Variant rules for Age of Conan

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Variant rules for Age of Conan

First let me tell you a tragic story. Maybe you'll even find it familiar. It's about a guy who rediscovers along with his buddies the taste for boardgames. When the chance comes up they play to a certain well known strategy game, one they played already as kids, with rather simple mechanics and easy to go back to when quite some time has passed since you played it. The problem? After a while you see its limitations and you can't squeeze much more from it. Therefore, Christmas arrives and this man happens to think about looking for an alternative to that strategy game, but one which has some more substance. He searches on internet for some days and finally he decides on one that looks promising: Age of Conan. And how he wouldn't choose it? It has attractive figures, deepness in its gameplay and, over all, a theme that promises to deliver war for real among its players. Moreover, the box has a very good price. After thinking a bit about it and not finding any convincing alternatives, the guy makes up his mind and purchases the game. The poor one ignores that failure is looming over him like the dark flying ride of a Nazgûl.

The first thing he discovers is that the game, rather than having deepness, has a bottomless difficulty. Of course!, he hasn't played boardgames with such complexity in his life. Even so he perseveres, he's not scared of the challenge. He studies the rules for days, spends his spare time in front of the board and, when he feels ready, he calls his friends for the great debut. Ah, cruel destiny and damned hour which he chose that box at! He had believed he had understood it, that he could explain well that great-looking game to his buddies. But it's not that way, neither they find enjoyable or with sense what they understand nor he remembers all the rules or understands them. The game dies before truly starting, between the confusion of the poor fool who bought it and the jokes of his friends. Conclusion, the game ends being shelved in the frustration corner and, every time is mentioned, his friends tease him proposing ideas as colourful as using it as fuel for any of their frequent barbeques.

What to do with the godforsaken box?, asks the frustrated man to himself. Now he thinks he understands why it was so cheap, regardless of its elaborated figures and the quality of its components. He doesn't see trying to resell it an option, he suspects it's going to be quite difficult and it's not worth being muddled with complications that could cost him more money. But through the mist of his disappointment begins to twinkle the light of an idea. If the original rules doesn't work for him, maybe he could try to do different ones. Others which allow an easier to start with game, more understandable for those who come clueless, and that encourage direct combat among players. A strategy wargame that you can go back occasionally and its matches last no more than two hours at most, but which also takes advantage of every possible thing from the original it's based on. Sure, I had no idea of how difficult would be to achieve it, specially without any previous experience on doing something like this.

After almost three years of occasional work and five discarded versions, here's the sixth version of my variant rules for Age of Conan, the strategy board game. They're playable, better adequate for more casual games, the duration is around two hours, and they're not a mere reduction to Risk. What's missing in these rules is more opinions for their polishing, so I share them here for those who want to test them (and who have the game at hand).

I advance that I haven't used many of the cards and tokens due to them being incompatible with these rules, but all dices and figures are used in this alternative version. On the other hand, I added more pieces to give more troops to each player and to provide with units to a new neutral faction. Depending on how many contenders are more troops can be needed, although in my tests they weren't needed that much. I've also created a new kind of unit, but all this is explained better in the manual. For any opinion or doubt, you can comment on this very post or get in touch with me as is told in the About Variedro section of this blog.