Table of Contents
- In-depth Strategy Guide for AIs & Challenges
- Overarching Principles
- Paths to Victory
- Game Length
- Political Actions
- Civil Actions & Military Actions
- Yellow Cards
- Military Units
- Blue Technologies
In-depth Strategy Guide for AIs & Challenges
After many worthwhile hours I finally completed all Challenges. First and foremost this is the best mobile game I have ever played. The stability, game play, online ability, amazing tutorial, and the Challenges allowed countless hours of fun for a pittance. However hardly anyone was talking online about the Challenges the electronic version of this game offers. For most games the Internet is littered with wikis and forums explaining how to complete certain achievements or levels, but not so with Through the Ages. And so this guide was born.
This guide is strictly concerning AI play but a lot of the concepts translate well into PvP games. This guide is broken up into 3 sections, General Principles, ratings of different Cards, and finally strategies for completing the Challenges.
Like most economy based board games with victory points, the goal is to build up a strong economy to eventually start cashing in large victory point buildings during the late game. Through the Ages is no different.
Within the first few turns your goal is to get 3 mines, 2 farms, and 2 Labs. There are very few games this will not be your opening play. From there it will depend on your leader and how the card row presents itself.
Age I you will be focusing on researching Alchemy, picking up Pyramids or another Wonder of your choice, and ideally scoring a good military Tactic like Medieval Army or Phalanx.
Age II is arguably the most important age. You need to get your production up to build Age III Urban Buildings and to start buying really key Military techs like Riflemen and Cannon.
Age III presents a huge jump in Military Power as these units are 2 Strength greater than last age, Air Force Tech becomes available, and discarding Political Action cards is simply not enough to stave off attacks like it was in Age A and I. If you haven't got a good foundation going in from Age II, Age III will be impossible. It's not uncommon to go from 50 Culture at the start of Age III, to over 200 after Age IV when all the points are calculated.
While strategies for cashing in culture before Age III exist (Shakespeare combination, Michelangelo, and to a lesser extent Joan of Arc), these can put you on either a military or economic back foot and are only recommended if the stars align perfectly for your strategy.
There are three routes to victory, most of which come to fruition in Age III. As Age III is such a huge scoring round it is very common to be down by 100 points and still comfortably win.
1. Strict Culture/Turn. Conceptually the easiest, but simply building Opera, Theaters, Journalism, Wonders, etc. for strict culture can accumulate a big enough lead to surpass the other civilizations.
2. Warfare. A pure military strategy is rarely successful, but when it works it is done on the back of War for Culture. Attaining a huge Military advantage, usually through the use of Tactics+Air Force, can lead to 30+ victory points being stripped, a 60 point swing in the game. There are some challenges where this is not only useful but required to win.
3. End game “Impact of X” scoring. A large amount of points are up for grabs in Age III simply by the end game scoring cards. You should not only keep track of what you’ve seeded and discarded (the in-game tool to view old cards shows this elegantly), but consider what potentially may have been seeded by your opponents. I’ve had sure wins be stripped away by the final cards and ended up in 3rd place when it’s all tallied. Again it’s rare for this to be your only source of points (except for one Challenge) but if you think you can squeak by with a scant economy/military and 3 Movies you will be mistaken.
2 Player games are the quickest, partly on account of 6 cards being cycled out each round, and partly because it contains 6 few cards than in the 4-player game. Game duration is roughly 17 turns for 2 players, and 20 turns for 4 players. If you feel the need to speed up the game, grab as many cards from the card row as you can. If you need time to catch up, grab fewer cards.
You score Culture by simply playing Political Actions. If you can play something, you should play it, providing it’s not going to come back and bite you. Don’t play Foray if you know you’re going to be the weakest player, it’s not worth the culture. At the end of my turn I will generally err on the side of holding Military Bonus Cards for defense/colonization and discard the rest. Be very careful seeding Colonies unless they are weak (Historic/Strategic Territory) or you can competitively bid against it. You don’t have to win, but you do have to make them pay for it.
While there are many Political Actions, there are some good rules of thumb to follow to protect yourself from negative events:
- Be at least second place militarily.
- Have no discontent citizens and
- Have enough Military and defense cards to just be able to fend off an aggression.
Interestingly having the most Culture can be both penalizing and rewarding, there are Events that punish/help the Culture leader and Culture loser.
Diplomacy cards can be game saving. There’s no shame in paying off Napoleon to leave you alone in Age II/III. The Culture/Resource cost is likely worth not having to dump tons of effort into beefing up your army. Try and use Scientific Cooperation on a Scientifically weak AI as you will likely benefit far more than they will.
Do not neglect Tactics. You should be tailoring your army based on the cards you have drawn, not the ones you hope to draw. That said some Tactics are often completely infeasible (Shock Troops).
Age III scoring cards can really score big. However there is only one copy of each card. So if you have discarded Impact of Happiness, you don’t need to worry about building Happiness for the sake of. Obviously only seed Impact of X cards that help you, but be cognizant of what could have been potentially seeded by other players.
The Colony Bidding mini-game should not be underestimated. Understanding which colonies are powerful and which are not will prevent you from over bidding. Generally the AI valuates colonies accurately. Be cautious seeding good colonies to AIs with lots of colonization bonuses.
Turn order is very important. If you are playing next, feel free to bid higher knowing you can rebuild your army immediately after. If you are 2nd or 3rd in line, be much more cautious. There’s nothing worse (or more satisfying!) than bidding up a Colony and then instantly losing it to the next player via Annexation because you lost all your forces!
In 4 player games expect to see lots of colonies as many players will be seeding events. This significantly raises the value of Colonization cards such as Colossus and Navigation. Interestingly Barbarossa is one of the best colonizers because his ability allows him to quickly replenish lost troops. Cooke is fairly mediocre in comparison unless he has enough Political Event cards to discard.
- Colonies that offer Yellow Tokens are generally the best, with the ones offering immediate Tokens (Arrow symbol) being the best of the best. However these colonies get worse as the game progresses and by Age III you should be passing on all of them unless you have serious Happiness/Food issues.
- Colonies with Resources are in between. I would only bid these if I have some place to spend the enormous windfall of Resources they provide as much can be wasted through Corruption. The extra Blue Cubes are rarely helpful unlike population.
- Strategic Colonies are good more for the permanent Strength bonus than the Political Cards. The extra cards will often end up being discarded. As a rule never spend more for a Strategic Colony then what it gives you, and be careful breaking up a Tactical group to do so.
- Happiness/Culture Colonies are the worst. They are worth bidding in the end game (the AI spends a lot for these in Age III) but early on pass on these unless you are desperate for cheap Happiness.
Your Civil Actions dictate the game. The judicious use of your Civil Actions is really what Through the Ages is about. Not surprisingly there is a high premium on attaining more of these actions in the game. Getting this 5th Action through Pyramids, Code of Laws, or even Hammurabi is very important to avoid falling behind. However there are diminishing returns after you get your 5th action. You will become more constrained by your Resources, Science, and Population; particularly if few Yellow Cards are available. 6-7 Civil Actions tends to be the sweet spot, which is why Constitutional Monarchy is so strong. It gives you the flexibility of taking important cards for 3 Civil Action and still having things to do, without having unspent Civil Actions at the end of your turn.
Strangely, Military Actions become more important later than in the early game. The “Impact of X” cards are important to draw even if you have a weak military for scoring purposes. Wars and Raids cost more Military Actions in Age III and the defensive cards are less effectual requiring more of them. That said you can often safely ignore Military Actions until Age III (but not military Strength!)
Population Management is one of the keys to success. It's much harder to understand than Resource production. Unlike in the Civilization computer game, extra population does not give you anything automatically. They are literally called idle workers for a reason. A Food strategy will work out poorly as you'll have many Yellow Tokens doing nothing. Food production needs to increase in tandem with things you can build. For example, in the early game boosting Food production when you can only build two Urban Buildings will likely lead to idleness, or worse, corruption as you furiously make more idle workers to spend your Blue Cubes. This means wasted Civil Actions on doing nothing.
Another potentially dangerous phenomenon is Cube Locking. Even if your net food production is 0, you can still have surplus food as Blue Tokens sitting by your Age A farms literally doing nothing. These tokens are locked and threaten corruption. The only way they can be spent is by 1) Using trade agreements that allow you to spend Food as Resources, 2) Playing Reserves card or upgrading your Food production enough meet the Food threshold and build population and 3) The Rats event which will free up this surplus Food..
It's harder to have too much production, you can always dump them into building upgrades or Wonders. But no productive dump exists for population, which can only make a bunch of useless idle workers or worse, discontent workers that can make you suffer events.
Happiness is a minor factor but cannot be ignored. Absolutely you must never have a revolt. There is no reason to have one and you should simply disband a unit or building to avoid this outcome. Generally there are 4 ways to solve Happiness problems.
1. Make more population. As long as a Yellow Token is covering a Happiness icon, no revolt will take place. This is the worst method of dealing with Happiness as not only is that population wasted, but there are a number of Political Events that punish players who have discontent citizens.
2. Build Wonders or Buildings that give Happiness. I prefer using Wonders that provide Happiness over buildings. If I must, I prefer Arenas over Religious Buildings.
3. Choose Leaders that provide Happiness. These are Homer, Shakespeare, and Chaplin. They often eliminate Happiness issues in the Age they are played.
4. Get more Yellow Tokens. Either through Colonization or (less commonly) Aggressions. Keeping your Token stock full means less Happiness is required.