Through the Ages - Board Game Box Shot

Through the Ages

| Published: 2006

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 Ghandi. Build the 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 an even greater challenge, play the Full Version of Through the Ages and take your civilization from spear-throwing to space flight.

User Reviews (20)

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Miniature Painter
Expert Advisor
Advanced Reviewer
105 of 112 gamers found this helpful | Medals x 1
“Deep Strategy Resource Management Building Civilizations”

Overview: Through the Ages is a resource management game for 2 to 4 players which allows them to develop a civilization from ancient times through the modern age.

Gameplay: Each player receives a player board on which he uses wooden bits to keep track of his various statistics. His decisions will manage all of his civilization’s properties including population, food, resources, science, culture, happiness and military strength. Four decks of civil cards are shuffled individually, each representing a different age of time, from Antiquities through the Third Age. The “card row” is filled from cards from Antiquities to start the game. Players will draft cards from the card row to select new technologies, leaders, wonders, and actions. The longer a card remains on the row, its cost becomes less. New cards are replenished from the current civil deck. When a deck runs out of cards, the next civil deck is used thus starting the next Age.

Based on his current government, a player has a set amount of civil and military actions that he can make each turn. Civil actions can be used to draft cards from the card row, play action cards, develop new technologies, build farms, mines and urban buildings or manipulate existing resources. Military actions can be used to build military units, start aggressions with other cultures or draw political cards.

At the beginning of his turn a player is allowed to play a political card. This will consist of starting an aggression against another culture, seeding the event deck, or playing a strength boosting tactic card. The game is heavily favored towards defense and it is difficult to succeed in military actions if your opponents are maintaining moderate military strength. Those that choose to neglect military will make themselves open targets however. The event deck will cause random occurrences which can help or hinder players based on various criteria.

Gameplay continues until all four civil decks are exhausted entering the Fourth Age. The player with the highest culture is declared the winner. Two other versions of the game are also included each playing through less ages and utilizing less rules facilitating shorter and simpler games.

– Many strategic choices allow players to control their game with very little random influence.
– Multiple paths to victory exist, keeping gameplay fresh.
– It features an abstract map-less game system, avoiding traditional territory control aspects.

– Full game can take 4+ hours to play.
– There can be significant down-time while waiting for your turn.
– Many tiny wooden bits can be fiddly.

Historical Figure/ Fictional Character I’d Most Like to Play Against: Sid Meier

Through the Ages provides deep strategy by offering a multitude of choices. Reliving history has never been more entertaining!

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Intermediate Reviewer
Copper Supporter
Viscount / Viscountess
84 of 91 gamers found this helpful | Medals x 1
“Down to the Basics Review”

Disclaimer: The main goal of “Down to the Basics Reviews” is to show what the game is about, getting down to the basics, the bare minimum necessary to captivated the reader.

So, about Through the Ages:

There are three ways to play: simple, advanced and full. I will talk about the full game, because the others exist basically to teach new players.

1) What it is?
A game where you build your own civilization.

2) How do you play?
The flow of play can be resumed as: select cards, execute actions and play cards. You have three tracks that represent your gains of culture and science and your military strength. You win the game by scoring more culture points than the other players. You gain culture points in several ways: by building temples and theaters, colonizing certain territories or by playing specific wonders, leaders, action cards, agressions or wars.

3) What are the decisions that you make?
Lots of decisions to make, new players may feel overwhelmed and it will take some plays to have a good understand of the game.

At the start of the game:
– You must select one card from the line of civil face up cards.

Then each round, you may:
– Play a military card
– Execute the political event, if there is any.
– Execute civil actions: select civil cards, elect a new leader, play action card, build or upgrade buildings, destroy buildings, increase population, discover a new technology.
– Execute military actions: build or upgrade units, disband units, draw military cards.

4) What is good about it?
If you like deep strategy games with lots of decisions and a thematic feel you can go no wrong with Through the Ages:
– There are several possible strategies to win the game.
– The theme is strong.
– It is considered one of the best in the genre, it is really deep and a genuine brain burner.

5) What is not so good about it?
At first, you may feel overwhelmed by the rules and the great ammount of information that you have to deal with. The game is quite long, from two/three hours with two players to four/five hours with four players. The game is not excellent with four players, because of the waiting time and the frustration of not being able to get the cards that you want. The aggressions and wars may have demolishing effects. Some may not like the absence of a map. And finally, mistakes in the first rounds may hurt a lot on the long run.

6) What it feels when you play it?
The game is epic. You start with very little: agriculture, a few mines, a lab, a primitive army and few people. As time goes by, you will work with great leaders, like Napoleon, Da Vinci, Gengis Khan, Gandhi and Albert Einstein. You will evolve as a society, creating the justice system, navigation and architecture. To fight your enemies you will build tanks, planes and rockets. You will discover and develop new technologies like movies, computers and even the internet. All that makes you really have that feeling of building a great civilization!

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I play black
Knight-errant Gold Supporter
106 of 115 gamers found this helpful | Medals x 1
“Play with three, never four, and enjoy the brain burner!”

This game is not a gateway game. REPEAT: THIS IS NOT A GATEWAY GAME!

This is one of those games for people who love games, love civilization games, and loves “brainburners”. There is so much depth here, managing your tech and production development, getting a science and a vp engine going, and having to keep up on food and military, or having to pay a steep price.

Slight mistakes can cost you the game, and you will make mistakes. Even if you don’t, the game can conspire against you by denying you needed cards. Every decision matters: what cards you “buy” cost you actions that you need for other things. The hand limit can bite you when you take more cards than you can use.

It’s important to build a balanced civilization, but also to focus on a strength. Balance will give you defense and let you progress, but focus will give you victory.

A lot of people knock the components, but they work for this game. The wooden bits can be very fiddly due to the small size, but if they were bigger they wouldn’t work. Maybe an alternate method to track food and resources could have been used (like SM’s Civ:tB G’s wheel). It works for me: sort of like a board game version of a PC game.

The colors are bright and easy to tell apart. The art on the cards is minimal, but enough to add color. The score track sucks, as most of the spaces are half the size of the cubes used to track scores.

My only gripe is this: never play a four player game. Two player games are great, and three player adds a lot of depth to the gameplay, introducing treaties and making it less a ***-for-tat slugfest. Four player only adds one thing: downtime. I would rather play Tic-Tac-Toe with my one year old for four hours than play this game with four players again. I would rather chew off my right arm at the shoulder than play this game with three other people. Yes, it’s that bad. It might be more tolerable if every player played a two-player game with each of their neighbors while they waited, but then again, it might not. Learn it two player, play it with three, or two if you can’t find a third. Never with four, unless you need long naps.

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Subscribed to BG News
65 of 73 gamers found this helpful
“A deep & satisfying Civ game that plays in 1 hour per player!”

This game has quickly climbed to become one of my favorite game of all time since 2 years ago when I played it at a convention. The simplicity of the rules (relative to other epic civ games) yet deceivingly deep game play gives it alot of replayability. and if you have a regular group to play with, you will grow with each other as your strategy and understanding of the game increases. It’s surprisingly not too hard to teach even non gamers if they shows the interest.

Like all civ games, you have to balance your city carefully in all aspect from mining to culture to research and military. Failing in any category for too long and you’ll see your opponents exploiting your weakness. Yet, there’s just never enough resources to do everything and you’ll need to prioritise your nation’s needs to succeed.

although the game uses all the same cards every time, the order that it comes up as well as the tactics of the opponent will create a huge but subtle difference, forcing you to adapt. no 2 games really feels the same. At the same time, there’s a deck of military and events cards that has huge impact on game play and for those decks, you only go though around half of it each game. There’s huge control over the ebb and flow of the game for the experienced players and games feels like a constant struggle to take that slight edge over your opponents.

definitely a game that all strategy gamers must own! or at least, play it free on!

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Advanced Reviewer Bronze Supporter
105 of 118 gamers found this helpful
“No map necessary”

Here we have another game that focuses on player’s “property” development with indirect interactions between the players. What I mean is that each player has their own board to build their in-game wealth. There were successful games that used this scheme before, to name the two most famous: Puerto Rico and Agricola.

In Through the Ages each of the players’ boards represent a civilization. These civilizations compete mainly on two fields: cultural (which represent the overall level of the civilization and eventually decides who is the winner) and military (civilizations with stronger military forces may bully weaker ones). There are also another civilizational aspects represented, like: knowledge, happiness, production, population, government etc., but they don’t serve as competition fields, they are rather means to achieve more culture and military power.

As the game rules are quite complex, there are easier, introductory variants included in the rulebook. Here I’ll describe briefly the “full” variant. The game is played literally “Through the ages”. There are five “ages” total. Three of them are main parts of the game: Part 1: Middle Ages; Part 2: Renaissance and explorer times; Part 3: Modern times. Each of them has its own decks of cards representing civil and military achievements that civilizations may claim during these periods. There is also an introductory part: Ancient times that serves as a startup and adds some variance to the beginning of the game. There is not too much “ancient” cards, and this part of the game is very short. There is also the ending part Present days that has no cards at all and it is added to let the players finish what they started during the “modern times”.

During the game players have opportunities to cooperate or fight witch each other. Cooperation is based on “pact” cards that give involved parties certain benefits. Fight is played as comparing military power levels of the fighting civilizations (including bonuses that can come from various sources). The balance of the conflicts always favors the defender. So while players may attack each other with “aggressions” and “wars”, TtA games with none of them played are not uncommon while games with wars are in fact pretty rare. As long as players all take care about not being too much behind the others on the military field, declaring an attack is usually a worse choice than peaceful development of one’s own realm. In other words “Si vis pacem, para bellum”, “If you want peace, be ready for a war”.

What I like about this game is the balance of power described above and the level of abstraction the game uses. It is a civilization game with no map. Even when civilizations fight for new terrains (“colonies”) the colonies are represented by cards showing only the gain of the colony owner. All the conflicts are also played in an abstract space.

What I don’t like, is that this game is time consuming. It is really nice to play it, I like it very much, I like the sense of accomplishment the players have after finishing the game when they look at the civilizations they have just built. But playing a 3-4 players “full” game requires about 4 hours. And one may plan their future movements only to a limited extent during other players’ turns. So a lot of the time spent is just sitting and waiting. Nevertheless I think it’s worth the time it takes – if one has enough time to play.

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Reviewed My First Game
56 of 82 gamers found this helpful
“Great Game!!”

This was one of those games I kept reading about and looking at in the store. When we finally bought it we played it 8 or 9 times in a week. I even taught my cat to play. There are so many choices and no game ever plays out exactly the same and thus has great replay value. It is great at 2, 3 or 4 people.

I play it on Boardgaming-online fairly frequently now so I don’t pull out my copy very often anymore since I can admit it is more fun when you don’t have to deal with all the pieces and cards but I doubt anyone will talk me into trading away this game anytime soon.

I have taught this game to several in my family as well as a couple of friends and no one that has actually tried to learn it has not enjoyed it though it does take a while for a first and even a second play through. Overall I would say this is a great game and one that everyone should play at least 2-3 times till they can grasp how it works and learn for themselves what a great game it is. The play time does go down as you become more familiar with the game.

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Critic - Level 2
Rated 50 Games
55 of 81 gamers found this helpful
“Simply the best civilization game!”

Is it possible a Civilization game without exploration on a map? Of course it is and guess what? This is the best feature of the game! Tta gets rid of timevore exploration mechanics other civ games suffer from and focus on the rest important things you have to keep in mind in order to see your civilization prospering such as happiness science, military strength, production and culture. OK, maybe components are mediocre (but cards are very durable)and it requires a few plays to get into it but gameplay is the important part. The only thing that annoys me is the lack factor. Occasionaly you will miss some key civil cards or you will never see a political card that you really need. Finally I think that the game is best with 2 players (120 – 150 mins for experts), recommended for 3 players and not so good with 4 players due to extended downtime. If you like civ games this is your standard choice!

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6 Beta 1.0 Tester
46 of 75 gamers found this helpful
“Fiddly; long; a bit fragile; yet worth playing.”

Through the Ages is not for the faint of heart: it’s a game that permits one to be abjectly crushed by one’s opponents – if one fails to pay attention to the oh-so-important balance of military power. But as a game for players of roughly equal skill, it’s very rewarding: the decisions are meaningful; the game arc nontrivial; yet the mechanics are still entirely tractable. A very nice game.

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Critic - Level 2
45 of 79 gamers found this helpful
“In contention for my favorite game of all time”

Make the effort to learn this game. And learn the full rule set, not just the basic or the advanced. While it may appear daunting at first pass, it is very elegantly put together, without any strange exceptions. Having logged nearly a hundred plays of this game, I simply never grow tired of the strategic choices that come crashing through the ages.

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Gamer - Level 1
57 of 103 gamers found this helpful
“Like a fine wine, it ages well”

I’ve played this game more than 30 times, both in real life and at boardgaming-online. It still isn’t stale, the majority of turns are full of tension, and as I’ve gained experience the game has grown with me. Now most of my games are against the same people and I don’t know if it would be as entertaining playing against new players (it might, I really don’t know).

The first major paradigm shift was understanding the power of the military. If someone has a strong military (a pre-sacrifice strength of 60 is actually possible particularly with air forces and Napoleon) they can overtake huge culture leads with a couple late game wars and bonus cards. Our early games were high scoring tech/culture affairs (a large military in those days was size 10). Once the concept of military domination entered the picture the game became a balancing act. As it says in the rules, you can’t win with the military but you can lose by ignoring it.

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49 of 90 gamers found this helpful
“Great game, limited audience”

I really enjoy this game. There is lots of planing and decision making that needs to happen to build an effective civilization. Also, your opponents play will effect your play, so games will vary based on your opponents. It is however a long game and I’ve had difficulty finding people to play. If your game group does not mind long, deep and sometime confrontational games then you should give this a try!

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Intermediate Grader
Critic - Level 1
56 of 105 gamers found this helpful
“Civ-Building for Intermediate to Major Gamers”

Through the Ages is a great Civilization Building game for 2 to 4 players. That being said, I would advise beginner gamers to watch at least one game before attempting this complex game.
First off the bat, Through the Ages could be considered a long game, especially if you play the full version right off the bat. There are a few amendments to the game that you could make to the game with given rules to shorten the game considerably; and for beginner gamers, they help. Another questioning thing about this games includes pieces that are questionable at best. The cards can get worn pretty easily, and the pieces are a little small.
Other than the equipment defects, this game is great. The complex nature of the game is more of an after thought, as long as you are able to build a well-rounded civilization. Like a typical civilization however, one must attempt to boast a major attribute. It is a struggle to balance your development of your civilization’s strengths, but if you can do that….. your Civilization will stay alive “Through the Ages”

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Rated 10 Games
49 of 97 gamers found this helpful
“Excellent game that takes too long to play”

I do enjoy being able to play a full game of Through The Ages but the opportunity does not present itself very often due to the game length. A bit fiddly and just complex enough so that one or mistakes in following the rules seems to get made by one of the players every game.

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49 of 97 gamers found this helpful
“Amazing game!”

Through the Ages is an amazing game. So many ways to win and so many choices to be made. Politics, science, economics, art, war… all are important roles in the growth of your civilization. Easily the best civilization boardgame I have ever played. GET IT!

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My First Heart
49 of 99 gamers found this helpful
“A masterpiece”

Played 1 learning game in person with my gaming group. Since then we have been playing multiple online games throughout the day. Every game is extremely close due to the incredible balancing.

The sense of accomplishment looking at a completed civ. is very satisfying. Like in the civilization computer game I want to keep going, I want there to be more than 3(4) ages.

There are so many different strategies that work in the game it is astounding and it all comes down to the few cards you pick each turn.


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