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Aeon’s End is a co-op deck building game (we do tend to like those). The little twist to this one is you don’t shuffle your deck unless a card instructs you to do so. Your cards are discarded in a particular order (you have some choices here), and then you simply flip your discard pile over and it becomes your deck again.

Each player chooses a character (Breach Mage) which will determine their starting hands and decks. Each player also receives a player number token, 10 life, and breaches. The breaches are arranged based on the icons at the top of the player mat.

Along with trying to defeat the nemesis and not die, players need to try to protect Gravehold (or at least win before Gravehold falls). Gravehold begins with 30 health.

You choose your nemesis, which gets life points equal to the number on the nemesis mat. You then build the nemesis deck. Some cards are specific to a nemesis and others are random basic cards. These cards are divided into Tier 1, Tier 2, and Tier 3 cards. Each Tier is shuffled separately and then stacked to make the deck. This deck is not shuffled after that. Final set up for the nemesis is determined by the instructions on the nemesis mat.

Finally you build the supply. These are cards you can purchase during the game. Gems = money, Relics which have various effects, and Spells to attack with. The supply consists of 9 unique piles of cards in some combination of Gems, Relics, and Spells. These can be chosen randomly. The rule book also has suggestions for starting supplies.

Turns are randomized. There is a small deck of nemesis cards (2) and player cards (4). These are shuffled each round. Since we often play a 2 player game, that means that sometimes one of us gets 2 turns in a row. It also means the nemesis might get 2 turns in a row!

Player turns consist of 3 phases: Casting Phase, Main Phase, and Draw Phase. During your first turn you won’t have any spells to cast, but in subsequent turns your spells have to be cast and discarded first. You have several actions you can take during your Main Phase like purchasing cards from the supply or focusing/opening a breach (breaches are where you play your spells). The actions can be taken in any order and multiple times depending on the cards in your hand. At the end of your turn, you draw up to 5 cards.

The nemesis has 2 phases: Main Phase and Draw Phase. The Main Phase is when any cards already in play are resolved. The Draw Phase is when you draw a card (or cards) from the nemesis deck and resolve them. This is when things can get very, very bad.

The last time we played we very quickly discovered that we had a problem. We had no way to heal! Despite this, we were doing pretty well. We certainly weren’t going to reduce the nemesis’ life points to 0, but there were only 3 cards left in the nemesis deck when we died (another way to win is if you exhaust the nemesis deck). Technically you don’t die in this game, you’re exhausted. If other players still have life, then you still get to play, but since both of us were exhausted during the same turn, we basically died.

So unless you really want everything to be randomized, I would suggested either having a player be able to heal or prevent damage, or make sure there’s a healing card in the supply. Otherwise it makes for a very tough game. It’s also always nice to have cards that let you destroy other cards in your hand/discard. That way you can get rid of your weaker cards to thin out your deck a bit.

For the most part, though, it’s an easy game to learn. We hadn’t played in a while, but we were easily able to pick it back up. Mostly you just follow the text on the cards.

Flexing Dagger is a great card. It lets you focus or open breaches at a discount, which is very helpful. It lets you get your breaches open faster so you can play more spells. Plus once all your breaches are open, you can destroy it to deal 1 damage. We also liked Ignite and Feral Lightning, and Devouring Shadow was a good one to get rid of cards as well. In a previous game, because we had no way to heal, we didn’t get a lot of use out of Disintegrating Scythe. It was a really powerful spell, dealing 8 damage, but you had to take a damage which we couldn’t really afford to do.

Overall it’s a game we would recommend to others who enjoy deck builders.

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