Aeon’s End 2nd Edition

RRP: £46.99

NOW £36.74
RRP £46.99

The survivors of a long-ago invasion have taken refuge in the forgotten underground city of Gravehold. There, the desperate remnants of society have learned that the energy of the very breaches the beings use to attack them can be repurposed through various gems, transforming the malign energies within into beneficial spells and weapons to aid their last line of defense: the breach …
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Awards

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You Might Like

  • Easy first game set up makes learning the game a breeze.
  • Small changes to the deck-building formula have massive
  • game play implications.
  • A challenge to beat.
  • Large amount of content in the box.

Might Not Like

  • Generic art work and borderline components.
  • After the first game set up for future games is a lot more involved.
  • A challenge to beat!
  • While the art has been changed more could have been done for adopters of this version.
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Description

The survivors of a long-ago invasion have taken refuge in the forgotten underground city of Gravehold. There, the desperate remnants of society have learned that the energy of the very breaches the beings use to attack them can be repurposed through various gems, transforming the malign energies within into beneficial spells and weapons to aid their last line of defense: the breach mages. Aeon's End is a cooperative game that explores the deckbuilding genre with a number of innovative mechanisms, including a variable turn order system that simulates the chaos of an attack, and deck management rules that require careful planning with every discarded card. Players will struggle to defend Gravehold from The Nameless and their hordes using unique abilities, powerful spells, and, most importantly of all, their collective wits.

 

Aeon’s End sees you and up to three other players defend the underground city of Gravehold, a town named so generically it could live in a nursing home. No wait, that's geriatric, but to be honest Gravehold sounds like it would fit right in at the nursing home. Grave. Hold.

Perhaps we should start by saying that a lot of the ‘dressing’ of Aeon’s End is generic to the max. The art work, the setting, the card names and so on. The main enemies seemingly alternate between being called ‘Nameless’ (yet they all have names…) and ‘Nemesis’, and the smaller enemies ‘minions’.

The mages, however, do bring an element of uniqueness into the fold, called ‘breach mages’ they manipulate the breaches that the various beasties approach Gravehold from. These breaches become one of the key differentiating mechanics of the game. So join me as we open breaches and fire off spells to protect the generic geriatric guys and gals of Gravehold from ghastly ghouls, gremlins and… and… gherkins?

(DISCLAIMER: THE PRESENCE OF GHERKINS IN AEON'S END CAN NEITHER BE CONFIRMED NOR DENIED).

Playing the Game

Deck-building of the Dominion/Star Realms kind is centre stage here, but with some significant twists. Each mage starts with a unique hand and deck of five cards each, which they will attempt to manipulate to take down the nameless nemesis who actually have names.

Set up is a little time consuming, although your first game is taken care of for you as the cards a ready packed in the correct order, ensuring that learning the game is a breeze. As well as the unique starting hands and decks, Aeon’s End does not force you to discard cards you haven’t used in a turn and doesn’t allow you to shuffle the discard pile when you run out of cards to draw. Instead you simply flip it over and draw cards in the order they were discarded.

This, initially counter intuitive, action creates some really interesting decisions in how you purchase and discard cards, because you are essentially choosing the order your cards come back to you and building combos for the future.

Attack cards (Spells) work in an interesting and thoughtful way here. You will have up to four breaches about your player board. Spells must be prepped by playing them to a breach - this means they don’t fire in the turn you play them. At the very start of your turn spells played to a closed breach fire and get discarded, but you don’t have to fire spells played to an open breach.

This delayed attack mechanic is really interesting, and some of the spells can give you ongoing benefits, should you leave them prepped. Also the harder to open breaches give you extra damage should you fire a spell from them when opened. I do wish that the core game exploited these breaches and the combos you can set up with them a little more than it does though.

I have heard the expansion adds to this, but in this core box I felt the breaches weren’t quite exploited powerfully enough to make decisions truly difficult.

Attack cards (Spells) work in an interesting and thoughtful way here. You will have up to four breaches about your player board. Spells must be prepped by playing them to a breach - this means they don’t fire in the turn you play them. At the very start of your turn spells played to a closed breach fire and get discarded, but you don’t have to fire spells played to an open breach.

This delayed attack mechanic is really interesting, and some of the spells can give you ongoing benefits, should you leave them prepped. Also the harder to open breaches give you extra damage should you fire a spell from them when opened. I do wish that the core game exploited these breaches and the combos you can set up with them a little more than it does though.

I have heard the expansion adds to this, but in this core box I felt the breaches weren’t quite exploited powerfully enough to make decisions truly difficult.

As well as spells players will be able to buy gems which produce currency to buy more cards, focus or open breaches, or two currency for one charge towards your unique character power (which can usually be activated by four or five charges) and relics which are played for instant effects like opening a breach for free.

Rather than the nemesis taking a turn and then a player, there is a player order deck, which includes and number of player cards (dependant on player count) and two nemesis cards. This is shuffled and then drawn from to tell you who takes the next turn. There are times when you really need a couple of turns in a row to finish off a minion or remove a power, and those dreaded times when the nemesis gets two turns in a row…

Nemesis will have a card drawn which may have an immediate power, be a minion, or an effect that will happen in a couple of turns, unless you can prevent it. Each nemesis has its own unique actions as well with the easiest, the Rageborne (there’s that originality again), usually adding rage tokens to his board which then accumulate in a massive attack on players or Gravehold.

The Elephant in the Care Home

Before moving to my final thoughts I need to address the recent Aeon’s End: War Eternal Kickstarter.

You see the developers picked up on complaints on the look of the art and text in Aeon’s End and they revamped it for the standalone expansion. The card backs remained the same so in theory both sets could be mixed, but who wants to do that?

Therefore Indie Board and Cards are offering an upgrade pack free for backers of the original game, however, if you got Aeon’s End at retail then you will have to buy the upgrade pack for around $10 from Indie Board’s website and it will only be available in limited supply.

I really struggle with this one. On the one hand I applaud the recognition of mistakes and listening to the fan base, on the other it feels like more could be done to get the new artwork and design into the hands of those who have supported this game at retail or Kickstarter.

Final Thoughts

Aeon’s End is in many ways is a brave game, that changes some of the well held conventions of the deck-building genre, but in this first edition some fairly major mis-steps were made in terms of art and component direction.

This doesn’t change the fact that Aeon’s End is a smooth, compelling and challenging game. I didn’t mention how hard this game is did I? The ageing town of Gravehold only has 30 hit points while the Nameless around 70, and if you don’t work together with your unique decks, building them to help each other and combo your unique powers you will not make it very far at all.

There is plenty of good content here with eight mages and four nemesis, not to mention the multiple ways to set up the market. There are also two expansions in the first edition style which add variety to the play.

Yet despite all this when it comes to playing a deck building game with my friends Aeon’s End falls behind the likes of Tyrants of the Underdark, Super Motherload and Clank! which all add something more compelling to do with your decks than just slap away at a generic beast to protect a geriatric city.

Don’t get me wrong - it’s not a bad game by any stretch, and the changes to the usual deck building formula work really well. I can see through bad components if the game is good enough (the aforementioned Tyrants being one of my favourite games) but here I just came away needing the creative approach to the game play to be matched in the theme, art and components of the game… that being said the second edition art looks amazeballs…

You see the developers picked up on complaints on the look of the art and text in Aeon’s End and they revamped it for the standalone expansion. The card backs remained the same so in theory both sets could be mixed, but who wants to do that?

Therefore Indie Board and Cards are offering an upgrade pack free for backers of the original game, however, if you got Aeon’s End at retail then you will have to buy the upgrade pack for around $10 from Indie Board’s website and it will only be available in limited supply.

I really struggle with this one. On the one hand I applaud the recognition of mistakes and listening to the fan base, on the other it feels like more could be done to get the new artwork and design into the hands of those who have supported this game at retail or Kickstarter.

Final Thoughts

Aeon’s End is in many ways is a brave game, that changes some of the well held conventions of the deck-building genre, but in this first edition some fairly major mis-steps were made in terms of art and component direction.

This doesn’t change the fact that Aeon’s End is a smooth, compelling and challenging game. I didn’t mention how hard this game is did I? The ageing town of Gravehold only has 30 hit points while the Nameless around 70, and if you don’t work together with your unique decks, building them to help each other and combo your unique powers you will not make it very far at all.

There is plenty of good content here with eight mages and four nemesis, not to mention the multiple ways to set up the market. There are also two expansions in the first edition style which add variety to the play.

Yet despite all this when it comes to playing a deck building game with my friends Aeon’s End falls behind the likes of Tyrants of the Underdark, Super Motherload and Clank! which all add something more compelling to do with your decks than just slap away at a generic beast to protect a geriatric city.

Don’t get me wrong - it’s not a bad game by any stretch, and the changes to the usual deck building formula work really well. I can see through bad components if the game is good enough (the aforementioned Tyrants being one of my favourite games) but here I just came away needing the creative approach to the game play to be matched in the theme, art and components of the game… that being said the second edition art looks amazeballs…

Zatu Score

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You might like

  • Easy first game set up makes learning the game a breeze.
  • Small changes to the deck-building formula have massive
  • game play implications.
  • A challenge to beat.
  • Large amount of content in the box.

Might not like

  • Generic art work and borderline components.
  • After the first game set up for future games is a lot more involved.
  • A challenge to beat!
  • While the art has been changed more could have been done for adopters of this version.