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

Subject: Thoughts on rebalanced cards rss

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Andy Mesa
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I played my first game with the new version last night, and I was curious to see how it played out.

Though I very much appreciate the new tactics rule (everyone should play with this regardless of edition) and the streamlined end of turn sequence, I was curious to see if CGE had "balanced out the fun" with the cards. I agree that some cards were more popular/powerful than others, but this is what created the fascinating tension in the game. Do I waste CAs on a good card at the end of the row, or do I try to do with what's available to me for cheap? If all the cards are equally good, why bother?

Moreover, there were a lot of cards/strategies I found to be good that others did not. I found there was a "groupthink" that led people to never take certain cards that were perfectly viable under the right circumstances. I've won 90% of my games by playing against the commonly thought "good" cards. Only time will tell, as I need to play many more games to see how different scenarios play out, but my initial thoughts are below.

* Taj Mahal has benefitted greatly, despite already being a great wonder in my eyes. I know it wasn't popular, but it had the third best culture generation of any wonder after Eiffel Tower and FSF.

* The same goes for Monarchy, which was the most underrated card in the game and now is just ridiculous. For two/eight science you get an extra civil and military action, and bump up your building limit an entire age early. Even if you pay the full price it's way better than Code of Laws, which everyone seems to like.

* They've also made the William Shakespeare culture track strategy even stronger by increasing his ability, making Printing Press and Drama better, and downplaying military. This wasn't a strategy I used often, it took a lot of skill/luck to get everything into place with a good enough military, but it was pretty powerful when you did and now it's significantly easier to pull off.

* I'm totally okay with nerfing Napoleon, because he was a leader I rarely took anyway. I think Napoleon was the most overhyped card in the game. I was much more prone to taking James Cook, which also required a strong military and actually generated culture as well, instead of just stealing it. Both have been nerfed, and I didn't really see any particularly great Age II leaders now except Shakespeare and again that's situational.

Again, just my initial thoughts after one play. I'm looking forward to trying it out more and seeing what happens.
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Jimmy Okolica
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I'll hopefully get to see the cards myself tomorrow... can't wait!
 
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George I.
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Very constructive article Andy, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I've seen most of the cards but haven't played with them yet -- although I have played the older version with the new ruleset and it was a great experience. This version will probably give players the chance to consider cards which they had always been ruling out; for example, I've never taken Monarchy at all, but now it's indeed a good choice. In fact, its full cost is cheaper than Code of Laws and Warfare together and you need 2 less actions. I would consider it greatly if Warfare had passed, I was stuck with 2 MAs and I had no Pyramids, as well.
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Andy Mesa wrote:
The same goes for Monarchy, which was the most underrated card in the game and now is just ridiculous. For two/eight science you get an extra civil and military action, and bump up your building limit an entire age early. Even if you pay the full price it's way better than Code of Laws, which everyone seems to like.


The big downside was that, Governments have a big opportunity cost, since you only have one in play at once and they tend to have pretty big effects. The civil technologies have an opportunity cost but it's much smaller, since the difference between each one isn't so big (especially the age II one). Monarchy might be only slightly more expensive than Code of Laws, but by playing it you weaken all future potential Government plays since you're effectively upgrading by one less CA and one less MA than you would by upgrading out of Despotism. And when compared to the age II governments, it really didn't stack up - Const Mon was only 3 science more but gave 1 CA and 1 MA more, which was very significant, and Republic upped you by a massive 3 CA. I feel like this buff is well deserved, and makes going age I government into age III government - or heck possibly just age I government maybe - a more viable play.
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Pieter
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I already liked early Monarchy in the old version. You could let it go and hope for an early Republic, but if it comes late or someone else grabs it before you, you are screwed. True, Monarchy wasn't great, but if you get it early the extra actions build up.
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Sophia Lechner
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Hah, was reading this and thinking, "hey, this is basically what my friend Andy said when we played it earlier" and then I saw who posted it.

I agree with pretty much everything, and also want to add that I really liked the "free civil action on leader replacement" rule. Sure, none of the age 2 leaders are amazing (though Cook still pulled in ~20 culture and I wasn't even hitting the colonies that hard) but now adding an age 2 leader to your age 1 and age 3 leaders costs a net 0 civil actions (if you get it on the cheapest spot) so that's a pretty good deal.

And of course Code of Laws still has one great advantage over Monarchy: it doesn't disappear when you get your age 2 or 3 government. (In our game, I took both Monarchy *and* Code of Laws...I had snagged the 3 blue token colony so didn't see a point in holding out for the upgraded legal tech).

I also liked the two new age III events - knowing about them now means you can usually use every civil action on the last turn with good odds of something paying off.
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Myke Linscott
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Andy Mesa wrote:
Even if you pay the full price it's way better than Code of Laws, which everyone seems to like.


Whoa is that real?
 
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Petri Savola
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Andy Mesa wrote:
Though I very much appreciate the new tactics rule (everyone should play with this regardless of edition) and the streamlined end of turn sequence, I was curious to see if CGE had "balanced out the fun" with the cards. I agree that some cards were more popular/powerful than others, but this is what created the fascinating tension in the game. Do I waste CAs on a good card at the end of the row, or do I try to do with what's available to me for cheap? If all the cards are equally good, why bother?

Earlier, there were some cards which were often no-brainer picks no matter how many CA's they cost. So players can just wait when they appear and then instantly pick them for 3 CA - and it's pure luck if it happens to be your turn when the card becomes available. I think it's good that there are more popular/powerful cards around, but if some cards are so powerful that everybody will always take them for 3 CA then it's no longer fun.

Quote:
Moreover, there were a lot of cards/strategies I found to be good that others did not. I found there was a "groupthink" that led people to never take certain cards that were perfectly viable under the right circumstances. I've won 90% of my games by playing against the commonly thought "good" cards. Only time will tell, as I need to play many more games to see how different scenarios play out, but my initial thoughts are below.

TtA plays out very differently in different groups because of groupthink. It appears that you've been playing very peaceful games without having to fear aggressions or wars too much. Perhaps strength based events are also quite rare in your group. I believe, however, that if you mix people from different groups together, then military-focused strategies will be more successful than peaceful strategies on average. This is why some of the cards which were already valuable in peaceful games were slightly buffed.

Quote:
Taj Mahal has benefitted greatly, despite already being a great wonder in my eyes. I know it wasn't popular, but it had the third best culture generation of any wonder after Eiffel Tower and FSF.

Greatly? I thought the benefit is marginal. Taj Mahal remains the weakest age I wonder (because at that point your concern is infrastructure, not culture), but received a small buff which was good.

Quote:
The same goes for Monarchy, which was the most underrated card in the game and now is just ridiculous. For two/eight science you get an extra civil and military action, and bump up your building limit an entire age early. Even if you pay the full price it's way better than Code of Laws, which everyone seems to like.

Monarchy was situational before, but on average quite weak. Now it may be more viable in many situations, which encourages more people to play it. I like the change and think it was necessary.

Quote:
They've also made the William Shakespeare culture track strategy even stronger by increasing his ability, making Printing Press better, and downplaying military. This wasn't a strategy I used often, it took a lot of skill/luck to get everything into place with a good enough military, but it was pretty powerful when you did and now it's significantly easier to pull off.

Shakespeare was basically never taken or played in the (800+) games I've played. I think he deserved a buff to make him an alternative instead of just filling the card row with a blank card.

Quote:
I'm totally okay with nerfing Napoleon, because he was a leader I rarely took anyway. I think Napoleon was the most overhyped card in the game. I was much more prone to taking James Cook, which also required a strong military and actually generated culture as well, instead of just stealing it. Both have been nerfed, and I didn't really see any particularly great Age II leaders now except Shakespeare and again that's situational.

Napoleon was not overhyped. When he appeared, the game instantly became an arms race in order to stay in touch with Napoleon's military. With a bit of luck (early age 2 with Classic Army) he could also decide the game very early in a way which was not very nice. Games without Napoleon were often much more fun than the games with him, because the military race will then usually start later. Therefore it may be the single most important change they made.

---

However, there are changes which may have made some cards too weak or strong. But I don't think any of the cards you mentioned belong into this list.
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Andy Mesa
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Almost every game I've played (60+ plays logged here) has ended in war. The question often became whether the player that went entirely military could steal enough points to win. Sometimes they could, but often they could not. It was harder to defend when I went full culture (Mike/Will) as it usually came down to whether I could get a good tactics card but considerably easier when I went colonial (Columbus/Cook) and already had a strong military to eat up new colonies.

As I said, I'm not against the nerfing of either leaders as it does make for new paths to victory, but it also makes old ones easier (for me).
 
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Andy Mesa
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A few more thoughts after another play:

* Joan of Arc's new abilities were used to great effect by the winning player. She was never a leader I was interested in, and lacking a good religious track I still probably wouldn't take her, but a nice buff nonetheless. I do wish the game had a better religious track (as BGO2 does) but that would require adding new leaders/wonders. Maybe in expansions?

* There was a lack of resources in our game due to missing out on Age I techs and this is purely anecdotal but we noticed a bigger lack in one time resource cards. I guess it's because the cards combine resources now, so if you need lots of one resource (science, food, or rock) it's harder to get from yellow cards as they're a bit more spread out.

* I love the tactics rule, still easily my favorite new addition, but I'm also noticing less tension in that phase of the game. I'm no longer desperate to see as many military cards as I can to draw the right tactics. That's good, but..also a little uneventful. I've always thought a military card row variant would be interesting, albeit make the game even longer.
 
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Kester J
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Andy Mesa wrote:
* I love the tactics rule, still easily my favorite new addition, but I'm also noticing less tension in that phase of the game. I'm no longer desperate to see as many military cards as I can to draw the right tactics. That's good, but..also a little uneventful. I've always thought a military card row variant would be interesting, albeit make the game even longer.


I've actually found the opposite, that getting military actions in age I is more important than it used to be. This is partly because you need them to copy tactics, and partly because you need them to be able to play defence cards. Where it used to be possible to squeeze through to age II with only your starting two military actions and then pick up Constitutional Monarchy, now that feels like a dangerous route that can seriously hurt your long-term military development.

One of the consequences of this is that age I governments are more desirable, which seems a good thing to me.
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Andy Mesa
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Kester wrote:
[q="Andy Mesa"]One of the consequences of this is that age I governments are more desirable, which seems a good thing to me.

Making Monarchy even better still.

And yeah, I'll concede to your other points.
 
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Jimmy Okolica
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So I just played for the first time yesterday and got smacked by Genghis... am I just remembering him wrong because he seemed completely different. I thought he always gave extra strength for knights. Yesterday, I (foolishly) played without reading the leaders in advance. So, I tossed out Heavy Cavalry early because I had Knights in hand and my partner had skipped knights. Then she grabs Genghis and her 3 (or did she get to 6?) warriors are adding 4 (or 8) strength! Damn! Not to mention, she was getting 3 VP a turn with him. Not super much, but it added up.

On the plus side, we had stopped playing because I played on BGO and improved too much so it became a one-sided game. The slight nerfing of the cards changed things just enough that it ended up being a very close game. I was behind until the last turn in Age 4 when Impact of Science came out on my turn and I won the tie break. If it had not come out then, she would have won, winning the tie-break as first player. Glorious!

I love the common tactics and the changes to corruption/production as well as (of course) the nerfed cards.
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Matthew Charlap
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Butterfly0038 wrote:
So I just played for the first time yesterday and got smacked by Genghis... am I just remembering him wrong because he seemed completely different. I thought he always gave extra strength for knights. Yesterday, I (foolishly) played without reading the leaders in advance. So, I tossed out Heavy Cavalry early because I had Knights in hand and my partner had skipped knights. Then she grabs Genghis and her 3 (or did she get to 6?) warriors are adding 4 (or 8) strength! Damn! Not to mention, she was getting 3 VP a turn with him. Not super much, but it added up.

Yes, Genghis had a complete overhaul. The old version gave +1 strength +1 culture for each cavalry. Now he lets you use infantry as cavalry. Makes age 2 tactics easy to use- all you need is swordsmen and cannon.
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Mc Jarvis
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Petri wrote:

Napoleon was not overhyped. When he appeared, the game instantly became an arms race in order to stay in touch with Napoleon's military. With a bit of luck (early age 2 with Classic Army, war card draws, aggression card draws, obtaining the correct military tech, industry to build the military, food to build the army up, military actions in enough supply to overcome gandhi; all with enough time to exploit these things before the end of the game) he could also decide the game very early in a way which was not very nice.


Added a few things that you missed.
 
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McJarvis wrote:
Petri wrote:

Napoleon was not overhyped. When he appeared, the game instantly became an arms race in order to stay in touch with Napoleon's military. With a bit of luck (early age 2 with Classic Army, war card draws, aggression card draws, obtaining the correct military tech, industry to build the military, food to build the army up, military actions in enough supply to overcome gandhi; all with enough time to exploit these things before the end of the game) he could also decide the game very early in a way which was not very nice.


Added a few things that you missed.


Yeah but almost all of those things are trivial to have by mid age III. Or not really necessary in some cases (e.g. only one opponent can take Gandhi and they do so at the expense of another age III leader, and Gandhi needs to actually come up at the right time. You only need one or two wars, and aggressions are fairly common. Classic or Napoleonic Army are best but others work, including age III tactics sometimes).
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Petri Savola
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McJarvis wrote:
Petri wrote:

Napoleon was not overhyped. When he appeared, the game instantly became an arms race in order to stay in touch with Napoleon's military. With a bit of luck (early age 2 with Classic Army, war card draws, aggression card draws, obtaining the correct military tech, industry to build the military, food to build the army up, military actions in enough supply to overcome gandhi; all with enough time to exploit these things before the end of the game) he could also decide the game very early in a way which was not very nice.


Added a few things that you missed.

No, all you need is really just Napoleon and Classic Army. It's standard to have 2 Knights and Swordsmen anyway so you already have them in place. If you fail to draw any aggressions or wars at all, it will be a close game between you and others (you still benefit from events and don't have to spend any resources on military, because you have tons for free). However, if you happen to draw aggressions, you steal everything from opponents and run away with the game before age III even begins.
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Tim Scheck
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Andy Mesa wrote:
Almost every game I've played (60+ plays logged here) has ended in war. The question often became whether the player that went entirely military could steal enough points to win. Sometimes they could, but often they could not.

In the military strategy, it is normal to see 50% of your population as military units. It's generally not possible for other strategies to compete, because the military player's reduced infrastructure is made up for with aggressions.
 
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