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Age of Wonders: Planetfall Board Game Review - Easy to Learn and Fun to Play Strategic Deckbuilder

Opening the box of Age of Wonders: Planetfall, I was immediately overwhelmed by the content in the box. It consisted of a board, cards, playing pieces, character sheets, and bonus cards. Even my wife expressed concerns, worrying it would be too complex. However, the instructions provided a fantastic guide, thoroughly explaining the game and offering examples of specific rules. The game proved to be incredibly easy to play; even my eight-year-old son quickly grasped the mechanics and rules. As a result, Age of Wonders: Planetfall has become our family's go-to board game of choice.

The game’s objective is to accumulate the highest number of Empire points by the end of the game. Players can earn points by collecting planet cards, conducting operations, or achieving bonus goals. Each player chooses a character, each with a unique special ability. For example, I started with Aron Ardelli, whose ability is to gain two energy for each tech card acquired. Each character sheet contains three stats: experience, strength, and energy. These stats are used to purchase cards during the exploration phase, which I will explain later. There are six characters with an A and B side, adding variety to each playthrough.

The game has seven rounds, each represented by a deck of planet cards. During each round, players participate in two exploration phases where they can acquire cards by spending their character’s strength or energy points. These cards are divided into three levels, with the first containing the most cards but requiring the most resources to obtain. The third level has fewer cards but comes at a lower cost. The selection of the tier also involves strategy. Opting for a tier-one card grants the player the advantage of going first in the next exploration round while picking a tier-three card means going last in the subsequent round. If you are familiar with the game Kingdomino, this concept will be familiar to you.

There are various categories of cards available, including technology, landmarks, units, and pickups. These cards usually provide benefits such as Empire points, strength, energy, and experience. Pickups are free and grant players energy. Players can also "annex" pickups to receive energy income during each planetary round. Most cards also come with bonuses. For example, I acquired a technology card that gained extra operation points when performing operations. Players have the option to run operations instead of picking up cards. Each level has an operation, and only one player can run an operation at each level for each planet. Operation points can be exchanged for Empire points, experience, or strength.

Selecting the right card in the game involves a great deal of strategy, including the option to sabotage your opponents. This is where the fun of the game lies. In one of our games, my wife received bonuses for choosing landmarks. In addition, acquiring two landmarks of the same kind would result in extra Empire points for her. Aware of her goal to gather as many landmarks as possible, I deliberately selected the landmark cards that would grant her the greatest advantage. Although they didn't benefit me much, not taking those cards would have dire consequences for me in the end.

The bonus cards have a significant impact on gameplay. At the start of the game, players choose a bonus card at random. These cards offer three different bonuses, providing additional Empire points to players who fulfill the requirements. For instance, one bonus rewards ten Empire points to those with ten experience points. It was fun to observe how these bonuses influenced our strategies and even shifted the course of the game. My oldest daughter dominated each round with her impressive accumulation of Empire points. However, I ultimately emerged victorious thanks to the bonus points I obtained.

I also appreciate the game's length, which typically lasts between twenty to thirty minutes per play-through, depending on the number of players involved. With the ability to accommodate up to six players, the game maintains a fast-paced and fun experience, ensuring there is never a dull moment during each session.

Final Grade: A+

Age of Wonder: Planetfall is easily one of my favorite deckbuilders on the market. While it may appear daunting at first, the instructions clearly explain the rules, making it easy to learn. Despite its simplicity, the game requires a lot of strategy when selecting cards. Half the enjoyment comes from spoiling your opponents' plans. Even if you haven't played the video game, you can still fully appreciate the board game. If you're seeking something fresh for your game nights, Age of Wonder: Planetfall is an excellent addition to your collection.

Review copy provided by ÜberStrategist



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