TableTopTakes: Age of War
Fairly often the games that I review are these big epic games, like Gloomhaven, Sword & Sorcery, and more, but I do enjoy, fairly often, playing small games as well. And when it comes to games being small, Age of War fits the bill as it comes in a tiny little box with only a few dice and a few pieces.
In Age of War, you are rolling dice trying to match symbols are Japanese fortresses. To do this, you have to be able to place a dice each roll or you lose a die. But you’re completing sections, not just placing a single die each time. So some sections it might be, get four swords, the highest sword count is 3, so you’d have to use at least two dice to get that. When you complete one, if you can on your turn, it goes in front of you and is going to give you points. However, it’ll give you more points if you complete a set of like colored fortresses because they flip over and it’s a higher point total. Once someone has claimed a fortress, they aren’t safe though because for a slightly higher cost, it can be stolen from you. So players might fight over a fortress trying to complete their color set, or to stop a player who is getting close to locking in a color set. Because once they are locked in with a full set, they can’t be stolen anymore. In the end, once all fortresses have been claimed, the player with the most points wins.
This game does a lot of things that people are familiar with, rolling a die, saving it to match symbols. It has a feel like Yahtzee or King of Tokyo, though those games have more of a set limit on number of times you can roll. But the mechanic remains that familiar dice rolling. One thing that I like about this dice rolling that’s different than the games that I mentioned is that you are locking in or tossing out a die each turn. You can’t pick up discarded or locked dice to reroll, and once you decide which fortress you’re going for, you are locked in. So it can be tempting to push for a big once, but that is going to take more luck with your rolls. Also, with the dice rolling, I talked about the swords, there are more sword sides than other symbols, there are three other symbols, but you need to use your swords smartly. In my example, I was looking to get up to four swords, so using two dice is what you want to do, if I have to use three and then I’m looking for specific symbols later, I’ve lowered the number of dice that I’m going to be rolling.
What also works in this game is the ability to steal fortresses. I think without that the game would feel stale and players would probably just go for the most expensive fortress first, in terms of how many dice you need to complete it and victory points given, and then just work down. Though, that might not be the best plan all of the time. But being able to steal and trying to get sets creates more player interaction and while it is just one sided because they can’t defend against it being stolen, it adds an interesting piece to the game. That combined with colors locking if you have a complete set adds some strategy to what you’re trying to roll for. But it isn’t just as easy if as getting in the first place. There’s always an additional symbol that you need to roll, so the cost is going to be higher to steal, so is it worth it to push for that if there are still castles of similar prices and points out there? It still is just about pushing your luck, but it gives you more interesting choices to work on.
There are a few final things working for this game for me. First, it’s an easy game, the dice rolling feels familiar and the rules are easy to teach. And with minimal pieces in the game, you can set it up fast and get it to the table. It also plays up to 6, and I think it works well at that number, probably better at a slightly lower number, but with six, sure, it takes longer to get back to your turn, but it doesn’t add additional length to the game. Which is the final thing I wanted to mention, this is a fast game, so that helps, it’s fast to teach, turns are pretty fast, and the game is done quickly. For a game that comes in a small package, that is what I really want to see.
Overall, I like this game. It’s a good easy filler that offers more than some filler games. It gives you a few choices while being easy to get to the table, play, and put away while waiting for more people to show up for a game night. For some people, it’s going to be lacking because it really does come down to the luck of a die roll quite often, but it offers some choices, and that’s what I want in the game. I think that it’s pretty fun for what it is, and it doesn’t overstay it’s welcome.
Overall Grade: B-
Gamer Grade: C
Casual Grade: B
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