Welcome to the second installment of our introductory Rivenstone gameplay series. These blogs are meant to cover some of the basic rules of the game, giving you a taste of what the tabletop experience will be when the game launches later this year.
If you’re just joining us, you can find previous blogs exploring the gameplay as well as the fiction of Rivenstone on our website.
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In today’s post, we’re going to cover one of the first things you need to know in order to begin playing Rivenstone: how to build your warband.
Warbands, Model Types, and Game Size
Every game of Rivenstone is played at one of two game sizes: Scouting Party or Raiding Party. These game sizes are also often referred to as a “two-hero game” or “three-hero game” respectively.
Every miniature in a player’s warband falls into one of three major categories: Hero, Follower, or Barracks. Heroes are the most powerful models in a warband, and a key component for achieving victory each game. Followers represent the various warriors and workers that accompany a hero into battle. Whereas heroes are always a single miniature, followers come in groups of typically 2-3 models per follower type. Finally, barracks are structures that represent how reinforcements are brought onto the battlefield, such as a teleportation portal or a subterranean drill vehicle.
Before each game of Rivenstone, players agree on which game size they wish to play at, which dictates how many of each model type is included in their warband.
Scouting Parties contain 2 heroes, 3 follower groups, and 1 barracks.
Raiding Parties contain 3 heroes, 4 follower groups, and 1 barracks.
The overall game length doesn’t change by adding more models, so this decision simply comes down to how much complexity the players want on the table. The more models, the more decisions you have to make! We recommend new players start with Scouting Parties and, as their miniature collection grows, try out Raiding Parties when they are ready.
In addition to their model type, all models also feature keywords that describe what the model is. The faction a model belongs to is one keyword, but so are things such as its race and profession.
For example, let’s take a look at the top half of two Iron Guard cards. Don’t worry, we’ll be looking at the full extent of a stat card and all the rules very soon, but in this post we’re going to focus on a few elements.
The top half of each stat card details the stat values for a model, such as their Defense or Ingenuity, while the bottom half contains their weapons and special abilities. This is broken up by their keyword bar, which states which keyword the models have.
In these examples we can see that the Weldmonger has the keywords Iron Guard, Veteran, Dwarf, and Boss. Veteran is a rank of hero.
The Tunnel Fighters have the keywords Iron Guard, Follower, Dwarf, and Soldier.
These keywords are important when building your warband because each hero you add to your warband dictates what type of followers you are allowed to subsequently add to your warband. The keywords of your heroes also dictate which Coalition your warband can belong to, which we’ll cover below.
The Steps of Building Your Warband
Once you and your opponent decide which game size you will be playing, follow these steps to build your force.
Step 1: Choose Your Heroes
The first step of warband building is incredibly easy to resolve but also defines a major aspect of your entire strategy for the game.
If you are playing a Scouting Party game you simply pick any two heroes to add to your warband, and if you are playing a Raiding Party you pick any three heroes. You must also declare one of your heroes as your Warlord, a status that is typically affected by other model’s special rules.
You can pick the same hero repeatedly if you like, as long as they don’t have a True Name: <Name> keyword, which indicates they are a unique character. Your warband can have multiple characters, but it cannot have more than one of the same character. You can’t have two Grand Adjudicator Belcrofts in your warband, for example.
Rivenstone doesn’t use a point cost system for warband building, so you don’t need to add anything to fit a certain value for your warband. However, not all heroes are created equal.
Every hero has a stat called Bounty, which is the skull icon on the Weldmonger above. This is how many Victory Points your opponent earns each time this hero is destroyed. More powerful heroes are worth more Victory Points.
If you bring two Weldmongers in your warband, then you are only giving your opponent 1 Victory Point each time they are destroyed. If you bring two Terrestrial Fiends, who have a massive Bounty score of 7, you are giving up far more Victory Points each time one of them is destroyed. However, a Fiend has far more impact on the battlefield than a Weldmonger.
Step 2: Choose Your Coalition
Next, choose your Coalition. We’ll post a separate blog covering Coalitions in greater detail later, but for now here is a brief overview.
A Coalition provides a powerful bonus to your entire warband but requires that you have certain heroes (based on their keywords) in your warband.
For example, The Iron Guard Mining Operation Coalition has the following requirement: “Your warband can use this coalition if your warlord is an Iron Guard model and more than half of your hero models are also Iron Guard models.”
As you can see, in a Scouting Party game this Coalition could only be chosen if both heroes had the Iron Guard keyword, since the requirement is “more than half.” In a Raiding Party game, a player could take two Iron Guard heroes and a third hero from another faction and still use this Coalition.
Step 3: Choose Your Followers
After a player has chosen their heroes and Coalition, it’s time to fill out the warband with followers. Each follower group has a stat on its card called Muster. On our Tunnel Fighter example above, that is the icon of the warriors standing together on the left side of the card, which for the Tunnel Fighter has a value of 3.
As mentioned above, in Scouting Parties, add three follower groups to your warband, and in Raiding Parties, add four. Each time you add a follower group, add a number of models to your warband equal to its Muster stat.
Like heroes, you can add the same follower group multiple times, as long as they don’t have a True Name. So, if you were to add two groups of Tunnel Fighters to your warband, since their Muster stat is 3, you would add 6 Tunnel Fighter models in total.
However, there is a restriction on which followers you can add to your warband. Every hero in your army has a section at the bottom of their stat card which details their Favored Followers.
A follower type is considered to be a Favored Follower of a hero if it has every keyword listed in that hero’s Favored Follower text. A follower type can have keywords in addition to the required ones.
Some heroes have multiple Favored Followers, which is indicated by a slash (/) between the descriptions. If a follower type meets the minimum requirements of either description, those followers can be included in the warband. They do not have to meet the minimum requirements of both.
For example, the Weldmonger’s Favored Followers look like this:
That means that any follower that has the Iron Guard and Soldier keywords can be included in a warband that has at least one Weldmonger in it.
Say a follower had the following keywords: Iron Guard, Soldier, Worker, and Scout. You could still include this follower with a Weldmonger as their keywords would meet the requirements of the Weldmonger’s Favored Followers, even though they would have the extra Worker and Scout keywords that wouldn’t be relevant here.
Step 4: Choose Your Barracks
Finally, to finish out your warband, choose a barracks for your models to respawn from as they are destroyed. Your barracks is usually restricted by which model you choose as your Warlord during Step 1, as we can see in this example:
With this last step, your warband is built and you are ready for action! In future blogs, we will cover some of the strategy of list building and how to build your warband around your chosen heroes’ unique strengths and abilities (especially their Victory Point scoring abilities).
Thank you for joining us for this week’s installment of the gameplay blog series. Join us again next week as we dive further into more rules!