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Monday, March 12, 2012

Through The Ages - Card - St Peter's Basilica

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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.
St. Peter's Basilica
History
Good Culture, Reasonable Cost
Awesome Ability
Unlike the majority of Age I and Age A wonders, records on St. Peter's Basilica are fairly well kept.  From these records we can see construction of the current Basilica began in April 1506, but it began in 324 when the Roman Emperor Constantine I ordered a church built over the grave of the catholic Saint Peter.  After 1200 years of use, it was decided to build an even grander structure, one that required over 120 years to construct.

St. Peter's Basilica is the largest church in Christendom and much of its architecture influenced later churches in the Western world.  The building is 730 feet (220 m) long by 500 feet (150 m) wide.  It rises 452 feet (138 M).  The dome of the basilica is its most notable feature, being visible throughout much of the city of Rome.  Since St. Peter's Basilica is not the seat of a bishop it is not a cathedral, though it is not uncommon for it to be referred to by that term.

The construction of St. Peter's Basilica required massive funding.  To pay for it the Catholic church began selling indulgences, one of the items which became a major point in the development of Luther's 95 Theses which started the Protestant reformation.

Designed and constructed by dozens of renaissance artists, including Michelangelo, the Basilica still stands today.  It has undergone various restorations and modifications to preserve the building.  It stands as testament of the beauty of human art and an example of the majesty of human engineering.
Game Stats
St. Peter's Basilica has great statistics and an even better ability.  With a cost of 8 and requiring only 2 actions to construct, St. Peter's remains affordable and inexpensive.  However, the greatest benefit may come from its ability: "Every Happy Face counts twice".  With this building constructed a player can almost effectively remove Unhappiness and discontent as an issue for their civilization.
Strategies, Combos and Opinions
Strategies
Culture Generation
St. Peter's provides 2 culture per turn, a not insignificant amount of culture gain when viewed from a pure culture perspective.  St. Peter's Basilica provides a nice increase in culture at end of game scoring from the Final Impact cards.
Production Engine
The advantage of St. Peter's Basilica for a production strategy is it frees up workers.  Here it is the savings the player experiences which will make up the benefit of St. Peters Basilica.  First, there is the fact the player will need fewer Religious and Drama buildings to maintain happiness.
Combinations
Hanging Gardens
Hanging Gardens provides 2 Happy faces.  With St. Peter's Basilica, this increases to 4 Happy Faces.  Although one or the other usually becomes the target of a Ravages of Time, this combination is the easiest for even beginning players to see.
w/St Peters Basilica: a
culture machine
Michelangelo
Michelangelo is another obvious combination with St. Peter's Basilica.  Effectively, Michelangelo and St. Peter's Basilica will turn a basic Religious building into a major Culture generating event.  Unfortunately, Michelangelo is an Age I leader and so will die when Age III starts.
Michelangelo and Hanging Gardens
No worries about
Happiness
Requiring a total of 14 culture and 9 actions, these three cards are the trifecta of culture generation.  The player completing these three cards will bring the player 7 culture per turn by themselves.  Fortunately for other players it takes some time to put all the pieces in play, but even so an "average" run of 9 turns would generate a whopping 63 culture by themselves.  Usually this player needs to concentrate on military matters to balance this out, but simply put this combination is known for generating enormous culture.
Theocracy
Theocracy and St. Peter's Basilica is, I believe, an oft overlooked combination.  There are many advantages to this combination.  First, Theocracy is the cheapest government to learn, giving the player quick access to constructing 3 urban buildings at low expense.  Secondly, Theocracy provides 2 happiness, which becomes 4 when combined with St. Peter's Basilica.  Although there may be a lack of Civil Actions at first, a Code of Laws can quickly balance it out.
My choice for most
underused combination
with St. Peters Basilica
Kremlin
Special note of the Kremlin needs to be made with regards to St. Peter's Basilica.  The Kremlin decreases happiness when it is built, though it provides other obvious benefits (+1 Civil Action/Military Action, culture gain, etc.).  It is important to note that St. Peter's Basilica does NOT modify the Kremlin's negative happiness.  Thus, having the Basilica in play should make the Kremlin more attractive as building the Kremlin still results in a a loss of only 1 happiness, but this is easily offset by the Basilica.
Historic Territories I & II
Each of the Historic Territories combines great with St. Peter's Basilica as it doubles the Happiness benefit of the territories.  With both Historic Territories in play Happiness issues should never occur, though getting both may be a bit dangerous given the cost in military unit.  However, even if lost, it cost the other player military units to get them.
Opinions
4 Culture, no population
but the cost is variable
I will admit it: St. Peter's Basilica is my favorite Wonder of them all.  If I could only construct one Wonder in a game, this would be it.  When constructed I can focus on increasing my military, directing most of my workers towards becoming the strongest nation on the block.  I use this military to defend myself from attack, and take Michelangelo if I'm able, or I seed the deck with Territories with the intent to outbid the other players.

Another favorite option of mine with St Peter's Basilica is making Theocracy my government type.  It requires I spend additional science learning civil technologies, but with the science saved from Theocracy and without a happiness problem, it about breaks even science wise.  Furthermore, Theocracy grants me the ability to build 3 lab buildings.  If I manage to get Alchemy in there, I am soon generating 6 science/turn without even trying.  Usually in this case I do not aim to lead in military, but to merely come in a close second.  This prevents players for attacking me militarily, and it yields a bit of flexibility in my plans.  My nation upgrades and learns technologies rapidly.

I believe St. Peter's Basilica provides the greatest benefit of all other Wonders out there.  It combines well  with more cards than any other Wonder, and it provides great flexibility since the player can concentrate on other aspects of the nation.  My biggest issue becomes generating enough food to get the population in play.  But usually I have more population than other players by this time, so it is a good position to be sitting.
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