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Through the Ages: A New Story of Civilization» Forums » Strategy

Subject: Card Rankings rss

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jonas havreglid
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I have now played a lot of games with the new version, tested out different strategies and participated in a tournament. Here are my thoughts about all the cards. They are rated for how strong they are compared to how hard they are to get into play/set up for.

Age A

Age A is the only age that is possible to talk about in detail without seeing the board positions. Apart from metagaming every games starts the same and it is only later that the value of cards fluctuate with situations. There are some combos ( like a wonder with homer or engineering genius) but on the whole the base value is not much effected. In comparison with old TtA where someone picking Caesar made Hammurabi unplayable. It is also worth noting is that the Age 1 is longer with 2 or 3 players than it was in old TtA which buffs leaders with long bonuses like Aristole and nerfs leaders with diminishing bonuses like Moses. I have assigned the cards point values that are to be interpreted as ratios, I see Aristotle as good as having both Homer and Hanging gardens. This ranking assumes that everyone gets a leader. If it is the second turn and the choice is between Hammurabi and no leader and EG Hammurabi is obviously better.

8: Aristotle
7: Pyramids
5: Hammurabi, Engineering Genius
4: Hanging Gardens, Homer, Alexander
3: Moses, Library of Alexandria, Urban Growth, Rich Land
2: Stockpile, Patriotism, Frugality, Caesar,
1: Colossus, Cultural Heritage

There are two cards that stand out from the others, Pyramids and Aristotle. I consider them broken in comparison to the other cards and there is no game where they will picked if they are present. The game is about accelererating your growth in all the categories an nothing does that faster than Aristotle who gives you science for doing what you normally do, pick technologies. I average 6 science with him in the new edition which is insane. It is even better since it is front loaded and flexible, you can pick an extra technology this so that you can play code of laws this turn earlier and start gaining an advantage faster. Pyramids give a better long term bonus but also costs 3 actions and 6 resources which are priced commodities this early.
For 5 points we have Hammurabi and EG thatare strong cards to get you going. Hammurabi gives you kick-start with his extra actions which should amount to a lot of resources through yellow cards or faster upgrades or more better quality cards. Losing military actions is still bad, it gives you less information, less control, less chance of tactic and it paints a target on your back. Without it he would be as good as Aristotle in my opinion. Being a bit ahead of the other leaders, makes me rank him the same as engineering genius as he comes with the opportunity cost of not picking one of them. I do not consider EG to be twice as good as urban growth and rich land except if you have the pyramids, then it is even better
The 4 point cards all give strong permanent bonuses but nothing to really kick-start your empire. Homer has some use by giving a happy face and potentially resources. However his permanent bonus is weaker than Alexander's and HG's and sometimes very tricky to trigger as you must both complete a wonder and also switch leader before the end of the age which constrains you a lot. I think the library and the gardens are eclipsed by their age 2 counterparts but with Homer waiting for an age 1 wonder introduces unnecessary risk. HG and Alexander are basically 1 extra population permanently which is great but they do not give you the resources to put it to use, a good way to do so is to build a fourth bronze or printing presses early.
3 point cards are barely worth the actions spent on them, but the first turn you have no choice. Generally it is civil action > science>resource>food. Rich land and urban growth is a downtrade that you do if you must. Urban gwoth is slightly better as it gives you lab before mine. The other are ok where it not for the opportunity cost.
Moses is the strongest of these cards in that he gives roughly 5 food. However, this is almost always more than you need to fully recruit yellow bank 1 and 2. Never ever take extra food with Moses and try to get the most out of the development cards by always having a free worker snd switching early to a leader who can use that early food like genghis, columbus or leonardo. Then you pray for no food developments and to get rats and pestilence. Moses basically means that you do not have to worry about food while the other need to find a little bit extra, more if the events are kind to you. This gives you a small edge but no real long term advantage. The real downer for me is the opportunity cost of being the fifth best leader in a max four player game.
Library of Alexandria is decent. You need about 3/4/5 science per turn for ages I/II/III if you are frugal and it does easily with both labs or libraries. With labs you can get by without the wonder but with library strategies it can be crucial. I would not go for this blindly as labs win out on average but if I have something pointing me this direction like EG/Aristotle first turn or printing press/homer without a wonder second turn. The wonder is best at 3-players as gives the best ratio of printing press to player number to alchemy cards and bad at 2-player where you can get alchemy guaranteed and have a better shot at other stronger wonders.
Then comes the trash cards that are really not worth picking up unless you have to. Caesar is significantly better as the first player as it allows you significantly better chances for an attack or winning a strength event, however the first player also has the best choice of age A cards with dibs on the first five cards and all the cards that come in and fall down turn 2. Colossus is plain bad. Slightly better as player 1 with Caesar but if you are stuck with those cards you are doing something wrong

Age 1
Now the game state starts to matter somewaht. I put cards in three categories: generally worth more than 1 civil action, worth 1 civil action, not worth 1 civil action.

1+: Leaders that fit your strategy, St Peters, Great wall with infantry tactic, Knights, Swordsmen if you can't get knights or you have an infantry tactic, Alchemy, Monarchy, Code of Laws.
1: Action cards that do not cost an action or all if you have extra civil actions. Warfare, Irrigation, Other urban buildings that fit your strategy
1-: Iron, Taj Mahal, Theocracy, Cartography without 2+ colonies

Wonders and Leaders

St. Peter
Great wall
Universitas
Taj Mahal

These give a lot and come at a good time (if you skip iron). Universitas and St. Peters are much better than Library of Alexnadria and Hanging Gardens and I prefer to wait for them while the others are busy with those wonders. St. Peters is great in so many strategies. Either you can skip happy buildings and save the population for military and get by on wonders/territories/leaders or you can get some combo with michelangelo/joan of arc or you can go down the theater line with Bach, upgrading temples and labs (perhaps used with joan) for massive culture and happiness. The only real downside is that ravages of time can screw you over.
I rate Great Wall highly for two reasons. Firstly, as it can win you the game in age 2. If you manage to get 6 pop in military and some attacks you should be good. It is amazing with Genghis and heavy cavalry and even better with an age II tactic like mobile artillery. Secondly as an insurance. It makes you a lot less dependent on age II tactics now that there are fewer in the deck and on knights which can be hard to get. It shines in games without age 2 tactics and still works with every age 2 tactic except conquistadors and mobile artillery. Best in 2-player games where pressuring early age 2 is more worth it and where tactics are scarce.

Columbus
Leonardo
Barbarossa
Genghis Khan
Joan of Arc
Michelangelo

- Columbus is best if you get vast territory but he is usually not worth drafting without a yellow token territory as there so many other good alternatives.
- Leonardo is the safest choice as 1 science and aroudn 1 resource a turn is very useful. He complements library strategies well as they usually need his extra science more and have more incentive to upgrade to a level II library.
- Barbarossa can be insanely strong if you have happiness and food to sustain him and a tactic to build towards like great wall legions or heavy cavalry or just medieval for the flexibility. Getting him early after Alexander or Hammurabi is the best.
- Genghis Khan is solid and should be top pick if you draw an early heavy cavalry but have no knights atm. Great potential in age 2 as well. He gives you a cheap lead in military/culture that put the pressure on your opponents leaving you free to pursue it or do other things. Hopefully you have such a big accumulated that you can survie the transition.
- Joan of Arc is a bit messy with all her different bonii but if you have temples she is way better than Michelangelo and even without them she is ok.
- Michelangelo does rarely give more points than Genghis and does not have the military bonus. He does have the cheaper wonders though and it is often better to use him for wonderspam than it is to build unnecessary urban buildings as wonders cost no population.

Age 2

By this point card rankings are even less certain than the last age. This is where the military pressure usually ramps up with wars and lots of potentially crippling aggressions. You must be prepared for that. With that in mind you should generally expect to pay 2 or 3 actions for key cards such as Napoleon, Constitutional Monarchy, Strategy and Cannon. Also for Selective Breeding or Riflemen if you missed out on their precursors. However with only 6 tactics in the entire deck, some of them quite specific, it happens some times that no one gets a tactic that benefits them more than the others. In such cases there might be less of a military push as most people try to stay flexible for when they get a tactic. This usually means getting more military actions and strenght form other sources or building towards classical or maybe napoleonic.

Wonders and Leaders

Napoleon
Newton
Bach
Robespierre :star
Cook
Shakespeare

- Napoleon is good in almost all situations. He helps on defense and offense. Even if you are badly set up for him you often want ot deny him to your opponents since he is the only military leader of that age and you can seldom afford to fall behind. If he comes early in age 2 he is often devastating with 2 military action and 4 strength enabling some saved up aggression's against the lagging player. He is infact so good that he significantly devalues the other leaders as you might want to wait for Napoleon if he has yet to show, especially in 2-player.
- Newton is a good pick in most situations as science and civil actions are still very good and helps set you up for culture in the next age.
- Bach and Cook both allow you to push culture but is easier to for Bach.
- Robespierre gives you incredible tempo and the military action is worth a lot if you are a republic. Something to watch out for is that losing all your military actions during a turn means that you can have a hard time to defend yourself with cards, getting no new ones and having to potentially throw very important ones makes it tempting to attack you. As you can not build any military that turn an opponent might prevent your revolution by getting a bit more strength every turn.
- Shakespeare is extremely situational, even with cheaper printing press and drama he is such hard work to get going. And even if you do get theaters and libraries you may have to pick napoleon to avoid him destroying you. What kills him for me is that he no longer gives culture on libraries. I go for libraries more often thatn theater and almost never both at the same time. He would be much better if he was like the old version + a happy face.

Eiffel tower
Kremlin
Ocean liner
Transcontinental
These are good but hard to afford with the mounting military pressure. Especially the transcontinetal as it requires you to upgrade your mines as well. The only real game changer is the ocean liner.

Age 3

By this point everything is to dependent on the game state to really go into it in detail inmy opinion.

Wonders and Leaders

Gates
Churchill
Einstein
Chaplin:
Sid Meier
Gandhi

First space flight
Hollywood
Fast food chains
Internet

They did a good job rebalancing the leaders and wonders in this age.
- There was a decent nerf to science strategies by making computers rarer and more expensive.
There is only 2 computers for 4 players but still three leaders for them. Gates is amazing if you can afford the upgrades. Meier needs at least 2 computers/3 sci meth for 3 turns to be as good. Otherwise, Einstein is a better choice in a science strategy. Meier has a combo with Internet but it is hard to set it up as there is usually better choices around than picking the first of them.
- Churchill is solid and useful to deny your opponent if he is low on production. Having him and Gates significantly helps the lategame of strategies with few or no mines.
- Chaplin and Hollywood is a realtively easy combo as a single movie gives 8 culture/turn and 16 for Hollywood. Without Chaplin, Hollywood is mediocre to bad. It is usually easy to see if someone else wants him or not. Remember that the obverse is true as well and that denying you Chaplin might be a very strong move by your opponent. The combo is expensive and helps with little else but if you have great infrastructure this is the combo you should be looking for as it gives the most possible culture.
- Gandhi has been nerfed hard. Firstly, aggressions cost less military actions which means you are not really safe from them. Secondly, everyone tends to have more military actions as they are more important now. It is especially galling that Napoleon gives 2 military actions as that makes it much easier for him to get the 6 actions for the war on you.


Upgrades

Mines //
Mines lose out badly to the new yellow cards in 2- and 3-player or if there is military pressure. Compare Iron to Code of Laws and a wonder. Especially if you can have max 2 iron and you have 4 or 5 civil actions. In peaceful games they are more decent but it is hard to know that before age 2 tactics. I would never go for early Iron unless I get a power combo in Age A (Hammurabi or Pyramids or Aristotle) that allow me to overcome how behind in science/action/production I will be that age. To use the extra production you need to get a militray tech out to survive and you need actions and population to make use of it. It will be great if you survive military, get pyramids for actions and columbus + vast territory for population but even then there might be better options than Iron. Your civilisation is only really ready to upgrade mines once you are past the actions, science and population bottlenecks which means that coal comes at about the right time. Hopefully you can prepare with some yellow cards and maybe new deposits or economic progress. Oil comes to late to be better than investing in military or culture unless some combination of factors apply like railroad and impact of industry or economic progress or rich land. I prefer to go with bronze and disband them when I need population for military/culture and get my production from action cards/military/leaders

Farms //. The most crucial upgrades in the game but not necessarily the ones you want first. I find that I am often set up for upgrades early in age 2 while I get actions, tech, military and wonders in age 1. I feel that irrigation does not work for the entire game without some extra yellow tokens. Early selective breeding is superior to irrigation by a lot but it is also riskier to wait for it. Mechanized agriculture is cheap and strong

Labs //
I feel that scientific method is still the loser among the labs. If I get alchemy early I go labs and then I either leave it or go into computers if I get the leader for it.

Libraries //
Cheap printing presses and less early military pressure has enabled this line much more than before. Needs some helper science early. When set up properly library strategies are good as they give you a good culture engine that does not tax your popualtion like theaters as you can go without labs and still have science generation. Libraries have big late game culture potential with their own stats and wonders. They are hard to set up as you miss out on the science from the second philosophy if you wait for printing press. This only realistically happens if they come really early or you build pyramids, library, you have Aristotle. Three players as gives the best ratio of printing press to player number to alchemy cards and 2-player the worst as you can get alchemy guaranteed.

Arenas //
They are super efficient in military pushes but do not jam with any culture strategy as most culture buildings/wonders gives happiness. Unless you get a free temple or have a happy wonders arenas are the default choice. With a free temple it is still quite even.

Temples /
These have been hit hard by the changes. Happiness is easier to get now and if you want culture theaters are better. Development of religion is the only thing keeping these competitive. They have decent interactions with the buffed Jeanne D'Arc and okay with Michelangelo. But with no real potential for later I try to avoid them unless the combo is great.

Theaters //.
Theaters works good for happiness with a source of extra which means that they have been buffed by the changes to St.Peters, Homer, Hollywood, Alexander and military apart from also being cheaper. I feel that the later ones are too expensive apart from the hollywood/chaplin combo but then I prefer drama into movies. Bach works great with drama as well, you cna upgrade philosophy and religion for nothing and they give you 3 culture per turn.

Infantry //
Cavalry //
Artillery //
Air Force / /
These are straightforward to me. Tactics are strong, and age II tactics dominate among them. They are twice as strong as age 1 tactics but still come early enough to enable you to tool your army towards multiple copies of them. The correct choice in age III is almost always to build air forces if you already have a good tactic and it is rare that you can both get air forces and an age III tactic. With that in mind you want the cheap age I troops that cost only 3 resources over the age II who cost 2/3 more and but only give 1 extra strength. Age III troops are similiarily too expensiveand unless you have too much production and too little population they should be avoided. Cann

Goverments and special technologies
Monarchy
Theocracy
Constitutional monarchy
Republic
Democracy
Fundamentalism
Communism

I think that extra actions are the number one priority in Age I and consequently I rate monarchy highly as it the most efficient way to do it. Constitutional is slightly better but just as it is with selective breedin it is risky to wait for constitutional. Especially in 2-player where there is only one and denying cards is super important. Further you will often have to take it for many actions, and you are forced to save science that could be invested quicker. If monarchy comes into play 5 turns earlier than constitutional strategy it will give as many actions on average. You can use monarchy all game in military and culture strategies. Even if you plan for constitutional you want some extra actions before either from leaders/wonders or by taxing your science further. If you have even more science, democracy is a worthwhile use of extra science. The others are desperation measures if you have been denied actions from better cards.

War: //
With the military changes you want at least one of these for both offense and defense. Warfare compares badly with monarchy but is still very good if you have high science or to save for age 2. Strategy is the sweet spot in terms of when it comes and what you get but it hard to get with only one copy in the deck. Military theory is fantastic even when played late, the only downside is that you would have wanted it earlier.

Law: //
I prefer monarchy to code of laws but you take what you can get. Monarchy and one of these is even better as you can get it in increments. First monarchy and then civil service gives you 7 civil and 3 military for only 18 science.

Architecture: //
A nice luxury. An early masonry that helps you to upgrade alchemies and build wonders is very worhtwhile if you have the time, especially with Leonardo or Aristotle. Architecture is very good in culture pushes where you do not upgrade your mines.

Colonisation: //
Weaker than the war techs in most situation. But even when not doing colonies free strength and points for variety and progress can be worthwhile. If you have decent science you should aim to get one in every category.
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Garth Tams
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I have to be honest,
It sounds like you have rated things based on how you personally play.
Constitutional Monarchy is no better than Republic at age 2 if you have done nothing with your military and civil actions. If you have upgraded your military actions, Republic is better. If you have upgraded your Civil actions, Con Mon is better. If you have neither, the first one available is better. Waiting around for too long can cost you more than making a pick.

With regards to leaders, Moses can be an absolute beast. It is easier to avoid corruption, which historically was Moses' biggest deterrent. Now, he can be used to incredible effect. Having a worker advantage is something that can be carried throughout the course of an entire game. It can make all the difference in the Age 2 when I have the luxury of doubling up my tactic without sacrificing production and science.

All things change as well with the various player counts. At 4 players, you cannot do what you would do at 2 players. There are yellow card constraints, etc that will force you to react to the game. At 4 players, TTA becomes more tactical than strategic. You have to make the best play you can with what you are given, and sometimes that means throwing a curve ball that you would traditionally avoid.
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David desJardins
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Mabuchi wrote:
It is easier to avoid corruption, which historically was Moses' biggest deterrent.


Historically? Like, when he parted the Red Sea and received the Ten Commandments? The lobbyists were behind it all?
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Garth Tams
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Call it Through the Ages 1.0. Moses is one of most improved Age A leaders.
 
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Jack Liu
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Your list is very good overall and a good spot to discuss differences in picks/meta/power level of cards

However there are some strong differences in card value between 2/3p games and 4p. I posted about it some of it here https://boardgamegeek.com/article/24130625#24130625


For some breakdown of your list, I would say the things that stand out to me is your very low ranking of mines and your rankings for labs/lib.

Mines
I find people tend to under rate mines in 2-3p games because of all the extra available yellow cards. Let me tell you that does not happen in 4p and you will rarely be able to get away with just bronze. Late A1/Beg A2 iron is solid with the rest of the people going for coal.

Labs/Lib
I also think you under rate sci method and over rate the early libs. philo -> sci is a very strong jump and you can rid out the game on sci methods. Computers/Multimedia are a very hot card in 4p and there are less per player to get. Sci method also makes Leo/Newton very strong and works well with Bill Gates still

Following that line, I would never play printing press in 4p outside of having Leo and needing it to generate 1 sci. The minor culture gain is not worth the trade off in military str or access to an early blue tech from those 3 sci. Plus upgrading printing press to jourl is a waste of sci since you are only jumping 1 tech so it doesn't even go anywhere good

It's better to go alch + journalism or philo -> Sci. Multimedia is great though in A3 for anyone. Not to mention by not building lib early, you get maxium benefit from architecture and engineering (both great in 4p)

Leaders
I think some of your leader ranks are not giving some enough credit and giving others too much. Also 3p vs 4p skews leaders a bit

As mentioned already, Moses is very strong and I would only put him under Aristotle and as good as many of the other top ones. He allows you to upgrade 1 pop a turn for the first 4 grows without relying on an event. This is important in 4p because of the higher chance of free events and also the need to field a full army very quickly

Culture leaders are more viable in 3p and less in 4p. Robespierre is better in 4p because of there being 2 republics, he is like free 10 sci and also makes that gov a critical MA.

Chaplin is also higher than where I would put him, I rate him at or lower than Gandhi. Same with Hollywood. While the combo sounds nice, it's rare to go from Bach/Opera into Chaplin while having enough military to not die from Napo. Movies are too hard to bring out early in A3 when you need to be developing sci and military. I see more successful movie setups when someone has Bill Gates and a lot of extra rocks or someone managed to pull out an early oil setup off of strong A2 sci method.

Your top 2-3 rankings of each leader for the ages are pretty solid tho. I think they actually buffed Napo compared to classic TTA because those 2 MA are so critical to drawing the lower number of A2 army tactics. His str is also stronger when only A1 tactics are out. Without him, I think TTA would be a more passive game because he single handly allows for aggression in A2 in an otherwise peaceful age.
 
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jonas havreglid
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The list is how I play in a distilled form. If you meant to say that I play with a limited group or only try certain strategies, that is not the case. If you mean to say that there are different valid strategies, then I agree to a point. However there will be differences in how good they are on average, even if it may vary a lot in a single game. What I argue for is a strategy that generally forsakes unnecessary upgrades like mines for an an early action advantage and pushes for military or culture.

About some specific points:

Player numbers and mines.
I have actually played TtA mostly in 4-player. Yes, I think this strategy is slightly weaker with more players but it still very strong. It is harder to get yellow cards in 4-player but it is also harder if you fall beihind in military from upgrading Iron. That being said, you can not go into a game TtA with too fixed a plan. I do upgrade mines some times, but mostly when I'm already in the lead and have to much resources and science and I need an investment outlet.

Republic is just not as good as Con Mon. I would say that civil action 5 is critical and 6 is very important but after you start to notice the diminishing returns. 7-8 are important if you have a great infrastructure but that is often a luxury problem. Military action 3 is abolutely critical and 4-6 are very good. After that they are not that important. You do not want republic without extra military actions as it will screw your military game. Even with Robespierre I would prefer con mon over republic.

Moses. Corruption used to be more of a problem with him yes. But the major problem is that the costs for more population accelerates. Growing out of your first two food boxes means that you need more happiness earlier start to pay more consumption. I find it hard to both afford happiness and food in age I while also placing those workers productively. Upgrading food and happiness in age 1 feels comes at the expense of losing tempo in more important areas like actions, science or military. I prefer Alexander

Labs. I think that you can ride out the game on Alchemy with a little help from actions cards or leaders or events. If you are stuck with only 2 philosophies Sci Method is really good but I would not get it if I have alchemy or if I got a science wonder instead. The first one isanunnecessary upgrade and teh second one is often too much. I see the later labs as something you get with the combo leaders/wonders for culture or impacts in age III. Computers are way stronger for that strategy and it is hard to commit to it until age III when you know if you are actually going to get a combo. This is why I prefer Computers over Sci Method. You could pick scientific method as an insurance against not getting computers but that seems too conservative and unflexible play for my taste.

Culture leaders I agree that culture requires not dying from a military push. But I think it is possible to do culture and military if you forego infrastructure. Napoleon into Chaplin can is a nice to compensate for not drawing war over culture if you can build a movie or two with plunder.
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jonas havreglid
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I feel that I might need to explain where I am coming from to provide a context for my valuations of the cards. Below some general thoughts on TtA strategy. They are a bit rough and I could use some illustarted examples. I will take some screenshots from my next game with competititve opponents.

Resource Alchemy
Through the Ages is game of bottlenecks. To grow your civ optimally you need all the resources (production, population, science, actions, strength) to grow in tandem but it is much more efficient to upgrade one at the time which means that you are always lagging behind in some area. You want to push your advantage and find efficient ways around your weakness. The first way is to be very frugal with the resources you are lacking. E.g. not drafting too many technologies when you are low on actions or science. This is easy in theory, in pratice it requires a lot of planning ahead.
The second way is to use your advantage in other resources to shore up what you are lagging behind in. These ways can be everything from tactical decisions like picking a certain yellow card or playing an event to entire strategies. I am interested in the latter.
Actions → Production through action cards. The action cards are really strong in the new edition. It gives you much more tempo to take an action card than to take an upgrade technology. While they give food and some tech they are only really reliable as a strategy for production. You will need to upgrade food and science sometime, but you do not necessarily need to get it asap. Keep in mind that they are weaker with 4 players and when you are behind a player with many actions.
Tech → Actions (and strength) through special/government technologies. This is not revoluationary in any way but a lot of players I meet undervalue these cards in my opinion. Their immediate benefits are better than the slow benefits of many upgrades. You should aim to have at least government, laws and military every game.
Population → Strength through additional armies. Age II tactics are dominant and they can be filled by cheap age I units. There are great actions cards for military as well.
Production → Population through wonders. Ocean Liner is the best wonder for this but the wonders that give happiness, science or strength does the same thing by giving something you need wihtout costing a population. This is why The Hanging Gardens better than Theology. The problem is that this also requires a lot of actions and it may be hard to improve both actions and production sufficiently.

Preserving Flexibility
There are three time horizons impotant for decision-making in TtA: the tactical choices of this turn, setting up for the next few turns and long term strategy. There is little discussion of the middle one, maybe it because we think in the dichotomy of tactics and strategy? To give an example. On your second turn you have two actions left, do you play stockpile and build a philosophy get an age A urban growth or play Aristotle or do you get Library of Alexandria? Getting an urban growth maximises your short term advantage, Playing Aristotle this turn instead of the next so that you are ready to take advantage of the opportunities presented by next rounds card row gives you more flexibility next turn, getting Library of Alexandria gives you a decent long term option but ties your hand for next turn. I would go for the middle option as having more actions over the next turn allows some potentially really good turns (the expected value of your civil action will be higher next turn).

Pushing for Victory
In most eurogames there is a point when you transition from building economy to collecting victory points. In Through the Ages the situation is slightly different. While you win by victory points like in any other eurogame the wars and impacts of the last age changes this situation a fair bit. I would say that there are three modes: upgrading infrastructure, pushing culture and pushing military. Pushing culture and military is active as your opponents need to respond or risk losing the game. Pushing culture gives a slowly increasing lead which can be unsurmountable if there are too few turns left. Pushing military means that you threaten your opponents with aggressions or wars. The event deck gives you a trickle of benefits but it is not so devastating that it needs to be avoided at all costs. You can not fall too much behind in military or die but to win with it someone else must fall behind you which makes it very interesting in 3-player or 4-player games.

It is hard to win by reactive play in TtA. To win the game you usually have to push military or culture. However, to do that you need all the resources in sufficient quantities. Further, you can do that in more or less efficient ways. If you get a great combo you can commit to a push early in the game, if you do not upgrading you infrastructure gives you an increased flexibility to react to what the other players are doing and what the card row gives you. Keep in mind that the payback time on upgrades is usually long, think of it as getting an advantage in the next age. For example, upgrading to three iron mines costs 5 actions, 5 science and 9 production while it gives 3 production per turn. This equals a payback time of 7 turns (3 turns for the production and 4 turns for the actions and science) which is means that you will be behind until late age 2 versus a player who did not upgrade his or her mines. Further, there is a alternative cost as that player might have gotten code of laws and a wonder with that amount of resources instead. Abpve that you might need to disband a few mines for population if one of your opponents are pushing military.

The later it gets in the game, the faster the payback time must be. It is worth it so long as it helps you to push so much more efficiently later on that it makes up for the lost time. The longer you wait, the better it has to be. If you are trailing culture badly in age 3 then you probably have to build something like two classical armies with air forces or 3 operas and chaplinwood to make up. This is very demanding on your population, so I usually disband some or all of my mines. This is why I often avoid the mine upgrades, they have the longest payback time while also being the resource easiest to supplant with action cards and military strength.
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Jack Liu
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Your list is a good one, as I said in the beginning. You bring up a very important point about being flexible. I whole heartedly agreed and is actually the reason I was listing counter points to some of your ratings as I felt they were either a bit too highly rated because they made you inflexible in a certain way or were under appreciated for what they could offer. Some cards also rise in rating due to player count

Mines:
have you seen many people win in 4p with just bronze (no bill gates)? I've maybe seen 1 person pull it off, most games the winner had iron or coal.

Labs:
I rate early lab as the best first infulstructure improvement. But someone is going to be stuck without it and many games, not all labs may not come out before the end of A1. You may want to consider just skipping alch at that point, building up farms/mines and going for sci method or journalism. Especially if you have a sci wonder. 3x sci method is enough to last the whole game or you go for multimedia


Based on your rating, you seem to value a core setup of irrigation/SB, Coal, Alch -> computer the most. But other options like SB, iron, sci method I believe are just as good. There are a lot of other setups and options and the cards can come out in many ways. That's the reason why TTA is so great, you never know how a game will play out

I will say that I prefer 4p as I think it allows for the widest array of viable setups and more cards see play.

I regularly have 5-8 4p games going at a time on BGO and look to play with experienced players. Sadly I missed the signup for that FB tournament you linked by a week. But if you ever want to play some high level 4p games, I've found several people along the way that I regularly have games going with and am always looking for more
 
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jonas havreglid
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The ratings are made in a vacuum. They are an outline of what the optimal strategy is in my understanding. In reality you do not get everything you want and have to make hard decisions. But to discuss every card from every possible situation would lead to madness.
Picture it as the easisest path to victory. There are many other paths that I have taken but find to be more difficult or risky.

On to your points:

I also rate early lab as the best upgrade. I think you can get by on libraries, but it requires a different strategy. Where we differ is that I see science beyond the inital two alchemies as an option but not as a necessity. I dont upgrade my labs beyond 4-6 science most games. It is when I am already winning or when I try to ctach up with a specific science strategy. I can get away with doing that by being very frugal with upgrades, getting no upgraded mines or advanced labs saves 10-15 science.

Since you ask for 4-player games where the winner (I) only uses bronze, here are 5 examples from my last 10 games on BGO:

http://www.boardgaming-online.com/index.php?cnt=202&pl=73174...
http://www.boardgaming-online.com/index.php?cnt=202&pl=73027...
http://www.boardgaming-online.com/index.php?cnt=202&pl=72956...
http://www.boardgaming-online.com/index.php?cnt=202&pl=72953...
http://www.boardgaming-online.com/index.php?cnt=202&pl=72891...

For a bonus here is my last game where I lost against another player doing the same strategy better than me (I got greedy) and denying me some crucial cards:
http://www.boardgaming-online.com/index.php?cnt=202&pl=73516...

I like 4-player the most as well and it is for the reasons you mention. Add me to your next game! I'm Jonas Havreglid on BGO.

The next tournament season will begin soon, maybe a two weeks. However it is only 3 player at the moment. As people play at different speeds we want to keep the pace up without some games lagging too much behind.

My set up after age I is usually alchemy, monarchy or similar, 4 in military, a wonder or two. Most games I stay on bronze the entire game.
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Jon W
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chumchu2 wrote:

I agree with you on bronze (and on nearly all the above), but 2 of those 5 show the winner using Iron (and not being you).

I'm still of two minds about the new game vs. the old. On the one hand, I like that more cards are viable choices, and of course the game still generates difficult dilemmas. I like that an early culture path is viable under some circumstances (as opposed to "none" in the old).

But on the other hand, there are still too many clear paths, as you point out: mines are still weak, nearly everything in age 3 overpriced, age 2 tactics still too crucial, Con Mon still best nearly every time, temples and arenas still weak. And the yellows are just too good.

Anyway, thanks for the interesting posts. Good stuff to mull over....
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Jack Liu
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waddball wrote:


Good wins but a few of those show iron (also 2 ties, funny). Bronze does work if you can get bill gates or can supplement well with military resources from a weaker player. I would rate iron the worst of the 3 A1 infrastructure techs but would put it closer to 3 stars


I think they made certain things more viable and streamlined many of the yellow cards so they are very good now

I think the worst culprit in the new game is that T2 tactics can be MORE swingy than in the pass because they lowered the count down to 6. Age 2 last between 4-5 rounds usually and at that point, not everyone has had a chance to get a better gov/war tech to be able to draw 3 cards a turn. Especially at lower player counts, this means that only 1/2 or 2/3 of the deck is being cycled through

People will not play the tactics unless they first have the tech to make use of them and get an advantage by doing so. Them trying to compensate for the copying effect by removing copies of cards seems a bit off.
 
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jonas havreglid
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Was a bit tired when I posted. What it should say is that all of these games are good games for me where I did not upgrade mines.

A point that I have perhaps not stressed enough is that iron is more viable when there is less (military pressure). It is an investment that will pay off eventually if you are left undisturbed. However it risks ruining your game around late age I and early age II which is why I see it as a risky inflexible playin most cases. This happens in mainly three ways:

1) You fall behind in science and/or actions and you are locked out of key technologies/leaders/actions cards. [This is likely in 2-player games where denial is easy and important.]

2) There is a military push and you suffer bad events/aggressions or need to disband iron mines for more military to avoid that. You fall behind the player(s) that invest earlier in military and are getting free resources.[this is quite likely in 4-player where there is almost always someone pushing military]

3) Another player gets a culture lead and you can not punish him/her because you devoted a significant part of age I to infrastructure upgrades. This leaves you chasing for a late game combo that just might not show up.

I do play iron sometimes. Lately I've mostly been playing in a 3-player tournament. It has gone well, I have won six games and I will win the 7th. I have used higher level mines in 2 out 7 games.

In the first of these it was mostly a win more situation. I went for Iron early after getting Aristotle, Pyramids in age A and got EG I and Alchemy in early age 1. I had a rich land and new deposits as well and got decent production from age A events. This is just about the optimal set-up for Iron. I think I would have won without iron as the set-up would have been great for many other strategies as well. I managed to get away with this as there was little military pressure,my opponents went too directly for culture. I even managed a military superiority in the midgame gtting two raids in and using the extra production to build transcontinental and ocean liner. I finished with oil for impact of industry. Not a very hard game after that.

http://www.boardgaming-online.com/index.php?cnt=52&pl=734849...=

The second game was similar. I had aristotle and new deposits and I managed to get development of science and Iron for 1 action turn 3 for the earliest possible Iron. This game I also got a military lead with HG and Barbarossa and managed actions with a revolution to monarchy. In age II I had to much production and to little science but could not time any wonders. I was so behind in science that I had to take corruption to grab a revolutionary idea for 3 actions. The timing went perfectly there as new deposits popped before my next turn so that I could build 2 journalists. After that I managed to lead both culture and military with napoleon and 2 defensive armies plundering resources for operas and Hollywood.

http://www.boardgaming-online.com/index.php?cnt=202&pl=73432...

The other more standard games:

A close game where 3) might have happened if I had not pushed military so hard in age II. He used Michelangelo to full advantage and got a lot out of his iron in terms of wonders. It came at the price of being behind in actions/science/ military. It is a good example of how to play a game without anything better than 2 philosophies. He had no extra actions so I got nice actions and techs like strategy. This enabled me to pressure him with plunder and spy turns 11 and 12 after he revolutioned into constitutional monarchy instead of taking Napoleon. This, together with events enabled an army and then I lucked into early culture wars to take him down.
http://www.boardgaming-online.com/index.php?cnt=202&pl=73531...

Churchill and Gates for extra production =)
http://www.boardgaming-online.com/index.php?cnt=202&pl=73456...
http://www.boardgaming-online.com/index.php?cnt=202&pl=73404...
http://www.boardgaming-online.com/index.php?cnt=202&pl=73378...

The current game. I have a the culture lead and I am poised for a military push with napoleon. I have sufficient food/happiness/actions/science and can easily go for 8-10 workers in the army if I disband some mines later.
http://www.boardgaming-online.com/index.php?cnt=202&pl=73531...
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Jack Liu
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It's just a minor rating difference in my mind

I see the mines at 3/3/1.5 and would lower some of your early urban ratings (drama, printing press). I think they are 1 star in 4p and 2 star in 3p.

Also I would lower masonry rating to a 2 because it is very hard to pull off, you need aristole or leo + alch first tech. Also someone needs to not go heavy military as their first tech


If you (or anyone really) are interested in some 4p games, I'm down to play. Just pm me here and I can setup games on BGO
 
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Jorge
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frotes wrote:
Also I would lower masonry rating to a 2 because it is very hard to pull off, you need aristole or leo + alch first tech. Also someone needs to not go heavy military as their first tech
Yeah, Masonry would probably be my own "worst" tech card; I would rank it even lower than Theology and Drama. 3 mb in Age I is a hefty price to pay for a reduction that won't come into play until much later in the game. Even Cartography provides a better benefit, giving out the 1 mb, which might give you resources from events, and the Colonization bonus, if you know that Territories have been seeded. I would (probably) only take Masonry with Aristotle just for the science point, in order to play something else.
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Jack Liu
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The situation it is good in is if you have Leo or Aristotle and Alch ready to research with masonry as your first major investment of rocks. Genghis also works if it lets you defend aggressions with an early horse tactic and warriors. Bonus points if you skipped A wonder and jumped on GW with masonry.

Aristotle gives +1 sci for taking it or Leo gives +1 rock for research. Then you get -2 rocks build up your alch

The difficult thing about this combo (besides just getting all the pieces) is usually you need to get more than 1 of the A science events since you need 7 to set this all up early enough to make it worthwhile (otherwise just research alch and build them like normal)

Also you need to skip finishing your first wonder until late because you won't have the rocks to do that and build up the labs and build military to protect yourself. Finally, it is very likely in 4p games someone will go hard for military as their first tech and try to get off a early plunder on the weakest and you become a prime target because raiding alch labs is good and that's another aggression that becomes more worthwhile to play
 
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jonas havreglid
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I think you are short selling masonry. In a average game you might save 3 actions from wonder and maybe 4 resources from urban buildings. That is a good way to transform science into resources but not great in of itself. Above that it allows you to get important urban builngs and especially wonders faster. The difference between being able to finish a wonder this turn or the next is a huge deal both for corruption but also for the fact that there are so few turns in the game.

In some games you have no wonder under construction and already upgraded alchemy and are going for a military push, then you can safely skip masonry. However in some games it can be a great card, like in the situation you describe. You can convert your early science to make faster wonders and cheaper alchemists. Here is a recent example where I used it to complete pyramids turn 4 and then both alchemists turn 5. Then complete Great wall in one turn turn 7. I will finish eiffel tower turn 12 and go for a age 3 as well asbuilding more urban buildings. I estimate it will save me 6 actions on wonders and maybe 4-5 resources. It paid itself back in 2 turns asn will will givea big pay-off during the rest of the game for just 2 science(Aristotle) and 2 actions:
http://www.boardgaming-online.com/index.php?cnt=52&pl=735329...=

There is also another situation where it shines: early culture strategies. In those you get culture from urban buildings and wonders and really need the actions and production to spam your leader combo. (joan, michelangelo, Bach or even Shakespeare might fit the bill). The age I urban buildings are dirt cheap ways to get science/culture/happy for very few resources other than population(which is where disbanding bronze mines somcesin real handy). If you really want to do Shakespeare the age 1 buildings are your best bet but it will still be tough to get to both drama and printing press. 3 dramas with Bach is 9/culture and with masonry you can upgrade religions or philosophy for free. Less all-in is the setup with Leonardo, masonry and 3 printing presses as he compensates for the lack of science and production while starting a culture strategy for the mid/late game.

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