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Scott Weber
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The Realms of Terrinoth event at the Fantasy Flight Games Event Center is being (was) held February 25-27, 2011. At the event there was an announcement for Fantasy Flight's newest game set in the Terrinoth universe. The name of the new game is Rune Age. The announcement was made Friday evening and then eight random people were selected to participate in playing this new game. I was lucky enough to participate in this playing of the new game and wanted to share my initial thoughts and impressions.

Fantasy Flight had a mock-up of the box (although like all mock-ups, the art may or may not be final), but I did not have a camera with so I unfortunately do not have any pictures.

Steve is one of the editors for Fantasy Flight Games and he was explaining the game, keeping the flow going, and answering any questions.

What is Rune Age?

The game falls squarely into the family of deck-building games (Dominion, Thunderstone).

How is Rune Age set up?

Rune Age shares a number of similarities to other deck building games. There are four factions in the base game and the game can be played with up to four players. The four factions in the base game are the same four factions in Runewars. Each of the factions has a set of cards that only the player of that faction may purchase. These sets of cards are unique to each faction. Most of these faction specific cards are units that are added to the deck, but there is also a single card that represents the kingdom and has twenty hit points. There is also a faction specific pile of cards called strongholds that provide influence to spend.

There are common piles of cards that can be purchased by any of the players and these include the Gold cards and the neutral cards. The neutral cards can include tactics cards that affect either your turn or combat. The neutral cards can also include neutral units.

There are City cards which represent the different cities from the Terrinoth universe (Vynevale, Frostgate, etc). These cities have a defensive value and can be conquered by a player. After they are conquered, they are placed face up in front of the capturing player and can be exhausted (turned sideways) to provide influence for purchasing other cards.

There is an event deck which provides unique Instant events and Enemy cards that may enter play for the players to fight. Most Enemy cards upon being defeated become Artifacts that provide the player with additional abilities.

How is Rune Age played?

There are three types of resources in the game: gold, influence, and power (combat ability) and these resources are represented on cards. The cards in the game are acquired by spending the required resources and then either adding the acquired card to your discard pile to eventually be shuffled into your draw deck or the acquired card is placed directly in front of you face up, ready to be spent.

When a player has a turn, he or she may spend any gold or influence to acquire more cards, or he or she may start a combat with the units they possess in attempts to conquer a card. Spending gold is very similar to other deck building games. A player totals up the gold they wish to spend, discards it from his or her hand and then places the newly purchased card into the discard pile. Spending influence is a little different than other deck building games because all of the influence producing cards are kept face up in front of the player. The influence producing cards in the game I played were never shuffled into the deck but were instead exhausted during a turn to purchase a card. The third option is to utilize the units in your hand to start a combat. The combat can be conducted against a neutral city, a captured city controlled by another player, a neutral event card that represents a monster, or another player's faction.

How does a player win Rune Age?

Each game of Rune Age begins by selecting the scenario that is to be played. The scenario that I played in was to defeat a dragonlord. The dragonlord had a combat value of eighteen. It was not expressly stated and I didn't expressly ask, but I also assume that a person can win by defeating all the other players in the game as well. As each faction has a kingdom card that has twenty hit points, and as we were told that a person that lost all of their hit points was eliminated from the game, I assume that a person can win by eliminating all of their opponents.

What happened in the game of Rune Age that I played?

Since I had the opportunity to play this game so soon after it was announced, it's only fair that I share some of the more particular details of the game that I played. I can't provide a lot of the exact names of cards as I was so excited about just getting to play this game that I didn't take any notes. The four players that were in the game I played had varying degrees of experience with deck building games. One of the players had actually playtested an earlier version of the game with Fantasy Flight. Another one of the players had never played a deckbuilding game. I have played deckbuilding games over one hundred times between Dominion, Thunderstone, and Ascension.

Each player received the starting cards for his respective faction. I received the Human faction. It was mentioned previously that the four factions are the same as Runewars, so the other factions in this game were Uthuk, Undead, and Elf. The Human faction included four unit cards. The four units were Footmen, Archers, Knights, and Siege Towers. The costs for these four units were, respectively, 1 gold, 2 gold, 3 gold and 4 gold. The strengths of these four units were, respectively, 1 strength, 2 strength, 3 strength, and 4 strength. The Human faction also included 3 stronghold cards which could be purchased for either 4 gold or by conducting combat and totaling at least 2 combat strength to "defeat" the card and adding it to the play area. A stronghold that is captured or purchased provides 1 influence to spend. There was also a starting kingdom card that had 20 hit points.

A little further explanation regarding unit cards in this game. Each unit, in addition to having its purchase cost and combat strength listed, also has a special ability. These abilities activate during a combat.

Briefly this is how it works: A player may conduct a combat on his or her turn. The player first declares the target that he or she wishes to fight. That target may be one of the neutral cities that are placed at the beginning of the game, or a neutral city that has been captured by another player, or an event card that represents an Enemy (including the Enemy that is the Objective for the game), or a person may directly attack another player's kingdom. In all cases, combat is conducted the same with the exception that fighting an Enemy event card also has an additional step at the end for attrition. The player declaring the attack is the attacker. The attacker begins the combat by playing a unit or tactics card from his or her hand. If the target is a neutral card, the attacker continues playing additional cards until they choose to stop or they defeat the neutral card. Each neutral card has an inherent defense value. If the target is controlled by another player or actually IS another player, the attacker plays a unit or tactics card and then the defender plays a card. Players alternate playing cards until both have passed. Once a player passes, they may not play any additional cards. Once one player has passed, the other player may continue playing as many cards as they desire. It is while playing the unit and tactics cards that abilities are triggered. These triggered abilities can affect how the combat outcome is determined and can mean the difference between victory and defeat. After the winner was determined all cards played would be discarded.

I will cover what a few of the abilities that I recall from the units that I saw played. As the Human player, I had the following units: Footmen, Archers, Knights, and Siege Towers. The Footmen's ability was to reveal the top card of my deck, if the card was a Footmen, I could add it to my hand. If it was anything else, I could place it in the discard pile or back on top of the deck. The Archer's ability was to discard 1 opposing unit. The Knight's ability was to reveal the top card of my deck, and if the revealed card had a strength of 3 or less, I could place it in my hand. If it was more, I had to discard it. The Siege Tower's ability was to discard a card from my hand to add +2 strength to my combat total. Some of the other abilities I saw were the Undead's Reanimate unit. This unit when it came into play, searched the discard pile and if there was a Reanimate card in the discard pile, it could pull it out and add it to the combat. The Uthuk had some cards that could "wound" themselves and provide additional strength or allow the owner to draw more cards during the combat.

At this point, I want to briefly mention the keywords of discard, wound, and destroy. Discard is straightforward. If directed to discard a card, a player places the card in the discard pile. If directed to destroy a card, that card was immediately placed back onto the purchase stack that it came from. In other words, it was remove from your active deck and would need to be re-purchased to put it back into your deck. If a card was destroyed during combat, it no longer provided its strength to that combat. Units that destroyed other units are extremely powerful in combat. If directed to wound a card (and this only happened in combat), a player would exhaust that card to denote it had been wounded. That card would continue to provide its combat strength to the current combat, however at the end of combat, it would be destroyed rather than discarded.

While taking a turn or participating in combat, it is also possible to play tactics cards. In the game I played there were two tactics cards available: Battle Cry and Forced March. Battle Cry was a battle tactics card. If played during a battle, it gave +1 strength to each unit participating in the combat. Forced March was a tactics card that allowed you to destroy one card from your hand and then draw two cards. Tactics cards were acquired by spending influence.

There was one neutral unit available in our game: the Demon. The Demon cost 6 influence to purchase but had a combat strength of 5 (the strongest unit in the game). It also had the ability that it could not be destroyed in combat unless it had been wounded first. This was a powerful ability when attempting to fight event Enemies.

The Event deck was created before the game began. The Objective card from the Event deck started the game in play. It was an Enemy (a dragonlord if I recall correctly) that had 18 combat strength to defeat. At the end of every round, before the first player started the next round, a card was drawn from the event deck. One of the first cards drawn from the event deck in the game I played was a card that became an Artifact and went face up in front of the player to the right of the start player (in this case the player to the right was the 4th player in the game). This Artifact provided that player with an additional influence point. In this case, the Event deck acted as a balancing mechanism. Future events included additional Enemies to defeat. These Enemies would often be captured and then become an Artifact that generated a gold or an influence for the capturing player. Towards the end of the game, we encountered an Event card that was classified as an Instant. In this case the Instant was a rampaging Enemy that fought each player in turn. This Enemy fought with a strength of 12 points. A player could respond to this attack by playing unit and tactics cards, triggering their abilities and taking advantage of their effects and attempting to counter the 12 damage that was coming at him or her. For each combat point expended to counter the attack the damage to a player's capital was reduced. I recall in this particular encounter, I had no units in my hand, so I had to take 12 points of damage from a single card. This took my total from 20 to 8 in one action.

At the end of each player's turn, ALL players draw their hands back up to five cards. This allows a player to participate in combat as a defender but not have a weakened hand before it is his or her turn.

Who won Rune Age?

The Humans won the game that I played. In the final turn, the Humans had a single gold card, Battle Cry, and 3 Forced March Cards in hand. The first card play was Forced March, destroying the gold card drawing two Footmen. The second card play was a Forced March, destroying a Footmen and drawing a Footmen and a Demon. The third card play was a Forced March, destroying a Footmen and drawing the second Demon and a Knight. The Humans had previously acquired an Artifact that provided +3 strength when fighting the scenario Objective. The Human then began a combat against the Enemy Objective playing a Demon (+5 strength), Demon (+5), Knight (+3) and revealing the top card (a Footmen) and adding it to his hand, Footmen (+1), revealing the top card (a gold card) and discarding it, the final card played was a Battle Cry adding +1 to each unit played. This gave a final combat strength of 18 plus 3 for the Artifact to total 21 points. At this point, because the combat was against a neutral Enemy, a die had to be rolled to determine Attrition. The die has 2 blank sides, 3 sides with one unit and 1 side with two units for attrition. A "1" was rolled and the Footman was destroyed. This reduced the combat strength to 19 points and still enough to defeat the objective. The time spent playing this game was about 90 minutes and that included all of the set up and game explanation. Experienced players will probably be able to play a 4-player game in an hour.

Summary


As stated earlier, I have played quite a few deck building games so I admit to having a soft-spot for this genre.

Rune Age has a high degree of player interaction and even the potential for player elimination.

Rune Age has asymmetrical factions that will provide an excellent opportunity to explore a different facet of the deck building genre.

Rune Age will have different scenarios. The scenario I played was essentially a free-for-all to build up and defeat the Objective Enemy. Steve said that there was another scenario that was cooperative where the Event deck was filled with "bad things" and the players would struggle together to defeat this Event deck. (cool) The Rune Age scenarios also change the neutral setup concerning which cards are available. In our game there were only 3 different neutral cards.

It was stated that Rune Age should be available summer 2011, will come in a box the same size as the core sets for the Living Card Game series by Fantasy Flight Games, and had an expected MSRP of about $40. The game will include 250-300 cards. (Disclaimer: These are all estimates that I was provided.)

My anticipation level for this game is high. At this point, there isn't a game entry for Rune Age in the database (the game isn't even announced on Fantasy Flight Game's website, so I am unable to even provide a link for that information). I would submit a game entry but I'm not even sure of the proper spelling of the game's name. I have been typing Rune Age because it looks better than RuneAge or Runeage. FFG did have a mock-up of the box but the game cards were cutouts of the artwork and text inserted in card sleeves. I was informed that the artwork on the mock-up copy is from the game and quite a bit of the artwork looks new (this is a huge positive considering how much artwork is available from the Terrinoth game universe).
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Anthony DuLac
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Almost sounds like a Dominion version of Warhammer: Invasion. Cool! Big thanks for posting this, man!
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Ed Browne
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This is currently in playtesting...ninja

I think it's one of the games they want to have ready for GenCon this summer.

I can't comment on specifics, but it's a pretty good game concept. Length of time for games should be around 30-45 minutes, which will make it a nice filler. It has most in common with RuneWars as far as games set in the Terrinoth universe. It will be a nice addition to the deck-building genre, especially since it will be able to be played several different ways: Last Man Standing, Co-op, civ-building, etc.

Now that the cat is out of the bag, they should be making some sort of official announcement soon that will have more details.

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Jacob Russell
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Bullshit!
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Thanks so much for that very detailed write up. When I first heard he was going back to Terrinoth I was not very excited, but I must admit that this sounds so unlike any deck-building game I've played that my interest is certainly piqued.
 
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Ben Boersma
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Thanks for the information!

Just to confirm, this is NOT a LCG? (That would be great)
 
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Paul Butler
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So disappointed.
It's not like we all didn't guess it was an LCG or deck builder. Behind the curve on this one FFG.
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Abaddon Wormwood
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I agree with the Harlequin - would have been nice to see a new boardgame/wargame in the setting. Yet another card game doesn't full me with excitement. Sure it could be great but - it's another deckbuilding cardgame.


Lord Abaddon of Wormwood
 
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Bossko B.
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Disappointed. I'd heard that FFG were making a new Terrinoth setting game. I love Runebound but I don't like deck-building games so won't even bother with this :(
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Stig Beite Løken
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Meh. The game could be good, but I've got enough Dominion to last my a lifetime. Also, the market is getting flooded with deck building-games. Any news in the event about an expansion for Rune Wars?
 
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Stefano Castelli
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Does this mean that the BloodBowl deck building game from FFG has been canceled?
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Trent Hamm
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See this text? It's a gratuitous waste of GeekGold.
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The game itself isn't important. Spending time intellectually jousting with likeminded folks is the real reason to game.
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BGG Dogma #34: if a game uses a deckbuilding mechanic, it must be nothing more than an exact clone of Dominion and thus not worth looking at.
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Havelock Vetinari
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trenttsd wrote:
BGG Dogma #34: if a game uses a deckbuilding mechanic, it must be nothing more than an exact clone of Dominion and thus not worth looking at.


I am curious about the previous 33 BGG Dogmas. Enlighten us please.
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Brian Nors Jensen
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A asymmetric deck-building game with player interaction...

Count me in
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Paul Butler
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It's one thing that it has proven to be a card-based game, to no one's surprise. But the fact that it is the same four factions as Runewars? And it seems to even have the same units? Might as well call it "Runewars: The Card Game."
I would have hoped to get a new spin on Terrinoth at least. This just feels like the same old story with new mechanics. I guess they figured they could recycle art. AGAIN.
*yawn*
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Freelance Police
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trenttsd wrote:
BGG Dogma #34: if a game uses a deckbuilding mechanic, it must be nothing more than an exact clone of Dominion and thus not worth looking at.


Actually, since it's Rule 34, you *really* don't want to know what these other deckbuilding games were about. laugh
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Markus
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So this is my new overtext ? Hmmm...
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Oh noes ! I still don't own a deck building game because I can't decide which one I should get. And now there's another one ! wow
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Bill Stivers
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This sounds great! Thank you for the information about the game. Of the deck building games I have played Ascension and Thunderstone the most and have played Dominion on-line. I will have Night Fall very soon .

I am thankfull Rune Age sounds like a finished product and will be a new addition to a very popular type of game. (Deck Building)

I thought it was a little funny reading previous posters upset this was not a board game. FFG has a tone of boardgames and they support those games very well.

Run Age will have the opportunity to do two things for the gaming community.

1. Draw FFG players to a deckbuilding game.
2. Draw deckbuilding players to FFG.

This sounds like a win for everyone. The more gamers that experiance FFG worlds, art, rules, mechanics, and support and the more players experiancing deckbuilding games the better off our community will be as a whole.

Good luck FFG, you have a lot of competition out there.
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Anthony DuLac
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I took this shot of their mock-up box cover at the FFG Event Center. Enjoy!

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Kiren Maelwulf
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I knew it would be a card based game. But one designed by Corey Konieczka? The guy couldn't even design a proper war game, I would have to have a lot of information on Rune Age to have any faith in it.

littleweb wrote:


Rune Age has asymmetrical factions that will provide an excellent opportunity to explore a different facet of the deck building genre.



I really hope they balance the factions.
 
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Maciej Teległow
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Great news.
I love deckbuilding games.
This can be really good one with high interaction between players and scenarios. Great news.
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Maxime Yazz
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Does this spell doom for the Bloodbowl: Team Manager game??
 
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Michael Jordal
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Maxx_Yazz wrote:
Does this spell doom for the Bloodbowl: Team Manager game??


I was told it is still in development.
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Chris J Davis
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Overtext pending moderation...
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Maxx_Yazz wrote:
Does this spell doom for the Bloodbowl: Team Manager game??


Why would anyone think that? One is about war, the other is about football.
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Maxime Yazz
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bleached_lizard wrote:
Maxx_Yazz wrote:
Does this spell doom for the Bloodbowl: Team Manager game??


Why would anyone think that? One is about war, the other is about football.


My train of thought was that this will come out soon and whatever resources they have involved in Deckbuilding or LCG development will be busy following up this release with expansion, or expansion for their existing titles. Rather then doing a riskier business venture with launching a second franchise of a similar based game mechanic.

Because I can see BloodBowl: Team Manager turning into another Gears of war: the boardgame. Which we are still waiting for.

Hope that answer your question on why Anyone would think that.

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Anthony Lazaroski
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Blueharlequin wrote:

I would have hoped to get a new spin on Terrinoth at least. This just feels like the same old story with new mechanics. I guess they figured they could recycle art. AGAIN.
*yawn*


I was at the event and got to play it a few times, and actually Rune Age uses nearly all new artwork.
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