Ender Wiggins
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The 100 in 25 Challenge

This session report is part of a series known as The 100 in 25 Challenge: 100 Games, 25 Weeks, as a fellow GamerBuddy and I are on a quest to play at least 100 different games in less than 6 months.

There's few things in life that warms up the hearts of male gamers in the middle of a cold winter than a good civilization building experience. That, and of course, a shot glass of flaming sambuca. In the absence of the latter, we opted for the former. With temperatures dropping to about minus 15 degrees Celsius outside, Mr Ender braved the frigid weather to knock on the door of the Masked Man's home, where he was warmly invited inside, and the two gamers were joined by a country-music loving traveller familiar to us as "Mr Troubadour" from a previous session report that involved drinking starter fluid and killing monsters. The starter fluid was quickly placed on the table, along with some delectable chocolates and baked goods. After all, building a civilization is hard work, and hard working men dedicated to fostering the wellbeing of their people and the growth of their civilization need snacks. After a quick and clear lesson in game play from Mr Troubadour, we dove straight into the Advanced game.

The Dawn of Civilization

Mr Troubadour kicked things off, opting to choose the Library of Alexandria as his starting card. There's nothing like getting your civilization off to a flying start than by sticking your peasants noses in classical books, and teaching them a thing or two. It's all about education, and education, surely, is the cornerstone of a good civilization!

Mr Ender found the massive beard of Moses entirely irresistible. Was it perhaps a subtle resemblance to the massive gamer beard proudly displayed in regular segments on BGWS? Or was it perhaps the appeal of something magnificent that he'd knew he'd never be able to grow himself? Or was it perhaps the urgings of the Masked Man to "Get Moses!" At any rate, Mr Ender found himself with Moses as his leader, and some advantages that would help feed his population.

The Masked Man opted for Aristotle as his leader. Aside from the beard, there was a definite resemblance, not to mention that the Masked Man is currently the most superb form of Aristotelean metaphysics alive. At any rate, he was clearly a much better choice than Socrates, the famous Greek teacher who was killed for going around giving people advice, and died from an overdose of wedlock. Wasn't it Aristotle who said "I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who conquers his enemies, for the hardest victory is over self"? Sage advice for any builder of civilizations!

The First Age

Under the leadership of Moses, it was natural that Mr Ender's desert people found their thoughts drawn to Egypt. And so it was no surprise when the construction of Egyptian Pyramids commenced. But with their minds on the fleshpots of Egypt, were the people of Mr Ender perhaps returning to a new form of slavery? Had they not learned from their previous hardships there? Food was in abundant supply with the help of Moses, although it was unleavened bread (which some describe as bread made without any ingredients), and although they were well fed, they certainly struggled to manifest any cultural development in the first part of the game.

The Masked Man, however, was undertaking an even more ambitious project: the construction of the Taj Mahal. The envy of surrounding civilizations, this was sure to guarantee him bonus culture points at the next meeting of the United Nations, not to mention a long list of rock stars requesting to use it as a venue in a millenium or two later.

Mr Troubadour still had his nose in the books. His library in Alexandria was not yet complete, but it was only appropriate that he invite a man known for his literary prowess be in charge of his empire: Homer himself. In fact, it is little known that Homer did not in fact write any of the books ascribed to him, but that they were written by another man of that name. This includes "The Illiad", as well as its sequel, "The Oddity".

Eventually Mr Troubadour completed his famous Library of Alexandria. With the help of mandatory fire extinguishers in every room, he made every precaution to ensure that it would not burn down, wanting to avoid the unfortunate fate that had happened in another civilization.

Mr Ender, meanwhile, completed his work on the Pyramids, and although it gave him the status of having completed a Great Wonder, he began to wonder whether it would be cheaper just burying his leaders in the ground. He began working towards a Monarchy, which was quickly accepted by his people.

But suddenly, it all ended. With the death of Homer, Aristotle, and Moses, so ended the First Age.

The Second Age

But from the ashes of one age, emerges an even more glorious age, and there springs forth flowers that blossom forth! And so it came to pass.

Mr Troubadour completed his Universitas Carolina, meaning that if his people wanted an education, not only could they visit the now famous Library of Alexandria with its factory installed fire extinguishers, but also his Universitas Carolina! With the continuing progress of his civilization, it should be noted that his University not only had fire extinguishers, but also an automated sprinkler system and the latest technology smoke detectors.

Meanwhile the Masked Man had finally completed his life long work on the Taj Mahal. At this point Mr Troubadour (blue) had achieved a superlative lead over his rival civilizations, and would there be enough time for them to close the gap before the close of the Second Age?

It was time to start pushing cubes in earnest. Under the happy leadership of Joan of Arc, his new leader, the people of Mr Ender began embarking on a new project: the building of the Eiffel Tower. With the Pyramids starting to draw attention world wide, and attracting legions of Japanese tourists with cameras, his people knew that by building large triangular objects, they were sure to achieve glory.

But wait! There was news of revolution! Have you heard? Mr Troubadour has employed the famous revolutionary Maximilien Robespierre! Immaculate in attire, impeccable in manners, and with a perfectly manicured goatee, what changes would this revolutionary bring? Apparently, he had been spending too much time in Mr Troubadour's Library and Universitas, reading the works of the philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau. In no time at all, he persuaded Mr Troubadour of the advantages of a new form of government: a Constitutional Monarchy!

The appearance of a figure known from alternate histories as an influential figure of the French Revolution would not only bring good news, however. CNN reported that a Reign of Terror was in effect, and being the weakest civilization, the people of the Masked Man's civilization suffered an immediate decrease in their population as a result of this atrocity. Such terrorism, it would seem, would appear later in an alternate history of the 21st century.

Meanwhile the cube pushing continued fervently:

Mr Ender and the Masked Man were still behind in the overall quest for culture points, but with the completion of the Taj Mahal, the Masked Man (white) was now earning more culture points than any other player.

When the Masked Man changed his government to a Republic, Mr Ender decided that it was time to strike, using his superior strength. But wait a moment, how could he attack the Masked Man? He was indebted to him, not least, for chocolates and baked goods. Not to mention that it would be unethical to strike such a military weak civilization. Surely, it was Mr Troubadour's civilization, the high point of culture, the very king of art and education, that needed to be raided? And so it came to pass. At precisely 11:03pm, on December 22nd, a Raid was made on Mr Troubadour's land. But wait, Mr Troubadour also had books about military warfare and defensive strategies in his big library! And so the Raid failed.

Saddened by his failure, Mr Ender sent his despondent men back to working on the Eiffel Tower. Completed at last, it would earn him great culture points, especially when decorated with Christmas lights at this time of the year. But was there enough time to attract the Japanese tourists with cameras and score points before the close of the Second Age?

Intrigued by the notion of Christmas lights on the Eiffel tower, the Masked Man turned to science, and hired on Isaac Newton, whose manager helped him sign a multi-million dollar contract in exchange for his services. His first project assigned by the Masked Man was to invent gravity, which is still noticeable today, chiefly in the Autumn, when the apples are falling off the trees.

The End of the World

But it would all have to end one day. I'm not sure precisely what happened. Maybe one of the grandchildren of the US President was playing in the Oval Office and pressed the red button by mistake. But there was a big bang. No, not that Big Bang. This one ended the world. Or maybe it didn't end? Perhaps it was just that one of the decks ran out of cards? At any rate, it was time to report to the United Nations' officially designated Commissioner of Culture (recently appointed to the position after being ousted in a coup in Nigeria).

When the Commissioner of Culture launched his team of Cultural Inspectors (patent pending), this is what they found when they examined the three civilizations:

Mr Troubadour:

Mr Ender:

The Masked Man:

And so the next day the Commissioner of Culture presented the following report on the floor of the United Nations General Assembly, in open session:
Mr Troubadour: 41 cultural points
Masked Man: 34 cultural points
Mr Ender: 31 cultural points

In closed session, the officers of the General Assembly retreated to the solitude of the Chamber of Cultural Advancement First Class, and examined some special bonuses, awarding 16 to Mr Ender, 28 to the Masked Man, and 29 to Mr Troubadour, which only confirmed the current standings. And so it was proclaimed that Mr Troubadour was bestowed the lifelong honour of Cultural Hero First Class. And all his people said: "Hail!" And Mr Ender said: "Snow!" And the Masked Man said: "Phoey! I hate it when my enemy steals or destroys the stuff that I've spent half my life working on."
And they all lived happily ever after.

And so, completely by accident, they ushered in a new error* in the anals* of human history.

(* - with apologies to Richard Lederer and Kristine Hansen)

Challenge Points: Mr Ender 0, Masked Man 1.

Final reflections about Through the Ages

So what did we think? We had a great time. In my mind it still left unanswered the question: Is Through the Ages just another euro game but with a civ theme? Certainly there is a lot of cube pushing and bean counting, and euro mechanics seem to be at the heart of the game, although there are random events that give it more of a civ feel, and the theme is quite good. The Masked Man seemed somewhat undecided, and particularly the thought that his buildings could be destroyed by an opponent's military made his heart grow somewhat cold. But for a while, the growth of civilizations had warmed the hearts of three men on a cold winter evening.

Stay tuned to hear more about the adventures of The Masked Man, as The 100 in 25 Challenge continues next time!

The 100 in 25 Challenge Progress Log: Games 14, Weeks 5
Games played: Jambo (25/11), Lost Cities (25/11), Hera & Zeus (25/11), Pick Picknic (25/11), Roma (28/11), Cartagena (30/11), Chinatown (30/11), Conquest of the Fallen Lands (5/12), Dominion (5/12), Change Horses (11/12), Glory to Rome (11/12), Witch's Brew (19/12), Royal Palace (19/12), Through the Ages (22/12)
Challenge Overall Points Leader Board: Mr Ender 9, Masked Man 7
Other pictorial reports & mini-reviews in the Masked Man series: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/37038
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Tom Hancock
United States
West Virginia
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Re: The Masked Man helps usher in a new error in the anals of human history (The 100 in 25 Challenge: #14, Week 5)
Is Through the Ages just another euro game but with a civ theme?

If you play any of the shortened versions of the game, it quite possibly is. If you play the full game, with wars, air forces, etc., and you get some experience, its a much more interactive and less euro-feeling game.

Edit: Nice session report by the way!
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