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Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization» Forums » Strategy

Subject: What am I missing? rss

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Steve Kontoulis
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So I have a group of 3 of the same players that have played TTA probably 10+ times, and I have some questions about things I have read here in comparison to what we experience.

1.) Military seems worthless. We are always playing 3p games, and we use the optional no piling on rule (no player can be attacked more than once per turn). But military seems insurmountably difficult, and everyone who tries to push military usually comes in last place. The problem as I see it: It takes your military actions to build your military, meaning you aren't drawing many military cards. Once you start attacking, actually attacking uses your military actions, so then you don't draw cards at all. Without drawing many cards, you don't have more aggressions to use. Plus everyone else is drawing their full military actions in cards and always has defense. It is constantly nothing but a losing strategy. What are we doing wrong here? By the time you get 2 attacks in, everyone else has out-produced and out-scienced you and you are done.

2.) It seems like there are some overly powerful combinations. Shakespeare with his two building types seems unbeatable. A few other combinations seem very strong as well. Is the idea to mildly select one of these combos early in the game and push towards it, then take that leader later on as soon as they come up?
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Game Junkie
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Your experience is quite different from mine!

1. It seems like your group has fallen into groupthink regarding military. That you are using the no piling on rule is also an indicative that your group is not a very aggressive one.

If you go the military route, you need military actions, which you can obtain by drafting military leaders or blue techs. A quick government change might also give you a temporary advantage in military actions.

Age I aggressions can slow down a player, but the real threat is in Ages II and III, where a well-timed aggression can wreck a player. If you have 5 military actions, you can attack and still draw cards.

The key is to find a good military tactic and get the bonus before the other players are prepared. You should also play more risky and keep aggressions in your hand instead of defense cards.

One more thing: if you plan to be the strongest player, do not forget to seed the event deck with cards that punish the weakest player. This can be very damaging in the long run.

2. There are several good combos, but it is up to the players to deny them to the other players. If someone builds the Hanging Gardens and St. Peter's Basilica, don't let Michelangelo pass by.

While I like Shakespeare, he is one of the worst leaders (and has been tweaked in the new version). Printing presses and dramas are expensive to build early on, thus it is difficult to maximize him. Of course, if someone builds those buildings, he won't have enough resources to have a strong military and thus he will be punished. Really, military is the answer to players who focus only on culture generation at the expense of everything else.

And yes, one of the key aspects of the game is to build a flexible civilization that can benefit from the different leaders/combos.

Edit: spelling.
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Bryan Thunkd
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"We've implemented a house rule that neuters going military and now military seems worthless. What are we doing wrong here?" You really don't see it?
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David desJardins
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The OP doesn't mention any "house rules".
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Bryan Thunkd
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DaviddesJ wrote:
The OP doesn't mention any "house rules".
Isn't that the "no piling on" rule. I don't own a copy if the game and was taught the game by the owner. I assumed that was a house rule. Regardless, my point is that if you use a rule that limits military, don't be surprised when military seems less appealing.
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Patar Absurdus the Shananigator
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"what you just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response, were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought.
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Thunkd wrote:
DaviddesJ wrote:
The OP doesn't mention any "house rules".
Isn't that the "no piling on" rule. I don't own a copy if the game and was taught the game by the owner. I assumed that was a house rule. Regardless, my point is that if you use a rule that limits military, don't be surprised when military seems less appealing.


It's an official variant but a horrible one that neuters military. Abandon it. The weakest player should be pounced on by everyone that has a high enough military lead.

It would be useful for you to change the title to something like: "Questions about military usefulness and apprehend overpowered combos."
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Bryan Thunkd
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Canales wrote:
Really, military is the answer to players who focus only on culture generation at the expense of everything else.
This. Removing military as an effective counter seems like it would unbalance the game. It's hard for me to believe that "no piling on" was approved as an official variant.

Yes, allowing players to pile on makes the game more brutal... but really it just forces you to keep up with military arms race and never fall too far behind. A civilization game where military strength isn't important seems unrealistic.
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George I.
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Isn't it called "No ganging up"?
 
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Steve Kontoulis
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I have to politely disagree with the point that some seem to be making here. Yes, the 'no ganging up' rule is an official variant. We have been playing with it. That being said, that is not the reason that the people doing military have been losing terribly. The games we have played (like I said, 10+ and and we are all very experienced heavy gamers) have typically been:

1 person tries military, the other two simply abandon it and just coast through the game with 3-4 military strength through the end of age 2. They overcome it with defense cards, since they are not using any military actions and are drawing 3 fresh cards every turn. The person trying to use military gets mired in using their military actions to make either troops or attacks, not both, because you don't have enough military actions with despotism. They -may- get a successful attack or two in, but they are not damaging enough to slow the people ignoring military down. By that time, science rules the game and the person using military cannot even keep attacking let alone winning because they are outclassed in everything.

We have had multiple people in the group try it and it always fails... miserably. A point made earlier -- is the Warfare tech basically a requirement of going military to get the extra military action?
 
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Jack Rudd
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imrahil6 wrote:
1 person tries military, the other two simply abandon it and just coast through the game with 3-4 military strength through the end of age 2. They overcome it with defense cards, since they are not using any military actions and are drawing 3 fresh cards every turn. The person trying to use military gets mired in using their military actions to make either troops or attacks, not both, because you don't have enough military actions with despotism. They -may- get a successful attack or two in, but they are not damaging enough to slow the people ignoring military down. By that time, science rules the game and the person using military cannot even keep attacking let alone winning because they are outclassed in everything.


Here's a golden piece of advice for you in this situation:

The event deck is the military leader's friend. Use it often.

About a third of the events in ages I/II help the military leader or hurt the military trailer or both. A further third are colonies, which the military leader is much better placed to gain.
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Game Junkie
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Steve, you can play the game however you like, of course!

However, with 10+ plays in, your group is more than ready to step up. I'd suggest playing a few games without this variant and see how it goes.

Regarding the Warfare tech: the more military actions, the better. They help you seed events that benefit you or hurt others, and let you keep drawing while increasing your military.
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john guthrie
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imrahil6 wrote:
...They overcome it with defense cards, since they are not using any military actions and are drawing 3 fresh cards every turn.


there aren't that many defense cards. and believe me, there are games where you don't get any.
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Tables
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JackRudd wrote:
imrahil6 wrote:
1 person tries military, the other two simply abandon it and just coast through the game with 3-4 military strength through the end of age 2. They overcome it with defense cards, since they are not using any military actions and are drawing 3 fresh cards every turn. The person trying to use military gets mired in using their military actions to make either troops or attacks, not both, because you don't have enough military actions with despotism. They -may- get a successful attack or two in, but they are not damaging enough to slow the people ignoring military down. By that time, science rules the game and the person using military cannot even keep attacking let alone winning because they are outclassed in everything.


Here's a golden piece of advice for you in this situation:

The event deck is the military leader's friend. Use it often.

About a third of the events in ages I/II help the military leader or hurt the military trailer or both. A further third are colonies, which the military leader is much better placed to gain.


This is absolutely the most crucial thing I feel like you've been missing. Most events help the military leader or punish those further behind. Leading military, especially in age I, means exploiting events just as much as it means exploiting aggressions. Heck arguably events are even more important.

Regarding defence cards, you're talking about them like they're common. There's only 6 in each age, and each one is only +2/+4/+6 defence - enough to overcome a small lead, but not enough when you lead military by a significant amount. It's fairly common especially in age I to not have any defence cards, since most people will be drawing only 2 cards per turn. And if you lead them in military by 3 points, you're in a strong position to attack, since they'll need either two defence cards (quite unlikely) or to sacrifice, which is a decent chunk of damage anyway.

Regarding military actions, the cost isn't too high if you're investing in military actions, which you should be if you're going for military. Constitutional Monarchy is generally considered the best government tech to get, and that gives 4 MA. Add in a Military Leader and/or Warfare/Strategy and reaching 5-7 MA isn't too hard. At that point, you can attack someone for 2 MA, expand your military a little, and still draw 2-3 military cards. They might defend once, but if they do you can probably attack again.

And those age II and III agressions, and especially wars, start to get pretty brutal. Someone has the Shakespeare combo? Fine, just Raid and destroy two of their Operas, dealing 18 resources worth of damage and temporarily reducing their culture generation by 10, while you gain 9 resources. Going into age III with a military of over 40? War over Culture will easily get you 30+ culture, and lose them the same. Do one of those on each other player for 30 culture each, and it's a net gain of 90+ culture (you gain 60+, each of them loses 30+). Or Holy War, completely wreck their economy and culture production, plus their chance of scoring well on impacts, for the last half of age III. Those wars are brutal against someone who has decided to completely neglect Military.
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Ben Kyo
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I Eat Tables said everything I was going to, except I want to add that the "no ganging up" rule isn't nearly as significant as some other people implied earlier, in a three player game in which only one person has a strong military lead. It could produce some weird situations in which the weaker players deliberately fail attacks against each other to completely lock out the leader who could benefit from aggressions/wars, but I imagine that if that happened you would quickly abandon the rule as a silly one anyway. Assuming that is not happening, it would either prevent the second strongest from attacking the third, which hinders the second player, or prevent the leader from attacking the third, which they might not care about if they are significantly ahead of both in military.
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Justin
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Play some 3P games with strangers at http://boardgaming-online.com , and see how the military aspect goes.
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Steve Kontoulis
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I Eat Tables wrote:
JackRudd wrote:
imrahil6 wrote:
1 person tries military, the other two simply abandon it and just coast through the game with 3-4 military strength through the end of age 2. They overcome it with defense cards, since they are not using any military actions and are drawing 3 fresh cards every turn. The person trying to use military gets mired in using their military actions to make either troops or attacks, not both, because you don't have enough military actions with despotism. They -may- get a successful attack or two in, but they are not damaging enough to slow the people ignoring military down. By that time, science rules the game and the person using military cannot even keep attacking let alone winning because they are outclassed in everything.


Here's a golden piece of advice for you in this situation:

The event deck is the military leader's friend. Use it often.

About a third of the events in ages I/II help the military leader or hurt the military trailer or both. A further third are colonies, which the military leader is much better placed to gain.


This is absolutely the most crucial thing I feel like you've been missing. Most events help the military leader or punish those further behind. Leading military, especially in age I, means exploiting events just as much as it means exploiting aggressions. Heck arguably events are even more important.

Regarding defence cards, you're talking about them like they're common. There's only 6 in each age, and each one is only +2/+4/+6 defence - enough to overcome a small lead, but not enough when you lead military by a significant amount. It's fairly common especially in age I to not have any defence cards, since most people will be drawing only 2 cards per turn. And if you lead them in military by 3 points, you're in a strong position to attack, since they'll need either two defence cards (quite unlikely) or to sacrifice, which is a decent chunk of damage anyway.

Regarding military actions, the cost isn't too high if you're investing in military actions, which you should be if you're going for military. Constitutional Monarchy is generally considered the best government tech to get, and that gives 4 MA. Add in a Military Leader and/or Warfare/Strategy and reaching 5-7 MA isn't too hard. At that point, you can attack someone for 2 MA, expand your military a little, and still draw 2-3 military cards. They might defend once, but if they do you can probably attack again.

And those age II and III agressions, and especially wars, start to get pretty brutal. Someone has the Shakespeare combo? Fine, just Raid and destroy two of their Operas, dealing 18 resources worth of damage and temporarily reducing their culture generation by 10, while you gain 9 resources. Going into age III with a military of over 40? War over Culture will easily get you 30+ culture, and lose them the same. Do one of those on each other player for 30 culture each, and it's a net gain of 90+ culture (you gain 60+, each of them loses 30+). Or Holy War, completely wreck their economy and culture production, plus their chance of scoring well on impacts, for the last half of age III. Those wars are brutal against someone who has decided to completely neglect Military.


This is very helpful. A question though -- you cannot play an event and make an attack on a single turn right? It's one or the other, right?
 
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Bryan P
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imrahil6 wrote:

This is very helpful. A question though -- you cannot play an event and make an attack on a single turn right? It's one or the other, right?


That is correct. You get ONE political action per turn.

In an earlier post you mentioned two players having a mil strength of only 3 or 4 and "coasting" through the game. Earlier today I played a game where I got to a stength of 27 in late Age 2. That is rare, but surely you can see how one Holy War, War Over Territory, or War Over Culture and the person with a measly 3 str is in serious trouble.
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jonas havreglid
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How much strength is the military player at in age 2? You should be at 10 in beginning and 20-30 in the end of the age. That difference can not be defended if you are at 4 strength.
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Noble Knave
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Another benefit of having more MAs is that it increases your hand limit for military cards. That can be crucial for colonizing and attacking other players.
 
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Philipp Paier
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I know I'm late to the party, but have you read Eugene's articles?
https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/378016/through-ages-strateg...
https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/378032/econo-military-strat...

They made me a good TTA player, are the best thing I ever read on BGG, and that's why I even printed them. Focusing on military (using that strategy) will win you 4 out of 5 2player games. It's more difficult to pull of a victory in 3 to 4 player games, when you focus on military only though, because you can't attack everyone and one opponent should be able to be close to you in military while producing more culture. However the Military-Economy strategy gives you a very good shot at winning any game, regardless the number of players, though at some point you have to create some culture.

In your case of 3player games, I would even say that neglecting culture almost completely, focusing mostly on science and military even in the 3rd age is likely going to make you happy. The reason I say this, is because you said, that both your opponents neglect military completely, staying at 3 or 4 in military strength until the 3rd age. That's crazy! Especially with the optional rule on not ganging up, because then you're the only on that's able to benefit from the lack of strength of your opponents. Even better, when your opponents don't mind military: you get very important cards, like knights, cannons and riflemen for few civil actions.

There is one point though:
Don't panic! Even if you're 60 culture points behind your opponents 4 rounds before the end, don't suddenly try to catch up with culture producing stuff. You will lose that race. Keep calm, wait for the right tactic-card and wars (you will get them 4/5 times).

I've seen it so many times, where players using a killer-culture combo, are way ahead 3 rounds before the end, and think they can get away with it, if they stop in military...and they get destroyed in the end. Once I played someone, who was already declared a war on, he got some Shakespeare combo giving him 20 pts, and a nice lead of 60points and he had the chance to take Gandhi. Instead he was greedy and stuck with Shakespeare. Two rounds later he got no culture left.

In your case it's even worse, because your opponents never even try to build up military to begin with. Military doesn't necessarily win you the game (though it does very often in 2player games), but you'll lose if you neglect it. So if your two opponents neglect it, that makes them the losers and only one person left to be the winner.
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Tim Courtney
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imrahil6 wrote:
1 person tries military, the other two simply abandon it and just coast through the game with 3-4 military strength through the end of age 2.


To be clear: are you playing the full game or the version that ends at the end age 2? The latter is only useful for learning the game and is not balanced similarly to the full game (or even balanced well at all IMHO, it's not the real game). It also (IIRC) lacks wars, which more severely punish a weak military and don't allow use of defense cards.

As others have said, all your experiences are exactly the opposite of everyone else's. When playing with friends (rather than strangers online) we've houserule-banned Napoleon because of how severely he warps the game. Shakespeare is almost never used because he get's crushed by someone who goes military. Entering Age 3 with less than 10 strength is begging to have a Holy War wipe out your entire civilization.

Quote:
The event deck is the military leader's friend. Use it often.


I'll third or fourth this as well. I usually won't even play a card if I'm weakest because of how brutal things like Reign of Terror and Refugees are when you're already behind on strength.
 
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