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Brian M
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This review is part of my attempt to review as many co-op games as I can. All of my reviews are in the geeklist A Crazy Couple's Co-op Guide: 2013 and onward Edition

Warning: we got the KS version of this game with two expansions included; it all was just mixed together in the box, so my review includes the KS content.

Our rating:

Skill Factor: 4 There's luck in which enemy cards come up and the order, but a lot of skill in your choices.

Modes: Co-op, Solo
Not entirely sure this would work great playing just one character, but we have not tried it that way.

Players: 1-4

With a couple: Plays quite well. I feel like it is a bit better with more than 2 characters, so that you can combo with each other more. This feeling was strongest with a nemesis that adds "bad" cards to a deck; with only two players that really jammed things up!

Play Time: 1-1.5 hours

Difficulty: Varies a lot! There are multiple nemeses each with different difficulty levels (listed on their card), and suggestions for both easier and harder modes. Normal mode was very suspenseful but quite beatable.

Individual/Group Play: While you have individual decks to manage, there is a lot of group play.

Component Quality:



Overall good. The card and cardboard quality is quite decent. I think the art is excellent, and has a very consistent style and tone through the cards. Spinner dials for the Nemesis and town life points are a nice touch.



As a side note, I love the diversity of the characters; there's a variety of appearances and ages and an excellent gender mix.

The one annoyance is that the box "insert" is not great, and there are only divider cards for big categories ("Spells", for example), which makes it hard to pull out and put away cards - we printed dividers for each specific card to make it easier to sort.

Rules Quality:
A bit confusing, mostly due to sometimes explaining things in a bad order. We had some rough spots learning the game, but it was well worth figuring out.

Mini-Review
2016 saw several new co-ops that reminded me strongly of older games. Aeon's End feels like it clearly builds on Sentinels of the Multiverse mixed with Shadowrift, but it combines the familiar elements in a well-done way to create an extremely engaging, deep and exciting experience.

The game sets the players as Breach Mages, defending the last survivors of some mystical apocalypse against the monstrous incarnations of evil that seek to destroy them. There's a lot of flavor text in the game, but none of it is intrusive; it is all on the back of character and nemesis cards. If you want to read it all and get a good idea of the world and characters, you've got it. It you want to just dive in and build card combos, you are good to go that way as well.




Like Sentinels, the main object is to wear down the Nemesis' life points, while contending with the many threats that it throws at you. (You can also win by running it out of cards, though that seems harder!). To do this, each player builds their own deck with gems (for power which is basically money) and spells to attack with. As one minor unique twist, you don't normally shuffle your deck; when it runs out you just flip the discards over and keep drawing, so the order is maintained; there can be a lot of strategy in how you set up your deck. I was worried this would be annoying to manage, but it worked very smoothly in play and I quite like it.

There is a HUGE variety of cards to use with a lot of different effects. Some spells may work better in some situations than others; some may work better when you can combo them with other cards. I find the deck-building in this to be rich in decisions with how to balance your abilities and which combos to pursue.

Each character has their own special abilities, starting deck, and starting breach conditions. The characters aren't going to differ as much as Sentinels since you don't have a totally different deck, but they each offer a nice twist. Choosing between powering your personal ability, buying new cards, and opening new breaches is a constant and challenging balancing act.

The different Nemesis enemies are all extremely different, attacking you in different ways and presenting unique challenges. There are maybe a few more "discard cards and basically miss your turn" than I would like, but not too many of them.

One big difference from Sentinels is that Aeon's End is easy to manage. There are no piles of modifiers or big stacks of cards to resolve at once. The villain will usually only have a few cards in play at a time; they generally do one big nasty thing instead of a lot of little things. Once you figure out the game, it is easy to play, letting you focus on the deck-building and action.

We were addicted to this and played through all the nemeses in short order and will be coming back for plenty more. We both consider it one of the top games we've gotten from Kickstarter and strongly recommend it!

Images thanks to the BGG Gallery courtesy of Action Phase.
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Adam
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AaAaAaAaAaAaA! Oh no! You shanked my Jenga ship!
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"We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner! I can't think what anybody sees in them."
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Thanks for the review! I picked this up recently and now I'm looking forward to getting it to the table even more.
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Guillaume Chaput
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Hi!
Is the base game enough for a while?
Once you've beaten each monsters, is their still some replayability other than buying expansions?
Thanks!
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Brian M
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chaps357 wrote:
Hi!
Is the base game enough for a while?
Once you've beaten each monsters, is their still some replayability other than buying expansions?
Thanks!


Well, even playing against the same nemesis, there's still a lot of variety in what cards you have available, what heroes you are using, and what Nemesis cards are in the deck (and what order they come up in!). And while each Nemesis presents a different challenge, it isn't like they are just a "puzzle" to solve; multiple games against the same nemesis will still be just as exciting. And if you decide you've gotten too good at beating a nemesis, you can increase the challenge by using its Advanced mode, or using one of the variants to increase the difficulty.
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Noway Jose
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Hi there. Love your reviews.

What's not clear to me is setup time. How long does it take to set up? You mention it's easier to manage then sentinels and my wife and I just had a kid. So quick to set up and put away is a must!!
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Brian M
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Boze wrote:
Hi there. Love your reviews.

What's not clear to me is setup time. How long does it take to set up? You mention it's easier to manage then sentinels and my wife and I just had a kid. So quick to set up and put away is a must!!


Its no Mansions of Madness/Gloomhaven, but set-up sure isn't quick either. You need to select 10 sets of cards, pull them out, build the nemesis deck, build the starting player decks, etc. Out of curiosity I timed it when we played a game tonight; it took me about 10 minutes to set up. I did most of that solo while Lisa was busy with other things, though she came in toward the end and set up the enemy deck. We also use a computer program to randomize things; I don't know if that takes more or less time. I'm guessing 10 minutes is a reasonable average for set-up.
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