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

Subject: Isn’t this really a War game that masquerades as a Civ builder? rss

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Ken Bush
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I'm going to apologize for the formatting right off the bat. Can't seem to get the indend, tabs or bullets to do what they do in most software.

I played the original version twice I think, long time ago. It was good but took 7 hours for a 4 player game. Have played the NEW version 6 times now, all 3 or 4 player games, it is better & more balanced. One face-to face 3 player which took almost 6 hours, and the rest on-line. I love the game play, I get so engrossed that the time just flys by or if playing on-line I’m constantly thinking about my options, what will others do, etc. Just so engrossing.

This game has some great and some not so good mechanics which cause tough choices about improving your civilization.

I. I love the card row mechanic because of its cost allocation and the fall-off system, and I like the way it gradually & unpredictably introduces more advanced aspects of civilization in limited quantities.
Reasons why these are so good:
a) The cost allocation and fall-off are terrific, you are forced to choose between spending heavily for a card when it first comes out to deny others low cost techs, or wait and hope it slides to your next turn at a more acceptable cost, but don’t wait too long or it disappears from the card row. Very juicy stuff.

b) The gradual and unpredictable introduction of the civilization advancements is what you would expect in a civ building game, keeps you wondering what’s next. Should I take this or wait for that.

c) The limited amount of technologies (less than player count), different wonders and leaders are great tension builders. This is also what makes the card row progression and cost reduction mechanic so satisfying, when you get what you want at a reasonable cost.

d) End of Age obsolescence. I like that you can’t keep leaders and incomplete wonders forever. Changing leaders cause a near constant adjustment in strategy. Completing wonders is a challenge. Great stuff.


Reasons they’re not so good or Ideas for improving the card row mechanics to be more realistic or to be more even handed with how Age Changing penalties are dealt with. Letters below match with letters above.

a) No improvements needed here.

b) In this system the change of Ages approaches predictably and happens very abruptly. I don’t think in the real world civilizations knew that their technologies would become obsolete tomorrow, nor do I think that it happen all at once for all civilizations. To address the abruptness and predictability of the Age changes I suggest stacking all the civil action cards into one pile so you don’t know exactly when the ages are ending. But in order to allow some planning I would mix the first 2 of the next Age cards in with the last X number of the current Age Cards (X = 2 cards/player + # of Age level) so that when you see the 1st next age card you know you have approximately one more turn before the end of age. With this 1st new age card appearance, at the start of each players turn they would lose one yellow token, the 2nd yellow token would be taken when the 2nd Next Age card appears. This could potentially be all in one turn or one turn apart. I would also change the end of age obsolescence to be at the end of each players turn after the 1st next age card appeared instead of same time for everyone.

c) The limited quantity of technologies is a great tension builder, but is unrealistic when it comes to the next age. Why for instance would Selective Breeding or Coal be a secret from one civilization for 500+ years? At a certain point every civilization in the world has realized the older technology. In a highly military game, this lack of older technologies can hamper civilizations inordinately. I would like to see older technologies become available to all players by the end of the following age. So all Age I technologies become available to all players at the end of Age II. I think this matches the real world a lot better. In order to keep the tension in the early age of the game when the technologies are first coming out I would increase the cost of older Age technologies acquired later by charging more civil (or military) actions, either 2 civil or 1 civil & 1 military. Other costs to build would remain the same.

d) Age changing: Why should player 1 get one more turns in an Age (75% of the time) than player 4? Why should my old Age technologies in hand become obsolete, but for the civilization across the table they can be up-to-date forever. Why should my yellow cards, blue cards or military become obsolete at all? These just don’t make sense. The fact that old technologies are clogging your hand is enough penalty without the game taking them from you. This is also one of those things in a highly military game that allows the strong to get stronger and the weak to never recover. Give the players the choice about discarding old Age cards at Age end.


II. Having Food, Resources, Technology, Culture, Happiness and Military is great. The way these intertwine is done very well, you must have happiness to have more population and you must have more population to get more food, resources, technology & military. The more population you have the more food you need, the more resources you have laying around the more inefficient your resources become. You must have some military to protect yourself or a lot if you want to be an aggressor. And to top it all off, if you can get the right balance you can add to your culture. Just so well done.

III. The wars and aggressions were a constant during the ages A, I & II in human history. Any good civ game about human society will have military as a significant part. The leaders giving military bonuses is great, the extra military actions they give is unique and fun. The addition of tactics is a simple way to increase military strength without requiring a lot of other resources (I envision the Spartans here, tactics were primary). The way these are handled is something I not too fond of.

a. Why are the military-action cards a blind draw when civil actions are open source? This really bugs me. The draw is purely blind luck. All other aspects of the game are not, why this one? Why not set up a card row like the civil actions? This makes the game quite luck dependent. This causes the military cards you draw set your strategy instead of you.

b. Why do aggressions allow military card defense, but Wars do not? I would definitely change this. However, I would say that if a person uses a defense card, they cannot win the war, just like aggressions.

c. Why doesn’t it require “something” extra to be the aggressor? Having a strong military in the real world has a significant on-going cost and starting a war definitely has a huge cost. In this game it does not. Once units are bought you don’t have to do any more to declare war or aggressions. Costing one or even 2 military actions is not a significant deterrent as likely you are strong militarily because you have more military actions than you can use in your normal turn. In civilizations that were constantly going to war they needed something extra to stay powerful for a long time, I think more happiness would be the correct game solution but maybe extra resources for battle.

d. Why can’t other civilizations team up to stop an aggressor? I’m glad the real world wasn’t like this game, otherwise all of Europe would be speaking German. In the real world, bullies get put in their place by the civil world. This game does not allow that, a huge shortcoming. In Age I, this would not be allowed because the world was “bigger” back then, you just didn’t have the ability to communicate with your allies quickly. But in Age II & III there should be the ability to help other players at a cost.

e. Alliances should be put on the table for every player to take advantage of, not just the player who happened to draw the card. An alliance is an idea, not something material that can’t be shared.

f. The way tactics are currently handled, the person who draws the tactic can set up their military around that tactic. No one else knows if this tactic will be played so likely will not organize their army around it. So even though the tactic becomes available if you don’t have that military unit type, you can’t get the bonus. This is where unit technologies becoming available to everyone an Age later could really aid civilizations that don’t draw good tactics or did not get one of the military technologies required for the best tactic. Better yet, why don’t tactics get laid out for all to see and drawn from on your turn, like civil action cards?

g. In a 4 player game artillery is in limited supply. The game will likely prevent all civilizations from getting artillery before the end of Age III. This can be very damaging to the player who didn’t get it especially if the best tactics played require artillery.

h. Air forces, this one is the killer. Adds at least 10 military strength maybe even 13-15 to the person who gets it. Almost impossible to defend against if the current strength leader gets this. Again, the game gets to decide who gets this card 1st. It should not double the tactics bonus or it should cost more. Here again, teaming up against the bully might help. But the way it’s done currently as long as the person with air forces draws wars and aggressions and has a decent military to start with they are likely to dominate/eliminate the ones not fortunate enough to get the right military draw.

i. Who’s strongest/weakest tiebreaker? This is so lame, turn order really! Why not the player with the strongest new age army? Why not the person with the most military actions? Why not anything that relates to military and use turn order as the last tiebreaker?

j. This game is about military buildup. The luckiest portion of the game. You pursue military vigilantly or you exit the game. Those who say you can easily win without being in the top two militarily (playing against players of equal ability) are seeing through rose colored glasses. With players of equal ability the one who is strongest in age 1 has a significant advantage. There are 13 events that favor the strongest or penalize the weakest, there is 1 that benefits the weakest. There are 33 wars and aggressions, and only 18 defense cards, and no nuclear deterrents. There are only 1 each of the age II tactics which really ramp up the bonuses, if you don’t get one, prepare for an invasion and hope you have one or more defense cards. In all likelihood, the first player in age III to get a high value tactic that matches their armies and also gets air forces will dominate if they chose to declare wars. There is a lot of luck involved getting the right combos, but if they all align its game over.

IV. Impacts, these are the best part of the game, actually rewarding you for building a great civilization. In all the games I’ve played the person with the strongest military also had the most of nearly everything else. So why would I put any of these into the game when I know he’ll out score me? So strongest military puts in 2 or 3 impacts if they’re not bombing the crap out of the weakest and others put in 1 or 2. Kind of tilts the game towards the strongest military again.

In conclusion:
This game is one of the most engrossing games I have played. If you’re new, playing against experienced opponents you will lose because of military. It actually takes several games to learn all the cards and abilities well enough that you have any chance militarily against experienced foes. Changing a few things would make it more realistic and balance the regular game to become more of a “building a civil society” not just a War game with a civilization support base.
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John Burt
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I agree, this game has a strong military theme and game mechanisms, but that seems to be true for most, if not all civ-style games. I don't think it has to do with historical accuracy as much as the traditional expectations of civ gamers and designers.

I bought this game for the civilization building aspect, and because this is considered one of the best euro-style civ strategy games out there. However, my wife and I have no interest in military conflict, which creates a dilemma. Our solution currently is to remove military related events and not bother to build or use military. We just focus on the actual civ aspect and still have plenty of fun.
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George I.
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Thank you very much for the write up; although I may not agree on everything, you do raise a couple of fair points in a constructive way.

To address some of your concerns:

klbush wrote:
d) Age changing: Why should player 1 get one more turns in an Age (75% of the time) than player 4?
Yeah, player order is an issue. The somewhat limited civil actions on round #1 is supposed to offset the advantage, but in general I'd choose to be player #1 every day. It's not just that you may squeeze an extra turn of benefit from your current leader before he becomes obsolete, but you control the tempo regarding aggressions and events.

klbush wrote:
Why should my old Age technologies in hand become obsolete, but for the civilization across the table they can be up-to-date forever.
Because they are not technologies, just cards; you never discovered them while you had the chance within the 1-1.5 ages timespan that you were holding the card. For the other civilization they are technologies.

klbush wrote:
The [military card] draw is purely blind luck.
Yeah, that was an issue especially in the old version, as you could just never draw any Tactics. The new version has already addressed it by making players able to copy tactics.

As for the rest? Tension! Not knowing what events have other players drawn builds up tension. Say, you see a player with a couple of Age II military cards in hand skipping an early Napoleon for 3 CAs; does he have Iconoclasm in hand? Or you are drawing Ravages of Time without the other players knowing; great, you can catch the Babylon and Basilica players off-guard.

There is a very simple way to counter this: seed the deck on your own, so that you know what's coming up.

klbush wrote:
b. Why do aggressions allow military card defense, but Wars do not?
Because there are no defenders in wars. Both players are attacking each other.


klbush wrote:
c. Why doesn’t it require “something” extra to be the aggressor? [...] Costing one or even 2 military actions is not a significant deterrent as likely you are strong militarily because you have more military actions than you can use in your normal turn.
The extra cost is more than the military actions; it's the reduced card draw. If you are constantly building military units and/or playing aggressions, you will not draw many military cards, thus you'll be having problem getting new aggressions. One and especially two Military Actions are a big deal.

You'll be wondering now: what if an aggressive civilization has already enough Military Actions? Well, it's the other players' fault; grab Strategy for 3 Civil Actions when it shows up if a warmonger has only 2 Military Actions. Don't let Warfare drop for 1 Civil Action.

klbush wrote:
d. Why can’t other civilizations team up to stop an aggressor?
You can collude with other players; "hey, Jack is missing Knights and both Cavalrymen cards have shown up; how about we draft them?". Denying key technologies is huge in the game; if you let the warmonger take Knights, Swordsmen and Strategy for cheap, well, of course he'll have an advantage!

klbush wrote:
f. The way tactics are currently handled, the person who draws the tactic can set up their military around that tactic. No one else knows if this tactic will be played so likely will not organize their army around it. So even though the tactic becomes available if you don’t have that military unit type, you can’t get the bonus. This is where unit technologies becoming available to everyone an Age later could really aid civilizations that don’t draw good tactics or did not get one of the military technologies required for the best tactic. Better yet, why don’t tactics get laid out for all to see and drawn from on your turn, like civil action cards?
The tactics issues have not been fully solved yet, mainly because there are fewer in the deck now (Defensive Army) and Age III tactics are still inefficient. How about you playtest these ideas and let us know of your thoughts?

klbush wrote:
i. Who’s strongest/weakest tiebreaker? This is so lame, turn order really!
Here's the rationale: Alice and Bob are tied for strength. Alice had just had her turn, building a military unit and equalizing Bob at 3 strength. An event shows up on Bob's turn and Bob wins the tiebreaker? Why? Because Alice had just her chance to pass forward. That's the rationale, really; players further in turn order have just played, they had their chance to increase their strength and didn't take it.

klbush wrote:
This game is about military buildup. The luckiest portion of the game.
Drawing tactics has a luck factor in it, yes. But with the new ruleset, military has been considerably nerfed. Seriously, take a look at the forums of the older version to see some really broken combos. You will lose the game if you're the punching bag, but you don't have to get in an arms race. I will agree though that in 2-player games military is much more important, as you only have 1 opponent.

klbush wrote:
There are 13 events that favor the strongest or penalize the weakest, there is 1 that benefits the weakest.
Don't seed these events! Take the hit and develop Theaters and Libraries in the meantime. Is by the way "Terrorism" the event you refer to? It helps the civilization with the least culture points, not the weakest.

klbush wrote:
In all likelihood, the first player in age III to get a high value tactic that matches their armies and also gets air forces will dominate if they chose to declare wars. There is a lot of luck involved getting the right combos, but if they all align its game over.
To make use of Air Forces, you need a good tactic, yes. To make use of a good tactic, you'll either need Cavalry or Artillery; deny these cards!

klbush wrote:
In all the games I’ve played the person with the strongest military also had the most of nearly everything else.
In fact, most Impacts out there are science oriented, either directly or indirectly; Technology, Progress, Science, Architecture. Only two are strength-related (Strength and Competition).
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Jacob Randolph
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quill65 wrote:
I agree, this game has a strong military theme and game mechanisms, but that seems to be true for most, if not all civ-style games. I don't think it has to do with historical accuracy as much as the traditional expectations of civ gamers and designers.

I bought this game for the civilization building aspect, and because this is considered one of the best euro-style civ strategy games out there. However, my wife and I have no interest in military conflict, which creates a dilemma. Our solution currently is to remove military related events and not bother to build or use military. We just focus on the actual civ aspect and still have plenty of fun.

You oughta take a look at Golden Ages, very euro civ/civ light game with practically no warfare and choosing not to partake in warfare takes almost nothing out of gameplay. I quite enjoy the game.
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kalaheo wrote:
quill65 wrote:
I agree, this game has a strong military theme and game mechanisms, but that seems to be true for most, if not all civ-style games. I don't think it has to do with historical accuracy as much as the traditional expectations of civ gamers and designers.

I bought this game for the civilization building aspect, and because this is considered one of the best euro-style civ strategy games out there. However, my wife and I have no interest in military conflict, which creates a dilemma. Our solution currently is to remove military related events and not bother to build or use military. We just focus on the actual civ aspect and still have plenty of fun.

You oughta take a look at Golden Ages, very euro civ/civ light game with practically no warfare and choosing not to partake in warfare takes almost nothing out of gameplay. I quite enjoy the game.

I seriously considered it, but I was looking for a longer heavier game, so chose TTA. GA is on my wishlist now however because, ironically, I can't get TTA to the table often as I like since it turns out my wife isn't nearly as excited about 3hr civ games as I am.
 
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Yes, the military aspect of the game is unavoidable and necessary to do well. If you fall behind in military it is CERTAIN you will be crushed--everything from losing resources to losing buildings. The resulting losses are severe enough to ride you out of contention so you must pay a LOT of attention to military throughout and at least keep up with the Joneses.

Otherwise, the game is so good it would be a top 5 game for me. I'm not opposed to conflict in a game at all but to have such an impact on the game saps the civ building aspect for me.

In fairness, you can take out all the aggression cards as the OP suggested and if you play it online you can omit aggressions from the game. But then that takes a needed dimension out of the game. The solution is to minimize the EFFECTS of military/aggression or make it easier to counter. I was really hoping for that in the new version but that, sadly, did not happen.
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klbush wrote:
a. Why are the military-action cards a blind draw when civil actions are open source? This really bugs me. The draw is purely blind luck. All other aspects of the game are not, why this one? Why not set up a card row like the civil actions? This makes the game quite luck dependent. This causes the military cards you draw set your strategy instead of you.

Maybe I'm having a try with the following variant:

a.
Form a 2nd card row consisting of military cards. Keep the rest of the military cards as a draw deck. At the beginning of a players turn remove the leftmost 1, 2 or 3 cards, depending on player count, slide the rest to the left and fill new cards from the right (same as with civil card row). If the draw deck runs out of cards before the age ends, reshuffle the discarded cards to form a new draw deck.

b.
On your turn you may spend military actions to either draft a face-up military card from the card row (costing 1, 2, or 3 MA, depending on position), or to draw one blindly from the draw deck (costing 1 MA). Tactics may not be played the same turn you draft/draw them. You may not draft/draw more than 3 military cards per turn.

As a consequence of this variant you will be able to know the events your opponents have on hand, as well as the number of defence cards. On the other hand you will be able to actively deny your opponents certain key cards (events, wars, tactics). If you are willing to spend 3 MA on Napoleonic Army, do so!

Just some thoughts of mine. Don't blame me if it doesn't work. ;-)

Bye
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kalaheo wrote:
quill65 wrote:
I agree, this game has a strong military theme and game mechanisms, but that seems to be true for most, if not all civ-style games. I don't think it has to do with historical accuracy as much as the traditional expectations of civ gamers and designers.

I bought this game for the civilization building aspect, and because this is considered one of the best euro-style civ strategy games out there. However, my wife and I have no interest in military conflict, which creates a dilemma. Our solution currently is to remove military related events and not bother to build or use military. We just focus on the actual civ aspect and still have plenty of fun.

You oughta take a look at Golden Ages, very euro civ/civ light game with practically no warfare and choosing not to partake in warfare takes almost nothing out of gameplay. I quite enjoy the game.

I found Golden Ages to have way too much luck in the draw of the leader cards to suit me
 
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Ken Bush
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Picon wrote:
Thank you very much for the write up; although I may not agree on everything, you do raise a couple of fair points in a constructive way.

thanks, looks like you spent as much time replying as I did constructing
Picon wrote:

klbush wrote:
Why should my old Age technologies in hand become obsolete, but for the civilization across the table they can be up-to-date forever.
Because they are not technologies, just cards; you never discovered them while you had the chance within the 1-1.5 ages timespan that you were holding the card. For the other civilization they are technologies.

I understand, but it doesn't make sense to me. Just because I don't discover a technology at the same time as the rest of the world does not mean the technology is undiscoverable anymore! Thematically just plain wrong.
Picon wrote:

klbush wrote:
The [military card] draw is purely blind luck.

There is a very simple way to counter this: seed the deck on your own, so that you know what's coming up.

Wow, you actually believe that I haven't done this? Couple of problems, I would not be the only one seeding the deck, the strongest military player is dumping every "strength wins" card he can anyway, and I have to be LUCKY enough to draw anything good to play.

Picon wrote:

klbush wrote:
b. Why do aggressions allow military card defense, but Wars do not?
Because there are no defenders in wars. Both players are attacking each other.
This is not a statement I can buy. War is not often declared by both parties, there is an aggressor and someone being invaded. Definitely in this game it's a one way war.

Picon wrote:

klbush wrote:
c. Why doesn’t it require “something” extra to be the aggressor? [...] Costing one or even 2 military actions is not a significant deterrent as likely you are strong militarily because you have more military actions than you can use in your normal turn.
The extra cost is more than the military actions; it's the reduced card draw. If you are constantly building military units and/or playing aggressions, you will not draw many military cards, thus you'll be having problem getting new aggressions. One and especially two Military Actions are a big deal.

You'll be wondering now: what if an aggressive civilization has already enough Military Actions? Well, it's the other players' fault; grab Strategy for 3 Civil Actions when it shows up if a warmonger has only 2 Military Actions. Don't let Warfare drop for 1 Civil Action.
Not sure I buy any of this either. Once a player has 4 military actions they can build a military unit and still draw 3 cards. As for taking all the cards that might give someone military strength, this seem rather a good way to stuff your hand full of cards you can't use. And it doesn't stop the other player from getting those cards that have multiples in the deck anyway.

Picon wrote:

klbush wrote:
d. Why can’t other civilizations team up to stop an aggressor?
You can collude with other players; "hey, Jack is missing Knights and both Cavalrymen cards have shown up; how about we draft them?". Denying key technologies is huge in the game; if you let the warmonger take Knights, Swordsmen and Strategy for cheap, well, of course he'll have an advantage!
Yes I should do more of this. I'm never sure what others think about this kind of table talk, but this is surely something that should be done.

Picon wrote:

klbush wrote:
f. The way tactics are currently handled, the person who draws the tactic can set up their military around that tactic. No one else knows if this tactic will be played so likely will not organize their army around it. So even though the tactic becomes available if you don’t have that military unit type, you can’t get the bonus. This is where unit technologies becoming available to everyone an Age later could really aid civilizations that don’t draw good tactics or did not get one of the military technologies required for the best tactic. Better yet, why don’t tactics get laid out for all to see and drawn from on your turn, like civil action cards?
The tactics issues have not been fully solved yet, mainly because there are fewer in the deck now (Defensive Army) and Age III tactics are still inefficient. How about you playtest these ideas and let us know of your thoughts?
I might do the card row for military actions, just need to think about if playing them should be different too.
Picon wrote:

klbush wrote:
i. Who’s strongest/weakest tiebreaker? This is so lame, turn order really!
Here's the rationale: Alice and Bob are tied for strength. Alice had just had her turn, building a military unit and equalizing Bob at 3 strength. An event shows up on Bob's turn and Bob wins the tiebreaker? Why? Because Alice had just her chance to pass forward. That's the rationale, really; players further in turn order have just played, they had their chance to increase their strength and didn't take it.

Yeah, I've heard this argument before. And it's good for a last resort, but for actual strength, I think anything else military is a better idea.
Picon wrote:

klbush wrote:
This game is about military buildup. The luckiest portion of the game.
Drawing tactics has a luck factor in it, yes. But with the new ruleset, military has been considerably nerfed. Seriously, take a look at the forums of the older version to see some really broken combos. You will lose the game if you're the punching bag, but you don't have to get in an arms race. I will agree though that in 2-player games military is much more important, as you only have 1 opponent.
Yes, the agreesions are much better, the wars are still lop sided.

Picon wrote:

klbush wrote:
In all likelihood, the first player in age III to get a high value tactic that matches their armies and also gets air forces will dominate if they chose to declare wars. There is a lot of luck involved getting the right combos, but if they all align its game over.
To make use of Air Forces, you need a good tactic, yes. To make use of a good tactic, you'll either need Cavalry or Artillery; deny these cards!

again, in multiplayer games denying cards is not that easy.

Picon wrote:

klbush wrote:
In all the games I’ve played the person with the strongest military also had the most of nearly everything else.
In fact, most Impacts out there are science oriented, either directly or indirectly; Technology, Progress, Science, Architecture. Only two are strength-related (Strength and Competition).
You have misunderstood, the person with the strongest military has had the most technology, most happiness, most farms, most mines, most ... Not 100% but since they have been raiding lesser civs for the whole game, it's just a land slide in their favor. This is especially true if one civ can't defend against the strongest, but can defend against 2nd place. This is just something that favors someone who is really good at developing military when the others can't lend defense to each other.

Really appreciate the feedback, some good things to consider more deeply.
thanks
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Colin Sham
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A lot of your critiques might be better handled in the Strategy forum, since it delves into the various mechanisms you can employ to counter the obvious. However, I did want to touch on this particular point.:
klbush wrote:
Picon wrote:
klbush wrote:
b. Why do aggressions allow military card defense, but Wars do not?
Because there are no defenders in wars. Both players are attacking each other.
This is not a statement I can buy. War is not often declared by both parties, there is an aggressor and someone being invaded. Definitely in this game it's a one way war.
Let me try to explain what Aggressions and Wars represent in this game. Aggressions are small-scale exchanges, where your army is mostly static and you quickly gain the results of your *ahem* aggression. Hence annexation, plunders or raids. Surprise is the thematic advantage of an Aggression, represented by the instant assault in game-terms.

However, the defender is clever in the ways of war, represented by MA. This allows them to have hidden away defences, engaged in counter-surveillance which allows them to punch above the weight of the obvious, defensive standing army. That is what is represented by MA and defence cards.

War is the massive mobilization of your standing armies. It represents a major undertaking, one where you will take vast amounts of territory or annihilate a culture. Both sides fight, represented by the full turn's worth of time for a war to resolve. And like WW2, if the aggressor falters, the defenders will pursue and ultimately destroy them -- again, represented in game-terms when a war 'backfires'. This is a pure, unadulterated display of concrete military power that discards any pretence of advantage gained through surprise, military ingenuity etc. Why? Because after 5 long years, it comes down to pure numbers.

Personally, I love the difference between Aggressions and Wars in this game. The theme just drips when I play a Spy or Annex aggression. I hope it makes sense to you too.
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Ken Bush
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Thanks for the reply. I debated about what forum to list in. But chose review as it does touch on a lot of what makes it tick, and makes me like & dislike parts of it.

Your explanation of War makes sense in a limited manor, but not really compared to human civilization. These wars are just mano-a-mano, real war is nearly always multiple governments in the world community, rarely just two dukeing it out. (also the luck of the draw in who gets them is so arbitrary)

Love the tightness of this game, it just seems to have as almost as much war game to it as it does civ building. Maybe a better description would be military Civ.

I might add, if you can't tell, I'm not good at constructing a military based civilization while advancing the rest of my civilization
 
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FWIW I'm not often a heavy warmonger, and I seem to do well. My rule of thumb in 4-player games is "Never be weakest". Avoiding being last in military is important, but it's not so important to have a military lead. A small military lead is no good for aggressions because anyone can discard spare military cards to defend, so you need a big lead to be able to throw your weight around. And at that point if someone's put in all the effort of science+population+military techs to assemble a big military lead, then at the same time I've generally been able to take the lead in science production or rock production. If I've got twice the science or rock income of anyone else, I'm doing well enough I don't care about an aggression or two.

If I see the cards align for me to take a big military lead, then I'll take it, but it's pretty hard to line up a good tactic plus the relevant military technologies plus the food and rock and actions to build all those units plus some aggressions or wars in hand.
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klbush wrote:
c. Why doesn’t it require “something” extra to be the aggressor? Having a strong military in the real world has a significant on-going cost and starting a war definitely has a huge cost. In this game it does not. Once units are bought you don’t have to do any more to declare war or aggressions. Costing one or even 2 military actions is not a significant deterrent as likely you are strong militarily because you have more military actions than you can use in your normal turn. In civilizations that were constantly going to war they needed something extra to stay powerful for a long time, I think more happiness would be the correct game solution but maybe extra resources for battle.
There is a cost in the game to maintaining a big military, but it is an opportunity cost and therefore hidden. Every worker sitting on a military tech is one that is not sitting on an infrastructure tech or a culture generator.
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I never really understood the "unrealistic" thing. All games are unrealistic in some way, because the most important things in the game are it's coherence and balance. No game is realistic, but this is not a bad thing, the bad thing is if you can't enjoy the game. (By the way the most unrealistic thing in this game the very low number of civilizations, and all of them survive at least 4000 years. And again this is not a problem.)
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For what it's worth, in my first full game (against my teenage daughter), I had a consistent but small military lead throughout the game, and she crushed me by 100 points, lol. She built culture stuff earlier and more often than I did. Sure, I raided her and grabbed more colonies, but she kept close enough in military that I never found a good time to declare war. More to the point, she was building things like the Eiffel Tower while I wasn't.

Obviously I'm no expert, but our first full game suggested to us that military is important but not all-important. We really enjoyed the tension that it created -- more often an arms race or cold war than an actual shooting fight.
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Simon Andersen
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The problem with the military mechanics of TtA is that it only makes sense to attack the weakest player, making him or her a self serve table for the other players.

If only rules could be created that makes it meaningful to attack those players who was a bigger threat to you...
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simombo wrote:
The problem with the military mechanics of TtA is that it only makes sense to attack the weakest player, making him or her a self serve table for the other players.

If only rules could be created that makes it meaningful to attack those players who was a bigger threat to you...
Usually the weakest player in military is the strongest in culture (or science, which can easily be converted to culture), so they are your greatest threat.

If a player is weakest in both culture/science and military, well, what have they been doing all game?
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grant5 wrote:

Usually the weakest player in military is the strongest in culture (or science, which can easily be converted to culture), so they are your greatest threat.

If a player is weakest in both culture/science and military, well, what have they been doing all game?

I think this is a very broad statement that is wrong as much as correct. I've played 10 games in the last year and it just hasn't been true in about half of the games. The weakest player has struggled because they got attacked early and could not get the momentum back before being set back again and again by the events. The events cause the weakest to spiral out of control downward and allow them to be targeted time and again by other players because they are the weakest. I wish your statement was true, but I'm afraid it just isn't as typical as you think.
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klbush wrote:
grant5 wrote:

Usually the weakest player in military is the strongest in culture (or science, which can easily be converted to culture), so they are your greatest threat.

If a player is weakest in both culture/science and military, well, what have they been doing all game?

I think this is a very broad statement that is wrong as much as correct. I've played 10 games in the last year and it just hasn't been true in about half of the games. The weakest player has struggled because they got attacked early and could not get the momentum back before being set back again and again by the events. The events cause the weakest to spiral out of control downward and allow them to be targeted time and again by other players because they are the weakest. I wish your statement was true, but I'm afraid it just isn't as typical as you think.

Ouch.
 
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klbush wrote:
grant5 wrote:

Usually the weakest player in military is the strongest in culture (or science, which can easily be converted to culture), so they are your greatest threat.

If a player is weakest in both culture/science and military, well, what have they been doing all game?

I think this is a very broad statement that is wrong as much as correct. I've played 10 games in the last year and it just hasn't been true in about half of the games. The weakest player has struggled because they got attacked early and could not get the momentum back before being set back again and again by the events. The events cause the weakest to spiral out of control downward and allow them to be targeted time and again by other players because they are the weakest. I wish your statement was true, but I'm afraid it just isn't as typical as you think.
10 games is not nearly a big enough sample size to identify what is typical. With more experience comes the ability to rebound from an early aggression loss, or better yet, the ability to avoid losing to early aggressions.
 
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klbush wrote:
grant5 wrote:

Usually the weakest player in military is the strongest in culture (or science, which can easily be converted to culture), so they are your greatest threat.

If a player is weakest in both culture/science and military, well, what have they been doing all game?
I think this is a very broad statement that is wrong as much as correct. I've played 10 games in the last year and it just hasn't been true in about half of the games. The weakest player has struggled because they got attacked early and could not get the momentum back before being set back again and again by the events. The events cause the weakest to spiral out of control downward and allow them to be targeted time and again by other players because they are the weakest. I wish your statement was true, but I'm afraid it just isn't as typical as you think.
I've played 10 games in the last week. All with the original rules where military was stronger.

Playing for the military lead throughout rarely wins. The guy who really go all out will start Age 3 with maybe Level 1 buildings. They've sunk all of their resources and all of their research and all of their population into having a strong army. They often seed the deck with all the, "cripple the weakest" cards. So then they go all out to make sure that it isn't them. But then they need a big war at the end to get points and most of the time that doesn't work out. Either they don't draw a war in time or they don't draw the right tactic or they don't have enough MAs... it rarely works out.

The weakest is generally the culture guy. Culture is a dead end for everything else. It doesn't give you light bulbs to invent new things. It doesn't give you resources to build new things. And it doesn't give you food to get new people. You need to keep up with at least 1, and generally 2, of these things to keep up a decent military, which is all you need. If they keep getting destroyed most of the time they wise up and start sinking effort into defense. Or they can just withdraw. That's always an option. And when you think about it, it's not until Age III that you can start stealing somebody's culture. So if they have Michaelangelo and Hanging Gardens and Basilica there really isn't much you can do to them. You can destroy their buildings and you can steal their resources but they are going to keep on racking up the points.
 
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klbush wrote:
You have misunderstood, the person with the strongest military has had the most technology, most happiness, most farms, most mines, most ... Not 100% but since they have been raiding lesser civs for the whole game, it's just a land slide in their favor. This is especially true if one civ can't defend against the strongest, but can defend against 2nd place. This is just something that favors someone who is really good at developing military when the others can't lend defense to each other.
This is true about 7-10% of the time.

Constant raids aren't that effective and aren't that possible. Building up your army to have the biggest takes MAs. Using tactics takes MAs. Aggressions take MAs. Doing all of these things makes it harder to draw more aggressions and wars. Especially in Age 2 a military guy (and everyone else, kind of) is fishing for classic army or napoleonic army. Constant attacks of other people are going to make that harder to draw. And all everyone else has to do is stay within 4-6 of the military guy's strength so they at least have the credible chance of being able to defend an attack.

And keeping ahead in military takes a lot of effort. In all of these games building your engine is a good long-term strategy. Military is a sequence of short-term ones. The military guy might feel tough. But the science or culture guy are the ones who normally win. The culture guy by building up a big lead throughout. The science guy by creaming everyone in Impact cards. Two turns before the end of the game I've started with 0 points and ended with over 160.
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@ the OP: It would be tiresome to go do a quote and point-by-point analysis, but I'll say that generally you don't understand the game and for some things you just want it to be something different.

* The first player of an Age may have the most turns in that Age but that's generally not a good thing. You want your turn to end on as late of an Age as possible so that you can draw from the later age military cards. But after the initial Age A where ages end isn't fixed and often itself a matter of strategic play. And at the end of the game, every player will have had the same number of turns overall.

* The game is about managed luck. You can have the parameters of how you want to do things but maybe all of a certain type of card ends up at the end. You thought you didn't need Alchemy because you'd just get a new Lab in Age 2 but then they're all clumped at the very back end so you only get 2 science/turn. So it's what you do with it. Military cards are no different especially with the change that tactics become available to everybody after 1 turn.

* In lots of games, realism makes way for playing a good game. No game is going to simulate something real. It's just a question if it makes a good game.

* You seem very fixated on drafting military cards. One of the biggest things that protect people with weaker militaries is the uncertainty if they have lots of defense cards. If you drafted them it would be a game of perfect information and people would attack more, not less.

* Players can team up with treaties. They can add +4 or +5 to each other's military. But if you allow more powerful alliances, you make a military race pointless.

* In general you seem to think that military is way more effective that it really is. In a 2-player game military is very important. You attack. You win. They lose. In a 3+ player game you can attack, they can sacrifice their military to defend, and you left them open for the other person to attack. So the 3rd player gets the benefit of your military more than you do. And you can attack someone else, have them lose, but then the 3rd player does what they want.

* People going for a strong military throughout have a difficult time overall. When other players are developing their civilization, the military people are concentrating strongly on their military. They may sometimes have iron or agriculture. But they'll often end the game making only 4-6 light bulbs per turn. If they get Air Force it may be 1 of the only 2 Age III advances they play. I often produce 15-20 light bulbs per turn in Age III. This lets you score big on the Impact cards. 24-32 points for the Tech Impact. 14 points for Science. 22-28 points from Impact of Progress. 15+ points from Impact of Industry. 15+ points for Impact of Architecture. 22+ points from Impact of Government. The only impact card that rewards the war guy is Impact of Strength which he might not even win if he was relying on Napoleon. And you can get 15+ points from Popularization of Science. 24-38 points from First Space Flight. 24-30 points from Internet. There's lots and lots of points to be won in Age III. And the military person generally isn't in a good spot to take advantage of them. And they can get boxed in by Ghandi or Churchill.

Online you can play the non-military variant. It's really not great. Military adds a check on people's development. You CAN go all culture. You CAN go all science. You CAN sacrifice a lot to win all the colonies. You CAN do a lot of things. But to win you also have to not fall too far behind.
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Mark J
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PaleHorse wrote:
In fairness, you can take out all the aggression cards as the OP suggested and if you play it online you can omit aggressions from the game. But then that takes a needed dimension out of the game. The solution is to minimize the EFFECTS of military/aggression or make it easier to counter. I was really hoping for that in the new version but that, sadly, did not happen.

So ... you could take out some but not all of the Aggression and War cards. That would reduce the impact of military action without removing it entirely.
 
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I just read through this thread and came up with the following variant to address the main, though not all of, the points:

https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1805083/mao-zedong-peaceful...

More or less my reasonings is that the game does not over-emphasize military or aggressions, just that one particular aggression, the War over Culture, is too strong. Find a way to address that and you can make the game less war-gamey will keeping most of the military elements.
 
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