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Civilization with five

November 7, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

On Friday night we got together early (5:30) for Civilization and pizza. I enjoyed both.

While Civilization was undeniably long (we quit at midnight and high score was only around 985), the game was much less fussy than I had imagined. I floundered for much of the game, not really knowing what I was doing or trying to do, but I got lucky with the disasters and lucky with the trading and came out all right.

Several aspects of the game fascinated me: the idea that you could share spaces with other players, so long as you didn’t exceed the population maximum for the area; the idea that combat was essentially mutually assured destruction (of course I had to try this); and the idea that trades could be wildly beneficial for both players (I thought the value schedule on the resource cards worked incredibly well). I also liked the population growth and movement, the population limits, and the building of cities (though I thought I was odd how cities could really shut down movement through the area).

In general, the game felt very well thought out. I can’t imagine how many times the game was playtested, but it must have been a lot: balancing the different start positions by tweaking both the map and the Archaeological Succession Table must have taken very close to forever.

That being said, I don’t believe I’ll want to play it all that often: it is very long, and the calamities can really knock you for a loop (some are quite harsh). I can understand the need to be able to reign in the leader, and I can also understand that there needed to be something to counteract population growth, but it seems like the calamities add an unnecessarily random element to the game. (I’m not opposed to random per se, it just didn’t quite work for me here.)

I can understand why so many people talk about wanting to find / play / design “Civ-Lite.” It’s an interesting game, but it would make it to the table a lot more often if it didn’t take so very long.

Off the top of my head, I’d take out the calamities and taxation, and I’d simplify the civilization cards (removing benefits and links between cards). I’d have resources tied more to location (à la Settlers), would take out the cheap places to build cities, and would obviously then have to change how the multi-resource-card bonuses were structured. “Calamities” (or catastrophes, etc.) could be triggered by a random event and would affect all players in the same way (though not, in all likelihood, to the same extent).

I realize that this would remove many of the limitations of the original game, so others would obviously have to be reintroduced. I don’t know as I’ll work on this actively, but I may mull it over a bit.

Definitely food for thought. Ó¿Ò

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