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Subject: Through the Ages = Nations killer? rss

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I love Nations more than life itself; it's what inspired me to finally get Through the Ages. Now I don't know if I can play Nations again!

But of course I will, because it's a great game and so much easier to get to the table and get people to play. But I play even more solo (using "Tom's rules" for TtA), so the long TtA games don't matter. I can just leave it on the table and play over several sessions. The longer it stretches out, in fact, the more invested I get in the progress of my very customized Civ.

The intricacy and greater sense of control of TtA (including fewer random, unforeseeable blows to your plans) is so addictive.

I'm curious about the impressions of others who went from Nations to TtA, as opposed to the other way around.
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Shane Larsen
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You won't get many people in the Nations forums to agree that TtA is better than Nations. I'm an exception. I prefer TtA over Nations.

But, the two games are totally different. Nations is a turn-by-turn tactical exercise. While TtA is a long-term, grand-strategy game. That's why, even though I prefer TtA, I still have them both in my collection.
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Jack Francisco
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The random, unforeseen blows to your plan is what makes Nations a very organic game for me. It's easy to get to the table, endless variety and easy-to-teach are just some of the reasons that make it wonderful.
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Tim Sheridan
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Funny you say this - I have been wondering the same thing. After playing Nations at a local gaming group event, I decided it was finally time to dive into TtA. So I went and found a copy and have been playing a ton of it ever since.

My copy of Nations has yet to arrive - still waiting for one more "pre-order" game to release before it ships (looking at you Lost Valley). And I've been starting to wonder whether I will want to go back to Nations or not now that I've finally discovered TtA.

I suspect I will enjoy both - as there are those differences between tactics and long-term strategy. But for the time being - I am so glad that my experience with Nations led me to TtA.
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senorcoo wrote:
The random, unforeseen blows to your plan is what makes Nations a very organic game for me. It's easy to get to the table, endless variety and easy-to-teach are just some of the reasons that make it wonderful.


Random blows and a long game don't go together in my reality.
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Matthew M
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Through the Ages has more strategic depth due to the fact that you know you will see practically every card from every Age eventually. Once players are familiar with the different decks they can devise plans specifically around specific techs/wonders/leaders/etc. There is still some randomness related to when those cards will become available during the Age, but they will be available.

Nations is a lighter and more tactical game - you can turn your civ on a dime in Nations to respond to what the board provides.

With four (and obviously five) players, or when I just want a lighter game experience than TtA, I would go with Nations without hesitation. TtA will always be my preference with two or three players - especially if everyone already knows how to play.
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Jack Francisco
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I think it just comes down to personal preference. Some people like games where they can plan out every move and some people like games where adapting to a changing environment is more fun. To me, heavy strategy games with no randomness at all mean you might make one mistake and never recover. Not my idea of a good time. It's all a matter of taste.
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Darrell Hanning
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With 2 or 3 players, I'll always prefer TTA. With 4 (or 5, obviously) I'd lean in favor of Nations.
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Octavian wrote:
Through the Ages has more strategic depth due to the fact that you know you will see practically every card from every Age eventually. Once players are familiar with the different decks they can devise plans specifically around specific techs/wonders/leaders/etc. There is still some randomness related to when those cards will become available during the Age, but they will be available.


Yeah, I'm glad you mention this, because this where I think Nations really outshines TtA, for my taste. I just love that you'll only see a portion of each Age's deck in any game of Nations. That's one way I prefer unforeseeable variety over semi-total information.

But Tom's solo rules for TtA actually mitigate this. You discard 9 Civic cards from each Age's deck (with restrictions), and there's a neat additional discard of the first card in the row whose color matches that of the top card in the deck. So you can't really make card-specific plans... and even the one you see coming down the pike might get taken...
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senorcoo wrote:
I think it just comes down to personal preference. Some people like games where they can plan out every move and some people like games where adapting to a changing environment is more fun. To me, heavy strategy games with no randomness at all mean you might make one mistake and never recover. Not my idea of a good time. It's all a matter of taste.
It's funny, most of the main criticisms of TtA is that it's too random.

Have you even played it yet? I recall you going ga-ga over this game a few months back and mentioned at the time you hadn't ever played TtA.
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clydeiii wrote:
senorcoo wrote:
I think it just comes down to personal preference. Some people like games where they can plan out every move and some people like games where adapting to a changing environment is more fun. To me, heavy strategy games with no randomness at all mean you might make one mistake and never recover. Not my idea of a good time. It's all a matter of taste.
It's funny, most of the main criticisms of TtA is that it's too random.

Have you even played it yet? I recall you going ga-ga over this game a few months back and mentioned at the time you hadn't ever played TtA.


I would only say TTA is too random in the sense that so little of it is that what parts are random are amplified. The political cards are random and can decide a game between equal players.

also, the more players you have in TTA, the more likely you are to not get a chance at an important card during the age as it appears and is gone before your turn.

I much prefer Nations as I know up front that I have to be flexible. I would disagree with Octavian about turning on a dime though. Once your civ gets going and you start specializing your buildings, you can get screwed if you let go of a resource and no more show up. Side A is much more lenient than side B is. Also, playing on Emperor really reduces your flexibility as well.
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Jack Francisco
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clydeiii wrote:
senorcoo wrote:
I think it just comes down to personal preference. Some people like games where they can plan out every move and some people like games where adapting to a changing environment is more fun. To me, heavy strategy games with no randomness at all mean you might make one mistake and never recover. Not my idea of a good time. It's all a matter of taste.
It's funny, most of the main criticisms of TtA is that it's too random.

Have you even played it yet? I recall you going ga-ga over this game a few months back and mentioned at the time you hadn't ever played TtA.


I don't need to play a game to see that the unnecessary complexity isn't for me. That and the even longer playtime to accomplish basically the same thing in not as fun of a way.
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Clyde W
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senorcoo wrote:
clydeiii wrote:
senorcoo wrote:
I think it just comes down to personal preference. Some people like games where they can plan out every move and some people like games where adapting to a changing environment is more fun. To me, heavy strategy games with no randomness at all mean you might make one mistake and never recover. Not my idea of a good time. It's all a matter of taste.
It's funny, most of the main criticisms of TtA is that it's too random.

Have you even played it yet? I recall you going ga-ga over this game a few months back and mentioned at the time you hadn't ever played TtA.


I don't need to play a game to see that the unnecessary complexity isn't for me. That and the even longer playtime to accomplish basically the same thing in not as fun of a way.
Why "unnecessary"? There is actually very little fat on TtA's bones. Most of the reasons games take a long time is because players have tons of different choices and, because you can "undo" your entire turn, people can take an unnecessarily long time.

I'd play a game of it with you on http://www.boardgaming-online.com/ if you want to see! If you understand Nations, you pretty much understand the gist of TtA. The computer takes care of any differences for you. I'm the same username there as I am here.
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Jack Francisco
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clydeiii wrote:
Why "unnecessary"?


Why unnecessary? Because to play a 3 or 4p game of Nations takes 2.5 hours at the most. TtA with that same player count is going to push 4 hours, especially with players who are unfamiliar to the game. I taught Nations to two non-gamers ONE time and one of them went out, bought it, and they played it 2 months later with 2p without assistance on their 2nd play. I cannot imagine that the same can be said of TtA.
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Jonathan Challis
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senorcoo wrote:
clydeiii wrote:
Why "unnecessary"?


Why unnecessary? Because to play a 3 or 4p game of Nations takes 2.5 hours at the most.


But why are you so obsessed with time? What difference if you spend 5hrs on one game, two or three? It's quality of the gameplaying, and difficulty of the decisions that matter, not the number of games that you fit into n space.

On the contrary, I'd posit the longer and thus more involved the game, the more likely you are to get to a complex and thus fulfilling decision tree.
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Jarek Szczepanik
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Kelanen wrote:

But why are you so obsessed with time?


As Jack has written, it's the matter of taste. As for the time obsession, some of us can't afford to play games longer than 2-2.5 hrs - either because they don't have so much time for their hobby, or they play with people who would surrender and escape after a game that takes 4 or 5 hrs.

I don't doubt that TtA is a great game - 10 000 BGG user can't be wrong.
Generally I don't approve comparing TtA to Nations. Both games have a similar theme but play differently. Nations is a tactical worker placement with a civilization theme, TtA is a strategy. It's clear that TtA was one of the inspirations for Nations, but that's where the similarities end. It's not about TtA or Nations being a better game - it's about whether you prefer strategy or tactical games.
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Jack Francisco
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Totally agree with Jaroslav. I prefer a tactical, think-on-your-feet type of game. I know it isn't everyone's favorite. For me, to spend 4 or 5 hours to scratch the same itch that can be scratched in 2 or 3 isn't worth it for me. Think of it in game terms - would you want to spend 4 or 5 actions to accomplish the same thing that you could in 2 or 3? Of course not.
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Jonathan Challis
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senorcoo wrote:
Think of it in game terms - would you want to spend 4 or 5 actions to accomplish the same thing that you could in 2 or 3? Of course not.


That's a poor analogy. It's that you are going to spend 5 actions, do you want to spend 2 on this, 2 on that and 1 on another, or 5 on the same thing.

Personally, I would always rather a longer game than a shorter one, or 3 shorter ones. I have no time for shorter games, they don't develop enough.
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Jack Francisco
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We just have different views. A 2+ hour game may be shorter than a 4+ hour game, but it's in no way a "short" game to me.
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Jonathan Challis
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I wouldn't call 2hrs short, but it's certainly the short end of medium.

I play almost nothing under 90mins because it doesn't suit me. Nothing in my Top 10 would be completed in 2hrs, in fact only 2 have any realistic possibility of ending in under 4. If I could only fit in 90 mins of boardgaming in a session, I wouldn't be a boardgamer in all honesty. It's already quicker and less involved than my other gaming hobbies.

I would agree that liking short/long or tactical/strategic is subjective however, and you and I just fall in polar opposite camps.

I don't agree that n hours of gaming is better by fitting more games in however. Fitting more and harder decisions, yes, but the number of games is irrelevant to that.
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It is a shame there is an ocean separating us, because Jonathan and I think very much alike. I don't understand the obsession with time. Downtime is something to avoid, but substantial play time is something to enjoy. Neither Nations nor Through the Ages has any downtime unless a player is playing outrageously slowly.

The only deciding factor between these two game for me is teach-ability. I gladly teach Nations to virtually anyone, regardless of gaming experience and potential for future plays with that person. Through the Ages, however, requires a bit of dedication and some commitment to repeat plays. Otherwise both games are rated 10 for me with their maximum player counts.
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senorcoo wrote:
clydeiii wrote:
Why "unnecessary"?


Why unnecessary? Because to play a 3 or 4p game of Nations takes 2.5 hours at the most. TtA with that same player count is going to push 4 hours, especially with players who are unfamiliar to the game. I taught Nations to two non-gamers ONE time and one of them went out, bought it, and they played it 2 months later with 2p without assistance on their 2nd play. I cannot imagine that the same can be said of TtA.
You said TtA has unnecessary complexity. Time has no relation. If Nations had two more eras, it would be just as long, but no more complex. I'm asking why you think TtA has unnecessary complexity. Like I said, there is not a lot of fat in the design.
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Moreover, it is hard to say TtA can't scratch your tactical itch without trying it. You can play it as tactically as you'd like, in fact.
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Jack Francisco
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Well, just the rulebook is unnecessarily complex. Just hold the two of them next to each other. And I can say that TtA can't scratch the tactical itch the same way because if virtually all of the cards are coming out, you can go in with some solid plan in place.
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senorcoo wrote:
Well, just the rulebook is unnecessarily complex. Just hold the two of them next to each other. And I can say that TtA can't scratch the tactical itch the same way because if virtually all of the cards are coming out, you can go in with some solid plan in place.
You can't always draft the cards you want. If Napoleon comes out after your turn finishes, he won't be there when you have your next.

My point is, you MAY play it as tactically as you want, similar to how chess delights both the strategists and the tacticians. It is flexible enough a game to allow both styles of play. Same with TtA.

Also, I'm crying that you are implicitly rejecting my TtA play offer. :'''(
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