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Mark Edwards
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President's Day Special Session: February 19, 2001

Advanced Civilization: Dave B, Dan C, Craig, Walter, Matt H, Pat and Mark
We had been talking about getting in a session of this old AH classic for months, but setting aside the necessary chunk of time and gathering up enough bodies wasn't easy to do. We finally pulled it all together and had 7 gamers ready for action on President's Day.

We started at 12:30pm, only Dan hadn't played before (although a few needed some refreshing on em) so after a quick dump of the rules and we were off. I had Egypt, Dave as Africa and Pat as Babylon were my neighbors. I'd never had Egypt before and it's pretty easy to get things cruising since you've got all these wonderful city sites and fertile lands. But my neighbor Dave was in a less comfortable region and he soon was encroaching on my borders. For the most part I just let him have the regions, content to extend a bit more towards Pat who was mostly busy tangling with Matt to the north.

I was doing pretty well early on, I even hit 9 cities fairly fast and early and then disaster struck. A Civil War and a Slave Revolt crippled me in one fell swoop (I had tried to accumulate a few more calamities just to lessen the chances of getting these, but luck wasn't with me, I chose them randomly from the 4 or so I had gathered). That set me back for 3 or so turns as Dan's Italians were the beneficiary of the Civil War and kicking them out was a bit of work.

Meanwhile Walter and Craig were starting to pull away from the pack. Walter had done some fine trading and cashed in a nice lot or two worth 140+ to pull away in Civ advances. I tell yah the man's a natural used car salesman. Craig was somehow avoiding the big calamities and was advancing slowly and steadily. The rest of us lagged behind, especially poor Dan who couldn't quite get the logistics of his Italian civilization in order and worse he got thumped badly by some calamities (an Iconoclasm and Heresy turn coupled with something else comes to mind). At one point at about midgame he was reduced to zero cities, not good.

Around midgame Walter hit a brick wall, I'm not sure what the series of events were but he had a terrible time recovering from a series of calamities. In fact some pirate cities (formerly his) remained on the board for several turns. Craig continued his smooth sailing. I'm not sure how; he just never seemed to get his fair share of calamities or something.

I had another turn of multiple calamities, but by this time I was better able to rebuild. That's what this game is all about, rebuilding after the inevitable sh*t hits the fan. I should've bought Architecture earlier; it makes the rebuilding so much easier.

As we approached end game it was clear that Dave, Dan and I were pretty much out of it. Craig was the clear leader, while Pat and Matt were lying low, but doing pretty well themselves. Walter was completely frustrated by this time and his logistics needs were so precise that he practically had a hissy fit when Dan and then later Matt dealt him calamities. A few of us thought it was pretty funny, but Walter (AKA The Whiner) didn't! Heheheh.

I started to make a small comeback of sorts as in the last few turns I started cashing in beaucoup trading sets, as I'd been able to keep a nice core of 7-9 cities going. I remember my last trade in was for 320 and I was able to buy 450+ worth of civ cards. Pat was really moving forward as he somehow had a streak of 2 or 3 turns in a row at 9 cities. Matt was quietly (and quite sneakily) pushing forward as well, and since everyone had started to target Craig with secondary calamity effects he started to fall back to the pack. At this point it became a game of who could whine and deflect the "he's winning" finger the best.

We called the game at around 8:45pm, we were still a turn or two away from completion and Outback Steakhouse was calling.

Final Scores: (from Craig's corrected notes)
Pat 3803
Craig 3794
Matt 3790
Mark 3517
Walter 3329
Dave 3068
Dan 2561

I haven't played Civ in years so it was good to revisit this old classic. I find the logistics management of handling your civilization to be thought provoking and enjoyable. The trading mechanism is one of my favorites in any game, although the calamities adds a "screw you" factor that sucks out some of the fun. Despite all my warnings about not taking offense when dealt a calamity there were a few times where people felt put off. This was especially true as the end game approached. I probably would've felt more strongly about such stuff also, if I had been anywhere near contention for most of the game. The civ advances add a neat wrinkle, that of customizable powers for your position. Although I do find the bean-counting factor in this area is perhaps just a tad too high for my tastes. The player aid they give you for this greatly simplifies things; too bad I read it wrong for half of the game. Doh!

But when it gets right down to it, I concur with Dave on this game. At 8+ hours (and we weren't finished yet) you can probably get the same enjoyment level out of a variety of other games with similar mechanics in them and much shorter play times. Vinci, Ursuppe, La Citta, and Settlers come to mind.

That said, I'd play it again next President's Day if anyone else were interested.

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