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The Siege of Runedar Review

The Siege of Runedar Review

The Siege of Runedar Review

Welcome to our review of Ludonova’s The Siege of Runedar, designed by the great game designer Reiner Knizia. Do you enjoy cooperative battling-type games as much as we do? This game has you playing as a group of Dwarves who Orcs, Trolls, and Goblins trap in a fortress. The Orcs are trying to get the gold, the Trolls are creating havoc and the Goblins are preventing you from leaving. At the same time, as you are fighting off these forces, you are trying to dig your way out the back tunnel removing rubble and tunnel segments to reach the exit!. Let’s learn how to play this fascinating 1-4 player game!

Game Overview – The Siege of Runedar

Each player begins by choosing a dwarf to play and selects the 12 cards associated with that dwarf. They draw the five cards into their hand. These cards are that dwarf’s actions on their turn. Each card has multiple choices actions that the player can do. A dwarf can move, fight, craft (metal, wood, or leather) and dig. As the game progresses you can swap these cards with cards on the upgrade board.

Each deck of 12 cards also has two Orc cards in them. If a player draws an Orc into their hand, they play the card first. This card represents bad things are coming. Flipping over the next “siege card” will show you where on the board to place the Orcs, whether to move the Orcs closer to the gold in the center, and whether to add a catapult or Siege Tower to your dwarf’s play area. Orcs are trying to steal your gold, of which you only have 20 pieces. So you need to protect the gold!

Besides protecting the gold, you are also trying to escape out the back tunnel! The tunnel is represented by 5 wooden blocks sitting in a trench at the back of the board. In front of that trench is one of four rooms. Three are workshops for crafting materials and the fourth is where you dig rubble. Each dig action removes one rubble piece, and once you’ve removed all six, you remove one tunnel piece from the trench. As you remove tunnel pieces, you will encounter two goblins per section (10 total) each getting progressively more difficult to defeat. Each goblin is represented by a tile that details how they need to be defeated along with a standee. Some require several hits, while others require metal, wood, or leather, and still, others need you to dig more rubble out for them. After defeating those two goblins, you put back out the six pieces of rubble repeat this dig/defeat goblins process five times to win the game. You lose the game if you run out of Siege cards, Trolls, gold, or orcs. 

Finally, in The Siege of Runedar if you have a catapult or siege tower in your play area, you wait until your next turn to activate it. Siege Towers immediately place a troll in your dig area (preventing you from digging the tunnel until you defeat it). Trolls are difficult to defeat. A catapult will knock out one of the slots in your upgrade board. You have five slots available for upgrades at the beginning of the game. However, the catapult will remove a specific slot from play in future rounds.

Game Components

The game components are where the game surprised us the most. The “board” isn’t a standard flat or modular board. Instead, it is the bottom of the game box, a 3d representation of a fortress made of plastic with three towers, three walls, one tunnel trench, four rooms, and a central square. The game comes with punchboard board pieces which you place on the walls and floors of the game bottom to show the different rooms. The game box also comes with a double-sided tape roll to secure these pieces down. The standees for the Orcs, Trolls, Goblins, and Dwarves, we particularly enjoyed as they are double-sided, with one side showing the front of the character and the reverse showing the back. Typically in a game with standees, you only see the front side of the character from all angles.

There are also standees for the siege tower and catapult much larger than the others. Unfortunately, they don’t get placed on the board and are only present in the game to remind the players that they will activate soon. Once activated, they get placed back in the reserve. We feel that this is a bit of underutilization of the component and would have liked to see it take an active roll in the game.

The resources tokens you can craft look like logs, animal hides, and metal ingots similar to other games with wooden meeples. The gold the Dwarves are protecting is also made to look like excellent little gold nuggets. 

The cards are nicely illustrated and carry the style from the standees. I love the upgrade cards and how detailed the weapons are. They are well designed with an easy-to-learn iconography to tell you what actions you can do with the card. 

Finally, The Siege of Runedar comes with five custom dice. Each die is a six sided die. They have two sides with one damage, one side each with 2 and 3 damage, and two sides with a crossbow icon. Players use the dice when fighting off Orcs, Trolls, and Goblins. Orcs take two damage, while trolls take varying amounts of damage based on the randomly selected tile you place next to them when they arrive via siege tower. Goblins may take damage but not always (depends on what tile was in the tunnel… more on that in a second.)

Game Setup

The Siege of Runedar should only take about 5 – 10 minutes to set up. It does have quite a few card decks that need to be separated, shuffled, and recombined. Each player takes a dwarf standee, their twelve cards, and their discard token. They shuffle their cards, discard the first two under the token, and then deal the next five as their starting hand. 

Then as a group, players shuffle the goblin tiles face down with only their number showing. Choosing two each from 1-5 for a total of ten Goblin tiles, players place those face down in the tunnel and lay the wooden tunnel section blocks on top. This ensures the goblins get progressively harder as the game goes on.

Then they take all 20 pieces of gold and put them in the center room, Similarly take the wood, metal, and leather tokens and put them in their respective rooms called workshops. Finally, laying out between 6, 8, and 10 pieces of rubble in the dig space at the back of the board. The amount of rubble is how players adjust the game’s difficulty – six is easiest while ten is hardest. 

Another part of The Siege of Runedar is the upgrade board. Players shuffle the yellow, gray, and red upgrade cards separately. They place them in the three color-coded sections on the upgrade board. Then draw the top five yellow cards and put them in the slots on the board numbered 1-5. 

Finally, the players put all standees besides the dwarves you are playing in a reserve area, and they are ready to start the game.

Overall the setup is straightforward. The biggest thing is shuffling all the cards into their respective decks. Your first game will take a bit longer as you’ll need to tape down each of the board tiles. Luckily Ludonova provides a layout design to show you which pieces go where.

Gameplay

The Siege of Runedar‘s ultimate goal is to fight off the Orcs, sieging your fortress while digging the rubble and defeating the Goblins in the tunnel. 

The way players do this is through their hand of cards and the strategy they play them. With only 12 cards, players can upgrade them throughout the game by crafting materials and assigning that material to the upgraded equipment, however they must permanently discard a card to take a completed upgrade from the board. This means players never have more than 12 cards in their deck. This adds to the challenge and strategy of the game. Players only have a limited supply of cards to complete their actions.

On each player’s turn, they must play all cards in their hand, starting with any Orc cards. For each Orc card played, the player turns over the next siege card, which will tell them to either add orcs, move orcs, add a siege tower, or catapult to the game.

This last part we got wrong when we played initially. The siege tower and catapult are not automatically activated. Instead, they stay in the player’s play area either until their next turn or if a second siege tower/catapult card comes out before the player’s next turn. We were activating them immediately, which made us run out of troll tiles faster.

In the case of the siege tower, this adds a Troll to the dig area. Trolls don’t move but must be defeated before resuming the dig. In the case of the catapult, you turn over the next card in the catapult deck. The card will have a upgrade board slot number 1-5. Players will remove the current upgrade on the board in that position, and it will no longer be able to be filled for the rest of the game.

Each of the other dwarf cards have iconography showing how many steps a dwarf can move and which material they can craft. It also shows how many close combat or ranged combat dice they can roll while fighting and the ability to dig rubble pieces.

Close combat occurs in the same space as the enemy; however, Dwarves can only do ranged combat from one of the three towers. Ranged combat allows a dwarf to shoot down on Orcs either on the wall, outside the wall, or in the nearest workshop.

The game’s challenge is to figure out what to use each card for, as the cards all have multiple options for actions you can take. The key is how only one action can be selected from each card during a player’s turn. So the age-old question occurs “Do I use this card for that action or hold it to move and then use this other card to dig.” These decisions aren’t made in a silo though. Players can consult with the other players about what they want to do on their turn. This is a cooperative game and talking to others is encouraged.

The Trolls and Goblins are harder to kill than the Orcs. Orcs can be defeated by rolling two damage. Unfortunately each Troll and goblin has unique amounts of damage players have to do.

Placing damage for us was the most finicky part of the game. Some trolls take a lot of hits that take multiple turns to complete. The Siege of Runedar comes with wooden damage tokens to cover up the damage on the tile. We found that placing these tokens on the tiles was a bit hard. They are just so small and didn’t sit level on the troll tile.

As players craft materials, they can assign them to upgrade cards on the board or use those materials to pay off some goblins. At the start of the game, the upgrade board has five yellow cards, which are the easiest to complete. Any player on their turn may take an upgrade card. To replace the card however, a player in the center space at the end of their turn may place either a yellow, gray, or red upgrade card down, red being the most difficult to complete but with the biggest reward. You do not get to choose the specific card you put down, just the color, and you turn over the top card to reveal what the upgrade is.

We found the upgrades to be quite powerful in the game. Especially the improved weapons and shovels. There are even some that have magical abilities which allow you to move anywhere on the board as an action.

Overall Impressions

We enjoyed this game for it’s fighting and crafting which are the crux of the game. The Siege of Runedar has some elements of other adventure games we played but is more tightly focused. Also, one caveat in this game, the enemies do not fight back, and the dwarves do not take damage, which is weird at first, but it isn’t as important as you play.

With regards to the Orcs it feels like a game of capture the flag because when they move they always advance towards the center of the fortress. When they get into the center space, they immediately retrieve a gold piece and are then returned to the reserve. Lose all the gold; you have lost the game. The good thing is that it’s only two damage to remove an orc, but your dwarf needs to have cards that allow them to fight. Not all cards have those actions. So making the decision to leave an Orc sometimes is best.

The strategy of this game is the key. As a group, you are deciding who’s going to dig, who’s going to fight, and who’s going to craft each round. Each decision is adjusted as Orc cards come out and more Orcs or Trolls arrive on the board. All these different moving parts make for a engaging puzzle players need to solve

We lost our first game because we reached the last Troll tile. This loss was partly because we didn’t understand at first the rules on when a siege tower activated. We were immediately putting a Troll on the board. When we played it again, we adjusted our play style and were greatly rewarded. While we didn’t win, we did get much further than our first game

We’d recommend this to anyone who loves cooperative fantasy-fighting-style games. While it doesn’t have a story other than the Dwarves trying to tunnel out of the fortress, it is a fun game to pull out when you want that exciting battling type game on your table!

If you enjoy this review of The Siege of Runedar and think you’d be interested, we offer for sale on our store.