It's not much, but it's home.

It’s Spring Break, so thank goodness for the Through the Ages beta

iOS, Android •

If you’ve been wondering where we’ve been the last few days, you’re not alone. I’ve been trapped with my family in a minivan for the past 24 hours and I’m not sure where I am, either. I think we ended up in Florida, but I feel like I asked to see Saw Garrera and have been transported across the country with a bag over my head. I could be anywhere, but considering that I’m looking at palm trees and the Indian River, Florida is a good bet.

Spending this much time with my kids in a vehicle would drive most adults insane, but I had a secret weapon to help through the rough times. Czech Games Edition has started the online beta for Through the Ages and it’s so good, it almost prevented me from going completely bonkers.

Through the Ages has been on everyone’s must-have list since it was first announced by Codito way back in 2010. After the license ran out in 2013, development was taken over by CGE who started over from scratch. They didn’t start immediately, however, and instead delivered Galaxy Trucker. They can be forgiven, however, as Galaxy Trucker remains one of the best board game ports to ever grace a touchscreen. Still, the delayed release has put TtA in the “will we ever actually see this” category, much like the perennially delayed 7 Wonders.

You can always view a log to see how your opponent’s intend to destroy you.

After playing the beta for a week, I’m confident that we’ll not only see it on our devices down the road, but it might overtake games like Galaxy Trucker and Twilight Struggle, which are currently kings of the digital board game hill.

The beta currently only allows for online play, so there’s no way to check how the AI is shaping up. That said, online play is where the game will really shine anyway, and this early version is already the best way to play the game with friends around the globe. Gameplay is asynchronous or real time, and even in the beta I’m not having any issues with notifications appearing for each of my ongoing games. You can set up games with strangers or private games with friends. They’ve even added some “digital” rules to accommodate asynchronous play. These involve bidding for colonies and other event cards, allowing players to deal with events and colonies on their turns rather than stopping play and forcing each player to weigh in before a turn can continue. It’s a small change to the rules, but it makes games flow incredibly quickly without the dread of knowing you’ll have to wait until tomorrow to finish your turn simply so everyone can decide if they want ore or food. Of course, if you don’t want to play with the new digital rules, you can play with the standard rules regarding events and colonies. I’m not sure why you would, but the option is there.

Each player has their own terrain type, with each wonder appearing in the background along with their colonies (see the island!)

Gameplay itself is pretty flawless and players familiar with TtA won’t even need to run through the tutorial (which is included, and has the required amount of humor you’d expect from a CGE title). Actions can be performed multiple ways, by touching cards or dragging bits around. All the math is done automatically, and the game will even warn you if you are leaving juicy actions on the table when you go to end your turn.

Despite its gameplay brilliance, the app is still clearly a beta. There are typos and other small glitches that will surely get a hefty dollop of polish before long. None of the blemishes are big enough to dampen the fun I’m having. I’ve already lost in spectacular fashion to our own Hardco, and plan on losing many, many more games before it’s all said and done. Enjoy some screens, and when I get back from spring break I’ll be back with daily news and other features. Just give me until Monday, if I can survive the drive back home.

Signing my own death warrant.

 

If you prefer to play with a card-for-card copy of the cardboard version, it’s only a tap away.

 

Instead of bidding in an ever escalating auction, players can secretly declare how much they’re willing to bid for a colony, and the CPU works out the winner.
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Notable Replies

  1. js619 says:

    This looks fantastic - I love the pic with the little island colony in the background. This is one of those digital adaptations that I think will really bring the game to life. Now... do you know someone who knows someone who can expedite my beta invite???

  2. I'm famous! I've set up another 2p game if you would like a rematch.

    Everything about this implementation is great though, and it has consumed almost all of my available game time. I've got 6 games on the go now, and anytime it isn't my turn and I want to play I am tempted to join another... The blind bidding for colonies keeps things moving fast, and always leaves you wishing you bid just a little higher.

  3. js619 says:

    How does the blind bidding work, if it's your turn for instance? How does that affect sacrificing military units and all?

  4. Maybe I'll defer to @Neumannium , as I'm not sure what can be said in response to a TTA beta article while under the NDA. I can say it is amazing though, and it is the reason that I'm falling behind on my Twilight Struggle turns... :sweat_smile:

  5. js619 says:

    No, no... that's fine... don't worry about being distracted in TS at all... :wink:

  6. Why is that?

  7. The game is pretty notorious for not making it to the table because the downtime between turns is so long, and there is minimal interaction on other people's turns. This makes asynchronous multiplayer an all-star feature to have as you get a notification to take your turn in the 15 minutes (or hours) it takes for everyone else to perfect their turns.

    That and there is no satisfaction in defeating the AI (at least for me).

  8. With this game in particular, or in general? Most of my gameplay is solo vs ai.

  9. I find the same on your comment va Ai. Nice to beat as a personal test, but once that is done, hardly worth it. More valuable to play against people

  10. Regardless of the game, at most I'll play a couple games against the AI to get a decent handle on the rules, but it isn't too unusual for me to just play the tutorial then go straight in to multiplayer. It has resulted in some terrible tournament performances!

  11. So that was a value judgement about solo play in general and has nothing to do with this particular game.

  12. Mostly. That said, I'm not a huge multiplayer guy. My psyche can only take so much of a pounding. TtA is different...I love playing it online even though, as @Hardco can attest, I'm not any good at it. Something about the type of game it is...building a civ just seems more fun with other people.

  13. Fair enough. As someone that plays exclusively vs ai, the distinction between "playing vs others is really fun" and "playing vs ai isn't satisfying" for a given title is an important one. My most played board game on my iPad is Kingdom Builder. It has flaws, but it's very quick to play and not overly taxing while not being brainless either. I've played over 100 games. I'm sure it's better against other players, but I've certainly gotten my money's worth out of it.

  14. compatibility check warns that KB will not survive the jump to iOS 11.
    just a word of warning.

    and yes! one of the best solo games.

  15. It doesn't look like any updates on this for awhile now. Is the beta testing moving along and have you received any idea when this will finally release???

    Anxiously waiting...

  16. There have been a lot of updates to the beta test, but nothing "huge" that warranted a post. Just long, long lists of bug fixes.

    So, yes, it's still being worked on (and quite a bit considering all the bugs getting squashed). Unfortunately, I have no idea when it might actually release. They're being rather tight-lipped on anything in that regard.

  17. Thanks for the update. I wish I would have gotten in on the beta testing.

  18. Another issue is that the beta test is strictly for the online multiplayer. It's a mystery where they are at with single player.

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