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Subject: More first impressions rss

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Sam Hillier
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I've played The Ancient World thrice in the last few days, and while this isn't enough for a full review, there are a few things I've noticed that I want to share.

First off, I like the game. My favourite feature is the trade-off between what an Empire card does, and what flag it has. After all, your goal is to score points, and you do this by collecting flags. However, the buildings give you food, money, weapons, etc. You'll often find yourself deciding whether or not to buy a really good (and really expensive!) empire card, knowing that you'll, only have 1 or 2 flags of that colour. Sometimes things just fall into your lap, but most of the time this leads to very difficult decisions.

I also love how the military units work, including the escalating costs and the training of new units. Rarely did we find ourselves getting a third military unit, we just made the best out of the two we have. In the last two rounds, you find yourself with a pretty badass unit.

I haven't noticed the vicious blocking that many reviewers complained about. Maybe it's just the way we play, but no one has ever been in a situation where placing a 3-worker on a space they need has totally wrecked their plans. The most popular spots are the Build and Recruit spots, each of which only has a $1 penalty for having a different number: rarely a big deal. What we have noticed a lot of is turn-order blocking. By that I mean the common situation where you want to do something, but your opponent is just one turn ahead of yo and does it first. There's a big monster to fight, but you need to recruit a unit first. Right after you do so, she kills the monster. That's happened a lot, but it happens in every WP game.

As mentioned, the Build and Recruit actions are the most popular. The Scroll-for-$3 action is rarely taken, mainly because there are lots of A buildings that give scrolls (maybe this is an artifact of playing 2p only?). We've also noticed that the baby action is tough to pull off, especially tough to do it twice. It's hard to have the food and protect it from Titans.

We didn't mind that the Titans are just passive objectives to meet, and not actual rampaging enemies. They pose a puzzle: not only how to get the weapons to kill them, but how to value the flags that they give you. This ties back into the comment about the Empire cards: the value of a card is, in part, determined by the available Titans. Very cool.

There are some things I didn't like, and most had to do with the endgame. The fact that damaged districts flip back automatically at the end of the game means that there's no risk to fighting Titans in the last round(s). That's kind of anti-climactic. Also, I found that a lot of times you'll have useless workers at the end. No actions will get you flags, so they're pointless - no Titans you can fight, no buildings you can buy, so you just take pointless actions to kill the time.

Also, and this isn't really a negative point, but I've often found that if you have to go get a new District, you're not doing well. It is much better to get extra space by killing Titans, since they give flags as well. In the three games I've played, I've often found myself going for more Empire cards and less fights. This seems to be a bad idea.

Overall, this is definitely a keeper. It's simple to teach, simple enough that it will probably be a next-step gateway game, and still something that we'll come back to over and over again. The variable setup, and the ensuing change in valuations of the cards leads to interesting decisions and different games each time.
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Tristan Hall
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Daybreak wrote:
There are some things I didn't like, and most had to do with the endgame. The fact that damaged districts flip back automatically at the end of the game means that there's no risk to fighting Titans in the last round(s).


Argh - I totally missed this rule, where is it?
 
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Sam Hillier
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ninjadorg wrote:
Daybreak wrote:
There are some things I didn't like, and most had to do with the endgame. The fact that damaged districts flip back automatically at the end of the game means that there's no risk to fighting Titans in the last round(s).


Argh - I totally missed this rule, where is it?


Page 9, third sentence: "Damaged Empire cards are now all repaired in preparation for scoring in the next two sections."
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Tristan Hall
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Daybreak wrote:
ninjadorg wrote:
Daybreak wrote:
There are some things I didn't like, and most had to do with the endgame. The fact that damaged districts flip back automatically at the end of the game means that there's no risk to fighting Titans in the last round(s).


Argh - I totally missed this rule, where is it?


Page 9, third sentence: "Damaged Empire cards are now all repaired in preparation for scoring in the next two sections."


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James Webb
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Thanks for these good observations. I agree with a lot of them, and feel like there's more meat here than in many 'reviews' that get posted.

Daybreak wrote:
]I haven't noticed the vicious blocking that many reviewers complained about. Maybe it's just the way we play, but no one has ever been in a situation where placing a 3-worker on a space they need has totally wrecked their plans. The most popular spots are the Build and Recruit spots, each of which only has a $1 penalty for having a different number: rarely a big deal. What we have noticed a lot of is turn-order blocking. By that I mean the common situation where you want to do something, but your opponent is just one turn ahead of yo and does it first. There's a big monster to fight, but you need to recruit a unit first. Right after you do so, she kills the monster. That's happened a lot, but it happens in every WP game.


I don't think the blocking is any more vicious in this game than other worker placement titles. I'm guessing that it gets picked on because there are fewer action spaces than in a lot of other worker placement games, so competition can be tighter. In a 4-player game it gets very crowded very quickly, which is why turn order is important.

Daybreak wrote:
There are some things I didn't like, and most had to do with the endgame. The fact that damaged districts flip back automatically at the end of the game means that there's no risk to fighting Titans in the last round(s).


Except that damaged Food buildings can cost you VPs if you can't feed your workers.

Daybreak wrote:
Also, and this isn't really a negative point, but I've often found that if you have to go get a new District, you're not doing well. It is much better to get extra space by killing Titans, since they give flags as well. In the three games I've played, I've often found myself going for more Empire cards and less fights. This seems to be a bad idea.


Yes, if you're only concerned about the increased Empire size. Some of the District cards have some pretty nice abilities though - the one that gives you a coin when an adjacent player defeats a Titan can be a fantastic source of income.
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Richard Dickson
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revgiblet wrote:
Thanks for these good observations. I agree with a lot of them, and feel like there's more meat here than in many 'reviews' that get posted.

Daybreak wrote:
]I haven't noticed the vicious blocking that many reviewers complained about. Maybe it's just the way we play, but no one has ever been in a situation where placing a 3-worker on a space they need has totally wrecked their plans. The most popular spots are the Build and Recruit spots, each of which only has a $1 penalty for having a different number: rarely a big deal. What we have noticed a lot of is turn-order blocking. By that I mean the common situation where you want to do something, but your opponent is just one turn ahead of yo and does it first. There's a big monster to fight, but you need to recruit a unit first. Right after you do so, she kills the monster. That's happened a lot, but it happens in every WP game.


I don't think the blocking is any more vicious in this game than other worker placement titles. I'm guessing that it gets picked on because there are fewer action spaces than in a lot of other worker placement games, so competition can be tighter. In a 4-player game it gets very crowded very quickly, which is why turn order is important.


There are also a lot of Empire cards that provide worker actions. Maybe not the same ones that are on the board, but enough that you shouldn't ever have a worker with nothing to do.
 
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Gláucio Reis
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Daybreak wrote:
My favourite feature is the trade-off between what an Empire card does, and what flag it has.

I agree with most of what you said, but I think this was actually a missed opportunity. The point variance is so small that flag colors are rarely considered. In fact, it's more important not to get too much of one color (as you score nothing beyond six) than to go for specific colors, because most flags are worth 2 points, anyway.
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