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Runes of Ragnarok Kickstarter Preview

Quick Look: 

Designer: Christopher Davis
Artist: Seta Triandi, Christopher Davis
Publisher: Windborn Games
Year Published: 2017
No. of Players: 2-4
Ages: 14+
Playing Time: 40-80 minutes

Find more info on BoardGameGeek.com

WARNING: This is a preview of Runes of Ragnarok. All components and rules are prototype and subject to change.

Ragnarok is upon us! Yggdrasil is failing, and Odin Allfather cannot be found! To save Asgard and the Nine Realms, you, truly the only one who is worthy, have decided to take the mantle of Allfather and sit on the throne to bring order. But what is this? Others dare challenge you for that role? Time to teach them a lesson! Summon an army based on the minions who are breaking through the barrier, level yourself up, and teach the upstarts who is worthy of the throne!


Rules and Setup:
In Runes of Ragnarok, you play as one of the four heroes (Heimdall, Sif, Thor, Freya) who are claiming the seat of power, and using custom dice, you will be working towards defeating your opponents.

Setup of the game is really quite simple. Depending on the number of players, you will draw between 4-6 unique Minion cards, place them in the middle of the play area, and put the dice indicated on their cards next to them. The game comes with eight sets of minion dice, each with a specific color and design, matching the cards (more about the dice below). You will take the number of dice listed on the card that match the color scheme and place them below the card. Though the side of each die may be different than the other sides, it does not matter which way they are facing at this time.

Once the minions and their dice are placed in the playing area, place the five Relic cards in a row above the minions. Each player then picks their hero and receives their player board and chits to start the game.

Theme and Mechanics:
Thematically, the artwork and style of play fit really well for Runes of Ragnarok. Each card has three versions of it with varying abilities; the better the ability, the higher cost to recruit the minion to the army. Additionally, each hero has special abilities that also fit along with the theme of the game, whether it be Freya summoning a copy of a minion or Thor doing direct damage to all players. These additional abilities vary between the heroes, and as you level up, you gain the more powerful abilities.

Mechanically, you will spend the majority of the time rolling dice, which determines what abilities and actions can be done on your turn during the Ready Phase. When you roll pairs (or higher sets) of the same symbols, you can vastly improve your skills on the player board or level up your main character. During the Combat phase, both players (attackers and defenders) will, after calling out any abilities that will be used during the phase, roll dice and determine the outcomes. All attacks and defenses occur as a group, meaning you roll all your dice at once and add all the numbers together.

Game Play:
Gameplay consists of two phases: the Ready Phase and the Combat Phase. During the Ready Phase, you will be rolling five white rune dice, which allow you to enhance your spells on the player card, level up your hero, gain focus, or recruit minions to your army. As you recruit your minions during this phase and roll the dice to determine their level and power, you’ll see that each minion has an ability. Some of them are triggered during the Combat Phase, whether as an attacker or blocker, and some are triggered when they are summoned or when they die. Additionally, some of the abilities have a symbol (*) that shows that it will only trigger if the side of the die also shows that symbol on it.

Each player will get a turn during this phase before moving to the Combat Phase.

Included in the game are an optional set of five cards called Relics. These relics are cards that have abilities, either ongoing or whenever a condition is met, that can be purchased by heroes and acts as a permanent addition to that hero for the game. These cards can be purchased when the runic dice are rolled, but only if the symbols (cost) match. Additionally, each hero has an affinity to a specific Relic that works with the hero’s natural ability, giving it a greater boost when there are leveled to their maximum.

During the Combat Phase, starting with player one, combat damage from creatures (plus any abilities) will be assigned and dealt to a defending player or their minions. Each side of each minion die contains up to three values on it: level, attack value, and defense value. When attacking and defending, you will add all the attack and defense numbers and compare them to the other player that is engaged in combat. Any attack numbers that surpass the defense values of the defender's minions will pass through to the defending hero, who will take damage. Your hero starts at 20 life, and the last hero to stay alive wins the throne!

Artwork and Components:
Each card has three versions of it (Lesser, Normal, and Greater) with varying abilities, and while the three cards have the same artwork, the artwork on all the different sets are very different and well done. The artwork is very fitting to the theme, sticking with the mythos of the game.

The game also includes custom dice similar to what you’ve seen in other games where dice are used to represent creatures, with each side of the die being specific to a level of the minion, and are unique to each set of minions. Additionally, the game has a number of cardboard tokens to help you keep track of improved abilities and the level of your hero.

The Good:
Runes of Ragnarok is a dice-roller. There is no doubt that if you love dice, you will truly enjoy this game. During the Ready Phase, you will be rolling dice to level up, store up abilities, purchase minions, and roll more dice. Combat is very simple and satisfying by using a group attack and defense number to determine outcome. With a tableau of between four and six random minions being used each game, and eight different types of minions (remember, three different types of varying abilities), you have a good selection available in each game without it being repetitive. Additionally, the minion powers are really well balanced, along with the special abilities of each hero.

The Bad:
The game is estimated to take between 40-80 minutes, and it truly can be anywhere between there. While the combat is made simple by limiting the minion tableau, you will find that most teams will consist of the same minions, and damage can take a while to get through to finally take out an opposing hero. Additionally, when you play with all four heroes in play, the game can take even longer. With just over ten plays in, the sweet spot for our group seems to be at three players, and that still runs just over an hour.

Final Thoughts:
Let me start by saying that I really enjoy dice games, especially dice games with custom dice! Throw in some combat using the results of the die rolled for each minion, the same minion tableau for all players that forces you to add strategic planning, and specialized hero abilities, and this game is right up my alley. While there are a few issues around difficulties in getting damage through to hit the enemy, gameplay is very easy to learn and move forward. There is very little opportunity for anyone to suffer from Analysis Paralysis, as the abilities are all triggered prior to the combat being started. Additionally, the ability to expand the game can easily be done with the addition of new heroes and minions. Love dice-chucking games? This is a must-add to your library and will likely see regular play.

Players Who Like:
People who love dice games will really enjoy this game. The simple tableau to choose from is very inviting, and players who like working on building up their abilities based on dice rolls will want to play this.

I am giving Runes of Ragnarok 7.0 out of 10 super meeples.

Check out Runes of Ragnarok on:


Runes of Ragnarok is on KICKSTARTER between now and December 16, 2017

About the Author:
Delton Perez is a FLGS owner with 2 locations in Puerto Rico, and 1 location in Ohio. Originally from Boston, he currently lives in the wilds of Ohio (O-H!!), where he currently resides with his family. By day, he is a Retail Consultant working in New York in the Fashion Industry, but by night, meeples, dice, and cardboard take over. Delton also runs a gaming organization based in Northeast Ohio that focuses on running game nights at Libraries, Schools, and Churches on a scheduled, monthly basis. At times, Delton has even been rumored to sleep, though proof has yet to be found.
Runes of Ragnarok Kickstarter Preview Runes of Ragnarok Kickstarter Preview Reviewed by NeedsOfTheOne on November 10, 2017 Rating: 5

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