Ramping up my reviewing.
Happily playing games for many, many years.
Our first "Advanced" game of Through the Ages was only after I'd demonstrated the basic game four times to various groups of people. So, I was really eager to move up to the more complex version. We'll get to the Full game soon enough, but just in case we mucked something up entirely, I thought it would be better to go to Advanced before going to Full.
My post-game reaction? I really, really like this game!
In this game, I went with a technology-based strategy, with Aristotle as the leader I picked up in my initial draw. Rich and Randy had more barbarous states, with few technologies but a lot of aggression - or at least, Randy had the aggression!
Playing with Military cards was interesting. I felt rather odd playing territory cards to the Future Event stack, knowing that I was probably just ceding points to Randy, but as it turned out, I won the first territory, Rich the second, and Randy picked one up only on the third go around.
We knew in advance (per the Advanced Game rules) that bonus points would be available for the Impact of Industry, Competition, Happiness and Government. I was thus picking up every extra civil and military action I could. Not exactly because of the Impact of Government (which would net me a lot of extra points as a result), but because I like having a lot of actions. You can do more!
Rich picked up Joan of Arc fairly early on to replace Homer, and became a non-target for Randy's military actions. That left me, and I certainly wasn't concentrating on defending myself. What I was doing was being lucky: Randy made a couple of aggressive moves in my direction, but both times I had a Defense card to shield me from the attack. Hah!
In the mid-game, Rich ran into real trouble because of the territory he'd picked up: he had so many potential population, that his farm produce wasn't being eaten! This was leading to corruption. Uh, oh! So, Rich spent a large part of the mid to late game just growing his worker pool, but he didn't really have the resources to take advantage of it.
My midgame saw me gaining a lot of technologies, and the result of that was dramatic: I was producing more food, more rocks, and more everything than the others (except for Randy, who had more military). My fairly slow start in the culture stakes was not that important as Shakespeare came along and my two Theatres and Libraries went into overdrive. (Is that really a +6 culture from the four buildings?) The Libraries were also helping my knowledge output. All of a sudden, my Knowledge was +8 a turn compared to the others' +2, and my culture was +16/turn, compared to +4 (Randy's) and +2 (Rich's).
A couple of turns of that, and I had an unbeatable lead.
My final tableau
Randy tried to stop me, trying to burn down my buildings. Two Defense cards (and losing my last two troops) stopped his two attempts, and then he was out of aggressive actions. Rich was beginning to come out of corruption-lock, but his society wasn't going to be able to build much now. However, a couple of Works of Arts had done wonders for his score.
Randy's final tableau
So came the final scoring, and I picked up a lot of points from the four bonus cards:
Impact of Happiness: Merric 16, Randy 4, Rich 0
Impact of Government: Merric 19, Randy 15, Rich 11
Impact of Industry: Merric 5, Randy 4, Rich 4
Impact of Competition:, Rich, Randy 0, Merric 0
Rich's final tableau
Merric 92, Rich 60, Randy 59
Through the Ages is an exceptional game... based on one play of the Advanced Game. At least, I really, really want to play it again. I was hooked on the old Civilization computer game, and there are elements in this game that really feel like this - though in a streamlined and elegant board/card game. The next time I can play this can't come soon enough!
I'm sure you'll have this one ready for us on your birthday BGD, so we can teach Josh the game and others who might be coming along! :-)
I agree that its a very well designed game, with the mechanics being second to none in most respects. As I learned, staying ahead of corruption is a priority in the advanced and epic games, unlike the basic game.
Just wait till you get to the Full game - you'll be blown away and will never want to go back to the Advanced game.
Nice write-up and nice pics!