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ThroughTheAges is a BoardGame, themed around progressing a civilisation from the Bronze Age up to modern times. It currently ranks 4th on [BoardGameGeek], and occupies a slot as one of ChrisHowlett's favourites.

It features several viable paths to victory, and a small but important degree of randomness in the ordering of the various decks representing the Civil and Military possibilities of each age. You have to juggle food production (needed to grow and maintain your populace), resource production (needed to build buildings, units and wonders), science, happiness (as you increase your population, you need to keep them more and more happy) and military strength, while seeking to maximise your culture. The civilisation with the highest culture at the end of the game is the winner.

The major strikes against it (that ChrisHowlett has seen) are a) the rules make it hard to recover from a position of weakness (moral - don't get into a position of weakness); and b) it takes roughly 1hr per player once you know what you're doing. Probably an additional hour per new player, or so.

The rules are [available online]; however, they're not wonderfully written (they assume you'll play both simplifications of the game before playing the full game, so they're meant to be read in a book-like order. Finding a specific rule in them is tricky). [Various] [other] [online] [files] may help clarify some points. ChrisHowlett is also willing to answer any questions here to the best of his ability.
Read through them.  Looks fun.  The 'no ganging up' optional rule sounds a good idea. --Pallando

Rules explanation, as relating to BoardGameArena?'s [implementation].:

For your first turn

Right, infodump.
The aim of the game is to get the most Culture, represented by the Harp symbol. To do this, you will be building up your civilisation from Antiquity to modern times (represented by a number of Ages: A, I, II, III and, nominally, IV).
Depending on exactly how things shake out, par scores are probably around 170 culture. 90 is by no means terrible; and 220 is doable on a good day.

Your board:
The board under your name shows your civilisation's state. You start knowing the Age A farming, mining, laboratory, temple and infantry techs; plus the government "Despotism". You will be able to advance these as the game progresses. Looking at the cards in turn:

The player summary box mostly shows a collection of information, much of it derived from your board: it pulls together all your culture generating effects to show your total net culture gain per turn; it shows your total science points available right now, and the science points you gain per turn; your total happy faces; your total military strength; your total food and rock available to spend; the number of unoccupied workers you have available; and the number of unhappy faces implied by your population and yellow bank.

Military Actions (red dots) are used to build (and disband) military units, adopt tactics, and launch attacks on other players; they also grant you military cards.
Civil Actions (white dots) are used for everything else; notably gaining new civil cards, increasing population, building buildings, discovering techs, playing events and electing leaders.

The blue bank: The bank of blue tokens represents your production capacity. At the end of each turn, for each yellow worker on a farm or mine, you will move one blue token from your bank onto that farm/mine card. Each blue token then represents the number of resources (food / rock) shown on the card it sits on. So a blue token on a Bronze mine is 1 rock; when you discover Iron, blue tokens on that card are worth 2 rock.

You spend resources by moving the tokens off the cards and back to the bank (or between cards; you can spend 1 rock by moving a token from Bronze to the bank, or by moving a token from Iron to Bronze).
It is divided into sections which represent Corruption; at the end of your turn, once your farms and mines have produced, if the right-most section is empty you must pay back 2 rock as corruption. If you empty the second section as well, it's 4 rock.

The yellow bank, food, and workers: At the bottom is your yellow bank, representing "living space", kinda. During your turn, you can increase your population by paying a food cost which... isn't shown. Huh. The cost to get a new worker increases as you uncover spots from right to left: if you have any yellow dots in the rightmost section headed "1 :)" it'll cost you 2 food. Once those two yellow dots are gone, to get a new worker from the section headed "2 :)" will cost 3 food; a worker from the section headed "4 :) | 3 :)" will cost 5 food; and a worker from the leftmost section headed "6 :) | 5 :)" will cost 7 food.

As you increase your workforce, however, they start to eat food and become discontent. After your farms produce at the end of your turn, you must pay back the amount of food shown to the left of your empty sections (so, nothing to start with; then 1 food once you have 2 workers; 2 food after a further 4 workers)
Additionally, you need enough Happy Faces for the empty columns; none to start with, then 1 for 2 workers; 2 after another 4; then increasing every two worker.
An unemployed worker in your pool can substitute for a happy face, but is still considered "discontent". If you have insufficient happy faces plus unemployed workers to cover the number of empty slots in your bank, you are in Civil Disorder, and produce _nothing_ that turn. Avoid this.

Civil Cards:

Nearly done. At the top of the screen is the Civil Card Row. It is divided into 3 sections, according to how many CA it takes to pick up a card from each section. At the end of each player's turn (except this round), the card marked with a X is discarded, the row shuffles down to fill any gaps, and new cards are dealt into the right-hand end.
The cards will be, variously:
You cannot have more then 1 unbuilt wonder at once; and it costs an additional 1CA to take a wonder for each existing completed wonder you have.

We're about ready for the first turn. There are things I haven't mentioned, but there _shouldn't_ be any gaps in what I've already said. Shout if there are.
On your first turn, things work a bit differently. The player in first place gets 1 CA to pick cards from the row. The row will not shuffle down and be redealt (but the player will produce food, rock and science as normal). Then second player picks 2 CA of cards, third player 3 CA worth, then fourth player 4 CA worth.
_Then_ the row shuffles down, and is redealt from the Age A deck. Any undealt Age A cards are then discarded, and we start into Age I.

For your second turn

Round 2, you Almost Certainly want to build a third Bronze, increase population, and do something with your other two CA (likely involving the card row). You will draw military cards at the end of this turn, which I'll explain next turn. In round 3 you'll almost certainly want to build a second Philosophy lab.
If you picked up an Ideal Building Site in round 1, you could build the Philosophy lab in round 2, as long as you make sure to build a third Bronze in round 3.

Third turn onwards

You now have a hand of Military Cards - you draw one per unused Military Action (max 3) after each turn. Most are of use in a phase at the start of your turn - the Political Phase.

Military Cards

Sometimes when an Event is revealed, it may be a territory. We now compete to colonise it with military force. In turn, starting with the player who triggered the event, we bid an amount of force we are prepared to spend to colonise the territory.
Once you pass, you can't rejoin the auction. Once a bid stands, that player must sacrifice force at least equal to their bid, in the form of military units. Your force is augmented by any Colonisation bonuses you may have (such as Colossus or Cartography), and by any Defence/Colonisation? cards you choose to discard; but note that you must always sacrifice at least one unit.
The colony then grants you a one-time benefit (in the middle), and an ongoing benefit (at the bottom)

ChrisHowlett was writing a TtA? server; but given the existence of http://boardgamingonline.com and BoardGameArena?, this no longer seems to have any purpose.


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