Innovative Board Game Mechanics

In my last board game tactica post we explored some bad mechanics in board games- legacy design from the 1980s that still seems to be alive and kicking in modern games.

Let’s balance things out a bit with some examples of innovative and dare I say even risk taking mechanics….

As an example of a board game with a couple of neat innovation we are going to explore Runebound 3rd edition by Fantasy Flight Games.

Runebound is an overland fantasy board game where you play a hero exploring the realm, growing in power and renown, eventually facing a final battle threat to the realm.

Winner takes all against either a returning Dragon Lord, or a corpse raising Necromancer.

And of course being a Fantasy Flight Games release, lots of other expansion to build out the base game.

The theme has certainly been done before, and continues to be done, as with Gloomhaven.

But there are two mechanics that really add to the experience in Runebound.

Something different in a sea of games.

We start with movement in the game- through custom dice. Not just roll and move, or spend X number of action points to move- roll the terrain dice, see what symbol come up, and move the spaces that you can combine together- with a wild card space that one can combine to use for any of the terrain types.

Most of the time you get what you want.

Sometimes you have to balance the combination and find an alternate way.

Sometimes you don’t get what you want.

The random of the dice, BUT there are ways to euro it and control the random if that is your thing- by buying adventuring gear or magic items in the various shops and town which add more movement dice to your hand.

Combat first, combined with magic items second is another really innovative feature.

Combat is handled by casting a handful of runes…

…ok cardboard pogs/tokens, but the narrative is there.

Each character starts with three runes- with symbols for blocking, attacking, and activating powers on each side. Scoop up the runes, cast them out and resolve them against the attacking enemy.

Encounters and enemies have a set of runes also to cast out and compare for return damage and powers.

Takes a bit longer vs. just dice rolling combat, but it does turn it into a mini-game of casting and finding powers and combinations to use.

Which leads us to magic items- my favorite approach to them with regards to innovation.

When you buy or find a magic item, it has a corresponding  rune, which you get to add to your hand of runes to cast. It really *feels* like you have a magic item and are using it in the game, as opposed to just adding another modifier to your dice roll.

It makes collecting and using magic items very fun.

Some bold and different ideas in a sea of overland RPG and dungeon crawler games…

On a closing note, I have a more detailed review of the game, and why it is on the top of my solo player board game list. The review is here: Runebound 3rd Edition.