Tim gave me this bad boy for Xmas, so we were eager to try it out. We had a learning game at the last Tuesday night, where we had made it as far as the start of Age III before closing time at Pizza Parlour, and we were all eager to try again, so we set up to meet at my place on Sunday.
Since we are all experienced gamers, we dove right into the Full Game even in our learning session and we surpringly got all the rules down right. The full game does punish you severly for not playing well, and so that may have altered our perception of the game.
The 4 player game went to completion, and took approximately 7 hours. We all kind of muddled through, still learning. We all stayed amazingly close in points, but, as Age III progressed and a few Wars came up, the points started shifting to me and Max, who where the two highest on Strength.
My last 4 Political Actions were Holy War, Holy War, Plunder, Steal 7 VPs, which along with a last turn First Space Flight won me the game. The scoring of the Future Events did swap 3 and 4 -- the bonus appears in parans below.
Me: 181 (47)
Max: 172 (47)
Tim: 142 (37)
Sean: 140 (31)
One player had to leave, but 3 of us were up for more gaming, and what the heck, TtA was still on the table so we went for it again. With one fewer player and a little more experience, it was easier to follow the the entire game and what people were doing.
Tim was able to get Monarchy early, and headed off to an early lead and never really looked back. He was able to Settle to avoid corruption and survive the population decrease at the end of Age I (and II). This happened early enough that neither Max nor I could take advantage of it (2 Military actions as a Despot wasn't giving us the cards to knock him down before he rebuilt). I eventually developed Theocracy, followed by a very late game Republic -- Max went to a late game Con-Mon, but the game was already over by this point.
Tim kept snowballing, generally staying a turn or two ahead of us in everything. I made a critical error entering into the Science-exchange Pact with him -- we both gained from it, but, it just let him cement his lead. Around the start of Age III, Tim declared a War on Culture on Max, and we computed the VP swing -- a min of 3 if Max spend his entire next turn building and sacrificed everything, taking him out of the game, to a maxium of all of 28 Max's points (Time was at base 43 Str, and Max at 10).
At this point, we both decided to Bow out Gracefully after 2 3/4 hours, acertaining that we wouldn't be able to catch Tim after the war.
We were not experts, and it was possible that I might have been able to get ahead of Tim if only Max bowed denying Tim all the points, but seemed like unfun at best, and futile more likely.
In general, we thought TTA is somewhat overrated. You can argue that three plays (and 13 hours!) might be on the light side, but the game may not be worth the time investment, when you compare it other games.
Sean who is a fan of long games said he still would rather play Advanced Civ or another long AH game.
Again, we really didn't have a grasp on Age III and the final scoring, but the game seemed very Tactical over Strategic, in that you had to make the best of the best cards that were available. And once you've started on a course, you really wanted to stick with it to make the investment pay of -- taking cards and/or starting them without following through was just bad.
The game that this reminded me of was Race for the Galaxy (which is a lot quicker) -- yes it's a stretch, but they are both economy building game, where you are dependent somewhat on card draws, and strategy is determined in large part by what you draw (and what your opponents draw).