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Vinci: The Rise and Fall of Civilizations
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Store:  Strategy Games
Edition:  Vinci
Genre:  Civilization Building
Format:  Board Games

Vinci: The Rise and Fall of Civilizations

2nd edition

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Product Awards:  

Ages Play Time Players
14+ 120 minutes 3-6

Designer(s): Philippe Keyaerts

Manufacturer(s): Eurogames Descartes USA

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Product Description

Game Theme
From prehistoric times through the Middle Ages, many civilizations followed one another. Through conquest, they built great empires and expanded their influence across vast areas. However, these empires would never last. As their influence and responsibility expanded, their inability to maintain control would weaken their empire. Their nation and culture would enter a period of decline. Other civilizations would move in and establish their own empires on the ruins of their predecessors. Thus humanity progressed.

Game Mechanics
Vinci invites you to become the leader of an incipient civilization. Using your civilization's different skills and attributes you attempt to build an empire. Your opponents represent the leaders of other civilizations, with skills very different from yours. You are all competing for the same resources and territory while building your empires. When your empire grows so large that your people are spread too thinly to expand the empire, you declare that empire to be entering a period of decline. Then you choose a new civilization and begin the process all over again. You earn victory points for every province that your civilizations occupy. The player who earns a predetermined number of victory points wins the game.

Game Characteristics
With easy to learn rules and beautiful game components, Vinci is a very accessible game. Each game is different from the last because the Civilization Counters offered to the players allow each civilization's characteristics to vary drastically. In order to win in the face of continually changing situations, it is necessary to be an astute strategist. Choosing the best civilization, exploiting its strengths and its weaknesses, declaring the decline of the empire at the most convenient moment are delicate decisions, and this is the challenge of Vinci. No matter what obstacles you encounter, you always remain in the race.

Product Awards

Spiel des Jahres
Nominee, 2000
Deutscher Spiele Preis
3rd place, 2000
International Gamers Awards
Best Strategy Game Nominee, 2000

Product Information


  • 150 Pawns, in 6 colors, to represent the populations of the empires
  • 6 Large Pawns, in 6 colors, to indicate the victory points of the players
  • 33 Brown Pawns to represent the population of the declining empires and fortifications
  • 45 small cardboard markers, to mark the provinces of the declining empires
  • 52 Civilization Counters to indicate the characteristics of the civilizations
  • 1 Game Board representing Europe divided into provinces
  • 1 Cloth Bag to store the Pawns
  • 1 Summary of Play sheet
  • 6 Civilization sheets
  • 1 Rule Book
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Product Reviews


Average Rating: 3.7 in 19 reviews

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Not a war game. Not really a civilization building game.
August 18, 2004

What is it? Vinci is a unique game.

It is quite abstract, although one can see the influence of Civilization in it. There is enough conflict that my wife doesn't like the game but it isn't a war game by most people's reckoning. There is little luck in Vinci, strategy is very important.

Basically, players create civilizations that have unique characteristics, but have limited units. Units of each civilization that are removed from the board due to conflict never return. As a civilization has expanded as much as it can and you have milked all the points out of it that you can you create a new civilization and do it all over again.

I like Vinci. I do agree with the most common complaint that I see. Each player's score should be hidden or have a random ending to the game, such as rolling dice as in 'I'm the Boss'. There is a 'kingmaker' problem with the game as it is. Usually the person in third or fourth place can't win but can play so that they determine the winner.

Even with that fix 4 stars would be an unlikely rating for this game for me. It is an average game. It is fun to play, but it is simply average.

Every new game is different, it's always a challenge
March 07, 2003

Vinci is my long time favourite in the class of 2 hour games.

The goal is to realize your own weakness in good time.

Everybody chooses a civilization having some advantages over the others.

Some are strong, some are small, but make a lot of money,

some just pay off because the others don't want them.

Your folks start grand and eventually they will become so weak that

it's time to give up and start with a new one.

The nice thing with this concept is that when you've completely messed up

your people, you just start over and have fun again, instead of paying for

your mistakes for the rest of the game.

Timing is everything
March 01, 2002

Vinci, believe it or not, has striking similarities with a NASCAR race. In NASCAR, the first 3/4 of the race is run only to determine who won't win. The same is true in Vinci. When a player takes too large of a lead early in the game the other players usually turn on him like an injured fish in a school of piranha. After a round there isn't much of the leader and he's off to get his next civilization. So just like a stock car race, the leader is rarely able to leave the pack behind so early that the ending is a foregone conclusion. The beauty of Vinci lies in the timing, trying to position yourself to be near the head of the pack in a strengthening position when everybody is making that last desperate push to get across the finish line. To do this requires a subtle style of gameplay that makes this game truly enjoyable. One of the better tricks is to have a civilization in play that will still score well in decline and yet be out of the way so as to be difficult to counter. A good example would be the mining tile that scores in decline. Properly placed, you may well be left alone as your rivals can neither spare the resources to dislodge you or don't want to be in your area to begin with (as in the upper right hand corner of the board). Remote locations work equally well, Iberia being a personal favorite.

Part of the charm of Vinci rests in the combination of abilities that your civilization enters the game with. There are literally hundreds of possible combinations, as each civilization is accorded two special abilities. This of course heightens the replay value as you will almost always encounter something new to tinker with. Some are simply fun to play but don't necessarily score well (such as the militaristic counters), while others can look to be dogs on the surface and yet turn out to be excellent when played properly. A recent example was a combination of astronomy and agriculture that scored in decline. The scarcity of armies didn't seem to make this civ worthwhile as it scored very slowly when entering a crowded board. However, an opponent picked this up and within three turns had counters on the farming areas of Turkey, Italy, and Spain. When she put her empire into decline she was scoring six points a turn from three remote locations, and those extra points stayed around longer than would be considered normal because no one player could take out more than one counter. An excellent combination indeed!

Another art in Vinci is knowing when to bail on a civilization. You may have a small but productive civ that still has a round of expansion left in it as two players are getting ready to enter the board. Are they eyeing the fertile plains of your territory? If so, you will almost certainly lose a turn as you get gobbled up. If not, you may maximize your scoring by delaying a round. The ability to see ahead a turn separates the planner from the reactionary, and this is a game that rewards foresight more than reflexes.

Being well positioned at the end of the game is the key of course. You must have played well enough during the game to be near the head of a usually close pack (a typical spread might be 10 points difference from first to last), and most importantly be able to crank out significant point totals each turn to carry you over the top. Finding a way to do this is what ultimately separates the winner from the pack of also-rans.

A typical game of Vinci takes between two and three hours, and I give this game four stars instead of five because of the unusually high level of Kingmaking that sometimes occurs at games end. A particularly good example was a recent game where I had shuffled to the end of the draft (to continue the racing analogy) and was clearly not going to win the game. My last civilization included revolutionaries, which allowed my civilization to percolate from anywhere on the board. The bottom line is I had to make a decision - who to take out - as scoring for me was going to be consistent wherever I came into play. Ultimately I took out the first AND second place player while finishing fourth of five. The third place player won largely on my efforts, which left a decidedly bad taste in more than one mouth. However, I have found this to be a more occasional than regular occurence overall. A good house rule that a friend suggested is to severely curtail the table talk when there are twenty points left to go in the game. Vinci is an excellent game for those who like a conflict oriented game (translate - good gamers game, poor family game) and it also has the benefit of finishing in a reasonable amount of time. If you have a regular gaming group this game may fit in your playlist well, particularly on weeknights where game length is an issue.

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