Aeon's End! In! Space! One of the very best deck-building games reimagined in my favourite setting. What more could I wish for?
Well, fun. I really wouldn't mind having a bit more fun with this.
The main selling point for Astro Knights is that it's been streamlined, both easier to set up and to play than Aeon's End. Every boss comes with their own deck. Opening slots for your weapons is just a one-time expense. You can throw away cards leftover in your hand, regardless of type. There are only minions and attack cards in the boss deck, no power cards (in Aeon's End these give you a timer to try and prevent them or at least minimize their impact). Learning to play is easy, and setting up the game is fast, even when sometimes you have to shuffle a lot of decks before you can start.
The game has not just been simplified, though. There are some new elements that potentially add variety. There are several homeworlds included for example, and every world now will give a unique bonus once it's powered up. And maybe the biggest change: the market of cards. There are six specialized decks in the supply (some for investing, some for dealing damage, and one for "tech", giving you special actions) and every deck has different cards in it. So no piles of the same cards like in Dominion or Aeon's End, you always have all of the cards in the market, except you can only buy the top card of each deck. This works the same as in Helionox, for those of you who have played that.
I don't mind the simpler rules, the homeworlds work great and it's just the card decks that I'm not sure about. Potentially it gives a more varied supply during your games, but you can plan your strategy a bit less precisely.
Still, sounds good overall, right? So I play my games, and despite all the new variety every single session feels exactly the same. It's obvious to spot the turning point - where you switch from threat-management to boss killing, even when playing a new combination for the first time. Perhaps all the streamlining took away the surprises, perhaps the bosses seem uninspired after years of Aeon's End content - but I just go through the motions and don't have fun. And after a few games I am past the point of shrugging, I actually start to dislike what I'm doing. After ten plays I give up.
Now, this game is not for me, but it may be for you. My friends like it - some even prefer it over Aeon's End, as it's easier to set up and play. Also, I am an atypical Aeon's End lover. I replay the first two boxes (and the first Legacy game) over and over, but my interest declined starting with The New Age - and again, this is where most of my friends would say the game got better.
Still, I can't see any reason to buy this if you already own any Aeon's End box and enjoy playing that. There are way too many good solo games to play, to me Astro Knights is decent at best.