Time for another edition!
I don’t do this because I think anyone cares, I do it because maybe someone will find a hidden gem here… Or something. Anyway:
Runewars is certainly one of the best “big box” board games I have ever played. Battlestar Galactica remains the most exciting, and Settlers of Catan certainly fills a niche, but for fantasy warfare Runewars takes the cake.
The game is “goal-based”, which is great from the start. Older games (like Risk) are “elimination-based”, in that you are kicked from the game when you are defeated. So, if a game takes 2 hours to play and you lose after 30 minutes, you gotta go watch a movie while waiting for everyone else to finish. Goal-based games keep all players in the game until the very end. Instead of wiping the map of them, you must reach the goal(s) before them. That is much better design.
(it’s technically possible to oust another player before the goal is realized in Runewars, but it is *highly* unlikely)
The game pieces and map are beautiful. The core systems are simple and fun. And the time to complete (once you’ve played once or twice) is 1.5-3 hours. That’s pretty good for these “big box” games. (“big box” games come in a big box… here ends my explanation of that term)
My only gripe is that I co-developed many of the systems used in Runewars many years ago with a good friend of mine. Now, we see those systems done (better) in a very successful commercial game. Fuck salt!
(yeah, I know that’s the second time I’ve used that… it just never gets old for me)
I’ve played a TON of 4x (eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, eXterminate) games over my career as a computer gamer. I go as far back as Lords of Conquest on the Commodore 64. (I actually was playing this game a few months ago with a good friend – some 24 year old games are still awesome!)
Shrapnel games knows their 4x, but I was skeptical at first. How could a “modern” game have such terrible graphics? How come I hadn’t heard of it?
Well, damn! This game has more depth than anything else I’ve ever played in the 4x space. It’s a fantasy-themed 4x game, and you decide everything from tax rate to individual unit battle formation (and orders). So, not only are you conquering provinces and recruiting units, but you are setting the individual strategy for those units and their commanders. Lots of variables for success (and failure).
Right now, I’m playing this game via PBEM (play by e-mail) with a bunch of friends (the game supports up to 21 human players). It’s better than Civ4 pitboss, hands down. Sure, there’s more to manage, but I find there’s more impact I can have on the outcome of the game by putting thought into it… And there’s no double-turns.
If you’re looking for a DEEP fantasy wargame to sink your teeth into and get lost for a few months – this is your game. Single-player is only so-so, it’s far better with a group.
Yep, I’m still playing with my dots in this online sports management sim. Feel free to laugh all you want at me, I love my dots: