Wot I’m Playing : Reiner Knizia’s Age of War

Games don’t have to be big and have hundreds of pieces to be an interesting boardgame.. they have to have a good theme, offer a variety of decisions to make, and be fun to play. This is true, whether it’s big (Slaughterball or Lords of Waterdeep come to mind, games that take hours to play..) Then there’s this.

age of war
Don’t be fooled by the size of the graphic, the game, box and all is small enough to fit into a bag or even a large pocket comfortably.


You could fit all the pieces of Age of War inside a sandwich bag. The game is 14 pieces of paper, one double sided rule sheet, and seven custom dice. But the game offers a lot of design choices in that small package.

The game is a repackage of Reiner Knizia’s Risk Express game, and is set in Feudal Japan. The players play the role of feuding warlords, trying to unite Japan under their rule. The dice represent the forces that the player can summon to battle that turn. Three of the 6 items indicate infantry (with one sword, two swords, and three swords respectively), the other three indicate special forces (Bowmen, Cavalry, and leadership/Daimyos).

A player rolls all seven dice to start their turn, and then attempts to start capturing a province (either one that has yet been unconquered, or one that someone else already owns.) Depending on the result of the dice roll, they will try to fill one battle line on a province. This could require a certain amount of Infantry (five swords, for example), or require a specific combination of the dice (a single daimyo, or a bow and a cavalry). Those dice are removed from the rolls, and you roll the rest. If you’re able to fill all the battle lines in a province, you conquer it and add it to your controlled provinces.

It is harder to conquer the province that someone else already has, however, and that requires a special row to be filled (always a single daimyo), and since you have only seven dice, that makes conquering provinces a lot harder.

A province in Age of War that requires three specific combinations to conquer (one requiring six infantry, one requiring a bowman and a horse, and a daimyo)
The province of Kitanosho, owned by the Useugi Clan in Age of War that requires three specific combinations to conquer (one requiring six infantry, one requiring a bowman and a horse, and a daimyo)


Should you fail to fill any lines on the province that you’re attempting to conquer, you are forced to remove one die from what you rolled and try again. If you no longer have enough dice to successfully conquer the province, your effort fails (for example, if you have one die remaining to conquer Kitanosho above and need a bow and cavalry.. you obviously cannot conquer it on one die). Each province is worth a certain amount of victory points as a base, and if you collect all the provinces of a certain color, you manage to conquer that clan, meaning these provinces cannot be stolen from you, and depending on how many provinces make up that clan’s territory, you earn bonus points based on that clan). When the last unconquered province is taken, the game ends, and the person with the most victory points from the provinces they conquered wins the game.

The game is very quick to play (our two games the other day took between 30 and 40 minutes to play) and can be very swingy.. there is a good amount of strategy in figuring out what province to attack based off your first roll, but of course, if the dice do not favor you, you’re going nowhere fast, and in some cases, this can be very frustrating..in our two players test game, both of us wanted to steal the others province of a clan that had two provinces, because that would lock that clan down for us. Let’s just say that Oda Nobunaga has nothing to fear from us as generals in that game, as the dice refused to cooperate

It’s a pretty good game for a quick game, and can be played multiple times in a night, or it can be the palate cleanser after playing something longer and heavier.

Buy this If: You want a fun, fast game with plenty of strategic options and a quick turn around time.

Don’t Buy this if: You hate games where luck with dice is a key factor.

Do I recommend it? Yes. It makes a good thing for if you only have an hour to play a game.

Age of War, designed by renowned German games designer Reiner Kinizia is available from Fantasy Flight Games and is available on Amazon for about 15.