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Expansion to Civilization.
Civilization and Advanced Civilization is a game that seperates true, hardcore, gamers from those that grew up on card and computer games. If you're looking for a game that's enjoyable, but takes awhile to play, Civilization is for you.
You start off with one population token on the edge of the board. You then have to build your civilization to become the mightiest of all civilizations, or at least those in the game. How do you do this? By utilizing trade, diplomacy, stratagy, and occassionally war, of course! Trading is the most important part of the game. It's more than just collecting cards. It's about trying to get enough points to get advances that will allow you to reduce the effects of the calamities that are bound to befall you. But watch out, some advances, while helping you, will actually agrivate the effects of other calamities.
Even when you're not moving your pieces or trading, though, you're still involved. As turn order is fixed, you need to constantly watch what your neighbors are doing, and plan for your next turn. You also need to make decisions. Would Metal Working be better to get next turn, or would Music be of more use? Better yet, which ones can you afford?
You also need to watch out for those calamities. Since you can only be affected by two a turn, if you hold two, it might just be worth it to trade for calamities if you hold two bad ones with no defence. The two are chosen randomly. Who wouldn't rather suffer the effects of Trechery and Superstition, rather than Civil War and Barbarian Hordes? Crete has a slight advantage here, as the Barbarian Hordes have no effect on them.
This game does take awhile to play. A typical game can last 10-12 hours, or more if it's someone's first time playing. It's easy to get the hang of it, though, and generally can go pretty fast early on.
Overall, I'd have to say this is the best game ever created. I don't know how anything could possibly be better.
In the beginning, I learned to play [page scan/se=0033/sf=category/fi=stockall.asc/ml=20]Risk. Then I learned [page scan/se=0431/sf=category/fi=stockall.asc/ml=20]Axis & Allies, which was so rich and complex that I couldn't stand Risk anymore. Then I learned Diplomacy, which introduced interpersonal relations when Axis got too predictable. Then I learned Civilization, which, over a decade later, remains my favorite strategy game of all time.
What makes Civ so excellent is its de-emphasis on warfare. In Civ, war will kill you, as a number of persons in my gaming group who were raised on Axis learned to their detriment. The object is not to kill your neighbors, for that will drain people away from the cities you must build as quickly as possible.
In Civ, you must quickly establish a core territory with a good balance of city sites and rich agricultural territories. Every country has its own core territory that already has these features built in (with the exception of Italy, Illyria, and Thrace, which end up fighting for much of the same territory). Then you establish cities (at the beginning, you have no choice but to use the city squares, which are often on agriculturally valuable spaces, but soon, by mid-game, you have enough population to build cities on useless desert spaces). Having cities gives you trade cards, which you trade with other empires to build mutually beneficial monopolies ('I have salt you need; you have grain I need'). Then those monopolies can be cashed in for advances in your civilization level.
The richness of this game is in the infinite combinations that you and your neighbors can engage, geopolitically, in trade and in general diplomacy. In these respects, Civ is even more flexible than Diplomacy.
In addition, unlike many other games, throughout the early and mid-game, there are no definite leaders. Early leaders will inevitably get stuck trying to move into the late bronze age, letting all the late bloomers back into the game. Also, the early leaders inevitably get stuck with devastating calamity cards such as epidemic, barbarian hordes, and the worst of all, civil war (which gives the person in last place half of your empire!). Then again, the person who gets stuck with these calamities gets to choose secondary victims, which are other empires that also get stuck with the aftereffects of these calamities. That makes positive diplomacy and the lack of warfare that much more important.
Like Diplomacy, Civ is a game that cannot be played solitaire to learn the mechanics. Game mechanics are extremely easy (the first 1000 years can always be played in about 30 seconds, and the second 1000 years in about 60 seconds), and an old hand can teach newcomers in about 15 minutes everything that one needs to know. The first few turns are simply learning how to move pieces, how to build boats, and how to build cities. Then, as the game progresses, several turns later, new hands learn the value of trade cards, and get to buy their first civilization advances.
Advanced Civilization (or Improved Civilization, as some people have called it), adds a western 1/3 board (Italy is replaced as a player by Iberia, and the western end of the board becomes a lot less crowded), a number of additional civilization cards, and some new commodity cards (so people at the same level of city development can go after different monopolies). While this is a big improvement, Civilization is good enough that the basic game is still an evening well spent.
One warning: While an old hand realizes that every country has its own strengths and weaknesses, and every country has equal potential (I've never seen such good balance in any game except Diplomacy), some strengths are more apparent than others. Newbies should not be allowed to play Crete, Italy, or Assyria (I've seen too many newbies fatally wound themselves by building a ship too early with Crete, though they usually catch up in mid-game when everybody else is stuck getting into the Late Bronze Age). If you're a newbie, the best countries are Egypt or Babylon (though these two are also the most vulnerable to floods), or Illyria (if Italy and Thrace are not playing, or only one of the two is being played). These three countries have the easiest times getting themselves started geopolitically. Asia and Africa are also good geopolitically.
Although Crete isn't a good country to learn the game with, Crete also isn't a good country for an expert to play with, since it can be so easily transformed into an empire with all those tiny Greek spaces, all with city squares on them. An expert can really dominate the game with Crete, if the Aegean becomes a Cretan lake (which it always does). Crete is also the only country immune to barbarian hordes, which is one of the most devastating calamities (the only time I have ever seen anyone eliminated from a game, the barbarian hordes annihilated me as an Assyria already weakened by civil war).
That's another plus about this game: you (almost) can't be eliminated! You're ALWAYS in the game and always have a potential to win (though if somebody's in the Late Iron Age, the role of a small empire becomes kingmaker: YOU, the small fry, get to decide who you will trade with, and thus, who will win).
Hopefully Hasbro will re-release this classic. It's well worth getting it! If you like Diplomacy, you'll love this game (though my wife hates Diplomacy and still loves Civilization!). :)
Have you ever been asked, "If you were stranded on a desert island, which five games would you want with you?" Assuming, of course, the appropriate number of players are available, etc. Well, Civ is a definite must have. If you enjoy the exceptional History of the World, or Age Of Renaissance, this is the forefather of them both, and an even better game.
Players embark upon a development of their tribe within the environs of the Mediterranean over 8000 years toward becoming the dominant cultural, economic, political and religious civilization. This monumental task is achieved by astute acquisition of Commodity and Civilization cards, while prudently selecting where to expand and who to wage war against.
The massive rulebook appears very daunting (which unfortunately is the norm for most Avalon Hill games), but as is usually the case, an old hand can teach this game to anyone within fifteen minutes by following through the sequence of play a couple times.
This advanced addition to the basic game adds a map extension, revamps all of the cards, and tweaks the rules a bit, but does not add to the complexity. However, when buying Civilization (and you must buy it), getting this expansion is a definite. It makes an unbelievable gaming experience even better.