Some of you might recognise the name QXC but maybe not the name Kevin Riley. The former is an impressive Starcraft 2 player and the latter is an impressive, freshman board game designer.  Well they are the same person and apparently this guy doesn’t mess around when he decides to do something.

Aeon’s End is an ambitious design for a first timer. It’s a cooperative deck builder that plays out with unique mechanics, dangerous monsters and a massive theme. This game requires forward planning and the ability to improvise on the fly when that plan inevitably goes to shit, just like Starcraft! And with a massive and already successful Kickstarter underway, there is no better time to check it out.

Now let’s get into it.

You are a Breach Mage. Your job is to defend Gravehold from giant, otherworldly monsters. Utilising a customisation ‘shop’ of cards and your own character-specific starting deck, you will build up an arsenal of spells as well as unleash your full potential by unlocking your ‘breaches’ which let you lock and load more spells at a time. But if you take too long to do this, or you don’t mitigate threats as they arrive, you may find that it’s impossible to take down the boss before he destroys the city.

A mage with his breaches that still need to be opened at the top.

Each mage has their own starting deck and their own special ability that they can charge up and unleash over the course of several turns. And since this is a co-operative game, it helps to pick the mages with the starting set ups that best suit your needs and the specific monster you’re fighting.

Speaking of monsters, there are a lot of them. Each of them acts as the game’s scenario. The monsters come with special rules, their own deck that they use to wreck you at every turn and even minions that get released that you’ll have to blast away before you get overrun. This is a top selling point for me. My group and I had to attempt the first boss a couple of times before we were able to take him down. Then when we moved on to another boss, we changed characters and changed the market and you know what? It felt like an entirely different game. I had a different ability I was attempting to charge up and now I was playing more of a support role instead of the shoot-em-up-pew-pew role. That’s when I knew that the game was quality.

Monsters. Too much health. Send help.

My favorite part out of all of it though is the breach mechanic. Breaches serve two purposes. For one, they act as chambers that you load spells into in one round and fire them from in a subsequent round. And two, they are how you enable yourself to unlock your potential as a breach mage, shooting up to 4 super-charged spells in a single turn. Powering up your breach and getting it one step closer to open costs resources but it pays off big in the long run. The strategy of using those resources to buy cards or forgoing those cards in favor of having your breaches all powered up makes for interesting gameplay plus it really brings to life the fantasy of being a spell-slinging bad ass.

If you like getting your butt kicked, co-operative OR solo gaming, deck builders with a great theme and setting, this is a don’t miss.

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