Age of Conan – Adventures in Hyboria Expansion Game Review
Publisher: Ares Games Designer: Francesco Nepitello and Marco Maggi Price $34.90
Review by Shawn Johnson and Rick Martin
Passed Inspection: Adds more Conan to the game. Tracks Conan’s abilities at different levels of his experience, great content, great artwork
Failed Basic: A shorter campaign could have been included for gamers who have less than 6 hours to play.
“KNOW, oh prince, that between the years when the oceans drank Atlantis and the gleaming cities, and the years of the rise of the Sons of Aryas, there was an Age undreamed of, when shining kingdoms lay spread across the world like blue mantles beneath the stars—Nemedia, Ophir, Brythunia, Hyperborea, Zamora with its dark-haired women and towers of spider-haunted mystery, Zingara with its chivalry, Koth that bordered on the pastoral lands of Shem, Stygia with its shadow-guarded tombs, Hyrkania whose riders wore steel and silk and gold. But the proudest kingdom of the world was Aquilonia, reigning supreme in the dreaming west. Hither came Conan, the Cimmerian, black-haired, sullen- eyed,sword in hand, a thief, a reaver, a slayer, with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandalled feet.”—The Nemedian Chronicles by Robert E. Howard
It was back in 2011 that Armchair General’s Sean Stevenson reviewed the Age of Conan board game which, at that time, was published by Nexus Games and distributed by Fantasy Flight Games:
Now Ares Games has re-released this classic fantasy board game and has just released a new expansion which creates many more opportunities to bring Conan in to play than in the base game. This expansion also introduces 8 all new game play elements.
For those who don’t know that much about Age of Conan, in brief, it is a game of grand strategy set in Hyboria – the world of Robert E. Howard’s Conan the Barbarian. A multi-player game for 2 to 4 players, Age of Conan players control one of four Hyborian kingdoms – Aquilonia, Hyperborea, Stygia and Turan. Each player controls armies, diplomats, sorcerers and sorcery tricks in order to expand their kingdom. Conan the Barbarian wonders the land getting in to adventures and each player has a chance to manipulate Conan and, perhaps, even crown him king of their kingdom.
Those who wish to learn more about the Age of Conan base game can reference the original review listed above, this review will, primarily, be focused on what Adventures in Hyboria adds to the overall gaming experience.
The expansion, Adventures in Hyboria, comes in a sturdy box which features stunning artwork by Phroilan Gardner. The new components and rules include:
1) 29 new Conan adventure cards
2) 9 Companion cards
3) 20 new Kingdom cards
4) new legendary items, objectives and story cards
5) plastic spy figures
6) 3 new Conan figures representing different stages in Conan’s life – warrior, mercenary and general
7) A board and markers representing Conan’s experience level and his mood as well as three new Conan dice
8) special tokens including prisoner tokens
Needless to say, all of that is efficiently packed in to a rather small box but the box has its own built in storage tray! The graphic design and layout is nearly perfect.
One of the most exciting additions to the Age of Conan rules is an experience point system for Conan. Conan is now rated according to three statistics – strength, agility and cunning. In addition, Conan is also affected by the mood wheel which tracks how angry, melancholic, mirthful he is. Conan gains experience when he eliminates a spy or when a Conan story card is played. The more experience Conan has, the greater his effect on the game plus he rolls a different Conan die which become more deadly as his levels increase. When Conan’s experience level changes from warrior to mercenary to general, his figurine is swapped out for another miniature figure. The sculpting of the figurines in this expansion is of the same high quality as in the base game.
There are new rules and figurines for a type of character called a “spy”. Spies can be used to modify challenge dice rolls in enemy provinces. If Conan enters a province with a spy, he can kill the spy which eliminates it from the game and this action gives Conan experience.
New, province-specific Adventure Cards replace the deck in the base game. These cards no longer feature Conan story references; instead, the new Conan Story cards allow any player to try and control Conan and give him experience points. This adds an all new layer not present in the base game.
New optional rules are included for taking army units, control markers and emissaries prisoner. Enemy prisoners give the owning player extra Empire Points which can help them win at the end of the game. Prisoners can be purchased back by their original owners by spending gold.
In addition, an optional rule adds Conan’s companions in to the game, which may help Conan to overcome a challenge or can be used to give a player extra gold or sorcery points.
Also included as an option are Legendary Items which players may acquire as Adventure Tokens which then can be traded for a Legendary Item Card. These cards specify a onetime ability to affect Conan directly. They usually include some annoying hindrance to balance things out.
Also Sieges have been changed in that a defending army can now retreat from a siege if the siege is not going well for them.
As you can see, this expansion adds a great deal to the base game – making it more complex and fulfilling, but also adding to the time it takes to play a complete game. A thorough knowledge of the base game is required before you add in these rules.
These rules also add to the footprint of the base game which already has a very large footprint to begin with.
In addition, we would have liked to have seen a shorter campaign included as this game already takes at least 6 hours to play and one of our sessions went on for 8 hours. If you have pets, limited space or children, it makes it difficult to leave the game set up for later play. I can easily see Conan being defeated by your average house cat!
That being said, the Adventures in Hyboria expansion is a worthy addition to the Age of Conan board game! We like it, and if we like it, Crom will definitely approve!
Armchair General Rating: 97 %
Solitaire Rating: 0 (from 0 to 5)
About the Authors
Shawn Johnson has been playing war games and role playing games for over 20 years. He is an enthusiastic follower of fantasy and science fiction books and films. His favorite war game is Shogun by Milton Bradley.
Rick Martin is a college film instructor and small business owner, Richard Martin has also worked in the legal and real estate professions, is involved in video production, film criticism, sports shooting and is an avid World War I and II gamer who can remember war games which came in plastic bags and cost $2.99 (he’s really that old)!