Thursday, 26 February 2009

Roll Through the Ages

Roll Through the Ages is a new game, designed by Matt Leacock, designer of Pandemic. It is published by the same company that published Through the Ages in USA, FRED Distribution. It is a quick dice game, and is nothing like the long and complex Through the Ages. Well, except for the civilisation theme. I quite like Pandemic, so I self-made Roll Through the Ages, to give it a try, using just normal dice.

In Roll Through the Ages, you roll dice to collect various resources, and develop your civilisation. The die-rolling is like Pickomino and Risk Express , i.e. you roll, set some aside (i.e. "freeze" them), and may roll again, until you are happy with the results. Most die results are good, so it is a matter of prioritising what resources you want to collect. You use workers to build more cities (which let you roll more dice, but you'll also need more food to feed your population. You also use workers to build monuments, which give victory points. You also collect goods and money, and use them to develop new technologies, which give victory points and also special powers, e.g. allowing you to collect more food, or protect you from certain disasters. Sometimes disasters happen, if you roll an even number of skulls, or if you roll five or more skulls. The tricky thing is the side of the die with the skull also has 2 goods. So sometimes you want to roll that side. So it's about how much risk you want to take. Having more cities means more dice, but also higher chance of rolling too many skulls, and getting hit by the big disasters. When you roll the skull + 2 goods side, you must freeze that die.

I find the game to be quite thematic. It has many elements of a civilisation building game. You do see your civilisation grow and progress. However I think of it as a filler, and to me a filler is a game that you get out to play when you just want a quick game, when you don't have enough time for a longer "normal" game. So, not really something that I'd plan to play. There are interesting decisions in the game, and so far, having played 3 games, I don't think there is one sure-fire winning strategy. There is quite a variety of technologies in the game, and I think they allow for various strategies. I have not tried them all. The game is quite simple, short, thematic, and has meaningful decisions. However to me it is not very deep and is not interesting enough that I would play often. So, I probably won't be buying a copy, and I'm glad I tried it out beforehand.


Frank said...

It is indeed a filler, and a great one at that. I find that people ask to play it all the time - 100% success rate so far with everybody I tried.

Hiew Chok Sien said...

My wife found it to be just OK. Not bad but nothing spectacular either. That's also my feel. Well, at least the game triggered us to decide to play Through the Ages again.

I guess it's natural for gamers to prefer longer and meatier games.

Frank said...

I finally bit the bullet recently and spent a fortune buying Trough the Ages. Have gone through the rules a few times, as well as a mock turn, so will be playing it with my wife soon. Can't wait!

Hiew Chok Sien said...

Be prepared to make lots of rules mistakes and to need to refer to the rules frequently for your first game of Through the Ages. I'd suggest playing the Advanced Game for your first game, and then thereafter the Full Game. Also I find some of the reference sheets on BGG quite useful.

I just played a very exciting game of TtA with my wife today. Our end score was 222:220! That's quite rare.