The other day the kids were wanting to play some Runebound. (Actually I coerced them into it by threatening to never play Gamma World with them again.) It was late and we wanted a quick game with less setup. So on the fly I thought of the following changes to speed things up a bit and they worked. The three of us were able to finish a game in 1 1/2 hours instead of our normal 3 to 4. We still had a blast playing and I still had a sense of taking part in an epic story as usual.
Here it is:
1. No jewel counters are placed on the board. A player may only face a challenge on any given jewel space one turn in a row. So if a hero defeats a challenge on one jewel space his first turn, he must move to another jewel space on his second turn if he wishes to face another challenge. Except for a few "farming" spots on the board there was little camping for xp. The extra gold used also stopped this since players had more incentive to return to town.
Jewel counters are still used as normal to keep track of XP.
2. Encounters and Events are ignored. This really helps speed things up. Especially since they tend to clump up in my decks. This one might not be for everyone though. My reasoning is that many of the challenges have encounter-like skill tests and such. And we always had trouble remembering to enforce the event cards in the base set.
3. Everyone starts with 3 experience counters. This means everyone is ready to start facing yellow challenges right from the start.
4. NO green challenges. We just decided not to allow heroes to face green challenges so the green jewel hexes were just their normal terrain type. I could see ruling that they are some other color instead.
5. 3 xp to level up.
6. In addition to any other rewards for defeating challenges, receive gold equal to the xp earned. So yellows earn 2 additional gold, blue 3, red 4. Extra gold means more allies and items and faster progress towards winning the game. This also means more trips to town which will cut down on the "farming" problem that is possible with rule #1.
7. Even softer knockouts: All you lose is all of your gold and are sent to the nearest town. That's it. Rewards in PVP should be decided by the group beforehand.
8. Markets draw two cards during market steps. Healing is one gold to heal up either a hero or an ally completely.
I'm not sure I would recommend these rules for anyone playing the game for the first time since many of the things I cut are what add to the enchantment of first playing Runebound IMHO.
I'm also considering taking my favorite variant rules and printing them each on a separate card. This way the ones in use can be laid out before the game starts