The Void is the third small box expansion in the Aeon's End series of games. For a detailed run down of the game's system, I'd like to point to to Nick Welford's review of the base game.
What does the Expansion Include?
The Void, designed by Kevin Riley, grants us one new breach mage alongside one familiar face. Xaxos: Voidbringer is the evolution of the original base set character, and naturally there are some shared traits between his incarnations. His deck and breach set-up remain much the same aside from one slight tweak to his level two breach, making it easier to open. Even his spells share similar traits, with only the condition changed between being able to deal one damage or three.
His most obvious difference is in his ability: Praetorian Halo is one charge cheaper than his previous ability, and also grants a plethora of useful effects. For the cost of discarding a random card, any ally is granted a charge. Moreover, Xaxos gains a life, focuses a breach and destroys a card in their hand or discard pile, granting three powers for just one action. Xaxos is the epitome of a powerful early-game mage, extremely flexible and able to focus on a support or damage game depending on which other characters are being used. His ability does lose effectiveness later in the game, but by that point you'll hopefully have established a solid game plan that will lead you to victory.
Sparrow also exists on the support side of the fence, despite her solider moniker. With nine crystals in her starting deck she mirrors Malastar in terms of buying power, able to snatch up four and five-cost cards in the first couple of turns. However, where Malastar excels at giving cards to allies, Sparrow excels at giving players places to apply them: Her Eldritch Tether either provides four separate focus actions on any player's breaches, or allows a player to draw three cards and prep up to three spells onto their breaches providing they are all open. Good throughout every stage of the game at a variety of roles, another solid inclusion to either base game.
The Void also brings with it two new Nemeses. The Knight of Shackles mimics the players by using his own set of breaches. Players will have to actively stop his breaches from focusing, as each opening effect grows more and more potent until finally unleashing a loss condition for the players if all four are opened. Knight of Shackles' growth has to be controlled more than a Nemesis that just needs beating down, and the natural slowing down of the player's engines makes it that much more difficult to build a game-winning deck to deal with the threat he poses. At difficulty four he offers a nice next step up from the introductory game, and though his abilities don't look backbreaking at face value, the impending danger of the added loss condition means the players always have to have the measure of him or risk a swift defeat.
Maiden of Thorns is the other addition to the Nameless army, though she is deceptively strong for a Nemesis at difficulty four. A pure damage-dealer, Maiden switches between damaging the players and Gravehold using her Thorn marker, which deals damage equal to the number of cards remaining in the supply pile it sits on. She's adept at inflicting punishment on unassuming players, forcing them to buy cards they may not necessarily have wanted to purchase just to reduce the damage they're taking. This nemesis is better fought at higher player counts where you can meter the damage out further, but even so she represents a significant challenge, especially if she can amass a number of Nemesis tokens to deal swaths of damage in a single nemesis turn.
Finally, we can discuss the supply cards. The biggest focus on this set is the addition of spells with Link, an ability that allows two copies of a spell with Link to be prepped onto the same breach. The Void brings four such spells to the table, from the three-cost Conflagration dealing decent damage and providing AEther when cast, to Fulminate granting your spells additional damage while it remains prepped. Any spell with Link can be paired with any other Link spell, so looking for combinations between cards gives them an added versatility that allows you to prepare for multiple situations if you have built your market to benefit heavily from them.
Aeon's End - The Void Components (Credit: Indie Boards & Cards)
Is The Void Worth Purchasing?
The Void is a solid inclusion for those finding Aeon's End difficult to win at. The game has a notoriously high difficulty even at lower levels, and for War Eternal owners this can help steady out the jump between the level two Nemeses and the level sevens. Both Nemeses again delve into new design space, though I'd argue that Maiden of Thorns seems a bit more generic than her counterpart, and for the times where you just want a slug fest against an opponent, she is an adequate foil. Besides that, though, I can't see me replaying either Nemesis past teaching newer players the ins and outs, especially when more interesting Nemeses exist in either base game box.
The mages offer a new take on the support mechanics in the game, though the spells supplied are more focused towards damage dealers, so there is a misfit of supply options here. Link spells are at their best with DPS-focused mages, and their cheap costs make them relatively easy to pair up in a single turn or combined over multiple turns while focusing your +1 damage breaches, while the mages often want to lie in support roles to take advantage of their abilities. That being said, pairing Sparrow up with mages like Jian or Garu will lead to some truly explosive amounts of damage, so they can't be ignored when considering team makeups.
All in all, The Void is solid, but not breathtaking. It's great for newer players to the game as a way to bridge the gap between lower and higher difficulty Nemeses, but there's nothing compelling me to play with either Nemesis beyond these reasons. The real star here for mere are the Link spells, which can absolutely tear a Nemesis wide open if paired with mages who excel at opening their +1 damage breaches quickly and unleashing mayhem on an unsuspecting Nemesis.
I'd pick this up first if you're still learning Aeon's End's nuanced gameplay. Otherwise, I think it's easy to pass on this one in favour of The Nameless or The Depths for their more interesting Nemeses and mages.