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Runewars: First Gameplay Impressions

4 Minute Read
Sep 22 2017

Come take a closer look at the newest ranked up fantasy battles war game from FFG!

I’ve been a huge fan of massed/ranked up battle wargames since as far back as I can remember. It was in fact these sort of games that got me into wargamming in the first place. From an interest in historical wargame to years and years  playing Warhammer Fantasy Battles, these games are my jam. So of course I’ve been watching Runewars with a lot of interest. If your unfamiliar with Runewars, its a new fantasy massed battle game from Fantasy Flight Games. I got to look it over and get in a couple of little demo games when the it first came out and have recently been lucky enough to get in two full scale games of it. (If you’ve been watching our twitch channel you may have seen one.) So with all that said I want to give a few of my first impressions on the game.

This is a Fantasy Flight Game

This game is still very much a FFG game. You’ve got your dials, your movement templates and your special dice. Play wise it also feels a lot like their other games, X-Wing in particular has a lot of similarities too it. Like other FFG games this has its upsides and downsides, but one of the nice things is that you can play right out of the box with everything you needed, including terrain and movement stick provided.

It Feels Like  a Ranked Combat Game

All of the above being true still feels a lot like its predecessors in the genre. This game has a much more stately feeling than X-Wing, or even Armada. Units advance, shoot and charge their way across the broad in ranked formations. Maneuver is key, flanks matter, and units have a certain predictability in their movement. While there is plenty of action, its not all frenetic.

It’s a Deadly Game


So far the game feels very deadly. And this is across the board. Unlike some other games there doesn’t seem to be weak chaff units that never kill things. In my games every unit in my army and the enemy’s army was a threat. In addition once combat was joined things happened. This is not a game were two blocks of infantry collide and then spend several turns uselessly hammering at each other with nothing happening. When units get in combat – stuff is going to die.


Close Combat is Key


Rune Wars, at least right now, seems very focused on close combat. While there are ranged units in the game the focus seems to really be on getting stuck in with the enemy. In large part this is due to the relatively short range of shooting units, with some units being able to go from being out of range to in combat in a single turn. In addition the contents of the early release sets were pretty close combat oriented, so this might change, but I doubt it will change much.

A Host of List Building Options

Rune Wars has a whole ton of options on how to build your armies. Each unit can be bought in several different sizes. All units can also pick from a huge verity of upgrade cards to customize and enhance them. Units can take minor heroes embedded in them to lead them into combat. There are a whole lot of options. Maybe my favorite is that a number of the hero and monster (or siege) units have the ability to be taken as upgrades to other units or on their own. Thus I can either take a unit of the large Rune Golems, or I could embed one into a unit of spearmen as support.

Final Thoughts

So these are just a few of my first impressions on the game. Overall it seems like a lot of fun and I look forward to playing it more. As it is FFG’s first step in this genre and into making a more hobby focused game the requires the building and painting of models, it will be cool to see what they do with it. They’ve had a pretty quick release schedule so far with three factions out and a fourth on the way – shown off at GENCON50.


I really look forward to seeing what FFG does with the game in the coming years and to playing a lot more.

Have you tired Runewars? Let us know how you liked it, down in the comments!

Author: Abe Apfel
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