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Subject: Notes on Gencon demo rss

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Geoffrey Engelstein
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Had an opportunity to play through a demo of Sid Meier's Civilization: The Board Game at Gencon and wanted to share a bit about the flow of the game. I'll limit myself to a few comments at the end -- since we were only allowed to play through three or so turns I'm not able to make a judgement about the gameplay as a whole. Also I'm not sure if anything will change prior to the final version. My experience was positive, however.

The game is on played on a 4x4 grid of map tiles. The four corners were pre-selected based on the faction -- Russia, USA, China, and Germany. Each faction has their own special starting tile.

The tiles each have a 4x4 grid of squares. So the overall board is 16x16 squares.

The 12 non-corner map tiles are all placed face down randomly, so you turn them face up when they are 'explored'.

You start the game with one city on the map. You also get a scout and army unit that start on the city. Each faction gets a starting tech (the USA, for example, which I played, starts with Currency). Each faction also gets special abilities. Russia starts with an extra army and extra build points, the US is better at converting trade to production and starts with a 'great person', etc.

The map tiles, as you can see in pictures like this:

 


have different terrain on them -- plains, forest, mountains, desert, and sea. At first you can't move through water spaces. Terrain effects the types of buildings that can be built on them.

In addition you will notice small icons in each square. The most numerous are trade and production icons. There are also larger 'special' resources, like silk and iron, that are used for certain techs. Plus there are some spaces that generate culture, indicated by column icons.

Here is the reference card that was shown by FFG at Gencon with the sequence of play:

http://tweetphoto.com/37726404 (sorry about the quality!)

Each phase in a turn is performed by all players going clockwise from the start player before moving on to the next phase:

Start of Turn

You can start a new city by removing your scout and placing a city. At most you can have three cities on the board (I believe). The new city must be at least three spaces away from other cities and two away from huts/barbarians (neutrals that pop up on newly-exposed tiles).

Like in the computer game, each city grabs the resources that are adjacent to it (including diagonally -- so 8 squares in total). When you build a city on a square it no longer produces those resources, so you need to place your cities carefully.

You can also change government if you researched a tech last turn that lets you do so. For example, Monarchy gives you more culture.

Trade

On your faction player board you have a trade 'dial' (because FFG loves dials!) with two concentric rings. The outer ring is 'trade'. You get one trade point for each icon in the eight squares adjacent to your city, and move your dial to that position.

In addition, scouts send back whatever resources (like trade) they are standing on to the city, regardless of how far away they are.

You can then trade just about anything to any other player in exchange for stuff, promises, etc.

City Management

One of the core phases. Each player gets to do one of three things for each city:

A. Build a unit, figure, building, or wonder

All of these items cost Production points, which are generated by hammer icons next to your city. You can't save production points from turn to turn -- you use them or lose them.

'Units' are military units. These are square tokens that you keep in a pile. They are not specifically allocated to an army on the board. When you have a battle you just draw from your military unit pile.

'Figures' are new scouts or armies.

'Buildings' are tokens that are placed on the map adjacent to the city, like Granary, Market, and Trading Post. These all require a certain technology before you can build them, and some of these must be placed in certain terrain types (like Trading Post must be placed in a desert space). The building has icons printed on it, and the icons in the space are replaced by the icons on the building. There are also buildings that upgrade other buildings (like Bank upgrades Marketplace).

'Wonders' were not included in the demo, so can't comment.

Note that you can build 'a' unit, figure, building, or wonder. So you need to make a tough choice.

B. Generate Culture

The city generates one culture point plus one for each culture icon adjacent. This gives you culture 'chips'. At any time you can give in chips to move up the culture track. Initially it costs 3 chips to move up a space on the track, but it gradually gets more expensive. Plus later it takes production (I think) as well as culture to move up a box. For each box you move up you get a Culture Card, which gives you a one-shot special effect.

Getting to the end of the culture track is one way to win the game.

Note that culture chips and culture cards can be traded.

C. Harvest a resource

Get a token representing one of the 'special' resources that is adjacent to your city (like Iron). This is required for certain techs. For example if you have the Barracks tech you get a +3 in battle if you use an Iron token.

Note that you can only do ONE of A, B, or C. So you are very limited in what you can do from turn to turn.

Movement

Your tokens now move on the map. Initially you can only move two spaces (not diagonally) and cannot go across water. Technologies, of course, can improve this.

Every token can move. It takes 1 MP per space -- terrain has no effect (except water). If you want to move onto an unexplored space it costs 1 MP. You then turn the tile over, place huts (friendly) or barbarians (unfriendly) on indicated spaces, and keep moving. If you move an army onto a hut space you get the token, which has a random Special Resource (like Iron) on the back.

If you move into the same space as another player or barbarian you have a battle. We did a very quick battle in our demo, and I wasn't involved, so I can't give detailed info. However you randomly selected the military units from your stack of 'unit cards', and chose one to deploy. There is a 'rock/paper/scissor' mechanic where certain units are 'dominant' over others and get to attack first. If they generate enough damage they destroy the unit card. There are no dice.

Sorry about the vagueness on battle -- it seemed to play out fairly quickly.

Research

If you want, you can use Trade points to purchase a new technology card. Each player has their a deck of tech cards, from level I to level IV. All players have access to identical techs, with the exception of a few starting techs (I believe).

On the trade dial there are certain special spaces, showing if you are eligible to buy a tech. For example, level I is at the '6' space, and Level II is at the '11' space. If you have at least that many Trade points you can buy a tech card.

If you want to buy a tech you just take the card from your pile and place it face up in front of you. These give you access to buildings and special abilities and improved military units, etc. You have to place your techs in a 'pyramid'. So you can't play a level II tech until you have two level 'I' techs below it. You can't play a level III tech until you have at least three level I techs and two level II techs on top of that.

If you can get to the Level V tech -- Spaceflight -- you instantly win the game. But obviously you will need to buy at least 15 tech cards.

If you buy a tech you reset your trade dial back to zero -- regardless of whether you were at or above the 'magic' level. HOWEVER -- if you have access to the special Gold Coin resource, your trade only goes down to as many gold coins as you have. For example, the USA starts with one gold coin, and so it is easier for them to build techs faster.

And that's it for the turn. The first player marker passes to the next player, and you start again.

Winning

There are several ways to win:

1. Get culture to the end of the track
2. Research spaceflight
3. Conquer one enemy capital (which I like -- rather than conquer all)

(I am thinking there was a fourth, but can't think of it!)

Overall I liked it. It seems that once you are familiar with the buildings etc the turns will go quite quickly -- you do a little each turn - Get your trade points, buy or produce one thing, move, and research. So it does flow.

Hope you found this interesting and helpful!

Geoff
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Steve
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Thanks!
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Mark Goss
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Thanks for teaser! Personally, I'm not to thrilled that combat uses a 'eurostyle' conflict resolution method instead of dice rolling, but that's just my opinion. Sounds great and look forward to more sneak peeks! I'm waiting for this one, watching, hoping........

Mark
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Sean Dooley
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Thanks Geoff. I tried to get a demo in, but it was always jam-packed. Any idea on how long they (you) estimate the play time to be?

Thanks again!
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Eric Phillips
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Very interesting, thank you. It seems like it has potential. The requirement that you build your tech cards in a pyramid shape sounds like a particularly neat mechanism.
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Julio

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engelstein wrote:
There are several ways to win:

1. Get culture to the end of the track
2. Research spaceflight
3. Conquer one enemy capital (which I like -- rather than conquer all)

(I am thinking there was a fourth, but can't think of it!)


4. Another way to win is by becoming the wealthiest empire, amassing the most gold over the course of the game. (copy-paste from game description at FFG site).
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Geoff Burkman
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How can I not thumb and tip such an excellent preview from someone who has the same given name as me?

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Gustav Åkerfelt
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Thanks for the info.
 
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Tim Collins
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nice write up, I am very much looking forward to this. I hope we can get our hand on it before then end of the year!
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Lam Chungwah
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Thanks!kiss
 
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Jesus Cañada Ramos
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Thanks again. With your comments and the images posted in BGG now we have a better idea about the game.
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Geoffrey Engelstein
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wittdooley wrote:
Thanks Geoff. I tried to get a demo in, but it was always jam-packed. Any idea on how long they (you) estimate the play time to be?

Thanks again!


Demo guy said it was about a 3 hour game with four people.

Geoff
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Erik S
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Many thanks for the info! I'll be keeping my eye on this.
 
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Martin Larouche
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Sounds roughly like a tweaked version of Civilization: Revolutions, for xbox 360, DS and PS3.
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Geoffrey Engelstein
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deedob wrote:
Sounds roughly like a tweaked version of Civilization: Revolutions, for xbox 360, DS and PS3.


I think that's on the mark. I haven't played Revolution, but those who have said the graphics etc are quite reminiscent.

Geoff
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Márton Borlay
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engelstein wrote:
deedob wrote:
Sounds roughly like a tweaked version of Civilization: Revolutions, for xbox 360, DS and PS3.


I think that's on the mark. I haven't played Revolution, but those who have said the graphics etc are quite reminiscent.

Geoff


Generally I hated that game, it didn't have the depth Civ4, but since you have to simplify things for a board game adaptation anyway, this can be a good thing. Nice review, I like that there are many ways to victory, and that trading will be a huge part of the game (and with it I hope diplomacy).

Can you trade technologies? I'm afraid not. Too bad, my favorite tactic in civilization games is to assist the countries on the other side of my neighbors with top technologies in turn of some backstabbing.
 
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The trade thing is probably the primary thing that is keeping my interested in this game - otherwise I have to agree with Borlay on this one, Civ Rev was the simplified Console version, Civ 4 was better than it in every way. If this game is more like Civ Rev, it may not hold my interest (but in all fairness this would be an insanely tough IP to do well in a board game, really, so concessions surely have to be made).
 
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Steve
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I think Civ Rev style complexity is a very appropriate goal for a civilization boardgame, personally... I'd rather play Civ 4-5 on my PC than Civ Rev, but Civ Rev was by no means a bad game. In fact it was an excellent distillation of Civilization 4. I just didn't need a civilization distillation. In boardgame, however, that would great...
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Byron Rocher
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i can get the civ: rev ipad app -- is it anywhere like the 360, psp, editions???
 
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Mark Taylor
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slashlizard wrote:
i can get the civ: rev ipad app -- is it anywhere like the 360, psp, editions???


In gameplay terms, all iterations of Civilization Revolution are practically the same. Graphically, however, the iOS version is very similar to the Nintendo DS version - 2D, and with much less detail and animation than the home console editions.

I heartily endorse picking Civ Rev up, by the way. It's a lot of fun. A game is much quicker to complete than one of Civilization 4, but it's still a real challenge to win on the higher difficultly levels.

It's also the kind of game that really suits touchscreen control. I've played many, many hours of it, and still get some pleasure simply from the way I can guide my armies around with a swipe of my finger.

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Kelly Overholser
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By the way, one note on trading:

Trades, deals, etc are not binding. At all. (I think if you're doing a straight up resource-for-resource trade it's binding, but any future favors or resources? No such luck.) Of course, backstab one opponent early in the game, and you're sure to get into a three-on-one fight very quickly...
 
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Bren Mayhugh
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I walked by a couple of times, but there was never an opening to play. It looked interesting and who doesn't like a civ game, but never got a demo in.

Nice review!
-B
 
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Byron Rocher
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thanks Mike T. as it sounds like i will enjoy it when i want to play something besides smallworld
 
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Chris J Davis
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Can you remember examples of any of the tech or culture cards?

Thanks muchly for the info!
 
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Geoffrey Engelstein
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bleached_lizard wrote:
Can you remember examples of any of the tech or culture cards?

Thanks muchly for the info!


I only saw one of the Culture cards -- It was 'Sabotage', which allowed you to remove an opponent's building if you had an army within a certain distance.

I only looked through the low-level techs.

Most unlocked a building or unit and also gave you a special ability. For example, I had one tech (Trade, maybe?) that unlocked the Trading Post ability, and also gave you the ability to trade in two special resources for a Gold Coin. Gold Coins contributed towards your 'trade base' -- trade can never go below your Gold Coins -- and also towards the Wealth victory. 'Currency' let you trade in a special resource for 3 Culture points, and also unlocked Marketplace.

Techs like Navigation increased your movement to 3 (from 2) and let you move across (but not stop on) water. There was a later tech that let you move four spaces and stop on water.

There was another tech (Code of Laws) that let you change government -- to one of your choice. No anarchy when you switch, unlike the computer game. It also unlocked a building (Granary, maybe?)

There were also techs that unlocked advanced military units.

I heard that the higher techs get very powerful and include Flight (you can move your army anywhere the map) and Nuclear (which lets you trash opponents' cities and buildings).

I would have looked at more if I realized we were going to be bounced from the table after only a few turns
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