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Subject: A review on the second character deck rss

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Roberto Arbelaez
United States
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I will first include a general review that applies to all Character Deck expansions, and then I'll move on to review the Runemaster Character deck expansion.

This is my second of six reviews on all the Character Deck expansions.

You can find the review for the WildLander Character deck here:


General review on all the Character Deck Expansions

A very important thing you should know before you buy any of the expansions is that in order to include character decks into a Runebound game, each player must have his own expansion deck (righ out of the box, or customized). So you should buy at least one character deck per player, more if you want to build customized decks.

As stated in the instruction booklet, each expansion from the character deck series "gives your hero new skills and abilities, and they also allow you to thwart your opponents with devious spells and deadly challenges".

An expansion deck can be used right out of the box (every character deck expansion is ready to be used by a single player), or you can customize your own deck using cards from different character deck expansions. That means that different players could use the same boxed standard expansion in a game playing one against each other (mike uses a wildlander character deck, and dave uses a wildlander character deck too), or that different players can customize decks using the exact same cards from two different copies of the same expansion (mike uses one card from the wildlander character deck on his custom deck, dave also uses the exact same card on his customed deck from his own copy of wildlander character deck).

I think character decks probably were meant to be bought by the players in order to customize their own character, and not necessarily by the owner of the game.

Each expansion includes:

25 Class cards (feats, spells, locations and challenges) - Red Back
5 talent cards - Blue Back
10 menace counters
1 Rules Booklet (exactly the same one for all the expansions)


Instead of expending points to increase your abilities, now you can acquire talents, which will grant your hero abilities (similar to the character abilities in Runebound's character cards) and Proficiencies (used for spell-casting). This is a really great addition, as it allows you to improve your character in more ways than just increasing abilities, stamina or health. The abilities are very well designed, very useful, and related to each individual character deck's flavor. You can only have one talent at a time (talents are non-cummulative). Some cards MAY seem too powerful, perhaps unbalancing at first glance, however, taking into account the increased difficulty of the game, they are actually quite necessary.

CLASS CARDS (feats, spells, locations and challenges)

You can play Friendly class cards (cards that give your hero bonuses or advantages) on your own turn to benefit your hero, but also you get to play Enemy class cards on other players turns, to make things harder on their heroes! (This is a great way to end Runebound's infamous downtime problem).

Feat Cards: Grants your hero temporary abilities and bonuses on your turn, or makes another player's hero suffer a penalty on his own turn. May require proeficiencies or they'll cost more (+2 per unknown proeficiency).

Spell cards: Similar to feat cards. They grant your hero bonuses or inflicts penalties on other heroes. May require proeficiencies or they'll cost more (+2 per unknown proeficiency).

Location Cards: Played on heroes or enemies on specific terrain types, granting bonuses and advantages to your own hero, or inflicting penalties on other heroes. Some of them persist, afffecting the location after the turn has ended.

Challenge Cards: Similar to challenges from the traditional adventure decks in Runebound, but you can play them on your enemies by expending menace points (more on that later).

Main Changes to Vanilla Runebound

The menace Point System: The use of any card (except talent cards) requires you to expend menace points. You have a supply and a pool of menace counters. Your supply is located right over your hero's card, your pool beside it. In order to play friendly or enemy class cards, you have to spend menace counters.

Friendly class cards use menace counters from your own pool (moving them onto your supply). Enemy class cards use menace counters from the other player's supply (moving them onto his menace pool).

However, if there aren't enough menace counters to expend, you can't play the card. Notice that if you use too many friendly cards on your character, you're just giving other players ammunition to use against you. Also, Runebound's challenges will not only reward you with gold and experience, but they will also give you menace counters to refill your supply (and give your opposition ammunition to use against you).

The turn sequence: The turn sequence changes a little bit, to accomodate other player's ability to play class cards on your turn, and to allow for the refilling of class cards.

General comments on Character Deck expansions

More Interaction: You will get lots of player interaction by using Character Deck expansions. Even if you still play without allowing PvP action, the character decks are designed to let players mess with each other. A really great bonus is that downtime is eliminated. Now you get to play class cards against each and everyone of your fellow players, on their respective turns.

Increased Replayability: You'll be able to play with different decks, or even build your own customized decks, adding to Runebound's replayability factor. You'll be playing a different character every time you play!

More Confrontation: You won't hear complaints about Runebound being a multiplayer solitaire after buying these expansions. However, If you dislike direct confrontation in Runebound, these are NOT the expansions for you (unless you buy them only for using the talent cards - but that seems a waste of money to me). Even without allowing PvP action on your Runebound games, this will turn your traditional Runebound games into a frontal conflict between the heroes. If you do allow PvP action, this will turn your games into a full blown PvP war. I'm not saying that this is bad (nor good), just that you should know what you´re getting into before buying these expansions.

Improved Flexibility: You will be able to improve your character beyond traditional ability, stamina or health upgrades. Acquiring talents (and their respective proficiencies) allows for greater flexibility in the upgrade of your character, and gives you a chance to build strenghts not necessarily focused on helping you, but also, on messing other player's game.

Longer Playing time: The playing time will be longer because of all the extra additions to the turn sequence (and this is NOT good, since Runebound is infamous for its long playing time). Also, you won't be able to improve your hero as fast as you did before, because there are lots of new dangers and difficulties that make the game much harder; you'll find yourself travelling to towns more often and expending more gold on buying health, and you'll only attempt hard challenges with full health and low menace supplies. Also, you'll be more likely to die. All these factors will lenghten your Runebound session.

Risk Factor: The risk factor will greatly increase. You'll not only have to face the challenges, but whatever the other players send against you. You'll be more likely to die. A hard challenge can become harder if other players get to play enemy class cards on your hero before the challenge to weaken you (and they will), possibly getting you killed. Powerful talent cards will help reduce the risk level and they do help a lot, but it is still greater than in vanilla Runebound.

Strategy/Tactics: New strategic variables are added with Talent & Class Cards, and you should think on how you want your character to grow early on in the game. Tactically, you'll have to manage yor Menace supply and keep track on other player's menace supply (specially before attempting hard challenges, because doing so with a big supply of menace will surely make enemy cards rain on your parade - and even get you killed). Also, you should plan on acquiring Talent cards as soon as possible, because they tend to balance the overall risk increase of the game.

Overall: These expansions offer an interesting alternative to Vanilla Runebound. They help solve several problems (player interaction, downtime, replayability) However, they are not for everyone. Be sure to try them before you buy them, because they change the feeling of the game radically. The game feels more chaotic, more dangerous. Personally, I like them. But I am sure lots of people won't.

Review on the RUNEMASTER Character Deck

This expansion has a very strong wizard/sorcerer flavor to it, and lots of arcane magic resources. It may not have as powerful talent cards as other character decks, but it surely does compensate with a great array of offensive and defensive spells, to make your character a kick-ass wizard.


The talent cards included with this expansion are:

Syntax: Name(Cost, Proeficiencies)
Proeficiencies: W-Wizardry, D-Divinity, F-Fighting, S-Survival, Sb-Subterfuge

Keeper of Knowledge(1,W,D): You may immediately refill your hand after playing or discarding a class card. You automatically succeed all lore tests.
Scribe Spell(2,W,D): when you play a spell return it to your hand without discarding it. Then choose another class card and discard it in its place.
Bolt of agony(3,W,D,Sb): Before combat make a magic attack. If successful, reduce enemy damage to zero for every phase in the first round of combat.
Mark of the Devout(4,W,D): Hire allies for 1 gold less. You may have up to 3 allies. Your class cards hand increases by 1 for each ally.
Runemaster(5,W,D): Friendly spells cost 1 less menace point (minimum 0). After hero makes a magic attack, he may take any number of exhaustions. For each exhaustion taken, add +5 to the attack roll.


Syntax: Name(type,cost,health,ranged,melee,magic)
Type: Friendly-F,Enemy-E,Both-B)

The most interesting challenges included with this expansion are:

Rock Hound(E,3,3,14/1,15/1,10/0), All of your hero's and allies' damage values are reduced by 1.
Dragonlord Tzeitz(E,10,6,15/3,19/5,14/2), If you fail to defeat this challenge, place it on the undefeated challenge track with the correspondent counter on the current space. Reward: Take this card, it is now the dragon rune of Tzeitz. You may activate before you play to reduce the cost of a friendly spell by 3 menace points.

Syntax: Name(type,cost,locations)
Type: Friendly-F,Enemy-E,Both-B
Locations: River-R, Swamp-S, Mountain-M, Hills-H, Forest-F, Road-Ro, Town-T

The most interesting location included with this expansion is:

Wizard's Athenaeum(F,1,T), Reveal the top 6 cards from the class deck, you may keep the spell cards and discard the others.

Syntax: Name(type,Cost,Proeficiencies)
Type: Friendly-F,Enemy-E,Both-B
Proeficiencies: W-Wizardry, D-Divinity, F-Fighting, S-Survival, Sb-Subterfuge

This expansion has some great spells. The most interesting spells included with this expansion are:

Alchemy(F,1,W): Discard any item cards and receive gold equal to their prize.
Construct Golem(F,1,W): Discard 1 artifact and 1 armor item. The card now becomes a golem (an ally) with the following stats:(3,3,3/1,6/2,3/1).
Dragon Storm(E,1,-): Use on an enemy fighting a challenge with "dragon" on the title. Until the end of combat, the challenge receives a +2 to its magic damage value.
Spell Wall(F,2,W,D): Play immediately after your hero fails a magic combat roll. The hero does not take any damage, and the combat result counts as if he successfully defended instead.
Polymorph(F,2,W,S): Discard any challenge currently facing and replace with a challenge from your class cards hand without paying any menace points. You must then attempt the new challenge.
Relic Wraith(E,2,-): Your enemy must take menace points equal to his highest cost item card.
Zombie(E,2,-): Until the end of combat, if any of your enemy's allies attack, they can't attack, defend or use their special abilities for the rest of the combat.
Simulacrum(F,3,W): Until the end of combat if any damage is inflicted on your hero, place it on this card instead. If the card ever has 5 damages, the hero is immediately knocked out.
Bestow Blessing(F,6,D): Discard all damages and exhaustions from your hero and allies.

Syntax: Name(type,cost,proeficiencies)
Type: Friendly-F,Enemy-E,Both-B
Proeficiencies: W-Wizardry, D-Divinity, F-Fighting, S-Survival, Sb-Subterfuge

All the feats included are Enemy class cards, and none of them have proeficiency requirements! The most interesting feats included with this expansion are:

Fire Breath(E,4,-): Until the end of combat, your enemy's challenge inflicts +2 damage in ranged combat.
Aura of the dead(E,5,-): Your enemy's hero may not attack during the first round of combat.
Stone Skin(E,6,-): Until the end of combat, if your enemy's hero make s a successfull melee attack he must dicard all of his wepon items after resolving the attack.


This is a great character deck for wizards and sorcerers (and any character in general). It has lots of spells and really mean feats, making the character a powerfull and fearsome epic magic user. Its talent cards are not as powerfull as talent cards in other character deck expansion, but hey! who needs them? With all the spells and nasty feats, you'll be able to stand on your own against anyone, anyday.

It is a great addition to Runebound, and gives depth and breadth to the characters as well as to the game in general.

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Nick Bos
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Thanks for the review.

I might buy a few, because I really think player interaction was lacking.

The fact that you actually ask for geekgold doesn't is a reason for me to not give it. Sorry, but this is the first review that I have seen asking for geekgold, you got GG for writing it already

I'll give you a thumb though, and if I could, I'd give you ten

Thanks again!
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