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Subject: Comments from a Through the Ages fan rss

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Derek Carver
United Kingdom
Cobham
Surrey, UK
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This game is going to be viewed/reviewed through innocent eyes or through the eyes of 'Through the Ages' players. It is somewhat unfortunate that it comes in for criticism at times from the latter group who at once compare it with TtA and lament the absence of favoured elements from that game.

I'm a great fan of TtA but it had two major disadvantages from my point of view. It is one of the few games where it is just about impossible to satisfactorily introduce a total newcomer into an experienced group due to the fact that the bureaucratic element in the game is so difficult to comprehend at first sight. This means that an initial 'training' session is really required. And secondly, the game is just that bit too long to fit into a normal evening.

'Nations' aims to address both those points and in my book addresses them very successfully. I would have no problem in introducing a newcomer into a game. As for length it is still not a short game but enough time has been shaved off to make it easier to accommodate.

But there have been changes over and above the above two aims and one of them is a far greater amount of cards required to play the game. There are 296 Progress Cards of which as few as one third will be used in, say, a 3-player game. Now some folk welcome this having expressed dislike for the fact that the same card set comes out - though randomly - in each game in TtA. But I've encountered other criticisms that the game is no longer as skillful given that players do not know what cards will be coming. I find this latter criticism unacceptable. Firstly it implies that frequent players of the game have a distinct advantage over those who either play less frequently or played so long ago that they cannot remember the cards (which would include most players I know). Secondly it is a totally unjustified criticism in that with so many additional cards available players are presented with a number of options. They can play to a preselected balanced shorter pack that will be used for each of their games - just like TtA - if that is what they really prefer. Or they can play with a partially balanced (say two-thirds)full or shortened pack with the rest randomly chosen. Or they can play with the full random set as supplied. So the flexibility is there to be taken advantage of.

Personally I like the random element and although I enjoy TtA I simply don't play it enough to remember the cards so that aspect doesn't interest me. It could always happen, of course - cards being what they are - that for one game using the full pack they appear in such a strange combination that the game suffers. If that should occur it would be a reason for opting for a previously balanced pack (either fully or partially balanced)

And as for the simplification of the between round bureaucracy I don't think anybody will regret the passing of the TtA complication where it was so very easy to make an error, especially by new players.

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Jack Francisco
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Thanks for the review from the TtA camp. I have to say that I love games that throw stuff at you differently each time you play. Nations does exactly that. Sometimes there is one opportunity to capitalize on the strategy that you've been building toward. Hesitate and someone else grabs it, thwarting you. Painful when it happens to you, yes, but rewarding when you succeed.
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Byron Campbell
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Thanks for the comments. It adds further evidence to support my suspicion that Nations is more of the game for me. It pains me to admit it, as a Vlaada junkie, but as much as I love the engine building of TTA, I will welcome the more random card offer and less devastating war impacts of Nations with open arms. It's a shame that the price is so high, though.
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Jack Francisco
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kittenhoarder wrote:
less devastating war impacts of Nations with open arms. It's a shame that the price is so high, though.


That's one of my favorite parts - war can be rough if you are unprepared as it would be in real life. If you have a stable culture, you can offset most of the harmful effects. Price is high, but if you can get it used, that's the way to go.
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Jarek Szczepanik
Norway
Oslo
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Carver wrote:
This game is going to be viewed/reviewed through innocent eyes or through the eyes of 'Through the Ages' players. It is somewhat unfortunate that it comes in for criticism at times from the latter group who at once compare it with TtA and lament the absence of favoured elements from that game.


Thanks for your opinion Derek! Nations is a game that has many links with TtA, but it is NOT TtA. Many people criticizing Nations tend to forget that fact. I don't doubt TtA is an excellent game - 10 000 BGG users can't be wrong, can they? Nations, in its own league (tactical medium weight games), makes a very good job. It's a smart game, I'm not afraid to introduce new players into.
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Mike Stevens
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Nebraska
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I have only played TTA once and while I thought it had some interesting mechanics, the game just dragged on and on. It was a 3-player game with 2 of us being total noobs. Both of us understood the rules ok but trying to figure out your best action on your turn was tough. I have played Nations several times and find it very easy to teach to new players. I won a 5-player game the very first time I played although I think 3 of us were noobs in that game. I have taught the game to several people and have had new players win about 25% of the time. So I certainly think that Nations is an easy game to teach. I also like the randomness of the cards. Not knowing if a Military, War, Leader, or Colony is coming up on the next round makes the game exciting.

For me and the group I play with, we would take a game of Nations over a game of TTA.
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Craig Hebert
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Goodlettsville
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I agree with your general comments but it's hard to understand where you say you are a fan, yet do not remember the cards? Anyhoo, TTA is great face to face but so so much easier to play online.
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Paul Szilagyi
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Parma
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JacquesDeMolay wrote:
Anyhoo, TTA is great face to face but so so much easier to play online.

I'm not taking a poke at you personally, but I've heard that expressed many times and find the idea laughable.

All boardgames would be easier played online. The point of playing them face to face lies in being face to face instead...

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