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Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Thoughts from a new TtA owner/player rss

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Bryon Quick
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I have been looking for a civ building type game for a while now, and this year's Secret Santa came through with Through the Ages. Before getting the game, I knew very little about it, and had never played it before. These are just a few of my random musings after 2 plays through the Simple game (I'm trying to introduce this to as many of my group as I can, to increase the chances to play the more advanced versions). Questions/comments/suggestions always welcome.

Rules - Since nobody I know has the game, I've had to learn the rules the old-fashioned way. Though the 9 dense pages of rules definately gives everything needed to play the Simple game, it seems like it could have been organized better. The rules seemed very daunting when there was a page of rules for the first turn, almost 4 pages for the second turn, and two pages for "Later Rounds". As far as I can see, there is no real reason to have a special section for Later Rounds.

One spot in the rules could be cleaned up a bit. After going through 5 pages of fairly dense setup instructions and rules, you come upon this gem: "A wonder works its wonders without workers". While I appreciate alliteration as much as the next guy (ok, well maybe not AS much), when I read that for the first time my eyes crossed and I had to put the rules down and walk away. This sentence could be skipped altogether and the rest of the Key Point would carry the message.

One Tip in the rules gave us all a hearty laugh: "Just ignore any effects you do not understand". Of course this is out of context, but it did cause one of my friends to laugh and tell me he was going to ignore my last 15 minutes of explanation laugh

All this aside, the rules are pretty darned good. Printed on high quality glossy paper, key points (to summarize each possible action) and tips all stand out in bright colored boxes, and a summary at the end of the Simple game section to show how to calculate the various tracks and scores at the end of the game.

Bits - Good stuff. I haven't seen previous versions, but I understand they had actual cards to represent the beginning technologies. In this version those cards are printed directly on the player board, which makes perfect sense, and the game less fiddly. The player aids are on sturd cardboard, and clearly list the turn order, the possible actions, and even an picture of each of the different types of cards. Very handy for new players. The one slightly bad spot is the 275ish small wooden counters. Each one is about 1/2 the size of a pencil eraser; they are difficult to handle, and are prone to rolling off the table. Something a bit bigger around would make them less prone to flying about, but would mean the player boards would probably have to be bigger, and they would take more room in the box so I'm not sure there is a really good solution here. The cards are just the right size for the game, about the same size as the cards from St. Petersburg (going from memory here).

Play - Fun fun fun! It took us a few rounds in the first game to get the hang of things. The first few turns we forgot to produce science and culture points (which seems like it would be pretty easy to do in any version of the game). Aside from that, things have gone pretty smoothly. The game mechanics include card drafting, and an Action point system, which are my two favorite mechanics. Like many games, there are 10 things you want to do each turn, but far fewer actions each turn to do them in. The end of the game seems to come rather quickly, but it's long enough to give everyone a chance to grasp the basic concepts. Each of the Simple games has taken 1.5 - 2 hrs including instructions.

Parting thoughts - I generally loathe "basic" versions of games (the thought of a Family game of Agricola makes me cry a little on the inside). But, I highly recommend at least a few full turns of the Simple game, to help everyone understand the mechanics and develop a very basic strategy. If you are interested in trying this game (which I highly recommend), like most others, will be easiest to learn from another player.

I can see even after the Simple game, that this is going to definately satisfy my Civ itch. I can already see some combinations that work well together (Michaelangelo/St. Peter's Basilica anyone?).

I will be teaching it to a couple more new players in the next couple days, and am really looking forward to playing the Advanced/full games shortly after that. While military strength doesn't play much of a role in the Simple game, I am eager to see how it fits into the other versions.

Anyway, I have rambled on long enough. Thanks for reading!
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Jeff Thompson
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The Simple Game is not really a game, just a teaching mechanism.

Only the Advanced Game (I'm guessing as I've never played it) and the Full Game bring on that undefinable terror that a good game can generate.

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Einmal ist keinmal
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Logoth wrote:
Rules - ...it seems like it could have been organized better. The rules seemed very daunting when there was a page of rules for the first turn, almost 4 pages for the second turn, and two pages for "Later Rounds". As far as I can see, there is no real reason to have a special section for Later Rounds.

You really give the rules more credit than they deserve. They are terrible. It would have made more sense to at least explain (from scratch) the steps in setup for each of the 3 game types (Simple, Advanced, Full). Trying to decipher just the changes from one game type to the other was painful. My edition (3rd edition, I believe) has graphics that are messed up. Specifically, the name of the cards in the upper right corner where the letters are overlapping.

Several areas in the rules are confusing or downright incorrect:
--Food consumption description (top right on p. 5).
--Uprising definition (bottom p. 14)
--It doesn't explain what the icons on Colony cards mean.
--Last paragraph under "Yellow Tokens" (p. 2) "...shown underneath the yellow token." (this wasn't updated with the new player mats.)

Like you, I had to figure it out from just the rules, so I feel your pain.

Quote:
After going through 5 pages of fairly dense setup instructions and rules, you come upon this gem: "A wonder works its wonders without workers".

I noticed this too, and if I ever get around to doing a review of this game, this was going to be (or will be) my title.

Quote:
One Tip in the rules gave us all a hearty laugh: "Just ignore any effects you do not understand". Of course this is out of context, but it did cause one of my friends to laugh and tell me he was going to ignore my last 15 minutes of explanation laugh



Quote:
The one slightly bad spot is the 275ish small wooden counters. Each one is about 1/2 the size of a pencil eraser; they are difficult to handle, and are prone to rolling off the table. Something a bit bigger around would make them less prone to flying about, but would mean the player boards would probably have to be bigger, and they would take more room in the box so I'm not sure there is a really good solution here.

Wooden cubes. Even small ones, like the size from Caylus. Or even better, the translucent plastic cubes that are being sold through a (Korean?) website made specifically for this game. I also think they are the ones that come with Dungeon Lords.

Quote:
I generally loathe "basic" versions of games (the thought of a Family game of Agricola makes me cry a little on the inside).

Actually, the Family version of Agricola is very darn close to as much fun as the one with Min Imp. and Occs. I'll have to disagree here, as I think (and I haven't played anything other than the Full) the Simple game of TTA doesn't do the game near enough justice. You're missing military (and everything associated with it), Pacts, and 2 Ages (or is it just one?), Happiness, Corruption, etc.
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Max
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Logoth wrote:
Rules - Since nobody I know has the game, I've had to learn the rules the old-fashioned way.

There's a couple of good reviews you should read before reading the rules.

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/386394/a-comprehensive-p...
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/217249/through-the-ages-...

When my friend taught me the game, I read these first, and they basically teach you the main ideas of the game. I recommend using these - the new-fashioned way - rather than just reading the rulebook. It will give you a head-start at least, and make the learning curve much easier.
 
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Curt Carpenter
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+1 to what Patrick said. It's not uncommon for a rules question to come up, and someone say, "I know the answer is [blah], but I don't know where to find it." Having to search through effectively three sets of rules is a chore.

I have to say, your Secret Santa did you pretty well!
 
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Dave Sinclair
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Remember to use the player aids while you're playing to keep track of when actions occur during the turn. The aids really are helpful and they help keep the game "on track and moving along".
 
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