“Runika Jones is a fourteen-year-old amateur rune-caster and professional thief. But when Runika finds herself caught in the act by a master of the rune-casting arts, the dragon, Headmaster Lucidorn the Green, she thinks she’s done for.
However, Lucidorn offers her a deal: come study at his Academy for Gifted Mages, impress him and the other professors; or get sent to prison. Not much of a choice, is it?
In Runika and the Six-sided Spellbooks, you play as Runika and her friends, Aia, Diego and Felix, learning runes, casting spells and trying to impress the professors. Earn their favour and you could graduate top of the class, becoming a master in your own right, but be careful. Expulsion is only one slip-up away.”
To set up a game of Runika and the Six-sided Spellbooks:
A. Place the dice into the drawstring bag, and put this in reach of all players.
B. Pick a character to represent you. Take the player board and influence tokens matching your character. Take an elemental disk and place it on your player board with air rotated to be at the top.
C. Shuffle the merit cards. Place them face-down to form a merit card deck.
D. Shuffle the basic rune cards (with silver corners). Place them face-down to form a rune deck. Deal out runes in a row next to the rune deck equal to one more than the number of players..
E. Place the spell master cards in the middle of the table, with the mastery rune cards (with gold corners) next to them.
F. Make a pile of silver and gold points tokens in reach of all players.
G. The player who last finished reading a book takes the initiative token.
Step One: Drafting Elements
- Draw: The player with the initiative token draws a number of dice from the bag, depending on players, and puts them in the middle of the table.
2 Players: 8 dice 3 Players: 12 dice 4 Players: 16 dice
- Draft: Starting from the player with the initiative token and then going clockwise, each player selects one of the rolled dice and places it on their player board in the ‘stored elements’ section. Continue until all dice have been claimed.
- Roll: Players may roll the dice in their ‘stored spells’ at any point from now until the start of their turn. Players may choose to reroll any number of stored dice by discarding one stored dice. (Players may never spend their last stored dice to reroll because they would not have any dice left to reroll!)
Step Two: Player Turns
The player with the initiative token takes the first turn. That player completes all of Step Two before the next player (clockwise) takes a turn. Continue until all players have finished Step Two.
In the next round, the initiative token will pass clockwise, so everybody gets a go at having the first turn.
- Roll: If the active player has not rolled their stored dice yet, they must roll them now. As with Step One, a player may reroll any number of stored dice by discarding one of those dice.
- Resolve: The active player must then resolve all dice in their stored spells. They do this one at a time, in any order
- Rotate: Rotate dice are not added to your spell grid. When you resolve a Rotate dice, discard that dice and then rotate your disk once clockwise.
- Points: Points dice are ‘pushed’ onto your spell grid from the side indicated by your elemental disk
- Energy: Energy dice can be ‘pushed’ onto your spell grid as above, but they can also be used to influence spell masters
- Claim Points Cards: After a player has resolved all of their dice, they may claim one merit card and one or more rune cards
- Scoring Merit Cards: At the end of a round, if you have influence on all four spell masters, take back all of your influence tokens and draw a merit card. Merit cards give you 2, 3 or 4 points as indicated on the card
- Scoring Rune Cards: After you have resolved all of your dice, if you can claim a rune card, you may do so. You must have dice on your spell grid in the same pattern as indicated on the rune card. The pattern may be in any rotation or position on your spell grid (but they cannot be flipped). Take the claimed rune card and place it on your player board. For each dice used to make the rune that had a point symbol showing, collect that many points tokens. Then discard all dice used to make that rune
- Clean-up: If there are any empty rune card spaces, refill those spaces. If you ever deal out a rune card that matches one already in the row, you should instead stack that rune card on its duplicate and draw another until the gap is filled. Finishing a rune that is stacked on another simply reveals the matching rune for players to complete in future turns
Step Three: Finishing the Round
After all players have taken their turns:
Clear Spellslots: Discard any Energy dice on spell master spellslots.
Check for Victory: Check if the game has finished.
- If any player has 20 or more points, the game ends. Check for scoring.
- If the rune card deck or merit card deck is empty, the game ends. Check for scoring.
Begin new round: If the game has not yet finished, the player with the initiative token passes it to the player clockwise to them and players begin a new round
Ending the Game
Runika can end in one of two ways:
- At the end of a round, if a player has 20+ points, the game ends.
- A much rarer event is, at the end of a round, if either the rune deck or merit deck are empty, the game ends.
Players count up their prestige points (from scored rune cards, prestige tokens and merit cards). The player with the most prestige wins. In the event of a tie, all tying players win.
After the success of Lucidity, I jumped at the chance to review Fox Tale Games’ new game, Runika and the Six-sided Spellbook. They have a very unique way of designing games. The way they use dice in their games is often like nothing I have ever seen before. I said it during my Lucidity review that this will be a company to watch and I feel like this game cements that comment.
Of course, I can’t stress this enough: theme can take a game from good to great. It can add to the replay value as players become invested in the story and in turn the game. Runika and the Six-sided Spellbook has such a stunning theme. You could quite easily develop it into a children’s book or a Saturday morning cartoon. The theme has been so well-developed and yet it doesn’t compare to the gameplay.
I love the way this game plays. It is a mixture of worker placement, dice drafting, puzzle game and pattern matching. Runika and the Six-sided Spellbook is a hard game to explain, as I have never played anything like it. But this is exactly why I love and look forward to new releases from Fox Tale Games. They don’t just think outside the box, they take multiple boxes, pull them apart and form a new box with parts of those boxes.
I invited a group of friends over and we played several games of Runika and the Six-sided Elements. The game is quite complex. There is a so much going on and yet it all feels easy. I know it sounds weird but Fox Tale Games have done such an amazing job detailing the rules, that by the second game we never had to look at them again. Which is insane as this is by no means a light game.
I think the reason for this is because the rules are so detailed but more importantly, Runika and the Six-sided Spellbook flows so beautifully. Everything just makes sense. I feel like the best way to describe it is hearing a song for the first time and halfway through it, you are singing along with it. Every step of the next in a very logical way. Does this mean it is easy to learn? Yes. But, does this mean it is easy to win or master? Not at all.
That is the beauty of Runika and the Six-sided Spellbook. While it feels like an old favourite from the first play, it’s challenging, competitive with great replay value. No one game is ever the same.
After Lucidity, I’m sure most people doubted Fox Tale Games had another game like that in them like that. I’m so glad those people will be proven wrong.
Images: Fox Tale Games