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Subject: Duel of Ages: A quick overview rss

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Giles Pritchard
Australia
Shepparton
Victoria
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Game name: Duel of Ages

Author/s: Brett Murrell

Players: 2-8 (the box says 16, but I really think that any more than 8 doesn’t work too well – though it can be done!)

Playing time: you set the time limit before the game – it depends on how many platters (board pieces) and characters you are playing with, though 2+ hours is ideal.

Key elements:

Basic maths, problem solving, team work (when playing with more than 2 players), negotiation, logical skills, deduction, bluffing, double-guessing.

Key Ratings:
= Low
= High

Depth
Strategy
Luck
Player Interaction

This is a very cool blend of so many interesting elements, a mix of many game genres, some dungeon crawling feel, some war gaming feel, some board gaming feel and the taste of a competitive sport!

Short Description:

In Duel of Ages players operate teams of characters with which they attempt to advance ‘team markers’ on various quests scattered around the board. Whichever team’s team marker is closest to the end of the quest when the game ends gets the point for that quest – whichever team has the most points wins the game. It sounds simple in concept (and when you’re playing the rules are quite strait forward), but with different characters with different abilities, with different board layouts every game, with a myriad of different pieces of equipment (from four-wheeler motorbikes to rail-guns), and with different tactics and strategies based on the exact mix of all the above it can become a real teaser.

One of the things that Duel of Ages gets a lot of criticism for is the time limit. There are several ways of modifying this if you feel this ‘game end’ doesn’t suit you (http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/157796 - this thread discusses some of them), however, I feel that this mechanism is fine. Players who ‘stall’ deliberately need to realise that they are playing a game – and if this is a problem with you or your group is not the result of the game – but rather the people playing it. The time limit can and does provide a goal toward which to strive, a sense of impending doom, and urgency and a tension I personally would miss if it were replaced.

The key reason why I really enjoy this game though is due to the stories it tells – there are few games that tell stories as strange and involving as these! The time when one of my characters Big Herr (an eighties rock god) was being chased around the board for half an hour by an automated killing machine called the TIAX corporation Assassin droid was hilarious – especially the part where Big Herr was running from the TIAX assassin, which was being chased by the Bladed Terror (an ‘Aliens’ like Gigerish killing machine), which was being chased by a pet Alsatian was side-splitting and tense at the same time!

By: Giles Pritchard
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