Through the Ages
domestic English language edition third printing
List Price: $69.99
Your Price: $55.99
(Worth 5,599 Funagain Points!)
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Through the Ages is an exciting game of strategy and resource management. Players guide their civilizations up from Antiquity, through the Middle Ages, and into Modern Times. What will your civilization be like? Will it be warlike? Technologically advanced? Religious? Artistic? Choose from Leaders such as Hammurabi, Napoleon, and Gandhi. Build Pyramids, the Great Wall, or the Eiffel Tower. Your civilization's culture is yours to shape -- and you can do it differently every time you play the game.
Through the Ages is playable in three different difficulty levels. Play the short Tutorial Game to learn the game mechanics. Play the Advanced game when you are ready to face the consequences of politics and corruption. And when you want even greater challenge, play the Full Version of Through the Ages and take your civilization from spear throwing to space flight.
This edition has no rule changes from the original edition. It also corrects misprints from the first domestic printing.
I confess: I've always liked civ games. And I've long been hunting for the ideal medium-weight civilization type game that is playable in 4 hours or less, and I've been on a quest for economic, military and technological bliss.
I'm pleased to report that with Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization, my quest is virtually over. It's not a perfect holy grail of civilization games, because any game that plays in under 4 hours has to sacrifice something. Through the Ages lacks a map, and arguably the down time can become an issue when played with four players. But as far as medium weight civilization games go, Through the Ages is stunningly good, and perhaps the very best.
The game is primarily driven by cards, but there are player boards and tokens, because you'll need to be managing a variety of things in your civilization, including population, food, building resources, science, strength, culture, happiness, and government. On your turn you take actions to slowly build up your civilization by inventing new technologies, building new buildings, producing building materials, all the while making sure that you have enough to feed your people and keep them happy. There's also significant player interaction, and not only are you competing with other players to have the most advanced civilization in terms of cultural development, scientific progress, or military strength, but you can even use your military to attack your opponent - although the cost of doing this can be high!
Through the Ages certainly meets most of the criteria I'm looking for a civilization type game: strong historical flavour and theme, economic and military elements, civilization technology, playable in 4 hours or less, a solid game without being overly complex, and decent components. Now excuse me, while I go and build myself a civilization!
The computer game I've played more than any other is easily Sid Meyer's Civilization series - I love the historical aspects to it, the combat mixed with empire building, etc. I've longed for a board game version, and while I enjoyed the Eagle Games version, it just didn't hold up to repeated plays - it was too long with little payoff. 7 Ages from Australian Design Group came close to exactly what I wanted, but has a high time requirement, taking days to complete a full game. I was therefore cautiously optimistic when I first heard about Through the Ages (Eagle Games, 2007 - Vlaada Chvátil), with so many raving about this three to four hour civilization game. Same company (sort of), but a completely different game!
After several plays, I must concede that the fans are true - this IS very close to having Sid Meyer's game as a board game - and it's actually a card game! Geography isn't quite as prevalent in the game, but it's still very enjoyable, and offers players a ton of choices while keeping everything very streamlined. I will say that some of the accounting and manipulation of bits is a bit fiddly, and it may be overpriced component wise - but the game offers a very deep and fulfilling experience. It's the best of its genre, one of the best games I've played lately - and an amazing amount of game packed in a small box.
Rather than condense the rules down, I thought I'd just point of some of the features of the game.
There's a lot more I could write about the game, but despite many of the things I said, Through the Ages is an amazing game. Much of it is because the game has so many options and plays differently each time I try it out. It's very immersive; and even though the typical game takes around three hours, the time will fly by. Several decks of cards and a bunch of small wooden tokens combine to be a very good civilization building experience, one that is both addicting and fun.
"Real men play board games"
When my copy of "Through the Ages" came in, I have to say that for the money, I was quite disappointed by the size of the box. What I imagined was about twice the size. When I opened it, I was again disappointed to find a small, abstract, glossy board, a bunch of wooden cubes, and a huge number of cards ... no map of the world or miniature figures. After shelling out so much money, the game play had to be on the high side of absolutely terrific to make up for the componentry.
And it is! Through the Ages is probably the best game I have bought since Puerto Rico. It is fairly abstract, but once you make the connection from population to yellow beads on technology cards to buildings, it feels quite thematic. The complexity is on the high side of average, but there are three versions of the game; introductory, advanced, and full; which help you ramp-up. And each version is modified just enough to make each one an interesting game in itself. This is my current favorite.