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6 out of 6 gamers thought this was helpful

I will start off by saying that I really enjoyed playing this game. I’ve only ever played the three player variant with Romulans and Dominion included rather than the base game in its pure form but everything I have to say should hold true.

Firstly – the game has great atmosphere and seems to replicate the feel of the setting very well indeed. The factions all seem unique and the game makes every effort to recreate the feel of them with unique ships, command cards, quest balances etc.

It plays fairly fast although is slowed down by having to pick carefully over the rules which are fairly unclear in a number of places. It is also a great deal of fun with there never being a point where anyone in the games we played felt like a hopeless underdog or a run-away victor.

The issue is related to that last benefit. A lot of that variation in being able to rise of fall is due to the randomness of the game. Encounters, in particular, vary pretty much between more or less randomly advancing you towards victory or completely crippling a ship. The quest cards have a similar problem in that some of them seem night on impossible to complete and others are likely to be already complete at the point you gain them.

This high degree of random chance does leave you with a feeling that your tactical and strategic decisions are somewhat diminished. On the other hand it offers sufficient variability that it makes each game feel significantly different to the last.

Go to the Rune Age: Oath and Anvil page
13 out of 13 gamers thought this was helpful

What do you get?
This expansion provides a range of new cards and some additional rules (in the form of a short, glossy rulebook).

The cards can be broken down as follows:

2 new races: Orcs and Dwarves, with 30 cards each.
2 additional unit types for each existing race, totalling an additional 24 cards.
A new type of neutral card – mercenaries, totalling 50 cards.
76 cards to form 2 new scenarios and to add to existing scenarios from th ebase set.

All of the cards of the same high quality, both in terms of card stock and artwork, as those in the base set.

The new races
This expansion retains the strong theming for the races in the game and the new races each have a very consistant and interesting theme to them.

The Dwarves of Dunwarr faction utilises gold – giving the player new means to acquire it and new ways to spend it. It’s a challenging race to play as it requires careful balance between obtaining/using gold and in slimming down the deck to useful unit and utility cards.

The Orcs of the Broken Planes force the player into an aggressive stance as many of the cards have special abilities that only fire when the player has no cards left in their hand. They can be very powerful early on in the game but tough to balance if you plan on acquiring any non-unit cards.

Additions to existing races
Each race gets two new units. One slots in the mid-range of the units and adds extra utility and options whilst the second is a “Legendary” unit that costs more 6 gold to acquire and cannot be destroyed once it is in play.

These new unitss are a really great addition as they do give the races a wider range of options in play and the legendary units offer a nice option for later on in a game when there’s plenty of gold about.

New scenarios
There are two completely new scenarios in the expansion.

Ascent of the Overlord is an all-against-one scenario and offers a range of new rules to make the position of overlord feasible against the other players. It has some issues as the balance seems to be out-of-kilter. We’ve tried a number of house rules to resolve thus but none seem to be quite on mark yet.

Quest for Power is a fairly standard all-against-all scenario where players acquire power through controling landmarks (which replace cities in this scenario). It offers a nice change from the existing scenarios as all players can play until the end of the game (where one player has acquired 20 power) and there’s no elimination. It can also be easily modified to a time-limited game where the player with the most power at the end of the time limit is declared winner.

In addition to the two new scenarios there’s also 4 cards and some additional rules to provide the option of converting Resurgence of the Dragonlord into a fully co-operative scenario. It’s fun but maybe a little on the easy side for experienced players.

The mercenary cards are basically additional neutral cards that can be added in to any scenario. They add a bit more depth and variety to the scenarios and our gaming group rather like selecting them at random to spice up scenarios we’ve played through many times.

This is a great addition to the base game and if you enjoy playing Rune Age then you’ll almost certainly love these additions. Whilst one of the scenarios suffers a bit from balance issues, both are welcome additions to the play options.

The new races add different and flavourful play-styles and the additional units offer new options and tactics to the existing races.

Mercenary cards allow a bit of a fresh feel for any scenario they’re added to and their entirely optional nature allows for them to be an easy plug-in.

All in all – if you like Rune Age then I would very much recommend that you buy this expansion. I am just hoping that the long gap since its release doesn’t mean that there won’t be more like it.

Go to the Rune Age page

Rune Age

21 out of 23 gamers thought this was helpful

It’s all in the scenarios
I’ll go into the other aspects of the game in a moment or two but I wanted to start here as it’s what has really picked this game out from the crowd for me.

I game in two distinct groups – my main gaming group (4 guys in their 30s and 40s) and amongst my family (age range more varied but starting at 7). As a consequence I tend to find the most value in games that can work for both.

Rune age offers a range of four scenarios in the base set. One is collaboritve, two are PvP (player vs player) and one can be played either way. The scenarios give the gameplay a distinct flavour for any given run through the game that supplements the atmospheric races that the players select on any given run.

The fact that the scenarios offer such a range of game-play really helps fit the game to the distinct gaming groups I play with. My family group tend to prefer thimgs towards the collaboritive end of the scale whilst my main gaming group are much keener on the challenges offered by PvP play.

The scenarios also help with replay value, offering a lot more distinct flavour.

The Races
On any given run through, each player selects from four available races (basically Humans, Elves, Undead and a Demonic-style race). Each race has its own deck of troops and their special abilities really offer a distinct flavour that makes the game a different experience for each different mix of races.

The races also have a really distinct flavour that, for a roleplayer or fan of fantasy literature, resonate really nicely. Elves are a slow-build race, humans are fast and are generally able to throw hordes of lower-powered units into any given battle. Undead pluck troops out of the discar pile to throw into play and can feel like an unstopable force early on. The ‘demons’ can injure themselves to bring about special effects of various sorts.

The component list is pretty simple – a special ‘attrition dice’ used to destroy troops that attack certain scenario cards, a load of cardboard counters used to track various scenario victory conditions and then a lot of cards. The cards are split into the race decks and few different types of ‘neutral’ card such as gold, scenario cards and so on.

The components are all of excellent quality and whilst our cards are starting to show some wear now, I feel it’s from legitimate regular use rather than any defficiency. The counters still look pristine and the dice has a nice weight to it with clearly-defined symbols that are easy to pick out and have yet to wear at all.

It’s hard to really criticise this game for anything at all in the base set. The only things that I found are when it is combined with the expansion.

In particular, the box design holds all of the cards in the base set and about 2/3 of the ones in the expansion. We redesigned the box, with some new carboard interior boxes to hold the new cards which solved the problem.

Secondly, one of the scenarios in the expansion isn’t very well balanced and we’ve had to house-rule it to balance it up somewhat.

These, though, are really minor minor things and unless you think they’re going to drive you mad they shouldn’t put you off from what is a great game.

Go to the Lego Heroica: Castle Fortaan page
14 out of 14 gamers thought this was helpful

Great intro to board-based RPGs
We bought this game (along with other expansions/sets) to play with my then-5-year-old son as an introduction to board-based RPGs.

For that putpose it worked really well. Lego was familiar territory for him and the rules were straightforward enough to grasp quickly.

What you see in the picture above is pretty much it – lots of great lego pieces that are mostly simple stock lego components and them some special character pieces. All of the components are great quality (as you’d expect from Lego) and you can supplement them easily from pieces in your own lego colletion. There’s duplicates of some of the smaller, more easily lost, items as well so you don’t have to fear too much that you’ll lose something critical if you don’t have a large collection.

The rulebook is colourful, well-written and introduces the rules in a way that can be digested from a very quick skim-read.

Game play
Game play is semi-collaborative (although there is, in theory a winner) and don’t exclude anyone from play (as a lot of RPG style games do on character death) as characters that ‘die’ are only out of the action for a few turns. This does, of course, lead to bit of a lack of sense of risk but for younger plays that doesn’t seem to be too much of a problem.

Where the problems start to set in is with replay. The rules are very basic and there’s no real sense of progression to the characters so one dungeon-bash runs into another and they all seem a bit to samey to be entertaining beyond the first play or two. That said, the rules are clearly written with expansion in mind and so it’s easy to house-rule a progression system, add more monsters etc Very much in the spirit of lego.

If you’re wanting a simple introduction to RPG board games for some younger relatives this is a great place to start, especially if you’re willing to progressively add house rules.

If you’re looking for something with a bit of complexity out of the box then steer clear of this one or you’ll be disappointed.

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