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Subject: Three Games ALL SLOW rss

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Mike Kent
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I have played three - three player games and they all are painfully slow. I really want to like this game, but it just DRAGS.

Please don't tell me the player just have to play faster. We are all long time gamers of at least average speed.

One other issue is the fact that a very small military lead can result in such large shifts in game position.
 
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James Ludlow
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Define "slow."
 
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Walt
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No, no, no: it isn't slow, it's epic.
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Felix Rodriguez
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jdludlow wrote:
Define "slow."


Yes please... It would be useful for those of us on the fence.
 
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Michael Webb
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I think slow here is just a matter of preference. Mike's highly rated games are medium weight Euros. Of course Through the Ages seems long in comparison to Louis XIV and Notre Dame! The only other longer game he has rated is TI:III, and he also dislikes it.

With 3 people of your experience, this should be about a 3 hour game. I don't think 3 hours is particularly long, but if you do, it's not a problem, just trade the game off for something you will enjoy more. If you like the economic aspect of Through the Ages I might suggest Das Zepter von Zavandor as a quicker alternative, though it's still around 2 hours. Phoenicia is the 1 hour version of the Zepter system, though many people are turned off by how stripped-down it is. If you want a shorter game, you have to make trade-offs though.

On an aside: experienced gamer =/= faster play. I know gamers who have been at it for decades who play as slow as dirt. I know people who are relatively new who play very quickly. Experience helps with individual games, but in general I think speed is a function of how you like to play, how comfortable you are with fast, broad, gut-feeling type analysis vs. analytical, number-crunching type analysis, and a variety of other factors. After the initial game or two, you should be playing TtA at a decent clip. The first game definitely takes longer, but that's to be expected because it takes time to get used to the engine.
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Eric Brosius
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One technique for reducing play time is to divide the work. As soon as a player has finished his civil and military actions, hand him/her up to 3 military cards for unused military actions and place them face down, not to be looked at until the next player starts play. Then the player looks down and does food production and consumption and rock production and consumption. At the same time, the player on his/her right adjusts the culture and science points on the track while the player on his/her right sweeps the card row and deals new cards.
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wodan wodan
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Through the Ages is strongly prone to analysis paralysis, but more importantly, people assume that you can only do the thinking on their own turn, due to all the variables. However, taking a more loose playstyle can dramatically reduce total gametime.

One thing I generally do is after the completion of my turn, put my civil action tokens near the things I will activate them with, be it a building card, a facedown card in my hand, or the big playmat (for getting new population). Also, shift your blue tokens from the top of the resource card to the bottom as they are "spent". Also decide which military cards you will definitely want to keep and which to dump. This has allowed me to complete turns in a single minute, the majority of the time spent doing the actual shifting, followed by a quick lookthrough of the upcoming cards.

In a 3 Player game, here is what you should probably do:

Your Turn: Complete turn as planned out. Choose Civil Cards

Guy 2's Turn: Do upkeep, carry out Food/Rock Production, Science, Culture. Look at your newly earned Military cards. Review your situation, not which civil cards are on the way.

Guy 3's Turn: Plan out your turn, starting with the parts that aren't reliant on picking up civil cards.

That way, you will be busy during your opponent's turns, while they will hopefully be doing the same. This will simultaneously decrease the time it takes to play, while ensuring that you have stuff to do for all the remaining time.

Each player's turn is should be completed in under 1-3 minutes. That means it takes 3-9 minutes to go full circle. A full game should last about 14-21 turns, tending towards 18 or so. Thus, the game takes 42-189 minutes with the above method.
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wodan wodan
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mikus42 wrote:
I have played three - three player games and they all are painfully slow. I really want to like this game, but it just DRAGS.

Please don't tell me the player just have to play faster. We are all long time gamers of at least average speed.

One other issue is the fact that a very small military lead can result in such large shifts in game position.


This game is at best going to take 2-3 hours. Also, it takes some time to build up experience and thus be able to plan ahead more effectively, and to avoid the analysis paralysis, and to learn how to divide time up.

I find it hilarious that you complain about the military being too important, whereas most people complain about it being a nonviable strategy with low impact on the game. Also, you do know that people can sac units to boost their combat score (attacker first), and defense cards can easily compensate for a lead.

Now whats fun is playing a tactics card and doubling your military without warning.
 
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Matthew M
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wodan46 wrote:


I find it hilarious that you complain about the military being too important, whereas most people complain about it being a nonviable strategy with low impact on the game.


You've indicated that you feel this way in a number of posts, but I really don't think it is reflective of the opinions of a majority of TtA players. I suspect, rather, that it is a dynamic specific to your group of TtA players.

-MMM
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Mike Bazynski
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Octavian wrote:
wodan46 wrote:


I find it hilarious that you complain about the military being too important, whereas most people complain about it being a nonviable strategy with low impact on the game.


You've indicated that you feel this way in a number of posts, but I really don't think it is reflective of the opinions of a majority of TtA players. I suspect, rather, that it is a dynamic specific to your group of TtA players.

-MMM


as far as I know he's also failed to confirm he's actually played the game, and some of the posts did indeed make one wonder...
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David desJardins
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Eric Brosius wrote:
One technique for reducing play time is to divide the work. As soon as a player has finished his civil and military actions, hand him/her up to 3 military cards for unused military actions and place them face down, not to be looked at until the next player starts play. Then the player looks down and does food production and consumption and rock production and consumption. At the same time, the player on his/her right adjusts the culture and science points on the track while the player on his/her right sweeps the card row and deals new cards.


My opinion is that, for the first several games, the players really need to watch one another take their turns, as it's easy to make mistakes (e.g., too much or too little production or consumption) that can really affect the game.

This definitely does slow things down.

The 3-player games at the WBC tournament generally took around 5 hours.
 
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Dan Freedman
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DaviddesJ wrote:

My opinion is that, for the first several games, the players really need to watch one another take their turns, as it's easy to make mistakes (e.g., too much or too little production or consumption) that can really affect the game.

This definitely does slow things down.

The 3-player games at the WBC tournament generally took around 5 hours.


That's my experience as well. 5 hours for a 3er game with players that have played a couple of times.
 
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Evan Stegman
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There is a difference between too slow and too long.

If you are saying the game is too long for your personal tastes, then that may mean this is not the game for you because it can take a long time.

If you are saying things happen too slowly, that sounds more like an issue with the people that are playing with than the game itself because the games I have played have moved fairly briskly with some downtime but not an unusual amount when playing with people that have played before.
 
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Michael Webb
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It's also worth noting that one way to speed up the game is to play with 2. I like TtA, but my rating peaks at 9 for a 2 player game, and then dips with each added player, something like a 7 with 3 players and more like a 3-4 with 4 players.
 
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wodan wodan
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bazik123 wrote:
Octavian wrote:
wodan46 wrote:


I find it hilarious that you complain about the military being too important, whereas most people complain about it being a nonviable strategy with low impact on the game.


You've indicated that you feel this way in a number of posts, but I really don't think it is reflective of the opinions of a majority of TtA players. I suspect, rather, that it is a dynamic specific to your group of TtA players.

-MMM


as far as I know he's also failed to confirm he's actually played the game, and some of the posts did indeed make one wonder...


Actually, I was reacting to complaints in that "souless dissapointment" review, who stated "I realize that military can mix that up a bit, but you don't win this game with military - you lose by attacking". This is not the first time I've seen this attitude.

As for playing, I've done so 3 times now. The first time was a 4 player game that took 7 hours, and the next 2 were both 3 player games that took about 4 hours apiece.

I've been actively posting strategy ideas not because I think they are necessarily good, but to get other's thoughts on the subject.

Also, in my defense, Through the Ages is a somewhat... complex game, and I don't have a copy of the rules except when actually playing, which means I have to try and remember everything about the game in my head (except the card list, thanks to BGG posting it).
 
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Mike Kent
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jdludlow wrote:
Define "slow."


All three three player games, took about an average of 4.5 hours each. I don't mind some longer games.... 1830, Tempus, Hex War games.

The time is not as much of an issues as how the game feels so slow. But for what this game is, it seems like it would go faster. The game also just FEELS like it drags. I guess the down time is an issue.

Maybe we need a San Juan or Caylus Magna Carta version of this game.

As for the military aspects, It is my observation that a 5% deficit in military is huge.
 
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David desJardins
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mikus42 wrote:
As for the military aspects, It is my observation that a 5% deficit in military is huge.


Do you mean that a player with military strength of 20 has a big advantage over a player with military strength of 19?? Why would you think that?
 
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wodan wodan
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Being behind in military by more 3+ in Age I, 5+ in Age II, and 7+ in Age III is bad, as a single Defense Card is no longer sufficient, and Aggressions will either cause the loss of valuable resources, or cause you to sacrifice military and be even more vulnerable.
 
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Mike Kent
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DaviddesJ wrote:
mikus42 wrote:
As for the military aspects, It is my observation that a 5% deficit in military is huge.


Do you mean that a player with military strength of 20 has a big advantage over a player with military strength of 19?? Why would you think that?


There is a considerable chance you will not have a defense card. Your only choices are to take the effect of the raid / war or weaken yourself by sacrificing. Hence, you are in a worse position for the next attack.

Then you are further behind. Now you have to use civil and military actions to try and build back up.

I lost a raid by one point and lost almost all my research. That caused me to waste a turn. I could not do anything that was planned and had 3 civil actions I could not take. Hence, losing that raid cost me and entire turn in the game, plus, my opponent gained my researched and moved forward while I fell back.

Losing a raid by 1 point (5% of the forces involved) put me out of the game.
 
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James Ludlow
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mikus42 wrote:
Losing a raid by 1 point (5% of the forces involved) put me out of the game.


Why didn't you sacrifice a warrior?

 
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David desJardins
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mikus42 wrote:
I lost a raid by one point and lost almost all my research. That caused me to waste a turn. I could not do anything that was planned and had 3 civil actions I could not take. Hence, losing that raid cost me and entire turn in the game


This story doesn't make much sense. You could just sacrifice your cheapest military unit, that costs you much less than what you're describing.

The Spy card that was played against you is a nice Aggression card, because it only costs 1 action to play, but there's only 2 in the Age II deck. Most of the time, you're looking at 2-3 military actions to play an Aggression card, and people aren't generally going to do that when they only have a slight military advantage, because you'll just play a defense card or sacrifice a weak unit, and then they have spent several actions for no benefit to themselves.
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DaviddesJ wrote:
mikus42 wrote:
I lost a raid by one point and lost almost all my research. That caused me to waste a turn. I could not do anything that was planned and had 3 civil actions I could not take. Hence, losing that raid cost me and entire turn in the game


This story doesn't make much sense. You could just sacrifice your cheapest military unit, that costs you much less than what you're describing.

The Spy card that was played against you is a nice Aggression card, because it only costs 1 action to play, but there's only 2 in the Age II deck. Most of the time, you're looking at 2-3 military actions to play an Aggression card, and people aren't generally going to do that when they only have a slight military advantage, because you'll just play a defense card or sacrifice a weak unit, and then they have spent several actions for no benefit to themselves.

Not to mention the opportunity cost of culture by NOT playing an event card (that will likely result in additional benefit due to being stronger in the first place).
 
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