To say that EONS is a game epic in theme is a slight understatement. On the otherhand saying its a game about creating the universe is a vast overstatement, but the concept of the idea is still true. Given our Galaxy alone is a home to a Billion stars, it is sufficient to say you are creating a Galaxy with your competition. In that idea the replayability of the game remains true (i.e.: "Well that was the Milkway Galaxy... Lets see what happened over in the Horsehead Nebula?")
But I digress.
EONS is a great game, with excellent theme, that leaves plenty for the imagination to fill in the gaps (e.g.: you created life... what kind?). It is also a game with a large range of appeal to players of different caliber. You can turtle yourself to focus on building a solid system with planets and a Star that won't burn out, or you can go aggressive with Commet Strikes and Supernovas to enjoy being a cosmic destroyer of world. And there is always the balanced middle ground of both. All are available.
That being said, there is a degree of luck in the role you will acquire on your card draw. Each round you start with 7-cards of actions (each costing some Essence and often Matter to produce). At the end you may discard any cards that don't work to your "grand-scheme" before redrawing your hand - allowing you to rapidly filter out what you don't want in hopes of something better. It is from this that your playstyle will often be shaped (quite literally by the cards you are dealt), but provided you are not a Horder its possibble to accelerate your plans to seek what you're searching for while still doing something in each round.
But lets move on to how the game itself progresses.
In the early game each Cosmic Creator (something I like in that there is no spiritual or scientific push on this game. You can be an atheist or a deeply religious person and neither would be too offended by the theme of this game) usually focuses on making a Star, as doing so not only gives them Essence each round but also acts as an orbital pivot for your planets to gravitate to. This is important as a Planet without a Star to orbit offers no Essence for you to expand your influence in the universe. As such it works in the same principal of how galaxies are formed - a Sun is born, and its gravity causes matter to orbit and progressively form worlds.
Planets are also capable of being upgraded - first with the seeds of life, and again later with Civilization (life having evolved to a sentient level). Each of these produce even more Essence for you, but again only do so if there is a Sun for it to orbit.
Of course the question then comes doesn't that make the star a massive target? Well the answer is yes. However the death of a star doesn't cause the planets around them to die with it. Instead they become rouge planets, floating in the abyss, until a new Star is formed for them to gravitate towards.
For now Planets are always under the control of their creator, however I can see the potential of expansions offering cards/ action thats can pull a Planet away from its creator and to a competitor (stealing all their hard work of evolving the world up). We shall see...
But to get back on track. The early game is usually the creation on Stars, Planets, and Life. This can be a slightly slow period as players are establishing the foundation for their Essence production in later turns, but it swiftly escalates and snowballs. While you may spend Essence to produce a Sun/ World that only generates the Essence you spent, it continues to do so each round - meaning by the second turn you have not only recovered your Essence spent to produce it, but also are making a profit from it.
This then leads into the middle stage of the game, when the Galaxy is abundant with creation - Stars manifesting in great numbers with worlds oriting around them, and essence stockpiles going incredibly high. Occasional disasters hit but for the most part the Galaxy looks to be moving forward at great speed!
And then the fuel runs out...
No matter how promising it may seem that you have 5 Stars all generating you essence, the Fusion mechanic of the game really hits hard when you suddenly discover your stars cannot fuse because the limited amount of matter in the universe has become depleted.
Once again the Galaxy snowballs - this time in the opposite direction as Entropy finally catches up with creation and takes command. Suddenly even the most peaceful of creators turn aggressive as their creations cry out for food that is no longer available.
And so the final war begins... (or, as we Whovians like to always say, "The Stars are Going Out!")
The final push of the game comes often sudden and unexpected the first time. Indeed in my first game I was wondering how much longer the game was going to go, thinking we were only halfway in when I discovered we were actually closer to the finish than anticipated!
In this final battle, the Blackholes start to manifest as players gain Uranium to produce them. Surprisingly they are not used as Weapons against other players, but on yourself as they transform a starving star into a permanent Victory Point lockdown. In fact it often feels that the winner of the game is who ever played the most Blackholes on themselves - which is surprising, and yet thematically accurate (afterall, you have created that which will destroy the works of all others).
Like "Planet Stealing" Blackholes do not threaten other players... yet. I could easily see an Expansion effect of having a Blackhole action cost a pile of essence to obliterate a star of another player. But we shall see.
As each star dies, no matter who controls it, the game clock ticks down. As soon as the clock hits 0 (even if there are still stars in play), the game ends. In this way its possible for a player with a high lead to accelerate the end of the game, usually by Supernova'ing the opposition to kill their Stars, steal their resources, and moving the clock towards the end.
Sure this is annoying, but the targeted player often doesn't mind. They got some Uranium out of it. Time to summon a VP-securing Blackhole!
As you can read from this, this is a game of great theme and mechanics. It feels very balanced with multiple play styles. Its fast enough to avoid much downtime, and slow enough to allow tactical thinking. It allows for player interaction and influenced-solitaire simultaneously - allowing you to build your solar system/s in the corner while still needing to be aware of what is going on elsewhere (particularly in what reasources are left to harvest).
When I saw EONS on Kickstarer, its theme grabbed me. When I played it, the mechanics were lovely. It plays fine on its own, and I can see the Expansions that are to come (such as evolving your Civilizations to "Space-faring Civilizations" ) will likely contribute to its design and theme without any game breaking issue.
That being said, its not a game that hits the tale often. Its fun, and enjoyale, but like a Cosmic Creator, it feels small. Its like a Gem to be admired, shown off, and put away for another special moment. Its a calm game which has its merits and plenty of replayaility. I can see some people get hyped on it, and some may not enjoy it though I would be surprised to meet someone who outright dislikes it.
For a small box at a decent price, with a 2-5 player base and low learning curve with plenty of options for playstyle and tactics, I think this is a game worthy of an oscar-like award. Its artistic, well put together, to be played once in a while to be respected and rememered, and unlikely to have masses of fandoms chasing it. All in all, a mature game that is highly pleasent to play.
I highly recomended it.
- [+] Dice rolls