Fantasy Flight Games’ Runebound (RB) first came out in 2004. I have the second edition from 2005, featuring the plot “Rise of the Dragon Lords.” Players assume control of one of twelve heroes, each with various strengths and represented by a plastic mini, and begin their quest.
As far as plot and mechanics go, RB is a pretty standard fantasy board game. Players roll dice to determine what terrain their piece can travel. They move to various color-coded (Green for easiest, Red for bosses) adventure counters. Flipping a card reveals a monster to fight or an event. Monster battles go through three stages: Range (Mind), melee (Body) and Magic. Your hero can only attack in one stage, making allies useful as cannon fodder if nothing else. Attacking and defending require rolling above the enemy’s listed value. A successful attack will deal your listed damage; a successful defense only prevents damage. Failure in either case results in your taking the enemy’s damage value. Escape is always an option, but risky.
Victory brings gold and experience points (XP). Gold buys armor, weapons, and hires allies while XP increases the character’s abilities. Defeat means losing gold and your most valuable item/ally. Eventually you become powerful enough to face higher challenges as event cards such as flooding change the conditions on the board.
You win by either defeating three Dragon Lords or defeating the big muck-a-muck High Lord Margath, all of whom are in the Red deck. I like this; even if you’re behind you can get a lucky card and go for it. I also like the optional rules at the end for easier or harder games. The game is lucked based: rolling high on the dice, drawing challenges that fit your character, even buying gear.
For $49.95, you get the board, 12 hero minis, a few hundred cardboard counters of various game use, and 168 market and adventure cards. The game should last two to four hours. I’ve lost interest in it over the years, but it‘s still a solid product. If it clicks with you and you want more there are a fair number of expansions that add at least monsters and items. The pricier ones include new characters, plots, and boards to expand the game world. Let me know what you think.