Playing AGES

With the previous posts I have looked at the cards of AGES and setting up the play area. In this post I will look at playing AGES.

Before you start playing you need to work out who is going to go first. In the games manual there is one method for determining this using one each of the icon cards. But feel free to use any method you feel suitable. I personally like the “might is right” method! Where I say I’m going first and beat down on anyone that challenges me.

While playing you will want to organise your play area. A suggested layout is shown below.

  1. Collected Icons
  2. Played Locations
  3. Played cards and gold stack
  4. Discard pile
  5. Players deck

So you and the other players have decided who is going first. Starting with the first player and going in a clockwise direction each player will do the following phases during their turn.

Let’s look at these turn phases in more detail.

Icon Phase

This is the first thing that you do at the start of your turn. You will draw an icon card of your choice from one of the icon piles in the play area, and then place it face up in your play area.

Elite Phase

The Elite phase kicks in once one of the starting Elite characters has been bought and replaced by a new Elite character from the Elite character pile. Each Elite character has an elite phase ability (except the starting Elite characters). For each of the Elite characters with an active elite phase ability you must carry out the ability described.

I really enjoy this phase. It makes life interesting. It also adds to the decision making. When you have enough gold which to go for? which elite ability do you want to remove? One or two of the elite phase abilities also allow you to use card abilities in the main trade row. So you have to consider which character do you buy just to remove that ability from being used by your opponents if you can’t buy an elite character. I just love this whole extra level of tactics.

Main Phase

So in the main phase there are a few things that a player can do.

The player can do any combination of the following in any order:

  • Play cards
  • Use an on going ability
  • Move a location to the gold stack
  • Purchase cards


So let’s take a more indepth look at each of these options.


Play Cards

Below is a simplified diagram showing the order of play when playing a card that you wish to use its ability.
In the above diagram once you play your card and before you activate its abilities, your opponent gets a chance to play one of their cards that has an immediate ability. Usually these are weapons or relics that defeat characters. (This is the bit where the designer corrects me because there is a card(s) that also defeat locations or something)
If your opponent doesn’t play a card (route A on the above diagram) then you can then use the abilities on the card just played if you have the required icons to activate them. Then once the ability has been resolved the played card goes to the gold stack. Unless the card you played is a location in which case it goes into the section of your play area for locations.
If your opponent did play a card that defeated your played card (route B on the above diagram) your played card goes straight to your gold stack.
If you are going to just play a card for use as gold, it goes straight to the gold stack in your play area. And jesters go straight to the icon area.

REMEMBER: You don’t have to play all the cards in your hand each turn.

Use an on going ability

This is basically using the abilities of any location cards you have in play. You don’t have to use them it should be noted.

Move a location to gold stack

At some point during the game if you have some locations in play you might need to cash one or two in for their gold value to make that purchase you desperately need. The draw back is that the location once in the gold stack goes in the discard pile after it has been used for its gold value.

Purchase a card

With hopefully enough gold sitting in your gold stack you are able to buy a card or two from the Main trade row, or an Elite character.

When buying Elite characters remember you can only buy one Elite character per turn. Also you can push down the cost of an Elite character by having matching icons up to the number of icons that Elite character needs to activate its abilities. So for example if the Elite character you wanted to buy had four good icons on it, and you had only two good icons in your play area, then the cost of the Elite character would be reduced by two.

When spending your gold to make your purchases use some method to signify you have spent the gold. I like the idea of stealing from Magic and “tapping” the gold cards I’ve spent.

All purchased cards whether Elite characters or from the main trade row go straight to your discard pile.

End Phase

This final phase of the players turn is where the player tidies up his play area and draws back up to a hand of five cards.

  • So the first thing a player will do is take all the cards that make up the gold stack, along with any played jester cards in the icons area, and place them in the discard pile face up.
  • Secondly the player will then draw enough cards from the players deck to give them once more five cards in their hand. If there are no more cards in the players deck to be able to do this, the player takes the discard pile and shuffles it. The shuffled discard pile then gets placed face down and becomes the players deck. The player then continues to draw cards until they have a hand size of five.
  • Finally if the player bought any cards from the trade row, they will replace those empty slots with cards drawn from the main deck.

It’s now the next players turn (remember AGES can be played by up to four players).

So how do you know when a game of AGES ends?

When the last Elite card is placed in the Elite trade row the end game is triggered. Everyone then continues playing until the player who usually takes the last turn each round has had their turn. This means everyone has had the same number of turns, and a chance to grab some last go points.

Once the last player has finished their turn, everyone adds up the total card cost of the cards in their deck. The player with the highest score is the winner.

I hope folks have found this post useful and also the earlier ones. They have been a bit different from my usual irrelevant fair. Also knowing that Chris the designer is also reading them makes me a bit nervous. The three posts so far are an attempt to explain how to play the game. I suppose it would be easier to have done a Rodney Smith Watch It Played style video, but Rodney is king of them, and I’m better at the written word.

There will be at least one more post about AGES to come. Which will be my final thoughts on AGES, plus if I can talk Chris into it an interview. Until next time…





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