Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Killer CardHaus Sale

CardHaus is apparently dumping all their board games. Great prices are to be had, though there isn't much I really need. Here's the site. Happy hunting.


Just curious. Any bike riders in the group?

I know that Ben is a runner (not the "Logan's Run" type), but are there any bike riders out there in the group? If so is anyone riding the MS 150? I will be doing the ride this October. If anyone else is going, we could take a game or two to Beeville for Saturday night.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Another One Bites The Dust

Simon here. You know how I do that thing where I get kind of busy and then disappear off the face of the Earth? Yeah, sorry about that. Anyway, I thought I would at least fill you guys in on what's been going on. In no particular order I got engagaed, moved to College Station with Dayna, and got a really good job! See, it's not like I was busy with anything super important...

I start tomorrow at a company called Reynolds & Reynolds as a web designer (which means I finally get to leave the seedy underbelly they call headhunting). It's a pretty big company spread over four or five offices around the US with something like 6,000 employees so the benefits package was sweetened to the point of absurdity; almost Ben-working-for-the-government-good. Basically, it was a no-brainer call.

Also, I started up a blog for friends and family since it's hard to keep up with people who live hundreds of miles away, so you guys can reach me there if you want to stay updated with the mundane trappings of this standard Earth-dwelling unit. Hopefully I'll get a chance to go back to San Antonio every once in a great while and get in a game or two. When I was interviewing, I spied some pretty tell-tale geeky stuff in the other web developer's work areas, so I have high hopes of starting up a gaming group here. Of course, I know it will never be as good as the one I'm leaving now...

Thanks for all the memories guys. I wish you all the best of good luck in the future (except Michael).

Ok, Michael too...

Best Regards, Simon


Sunday, July 27, 2008

Monday Planning

Since I am taking a vacation week this coming week my presence at Monday night gaming is a pretty good bet. How about you? (My hopes of being able to show up early if anybody else's schedule allowed are not dead but they are also not overly optimistic given other plans.)


Saturday, July 26, 2008

28 Days Later

Twenty-eight days after our first game of Asia Engulfed, Jose and I tried again – This time then entire Pacific War…and I blew it. Or rather Jose blew up my carriers…and battleships…Oh and my cruisers (The cruiser issue still hurts)

Ok, same as before, this is a great game worth playing but there are a few things you should know. Or at least things I should have known. I lost a lot of really expensive stuff because I stupidly moved them out to sea and not paying VERY CAREFUL attention that it could be intercepted by the enemy. I guess that I am just not accustomed to the map board with seas and islands where interception fleets can just come out of nowhere. I likened it to my early days of chess where bishops would strike my men down because I had not yet trained my eyes to look for the subtle diagonals. Of course this is just a matter of training your eyes to know what to look for. I still have much to learn.

Oh, here is another juicy piece of advice: Don’t leave Australia guarded by a single militia unit!

Jose took 12 VP and won the game in early 1943. Roosevelt just threw in the towel. But this game has got some hooks in me and I will want to play again. So I encourage you to give it a shot some time.

Thanks, Jose for a great game! You played great and are a good opponent.

Session Reports -- Of Sorts

So I arrived to gaming after a nice morning of mostly not working. The band was in full swing, and there had been food other than pizza for lunch. It was looking like a fantastic day of gaming. I even got to play two new games. Our gracious host, Chris, was kind enough to teach me Thebes while the band rocked out. Thebes was a pleasant game, as long as you werent pulling dirt out of the bag for 6 of your 7 draws, but it was nice to see some real world stuff in some sort of perspective.

I wonder if anyone would buy a research game if they knew how long it actually took to research stuff. Hmmmmm...

Then, we broke out Zooloretto, with some babies, and some expansioness. We had gotten through the rules when the band broke up, and Dennis joined us for a nice game of smashing Chris and myself into the ground.

Then some piratey fun was had with Rum and Pirates. Simple enough game, but still fun. A lot of beer was had by the pirates, though apparently the real points come from treasure maps.

After that -- cards. We played "Waiting for a Third" and some Lamarkian, at least I think that might be how its spelled, poker.

After which, we dispersed to find food and prepare ourselves for a hard days work Sunday. At least that was the plan.

Though I will say that I am glad that I went home and not to work as usual after gaming. I would hate to see how flooded my apartment would have been if i had waited three hours to show up. Stupid upstairs residents and their leaky washer. My kitchen, dining room, and bathroom area are solidly underwater. It would be amusing. If it wasnt me. But that might mean that I have some friends over to the model unit for some gaming. Tikal maybe. :)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Getting the (Rock) Band Back Together...again

The band is getting back together once more, and there shall be rock that goes to eleven.

And there shall be games and food as well.
Saturday at my place. 9am. You've got plenty of notice, so clear your calendar now.
(Try to RSVP if you can make it so I know what to get.)


Armies on the Move in Europe!

After Brian posted the SABG Top 50 list, there was renewed interest in playing Diplomacy by email amongst the SABG. Ben tried to get a game started at one site, only to find he was stuck being the GM. I volunteered to GM a game at a different site, and so six players from the SABG signed up. Because of the demands of the game, we had a hard time finding a seventh, but finally Scott's friend David joined us.

Here's the run down:

Austria (red): Scott
England (dark blue): Sean
France (light blue): Dennis
Germany (black): Ben
Italy (green): Jeff
Russia (white): Mark
Turkey (yellow): David

The first season (Spring 1901) saw much discussion amongst every country as nations attempted to find allies to protect against aggressors. Germany and France made Turkey feel like part of the SABG from the beginning, by suggesting an all out attack on his country. Russia suggested he was relocating to Cuba. People were accused of being instigators. The game had begun!

How will it end? Will there be a big show down of Germany vs England in 1914 all because a guy in Austria gave up on the assassination plot and decided to go get a sandwich? You can all follow along with the public information here, at game sabgtest. You can see the News, the Broadcasts, the Maps, and the Results. The private information will open up after the game is over (Do all the players know this? No?? Let the personal attacks continue!)

Baldrick: Permission to ask a question, sir...

Edmund: Permission granted, Baldrick, as long as isn't the one about where babies come from.

Baldrick: No, the thing is: The way I see it, these days there's a war on, right? and, ages ago, there wasn't a war on, right? So, there must have been a moment when there not being a war on went away, right? and there being a war on came along. So, what I want to know is: How did we get from the one case of affairs to the other case of affairs?

Edmund: Do you mean "How did the war start?"

Baldrick: Yeah.

George: The war started because of the vile Hun and his villainous empire-building.

Edmund: George, the British Empire at present covers a quarter of the globe, while the German Empire consists of a small sausage factory in Tanganyika. I hardly think that we can be entirely absolved of blame on the imperialistic front.

George: Oh, no, sir, absolutely not. (aside, to Baldick) Mad as a bicycle!

Baldrick: I heard that it started when a bloke called Archie Duke shot an ostrich 'cause he was hungry.

Edmund: I think you mean it started when the Archduke of Austro-Hungary got shot.

Baldrick: Nah, there was definitely an ostrich involved, sir.

Edmund: Well, possibly. But the real reason for the whole thing was that it was too much effort not to have a war.

George: By gum, this is interesting; I always loved history -- The Battle of Hastings, Henry VIII and his six knives, all that.

Edmund: You see, Baldrick, in order to prevent war in Europe, two superblocs developed: us, the French and the Russians on one side, and the Germans and Austro-Hungary on the other. The idea was to have two vast opposing armies, each acting as the other's deterrent. That way there could never be a war.

Baldrick: But this is a sort of a war, isn't it, sir?

Edmund: Yes, that's right. You see, there was a tiny flaw in the plan.

George: What was that, sir?

Edmund: It was bollocks.

Baldrick: So the poor old ostrich died for nothing.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

"Because It's Funny"

Strat-O-Matic Baseball
Monday began with the third game of my series with Scott. We had finalized our trade before the game, so Manny Ramirez started third in my lineup. I also considered subbing out Travis "K-Factory" Hafner for a new DH, but changed my mind at the last minute. Good thing, too, as Hafner led off the 1st and 3rd innings with solo homers, helping me score one run in each of the first four innings. Not to be outdone, Vladimir Guerrero chalked up 3 RBI on a single, double, and home run to bring Scott back to 4-3 down in the 5th. Then in the bottom of the 5th, Scott vengefully plunked Manny in the head, forcing me to replace him with Kenny Lofton, a weak bat and even weaker fielder. Things were looking bad.

But I managed to load the bases in the bottom of the 6th. Bye bye Jake Westbrook, hello...Francisco Rodriguez (gulp). F-Rod struck out the next two batters, but then walked Helton and Lofton to allow two runs. Scott loaded the bases in the 9th but could only bring one run in, and I survived 7-4. I move up to 10-8 (5-1 in July), Scott down to 14-10.

I rejoined the main group, where the choice was Celebrities or Lifeboats. Given the chance to screw Michael not just in game choice, but repeatedly for the next hour, we broke out Lifeboats. My second try at this played much like my first -- I got my ship to shore first, but wasted two captains early, thinking nobody else would be silly enough to play captains so early. The other five players pulled off a masterpiece of jumping-out maneuvers, forcing four of my pawns into the same leaky boat, still at the starting line. But they lacked the resolve to finish me, and one by one I got my pawns out (one by drowning, but hey, he got out). Other evil deeds were perpetrated under Sean's umbrella excuse, "Because it's funny."

Like many good negotiation games, the players who most successfully acted small came up big at the end, and Sean nipped Michael by two for the win. Getting my ship in first counted for something, as it broke the tie for last in my favor.

Lord of the Rings
(Knizia cooperative, no expansions)
Al departed and left us with five, and we owed Sauron a beatdown. I've played this game a handful of times and never won -- at some point there always seems to be a run of event tiles, and down we go without recourse.

Not this time. We really did hand Sauron a beatdown, racing through and never seeing the 5th event on any board. We called Gandalf only once (on the final turn) and finished with 21 shields. Sauron was at 14 on the corruption track and no hobbit was above 10. Merry (Travis) was at one, skipping up the path to Mount Doom, eating mushrooms and wondering what everyone was so depressed about.

Getting the Band Back Together
Coming soon....

Saturday, July 19, 2008

monday planning; diplomacy; and sabbl

re monday planning
I hope to be at DL by 5:45 although my end of day meetings leave my arrival time uncertain. Dennis, Sean, Michael; what is the forecast look like for SABBL games occuring? Is anybody planning to attend?

re diplomacy
Mark has 4 centers and Dennis has France and so they are running away with it. Also we had to recruit a seventh player from outside SABG because some SABG members apparently are allergic to or phobic about having sharp metal objects shoved in to their backs. Again thanks to Amy for moderating.

re sabbl
We never did see standings in response to Dennis' inquiry so I figured it couldn't hurt if I asked?

Thoughts on "strategy" and "tactics"

Periodically the subject of "strategy and tactics" comes up on BGG. I roll these ideas around in my head (I hope the rattling doesn't bother anyone...much). They describe kinds of planning.

At the most basic level, everyone agrees that tactics are at a "smaller scale" than strategy. In the military "tactical" considerations refer to small numbers of troops, and "strategic" considerations refer to large numbers of troops. My rough rule of thumb for wargames is that tactical games include line-of-sight, and strategic games include supply lines. Many euros offer multiple "paths to victory," and these can be considered strategic choices; while implementing your strategy, you will make numerous smaller, "tactical" decisions. In Princes of Florence, you might pursue a building strategy, and you will have to decide on individual turns how much to pay for various items. You choice of strategy will inform your tactical decisions. To win with a building strategy, you probably need 3 builders, and you just pay whatever the price required.

Chess and go have a rich literature on planning. Chess books describe things like knight forks (where a single knight move attacks simultaneously attacks two pieces) as tactics, and things like connected passed pawns are strategic considerations. Chess books also call these features positional advantages, and at the higher chess levels the game is all about these. Books on chess "strategy" focus heavily on positional play, assuming the player has already mastered tactics. After all, controlling an empty file doesn't do you much good if you drop your queen to a knight fork.

The examples of chess and go show there is another idea floating around here. Sometimes a particular game state or position has a meaning that transcends move-by-move (aka tactical) analysis. It seems this "higher meaning" is related somehow to "strategy," but perhaps not.

Another example from chess. Kasparov was defeated Deeper Blue, and he later commented on one of his games in Time. He described the end game where Deeper Blue made a brilliant pawn sacrifice that shattered Kasparov's position. Kasparov knew he was in trouble, but he didn't see any forcing lines, so he accepted the sacrifice and took the pawn. Deeper Blue went on to win the game. In post-mortem, it turned out the game tree had shrunk to the point that DB was able to compute all possible moves to the end of the game. To DB, it wasn't a sacrifice at all; DB knew it was a game winning move.

It seems strategy and tactics are closely related to intelligence and the ways that humans and computers "think."

Interesting stuff, IMO.

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War of the Ring--Free Peoples Military Victory

Almost...Tonight I was inclined to play War of the Ring and Jose gladly took me up on the offer. It was an amazing game that saw the death of Saruman, the Free Peoples come within 1 victory point of a military victory and a single die away from dunking the ring.

We played using the base game only. I wanted to take a turn playing the FP for a change so Jose took his first try as the SA. I found it frustrating that there are so many options available to the FP and so few can be used because of insufficient action dice. Jose learned that the SA are not invincible.

Jose began with a turn 1 attack on Rohan, taking Helms Deep. He took enough casualties that his garrison was sparse. Much to his surprise I rebuilt the army of Rohan, conducted a brief siege of Helms Deep before bypassing it and moving against Orthanc. He had left a small garrison of Elite units to guard Saruman. Lucky for me I drew two Ent cards and had Gandalf the White nearby. The Ents combined with the Elite Riders of Rohan to sack Orthanc and eliminate Saruman.

I then noticed the Shadow strongholds in the north looked a little empty and marched into one. Lacking the right cards, the SA never garrisoned the towns. This left the FP 1 VP away from military victory. Unfortunately, I got a little overzealous and my army left the safety of Orthanc to finish off the orcs. I didn't realize it because of the weird map boundaries, but the Orcs were able to retreat around me and then walk into an empty Orthanc. Doah!!

On to plan 'B'. The hunt box spent most of the game with only 1 die in it so I was able to move the fellowship quickly. The Ringbearers made it into Mordor and began their trek. Strider, Pippin, and Boromir all took one for the team. In the meantime, the SA captured 10 VP worth of cities. The ringbearer had one chance left to make it inside Mt. Doom, only one die left. Unfortunately, the SA player had an event card allowing him to remove my Will of the West die result. Victory to the Shadow Armies.

This was the kind of game that reminds me why I enjoy WotR. I lost but it was a nail biter and I am consoled by the fact that the FP have yet to win.

Jose concluded that he moved too quickly with the SA. I concurred and also cited the lack of dice in the hunt box as the reason for my near victory. When I play SA, I am methodical, placing 2-3 dice in the hunt box every turn. I then slowly move my troops up and finish off one nation at a time before moving onto the next. It's not the most exciting strategy but it works. Maybe that's why I enjoyed the thrill of the Free Peoples so much.


Monday, July 14, 2008

Diplomacy, Gaming Philosophy

I am curious within SABG of how our members would relatively rank the values of the various Diplomacy potential outcomes: win, 2 way-7 way draw, 2nd-6th place survival; 3rd-7th place eliminations? I am curious not just for diplomacy but of course as it points to a wider gaming philosophy. Am i the only one who finds this an intriguing question?

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Monday Planning Post

I'll probably be there, although there is a chance I'll be an hour (or so) late. Anyone else?

On a slightly "uh oh" note .... did I leave my copy of Blue Moon anywhere? I've got all my expansions, but can't find the base game....


Saturday, July 12, 2008


Meredith returned today from two weeks visiting her parents. In the middle of that, we met in Ohio and went to my cousin's wedding over the long 4th holiday.

With her and Henry gone, I've found myself with quite a bit of free time, and much of that was given over to games.

I've played 3 games of Rommel in the Desert (2 were learning games, 1 was real), 3 games of Warriors of God (2 were learning, 1 was real), and several solo games of BattleLore.

Knowing that I had to meet Meredith this evening at the airport, I knew I had to get some errands done, but I couldn't resist a little morning gaming. I had heard a rumor that several members in the SABG were anxious to play Combat Commander, but you couldn't prove it by the lack-luster response I got to a game request. Luckily, by spreading my net a little wider I was able to land an opponent for the morning.

My Germans were defeated by Kirk's Russians. I had a nice lead during most of the game, but I couldn't figure out a plan for my left flank. Kirk developed a plan before me, and soon my troops were leaderless, and they started dropping rapidly.

Then this afternoon I accomplished the following to prepare for Meredith's return:
  • replaced a flat tire and the also flat spare (that was annoying...)
  • touched up the paint job around our new house numbers
  • did several loads of laundry
  • replaced all the windshield wiper blades
  • did some general straightening and cleaning
  • bought dinner
And then I left at 6p for the airport. Whew!

Overall quite a productive few weeks. I got a lot of stuff done around the house plus I got to play a lot of games. I would have liked to get in a few more games and tasks, and I was sorry to miss the Mon night meetings, and also Brian and Jacqui's 4th thing. Still, I can't complain.

Now it's back to life with a rambunctious little toddler. He's not quite ready for Combat Commander, but he's starting to get good at peekaboo [not hide and seek...].


Friday, July 11, 2008

Saturday combat, er, planning

So it's Thursday already: is anyone playing this weekend?

Meredith flies back into town Sat night, and I have errands to run...however I have just enough time for a game of Combat Commander in the AM. We can play at my place or your place or DL or whatever. Shoot me an email if you're interested.

Other planning in the comments.


Thursday, July 10, 2008

Diplomacy pbem

I would certainly be interested in playing a SABG play by email Diplomacy game and I would be willing to moderate one. Do we have 6-7 other folks interested? (I figure if it is #25 on our top game list there should be a chance.)

Warriors of God

Steve and I got together to put the new game Warriors of God through the paces. We played some learning turns Tues night, then we played out a game tonight.

This game captures the chaotic period around the 100 years war. I use the term "chaotic" deliberately. Leaders and their armies arrive suddenly (but on a fixed schedule) then exit unexpectedly, and the action swirls around the board.

The game has a lot of short term tactics as you respond to the changing board condition. I suspect that over repeated plays, a certain amount of longer term planning would arise based around the known appearance of certain leaders.

One great feature of this game is the asymmetry. The English have a significant military advantage due to the long bow, but the French have a positional advantage due to home field and interior lines. Late in the game, Joan of Arc appears, and she's got some special rules that make her fierce on the battlefield.

After a few games, I think the play time should be in the 3 hr range, which is reasonable for an evening.

After Steve and I got the mechanics down, we played a full game. I took the English, and Steve took the French. The English have an advantage early on, and I put up a small lead. By about turn 4, however, Steve had pulled back to even with a large stretch of interior France under his dominion. This connected domain together with a strong leader helped him loosen my grasp on French soil, and he never looked back after that. I believe his instant victory occurred on turn 9 out of 12.

One interesting thing is that we both lost our home territories about the same time. I launched a major offensive in France, and I gambled that I would be able to hold England by hiding in my castle. Unfortunately, the luck of that die roll went to Steve. My offensive was impressive, but ultimate it netted me few points.

Oh, yeah, victory points...I tend to forget about those...

Anyway, this looks like a fun game. I would say it's "a good game", and "probably I'll suggest it". However, I'm not sure I'd go as far as "will never turn down a game." This puts it around 7-8 on the BGG ratings.


The SABG Top 50 Results for 2008

Took much longer to compile than I thought. Anyway, thanks to everyone who voted, and if you didn't vote, remember that you still get to complain bitterly! And maybe you'll vote next year. Anyway, rather than cut and paste everything here, I'm just going to point you to the geeklist.

Ok, one cut and paste job...

Games that fell off the charts (and their place in 2007):
  • San Juan (#2)
  • Tigris & Euphrates (#4)
  • Hammer of the Scots (#10)
  • Stage II (#17)
  • EastFront II (#18)
  • Shadowfist (#24)
  • 7 Ages (#29)
  • Phoenicia (#31)
  • Dune (#35)
  • Werewolf (#40)
  • Colossal Arena (#41)
  • Samurai (#42)
  • Yspahan (#43)
  • We the People (#44)
  • Twilight Struggle (#45)
  • Crusader Rex (#46)
  • Loopin Louie (#49)


Tuesday, July 08, 2008

B-29 Superfortress

Anyone ever played B-29 Superfortress? It's a new solitaire game, based on B-17 Queen of the Skys. I've seen mixed reviews on both and I'm curious if anyone in our group has experience with either game and could give their opinion.


Save yourself!

We had a reasonable turnout last night, albeit not the expected one. Scott beat me there, but we played a game of Jambo while waiting. After all the buying and selling was done, I won by about 10 gold nuggets.

Chris turned up straight from NYC, and so we whiled away the next few minutes with a game of Race. This time I ran away from it, instead of with it, and both Scott and Chris crushed me. Scott, moreso. By this point Sean and Dennis had arrived, so Scott and Dennis went to famous back-room field for beisbol, and I broke out Air Baron. Michael has mentioned before how his group takes 7-10 metric hours to play this, but we did the rules and game in about 60-90 minutes, as Don Greenwood intended. It's a simple game, with some skill but lots of luck. For example, Chris went into fare war, took over about as many spokes as he could pay for, then went out of fare war on his next turn, having lost no income. Later on I went into fare war, crapped out on my first roll, and then lost $60 (when DFW, DFW's foreign route, Charlotte, and one of the my chits) showed up.

That was, as they say, poor planning on my part. Chris' strategy worked better, so he won.

We still had time, and three players, so we tried Lost Valley again. I'm enjoying this more, now that we're speeding up. Winning didn't hurt.

At this point, Beisbol was called on account of darkness, so Dennis joined us for Rette Sich Werr Kan (aka Lifeboats). Many people were thrown to the sharks, shenanigans were invoked and, at the very end, everyone told Sean there was an island just over the horizon, and his two sailors should swim for it. He believed us, so he lost. Since Dennis and I were the early leaders, that meant that Chris won. That's how negotiation games work.

After that, it was lamarkian poker for a few hands. I kept winning, to the disbelief of all (including one hand where I won by having 8-8-8-4, when nobody else had better than a pair). Finally, on the last hand the others had tired of having their tails cut off repeatedly, and Dennis won.

You've got a day or two left for lists, and don't forget to bid on my stuff for sale (no link, because BGG is down).

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Sunday, July 06, 2008

The Dread 7th of July

So, who is going to be a DLair on monday? You've had two days to absorb your 4th of July revelry, now it's time to game!

Incidentally, I'm still waiting on a few more lists for the SABG Top 50...


Saturday, July 05, 2008

We the People….

We the People….

Jose and I got together to celebrate Independence Day with some Revolutionary wargaming. We started with Columbia Game’s Liberty! We played so many games today I really can’t remember everything that happened. I really like this game and feel it’s the best of the single evening offering from CG with our playing times averaging 2 hrs.

Next we tried the revolutionary game that started the CDG phenomenon, We the People. It was my first time playing and I struggled with the rules more than with my opponent. There are some weird rules such as it’s impossible for the British to launch a seaborne invasion unless they already control the port. This was my first CDG outside of Twilight Struggle and I can see a lot of possibilities.

Happy 4th of July to all!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Happy 4th of July

I hope everyone has a good holiday weekend. This is just a note to say that Jacqui and I won't be hosting open-gaming this weekend, due to lackluster response. If you want to stop by, give a call to make sure we'll be around.

Happy 4th!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Early Christmas Wishlist

So, for those of you who find yourselves saying, "Wow, Chris has been kind enough to open his house and host us a few times...what can I do to repay him for his boundless generosity," look no further. This is what I want. Please hurry, there's only one copy left.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

The Gentlemanly Art of taking their stuff

Last night Sean, Chris and I were getting ready to start a game of Through the Ages, when Raab showed up. He wasn't ambivalent, but RSVPs were sparse so he joined up. (Later on Al, Ted and Jon did show up, but no other games were played).

Through the Ages is, if you don't know, basically a boardgame version of the computer game version of civilization (loosely based on the Tresham game). Most things are abstracted away into lots and lots of cards, and counters. Each turn you get one political action (propose or break a pact, play an event, or agress against your neighbor), then you get some number of regular actions. Civil actions include taking cards, playing cards, building stuff, increasing your population and working on your wonders. Military actions involve building troops and training them. Your form of government (itself a card) determines the number of actions you get. Then you have some book-keeping for happiness, food and money, then refill any cards taken (and ditch the 'oldest' card or two, if it wasn't taken) then slide cards down the track and refill.

At it's heart, this is just a game where you don't have enough time to do everything. It costs actions to train workers, and you need to increase your agriculture, economy, happiness, military, science, get leaders, colonize new lands, react to events, modernize, and grab good action cards. Oh, and get culture (VP). Action cards get cheaper the longer the stay on the board, so there's always that "Do I pay 3 actions to get X, or wait and hope to get it next turn for 1?" feeling.

Anyway, our game started off with Raab writing the Homeric epics, which let him get some cheap military units and then write up stories about their glories, when really they just got drunk. That put him out to a huge VP lead (something like 30 to 5, 8 and 3). But the VPs only count at the end....I managed to get Carolinas University, which produces science and a bit of culture. Chris got Hammurabi, and (sadly) saw the high point of his empire peak about 6,000 years too soon.

In Age II, things took more concrete shape. I managed to acquire Napoleon and build an overwhelming army, and proceeded to use it to take other people's stuff. A big complaint about Through the Ages is that's it really a military race. That's certainly true to some extent, but I'm not sure if it's a flaw. (I've discussed TtA on my blog). Chris suffered due to a few random events that hit the weakest country, and eventually snapped and declared a Jihad against the rest of us (via the Terrorism event). Sean's Pyramids ran into the typical government delays and were eventually abandoned unfinished, several thousand years over budget.

By the end of Age II I was firmly in the drivers seat with a VP lead, solid military advantage, and strong technologies and wonders. Despite the early setbacks, Sean decided to become an artistic empire and started cranking out culture for 2nd place.

All in all, a fun game although it was long. We spent about 5 hours playing. Partially that was because most of us were new or rusty, but the sweet spot for this is three players. When it's not your turn you don't do much (a "fixed fun" game) so dropping one player will speed the game up by 60-90 minutes. Still, I hope to get this to the table again soon.

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