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Subject: AoM for Puerto Rico players rss

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Brett Paul
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There are definite similarities between Age of Mythology and Puerto Rico, but they are far from the same game. I've outlined first the major similarities between them, followed by the big differences. I think that Age of Mythology is a great game in its own right. It is definitely more random in some aspects than Puerto Rico. The battles tend to be more random than you would expect them to be, but the impact of battles doesn't have to be that great to your overall strategy. Further, there are some aspects that I think are improvements over Puerto Rico, causing more interesting possibilities as the game goes on. This assumes that you are familiar with Puerto Rico. It's written from the perspective of the Age of Mythology game.

Age of Mythology is a 2-4 player game that I think would probably play best with 3 people. It takes between 1 and 2 hours to play. Puerto Rico is a 3-5 player game that plays in somewhat less time.

Let's start with the player boards. In both games, each player gets his/her own board. The board is divided into three areas - plantations, city and a holding area. The holding area is where you put your stuff (victory points, resources and in the case of AoM, units). The AoM board also lists the purchase cost of the different buildings. They could have listed the costs on the building tiles themselves, as it is the same for each different culture's board, but the building tiles are somewhat small. The upper-right corner of the AoM player board also shows the Ages, and how many cards you get to draw at that age.

Next, let's cover the plantations themselves. There is a central pool of plantations. Whenever someone plays an Explore action (like Settler), a number of the plantations are revealed at random. The number revealed is decided by the exact Explore card being played. Starting with the one who played the Explore action, each player selects a plantation and places it on their player board.

Sounds similar, but AoM introduces a new twist - terrain types. The plantation area of the player board is more than just the 12 boxes that PR has. There are 16 boxes. Each box has an associated terrain type - Desert, Forest, Swamp, Hills, Mountains, and Fertile. They are also in different proportions for each culture. Egyptians have a majority of Desert tiles and no mountains. Greek have mostly Hills, and has all six terrain types. Norse have more mountains than the other two, and has all six types, too. The plantation that you select has an associated terrain type, too. It must match the terrain that you put it on.

Very briefly, I'll mention Spoilage and the Resource Bank, both familiar concepts to the PR player. The Resource Bank is a central place that has all the resources that can be given out during the game. As resources are spoiled or spent, they are returned to this resource bank. One step in the turn sequence is Spoilage happens. This is similar to PR's Captain Phase spoilage, but in AoM, you are limited to 5 of each resource by default. Anything above what you can keep is returned to the central resource bank.

The city is next. A city is made up of the buildings that you buy. You can only have one of a particular building with one exception: House. You can have up to 10 houses. The buildings are House, Wall, Tower, Market, Storehouse, Armory, Quarry, Monument, Granary, Wood Workshop, Gold Mint, Siege Engine Workshop, Great Temple and The Wonder.

Analogs to PR are the Quarry (which reduces the cost of buildings by 1), and the Storehouse (which increases the number of resources you can keep when spoilage occurs).

The House, Granary, Monument, Wood Workshop, and Gold Mint help you increase your production in different ways.

The Tower, Wall, Armory and Siege Engine Workshop are all specific to battles, which is not a factor in PR.

The Great Temple is the only building that can directly provide victory points. At the Great Temple, you spend your divine Favor in exchange for victory points.

The Market allows you to trade for free. Normally, when you trade, it costs you one or two resources (depending on the action card used to do trading). Trading is only with the resource pool, not with other players.

The Wonder ends the game.

Next, let's cover the Action cards you can play. These are similar to PR's roles, except that the limiting factor is a hand of cards you draw at the start of the turn, rather than what is available. The actions are Gather, Recruit, Build, Explore, Attack, Trade and Next Age.

The analogs to PR are Gather (Craftsman), Build (Builder), and Explore (Settler). Gather is different in that the player playing the Gather card decides how things are produced. They can select a particular terrain type, a particular resource type or (with the more powerful version of the Gather card) everything. Build may allow you to build more than one building on your turn. There is no competition for buildings (there is at least one per player of those that you are limited to one of). Explore differences are explained above (introduction of the terrain type).

Recruit and Attack are specific to battles. Recruit allows you to purchase more military units. Attack allows you to use those units against an opponent.

Once you pay the trade cost, a Trade action allows you to exchange resources with the bank one-for-one.

Next Age allows you to enter new ages. The ages are Archaic (a.k.a. Ancient), Classical, Heroic and Mythic. At each age greater age, you are able to draw a greater number of cards when drawing action cards at the start of the turn, which increases your choices available. It also allows you access to greater, more powerful heroes when recruiting.

So, all this is great, but aside from the Great Temple, how do you get victory points? Well, there are four cards: The Wonder, The Most Buildings and The Largest Army, which are awarded at the end of the game, and Won the Last Battle, which awards the victory points on it to whoever wins a battle. Each turn, up to 3 players will add victory points to these cards. Each of these players adds one victory point to the card of their choice.

If you built the Wonder (which ends the game), you get the victory points on The Wonder card.

If at the end of the game you have the largest city, you get the victory points on The Most Buildings card.

If at the end of the game you have the most units, you get the victory points on The Largest Army card.

Note that in the event of a tie for most buildings and largest army, no player receives these victory points.

There are some notable differences between Age of Mythology and Puerto Rico. I've already mentioned the terrain types associated with the plantations.

In AoM, you recruit units and battle opponents directly. The effect of battles is that you can steal resources, steal plantations or destroy buildings in their city.

In AoM, there really isn't a concept of money, per se (so the Prospector role has no place in AoM). You make your purchases with the resources you develop. One resource is Gold, but it isn't significantly more important than the other resources (Favor, Food, Wood). There is also no shipping/Captain phase in AoM. The resources you get are used to recruit units, build cities, and activate the abilities on the "God" cards. God cards are basically like selecting a role in PR, but by spending divine Favor, you activate an extra special ability of the role. For example, there is a God card that allows you to recruit Mortals for the cost of one food each instead of their normal cost. Trading in PR gets you Dubloons, where trading in AoM allows you to exchange one resource for another.

The last thing that is notable is the nature of knowing who is winning in AoM. In Puerto Rico, the victory points are face-down, so unless you're very good at keeping track of who has gotten how many victory points, you are somewhat in the dark about who is really winning. In Age of Mythology, it is fairly easy to tell who is in a strong position, and who is in a weak position, to get the various victory points available. You can also take steps to change that outcome. This provides some great stress and great fun as the game heads to a close, and players do what they can to get an edge.

After having played several games now, I rate Age of Mythology a 9 out of 10. I recommend it to anyone who likes Puerto Rico.
 
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Peter Marchlewitz
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Re:AoM for Puerto Rico players
TheIceMage (#19475),


How can you miss the huge borrowing of Settlers of Catan as well? Let's be honest. AOM is a fun game and I am glad I have it, but it's far from revolutionary. Glenn borrowed from two great German games and threw a different theme and simple combat into the mix.
 
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Jennifer Schlickbernd
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Re:AoM for Puerto Rico players
Palpatine (#19660),
What "huge borrowing"? Settlers Longest Road reward and AOM's victory points for Largest Army and Most Buildings are barely related. In Settlers there is a set cost for Longest Road and in AOM the Largest Army and Most Buildings are very variable and may not even be given (unlikely but possible). The ability to trade resources is very optional in AOM and not at all critical to the game as it is in Settlers. I think any relationship between Settlers and AOM is superficial at best.

I don't really know if the AOM design is revolutionary...few designs are. However I don't think that it owes much to Settlers.

Jennifer
 
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Peter Marchlewitz
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Re:AoM for Puerto Rico players
jschlickbernd (#19684),

Superficial?

Are you trying to suggest that you don't see any similarity between Settlers and its terrain tiles that produce resources, and AOM and its terrain tiles that produce resources? Sure they are aquired differently and that 's important, but most players of German style board games who play this game would say, "Hey, there's forest tiles in this game and they give me wood...( mostly) this is sorta like Settlers," or" Hey, we have our own board for buildings and products...this is like Puerto Rico."
This isn't a bad thing...as they say imitation is the best form of flattery. Besides there is nothing wrong with borrowing ideas and encorporating them into a new design, so long as the new ideas are fresh and not a rehash. I think AOM is fresh. It has used elements from German games and tried to encorporate them into an American style game.
You forgot to mention the largest army award in Settlers, although you mentioned the longest road award. The fact that the largest army and most buildings awards exist in AOM is evidence enough for me that there is a Settlers influence. Yet there is even more...
You mention trading resources...this is a well known game mechanic from Settlers. Whether it is used the same way or not, or as frequently or not, doesn't matter. You gotta give credit where credit is due. It's not superficial. It's right in front of you.
 
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Brian Schlichting
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Re:AoM for Puerto Rico players
Palpatine (#19715),

I have to disagree with Peter on this one. Although I think that there are many mechanics borrowed from many other games, Settlers is not where credit is due.

Settlers was not the first game to give resources to players for controlling terrains or board spaces (Blood Royale for one). Settlers was not the first game to reward a player for possessing the largest army (any wargame ever). Settlers was not the first game to allow trading of resources (AH Civilization, obviously).

If you want to give credit where credit is due, you'll have to go back another twenty years or so.

Fortunately, that is not necessary, because nearly every mechanic in every game is some modification of some previous mechanic used by someone else. Seldom is any idea 100% original, never been seen before.
 
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Brett Paul
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Re:AoM for Puerto Rico players
Palpatine wrote:
How can you miss the huge borrowing of Settlers of Catan as well?


Mostly because the title of this thread was "AoM for Puerto Rico players."

I also agree with the other posters that there wasn't necessarily HUGE borrowing from Settlers.

- Brett
www.OrcSports.com
 
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Glenn Drover
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Re:AoM for Puerto Rico players
Actually, both of these games and many others influenced my thinking when designing AoM. My goal was to create a game that was familiar to many "Euro gamers" while following the conventions of the PC game.

For example: The individual player board concept used in Puerto Rico and other recent Euro-style games was an elegant solution to abstracting the concept of territory in AoM. It was clearly superior to making players move their units in real space over a map. It is more flexible and balanced, and offers the players the opportunity to focus on interesting decisions rather than the tactics of moving their units.

TheIceMage (#19872),
 
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Peter Marchlewitz
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Re:AoM for Puerto Rico players



Alrighty then...perhaps "huge borrowing" was a little bit too much hyperbole. It still remind me of Settlers in some respects, as well as Puerto Rico.
What a well made game though! Whoever thought there'd be an American game with both miniatures...and little wooden cubes!
 
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Henddher
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Re:AoM for Puerto Rico players
I agree with Brian (PopeBrain). Most of the mechanics I've seen in games are somehow similar to others. In other words, you'll find the same basic mechanic in many different games, even applied similarly sometimes: i.e. resource production associated to a terrain type. The same mechanic can have variations such as: a random generated number of resources when the terrain is uncovered, or every time the terrain is activated (randomly or or voluntarely), or when a gatherer unit is placed on the terrain. I guess the important factor is how these mechanism are put together and how well they adhere to the theme of the game.

- Henddher
 
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