Yesterday morning I had to visit the local post office collection point to pay import duty of £12.88 on my Kickstarter copy of AGES. I don’t mind paying the duty. I do mind that £8 of that fee is the criminal “handling fee” paid to the post office. But I had the final production copy of the game I was excited to open it up. More on this later in the post.
So lunchtime yesterday Jonathan and I met up to play Kemet and Last Will.
We were going to start off with Kemet. Sadly as we were setting up it was discovered that there were no pyramids (and later it clicked no creature miniatures). This was the source of a little amusement to Jonathan. It’s fair to say I was not exactly happy with this poor quality control by the publisher.
But I’ve logged a support call with the publisher. So another test of a publisher has started.
So with the bits of Kemet I did have packed away, we setup and learnt Brewsters Millions. Oops no we didn’t, it was called Last Will, which is really the board game of the movie without the license.
Although not nearly as bad as say Guilds of London the iconography of the cards does take a little decoding. Having individual player reference sheets would help with this. Sadly none are included with the game.
I liked that seeing as we were playing a two player game it made adjustments and gave us both an extra counter to block off one of the card/worker/action selection spaces. That blocking took place before selecting of a space you wanted took place. But that selecting of the space you wanted also acted as player order for the later phases.
I felt the “worker placement” phase limited, and frustrating. You have a max of two “workers” you can place, although it could be just one depending on the previous phase and the card/worker/action space you selected. I would have liked a way to get an extra “worker” to use here.
I did like the changing card market place, that adjusted the card types populating it depending on round. So no “I’ll get that card next turn”, you won’t because it goes and gets replaced by something new.
You are building a “engine” in front of you on your tableau for spending money. But it’s also possible to get bonus actions. So for example my “engine” was giving me two extra actions each turn. Your starting tableau has a fixed capacity to start with, but it can be expanded using one of the options available in the worker placement phase.
The instructions could be written more clearly. But isn’t that a common complaint about games? We found bits confusing or just not clear.
I enjoyed Last Will. It was fun. I’d definitely play again if it was bought to the table. And that’s despite Jonathan winning!
Our second game was AGES. Now I know Jonathan doesn’t like deck builders! In fact it’s one of his least liked mechanics, sitting just above his least liked of roll and move.
But still Jonathan played AGES.
I really do like the final production of AGES. The cards look stunning and they are good quality. The box is beautiful, and enough space to store all the cards sleeved. A little thing, but there are two foam blocks to keep the cards in place inside the box. I like that, attention to detail. The rule book is a big improvement over the original one. Overall this is a very good, no that’s wrong it’s a high quality produced game.
There wasn’t much take that going on in our game. Maybe that’s due to the cards that came out. I think I was the only one playing locations and using their abilities. But that’s just the luck of the draw and trade row!
Jonathan struggled with the text size on the cards at times. But we are old, and eye sight at times can let us down. On a serious note though, although an issue for Jonathan it’s not unique to AGES. Imperial Settlers, War of the Ring to name one or two others that have the same issue.
The elite phase of the game is one of my favourite mechanics of the game. I ended up buying one elite character just to stop its elite phase ability. It had hurt me that turn costing me points, because I had no starter cards left to get rid of, and had only good cards in my hand.
It was interesting watching Jonathan playing. He was scrapping a lot less than me, and buying more of the 2 gold value cards. So his deck was way more “bloated” than my lean and mean deck. That may in part due to Jonathan having less opportunities to scrap. He was aware of the value of getting rid of the starting cards.
I have to admit I thought Jonathan was going to win with lots of little points. But in the end my convincing victory would have been a lot closer, if not a loss due to a misplay by Jonathan. If Jonathan had managed to buy the elite character I bought triggering the end game, that would have stopped me buying it, and would have ended the game. Plus those points I lost because of that elite phase would have come back and haunted me and cost me the win.
Jonathan liked the Splendor like aspect of collecting the icons and having them out in front of you, and their dual use to trigger abilities and reduce the cost of elite characters.
As I said Jonathan doesn’t like deckbuilders. He’s also not a fan of sci-fi, and fantasy themes. Which just about covers most deckbuilders. So having one that uses a historical theme means at least the theme was more likely to appeal to Jonathan.
So when Jonathan said he didn’t dislike the game that’s a big deal. Especially when you consider how he feels about the mechanic.
Me? I really like the game. I love the deckbuilder mechanic. I love looking for those combos, and pulling them off.
It’s easy to screw up a deckbuilder, just look at the World of Tanks deckbuilder. It’s disappointing that folks can easily get hold of that travesty of a deckbuilder, whilst AGES that really deserves a wider audience isn’t as easily available or known about.
I really do hope a bigger publisher having seen the final version picks this up, and gives it the marketing love it deserves.
Oh and I love the playmat.
So despite the shock of the missing bits from Kemet, I had a great afternoon playing games with Jonathan.