This is one in a series of posts regarding the board game Aeon’s End: The New Age. You can access all my other “AE: The New Age” posts HERE. This post is Hints & Tips before the first Game, and will contain no spoilers.
The set up for The New Age is very quick, and you can be playing within 15 minutes of opening the box. Reading through the one sheet for “The First Game Setup” walks you through everything you need to do to get the game ready, without spoiling things that will happen in the Campaign. I’m going to repeat some of it, in a little more detail, whilst pointing out some things to be aware of.
However, this is not an instruction manual to teach the core play of Aeon’s End. If you have never played Aeon’s End, I would recommend the Watch It Played video, by Rodney Smith to give an idea of the mechanics, before you read the Rule book.
The game comes self contained, except for token storage. The initial punch board contains 6 different types of tokens, but without giving anything away, more tokens will be added to the game later. Personally I use button containers from the haberdashery section of my local department store, that screw together. But small tackle boxes will work just as well. Everything on the punch board is clearly labelled; Life Tokens (in denominations of 1 & 5), Charge Tokens, Power Tokens, Maggoth’s Tokens (the first Villain we fight) and Turn Order Tokens.
Surge Tokens are missing. This is a token used by the Mage, Gygar, and was accidentally left out by the Publisher. You only need a maximum of 10 in the game, and they are all placed in 1 spot, so a 10 sided die to track when they are added will work fine. You could also use another token or counter, from another game, or feel free to use the Life, Charge or Power Tokens that have been supplied. These are placed in a specific spot, which will prevent them from being confused with the usual use of those tokens. More on this when we look at the Mage boards below.
The majority of the setup is in the decks of cards, but before we open those, we should pull out the Dividers.
There are plenty of dividers to keep the cards organised. Starter cards, Crystals & Sparks and Gems, Relics & Spells are the main Player cards you will need to worry about at the start of the campaign. Then there is a space for the Expedition (EX) Deck, which will walk you through the Campaign. And lastly, the Maggoth Divider, which holds the cards for the first Nemesis you fight. The rest of the dividers are in preparation for other cards that will be revealed as you work through the campaign.
If you are brand new to the game, Aeon’s End is a deck builder, that has a fixed market supply. 9 different cards are available to purchase, and there are 5 or 7 copies of each card. The currency in the game is aether, and you use that to buy cards from the market; their cost shown in the top right of the card. The three types of cards are Gems (purple, 7 copies available), that will gain you more aether to spend, Relics (blue, 5 copies available), which give some kind of immediate effect when played, and Spells (yellow, 5 copies available), which are prepped to breaches, and cast on the following turn, primarily used to deal damage to the enemy.
The first deck contains the cards that make up the market supply for the first game. There are 3 Gems, 2 Relics, and 4 Spells, which is typical for the make-up of a market. If you are prepping the game, some time before you are going to play, you can place the Gems, Relics and Spells in front of the divider of the appropriate name in the box. The Front and Back cards of this deck can be placed in front of the “Banished Other” divider.
The next Deck has the cards for the 4 different Mages. Each Mage has a different 5 card starting hand and a 5 card deck, which are printed on the Mage Boards. These 10 cards are a combination of Crystals, which are worth 1 aether, & Sparks, which deal 1 damage and 1 or 2 cards, specific to each Mage, which has some unique, thematic ability. More on that below when we look at the Mages in detail.
1B also contains a Playing Aid for each player, which can be stored with the 4 sets of Starting Cards, in front of the Starting Cards Divider. And there are also the cards for the Turn Order deck. They can be placed in front of their Divider, so you can grab the cards you need when you know how many Mages are being used.
Deck 1C is the Minion Deck for the first Nemesis you fight, Maggoth. It is in order, ready to go, and must not be shuffled. You do not have to open it until you are ready to play, but you can do so now to get ready. Open it from the Front, and place the deck, card back facing out, in front of the Maggoth Divider.
If you are playing with less than 4 Mages, you will discard a number of cards from the top of the Minion deck, to keep the game balanced. A 3 Mage game will discard 3 cards, a 2 Mage game will discard 5 cards, and a solo Mage will discard 7 cards. Note, this is for number of Mages in the game, and not players. 2 players, playing 2 Mages each, will not discard any cards from Maggoth’s Minion deck.
Maggoth also has a Nest Mat in play, which makes use of the Maggoth tokens we punched out earlier. 2 Maggots (the 1 life side of the tokens) are placed on the bottom row of the Nest Mat during setup, and 2 are added as the mechanic of the Unleash keyword.
When a row is filled, you complete the action written above that row. This happens each time the row is filled, so when clearing out a row, you should clear a few spaces, to minimise the chances of it triggering again. Otherwise you might be better off dealing damage to another Minion or the Nemesis.
Each row of the Nest Mat is treated as a Minion, and any single attack to a row can remove any number of flies and maggots in that row. Any damage dealt to the Nest Mat must be dealt to the flies and maggots in the top most row that contains tokens. If you do 1 damage to a Fly token (that has 2 life) you flip it over to the Maggot side.
The Ex Deck
This is the Expedition Deck, and contains the story of the campaign. They are double sided cards, that will instruct you through reading the story, and when to open the other elements in the game.
It also doesn’t need any prep before the actual game, but it can be opened, and placed in front of the Expedition Deck Divider.
There are 4 Mages to choose from at the beginning of the game and 3 of them have a special breach that is only used by them.
Up to 4 breaches sit above the player mat; spells get prepped to them, and then are cast the following turn. You can pay aether to focus closed breaches, or open them for good. One of the Mages in The New Age does not have a 1st breach at all, and starts the game with no open breaches to hold spells.
Gygar starts the game with an open Ancient Breach in the I breach position, and an opened Breach II, allowing him to prep 2 Spells from the get go. This is because his starting hand and deck both contain a Spark spell, which deals 1 damage, plus a Tidal Surge spell, which allows him to gain a charge, to get a head start on his ability. Charges generally cost 2 aether to buy, and once you have filled the charge row on the bottom of the Player Mat, you can spend them all to activate your Mages special ability.
Gygars ability, which requires 5 charges is to add a Surge token to his Ancient Breach (to a maximum of 10) OR cast a spell prepped to his Ancient Breach, and gain 2 charges. His Ancient Breach will deal 1 additional damage for each Surge Token placed on it. This extra damage is dealt, even if the spell being cast does not inflict damage (like a Tidal Surge)
As I said above, there are no Surge Tokens supplied with the game. Other tokens, or a 10 sided die will do the job. The ability to increase the damage done by his I breach, AND the ability to cast a spell just prepped to his Ancient Breach, means Gygar is a Mage who is focused on attack.
Taqren’s breach IV is the Defender Breach, and once opened, it gives +1 life to Gravehold, each time a spell is cast from it. His starting hand has the Gift of Spirit spell, which deals 1 damage OR allows any Ally (this does not include Taqren herself) to draw a card.
His ability requires only 4 charges, and is “Focus any player’s breach. Any player gains 1 life for each opened breach you have.”
Taqren is definitely about mitigating damage done to the players and Gravehold. And if he is working towards having all his breaches open, he might as well start collecting some cheap spells, whilst purchasing charges. It’s easier to collect quantity, then quality.
Sahala’s breach IV is the Celestial Breach, and once opened, it deals +2 damage when spells are cast from it. Her starting hand contains the gem Sparkling Meteroite; “Gain 1 aether OR Gain 3 aether that can only be used to focus or open a breach.”
Her ability only requires 4 charges, and is “Reveal the top three cards of your deck. Place a spell revealed this way into your hand. If there are no spells prepped to your Celestial Breach, prep up to two spells in hand to your opened Celestial Breach.”
Sparkling Meteorite should definitely be used to open Breach II on your very first turn. This will give you 2 open breaches on turn 2 for both your sparks. You will have 3 aether to spend from your crystals, in turn 1 and turn 2. Turn 1 should definitely buy a Tethered Darts, to keep a spell in your hand every turn, and the Crystals in turn 2 should go to buying more gems.
Claudia is the trickiest of the 4 Mages, with a starting complexity of 5. She has no opened breaches, and does not have a Breach 1 at all. She has the gem Aetherscope in her starting hand, which reads “Gain 1 aether. OR Any ally (again, this means any Mage except for Claudia herself) may lose 1 charge. If they do, gain 2 charges.”
Her ability, which requires 5 charges, is cast during any ally’s main phase, rather than her own. It reads “That Ally gains 2 aether. The next time that ally gains a card from a supply pile this turn, you gain a copy of that card from that supply pile. OR That ally gains 5 aether.”
It can be quite a back and forth, between other players spending aether on a charge, and then giving it up so Claudia can gain 2. Followed by Claudia spending her charges so another player can gain aether when they need it. It can be quite useful to get rid of Nemesis power cards.
That is everything prepped for the first game, with some suggestions on how to play the 4 Mages. Leave the other decks sealed in plastic at the front of the Dividers. They, along with the Envelopes, will be opened during the campaign.
There is still a bit of empty space in the card well of the box, for the moment. Place the breach tokens in there, and if required some other packing. I used foam blocks from one of my Marvel Legendary sets, but crumpled up paper will do the job.
Best of luck in the first Battle.