Aeon’s End Board Game Review
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Aeon’s End was released in 2017 by Indie Boards & Cards and is a fantastic fantasy deck building game. You’ll find you are fighting off numerous monsters to defend the last city of Gravehold.
In this collaborative game you are a Breach Mage who will have to unlock your powers and work together to defeat these unspeakable horrors. Building up your strength as you play you will find the monsters increase their onslaught also.
First let’s take a look at what Aeon’s End is about.
Table of Contents
- What is Aeon’s End About?
- Is Aeon’s End Hard to Learn?
- Is Aeon’s End Replayable?
- Is Aeon’s End a Campaign?
- Is Aeon’s End Worth Buying?
What is Aeon’s End About?
Aeon’s End was released in 2016 by Indie Boards & Cards. It is a 1-4 player cooperative fantasy deck building game for ages 14+.
You live in the last city in a cavernous refuge after the end of the world as you knew it. Monster Nemesis broke through into your world through breaches and destroyed all you held dear.
Now you are the remnants of humanity hiding out in Gravehold the last city. You play a Breach Mage that has discovered the secrets of the breaches and harnessed their power.
The only problem is that the Nemesis are onto you and have discovered the location of Gravehold. They are breaking through in an attempt to finish off humanity.
Can you as a Breach Mage successfully fend off the Nemesis and send them back through the breach from whence they came? You will need all your skills and clever strategy to save yourselves.
In the game you choose a Nemesis to play against and each player’s character to fight them. Each character has a starting deck and the potential ability to cast up to 4 breaches. As you build up your hand and power you can unlock more breach slots.
Aeon’s End has a nice turn order deck that is shuffled so you cannot predict the order of play. Depending on the number of players there will be a different number of player turn cards in the deck.
|Players||Player Turn Cards||Nemsis Turn Cards|
|3||1 each + wildcard||2|
During a round the Nemesis will always go twice whilst the players will go 4 times. Depending on the number of players this may mean they go multiple times.
In a two player game each player will have two turn cards placed in the deck. Giving the players a total of 4 turns during a round. There are also two Nemesis turn cards placed in the deck which are then shuffled.
Three player games have a wildcard and when this is drawn the players decide which one goes for that turn. This effectively gives the players 4 turns per round.
The deck is then drawn to see who goes first. Once that player (or Nemesis) has finished then the next card is drawn and that player/Nemesis goes next. So it really does make this part unpredictable and adds to the fun.
You could even get the Nemesis going twice first which could put your party in lots of trouble. So the turn of the cards can be quite tense with a big sigh of relief when it is not the Nemesis!
Contrary to this the characters deck never gets shuffled. This means that you have a real strategic role to play in how you build your deck up. You will decide in which order you will play cards from your hand.
There is a supply of new cards on the table. There are 9 different types of card you can draw from the supply which are all placed in a grid face up. There are multiple types of each card.
|Type||Description||Contents Qty||Qty in Supply|
|Gems||Gems provide you with aether which is the currency. It allows you to buy new cards, focus, open breaches, and gain charges.||87||3|
|Relics||Relics have a variety of effects that are resolved as soon as you play the cards.||86||2|
|Spells||Spells are the main attack weapon. You use these to damage the Nemesis and its minions.||30||4|
So there is room for quite a variety of different Gems, Relics, and Spell combinations to be used to build a deck to fight each Nemesis with.
Indie Boards & Cards have pre-built all the decks for you including the supply. This will help you in your first game. Once you have finished you can then either choose or randomize your supply.
When you buy a card it will immediately be placed in your discard pile.
Once you have finished playing your cards in your hand you discard them in the order of your choosing onto the discard pile. This allows you to build the deck in order that you want to play them and arrange certain cards to be in your hand at the same time.
Solo has two variants to choose from. You can either play multiple Breach Mages and would therefore follow the normal rules. Or you can play solo with one Breach Mage against the Nemesis.
This requires 3 player turn cards to be used and when any of them come up it is your turn. Also, any cards that have an effect on an ally will happen to you. For example, if a card allows an ally to draw one card and discard another then you can take this action.
Aeon’s End is one of the best games you can buy for solo play. In fact it is currently number 9 in my article 20 Best Solo Board Games.
Each Breach Mage has its own player mat with some flavor text on one side. This gives you more of the lore surrounding the character but does not affect the gameplay in any way.
Each player starts with 10 health which is depicted by life tokens that are placed on the mat. You can lose and gain health but never gain more than you started with.
You get 8 different Breach Mages in the core set. You can check out the table below to find out the 8 different Mages and their basic stats.
Each Breach Mage is completely different in the following ways:
- They have a unique card in their deck.
- Their starter deck and starter hand are fixed and different.
- They each have a special ability that can be cast.
- The starting state of breaches are different.
They have their own special card in their deck too, along with more generic cards for spells and currency. Adelheim for example has the Amethyst Shard which allows the player to gain 1 aether and allow an ally to draw a card from their deck and then discard one card.
Along with that they get a special ability that can be activated once the player has built up enough charge. They do this by spending aether to add a token to their charge indicator on their player mat.
Each character has a different amount of charge required to launch their ability. Again, Adelheim requires 5 charge tokens at 2 aether each. They can then activate their special ability only during the Nemesis Draw phase.
Adelheim’s special ability allows you to discard a Nemesis attack or power card if the player wishes. This means that the card will not have any effect and could save the intrepid party from disaster just a little longer.
|Breach Mage||Special Card||Special Ability||Ability Activates||Charges Required|
|Adelheim||Amethyst Shard||Aethereal Ward: When a Nemesis attack or power card is drawn but before it is resolved, you may discard it. It has no effect. (The Nemesis doesn’t draw a replacement card)||During the Nemesis Draw Phase||5|
|Brama||Buried Light||Brink Siphon: Any player gains 4 life.||During Your Main Phase||5|
|Jian||Moonstone Shard||Black Mirror: Cast any player’s spell without discarding it. Then cast that prepped spell again. (Discard it afterward)||During Your Main Phase||4|
|Kadir||Emerald Shard||Otherworldly Gate: That player may return up to three spells in their discard pile to their hand. That player may prep up to two spells to each of their opened breaches this turn.||During Any Player’s Main Phase||5|
|Lash||Quartz Shard||Quicken Thought: Shuffle any player’s turn order card into the turn order deck. That player suffers 1 damage. (You may not choose the wildcard turn order card)||During Any Player’s Main Phase||5|
|Mist||Garnet Shard||Divine Augury: Any ally draws 4 cards.||During Your Main Phase||5|
|Phaedraxa||Tourmaline Shard||Auspex Rune: Prevent any damage that the players or Gravehold would suffer during a turn.||Immediately After a Turn Order Card is Drawn||5|
|Xaxos||Flare||Metaphysical Link: Allies collectively gain 4 charges. Reveal the turn order deck and return the revealed cards in any order.||During Any Player’s Main Phase||5|
By balancing your currency by buying new cards from the supply or charges towards your special ability you begin to build your abilities and strength.
As each character has a unique build you will need to understand the significance of their special ability and how best to use it. It will take a few games to begin to understand how everything works with a character and build your strategy for playing it.
This is a really nice element to the game and you will find that you can begin to build up great combos of moves. Towards the end of the game these combos will annihilate the Nemesis and its minions which is very satisfying.
There are 4 Nemeses in the revised core set and each one sets the difficulty of the game. The table below gives a description of each Nemesis and their characteristics.
|Rageborne||2||Has a straightforward attack in that it attacks Gravehold and the Breach Mages. It does direct damage. It has a powerful attack called a Strike that is inflicted every time it unleashes.|
|Carapace Queen||3||This Nemesis has swarms of husks. The husks are not very powerful but can be a problem if there are a lot. The Nemesis doesn’t have as many minions in its Nemesis deck but instead has attacks and powers using the husks.|
|Crooked Mask||5||The Nemesis has a corruption deck that will place cards in the players deck. When the player draws the corruption card it can have negative effects on the players.|
|Prince of Gluttons||5||When this Nemesis unleashes it removes cards from the supply. Thus reducing the players ability to build their decks. If the supply runs out then you lose.|
You can see that the Nemesis bring with them a different challenge. You will need to work out a strategy and how to defeat them.
Each Nemesis mat comes with the obligatory flavor text on one side. This side also tells you the difficulty and setup instructions.
On the other side you have the special details for the Nemesis. It shows health, additional rules, unleash instructions, and increased difficulty rules. The health is then placed on the Nemesis life dial at the beginning of the game.
The unleash instructions will vary depending on the Nemesis and their abilities, so Rageborne’s unleash is different from the Carapace Queen. Finally there are special additional rules you can add if you want to make the game even harder. I certainly wouldn’t use these until you have beaten the Nemesis a few times as it will already be challenging.
Winning or Losing
There are health counters for the Nemesis and Gravehold. If the health of Gravehold reaches zero then you have lost. If the health of the Nemesis reaches zero then you have won.
The Breach Mages health is tracked using life tokens on their mat. Interestingly, if the character’s health reaches zero they don’t die.
Instead they become exhausted. This means that they can continue to play but there are dire consequences in that the Nemesis unleashes twice, that character loses a breach slot. Any further damage is multiplied by two and taken off Gravehold’s health instead.
So you can see this is not good. Also, if all players are exhausted then you lose the game. If you get into this position then it is a slippery slope to a lost game.
Is Aeon’s End Hard to Learn?
No, Aeon’s End is relatively easy to learn and yet has some strategy to keep you interested. The instructions are excellent and lead you through the setup. There is also an example game with turns explained at each stage.
With the latest version the decks are also pre-built and ready for you to play your first game. This is a great introduction to Aeon’s End and really aids in getting to dive straight into the game.
It is also fantastically quick to get started with your first game as everything comes out of the box ready to play.
Is Aeon’s End Replayable?
Yes, Aeon’s End is totally replayable and there is quite a bit of variety too. With the variation of Nemesis, Mage and Supply there are so many combinations to play.
Each game will be different and challenging. You will need to think of different tactics to beat the Nemesis each time.
One thing to note is that the Aeon’s End Legacy version of this game is not designed to be replayable. It is designed in the legacy format which means that there is a campaign of games to work through. The game will make changes to rules and components as you play through depending on the choices you make.
Unlike many legacy games, Aeon’s End actually provides you with something at the end. Once you have completed the campaign you will have new and totally unique Breach mages, Nemeses, and cards.
If you own the standard game you can then use these new components in your games. If you would like more information on the legacy version then you can find it in my article 11 Best Legacy Board Games 2022.
There is an Aeon’s End Legacy Reset Pack which you can buy if you did want to play through the legacy game again. This would provide you with more mats, cards, stickers and tokens. In this way you will be able to play through again and create another entirely new Breach Mage.
Is Aeon’s End a Campaign?
No, Aeon’s End is not a campaign as sold in the base game. It is a replayable game where you choose to be one of 8 Breach Mages to fight a choice of 4 Nemesis monsters.
If you buy The New Age or Outcasts expansions then these will let you play 4 games together in a short campaign. The campaign can then be played with any Nemesis and any Breach Mage from any of the expansions.
A separate version called Aeon’s End Legacy (see above) also provides a campaign that you can play through once. It is not replayable though and so once you have played it through you cannot play again.
Is Aeon’s End Worth Buying?
If you like deck building games then this is one of the best. With your ability to build your deck in an order of your choice to unleash multiple combos of moves makes it really fun.
With the variety of Nemeses and Breach Mages you will get a good variety of combinations to make this replayable. If you add the numerous expansions that add more Nemesis and Breach Mages then this is a game that will give you considerable replayability.
You can even work through the Aeon’s End Legacy version of the game and create your own unique Breach Mage if that floats your boat. Adding the New Age or Outcasts can give you a campaign feel if that is important to you.
On the whole this game has an enormous flexibility that will give you hours of fun with friends or solo.