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Subject: In the Middle of it All; a Short History of Crete. rss

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Ryan Sturm
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A goal of mine this summer was to play a game of Advanced Civilization, to the end. Well we did it, the whole thing. Four friends of mine agreed to take on the challenge; Rob, Joe, Kevin and Mike. On July 18th, 2010 we played the entire game. It took us just over ten hours, including a pizza break for dinner.

After a 30 minute rules refresher we got into the game, 2 of us had played the a couple of partial games in the last few years, 2 of us had played it literally decades ago and Mike was playing the game for the first time. With a beautiful recreation of the Map thanks to Tom P and beautiful recreations of the commodity cards by Patrick LeBrun at BGG I was able to upgrade my regular version of Civ to Standard Advanced Civilization with the Western Expansion map. As recommended by the general community we played the West side of the map for 5 players. Asia, Thrace, Illyria, Iberia, Africa and Crete are the Possible Civ Choices.

Civ Draw –

1st – Mike – Thrace
2nd – Rob – Illyria
3rd – Kevin – Africa
4th – Ryan – Crete
5th – Joe – Asia

As I cant recall everything I will tell the story from the perspective of my valiant Cretans….

The Cretan people started humbly on their isle and quickly built ships to occupy the nearby land areas of Argos and Corinth. They then grew and quickly founded cities on Thera and Milnius, using the support of farmers from the isle of Crete and Northern Greece. Sparta was soon occupied with a city as well.

Perhaps Crete’s ambitions got the better of them, trying to spread to the Italian Peninsula, the isle of Sicily, Northern Greece and Asia Minor. Soon trouble from other Civilizations began. Border skirmishes began with Illyria in Northern Greece and on the Italian Peninsula and with Thrace in Macedonia. Thrace satisfied its bitterness towards Crete through the treacherous takeover of Sparta. Asia watched with bitterness as Crete built cities on the Western coast of Asia Minor, and built its forces for a strike.

Though for a time there was prosperity among the Cretan peoples. Its greed paid dividends for a few short years, Crete used the wealth of its many cities to advance its religious virtuosity instead of perhaps wiser courses of action such as developing its agricultural systems or defense. Here is a picture of life in the middle of the bronze age, when the Cretan Civilization was strong.



Then the Dark times came. Mount Kreta erupted destroying the city of Kreta. Pirates raided and took over the lands of Argos and Corinth. And Famine and Epidemics ravaged the good people of Crete. The Cretans with noble efforts rebuilt the city of Kreta, only to see Mount Kreta erupt again and destroy the city a second time. The forces of the Asians grew and they reclaimed the peninsula of Asia Minor destroying the Cretan Cities.

And the once proud Civilization of Crete was reduced to but two cities and a handful of rural population. But alas when it seemed all was lost, a shining beacon rang through. The people of Thrace underwent a bitter Civil war and many of the Thracians abandoned Thrace and sought to join the noble Civilization of Crete.

Crete’s fortunes it seemed were on the rise it achieved better means of agriculture, growth in the arts and literacy. But it was all too late. For the great continent of Africa had been ignored too long. Its peaceful people had quietly been achieving technological, economic and population superiority, the might of the Africans could not be ignored. Soon their persuasive brand of monotheism began spreading across the land like a virus, and the defense of the African coast was complete with their achievements in engineering and metal working.

In a last defiant stand, the noble Cretans invaded the North Coast of Africa with all the power it could muster, but alas it was not enough, the African defense was too strong.

In a cruel twist of fate, the fickle Thracians who once abandoned their homeland for loyalty to Crete, changed their mind and decided to return their loyalty to the people of Thrace. And in a final twist of the knife the third building of the city of Thera was buried by molten lava for the third and final time, leaving years of interesting research for future archeololgists.

The conversion of the Cretans to the African Empire was underway and the might and dominance of the Africans could not be denied. Crete would fall.


Crete’s Civ Techs in approximate order of purchasing –

Astronomy, Mysticism, Deism, Drama & Poetry, Clothmaking, Agriculture, Music, Pottery, Litteracee, Enligtenment, Monotheism.

Ryan’s Pts – Crete – 1010 Civ Cards, 1,300 AST, 200 Cities, 38 Other = 2,548 Pts
Mike’s Pts – Thrace – 690 Civ Cards, 1100 AST, 350 Cities, 38 Other = 2,178 Pts
Joe’s Pts – Asia – 1190 Civ Cards, 1200 AST, 200 Cities, 28 Other = 2,618 Pts
Rob’s Pts – Illyria – 760 Civ Cards, 1100 AST, 300 Cities, 4 Other = 2,160 Pts
Kevin’s Pts – Africa - 1600 Civ Cards, 1600 AST, 300 Cities, 25 Other = 3,525 Pts

I hope you enjoyed reading this, thanks guys for playing and please add your perspective, stories or memories from the game.

Let’s do it again…maybe in 6 or 12 months
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Rob Leveille
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As the last-place Illyrians in the above described game, I have to say that I had an absolute blast playing this classic game.

Illyria started strong, quickly grabbing and holding most of Western Europe. Early truces with his Thracian and African neighbours defined borders that lastest the ages - or at least until the end-game. The Gods granted Illyria a vast empire, and with the exception of the occasional Cretian offal on the tip Illyria's boot, she defended her homelands well.

Illyria spent most of the game desperately trying to manage its oversized empire. Strategically placed cities and defences prevented the evil farmland-lusting Cretians from mounting anything other than temporary attempts at stealing land. But the sheer size of its empire meant that the Illyrians had to spend more time on unit/taxes management than city building. While holding the most land, Illyria seldom had the city advantage. Also, poor trading (possibly due to some questionable trading honour on behalf of Illyria) lead to a slow pace of technological improvements. Coinage - vital for such an awesome empire - alluded us until near the very end of the game.

Near the end, Illyria made a hasty scramble to contain the African zealots. Their evil monotheistic missionaries threatened the very core of the Illyrian homelands. Abandoning the interior, Illyrian forces clashed mightily with the Africans over the mouth of the Mediterranian. The cowardly Africans refused to fight with honour, and instead dashed off into Illyria's interior - raping and pillaging defenseless cities. If this is what monotheism stands for, Illyria shall have none of it!

So in the end, Illyria stands in ruins - a pale shadow of its former self. But it fought with pride, like warriors should; Illyria shall live forever in history as a fierce nation. Tales of its honour will most definitely outlive this silly fad of monotheism.


Thanks Ryan for hosting this event. I would definitely be up for another game and I wouldn't need to wait 6+ months - just next time don't pick such a beautiful day to keep us trapped inside.

Rob - Glorious Illyrian Potentate.


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Joe Geerkin
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Asia was doing well and had secured all of Turkey and the areas on the Eastern side of the Black Sea.

However, calamities stuck in the last quarter of the game; Barbaric Hordes, Treachery, Heresy and the secondary effects of both Famine and Epidemic all struck within three or four turns of each other. This forced the Asians to limp to the end, with four cities and barely enough units to support them.(On the turn we were about to secure our ninth city, the Hordes invaded, destroying the farmland needed for support!)

It didn't really matter in the end. Africa (Kevin) played a very strong game and I'm sure he would have won handily even without the calamities.

It was fun. I'm up for a rematch.
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Kevin Wojtaszczyk
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While my limited short term memory still serves me, I figured I'd give my thoughts on our game last night.

Overall I felt it was a good rules learning game. The end got a little out of wack in scoring, but it did cause the game to reach completion at least a couple hours sooner, especially with the night running late and everyone slowing down some. So the original 10am start time is probably a better option for a future try. ( I believe I bounced twice on the AST, so the game ran 18 turns in 10 hours )

I think there were too many early game skirmishes on the map (in the first 6 or so turns). I really benefited from having a lack of board battles in the first half of the game due to my treaty with Rob and my "purchasing" of good will with Ryan to keep Crete from looking at any of Africa. Getting to 5-6 cities ASAP really is huge from how things played out in retrospect. With the token losses everyone else took in minor early skirmishes, that cost a city or two early since the token effect is cumulative. ( losing just 2 tokens one turn, costs 4 in the next (2 +2 pop expansion) and then turns into 8 the next, which could have been a city with support instead.) The
game probably starts off better for everyone if borders are diplomacized for the first 7 cities with farmers to support them. Then everyone can get off to a good start before all the calamities start flying around and 8/9th city skirmishes begin. Not to mention more players will have up to 6 or 7 cards so more trading options are possible.

The first cities I built were Turn 4, at which point in time I had 32 tokens. I only built two cities to not bounce on the AST, so I had 20 tokens still on the map which expanded into 40 Turn 5. With that I was able to build up 4 more to quickly get to 6 cities, generating $12 in taxes. Next turn I bumped it up to 7, which was the maximum amount of city spaces I had available to me with my deal with Rob for the 2 in Spain to go with the 5 that exist in all of Africa. I did luck out at that point too with the commodity pulls, having 6 cards and then 7 cards without drawing a calamity. With taxes from 6 and then 7 cities, I was also able to keep $18 to purchase a Ivory/Gold. At that point I scrapped together 50 for Mysticism after some trades and kept some pairs to work with for the next turn. I drew my first calamity (flood) on the next draw and managed to corner the market in a middle and low commodity, getting around $200 in purchasing, but also getting 2 more calamities in trades. That let me get Literacy while I had the $ and a couple others so I had three colors and a Red Civic for the future requirements on the AST. I got hit on cities with the calamities, but since I did make the money for some big purchases it seemed to work out.

I think saving a turn to build up more commodities of a type is needed at points in the game. Some turns you have to buy cheap, but I think you have to have a couple turns with $200 or more purchasing power to be able to purchase high end cards instead of low end cards. I believe I was the only one who purchased things in reverse order. It seems to me that the cheaper advances are good as fillers with spare cash or to purchase one of them with a turn with one set and saving another set to grow into the next turn. In the mid-game I was getting the cheaper advances for $25 or $35 since the more expensive ones I bought sooner when I had the money had discounts for the cheap ones. There seems to be a commodity card break point. Getting to $50-$60 is tough, but getting to $20-$30 is a lot easier and costs less cards, especially when treasury money can be used to help. So what I overall took from my trading in the game, it seemed to work best for me when I traded for two turns at a time. Something for now and then something for next turn so I had a pair or three of a kind saving over and spent only 1 set for stuff. The turns where I decided to cash in everything and not save stuff did enable me to get some big card purchases in the now, but did cost me a couple turns to get back to purchasing, but it seemed to work better with the way the advancement card costs are laid out. ( Trying to get two sets over two turns to purchase with more $ one turn, than gunning for 1 set each turn and spending just 1 set a turn. )

Drawing commodity cards really hurts too. Even if they are tradeables and you manage to trade them you still lose a possible commodity value card in the process. The non-tradeables are double whammies, as you get no card value and are hit by the calamity. Overall though, I think the calamities are the better avenue for knocking down the leaders. On the board skirmishes or city busting can be as costly for the attacker as the leader, so probably are best as end game scenarios to prevent 5 cities and movement on the AST. So in future games, probably better analysis of who is or isn't actually the leader is something we will have a better feel for and the leader can get more calamity secondaries when possible. In our game I think we had too much city count determining the leaders as compared to value of advancement cards purchased plus cities. Especially early on. Also the on board early battles really caused many of the early calamity damage choices to be directed at an opponents skirmish adversary instead of the actual leader in advancement points+cities.

In the end the lack of any pre-turn 6 on board skirmishes, no calamity damage till I got to cash in a big trade turn and then a couple more turns of me in the shadows as I built up my cities again after the calamities and restocked my trading cards while others hit high city count nations with the next calamities instead of keeping me low due to my points+cities position pushed me ahead of the pack. Which then compounded itself, as I managed a couple more nice collections through trading, and got into the engineering/architecture/medicine purchases which lessened calamity effects and on board assaults when it was clear I was pulling away.

So when do we play again? :-)
Kevin
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Vasilis
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RyanSturm wrote:
I hope you enjoyed reading this, thanks guys for playing and please add your perspective, stories or memories from the game.


It was indeed a very enjoyable read. Nice! meeple


As a Cretan myself, I have to say that you need a rematch to lead Crete to glory throughout the game and take the victory in the end.
Now, that write-up would be even better! laugh
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Michael Suszka
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I don't know what I think about this game...

Kevin, are you suggesting that all players had best grab the 7 cities closest to their starting positions and just squat there, fortifying borders and waiting for their commodity cards? For the first few hours? That just seems...boring.
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Kevin Wojtaszczyk
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Yes.

Basically use diplomacy to divide up the cities and farm lands to all be able to get to 7 cities with support out of the box. Albeit, who moves in what order and how fast they can get to certain spots will effect the negiotations. The first 4-5 turns are quick and just involve population expansion and movement to establish the first country boundaries. Then the meat of the game begins. Not to mention the border conflicts which might arise for 8th/9th cities.

Overall Adv. Civ. is not a war game so much a trading and calamity management game. Actual on board attacks are available more to knock down a leader in the mid and late game. Early game on board attacks can hurt the attacker just as much as the defender and typically end up knocking both people behind the rest of the players. Avoiding early conflicts (before turn 7-8) is needed to get up to 6-7 cities as quick as possible so you are drawing 6-7 trade cards each turn so you are able to make trades and ultimately collect sets to buy civilization advancement cards.

There seems a fine line between cost effective conflicts (ie. someone early in a turn puts 6 guys in a spot to plan on building a city, and you move later and drop 2 guys in that spot to knock them down to 5 and lose out on the city and probably some units because the space can't hold 5) and not annoying another nation enough so they don't clobber you overly with calamities, don't trade with you, or become vendictive and attack you in force on the board dragging theirs and your nation into last place.

Good trading/purchasing and managing calamities are the real core of the game. Where you hit an opponent with a calamity can take into consideration, are they a peaceful neighbor? Or do you want to involve someone in a two front war through a calamity to shift their direction away from your border with them. Or can you disrupt two other nations areas so one or the other decide to land grab alittle extra in the voided spaces. Overall after that initial 7 city beginning expansion, players are losing and rebuilding cities throughout the game due to the calamities. How that ebb and flow shifts player board positions is a big part of the game.



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Rob Leveille
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That all sounds fine and good, but you're race of heretics and blasphemers can not be suffered to live.

They are different - kill them!!

Die Monotheist scum!
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Shawn Pealer
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Please do not be offended by the following.

This is a game, like all other games, of looking for advantages and trying to exploit them. The idea is to separate yourself from the other contestants.

A country's particular strategy with regard to what happens on the map is just a portion of the game. Responding emotionally to being attacked is helpful only if it can be used to manipulate the other contestants. Therefore, this prophylactic attempt to divide the board into 7 city sectors before play is merely an attempt to manipulate. Unless it is clear the proponent has EVERYONE ELSE's ear, one should not fall in line with a proponent of this arrangement unless one is reasonably sure that such a proponent is not the best positioned to exploit it. It may be best not to as that proponent has already exposed their preference (likely strength) and fear (likely weakness).

That being said, judge every decision carefully and enjoy the extended, sweet tension that a good long game of advanced civilization brings.






 
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