Runes is a unique game of letters and words. There are
many types of word games, of course, ranging from those which use whole
sentences and phrases to those which use whole words to those which
build words up letter by letter. But Runes is unique in
that you first have to build up the letters!
The game consists of four boards and a large number of "letter
elements." The boards are identical, and each player gets one. A
board is largely made up of the official way to make each letter using
the letter elements. There are also six spaces for your word to be
built, and a scoring track around the outside of the board.
Runes only uses capital letters, and there is one and
only one way to make each letter, as shown on the boards. There are
four types of letter elements:
To create an "A", for example, you need two long straights and a
short straight. The same letter elements are used to make an "H",
however, so once you've guessed that a given letter of your opponent's
word has two long straights and a short straight, you still have
to guess which letter it is. And if you're not sure you've guessed
them all, it may actually be an "M" or "W", which each have two
long straights and two short straights.
- Long straight pieces;
- Short straight pieces;
- Large curved pieces;
- Small curved pieces.
It could be worse, though: when you have one long and
The game starts with players agreeing on a given word length (5 or
6 letters recommended) and choosing a secret word. The first player
(and there is a cute little way to determine first player) then
selects a letter element from the pool at the center of the table
and places it by one blank space of one opponent. If the letter
which goes in that space has such an element, the owner says, "Yes",
and the element is placed in the box. The first player scores one
point, and may take another turn. This can be guessing another
element of the same box, or of another box of the same player, or
moving to another player's display.
- that could be an "L" or "T" without adding anything,
- if you add a small curve you have an "R", or
- add another
short and you have an "F", "K", or "Z", or
- add two more shorts
and you have an "E", or
- add another long and you have an
"A" or "H", or
- add another long and short and you have "M"
Once someone says, "No", then your turn is over, and you leave the
element just outside the box as a reminder that such an element is not
found in that letter. The player who says, "No" scores one point.
Play proceeds around the table, with a player continuing to play as
long as he gets a "Yes" answer. At some point, you're sure what letter
is represented, and you may assemble the elements into a letter and ask
if that's correct.
Anyone can interrupt to guess a word, however, so it's risky to
take too much time guessing letters when you're pretty sure you know
what they are. Better to leave them confused, because if the
interrupter is correct, he scores the points for the word: one point
for each element in the word!
When your word is guessed, you're not out of the game. Instead, you
simply clear your board of letter elements, choose a new word, and the
game goes on.
To win, you have to first have 25 points and then guess a secret
word correctly. If you guess a secret word incorrectly, you lose
points equal to the number of letter elements in the word you guessed
The game is best with four players, though there are special rules for
two players which helps it. It's an interesting game in that you can't
gang up on the leader: even if three people focus their attentions on
one player's board, it doesn't really hurt him to have his letters or
Overall, this is a very good word game I recommend, should you ever
find one. I've never seen the German edition, so I can't say how they
handled umlauts (ä, ö, ü) and esset (ß), if at all.
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