Home Game Reviews RuneScape Kingdoms: Shadow of Elvarg Review

RuneScape Kingdoms: Shadow of Elvarg Review

Board Game Review by: :
Emma Fish

Reviewed by:
On May 30, 2024
Last modified:May 30, 2024


We review Runescape Kingdoms, a dungeon crawling board gmae published by Steamforged Games. Runescape Kingdoms: Shadow of Elvarg will have you exploring the world and leveling up your character.

Runescape KingdomsWelcome to the world of Gielinor! Are you here to stake a vampire? Slay a dragon? Battle an Evil Chicken? The choice is in your hands. Regardless of your decision, there is adventure in your future. Also, possibly a good dose of mayhem and havoc.

RuneScape Kingdoms: Shadow of Elvarg is a cooperative campaign exploration game for 1-5 players based on the popular MMORPG. Familiarity with the property isn’t a requirement to play, but those who are fans can expect to be sucked straight into the world and lore of RuneScape.


Gameplay Overview:

The game plays through 4 main quests, plus a tutorial. Players build up a basic character through experience and exploration, taking on side quests and working together to accomplish shared objectives, like vanquishing vampire kings and saving kingdoms. Each character begins roughly the same and is modified through special items received and XP points earned in different skill categories. These characters stay with the players throughout the campaign.

Runescape Kingdoms Mini
A player’s hero ready to quest

On their turn, players take several basic actions to move, explore, and forage. When they move to a new area on the main map board, they turn over an exploration card that allows them to do some kind of skill test or take on an event card. Skill tests are performed by dice rolls, adding more or fewer dice based on the difficulty of the test compared to the character’s experience level. If they meet the correct conditions, characters can also further the main objectives or take on side quests.

Throughout play, an escalation tracker along the side of the map board keeps pressure on the players to complete their main objectives, increasing as they hit landmarks and visit valuable locations. When the tracker maxes out an escalation card is drawn, complicating the main quest or making it more difficult to complete.

Objectives may require you to fight a mini boss to gather resources, and then big boss battles mark quest completion. These battles take place on a 3×3 grid board, and players transition from wandering and gathering to directly attacking, using the skills they’ve been training up. The bosses each have different actions that they’ll take, keeping each boss encounter unique.

Runescape Kingdoms Gameplay
Each area of the map has a corresponding deck of randomized quest cards

Game Experience:

If you’re trying to play this game out of the box, stop where you are and download the updated digital rulebook from the Steamforged Games website before you begin. The tutorial mode as written in the printed rulebook is so full of errors that it’s almost more confusing than helpful. The company also has a lengthy FAQ with corrections available for download.

Runescape Kingdoms Monster
The Big Bosses each have unique mini figures.

A few examples of errors include not telling the players that certain characters start with additional XP, instructing players to perform actions that aren’t actually available at their location, and having characters draw a card off the top of a deck without telling them anywhere that they will actually have to search the deck for the specific card printed in the rulebook or the quest will fail. Other issues persist throughout the rulebook, including telling players to draw a card from the item deck, which doesn’t actually exist. They mean the equipment deck, but they use both terms interchangeably.

There are structural issues, as well. The cards need to be kept in the box in a particular order, but there are no organizers that allow you to do so, and nowhere in the printed rulebook lists what that order is. You have to go to the FAQ to find out. May the game gods have mercy on your soul if you accidentally drop the box. The detail in the miniatures is nice, but there aren’t very many of them for the price of the game, and the tokens are so small and fiddly that it can be difficult to tell the resources apart.

Runescape Kingdoms Cards
The majority of the game plot is forwarded by drawing event, equipment, and vault cards.

If you can get past these issues, we did have fun playing the game. The system is simple enough to learn and teach, and there is an easy mechanism for adding players later in the campaign if someone new wants to play. So long as one person has a good grasp of gameplay, the whole table can jump in with ease. The side quests add some interesting choices to the gameplay, especially with the escalation system. If you need to stop at a city for a side quest, you’ll have to advance the escalation track for the main quest, forcing you to decide if the risk is worth the reward.

The boss battles have a good variety of mechanics, keeping each quest fresh, especially if you’ve fully explored them before battle. The grid boards you fight them on do feel small and limiting, though. While we found the four quests to be a comparatively light amount of content for the genre, there are several expansions available to add more to your play experience.

Final Thoughts:

It’s an $80 game with 14 miniatures, cards, a couple of cardboard maps, and 2 pages of cardboard tokens. The base game only contains four quests, which can be completed pretty quickly. Steamforge says it’s about 12 hours of gameplay in total. If you’re looking for a cooperative campaign game that’s on the lighter side, though, RuneScape Kingdoms: Shadows of Elvarg is a few solid hours of fun. If you’re already a fan of the RuneScape world, it will likely be a hit.

Final Score: 3 Stars – Production of the base game is a little lacking, but the mechanics are solid and the game is a light entry into the campaign game genre.

3 StarsHits:
• Simple to learn and teach
• Randomized card based exploration system keeps it fresh for replays
• The character modification options are plentiful

• The Rulebook is full of errors and unclear in places
• Not enough content for the value unless you pay for expansions
• Tokens are flimsy and boss boards are underwhelming

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