Sunday, March 25, 2012

Through The Ages - Card - Winston Churchill

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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.

Recently I received the following comment from an anonymous user in response to the "Strategy Science" article:

"Have you considered Churchill as a Science Leader? "

I'll be honest, no I had not.  So, this week I'm dedicating the article to my anonymous user and we will investigate Winston Churchill.

Winston Churchill

"If Hitler invaded Hell, I would at least make a favourable reference to the Devil in the House of Commons." -- Winston Churchill, 1941


Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill (30 November 1874 - 24 January 1965) is considered one of the greatest war time leaders of the 20th Century.  Born into the family of the Dukes of Marlborough, Winston Churchill is of both English descent on his Father's side, and of American descent on his Mother's side.  His Mother was considered one of the most beautiful women of her time.  As was the custom, Winston was raised by nannies and did not play a large role in his early life.  However, they later became good friends and political allies.

Young Winston suffered from a severe stutter which struggled diligently to overcome, through carefully prepared speeches and even prosthetic dentures.  Churchill entered the Royal Military College in 1893, though it took him 3 tries before he passed the exam.  He chose to enter the cavalry specifically because it had lower grade requirements and he would not need to take mathematics.  Despite his father's wishes he remained in the cavalry and did not transfer to the infantry.

From 1895 to 1899 he distinguished himself in many engagements from Cuba to India.  It was his escape from a Boer prison camp which launched him into politics.  In the 1930s he denounced the rise of the NAZI party in Germany.  After many trials and tribulations, Churchill would go on to lead his nation through its darkest days of World War II by serving two terms as Prime Minister.  Winston Churchill's speeches and adroit statesmanship would become critical to bringing the United States into the war and defeating fascism in Europe.

Winston Churchill was a man known for having strong convictions.  He was vapid anti-fascist and a staunch anti-communist.  However, even he knew when to choose the lesser of two evils and he could find the words to say it in such a way it sounded both logical and intelligent without contradicting himself.  

Winston Churchill suffered from severe health problems.  As early as 1941 he had a heart attack.  In 1943 he contracted pneumonia.  Despite these conditions he stalwartly led his country through the war years.  On January 15, 1965 he suffered a stroke, and nine days later he passed away.  The legacy of Winston Churchill lives on in the world which took shape after WWII.  He was a noted author, journalist, statesman, and leader.  Without him it is questionable who would have stepped up to save Great Britain from the despairing days of WWII.

Game Stats
Through The Ages represents Winston Churchill as an Age III Leader with some impressive abilities, all military related.  His defensive capabilities permit him to either quickly build an army in response to declarations of Wars, or make him unassailable to Aggression cards with Defense cards.  At best, these abilities make him a deterrent to being attacked.

From a Science perspective, Churchill reduces the cost of military cards (red unit cards) by 3 science.  Although limited to just military cards, this effectively makes Winston Churchill a "Science Leader", albeit one with limited focus.

Winston's war time abilities are only useful if a war is declared on the player with Winston Churchill.  Thus, Winston's abilities do not apply if Winston declares a War on another player.  There are a few great times to play Winston, and a few "gotchas" to be careful of:

Surprise Winston
The Turn immediately after someone declares War on you, play Winston.  Yes, they should have seen it coming if you took Winston Churchill, but for 2 or 3 actions to play, Winston can really boost the military strength.

Attacking with Winston
If possible, Declare War against a player the turn after a player declares a War on you.  Since Winston is in play and a War has been played against you, the reduced costs apply for this turn.  This can greatly increase the military strength to overcome your own War card.

Upgrading Military Units
Winston's ability only works with "New Units", not existing units.  Thus, he provides no resource benefit when upgrading a military unit.  If Winston is in hand, but not played, it may be worthwhile to wait a turn rather than build military units immediately.  This would save some resources, though it would leave vulnerabilities to Aggression cards for a round.

Winston Churchill is a great card for deterring the military attacks.  He obviously combines well with Military Technology based cards, but this is limited by his late arrival of Turn 17.  In absolutely ideal scenario, Churchill would bring in Military Technology cards from Age II and Age III, 7 cards total.  This represents a maximum potential savings of 21 science points.

In reality, Winston Churchill was observed to see a maximum gain of 12 Science.  Players only learned military technologies in 29 of the 42 games where he made an appearance.  This comes to an average of just over 1 Science point savings per game that Winston appears.  If planning to use Winston as a science leader, some preparation needs to be applied.

So, does Winston Churchill count as a Science leader?  I have to answer 'Yes'.  Properly applied he can generate a significant amount of science.  However, like many cards, if it is not properly planned his science abilities will fail.
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