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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Through The Ages - Card - Christopher Columbus

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

History
Christofor Columbo, as his name is spelled in his Italian, was born in the City-State of Genoa (a city with enough history to fill several books!) in 1451.  He grew up in a middle class family.  His father owned many businesses from cheese shops to wool weaving to a tavern.  In his own words Christopher states he went to sea at the age of 10, which cannot be confirmed.  What is know is by 1470 he set sail as a trader.  For the next 2 decades he traveled the Atlantic Ocean making stops throughout Europe and Africa.

Columbus could read and write well, and his numerals were good.  But for the most part, he was self-educated.  He read books about astronomy, religious texts, classical sciences.  He learned to speak and read Latin among other languages.  These teachings both helped and hindered him.

Like most people of his time, he knew the world was round.  It is a misconception people of the time believed the world was flat.  However, he greatly underestimated the size of the world in his calculations, believing it to be roughly about 3/4 it's actual size.  Furthermore, his understanding of Asian geography was limited.  In any case, he convinced himself it was possible to sail to China, or at least Japan (from which he could resupply and sail on to China).  All he needed was a sponsor.

Columbus first approached the King of Portugal with his idea.  Unfortunately for him the timing for his idea was off as a competitor finally rounded the Cape of Good Hope of Africa.  He then asked for help from Genoa, Venice, and England.  All of which refused the challenge.  In 1489 he finally met with marginal success in Spain and, by 1492, was the Spanish Crown sanctioned a fleet of three ships: Santa Maria, Pinta, and Santa Clara.  Against all expectations by his sponsors and the learned men of the time, Columbus returned 8 months later with exotic plants and several natives.

Columbus was hailed as a hero.  He returned to the "New World" two more times.  He was granted title as Governor in the New World and he brought his brothers to help him.  However, he ruled tyrannically over his peoples and, in 1500 was arrested by Spanish authorities and returned to Spain.  For two years he fought in legal courts, finally being released in 1502.  He lost his titles and many of his rights, but was granted funds for a fourth voyage.  This voyage ended badly with his return in November of 1504.  Columbus died a a little over a year later on May 20, 1506 in Valladolid, Spain.

Columbus was arguably not the first to discover the "New World", but Columbus was the first to prove travel across the Atlantic Ocean was possible.  Furthermore, he inspired all of Europe to a new level of industry.  Bigger ships were necessary to traverse the ocean safely.  Colonies were established far across the ocean, and trade flourished.  Along with the positive came devastation and conquest of the people native to the area.
Game Stats
Columbus is an amazingly popular leader with a unique attribute: the shortest "lifespan" in the game.  Typically, the card comes into play and his ability used the following turn.  Normally Columbus is replaced as soon as possible with an Age II leader. All of this indicates Columbus usefulness is entirely in his one shot ability. Once used, he is easily expendable.
Opinions
"Historic" territories are the two I do
NOT recommend using Columbus ability on!
Keep to Economics
(Food, Ore or even Military)
Columbus is a highly useful card and well worth the two actions necessary to take him and play him.  For those two actions the player not only gets a territory from their hand, but does so at No Expense!  First, there is no bidding with the other players, it is just played.  Second, the player does not have to sacrifice any military units, meaning no loss of military strength or cost to rebuild.  Columbus is pure economic gain!

The only real "danger" is if the player does not draw a territory card.  Thus, the only reason for playing Christopher Columbus from the player's hand is if the player draws a territory card.  He is well worth putting into one's hand for one action and holding him until the last moment.

Given the relative inadequacy of other Age I leaders, Christopher is surprisingly useful!  His odds play out favorably, especially when compared to other Age I leaders.  Only Leonardo DaVinci comes close to Columbus' first place wins, although Columbus wins just barely.

Christopher Columbus falls behind statistically of three other leaders from Age A: Aristotle, Moses, and Caesar.  Of them, only Caesar has a truly strong correlation with winning.  Still, I would encourage all players to pick Columbus as an Age I leader, use his ability as late as possible in Age I, and then replace him with a new Age II leader as quick as possible.  For one action, Columbus is well worth the cost!
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