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Subject: Aeon's End: New Age, Old Dog, But New Tricks - A Review rss

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Blake Curry
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Time for my review of Aeon’s End: The New Age. While I playtested items from expansions and potential stretch goals, I’m going to focus entirely on the base game and I will try to refrain from too many spoilers for those that like surprises. To start off this review, I want to be completely transparent here about two things: Firstly, Deckbuilders are my absolute favorite genre of game. Secondly, Aeon’s End is my favorite Deckbuilder. So it goes without saying that your humble reviewer here is entering this with the notion that he expects nothing short of another great expansion into what is easily in his top 3 overall games. If you can digest that and still want to know how I think, then stick around, friends. Still with me? Great, let’s talk about Aeon’s End: The New Age. Did I like it? You bet. Review over! No? Okay, let’s look a little deeper then.

If you’re new to Aeon’s End:

I first came into Aeon’s End when the War Eternal expansion came out and got them both at once. In original Aeon’s End, and for those that are unfamiliar with this game, you find yourself up against a big bad Nameless, which funnily enough is always a Nemesis that definitely has a name! You and up to 3 fellow breach mages work together prepping and casting spells to try to either defeat the Nemesis or exhaust him by running out his supply deck. I liked this because many deckbuilders you simply lose if the villain’s pile runs out, but in this case you have “exhausted” the foe and it is defeated. I also liked the way the turn order deck is shuffled so you never know who is going next, which can and has been the deciding factor for several wins and losses! Finally, I *really* liked the way you don’t shuffle your discard pile. The way in which you discard directly represents your future hands, so it gives you a more strategy and agency instead of the whim of luck that can plague the genre. War Eternal kicked it up a notch, adding more mages, harder villains, and new mechanics, such as linking spells, but was otherwise more variety in a great game.

For both newcomers and veterans of Aeon’s End:

How innovative is New Age and how much of the content is similar? And if it turns out that much of it is “more of the same,” then is that even a bad thing? Read on to find out…

It turns out that New Age is both innovative and familiar, serving as a worthy expansion to veterans of the franchise, or as an equally good starting point for beginners. You still have the Nemesis, turn order deck, you don’t shuffle, and a limited market of cards that you can either hand pick or randomize (except for Expeditions, but more on that shortly). Everything that veterans of the franchise like is back in full force. You have new mages that can REALLY synergize well with each other yet can still be powerhouses by themselves. Gygar, for example, super charges his own breach up to do devastating damage end game if you can get him the charges he needs; Soskel, meanwhile, can literally make it so Gygar will gain a charge upon casting spells to help with that. They don’t just pair well with each other, either, but they do well to mix in with the older mages as well. More of “the same” in this case is right up my alley.

The market cards have some new key terms that I really like. The first one is called “Attach.” Attach is simple enough – you literally place that card on a breach and it will give you a bonus effect the next time or possibly every time that breach has a spell cast on it (such as +1 aether, which is a great way to help heavy spellcasters to be able to swing a little extra bit of economy. The best one, however, is called Echo, which lets you cast that spell TWICE. It is usually something that is not very good on first appearance, like “deal two damage” or “deal one damage and heal one life” and you are scratching your head as to why that deserves to be a 7 cost spell. Well, because that turns into “deal TWO damage and heal TWO life” and if you have it on that previously mentioned attached breach that gives you +1 aether on a cast, that now also comes with two bonus money to spend. The new mechanics offer many opportunities for you to play smart to achieve a particular goal.

To see what REALLY is new to Aeon’s End:

The biggest change in this game are the expeditions. Now, I am not going to go into too much detail on these because they are a narrative experience and you should discover that for yourself, but I will touch up on a couple of interesting things: firstly, you unlock powerful treasures to make your journey easier which also make you feel particularly strong. Some of them are individually helpful, and some of them help the group as a whole. It isn’t all easy street, however. As you progress, you replace basic Nemesis cards from the deck with “upgraded” ones that are a good deal meaner. Additionally, your market, treasures, and even mages available to play as are all part of a “barracks’ that is very limited. You draw a few cards early on and that is ALL you have to work with. Between the matches you get to add to it in small doses, but the decision making process on what to choose and swap out is really satisfying. Do you upgrade to a really cool new relic at the expense of not bringing in a spell that would lay down the pain? Do you take a treasure that has a one-time mega boost for the group or something that will just slightly assist the whole way through? The decision adds a great sense of investment into your expedition, and for those that have played Aeon’s End Legacy, you will have an idea of what I am talking about.

If you’re looking for the next great piece of American literature, you may be disappointed, but if you are looking for a fun way to liven up the world Kevin Riley and Nick Little have drummed up then you will enjoy the story, and the focused challenge and strength that comes with the expedition mode. If that doesn’t sound like your jam and you just want to get on with the face punching, that’s just as viable and you need not ever worry about it. The narrative is just another way to add variety to your experience.

Not everything can be perfect, can it?

The new villains are serviceable. I do not want to spoil what they do to you, as they definitely offer new takes on the “big bad” and are going to be worth shuffling in with the foes from previous Aeon’s End games. That being said, I will offer up a criticism here and simply state that none of the new villains in the base game are in my top 3, as those still reside in the previous games and expansions. That is not to say that the new Nameless are bad, but just that they are not quite as tier toppingly good as before. There is one Nemesis that had a really cool concept that was just not quite being executed well in my earlier playtesting that I am hoping has had a few tweaks. Spoilers for those that want to be entirely surprised:
Spoiler (click to reveal)
Arachnos comes with a boss fight after you defeat him or after he meets certain win conditions. As awesome as that sounds, in my phase of the playtesting, that fight tended to be a little one sided, whether he was smashing you into the ground or you smashing him. This has likely been tweaked to some degree by now.
With that all being said, there may or may not be a Nemesis on the horizon that could change the order of my top 3, if the Kickstarter does well enough. 😉

What else did I not like? Honestly, not much. Some of the cards are not personally interesting to me and I will not use them, though I may be saddled with one as I tend to randomize my market. A couple of the characters are interesting and strong, but are not for beginners and simply take a lot more thinking. Talix, for example, is one that you will only want to try out once you are comfortable with the game, and then take him for a spin and see what you can whip up. Why, you ask? Why, you ask? Well,
Spoiler (click to reveal)
have you ever heard of a mage that starts with 8 spark spells?
Sounds impossible, right? Believe me, it isn’t, and you’ll enjoy giving him a spin as his other 2 starter cards make the whole thing not only viable but potent; however, it isn’t what you want to give someone on their first rodeo.

Finally, I will also say that this game simply isn’t quite as difficult as Aeon’s End and the War Eternal expansion. To some that may be a big plus, and while I never felt like we were just breezing through the bad guys, we were not quite as fearful for a loss as normal. However, there is something you can do about that. Firstly, there is always “increased difficulty” mode that all old and new foes have. Additionally, you could snag those “upgraded basic Nemesis” cards from the expedition mode and just use them any time to ruin the day of your everyday ragtag group of breach mages. Finally, you can always find new and terrible ways to make any bosses harder by just scrolling through the variants section of the Aeon’s End forums on BGG for those interested in really advanced challenges. However, if played at its base levels, this core expansion is just a little easier than the previous ones.

Final thoughts:

So where does that leave us? Well, as you recall, I started off by saying I was a super fan. Well, you may think me biased, but I remain a super fan. I would like to think that I am not being too kind. After all, I used to be a super fan of Star Wars, but now there are literally more Star Wars movies that aren’t good than ones that are, so I’ve had to reevaluate my opinion there. In the case of Aeon’s End: The New Age, this game being “worse” than its predecessors to me means that it is an A- instead of an A+, and that’s still a fantastic grade. The new mages are a powerhouse treat, the new card mechanics of Echo and Attach give you a lot of synergy, and the optional but fully conceived ability to have a narrative adventure with new tricks and mechanics in it gives this game a lot of legs and help get people that are not accustomed to the game a chance to get into it.

Here’s the bottom line: If you like Aeon’s End, you will like this expansion a lot. If you are new to the franchise, this is a great starting point (bested perhaps only by Aeon’s End Legacy, as that one really slow walks you into the rules). What you get in the box is worth the price of the ticket, and if enough people get those tickets, then there are some really cool unlockables on the horizon, one of which directly helps address one of my few negatives anyway. Like, really folks, we simply NEED that other Nemesis that may...or may not be on the horizon!

So do head on over to Kickstarter and go back Aeon’s End: The New Age. If you are still unsure, feel free to ask me any questions. I would be glad to talk to anyone about it more.

TLDR version:

Pros:
• Great new mages
• Super cool new card terms like Echo
• Expedition Mode gives game extra variety
• As always, core mechanics are best in the biz

Cons:
• A few market cards not inspired
• Nemesis boss’ a little easier than previous games
• Some mages may be too complicated for beginners

Verdict: A-


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Bart
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That cons aren't so scary, though. I believe Legacy is the greatest starting point for beginners and I guess many of them are backing New Age along with Legacy right now, so too complicated mages isn't a biggie. For the rest of us more complicated mages sounds like a great information.

Market cards were always more or less interesting and randomizers fixing this greately. It's nice to have two new mechanics combined with cards.

Easier bosses don't sound too good, though, it could be a main con for many advanced players unless tweaked somehow by the end of the campaign. We will see.

Anyway, nice review Blake! Thanks for this one


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Blake Curry
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bartekb8 wrote:
That cons aren't so scary, though. I believe Legacy is the greatest starting point for beginners and I guess many of them are backing New Age along with Legacy right now, so too complicated mages isn't a biggie. For the rest of us more complicated mages sounds like a great information.

Market cards were always more or less interesting and randomizers fixing this greately. It's nice to have two new mechanics combined with cards.

Easier bosses don't sound too good, though, it could be a main con for many advanced players unless tweaked somehow by the end of the campaign. We will see.

Anyway, nice review Blake! Thanks for this one


Complicated mages is actually a pro to me, but I feel that it is important that newcomers to the franchise understand that they shouldn't just draw a mage at random. Nook and Talix should probably only be played once they have the hang of the game.

I love using randomizers and most cards I'm generally happy with, but if you go full and complete random, you may end up with a couple of cards that don't fit your playstyle. I usually get around this by drawing 1-2 extra randomizer cards. So if I need 4 spells, I draw 6 cards, that way I don't get saddled with only bad ones or ones that all are too expensive or cheap.

As for the bosses, I did submit my findings as to their difficulty, so the final product may (and I think does) reflect that, and the difficulty may have gone up. And if anything else, there are Increased Difficulty rules and those didn't exist yet in my early stages, so I can always just do that.

Thanks for your feedback!
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Homey_Christ wrote:
bartekb8 wrote:
That cons aren't so scary, though. I believe Legacy is the greatest starting point for beginners and I guess many of them are backing New Age along with Legacy right now, so too complicated mages isn't a biggie. For the rest of us more complicated mages sounds like a great information.

Market cards were always more or less interesting and randomizers fixing this greately. It's nice to have two new mechanics combined with cards.

Easier bosses don't sound too good, though, it could be a main con for many advanced players unless tweaked somehow by the end of the campaign. We will see.

Anyway, nice review Blake! Thanks for this one


Complicated mages is actually a pro to me, but I feel that it is important that newcomers to the franchise understand that they shouldn't just draw a mage at random. Nook and Talix should probably only be played once they have the hang of the game.

I love using randomizers and most cards I'm generally happy with, but if you go full and complete random, you may end up with a couple of cards that don't fit your playstyle. I usually get around this by drawing 1-2 extra randomizer cards. So if I need 4 spells, I draw 6 cards, that way I don't get saddled with only bad ones or ones that all are too expensive or cheap.

As for the bosses, I did submit my findings as to their difficulty, so the final product may (and I think does) reflect that, and the difficulty may have gone up. And if anything else, there are Increased Difficulty rules and those didn't exist yet in my early stages, so I can always just do that.

Thanks for your feedback!
Also, the introduction of upgraded basic cards makes it easier than ever to make any nemesis a bit harder to suit your group.
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Blake Curry
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qxc0 wrote:
Also, the introduction of upgraded basic cards makes it easier than ever to make any nemesis a bit harder to suit your group.
And those things are no joke!
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Dreux Barbier
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How's replayability with expedition mode?
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Blake Curry
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cajuntechie wrote:
How's replayability with expedition mode?
Because of the way the Barracks gets randomized, it is like an evolved version of replayability. The normal game you can always randomize, which makes each match feel different. In expedition, you do the same, but even with mages and Nemesis alike, and there are more treasures than you'll play through on the first couple of goes. In other words, the standard way that Aeon's End can be replayable but with some added means of keeping it interesting.

There are also a few other surprises that have yet to be unveiled about it, and you'll be hearing about those real soon if you follow the campaign. cool
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Bernardo Gonzalez
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Hi,

I feel that i'm getting overwhelmed with content. I think this is a good game, don't get me wrong, I have everything up to Legacy, but I have not been able to play Legacy, and before I have time to really play it more and more content is generated. I feel a little big overwhelmed.

I'm actually thinking of not backing it and wait until I have gone through the rest of the game first, let it mature. I'm concerned that the company is overplaying their hand with the content. Just my opinion here. Thoughts? Maybe it is just me.

Also randomizers are getting insanely big and unwieldy.

BAG
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noah caldwell
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How well balanced are the new mages compared to the older mages ? Will the 1st aeons end mages have a harder time killing boss vs the newer mages with the new breaches ?
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Kevin John
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Jasnis wrote:
I feel that i'm getting overwhelmed with content. I think this is a good game, don't get me wrong, I have everything up to Legacy, but I have not been able to play Legacy, and before I have time to really play it more and more content is generated. I feel a little big overwhelmed.
BAG
I hear what you're saying, but keep in mind that this project won't deliver till closer to the end of the year. Depending on how often you'll play that should give you enough time to go through Legacy and get a few games of regular AE in as well.

Then right at that point, New Age will deliver and you'll have a bunch of new content to use!

Then the KS for AE:5 will come out
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Jasnis wrote:
Hi,

I feel that i'm getting overwhelmed with content. I think this is a good game, don't get me wrong, I have everything up to Legacy, but I have not been able to play Legacy, and before I have time to really play it more and more content is generated. I feel a little big overwhelmed.

I'm actually thinking of not backing it and wait until I have gone through the rest of the game first, let it mature. I'm concerned that the company is overplaying their hand with the content. Just my opinion here. Thoughts? Maybe it is just me.

Also randomizers are getting insanely big and unwieldy.

BAG
Kevin will probably be updating his digital randomizer once the new cards are available which you could use to save time as well. There will be a pledge manager for this one, so I would at least back at $1 so you have time to change your mind, should you decide to do so!

noahshu wrote:
How well balanced are the new mages compared to the older mages ? Will the 1st aeons end mages have a harder time killing boss vs the newer mages with the new breaches ?
Kadir is an old mage, and STILL one of my favorites, as is Yan. The old ones will still be able to hang with the new crowd, but the new mages very specifically synergize super well. But I did play test mixing in some old mages as well and they did not have any specifically harder issues.
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Will
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Jasnis wrote:

Also randomizers are getting insanely big and unwieldy.
I'll be updating this to include New Age and Expedition generation once all of that content is revealed/finalized. It's current through Legacy now.

https://boardgamegeek.com/article/30969739#30969739
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noahshu wrote:
How well balanced are the new mages compared to the older mages ? Will the 1st aeons end mages have a harder time killing boss vs the newer mages with the new breaches ?
They're balanced in isolation, but they enable much easier comboing, particularly with the New Age market cards. Lots of play testers tested the new content in combination with the old content (not me), so that is something that IBC explicitly considered.
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Ryan C
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Thanks for the review.

One thing I don't like the sound of is the slightly easier difficulty. Did you try out any of the Nemesis on their advanced difficulty modes?
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SuperAbobo wrote:
Thanks for the review.

One thing I don't like the sound of is the slightly easier difficulty. Did you try out any of the Nemesis on their advanced difficulty modes?
They were not ready at my early wave one play testing. Kevin also took a lot of my feedback in regards to needing to make them a little harder, so do keep in mind that my issue there may not exist anymore.

That being said, I personally came up with and play tested some advanced difficulty modes that I liked quite a bit, so like all versions of Aeons End keep your eyes peeled to the Variant forums for new and challenging ideas!
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Homey_Christ wrote:
SuperAbobo wrote:
Thanks for the review.

One thing I don't like the sound of is the slightly easier difficulty. Did you try out any of the Nemesis on their advanced difficulty modes?
They were not ready at my early wave one play testing. Kevin also took a lot of my feedback in regards to needing to make them a little harder, so do keep in mind that my issue there may not exist anymore.

That being said, I personally came up with and play tested some advanced difficulty modes that I liked quite a bit, so like all versions of Aeons End keep your eyes peeled to the Variant forums for new and challenging ideas!
I hope so.. I already found the aeons end Nemesis on the most difficult estting not too hard once you got used to the game..
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Scott Eh
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I'm in a similar boat. I love the gameplay and own everything up to Legacy, but deciding which mages to use, which nemeses to fight and (most overwhelming) which market cards to use prevents me from getting this to the table as much as I'd like. The randomizer is a helpful tool, but certain combos of mage/nemesis/market just aren't going to fly and it sucks to go through all the setup and play for half-an-hour just to get trounced.

That being said, it looks like The New Age mechanics could really help with this problem and I'm optimistic.
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I downloaded an app called Randomizer it has a growing list of games that lets you randomize this . Just click number of players And expansion it will output a game for you
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Blake Curry
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wiredmaverick wrote:
I'm in a similar boat. I love the gameplay and own everything up to Legacy, but deciding which mages to use, which nemeses to fight and (most overwhelming) which market cards to use prevents me from getting this to the table as much as I'd like. The randomizer is a helpful tool, but certain combos of mage/nemesis/market just aren't going to fly and it sucks to go through all the setup and play for half-an-hour just to get trounced.

That being said, it looks like The New Age mechanics could really help with this problem and I'm optimistic.
Strictly speaking they aren’t designed to, but if you were finding any particular challenge too difficult, you could always add a treasure card or two to your regular game as well.

New Age having upgraded Nemesis and Treasure cards mean you can always make any particular match easier or harder to meet your needs. Generally those are just meant for expedition to keep that feeling unique, but people house rule and that’s always something you could opt for.

Personally I’m probably keeping treasures in expedition mode but I may just find the harder cards getting shuffled in from time to time.whistle
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noahshu wrote:
I downloaded an app called Randomizer it has a growing list of games that lets you randomize this . Just click number of players And expansion it will output a game for you
iOS costs $1.99...
might be worth it, though

Until the android AE app is ported to iOS?
 
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These are the games that are available he keeps adding new ones
 
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noahshu wrote:
I downloaded an app called Randomizer it has a growing list of games that lets you randomize this . Just click number of players And expansion it will output a game for you
Is this app no longer available, or am I just incapable of navigating the app store? I've had a look and can't find it.
 
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