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Age of Comics

Thanks in no small part to the proliferation of Marvel and DC superhero movies, there is no shortage of board games themed around comic book characters. The comic book industry itself tho' has not attracted anything like the same attention. It was the 1940s that saw the emergence and early development of the superheroes that eventually made it to celluloid, and it's the period that is now referred to as the Golden Age (comics published in the mid-1950s to late 1960s are referred to as Silver Age). Lirius Games' Age of Comics celebrates the Golden Age of the 1940s with a game designed by Giacomo Cimini and Sónia Goncalves.

In Age of Comics, the 2-4 players are publishers putting together comic books across a range of genres. To publish a comic you'll need to deploy your editors, worker-placement-style, to various locations to hire writers and artists, develop ideas or create your own rip-offs of the 'ideas' of your rival publishers, collect royalties, print and sell your comics. Success (and ultimately victory) is measured in the fans your comics attract. The game is something of a race as it's the first editor at a location that gets the greatest benefit from it: tho' by going to a location you're not preventing others from taking that action, you are usually reducing the effectiveness of the action when they take it.

Tho' writers and artists can work across any genre, there's a specific genre in which each writer and artist has a specialty and fan base, so there's a set collection aspect in putting together comics where, ideally, both the writer and artist match the genre. You will also be flipping and collecting tokens when you move to newsstands on the Manhattan map, as these add fans for comics in specific genres.

Tho' there's clear advantage in sending an editor to a location ahead of your rivals, Age of Comics also incorporates an element of puzzle optimisation because you will ideally want to visit locations in the most productive order. For example, being first at the Print location lets you print two comics but that's not much use to you if you haven't already collected the titles, talent and ideas needed for two comics; except of course that visiting that location first with just one comic to publish will also mean that your rivals are prevented from printing two comics...

Age of Comics is a dynamic game, and the theme comes through strongly throughout in almost all the actions you take. Over the five rounds of play, the game has a distinct arc as success unlocks special actions with the potential for accelerated scoring. In our plays of Age of Comics at Board's Eye View some players bemoaned the fact that the game doesn't draw on actual comics from the period. Fun as it might've been to see Superman, Wonder Woman or Justice Society covers, the artwork from Laura Guglielmo does a grand job of evoking comics from the period without impinging on the IPs of DC or other real-world publishers. We especially appreciated the cardboard comic book tokens representing comics as players publish them.

Age of Comics is a medium-weight euro game that does a great job of recreating the industry behind the Golden Age of comics. If you're a comic book fan, this is surely a Must Buy.

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