Vinci: Aufstieg & Niedergang der Zivilisationen
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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.
Note: Actual cover art is identical to that shown, but text is in German.
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.
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.
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.
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.