The Tao of Gaming

Boardgames and lesser pursuits

Civ Initial Initial Thoughts

Several people had the new FFG Civilization game, so we decided to play a learning game: I agreed, since I’m wary of the FFG “Piles of cards” design style. But I forgot a lesson I already knew — Civ does not compress. I won’t call the learning game a disaster … I understand some framework fairly well. But it was grossy unsatisfying, since the game was:

  • Everyone builds their city
  • Almost everyone researched horseback riding (to let their settlers armies move faster).
  • I attacked another player, stole some research points, which let me build irrigation one turn earlier than everyone else. (Irrigation is needed to build your third city)
  • I built my 3rd city and won.

Um, yay?

Yet another proof of Moon’s Law — “Real gamers play the full game with all the optional rule from the get go.”

So all I can say are gut feelings.

  • I like that the technology tree isn’t hard coded. (Any two level I technologies let you get one level II, instead of Ritual Burial leading to theology or whatever). Like the original (board game) Civ, you are limited to a certain # of technologies, and are (presumably) hunting for killer combos, so more flexibility is warranted.
  • I like that there are multiple paths to victory (in the full game) although I admit I have no idea how that will work out in practice. I am worried that the starting Civilization’s special powers effectively mean that each power is forced out of one of those paths.
  • The combat system is … interesting. I think it even might work. It’s a clever system to avoid micromanaging zillions of units. In short, you have a number of armies (flags) on the board, and a number of units (cards) in your deck. When two armies fight, each player draws a certain number of cards from their deck and plays a little card game by taking turns laying down cards either directly opposite (in which case the cards can kill each other) or not. The unit types have a rock-paper-scissors aspect … cards are infantry/cavalry/artillery and each gets first strike against one other type. Highest surviving strength wins the battle. By removing complete control, you get:
    • Some fog of war
    • Realism (Dictators can’t manage every aspect of their battle. Sometimes you get an incompetent general who brings only footsoldiers to a cavalry battle)
    • An arms race
  • Ending the game when one player destroys a single opponents capital? Seems reasonable.

Anyway, I had a bad taste after the learning game, but that was solely due to the fact that the short game was … as advertised … short.

So I’m going to give the full game a shot at some point.

Written by taogaming

November 23, 2010 at 11:22 am

Posted in Reviews

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4 Responses

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  1. I’d never heard it referred to as Moon’s Law, but I agree; there was a report from BGG.con dismissing Vikings while acknowledging playing with the basic rules, and (having learned the advanced game myself) all I could think was – why not try it with the advanced rules? (Of course, if playing with four the game doesn’t really shine either, so that alone isn’t sufficient.)

    Sid’s New Civ has my attention about as much as any of the games I haven’t tried save Poseidon; your report encourages my interest further…

    Joe Huber

    November 24, 2010 at 2:18 pm

    • I believe it comes from an old General article … “A real wargamer sets up the full campaign and starts with all the optional rules.”


      November 24, 2010 at 3:37 pm

  2. Vlaada has a great take on this in Dungeon Lords where the, frequently very funny, rules state before the advanced rule section, something like, “Play the basic game first. No seriously. Yes, we know you are a hardcore gamer and real gamers only play the full game, but this game was designed for hardcore gamers, and you should play the basic game first.”

    That being said, I still teach the full game…I just emphasize that you aren’t going to win, so you should completely ignore scoring and just try to keep your dungeon unconsecrated. It’s worked fine.

    Lou W

    November 24, 2010 at 11:30 pm

  3. We’ve been through two full game plays. Its a decent once a monther maybe, but it is very easy to be land screwed (completely cut off by water with little trade available for researching) meaning that you can end up 3 turns behind everyone else before building your 2nd city.

    I prefer Through the Ages still, even though this Civ still has new game smell. (I am a bit of a sucker for new game smell.)

    Charles Feduke

    December 2, 2010 at 11:05 am

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