Through the Ages: Plan A

Through the Ages: Plan A

Plan A

The new edition of Through the Ages has made it so that there is a primary way to win the game.  Plan A, if you will.  Plan A in Through the Ages: A New Story of Civilization is to hit someone with a war at the end of age III so that when they take their turn, it’s Age IV and they can’t resign, nor can they catch up to you in strength.  It takes advantage of two  rules changes in new TTA:

  • Uncapped military strength
  • No resignation in Age IV

For the rest of the article, understand that I’m going to explain how you make this materialize, and to talk about the differences between the two games so you can easily transition from the old game to the new game and stay on top of your competition.

The Core of TTA

In Through the Ages, everything is equally important, with military being slightly more equal than the others.  You always have an axis you are weak on that you need to solve, and you want to make sure that you also solve for military while solving for your other weaknesses – ending your turn as the strongest is preferred, but not being the weakest at the end of your turn is nearly mandatory.  The “strength tax” needs to be paid.   Why and how this works out between the two versions is slightly different.

Aggression Cards, Then and Now

Aggressions were often defense card checks, especially early in a game.  A one point strength lead meant you could either: force a discard of a highly sought after defense card , win the aggression, or make them sacrifice a unit.  All of those outcomes were great, so hitting someone hard early was something that was desired – making Caesar the highest ranked leader in Age A.  His extra red dot meant more cards drawn, the ability to hit and keep drawing cards, and a minuscule strength lead good enough to hit someone in round 3 with an aggression.

Aggressions in the new version of the game are quite a bit more deterministic.  The math is easy to do, and red dots define how high you can ever get your strength to.  Being 1 point behind means that the events are going to bite you, but aggressions aren’t going to bother you much.  To the point that fewer aggressions get played if everyone is keeping up with their strength relatively well.  Relatively well is simply measured by this formula:

Safe zone: Strength >= strength leader – 1 per red dot.

Safe-ish zone:  Strength >= strength leader – current age defense card strength – number of red dots + 1

For example, in age II (with defense cards at 4), if I have two red dots, a two strength different is extremely safe.  A 5 point strength difference is mostly safe.

I use the same formula when determining to attack someone or not.  This can change based on the number of defense cards seen, how many of the previous age were used, etc.  Due to fewer aggressions overall, people can be assumed to have a previous age defense card as well, but as per every game of this nature, you must make that judgement call based on what has happened thus far in your game.  But I do tend to not send aggression to people who are safe-ish based on the above presumption.

So Strength Doesn’t Matter as Much Anymore?

No – strength still matters for Plan A.  Strength still matters for events.  You may notice more events getting seeded due to less aggressions being played.  It is still true, however, that at higher levels of play, you’ll see less and less cards seeded during a game.  This is because you tend to be the weakest at the start of each of your turns when playing with good players.  You tend to not to want to seed when you aren’t the strongest unless you have good enough knowledge of what’s left in the deck and have an event or two left in there you really want to see pop before you take your turn.

Tactics Cards and How They’ve Changed

One of the big weaknesses in the old Through the Ages was the Age II tactics lottery.  You wanted to have 3 red dots going into Age II to maximize your chance of drawing a classic army, or perhaps a Napoleonic army as a consolation prize.  Sometimes you just set up your military for whatever and hoped for any (non-fortification) tactics card.  Failing to draw a red card in Age II probably spelled the end of your game.

The attempt to fix this in new Through the Ages was allowing people to copy tactics in play, albeit a turn later, so that the person playing it will get one turn to exploit their newfound strength before others can join in on the fun.  When playing casually, this means everyone will go play their tactic when they can to enjoy the strength benefit for a turn of events, to avoid being last in strength, or to get in one good aggression on next turn before losing the advantage.  Due to this, the number of tactics cards in the deck went down in the newest edition.

Competitively, however – this means there is only one way you want to play with these tactics – on the turn you declare a giant war in your favor.  The best way to execute Plan A involves planning on including the red dot to play your tactic in addition to all the dots you need for your war.

Putting It All Together

So now we understand the value of strength.  The question is, how do you get there?  There are a few key cards to make this strategy work.

First, you NEED red dots.  And you need to deny red dots to others.  So high on the list, for me, is Constitutional Monarchy.  Spend those actions making that happen.  It is just worth it.  Next on the list are the age II/III military techs.  Just because you have Constitutional Monarchy doesn’t mean you can ignore Strategy or Military Theory.  Picking them up denies those reds to your opponents.  Playing them gives you a massive army build-up after a war.

The top of the list, however, is Air Forces.  This card is still as good as it ever was, even with the re-balancing.  You also obviously need to either have the Age II or III military techs matching your chosen tactic.

There are ways to shore up your weaknesses if you are unable to pull it all together.  Winston Churchil has the ability to make up stone and science.  Albert Einstein can keep you topped up with the science needed, provided you can find a Computers card.  Yellow cards abound to help make up the stone issues.

One thing to keep in mind is that while having food so you can keep increasing your population and shoving them into the military is nice, it isn’t needed.  You’ll just need enough white dots to fire everyone and the red dots to  move them over in the second to last turn.  There have been many games where I’ve ended with 1 farmer and a priest or two, with everyone else conscripted into the army.

In conclusion, strength is even more important in the new version of Through the Ages than the previous edition.  You will want to get your strength to 80 to 90 and declare a war on the penultimate turn to maximize your points.  It’s not really fun, and it feels a little dirty.  But it is how you win.  Or at least, how you should be planning on winning.

About Sceadeau D'Tela

Sceadeau is one of the most feared tournament boardgamers around. He won the coveted Siegelman at Euroquest in 2009 and finished 2nd in the race for the Boardgame Players’ Association’s Caesar award last year. He’s also been a member of the winning team in the team competitions at both Euroquest and WBC. While Agricola is probably the game Sceadeau is most well-known for (and he does lead the all-time Laurel count in Agricola by almost 50%), he has also been amassing very impressive finishes at Through The Ages – the other most “shark-filled” event every year at WBC. He’s made the final table in 4 of the past 5 years so when he tells you the secret to the new version, it makes sense to listen! - Randy

A Quick Guide to Online Agricola

– Randy Buehler

The most popular place to play Agricola on the web is at boiteajeux.net. Games are typically played asynchronously, which means you check in a couple of times per day and see if it’s your turn yet. Since most people are in more than a couple of games at a time, it’s probably your turn in a couple of them. Overall, games can take anywhere from a few days to a few months to finish, and there’s nothing stopping you from playing games in real-time if you have a group that’s all online at the same time.

The biggest drawback to Boiteajeux is that not all the cards are included. Some cards were left out because they were tricky to implement (especially for asynch play), though almost all the cards from the E, I, and K decks do exist (aka – the decks that come with the game) and you could play for quite a while before even realizing anything was left out. Here’s a complete list of the cards from that are missing:

19 – Gypsy’s Crock
34 – Basket
38 – Madonna Statue
40 – Mini Pasture
58 – Animal Yard
68 – Harrow
70 – Punner
73 – Guest
97 – Slaughterhouse
117 – Greenhouse
125 – Broom
138 – Reed Hut*
339 – Pelts

Occupations
164 (4+) – Master Forester
169 (4+) – Storyteller
178 (4+) – Hut Builder
179 (1+) – Merchant
196 (1+) – Mushroom Collector
198 (3+) – Ratcatcher*
207 (1+) – Stablehand
208 (1+) – Stable Master
215 (4+) – Tenant Farmer
216 (4+) – Animal Keeper
223 (3+) – Harvest Helper
230 (4+) – Clay Digger
234 (3+) – Wood Buyer
237 (4+) – Juggler
239 (4+) – Corn Profiteer
251 (4+) – Reed Buyer
255 (4+) – Stone Buyer
260 (4+) – Taster*
261 (4+) – Outrider
263 (1+) – Fence Builder
269 (4+) – Acrobat
273 (4+) – Basin Maker
284 (1+) – Wood Distributor
289 (4+) – Countryman
299 (3+) – Slaughterman
301 (1+) – Wood Carver
307 (4+) – Animal Breeder
308 (4+) – Foreman
312 (1+) – Fence Overseer

Online Thurn & Taxis Tournament

Sign-ups closed for Meeple League's 1st Online Event!

Reserve a spot for the next Season Below

Here at the Meeple League our primary mission is to improve the quality of board game tournament offerings. We are delighted to announce that one of the ways we will do that is by offering our own online events! Just like “live” events, we will use a standardized format so you’ll know what to expect whenever you sign up, but the details for online events will be different from the typical tournaments you might have experienced at a convention.

This article will walk you through everything you can expect from our League format, plus – most importantly – tell you how you can sign up for our first  supported game: Thurn & Taxis!

Our online events will be structured as ongoing leagues, and not as one-shot tournaments. When you sign up you will be placed in a league along with 6 other gamers, and you will be placed into 4 total games (with each other member of your division appearing in 2 of them). All the games will be played “asynchronously” through a specified website, which means players will each check in to see if it’s their turn several times a day at their convenience, and the games will play out over the course of several weeks.

Once all the games are done, we use a point system to see who won each league (10 points for 1st, 6 for 2nd, 3 for 3rd, and 1 point for finishing last). The leagues themselves are divided into divisions and whenever you win a league, you get promoted up to a tougher (but more prestigious) division. Meanwhile, if you finish in the bottom 2 of your league, you get demoted into an easier division for the next season. We’ll keep track of lifetime standings so everyone can see how they measure up, and we’ll also be prominently displaying the names of everyone who wins division one. Click to see detailed rules.

Fans of Terra Mystica may recognize this as the same basic format being used on http://tmtour.org/#/ to govern tournaments run using the online implementation at http://terra.snellman.net.

We think this system will work well for lots of other games, too. Note that in order to seed players for the very first season, we’ll be using the lifetime laurel counts from the Boardgame Players Association – aka, the folks who run the World Boardgaming Championship . You can check your laurels for the game on the T&T Event History Page.

Thurn & Taxis is a nice light Euro-game that has been very popular on the tournament circuit ever since it won the Spiel des Jahres in 2006. It’s actually one of the few games at the World Boardgaming Championships that’s big enough to require a quarter-final round.

Our Thurn & Taxis League will use the online implementation at www.yucata.de. We will use the original version of the game – no expansion content, and no special options. Games are scheduled to start in late January and you’ll receive a schedule in your email once the pairings are ready. If you do sign up, you are committing to checking the website a couple of times on most days (it’s OK if something comes up every once in a while, or if you’re out of town for a weekend (for example), but in general we’re hoping game lengths will be measured in weeks not months.

If you want to play in future Thurn & Taxis tournament, please sign up here:

You must be 13 or older to participate. If you are 13 to 17 years old, you must have parent/guardian approval.
You must have an account on yucate.de to play.
If you have laurels listed on the BPA website that will be used to match players in leagues.
You don’t have to join the Meeple League to play, but we would really like you to join us.

Totalcon Tournament Schedule

Meeple League Tournaments at Totalcon 31

Boardgame Director Rob Kircher has listed the schedule of New England Redional championship tournament board games for Totalcon 2017.

Ten tournaments are Meeple League featured events:

  • Splendor
  • Stone Age
  • Ticket to Ride
  • Power Grid
  • Concordia
  • Saint Petersburg
  • Agricola
  • Puerto Rico
  • Dominion
  • Castles of Burgundy

There will also be a tournament for 7 Wonders Duel and the Totalcon Chairman of the Board will be awarded for the best overall tournament performance.  PDF file of the full schedule.

Puzzle for January 2017

The Game: Lords of Waterdeep

by Marcy Morelli, Puzzle Editor

About the Game

Lords of Waterdeep is a worker placement game for 2-5 players which was released in 2012. It has become a standard at open gaming events and tournaments.

Players gain points or resources through completing quests, constructing buildings, playing intrigue cards or having other players utilize the buildings you have constructed. At the end of 8 rounds of play, the player who has accrued the most points wins the game.

Your position

You are playing: Red

 

Your Lord is: Khelben Arlinsun who rewards Arcana and Warfare.

Your buildings: None

On hand you have:

  • Four Intrigue cards, two of which are mandatory quests
  • 5 money
  • 2 white cubes and 1 orange cube

About the Game

You are playing a 4 player game, currently in the 5th round

Black has completed four quests, two of which are plot quests

Blue has completed one quest, which is a plot quest

Green has completed three quests, none of which are plot quests

Current score:

  • Green: 39
  • Red: 36
  • Blue: 20
  • Black: 20

The situation:

With your first agent, you have played on the middle slot of CliffWatch Inn, and collected your Intrigue card. You are deciding which quest to take.

Since your lord card rewards Arcana quests, you are looking at the two available Arcana quests and trying to decide which to choose.

Expose Red Wizard’s Spies requires one white cube, one orange cube, four black cubes, and two money. It pays out 20 VPs and an intrigue card.

Explore Arghairon’s Tower requires one purple cube, two black cubes, and two money.  It is a plot quest which gives an immediate reward of 6 VPs, but also lets you draw an intrigue card whenever you play a purple cube.

Do you choose?

  1. Expose Red Wizard’s Spies
  2. Explore Arghairon’s Tower

Discuss your rationale.

For more about the game, view the BGG page at: https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/110327/lords-waterdeep

All images copyright Wizards of the Coast