TableTopTakes: Aeon’s End – War Eternal
So this is a game that I got to the table recently and had a blast playing. If you want to see a playthrough of it, you can go to the Malts and Meeples Youtube Channel or I have it on the site here. I originally found this game when I started watching the Rolling Solo Youtube Channel and watched his playthrough of it and the unique deck building made it look like a game that I’d enjoy.
In Aeon’s End: War Eternal, you play as breach mages who are trying to hold back giant monsters, nemesis, who are out to destroy the town of Gravehold. You prepare your breaches, cast spells, and buy new cards building up a deck to either outlast these giant monsters while taking out their minions, or to kill the giant monster itself. In the game there are basically always enough things to worry about to use your damage on, to heal Gravehold, and to buy that you don’t feel like you can do everything that you might want to do.
Let’s talk a bit about the unique deck building. In most deck building games, it doesn’t matter what order you put your cards into your discard pile because you end up shuffling the discard pile when you need to draw cards and are out. But in Aeon’s End: War Eternal and all the Aeon’s End games, it’s a bit different. The order you put your cards in matters because the discard pile doesn’t get shuffled, instead you simply flip it over, so if you’re very good at counting cards, you can set-up your hands so that you always have money (gems) and spells, or you can set it up so that you sometimes get a lot of money so that you can buy the best spell cards. I would say that playing solo makes it a bit trickier to stack your deck like you’d want. If I just had to focus on a single character, I’d likely be able to manipulate it more. But I found that very interesting, and it makes the game seem faster, especially solo, because I’m not having to stop to shuffle all the time.
Aeon’s End does another pretty unique thing, and that is with it’s turn order deck. You could compare it to an initiative track, but you don’t know it, and every time you go completely through initiative the order is shuffled up again. That means, if you are unlucky, you could have the nemesis go four turns in a row because it has two cards in the initiative deck. Now, that would be brutal, but you always have four player cards to the two initiative cards in the deck, so the odds of that happening are pretty low. I can see people not loving this part, but Aeon’s End: War Eternal gives you some more control not shuffling the discard pile, but then takes away control by having you not know the turn order. It’s a good tension point in the game, because the nemesis I played against in the live playthrough wasn’t too difficult, but if the nemesis had taken a few turns in a row, he’d have been much harder.
Finally, the last really unique thing that I can think of right now for Aeon’s End: War Eternal is the casting of spells. The casting one turn and it going off the next turn isn’t unique, but the idea of having to have these breaches open or being focused to cast spells is certainly interesting. And the fact that you can open them in any order is also interesting, though the higher numbered ones give you an advantage with extra damage, but they cost more. So do you want to rush to get one of those done early so that you can do more damage, but if you do that, you won’t be able to build up your deck as quickly.
Another thing that I like in games, but isn’t unique to Aeon’s End War Eternal is that it has variable player powers. Each character stars with a unique card in their deck that no other character has access to, so that starts unique. And their starting deck beyond that is also unique, so one character doesn’t feel like another character. But, to give each character more powers, they have special abilities that they can charge up, and these are themed to the character. One of the characters I played in the Malts and Meeples playthrough had healing abilities while the other did extra damage with their charged power. And each character has an ability themed to whom they are supposed to be in the game. So while the game doesn’t have role playing elements that you get in some of these fantasy games, it still has it feel unique.
I definitely enjoyed this game and it will go into the collection of deck builders that I have. I think it’s different enough and offers enough interesting choices that you can have it with other games from Dominion to Xenoshyft: Onslaught. I really like that the deck building aspect is more than just grabbing points, it gives you some real choices unlike, I feel, Dominion does. The game also feels thematic, which is something that Dominion doesn’t have, you feel like your own unique character which I really like. Looking at my favorite deck builders, having the unique character or starting point that you build a deck for is something I really look for in a deck builder, and something that I consider lacking in Clank! In! Space!, even if the rest of the game is really great.
Overall Grade: B+
Gamer Grade: B+
Casual Grade: B+
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