MARCH 2003: Duel of Ages is released as small press at one convention with little fanfare. It rises to become the best small press seller of the year.
DoA Timeline - Worldspanner
When Duel of Ages II appeared on the hobby boardgaming scene in 2003, it started a war between Euro and American-style game systems. And yet, over time, it became recognized as a system so unique that it displays the best of both worlds.
There are few games with deeper strategy, and no games with more replayability than Duel of Ages. And no game can spin such a natural story that the players talk about long after the game has ended. There are more popular games than Duel of Ages II, but there are few that are so deeply loved.
"There's just nothing like Duel of Ages II on the market; it's part Warhammer Quest, part Mage Knight Board Game, part Runebound, part Magic Realm. It's as if the designer chose the best elements of some of the best "true" adventure games and blended them together to produce what I can only describe as a masterpiece. If you like adventure games, and can handle the utterly nonsensical random pairings of characters, weapons, and abilities, then this game is a no-brainer. The value is immense due to the replayability, and the game can be tuned to your own tastes so easily and intuitively that it really is just a set of rules and some bits that establish your own personal fantasy playground. The long and short is that this is the game that Magic Realm wishes it was: accessible, beautiful, and nothing short of amazing."
"Easily in my top 10 games..."
"Duel of Ages II is an incredibly good game. Or rather, it is a staggeringly good mix of different genres. It combines adventure games, rpg's, wargames and storytelling in such a way, that it manages to create something entirely unique. But there is one 'downside' to this game also, as it doesn't fit in with a too serious crowd. The game oozes of funny things, and you have to have sense of humour to enjoy it for what it truly is. And that is an absolutely hilarious experience, in which two of the games will never be alike."
I think anyone will appreciate that there is an overriding, welcoming sense of play in this game that is quite arresting. There’s something in this game about raiding bases, getting cool items, and running a cowboy through the woods to get into a sword fight with a science fiction cat-man that reminds me of playing army or other make-believe games when I was a kid- you can even get shot at and then say “shields!”, revealing a shield card. It feels youthful, enthusiastic, and liberating. After some time spent with DOAII, you might find yourself wondering why you’re not feeling this element of pure play as much in other games."
"This new edition, Duel of Ages II, still suffers from a wildly varying standard of illustration and some unpolished graphic design. But—and I very, very rarely say this—the game is so much fun I hardly care. After some great reviews from people I respected, I snagged the game and finally got it on the table. And by the powers if it isn’t fun. It’s like a crazy online FPS video game, only a lot more enjoyable and imaginative. If you don’t find Genghis Khan facing off against Spartacus while Annie Oakley takes pot shots at Martians, go elsewhere. But if that sounds like a hoot, you’ve come to the right place. Me, I laughed my head off and had a great time, but I can also see the amazing potential for variety and strategy that this incredible sandbox of a game has to offer. It really is something unique."
"Duel of Ages II is a delightful game, a sprawling, insane joy. I can only think of two games that have brought me so much unmitigated enjoyment, and those are Cosmic Encounter and Talisman. There’s a switch in my head that goes off when I think about it, and I immediately am happy that I’m in this hobby. It’s a labor of love, with so much character and passion in its design that it makes me thankful I have a lifetime to spend with it."
"So much that you can do, so many things that interact, the replay value is huge, even though the overall framework remains the same. I enjoy this game quite a bit; I love theme games. This game has a very thematic feel, with a theme I have never seen before. Weird game, weird theme, but I have to tell you, this is weird done right."
"Much of the art of DOA II is very attractive, but it does not stoop to cheesecake (or beefcake). Nothing I have encountered would be inappropriate in a family setting. Also, there are many female characters and characters of varying race, and not all are beautiful/handsome specimens. I love this funny, hectic, exciting scramble of a game. I can easily see how some might not; you have to be able to embrace chaos, and enjoy struggling with uncertainty. It is far more strategic (and tactical, and logistical) than is may seem at first glance, and quality of decision making does matter in the end. But the end itself does not matter; recently, we had a squeaky close game in which it came down to counting up the last Achievement… the result was a tie, and there was a spontaneous cheer and high fives all around. Win, lose, draw… this game is fun to play."
"The word that best describes DOA II is simply “Wow!” The sheer level of choices offered by this game is amazing, and the combat card system is both intense and elegant. Everybody loves to roll dice, but DOA II's card combat is incredibly innovative and will have players on the edge of their seats with every draw. The real magic is the epic stories this game tells. Where else can you have a standoff between Scotland's legendary William Wallace and World War II U.S. Army General James Gavin? The scope and combinations that this game offers are truly astounding. The game itself is a lot of fun."
"Duel of Ages II surprised me. It is not the kind of game that I really like, but I absolutely adore DoA 2. It is the wild ride that Arkham Horror was. The game can be completely unbalanced and lean heavily toward one team. However, I don't care. The narrative that is created by this game is far too interesting and fun. I have consistently laughed at the amazing absurdity in the game so many times. I play competitively, but I don't care if I win or lose, as long as I get some amazing stories from the play. "
"If you were someone who wanted to like Mage Knight, I would definitely take a look at this, because the game is super-fun without the super-high density of the [Mage Knight] rules. Get the base set, because the replayability is really high with this, then you can take a look at the Master set. Definitely high recommendation from me."
"What’s makes this game is using your team as a unit, which is going to tell a whole story. You can have a ton of fun with this. There is so much game here for you to enjoy, and it’s actually quite simple."
"In today's wideorecenzji I will show you a game that basically defies the drawers, which tries to put it. Like bitewniak, like adventure, like strategy. And really very interesting mix. Here's the Duel of the Ages (II)."
"This game is less work (there is some work) than a wargame and a helluva lot of fun. It feels pretty epic when you're playing and it's very playable. It could be an Earth Reborn killer for me. I'll have to judge it on future plays. You learn it in scenarios like Earth Reborn but there's less of them and they're a lot faster to get through. Four learning sessions should do it. I think this one's a keeper..."
"This is the kind of game that can glue a gaming group together..."
This, in my opinion, is the soul of DOA II, and why it's so successful at doing what it does: kindling imagination, even when one is past the age when one could do so freely...
This game delivers constant stories without sacrificing anything according to the gameplay. And that is another huge achievement accomplished here. There are games that are thematic and there are games that have a great gameplay. Very few excel in both areas. DOA II does...
In the end, I’ve had a blast immersing myself in Duel of Ages II, and it’s become the surprise hit of the summer. It’s clever and fun, an impressive game on so many levels. It has real personality — an intangible quality that sets it apart from other games...
If you subtract my nostalgia for DoA1, DoA2 is an improvement in nearly every way. The game has clearly undergone intense, self-critical redevelopment, and the result is impressive...
Duel of Ages isn’t for everyone, but I think it is for more gamers than might realize it... The sound machine heart of the game generates more energy than it would appear capable of, and that extra power expresses itself in the profusion of stories that it looses. Without an apparent care for themematic coherency, this game builds remarkably cogent tales which enlist the cultural memory of its players to create something their own. The second edition demonstrates a deep commitment, without compromise, to the qualities that made the original so great. In sensibility, it’s like nothing I’ve seen recently (especially from the genre). It is a game deeply out-of-step with the designs of the present moment, and is all the better for it...
It feels like a huge amount of thinking and playtesting went into creating this game, with great care for play balance and replay value...