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Subject: How attacky is civility? How balanced are the cities? rss

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Jonathan Franklin
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I could not tell how central attacking others is to the game. Is it necessary to gang up on the leader, thereby letting someone else win? Is there enough cost to attacking that it is often not the most desirable action?

Are the cities balanced, or will thus need an auction for cities at the start?

Thanks!
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Max Kreutzer
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Hi Jonathan! Great question. The short answer is it's pretty attacky.

Here's my completely biased co-designer of the game answer.

Is attacking others central to the game?
Attacking is central if you choose that as your strategy to gain department levels quickly to gain powerful perks and to claim resource or battle-related Status Cards. But if you choose a more peaceful path, you can burn all your battle-related cards to gain department levels and work to build up your army and defenders (defenders are only gained through add defender cards and double rolls) so high that people choose not to attack you. You'll never be safe, but you can build a cushion to work towards gaining perks and claiming Status Cards while trying your best to ignore the other cities.

The cost of attacking:
The good news is, it takes 3 actions to attack so you can usually see them coming. In order to attack, the aggressor needs to have their army, and a bridge in place, and then need an attack action. There are some cards that will speed this process up, but there are also many steps you can take to thwart an attack, such as blowing up their bridge, or moving their army, or building up your army so they won't want to attack you. Also, attacking is always a gamble because there are many battle-modifying cards that a defending city may be holding. So another key to not getting attacked is to hold a full hand. You can always bluff your defensive cards in a battle as well, causing the attacking city to retreat if they think you're telling the truth.

Also, if your city loses a battle where you were attacked, the detriment to your city isn't so bad, you lose a department level of the attacker's choosing. What's bad is the attacking city goes up in almost every department, giving them more resources to claim status cards or awarding them more perks the next time a status is claimed.

Gaining up on leaders and battle balance:
The other good news is city's with higher status abilities can't attack cities with lower status abilities. So if you are still at Status 1 and everyone else is at Status 2, they can't attack you. You can still attack them though.

Also, as you move up in status, almost all of your special status abilities are weaker with some few exceptions. This gives lower cities a chance to catch up.

There is a way cities can gang up on the leader, but it's mostly in the form of working together to stop them from claiming status cards. So if someone is at status 4, about to win at status 5, the other cities kind of work together to make sure someone can claim that card before it gets to the status 4 city's turn. Sometimes this involves using powerful cards that you usually save for your own use to benefit other cities, or attacking that city to lower specific department levels that they'll need to claim the next card.

City balance and the need for an auction:
As far as the cities being balanced, that's what we spent most of our time tweaking during the play-testing period. Some cities have lower starting department levels but stronger lower-status abilities, while others have the opposite. There are also some closer to the center.

The most profound example of this is the Early Men city. It takes them awhile to learn and catch up in departments (being Early Men and all) so they start off super low in all departments. BUT their Status 2 ability is to gain department levels twice as fast so once you get there, if you can stay there for a few rounds building up your departments, you can set yourself up in a strong position.

The Expansion cities are a little different. Their status abilities require a little stronger knowledge of the game and take a lot more strategy to use effectively. The best example of this is Zombie City. On every other Status they have no special ability and they rot departments every turn. But if they win an attack on Status 1 or 3 they get the brain feast ability that maxes out all their departments! So you really have to plan on when to attack and go up in status. A mistake can cause you to rot away into a weak horde and then you have to hope for powerful cards or the right status card or world event to come up. Don't ever underestimate the Zombie comeback though, I've seen it happen many times!

At the start of the game there is a city deck and you select the cities randomly, but you can certainly make up your own rules for that. For example, sometimes our group does "double-random" where you can draw two cities and pick from one of those.

Additional comments:
Another thing to keep in mind is that each game of Civility can be vastly different. Ryan and I played a 2-player game a few days ago (we recorded it and will put it up pretty soon) where only one battle took place and it was one we both wanted to lose for Status Card claiming purposes. That game was neck and neck though, and it was pretty intense though there weren't many battles.

I'm sure you weren't looking for an answer from me but it's so exciting to see questions and conversations about Civility I couldn't resist! I can't wait to see more answers to this great question and to hear what you think! Good luck.
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Matthew Sevcik
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I am currently undefeated at the game, and I would say that it's great for the same reasons that the creator said: you can choose to be attacky or you can just build up your own civilization, but you will have to have crazy defense if you do that. Take it from me: an undefeated guy.

laugh
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Max Kreutzer
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We will see how you fare next time, young Sevcik.
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