Allan Jiang was the winner once again at this year’s tournament, but the big news was a desire by players to play the digital version of the game. When our 12 Heat winners gathered for the Semifinal, every single one expressed a preference for playing the game virtually (using their own phone or tablet to access the app that all 12 of us already owned). Through The Ages can be a bit “fiddly” when you play the physical version – there’s lots of cubes to move around every turn on your player board to track production and population, plus there’s half a dozen general tracks that get updated each turn as well. The app does all of this for you which means 1) no mistakes, 2) faster games and 3) more brain cycles for thinking about the interesting parts of the game. That first one is the big one and the chance to eliminate all potential game state errors meant we played both the Semifinal and the Final through the app (while still sitting around a table and enjoying all the camaraderie of tabletop gaming, of course).
GM Randy Buehler was the only double-winner at the Heat stage (though he was also the only Heat 1 winner who bothered to play Heat 2). His Semifinal win gave him his 10th final table in 11 years of competition, and assured he’d hold on to the lifetime laurels lead for a little while longer. However, he hasn’t actually won the event since 2012.
Allan Jiang has been rocketing up those lifetime standings, staking a claim to 2nd by winning the event at 2 of the last 3 WBC’s as well as the 2019 PBEM tournament. Ryan Feathers and Nate Heiss rounded out the Final, with Nate’s Semifinal win coming by just a single point over 2019 Final competitor Michael Thiessen.
Randy suffered some brutal luck early as he could not find a wonder to spend his Age A Engineering Genius on, or to pair with Homer. Instead, both just evaporated at the end of Age 1. Of course, as with most “bad beats” in this game, there was a way to play around it: spending 3 actions for Great Wall would have been expensive (and led to corruption that turn), but in retrospect was probably the right play. Instead, Ryan took the Great Wall and used it to great effect, holding the strength lead through most of the game.
Things took a turn for the weird for Nate late in Age 1. Under pressure to build military strength but also desiring to build infrastructure, he took advantage of Jan Zizka (who lets your farmers count toward tactics) and built 4 total farmers in order to turn on two Legions. It looked unusual (because it is unusual), but it worked out pretty well. In Age 2 Nate switched to a Defensive Army tactic using the same Zizka-fueled farmers to form two, though this time around the table consensus seemed to be that playing that Defensive Army helped out Ryan (and his Great Wall) more than Nate and so switching for just +2 strength was probably a mistake.
Allan and Ryan had played a lot of online games together during the pandemic and seemed to know each other’s games well. Ryan was doing a lot of what AJ normally does so AJ, playing right after him, had to zag into some lesser-used strategies, including Theocracy as his Age 1 government, Drama as his happiness building, and a Silk Road that he extracted tremendous value from via yellow cards. Things looked potentially dicey in Age 2 as AJ was the only one without a Cannon, and thus couldn’t use that Defensive Army tactic, but Transcontinental Railroad helped him stay around 2nd in strength.
Ryan took Napoleon as his Age 2 leader and then pointed a War over Territory at Nate, which netted him 2 bonus yellow beads and he was also able to Raid Nate for extra rocks on the next turn as well. Nate continued to function as “the bank” for a few rounds, with anyone who could find an aggression getting to withdraw some of his resources. Ryan had an overwhelming military lead at this point in the game (early Age 3), but he could only find a pair of Infiltrates.
AJ, having found a Shock Troops to use as his cav-based tactic, was the first one to find a War Over Culture to point at Nate. Down by 31 strength a lot of folks would have withdrawn from the game in Nate’s spot, but he did not think his chances of a non-last finish were down to 0% yet (plus he blamed Ryan for his demise more than AJ) so he took the war on the chin and AJ stole 29 culture from him. The ensuing orbit went Raid, Armed Intervention and then AJ built up to 78 strength and pointed a 2nd War Over Culture at him. This time Nate resigned.
With all 3 remaining players at 70+ strength the military portion of the game was over and things came down to a race to build culture. Randy recovered nicely from his early bad luck and built a good culture engine with Eiffel Tower and 2 Operas supplemented first by Bach and later by Marlene Dietrich. Meanwhile Ryan used Einstein and the Nobel Prize to pick up his culture 3 and 4 at a time. He also built International Red Cross for a nice burst toward the end. AJ, meanwhile, had both a culture engine (12 per turn stitched together via Drama, Marie Curie, and his wonders) and also benefitted the most of the collapse of Nate’s civilization.
One all the dust had settled the final scores were AJ – 160, Ryan – 142, Randy – 135, and Nate – Resigned.
Congratulations to Allan Jiang, the first 3-time champion of Through The Ages!
|Semifinals in Laurel.
|Champion Allan Jaing in Semifinal action.
|Runner-up Ryan Feathers in Semifinal game.
|Finalists including GM Randy Buehler.
| Randy Buehler [10th Year]