In our latest crowdfunding preview, we introduce you to An Age Contrived. A lot of love and work has gone into this February 28 on Kickstarter forthcoming board game by indie publisher Bellows Intent and you can see that through and through. We spoke to Chris Matthew about his gigantic one-man project, were able to play the prototype a few times and can already say: It's one of the best games we've ever played.

An Age Contrived is an exciting euro game for 1-5 people in which we take on the role of gods of the Elderan pantheon vying to be the god with the greatest power. With an interesting engine building and resource management system that has never existed in the same form before, the game stands out from the crowd of Euro Games and leaves you wanting more. You can find out how good this game is in the following crowdfunding preview.

Play together against each other

The world of Eldain has come through a difficult time. Conflicts between civilizations have significantly weakened belief in the power of the gods. In An Age Contrived, our goal is now to regain our power. For this we rebuild the world and its civilizations together, because our power is only as strong as the belief of mortals in our power. But even as we build the world together, we compete for the faith of civilizations. Because every single god wants to become the most powerful of all gods.

To build the world, we need energy in the form of energy tokens. Starting with 13 tokens that we can use however we want and 8 in reserve that we can get as we play to be able to perform even more actions, we'll do just about anything with them. We activate actions, build monuments and much more. The game ends when all monuments have been erected.

The structure of An Age Contrived. While there are 13 energy tokens on the character board (below), you can get the remaining 8 energy tokens from the reserve (right) as the game progresses in order to be able to carry out even more actions. Image: Sven Karsten

We generate victory points or power by doing various things in Eldain. We can use energy to bind it to monuments, pillars of civilization, or achievements whose conditions we have met. We can build bridges that will give us extra points for bound energy within two areas. And we can draw energy from the reserve or store energy in the dimensional corridor.

The heart of An Age Contrived

There are two options on a train. One can advance or Promotions carry out. In order to understand what these two options do, we first need to take a closer look at the player board. Because this is the heart of An Age Contrived and is the basis of everything we do in the game.

The player board consists of five sections, each consisting of an upper, middle and lower part. The middle part is the so-called canal. In each section there are active transmutation tiles in which energy tokens can sit. In addition, there are two more inactive transmutation tokens to the left of the player board. The inactive tiles can be advance pushed into the channel from the left so that the last active transmutation tile falls out of the channel and becomes inactive. In the next train, this can then be pushed back into the channel if necessary.

The player board is the heart of An Age Contrived. This is where we plan and manage our energy to perform powerful actions on the board in later turns.

The player board is the heart of An Age Contrived. This is where we plan and manage our energy to perform powerful actions on the board in later turns. Image: Sven Karsten

Whenever a new transmutation tile is pushed into the canal, it can be equipped with energy tokens. Transmutation tiles are also divided into an upper and lower part. The energy tokens on the bottom part can be used to perform actions on the bottom row of the player board. These actions often send Energy Tokens, which are located at the top of the Transmutation Tiles, onto the board to do various things on the board.

By the advance on the player board you diligently reprogram your energy tokens, which can be used in later turns Promotions to execute. Because depending on how and when you use which energy tokens, you influence the use of these for future trains. The further a transmutation tile with energy tokens is pushed, the more powerful the actions you can perform.

Cleverly combined

If you have managed your energy tokens well, you can use the second option, the Promotions, line up as many actions as possible. This offers space for powerful combinations that can bring in a large number of victory points. However, this has to be well planned. While waiting to be able to perform more or better actions, the gameplay on the game board can change completely. Monument sections that you actually wanted to help build may already have been completed before you can perform your actions and combinations. As a result, previously planned points can be lost. Accordingly, it is also worthwhile, depending on the situation, to carry out smaller actions beforehand and forego more powerful actions in later turns.

Finding that balance between the two possibilities of moving and the Promotions is one of the things that made An Age Contrived so exciting and fun. You puzzle and puzzle out your perfect options to shape the game to your own advantage. On the other hand, you always have an overview of all the plans that other players also carry out on their tableau. But so are the opponents.

Peaceful against each other

This is how we tactic our way to our victory points, take important points from our competitors if necessary and yet build the new world of Eldain together and peacefully. An Age Contrived aims to be a competitive yet peaceful game. With its story, its world, which doesn't really stand out in many Euro Games, and its mechanisms, An Age Contrived manages to convey this feeling as well. Of course, you annoy each other a little if you steal important points from the other person. However, the game offers so many different ways to get your points in other ways that there are never any arguments. The other person then has to reconsider his tactics and adapt them to the game situation. You never find yourself in a dead end where you no longer have the opportunity to do anything.

Even as we build the world of Eldain together, we compete over who will ultimately have the greatest power in the world.

Even as we build the world of Eldain together, we compete over who will ultimately have the greatest power in the world. Image: Sven Karsten

However, the plethora of options comes with a price that may not appeal to all players. You never manage to fully exhaust all of your goals. An Age Contrieved is more about finding the best balance of all options. Especially towards the end of the game, this can lead to longer turns for the individual players, since everyone is diligently calculating which actions could bring the most victory points. Nevertheless, all rounds of the game were tight and consistently exciting, because you watch the moves of the others closely and meanwhile think about how you can design your own move.

Promising solo mode

We couldn't try An Age Contrived's solo mode with the prototype, but it sounds particularly promising. Instead of chasing points, the game simulates a two-person game. Here you compete against a bot that uses the same actions as a player. The bot is powered by a deck of action cards. Each round, a card is drawn and its instructions followed. The instructions also take into account the current status of the bot on the game board. As the game progresses, the bot gets more and more powerful action cards for his deck, allowing him to perform more and more powerful actions.

Excellent design

One thing game designer Chris Matthew appreciates about board games is when they just feel good and you know right away that the game is of high quality. He wanted to implement this for his game as well and with great success. The game board has 6 different worlds, each of which can be equipped with individual monuments reminiscent of medieval magical buildings. The game board has many small details such as small boats that are docked at different ports. There are also little Easter Eggs here and there for various board games, such as Tzolk'in or Scythe, which inspired Chris to develop his own game.

Building the monuments is just plain fun and they look great on the game board.

Building the monuments is just plain fun and they look great on the game board. Image: Sven Karsten

But An Age Contrived doesn't just look great, it feels great too. The energy tokens are reminiscent of the tiles from the popular placement game Azul, for example, and feel just as good in the hand. It also always feels good to build up the monument sections. These have magnets that are attached to a metal frame on the game board. If you like it even better quality, you can look forward to mechanical player boards in the Collectors Edition. These hold all transmutation tiles firmly on the game board and you can use small levers to activate the energy tokens and have them thrown out. Such a player board has never been used in board games before and was designed and constructed entirely by Chris himself. You can get a first impression on the Game Facebook page or on Kickstarter catch. 


An Age Contrived has been since February 28 on Kickstarter to fund on Kickstarter. While the Core Pledge costs $65, the Collector's Edition including the mechanical player boards can be purchased for $99 (+ tax and shipping). The Founder's Edition All-In Pledge can be funded for $119. The German localization will be handled by Skellig Games. According to the publisher, An Age Contrived will probably be released as a retail version in Germany at the end of 2023.

We can only warmly recommend this game to you. We all had a lot of fun with the prototype in our test rounds and didn't want to give it away at all. Especially fans of Euro Games get their money's worth here and can expect a game with An Age Contrived that stands out from its competition, especially in terms of design and theme. Anyway, we'll be keeping all our eyes on the project and look forward to eventually holding the finished game in our hands.


About An Age Contrived

Number of players: 1 – 5
Age: from 14 years
Playing time: 60 - 120 minutes
Difficulty: difficult
Classification: Eurogame
Core Mechanisms: Engine Builder, Resource Programming

Author: Chris Matthew
Illustrations: Serena Malyon
Publisher: Bellows Intent, Skellig Games

Link to Kickstarter campaign: Link
Official Website: Link

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