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Age of Conan: The Strategy Board Game» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Impressions, Age of Conan rss

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Michael Ptak
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As one who looked at and wanted to get this game I thought it would be fitting to write my thoughts about it after a few plays. We're still in the process of understanding the game, but we've already completed one game (after mis-reading the rules) and partially completed another (ended for time). So, some thoughts.

In premise Age of Conan is a lite empire builder. To do this you use conquest (with troops) or diplomacy (with diplomats) to sway neighboring provinces under your control. Contrary to what you might think looking at the board, while the provinces are in the color of your empire, you don't actually own them. They are only there for one deck of cards to give you bonuses when using your diplomat.

Depending on the method and how frequently you use it, you will expand your empire and acquire gold or victory points. The former you can spend on special cards drawn from a power deck for your empire or to purchase new units at the end of an era. THe latter obviously brings you closer to victory, but doesn't help you in the short-term.

Your ultimate goal is to amass total victory points by the end of three 'ages'. These ages are dictated by our titular character, Conan. An 'Age' is four of Conan's adventures. Each adventure has a goal for Conan to reach, and along the way quest tokens can be picked up by the conan player or a player with a special action (more on that later). These tokens come in three types, and can have an immediate benefit (discard to gain one of the three currencies), or a longterm one (holding on to them for bidding over items).

Conan does two other things aside from giving you quest tokens. The first is he gives bonuses to rolls made to the player who is controlling him for that quest or any defender who isn't controlling him. The second thing is at the end of the game you can auto-win by bringing him to your capital and betting you have the most quest tokens of a particular category. If you do, you gain a point bonus which, more often than not, means you win. If you don't have the most, Conan kills you and you are out of the game.

The interesting mechanic of Age of Conan are the action dice. These are rolled at the beginning of the game and whenever the dice pool runs out. Players select one of the dice and perform the action on the current face up. This limits what you can do during your turn, and as the pool decreases your options run out, so choose your actions carefully.

If your head is spinning from all these concepts to keep track of, I don't blame you.

Originally I approached Conan thinking it would be like Chaos: Strong individual player character, power cards in hand, but with dudes staying on the map a lot longer and actually holding turf with meaning. Conan turned out to be a lot looser than that.

For example the conquest mechanic doesn't feel clear, because there are a few things to consider when actually riding into combat. In Chaos it's simple: count up how many attacks your figures will do. Roll that many dice. 4-6 success, 6s are another hit. Assign hits to characters. They die. Move on.

In Conan, you have to determine how many dudes are in the area. Then determine what actually counts for success on your dice (Are you the attacker, is conan there, did you play a VALID battle card, what kind of results are on it). Roll the die. Remember your successes. The other guy (Territory, other army) also rolls. Compare the total. The winner of it removes an army (or you advance on the conquest track). You can continue on the track if you kill off one of your dudes. Then you loose another dude when building a fort in the province you captured. Oh! And you can only rebuild your army if the correct die comes up, or it's the end of an age and you spend massive gold to get it back for another push.

I dunno. The game feels rough but there feels like there could be ways to improve it. For example, using the resistance value of the region as a target number of successes to conquer, instead of rolling that many dice to counter-attack. Shortcuts like that would have streamlined gameplay and made the game not feel so course.

My opinions might stem from the fact that I've only played the game twice, and tracking things may not be that bad. Yet it could be telling that I picked up Gears of War (Another Fantasy Flight title) and we were off and away after two games. AoC doesn't feel as tight as the other Fantasy Flight titles I've played.

So, if you like empire builders with several plains of focus, you might like this game. Otherwise, if you were like me and expecting a tight game like Chaos with a slightly different emphasis, perhaps you might pass on this one.
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Wade Nelson
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I haven't played CitOW, but I really like Conan. I'd say give it a few more plays.

Try not to overthink the combat dice. If you're on defense and have fewer than the territory value, you roll the territory value. Otherwise whether you're attacking or defending you roll your troop value. Then there are structures, cards, and Conan. By the end of our first game we thought the combat was pretty smooth.

The three actual combat types (battle, siege, and conquest) really aren't that different. I'm not sure they really needed completely separate sections in the rulebook. Basically if it's only armies involved, it's a battle and it's a dicefest. If there's an enemy structure, then it's a siege and the structure has to be removed as well. Conquests are basically dice battles against the board. I think it's easier to conceptualize how combat works in general, then remember the very few differences between the three combat types.

Hope this helps, and I hope a few more plays smooths things out and lets you really enjoy the game.
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Tim Kelly
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Yes, this game is well worth multiple plays. Once the rules are "second nature", and you can actually concentrate on strategy, you will see what a fine game it is.
TK
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Was George Orwell an Optimist?
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Norsehound wrote:
As one of the few who looked at and wanted to get this game I thought it would be fitting to write my thoughts about it after a few plays.

The fact that not many responded to your query doesn't make you "one of the few who looked at and wanted to get this game". There are 1859 owners registered here, and over 300 threads in this game's folders, including 27 previous reviews.

Norsehound wrote:
My opinions might stem from the fact that I've only played the game twice, and tracking things may not be that bad. Yet it could be telling that I picked up Gears of War (Another Fantasy Flight title) and we were off and away after two games. I've heard that Conan was actually acquired from another defunct company and not an original FF title. It's showing if that is the case.

The other defunct company was the same one that produced War of the Ring (First Edition), which was also marketed in the U.S. by Fantasy Flight. Same design team as well. If you look at the BGG ratings, you'll find that WotR is rated higher than anything ever designed in-house by FFG. (You'll also find that AoC is rated substantially lower than WotR.)
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Michael Ptak
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Sphere wrote:

The fact that not many responded to your query doesn't make you "one of the few who looked at and wanted to get this game". There are 1859 owners registered here, and over 300 threads in this game's folders, including 27 previous reviews.

The other defunct company was the same one that produced War of the Ring (First Edition), which was also marketed in the U.S. by Fantasy Flight. Same design team as well. If you look at the BGG ratings, you'll find that WotR is rated higher than anything ever designed in-house by FFG. (You'll also find that AoC is rated substantially lower than WotR.)


I wanted to put myself in the category of gamers who looked at AoC and asked for comparisons between this game and other titles. I guess I didn't say enough to make that point clear.

My bad on that second point, I didn't do the research there. AoC didn't fit my expectations for typical Fantasy Flight titles and I thought 'different designer!' was the reason based on bits of information I heard about the game.
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Was George Orwell an Optimist?
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Norsehound wrote:
I wanted to put myself in the category of gamers who looked at AoC and asked for comparisons between this game and other titles. I guess I didn't say enough to make that point clear.

No problem. I was just pointing out that there had been a great deal of discussion, but most of it occurred a couple of years back.

Norsehound wrote:
My bad on that second point, I didn't do the research there. AoC didn't fit my expectations for typical Fantasy Flight titles and I thought 'different designer!' was the reason based on bits of information I heard about the game.

Again, no problem. To be fair, the WotR rules in the first edition could have been a lot clearer, too. Part of that is perhaps a consequence of the designers being Italian, and us reading the rules in English. The two games do have a few elements in common, notably the similarities in the action dice, but you're certainly not the first to be disappointed. WotR is a game for the ages, and that made it hard for the follow-up games by the same design team (Marvel Heroes and this one) to be seen as successful. Both are good games, and have solid groups of followers, but pale in comparison to the masterpiece.
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JP Trostle
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Finally got to play a copy we picked up years ago on clearance, mostly because everyone interested in the title had heard it wasn't that good.

Simply put, the rulebook is a mess and does little to help first time players understand the game. The big concepts are either buried or barely explained. Which is a shame.

To quote Conan: "Bah! Enough words!"

 
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Christoffer Lundberg
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Jape77 wrote:
Finally got to play a copy we picked up years ago on clearance, mostly because everyone interested in the title had heard it wasn't that good.

Simply put, the rulebook is a mess and does little to help first time players understand the game. The big concepts are either buried or barely explained. Which is a shame.

To quote Conan: "Bah! Enough words!"



Sad you thought that way.. I think it is more clear than most rulebooks I've read.
 
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Tim Kelly
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azjerei wrote:


Sad you thought that way.. I think it is more clear than most rulebooks I've read.

Yes, and the player aids for each empire are fantastic.
TK
 
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JP Trostle
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Sorry, but I've written rules for a number of published games. The book for Age of Conan could have been a lot more coherent.

Which is not to say I disagree with your second statement.

Regardless, we battled our way to some understanding of the game, and if I run it with new players, I wont be reading from that rulebook.
 
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juan sebastian rams
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TBHn once you get over the unclear rule book and reference sheet that is seriously bad, and you get the order of esoteric games summary, you will find a very elegant game that combines a lot of different game mechanics in a rather organic feel.

I see this game as not only and empire building but also a resource and risk management game, where you have 4 tipes of resources(sorcery, gold, cards and tokens) and you need to choose wheter to focus on short term utility resources or long term utility resources. The only two things this game needs to be perfect is a little better public objective sistem that doesnt help aquilonia so much and a diplomatical alliance sistem(though with 4 players that might be a little short on players to implement jaja)
 
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