Revolt to Theocracy

A blog dedicated to strategy discussion of Through the Ages: A New Story of Civilization.
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Theorycrafting Cleopatra

Elli Amir
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Fort Lee
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Now that the new Leaders and Wonders expansion is finally out, I feel like I’m relearning much of Through the Ages from scratch. My performance in expansion games in weaker than base games and I’m trying to cover the gap by thinking about the new cards. While theorycrafting is never a replacement for actual gameplay experience, in my opinion it has some benefit in helping us explore the space of potential moves. I was especially intrigued by Cleopatra, a new Age A leader:

Cleopatra. Age I, Leader. During your Action Phase, you have an extra 1 Resource for building wonders or for building and upgrading urban buildings.

My initial plan for Cleopatra was to guarantee a Philosophy on turn one. Opening with Urban Growth is a nice start for the game: We build a Philosophy turn one and Mine turn two. We gain one Resource less, which is offset by Urban Growth, and gain an additional Science, which is very valuable early on. Furthermore, Cleopatra should further ease the strain from the delayed Mine thanks to her additional Resources.

However, after a couple of games I noticed that the boost is not as exciting as I expected, especially when compared to other leaders such as Hammurabi. Even when I used Cleopatra’s Resource for a couple of Wonder builds in later turns or maybe an Alchemy upgrade, it wasn’t much stronger than just an Urban Growth opening -- definitely not powerful enough to justify a leader. Furthermore, I often found myself encumbered by Corruption as Wonders had blue tokens on them while none of my actual Resources were spent.

It then occurred to me that I might be doing it all wrong. Am I really honoring the last ruler of the Ptolemaic dynasty by building a meager Philosophy? What a waste! Instead, Cleopatra’s ability can be used to complete an Age A wonder on turn two. This solves the Corruption issue, lets us get the bonus off a wonder very early, and as before we can offset the missing Mine via Cleopatra’s ability. Furthermore, we can postpone the second increase population and gather some more food.

Here is what I had in mind for each wonder:

Stonehenge. The main challenge with pulling this off for Stonehenge is the four CAs required. We can split them in different ways -- one on turn one and three on turn two or two/two (or wait for turn three with the last action, though Corruption might be tricky). The Stonehenge payoff is excellent: this wonder already leans toward the early-game, and getting these six science on the first two turns means an easy Code of Laws, Monarchy, or Theocracy. The Happy face will help with our first worker.

Roman Roads. Once again, the four CAs are tricky, though Roman Roads is cheaper than Stonehenge. Furthermore, we will immediately get a Resource a turn, which offsets your missing Mine (and might allow us to skip it entirely and go Iron upgrades). The early yellow token is fantastic, easing on Unhappiness and potentially giving us another Age I population.

Pyramids. Not surprisingly, the Pyramids are one of the more exciting options for Cleopatra. We can complete them by turn two for three CAs and immediately take advantage of the additional CA. Get a Philosophy turn three, Mine turn four, and use a yellow card or two to cover any gap in Resources.

Library of Alexandria. We can only build the first stage of Library on turn one, which move the action burden to turn two. I think the delay is worth it since Library is one of the better Age A wonders, and once we get a Philosophy on turn three our Science production is set for a while. Another option is to get one stage and a Mine turn one and finish the Library on turn three (getting the Philosophy on turn four).

Hanging Gardens. Probably a weaker option for this strategy: two Happiness are not a huge bonus on turn two, and the two Food might strain our Corruption unless you dedicate actions to increasing population. With that said, there might still be potential for a horizontal build here.

Colossus. This is a straightforward one, with 2 CAs that cost 3 Resources each. However, I think that the bonus from the Colossus is the least relevant to get early as it’s going to be challenging to use in the first few turns of the game. One potential edge case is to play an Aggression card versus a Hammurabi player.

Colosseum. We could finish the Colosseum and then follow up with a quick Swordsman or Knights. Furthermore, getting that third MA early means more military cards, which is a strong advantage early, and the Happy face lets us utilize your third population more efficiently.

Akropolis. I saved this one for last since Akropolis might need its own theorycrafting thread -- it’s a tricky wonder to figure out. Since it’s the cheapest wonder (on both actions and resources) it’s a great candidate for Cleopatra’s bonus. The question is, how do we transition out of it? Personally, I’m wondering whether a three Philosophy into Monarchy/Theocracy and a four Philosophy build could work, though figuring out food and happiness will not be trivial.

Overall, this plan turns Cleopatra into an Engineering Genius + Urban Growth equivalent, which is decent. Time will tell if it’s enough to justify her as a leader pick. Like most other Age A leaders, a lot depends on the transition into the second half of Age I. I suspect that getting four hits out of Cleopatra or leveraging her bonus into a Government or Code of Laws could make her a very strong option.
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