Adventures in Hyboria” is the upcoming expansion for the Age of Conan Strategy Board Game, designed by Roberto Di Meglio, Marco Maggi, and Francesco Nepitello. In this first designers' notes article, the authors talk about the concept of the Story Cards and how they add a greater level of detail to Conan's adventures along with a new level of interaction.

One of the design goals for the expansion to the Age of Conan Strategy Board Game was to enhance the presence of Conan himself.

In the original game, the deck of Adventure cards started that concept, as their use sent the barbarian roaming far and wide across the board. But, these cards just showed a destination for Conan to reach, rather than a full-fledged adventure. The more heroic aspects of Conan's stories were found wanting by the fans: no roaming through haunted ruins and lost valleys, no monsters to kill and dangers to brave…

With Adventures in Hyboria, we wanted the Cimmerian to have a sort of life of his own and actually do something while he roamed the Hyborian realms, leaving players free to scheme and struggle for control of the continent.

After examining several possible options, we finally found a solution: split the Adventure deck in two, with a new Adventure deck and a Story deck, and develop a Reference Board to keep track of the Cimmerian's different abilities and his growth in heroic stature.

In the expansion, the Adventure deck of Age of Conan Strategy Board Game is splitted in a new Adventure deck and a Story deck.

In the expansion, the Adventure deck of Age of Conan Strategy Board Game is splitted in a new Adventure deck and a Story deck.

The Adventure deck serves the same purpose of the original deck with the same name, but it no longer features the titles of Conan’s stories. Rather, it simply names the provinces where Conan is headed. The real treat is in the Story deck, a series of cards portraying the tales woven by Robert Howard in greater detail. Each card features a story by REH, complete with illustration, title, and the ability required to accomplish it.

While the Adventure cards are played very much as before, players will often have several Story cards in their hand, ready to play them if and when Conan finds himself in the appropriate location - generally inside or adjacent to a province listed on a card. When a player plays a Story card, it means Conan is involved in the depicted adventure.

The Reference Board is used in conjunction with the Story cards, as the numerical values corresponding to the barbarian’s different abilities are used to complete stories. The board also features the Mood Wheel, a game mechanic representing how Conan’s temper affects his deeds, from his melancholies to his ‘gigantic mirth.’ When Conan succeeds in completing a Story, he progresses along the Experience track featured on the Reference Board. His advancement will eventually see him rise from simple warrior to experienced mercenary, and then to general, if not king!

So, thanks to these two new decks of cards and the Reference Board, we managed to bring Conan more "personally" into the game, in which he foils dark schemes thanks to his Cunning or, more often, annihilates monsters thanks to his Strength. This is what we wanted from the beginning and what we finally have a chance to properly showcase in gameplay.

In the next article, learn more about the growth of Conan.

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