I’ve only played this game once, so I’m not going to do a full review. I will, however, elucidate my impressions of the game, based on a single play-through. See, I got this game as a birthday present for a friend of mine, so I don’t actually own it. However, the birthday boy and a couple of other friends of mine came over the other night and we all played Runebound together, so I did at least get to play it once.
First things first: Runebound is a long game. Actually, that’s not quite accurate. To call Runebound a long game is like saying that rain is a little damp: it’s technically true, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. The game’s box pronounces that the game takes between two and four hours to play, which in and of itself makes the game seem pretty long. However, this statement is, at best, a very conservative estimate and, at worst, a bold-faced lie. When we played the other night, we started at 3:30pm; the game ended around 11:30pm. Yes, the game lasted eight hours. Granted, this was the first time we had played, so we spent some time learning the game, and there were the necessary bathroom and pizza breaks. However, at best, this would account for maybe an hour; the other seven were honest-to-goodness play time. As I said, Runebound is not merely long; it is an epic game.
Now, you might gather from the above paragraph that I consider the game’s length to be a liability; in truth, however, I don’t. None of us were really ready for the game to end when it did, and one of my friends went out and bought the game the very next day. Runebound, for those who aren’t familiar, is a fantasy adventure game that effectively takes all of the fun instant gratification from a traditional RPG (levelling up, amassing loot, fighting monsters, etc.) and distills it into board game form. Not only that, it does it really, really well. Basically, you move your character around the map, draw adventure cards, beat down monsters, gain experience, gold, and items, and spend your hard-won gold in the various towns dotting the landscape. There are adventures of various difficulties scattered around the map, so you get to scale the game’s difficulty as you increase in power. Interestingly, while the game seems like a good fit for cooperative gameplay, it’s actually an indirect-competition game. There’s not a lot of direct player interaction (though you can attack other players if you want to); you’re basically all racing to be the first to defeat the High Lord Margath, a powerful dragon whose minions are plaguing the land.
Each adventure is contained on its own card, so when you attempt an adventure, you never really know what you’re going to be going up against. The cool thing is that there’s a sort of backstory that progresses as you play, and when certain bad guys come out, you recognize their names and it’s kind of a big deal when you defeat them.
At any rate, my impressions of the game are pretty positive. I’d definitely play it again, despite its incredible length. I’d also recommend it to anyone who’s an RPG fan.