Board Games Like Age of Empires


My wife has very fond memories of playing Age of Empires on the PC when she was a kid. And well, this comes up quite frequently. I'd talk about a game that involves players leading a unique faction, and she'll ask "is it like Age of Empires?" with a spark of curiosity. I've only played AoE a couple of times so I know the general feeling that she's wanting, but I wanted to ask for help in finding that perfect board game translation!

My "requirements" are:

  • Under 3 hours of gameplay. I'd typically say under 2 hours but that tends to be rare in games of this genre. So if the epic experience is totally worth that extra hour, then I'd be down! But still, it really would be great if there's a game that captures the feel of AoE and under 2 hours
  • Should feel like it was made for 2 players. I'd avoid games that play decently at 2p but make you feel like you're just playing the inferior version
  • Should include a board. I've learned that I don't like civilization/city building games that are completely represented by cards only. Feels way too abstract
  • Should have decent amount of player interaction. My wife doesn't like games that make you feel like you're just parallel playing. Direct player conflict is okay too
  • In terms of BGG's complexity rating, I'd look for something that's between 2.5 and 3.8
  • Ideally not too fiddly

Well, that's it! Am I asking for too much here? xD......

To give more context, #Root surprisingly went well because she really liked the asymmetry of the factions and the feeling of progression throughout the gameplay. It also helped that there are a lot of euro mechanics that drive the factions, since we tend to play lots of euros. Unfortunately, the faction combinations are limited when you only have the base game and it's just 1v1. I could add in bots to balance things out but I prefer not having to run bots when gaming with my wife. I could also buy the expansions to get our hands on the factions that are ideal for 1v1 play, but it seems like a waste when I know multiplayer sessions will be rare for us.

I could also see #Scythe being a great candidate here, and perhaps the best one for us. I've seen plenty of mentions around various communities that Scythe plays well at 2p, even though it's not the best experience. I also remember looking at #Northgard: Uncharted Lands's Kickstarter and thinking it could be promising. The 4X games that claim accessibility (shorter gameplay) and ones that have deck-building mechanics seemed like they could work well.

Thanks in advance! :)

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Premium User7 months ago

For me Age of Empires game loop is gathering resources, building up forces, then attacking the enemy. 

One strong suggestion would be #Heroes of Land, Air, & Sea. #Forbidden Stars could also meet your needs at 1v1 although it is getting hard to find now.

I'm not sure if Scythe would be what you are looking for.  Combat is NOT the major focus of the game.  It's more of a cold war situation.  A few combats for sure, especially near the end, but not an all out war.

Owner7 months ago

Oh no, not you too! lol

I started thinking about #Heroes of Land, Air, & Sea after mentioned it in his gift guide article. Looks like I really should take a deeper look at it tonight. I've seen the price on #Forbidden Stars while looking around for games for the giveaway. It's not pretty xD...

Yeah, Scythe I'm really not sure. It's one that I'd probably try to take a plunge into just because so many people speak highly of it even for 2p. I have Trent's copy at my place at the moment (my wife's helping us out with photography) so I might give it a go

7 months ago

Definitely try Scythe. It's still very good at 2 players. And while combat isn't a huge part of the game, it's still there, and the threat is always looming.

And please appologize to your wallet for me if you end up getting HoLAS haha

Premium User6 months ago

I know basically nothing about #Heroes of Land, Air, & Sea other than that the Board Game Barrage members all dislike it, haha

Premium User7 months ago

Scythe is an amazing game and one of my favourites.  I just wouldn't compare it to age of empires that's all.  Heroes of Land Air and Sea is closest to playing an RTS as a board game that I have seen so far. It is on TTS if you want to check it out before buying.

Owner7 months ago

How tough is the teach/learning for #Heroes of Land, Air, & Sea? I saw a quick teach on it and despite the 3.2 complexity rating, it gave me an impression of a game that will be harder to teach than some of the games I own

And do you like Scythe at 2p count ?

6 months ago

Like said, it really depends. If you've played TIny Epic Kingdoms, you kind of already have a feel for the gameplay, especially the "follow" action. But really, everything is pretty straightforward, but there's quite a bit to stay on top of. My brother-in-law's fiance played it and did really well, and she is not a board gamer except for the classics (i.e. Monopoly) and now #Disney Villainous, thanks to my bro-in-law. So with that in mind, I think it's fairly safe to say the game isn't that difficult to learn. You just need to know going into it that there are a number of things (i.e. abilities, spells, etc.) to keep track of.

Premium User7 months ago

How hard it will be to teach depends on the other games you play.  We like heavy games in my group so for us it was not too bad.  There is a LOT to teach but no one thing was particularly difficult.  So take that as you will. :)

I have never played Scythe at 2p so it's hard for me to comment.  I can say that most people that have played it at 2 players really like it.  (I know someone who has played close to 1500 games of it, mostly 2 player with his wife.)

7 months ago

Yeah #Scythe is the only thing similar I can think of that you want

Supporter7 months ago

I LOVED the Age games growing up. Well not Age III. But AoE2 is amazing. I spent so many hours playing that game. Like Chris already suggested I would try Civ New Dawn. Supposed to fit all of your requirements. 

Owner7 months ago

Hmmm I've seen it at my local store from time to time. Used copy at a discount. Never thought much about it assuming that it wouldn't be for us at all. I'll check out a gameplay tonight.

Premium User7 months ago

#Civilization: A New Dawn is a good game but get the expansion #Civilization: A New Dawn - Terra Incognita as it makes it a great game!  It's still not an RTS game though...

Supporter7 months ago

I have some thoughts, that may not be a bit valid. LOL

So, keep in mind, I am not 100% sure what all you are looking for in a civ game. These are games I have been looking into for myself for a civ game. 

#Clash of Cultures or #Clash of Cultures: Monumental Edition. Supposedly you end up playing 1-1.5 hours per player. Without actually have played CoC I think this might come the closest to capturing some of the feeling of AoE. I think there are two big problems in 2 player: One is that I understand the diplomacy has been largely neutered or removed. I don't know if that is a big deal or not..... Many people say that they don't use the diplomacy anyways.... Secondly, a truth about this sort of game is that they tend to be a bit brutal. They are a zero sum game. There is only one other person you are affecting negatively, and if one person gets a lead, it can quickly feel really bad for the other person, depending on how they take it.

Secondly, I would at least look at #Civilization: A New Dawn. I imagine you might want #Civilization: A New Dawn - Terra Incognita as well to help capture some of the feeling of AoE. This again I think is OK at two players. But, much like #Scythe might not be the "ideal" count.

I am also gonna give an off the wall suggestion, after all, that is what I do. LOL! I don't know what you are looking at in a AoE type of game. If you are looking for a grand sweep of history, and watching your civ grow from little to big, the following will probably not be a good suggestion. If you are looking at caring for a civilisation, growing and feeding them etc.... and pitting them against another one.... You might look into #Polis: Fight for the Hegemony or #Polis. Polis is the second edition of Polis: fight for the Hegemony. It is specifically designed for two players. And, it is focused on the civilisations of Athens and Sparta. You will struggle to grow your trade networks, you might fight, you will expand, etc..... I hear rave reviews of this. I really would research it if I were you. Because if it provides what she likes in AoE I think it would be the best option.

Let us know what you figure out.

Owner7 months ago

Why does that new Polis look just as bland xD.... I'll look it up but I'm not sure how we'd feel about a game with so many cubes to represent everything. I'll stop complaining and look more into it tonight lol, thanks!

Among the ones you suggested, I think Civ New Dawn would probably work the best. First impressions wise, I'm leaning closer to #Heroes of Land, Air, & Sea but I really don't know.

Supporter7 months ago

No pressure...LOL.

It isn't like I am hurt if you don't take any of my ideas. I am just throwing ideas out to see if any gel with what you are looking for.

Premium User7 months ago

oo I like that Polis suggestion, Marsh! That's a game I looked at briefly for myself, but determined that probably no one would play it with me, haha. But it does seem to line up with some of what Phil is looking for!

Premium User7 months ago

Aren't there Age of Empires board games based on the video games?

#Age of Empires III Age of Discovery

#Empires: Age of Discovery

I have no idea if either are any good but I really thought you were talking about the board games lol

Owner7 months ago

Trueee haha. At first glance though, it doesn't look like it's the right one for us.

Premium User7 months ago

Haha I didn't think so. They look super pricey too.

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