David Barry
Canada
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I had a three-player game all ready for a pre-arranged session with Bojan and Conan at 7pm, but when Gavin appeared interested, we decided to go for a 4-player. Since the shop was due to close at 11pm, we knew it would be a push, but hoped for the best. Indeed, although on track early on, we had to rush the last few turns to finish by a bit after midnight, with the patient FLGS owner waving a shiny execution sword around, as incentive to get out of there!

By losing the initial rock-paper-scissors, I was doomed to be first player again (David), with Bojan second, Gavin third, and Conan fourth. In the first two rounds, I took Julius; Bojan was able to pick up Leonardo and the Hanging Gardens, Gavin took Alexander and the Colossus, and Conan took Moses and the Pyramids. (Conan and Bojan are both experienced and excellent TtA players, although Bojan seems to have perfected the art of winning, with a science-oriented strategy. Gavin had played once previously, so was still unclear on some rules, never mind strategies, but is otherwise also an excellent player. Me? I just try to keep up with the others, and have fun. If I can get second place in among these gamers, it's quite an achievement. But I did also suggest this game session.).

In Age I, Gavin took an early military lead with Alexander's bonus and a warfare technology, having learned from his previous game that when it comes to aggressions, it is much better to give than receive. However, he also paid insufficient attention to his economy, and wasn't aware of the two building limitation of Despotism until it became a significant limit to his development. (It was his second game). He also missed out on Iron (snatched up for 3 actions by Bojan before Gavin could even see it). Thus by early Age II, with Alexander gone, Gavin was far behind and felt that there was little point in him playing through to the end. That said, his initial military might had definitely caused caution in the rest of us and shaped our development to that stage, so Gavin gamely stayed in - and prospered a bit more later on.

Conan quietly dived directly into a high-culture strategy, trying out something new (as he often does, usually very effectively). Investing in Drama and later a library, he was perfectly placed to take an early Shakespeare. By the middle of Age II he was pumping out about 16 culture per turn, vs 5 or less for the rest of us, and had a lead of about 50 culture (and growing). That said, he stayed with a Despotism government until fairly late in the game, so never had many military actions, and his science point output was also fairly low. This left Conan consistently behind on the military track, and also very vulnerable to aggressions. The Pyramids and St Peters Basilica were helpful, but not really synergistic enough with his strategy. A Scientific Cooperation pact with Gavin (also needing the science boost) helped early on, but a 5 point science raid (on Conan by David) then allowed Gavin to get the better of the pact for a few critical turns.

My own early game was focused on improving my basic economy first, creating a strong military, and trying to deny Bojan as many science-type cards as possible. I used the Universitas wonder to get some early science, went into Monarchy to get more actions, and then Strategy to get more military actions when Julius expired. I took Columbus (and eventually got a developed territory in Age II), but taking Newton was specifically done to deny it to Bojan (although also very helpful to me!). I liked having five military actions - this allowed for drawing the maximum cards almost every turn, and I was able to hold on to a lot of good defense/colonization cards, just in case. (Unlike Gavin, who didn't even see a defense card throughout the game). Swordsmen, Cannon and a Defensive Army got me into a military lead in Age 2, and from then on I was always strongest. (An Airforce, Entrenchments and modern infantry got my strength up to 46 at one point). This (and Navigation), allowed me to eventually grab four out of the six colony event cards that came out, which also helped a lot. While my culture output stagnated at around 4 per turn (until mid Age III) and I fell significantly behind in culture, having a strong military is FUN!

Bojan used Leonardo to help his expanding economy and growing science output, with the Gardens to help with happiness. A few nasty events (including Ravages of Time) hit Bojan's civilization badly in early age II, and he trailed in culture points, but quickly recovered. With early iron, then coal, and Constitutional Monarchy, Bojan was able to build up a strong production output, and grabbed and completed both Transcontinental Railroad AND Ocean Liner. (The latter was a huge help to make up for his weak agricultural output.) Bojan quickly also developed a strong science output, and culture from libraries and theatres. Although coming from behind, he quickly overtook me and was clearly on track to challenge or beat Conan, especially with Elvis in Age III, and the Internet wonder.

With a commanding culture lead, but poor military, Conan became a target of aggressions and wars from everyone else. A war over resources from me (as military leader), an aggression from Bojan, another Holy war from me, and so on. Gavin joined in and stole some resources, which, together with Coal and Constitutional Monarchy, helped get Gavin's economy and then culture production back on track. This constant pounding eventually ground down Conan's economy and slowed his cultural growth, although it was an iconoclasm event (killing Shakespeare) which cost him more culture than anything else. It also severely frayed Conan's temper (despite him still having the lead). Conan was forced into taking Churchill in Age III, to help rebuild his military every turn. Gavin and Bojan started gaining more culture per turn (a tourism pact with Bojan helped both of them), than Conan, although it was not clear when they would overtake Conan. Bojan's experience and solid economy now made him the likely winner - he always scores very well from Age III events - so I Raided Gavin to destroy his Movie theatres (and get resources), and waged my last Holy war against Bojan, reducing him by six workers. I also used the Game Designer to increase my own culture production.

Going into the final Age IV round, Conan was still in a clear lead (around 130 points), followed by Bojan (95), then Gavin (80-ish), and me trailing (65?). The war against Bojan helped me catch up a bit, and finishing Fast Foot Chains was also good. However, Bojan finally overtook Conan (though Internet and movie theatres with Elvis), and Gavin's Hollywood wonder gained him some ground too. Conan just didn't have enough science and leftover resources to garner much more culture. However, we all ended the round with more than 140 culture.

And then it was all down to Age III events. In the end, it was as much a matter of luck as good play. While I had only received one Age III event to seed into the future events deck, the others had been fairly busy trying to garner extra culture points in Age III, so we got a LOT of extra event points. Bojan did well as usual, although his damaged economy did not generate quite as many points as he had hoped (while mine was now fairly robust). The clinchers were "impact of colonies" (I had five), and "impact of population". The final scores? Conan was last with around 220 (a winning score in most games!), Gavin third with 260-ish (not bad for someone who had considered quitting), Bojan second with 283, and me, just two points ahead at 285.

While I don't think a military strategy is a good choice for winning (this one was luck more than anything), it can certainly be interesting. Maybe I just need more practise... devil

Just as a side note, we did need several extra red (military action), and a couple of extra white (civil action tokens), and also almost ran out of blue tokens. Fortunately, Conan had brought his set of TtA too, and we were able to raid that for some spares.
 
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Ferry
Netherlands
Eindhoven
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davidb3 wrote:
In the first two turns, I took Julius; Bojan was able to pick up Leonardo and the Hanging Gardens, ...


He skipped the Age A leaders and took an age I leader in his second turn?
Or is this a typo? It is possible that one or two age I cards are revealed in round 2. It just reads kinda weird, because all the others only took age A cards.

Thought it might be a typo of some sort.

Otherwise a good review
 
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David Barry
Canada
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Llanirev wrote:
davidb3 wrote:
In the first two turns, I took Julius; Bojan was able to pick up Leonardo and the Hanging Gardens, ...


He skipped the Age A leaders and took an age I leader in his second turn?
Or is this a typo? It is possible that one or two age I cards are revealed in round 2. It just reads kinda weird, because all the others only took age A cards.


Wording edited to read "in the first two rounds" instead. Bojan actually spent three actions to grab Leonardo on his second turn (this was the first turn of Age I, as my second turn was the last turn of Age A). And yes, most of us were more conservative in grabbing cards further left on the track (for fewer actions). Bojan takes the cards that he wants and usually doesn't worry about the action cost - and it somehow seems to work. Maybe he just has a better feeling for which cards are most valuable in our game group...
 
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David desJardins
United States
Burlingame
California
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If player A takes an Age A leader for one action, and plays it, then he's spent two actions for a leader that lasts through Age I. If player B takes an Age I leader for three actions, and plays it, then he's spent four actions for a leader that lasts through Age I and Age II. Roughly the same cost per leader-turn.
 
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