First Impressions – Runes and Regulation

As very recent home-owners and transplants into suburbia, the three of us have had a significant learning experience of dealing with neighbors, home ownership, and relations with our Homeowners Association.

To be honest, it’s kinda dull.

There have been more than one occasion where the thought of hexing one of our neighbors so that we can sit on our deck in peace rather than engage in idle chit chat has brought us a small, private smile. We would certainty love to summon a ornery dragon to keep our neighbors’ dogs from doing their business on our lawn.

Just about every day…more and more…droppings.

So when the game Runes and Regulations offered us the chance to do that, at least as a tabletop card game, we jumped at the chance.

Coming from the makers of one of our other favorite card games, Unstable Unicorns, we were super excited to give Runes and Regulations a chance to wow us just as much. In the game, you and your neighbors (read: opponents) engage in a sorcerous, passive-aggressive battle trying to have your way while annoying each other, all the while while trying to comply with the insipid demands of the local homeowners association.


This game is bursting with flavor and definitely stays true to the theme of a unassertive aggression with its mechanics of summoning mythical creatures, hexing your neighbors’ creatures (or your neighbors), and interrupting their magical attempts with runes to dominate with some magic of your own.

Seriously, if you met our neighbors, you’d think about it too!

The box is compact, pleasant and inviting, like any good home and garden. The art for the creature cards are bordering on absolutely adorable while the naming convention of the spells and runes adds greatly to the witty overall theme of the game.

If you value chain reactions or serious interactivity in a game, Runes and Regulations will cast a spell on you from your first game. However, it does bear mention that this game is not for novice gamers. The level of interruption, triggers, and effects does make for some exciting though complicated game play. If you’re Magic: The Gathering players, you’ll understand this entirely, and to be frank, that experience really helped to prevent frustration while sorting out the layers of interactivity.

Seriously, the fences that hold the runes were a great touch!

One mechanic that the game also employs is a deck of overbearing homeowners association regulations that affect the entire neighborhood during play. Some prevent certain types of creatures from being summoned or affect when and how you cast spells, all the while being way too cheery in wishing you “the best”. We loved this concept, but based on our first few games, you can often only have one or two regulations throughout the entire game. We know first hand that a HOA is much more meddlesome, so we wish this mechanic would cycle or intensify (multiple at once?) more often.

Remind me to drop a batch of cookies to Shelia from the HOA. Also, we need to remember to pick up laxatives.

The game also features a great deal of randomization mechanics that definitely make gameplay more interesting. Every turn (mostly), each resident of the neighborhood must spin an old school spinner to have a random effect happen. This was fun, but as we kept playing we were expecting this to have more impact on the game. One result from the spinner calls for a “neighborhood event” that then has you spin again and consult a table to see what happens. This table is MUCH more influential on the game play, but doesn’t come up as often as it could to make the game more fun.

1978 Chutes and Ladders called. They want their spinner back.
(Actually, kudos to a solidly constructed spinner)

The game does feature an expansion: Nefarious Neighbors. The expansion allows up to 8 players and add roles and alternate win condition for each resident of the neighborhood, all while capturing the interactive game play from the base set. This will likely help with shaking up the game more and allowing for more re-playability with lower player counts

In regards to re-playability, provided that you’re playing with more than two people, this game can certainly become a staple of games to jump into on a regular game night, for sure. This game is most certainly worth the price (base game is $30 USD, expansion is $20 USD) for the solid construction and entertainment value, especially if you pick it up in the discounted bundle like we did (only $30 USD).

Overall, this is a solid game that is a great addition our collection. While not having exact same reception with us as its sibling games, this is was a seriously fun game and we’re excited to see what else Unstable Games comes up with.

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