I was asked the other evening, during a game of the painfully tedious Cavum, whether I'd ever played Through the Ages. No, I haven't, and I don't intend to, but I decided to do some investigation to solidify my reasons. The first thing I discovered was that I totally had it confused with Age of Empires III, an Ameritrash game I have no interest in whatsoever. So, I had even more reason to do the research.
The first place to look is the number of players and playing time. It's 2-4 players, which sounds reasonable. A minimum of 2 players suggests to me that it's not a negotiation game, which is good news to me. A maximum of 4 means that I'll only be waiting for 3 other players between my turns. However the playing time is 4 hours. This rings an alarm bell - what the hell is happening for 4 hours? I don't like long games, so at this point I'm looking for clues that I'll dislike Through the Ages for the same reason as I'll dislike other long games, so I go to the last pages of the user comments.
Miklos Kuti says "3 player game, from start to finish with rules explanation took 7 hours". OK, I've already decided I will never ever play this game. Chris Farrell (who is not me) says "This is a totally linear game in which all you can do when it's not your turn is sit around and wait. There is no player interaction to speak of. And that downtime can get extreme, especially late when players have many actions." Chris Darden says : "It's like Race for the Galaxy except not as elegant, the turns take 10x longer, and you can target specific people to hurt their progress. Not only can you target people, but the opportunity exists to dogpile on people (with person after person attacking the same player on the same turn). This will not only take the leader down a notch, but knock him out for a good, long time."
Oh good, so there's screwage as well! There's nothing that makes me more miserable than concentrating on a game for hours to then be screwed over by some jealous arsehole. Maybe next time they make their bed I could come shit in it... it is completely beyond me what's fun about a game like that. So, the only way I'll be playing Through the Ages is posthumously. I guess that means CyberKev will have to organise the time and place...