I've been a fan of Aeon's End since I received the base game, and played numerous games with just the contents of the first expansion. I was lucky enough to get to test War Eternal when its campaign started as well. So I jumped at the chance to join Aeon's End: Legacy playtest when I first heard it was happening - and I was lucky enough to see the game progress through various stages of development.
My first encounter with it was at Gencon, when I got to playtest it in its early stages - cards were still being developed, and cards were being written on and revised by Kevin mid-test. A few mechanics were still a bit off, and the story was in its very early stages. There was clearly a lot to do before it was ready. But I got a taste of just what the game entailed, and an idea of just what the potential the game had.
My second encounter was a while later, when playtesting was starting in earnest. I was excited to see just how things had developed from there. It was great to see what changes were made from before, and it felt more like a familiar game of Aeon's End. Each of the Nameless was a well-tuned fight, and things felt more and more polished as things went. Most importantly, there was much more exploration into what could go into a legacy game, and seeing just what could be added because of that concept. However, there were still a few areas that needed tuning, and the story needed the most attention - it was still a little mismatched, and didn't have the appropriate feel of an entire campaign.
Which made me excited when I got to see the third iteration. By now, gameplay was ironed out, and there were enough tweaks that it was still fun to go through and face the Nameless once more. However, the story now felt like it was getting enough polish to fit the feel of something appropriately epic, of something that fit the fights we were having. By now, everything felt close to that point of polish, and I'm excited to see just what we were going to see by the end.
If you're new to the series, Aeon's End: Legacy is a reasonable place to start. Instead of dropping you right into the full experience, the campaign will ease you into the basics, showing how spells and breaches work before moving on to more and more of the core game. However, it won't be long before you're playing the full game that veteran players know and love, and then start seeing even more from there.
At the very start, you're only mages in training. Your abilities aren't up to par, but you will still dragged into things, doing whatever you can to assist in battles against the Nameless. As mages in training, you won't begin with as many abilities as full mages. However, your mages will learn as you do, and for those who are already more experienced, it won't be long before you'll have access to the abilities that breach mages are known for, and gain a couple more tricks on top. You'll continue improving, obtaining new spells, and growing until you deserve your place as a breach mage. Each step along the way feels like a notable milestone towards what a breach mage should have.
But it's not only you who will have new abilities - the nameless will also have a few new tricks to pull. Those watching the Kickstarter have already seen one of these tricks.
And, of course, that's not the only trick that they'll pull - my entire group was laughing and howling over some of the particular tricks that they've learned, and over just how we could handle them.
Spoiler (click to reveal)
Minions can have Shield Tokens - a special defense which can each soak a full instance of damage. These can be difficult to punch through, but you'll have more than a few ways of dealing with them. Sparks are still useful, but they won't be your only option in handling these durable minions.
And at the core of it is still Aeon's End. The entire gaming group still had a great time talking about what we could do, what strategies we wanted to explore, and just what risks we wanted to take. The essence of the game, as a cooperative deck-builder, is very much alive and well. The strategy and discussions, the dangerous of the Nameless, all of that is still clear throughout the game. Newcomers may want to refer to descriptions of the base game for an idea of that - but you'll get every bit of that within the game. And my group, which enjoyed that core game many times before, saw much more of it throughout the campaign.
I don't want to say too much of the story, but suffice it to say that you'll be busy as you develop as mages, assisting the mages that experienced players will know. At the end of it, you'll have earned your place as a breach mage, standing among those that were there before, through the core game and War Eternal.
Once the campaign is done, there are plenty of elements that will carry on, and allow you to continue playing afterward. This includes a handful of Nameless, a giant stack of supply cards, and more. And, of course, you'll have your unique Breach Mages for use, ready to stand with the mages from the base game and War Eternal.
During the War Eternal campaign, I took a look at each of the cards and abilities that the new game brought to the table. However, as much as I'd like to give a more in-depth review, there are too many unique elements that are better to discover for yourself. I can say that at the end, my group was still looking forward to taking the new cards we've had and trying things that we couldn't fit in during the campaign, and are planning on giving the Nameless another fight with the mages that already existed. There's plenty more to try out and mix in, even when the game is over.
For those who are interested in Legacy games, Aeon's End: Legacy is a satisfying addition to the Aeon's End universe. For those who don't want a larger story or a longer campaign to go through, this may not be the best fit for you. However, for those who want to go through a full campaign and take their mages from the start to the end, Aeon's End: Legacy will be a great fit. And for those who want a more classic Aeon's End experience, there will be plenty waiting for you once the campaign is over.