat by a pack of dragons spread across Terrinoth faster than wildfire—much faster, since wildfire could have taken years. Now the Uthuk were the momentary laughingstock of the continent, owing to the natural desire that folks have whenever a world-ending threat appears on the fringes. People wanted to believe the Uthuk advance had been clipped short, but they were forgetting that the Uthuk Y’llan already held the ancient Dragon Throne and the city of Forge, and while reasonable men might have encountered their first great defeat and faltered, the Uthuk knew little of fear.
The winter was long—so long that some folks began to speculate that it was never to end. A few hedge-prophets declared it the end of the world, only to reverse their stories and preach deliverance when spring broke at last. The four nations, however, were cursing the winter long into spring…