If you haven’t played Antiquity, I have tried to pull together what the game is and how it feels to play this in my review, but if you have already gone through the experience that is playing this game then here’s my thoughts on things to look out for in the game.
During the game:
Last Wood; Yes okay, you probably know this. However what strategy tips list would it be if I didn’t mention that you CANNOT give away your last wood. You will need wood for the basic production of the game and you need wood to make wood. The only way you can get by without wood is a market and a sprawling farming economy, but that is not easy!
Market Economy; Speaking of markets and economies – this is a game where you can build an excess economy in some goods in order to trade across. You can get plenty of wheat to trade for that first sheep and then start a sheep farm too. You may end up needing diversity of goods and the market can be a good way to turn a surplus into a range. I wouldn’t overuse this though because farming the land is an intensive process and trading 2:1 with game is an expensive process.
Pollution; Watch out for pollution. It will fill up your area and prevent you from building more farms or other outposts. Build over it when you can, clear it if you get the chance, but most importantly push out. If you can push the pollution out, then you can hold back some of your starting land for future farms, mines and woods. This is a useful tricky, because at some point there will be a war over the land that’s left. If the land is at the back of your area it will be much easier to win!
San Giorgio; Again it’s not earth shattering but if this is your plan then get the stables early and start placing inns. You want the stables to allow the inns to be further apart and cover more ground. If you are going to surround someone then this is absolutely critical – you will also have to go right to the back of their base!
Storage; If you are going for the resource hoarding win then the church will be your storage, but in all other cases you should really think about a late-early game storage solution (being efficient as long as you can!) and keeping that storage small. I think on average 4-6 storage will suffice and serve you well. If you can keep it to 4 then that’s more space for other buildings!
Early Church; You might hold off to see what others are doing, but I am a big fan of getting the church out early and trying to reap the bonus it offers for as much of the game as possible. Again this might sound obvious but the most common mistake for new players is to not focus on the win condition, and instead to have an expanding and sustainable economy (this is not always necessary!).
Late Church; If you are going to late church then you have probably been building to one strategy already but now need to commit and scale quickly or take another route if it has become impossible. I would say this could apply to San Giorgio most as that extra fish may not be needed early game and it may turn out to be quite hard to get in through one player’s territory.
Second City, University; Again I am a big fan of universities in the second city – especially if you don’t have vast numbers of people yet. Get the second city going and use the excess stone from the mine to build faculties that work for your strategy. Building the university means you can do it all with just one meeple. However, don’t waste the whole town to this; 2 in combination are powerful and perhaps a third an wait to you have more people / third town, but I would be very cautious on building all four. This again pushes to a sustainable economy but one that may have lost from others rushing to the finish.
Early Cart; Well known but important. 2-3 carts in your first turn and then topping up to 3 by turn 3 is likely necessary. The first 2 will be your woodcutter and your fisherman most likely but continuing to press on the growth strategy is important.
Block Pollution; The dump prevents others from pushing pollution on to you – this is a good defense strategy for most players, but can be turned into an attack. If you push into their zone of control you can force the pollution right back to their home and perhaps even to a point that they cannot play any pollution. This will unwind their economy very quickly!
Hospitals; I don’t use them a lot, but they come in handy when I have a food short economy and I need to accept a number of graves per turn. There is a long time that this will just clear out all the graves that come in. Also, you don’t have to predict this, you can be responsive as the famine is a gradual build up.
D; This is a critical point – make sure you are either diversifying, building a market or getting rid of the requirement for different goods. If you get rid of it, then you can farm a singular good frantically. Otherwise, you need to keep lots of farms of different types going and never lose the seed!
Exploration; This is how you gain seeds, but with biology and the market you won’t need to do too much. Probably 2 explorations are worth it (1 if you are being very efficient). I have tended to find the third less helpful and the fourth never pays off. Why? Because the bonus is not worth the increasing famine. Every level is compounding for the rest of the game – an early increase of one is one per turn for 10+ turns. That’s a lot of famine!