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During your turn, you may spend your actions points to:
- pick cards from the card rows (if you have room in your hand)
- Wonders cost an additional civil action for each wonder you have finished
- play cards to your tableau
- increase your population
- build/upgrade farms, mines, or urban buildings
- build/upgrade military units
- Play tactics cards to increase your military strength. As long as all units contributing to the tactics card are within one age of the card, you get the greater of the two values.
Yellow counters represent your population. They can be in one of three places:
- on the cards on your tableau
- on your available worker pool
- on your "yellow bank" -- when this is empty, you can no longer increase your available population
Blue counters represent food or resources. They can be in three places:
- on your farms or mines
- on your "blue bank" -- when this is empty, you can no longer produce food or resources
- on your wonder, marking how far along it's construction is
Building up your civilisation:
- Food lets you move workers from your yellow bank to your available worker pool.
- Resources let you move workers from your available worker pool to a card on your tableau.
- Science (light bulbs) lets you move cards from your hand to your tableau.
- When your population grows, you will need to produce more happiness or your workers will stop working.
- Producing culture will earn you victory points.
- Producing more military strength will protect you from raids or wars.
There are 3 versions of Through the Ages:
- Simple plays through Age I
- Advanced plays through Age II, and introduces political actions (colonies and raids), unhappiness, and corruption
- Complete plays through Age III, and introduces wars
In the Simple and Advanced versions, the game ends immediately when there are no more cards to replenish the deck and both players have played an equal number of turns.
In the Advanced and Complete games, additional points are scored at the end of the game according to special event cards. But at the end of the Simple game, additional points are scored the same way every game:
- 2 culture scored per 1 Strength (military)
- 2 culture scored per Happy Face
- 2 culture scored per level 1 technology in play
- 1 culture scored per food or resource production per turn
- 1 culture scored per 1 Science Rating (science gained per turn)