Game of the Week: Aeon's End

by bg3po. Posted on Aug 01, 2020    70    69

This week's game is Aeon's End

  • BGG Link: Aeon's End
  • Designer: Kevin Riley
  • Publishers: Action Phase Games, Indie Boards & Cards, Angry Lion Games, Frosted Games, Matagot, Pegasus Spiele, Portal Games, SD Games, Surfin' Meeple China
  • Year Released: 2016
  • Mechanics: Card Drafting, Cooperative Game, Deck, Bag, and Pool Building, Delayed Purchase, Hand Management, Solo / Solitaire Game, Variable Phase Order, Variable Player Powers, Variable Setup
  • Categories: Card Game, Fantasy, Fighting, Science Fiction
  • Number of Players: 1 - 4
  • Playing Time: 60 minutes
  • Expansions: Aeon's End: Buried Secrets, Aeon's End: Echo Stone and Splinter Missile Promo, Aeon's End: Fleeting Vision Promo, Aeon's End: Outcasts, Aeon's End: Tabletop Day 2017 Promos – Drown in Flames / Glyph Enigma, Aeon's End: The Ancients, Aeon's End: The Depths, Aeon's End: The Nameless, Aeon's End: The New Age – Promo Pack, Aeon's End: The Outer Dark, Aeon's End: The Void, Aeon's End: Thieving Spirit, Aeon's End: War Eternal – Promo Pack
  • Ratings:
    • Average rating is 8.01111 (rated by 8513 people)
    • Board Game Rank: 77, Strategy Game Rank: 58

Description from Boardgamegeek:

The survivors of a long-ago invasion have taken refuge in the forgotten underground city of Gravehold. There, the desperate remnants of society have learned that the energy of the very breaches the beings use to attack them can be repurposed through various gems, transforming the malign energies within into beneficial spells and weapons to aid their last line of defense: the breach mages.

Aeon's End is a cooperative game that explores the deckbuilding genre with a number of innovative mechanisms, including a variable turn order system that simulates the chaos of an attack, and deck management rules that require careful planning with every discarded card. Players will struggle to defend Gravehold from The Nameless and their hordes using unique abilities, powerful spells, and, most importantly of all, their collective wits.

Next Week: Combat Commander: Europe

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I'm so confused how popular and well- received this game is.

I also like deckbuilders like dominion and I also like complex games - but Aeons End tries to squeeze complexity into a very easy concept. Because you don't shuffle, people think about in which order they will discard the cards - often with minimal effect. This whole concept of preparing your spells seems also very unnecessary - sometimes it has an effect on the game, but it would work in my opinion as good without it.

My biggest problem are the card effects: I have to say, i just played the big old starter Box

Every spell is a damage spell with some variation to it. That's soo disapointing, there should be endless variety of magic effects - but not in this game.

Another last point: its not fun to shoot a spark on the boss - damaging the boss in the early game is just without a point.

I tried to like this game, because the idea is cool, but the negatives were so much bigger for me than the positive points like the turn order or fun curse bosses.

wildestnacatl 3

Pretty rare that I randomly just shoot the boss with a Spark. We try to leave them prepped as much as possible in the early game to thin the deck.

wpflug13 3

Regarding the "all spells deal damage" criticism, player cards are gems, spells, or relics. A gem's primary purpose is to generate money, a spell's primary purpose is dealing damage, and relics do a wide range of different "stuff." You will find that later sets have more variety in the secondary effects that come from spells and gems, but most of them are always going to be doing damage or generating aether (money). If a card had big, non-damage effects, it would most likely be a relic.

So those cards exist, they just aren't spells.

SirWookieeChris 3

You need to try one of the newer expansions. They added all sorts of mages with weird cards.

Have you played star realms and enjoy that? If you don't want sparks on your deck get a spell or relic that lets you trash cards.

xiaopixie 1

I have been eyeing this one for a week, started to play mage knight on tts because it is a great solo game. I know aeon is a good solo game too. I really need help choosing which one to get, it looks like theres only new age and legacy to get right now with some small expansions. What are the relationship among these core games? Are they like in arkham horror where you need the other set to continue playing? Whats the replayability if you just own one core? I have played slay the spire and the new one from Klei on PC, but i found slay the spire to be a little boring after the first few hours, because it can get repetitive. Please note that i only played that game when it had 3 characters. Maybe its much better now. Please shed a light on me guys. Thanks stay safe.

Jean_Bon 1

I like this game, and really enjoy the fact that coop gives a great twist to deck builders. Coop games have a certain feel where you are not against each other, but together.

However, the game has the pitfall of most coop games :

The "I can play it by myself and other players do not bring anything to the game, gameplaywise". Sure, people bring happiness and fun times, but in gameplay speaking, they do not bring anything, which gives a weird feeling of useleseness to players ("why should I think of I should do, when I just have to follow the quarterback instructions ?")

6 years before, Hanabi brought a great twist to coop games by giving players asymetrical information. I feel like coop games have not catch up yet with those great twists and are still stuck with the classic quarterback pitfall. Result : coop games feel dry. Because you are not agains real people, but against cards you draw. The computer has not any strategy and just gives cards you draw that give you problem you need to solve as a team. Hanabi, The Mind, The Crew (and others) make you be together, against each other weaknesses.

Imagine how great games like Aeon's End could be if you had gameplay mechanics such as asymetrical objectives/information, or simultaneous play. I really hope that The Crew success will inspire more designers to try more such mechanics.

The other thing I don't like with Aeon's End is the fucking setup time. Gosh, you have tokens everywhere. It's a pain in the ass the get that game started. It's one of the very few games I own where I think insert is mandatory.

Besides that, the game is well balanced. Victories are hard to get and well deserved. Card setups give you a lot of different games, and it's great to play coop deckbuidling. Without the pitfalls I mentionned, it could be a great game.

Drunkpanada 4

I have a set of d10's and d20s to assist with some of the tokens. I use them as health counters for mages an minions

kr_sparkles 12

I've never felt like this game suffered from quarterbacking very much because the cards in your hand are private information until you play them, and the random turn order deck means you don't know who is coming up next most of the time, so it's hard to plan too far ahead. We might make a plan on your turn hoping that I'll go next, but if the Nemesis comes up instead, we have to throw that plan out the window and start over.

If it's just that someone plays their cards out and another player says "no no no you have to do this instead of what you wanted", that's a player problem, not a game problem.

Varanae 1

I don't really like this game, I mostly keep it around as one of my friends loves it. I'd much rather play Marvel Legendary if I'm going for a co-op deck builder. I'm not entirely sure why, as I'm not even that into Marvel.

I think with Aeon's End it just feels like a slog from start to finish. There's not many interesting spells, most do damage and then have a small additional effect. But often there's also not that much to attack, the nemesis deck can be a lot of non-creature cards. So you're doing a couple of damage to a 70hp boss and that just doesn't feel fun to me. Games are often close, so the balance is there, but it can feel like you're on the verge of losing most of the game which is a feeling I don't enjoy.

The turn order deck adds a nice bit of tension to turns as you don't know when the boss will next do something, but on the flip side it can be frustrating to not get a turn to play for 4+ turns.

I dunno, it's fine. Once I'm playing it's okay, but I'd never be the one to suggest it. Maybe expansions help? Overall it feels balanced and tense but not exciting in the same way Marvel Legendary is for me.

It's a shame, I really thought this would be an amazing game for me.

totalcarbohydrates 1

One of my favorite games. I've got all the content to date, but I think I might need to take a break after this next wave. The amount of content for this game is just staggering at this point.

RadiantTurtle 1

Kevin "you've probably heard of me" Riley

spidey555 1

Been trying to find a copy but so hard to even get a copy these days.

catwhowalksbyhimself 1

Should all be available with the new expansions fairly soon.

spidey555 1


RyanKl 1

Finally beat all bosses in the core set, for some reason the carapace queen was the hardest for my group. What expansion do you guys suggest first, I know the big box expansions have the most value, but would like opinions from you guys.

totalcarbohydrates 1

I came across this BGG post a while back and thought it gave really good insight into what content to go for in terms of expansions. As for personal opinion, I would definitely recommend getting the larger expansions first (release order would be ideal). After those, the Ancients and the Nameless small box expansions have some good Nemeses and Mages to play with.

SirWookieeChris 1

Depends what mechanics you feel you would enjoy. One of the smaller expansions adds spells with "link", which essentially lets you put two spells into the same spot. Legacy has a ton of new cards that range from underpowered to game breaking good. War eternal is tough if you just want a good challenge

Battlehenkie 1

Very keen to get it, but seems impossible to buy the English edition in Europe at the moment!

prometheanhindsight 2

I'm always a fan of games that are themed around fighting a huge boss monster. This is one of my favorites! I'm always excited to see what new nemeses they come up with.

I'm especially a fan of the expedition mode that was introduced in New Age. I love having a framework that I can follow to decide which nemesis to fight, which mages to use, etc.

I think the biggest drawback for me is that I'm starting to have trouble organizing all of the cards! I don't have any space left for when Outcast comes in. Maybe I'll finally have to break down and get some inserts.

totalcarbohydrates 2

Yeah, there's just so much content at this point, that the best thing I got for the game was a card insert for the Hobby Lobby artist case along with dividers. The game's still a pain to lug around, but at least grabbing cards is a lot easier now.

prometheanhindsight 1

I've thought about using one of the BCW card boxes to organize the cards, but I hate losing the art on the box.

joedev_net 4

As someone who really likes dominion, I'm thinking about picking this up. Where should I start?

It looks like Aeon's End: The New Age is the only one that readily available. Is that a good starting point?

snakehawk37 1

I’d say New Age is a good starting point - it has the most interesting mages. War Eternal probably has the best nemeses of the big boxes

catwhowalksbyhimself 1

Everything should be restocking when the newest expansions come out, which is soon. I believe that stuff is on the boat now.

huntedlemon 1

They tend to come in and out of stock fairly regularly but I had the original game, war eternal and new age. I kept new age and sold the others, it is a great place to start and it has a replayable pseudo legacy style campaign that the first two games dont have. War eternal is much harder and the first is pretty simple in comparison.

Mini expansions the best are the war eternal ones - void and outer dark - in my opinion.

There's a new one coming out called outcast so you could wait a few months for that (due Aug or Sept I think)

If you like aeons you'll also lile clank and dominion but aeons is the best coop

glennfk 2

Any of the "big box" games are a good starting point, including Legacy. I'm partial to War Eternal if you know deckbuilders pretty well, the base game or Legacy if you (or your group) are newer to deckbuilders

SirWookieeChris 5

New age has new mechanics and has the most replayability, but is the most complex. If your used to deck builder strategies from dominion you should be fine.

IWasTheFirstKlund 3

Based on my flair, I should comment here. For a couple of years I would say that it was my favorite game. However, it hasn't gotten to the table in months. There's lots of reasons why, but it's largely logistical. The game is brilliant, and it gets better with more content - but more content also makes a game take more effort to get to the table.

We are in the middle of a move right now, so the game is already boxed up. At some point we will take it out and then it will sit on our table for a week or two and my wife and I will probably play it 20 times. We tend to binge play games, so Aeon's End is brilliant for us.

At some point I want to do another PubMeeple rating, because I think Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion might displace Aeon's End at the top.

catwhowalksbyhimself 1

Have you gotten A New Age, because the Expeditions system has fixed that issue for me.

IWasTheFirstKlund 1

Yes, and I agree. When we get it back out I will set up expeditions for us to run through.

Ghazkull1980 3

I got a gamestore in germany that has some copies in stock.

BChopper 1

Even though I already own Aeons end that store had the german root + expansion 2. edition which is pretty much sold out everywhere.
Thanks for the tip.

Ghazkull1980 3

One of my favorite games and easily the best coop game that i own.
So many choices and such a great replay value.
The heroes feel and play different and you need a good strategie against the different board of nemesi.

Steven_Cheesy318 8

Anyone else feel this game is friggin hard? I get stomped every time I try facing any boss over difficulty 3. Feels like a game you either need to play 100 times to find the right combinations or use a strategy guide with

rcapina 1

It's tough. Lots of variables from random/chosen setup, mages, etc. One area i fail at is dealing early (like turn 1/2) damage. Leaving minions or other bad effects and it there can cause a snowballing problem as you're spending all these resources just to out out fires instead of damaging the big bad.

InstallationWizard 1

I absolutely loved it at 4 players, but then just playing a few times 2 player with my husband was such a punishing slogfest that it made us want to give it away. I still have it, hoping for a 4 player game at some point, or to give to a friend who's really into Soulslike games and genuinely enjoys punishing slogs.

wpflug13 1

This is a surprising sentiment - Aeon's End is pretty universally considered to be easier at 2p than 4p. Is it possible you made a mistake in setup or some such?

InstallationWizard 1

No. We all reread the rules really well. I'm not sure if it was the group of 4 I played with just meshed really well or what, but I enjoy it at 4 player and absolutely hate it and want to give it away at 2 player.

I'm sure a lot of it is just perception, too. I prefer to be in a group of 4 being punished and coordinating than a group of 2 being punished and coordinating.

wpflug13 1

Fair enough. Hopefully you find that group of four again!

Ghazkull1980 2

First step is the right party.
Try to choose heroes that help each other and have different abilities.
It's almost like a good party in an RPG.
Having to many healers or damage dealers can make it very hard to win.

SirWookieeChris 2

Depends on the number of players. I've hosted many teaching sessions on TTS. 2 players is the easiest since you have 2x the turns so you can fine tune your deck and deal reliable damage by the time the enemy deck gets harder. 4 player on the other hand means you get one turn for every 2 turns the enemy gets. Technically you have 2x the total health, but if it takes you 2x time to ramp up, it cancels out. Add in the randomness of turn order, and you can really get screwed. Such as the guy focusing on money to pay off power cards doesn't get a turn before they go off. Or your dps goes first, then the enemy brings out a few minions, and they cause havoc before your dps can go again. AE legacy and onwards fixed this somewhat by adding special turn order cards that let you choose who takes their turn first. 3 players is the sweet spot imo. Everyone can slowly ramp up using the extra turn (or let your dps get every extra turn if you like to be boring like that) while also having a good challenge

catwhowalksbyhimself 1

Actually, the newest rules have changed 3 player. You can't give the wild to the same player every time. You have to rotate. You can pick the order, the every one must get a wild turn before the same player can go again.

throwawaythislol 1

The newest version of the 4p rules, where players (1/2) and (3/4) get 2x turn-order cards; and then decides which of the pair goes when that card comes up [still only once per round, however] makes 4p a lot more manageable - highly recommended.

Early minions can make 4p rough; but the truth is that 4p is just as viable as any other player count [with the caveat that a turn1/2 minion go a little further than normal, since you need to get to round2 to begin taking it out].

All the player counts are viable; I think 2p is the sweet spot in terms of playing the game, but 3p/4p makes a great social experience, and has much group discussion. People just need to remember to buy more spells, and sooner; but it's like that no matter what. :p

triggerfish1 5

Really depends on the player count. We defeated most of them at 2p, but struggle with the easiest one at 4p.

catwhowalksbyhimself 8

The key to 4 players is to heavily specialize. For example when I did Legacy 4 players, I was support. I almost never bought spells, invested heavily in gems and kept firing off my power and buying enemy power cards before they could go off as well as using support relics.

Since you have to kick it into gear faster and have less chance as an individual to respond, being highly focused like that is the one way to keep up with things.

I also helps if you use the variant, now considered the official way to do 4 players, where you turn order cards the give you a choice as to who goes next. Makes up a bit for only going once per round.

Steven_Cheesy318 1

> where you turn order cards the give you a choice as to who goes next

This sounds interesting but I can't figure out what you're trying to say here.

catwhowalksbyhimself 1

Right, starting with War Eternal, for four players instead of turn order cards for players 1,2,3 and 4, you have 2 1/2 cards and 2 3/4 card. The first time one of these cards comes up, you can choose which of the two players gets their turn. The other one gets their turn the next time.

Starting with Legacy, this became the standard four player mode.

wpflug13 2

The latest rules use semi-wild player turn order cards for 4 player. Two 1/2 player cards, two 3/4 player cards, and two nemesis cards make up the turn order deck. Generally, when the first 1/2 card is drawn, players choose whether player 1 or 2 takes the turn. When the second 1/2 card is drawn, the other player takes the turn.

Cards/abilities that let the players shuffle a turn order card back into the turn order deck can mess with that order, but it works that way 95% of the time. The actual mechanics cover those edge cases.

throwawaythislol 1

Indeed, the 4p "variant" [newest rules] turn order cards makes 4p much more friendly; and tbh, even though I played the classic way a number of times, the new way is better - more fun, and more reasonable.

Turn-order is still a factor - but you can more reasonably plan around certain courses of play ("if I go before the boss, and you go after me...", etc) - without it being perfectly reliable each time.

Specialization is definitely a thing, as is simply buying more spells, earlier, as well. Many people prefer to go for economy early on - which isn't a bad thing, but economy is best used to buy cards, pay off powers, and buy charges - and the sooner you buy a card, the more uses you can get out of it.

All I'm trying to say, 4p is legit, and so is using the newest version of the rules ("variant") for turn-order deck construction.

catwhowalksbyhimself 1

To be fair, that was a variant when first introduced. I know it's standard 4 player now, but I'll always think of it as a variant.

Medwynd 1

I still prefer the classic way. I like pulling that clutch turn order just in the nick of time. I also enjoy the agony of defeat when the flop doesnt go your way :)

throwawaythislol 1

Oh absolutely - I'm in the exact same boat. Been playing since the original AE, will always see this 4p as a "variant"; I just wanted to make sure people didn't think it was a wrong, or "less correct" way to play the game - it just is what it is. :3

Xonim 16

It seems that way, yes, but the games have a weird curve to them. You start out with nothing in your hand, so cards just kind of pile up, but then you get some better stuff and get control of the game, but then nemesis phase 3 happens and kicks your butt. Yet, somehow, more often than not my games come down to the flip of a card. If it’s a player turn, we win, if it’s a nemesis turn, lose. In a lot of games, that would make me angry but with AE it somehow feels like this long battle has just worn both us and the nemesis down, and whoever gets that last quick attack in first emerges victorious. It’s exciting every time. The game and its expansions overall seem to be really balanced for my skill level, which is amazing to me, because that last card flip is almost always relevant.

Valkyriez_Gaming 5

Played it on TTS, really liked it. Haven't tried in meatspace yet, but i think there's a digital official version now? Might try that.

zzgamer11 1

Digital version doesn't do well to capture the panic the physical game

pathief 1

For anyone else wondering the Steam digital version is on sale now, bought it for 8.24 euros. It's base game only with optional Nameless Expansion as a DLC content.

  • Local multiplayer only, though steam has that remote play feature

  • 2 to 4 mages per game

  • Interface is pretty bad but everything works, at least. Sometimes you do something in the wrong order and you can't go back, which is frustrating.

  • Several difficulty levels

    I bought the digital version because I really miss playing the physical game :(
catwhowalksbyhimself 2

There is. It just has the base game and one expansion, plus a crossover mini expansion that only exists for the digital version and wouldn't work well in the real world.

ChimpdenEarwicker 5

Gosh the box art for the original aeon's end is so gorgeous.

If I got aeons end id get war eternal or new age but id want the original aeons end box.

NoTimeForGamesYT 5

Great game! I own War Eternal and have been really happy with it. Many mages, many Nemesis and cards, I got some (smaller) expansions on Kickstarter but never felt the need to get more stuff, there's a lot on this box, and the enemies play differently, there's a lot of replayability and it really feels like a team effort. Also really like the random turn order, which adds to the tension. Recommended!

Drunkpanada 1

I got a second hand vanilla AE with the 2 original expansions (1st printing). i feel the same!

catwhowalksbyhimself 6

The New Age, though, adds a random campaign system that uses all previous content. It's my favorite way to play.

wildestnacatl 9

Might be my favorite game, certainly in top 5. Really like the addition of the expedition system in New Age; it’s the only way we play now. Also like how many levers there are to modify difficulty so it can remain challenging as you get better. (i.e. We always play with random markets now, but still haven’t tried the increased difficulty on nemeses.)

Jordan_sXe 25

Easily my favorite deck builder and probably my favorite co op. I love all the opportunities to help your team mates, in some co op I feel like you’re all fighting for the same goal but aren’t truly helping each other in a direct way. In Aeon’s End I feel like their is more need for teamwork and more crucial decisions to make. Every time I play this game I leave it feeling great about the time we had, win or lose.

mbrochh 1

How does game game deal with the alpha-gamer problem?

musicalhorse 1

Not great. Still love the game, but especially when it comes to distributing damage and which cards to buy, my group will want to give their opinion on the best choice. I like this disussion generally, but it can sometimes cross over into quarterbacking.

Medwynd 3

I always find this "problem" to be the players issues not a problem the game should have to address.

vagrantwastrel 2

Yeah but certain games are more prone to quarterbacking vs others. Pandemic is very easy to fall into one player telling everyone what the best way to win, whereas Spirit Island is much harder to have one player dominate the decisions

Drunkpanada 7

You have your own cards, you can choose to keep them hidden, thus no other player knows what you have. There can be a little of "maybe you should hit this minion instead"

Alvinshotju1cebox 7

You don't know the turn order (it's handled by a randomizer deck) so it doesn't allow you to plan that far ahead. Quarterbacking could still be a problem, though.