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* September 17th

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* October 1st
* October 15th
* October 29th

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Civ Building Doesn’t Get Much Easier or Quicker

Roll Through the Ages

Civ Building Doesn’t Get Much Easier or Quicker

Review by Craig Hargraves

Ever since discovering Sid Meier’s Civilization computer game as a child, I’ve loved Civ games. There’s just something about the exploration, planning, development and conflict that can keep me engaged for hours and hours. The search for the perfect Civ board game has been a personal quest ever since entering the hobby some 4 or 5 years ago.

Now there have been a lot of excellent Civ games out there over the years. From Avalon Hill’s original Civilization to Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization, many have attempted to capture the magic of human history in a game. Unfortunately almost every one of these great games has suffered from the same affliction: a looong play time. It’s a common problem because it’s tough to encapsulate the entirety of human civilization in a short play time. For me, as a time poor adult, this causes a problem.

Fortunately, this is where Matt Leacock’s Roll Through the Ages: The Bronze Age comes to the rescue with perhaps the most unique approach to the Civ game genre that’s been attempted. At it’s heart, Roll Through the Ages has a very Yahtzee like feel. The game uses 7 chunky wooden dice which will be rolled up to three times on a player’s turn to get a desirable combination of resources. The different faces of the dice each represent different resources including food, workers, trade goods and money which players will use to feed their populace, build cities and monuments and buy bonus-giving developments. One face of each die also has a disaster icon which can have dire consequences for both the player who rolled them and their opponents. Disasters offer a nice push-your-luck element to the game as increasing numbers of disaster dice (which you have to keep) may escalate the scale of the disaster or better yet shunt the trouble onto your opponents. The other aspect of disasters though is that they can also provide you with a significant number of goods.

Players will keep track of their acquired resources on a cribbage style wooden peg board while their developing civilizations are tracked on a printed play sheet which each player has a copy of. Players are going to take turns until either all the available monuments have been built or one player has bought their fifth development (which will usually take about 20 to 30 minutes).

So why does Roll Through the Ages work? The decision to only focus on our earliest period of history and the use of the simple and familiar Yahtzee make the game both short and accessible. However the inclusion of the various Developments and the different bonuses they give offers some simple strategic choices and keeps the game from being overly simplistic. The Developments also add to the game’s replay value as different combinations of Developments can lead to quite different victory strategies. The random chaos of the dice rolling and the push your luck nature of disasters also give the game a good level of engagement (so long as you don’t take your filler games too seriously). And finally, the quality of the wooden components is great and the box is jam packed. Gryphon Games are to be commended for not going for the larger box size (and price point).

Perhaps my only (somewhat ironic) gripe with the game out of the box is that it’s almost too short. The five Development end condition for the game has that frustrating feel of coming just when you were about to really get going. Fortunately the free Late Bronze Age expansion (available from fixes this nicely with its slightly deeper play and longer play time.

All in all, Roll Through the Ages is a great game and an admirable take on the Civ genre in what is a well paced filler game with meat. It deserves all the accolades it has garnered so far and I for one look forward to anything else Matt Leacock does with the system in the future.

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