Commentary, alterations, and additions for fantasy board and card games. Also home of the developing OFGI (Open Fantasy Game Initiative) as time permits.

Map “Cards” for the Island of Dread

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thn_Standard_Back We had our first go at Runebound: The Island of Dread over the last week. We’re more leisurely in our play than most, as we’re more interested in the “play” than the “win.” We often leave a game out on the diningroom table, playing for an hour or two over a few nights before sitting down to watch evening shows. Our first game took just under 5 hours over three evenings, so I’d imagine the next one will take less time (and nights), and other groups probably even less.

Though IoD uses the stock “kill the big baddy” ending, along the way it was fun to go for a little seafaring adventure as a change of pace. Trying to get safely to the islands off the mainland and gain more experience gems to be ready for the ending was a nice challenge unto itself. IoD might not stand well as a solo game, but as a “scenario” for Runebound: 2nd Edition at large, it’s an excellent addition. But there were some hinky parts.

Map tokens gathered (requiring a green and a blue to make a full map) were too easy to get. They are used while at sea to find the “island” when you’re ready to go after the big baddy. You also use them to gain “legandary items” that might help you with that final challenge. A couple of those items are more for general use instead.

Even in that, they are one-time use only, which didn’t make a lot of sense. Why would such items still be around if likely the big baddy was put down before… maybe even in using these items? They would have been used up already. So that part of the legendary items was pure game mechanics and didn’t fit well in the game’s world at large. A couple are apparently weapons or armour, yet we didn’t find rules for whether they count or not against character limits on such. Confusing.

Back to the map tokens. I had six by my third turn, though maybe that was dumb luck; I was never down to less than two for the whole game so as said, they are (overly) easy to get. Convenient for smooth game play, but not always balanced. The map tokens are limited to 12 in count, six of each color. The rules say that if a token isn’t available when you get to gain one, you take one from another player. Any of you who’ve read my past articles know I don’t care for that kind (or others) of a demigod mechanic outside of the game environment. In addition, the map “tokens” themselves had another problem.

The backs of the map and legendary item tokens are the same; a bad design choice. You need to keep them well separated, face down, for random draw; so more table space is used up, as much as maybe a standard card in size. You can put them in a cup or bowl, but it better be deep enough that you can’t see what you’re drawing. We tried “shuffling” and stacking them for draws, but of course with the same backs on each stack, we had to remember which was which without peeking at the top one and spoiling the shuffle. A couple of times, we forgot and had to check and reshuffle. The fix (sort of) is rather simple and obvious… and better for storage.

Standard Map Cards

thn_Standard_Blue These are the size of a standard RB2 card. At the beginning of this article, you saw the card back I put together (thanks to Fantasy Flight Games sharing the templates and Jon New of TalismanIsland.com helping me get the right one for the job). There is a trade off in this notion. Though the cards take less fuss than tokens in random draw and storage, and maybe less space in their access area, they use more space in the player’s area… maybe.

You don’t need to see all that you’ve acquired until you use them, so you can stack up the ones you have until you are out at sea. Thereby they might be a little more organized than another pile of another type of token to collect. As said, it’s a matter of what space you want save, but maybe there’s even another option to consider.

Mini Map Cards

thn_Mini_Green Map tokens (or cards) don’t need to be big because they don’t carrying any information. So why bother with big cards, if you find cards a better alternative for storage, shuffles, and random draws?

For those who play games using Euro-Mini cards, such as found in Talisman, Dungeonquest, etc., you may even have spare card sleeves of the right size to fit these. Now you can save even more table space. Again, stacked by your character card when collected, they will take up even less space (no more than a pile of tokens). Some players might not care to use cards of a non-standard size for RB2, but the card is just their physical form; they are still tokens. If you’re still not satisfied, go back to your tokens or use the larger cards instead.

Killing (or at least Hobbling) the Demigod of Maps

The other issue with the map tokens is that players (not characters) get to steal them in a godlike fashion if none are left when they have the chance to gain another one. Let’s face it, in RB2 it’s difficult to catch another character to steal or make a deal. That’s as it should be and such deathmatch nonsense is best left to lighter sillier fantasy board games.

thn_Mini_BothWell, with these printable cards you can now mitigate “player” theft that has nothing to do with “characters” inside the game environment. And it doesn’t take a house rule to do it.  The graphics included in this package can be printed out multiple times to make more than just 6 of each kind of token. Hey, a bunch more map parts float around the land is not worse than characters somehow having a map part vanish when they aren’t looking.

I would suggest 12 of both the blue and green for starters, and then see if that’s enough. This should be plenty to minimize this one little demigod mechanic. And as some extra spice, look to the image on the right. Yes, one whole map as a treat can be included in that new Map “token” deck. But seriously, just one (for a total of 25 Map cards), or you’ll lessen the already easy challenge of gaining a map while tempering that hinky theft mechanic.

About the Legendary Item Tokens

I have to pause now, for my day job as an author is calling even on a weekend where I’m taking half a day off. I’m squeezing in some time for designing a card template to replace the tokens for Legendary Items. Well, on top of trying to flesh out the rest of the Talisman Tales, In the Settlements expansion. And then no more running for the manual to remember what each of these special token items can do. These should have been cards in the first place, and I’ll try to get them out soon.

Time for me to go, and I hope to see you again soon. Thanks for stopping by and you can find the Map “Token” Cards package on the F.D. Downloads page. Within the next week, I’ll upload the package as well to the Island of Dread page at BoardGameGeek.com.

2 comments :

  1. As you probably know, IoD is the Runebound I have put the most work into as far as fan made content. Its the CoA variant that took the longest to create. I also created an allies expansion for it so that the allies actually fit the theme. Then I created a new endgame variant, and a new sailing variant.... And now you are working on new cards for the map and legendary items. Sigh...

    And yet, despite the need for all these improvements, I still have a great time playing this big box expansion. The idea of sailing around, battling pirates and sea monsters, and trying to find a legendary isle of dread... appeals to me as a gamer.

    I look forward to seeing the legendary item cards, and I'm hoping you put the rules for each item on the card itself. I know from personal experience, that one annoyance for new players of this expansion is constantly having to look up what their legendary items do.

    All the best

    Judd (i.e. Warbringer25)

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  2. Hi Judd,

    Actually, these days I'm swamped with work between two novels in different stages and a private commercial writing project Barb and me have just started. I've been meaning to get to those IoD legendary item cards for over a month and still haven't found time. In fact we haven't had time to play RB in almost two months. IT SUCKS! But hopefully that will change some time soon. I miss puttering around with RB and some the little creations I used to do.

    We've only played IoD once, so we haven't even gotten to integrate CoA for IoD as of yet.

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