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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 game in play
images © Fantasy Flight Games

User Reviews (12)

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I'm a Real Person
56 of 57 gamers found this helpful | Medals x 1
“Gather Runes to win the War”

Runewars is not what I expected it to be. Maybe fooled by the title, I was kind of hoping it was a wargame, or, at least a more conventional wargame.

Well, it is, actually, a game of accumulating runes and although some of them you will win by getting your hands dirty, it is quite possible to win the game without winning a single battle against another player.

In fact, it is quite common to go through the first half of the game without any significant conflict among the players. The map is big, and unless the setup was really bad, you can easily get by with the resources around you, but I’m ahead of myself here, let’s talk a little bit about the game in some detail.

Everything in the box is FFG quality. The miniatures are definitely smaller than other offers from the publisher, but they are nice enough and the small scale makes it easier to find a table in which the game can actually be played.

Make no mistake, when everything is set up it still will occupy a lot of space, but this is no World of Warcraft – The Board Game for sure.

Rules and rulebook:
Well, the rules are online so I won’t get into details here. But basically, each player controls a race in the Runebound universe (Humans, Elfs, Undead and Demons). The rulebook is much better than other FFG products, and although the rules have a lot of details, it is quite easy to find everything.

However, this is the kind of game that will make you go back to the rulebook while playing, especially on the first sessions. And from time to time, you can expect to find yourself browsing a faq or BGG looking for some clarification.

The fate deck:
Everything in the game revolves around the fate deck – a bunch of cards that determines: combat results, diplomacy and hero quests.

I like the system, but it generates some drawbacks:

1. The combat is less intuitive: if you know your unit only hits on a 6 when rolling a die, you intuitively know the odds you are facing, and you can make quick decisions with that information. With the fate cards, you have to learn the odds before making quick, but sound tactical decisions. Not a dealbraker, but the game is not short, and these little time eaters might add up.

Also, I’ve seen a bunch of players relying too much on turtling, taking the easy way out and avoiding making odds assessment, but just venturing forth after making sure they have an army as big s possible, which also drags the game a little.

2. Diplomacy is limited: Diplomacy is really useful to make monsters run. The odds to make an alliance with the monsters are too low and the amount of influence you usually have to spend are almost always better used elsewhere.

Counting the cards on the deck works to a certain extent and it is quick if you are looking for just the four successes, but I guess it is more useful in the Hero quests, since most of them will be successful if you get a neutral result as well.

3. It is not as quick as rolling dice.

The gameplay:
When it works, it works beautifully. In fact, I think the whole system is quite neat with a lot of borrowed things from Twilight Imperium and Nexus Ops, but it will sometimes fail to feel epic, because:

1. Someone might win before any significant battle happens. It is not that common, but it can happen, and it is frustrating to see all those units prepared to fight coming back to the box, without a scratch on them.

The map offers a lot of space for the factions and most of those spaces are not really worth to fight for until later in the game. The cities offer nice bonuses, but if every player has one (which is often the case) the motivation to conquer another diminishes. After all, you don’t want to be unprepared when those runes start to show up.

Also, I just think the board has too many mountains and rivers/lakes, which further delays battle, making terrain hard to navigate.
Neutral units are a nice idea, but fighting them is almost all the time very easy. The idea of having them in your army is also great, but it rarely happens and, guess what: they also delay the fight among the players.

Heroes are OK. I like the way they are implemented (specially when using the exploration tokens), but they are yet another excuse to not get into a fight, as you can invest on them to get some runes without losing troops.

No wonder the Elves are so popular, as they have the means to grow quickly on the influence run, although they are not that good in direct confrontation.

This makes Runewars look like a bad game, but it is far from the truth. You see, all those things are random and may or may not happen considering the initial setup, group thinking, experience with the game, etc. So chances are, the more you play the game, the better you will enjoy it.

Runewars is not too complex, but will certainly benefit from the players experience, because I think the right mindset is key to enjoy it. Battle between the players won’t always be the focus of the experience, but once you are passed that, you will find a game that offers some nice tactical and strategic choices to make.

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45 of 51 gamers found this helpful
“A war, quest and adventure Game”

From the universe of Descent and rune age came Runewars the most epic (and complicated) war board game ever see.
One of the good points on this game is the miniatures, over 200 miniatures, separated to 4 faction; Daqan (humans), Latari (elfs), Waiqar (no-dead), Uthuk (demons), neutral units; the dragons is the highlight miniature and finally 12 heroes. All of this is high detail and really beautiful.
A lot of card for the different events, or seasons on the game, order cards, etc.
Tokens, tokens and more tokens, among this the map pieces

Well this is without question the hard, dense and long rules game have ever see and play, for that reason just let talk a little reference of the rules.
The objective is dominate 6 grounds with a Dragon Rune’s on it and after seven years (of the game) end, each year have 4 seasons; spring, summer, autumn and winter, each one with special effect and event. Each player have to play one order (of eight orders), this orders we have movement, conquest, recruit, fortification for an example
The combat is complex you have to divide your units for initiative and resolve with the destiny cards (this is like a dice with the possibility you do nothing)
The adventure phase is an extra phase when you play with your hero(s), level up, move or fight with another heroes or do a quest to obtain object or also Dragon runes.

It’s a great game with a lot a rules and mechanics, maybe you will need a couple (maybe three) of matches to play with fluency and really enjoy the game. After that with all the components (I love the miniatures) the game experience is fantastic. Completely replayed, the setup of the map is random in each game.

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6 Beta 1.0 Tester
38 of 47 gamers found this helpful
“Better than the sum of its parts.”

Our initial impression of Runewars was as a rather overproduced Risk-like game: one in which armies beat on one another in order to claim the most territory. While that’s certainly a sub-theme, it’s not at all the whole: one must learn to read the map, its resources and connections; one cannot neglect the Hero subgame (our winners are usually able to pull of two or three of the six needed Dragon runes through Hero play); one needs to understand the tempo of seasons and order cards; and one definitely needs to learn to manipulate influence and the Objective and Title cards. That sounds, on first blush, like a lot of subsystems – but it’s not terribly difficult in practice.

The real problem is with the wants-to-play-overproduced-Risk player who tries to simplify, and then discovers he’s going to lose every time to the player that has the whole thing under control. If you try to play some other game with the Runewars bits, it might be unsatisfying – but the game that came in the box is excellent: subtle; tight; replayable; charming.

I still don’t understand the production decision that gave us the “mountains”, though!

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Gamer - Level 9
Explorer - Level 6
Guardian Angel
45 of 56 gamers found this helpful
“Gets better as you replay it. Great Game.”

Your first play of this game can be overwhelming. There are so many bits and it seems to take a while to set up. However, if you’re looking for a meaty strategy game this is it. After you have played it once and gotten the hang of it you should go with the more advanced set up method as the pre-generated set up in the instructions while a good way to learn the game also means the elven faction is pretty much at a disadvantage for most of the game and will not normally win. Once you are past your learning game though you will find a nice balance between strategy and luck and enough options from start to finish to give the game good replay value. The game has very nice bits and nice touches that weren’t strictly necessary, but show consideration for the gamers. An example of this is the small 3D mountain pieces for the board. A nice visual touch and a handy reminder of the terrain type(which matters in the game). This is a strategy wargame and if those interest you you will like this one.

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Reviewed My First Game
38 of 53 gamers found this helpful
“Fun for almost the whole family!”

Runewars is a whole lot of fun and I love playing it but it can be difficult to find the time and people to play with. The size and time commitment people see when they look at the box scares a lot of people off. I mostly have played it 2 player with my boyfriend and a couple 3 or 4 player games with a friend and or my son added in.

There can be a great deal of thought that goes into each move and if someone goes into it thinking only war is the answer they are unlikely to win and can even be likely to do a bit of king-making before they go down in flames. I feel like I still have a lot to figure out about this game after about 15 or so plays.

We played it a lot when we first bought it but recently it seems it isn’t getting pulled out as often as some of our other faster lower set up games. I don’t often go longer than a month without playing it though. Hopefully we will be getting it to the table more often.

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I Am What I Am
29 of 51 gamers found this helpful
“Excellent Tactical Battle Game”

A lot of variety can go into playing this game. Despite what may look on the surface to be a limited number of options, the gameplay is not based solely on the raw components, but rather upon the combination of many components in different configurations. Every map provides unique challenges and planning opportunities; every racial combo requires different strategies to overcome.

A large part of this game is trying to outthink your opponents, especiall in tight games. However, it also is not so long that a player that is just having bad luck is going to be waiting for hours on end.

A great game that will provide many, many hours of fun!

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My First Heart
8 of 15 gamers found this helpful
“Fun game. Races are cool.”

This game is a lot of fun.
The board is a bit wonky to setup, so be sure you have ample table space or retreat for a bit to you childhood and sit Indian style on the floor!

The team play is cool between good and evil.
The races aren’t quite balanced though.
i.e. My favorite are the undead, the Orcs aren’t quite comparable.

There’s enough to balance in the game and still be fun.

Expansion adds some cool creatures to all sides.
Battle system is well thought out and adds a couple twists to some creatures.


Pro’s –
Fun to play.
Races are interesting.
Seasons and events on a God View/Macro scale are pretty cool.


Con’s –
Races aren’t quite balanced.
Can be time consuming.


Overall, this is a really fun game. Just have some table space available and some time to commit.

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Gamer - Level 3
19 of 44 gamers found this helpful
“A True Classic”

One of the best games made in the past few years. As far as fantasy wargames go, this is the greatest.

Lots of deep strategy. How and when you play your orders, troop movement, stealthy heroes questing for treasure, and even the weather can affect gameplay. So many options with a modular board that changes every game.

Seriously, this is one of the greats. I’ve played it a dozen times and want to play more.

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9 of 32 gamers found this helpful
“Epic fantasy warfare.”

One of my absolute favourites. Take the epic from Twilight Imperium and put it in a fantasy world with dragons, demons, and undead. Much of the mechanics can be found in other FFG titles (TI, Warrior Knights, Game of Thrones etc), but I see this as a collection of some of the very best.
The art work and miniatures are top class, as we are used to when having a late night date with FFG.

Highly recommend!

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Rated 50 Games
10 of 54 gamers found this helpful
“Fantastic Fantasy game”

Great Fantasy game. It’s mix of strategy, empire building, conquest, quests, heroes, biddings. There are a lot of options to collect 6 runes and win this game. Sometimes Player with biggest army is not winner!

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Rated 25 Games
7 of 50 gamers found this helpful
“Fantastic fantasy warfare.”

The game is not just about killing enemy troops but finding and protecting Runes. Great game.

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4 of 45 gamers found this helpful
“Great Dudes-On-A-Map Game”

FFG have learned from other DoaM games, and have produced a well-crafted, deep, engaging game.


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