Budgernaut

Runewars vs. A Song of Ice and Fire

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I watched the Dice Tower's demo game of A Song of Ice and Fire recently. I had some thoughts about it I wanted to share, comparing what I saw to Runewars. These thoughts are basically completely biased, in Runewars' favor, and I also don't know a whole lot about A Song of Ice and Fire, but I thought I'd share my thoughts anyway.

1. Prediction vs. Reaction - This is something I've mentioned before. I highly value prediction-based play in games. When both players know the optimal moves, so they start second guessing their own moves, that is a beautiful thing. Runewars' command tool system with simultaneous action selection allows you to do this. When you choose your action, you don't always know what your opponent will do. You have to predict their actions and choose your actions accordingly. A Song of Ice and Fire (ASOIAF) doesn't have this aspect with movement. You take turns activating one unit at a time. This means that you know exactly where your opponent is and you know (barring dice) that your actions will succeed [charges require you to roll for extra distance, so if you are too far away, your charge may fail because of the dice, but not because your opponent out-played you]. ASOIAF puts you in a position to react to your opponent's moves, rather than to predict them. To me, that's boring. To be fair, the more you get to know the game, the more predictions may become important, especially regarding the tactics cards.

2. Unit sizes - One thing that I love about Runewars is that the shape and size of your unit is variable, both during setup and throughout the game. You can choose to have a few large units or many small units. In ASOIAF, the trays are fixed; they don't change sizes. This means that if there is only one guy left on the tray, someone can clip the corner opposite that figure and still attack it. In Runewars, that's still an issue for a single tray, but at least you're not hitting the opposite corner of a 3x4 tray unit with only 1 unit left. In addition to the footprint of the unit, Runewars' units actually suffer in combat effectiveness as they suffer damage. A decrease in unit size affects rerolls and threat (damage multipliers). I've read complaints that Runewars' models are superfluous since they're basically just tracking hit points. Because the trays have fixed sizes in ASOIAF, I feel like this criticism is even more true of that game.

3. Morale - I've read some criticisms of Runewars' morale system on BGG, but I'm a fan of how it works. The basic criticism of Runewars is that units can suffer awful morale effects without suffering damage, which is jarring since most soldiers lose morale when they start losing. You'd expect them to hold their ground until their buddies start falling. Because I'm not a wargamer, this wasn't something I had ever thought of. In fact, I thought checking whether a unit deserts or not was pretty silly the first time I saw it in Age of Sigmar battle reports. But after thinking more about it, it's a fair criticism, and it's something that ASOIAF does right. The more ranks you lose, the more likely more figures will run away from your unit (the figure is removed). However [and this is my bias coming in], from a gameplay perspective it's boring. I love that the morale deck in Runewars can have all sorts of things happen -- not just losing figures. Now, despite my praise of ASOIAF's morale system, there is a sister mechanic that I cannot stand. You can also rally your unit to gain figures back. I'm not clear on how exactly it works, but occasionally, you roll to see how many more figures you can add back to your unit. I suppose the guys that ran away maybe didn't actually run away, but were just unable to battle, so then you can get them to form up again and join the unit ... I guess? After playing Waiqar, it was a weird mechanic to watch since I associated it with resurrection of fallen soldiers. I'm totally aware that it's an abstraction of a different concept, but I still didn't really like it.

4. So many dice! - ASOIAF is a standard wargame with lots of dice. I understand the rationale: more dice gives you less variance. That means you can count on doing some amount of damage more consistently. It also means that you're less likely to get screwed by a bad roll. However, I feel like throwing less dice just makes for a cleaner experience. I also really like the icons on the dice because it helps immerse me in the game system. I'm not a huge fan of standard dice. To me, those are the tools of Monopoly and Clue. If I want a deeper, more thematic game, I want to see custom dice with icons made just for that game.

5. Tactics Cards - ASOIAF uses tactics cards. You have a small deck of cards that can be used as interrupts during the game to help you or hinder your opponent. Each card has two effects on it. The first effect is the main effect. The second effect uses a track of bonuses. During a round, instead of moving or attacking, you can take control of one of four icons. I didn't catch what they represent, but it's something thematic, I think. If you control an icon and have that icon on the second part of your tactics card, you gain that second effect as well. Also, you can discard tactics cards to reroll your initiative die at the start of a round. As a BattleLore player and a casual LCG/CCG player, I actually found this aspect of the game very intriguing. I think having surprises like these tactics cards can be a lot of fun. However, I also feel like it is just one more way to increase the variance in a game. But then, if you add dice and tactics cards, is that any more random than Runewars' dice and morale deck? I don't know. I can't say that I'd actually want to see card play in Runewars. I think I'll just enjoy it in BattleLore where it feels completely natural to surprise your opponent with lore cards. But I think it's a telling sign when my favorite part of a miniatures game is the card mechanic.

6. Figure Upgrades and Heroes - Both games have figures that can represent specific individuals in a unit and that character adds abilities to its unit. The ASOIAF heroes seem to have bigger effects on their units than the Runewars heroes, but they also can't be on their own like the Runewars heroes can, as far as I can tell. I think this is fitting of the two settings. ASOIAF's setting has heroes that are important, but are still human. You won't see them performing Legolas-levels of heroics during battles (at least, I don't think so; but since I've never read or watched and Game of Thrones things, I really can't say for sure). Meanwhile, Runewars is based on the Runebound universe where heroes are expected to do the impossible. Also, ASOIAF's heroes are going to get more people appreciating the ties between abilities and the lore because there's more lore to draw from. In Runewars, we're going the other way. We're looking at heroes' abilities and making judgments about their characters from that, instead of knowing a character and admiring how the mechanics represent that character.

Well, this concludes my completely biased comparison of a game I've played a few times and been following for almost a year to a game that isn't even released and which I've only seen one demo game of. Take it for what it is. As for me, I'll be sticking with Runewars.

**Random aside. As I wrote this up, I noticed a similarity between Runewars Miniatures Game and the original Runewars. Both games have simultaneous action selection, but different actions have different initiatives. Just something neat to tie the two together a little more, even if it is pretty generic.**

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Every game is going to have a prediction element.  If you can just activate any unit you want, alternating back and forth, in ASOIAF then the unit you activate last are likely activated then either because they are not important, or what you wanted to do with them was based on your prediction of the enemy.

However, Runewars removes much of the reactive aspect of the gameplay.  ASOIAF does not.  So even if you were predicting what they would do, when they don't do it you can react accordingly.

I think both systems have pros and cons, and I think both are better than each player taking their whole turn at once.

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The figures do look good though, so if you took the ASOFAI figures and theme and matched them with the Runewars rules it would probably be a juggernaut.  

I almost entirely agree with your points, the ASOFAI rules just seemed like a sideways step from Warhammer or Wrath of Kings, neither of which is really worthy of replicating.  I am sure it will be popular though.  

I wonder if the bases will fit the Runewars trays though? ;).  

  

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You left out the biggest and for me most important part. The "other" game is humans only.  

Give me elves and dwarves and bad guys to fight, like undead, demons, Orcs.

That is #1 for me.

#2 is gameplay.  And I really like the game.

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5 minutes ago, WWHSD said:

ASOIAF is a non-starter for me because of the IP that it uses. I've got a personal boycott on anything that uses that IP until GRRM starts finishing some books.

Yep that is annoying, but given how popular the TV series are it's probably more lucrative for him to work on those to progress the storyline than to work on the books; which, much as I like the series, is disappointing as their is more depth in the novels.

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My 2 issues with the ASoFaI military game:

1. ASoFaI is not a military story!  No fight is ever meant to be fair!  Robb Stark won every battle and lost the war, so the Starks are the superior military.  The Lannisters won on intrigue and subterfuge.  I've seen no mechanic to account for the latter 2 elements of the books.  It will be even worse when you have to balance the others with the nights watch!  The series has elements of battle, but it isn't about the battle so for me its a thematic miss from the starting line.  I think the board game is actually quite excellent at keeping the theme of the series.

2. CMON's commitment.  I know they say their committed to a tournament and release schedule, but the only commitment they've ever upheld is Zombicde.  I love Zombicide, but we must also acknowledge that the Zombicide power creep makes Wiz Kids games look balanced.  Seriously try using a core set season 1 survivor in season 3.  The good news is it wont waste much time cause you'll die quickly. 

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51 minutes ago, flightmaster101 said:

My 2 issues with the ASoFaI military game:

1. ASoFaI is not a military story!  No fight is ever meant to be fair!  Robb Stark won every battle and lost the war, so the Starks are the superior military.  The Lannisters won on intrigue and subterfuge.  I've seen no mechanic to account for the latter 2 elements of the books.  It will be even worse when you have to balance the others with the nights watch!  The series has elements of battle, but it isn't about the battle so for me its a thematic miss from the starting line.  I think the board game is actually quite excellent at keeping the theme of the series.

It seems like that same criticism could be used when talking about X-Wing miniatures as well. Characters like Poe and Han should be mowing down dozens of TIE fighters but they've been balanced such that an equal number of squad points worth of TIE Fighters is close to an even match. 

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Just watched the whole demo game and... Wow, A song of ice and fire just looks absolutely terrible. The system just looks sooo bad. Can't imagine the upcoming kickstarter of it doing well. Selling on the IP maybe. What a shame, was looking forward to it and all of those hopes just drained away.

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1 hour ago, WWHSD said:

Characters like Poe and Han should be mowing down dozens of TIE fighters but they've been balanced such that an equal number of squad points worth of TIE Fighters is close to an even match

Poe does, and Han only killed 2 tie Fighters.

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I watched the demo game today as well. Figured Id throw in my pros and cons of this vs runewars (written from the point of view of ASOIAF)

 

Pros:

Reform move reform gives you more coordination and makes a unit out of position take less turns to get back into position (especially important in RW when theres only 8 rounds)

Morale makes a bit more sense. Youre losing guys. Not having them kill a bunch of other guys or whatever haha.

 

Cons:

I like the tray variability system with Rune wars, being able to make units larger or smaller allows for alot more interesting choices... especially when they said that a medium/typical game size is 6 units (really seems small).

I dont like the buckets of dice approach. Rolling 11 dice is alot less elegant than rolling 3 and rerolling some of them.

Its going to be humans vs humans ftmp. There might be wolves, or other stuff but not entire factions (barring potential walkers?)

Its CMON. So the only game ive ever seen them really support is zombicide, and the power creep in that is insane. Im not really expecting a big tournament/organzed play presence

The you go i go lends to less mind games. I played a game yesterday where i had to decide. Do I think the cavalry is going to charge me early, so I should dial in an attack, or are they going to charge later so I should charge first and mess up their turn. Things like this can lead to big plays and memorable moments, which is probably the most important aspect of a board game (I guessed wrong btw).

 

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disclaimer:  I did not watch every second of the video.

 

seems like a decent attempt at modernizing the traditional rank n file wargame of yesteryear without rocking the boat.  Turns and rules seem preferable to GW games which stubbornly continue with the IGOUGO system.  Personally i'm really tired of the old buckets of d6 systems though.  Kings of War is a great, traditional take on this genre that really turned me off the first time I had to roll 40 d6 at once.  Especially with what I could see from the video, they could have easily made some custom dice for this system that would have both made it less boring and also cut down on the number of them being rolled. 

I have my doubts about CMONs ability to actually create and support organized play and a relatively balanced game system over time. 

Not sure how much the IP will help.  Certainly a leg up over RW, because of the TV show everyone has at least heard of it. 

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Posted (edited)

The whole thing just strikes me as so boring.

Blocks of humans scooting around, beating up other blocks of also humans. Oh, but wait! Soon they'll release... another human faction...

Rolling piles of dice (something I really hate) to determine fairly uninspired combat mechanics... Awkwardly combining the game with a deckbuilder, introducing what is (to me) the "bad kind" of randomization. Why are my tactics arbitrarily locked behind a wall of randomization?

Cavalry that can turn on the spot, move straight, then turn on the spot again, then charge? How is that thematic? I can be in front of you, pivot, move, pivot again, and then be in a flanking position? That's not how momentum works.

All this is before we get to the thematic issues. As others have noted, I can't think of a LESS appropriate setting for a wargame than the ASoIaF universe, which tends to represent combat fairly realistically, that is to say... TOTALLY one sided, unfair, and decisive. That's because real combat isn't about fairness, or honor, or balance, or fun, it's about winning while losing as little as possible, and this theme fits extremely well in the context of the books, while not meshing AT ALL with the nature of a wargame.

And what is all this about spending an action to wield "political influence"? THAT'S how the politics of the setting are worked into the game? A sort of awkward, euro-trash mechanic where you steal a bonus?

Hard pass.

Edited by Tvayumat
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At this moment nobody should have any doubt about CMON in a Kickstarter campaign and less with a world famous license as ASOIAF. This is going to be huge! millions of dollars collected sure. Tons of Strech Goals and exclusive miniatures during the campaign. All the famous characters of ASOIAF world together with high detailed sculptures. There are hundreds of people excited about this game we can't be blinded with that.

Anyway I don't like a only human world (even when probably we will see giants, white walkers, dragons, wolves...) where the armies are so similar. Medieval human army vs. medieval human army. I'm out of this game, but be sure that the KS campaign is going to be a really good campaign.

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I like CMON games,  they are lightweight pickup N' play games for when I don't have the time of energy to get out twilight imperium or other heavy game.

I don't mind a war game set in the GoT world, it was set during the war of the 5 kings so there was lots of fighting in the background of the story. If I can use the minis in the rpg then I can get my plot/intrigue fix that way.

Battles of westerly did a great job of bringing the GoT battles to life. If the CMON game really is terrible I could always make a supersized set of battles of westeros.

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9 hours ago, Hijodecain said:

Tons of Strech Goals and exclusive miniatures during the campaign.

Is that going to make for a good game in an organized play environment?  I know for a fact Zombicide KS exclusives are way OP compared to what is released in the box and artist boxes commercially.  Imagine if someone doesn't kickstart the game and shows up to their version of regionals and worlds.  They don't have Kevan Lannister l or The Blackfish, who happen to have a potentially game breaking ability.  Now that guy is sitting there with an unplayable game because he didnt want to get into the game unil Elves Martells came out.

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3 minutes ago, flightmaster101 said:

Is that going to make for a good game in an organized play environment?  I know for a fact Zombicide KS exclusives are way OP compared to what is released in the box and artist boxes commercially.  Imagine if someone doesn't kickstart the game and shows up to their version of regionals and worlds.  They don't have Kevan Lannister l or The Blackfish, who happen to have a potentially game breaking ability.  Now that guy is sitting there with an unplayable game because he didnt want to get into the game unil Elves Martells came out.

Maybe thats their model. You better get in on the kickstarter if you ever want to win. Lots of upfront capital at the expense of longevity... which is basically how 98% of kickstarter games end up working

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Here are my thoughts on ASOIAF after watching the video. 

Pros

  • I like the card mechanic.  While it does add a measure of uncertainty to the game, I feel like this is where the stories that you tell after the game will come from.  This will be great for the casual gamers but maybe not so much for tournament players. 
  • Seems very easy to pick up.  Just from watching the video I feel like I could sit down and play a game with a minimum amount of rules referencing. 
  • The models look very nice.  However to be fair, I might actually prefer Runewars models for their ease of painting.  Having too many models with intricate detail could slow down the process of getting an entire army done. 
  • It's Game of Thrones! What's not to like?

Cons

  • The trays are okay with me but I wish there was some more variety with the formations just for aesthetics. I guess they have to keep it this was because of the way morale works but it just looks "blocky" to me on the table.
  • Models "coming back to life" doesn't seem very thematic to me. The dead need to stay dead unless they're undead. 
  • Human vs. Human. I'm sure there'll be some dragons and giants coming in the future but it's pretty much humans at it's core.  Part of the reason I never really got into WWII games is that I like to see a selection of different races. 
  • The Combat system seems bland. I feel like nowadays, mass battle games need something more than just d6's and a stat line.  

 

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27 minutes ago, taylorcowbell said:

which is basically how 98% of kickstarter games end up working

That is a huge entry barrier.

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I know I sound jaded. But realistically, how many Kickstarter games have ever really entered production after the kickstarter and made it into regular distribution channels with expansions and the like? Its possible, but if there is game altering kickstarter exclusives, the game becomes basically dead on arrival.

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1 hour ago, taylorcowbell said:

I know I sound jaded. But realistically, how many Kickstarter games have ever really entered production after the kickstarter and made it into regular distribution channels with expansions and the like? Its possible, but if there is game altering kickstarter exclusives, the game becomes basically dead on arrival.

Most of CMON games hit the selves, at least here in Spain, translated which is something doesn't need to happen in US or UK, maybe this is something that doesn't make so popular those KS games in English spoken countries.  Blood Rage and Zombicide have a lot of fans (shop purchase, not KS), even Wrath of Kings, another rank and file game from CMON.

I've been checking WoK campaign and there was no exclusivity miniatures, maybe ASOIAF is gonna be the same. 

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4 minutes ago, Hijodecain said:

 

Most of CMON games hit the selves, at least here in Spain, translated which is something doesn't need to happen in US or UK, maybe this is something that doesn't make so popular those KS games in English spoken countries.  Blood Rage and Zombicide have a lot of fans (shop purchase, not KS), even Wrath of Kings, another rank and file game from CMON.

I've been checking WoK campaign and there was no exclusivity miniatures, maybe ASOIAF is gonna be the same. 

Just a minor note, WoK isn't "rank and file" (it uses neither ranks, nor files)

It DOES have fun models and an imaginative if somewhat flat in practice combat system.

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So here is my biggest concern...CMON LOVES their KS exclusives and these are great for board games or pretty much anything outside of an OP environment.  But in a game where to are talking about supporting organized play Exclusives that aren't just fancy resculpts, which I would be down with if I were even remotely thinking about backing this game (SPOILERS: I'm not...) give people inherent advantages for early adoption and also potentially hurt the local scene by creating a devastating meta that can't be countered unless you also backed the game. I like the GOT and ASOFAI worlds, they are very interesting, they make the political intrigue and such very compelling.  I find no interest here, I don't need to watch the videos of gameplay I already hear enough fists of dice to turn me off from the game and everything else I hear about it just sounds on a range of meh to bleh, and if they throw in the exclusives it will just make me even less likely to even look at the KS page...Green Horde on the other hand looks like fun and they have a Carrie Fisher exclusive...

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I can just imagine the backlash FFG would have gotten if they had gone the kickstarter road and acted like CMON.

Oh hey, check out our new game "Runewars Miniatures Game" It will include Daqan, Waiqar and Latari... Oh what about Uthuk Y'llan you say? Well that's a kickstarter exclusive, better buy it when it's available or tough luck loser. kek. But don't worry, if you buy the game after the kickstarter is over you will have about 30% of the available units of Daqan, Waiqar and Latari to play around with. The rest is kickstarter exclusives. We love all our fans that gives us money in advance <3. PS: **** the rest of our fans.

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