Runewars is a game of fantasy empire building. Players must expand their empires to increase their resources and send hired heroes out on quests in the hopes of capturing precious and powerful dragon runes. The game is played over seasons of play, each player taking one action per season. The game ends once a faction has accumulated six dragon runes or six years have passed; in the latter case, the player with the most runes wins. In case of a tie, the tied player with the most influence wins, and if a further tiebreaker is needed, the tied player with the most starting influence wins.
There are four factions that players may choose from: Latari Elves
, Daqan Lords
, Waiqar the Undying
, and the Uthuk Y’llan
. In addition, there are Neutral units
that can prove to be either valuable allies or annoying roadblocks to each player’s goals. Heroes
may also be controlled by each player, but are not counted the same as other units, and so will be discussed in a dedicated section below.
Each unit in the game has one of four different types of base that determines the unit’s capabilities. Triangle Base units are the weakest, representing common soldiers. Circle Base units represent magical units (and heroes); their special abilities activate twice as much as other units. Rectangle Base units are mid-level units, tending to represent cavalry units or higher-level warriors. Finally, Hexagon Base units are the heavy hitters, tending to have high health and dealing large damage. More information can be found in the Combat and Diplomacy sections.
Units may also have additional movement abilities, Flying or Fast. Normally, units are able to move up to two spaces with the Mobilize or Conquer Orders. In addition, there are restricted movement edges on the board, mountains (red) and water (blue). Units with the Flying ability may ignore restricted movement edges when making a move, and units with the Fast ability can move up to three spaces in a single action.
The Latari Elves are not known for their military might. They are the only race to lack a Hexagon Base unit, although they do have two Rectangle Base units. The initiative on their units is high, with the Pegasus Rider a flexible unit with both Flying and Fast attributes. In addition, they start with the highest influence, providing them an advantage in the early game with diplomacy.
Starting Tactics Cards: 1
Starting Influence: 4
Special: Crack Shot
: Deal 1 damage to the unit of your choice.
Rectangle Base, Flying, Fast
: Rout up to 2 enemy Triangle units or 1 enemy Rectangle unit of your choice.
Special: Word of Vaal
: Your opponent must retreat one of his standing units from the battle.
: Deal 1 damage or
destroy the damaged or routed enemy unit of your choice.
Waiqar the Undying
The humans are a steady army that has a couple of defensive and offensive tricks. While they do lack a magic unit, their Siege Tower unit allows them the chance to increase their strength against strongholds - or to hold their own ground. The defensive developments they can build also increase the chances that they will hold onto strongholds they build.
Starting Tactics Cards: 2
Starting Influence: 3
Special: Concentrated Fire
: Deal 1 damage. Your opponent must assign this to a unit with more than 1 health (if able).
Rectangle Base, Fast
: Deal 1 rout. Then draw 1 Tactics card.
Special: Valiant Strike
: Deal 1 damage. If this does not defeat the unit, it is dealt an additional damage.
Special: Lay Siege
: Gain +2 strength when determining the winner of this battle.
Waiqar the Undying’s undead armies are built to swarm over the enemy with numbers. The Necromancer’s ability to generate additional Reanimates out of nothing, paired with the large damage potential of the Reanimates’ special ability can create a dangerous combination. However, the armies are slow and fragile: outside of the fearsome Dark Knight, all other units have but only 1 Health each.
Starting Tactics Cards: 3
Starting Influence: 2
Special: Mortal Strike
: Your opponent must destroy one of his Triangle, Circle, or Rectangle units of his choice.
Special: Raise Dead
: Gain 2 Reanimates and add them to the battle.
: Deal 2 damage if you have at least 2 standing Reanimates in the battle.
Hexagon Base, Fast
: Deal 1 rout for each different standing unit type you have in the battle (maximum of 3).
The Uthuk Y’llan form a varied army with units covering each of the four base types in their ranks. They also start with the highest amount of Tactics Cards, and have the largest capacity for gaining more with high resources. While they do not have as much influence as the other factions, the large hand of Tactics Cards they will often have gives them advantages in other ways.
Starting Tactics Cards: 4
Starting Influence: 1
Rectangle Base, Fast
: Each of your Flesh Rippers has 3 health until the end of the battle.
: You may destroy 1 of your standing Berserkers to deal 2 damage.
Special: Rain Fire
: Your opponent must destroy 2 of his Triangle units or 1 of his Rectangle units (his choice).
: Choose 2 enemy units. Each chosen unit is routed (if it was already routed, it is destroyed.)
Neutral units dot the land at the start of the game. While they can be seen as a nuisance in the way of an empire’s expansion, they may also prove to be useful allies to use against your enemies. Neutral units are always considered enemies unless an alliance is built via diplomacy or a Rally Support Order. Under normal circumstances (before and after actions have been resolved), neutral units in the same area as a player’s units are considered allies with that player and are subject to unit limits. If neutral units are moved in a way that no player units are with them, then their alignment returns to neutral, or if they are moved into a different player’s area without conflict (such as via certain Tactics cards), they change allegiance to that player’s control.
: Each of your Sorcerers has 2 health until the end of the battle.
Triangle Base, Flying, Fast
: Your opponent must rout one of his units with initiative 2 or higher.
: Deal 1 damage and then draw and resolve a new Fate card (limit once per Beastman).
Rectangle Base, Fast
: Your opponent must choose 2 of his units. Deal each chosen unit 1 damage.
Hexagon Base, Flying
Special: Flaming Breath
: Destroy up to 3 Triangle units of your choice.
: Deal 1 damage for each damage on 1 of your Giants.
The game is played over a series of seasons. Each season starts with a primary effect that can vary between years depending on the drawn Season card. A secondary effect is then resolved, this is the same between years for each season. Players then select Order cards secretly, revealing them simultaneously. Play order proceeds according to played Order card, lowest number first. If multiple players select the same order, then the tie is broken according to the player with the most influence, or highest starting influence if that does not break the tie.
Spring: The primary effects of Spring Season cards tend to deal with replenishment, providing the chance to gain new Objectives, heroes, or units. However, they may also bring a hindrance to the year’s plans. The secondary effect of Spring Season cards allows players to retrieve all activation tokens from the board, return all played Order cards to their hand, and stand all routed figures (including neutrals and heroes).
Summer: Summer Season cards tend to provide danger and risk of losses of many types. The secondary effect of Summer Season cards allows heroes to act in the Quest Phase, described in the Heroes and Quests section.
Fall: Fall Season cards have a variety of effects that often deal with the resource dials. The secondary effect of Fall Season cards refreshes the Fate deck and allows each player to draw their choice of one Tactics card or two influence tokens.
Winter: The primary effects of Winter Season cards are associated with the generation of new dragon runes, oftentimes through influence bids. The secondary effect of Winter Season cards requires that players reduce the number of units in each of their controlled areas to a number equal to the value on the food resource dial. In addition, through the season, figures are allowed to cross water borders (blue).
Certain Season cards contain primary effects that require players to perform an influence bid. In an influence bid, each player declares the total amount of influence they have, and secretly decide on how much influence they will bid. Bids are revealed simultaneously and a winner determined by the specific bid criteria. In case of a tie, the player with the “Primarch of the Wizards’ Council” Title card determines a winner. If no player has the Title card, then the tied player with the highest influence wins, or highest starting influence if that does not break the tie. After the bid, all influence bid is discarded.
Each season, each player will play one Order card from a set of eight determining their turn’s action. Play order proceeds according to played Order card, lowest number first. If multiple players select the same order, then the tie is broken according to the player with the most influence, or highest starting influence if that does not break the tie. Order cards stay in play through each year, and return to players’ hands each Spring. If the Order card played is the largest number that player has played all year, then they will receive a bonus to their action, the Supremacy Bonus, with the exception of Order 8: Fortify, which will always be largest. (This means that the Order card played in Spring will always have the Supremacy Bonus.) During their turn, players may also play applicable Tactics cards. Cards that say they may be played on a player’s turn may be played just before, during, or just after performing the action on their Order card.
Order 1: Strategize
The primary ability of the Strategize Order allows the player to move any units and heroes in any number of unactivated areas to adjacent empty or friendly areas - no battles may result as an outcome of the Strategize Order. A maximum of eight units can be located in each hex. If played with the Supremacy Bonus, the player may also draw a number of Tactics cards based on his resource dials, taking one for each card image that falls at or below each resource dial’s current position. If the player has more than ten Tactics cards, then they must discard down to ten. Tactics cards may not be used in the same season they are received.
Order 2: Mobilize
The primary ability of the Mobilize Order allows the player to activate an area and move any unactivated units into the area from up to two hexes away. Fast units may move from up to three hexes away, and Flying units may ignore restricted movement edges. Water edges (blue) may be crossed in winter. Movement cannot be performed through any hexes that contain non-friendly units. Heroes do not count as units, and so are not moved with this order. If the activated area contains non-friendly units, then a battle will result after moving units in unless the non-friendly units are all neutral, in which case the activating player has the option to perform diplomacy. See the Diplomacy and Combat section below for more details. A maximum of eight units can be located in each hex unless the player is starting a battle. If played with the Supremacy Bonus, the primary ability may be resolved in a second area, with the condition that two battles are not conducted in a single turn. (For example, if a Diplomacy result ends in a failure for this bonus action, the player must retreat if he already conducted a battle in the first action.)
Order 3: Conquer
The primary ability of the Conquer Order is identical to the Mobilize Order above, allowing the player to activate an area and move in units from up to two hexes away. The two cards differ in the Supremacy Bonus afforded by each card. If played with the Supremacy Bonus, the Conquer Order provides a bonus of 3 strength when invading a hex that contains a stronghold.
Order 4: Harvest
Order 5: Recruit
The primary ability of the Harvest Order resets the resource dials to levels according to controlled areas. Normally, dials are not changed when lands are lost or gained, but through Season, Tactics, and Order cards that specifically affect the resource levels. If played with the Supremacy Bonus, resources, Tactics cards, and influence that are provided by built developments may be collected. The wood resource may then be reduced by 1 to build a development at a friendly stronghold. A development may be destroyed to move it to a different stronghold location. If a development is left without a stronghold (such as if the stronghold is destroyed), then it is destroyed automatically.
Each faction has five developments that provide benefits in the Harvest Order’s Supremacy Bonus or increase the defensibility of strongholds. The types of developments are as follows:
- Resources (
): The Resources development provides one additional resource matching a resource provided by the area it is located in. Each faction has two of these developments.
- Diplomat (
): The Diplomat development provides two influence tokens. The Latari Elves and Daqan Lords each have one of this development.
- Training Ground (
): The Training Ground development provides one Tactics card. Waiqar the Undying and the Uthuk Y’llan each have one of this development.
- Defensive Development: Each faction has two of these developments, which has a different effect for each faction. The Latari Elves’ defensive development, Protective Wards (
), allows them to force an opponent to retreat one standing unit before calculating strength in a battle. The Daqan Lords’ defensive development, Reinforced Walls (
), increases the strength of the stronghold by 2. Waiqar the Undying’s defensive development, the Cursed Tomb (
), can force an opponent to rout three figures at the cost of discarding the development. The Uthuk Y’llan’s defensive development, Hungry Spawn (
), can force an opponent to take four damage at the cost of discarding the development.
The primary ability of the Recruit Order allows a player to recruit units from one resource dial, taking one for each unit that appears at or below the chosen resource dial. Units are placed in areas containing friendly strongholds and may be split between multiple areas. A maximum of eight units can be located in each hex, but units may be destroyed after unit placement. Units may also be destroyed before recruiting in case there are not enough units available to be recruited. If played with the Supremacy Bonus, the primary ability can be executed again on a second resource dial.
Order 6: Rally Support
The primary ability of the Rally Support Order allows a player to obtain benefits from cities in areas that he controls. For each city, he may choose one of the following:
Order 7: Acquire Power
- Recruit Neutral Units: Neutral units of the listed number and base type are placed in the city area. A maximum of eight units can be located in each hex, but units may be destroyed after placement. If all neutral units of a specific type are already on the board, then no more of that type can be recruited.
- Draw Tactics Cards: Draw a number of tactics cards as listed for the city. If the player has more than ten Tactics cards, then they must discard down to ten. Tactics cards may not be used in the same season they are received.
- Draw Influence Tokens: Draw a number of influence tokens as listed for the city.
- Draw Quest Cards: Draw a number of quest cards as listed for the city. If the player has more than three Quest cards, then they must discard down to three.
If played with the Supremacy Bonus, up to three influence may be spent to acquire a new hero. One hero is drawn from the Hero deck per influence spent, and one is chosen to keep. The remainder, if any, are shuffled back into the deck and the selected hero is placed at a friendly stronghold. Each player may control a maximum of three heroes at any time; if they acquire a fourth, then one must be released.
The primary ability of the Acquire Power allows the player to obtain a number of influence tokens based on his resource dials, taking one for each token image that falls at or below each resource dial’s current position. If played with the Supremacy Bonus, then the player may spend influence to obtain one of three Title cards, either from the board or from another player. The amount of influence spent must be more than is currently on the card, and can be more than the minimum needed to obtain the card. The Title cards are as follows:
Order 8: Fortify
- Captain of the Heroes’ League: Your heroes never desert you. During your turn, you may discard 3 Reward cards from any of your heroes to gain 1 dragon rune (once per turn).
- Lord Commander of the Warriors’ Guild: You gain +2 strength in battle if a rune token is in the area. Before resolving a Conquer Order, you may look at a rune token in any one area.
- Primarch of the Wizards’ Council: You decide the winner of all influence bid ties. Gain 1 influence each time a Wizards’ Council Season card is drawn. (Wizards’ Council cards appear in a number of the Summer and Winter Season cards.)
The Fortify Order allows the player to perform the following actions in any order:
- Build a Stronghold: The player may reduce his wood and ore resource dials by 1 each to build a stronghold in an area he controls. Strongholds are production points for units and heroes, provide a large defensive bonus, and provide points for building developments. Each player may build a maximum of four strongholds. Each area may have at most one stronghold, and strongholds may not be built in areas that already have cities.
- Repair a Stronghold: The player may reduce his ore resource dial by 1 to repair a damaged Stronghold. Strongholds become damaged after battles in their area, reducing their defensive strength.
- Move Rune Tokens: The player may select two areas he controls and freely move rune tokens between them in any order. Each area may hold at most one rune token.