Monday, February 20, 2012

Through The Ages - Card - Taj Mahal

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This is a series of blogs written about each card in Through The Ages.  To find more, simply click on "Cards" label.
Taj Mahal
Built in honor of Mumtaz Mahal, third wife of Shah Jahan, the Taj Mahal of Agra stands as a beautiful monument to this day.  At the age of 14 Shah Jahan met and fell in love with Arjumand Banu Begum (changed to Mumtaz Mahal after marriage).  It would be 5 years before they were married in 1612.  During her marriage she birthed 14 children to Shah Jahan, the last one being the cause of her death in 1631.

Long the favorite of Shah Jahan, he wanted to do something to commemorate her.  The crowning achievement of his devotion would become the Taj Mahal.  Construction started the year of her death in 1631, but it took 22 years, 22,000 laborers, and  to complete.  Shortly after its completion Shah Jahan was deposed.  Upon his death Shah Jahan was entombed in the Taj Mahal along with the remains of his wife.

The Taj Mahal we see today is now a mixture of Western and Eastern styles.  Over time the semi-precious stones and gems inlaid were stolen and sold.  In the 19th century the British Viceroy Lord Curzon began the restoration of the Taj Mahal.  The building architecture remains of Indian influence, but the grounds around it follow British designs.
Game Stats
At 39 culture, the Taj Mahal represents the wonder which produces the greatest amount of culture during play.  As seen in our previous article (Culture: Wonders), the Taj Mahal's minimum seen culture generation exceeds that of 7 other Wonders.  Additionally, the average Taj Mahal culture generation beats the maximum culture generation of all but 2 other wonders: Eiffel Tower and First Space Flight.

Despite this, the Taj Mahal remains an unpopular choice.  This is because the Taj Mahal does not provide any economic benefit.  Unlike the other wonders, it is difficult to make assumptions about the Taj Mahal because of the few times it is played.  If constructed, the Taj Mahal provides a great culture generation system, particularly if it arrives early.
Strategies, Combos and Opinions
Culture Generation
If going for a Culture Generation method, the Taj Mahal should be considered as an important piece of this strategy.  For its cost, the Taj Mahal provides an excellent return.  To generate similar culture would require the Theatre building: Opera.  Opera costs 7 science and 9 resources.  For this extra cost, the Opera will provide a single Happiness.
Because of its singular focus on culture generation, the Taj Mahal does not combine well with other cards.
My opinion on the Taj Mahal is mixed.  Should the Taj Mahal appears early and the player has excess resources, I believe it is a great investment.  If building the Taj Mahal, the player needs to be sure to focus on other aspects of the economy: such as science buildings, and religious buildings for Happiness. Military strength becomes important because many events impact the player with the greatest culture, and the Taj Mahal ensures the player will be towards the top of the culture generation.

The Taj Mahal is one of two Wonders which suffer a penalty from Ravages of Time.  Ravages of Time destroys an Age A or Age I wonder's normal benefit and generates 2 culture per turn for the remainder of the game.  For most other wonders there is a trade off, loss of an ability to gain an increase of 1 culture per turn.  The Taj Mahal experiences a pure loss of culture.

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