Thursday, December 29, 2011

Through The Ages - Wonders - Age A - Pyramids

If you like this series of articles, please rate this in your favorite social media forum ("like" it, +1, or just share with friends).  This is the first in a series of articles examining specific cards in Through the Ages. I have separated these topics out into a distinct section of the forum, located here:

Pyramids seems like a simple "no brainer" at first glance.  It grants an additional Civil Action for 6 resources and 4 actions.  In short, it pays for itself in three turns.  Furthermore, it is available at the beginning of the game.   What nation couldn't use an additional Civil Action?   Amazingly, the Pyramids may not be all the Wonder they seem to be.
Hidden Cost
Pyramids have a hidden cost associated with them, one most people (including myself), often oversee.  The cost is related to this section of the rules:

"The cost to take a Wonder card is increased by 1 Civil Action for every Wonder you already have built."

Basically, if planning on taking a wonder after Pyramids, the building of Pyramids increases the cost of that Wonder by an additional 1 Civil Action.  This
cost should be factored into the Pyramids return diagram. 
Pyramids Return Diagram
Code of Laws
Same effect in exchange for 6 Science and two actions.  COL is potentially available later than Pyramids, but its ROI is quicker given only two actions are required to bring it into play.
Government - Even With Revolution (except Theocracy)
Instead of viewing Pyramids as a Wonder, view it as a Government undergoing Revolution from Despotism.  Effectively, this is what Pyramids provides: Five actions and six ore to gain 1 Civil Action per turn (reality is, everyone wants at least 2 Wonders, so it will cost 5 actions).

Using just 3 science the same can be achieved by taking Monarchy and undergo Revolution: loss of 5 actions to gain 1 Civil Action per turn.  Plus, Monarchy grants one Military Action and an additional urban build.  This is not to say I recommend revolution to change to Monarchy, just it is a fair comparison to Pyramids.  This argument can stand up against any other non-Theocracy government just as effectively.
My Verdict
Overall, I believe Pyramids is overrated.  It does not provide as much bang for its buck as originally anticipated.  Plus, there is the opportunity cost of having a different Wonder show up in the card row but not being able to take it because Pyramids is not yet completed.  Lastly, what else could be accomplished with those 4 actions and 6 ore?

This is equivalent to:
  • 3 Farms and/or Mines
  • Or perhaps
    • This sets up the economy for the long haul.
  • 1 Philosophy and 1 Religion
    • Religion is often handled through the event "Development of Religion", but if DoR does not come up or is a late arrival, this can quickly generate the happiness and culture for a start.
    • Increasing Science a turn earlier means faster response to many of the cards which come up (such as Code of Laws)  
If I did build the Pyramids, I think it would make a great target for the Ravages of Time Event.  Turning 1 Civil Action into 2 Culture per turn.  This is a great trade since the actual ratio of civil action-to-culture score does not calculate out that high normally (roughly: 1 Civil Action = 1.45 Culture, read this to see how this is calculated).

I believe there are far better options available than the Pyramids.

I'm interested in hearing others opinions and comments on Pyramids, please leave them below or discuss at the forum.
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