Carlos Soto Power
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Hi fellas,

This is my second review, so please be benevolent with it modest

Trough the Ages: A Story of Civilization (hereinafter TtA) has been one of my most wanted games of all times (I've read the original rulebook completely, I've read a lot of reviews and articles about it, I have a lot of photos downloaded from here, the BGG, and have many other resources, etc., but I still haven't bought it. Why? well, 'cause I was waiting to have it published in Spanish, my native language; I'm from Ecuador, South America, and even though I know English and can perfectly handle TtA's language level, that's not exactly my countrymen's case.

So, I was sure of doing so (buying TtA) before, but now I find myself plenty of doubts because the reading a lot of strong-critic-reviews has made me re-think if TtA is a game for me (with "me" I mean my personal circumstances and specially my gaming-group characteristics, including not just their preferences, but also their real posibility of commitment with a game that demands more than just opening a box and sit down to play... and that means: a lot of time and tons of pasion, of course). I had to clarify the use I made of "me" 'cause in my "ideal world" I would spend hours and hours... and more hours playing games full of substance as TtA.

That said; well, I have to admit that the TtA negative review that influenced me the most was Jeff Hannes's one. Nevertheless I must express that I feel grateful with Jeff because certainly his review made me re think about to get this game or not (and a text provoking that kind of reactions will always be good recieved between authentic geeks that, like me, are interested on improve their collections, and, believe me: that doesn't mean "buy everything that crosses in front of your eyes", not at all!

Now, the problematic aspects of acquiring TtA from my very own point of view:

After have seriously thought on TtA's pros and cons, the next is a compilation of my reflections (I'll follow the same order of Jeff's review to make it easier for those of you who may want to read both, this one and the original that inspired this.

Well... no more ado: gulp

-Point 1 (The game lenght issue).- Is the aspect that scares me less. But of course I'm speaking for myself alone: Sadly, the majority of people I know preffer to spend 4 or 5 hour playing 3 different games, instead of just one (I think a consistent gaming group can play, for example, Carcassonne, Puerto Rico and Condotiere, in less than the time used to end a complete game of TtA).

-Point 2 (The extremely fiddly gameplay aspect wich could favour certain dirty game practices).- It worries me a lot that this game has so many complicated aspects: so much little things to pay attention of... and to be careful about... and to be aware on... I'm willing to make the effort and do my best, but I cannot affirm the same about my game-buddies.
Moreover: I hate the sensation of being forgetting things on a game. I totally dislike when I know that the outcome of a game would have been very different if I or she (or whoever else arround the table) wouldn't have forgotten to do that..., or to adjust these..., or to play less of those...

-Point 3 (The imbalanced aspects of the gameplay).- That worries me a lot. I mean: If a newbie has no chance to beat an experienced player after (at maximum) 2 plays, then the game won't work at all. And if this were actually true on TtA, it would mean that unless all players would have "grown" with the game, at the same time, they could never ever have the same posibilities to win. (!) Yeah, this bothers me alot, 'cause since I'll be the owner of the game, that means that probably I'll be the one that they would never ever will beat. It really sounds unjust!

-Point 4 (Its steep and long learning curve, and complexity).- I'm not afraid to complex games, in fact, those are wich I often like the most, but, speaking seriously: taking classes of Vlaadology in order to play a game? (you know I'm joking here)... Well, it doesn't sound good at all, isn't it? I know in most games there's something like a "wining key" but in this case, it specially appears to be true that a newbie won't catch a glimpse of it before have played at least five times. That doesn't rocks! Or am I wrong?

-Point 5 (Acceptance of supremacy).- Seriously? Meh! I mean: are we talking of, literaly, accepting that someone has Supremacy over others and that them cannot do anything in order to change that? Wait! There's always the chance to "concede" (read it as: lower your backs to be whipped for the benignant Supreme Leader, instead of be erased from the face of the earth). Ugh!
Ok, I'm thinking i'm out. (A substantial part of every each one good game I've ever played is that you can always see a way to get back and give your fight... Without that chance a game is like a cold, dry tomb.)

-Point 6 (About the price).- When you buy a game that costs, let's say arround 26 bucks, like Dominion or Puerto Rico (B&B's actual prices), for example, and you play with it a lot of times, let's say arround 100 times, that means those game sessions have had an estimate cost of 26 cents each. Really? Yes! In the other hand, if TtA has, as have been said on other reviews, barely oportunities to reach to the table, that, of course means that it probably won't worth the effort of buying it. ('cause probably each game of it shall end costing , let's say arround 10 bucks, wich is a lot compared with the 26 cents per game of the games on the previous example).

Well... so much for my review.

I'd love to get feedback from you, TtA's lovers (yeah, 'cause I'd like to find good reasons to buy it since I really like its mechanicals, theme, etc... By "good reasons" I mean stronger reasons than the ones I've found to decide not to buy it.

Cheers from Ecuador, South America!

CARLgooS

PS: To everybody: thanks for reading my review and for be patient with me and forgive my typos and grammar faults.

PS 2: To Jeff Hannes: thanks for your more than excellent review (I really liked the clarity and honesty with wich you have exposed your ideas).
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John Richert
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If you are looking for a civilization game, this is the best one around.

I think many of your concerns can only be answered by your group. I have learned that the games that stick around in my group are those where the game play is deep enough that new players have a fairly steep learning curve. Those that do not are played frequently at first, only to later gather dust on the shelf.

Regarding Point 5, until extremely late in the game, there is always a chance for players to come back. However, why should a player that has outplayed everyone the entire game be punished by mechanics that promote someone coming from behind? The military game is a risk. It may win 1 game in 8. However, if someone gets the cards, and they come at the right time, they have a great chance to win.
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Brian Schroth
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FinrondFelagund wrote:

-Point 5 (Acceptance of supremacy).- Seriously? Meh! I mean: are we talking of, literaly, accepting that someone has Supremacy over others and that them cannot do anything in order to change that? Wait! There's always the chance to "concede" (read it as: lower your backs to be whipped for the benignant Supreme Leader, instead of be erased from the face of the earth). Ugh!


This is really going to blow your mind...but I've won TTA after being the weak civ in an Acceptance of Supremacy pact.
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FinrondFelagund wrote:
-Point 6 (About the price).- When you buy a game that costs, let's say arround 26 bucks, like Dominion or Puerto Rico (B&B's actual prices), for example, and you play with it a lot of times, let's say arround 100 times, that means those game sessions have had an estimate cost of 26 cents each. Really? Yes! In the other hand, if TtA has, as have been said on other reviews, barely oportunities to reach to the table, that, of course means that it probably won't worth the effort of buying it. ('cause probably each game of it shall end costing , let's say arround 10 bucks, wich is a lot compared with the 26 cents per game of the games on the previous example).


Hi,

A lot of people are "making this error"...as I will call it in my point of view: It`s the nature of a long lasting game, that it will come more less on the table as compared to a game, which is played in 1/3 of the time.

The main point is: Do you have more fun while playing TtA or more fun while playing e.g. Dominion?

I have to say: TtA is my Nr1 game of all games in my collection right now, BUT especially when you had a stressy day or don`t find much time to play a long lasting game, I don`t like to play TtA. Dominion is a perfect game, which is lasting usualy not longer than 45 - 60 minutes. So if you would ask me, if I want to play Dominion or TtA after a hard day...I would choose Dominion in most of the cases.....

BUT

it makes so much fun while playing TtA, that this offests all points, that I sometimes (! meaning in some certain moments) don`t like at this game.....

..and if I`m having enough time......and if I`m finding a playing partner (I would not play it with more than 2 players in total because of the downtime) this game is just awesome....This game will never leave my collection...for sure....

Regards
Mario
 
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Chun Ping
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while i appreciate your thoughts, calling it (and putting it) in as a review is way off. you have NOT PLAYED the game, you merely read the opinions of others. These are your opinions but not even about a game after playing it.

To me, it should be moved to the general section, if not, other potential buyer might read your points without realising that what you said had no gameplay basis.

other than that, my other advise will be to buy yourself a copy and then play it on boardgaming-online.com. That's what me and my buddy do. I used the game the first time to teach them. After that, we have never opened that box again. we happily played 50 games in one year
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Tristan Brightman
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Your metric for game value has an error in it. Even assuming equal fun while you are playing, you need to take into account the length of time spent playing, not the number of plays.

I don't play through the ages as often as I have played dominion (okay, this is a huge lie if you count online games, but it's true for my hard copies). Even if TTA was the same fun (it's much much more for me), it would still be beating Dominion for value.
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Kelly Krieble
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FinrondFelagund wrote:
-Point 2 (The extremely fiddly gameplay aspect wich could favour certain dirty game practices).- It worries me a lot that this game has so many complicated aspects: so much little things to pay attention of... and to be careful about... and to be aware on... I'm willing to make the effort and do my best, but I cannot affirm the same about my game-buddies.
Moreover: I hate the sensation of being forgetting things on a game. I totally dislike when I know that the outcome of a game would have been very different if I or she (or whoever else arround the table) wouldn't have forgotten to do that..., or to adjust these..., or to play less of those...



If you can't trust your friends to NOT cheat, then I suspect it's time to get a new gaming group.

Regarding forgetting rules during a game, it happens, but less so the more you play a game.
 
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Daniel Corban
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dr_divot wrote:
FinrondFelagund wrote:
-Point 2 (The extremely fiddly gameplay aspect wich could favour certain dirty game practices).- It worries me a lot that this game has so many complicated aspects: so much little things to pay attention of... and to be careful about... and to be aware on... I'm willing to make the effort and do my best, but I cannot affirm the same about my game-buddies.
Moreover: I hate the sensation of being forgetting things on a game. I totally dislike when I know that the outcome of a game would have been very different if I or she (or whoever else arround the table) wouldn't have forgotten to do that..., or to adjust these..., or to play less of those...



If you can't trust your friends to NOT cheat, then I suspect it's time to get a new gaming group.

Regarding forgetting rules during a game, it happens, but less so the more you play a game.


This is the second spanish-speaker that I have heard say their friends are notorious for cheating. I could be over-generalizing, but I wonder if it is a cultural thing.
 
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Geoff Speare
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How many more than two can there be?
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David Debien
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Why not play the game online? It eliminates the fiddly issue and can be a great tool for learning it as well. As far as losing to a more skilled player...who cares? That is how you learn!
 
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Guy Riessen
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supertris wrote:
Your metric for game value has an error in it. Even assuming equal fun while you are playing, you need to take into account the length of time spent playing, not the number of plays.

I don't play through the ages as often as I have played dominion (okay, this is a huge lie if you count online games, but it's true for my hard copies). Even if TTA was the same fun (it's much much more for me), it would still be beating Dominion for value.


The metric is flawed in two ways--
1st. Hours played is the unit that should be measured. One 5 hour game of 1856 is equivalent to approximately 15 games of Dominion, in time/dollar.

2nd. Those games that get a lot of play, will generally burn out more rapidly as the actions and mechanics that win will all be discovered. A game like Dominion deals with this burn out by constantly releasing expansions to introduce new interactions--but then you're talking about a HUGE investment over time, whereas if you bought just 1 copy of TTA, and you'd still be discovering new things about it, even three years later. Games like Puerto Rico, Bridge, Go, and Tichu, are exceptions (and not real common) because their core mechanics ares so strategically deep and the the massive player interaction keeps everything "fresh."
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Eric Phillips
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It will take more than 5 plays for most newbies to have a realistic chance of winning against experienced players, but that's not to say it never happens. I've had some narrow escapes against first-timers, and have lost occasionally to people with only a few plays. In particular, folks who have a lot of experience with other civ games or card-drafting games can narrow the gap in a hurry. And if the experienced players share tips, point out good combos, and discuss the games afterwards in the interests of mentoring good opponents for the future, that can make a big difference too.

You should also realize that TTA favors experienced players because it is a very deep game, with limitless replay value and possibly infinite room for improvement. I've played something like 300 times (more than 2/3 of that online), and I still feel like I'm getting marginally better. And things still happen that I have never seen before. That is a rare and wonderful thing in a board game. A steep learning curve is a small price to pay.
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Matthew Tadyshak
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Fortuna wrote:
It will take more than 5 plays for most newbies to have a realistic chance of winning against experienced players, but that's not to say it never happens. I've had some narrow escapes against first-timers, and have lost occasionally to people with only a few plays. In particular, folks who have a lot of experience with other civ games or card-drafting games can narrow the gap in a hurry. And if the experienced players share tips, point out good combos, and discuss the games afterwards in the interests of mentoring good opponents for the future, that can make a big difference too.

You should also realize that TTA favors experienced players because it is a very deep game, with limitless replay value and possibly infinite room for improvement. I've played something like 300 times (more than 2/3 of that online), and I still feel like I'm getting marginally better. And things still happen that I have never seen before. That is a rare and wonderful thing in a board game. A steep learning curve is a small price to pay.
That what I think about the game.
 
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Stephane Josephy
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FinrondFelagund wrote:

-Point 3 (The imbalanced aspects of the gameplay).
-Point 4 (Its steep and long learning curve, and complexity).


If possible for your gaming group, after a first live game (maybe just the 'advanced' version to keep the table time reasonable) I'd say that points 3 and 4 are solved if you try a few online games afterwards (http://www.boardgaming-online.com/). Play a few games there together, gain experience, master the basic mechanisms and flow of the game, before playing it live a second time. It will save you a lot of time, and your second game will probably be far more enjoyable.

FinrondFelagund wrote:

-Point 6 (About the price).


I understand the reasoning, but you might need to consider the quality of the time spent. I admit I play live TtA once or twice per year max. However, it is always one of my absolute top gaming experiences when that happens, and I keep craving for more. Can I say that about Dominion or Puerto Rico ? Nope. (and I really like those games too)
Of course, your feelings about the game might differ from us TtA fanatics, but hey, you'll never know if you don't try !
 
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David Neumann
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In life you have to do a lot of things you don't f*cking want to do. Many times, that's what the f*ck life is... one vile f*cking task after another.
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Fortuna wrote:
It will take more than 5 plays for most newbies to have a realistic chance of winning against experienced players, but that's not to say it never happens. I've had some narrow escapes against first-timers, and have lost occasionally to people with only a few plays. In particular, folks who have a lot of experience with other civ games or card-drafting games can narrow the gap in a hurry. And if the experienced players share tips, point out good combos, and discuss the games afterwards in the interests of mentoring good opponents for the future, that can make a big difference too.

You should also realize that TTA favors experienced players because it is a very deep game, with limitless replay value and possibly infinite room for improvement. I've played something like 300 times (more than 2/3 of that online), and I still feel like I'm getting marginally better. And things still happen that I have never seen before. That is a rare and wonderful thing in a board game. A steep learning curve is a small price to pay.


I think the most amazing this about this game is that even when I'm overmatched and have no real chance of winning (I've lost every game I've played on BGO...and I've played a lot), I have a blast and cannot wait for another game to start. There is something about the building of your empire and thinking that you have a chance (even if it's entirely delusional) that keeps you interested and amazed through every play.

"If I can only get Oil in Age III, I'll show those guys because then I can build the Internet, etc."

Just awesome.
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Alejandro Rascon
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dcorban wrote:
dr_divot wrote:
FinrondFelagund wrote:
-Point 2 (The extremely fiddly gameplay aspect wich could favour certain dirty game practices).- It worries me a lot that this game has so many complicated aspects: so much little things to pay attention of... and to be careful about... and to be aware on... I'm willing to make the effort and do my best, but I cannot affirm the same about my game-buddies.
Moreover: I hate the sensation of being forgetting things on a game. I totally dislike when I know that the outcome of a game would have been very different if I or she (or whoever else arround the table) wouldn't have forgotten to do that..., or to adjust these..., or to play less of those...



If you can't trust your friends to NOT cheat, then I suspect it's time to get a new gaming group.

Regarding forgetting rules during a game, it happens, but less so the more you play a game.


This is the second spanish-speaker that I have heard say their friends are notorious for cheating. I could be over-generalizing, but I wonder if it is a cultural thing.


Sorry to go off topic here, but being a spanish speaker, I for one, believe that you not only are over generalizing, it is being reductive and narrow minded, I work on a daily basis with native english speakers and, as a rule, only 1 out of 10 know how to speak in a different language other than their native one. This does not make english speakers "learning impaired", does it? Regardless of how Inclined to believe so I might be.
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Jack Smith
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1. Length - that being an issue or not is down to your gaming group. Personally 60 minute games usually bore me, I want depth. With practice you can do a full game with 2 player in a couple of hours anyway. Just learn to be efficient.

2. Fiddly - yes it can be but it becomes easier with practice. If you are worried about cheaters or players who are indifferent to adjusting markers don't bother with this game.

3. Imbalanced/new players - So is chess. I do not know what you mean by imbalanced, it is not. Any game worth playing, unless a game of pure chance, will give an advantage to experienced players. I do not see why this is an issue.

4. Long learning curve - Yes it has depth, so does chess. Only you know if that is OK for you or not. I enjoy learning new strategies each play. If you do not like that this may not be a game for you.

5. Supremacy - If someone completely messes up there is a formal mechanism for stopping. I do not see an issue with that. All games have this by implication, it is just in this game it is in the rules. This is not a Euro with a tacked on catch up mechanism. However there are so many subtle ways to win I suspect many have given up before they should have. It reminds me of Dominant Species in that regard.

6. Price - Yes it is overpriced, the only game I have where I would say that. The components are sub par but serviceable. The game is well worth it for me though due to the number of plays it will get.


All the questions you ask are dependant on you and your group. If you can try the game out before you buy I would strongly recommend that you do so.
 
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