They say you shouldn’t judge a book (or game) by its cover, and that is certainly true with Age of War. The box art for Age is war is stunning. But is the game play?
With its seven dice and 14 Castle cards Age of War is perfect for someone looking for a small game to add to their collection. All the components are really nice quality. The dice are clear, easy to read, and have are nice colors. The six sides of the dice show 1 infantry, 2 infantry, 3 infantry, an archery symbol, a cavalry side, or a Daimyo side.
I love the artwork and the graphic design of the cards. The cards do curl a bit and do not lay flat on the table.
Set-up is quick and easy, place the Castle Card face-up in the center of the table; make sure you can see every card.
During the game players take turns rolling the dice to muster their troops and then using those dice to conquer the castle cards. The game ends when a player conquers the last castle card.
On a players turn they rolls all seven dice. They can then decide to start conquering a castle card or re-roll. If they choose to re-roll they must place aside one die.
To attempt to conquer a castle card they select a face-up card and fill one battle line. It can be in the center of the table or in front of another player. Place the dice with matching symbols on the line and roll the remaining dice. They player then tries to conquer one more roll on the card with the re-rolled dice. If they cannot, they must lose one die and re-roll the remaining dice. This continues to the card is conquered by filling all the battle lines or if the player runs out of dice. The player’s turn is over and they pass the dice to the next player.
The player can only fill one battle line per roll and once a card is chosen, the player cannot fill lines on another card. When the battle line has a number and the sword infantry symbol, which means that the line needs to be filled with one or more dice with the infantry symbol, equal to or greater than the listed number.
If a player is trying to conquer an opponent’s castle card, they must also fill the special Daimyo Battle line.
Conquering a Clan – The castle cards belong to various clans shown by the color and clan icon. Once a player has conquered all the castles that belong to a clan they flip the cards face down into a pile with the card showing points on top. These are safe from being conquered by other players.
The game ends when the last card from the center of the table is conquered. The player with the most points wins. If there is a tie, the tied player with the most conquered castles winds. If there is still a tie the player with the most clans wins.
Age of War is a very light game that is easy to teach, set-up and play. The artwork, components, and graphic design are striking. I appreciate the small size of the game and box. It is a small game that offers a good amount of game play and re-playability.
The player interaction, for a dice game, will be appealing to some players. Players need to watch what their opponents are doing and try to keep others form taking you cards. I have only played with two, but it seems like a game that would work well with more players.
I can see this game working well as a gateway game to more strategic dice games. It is light, quick, and the strategy is easy to understand. Unfortunately, it just fell flat for me. I didn’t really enjoy playing the game. Its too light and lucky and game play can drag on, making it overstay its welcome.
Age of War really reminds me of Elder Sign. It shares a lot of the same mechanics, for example the dwindling dice pool. Even if Elder Sign is a much longer game there is some luck mitigation that adds a lot of I feel Age of War is missing.
The game may also work much better with more players. More players would also add more downtime and make the game longer. It would also increase the amount of stealing because there are fewer resources. This will also increase the game length, making it too long for such a light game.
Overall Age of War is a solid game with beautiful components. There is really tight scoring and an interesting push-pull that you don’t see in many dice games. Players are offered intriguing decisions and choices. Still, I just didn’t find it fun. I do see it as a gateway game and a way to introduce new players to a deeper dice rolling game than Yahtzee. I am will be adding this to my middle school board game club collection. I think it will be perfect for my students. Don’t judge this game by its cover, it may be beautiful, but there is something missing.
Designer: Renier Knizia
Publishers: Fantasy Flight, Edge Entertainment, Arclight, Heidelberger Spieleverlag
Game Length: 20 minutes
Ages: 8 and Up
Picture Credits: (from www.boardgamegeek.com) W. Eric Martin (W Eric Martin) all other pictures were taken by my wonderful husband.