Runewars Minatures Game from Fantasy Flight Games unboxing and review

Fantasy Flight Games.... makers of some of my very favourite games of all time, in fact a quick browse around the blog will show you how prolific and lovely their stuff is.  Always high quality, and great to play too.  Not that long ago FFG worked with Games workshop (maker of tabletop miniature wargames) in creating boardgames for various GW licenses.  That though has sadly come to an end.  However FFG thought they could do a tabletop fantasy miniatures mass battle game, like the one Games Workshop killed off upsetting a lot of fans, but set in their own Runebound universe, making it simpler to play, easier to teach, and have more depth. They have used a system very similar to the Flightpath system used in the Xwing miniatures game with some tweaks.  Its a big challenge to break into the tabletop war-games market, so have FFG done it? read on and see.

The chill mists have an evil reputation, billowing and moving like a thing alive. But the true terror lies within the mist, a dead kingdom garrisoned by undying legions. These legions now march on the border territory of Roth’s Vale… and all Terrinoth will know war again.

The box art.... beautiful, and double sided too to show the glorious artwork
you get a TON of goodies in the box,it is HEFTY, but do not worry we will come to that :)

a really random touch, that Olivia noticed when she was investigating the boxes is that if you line them up, they form one large picture which is rather cool.

so.. whats inside this mammoth box then?
lets take a look...............

Its an FFG game, so you know you will get a lot in the box, and a lot of quality too!  Cards, tokens, card terrain, and of course lots of lovely looking models as well. And this really delivers on that front.
The models are push fit, so you do not really need any previous model skill to assemble them.

There are 3 books in the box, like all the games FFG are doing now a really goo learn to play which guides you in gently, and gives you loads of hobby tips for building or painting your models, alternate schemes etc.  Then a full in depth rules encyclopedia, and also a book on background for the world, which is beautifully illustrated and draws you into the world
 The models are really detailed, more so then the previous Imperial Assualt game, and go together smoothly so do not be worried about no experience.  You get a nice sized force for each side in the game with normal units, larger monsters, cavalry and heroes to lead to your army too, so everything you need for a nice balanced 2 player game.
 Representing the "Goodies" as Olivia calls them... shes claimed them because their leader is female, and they have "horses" I cant really argue with her logic on these things to be honest.
 The Undead horde get a mass of shambling Skeleton Warriors.
 Though backed up by some rather fearsome looking critters, all so very well detailed and themed.  Im really impressed by the model quality shown so far.
The "goodies" also get their own large beast, the fearsome Rune Golem. 

Of course with it being FFG it is full of nice high quality tokens and scenary and of course movement templates.
The Terrain is double sided, and does have in game effect, it also really brings the game to life as well. and looks great.

The great powers of Terrinoth have clashed countless times over the ages, spilling the blood of man and beast alike on the battlefields of war. Through innumerable battles, armies have maneuvered and conquered, and legendary commanders have risen from the ashes to lead their warriors to victory and greatness. Now, you can take your place among those hallowed captains with Runewars Miniatures Game, a miniatures game of tactical, rank-and-file warfare, set in the realm of Terrinoth!
Every time you play Runewars Miniatures Game, you’ll have the chance to test your tactical acumen as you lead your chosen army against a single opponent. You will marshal an army and array them for battle—combining solid blocks of infantry, thundering columns of cavalry, and mighty siege units like the magically animated rune golems. Then, using innovative command tools, you and your opponent will order your units on the field of battle, carefully maneuvering, shifting position, charging, and locking in brutal melee combat. With intensely customizable deployment and objectives, plenty of ways to upgrade your units, and beautifully sculpted, unpainted miniatures, Runewars offers countless ways to personalize your army, both visually and mechanically. 

Take Command, General

At the beginning of a game of Runewars, your army is arrayed before you. Rather than taking command of a small group of single figures, Runewars invites you to experience warfare on an epic scale—you’ll send your figures marching forward in formation, orchestrating grand strategic movements as you battle your opponent for victory.  
Figures in the game are deployed in trays, rather than individually, offering a realistic interpretation of large-scale battles instead of small skirmishes. Multiple trays of figures can interlock to form larger units, and as your units inevitably clash and take damage, figures and trays will be removed. Of course, leading an army composed of multiple units can be difficult, so to accomplish this, Runewars offers innovative command tools that invite you to control your units’ every action.
Each unit in Runewars has a command tool, like the one shown above, consisting of two dials: the action dial on the left and the modifier dial on the right. The action dial offers a variety of possible actions, including marching forward, shifting position, rallying your shaken troops, or attacking enemy units. At the beginning of a round, you’ll set command tools for each of your units, carefully deciding what they’ll do during the coming round. 
At the same time that you choose your action, you’ll also make a selection on your modifier dial. Modifiers can enhance your actions in different ways and give you ways to adapt to the changing tides of battle. The modifier may turn a forward march into a wheeling maneuver or a deadly charge, boost your damage during an attack, increase your defensive prowess, or even allow you to take an additional action. The only restriction is that your modifier’s color must match the color of your chosen action. 

On the dial shown above, the Spearmen will march forward using the “2” speed movement template, while the modifier dial changes this movement into a turn with a different movement template!

Of course, every type of unit in Runewars features a completely unique command tool, giving them access to entirely different combinations of actions and modifiers. You wouldn't expect a block of heavy infantry to react as nimbly as some lightly armed archers, and the unique dials given to each unit reflect this fact. 
Selecting an action does more than just determine what your unit will do in the next round—it also determines the order in which your units will act. Each action symbol has a number in the upper-left corner. During the round, these numbers determine the order in which units act, adding another layer to the strategies you must consider. You may want to order your Oathsworn Cavalry to charge and flank a block of Reanimates, but depending on your initiative numbers, you can’t be certain that the Reanimates will still be there when your Oathsworn Cavalry arrive. To claim victory in Runewars, you won’t just need to predict where your foes will move—you’ll have to foresee when they’re going to move as well. 

Forward March 

There are six distinct actions that you can choose on your unit’s action wheel, but not every unit has access to every action, and each action’s color and initiative number can vary dramatically from unit to unit. The six actions in Runewars are:
March: This action is the most basic way for your units to move forward on the map. To move a block of units, you’ll simply align the movement template with a front corner of your unit, and slide your unit forward along the movement template until the same corner aligns with the end of the template. You can see an example of movement in the diagram below.

The Reanimates execute a march order, moving along the battlefield using the movement template.
Shift: The shift action is similar to march, but this allows you to extend the movement template off of any corner of your unit. You may use this to slide over to a better position or stage a tactical retreat from a difficult situation.
Reform: By choosing to reform, you can rotate your unit on its center point to face in any other direction. Whether you’re pivoting to face a unit that’s slipped behind you or simply turning to prepare for a flanking assault, using the reform command to change your facing can be incredibly useful. 

This Oathsworn Cavalry unit uses a reform action to spin on its center, preparing to face a new threat.
Melee Attack / Ranged Attack: When you reveal one of these actions, you’ll be able to engage enemy units in battle and deal losses to enemy units. Every unit has a unique die pool that’s  rolled in combat, whether you’re crossing blades with the enemy or firing arrows and magic from afar. The results you roll can deal damage, trigger special abilities, or panic enemy units, and depending on your units’ formation, you may be able to increase your damage or reroll your dice. Ultimately, the wider your formation, the more damage caused by each hit, and the deeper your formation, the more chances you’ll have to reroll dice. 

The Reanimate Archers fire at the oncoming Spearmen!
Rally: Waging war is hard on your warriors, and the rally action allows you to remove harmful bane tokens, such as panic, stun, and blight. What’s more, many upgrade cards attached to your units must be exhausted to trigger. These upgrade cards won’t ready automatically—in order to ready all of a unit’s upgrade cards, you must order that unit to take a rally action.

This action has no inherent value, but several units and upgrades feature a special ability that can only be triggered by selecting the skill action on your command tool.

Customize Your Army

The gameplay of Runewars is inherently dynamic, offering you countless ways to shift your units, plan assaults, and react to what your opponents have planned. You’ll quickly learn that the game has a matching depth of customizability as you marshal your forces and create your army before you ever march into battle on the fields of Terrinoth.
There are two distinct factions included in the base set of Runewars, and each offers a completely unique approach to the wars that you’ll fight. On the side of Terrinoth, you’ll find the Daqan Lords, noble human warriors with years of training in battle. Measured ranks of spearmen, armor-clad knights, and monstrous, magically formed rune golems can all be found among the armies of the Daqan Lords. 
Opposing these mighty forces, you’ll encounter the undead legions of Waiqar the Undying. Marching out of the noxious Mistlands, Waiqar’s undead are utterly implacable and intent on crushing Terrinoth. As a commander of the undead army, you’ll command hordes of shambling reanimates that can replenish their ranks with corpses from the battlefield. Undead have even been sighted riding on carrion worms—loathsome, maggot-like creatures that spread disease and corruption wherever their writhing path takes them. 
Of course, it’s not just your chosen units that open the door for customization in Runewars. You can adjust your unit’s formation by spending different amounts of points, and upgrade cards let you charge individual units with a variety of unique advantages. You may employ Terrifying Heraldry to frighten enemy units who come too close to your position or sound a Metered March,  giving you unparalleled control over where your units end their movement. You may even embed a Front Line Rune Golem in the first rank of your unit, supplementing your Spearmen with the power of an enraged Rune Golem. By upgrading your troops and altering their formation, you gain an unbelievable amount of room to customize your army—creating a force that acts and responds exactly the way you want it to.
 There is a large selection to choose from that can really change how you play and add some great flavour to your forces. just a little selection below.
The game has a great variable deployment and set up, by drawing cards from each deck you get a different objective, different setup, and different terrain every time.  This means there's are a huge amount of variables and different missions to play and adapt to.

The beginning of every game offers another opportunity for you to customize the game and make difficult strategic choices. You’ll never be certain exactly how you’re allowed to deploy your units until the game begins, meaning you might have to formulate a new strategy on the fly to adapt to changing conditions. What’s more, your exact objectives can change from game to game. Though you can always earn points by destroying enemy figures, if you haven’t completely annihilated your opponent by the end of eight rounds, the player with the most points will win the game!

Of course most combat is a huge part of the game, so lets look a bit deeper into how it works....

Once your units have maneuvered into position, you’ll be ready to attack your opponent’s units, whether you’re drawing swords and entering the frantic scrum of melee combat or striking from afar with arrows or magic. Every attack can slay enemy figures and every unit you destroy is worth victory points at the end of the game, along with the objectives you complete.

Waging war is no easy business, however, and dozens of figures will die on both sides before your battle is done. You’ll kill enemy figures by making attacks, but your units won’t simply seize any opportunity to attack—instead, you must prepare your attacks by plotting a melee or ranged attack on your command tool. 
The outcomes of your attacks are decided by rolling custom dice. Every unit has one or more attack profiles along the bottom edge of its unit card, and these attack profiles determine the dice your unit rolls in combat. For instance, the Daqan Lords’ Spearmen rolls one red die and one blue die during melee combat. Because the Spearmen don’t have a ranged attack profile, they’re incapable of making ranged attacks.
The dice that you roll feature a variety of symbols, and each symbol allows you to gain the upper hand in a different way:
Hit - Hits can be spent by the attacker to deal damage and possibly inflict wounds. This is the fundamental way for you to destroy enemy units.
Surge - Surges are used to trigger special abilities. These special abilities may be found on your unit card or an upgrade card attached to your unit.
Mortal Strike - A mortal strike deals one wound to your target, regardless of that unit’s defense. This powerful symbol is only found on the white dice wielded by the mightiest warriors.
Morale - At the end of the attack, you can spend morale symbols to inflict a morale test on the defender. We’ll explore morale tests in more detail later in this preview.
Accuracy - The accuracy result lets you target a specific figure in the enemy unit, perhaps forcing your opponent to deal wounds to a commander, rather than a simple foot soldier.
The most common way to receive these symbols is from your attack dice, but they may also come from your modifier dial. For instance, when you plot a melee attack on your Spearmen action dial, you can also plot a hit symbol on the modifier dial, which automatically adds a bonus hit to your attack! Other units can supplement their attacks by adding other symbols, including surge, morale, or accuracy results.

Multiply Your Force

The dice that you roll during an attack are always determined by your unit’s attack profile, and you’ll roll the same dice, whether your unit has thirty figures or three. The size of your unit does have a significant impact on your attacks, however, and every rank and column of figures is important.

In this case, three hits, split between your dice and your modifier dial, translates to nine damage!
Wider units can bring more fighters to bear against the enemy, which directly translates to more damage. While you’re making an attack, each hit symbol (whether it comes from your dice or your modifier dial) deals damage equal to the number of figure trays facing your target. So, in the example above, a block of Spearmen is attacking a group of Reanimates. Because the Spearmen have three trays in the rank facing the Reanimates, their three hit results will deal nine damage!
In a massive block of infantry, even warriors behind the front ranks can contribute to the battle by the sheer weight and pressure of their bodies. For every full rank of trays behind your unit’s front rank, you can choose and reroll any number of dice in your attack, giving you better odds of dealing maximum damage. Even a partial rank (a rank with fewer trays than your front rank) allows you to reroll a single die in your attack!

Hold Your Ground

An enemy attack may deal significant damage, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into an equal number of dead figures. In the upper left corner of every unit card, you’ll find that unit’s defense and its wound threshold, as you can see above. The defense value is the amount of damage the unit must suffer in order to take a wound, and the wound threshold is the number of wounds that each figure can take.

Because the Reanimates have a defense of one and a wound threshold of one, nine damage translates to nine killed figures.
As an example, the Reanimates from our earlier example have a defense of one and a wound threshold of one. This means that every damage will inflict one wound, and one wound will kill a figure. If the Spearmen are dealing nine damage to the Reanimates, then they will remove nine figures from the enemy formation, as shown above. 
Of course, there are ways to increase your defense. Almost every unit can plot a modifier that raises its defense strength, which can significantly reduce casualties. If the Reanimates above had a defense value of two, nine damage would only kill four figures—the final point of damage would not surpass the Reanimates’ defense, and it would be lost.
Even the most heavily armored unit can still be terrified or have its spirit broken, however. After your attack, you can spend your morale results and any morale tokens on the defending unit to test the unit’s might. The number of morale symbols spent determines the number of cards that you draw from the morale deck. For instance, if you inflict a morale test with two morale symbols, you’ll draw two morale cards from the deck.
Morale cards feature a number of dangerous results, and receiving any one of them at the wrong time could be disastrous. A unit may be cast into Disarray, forcing it to suffer a stun token, while a Loss of Faith removes an entire tray from the unit. Enemy soldiers may even suffer from Uncertainty, letting you perform a reform action with the enemy unit, turning it to face whatever direction you choose!
You’ll also notice that each morale card features a number of icons at the top of the card. The number of these symbols limits which cards you can trigger—for example, if you inflict a morale test with two morale symbols, you can trigger Uncertainty, but not Betrayal. Inflicting terror, doubt, and confusion on the enemy ranks is a crucial part of achieving victory in Runewars Miniatures Game, and the best commanders will consistently use it to their advantage.
Finally, you have another outlet to ensure your army is completely unique in the way that you paint and customize your figures. Runewars figures come unpainted, giving you a blank canvas to create an army that truly reflects the style and aesthetic that you want to use. Whether you assemble your figures according to the directions in the rulebook, or create bold new modifications and alternate paint schemes, the world of Terrinoth is yours to enter and enjoy when you start painting and creating your own army of Runewars figures. We’ll offer a variety of painting tutorials in the support section lower on this page for the game’s release!

Sound the Warhorns

War has come to Terrinoth, and you are in command. Marshal your army, lead your forces in the service of the Daqan Lords or Waiqar the Undying, and carve your name in the annals of Terrinoth forever. The Runewars are about to begin.

Now im not the best painter, but to show you that these models can be painted, take a look at how my Rune Golem came out....
 just block painting, i worried about tidying up later on.
 There is a lot of detail on these models, but it wasn't as daunting as i thought to paint up.
 And finished with an ink wash and some static grass for his base.

So model quality wise once painted, they match up to pretty much anything out there on the market.

Well..... Theres certainly a lot to take in with this box,  unit cards with all the rules on them instead of big heavy army books, great looking models, a system that's easy to teach and similar enough in idea to Xwing to make it a joy to teach, easy to learn with a ton of depth to master too.  plenty of variety with the setup cards, huge expandability with the announced new expansions, and new races too, the fact it can in the future cross over with other games ffg has in the same universe.  It is going to be quite a player i think in the market.  It plays great, looks great, and is supported by one the biggest game companies around, grab it and try it, its good fun, and is also supported by FFG for organized play events.  using templates to move solves many arguments of poor measurement as well... all in all, i was REALLY impressed, more then i thought i would be. Its a tight game and great looking.
It comes in with a fairly hefty RRP of £99.99, but it does have an awful lot of value in the box, and compared to other tabletop wargames, is pretty good value. and is a well balanced wargame with plenty of expansions on  the way too so head on over to your local game store and grab yourself a pack and continue the adventure.

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