You’ve known and loved them, and in the back of your mind, you’ve always wondered . . . who would win? Mordrog, he of the hunched shoulders and the large axe, or Mad Carthos, tougher than your average wizard and with a ferocity born of madness? Here’s where we find out.

In addition, hopefully we’ll manage to clarify exactly how hero vs. hero combat works in Runebound 2nd Edition.

The Setup: Mordrog and Mad Carthos are both first level. Mordrog has managed to shackle a Burning Priest Ally to his belt, and also spent the last of his hard-won gold on a Dwarven Fire Bomb. Mad Carthos, meanwhile, can’t seem to get rid of his Ally the noble Prince Gardun, and somewhere along the way picked up a Westerian Shell Shield and a Black Dagger for emergencies. Mad Carthos also just completed a quest that netted him some gold; he has 8 gold, a sizeable sum. That’s 8 more gold than Mordrog has, and Mordrog decides that he wants it!

Neither of our combatants have any wounds or exhaustion.

Mordrog wishes he had another item here ... which is why he's attacking!

The Attack: Mordrog is one space away from Mad Carthos, so rather than roll movement dice, he takes the “automatically move one space” option and enters Mad Carthos’s space. He announces his intent to attack Mad Carthos: “Mordrog smash!” Mad Carthos responds in kind, eagerly cackling his intent to drink wine from Mordrog’s skull.

During the first round of combat, the defender effectively becomes a Challenge. He can use Items but not Allies, and he must determine the target number that Mordrog must meet or exceed (this is done by rolling 2d10 and adding the defender’s, or “Challenge’s,” combat value). The attacker is the de facto Hero, and acts normally throughout the round. Once the round ends, the Hero (the attacker) and the Challenge (the defender) switch places.

First Mad Carthos, the “Challenge,” performs “Before Combat” actions. He chooses to use his character ability, and takes 1 wound to test Spirit (14). He rolls 13 on the dice, +4 for his Spirit score, for a total of 17. Success! Mordrog takes 2 wounds.

Then Mordrog, the “Hero,” may perform “Before Combat” actions. He opts to use his Dwarven Fire Bomb, so he discards it to make a ranged attack. Before he can make the ranged attack, though, we must determine what Mad Carthos’s ranged combat value is as a defender. Mad Carthos rolls 2d10 and gets 11; he then adds his ranged combat value of 0 for a total of 11. That means that Mordrog must get an 11 or better with his ranged attack with the Dwarven Fire Bomb. He rolls 14 on the dice, plus his ranged combat value of 1, for a total of 15. Success! Mad Carthos would take 3 wounds. He decides to use his Westerian Shell Shield, and discards it to drop the total to 1 wound. Both Mordrog and Mad Carthos have now taken 2 wounds each.

The 1st Combat Round: We now enter normal combat. As the defender, Mad Carthos may not try to escape, much as he’d like to. Mordrog could attempt to escape, but he’s a raging homicidal lunatic who wants Mad Carthos’s gold, so he won’t. This means that we enter the ranged phase.

The first thing that happens is that Mordrog decides whether to attack or defend. He chooses to defend, saving his attack for the melee phase. As the “Challenge,” Mad Carthos is always able to inflict damage, so he does not need to choose. As with during “Before Combat,” Mad Carthos as the defender must determine the target number that Mordrog must meet or exceed in ranged combat. He may use Items while setting that target number, but may not do so after the target number is set (in other words, cannot activate an Item to increase his target number after seeing what Mordrog rolls).

So Mad Carthos rolls 2d10 and gets 11, an average roll. His ranged combat value is 0, so that gives Mordrog a ranged target number of 11. Mordrog rolls and gets a 5 on the dice, +1 for his ranged combat value, for a total of 6. Having failed the combat roll, Mordrog therefore takes Mad Carthos’s ranged damage value of 1. Mordrog now has 3 wounds.

Next comes the melee phase. Mordrog declares that he will attack, no surprise there; Mad Carthos rolls 2d10 and gets 9. He decides to use his black dagger on the off chance that Mordrog rolls poorly, boosting the roll to an 11, and then adds +3 for his melee combat value, for a total of 14. Mordrog then makes his combat roll and gets a 17 on the dice! He hits Carthos with no problem, inflicting 2 wounds on him. Mad Carthos now has 4 wounds; 1 more and he’ll be knocked out.

Then comes the magic phase of the first round. Mad Carthos hopes to score big on this one, knowing that he should be able to beat Mordrog’s spirit score. However, Mordrog declares that his Burning Priest Ally will attack instead. Mad Carthos rolls 17 on the dice; not bad at all. With his +4 spirit, that’s a 21 total. Mordrog rolls 12 on the dice for his Burning Priest, +2 for the Burning Priest’s spirit score, for a total of 14 . . . not even close. The Burning Priest takes 2 wounds, leaving him with 1 wound left.

That’s the end of the first combat round.

The 2nd Combat Round: Now the two combat participants switch sides. Mordrog becomes the “Challenge” and Mad Carthos becomes the “Hero.” First comes the escape phase. Mad Carthos considers trying to escape, but if he does, Mordrog will just continue to hunt him down, so he decides to stay and see it through. This brings us to the ranged phase.

Mad Carthos decides to defend in ranged. If he fails this roll, he’ll be knocked out. Mordrog rolls 5 on the dice to determine the ranged target number; +1 for his mind score brings it to a whopping 6. Mad Carthos then rolls to defend, hoping he doesn’t get an unlucky toss on the dice. He gets a 12, so he successfully defends.

Then comes melee. Mad Carthos decides that his Ally, Prince Gardun, will attack this phase. Mordrog rolls 19, +5 for his body value, for a target number of 24. Mad Carthos rolls an 8 for Prince Gardun, +3 for his body value, for a measly 11. Prince Gardun takes 2 wounds.

Then there’s magic. Mad Carthos declares that he will attack. Mordrog gets a lucky roll, a 19 on the dice. That combined with the +1 for his spirit value gives him an even 20. Mad Carthos had better roll well. The dice have other things in mind, though; he gets a 4, +4 for his spirit value, with a total of 8. Mad Carthos takes 1 wound, enough to bring him to 5. He is knocked out!

The Result: Mordrog roars in triumph and takes his 8 gold; he could have taken instead Prince Cardun, the Black Dagger, or one of Mad Carthos’s adventure cards. Mad Carthos discards his highest-cost Item/Ally, Prince Cardun, and is sent to the nearest town.