I’ve written about Runebound before, but playing it is such an event that I felt that I had to write about it again. Miss B loves the idea of adventuring games. We haven’t played it for a while, but Dungeon! always goes down well. Talisman is always talked about in awed tones (despite the fact that, in the version we have at least, the choices for female characters are almost non-existant). And Runebound is possibly edging a lead over the other two games largely due to Miss B being obsessed with one of the characters.
So this weekend, S was away on a business trip, so Miss B and I agreed that we should get Runebound out. The game is a long one, particularly when playing with a 6-year-old, so I figured we would use the whole of Saturday afternoon (allowing for some breaks) and, if needs be, we could continue on Sunday.
As it turned out, needs beeded. Or whatever.
But to begin at the beginning…
Having been going on for ages about wanting to play as all-rounder Red Scorpion (illustrated in an outfit possibly not best suited to adventuring), Miss B briefly flirted with the possibility of playing sneaky assassin Silhouette before finally deciding that this time she wanted to be Runewitch Astarra and use magic. I chose to play the outdoorsy raccoon charmer Ronan of the Wild.
Knowing that this would be a long game, we decided to speed things up by requiring only three experience points to gain a boost rather than the recommended five for a two-player game. Actually, much as I like the game, experience is one of the beefs I have with it. Essentially you start very slowly, but as you progress gaining experience gets easier and easier, so eventually you end up ticking over a level every couple of turns. This does mean that the game snowballs nicely towards the end, but it also means that if you are unlucky enough to make a slow start (and make no bones about it, this game relies on luck a lot) you may never be able to keep up with the person that got lucky early on and was soon running around the land with rune plate armour and a healing rune.
This is, of course what happened to us, meaning that Miss B, who had a couple of rough breaks early on struggled a bit, though this improved when I traded her a couple of items that weren’t too useful to me but made the world of a difference to her.
Through the afternoon we took a couple of half hour breaks, but by the time it reached five o’clock (we started a little after one), Miss B’s stamina and will to continue was pretty much drained. This was made so much worse when she hit a particularly nasty challenge with an undead monster which regenerated, making it very hard for Miss B who ended up having to run away. Things didn’t return to a happy state after that, meaning that neither of us was having any fun, so we knocked the game on the head for a while so I could prepare us a meal.
After a pile of pizza the world was a much happier place and we managed to return to play a few more turns before bedtime. At this stage I had started battling the purple (level 3) adventures while Miss B, after having a bad experience earlier, was starting to beat yellow (level 2) adventures reasonably comfortably.
It’s amazing what a good night’s sleep can do for you, and Miss B was actually quite spritely about having breakfast and getting dressed so we could resume. We agreed that we would play to the official end of the game and not cut it off short. Miss B’s confidence grew with every defeated foe and while I moved on to the top level red adventures, she mopped up most of the remaining purple ones before joining me in beating the stuffing out of dragons.
I’m treating this post as different to our normal game posts, but I think it would be best to leave things with a comment from Miss B: “I enjoyed it a lot but I got a bit scared about everything and the living dead were really scary because when you got injured it healed up. We played for two days but I got a bit cross because my tummy was starting to hurt, saying, ‘I want pizza!'”
Oops, this post is coming a bit late this month, but here we go with the summary of our gaming in August.
So, over the month Miss B and I played 20 different games for a total of 29 plays. I thought things might be a bit skewed by the Golden Game Award, but the spread of games was pretty normal, I think.
We did pretty well with new games this time, getting to try out Alhambra, Escape: The Curse of the Temple, Make ‘n’ Break, Smash Up, and Super Munchkin, this last game belonging to guests who wanted to play it with us. So we’re really building up a bit of a backlog of games to report on.
Astoundingly, this was the second month in a row when we didn’t play Sleeping Queens. Our top game for the month was Love Letter, which we played three times, with several others getting two plays.
This now means that across the year so far, Love Letter (19 plays) is now clear of long time leader Sleeping Queens (17 plays), with Gubs (11 plays) and Hey That’s My Fish (10 plays) heading the rest of the field. It would be interesting to see what would happen if we had fewer games available, so focussed on just a handful, but that’s unlikely to happen given the collection we have. Ho hum.
So, at last we come to the final stage of the 2013 Golden Game Awards. The remaining competitors are the fun kid’s game, Enuk, and the slightly cut down rail game, Empire Express, both of which were Miss B’s nominations at the first stage of the competition.
For the final we played Empire Express first. Having played this very recently, Miss B was instantly right in the swing of things and figuring out where she wanted to deliver goods. In Empire Express I generally help her by pointing out the locations and sources of goods that come up on demand cards and pretty much leave her to it apart from pointing out a neat route if she seems to be struggling. This seems to work well and the only trouble she really has with the game is when the crayons break due to her slightly rough handling of them. The manufacturer claims that the crayons are very special ones and that we shouldn’t use regular ones on the board (I know the quality of crayons can vary wildly, so this seems plausible to me), so it would be nice to get hold of a fresh supply of unbroken ones some time.
This game took us about an hour, which surprised me as I was expecting longer. In our previous play, Miss B caught me napping and beat me into the ground, but this time it was much closer and I just managed to scrape a win, just scraping past the winning post the turn before Miss B would have gone screaming past it. High fives all round for a very close game.
Miss B’s thoughts: “There’s not many games around with crayons in. I think there should be more games around that have drawing in because I like having a bit of a sketch.”
Our game of Enuk was also pretty close. Certainly more so than our last game, during which I was pretty much served. Miss B made an excellent start, while I seemed to unerringly (and un-herringly) pick up a piece of igloo every time (which ends your turn). Still, I eventually managed to find the scoring animals and due to having to resort to the unsportsmanlike tactic of actually paying attention, I managed to catch up and squeeze in a narrow win again.
Enuk is definitely a game we play on an even footing, which makes it well worth having in the collection. As I said after our previous play, the game is growing on me and was definitely worth the few quid it cost us.
Miss B’s thoughts: “It’s really annoying when you get a really good set and they are all the same and then you get something that scares them all off and then you only get one thing. Apart from that I really like it.”
So, that is it for another year. We had a lot of fun playing all four games, but in the end only one could be the winner. Actually that is a lie as last year we had two joint winners. But this year we definitely have just one, which is…
Empire Express.I got this game after someone recommended it to me on Board Game Geek after I asked for recommendations for train games that might work for Miss B and myself, and it turns out this was a very good pick. We’ve had a few plays so far and once the current set up gets a bit old, there is an advanced way of playing in the rules which is more like the full crayon rail games where you don’t get the easy start that we have been using here. All in all, I’m happier with this purchase than I thought I would be. Thanks for the recommendation, whoever you were!