It was only the other day that Quinns and I were lamenting the lack of love that the gaming community seems to have for Runewars. I think this is a great game of grand fantasy strategy, but I don’t know many gamers who have a copy, nor many shops who stock it. For a little while I held a terrible fear that it would fall by the wayside and I spent more than a few sleepless nights clutching at my pillow and staring into the darkness, my bottom lip quivering as I wondered if Fantasy Flight were going to let this game go out of print.
Not so, because they’ve just gone ahead and announced Banners of War, a Runewars expansion that’s bristling with battle and which looks like it not only boasts a great deal of new content, but also a few interesting tweaks.
One of my criticisms of Runewars is it has always felt a little like two separate games that aren’t entirely integrated. Each player’s heroes can be found wandering across the landscape like overpowered hobos, filching all kinds of artifacts while remaining largely ambivalent to the great struggles taking place around them. Banners of War addresses this by giving players the chance to make heroes into generals, who can then lead their armies, or even act as saboteurs or spies and influence the outcome of a battle.
It also features this great new order card. Take a look:
Turn order zero? Zero? That means this card will let its player act before all others and help even the odds for anyone backed into a corner. Will this force all sides to build even larger armies? Or will attacking players simply hold off until next season? Combat is further spiced up by the inclusion of special tactics cards that give a player a chance to more closely influence a key battle rather than always having to draw combat results from the merciless fate deck.
Also in the mix are faction-specific development cards, so that elves can now be elfier, and a new title card that can be purchased, the Guildmaster of Merchants. Whoever claims this title becomes an economic force to be reckoned with and, presumably, can trigger a global recession.
There’s also a bunch of new alternative city tokens, terrain pieces and reward cards, as well as some worryingly large monster figures with which I’ll be able to scare Quinns. I, for one, am very keen to give this a go. After all, there’s nothing quite like a crowded tabletop, is there?