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Subject: An Unusual Game of Through the Ages rss

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Eric Phillips
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My wife and I go to a friend’s house sometimes on Monday nights to play boardgames for a few hours. This has been harder to manage and consequently less frequent since the birth of our son 8.5 months ago, but yesterday it was my birthday, so we had planned well in advance to make it. What I didn’t know was that some of my friends had conceived the crazy notion of playing my favorite game for the occasion, although it was the weekiest of week nights. I wavered briefly, and then worked it out with my wife that she could take the car when she was done with her shorter, Monday-night-approved game (Notre Dame, as it turned out), and I would find my way home later by the generosity of fellow players and, if need be, the services of the D.C. Metro system.

The Players:

Eric: Me. I lost count a while ago, but I’ve played 20-30 times.
John: grizzled boardgaming veteran, owns the original set with Bill Gates, Sid Meier, and Elvis; has played more than I have--a lot more if you count 2-player games
Tim: swimming with the sharks for the 4th time, getting better each game

In the initial card row, there were no leaders for one action. There was only one wonder in the whole row: the Great Library, for one action. John drew first player and took it. I briefly considered taking Alexander, the only leader that could be had for two actions, but good sense got the better of me and I took Rich Land and Engineering Genius instead. Tim used his three actions to take Moses. We replenished the card row, and only one more wonder made it on: the Colossus. The Pyramids and the Hanging Gardens, skulking together at the bottom of the pile, were tragically set aside. Now John took and played Julius Caesar and made a mine. I took Aristotle and another Rich Land, played my first one to make a new mine, and staged a new worker. Tim played Moses, made a mine, and took the Colossus. On the third turn, John took advantage of Caesar to break out an early aggression against Tim, trying to steal some rocks. Tim sacrificed his warrior to block it. John then took Knights, as both Knights were coming down the track almost side-by-side, and he wasn’t going to get another chance. He also made a second academy (a.k.a. "philosophy lab"). I used that second Rich Land card to make a third farm--something I very rarely do, got Aristotle out, and kept saving my rocks. Tim remade his warrior and staged another manna-fed worker. As the game progressed, John made a knight and another warrior and played a Phalanx card. He Enslaved one of my workers, making me grateful for that 3rd farm. He then used those rocks to help upgrade his philosophers to alchemists. I picked up the Universitas Carolina (which I just discovered today has nothing to do with Charlemagne) and was soon able to build it in one turn with accumulated rocks, a rock from a Development of Trade Routes event, and the Engineering Genius card I picked up on the 1st turn. Soon after, with the help of a free warrior from an Event card, I got 3 warriors and a Legion card so I wouldn’t be such a tempting target. Tim got Swordsmen and a legion and began vying with John for top strength. This involved building the Colossus and playing the Warfare tech as well (like the Knights, the two Warfares had marched down the card row like Siamese twins; a conspiracy, I tell you).

Our Ancient leaders were exactly the three I expect in most 3-player games these days, but the wonders were out of whack. Tim had the Colossus, I had the Universitas, and the blueprints for the Great Library were getting seriously ignored by John, whose alchemists were satisfying his need for science, freeing him up to grab the first Iron (and the first Irrigation, after having also nabbed the first Alchemy) and begin upgrading his Bronze mines. The Universitas and Aristotle helped me keep up with John on science, and I added another philosopher after Aristotle died, but I didn’t get iron until late in the age. I did pick up the other Irrigation card as well, leaving Tim in a bit of a pickle once Moses went away. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Around the middle of Age I, we all had happiness issues--lots of discontent workers around. I had in my hand an event card that penalized players 2 civil actions for each discontent worker, but I was going to discard it because it would hurt me at least as much as my opponents. Then I saw Theocracy coming down the track. This is one of my favorite cards, though I’m not sure I’ve ever seen someone else use it (weird, that). I’ve always thought the drawback was that you get addicted to the two happy faces it gives, and then it becomes hard to upgrade your government down the line, because none of the advanced governments replace that happiness. But this game I decided not to try for a later upgrade. I would embrace the addiction. I had just picked up Civil Service, and my science production was good, so I knew I could get at least a 5th civil action to go with the 3 military actions. That might be enough. This freed me up to play the event card, and a few turns later it hit Tim, so that was fun. As the end of Age I loomed, though, I knew two happy faces wouldn’t be enough... and then, up popped an Inhabited Territory!

Well... Tim had the Colossus, and I had only one Defense/Colony bonus card. He opened with his lowest bid: Swordsman + Colossus = 3. John passed, so as not to weaken himself before Tim’s turn. I had the weakest military, but not by much. I would have to sacrifice my whole Legion to overbid. But the auction was happening on my turn, I had that 3rd farm, and the territory would fill up my yellow bank again, so I went for it. I threw the Defense/Colony card in too, raising my bid to 6. Tim passed, and it was mine. On my following turn I remade two of the warriors, but was still in a vulnerable position. Thankfully I had two aggression cards in my hand, and at turn’s end I drew a third. The next best defense to having actual defense cards in hand is to hog the aggressions. I got through the next turn unscathed and reconstituted my legion.

The Age ended, leaders died, the Great Library went unbuilt, and John continued his uncharacteristically warlike behavior by taking Frederick Barbarossa (first time I’ve seen him taken in any of my games, I think). Tim and I went without leaders for a little while. Without Moses, Tim was producing no more food. I upgraded to Irrigation before the end of Age II, but thanks to the colony there was no hurry. A little while later, a Fertile Territory came up, and Tim got this one, so that along with yellow (action) cards (he used Robespierre halfway through Age II to become a Republic, so he was free to pick up a lot of these) and a favorable event or two he was able to survive on his primitive agricultural tech for the rest of the game (he did pick up Selective Breeding in the course of Age II, but never played it).

I remained the weakest player for a little while, trusting in my surfeit of aggression cards. A bad event did destroy that third farm I've mentioned a few times now, but I had Irrigation, so that was okay. Then Tim declared a War Over Resources on me. My strength was 6, I think (I had the Swordsmen tech out, but hadn’t upgraded more than one of my warriors). Between his turn and mine, the Strategy card showed up on the row, so I took that for three actions, played it with my fourth, and used two military actions to upgrade my other two Swordsmen. This gave me a strength of 11, and Tim ended up taking 1 food from me for his trouble. This occurrence shifted my strategy to a more militaristic one, as I now had put so many resources into acquiring a +3 military bonus and 2 more military actions than anyone needs for peaceful purposes. I picked up Cannon and played a Defensive Army tactics card, while Tim remained with a Legion of swordsmen. A few turns later, I was able to turn the tables and steal 7 culture from him with an Armed Intervention.

After having taken the lead in labs and mines early on, John ran into some stagnation. He was humming along, and then for no reason he could figure out entered into a period of wheel-spinning. This probably happens to all of us from time to time. The game is complex enough that sometimes something goes wrong, and you just can’t figure out what it is. I think some of it was caused by happiness issues. He hadn’t gotten one of those Inhabited/Fertile Colonies, so he ended up building two temples (eventually three) and picking up Organized Religion. He was also trying to keep up with Tim’s militarization (and the militarization Tim pressed me into). He took Napoleon a turn before I was about to, but never had a better Tactics card than a Phalanx, so that ended up being mostly a defensive move. Anyway, the form the stagnation took was that he upgraded two bronze mines to iron, but never upgraded the third because he just didn’t seem to need it. He was accumulating iron faster than he could spend it. Lack of Actions must have had a lot to do with that. He didn’t get beyond 4/2 (after losing Caesar) until late in Age II or early in Age III, having saved enough science for a peaceful transition to a Constitutional Monarchy. The sudden disappearance of Age II (caused largely by Tim’s transition to a Republic and the great fondness he showed for snatching up yellow cards) caught him by surprise with another wonder unbuilt: the Taj Mahal this time. It also surprised me with the Great Wall unfinished--and worse than that, HALF finished--which really hurt because the Wall dovetails perfectly with a Defensive Army (all infantry and artillery), and I was really looking forward to that happy face.

Now, the downside of John’s stagnation for Tim and me was that when he came unstuck, he did so with a vengeance. Once he had Constitutional Monarchy, he began taking serious advantage of his production backlog. He opened up Age III by building the Kremlin (guess he figured he had all those temples, and Organized Religion, he might as well get a little more use out of them), and even after it was done had a bunch of rocks left over. He grabbed Computers, upgraded his two alchemist labs to computer labs, and handed the reins of power to the aptly named GAME DESIGNER (we weren’t playing with John’s cooler edition), and suddenly with that, his temples/churches, and the Kremlin, was getting 13 culture points per turn. Now, by the standards of my normal game of TTA, that’s scary culture production, but by the standards of THIS particular game, it was much, much worse. One of the strangest things about this game was how low the scores were most of the way through. I got to two culture-per-turn before Tim or John thanks to the Universitas and Theocracy, but they caught up before too long, and then.... Then nobody moved for centuries. Two culture per turn. Play an event card and DOUBLE your culture production for the round! Weird. So when John suddenly shot to 13, he caught up in a hurry and began to open a disturbing lead.

When John took Napoleon midway through the second age, I consoled myself by taking Isaac Newton instead. Upgrading my philosophers to scientists (Scientific Methodists--they sound like Christian Scientists, but are not the same) on the same turn put my science up from 4 to 10, and Newton gave me some civil actions back too, which helped since I still had only 5. Early in Age III, I seeded the Events deck with a card that would give 4 culture points per level 3 tech, and then I picked up the First Space Flight--so I started collecting level 3 techs: Mechanized Agriculture first, so I could get a few more workers quickly, then Rockets to upgrade my cannons. John and Tim snatched up the Modern Infantry cards, so I was left with the unlikely combo of Swordsmen and Rockets. That was good enough, though. The first worker I made with my new farming tech had to go to deal with happiness issues (and yes, it is galling to make an Age A temple during Age III--especially if it’s your first). Ah well, at least it increased my culture production by 50%! The second worker that my combines made possible went into the Rocket corps, boosting my military power by 11 points instantly (because it completed my second Defensive Army). I had enjoyed a several-point military edge over both other players for a little while, and now it became rather commanding. John had lost Napoleon when he played the Game Designer, and immediately before my second rocket came into play had sacrificed 6 or so points of strength to finally nab an Inhabited Colony of his own (a choice he later regretted). On his next turn, he began to replace the sacrificed riflemen, and then stopped to count the remaining Age III cards. He realized that he would have only one more turn after the one he was in, and that he wasn’t going to make enough rocks to re-arm AND build the Internet. (Cards had continued to disappear at an alarming rate in Age III, thanks not only to Tim but also to John’s new combination of Constitutional Monarchy and Kremlin, and my quest for level 3 technologies). He made the choice to build the Internet. This gave him 16 culture points, but by curious coincidence also left him 16 points weaker than me.

My turn came, and I played a Raid card, attempting to tear down his two labs. This would have taken away 6 culture on his last turn and given me enough rocks to build the First Space Flight and still do something else. At this point in the game, Tim had the highest industrial production: 3 coal mines and the Transcontinental Railroad. Like John, I still had Iron (the two Oil cards came out side-by-side, smirking evilly, right near the end of Age III), but I also had changed leadership from Newton to Bill Gates--er, Nikola Tesla--by this time, so my Scientific Method labs were also producing 2 rocks per turn. However, thanks to my exemplary food production and complete lack of new blue tokens all game, a lot of Tesla’s bounty was being eaten by corruption. I really wanted those 10 rocks. I seriously considered sacrificing a few units so that John would not be able to defend by sacking all of his, but finally decided not to, because I didn’t think he would do it. He did, though. He sacrificed all his units and just blocked me. At this point, I was really hoping Tim could take advantage of that.

At the end of that turn, I produced exactly enough rocks to build the First Space Flight on my final turn. I also drew an Age III points card that I liked: Impact of Competition. Especially now that John had lost all his military units, I knew that would give me a nice boost above him in final scoring. Then Tim’s turn came, and bless his heart, he declared a War Over Culture on John. That led to a 7-point culture swing between the two of them, and then on his last turn (after I built the First Space Flight for 26 points and staged three more workers just because I could), Tim played an Armed Intervention on John and stole 7 more. At the end of the game there were only three Age III score cards in the Events pile, and I had put two of them in. John actually had the same number of Age III techs that I did due to his last-minute attempts to lessen the impact of Tim’s war (he added Satellites and Military Theory on the last turn), but the Impact of Competition card gave me 10 points over him, and the Impact of Colonies card that Tim had put in gave John and me the same number of points.

Final scores: Eric 123, John 110, Tim 96.

Closing observations:

- If Tim had launched neither of his last two attacks, John would have won by 1 point. But Tim would have had only 82 points, so he obviously helped himself a lot too. If John had let my attack come through instead of sacking his entire military, he would have lost 6 culture instead of 14, and made that back on the Impact of Competition card. But the 10 rocks taken from his labs would have enabled me to build something besides my wonder on the last turn, so I would have scored a few more points on Impact of Competition too. I think I still would have eked out a victory, but not by 13 points.

- What made the game so interesting, besides the weird stuff that was happening with wonders, was how close it was. Until the very end we had no good idea who was 1st, 2nd, or 3rd. And it was even closer than the scores indicate. If Tim had built an Age III wonder, he would probably have edged John out for 2nd place. And there is no reason why he couldn’t have built one, since he was producing 12 rocks per turn. But like in Age A, there were two wonders that refused to turn up until the very end of the deck, after Tim had already blown rocks on new computer labs. With better planning, he might have been able to build Fast Food Chains on his last turn, I don’t know.

- Age III wonders are always significant, but in a low-scoring game like this one, even more so. A full 21% of my score came from the First Space Flight.

- It’s nice to win on your birthday.
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Tim Seitz
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Scientific Methodists--they sound like Christian Scientists, but are not the same

This line was worth the long read...
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Gordon Adams
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Belated Happy Birthday, Eric.

I enjoyed reading your TtA session because I am finally getting a copy of the game sometime this week or early next week. I will re-read it and that will help understand the flow the game can take.

Regards.
 
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John Kerr
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In retrospect, I think one of the 'spinning my wheels' causes was because I had gotten so many level one techs. I had irrigation, iron and alchemy. I always feel like it's so inefficent to go from a level 1 tech to a level 2 tech, so I let the level 2 mine, farm and labs go by, hoping to spend my effort on libraries or theaters, but the libraries came out very late in the age and I always seemed to need to be doing something else when the theaters went by. I honestly have no idea how I managed to not get all my mines and farms upgraded, you'd think that would be one way to spend actions, but I guess I always had my eyes on something else.
I'm still not sure if sacrificing the army towards the end was a mistake or not, given the information I had. Tim was last in strength for a while, so my hope was that he hadn't saved any aggression cards and would not draw any, or draw cards with less devestating potential. I do think he did exactly the right thing in attacking me, despite my accusations at the time. whistle

It was a fun game and a somewhat frustrating game. The long stall made me feel like I was the 'Hare' in 'The Tortoise and the Hare'. I need to learn to weigh my options better... maybe after 100 games or so.

Happy birthday again!
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John Brock
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out4blood wrote:
Quote:
Scientific Methodists--they sound like Christian Scientists, but are not the same

This line was worth the long read...

Yup! I had to give him a thumb for this alone, never mind the rest of the review!
 
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Eric Phillips
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John (Brock) and Tim (Seitz),

Hmmm... it's weird that you have the same names as my opponents in the game I reported. Anyway, glad you liked the bit about the Scientific Methodists. I stumbled into that one while playing the game.

John (Kerr) and Gordon,

Thanks for the happy birthday wishes. Glad to hear that you're getting the game, Gordon. It's goooood.

John (Kerr),

I usually think of Alchemy, Irrigation, and Iron as the three most important Age I techs. You want to get at least 2 out of the 3 (though Iron/Irrigation and Printing Press can work in a pinch). Are you suggesting that 2 out of 3 may be crucial, but 3 out of 3 is too much of a good thing? An interesting suggestion, if so.

General Note:

After posting this report last night, in which I said that I wasn't sure I had seen anyone else use Theocracy ever, I looked back at my one other BGG session report, and discovered that someone else did in that very game. A little ironic. He did upgrade from Theocracy later on, though.
 
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Tim Seitz
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Fortuna wrote:
John (Brock) and Tim (Seitz),

Hmmm... it's weird that you have the same names as my opponents in the game I reported. Anyway, glad you liked the bit about the Scientific Methodists. I stumbled into that one while playing the game.

John (Kerr) and Gordon,

Thanks for the happy birthday wishes. Glad to hear that you're getting the game, Gordon. It's goooood.

John (Kerr),

I usually think of Alchemy, Irrigation, and Iron as the three most important Age I techs. You want to get at least 2 out of the 3 (though Iron/Irrigation and Printing Press can work in a pinch). Are you suggesting that 2 out of 3 may be crucial, but 3 out of 3 is too much of a good thing? An interesting suggestion, if so.

General Note:

After posting this report last night, in which I said that I wasn't sure I had seen anyone else use Theocracy ever, I looked back at my one other BGG session report, and discovered that someone else did in that very game. A little ironic. He did upgrade from Theocracy later on, though.

Personally, I feel that in a 2-player game, Irrigation is the most important. In a 3-player game, maybe not so, but I've won several games just by starving out opponents.
 
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Eric Phillips
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I've won several [2-player] games just by starving out opponents.


You mean, you take the irrigation and then you take the selective breeding too, so your opponent can't get it?
 
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Tim Seitz
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Fortuna wrote:
Quote:
I've won several [2-player] games just by starving out opponents.


You mean, you take the irrigation and then you take the selective breeding too, so your opponent can't get it?

Well more correctly, if they did not get Irrigation, then I try and take Selective Breeding & Ocean Liner, and possibly Mech Aggy and any Frugality or Harvest action cards. Just by spending the CAs on those two Age II cards, I can win the game because they will most likely not be able to make new people. The chances of you getting both on your turn are 25% and then it's entirely 50/50 that the Age III farm comes out too late to be of use. Selective Breeding & Ocean Liner are critical cards.
 
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Hmmm. It could hurt spending the actions to do that, but it does sound like in most cases it would be worth it in the long run. I know I've played plenty of games where that kind of strategy would have caused me major problems.

Of course, I play 3-4 player games--haven't played 2 player yet. I'm sure it's much harder to do with more than one opponent.
 
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Fortuna wrote:
Hmmm. It could hurt spending the actions to do that, but it does sound like in most cases it would be worth it in the long run. I know I've played plenty of games where that kind of strategy would have caused me major problems.

Of course, I play 3-4 player games--haven't played 2 player yet. I'm sure it's much harder to do with more than one opponent.

In 2-player, the action cost doesn't really matter, since if you are successful, you win the game.

As it plays out, if your opponent does not take Irrigation, you keep your eyes peeled for Selective Breeding. If it shows on your turn, you take it - now you effectively have a 50% chance of winning automatically (if you grab Ocean Liner) and still retain a likely advantage, even if your opponent gets Ocean Liner. If Breeding shows on HIS turn, then he pretty much HAS to take it for 3 actions. When you get forced into an unfortunate strategic position, the actions cease to matter, and it comes down to the luck of the draw - which is why I vigorously strive to avoid being in such a compromising position.
 
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John Kerr
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out4blood wrote:

In 2-player, the action cost doesn't really matter, since if you are successful, you win the game.

As it plays out, if your opponent does not take Irrigation, you keep your eyes peeled for Selective Breeding. If it shows on your turn, you take it - now you effectively have a 50% chance of winning automatically (if you grab Ocean Liner) and still retain a likely advantage, even if your opponent gets Ocean Liner. If Breeding shows on HIS turn, then he pretty much HAS to take it for 3 actions. When you get forced into an unfortunate strategic position, the actions cease to matter, and it comes down to the luck of the draw - which is why I vigorously strive to avoid being in such a compromising position.


Is this really a certain win? While I haven't been in this position, I'm fairly sure I've played some games (with more than 2) where people have not upgraded their initial 2 farms until well in to age 2, relying on yellow cards, events and colonies to get them through. It seems like if they had to, they could have built a third farm early on and gotten through to age 3. Pure speculation, though.
 
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johnkerr wrote:
out4blood wrote:

In 2-player, the action cost doesn't really matter, since if you are successful, you win the game.

As it plays out, if your opponent does not take Irrigation, you keep your eyes peeled for Selective Breeding. If it shows on your turn, you take it - now you effectively have a 50% chance of winning automatically (if you grab Ocean Liner) and still retain a likely advantage, even if your opponent gets Ocean Liner. If Breeding shows on HIS turn, then he pretty much HAS to take it for 3 actions. When you get forced into an unfortunate strategic position, the actions cease to matter, and it comes down to the luck of the draw - which is why I vigorously strive to avoid being in such a compromising position.


Is this really a certain win? While I haven't been in this position, I'm fairly sure I've played some games (with more than 2) where people have not upgraded their initial 2 farms until well in to age 2, relying on yellow cards, events and colonies to get them through. It seems like if they had to, they could have built a third farm early on and gotten through to age 3. Pure speculation, though.

Well can anything really be "certain?"
Me, I've never seen anyone win with only agriculture and no ocean liner.
 
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Kevin Wood
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johnkerr wrote:
out4blood wrote:

In 2-player, the action cost doesn't really matter, since if you are successful, you win the game.

As it plays out, if your opponent does not take Irrigation, you keep your eyes peeled for Selective Breeding. If it shows on your turn, you take it - now you effectively have a 50% chance of winning automatically (if you grab Ocean Liner) and still retain a likely advantage, even if your opponent gets Ocean Liner. If Breeding shows on HIS turn, then he pretty much HAS to take it for 3 actions. When you get forced into an unfortunate strategic position, the actions cease to matter, and it comes down to the luck of the draw - which is why I vigorously strive to avoid being in such a compromising position.


Is this really a certain win? While I haven't been in this position, I'm fairly sure I've played some games (with more than 2) where people have not upgraded their initial 2 farms until well in to age 2, relying on yellow cards, events and colonies to get them through. It seems like if they had to, they could have built a third farm early on and gotten through to age 3. Pure speculation, though.


Not just speculation, John. In the game we played yesterday, I never built a third farm. Furthermore, I didn't upgrade them until the very end of the second age (Tim took the first Selective Breeding, the second one came out late). I won that game.

Now, if I didn't upgrade my farms, I would have been in a very difficult situation. However, you could say the same things about not upgrading mines.
 
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Tim Seitz
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kvn299 wrote:
johnkerr wrote:
out4blood wrote:

In 2-player, the action cost doesn't really matter, since if you are successful, you win the game.

As it plays out, if your opponent does not take Irrigation, you keep your eyes peeled for Selective Breeding. If it shows on your turn, you take it - now you effectively have a 50% chance of winning automatically (if you grab Ocean Liner) and still retain a likely advantage, even if your opponent gets Ocean Liner. If Breeding shows on HIS turn, then he pretty much HAS to take it for 3 actions. When you get forced into an unfortunate strategic position, the actions cease to matter, and it comes down to the luck of the draw - which is why I vigorously strive to avoid being in such a compromising position.


Is this really a certain win? While I haven't been in this position, I'm fairly sure I've played some games (with more than 2) where people have not upgraded their initial 2 farms until well in to age 2, relying on yellow cards, events and colonies to get them through. It seems like if they had to, they could have built a third farm early on and gotten through to age 3. Pure speculation, though.

... However, you could say the same things about not upgrading mines.

I disagree with this comment. With sufficient actions, it is fairly possible to subsist on Bronze Mines. Throughout the game there are significantly more bonus resources available than there is bonus food.

In action cards alone, there is a total of 93 resources available, but only 16 food.
Among Leaders after Age A, Bach, Tesla, Churchill & Newton all provide resources bonuses. Only Barbarossa impacts food, and he adds to both.
Among Wonders, the RR increases resources (but only +1 if you are at bronze) and Ocean Liners increase effective food output (by 5). If you missed Irrigation and Selective Breeding, this is a MUST HAVE.
Even among event cards and territories, the bonuses/penalties are skewed toward stone vs food (there are more cards that reduce population - which costs food).

All in all, it is MUCH EASIER to survive on Age A mines than Age A farms.
 
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Matthew M
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out4blood wrote:


All in all, it is MUCH EASIER to survive on Age A mines than Age A farms.


Almost every game I've played (if not every) would have that reversed.

I understand through your various posts that you prioritize food and draining the yellow bank. Sounds interesting and makes me appreciate the game even more for the options it presents players. But I really think you're overselling the importance.

-MMM
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Tim Seitz
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Glen Allen
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It sounds as if you think I'm suggesting food is more important than resources. I don't think that. But since there are other ways in the game to get resources, I do think that if you don't have something other than Agriculture or Ocean Liner (and your opponent does) you're going to lose for sure. Whereas, if you have Bronze, and your opponent has upgrades, you still have chances, albeit small ones. So tactically, I am less concerned about trying to screw my opponent out of mines or science, and very sensitive to screw them out of food.

I am basing this on my own experience, but I have seen winners and have personally won games where the winner still had Philosophy, were stuck in Despotism, or they still had Bronze mines. I've never won a game, nor seen someone else win a game where they were stuck in Agriculture (and did not have Ocean Liner).

It is worthwhile to reinforce that I believe this is almost exclusively a dynamic of the 2-player game, so if your experience is 3- or 4-player then you may not see the same results.
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Kevin Wood
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out4blood wrote:

It is worthwhile to reinforce that I believe this is almost exclusively a dynamic of the 2-player game, so if your experience is 3- or 4-player then you may not see the same results.


Ah, OK. I missed that part, and now think you're less insane! laugh

I have no experience with 2-player games.
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Victor Strogow
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As I'm playing 2-player games mainly (about 50 games), I could add something.
Food is of course very important, but I saw the games won without any upgrade of Agriculture and without Ocean Linear Service. Usually, it can happen when a player goes into colonial strategy – seeding the Future Events with many colonies (at least some of them with yellow tokens). If I receive few colonies early in the game, I'm trying to get Cartography and Columbus quickly, before my opponent know that the colonies were seeded. Look that winning the colonies means sacrificing the soldiers what additionally fill your yellow bank.

Even if the colonial strategy is not used, but a player gets a good colony with yellow tokens by Columbus, he still can win the game.

I also remember the game that I won finishing without any farmers. I had two simple Age A farms nearly till the end, then I destroyed the farms to build some buildings, while saving my civilization from the hunger with a yellow card.

Also, if a game is very militaristic with frequent sacrifices, it can happen that you don't need the farm upgrades.

Please, don't understand me wrongly. I'm not trying to say that farm upgrades and OLS are unnecessary. Even in colonial strategy, Irrigation helps much, especially if you don't get a colony with yellow tokens as the first one. But, you still can win a 2p game without them.
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Tim Seitz
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Thanks for sharing your different experience at 2-player. It's funny though that you specifically mentioned sacrificing as a way to keep food requirements down. This is where I'd heartily disagree. If I am planning to go for colonies and/or aggressions, and therefore need to sacrifice and rebuild, I am much more inclined to increase my food intake. (If the first colony is a yellow token one, then maybe not so much.)

I'd also suggest that having good yellow token colonies is a special case, much like Ocean Liners, where the Aggy guy would have otherwise lost.
 
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Eric Phillips
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I know I've won games in which the only reason I upgraded my Age A farms at all was to deal with the late-game problem of negative food production. Those weren't 2-player games, though.
 
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