Thursday, March 10, 2016

Advancing from the Bronze Age to the Iron Age

I just picked up a barely used copy of Roll Through the Ages: The Iron Age. It even had the Mediterranean expansion, which I don't think is standard. (Maybe it is. I could be wrong) I'm definitely going to try it out solo and maybe even get some multi-player in.

But it does make me want to revisit its older, smaller brother.

Although, to be fair, it's not like I've ever really left it. I've almost always had at least one game of it going on Yucata for years. When Nations the Dice Game got added, that just gave me two different dice games about civilization building to play online. :D

(I have to say that as much as I enjoy Roll Through the Ages, it doesn't truly feel like a legitimate civilization game to me. Like other civ – light games that I enjoy, like Nations the Dice Game or 7 Wonders, the scope doesn't seem broad enough to truly feel like I am developing a civilization over a swath of history. (Interestingly enough, Settlers of the Stone Age does work for me as a civ – light game, possibly because it covers the entire world.) I don't know if the Iron Age will feel more like I am actually developing a civilization over the ages.)

Roll Through the Ages: The Bronze Age's core mechanic is Yahtzee, which is not uncommon. On your turn, you roll the dice and you get two rerolls. The faces on the dice can give you workers to build stuff (including more cities to get more dice), food to feed cities, goods to buy advances and dreaded skulls that bring down disasters on your civilization.

While part of the reason why the original Roll Through the Ages has both stayed in my collection and been in study rotation on Yucata for me is that it is a light, Yahtzee-inspired dice game that is both easy to teach and something that I can play even when I am feeling brain-dead, it does have some touches that make it nifty and give it its own feel.

I like the disasters. In Civilization and Advanced Civilization, juggling and coping with calamities is one of the major features of the game. I like how the disasters in the original Roll Through the Ages don't just wipe out your turn but have some kind of effect. There's a flavor to them and different ways of coping with them.

More importantly, I like the advances. For me, one of the defining characteristics of a civilization game is the tech tree. And, while Roll Through the Ages lacks the grandeur and the breadth of a true civilization game for me, it does have a tech tree. If the game was just about checking off boxes to get points, it would not be nearly as interesting or have any flavor. Instead, the advances give you special powers that what you plan out in shape your game, at least as much as the dice will let you.

After just one game of the Iron Age version of the game, I can tell that the decision tree is a lot more complicated then the Bronze Age. As I've said, a big part of the Bronze Age has seen so much play for me is because it is simple. I am going to have to see if the more intricate design of the Iron Age is a good trade-off for that simplicity.

So, more plays.

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