Runewars was published by Fantasy Flight Games in 2010. It was designed by Corey Konieczka and illustrated by Kevin Childress, Jesper Ejsing, Moy Shin Hung, Andrew Navaro, Brian Schomburg, and Wil Springer.
- 196 plastic figures;
- 10 plastic mountains;
- 12 plastic dial connectors;
- 16 activation tokens;
- 1 battle marker;
- 7 city tokens;
- 26 damage tokens;
- 8 defeated hero markers;
- 20 development tokens;
- 35 exploration tokens;
- 4 home realm setup markers;
- 40 influence tokens;
- 13 large map tiles;
- 12 resource arrows;
- 38 rune tokens;
- 16 stronghold tokens;
- 24 training tokens;
- 4 faction sheets;
- 4 reference sheets;
- 56 bridge-sized cards;
- 168 small cards;
- 1 40-page rulebook.
There are 56 bridge-sized cards in the game that include 32 Order Cards (8 for each race) and 24 Quest Cards. Also, there are 168 small cards which include:
- 31 Fate Cards;
- 12 Hero Cards;
- 8 Evil Objective Cards;
- 8 Good Objective Cards;
- 25 Reward Cards;
- 8 Spring Season Cards;
- 8 Summer Season Cards;
- 8 Fall Season Cards;
- 8 Winter Season Cards;
- 50 Tactics Cards;
- 3 Title Cards.
You choose for which race you are playing: Elves, Humans, Undead, or Uthuk. Each race needs to get Dragon Runes. There are not too many of those, so, sometimes, you might feel the need to nick them from your opponents. To do that, you need a good army. To recruit armies, you need resources. For resources, you need land. So, there is plenty of work to do, but also plenty of fun to have.
Two to four people can play. If you are having a 2 player game, each one can control two factions (or you can simply play following the instructions described in the manual with every player controlling just one faction). An entire playthrough lasts for about three hours. You may finish sooner if someone manages to get all the Dragon Runes before the end of the game, but do not count on that! The game seldom takes less than two hours.
The game lasts for six years (yes, it is long). Each year is divided into four seasons.
The game stops after the six years or when one of the players gains control over all six areas that contain Dragon Runes. If nobody manages to do that by the end of the game, the winner is the player with the most Runes. At the beginning of the game, every player has two Dragon Runes.
There are four Season decks: Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter. Every season, a card is drawn from the corresponding deck. These cards contain special events that create the circumstances of the season.
Every season consists of three phases.
Resolve a Season Card
Each Season card has a Primary Ability which must be resolved first and a Secondary Ability which is resolved second.
Choose Order Cards
Each player has eight Order Cards. For every season, you choose one Order Card. This is your active card – the card that determines your current action. Actions include recruiting units, moving units, building strongholds, and many other things. Players put their active Order Cards on the table. Every Order Card can only be used once a year. So, you have to plan your year carefully. After the year is over, all the Order Cards return to your hands, and you may play them again.
Resolve Order Cards
The players’ active Order Cards are resolved, starting with the lowest numbered card. Every Order Card has a Primary Ability that is resolved first and a Supremacy Bonus Ability that may be used only if this card is your highest numbered card this year.
You can download the full rules as PDF here.
Races and Heroes
There are three types of character miniatures in the game: Neutral units (Beastmen, Dragons, Giants, Hell Hounds, Razorwings, and Sorcerers), Races (Humans, Elves, Undead, and Uthuk), and Heroes (good, evil, and neutral).
Human units (blue) include Bowmen, Footmen, Knights, and Siege Engines.
Elf units (green) include Archers, Pegasus Riders, Sorceresses, and Warriors.
Undead units (purple) include Dark Knights, Necromancers, Reanimates, and Skeleton Archers.
Uthuk units (red) include Berserkers, Chaos Lords, Flesh Rippers, and Warlocks.
Good Heroes include Runewitch Astarra, Sir Valadir, Silhouette, and Ronan of the Wild.
Evil Heroes include Varikas the Dead, Mad Carthos, Battlemage Jaes, and Red Scorpion.
Neutral Heroes include Bogran the Shadow, One Fist, Spiritspeaker Mok, and Mordrog.
Runewars Heroes are the same as Descent Heroes. So, if you have Runewars and Descent: Journeys in the Dark Conversion Kit, you can have more heroes to add to your Descent game.
Runewars vs BattleLore
This fantasy wargame puts fantastic creatures like goblins and dwarves into the historical environment of the Hundred Years War. It is all about battles while Runewars has more strategy. Generally, BattleLore is simpler than Runewars.
Runewars vs Mage Knight
The game takes place in the Mage Knight universe. It has elements of deckbuilding and role play. Mage Knight offers you to play either in a cooperative mode when all players have a common goal or in a competitive mode when everyone plays against others. Runewars offers more interaction between players than Mage Knight.
Runewars vs Forbidden Stars
Forbidden Stars has the same designer as Runewars. While there are many similarities between the two games, Forbidden Stars is a combat-driven game. Runewars, in comparison, is more about strategy.
Runewars vs Twilight Imperium
In Twilight Imperium, you play for an ancient galactic civilization while you are building an empire. You get interstellar battles and struggle for power and influence. Compared to Runewars, Twilight Imperium has more variety and depth, but it takes longer to play.
Runewars vs Eclipse
In Eclipse, you control an interstellar civilization. To beat your rivals, you will explore and build new spaceships to fight battles. Eclipse has more player interaction than Runewars and simpler rules.
Runewars vs War of the Ring
War of the Ring is an adventure game based on Lord of the Rings. Its target audience is fans of the series. Runewars is less complex and takes less time.
Banners of War
Banners of War is an expansion for Rune Wars that brings you eight new unit types – two for each of the four races, new Development Cards that let you upgrade your existing units and purchase new abilities for races. It also has new Order, Season, Hero, and Objective Cards and over fifty plastic figures.
Expansions for Runewars / Descent: Journeys in the Dark / Runebound Second Edition
- Jonas the Kind
- Nara the Fang
- Truthseer Kel
- Tobin Farslayer
These expansion have three stats cards each for three board games: one for Descent: Journeys in the Dark, one for Runebound (Second Edition) and one for Runewars.
They belong to the Descent Series, the Runebound Series, and the Runewars Series.
Realms of Terrinoth: Runewars / Descent: Journeys in the Dark Scenarios
This is a booklet which contains 3 scenarios for Descent and 1 scenario for Runewars – Battle of the Ru Steppes (a preset Runewars map following regular rules involving Dragon Rune conquest).
A number of misprints have been found in Runewars.
Map tile areas “6D” and “3C” should each have 1 Giant as their starting neutral units, not 2 Giants. The only tile area of the maps that should be set up with 2 Giants is “2A”.
There are 24 Quest Cards and not 23 Quest Cards as the rulebook says.
The definition for control of a home realm area should say: “Players always control areas in their home realm unless enemy units or an enemy stronghold is present.”
The “Allied Units” section of the rulebook should say: “If these allied units are ever in an area not controlled by the player, then the units stop being allied to him (except during a battle).”
Q: Can I play Runewars as a solo game?
A: There is no solitaire version described in the guidebook, but if you want to try it, nothing will stop you! You will either have to play for different races which will seem odd sometimes or you can use dice to make decisions for one of the teams.
Q: Is there an online version of Runewars or an iOS app?
A: No, currently there is none.
Q: Where can I get card sleeves for Runewars cards?
A: You can buy them from FFG or Mayday Games.
Q: Are there any tutorials that can help me learn how to play Runewars?
A: Yes, there are plenty of videos and articles online that can teach you to play Runewars and give you useful tips on how to win. Here are some: http://www.yourepeat.com/watch/?v=ly3_FlR5MdU, http://www.yourepeat.com/watch/?v=O6-i_duBTAc, http://coreyscribnotes.com/board-game/strategy/runewars-board-game. You might also want to check out some unboxing videos: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=43Ao_6NJpRM, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uhs5HO2aigw.
Q: What happens when players enter undefended cities?
A: An undefended city falls under control of the player who has entered it.
Runewars is a delightful mixture of different genres. Here, you have got elements of fantasy, adventure, wargame, auctions. Swift mechanics, dynamic play, beautiful graphics are there to make you sure you will enjoy your playing time.
Do not be scared away by its complexity and the game length, Runewars will be an adorning for your board game collection!
You can buy Runewars on Amazon.