Saturday, January 5, 2013

Through The Ages - Card: Ocean Liner Service

This is a series of blogs written about each card in Through The Ages.  To find more, simply click on "Cards" label.

Ocean Liner Service

Ocean Liner Service is the first "transportation related" wonder.  Today, it may not seem much of a "wonder".  But in the context of time Ocean Liner Service had a tremendous impact globally.

Prior to the 1800s, nations grew only conquering neighbors or having children.  The ability to expand was limited.  Even during the "Age of Exploration", from the 1500s to the 1800s, travel via wooden ships was hazardous.  "Colonies" were founded with less than 100 people.

With the advent of powered ocean travel and metal hulls, Ocean Liner Service changed the ability to transport people safely and quickly.  Many of the American Population Booms were the result of people fleeting some national or economic tragedy.

From the discovery of the Americas in 1492 to the 1840s, fewer than 1 Million people traveled across the Atlantic Ocean to settle.  From the 1840s to mid-1930s, over 36 Million people made the same voyage.  Despite its "mundane" appearance, the impact on the population shift from the Old World to the New was dramatic.

During World War II many of the Ocean Liners were pressed into military service, pushing soldiers from the Americas back to Europe.  Many liners did not survive.  After World War II the Ocean Liner Services found themselves displaced by a new mode of travel: Airlines.  By early 1960's, the last Ocean Liners were built.  Today, only one Ocean Liner remains in active service: the Queen Mary II.

Game Stats
Despite an interesting history, Ocean Liner Service is completely Lackluster in its value to players in Through The Ages.  The benefits of Ocean Liner Service is simply the discount on food production, which permits the player to gain population easily.  It is, almost, a free civil action, but only for increasing population.  Many people find this benefit to be unwarranted for the cost, particularly in Actions.  Requiring 5 actions and 12 resources, it is an expensive investment for little return.  Yes, population is nice, but along with it comes the necessity to feed the people in the first place or suffer Civil Revolt.
Strategies, Combos and Opinions
If a player needs population, Ocean Liner Service would provide the needed boost.

Given its very focused ability, Ocean Liner Service has no good combinations.

By the time Ocean Liner Service arrives, most people will have their population well allocated.  Farms should be in full production, and Farm technology cards would more efficiently provide the same type of benefit for roughly the same action cost.  Consider, the player taking OLS must spend 6 total actions (minimum) to take and build.  If it is completed on Turn 14, as Age II wonders usually do, then the player will be able to use it 6 times.  Action wise it breaks even, but the loss of 12 resources to this would be hard to justify.

In conclusion, OSL is mostly a filler.  Other Wonders are much more appealing.  Why OSL isn't dead last on the list, I'm not sure.  There may be in game situations which justify it, but they do not readily appear from this analysis.
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