Tuesday, April 03, 2007

My Favourite Thing To Do By Myself

With Scrabblette exhausted after a hard day streetwalking in Las Vegas and the kid tucked up safely in bed at his mum's place, there was only one thing on my mind: Runebound. I had a couple of expansions I hadn't tried out and I needed to get to them before the next batch arrives.

The expansions in question were The Dark Forest and Terrors of the Tomb. The Dark Forest adds plant-based cards to the encounter decks, and Terrors of the Tomb does the same with undead. I planned to use them both together but I was afraid of bad shuffling causing me to just get the same old cards as always, so I went through the decks and removed all cards that mentioned Lord Farrow or Vorakesh. Then I realised that those cards included all of the events with sunburst symbols, and there were none of those in the new decks, so I had to add those back in. Then I shuffled in the new cards and had a deck I hoped would provide me with a decent adventure.

My Ally and Item deck, by the way, has Relics of Legend and Artifacts and Allies already in it. It seems to spit out a lot of allies, so maybe one day I'll make separate Ally and Item decks.

I chose Landrec the Wise to be my character. He's from the Island of Dread expansion and I hadn't used him before. His special power is to spend 3 exhaustion to change the order of combat to magic/melee/ranged, and he has 5/2 magic to start with. That sounded interesting so I hunted down his cool little miniature and plonked him in Tamalir. By the way I always use the "Shorter Runebound Variant", i.e. 4 XP per upgrade. Even by myself I don't want the game to go too long. I don't use any Doom Track - I like to control the pace of the game myself.

Just after I purchased my first upgrade I drew that card Defiance in the Face of Darkness where 3 towns get face down cards in their market stacks. I went around collecting them. The first was an ally, Gareth the Black, who costs 9 gold, and I got him free. His melee is 5/3. The second was Brothers of Stone, another 9 gold ally. They aren't as powerful as Gareth but they're decent. Thereafter my combat strategy was to attack with the Brothers of Stone in ranged, Gareth in melee, and myself in magic. Usually the encounters died during the melee phase. Occasionally I would defend in ranged myself if I didn't want the Brothers to get hurt.

I completed a couple of quests and got some gold... not that I'd been spending much gold because there were no useful items coming out. I lucked out in Forge and bought a Soul Burn - expend 1 stamina to do an extra 3 damage on your magic attack.

With such powerful allies and a useful spell like that I started going for the blue encounters. They were quite dangerous so I started using my special power and the Soul Burn to generally do 5 damage in the first range of combat. Even the blues can't handle that. I didn't feel I was strong enough to take on the reds so I journeyed around for a while fighting blues and looking in the market stacks. I found Jirta the Fierce who seemed more useful than the Brothers of Stone so I hired her. Eventually I managed to find a Shield of Glyphs (+4 when you defend) so I decided it was worth giving the reds a go.

As it turned out the reds weren't as dangerous as I remembered them, and the Dragonlords Carnovax, Eregax and Fromax quickly fell to the power of Soul Burn. Actually Jirta was required to finish off Fromax, but that was only her second attack for the game.

So, what did I think of the game? Well, the two adventure expansions are interesting, but it irks me that they don't change the plot of the adventure. I'm not going to just shuffle them into the encounter decks - that would dilute the story, and I only play for the story. However they don't come with any story of their own. So I'm not such a big fan of those two decks. My favourite of the small deck expnasions is easily the one with the giants - The Scepter of Kyros. I think if I do use these expansions again I'll keep them separate, and maybe choose from the forest expansion if the encounter is in a forest and from the undead expansion if the encounter is on a plain. Mixing them in doesn't work for me.

In any case, solitaire Runebound is a pleasant way to spend a couple of hours if, like me, the stories in your head can keep you amused.

By the way, here are my house rules:
1. It costs 1 gold to remove all wounds and stamina counters from a character or ally during market phase. A couple of times I played I found myself injured and penniless and doomed, which was boring.
2. If after you roll 4 or 5 movement dice you can't go where you want, you can go 1 space anyway.
Playing solitaire, the movement dice don't matter in theory, but I use them to guide me. I will occasionally change path when the dice tell me to.


TheRankO said...

Hey Friendless,

You weren't kidding -- an AT session report! And a good read at that.

Here's some irony for you. Back when I was on BGG, I was a badge-carrying ATer...but I actually prefer Return of the Heroes!

Friendless said...

My problem with Return of the Heroes is that I can't remember the rules and I can't find them in the rule book either. With Runebound last night I had to look up how many starting gold you got, that's all, and I haven't played for 6 months or so.

TheRankO said...

The latter is a very sound complaint: that rulebook borders on gibberish.

And I have a similar rule-remembering issue with my all-time favorite solitaire fantasy game -- Magic Realm. I play it anyway, though.