Vinci: The Rise and Fall of Civilizations
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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.
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.
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.
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.
This game was more popular than Settlers of Catan in our Friday night group. There is less chance and more strategy involved.
Our group seems to be evenly split between wargamers and casual gamers. This game seemed to make both groups happy. I realize that it depends on the style of game you like to play, but I think this game is better than some of the reviews here indicate.
Yes, there are some ambiguities in the rules, but the clarifications available on the net and some decisions by committee seem to clear things up well enough.
I would also agree that it doesn't seem to work well with less than 3 players. But, so what? Many games don't. We usually play with 5-6 players. If someone slows down too much (some strategizing is allowed of course), we find that saying something like, 'Whose turn is it again? Oh. Of course. Go, go, go, go, go' seems to work fine. That could be peculiar to our little group, I suppose.
One of the neat things that everyone likes about the game is the ebb and flow of the different civilizations. You do get the feel of civilizations growing, expanding then dying. Most games are extremely close (at least between 2-3 leaders) with players usually having a chance to make a come back even when doing poorly.
I even got ambitious and made a Risk-like map of the world with Vinci-colored territories. This may have extended the viability of the game in the group somewhat (we played it at least once every meeting for months).
Easy mechanics, light strategy, reasonable playing time. I highly recommend this game.
In my opinion this is the best game of the year. If world-conquest games are of interest to you at all, Vinci is a 'must have.' Rather than repeat the more detailed reviews that appear here, just let me say that Vinci has more strategic depth and more varied replay than any world conquest game of comparable complexity that I know of. Again, as others have said, make sure you download the errata and, during play, use some kind of 'game accelerator' to keep dawdlers moving along.
After reading some of the other reviews about Vinci, I am offering my gaming group's solution to the 'boring' and 'waiting' aspects that some reviewers have noted.
It is true that when you have some 'methodical' players in your group, downtime can be a problem. This holds true with games that require some analyzing of position, resources and perhaps other economical factors. In an effort to keep these games popular, we have devised the following downtime 'reducers'....
We play with a digital timer... when we play a game for the first time (like Vinci or Medieval Merchant, for example) we allow 3 minutes per turn per player. When the buzzer sounds, the player has 5 seconds to start making progress towards completing his/her move.
Penalties are 'awarded' at a rate consistent with the game's goal... for example in a game like Vinci, we penalize a 'tanker' 1 VP for every 5 seconds or any part thereof after the bell rings. In games where the goal is not towards '100' but maybe 12 (like Settlers) we penalize 1/2 VP (we made counters for this purpose).
On the second session of a game, the turn time is down to 2 minutes, 30 seconds (less 15 seconds for whoever won the first game!!). Eventually after the 4th play, turn time is reduced to 2 minutes.
We also grant rewards for fast play... those who have incurred a penalty can collect (actually cancel) 1 VP (in a 100+ pt goal game) if they take their turn in 60 seconds or less (or 1/2 VP in a game like Settlers). This method, while not necessarily perfect for everyone (and every group) seems to work well with us.
As far as its application to Vinci, it really makes the game shine. I will not explain all of the mechanics; that has been done. Instead, what we felt was needed was a way to reduce downtime that will occur in this kind of game.
Vinci is an excellent game for those who are tired of Risk (with all of its dice and cards). Our group also feels that the 'story' or feel for the setting is strong... you watch civilizations wax and wane across the board... strong civilizations 'kick butt' but then fade away. Weak 'civs' sometimes hang around in decline, adding an appreciable sum of VP's to the former 'leader'.
Our hat is off to the designer and his playtest group... they seem to have smoothed out Vinci quite well. I highly recommend this game.
Right off the bat I'll say this game gets a 95db on the Mulder Meter. My conversion would be to 4 and 1/2 stars though, not a perfect 5. More on that later.
Risk, Civilization, History of the World, Targui, and Britannia are all great games but have their problems. Risk: too much luck, Civilization: too long, HotW: over complicated, Targui: localized theme. (these statements are IMHO, and again, I'm not dissing those great games). Now Vinci comes along and ties the best features of these games together. The rules a simple (though a bit confusing), the civilization expansion theme is present, there is hardly any luck involved except for the drawing of the initial civilization tile combinations, and it has high replayablility due to the near infinite combinations of civilization tiles.
On the border of requiring two hours to play with four player, it just falls into the German boardgame style category. The mechanics are simple. Pick a civilization, take the number of armies (or people) allotted to it, and start expanding. Conquest is simple. Meet the required amount of armies based on terrain, modifiers and number of opponents present, and the territory is yours. Score points for what you occupy. When you can't expand anymore, declare that civilization in decline and pick a new one. There are great mechanisms for balancing the choice of civilizations. The board terrain and characteristics of each civ makes the strategy aspects of this game shine. Some of the greater decisions you'll be making in this game are: where to expand, when to declare your civilization in decline, and what type of civilization you will choose next. The more you expand, the less you'll have to expand with.
The only downside I found were the rules being a bit ambiguous. There's a great FAQ and rules interpretation at the Gaming Dumpster that will dispel any questions you may have. The rulings have been confirmed by the author, Philippe Keyaerts. I have posted my changes there so those not interested won't have to suffer by reading this review.
The quality of the components is right up to par, and the price for a game of this quality can't be beat. The board is a bit bland, but works for the game, making the territories easy to distinguish from each other. This game will be replacing Risk for me (at least for a while). It's a keeper and a good contender for Game of the Year. It's begging for an expansion (Advanced Vinci, maybe?).
If this type of game is your cup of tea, buy it! You won't regret it.
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.
In my previous review I gave this game (in it's first edition) 3 stars, or a 5 out of 10. OUCH!
I am very happy to report that the second edition is all that this game should have been, and more. A new map, correct number of civilization chits and a clear rulebook with examples make this one easy to learn, and it plays smoothly and simply. I now give it an 8 out of 10 and look forward to introducing my budding game-player freinds to this fun and fast war game... previously I wouldn't have even brought out the box. Possibly because after three playings, I didn't buy the darn thing, but when I saw the 2nd ed., I thought 'Thank goodness!' and bought it right away.
The new map has upgraded graphics, bright colors and a more easily recognized geography--much less abstract. Some folks confused the anchors with the mining picks... but only once! They are quite distinguishable if you are paying attention.
I'm so glad this game came back out, it really is fun, and now is in a condition that would have given the Spiel des Jares a run for the money. This is a medium-low difficulty strategy game, perfect for families and casual gamers. Works very nicely with 2 players, I might add. Don't shy away from this one, it's an original and fresh take on the oldest and most beaten into the ground genre--war games. Good variety and fun decisions are strengths, and the high variety of possible civilization attributes keep you coming back for more.
Being the first player in a round is not always the best position to be in, a good sign of balance. Kingmaking is a potential outcome, but that's true to life. The rapid rise and decline of civilizations ensure a lot of tactical changes, and that you are not out until it is over. Choosing the end-game point gives very good variability on playing time, and the game is very tweakable. I can easily see picking out distinct civilization attribute combos and starting armies for a campaign-type setting, such as the Roman Empire (one player with Field General, weapons and mesages) against the various 'barbarians' played by everyone else. The Vikings could get the barbarian, ship-building and astronomy chits, Goths might have mountaineering, mining and revolutionaries! See how much fun that could be? I highly recommend this game.
Not just for wargamers at all, I think this is an appealing game that will continue to amuse and entertain for quite some time. Good Job, Eurogames Descartes! It was definitely worth re-working. Kudos.
It's been described as "Civilization Lite", and "History of the World Lite", but don't look for realism in Vinci. It's just not there, and that no doubt is what contributed to several of the negative reviews in this forum.
What is there is an excellent strategy game that's a lot of fun to play. The minimal luck (the civilization characteristics are randomly drawn, but players have choices from 6) and the automatic 'combat' results provide for linear analysis and strategies. Those who are frustrated by the luck-of-the-die-roll aspects of Risk and Axis & Allies may find this game very satisfying as a strategy game; far less so as a simulation. Maybe we should think of it as "Risk Heavy".
We've played with 3, 4, and 5 players, and most of the games have been close. It's colorful, and lends itself to a lot of table diplomacy, not unlike Risk. Each game tends to be followed with a lot of discussion and a desire to play it again soon.
I highly recommend Vinci to strategy gamers.
As noted by other reviewers, the rules are lacking the full information to know for sure how to play. The rules we played by (and are implied by the rulebook) are:
You take your set number of pawns and place them in your active pile. Then, you start 'taking' territories with the requisite number of pawns. These pawns are stuck in the attacked territory until the reorganization phase. (Thus, you can not vacuum up the entire board with a stack of pawns, nor attack more than a few territories each turn generally.) Next turn you must leave 1 pawn in each territory, but then may take the rest into the active pile for further attacks.
If your attack requires no pawns, you can remove any existing pawns from the space and use it as a captured territory for further expansion... to retain it you must place a pawn there during reorganization.
The game is very good, and here are some suggestions to improve it further:
It would be nice to see the original full rules explained to see what the intent was... but the way we played it was very fun and a unique gaming experience. Definitely recommended, but not perfect.
Like plenty of other people, I love nothing better than to play a vast game of Advanced Civilization. Trouble is, I rarely have the ten straight hours needed to finish a game of it. Not to mention the other three or four games in the same genre that I haven't even had a chance to play even once yet. Perhaps I'll have an opportunity when I retire.
Enter Vinci. This game gives me all the same feelings of excitement as one of those big epics, but in a game that rarely goes over two hours. What bliss! How Vinci manages to do this is largely due to what is not in the game, rather than what is. Consider Advanced Civilization, for instance: the slowest parts of that game are typically the trading, the acquiring of extra civilization traits, and the resolving of calamities. Vinci does away with them all, leaving a bare-bones game that positively flies along. The aim of the game then becomes to occupy the most valuable land for the longest, earning victory points. The more land you occupy, the more points you get. Play continues until, in a round, someone crosses some finish-line in victory points, then the player with the most points wins.
To keep the game interesting, Vinci doesn't do away with civilization traits altogether; rather, each civilization gets two of these (printed on little chits) for free, drawn blind from a bag. When you select your civilization, it gets those two traits for the duration of its life. Some can even outlast the civilization, but more on that later.
Civilization chits come in several flavours; there are some that give you extra points for occupying a certain kind of terrain, there are some that give you a military advantage, and there are some whose exact benefit is hard to see at first, but which become clear on a couple of playings. The fact that each civilization gets two chits means that there are many, many combinations, providing for good variety and replay value.
One very clever feature about the civilization chits is the balancing mechanism built into them. Your civilization has a maximum population, which in turn determines how far it can expand, which in turn determines how many victory points it can earn from land occupation. The powerful civilization chits give your civilization a small population, and the weaker chits give you a larger population. As if this weren't enough--and sometimes it isn't, because different playings warrant different strategies--the civilization-selection method balances things even more, by granting you extra victory points for the chit pairs that have been largely ignored, and penalizing you for going for a powerful combination that has only just been drawn. A pathetic combination can suddenly look quite enticing if there are eight free victory points attached to it.
Eventually, your civilization reaches its potential and can't expand any more; or perhaps is has suffered some attrition at the hands of attacks by other players. With some games, there is nothing to do but promise to do better next time; with Vinci, 'next time' is only a turn away. In History of the World style, you can voluntarily send your civilization into decline and start a new one somewhere else on the board, drawing a new pair of civilization chits for your new empire. The great thing about this is that not only will you score for your new civilization, but your declining one still brings in points for the land it occupies (even if its special traits disappeared when it started declining). Actually, some traits still carry on for declining civilizations, scoring you extra points.
The presentation of the game is pretty good, and just what we expect out of Europe these days: a solidly-constructed board with wooden playing pieces. The board has been criticized for being a little garish, but it is still extremely functional. It would have been nice to see the players' pawns have the declining-empire symbol on one side, rather than having to deal with the little squares of card that perform that job now.
Even though I am deeply impressed by this game, a couple of caveats are nonetheless in order. First, while the game advertises (and supplies the parts) for up to six players, I recommend going to no more than four if at all possible. Otherwise you will be waiting too long between your moves. Likewise, consider three players a probable minimum. The game doesn't really work well for two or one, using the solitaire rules included in the rule booklet. (My partner and I have achieved a somewhat playable two-player solution where each of us plays two colours and score the sum of our sides' victory points at the end of the game.) Another problem isn't with the game as such, but needs to be mentioned. The rules as printed are riddled with errata and poorly translated. The author has clarified these matters, and the results are on the Vinci Errata web page (follow the link at the bottom of this review page). Make sure you fetch this file before you try to play a game.
Vinci is a game that manages to please several crowds at once. It has a bit for wargamers and a bit for the grand epic buffs, and it certainly can be played by casual gamers too. This game is destined to be a classic.
One important note up front: If you have the English language edition of this game, get the errata & clarifications (see the links section of this web page for the URL). The English production has some serious rule omissions and minor printing errors, so without these clarifications there are many potential points for confusion on how the game mechanics work.
Now, on with the review.
Overall, I think this is an excellent 'lite' conquest style game. The play is fairly fast, and the rules are extremely simple and elegant. I've found it's something even non-wargamers can enjoy.
The game balance is quite good once everyone has an understanding of all the different Civilizations' capabilities. If someone chooses a good combination of Civ counters, they can expect everyone else to be teaming up to prevent them from making a good run up the scoring track. This leads to some interesting deal making and the potential for backstabbing and seizing the appropriate opportunity to make a run at a better score yourself.
The idea of having everyone in the game until the very end is another big plus. If your current civilization is thinned out too much or you feel you made a bad decision with your civilization, just declare it in decline and introduce a fresh new one on your next turn. You don't have to worry about being eliminated from the game early, which can often happen in a more traditional territory conquest game. I think this is perhaps another reason why I've found non-wargamers interested in playing this game. Since you are never forcing someone else out of the game, less competitive people are more inclined to be a bit more aggressive than usual, which I feel leads to a more interesting and challenging game.
The method of civilization selection is clever and helps provide additional game balance. You are presented with six pairs of counters, representing six potential civilizations. Each counter provides a special ability. If you choose the first pair, you get it for free. However, if you want one further down the line, you have to pay in victory points. The further down the line, the more you pay. The points you pay get distributed to all the civ pairs you skipped over. So, when someone else finally selects a pair no one else wanted, they'll receive bonus victory points just for picking the runt of the litter. In close games, these bonus points can help achieve a victory.
Overall, I enjoy this game quite a bit. It satisfies my craving for a game of conquest and conflict when I don't have the time or the willing players for an in-depth wargame.
Vinci is a game in the same mold as History of the World and another new game Chariot Lords, but with a much simpler framework. The basic idea behind the game is each player starts with a civilization with unique powers and a starting size. Each player's goal is to maximize the amount of territory they conquer on a map of Europe and when their civilization has reached its zenith, declare that civilization in decline and start a new one with different powers and size.
The heart of the game is the varying powers and combinations of these powers. Each civilization has two powers which affect its starting population, victory point totals or combat in a particular way. Combat is simple. You determine the number of tokens needed to take a territory and then move in. This number will be modified by terrain type, number of defending tokens, and special abilities of the attacker and defender. No dice, simple and quick. At the end of your turn, count up the territories you own for victory points.
The game is played to a set number of victory points depending on the number of players and plays in about two hours give or take a half an hour for more or less players. Our group thoroughly enjoys this game. The variablitly in civilization powers and their combinations makes the game different every time. Also the game plays well for 3, 4, 5 or even 6 people which allows for a lot of flexibility for the group.
So why did this game not get 5 stars? Well for one the game can be a bit boring. There is little climax to the game and it often feels that you are doing the same thing over and over. Two, the end game is fairly predictable and you can often calculate who will win a few turns before it happens. Finally, the game is a bit too simple. This being said, I would recommend this as a lite gamer's game and use it as a start up game or intermediate game between a couple of other serious games. For those of you who like to tinker with rules and modifications, the game's basic structure should allow this very easily. All in all a very worthwhile purchase, but just falling short of being a classic.
VINCI strives to simulate the rise and fall of nameless civilizations in its 2 hour playing time. Combining elements of RISK, ADVANCED CIVILIZATION, and HISTORY OF THE WORLD, this game is lite fare, but by no means devoid of strategy.
The heart of the game is a variety of Civilization tokens representing abilities like Shipbuilding, Livestock Breeding, Astronomy, Militia, Fortifications, Medicine, and the like. During the course of the contest, players will have options to pick random sets of these tokens, then try to use the combined generic armies and intrinsic special abilities to score victory points. For example, a Mining token will give you +2 VP's for each resource space (indicated by a pick axe on the map) that your active empire controls. There are several dozen different types of Civ tokens, so you can see that a plethora of combinations are possible.
When you decide that your empire cannot/will not profit from further expansion, you may declare it in Decline, and then select a new pair of Civ tokens for next turn. You lose your current Civ tokens (some special ones do remain), but the Declining areas you control can still earn basic VP's for you each turn until conquered or until they fade away (you cannot have two of your empires in Decline at the same time). The decision to whether go into Decline, or try to hold on for one more turn, is one of the major challenges in the game.
Combat is a simple addition process, and the attacker wins every time as long as he allocates enough pawns (armies) to the area. The important decisions for expansion are what provinces are best to conquer, and this may depend on your positioning on the board relative to the other players, and of course, the current victory point level ('get the leader!').
The mapboard is a colorful quilt of Europe, Asia and surrounding land masses. You can easily tell the difference between a Mountain province and a Forest province, and some areas are marked with large anchors (ports) and axes (mines). Unfortunately, the map is not marked with any province names or flavor text, so while it's certainly functional, I found it a bit bland despite the bright colors.
The rules and text for the Civ tokens are sometimes opaque, as situations arise where different players may have different interpretations of a rule; use mutual common sense here until an official Q & A is gathered.
There are no set amount of turns--the game ends when a player accumulates a certain number of points, depending on the number of players.
VINCI is what I call a 'no-headache' game. Easy mechanics (once you get used to them), good strategy options, and a very reasonable playing time. It's also one of the few multi-player (3 to 6) Euro's (this is a French design) that plays well solitaire (with special rules for 2-player, as well). The everchanging mix of Civ tokens guarantees a fresh game every time.
I liked VINCI quite a bit. It's not going to be the breakthrough design of the year, but it sure is a lot of fun... and what more could we really ask for?
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.
If you like Risk, but hate losing early and playing Yahtzee by yourself while everyone else conquers the world, then Vinci might be for you.
The game is described in many reviews below, so I'll just mention my likes and dislikes. First of all, the game says there are rules for 1 and 2 players games--forget that, it's misrepresenting. You will hate the one and two player version. That said, it is an okay game for 3-5 players (6 takes way too long).
I find that my friends (who are more American in their gaming tastes, while I tend to more German in mine) like this game a lot more than I do. They would be inclined to give it a 4 or 4.5 star rating. Me? Well, I've played more games than they have and I find Vinci a bit repetitive.
Even my friends who are enamored with the game have commented that it's too bad that the map can't be changed, or that there wasn't a bigger map (a la Risk) to play on. Europe is boring after a few plays. (Oh yea, and in case you didn't hear it before, the board is very hard on the eyes.) One other small point--my brown chits look too much like the white chits under medium to low lighting (and really, who plays games under bright lighting?)
So will you like it? It's cool. If you can't figure out why anybody would play Tikal or Aladdin's Dragons, but you think Risk and Monolpoly are the greatest games ever, you will probably like Vinci quite a bit. As for me, I think it is slightly better than average, but since my friends like it so much, it gets played a lot which is more than I can say for Aladdin's Dragons (one of my personal faves.)
I like it better than Risk, if that means anything. =)
Vinci is a great idea whose potential has, unfortunately, been garbled during the writing and subsequent printing of the rules. Having a technical writing backround, I could tell that the rules are definitely not written by a technical writer (or if they were, they ignored some of the basic guidelines). What's the big deal with 'technical' writing, you say? Well, good and bad technical writing can mean the difference between knowing how to press play and rewind on a VCR but little else, and the ability to preprogram the VCR to catch a show two weeks from now while you are away on vacation. Every set of instructions you ever read for anything is a piece of technical writing, whether the writer knew it or not. We all know the baffling vocabulary displayed inside of an instruction manual for a Korean-made stereo. Just because someone made the stereo doesn't mean they explain how to use it best (English as a second language only compounds the problem, as we well know from all the German translations out there). Similarly, knowing the rules for a game does not automatically make one qualified to write them, a fact which is abundantly clear when reading the rules for Vinci.
Every group I have played Vinci with has shown uncertainty and frustration with the interpretation of the rules for this game; three separate groups came up with three entirely different ways of playing, and none of them were obviously better than the others. The only way I knew which one was correct is that I played with someone who had played it with the publishers at Essen. Two of these three times, there was an errata sheet present which answered many questions, but not all, and even raised a couple of new ones. Although I knew the correct rules, the last time I played I did not correct the group I played with. It was interesting to see what variants people unwittingly came up with in their grappling with the rule book. Unfortunately, this also becomes the weakness of the game, greatly detracting from its playability and fun-factor. Half the time we were playing this game, everyone was discussing the rules and their interpretation, even the Essen-goer. I felt like I was play-testing the thing! I can just imagine people playing this game slightly differently all over the country. Most confusion seemed to revolve around pawn movement and conflict resolution. Of course, the rest of it is quite good. Excellent mechanism, original idea, attractive and well-made components with good strategy in a reasonable time-frame. But if you're a casual gamer that doesn't know someone who has been to Essen--well, I'm sure you'll figure it out... eventually. It's only a matter of time before an exhaustive rule summary is written, but that doesn't change my review. The Cardinal Rule of technical writing, whether an instruction manual, a report to Congress or the results of a scientific experiment, is: nothing should be left open to interpretation. The goal is to have a simple, concise and clearly written document that leaves no room for misunderstanding.
A true game lover hates to speak badly of any game, being able to imagine the difficulties in designing a game, since we all fantasize about it. It's even worse when the game is obviously such a good one. Unfortunately I can't give this game the 4 stars it deserves. The number two criterion for winning the Spiel des Jahres is (and I quote): 'Design of Rules: Organization, Clarity & Understandability'. I would say that if this is true, then Vinci doesn't have a chance. It's too bad: There's a great game in there somewhere, but good luck finding it. Once you do, I'm sure you'll have a lot of fun.
This game wants to be, and from reading the rules, should be Avalon Hill's Civilization lite. It should paint the rise and fall of civilizations in very broad strokes in a short time.
However, whenever we've played, it falls short. First off, it is not a quick game. Due to the 'downtime factor,' each player wants to maximize their points on each of their turns and therfore tends to eke out all they can for their 5 minutes of fame (until their next turn comes 'round 25 minutes later). And secondly, while the concept sounds good, in practice, there's just no grandeur to the actions on each turn. Rather than seeing civilizations unfold, you find yourself seeing chits fill spaces based on attributes garnered from the 'chit track.' Really, it feels as much like Cosmic Encounter as it does like Civilization, the much superior game.
Now, 2nd edition rules have recently been made available on the internet. I hope there's an officially printed 2nd edition rulebook available for the asking from the publisher, as gamers should not have to resort to printing game components. And if this book cleans up lots of confusion, it could be marginally better. But still not enough to gain an extra star on the rating. I want to have fun with this game, but it just doesn't do it for me.
I really like the idea of the game. Each civilization has 2 abilities and they have to use them to earn points.
Your choice of abilities is rahter limited, because you lose points if you want abilities other than the ones presented to you. Then you have to place your civilization on the board. This is a big decision, but after that all your decisions are rather mechanical. Most of the time it's easy to see where to expand. And because there is no luck involved in the fights, there are no surprises.
After a few turns your civilization goes into decline and you start all over again. You never really identify with the civilization you started, because you're dumping it rather soon. It feels like the game is playing you and the only real decision is where to place the new civilization.
We played the game to the end, but everyone was glad it was over. I'm sure there could be an interesting game in it, but it never came out.
The game is simple. The only luck/changing factor is the different civilization tile you choose which follows you at least 1/4 to 1/3 of the game. While the game lasts usually about 1.5 hours **, the tiles you choose and the strategy that 'stapled' with them will keep you doing similar things over and over for about half an hour. (then you repeat the process for 3 to 4 times)
The rules of choosing also limits you to choose the first few choices you got because you won't want to get behind too much (rule: if you choose tiles beyond the first choice, you have to 'sacrifice' victory point) since it is not that easy to gain the lost points back. I also don't like the fact that a completely useless civilization-tile-pair exists. This leads to my next point: lacking of player interaction.
A player in this game has too few power to either influence other players or affact the game play dramatically. This really kills the board game.
P.S. The no-surprise solid-colored board is not too attractive either...
** All the time you spent will go to thinking. That makes the game boring. (not that I don't like thinking, I just don't like WAITING!) If you play with six people, you will have to wait five turn (for other players' turn) while you have completely nothing to do except watching. I find the game really not that exciting. Especially, when a player is close to winning while all others have been doing bad, the game is set.
It you're the kind of person who'd love to spend every weekend conquering Europe, Vinci is for you. The game involves some calculation for nearly every action you take, but this aspect makes for more flexibility and a sensitive response to varying conditions. Everyone starts by picking two Civilization Tiles from a menu, which offer various benefits. Use your pawns to conquer, maintain, and expand your land holdings on the board. Your active empire must be one connected group, but an interesting option allows you to place your empire in decline and establish a new one elsewhere. At the end of your turn, take your victory points for occupying provinces. Victory goes to the first person to reach 100 to 150 points, depending on the number of players. Veni, Vidi, Vinci.
This is the latest in the long line of multi-player, 'fight over territory', 'score victory points', 'see who's ahead at the end' games. It differs from its predecessors in being simpler and much shorter. Other games of this type have been the work of wargamers and have had playing times of four hours or more. Vinci has firmly hoicked the idea across into the realm of the general game--two hours to play and a short, well illustrated rule book.
One's first impressions when you see the game are not good. The box art is the work of someone who is not very good at drawing and the board is plain to the point of being ugly. With the top German companies the artist responsible for the graphics gets co-star billing; here anonymity is the rule and it is a kindness that this is so. However, once you have got over the initial visual disappointment, the rest is all positive. M. Keyaerts has done a remarkable job, producing a thoroughly entertaining and fast moving game that has lots of ebb and flow and which is going to follow a different course each time you take it out of the box.
The game is played on a map of Europe and features the rise and fall of civilizations, but there is no attempt at reproducing any actual history. Here each civilization is defined in terms of two characteristics--things such as astronomy, agriculture or superior weaponry--that would have given it an edge over its neighbours. Where it actually appears on the map is up to the player. In this game being a barbarian with good ships doesn't necessarily make you the Vikings.
The characteristics come on a set of counters. At the start of the game twelve of these are drawn and set out in pairs on a track at the edge of the board. At the start of your first turn, you choose one of these pairs and this will determine not only your special powers but how many troops you will have at your disposal. It is a choice process rather like the one in Dirk Henn's game Showmanager: if you take the pair at the top of the menu, it costs you nothing; if you want something from further down the list, you must pay (in victory points) and the further down the list you go, the more you pay. And the process has an added refinement this time in that pairs that have been passed over by a previous player are made more attractive to subsequent ones by an award of victory points to whoever does eventually take them.
Having made your choice you then decide where on the edge of the map you wish to enter. The map is split into provinces of varying terrain types: mountains, forests, the usual stuff. Each carries a basic attack cost and to this you add the number of defenders to find how many troops you will need to commit in order to capture it. For example, an agricultural province has a base value of 2 and so if it has one defender, you will need to move in three troops in order to take it. Note, no dice are needed to resolve the conflict; it is purely a question of committing enough troops. If there were defenders, one is removed from the board and the rest may retreat to a friendly province. At the end of your turn you count the number of non-mountain provinces you occupy and this, together with any bonuses you get from your special characteristics, is your number of victory points for the turn.
The number of troops that you got when you chose your civilization is all that this particular group is ever going to get. This means that after two or three turns, your forces are going to be very thinly spread across your empire and at that point you start thinking about bailing out and starting afresh. To do this you declare your empire to be "in decline". The pieces will stay on the board and will continue to bring in victory points for as long as they survive, but you can no longer do anything active with them. You then choose a new pair from the menu and sit out a turn before starting afresh in a new location. This process of rapid rises and equally rapid falls continues until someone reaches the victory point target that was set at the start.
The cleverness of the design lies in the civilization counters and the way they are handled. As single counters, they seem to be very well balanced and the fact that they come in pairs ensures both lots of variety and some hard decision making when you are deciding what to choose. Two counters may come together in order to make a very effective combination, but when it first appears it will be at the bottom of the menu. How many victory points are you prepared to sacrifice in order to get it? Not easy, especially as in my experience the lead is something that changes quickly and often and the final result is invariably close.
I like this game a lot and it has been attracting much favourable comment elsewhere. Not universally favourable, however: As Mike Ruffhead's letter shows, there are some for whom the lack of real history is a major turn-off. If that is the way your taste runs also, you must look elsewhere, but I think you must also be prepared to accept when you do so that real history comes at the cost of a longer playing time and a more complicated set of rules. For me, I am delighted to have a game of this type that doesn't take all night and doesn't require me to spend the evening before relearning the rules.