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

Subject: faster play using simultaneous actions rss

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Tom F
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I played Through the Ages only a few times, but the main complaint from my friends is that there is too much downtime between turns. I'm sure the turns will get faster as we play more, but I decided to see if the game could be made more 'simultaneous', and the following is the result of my explorations. I have not yet tested these rules, but I figured I'd post them to see if there are any glaring problems.

The main thing that I could see that prevented the action phase from being done simultaneously by all players is the card row. I had several ideas about how to handle this. My favorite is described below.

Turn order will proceed as follows:

1. Outcome of a War
-------------------

This is resolved as normal for all players in turn order.

2. Political Actions
--------------------

Starting with the first player, each player takes a political action, as per the normal rules for political action.

3. Discard Excess Military Cards
--------------------------------

All players discard excess military cards.

4. First Round Actions
----------------------

Players simultaneously spend their civil and military actions to perform any of the regular tasks specified in the normal rules except "Take a card" from the card row.
Players may not base their decisions on what other players are concurrently doing. If there is any dispute, the players may hide their boards from other players.

5. Card Bidding
---------------

After players have completed their first round actions, they may begin bidding on action cards with their remaining actions.
There are a number of bidding rounds equal to the number of players (eg for 4 players, there will be 4 bidding rounds).
In each bidding round, the following happens:
1. Players may only bid on the first (leftmost) five cards in the card row (the ones with a base cost of one, as indicated by the dots under the card slots in the card row).

2. Players bid their civil actions by placing one or more of their colored blocks (or other colored tokens) on one or more cards. Players may only bid civil actions that they have not yet spent in the First Round Actions phase.

3. After all bids are in, the bids on the cards are resolved from left to right. For a card, if one person has a higher bid than anyone else, he pays those civil actions and gains that card.

4. If one or more people have the same bid for a card, then they take turns bidding additional science, with the highest player spending the civil actions and science that he bid. Ties in science bidding are resolved clockwise starting with the first player.

5. The total combined bid for a player (for all cards in this round) may not be more than your number of remaining civil actions. For example, if Ted has 2 remaining civil actions, he may not bid more than 2 total civil actions for cards in the card row.

After a bidding round is over, do the following:

1. Remove the left most cards as indicated by the number of players (4 players=remove the leftmost card, 3 players=the leftmost 2 cards, etc).

2. Slide all the cards in the card row over as normal, filling in cards on the right from the draw deck.

3. Pass the first player card to the left (clockwise).
After all players have had a chance to be the first player in the bidding rounds, or if no one has any civil actions left, then phase 5 is over.

6. Second Round Actions
-----------------------

This gives players an opportunity to spend any unspent civil and/or military actions. This is performed in exactly the same way as step #4.

7. Production and Maintenance
-----------------------------

Resolved as normal for all players simultaneously.
 
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Scott Agius
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So you are proposing to increase the speed of play by having almost every card bid on instead?

I can't see how that would be quicker but good luck with trying it out.

Most cards in the row will stay there while your opponents are taking their turns, I recommend people think about their actions during other players turns, this tends to be the biggest problem with people I play with, only thinking about their actions when it's their turn. I also tend to avoid the 4 player game for the unnecessary down time added for little extra gameplay interaction.
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Einmal ist keinmal
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Suggest to your friends to play TTA online and see how their definition of "downtime in between turns" changes.
 
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Tim Seitz
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We had a game night where were about to play F2F and then we decided to try out boardgamingonline, sort of computer-assisted F2F play. It was awful! Since I couldn't watch what my opponent was doing, I had to entertain myself during her turn. Then I had to spend some EXTRA time reviewing what had just happened!

FWIW, ZunTzu is much better for F2F computer-assisted play.
 
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Jeff Chunko
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out4blood wrote:
We had a game night where were about to play F2F and then we decided to try out boardgamingonline, sort of computer-assisted F2F play. It was awful! Since I couldn't watch what my opponent was doing, I had to entertain myself during her turn. Then I had to spend some EXTRA time reviewing what had just happened!

FWIW, ZunTzu is much better for F2F computer-assisted play.


That's really odd. I find it much easier to review my opponents moves on bgo. Just click on the journal, and there they are. I can read much faster than they can play. Then I go poke around bgg with the extra time.
 
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Tim Seitz
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Jeff Chunko wrote:
out4blood wrote:
We had a game night where were about to play F2F and then we decided to try out boardgamingonline, sort of computer-assisted F2F play. It was awful! Since I couldn't watch what my opponent was doing, I had to entertain myself during her turn. Then I had to spend some EXTRA time reviewing what had just happened!

FWIW, ZunTzu is much better for F2F computer-assisted play.


That's really odd. I find it much easier to review my opponents moves on bgo. Just click on the journal, and there they are. I can read much faster than they can play. Then I go poke around bgg with the extra time.

The point is that you have to read it AFTER they play, extra time which lengthens the game.
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Lewis Wagner
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out4blood wrote:
Jeff Chunko wrote:
out4blood wrote:
We had a game night where were about to play F2F and then we decided to try out boardgamingonline, sort of computer-assisted F2F play. It was awful! Since I couldn't watch what my opponent was doing, I had to entertain myself during her turn. Then I had to spend some EXTRA time reviewing what had just happened!

FWIW, ZunTzu is much better for F2F computer-assisted play.


That's really odd. I find it much easier to review my opponents moves on bgo. Just click on the journal, and there they are. I can read much faster than they can play. Then I go poke around bgg with the extra time.

The point is that you have to read it AFTER they play, extra time which lengthens the game.


You don't have to read after they play. You can hit refresh and see the latest journal entry.

I found that the trick to speeding play was to use timers. Everyone gets 1 hour per game which runs while they are taking their turn or must respond during the turns of others (e.g. bidding on colonies).

If they run out of time, they lose. It really focuses people on the game. I know one good TtA player who now plays TtA, with a timer, much faster than he plays Kingsburg (a light euro) without a timer.
 
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Tim Seitz
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lewis wrote:
out4blood wrote:
Jeff Chunko wrote:
out4blood wrote:
We had a game night where were about to play F2F and then we decided to try out boardgamingonline, sort of computer-assisted F2F play. It was awful! Since I couldn't watch what my opponent was doing, I had to entertain myself during her turn. Then I had to spend some EXTRA time reviewing what had just happened!

FWIW, ZunTzu is much better for F2F computer-assisted play.


That's really odd. I find it much easier to review my opponents moves on bgo. Just click on the journal, and there they are. I can read much faster than they can play. Then I go poke around bgg with the extra time.

The point is that you have to read it AFTER they play, extra time which lengthens the game.


You don't have to read after they play. You can hit refresh and see the latest journal entry.

I found that the trick to speeding play was to use timers. Everyone gets 1 hour per game which runs while they are taking their turn or must respond during the turns of others (e.g. bidding on colonies).

If they run out of time, they lose. It really focuses people on the game. I know one good TtA player who now plays TtA, with a timer, much faster than he plays Kingsburg (a light euro) without a timer.

Uh, sitting there hitting refresh and then tabbing to journal is not my idea of a good time.

We've used timers before. We can play face to face in just over 30 min per player. Online is flat out slower.

It's great for what it is, but it doesn't speed up the game, unlike something like Caylus on BSW, where you can play 20 min Caylus games.
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Eric Phillips
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thorpaline wrote:
Starting with the first player, each player takes a political action, as per the normal rules for political action.


This would mean whoever was strongest at the beginning of the turn would stay strongest for all four Political Actions (except for changes from turn-order tie-breakers). This would give that player a big advantage and discourage other players from seeding cards. It would also mean that a player who was weak at the beginning of the turn would have no chance to build up his strength before the other players got to play their Aggressions.

Quote:
Players simultaneously spend their civil and military actions to perform any of the regular tasks specified in the normal rules except "Take a card" from the card row.
Players may not base their decisions on what other players are concurrently doing. If there is any dispute, the players may hide their boards from other players.


The effort to take your turn without seeing what others were doing, and without letting them seeing what you were doing, would be annoying and would (ironically) add time to the game. More serious is the fact that you would not be able to use any cards currently on the row until the second action phase of the turn, and you wouldn't know how many actions would be required to get them, so there would be no reason do anything in the first action phase unless it was immediately going to get you more actions.

Quote:
After players have completed their first round actions, they may begin bidding on action cards with their remaining actions.


As Scott Agius pointed out, adding multiple rounds of bidding is a strange way to try to speed a game up.

I'm sure many more problems would crop up if you ever started play-testing the idea. Just to mention one likely candidate, Actions and Science would probably become even more important than they are now, so a lot of the cards would have to be rebalanced. It's a huge change. You would end up with a very different game. And I seriously don't think it would be any faster.
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Eric Phillips
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out4blood wrote:
Jeff Chunko wrote:
out4blood wrote:
We had a game night where were about to play F2F and then we decided to try out boardgamingonline, sort of computer-assisted F2F play. It was awful! Since I couldn't watch what my opponent was doing, I had to entertain myself during her turn. Then I had to spend some EXTRA time reviewing what had just happened!

FWIW, ZunTzu is much better for F2F computer-assisted play.


That's really odd. I find it much easier to review my opponents moves on bgo. Just click on the journal, and there they are. I can read much faster than they can play. Then I go poke around bgg with the extra time.

The point is that you have to read it AFTER they play, extra time which lengthens the game.


Boardgaming-Online is not for real-time play, and definitely not for "face-to-face" play. I'm reminded of the way people would "have sex" in Demolition Man and Woody Allen's Sleeper.
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Tim Seitz
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Fortuna wrote:
out4blood wrote:
Jeff Chunko wrote:
out4blood wrote:
We had a game night where were about to play F2F and then we decided to try out boardgamingonline, sort of computer-assisted F2F play. It was awful! Since I couldn't watch what my opponent was doing, I had to entertain myself during her turn. Then I had to spend some EXTRA time reviewing what had just happened!

FWIW, ZunTzu is much better for F2F computer-assisted play.


That's really odd. I find it much easier to review my opponents moves on bgo. Just click on the journal, and there they are. I can read much faster than they can play. Then I go poke around bgg with the extra time.

The point is that you have to read it AFTER they play, extra time which lengthens the game.


Boardgaming-Online is not for real-time play, and definitely not for "face-to-face" play. I'm reminded of the way people would "have sex" in Demolition Man and Woody Allen's Sleeper.

That's clear to me now.

But I always test out the various implementations for games to see how they might improve/change the experience when playing face to face over multiple comps. For example, Caylus on BSW is rapid and sublime, and isotropic vastly improves the 2-player Dominion experience. Of all the implementations, I feel that BSW Caylus is probably a high point.
 
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Tom F
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Fortuna wrote:

As Scott Agius pointed out, adding multiple rounds of bidding is a strange way to try to speed a game up.

I'm sure many more problems would crop up if you ever started play-testing the idea. Just to mention one likely candidate, Actions and Science would probably become even more important than they are now, so a lot of the cards would have to be rebalanced. It's a huge change. You would end up with a very different game. And I seriously don't think it would be any faster.


That is true, my friends and I will probably get a few more games under our belts before we try this, since I'm sure we would gain a lot of time if we knew more what we are doing. The card bidding is one solution to the problem of managing the card row purchases in a way that enables the rest of the turns to occur in a more parallel fashion. It is, of course, not clear that any time will actually be gained.

The better solution is to actually get people to pay attention when other people are taking their turns, unfortunately, a few of my friends have chronically short attention spans. Maybe the timer idea is the better idea to try first.

Thanks for everyone's input!
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D K
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I played a 4 person game of TTA in 2 hours and 30mins. Age 1 lasted 15mins, Age 2 took about an hour and half, and Age 3 the two leaders pulled all the cards from the row speeding up the game.

And then there is the extreem.

At Origins 10, I played a 4 person game in 7 hours. However, it was 3 players that never played the game. But after that game, I have came up with a rule, "I will never teach a new player the game unless it is a 2 player game."

One player took till the end of Age 3 to understand, produce food, pay consumption, produce rock, pay corruption. I wanted to kill myself!
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Ben Foy
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I don't think the OP's idea is completely without merit. He makes some mistakes but some ideas are actually quite good. I'd consider his ideas better for a 4 player game.

I like the simultaneous political actions, since there will be no ganging up when playing aggressions. But the Wars are broken since everyone else will gang up on the players who just resolved a War (if they sacrifice). Better to resolve the war after phase 4. That way everyone can recover in phase 6. Let the people fighting the war use twice their normal number of military actions but in furture turns they don't draw a military card for every MA above normal they use.

The bidding is broken, there is no reason to bid with science because that make science even more critical than it already is. Better to only bid with CAs. The starting player places a bid at the normal CA value (or higher) or passes. The whole card row is used. The next player places a new bid, passes or bids at least one CA more than an existing bid (the previous bidder gets his CAs back). And so on till everyone passes. Then every card left in the 1 CA portion of the Card Row is flushed (alternately flush the number of card rows equal to the epoch, don't flush in Epoch 4 and flush the 1 CA cards in epoch A).
 
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Eric Phillips
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BFoy wrote:
I like the simultaneous political actions, since there will be no ganging up when playing aggressions.


I don't see how that would be prevented. I think it would actually be a much bigger problem, because the weakest guy would have no chance to shore up his defenses until after everyone had taken a shot at him.
 
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Fortuna wrote:
BFoy wrote:
I like the simultaneous political actions, since there will be no ganging up when playing aggressions.


I don't see how that would be prevented. I think it would actually be a much bigger problem, because the weakest guy would have no chance to shore up his defenses until after everyone had taken a shot at him.


Well the weakest guy has no less of a chance to shore up his defenses in this system than the current system. It actually favors the weakest guy since he knows the number of attacks he will face and the other players won't pile on after the attack. The real problem will be resolving multiple aggressions.
 
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John Bradshaw
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Bastian Bux wrote:
If you really want to speed up the game, get better at it.


How good or how quick I am is certainly within my control and I can take that idea on board to the benefit of any player(s) I might be up against. However - it's not going to help me get through the downtime I have to endure as it's outside of my control how good or quick any of my opponents are.

I think there's the element of a good idea in the OP. I'm not keen on the idea of bidding but it seems to me that individual periods of downtime would be greatly reduced by having the "Using Civil and Military Actions" phase run in player order, one action per player at a time. Once a player passes s/he is finished with the phase and can immediately go on to the Production and maintenance phase. I've not yet thought through how the card row would be replenished/flushed etc, - possibly after each round of the phase for the first 4 rounds of the phase, and I suspect that the turn order would have to revolve, probably within the phase.

It's a great game and if that downtime between turns can be reduced, so that everyone feels involved at all times that would be a good thing provided of course that no damage is done to the normal processes in the game.

I've not thought this through in any depth as yet so I simply offer up the suggestion, developing on the OP's original idea. I might try out a solo 4er myself (what sad lives we lead!) to see how it might work out.
 
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Junfeng Liang
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Instead of biding, it would be better to just pick cards from your hand and pass to next player (like seven wonders).

In one round,
1. Play one political action
2. Each player gets certain number of civil cards (say, 5) then:
Each player can spend 3 CA to pick one card from hand card then pass all left over hand cards to your left player, and get hand cards from your right player.
Then the price of picking card drop down to 2, pass hand card again.
Then the price of picking card drop down to 1, pass again.
Now the price will be always be 1, and player can permanently pass card picking action in this round by doing other civil action, while other players continue to pass the card around. This stop when all players stop picking card. All the unpicked cards are discard.

 
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