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Subject: A review after Essen rss

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Fredericus Rex
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I bought the game at Essen and played it so far 1,5 times versus other players and 6 times in the solo mode.

What you get:
There are two main boards one for tracking and one for the progress cards. 5 player boards and wooden meeples/markers for 5 players. 48 Eventcards (12 for each tim period) and 248 progress cards (+5 because of promos). 24 Solo Event tiles and the dice are used for the sologame. Last but not least a lot of tokens for VP, food, stone (which represents every other recourse besides food, like wood, ore, stone and so on) and gold.

How does it work?
I won't get much into the rules but generally player take turns. Before that each player can decide if he wants to grow his population or take bonus recourses. Than a event card is drawn. The Events are resolved at the end of the turn so players can react. Adding to this the event card adds architects and tells you the general famine level.
Each player starts with some resources, 5 workers and basic techs. During your turn you can perform one of the following:
-Buy a progresscard
-Place a worker
-Hire an architect

Buy a progresscard:
On the board there three rows. At the beginning of the turn this rows are filled with progresscards. You can buy a progresscard for 1, 2 or 3 gold. This card is immediately placed on your board. You can have 5 building/military cards, 2 colonies, 1 advisor, 1 wonder under construction and 5 ready wonders.

Place a worker:
You can place a worker on one of you progresscards. Some will produce recourses at the end of the turn and some will alter your stability/military strength immediately. Placing workers generally cost you stone. Some also have an upkeep cost at the end of your turn.

Hire an Architect:
You can hire an architect to build part of a worldwonder. This architect is taken from a common pool.

After two turns a period ends and there is a scouring round. You score 1 VP for every other player that is behind you in the heritage track.
Heritage is one of the main ways to get VPs. You can get them for buildings like the temple, from leaders or from battles or from various other sources.


How does the game handle military?
Each unit has a raid value and a military strength value. The Hoplite has 3/3 That means if you would have 3 workers on your Hoplite you have a total military strength of 9. But the raid value is never raised behind its initial level which means in our example 3.
If you buy a battle you can take stone/food/heritage equal to the number of your highest raid value.
If you buy a war the war token is placed on the space of your current military strength. In our example 9. At the end of the round each Nation below that value losses a VP and some recourses as described by the warcard (If you have a positive stability you reduce those penalties).

That’s to the rules. But How does it actually play? The first thing one notices is, it playes extremely fast! I played a four player game and we had nearly no downtime! The whole game can be finished in under 2 hours. The sologame in between 30 and 40 minutes!

Although you can see the math behind most cards the theme is very strong. Examples?
The IV age colony Australia gives you +5 stability, you can guess why cool
Thomas of Aquin is an age II advisor which gives you +4 heritages if you have the highest stability
Archimedes gives you your own personal architect

If you play the game you really have this civ feeling.

What else I like:
There are possibilities for combos in the game. You can have Friedrich der Große as a leader, which reduces the building cost for all military units by two and have conscripts. Conscripts are the worst military unit in the IV age but have no ongoing cost and their building cost is 2. That means you can if you want/have to stomp a military machine out of nothing.
Each age consists of 74 cards but only 30 or less are drawn. This means that Nations is more of a tactical game. That doesn't mean you can't make long term strategies, only that you can't play a game which is fixed on one or a pair of specific cards. You have to be flexible.
The art. Yes it is different. And at first I didn't liked it at all. But first you get used to it. And second you get more than 200 pieces of unique art! It really looks good on your board.

What would I add/change?
Okay I wouldn't change much. The mechanics are perfect as they are. I love them. What I would change is one really small nicpic: In the IV age there is the unit winged hussars (You know those really cool looking polish guys). Why are they age IV (Industrialization) and not age III??? You could simply take the cuirassiers for this purpose!

After asking Rustan if there will be an expansion he smiled and said a very revealing "Maybe "
What would I add in such an expansion:
1. Winged hussars in age III and cuirassiers in age IV
2. Somehow to give the option for more different nations. You have the B-sides of the playerboards. What I mean is more something like each player chooses a nation at the start of the game. Each gets a set of for example 5 cards which they can buy for 2 gold in their corresponding age. Like for Germany: "I - Tribal warrior (military)" "II - Reichsstadt(building)" "II - Walther von der Vogelweide(golden age)" "III - Landsknecht(military)" "IV - Ruhrgebiet(worldwonder)"
3. Different types of government. Don't know how you could implement that. But it would be cool.

But for now this is already a great game. For me for now a 9 and the best game I bought at Essen. It will show after some more plays if it goes up or down.

For what players is it good for:
-You like civ games
-You like short turns and no downtime
-You like middle weight games (this is not a brain burner!)

For what players it isn't:
-You need a map
-You need direct confrontation
-You need dice
-You want to have the possibility to plan everything the evening before the game

Thank you for reading

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Jason Rupp
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Hmm, sounds like through the ages but it doesn't take all day to play... very interested in this one now! Thanks for the report.
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Roger Fawcett
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rrrrupp wrote:
Hmm, sounds like through the ages but it doesn't take all day to play... very interested in this one now! Thanks for the report.


I agree. Thanks for the report. I was interested in Nations anyway but this has confirmed my feeling that I will enjoy it.

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Thomas Berg
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I think you mean "no downtime"...
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Daniel Hammond
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It is a very good game and you wrote a very good review! I can't wait to get my own copy (hopefully at BGG.con...)

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Jon W
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Thanks for the review. I know you haven't played a lot yet, but one thing I wonder, relating to your remarks about combos, is how stable the system is. Since you only draw 30 of 75 cards per age (which is appealing for the variability), it seems possible in theory for one player to get several cards with synergies, and another to get none. How likely is this to occur?

Also, how powerful are the combos? Would it be possible, for instance, to draw into a combo early in the game that could decide the outcome? Or are they just mild nudges in one direction or another?
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Jimmy Okolica
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Quote:
-You like middle weight games (this is not a brain burner!)


Definitely sounds like Through the Ages but shorter and less brain-burny. Also, it sounds like the card make this more opportunistic. If you see a good combo now, you better grab it because the better one you're set up for may never come. My one concern is if the cards can make this swingy enough that a player can luck into a killer combo win that no one can prevent.
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Daniel Hammond
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waddball wrote:
Thanks for the review. I know you haven't played a lot yet, but one thing I wonder, relating to your remarks about combos, is how stable the system is. Since you only draw 30 of 75 cards per age (which is appealing for the variability), it seems possible in theory for one player to get several cards with synergies, and another to get none. How likely is this to occur?

Also, how powerful are the combos? Would it be possible, for instance, to draw into a combo early in the game that could decide the outcome? Or are they just mild nudges in one direction or another?


The combos help but are not game deciding. The distribution of cards (especially when only playing with the basic cards) is very good. The variance that you have offers a new game every time you play. Balance is important so say I get the only bonus to stability (+2) in the first age, I am going to have a stability advantage if I pursue it, but at a cost of something else (maybe you are going to get more gold or stone or food or books). To retain that advantage when a +3 stability card comes out in the next age I would have to waste efforts acquiring that card and stone to tweak my workers to maintain that advantage (netting me next to nothing, no increases to my gold, stone, military, food or books for that new card). Letting someone else take it potentially costs me my easy lead in stability but I can work on increasing other resources or military netting me a better civilization overall. In a two player it is more zero sum game and the chance of getting a more lopsided board increases a bit, but that is still a fun game to play and very different every time. I have played at least 6 2 player games and they are fun and very fast when you are both experienced.
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Einar Rosén
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While it is ultimately now up to you guys playing to evaluate the strength of the combos it has continuously been our goal to nerf any combo that we thought was too strong.
Some cards have combos and others don't. If you feel like there is disparity in the knowledge of the cards in your group I strongly recommend that the newer player plays on a easier difficulty level which usually levels out the playing field.

In short combos usually help to gain an edge, but a certain combo will in itself is not enough to win the game (at least in my experience ).

[edit] You were quicker than me
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Daniel Hammond
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hejnar wrote:
While it is ultimately now up to you guys playing to evaluate the strength of the combos it has continuously been our goal to nerf any combo that we thought was too strong.
Some cards have combos and others don't. If you feel like there is disparity in the knowledge of the cards in your group I strongly recommend that the newer player plays on a easier difficulty level which usually levels out the playing field.

In short combos usually help to gain an edge, but a certain combo will in itself is not enough to win the game (at least in my experience :)).


Yup no military multipliers in this game. Probably something I could have mentioned in my review of the game especially as a difference from TTA. The combos are a bonus for certain synergies not game deciding (IMO).
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Jonathan Challis
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rrrrupp wrote:
Hmm, sounds like through the ages but it doesn't take all day to play...


Indeed. And with a lot less predictability - it's more of a tactical game, and less strategic.

all solid reasons why it's not for me, but it will certainly suit some.
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Philipp Ottensamer
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By far the best of the heavier games from Essen.
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Kim Choy
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Great review, thanks! I just submitted one myself before I saw yours pop up in the forum list.

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Kim Choy
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Kelanen wrote:
rrrrupp wrote:
Hmm, sounds like through the ages but it doesn't take all day to play...


Indeed. And with a lot less predictability - it's more of a tactical game, and less strategic.

all solid reasons why it's not for me, but it will certainly suit some.

It's not as unpredictable as you might think. There are usually many ways to achieve goals in the game but both strategy and tactics are important. I would certainly still tilt the tactical/strategic needle toward tactical, though.
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Fredericus Rex
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Thanks @ all for the kind words

Combos are not gamebreaking or deciding. It is more, that they help you to specialize in one field. But like it was said before: If you specialize in one field you are weak in the other.

I own and love through the Ages, but this new game is just to perfectly streamlined and balanced.
And through a nice little mechanic every player can choose his difficulty. So beginners and experts can have fun in the same game.

One difference that haven't been mentioned is that One problem in TtA can be, that when someone lacks in military he beaten up by everyone, which is more or less the end of the game for that person. In Nations lost wars can hurt you, but they don't cripple you.
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