Monday, 8 October 2012

The Long Road to Civilization

I'm not a fast learner. I've played enough games of Civilization by now to know that the technology victory is the hardest one to achieve.

Bit cramped at the start
Collecting 15 coins is relatively straightforward and can be achieved in fewer than 10 turns. You need to focus on developing the tech cards which allow you to gain coins in the city management phase and then pile on the resources. It helps to play the Romans, who start with Code of Laws, so you first victories over villages also count towards your end goal.

Reaching the end of the culture track is also achievable in this time frame, once you see the consequences of the strategy, ie forget about technology (you need the trade points to advance) and use the culture cards to delay predators from conquering your capital.

There's always a chance of capturing a capital, but if your opponents are awake, they'll see you coming and prepare. It then becomes a war of attrition, burning through your victim's deck of units, something that other players might profit from.

So to actually attempt to win through technology, which means you need to collect another 14 technology cards, in a hierarchical order, is taking the hard road. There's not many ways to develop more than one technology each turn. Even the Russian spies are limited in usefulness, although the odd gifted technology from a culture event card or village (from the expansion) and winning the race to Atlantis (also in the expansion) may help a little.

Since the table seating is relevant in Civ, I'll start showing that last Friday night, in clockwise order, we were: Spaniards (Andries), Arabs (Rob), Germans (Paul) and Greeks (me). This meant that Andries and Paul and Rob and I were natural allies against our neighbours.

There's the Germans in blue, with the Spaniards in green closing in as well

The Spaniards and Arabs both set out on a culture victory strategy, but Paul, as first time player, decided to go for the military route. So why I persevered in my attempts to win through technology  I cannot tell. It was foolish and with a highly aggressive Teutonic neighbour, I was inviting disaster.

Soon the Prussian army was knocking on my door, destroying a scout and threatening a city. Of course I was glad to be rid of these uncouth advances when the Arabs (Rob) started to draw his attention. I also cannot explain Rob's brawn here, because he'd just received a bloody nose from the Spaniards (Andries). There really wasn't much for him to defend with.

And there the Germans have done their evil deeds, and turn northwards

Paul quickly defeated two of Rob's armies and killed one unit after another. This left the Arab capital almost defenseless and when Andries drew the extra move culture event from his magician's hat, he could walk in with the result never being in doubt.

It was a rather sudden end, but a fairly predictable one. Andries fully benefitted from Paul's aggression, while Rob and I were distracted. Not sure how you can handle this, other than by the players themselves.

I was very happy to see how well Paul picked up the rules. There's quite a lot of them, especially considering that he's had to digest the basic game and expansion at the same time. He quickly made the leap from rules to strategy and played a solid game, whipping Rob's and my asses.

It was the first time for Rob and Andries, and Paul of course, to play with the Fame and Fortune expansion. And although I'd tried some bits, I hadn't experienced it all at the same time.

I like how the generals have been toned down a bit, the metropolis is an interesting addition, as are the three 'lost civilisations' and the new civilizations add diversity. The best is probably the addition of a 5th player. However, the investment cards haven't delivered for me yet.

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