Six Ages is the sequel to King of Dragon Pass. It is set in the world of Glorantha, and developed by A-Sharp. In Six Ages, you will guide a barbaric clan through their migration into a valley. You will see the clan through many challenges. You will have to keep your clan fed, make alliances, broker trade deals, impress your ancestor spirits to gain their blessings, sacrifice to the gods and build shrines as well as perform rituals to gain even more benefits, explore the valley around you, defend yourself from raids, engage in raiding and more. The gods war is going on in the first of six stories, Ride Like the Wind, in which you can currently play. This means the gods are not always available to help, and this affects your clan in various ways. The Orlanthi, also known as the Rams, follow the storm god, and thus, are your sworn enemy. The principal deity of your clan is Elmal, the bright god of war.
In the following sections, I’ll take you through the gameplay, giving a brief overview of what can be done on each screen. As the game is very accessible using VoiceOver, and there is an in-game help system as well as a full manual you can read in the game, I will not spend a great deal of time on each section, simply giving a brief overview of what can be done there.
Starting the game after downloading it, you’ll play through a tutorial that takes you through one year, after that, you will start the game in full, and your choices do matter at this point. When prompted after each story scene, you will need to make a choice. Also, make sure you swipe right past all the options and check out each image description as the developers have been very good about including textual descriptions of images that are in the game. After making these choices, and then choosing a difficulty level, you’ll be placed at the Sacred Time screen.
Sacred Time is when you perform all the magical rituals to help your clan in various ways. It comes once a year, and provides the benefits until the next Sacred Time. What you should do first is to read the summary report of all the things that have happened since last Sacred Time. Pay attention to any omens or any requests from the gods. Next, explore the bottom part of the screen until you hear something like swords, herds, or goods. Hearing that means you’ve ended up on the bottom bar and that’s where you want to be, now just flick right until you hear magic. Pay attention to the number there, because that’s how many magic points you can allocate to your rituals this time around. I would recommend against spending all your magic points, keep some in reserve, as they’ll be useful later on.
Each category here is pretty self-explanatory. Fields helps food production, pastures helps grazing, health for keeping your people safe and quickly healing, harmony for fewer arguments among the clan, crafting helps production of goods, exploring helps you find new things, rituals helps with making sacrifices and riding to the gods war to perform rituals, and war helps with battle. If I missed any, as I’m going through this of the top of my head, I apologize, but I’ll tell you how you can see what they all do in the appropriate section later on. Once you’ve made your selections and you’re comfortable, hit proceed. You can always de-select points to take them away, its not final until you tap on proceed.
The Clan Screen
Barring any complications, which are brought to you by a circle member, you will end up on the clan screen after each Sacred Time. If you do have to deal with an event or two, you will end up here after they are all done. From here, you can check your population, and see critical things about your clan circle, as well as reorganize your circle, and start ventures. Balancing your clan circle means you should have about an equal amount of men and women, all 7 families represented, and a no one deity represented more than once. This means that for example, two Busenari worshippers will not benefit you any more than one will, so select another circle member who warships a deity that you do not have currently represented. This task is difficult, and I’ve never managed it perfectly, but that’s OK, you just get a bigger reward if you can. One thing you do not want to do is leave a vacancy on the circle. If someone dies or you feel the need to remove someone from their post, make sure to come in and find someone else to take their place as soon as possible. Just swipe up on someone to set their position and down to take it away.
Ventures are activities that you can do that will take an entire year, even if the benefits are had right away. They always take a year to be complete. At first, you will want to work on a few specific things, finishing houses, expanding fields and clearing pastures. This is like the finishing touches to your migration, and will help you reach a better point as far as food production. Then you can work on the clan hall, those are another 3 ventures. Once done though, your hall now allows you to be able to run two ventures a year, which you definitely want. Also, always check the clan screen as sometimes you can start another venture if one is already going on, either because your hall allows this, or its just possible to do it for another reason.
The magic screen allows you to build shrines, sacrifice to the gods, and perform rituals, as well as bargain with spirits you’ve captured, view Sacred Time magic and show other benefits you might be under. The filter at the top allows you to move between categories. In the Sacred Time category, each area you can invest clan magic is described in a bit more detail.
Mysteries is how you learn new stories or blessings. You will need to sacrifice a lot in mysteries to learn these. Blessings mean that you will gain a benefit, and stories are what allow you to perform the rituals when you ride to the gods war. Once you’ve learned at least one blessing of a god, you can then build a shrine, and that blessing will now be permanent. If you simply sacrificed for a blessing, it is in effect only for a year, so building a shrine is a good way to gain permanent blessings. Check the cost of building a shrine, it usually is 10 goods for the first level. You can upgrade your shrine though, to gain more blessings, but remember, its not just the initial cost you have to contend with, it’s the maintenance as well, so make sure you don’t use all your goods in sacrifice, then allow your shrine to fall into disrepair because you didn’t have enough goods and cattle to keep it up. If you know more than one blessing from the same god, you can switch between them, and determine which one your shrine will grant. As an accessibility note, make sure you de-select the current one, then select the new one. Do not just tap the new one, it will only bring up information about it, not switch it for you.
When you perform a ritual, you must first read the story on the lore screen in the menu, once you’ve got the details down, you can make the attempt. Make sure to choose someone suitable, in theory, it should be someone who warships the deity, and someone who is of the same gender as that deity. They should also be well-versed in the traits the ritual will need, which you’ll be informed about. You then make choices you think are appropriate, and if you do it well, you’ll get a reward you can choose from.
If you start with a spirit, or have captured one, you can broker a deal with them in the spirits category. It will list all the spirits you have, as well as their effects. You choose the effect you want to try to gain, then a screen will show up in which you determine how you’d like to go about approaching the spirit. Make your choice and see if it works.
In the map screen, you can see ongoing missions and send out new ones. VoiceOver users can’t really get the topography of the area, which is a bit disappointing, and cannot see where the rivers are that you have to cross. You also tend to have to swipe a lot through this screen. You tap explore, then find a place you want to explore, and yes it can even be your own land. Once that’s done, you can choose a mission type, to start out with, probably leave it on explore. You then select the amount of swords and bows who go with the party, choose a leader and send.
On this screen, you can read about the different clans and how they feel towards you. You can also send out an emissary who can visit the clan you choose with a particular goal in mind. This can be a first step in friendship, it can be trying to resolve a feud and so on. If you send gifts, you might persuade the clan in question to like you, or maybe just not hate you as much.
Before I explain this screen, let me quickly go over what your warriors do. You have swords and bows. Swords are full time warriors and stronger, bows are archers taken from the ranks of your peasants. Since the war screen deals with this a lot, it’s important to know this right now.
The war screen allows you to try to recruit warriors, build fortifications, and raid or herd raid other clans. It also shows a summary of past battles, basically showing your successes and fails.
Recruiting warriors is simple enough, you find the slider and swipe up, you usually want to try to get the max you can, so just swipe up until you can’t anymore. Then you have to decide if you want to give an extra gift to each one, if yes, select that, if no skip it, then hit recruit. You can also change the tab from recruit to dismiss in the case that you need to dismiss a warrior or two. The other option is to choose from where you’d like to recruit. You can try from your own promising riders, and from outside the clan.
Fortifications allow you to defend your goods and herds, basically your possessions from raiders. It can also help the patrols spot the raiders. You just choose what to build, again being aware of how many goods it takes to build it, checking that bottom bar often so you don’t run into a bad situation.
Riding and herd raiding are pretty similar, so I’ll combine them. I’ll just first explain that a raid is a full on affair where you try to plunder the enemy, while a herd raid is a sneaky sortie into enemy territory in hopes of driving off their herds without them ever knowing. Doing these is a quick way to get either cattle or horses if you’re not spotted. When you raid, you select the clan, then you select the amount of warriors. Remember not to take every single warrior, as if you do, you will have none, or two few warriors to patrol, and you may be herd raided while out and about. In a raid, you can also call on another clan, presumably and ally to see if they’re willing to send warriors. Then you select your leader and go.
A battle has several rounds, the first round, which can be extended depending on various circumstances will allow you to choose how to meet your enemy. You’ll be able to skirmish, charge, advance, perform a ritual and so on. There might be an extra option here depending on circumstances. When your ranks are clashing, you have a few ways of dealing with them, just select the option you feel most appropriate. Other options might show up here, and some might be unavailable sometimes. Also you might encounter opportunities in battle that you will have to choose how to handle them.
Let’s talk about your preparation. This is the screen you se before a fight begins. You can, and should spend points of magic here. I’d say two per battle, maybe 3 if you can. The more magic, the better your chances. I’ve outnumbered enemies nearly 2 to 1 in a raid before and used no magic and got clobbered. I’ve also came out on top outnumbered, but with better magic. You then can choose a treasure if you have any that are able to be used in battle. Next you choose the goal. These are different depending if you’re on the offense (raiding), or defense (being raided). When on a raid, your options are plunder, kill as many as possible, and survive. On defense, your options are drive them off, kill as many people, and survive. Once you choose your options, then hit proceed and the battle will commence.
This screen allows you to see how well your clan is doing. Goods represent extra bits and bobs you can trade, but also sacrifice to the gods, or gift other clans. You should never allow your goods to fall too low, as if you have shrines, it will mean you cannot maintain them anymore and they will fall into disrepair. You can also send a caravan from here.
Caravans are how you trade, and how you start a market. You first select a clan you want to ride to. If you want to establish a trade route with them, they should be friendly with you. You next select your goal in sending the caravan, either buying and selling, or establishing a route. Then you pick the size. If establishing a route, all you need to do is pick a leader, choose the amount of warriors as an escort and tap send. If buying and selling, it works a bit differently. This tripped me up at first, and I even wrote to the developers who were a bit confused as well, but I ended up figuring it out. It’s actually not a bug in the game after all, it’s just me being stupid. My problem is that I would click on sell anything, and then not be able to send as the button would report as dimmed. Well, duh, this is trade after all, if you’re gonna sell, you’re gonna have to make a choice as to what you want in return. Let’s say I have an abundance of cattle, but need food badly. I would tap on sell herds, then I would tap on buy food. Notice when you swipe through, they’re both selected, now you can send your caravan.
Since this is pretty well covered in the tutorial, I see little purpose in making a big to do over this screen. You tap on menu in the bottom right and then choose a screen. You also can check on the concerns as well as what season it is ad to skip time to the next season if you have nothing you feel you can do.
I hope this has given a look into the game without giving too many hints on how to actually play it. Remember that you should put yourself into the role of a high advisor of a clan back in the bronze age, you’re living in a world where gods are among you. The earth under foot is a god, the stars are gods, the sun is a god, the sky is merely a large dome overhead. If you can put yourself into this atmosphere, you are more likely to find the game enjoyable.
If I had to rate the game, I’d give it an 9 out of 10. Accessibility wise, the game is great, my only wish is to be able to explore the screen more and not have to flick through everything all the time. This is possible to do to some extent, but in many cases, just doesn’t work or puts you in unexpected places. The image descriptions are very much appreciated from me, and I can’t wait for the other stories to follow.