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Through the Ages: A New Story of Civilization» Forums » General

Subject: Upgrading from bronze: stronger or weaker now? rss

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Jon W
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One thing (among many) I'm curious about in the new version is if I'll ever upgrade my bronze mines again. I don't profess to be a great player, but the more I play (50-60 games played), the less I feel tempted to bother with Iron/Coal/Oil. If the right yellow cards hit at the right time, I'll pull the trigger, but I upgrade less than one game in five, and I see no correlation with victory. In fact, I see a slight negative correlation; it's an expensive path, and the opportunity cost can be high. So I only bother if it falls into my lap.

Off the cuff, the new version seems to nudge things slightly more in this direction, with reduced costs for some of the urban buildings that you'd use your rock surplus from Iron to build. But maybe the edge from Iron will enable you to actually gain a compelling advantage from these, esp. if the military nerfs allow you to spend more population in non-military ways.

Curious to see how this plays out.
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Pater Absurdus
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You play games in which you don't upgrade mines?

Wow, I can hardly imagine that. How many yellow cubes do you put on your mines when you don't upgrade them?
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mfl134
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Redward wrote:
You play games in which you don't upgrade mines?

Wow, I can hardly imagine that. How many yellow cubes do you put on your mines when you don't upgrade them?


3 mines usually. you get plenty of extra resources from yellow cards and from being ahead in military.
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mfl134
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waddball wrote:

Off the cuff, the new version seems to nudge things slightly more in this direction, with reduced costs for some of the urban buildings that you'd use your rock surplus from Iron to build.


Though this means that your extra resources provide you marginally more spending power as things are cheaper.
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Steven Durst
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I've been going up to four bronze mines and then jump into Coal with some efficient upgrades. I find this gives me plenty of rock early and the Coal will allow me to finish some good wonders at the end.
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Jon W
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Redward wrote:
Wow, I can hardly imagine that. How many yellow cubes do you put on your mines when you don't upgrade them?

I couldn't imagine it at first, either, but over time I've moved away from upgrading bronze and haven't seen any impact on results (or if anything, a positive impact). Regardless of my experience, I know at least one player a lot better than me (Petri Savola) is very successful on BGO and rarely upgrades.

I almost always add one bronze, once in a while going to four, and once in a while sticking with just two. Always depends on yellow cards and whether I can win some early aggressions.

But I was hoping to mostly discuss people's opinions are on whether upgrading is more or less important in the new version, relative to whatever you think its importance is in the old.
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This comment makes me wonder if I'm playing horribly wrong (not rules-wise, but strategy-wise).

I see Iron as borderline vital, and if you miss Iron you *have* to hit Coal.
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Jon W
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ignorantpenguin wrote:
I see Iron as borderline vital, and if you miss Iron you *have* to hit Coal.

Well, regardless, do you think the new edition will play any differently along these lines from what you've seen so far?
 
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Jon W
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mfl134 wrote:
waddball wrote:

Off the cuff, the new version seems to nudge things slightly more in this direction, with reduced costs for some of the urban buildings that you'd use your rock surplus from Iron to build.


Though this means that your extra resources provide you marginally more spending power as things are cheaper.

Yeah, that's what the part of my remark you didn't quote was meant to convey. My gut says that food will be even more important (ha ha), as otherwise you won't be able to leverage your spending advantage.
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Pater Absurdus
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waddball wrote:
mfl134 wrote:
waddball wrote:

Off the cuff, the new version seems to nudge things slightly more in this direction, with reduced costs for some of the urban buildings that you'd use your rock surplus from Iron to build.


Though this means that your extra resources provide you marginally more spending power as things are cheaper.

Yeah, that's what the part of my remark you didn't quote was meant to convey. My gut says that food will be even more important (ha ha), as otherwise you won't be able to leverage your spending advantage.


One last question and I hope your conversation gets back to where you want it to be. It sounds like you get 3 basic mines but how many farms do you normally get?
 
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mfl134
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Redward wrote:
waddball wrote:
mfl134 wrote:
waddball wrote:

Off the cuff, the new version seems to nudge things slightly more in this direction, with reduced costs for some of the urban buildings that you'd use your rock surplus from Iron to build.


Though this means that your extra resources provide you marginally more spending power as things are cheaper.

Yeah, that's what the part of my remark you didn't quote was meant to convey. My gut says that food will be even more important (ha ha), as otherwise you won't be able to leverage your spending advantage.


One last question and I hope your conversation gets back to where you want it to be. It sounds like you get 3 basic mines but how many farms do you normally get?


produce 6 food. so either 3x2 or 2x3.
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Thibaut Palfer-Sollier
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3 main changes affected the value of mines :
- New corruption system : favors multiple weaker mines. 4 bronzes is quite manageable now, as are the rock-providing events
- Reworked yellow cards : stronger yellow cards means that they are more useful more often, leading to more rocks through them, lessening the interest of an upgrade
- Toned down military : favors the upgrade, as you can afford to spend a bit more resources to non-military building earlier

In the end, I feel like upgrading from bronze has been weakened overall, but not as much as I thought initially.
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Ben Kyo
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tublefou's summary is right on point, but until I see just how much and in what ways the emphasis on military shifts, it's really hard to tell. I suspect that overall the entire game has shifted away from a mutually-destructive military emphasis towards higher scores, which probably requires more resources. Whether or not that's enough to counteract the corruption and yellow action card improvements though...
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Walter Kolczynski
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The corruption changes help the weak mine strategy if you spend all the rocks every turn, but hurts it if you need to save up across turns because you aren't producing enough.
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Petri Savola
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Iron has always been strong in peaceful games. In those games it almost always pays off eventually, but the initial investment is quite big. The problem with Iron is that in competitive groups the military race is usually so fierce that you seldom can afford to:

* Use CA to pick Iron (need 3 CA to pick Knights and Swordsmen)
* Use science to play Iron (need it for military tech)
* Spend resources to upgrade mines (unless there's food shortage)

Sometimes Iron appears early and you cannot see Swordsmen or Knights anywhere. In those games it's usually awesome. With Iron you can easily afford age I wonder and age II military units and better urban buildings. This just doesn't seem to happen very often, so Iron doesn't get played very often.

Now with new rules Iron can probably be played in more situations because you don't always need to build military if opponents have a tiny military lead. Now it doesn't make much sense to play aggression if the difference is just 1 anymore, so you can try to build Iron in those situations instead of building more military.
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M Van Der Werf
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Petri wrote:
Iron has always been strong in peaceful games. In those games it almost always pays off eventually, but the initial investment is quite big. The problem with Iron is that in competitive groups the military race is usually so fierce that you seldom can afford to:

* Use CA to pick Iron (need 3 CA to pick Knights and Swordsmen)
* Use science to play Iron (need it for military tech)
* Spend resources to upgrade mines (unless there's food shortage)

Sometimes Iron appears early and you cannot see Swordsmen or Knights anywhere. In those games it's usually awesome. With Iron you can easily afford age I wonder and age II military units and better urban buildings. This just doesn't seem to happen very often, so Iron doesn't get played very often.

Now with new rules Iron can probably be played in more situations because you don't always need to build military if opponents have a tiny military lead. Now it doesn't make much sense to play aggression if the difference is just 1 anymore, so you can try to build Iron in those situations instead of building more military.


It's alright in a passive game but there's also the oppurtunity cost. Alchemy (which is similarly hard to afford in a peaceful game) is more effective generally. For 3 resources per upgrade as well you tend to get more benefit and you have more useful upgrade path later.

Tublefou summarized it fairly well though, several effects change the poewr of mines and their upgrades.
Adding to those 3 he mentions though is:
- more good wonders, this benefits the upgrade as a problem with iron often was not having something useful to do with it later if you lacked science.
- a related point, more useful urban buildings. Not sure if this benefits iron or not, inclined to think not because it is more interesting to spend on other infrastructure early on. For example iron tended to compete with alchemy, irrigation or building military early on. Now you may want to go printing press or drama even. On the other hand you may need iron to afford opera or stuff like that later which is better too.
- Rich land allows upgrading into iron. This is probably a less contested card than efficient upgrade was.

It's a bit tricky to guess overall but I agree to expect a slight uptick in Iron usage. Mostly because upgrading infrastructure before going military seems so much easier now and Iron will simply be the best option available often then even if you'd rather have something else.
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Jon W
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Petri wrote:
Iron has always been strong in peaceful games.

Perhaps that's a part of the perplexing reactions earlier in this thread. Regardless, I hope you're right that it's a little stronger in the new version.

But with the cheaper costs for the Age I urban paths, and the slight bump to yellow cards, I see even less pressure for rock. It looks like it will come down to less risk vs greater opportunity cost.
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Thibaut Palfer-Sollier
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To me, Coal and Oil needed a boost, not Iron.
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All this sounds like crazy talk to me. Do you use this strategy in 4p games (which account for 95% of my games), or just in 2p games? I have only seen a handful of games where a player did not upgrade his mines on purpose.
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Ben Kyo
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Canales wrote:
All this sounds like crazy talk to me. Do you use this strategy in 4p games (which account for 95% of my games), or just in 2p games? I have only seen a handful of games where a player did not upgrade his mines on purpose.

Everybody goes through this phase, don't worry, you aren't alone! (and yes, this does all apply to 4-player games)

EDIT: It is possible that 3/4 players choose not to focus on military, and in that case the one "outlier" (i.e., someone who plays according to the style described in this thread) may have a hard time pulling ahead of everyone else. In a gaming group that sticks to high score, low military strategies, there may never be sufficient motivation to switch to the low score, high military play that you see in high-level games of TtA. So even if you have played a lot, the discussion in this thread may seem weird. If you ever end up in a game in which two or three other players play as described, I think you'll see you need to either adapt or lose.
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Thanks for the response. I have played 180+ games of TtA, though admittedly most of those have been online against the same opponents. When someone is negated access to either Iron or Coal, he usually ends up with 4 Bronze mines just to keep up.

And in case you are wondering, we consider it a bad TtA game when the winner ends up with more than 180-200 VP. The lowest the score, the tougher the game.

I will try this approach in my next game and see how it goes, but I am not sure it will work in my group (all experienced players). Yellow cards are much sought after.
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tublefou wrote:
To me, Coal and Oil needed a boost, not Iron.


Almost all age 3 techs are weak actually, they are overcosted for how few turns you benefit of them.

Movies is in a good spot now because culture is what you want at that point and Elvis/Chaplin synergizes with it. The science buildings are valuable only because of their synergies with tesla/game designer/einstein.
Oil and mechanized breeding are simply a joke, heck the impacts that let you score of them are terrible even. Impact of agriculture? even if you ramp up to a rediculous 10 food per turn you likely only score 6 points over your competitors..

It's simply not efficient to pay so much at such a late stage to increase science/resource/food production unless there is some leader/wonder interaction.

The game would have been better if those techs were a bit better on their own and the interactions with wonders and leaders weaker. That would have made the possibilities for switching out leaders and wonders better too. Computers is basically increased in cost now only because 3 leaders and 3 wonders interact with it plus a strong impact. If the expected expansion with different sets of wonders/leaders comes it can go from absolutely useless to good just on which there are.

Coal is a bit weak too but has slightly more use, there is the transcontinental road interaction which makes an early coal pretty decent at times, especially if the game ends up more passive and lategame wonders are more enticing.


Iron and coal are a bit of weird spot though that they don't lack in popularity at all. Heck most new players and half the readers here are under the impression it's a vital tech. I think having those sort of cards in the game is fine, experienced players will know the scenario's where it's worth taking the weak tech and weaker players will use it just fine. It's also good to have a natural path for players to change their game from using iron very often to rarely using it.
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Jonathan Pickles
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Canales wrote:
Yellow cards are much sought after.


Is this not a factor always all you none upgraders?

If all but one player concentrate on upgrading then there will be plenty of yellow cards for the one left over but if everyone fights for the yellow there will just be less iron etc in the game?

(It's a serious question I am a relative novice at this game in terms of number of & recency of plays))
 
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M Van Der Werf
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Pickles wrote:
Canales wrote:
Yellow cards are much sought after.


Is this not a factor always all you none upgraders?

If all but one player concentrate on upgrading then there will be plenty of yellow cards for the one left over but if everyone fights for the yellow there will just be less iron etc in the game?

(It's a serious question I am a relative novice at this game in terms of number of & recency of plays))


The thing is if just one player upgrades heavily he tends to be destroyed in military. So noone tends to upgrade much with good players. You simply don't need that much resources either in most games, 1 or 2 early wonders, a bunch of age 1 units and possibly airforce and upgrade to irrigation. That is often all my spending, the problem was that other things were simply not effective enough.
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Are you all talking about 2 player games or 3/4 player games? I think the answers may be different if you are talking 2 vs. many players. I almost always play 4 player and I think this may favor upgrading mines more than perhaps a 2 player game does.
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