Typically I'm not a fan of dice games. They rely a little too much on luck and give you the sense you really have no control of what's going on. So when a buddy whipped out Age of War at last night's game night I had already written it off. Turns out that was a mistake!
Fantasy Fight games Age of War is a truly underrated tabletop game. It's setup of 14 cards and seven dice, so the game was already out and setup before I could even lodge a complaint! The rules are pretty simple...
Each turn in Age of War, you must decide where to commit your armies against a castle. At the beginning of the game, fourteen castles are laid out, divided between six clans: Mori, Uesugi, Chosokabe, Shimazu, Tokugawa, and Oda. On your turn, you will attack one of these castles. Each castle card (shown above) displays a number of battle lines showing different symbols. On your turn, you will attempt to conquer a castle by matching your dice results to the symbols in the battle lines of a chosen castle.
Your turn begins by rolling seven custom dice (seen above) to gather infantry, archers, cavalry, and loyal daimyos to your attack force. Once your troops are mustered, you may attack a castle by matching the results of your dice to one battle line on the besieged castle. If unfilled battle lines remain on the castle card, you must reroll the dice to muster your troops again and press the attack.
If, after any roll, you cannot fill a battle line on the besieged castle, your assault is thrown back. You must regroup your troops by setting one die aside, before mustering your troops again by rolling your remaining dice.
Seems like your typical dice game...until the strategy comes in! At any point someone can steal your card if they are able to roll the dice needed to obtain the card. This steals points from you, which can turn the tide rather quickly in such a short game. One way to avoid having points stolen is to gain a monopoly on all cards of one "clan" (color) which then allows you to flip your cards for a larger total point value. Once flipped the cards cannot be stolen by another player. The game ends when the last castle has been claimed from the game board.
The stealing aspect gives a deceptively simple looking game a level of complexity that I really enjoyed! I could be sitting with a monopoly on 10 points but then hold one castle another friend needs to double his score and win. While I could steal his castles and try to monopolize for myself, I could just roll towards what remains on the board and hope I can end the game before he takes my castle and gets a lead over me!
In the process of 40 minutes the three of us were able to play two full games, and unfortunately I lost both. I had a blast regardless! Very surprised this game has been out for two years and does not have more attention considering it's cost, ease of setup, and simple and fun rules. This is a table top game that you can pull in newcomers and veterans with...and each be on level playing field. A must have in my opinion. Order it right here.