Sunday, October 28, 2018

Runebound: A Solo Review

In my quest (pun intended) for a good solo game, I've stumbled into Runebound. Before the latest expansion, Unbreakable Bonds, there were no official solo rules. The reality is, though, there's not much to the solo rules in this expansion and the game can be easily played solo without it.

However, the game itself is worthwhile. Of course, it is a better game with more players, but one can have a reasonably good time playing alone, controlling a single character.  There are several decent videos on YouTube which detail how to play the game, as well as show game play in progress. So, I will not get into a lengthy discussion of what is all involved in the game.

Simply put, each player controls a character, moving it across the board in search of combat and quests. These are determined by drawing cards from one of three adventure decks, depending upon the type of encounter...encountered. Combat, in this 3rd edition is actually intriguing. Instead of dice, players cast double-sided "runes" which have various icons, depending upon the character and their gear, that have different uses in a combat round. Where the recent expansion excels is in that there are now four different combat boards, one for each major archetype of NPC enemy. Each board is slightly different and so combat is varied and can become a real threat to the players' characters. In fact, in my game last night, I lost, barely, as I could not get off my own damaging attack before the final boss hit me with his. Had I just one more point of health or had I been able to do a single point of additional damage, I'd have won the game. As it is, that game was a good one and it did feel tense, at times.

Where there is a lingering problem for the solo player is the limited replayability of the game. The main game has two main quests/campaigns and each expansion adds to this. However, once these have been completed, the player can either run through them again, using a different character or just repeat it again and again. There's not much interest in me to repeat the same thing over and again and this is where I wish there was a bit more meat to the game.

I do believe it would be a simple thing to create an expansion of several dozen campaigns (a campaign is just a major campaign, not at all like a campaign in Descent or other dungeon delving games). As each current campaign is limited to two Acts, of twelve turns each, a series of one Act mini-campaigns that are linked to an overarching major campaign is not impossible. Heck, even including campaigns of up to four or more Acts would not be a bad thing, for the solo player. I'd not want to play such a lengthy game with three others.

One of the expansions adds to the PVP aspect of the game. It was originally intended to be a competitive game, but UB also provides cooperative rules, in addition to the solo rules. But, a solo player really has not use for the PVP rules at all, even if playing as more than one character.

Considering that the 2nd edition of the game had more expansions, then there is hope for the future.

I have all of the current expansions and intend to play through them. I will run the campaign that I lost, last night, again and if I win, will move on to the first expansion's offerings. At least, that is my plan.

But, such a plan may well change as I've a new game that arrived this week... which I will blog about in the near future.

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