Sid Meier's Civilization: The Boardgame
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Finally, a boardgame version of the award-winning PC strategy game. Create a civilization to stand the test of time! The game begins in 4000 BC where the players found the first small city of a fledgling people.
Each player's civilization:
- Explores the world around them, discovering resources and the native people that defend them.
- Expands by sending settlers out to create new cities.
- Researches new technologies to gain advantages over the other players.
- Builds unique "Wonders of the World".
- Increases the size of their cities (4 sizes from village to metropolis) to increase production.
- Builds military units to defend what's theirs, and to conquer what's not.
- Improves the land with roads, mines, & irrigation.
Will your civilization rise or fall? Play Sid Meier's Civilization: The Boardgame and create history!
- 3 sets of rules (basic, standard, and advanced)
- 784 plastic miniature pieces
- 46" x 36" gameboard
- over 100 full color Technology and Wonders Cards
Average Rating: 3.7 in 15 reviews
It takes investment of time and energy to learn to play this game, and find others who are willing to put in that time and energy themselves, so it is not an obvious choice for a game...but people choose it.
Probably the strongest support for this game comes not from board-gamers but from original 'Civ' (computer game) fans, but that doesn't detract from the boardgame at all - the pleasure, tactics and strategy employed on your PC are even more effective and enjoyable on your dining table. You can actually laugh in the face of your enemy.
This game is enthralling, holds the interest of everyone I've known to play it, and many a time have we blinked and suddenly it's been 4:00am. If you put in the effort to give this game a try, you will become just as addicted as you were to the PC game - in my case more so. Go out and buy it, you only need one between 4 or 6 of you, and I heartily assure you, it's worth it.
Simply the best boardgame for strategy lovers. Everything that Axis & Allies has, but, even better since you don't go through the same game over and over. Every game can be totally different in terms of where you start, what strategy can lead you to win, etc.
The best money I might ever have spent.
I have played this game 3 times now - all using the advanced game rules. We used the changes in the errata by Glenn Drover and cut the money for monopolies in half.
And it makes a wonderful game which more of the players was so eager to play again that once a week just seemed to little and wanted to skip work a day or two...
I think that the boardgame actually does a very good job capturing the spirit from the computer game. Of course - it's not possible to squeeze all the elements from the computer game into a boardgame, but it feels and looks like the real thing.
One thing in particularly I love about the game is that playing the right way, long time war doesn't benefit your civilization. Buying the right technologies and expanding your civilization by building new settlements or capturing a critical city from another player and then holding on to just that one is the key to victory. You will have to use your gold carefully to get those precious victory points. (Regular cities isn't worthless - they count as victory point and upgrading them later in the game give you a little more money + additionally critical victory points).
All in all I think this is a great game that I want to play as often as possible (It's a long game, so you better plan ahead). It's a great alternative to traditionally German games which often last a little to short to give the feeling of 'this is MINE - I build it, I want to see it flourish'. I definitly would recommend this game to others but note that they also should get the errata.
Last a tip: Get the technology sheet and the unit cards from Boardgamegeek. It helps keeping score of technologies and units a bit easier.
What a fun and great-looking game! I played my first game of Civ last week. We played the standard rules. Advanced rules are also available and look fun, though more, uh, advanced. The game plays like a combination of Axis and Allies and Diplomacy, with a good chunk of the Civ computer game feel. However, this makes the game seem daunting - it's not! The basic rules are really no more difficult than any classic game such as Monopoly or Risk.
The strategy aspect of the game is a blast. Do you trust your neighbor who promises not to back-door attack you as you go after another player? Do you focus on growing your cities at the expense of your military, making yourself a ripe target?
One caveat about the game - it does not look like it'd be nearly as much fun with only two players. You need three or more to form alliances and deal with the diplomatic aspects of the game.
As far as comments about the all-tan pieces aspect (other than the flagbearers, cities, and settlers, which are in unique colors): the game has a huge number of types of pieces, and the game is extremely heavy and chock full of pieces as it is. I prefer the all-one-color solution to a game that would be even bigger and cost twenty or thirty bucks more. You get used to it quite quickly.
If you're a fan of strategy games or of war games, I highly recommend you pick it up. (My first game had a strategy game fan and a war game fan - the difference in strategies was fascinating to see!) Even if you aren't into complex games, the standard rules are very playable and a ton of fun for casual gamers (though you do need to devote at least 2-3 hours for a game).
My brother and I love war-based board games!!!! We love to 'nuke' each other or 're-create' history, or just to 'form alliances' to break-em and end up killing off the explorer who had traveled too far......We play all kinds of games! We just recently were introduced with Eagle Games (by Glenn Drover)and now own all 4 of his games (so far.) Civ is by far his best master-piece!! As exciting and crafty as the PC version, Civ takes board games to a whole new level!!! Economic gain, millitary rise and fall--atomic bombs-u name, it has it!!! Highly recommend it for all types of gamers!!!
--Nick S- :)
The new CIV boardgame is a great game. If you like the CIV theme or are looking for a game with excellent components then it is for you.
Out of the box, I give this game 3.5-4 stars as there are some rules flaws and not much in the way of good player aids (it only comes with one and this is a 2-6 player game). Good player aids rate high in my book.
If you post the eratta and check out the Eagle games website under Forums then you will find some really excellent add-ons that you can download that will dramatically increase the games value bringing it to 4.5 to 5 stars IMO. For example a comprehensive Technology Tree for each player and Combat Cards for each player. These 2 add-ons alone do a lot for the game.
Great game, great price, you'll be playing it for years and years to come.
The game is good, but not great...but it has the potential to be with a few fixes, as detailed below. Movement is pretty straightforward, with all combat land units moving one space regardless of type or era, and settlers moving 2. Every space at the start of the game has a mystery chit (face down), which are mostly resources but could be terrain, the plague, or the equivalent of goody huts. Building a city on a resource gives you that resource. Movement is handled well, although there were a couple of ambiguous spots on the map.
Combat is okay. The system Eagle used is interesting and effective, but it is incredibly slow. When there is a fight, both combatants remove their units from the board and secretly select one. These two units (one from each player) will fight to the death, with survivors going back into the mix. Large battles can take a rather long time, during which other players get to do little. There is a very interesting rock-paper-scissors relationship between the three types of land units (infantry, cavalry, artillery) that I like very much. One note on combat: this is NOT a wargame! Certainly in the early going, when the defensive advantage of cities is significant, a militaristic campaign is not viable unless your opponents have left themselves open. Late game wars may be more viable, as those defensive advantages nearly disappear in the outcome probabilities, but I suspect that unit density (decreasing as the game goes on) may also act as a deterrent (our game got into the third of four eras).
Once everyone has had a chance to move and conduct any fights, the game opens into an open trading session, very similar to Avalon Hill's original Civilization game. The objective to trading is to improve your chances of having the 'critical' resource, and to complete or improve monopolies (3+ of the same resource in a player's 'hand' constitutes a monopoly, even if other players have that same resource). Unfortunately, this seems to be counter to the computer game concept, where the object of trading is to acquire resources that you don't already have. More on this later.
After trading is production, which is where you get money. There are 4 ways a player can collect money: city production, the critical resource, technological and unique resources, and monopolies. At the start of this phase, the first player rolls two dice and consults a chart that will tell what the critical resource is for the current era. Players with that resource get an extra $15 of income, which is significant. However, the rest of this phase is one of the bigger flaws of the game, in my opinion, but fortunately one that I think can be fixed. As written, monopolies are the main way to raise money in this game. A player with 5 cities in one resource will receive far more income than a player with 1 city in 5 resources. This is so contrary to the computer game that I will not address it further. Additionally, the computer game was all about city development, but the cost of upgrading cities and the benefits thus received is such that most cities go through the entire game at the first of four levels of development. There is simply not enough incentive to develop cities further.
Finally, once each player has collected his/her income, it's time to go on a shopping spree. Units (both military and civilian) are an obvious choice, but so are city improvements (temples, marketplaces, etc.) and technology. The game does a very good job in abstractionalizing the technology acquisition. Once a technology is bought by a player, all players may use it. For example, if I buy the technology that makes ships available for purchase, all players may buy ships; however, in so doing, part of the cost they pay to buy the ship goes into my coffers. This arrangement of concessions makes technology purchasing and unit selection very strategic, and is one of the more interesting points of the game (note that you do *not* pay a concession to yourself when you buy your own stuff).
One last point that bears mentioning is the concept of eras. There are four eras in the game (ancient, medieval, industrial, and modern). When the first technology of an era is purchased, that era will begin at the start of the next turn. IMMEDIATELY at that time, all previous era items are no longer available for purchase. All previous era items are no longer available for purchase. ALL PREVIOUS ERA ITEMS ARE NO LONGER AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE. This includes military units, city improvements, everything. Until the next technological advancement that makes something available IN THAT ERA is bought, you're stuck. Also, and possibly even more important, all city improvements from the previous era, and any effects from previous era technological advances and Wonders, are gone. This, in my opinion, is the other major flaw in the game. The effect that this has is to dissuade players from developing their cities, as the cost/benefit ratio is not productive except at the very start of an era...when nothing is available for purchase.
One last thing I'd like to mention about the game before I go into Crazy Mike's Proposed Fixes, and that is the bits. As usual, Eagle Games has produced exceptional bits. The pieces are detailed and interesting, the map is large and colorful, and the cards are very nice. The only gripe here is with the money: it is printed on cardboard (not all that bad), in 6 denominations and 3 colors. The like-colored denominations are VERY hard to tell apart. Grab yourself a spare deck of play money and use that instead. Other than that, the bits are fantastic.
Okay, the as-promised Crazy Mike's Proposed Fixes:
Combat - I haven't fully worked out a system, but I think sacrificing the secrecy for speed would be better. Maybe some kind of A&A system where you line the units up and roll dice, count up the number of kills, and go again. Die modifiers can be applied if there's a R-P-S relationship that would grant one.
Income - Halve the value of monopolies and double the production of cities. Maybe double the value of 'unique' resources (currently $3/resource) to reflect the impetus from the computer game to collect different, not like, resources. Or, define a monopoly globally rather than per player. In other words, take some of the weight off the monopolies and put it more towards city development and broad-based trading.
Era-change - This is easy. City improvements do *not* go away during an era change. I suppose you could also make previous-era units remain available until superseded by current era ones, but that might be taking an element of the game away that requires thinking and strategy - but most definitely allow city improvements to continue from one era to the next. This will promote city development, which is what the computer game was all about.
Of course, Crazy Mike's Proposed Fixes come after one playing, not to completion, and have not been playtested, so take them with a grain of salt about the size of Lake Erie.
Final grade: B, but with the potential to go to A with fixes.
This box is heavy, and chock full of stuff. You get a huge game board, hundreds of beautifully sculpted figures in plastic, and lots of other high quality components in the form of cards and counters.
The game actually does a reasonable job of recreating the Sid Meier computer game. I would not have thought it possible. But then, I think the computer game was inspired by an old Avalon Hill board game, so maybe that's not so incredible.
Game play is actually quite good. This is not a casual family game, as it is rather detailed, and games can last for hours.
So the components are great, the gameplay is great. So why do I not give it five stars?
The combat pieces are all molded in tan. ALL of them. The only way you can tell whose are whose is by putting them with a flagbearer, this little figure of a dude in a robe with a flag. Those figures are molded in color like the cities and explorers, and that's the only purpose they have is to show whose tanks and planes are whose. Kind of a weird idea.
The company who makes the game leads you to believe (see webpage) that all of the pieces will be molded in color, but that might have been too expensive to produce. It seems like the could have molded them in different shades of tan or something, or brown or military green. Like the old Axis and Allies game.
Anyway it's worth the money.
Although the second edition rules clear up some problems, the game still does not live up to its potential. Some things to be aware of as a prospective buyer:
1. This is a very long game. 2-3 hours will just get you going.
2. There is very little player interaction in the early game/ancient age (first 2-3 hours) as you will generally not be close enough to trade or fight.
3. Luck is a huge factor. In many games, half the players will know they can't win before the end of the first age.
4. The rock-paper-scissors approach to combat, coupled with fighting one unit at a time, adds some suspense at a big cost in time. And like all Eagle games, combat is heavily luck dependent.
If these things don't bother you, give it a shot. We'll keep playing to tweak the rules. Less luck and faster play... There is a lot to like in this game; it's just not there yet.
(This review takes into account the rules addendum posted later).
Civilization is a solid game, but it is not one of my favorites. For me, the mechanics of the game do not offer enough variety. It is overly simple as a war-game (compared to the likes of Axis&Allies), and it is overly simple as a development style game (compared to the computer game version).
I do like the different strategies that one may have in this game. Does one go for technology, or city development, or a stronger military? Having a strong military, even if a pacifist, can help with diplomacy...
Civilization has too much luck with city placement--it seems like players that end up with non-resource cities are hosed for the game, while players with strong resources like gems and wine have a real advantage.
If you are looking for a big multi-player epic game to play, one that has military, tech, and diplomatic components, Twilight Imperium is much more successful than Civilization.
We tried a 4 player advanced game with the 'modified' rules from Eagle. Moving to a new era now works smoothly.
We did not find monopolies to be the dominant income producer ($20 is alot the first turn or so monopolies are around but later on, when you have half a dozen cities at $8 or $16 a turn, you can get plenty of cash without them), nor did trading take long (all resource cities are established fairly early, as are trade relations; so it's usually just 'Same trade as last time?' 'OK').
Possibly our game was a little unusual, as no one made any military attacks, the theory being that if two players start fighting each other they will make no advances while the other players pump their money into technology and city growth. Also, the first player to attack will probably not be traded with, to try and shut down his income.
I've never played the computer game and went into this one with the same attitude as the Avalon Hill Civ game, where peaceful neighbors will grow and score better than neighbors who beat on each other.
Our game ended with a diplomatic solution. The reason for upgrading cities was obvious: $20/victory point. If a 'seminal' technology (4 VP) costs $80 that's also $20/VP but the larger city also boosts your income. The sooner you grow a city the more total benefit you get from it.
My complaints about this game are four:
1) It's too long time wise (over 5 hours), and too short technology wise. It was the same Get income, Buy cards, Upgrade cities cycle over and over. Yet there were so many technologies being bought that many Wonders were rendered obsolete during the same round they were purchased. Possibly, had we pumped massive cash into fighting, the technologies would have come out slower, but then the game would have lasted even longer.
2) There needs to be a system of some kind to keep track of which city on the board goes with which city in your hand. Matched pairs of chits or a card sleeve you can write a location on or something.
3) Shuffling improvements around seems silly. Randomly moving a Cathedral from one continent to another each turn kind of breaks the reality. Also, if you trade production of a city to another player, why shouldn't the Aqueduct or Temple or whatever still be in the city and working?
4) Non-resource cities are pretty lame and rarely worth building except for victory points late in the game. (Possibly, in warmonger mode, they are needed for troop production, but I'd think a high level resource city, building multiple troops, would be even better.) The opening chit distributiion can really screw someone up--I found 3 deserts, 2 plagues, a free city for another player, and a couple of worthless spots, though I still did OK by buying a good mix of technologies.
I give this game only 3 stars because, though interesting, it took so long we could have played 4 other games of equal interest. And, in a shorter game, a losing player doesn't have to wait as long to get into something else. I suppose the point of a computer game is to eat up time. A computer also lets you concentrate on strategy while the computer does the bookkeeping. A board game should minimize bookkeeping, be just long enough to allow different strategies to mature and then get to the point.
I was very excited about the game - but once I played it I realized that while the components of the game are fantastic (pieces, board etc) the person who created the rules did not do nearly enough beta testing with different styles of game play.
For example during one game we had a player who would charge down the technology tree to purchase the first technology of the next era before most of the other technologies had been purchased. Suddenly people can no longer build military units! We would then wallow for about an hour while people finally bought the rest of the old technologies. by the time people could even think about building weapons that player would do it again! During some eras there was litterally only 1 turn in 5 when weapons could be bought - it made the game extremely uneven (I had a TON of money and technologies but was paralyzed to buy troops). It makes no sense and boggs down the game. Why would a blacksmith suddenly NOT be able to make older troops, boats, etc just because some NEW technology comes out?
Monopolies are also WAY too powerful. We stopped buying ANY city improvements because it simply wasn't worth it - trading became everything.
Also regular cities are useless compared to resource cities, and I mean ABSOLUTELY WORTHLESS, with the current game mechanics there is absolutely NO reason to build one.
So why did I give the game even three stars? Because all of the above could have been fixed (and still can be fixed) if they had made another rule revision. The board and pieces are great, the idea is sound and we still had a good time even if much of the game was frustrating.
Eagle - Please, re-write the rule book and put it on your on-line site!
After one 8-hour play through of the advanced game, I would agree entirely with 'Crazy Mike's' assessment and suggestions two reviews down. I made a list of all the problems with the game before stumbling to bed at 3:30 am, and he pretty well sums them up.
City improvements aren't worth the price, except maybe in the ancient era (because it will take a longer time to get out of this one), since they go away after each era. Monopolies rule the game, far exceeding the income from even developed cities. The trading round is particularly tedious -- I'd estimate 80% of the game time was spent during this phase, as players tried to assemble (for the Nth time) the 5-card monopolies that give the maximum trade income. Another oddity is the 4 VPs for 'seminal technologies', especially since one of the starting techs is one of these -- i.e. one player is randomly awarded 4 VPs at the start of the game. 4 VPs being the same value as the biggest city, or two Wonders of the World.
I haven't played the standard game yet, but it appears that most of the problems in the advanced games are absent (except the trade monopoly problem). I would consider giving the standard game a try, but I wouldn't invest the time in playing the advanced game again.
I'd like to start by saying I'm a major fan of both the computer based version of Civ, and the classic advanced civilization board game. I'd also like to say that this game does make a valiant attempt at recreating the computer game, with some interesting game mechanics for dealing with all the number crunching the computer does for you in the computer game.
Having said this, I've played this game twice, and with two different groups of people, and both times after several hours of play the group decided that it wasn't worth putting in the extra couple of hours to finish the game. Here are some problems I had with the game
* While a summary of important tables (turn order, unit costs, etc) was provided on a reference sheet, the page that these tables are provided on is oversized (so it can't be copied for multiple people to reference) and was missing important tables (table of unit improvements used by the advanced version of the game).
* The tech tree was done using a set of cards, one card per technology and world wonder. Both groups of players found it hard to keep track of who had what technology, what technologies were currently available for purchase, what technologies did, etc. I can't help but wonder if a record keeping system used by games such as age of renaissance would have been more effective (each player has a summary sheet of tech for tracking what other players have already purchased).
* There didn't seem to be any mechanism in place for keeping all players in a position to win. People who got ahead in the beginning of the game had a tendency to stay that way. This becomes a major problem when you've only been playing a game for an hour, and you're looking at playing for another 5-7 hours with no hope of winning.
* The trading of commodities seemed clumsy. You have a single card that represents happiness, city size, and commodity. City size is dependant on which of the 4 edges of the card is on top, and happiness is dependent on which side of the card is face up. The problem is you allow someone to borrow this card during the trade phase, and the information based on card orientation tends to get messed up. The other problem is the trading had a tendency to get into a pattern once the world was established, so people would trade the same commodities to the same people.
Even after Xeroxing all of the technology cards for all players to reference, constructing an improved summary of game information, using monopoly money instead of the coins that were provided with the game, and using colored dice in order to not disturb city orientation during trading, halfway through the game players were more interested in starting a game other then Civ then playing the game all the way through.
The game just isn't worth the cost, prep work, and time to play.
One of the basic problems is the randomness of the counters' placement. It can be so devastating that at least one player WILL start the game with NO hope of winning. No problem on the computer, just start over. But who wants to spend an entire evening falling farther and farther behind? There are pages and pages of alternate rules at various websites. We have tried many, plus our own, in order to come up with a playable and competitive solution to the numerous problems. 'Eaglegames.net' has a pretty good forum on these problems -- AND is developing a second set of rules you should check out. We've come up with a workable set of rules, but it takes a good 7-8 hours for a 3 or 4 player game... Bottom line: GREAT game, if you don't mind changing most of the rules!
If you play computer games, then you'll recognise Sid Meier's name. He is the leading designer of computer strategy games, with a CV that reads as a computer cut and paste of the best of Reiner Knizia and Wolfgang Kramer.
Sid Meier was inspired by several board and computer games to design a seminal computer game called Civilization. Among the games that he garnered ideas from was the Hartland Trefoil classic of the same name. The main difference between them was the amount of detail that the computer game covered.
Now Eagle Games have come up with Sid Meier's Civilization: the Boardgame. So what type of animal is this? Well, it is a cut down version of the computer game and, perhaps not surprisingly, has the feel of the computer game, but with much of the complexity left out. I must admit I couldn't see how this would work. The computer game (of which I am a big fan) has a huge level of detail and plays over tens of hours. How would a computer game work in board game form? Why would anyone do it? The answer to the second question seems to be with a market of millions of people who have heard of and played the computer game, perhaps these people be interested in the board game. The answer to the first question is what I aim to cover in the rest of this review.
The components of the game are sumptuous starting with a huge multi-coloured 46" by 36" board depicting a map of the world. You need a large area to play on, as well as plenty of space for civilization cards, city cards and money tokens. Not only that but you'll need three hours to cut out the 784 pieces from their plastic bases. Military units come in five different types across four eras. The lowly swordsman progresses via man-at-arms, through musketman to evolve as a machine gunner, while the evolution of the horseman to tank, catapult to howitzer and galley to battleship follow similar patterns. All of these are modelled in fine detail and are produced in one colour, which looks to me like a dark khaki. In order to distinguish the ownership of these units, each player has a set of flag bearers in their own colour. The final important unit is the settler who cannot fight, but explores regions and then builds settlements. This leads nicely to the next set of models, which are the settlements. These also come in four sizes, representing the growth of settlements into thriving cities.
Players start in the first of four eras, in the Ancient age and progress to future ages by acquiring Civilization improvements. (More on these later.)
Initially, the map board, which is divided up into areas in a similar way to Risk, is seeded with a civilization marker. It is available for discovery by your settler, who wanders around the world looking for the good places to colonize. The settler can then be turned into a new settlement, size one, called a village. The Civ markers are mainly resources, such as coal, iron, gems and wine and convey a benefit on the village that is settled there. Your initial decision will be to either spread as far as possible from each village or congregate your two villages together. You look at the Civ token in the spaces where you founded your starting villages and these generally provide a bonus for your village. The final starting consideration is to see what technology card you have acquired. This can be anything from extra units, via the technology of the Wheel, to an early wonder of the world, such as the Hanging Gardens, which conveys benefits one on your villages.
The expansion part of the game then takes place, with players moving settlers to new areas, and discovering what resources might by available nearby. Sometimes there are game benefits and new settlements are discovered which someone will then own, or disasters such as a plague, which kill the settler. These do not unbalance the game, but provide a risk to looking at what the Civ markers may yield. Players earn income from the settlements that they have. The settlements start as villages and then grow to towns, cities and metropolises. All settlements start with the population unhappy, which means that they produce less gold each turn. This is shown on the city (settlement) cards by the unhappy side being face up. There are only two states that the population can be in - happy or unhappy.
Several things can make the population of a city happy. First, if wine or gems are produced by an area, the citizens are automatically happy; secondly some wonders of the world grant a happiness point - making one city's population happy; thirdly, city improvements and finally, each person gets one free happy city. Each card features an improvement that each era can produce, so in the first era (Ancient), it is possible to produce temples, courthouses, colosseums and ziggurats. The same card shows a city improvement for each era, so the card showing the temple, also shows the cathedral, hospital and television station, for the Medieval, Gunpowder/industrial and Modern eras. These cards are double sided and on the reverse are the city improvements for productivity.
All city improvements are dependent on the right technology being known in the world by one of the players. So the temple only arrives when someone pays for the Ancient technology card Mysticism (which costs 40 gold), but then brings the owner of Mysticism a wonder - the Oracle, which confers a game benefit when combat is being resolved. In order to own the Mysticism wonder, someone must have discovered (= paid for) both the Ceremonial Burial and Pottery technologies. Fortunately, there is a chart showing the dependencies of the technologies.
It's worth mentioning the quality of the cards. The technology and wonders cards are all normal card size and shape and well produced. They are colour coded for the era, and feature all the information you need to know about that card, including a picture of the technology. The city improvement cards are smaller square shaped, with rounded corners and each side features a different city improvement along each edge. Again, these are colour coded for the era, which makes them easier to pick out when you are looking for the card you want. They fit behind the city cards, which are also the same size and shape, so that the edge you have in play is visible along one edge of the city card. This means that you need more accessible space next to the board as you build up more cities. This is a game that demands loads of space and so it is best to plan on this before setting the game up for play.
The next aspect of the game is conquest. Each era produces various types of military unit. These are paid for with gold, and become available through technology advances. Once one player obtains that technology, all other players do too and they can then buy the new units. So when a person gets the bronze working ancient technology, spearmen become available. These basic level units share the same plastic figure as the swordsman, who is slightly stronger in battles. When the iron working technology is bought by someone all spearmen on the board immediately get upgraded to swordsmen. The effect of this is to reduce the number of different types of plastic unit to create, and streamline promotion of units.
Battles take place when two players' military units meet. The resolution of these is to secretly choose one unit each, reveal them and then see how they match up. There is a bonus for cavalry type units over infantry, infantry over artillery types and artillery over cavalry, but this only influences the outcome, as the main aspect is the number of dice rolled. The weakest units roll one die, then one die +1, and so on, therefore getting the right combination in play when you fight battles is important. Battles are resolved until one army dies, so two evenly matched armies can cause near or even total annihilation.
When someone purchases the first technology of the next era, a new era begins. This triggers various events. All un-owned technologies of the old era now cost half their marked price, wonders from the earlier era lose their powers, and more importantly, the city improvements are discarded, as well as a general increase in price for new units. So the timing of this can be important as the effects are large for each player. The game continues in this fashion for one, two or three era changes, when there are devices that stop the game. A short game is 2 to 3 hours, which I would say excludes the set up time, and is only achieved by players finishing after the start of the second era. The long game is concluded in various ways, just like the computer game, so diplomatic, military, total conquest and space/technology options exist to complete the game and you will need 6+ hours for this.
Civilization the computer game is utterly absorbing, so I admit I was sceptical when I thought how it would translate to the board game stage. But I have found the same degree of compulsion in the game that drives the computer version. I think this is because you are continually able to improve your position and there is always a short term goal just within your reach. At first, this is all about exploration as the surrounding areas are unknown to you. This soon develops into a need to grow more cities and settlers and then you realise that gold is really important and how can you make your existing settlements more useful? This can come in a number of ways, through adding technologies, city improvements, making the people happy and buying further technologies and improvements. The spiral continues. The compulsion with city development soon becomes tempered by the need to build military units. Some clod will decide that a settlement of yours looks ripe to be taken, perhaps to create a monopoly on resources and you soon face a small army marching towards you. The production cycle quickly switches into military units and you realise that you haven't got enough of them in the right places. Movement of units is slow across the map, and you can only build as many units as the size of your settlement, so too late you think about capitalisation of that settlement and revenge becomes an issue. Meanwhile someone else will be moving on the city development to a higher level than you, so perhaps it's time to point this out to the warmongers.
You may try to build your idyllic city somewhere distant from everyone else, like Tasmania. This may secure you a safe base for a while, but when someone discovers/invents sea moving transports, you become vulnerable once again. And while being cut off from other players has its virtues, you cannot easily interfere with their plans either, so a blend of being involved and distant with your settlements may prove more useful.
I haven't covered all the aspects to the game as there are just too many, but suffice to say that trading is allowed, (and depends on technologies), there is a simpler game (called the standard game), while there are seminal discoveries, which confer extra victory points on the player making that technological advance. I suspect, rather than know, that there will be areas of rules queries which the rules do not fully cover, just because of the variations in the game. These can be checked with Eagle Games (www.eaglegames.com) who are in the process of producing an FAQ. Their site also contains enough pictures of the game for you to examine and put together your own ideas of this game.
The game is fascinating, engrossing and enthralling, so you will quickly while away the hours. And you will need them to follow through the options on this game. This is the first of the drawbacks with the game, so if your fare is more geared towards the 60 to 90 minute games, Civilization: The Board Game will not be for you. You do need to understand what version of units your miniatures represent. There is no satisfactory way provided in the box, so some kind souls have provided player aids on the Boardgamegeek for you to help in this task. You also realise that some of the tables providing information could be shown on the game board. It is large enough to include them without distracting from the overall attractiveness of the map. Again someone has thought to provide an excel spreadsheet of the technology chart which you will search for from time to time. These aspects do not detract from the quality of the game, but in a game of this size and complexity you need good player aids to prevent unnecessary time being spent on looking something up which should be to hand.
As far as wants go I would like some scenarios to show set-ups at different stages of technological advance, so that the technologies in the last two eras can be played, as the feeling at the moment is to start from the beginning each time. This isn't beyond the wit of gamers to produce, but some idea of balance would be good, so the ideal would be to have these play tested first.
Whether you buy this will depend on taste and your preferred game length. Long ago, I used to play Civilization (the original board game) and would happily spend 7 hours playing it. More recently, of course the influx of quality German board games has resulted in a 4 hour session of gaming covering 3 or 4 games, and you feeling satisfied with the evening's worth. I want Civilization - The Boardgame on my gaming CV, not for the winning but certainly for the experience and those that I have played with so far share this view. Recommended.