Friday, January 27, 2012

Through the Ages - Poll - Most Unpopular Leader

And we have a new poll to vote on to the right, which promises to be interesting!

Forum for this discussion is here: Most Unpopular Leader Forum Poll

The Most Unpopular Leader
This one seemed an easy one for most people.  Each of the leaders chosen scored lowest within their given Age.  The results are in and registered below:

Frederick Barbarossa is the Winner (loser?)
Frederick Barbarossa was played only 16% of the time.  The next closest leader was also from Age I: Genghis Khan (22%).

Frederick's ability grants him so great flexibility.  He can force a military arms race and outproduce anyone in military units using his decreased cost.  Furthermore, since these use civil and not military actions, his input of military cards remains constant.  This effectively permits Frederick to confront Julius Caesar on relatively even footing since increases in military units do not equate to the loss of military cards drawn for Frederick.

Frederick's ability permits him to compete with colonies, using them to replace the unit's sacrificed to gain the colony.  If Inhabited or Fertile Territories, this permits Frederick to create a "population engine" which increases further increases his military at reduced cost.

Lastly, Frederick's ability gives the player the option to forego ore production if the don't mind expending Military actions to disband military units.  This isn't particularly ideal, but it does save food in cases where a player can not get irrigation into play.
Frederick's Failings
Is Joan a deterrence?
So why is Frederick rarely chosen?  Most likely it is a combination of timing and competition.  In general, Age I leaders are played much less often then Age A, Age II and Age III leaders.  This is most likely because Age A leaders are "guaranteed".  Basically, they are available on Turn 1 and playable by Turn 2 in every game.  Players become more comfortable with understanding the Age A Leaders.

With the onset of Age II, the Age A Leaders perish and need replacing.  At this time the Age II leaders are now available and chosen as replacements.  Among the Age I Leaders, Leonardo da Vinci and Christopher Columbus are the most popular, but even they appear less often then their counterparts from other ages.  Leonardo increases science, a useful ability while granting a slight ore increase when a technology card is played.  Columbus has the shortest "Lifespan" of all leaders: coming into play one turn, using his ability to gain a territory the following turn, and promptly being replaced by an Age II leader.

I believe players do not switch leaders that often from Age A to Age I.  Christopher Columbus, Leonardo and even Michelangelo are understandable choices.  But if it were a choice between the "military" leaders of Age I (Joan of Arc, Genghis Khan), why would people choose them over Frederick?  Joan has a "deterrence" factor if attacked, but I'd gladly give a player 5 culture to destroy one of their buildings or steal their resources.  As for Genghis, his ability depends entirely on the Knights technology appearing in the card row, taking it before someone else, and then getting it into play.  I have seen games where players take the Knights soon as they appear to keep them out of the hands of the player that took Genghis.  He seems far weaker than Frederick, who is essentially a free Mine & Farm.

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