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Subject: Short (negative-ish) review about TtA rss

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Benjamin Tharin
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I know i won't get alot of upvotes for this and i won't go into great lenghts as there are already enough reviews that praise the game for what it is. The new Card Art is absolutely STUNNING. I have one major gripe with it though and i would like to hear what others think about it.

First off the new mechanics work great and i think most of the new rules make sense and the theme is stronger than ever. If you loved the old TtA you're also gonna like this one. I stopped playing TtA some time ago and i remember now why i did. With 4 players it's an absolute drag nomatter what. And you can get sidelined very brutal... hear me out please:


Game Length per Player added (With Veterans playing!, double any of these times if you are casual, easy going players)

The downtime is brutal, the game is getting actually stretched more PER player due to the cards not dropping off quicker... With 2 players you have 3 cards dropping off at least after each players turn even if they didn't buy any cards which make the new ages come up (much) quicker as this is essentially your round marker. I don't get why you wouldn't make it the other way (probably for balance reasons)

With 4 players only 1 card drops off in the worst case if you buy no cards. (Rare, but does happen).

So what happens ? With 2 people the game takes about 1 1/2 hours. With 4 people of the same speed it takes about 4/5 hours (not 3, you read right). Your downtime doubles (I cleaned up my kitchen at some point and when i came back it was still not my turn, and 2 of the guys on the table are actually TtA Veterans...), if you fall behind, you're just along for the ride because in this game there's no hidden victorypoints you can see pretty soon that you are out. I don't have the attention span for these huge games anymore.

To me this is way to long and it makes me realise why i developed a love / hate relationsship with TtA. Nation fixes all those problems with more players(i may be the only one who has these gripes) and fits me much better (the Art is just so ugly now that i've seen this.). It also has a handicap mechanism if new players join in. And I also noticed that in TtA you KNOW that some cards are coming because you use everything. Not sure if i like that better or not in nations where stuff is random, it's just a different game.

So i would rate TtA in my book a 9/10 with 2 people and a 6/10 with 4 people, thats probably the point where i go for Nations. I'm not expecting alot of upvotes for this in the TtA forum but i think i had to get this off my chest. After all TtA has a very special place in my heart, it's one of those big games that showed me what is actually possible in boardgaming alllll the way back when it came out.
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John Bradshaw
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Downtime is frustrating in many games and it is a substantial issue in TtA. It would be a good idea for real fans of the game to set up 5 or 6 tables simultaneously - so each player would be making moves more often!

I've sometimes wondered about making the player turns more intermixed. So there would be no individual player turn within a round, everyone would have the opportunity of taking ONE action and then the next player would take an action and so on, until all have passed or their actions run out. It should be possible to devise a variant of this type - I don't know how it would affect the game we know and love. I just feel it would be interesting to try. It would certainly reduce downtime, so players hopefully would feel involved constantly, but obviously overall play time would not be reduced. The overall time taken to play doesn't bother me - I find the games I like best tend to take ages, and my maxim is that great games are never too long, but gamers' time may be too short.
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Sidney Rocha
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For 4 players game, just wait the app, or go BGO.
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Benjamin Tharin
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Seghillian wrote:
Downtime is frustrating in many games and it is a substantial issue in TtA. It would be a good idea for real fans of the game to set up 5 or 6 tables simultaneously - so each player would be making moves more often!

I've sometimes wondered about making the player turns more intermixed. So there would be no individual player turn within a round, everyone would have the opportunity of taking ONE action and then the next player would take an action and so on, until all have passed or their actions run out. It should be possible to devise a variant of this type - I don't know how it would affect the game we know and love. I just feel it would be interesting to try. It would certainly reduce downtime, so players hopefully would feel involved constantly, but obviously overall play time would not be reduced. The overall time taken to play doesn't bother me - I find the games I like best tend to take ages, and my maxim is that great games are never too long, but gamers' time may be too short.
I agree mostly with this. It's the downtime not the overall length of the game. After 2 hours playing yesterday i kinda wished for it to be over as i was trailing so far behind.
On the other hand the overall length does matter because i kept thinking i could have played 2 nations in this time which has the advantage that you can try right away a new approach at the same day and yeah, its possible to play the game actually through the week, TtA with 4 people ? Forget it. Not possible, you better skip the night lol.
 
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Darkgalahad wrote:
The downtime is brutal, the game is getting actually stretched more PER player due to the cards not dropping off quicker... With 2 players you have 3 cards dropping off at least after each players turn even if they didn't buy any cards which make the new ages come up (much) quicker as this is essentially your round marker. I don't get why you wouldn't make it the other way (probably for balance reasons)
I'd imagine it was designed this way to reduce the chance of cards dropping off the card row while you're waiting for your turn to come round again. It'd be annoying to see a card you want appear just after your turn, then drop off just before your next turn. Of course it's a pain when another player takes the card you want, but it'd be more frustrating if the game rules did that to you. Reducing the number of cards automatically discarded as player count increases helps alleviate this issue.
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Brian Pierce
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It is interesting to read your thoughts about the game. I have always played TTA 2 player so I have never experienced the downtime issues you mentioned. I can imagine that it would be quite a problem at higher player counts though.

I also think we must have different tastes in games because I couldn't stand Nations at all. I bought it expecting a more streamlined TTA that I could lay more often. In the end it felt like a totally watered down and hollow version of TTA with none of the charm. I eventually traded it away at a 75% loss just to get it out of my house. Ok enough Nations bashing.

Thanks for taking the time to write a review. I always especially enjoy reviews that mention the negatives of games.
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Mark O'Reilly
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Benjamin, I don't feel your review is negative. You state that you rate the game 9/10 at two players count, but this tails off dramatically at 4 players due to downtime and the pain of falling behind in what is a long game.

I have found downtime OK in really long games because the game has me involved every step of the way. On other players turns I am interested in the decisions they make and ( because I always seem to be the rules explainer) , to oversee it is played correctly!.

I recently played a 4 player 7.5 hour epic game of clash of cultures with the expansion (and rules explanation) and I guess there was plenty of down time, but I never thought of it once because I was engaged all the way.

On the other hand, I have played 1.5 hour board games and been completely bored in between my turns and this is usually in more light weight affairs that do not require my full attention.

I could see down time in a long complex game possibly a problem if I had played that particular game so much that I had seen all it has to offer and it had become predictable.

I love long complex games, and fortunately so do many people I game with.
If I felt like you with TTA , I would stick to 2 or maybe 3 players? Going forward.

It's always nice to see a constructive review that stimulates debate


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Darrell Hanning
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There is another element contributing to the time taken with more players, which usually doesn't get mentioned, but is unavoidable nonetheless.

With 3 or 4 players, the chances of different opposing strategies increases geometrically. What this means, as an example, is this - if you have only one opponent, they are usually more focused on military or culture, technology or resources, etc. And you can quickly decide how to respond to that.

However, if there are more players, you start having to decide what you are going to respond to, coming from multiple, differing sources. This requires better planning, better balance in your own play, and so on. In addition to which, you likely feel more pressure to grab certain cards when you get the chance, forcing long-term planning to at least temporarily taking a back seat.

All of this forces more time to be taken during a player's turn.
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Benjamin Tharin
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bpierce72 wrote:
It is interesting to read your thoughts about the game. I have always played TTA 2 player so I have never experienced the downtime issues you mentioned. I can imagine that it would be quite a problem at higher player counts though.

I also think we must have different tastes in games because I couldn't stand Nations at all. I bought it expecting a more streamlined TTA that I could lay more often. In the end it felt like a totally watered down and hollow version of TTA with none of the charm. I eventually traded it away at a 75% loss just to get it out of my house. Ok enough Nations bashing.

Thanks for taking the time to write a review. I always especially enjoy reviews that mention the negatives of games.
Now i'm interested can i ask you wether you played Twilight Imperium / Eclipse ? In my head i have the same situation there, Love the game (Twilight), hate the downtime and overall length and prefer eclipse.
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Matthew Charlap
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Seghillian wrote:
Downtime is frustrating in many games and it is a substantial issue in TtA. It would be a good idea for real fans of the game to set up 5 or 6 tables simultaneously - so each player would be making moves more often!

I've sometimes wondered about making the player turns more intermixed. So there would be no individual player turn within a round, everyone would have the opportunity of taking ONE action and then the next player would take an action and so on, until all have passed or their actions run out. It should be possible to devise a variant of this type - I don't know how it would affect the game we know and love. I just feel it would be interesting to try. It would certainly reduce downtime, so players hopefully would feel involved constantly, but obviously overall play time would not be reduced. The overall time taken to play doesn't bother me - I find the games I like best tend to take ages, and my maxim is that great games are never too long, but gamers' time may be too short.
I haven't had an opportunity to try it, but I did come up with a rule set for intermixed turns. This, of course, was designed with the original version in mind, but I don't think anything is affected by the recent changes. Anyway, here is what I cam up with:

Setup: Randomly select 2 age A events per player. In a 3 or 4 player game, this means there will be 1 or 2 more events than in a standard game. Place half of these events in the “current events” pile and half in the “future events” pile. To prevent an event that it seeded from resolving in the same round (see political action phase), there will also be a “future events 2” pile.

Round 1: Play as normal. Player 1 gets one CA to use on the card row, player 2 gets 2 CAs, and so on.
Round 2: Each player, in turn, takes one action or passes. If a player passes, s/he is done for the round. Otherwise the player performs one action, paying the appropriate CAs/MAs to perform the action. When all players have used up their actions, the round ends and the card row is restocked. Discard the appropriate cards from the row based on the number of players.
On each players FIRST action for the round, the five oldest cards in the card row cost 1 CA to take. After that, the CA cost is as printed on the board.

Subsequent Rounds:
1) Resolve any active wars.
2) Pass the start player marker clockwise.
3) Each player, in order, takes a political action. Events are resolved as new ones are played. Events are placed in the “future events 2” pile; when the current events pile is emptied, the future events become current, and future events 2 become future events. A maximum of 1 war and 1 aggression may be played against the same player (this is because with simultaneous political actions, it is more likely that someone who is weaker will be aggressed on by all other players).
4) Players, in order, take one action or pass. A player who passes is done for the round, and that player takes care of harvest/consumption/production/corruption.. A player who does not wish to take an action nor pass may use 1 CA to do nothing. On the first action only, the five oldest cards in the card row only cost 1 CA to take. On subsequent actions, they have the normal CA cost. An action may be more than 1 CA (drawing a card from the row) or 0 CAs (certain leader and wonder abilities)
5) When all players have passed, remove any cards in the last 2*the number of players spaces in the card row, then refill the card row. All players now draw their military cards. If the age changes, all military cards are drawn at the OLD age, and yellow tokens are removed from population banks (since everyone already took care of production, any changes in consumption or happiness has no effect this round)

As there will be only 1 round in age 4, there is no point to playing a war in age 4 (unlike in a normal game where age 4 may start in the middle of a round, so some players may have 2 turns in age 4)


This is just a first draft, and I haven't tested it, but it seems that this would keep downtime to a minimum, and make it easier to react to the player immediately after you- so strategy will be a bit different.
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Shawn Fox
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I like 4 player TtA, my group fills the downtime with conversation about other things. I can certainly see that in groups that don't like talking to each other the downtime would be painful.
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It's true, the downtime is bloody brutal! I wish he had figured out a way to reduce it. I love the game but I sold it because we just were not interested in playing this game for more than two hours.

Also, I would have loved to see a change in components. The word "fiddly" gets thrown around a lot on this site and I think this game perfectly captures it. I HATED moving around those microscopic cubes on my tiny little sheet!

Thanks for the negative review. We need more brave souls such as yourself to write reviews for popular games they didn't enjoy.

sfox wrote:
I like 4 player TtA, my group fills the downtime with conversation about other things. I can certainly see that in groups that don't like talking to each other the downtime would be painful.
Yeah, that's right, myself and the OP didn't enjoy the downtime because we hate talking with our friends. Great insight! shake
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Benjamin Tharin
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sfox wrote:
I like 4 player TtA, my group fills the downtime with conversation about other things. I can certainly see that in groups that don't like talking to each other the downtime would be painful.
I think your phrasing was a bit unhappy there But i think i understand what you mean. What happend in our game was in Age 2 people were getting a bit antsy and pushed the people who's turn it was to play faster. I'm not a super social person anyway but that bothered me regardless. I think conversation is not a good excuse for harsh downtimes but i think i get what you mean. I guess you can be happy that you have such a tolerant group then =)
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Darkgalahad wrote:
sfox wrote:
I like 4 player TtA, my group fills the downtime with conversation about other things. I can certainly see that in groups that don't like talking to each other the downtime would be painful.
I think your phrasing was a bit unhappy there But i think i understand what you mean. What happend in our game was in Age 2 people were getting a bit antsy and pushed the people who's turn it was to play faster. I'm not a super social person anyway but that bothered me regardless. I think conversation is not a good excuse for harsh downtimes but i think i get what you mean. I guess you can be happy that you have such a tolerant group then =)
You handled that much better than I would have. The second I saw that passive-aggressive comment I got Vietnam-like flashbacks to coaching a teenage girl's baseball team.
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Benjamin Tharin
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Totally offtopic, that reminded me just now of this completely totally wrong scene from Wonder Showzen:

Disclaimer: Dont click this if you are below 30y old, i guess

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=teldsUlHiI0
 
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Roger S
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bpierce72 wrote:
I eventually traded it away at a 75% loss just to get it out of my house. Ok enough Nations bashing.
That's some serious Nations-hating! Haha.
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Grant
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I mostly agree with what you have to say about the lead time (so I mostly play asynchronously online), but this:
Darkgalahad wrote:
...if you fall behind, you're just along for the ride because in this game there's no hidden victorypoints you can see pretty soon that you are out.
...is just plain wrong. There are loads of points to be scored through endgame Impacts and late game wars/aggressions. It is very common for a player who focuses on infrastructure and military through most of the game to fall behind in points early only to take the win in the last few rounds.
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broken clock wrote:
Darkgalahad wrote:
sfox wrote:
I like 4 player TtA, my group fills the downtime with conversation about other things. I can certainly see that in groups that don't like talking to each other the downtime would be painful.
I think your phrasing was a bit unhappy there But i think i understand what you mean. What happend in our game was in Age 2 people were getting a bit antsy and pushed the people who's turn it was to play faster. I'm not a super social person anyway but that bothered me regardless. I think conversation is not a good excuse for harsh downtimes but i think i get what you mean. I guess you can be happy that you have such a tolerant group then =)
You handled that much better than I would have. The second I saw that passive-aggressive comment I got Vietnam-like flashbacks to coaching a teenage girl's baseball team.
Are you sure it's passive aggressive? Maybe it is, but I didn't read it that way at all. Personally I don't like a lot of side chatter if we're trying to keep a game moving, so this comment made sense.
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Benjamin Tharin
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grant5 wrote:
I mostly agree with what you have to say about the lead time (so I mostly play asynchronously online), but this:
Darkgalahad wrote:
...if you fall behind, you're just along for the ride because in this game there's no hidden victorypoints you can see pretty soon that you are out.
...is just plain wrong. There are loads of points to be scored through endgame Impacts and late game wars/aggressions. It is very common for a player who focuses on infrastructure and military through most of the game to fall behind in points early only to take the win in the last few rounds.
I know this, but i played stupid and i did not have a chance at all to ever catch them up. I didn't focus on infrastructure and military either. I just played wrong.
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Grant
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Darkgalahad wrote:
grant5 wrote:
I mostly agree with what you have to say about the lead time (so I mostly play asynchronously online), but this:
Darkgalahad wrote:
...if you fall behind, you're just along for the ride because in this game there's no hidden victorypoints you can see pretty soon that you are out.
...is just plain wrong. There are loads of points to be scored through endgame Impacts and late game wars/aggressions. It is very common for a player who focuses on infrastructure and military through most of the game to fall behind in points early only to take the win in the last few rounds.
I know this, but i played stupid and i did not have a chance at all to ever catch them up. I didn't focus on infrastructure and military either. I just played wrong.
Huh. In your review you state it as a broad generalization and a flaw of the game. So that's weird.
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Benjamin Tharin
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grant5 wrote:

Huh. In your review you state it as a broad generalization and a flaw of the game. So that's weird.
I just interpret the word trailing behind different, i'm not looking at the victory track alone and think. Oh woopsie i'm done. I'm taking everything into account that you just mentioned as well. It could even be that i'm more or less on par with people but still trailing behind because i see that they will score much much more points than i will in the future. It's correct in the sense of what i wanted to say.

If you're behind without a chance of coming back you're in for a sour experience. TtA does ofset that a bit with Age 3 points being the strongest for that reason but it can't offset that completely - without making the early game completely pointless (pointswise). In my mind it's almost a "soft" player elimination and vlada is well aware of this, there is a specific rule on how to deal with people that (want to) drop out.
Not many games (i can't remember any others) specifically have rules for people dropping out because they don't want / can play any more and i'm pretty sure this is the reason for it.
I would have wished for a tested handicap mechanism like in Nations for new players who are much more prone of course.
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I can understand what you mean, but I find this to be
1) a matter of taste. Some hate Mage Knight because it is long, which I find weird since that is just the game's character. Kinda like dissing chess for being 2-player only.
2) new players/and possibly overly perfectionism = downtime unavoidable.

I'd Love a 4p TtA with experienced players.
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Benjamin Tharin
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1) I'm not complaining that it's long, i complain that it's long AND you can get sidelined AND you have a terrible downtime (with 4 players). I'm also not saying that my opinion is objective and the same for everyone of course. Yeah, it's a matter of taste.

2) Exactly, some games deal better with this some worse. In my book TtA doesnt deal well with it. The ideal TtA game for me is, 2 players, both veterans. My personal preference.
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Mark van der Werf
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The game is best with 2 or 3 and much worse with 4 I think.
4 does take too long and has too much lack of control. Personally I prefer 2 as the event deck and control of the cards, hatedrafting, denying oppurtunities is big. But 3 is also pretty good as there are a little more options.

Nations plays better with 4 or 5 but is a very simplistic version compared to this game mostly.

I feel if you hit 4 or 5 players the civ game is better done by something like eclipse although it's a bit of stretch compared to TTA perhaps.

It is completely untrue though that 4 players takes more than twice as long as 2 players. 4 players is just twice as long in my experience. It also simplifies the game to some extent because denying and thinking what your opponent does becomes much less of a thing to the point players usually don't care too much. Number of turns per player is also the same basically.
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Benjamin Tharin
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Markwerf wrote:

It is completely untrue though that 4 players takes more than twice as long as 2 players. 4 players is just twice as long in my experience. It also simplifies the game to some extent because denying and thinking what your opponent does becomes much less of a thing to the point players usually don't care too much. Number of turns per player is also the same basically.
Since less cards drop off per player in a 4 player game i have trouble believing that it just doubles the time (but stays the same per player), makes no sense in my book. Could you elaborate where the timesaving exactly should come from to offset less cards dropping off each turn ?
I personally didn't see that happening.
 
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