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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Through the Ages - Card Review - Library of Alexandria


Forum Entry for this card is located here: Library of Alexandria Forum
This is a series of blogs written about each card in Through The Ages.  To find more, simply click on "Cards" label.
Library of Alexandria
History
Egypt - Home of Pharaohs,
Pyramids, and
 centers of learning
The Library of Alexandria is the second Wonder to come from Ancient Egypt, the other being Pyramids.  The Great Library of Alexandria was the largest collection of knowledge of its time, consisting of close to half a million parchments from Assyria, India, Greece, Persia and others.  With a staff of 100, the Library was a largest place of education in the Ancient world, having been formed around 283 BC.

The destruction of the library is blamed on many people.  Julius Caesar used fire ships against an Egyptian Fleet led by Pompey.  Flames may have spread and burned part of the city, and possibly the library.  Christians may have destroyed part of the library when the Temple of Serapis was converted to an Christian Church.  Later, rioting involving by Jews, Pagans and Christians may have destroyed more of the library.  Lastly, Moslems captured the city in 640 AD and the city was sacked, with ancient documents put to the torch.  Reality may differ, though most likely some share of the blame for its destruction belongs to each of the above...and others unknown.
Game Stats
The stats for the Library appear decent, if not exceptional.  Like the Colossus, the Library provides an average of 18 culture.  Looking at the Build-to-Final-Position the Library shows no major advantages to coming first.  If anything, the Library does improve odds of coming in second. The pie chart for this data is shown below:
Strategies, Combos and Opinions
Strategies
Science: The Library forms a strong addition for starting a science strategy.  Unfortunately, the Library is subject to Ravages of Time, and has the highest Action cost of all Age A wonders.  Building the Library leads to a greatly reduced economic and military engine.  Ideally this would be offset by the ability to learn technologies quicker than opponents, but this may not be the case.

Denial: The library increases the hand size of its owner for both Civil and Military cards.  This benefit makes a 'denial' strategy somewhat less expensive in terms of holding card which may not be used.  However, it does not provide the player any additional actions to either take the civil card before another player, or increase the odds of drawing the desired military card.
Combinations
The Library, like the other pure science wonder, Universitas Carolinas, has no card combinations.
Opinions

Cheaper
Library of Alexandria?
I believe the appeal of the Library is it represents a constant stream of science, which is critical to many other strategies.  Unfortunately, there are many other ways to generate the same or more culture for cheaper costs.  The Printing Press is a direct replacement requiring 3 science, 4 ore, and 3 actions.  This is significantly cheaper the Library and provides 3 additional actions to improve the economy.

Perhaps the greatest argument against the Library is the other science wonder: Universitas Carolinas (UC).  UC requires 1 fewer action, 3 additional ore, and provides 1 additional science per turn.  As we will see in a future article, UC has much better success rate for being built and providing a return.

What thoughts does everyone else have on Library of Alexandria?  Is there something I've missed or do you have another theory about why the Library, one of the most popular of all Wonders, has such a poor rate of converting to first place wins.
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