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Roll Through the Ages: The Bronze Age» Forums » Reviews

Subject: A light review of a light game rss

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Steven Barcelo
United States
Berkeley
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As an avid fan of the Civilization computer games, I've always wanted to give Through the Ages a try. However, since my main gaming opponent is my fiance, who gets pretty fed up at around the 1 hour mark of a game, I decided to see if Roll Through the Ages could scratch the itch.

For a short dice game, RTtA incorporates a surprising amount of the Civilization theme. By rolling dice, you accumulate food, goods and workers, and use them to purchase developments, and build new cities and monuments. Dice can be rerolled up to two times so there is at least some strategy incorporated into the luck of the dice roll.

The developments give specific advantages such as gaining more workers and food per die rolled, while most monuments simply lead to victory points. Each city built leads to an extra die to roll. In this way you truly build your civilization, and a simple dice rolling game is converted into a mini civilization building game.

Finally, there is a minor amount of player interaction incorporated in the form of disasters. Rolling skulls causes disasters to occur, most of which harm the roller, but if three skulls are rolled, then the negative effect is transferred to the opponents. The rerolling of dice leads to a push your luck effect, since you have to roll many dice to have a decent chance of getting the third skull, but if you roll a fourth skull, the disaster is significantly worse against you.

The key to the success of this game is the number of developments, leading to a variety of potential strategies. However, it is not always possible to implement a given plan, since everything is based on dice rolls, which rarely turn out as you would expect.

Finally, the biggest downside of this game is that the end condition always seems to come to early. The game ends either when one player has bought 5 developments or all of the monuments have been built by at least one player. Usually, it will be in one player's interest to end the game quickly to limit an advantage gained by other players, so the game often ends just before you are able to bring your strategy to completion, which can be pretty frustrating in a civilization building game. Some have suggested simply extending the end condition to 6 or 7 developments, but it seems to me like the short end condition is a necessary balancing component to allow for a competitive game even if one player doesn't roll enough workers to build cities.

In conclusion, I find this game really fun for it's niche. A game takes less than 15 minutes, has some decent strategy elements, and includes some of the fun of building a civilization. However, in the end, it is no substitute for an in depth battle of wits, and many games will simply come down to who rolls better.
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Steven Barcelo
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Having finally tried the game last night with more than 2 players, I should add to this post. I originally considered this a game simply to play with my fiance when we didn't have the brain power to try something more serious, but it actually was a huge hit at game night with 4 players. Maybe it was just us, but there actually was a large amount of player interaction, as many players built their strategy around distributing disasters to others or blocking themselves from the same. So, in addition to what I said above, I should add that this is a loud and fun game when played as a group in a relaxed environment.

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