February 20, 2008

Through the Ages

by Susan Rozmiarek

Ed and I had planned far in advance to spend Saturday attending games at one of our local stores (Great Hall Games) for the first time. Alas, the weather did not cooperate. The cold and the rain were bad enough, but the possibility of severe thunderstorms and tornados was the deal breaker and deciding factor to stay closer to home. Of course, the dire predictions never materialized, but we spent an enjoyable late afternoon and evening giving our new copy of Through the Ages a go in spite of our failed plans. I had played my first game (a full game) back in January and this was Ed's first ever. I was especially interested in seeing how it played with just two since it is more likely to get played if it is just Ed and I and we can leave it set up to play over more than one evening.

Well, Ed should be happy because he beat me by some outrageous number of points (40?) in his very first game. Not that I had any real clue what I was doing either, as I am still at the point where I am more concerned with keeping my people happy and fed than with figuring out how to actually win the game. In fact, that is one of my main problems - I get so engrossed with short term goals that I forget the long term one. In the beginning, I focused a little too much on getting farms up and going and overshot the amount of food I would need each round. I was scrambling to use up my food to avoid corruption but this meant increasing my population, forcing me to have to also deal quickly with happiness. I did manage to get a jump on Ed on the culture track, but that only lasted until he was able to get Michelangelo and start generating some nice culture bonuses. He quickly started leaving me in the dust on the score track. I was able to get Maximilien Robespierre early in Era II and I used him to upgrade my government to a Republic, giving me a generous seven civil actions each turn. I also got the Architecture technology which enabled me to quickly complete the Kremlin to boost my culture. I actually felt like I was in a pretty good position to start Era III as I was also was cranking out a good amount of iron. With the discount on building from Architecture, I was set to rapidly expand, I thought. Ed would also be losing Michelangelo and his culture output would plummet so maybe I could catch up. The problem was that we were only playing the advanced game and it ended at the end of Era II. So for me, it was all over just as I felt like I was cranking up.

I did like the fact that with the advanced game, several Era III event cards are turned up at the beginning to be resolved at the end of the game. This lets you know in advance what will get bonuses. Too bad I was too distracted during the game to pay much attention to them until it was mostly too late!

Neither one of us built up our military much. Ed got a little ahead of me, but I wasn't worried since I was holding some defensive cards in my hand. What he was able to do with his superior forces though, was win a few territories. Besides the immediately benefits, it also gave him some nice bonuses at the end.

Science was quite a limiting factor for both of us. I think I peaked at around 5 or 6 per turn and Ed's output was even less. There is just so darn much to do in this game!

This seems to be as excellent of a game for two as it is for more. Pacts will not come in to play, of course, and perhaps the military will not play as much of a role but that is fine with me. I like building things up more than tearing them down. I'm now looking forward to trying the full game with two. As long as the components hold up, this game should have a lot of replay value with all the possible card combinations.

Posted by Susan Rozmiarek at February 20, 2008 7:49 PM

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