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[Review] Duel of Ages: Master's Addendum

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Joined: 03/23/2011

Every gamer has their favorite game, for various reasons. Duel of Ages is mine, and remains quite high on my play list – I played twenty-nine games of it this past year, and for a two to three hour game, that is an impressive number. I enjoyed all aspects of the game, including the theme, RPG aspects, and most importantly of all – the pure fun of the game. One of the best features of the game was the involvement of the designers. Their web page, at, just begs fans and players of the game to submit their own ideas. And after the initial release of the game, those ideas poured in, and I myself submitted quite a few characters that I thought would make the game more enjoyable. I was pleased as punch to hear that three of my characters (edited and improved) had been selected for this final expansion (although one of them was actually put in an insert in Scrye magazine).

This may unduly bias me for Duel of Ages, Masters Addendum (Venatic Games, 2003 – Brett Murrell), but I was already a huge fan of the original game and six expansions, so what did you expect? Even my wife, not a huge RPG fan, was pleased to hear that the character I submitted with her name (Laura Swanson) was included in the game (changed to Lyrra Swan). I’m assuming if you’re reading this review that you already have played Duel of Ages, so I’ll skip an introduction to the mechanics, and just tell you what this game adds. If you know nothing about Duel of Ages, I suggest that you read my review at this link

The Master’s Addendum includes the Master’s Guide complete rulebook, a chance deck, 46 character cards, 32 equipment cards, a player aid poster, 58 blank cards, 2 player aid cards, and forty markers.

Some comments on each…

1.) Master’s Guide: One of the nicest features of this expansion is the inclusion of the Master’s Guide. No, Venatic games is not like other companies (cough*Games Workshop*cough), trying to get you to purchase a new version of the rules. If you really want these rules and don’t want to fork out the money, they are downloadable off the website. But still it was nice to have a forty-seven page full-color rulebook, with absolutely superb artwork, great illustrations, and pretty much everything that you can imagine about the Worldspanner universe. As is required, in my opinion, there is the “What’s new” section, so that you don’t have to read the rules again, but they are written so clearly that it’s not a struggle. The FAQ is rife with the same humor that has accompanied all prior expansions of this game. Rules for tournaments are included, as well as a primer on how to teach DOA to new people. Full equipment and character rosters are included, along with a back story, tutorial, and even quizzes about the rules. The Master’s Guide is a sterling example of how every rulebook should be.

2.) New characters: Sixteen new characters are included with the game, all of them quite original and unique. Some of my favorites include Seveneyes, the seer, who can look at the top card in certain of the decks, as well as avoid FOPPs and Leo Penney, the gambler, who adds a bit of wagering to the game - something I’m always fond of. Dr. Marla Ulf, the physicist, is unique in that there are six character tokens for her, and all of them can use the same weapons! The Sandman adds a “horror” type character, who really can’t damage opponent’s much but can “scare” them, destroying their strategy. The fact that Brad is called “the slacker” should give you an low opinion of his abilities, but even he has great usefulness. All of the sixteen are fun to play, but my personal favorites, for reasons I can’t remember, are Lyrra Swan, the time agent – who can transport from team marker to team marker, and Specialist Nejri, a fighting medic. The artwork on the tokens for all the new characters is great, and compliments the ones that already are in the game.

3.) Old characters: People often gripe about when an expansion comes out for a game that “fixes” the original game. But none of the characters (save one) in the original series really had any problems. The “fixed” characters in this set are improvements suggested by players, etc. All of them make the characters more fun, and are a nice addition to the set, but are certainly not a driving force to buy it. Changes are listed at the website, for those who do not wish to get the set, but still want to use the new characters.

4.) New equipment: The new equipment is really nice, but there’s nothing that really stood out to me. I enjoyed it all, and my huge stacks of equipment cards are even higher now!

5.) Chance deck: I have mixed feelings about this. On one hand, the chance deck is very useful for those who complain that the “dice don’t like them”. On the other hand, there is a certain excitement to rolling dice that just isn’t quite matched by drawing a card. The cards are set up similar to the Deck of Dice that is often used by Settlers of Catan players, but is specially geared to the Duel of Ages game.

6.) Various sundries: The poster, back of the book, and aid cards are all excellent aids, and help speed the game up quite a bit. The poster looks really nice, and I have it hanging on the wall in front of me as I type. The tokens in the game are the same quality as the rest, and as usual, I wrote the names of the characters on the back so that my least favorite part of the game (finding character tokens for your team) is shorter. The health tokens are nice, but I prefer the glass stones that I picked up instead. For those Cosmic Encounter fans, who like to add their own characters, weapons, etc. – the blank cards are a really nice addition. With this final expansion, I’m not sure why anyone would need that much – I play the game quite a bit, and still haven’t scratched the possible combinations with the game.

7.) Overall quality: Everything comes packaged in a sturdy, nicely illustrated box. I use it for other things, however, as I moved all the components to the original game’s box – I was able to fit everything from all the expansions into only two boxes. The card quality is excellent as usual, but I still highly recommend card protectors for the character cards.

8.) Opinions: The new characters are really neat, but are not overpowered, or so desirable as to make the old characters not worth it. I mixed them in the decks of characters immediately, and everything ran smoothly. Some people have complained that the game is overpriced for what it is, but I think that you get your money’s worth and more!

For those of you who already own all the way up to set 7, I don’t really have to persuade you to buy this next set, you’re going to do it anyway. But, if you own Duel of Ages, and only want one expansion, I would recommend this one. It is a nice finale to the series. Venatic has other plans for the Worldspanner universe, they say – but the first set of Duel of Ages has now come to a close. New things are in the horizon, and if you want any part of them, then head over to the website and check it out. Duel of Ages remains my favorite game, and this newest expansion has only cemented that opinion.

Tom Vasel

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