Despite having a similar alliance system and game boards that resemble one another almost exactly, Spielworxx' Uli Blennemann has clarified some differences between Age of Reason and Struggle of Empires:
• Instead of armies, fleets, forts, and control pieces, players now have only control pieces that represent a "presence". Armies and fleets are represented by cards – with each player having a set of cards – that can be played during a battle by paying the monetary cost.
• All of the tiles in SoE have been replaced with a display in the lower-right section of the game board that includes spaces for advancements, support and trade. A player places a piece in a certain location to show that he has a particular advantage, which makes a player's abilities easier to notice and plan for during the game, especially with a large group.
• The player turn sequence is simpler and more straightforward, with a player first placing one of his pieces in an empty spot on the display, then conducting one attack. No purchsing of units, no movement, no colonization, etc.
Says Blennemann, "Is Age of Reason a better game? I can't answer this. To my mind it is the faster, more elegant and more modern game – plus it has much better graphics. It retains Martin's brilliant alliance system."