Paul Grogan
United Kingdom
Cullompton
Devon
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Civ was my favourite board game for years until things like Puerto Rico and Caylus came along. But even with them, I still like to play 'long' games, and Civ is up there. We're talking the original one, not the big box Eagle Games thing.

So, when I heard about this, it moved straight to my 'Games to buy at Essen without even thinking about it' list. I pre-ordered it from CBG, got my order number and was sorted. I then heard good things about Graenland, so I wrote back to them and pre-ordered that too.

I got the game on the Thursday and browsed through the rules and was happy with my purchase. We sat down to play the simple game either Thursday or Friday (cant remember, all a bit of a blur).

I was right about the rules. Now, I'm very fussy about rules, and dislike games where they are badly written or need further explanations. These are the best rules I have ever read. Clear and well layed out, the formatting looks like it has been done by someone who really knows what they are doing.

It explains the basic mechanics and then leads you step by step through turn 1, missing out things you dont need to know. Then it goes into turn 2, explaining more things. Very very easy to read and understand.

The simple game was good to begin with and I suggest everyone plays this the first time they play because it gets you used to the basics. Without this, you might jump into one of the longer games, make some simple mistakes and then end up in a right mess.

The simple game only plays through till the end of Age 1, and a lot of the things you can get dont have any effect on the game but give bonus points at the end. Points didnt matter and we just took things to see what they did rather than really think about them - we all set out just to learn the game (in other words, I didnt win).

Diana got Michaelangelo who turned out to be very strong since he increases the culture output of temples, and since culture is effectively VP, she managed to get a lot more culture per turn coming in than the rest of us. I built the Colossus, which it turned out gave a bonus to colonisation, which you dont use in the simple game.

I had learnt enough to know this was a good game, but I hadnt read the advanced rules yet, which is where the combat comes in, so I had that to look forward to.

Saturday night arrived. I'd had 4-5 hours sleep a night for the last 5 nights and spent all day in the Euromasters tournament. I also had about 20 other new games to play. So, what did I decide to do? Play the advanced game of course.

Four of us sat down to play this, and it took us about 7 hours, but 2 of the players were new, and they are both slow players (giving me time for a few minutes sleep before my turn).

We read the extra rules whilst we were learning and we hadnt seen the cards before, so the next time it will take less time to play. And now, we got to use the combat system, which is good.

Basically, your nation has a military strength. You increase this by building units (infantry, cavarly, etc), having certain leaders (I had Alexander which meant each of my units gave +1 strength), tactics cards and so on.

Mid-game was a real race for military strength, and it got interesting, since each military unit is 1 yellow counter, which could be put to use in a building instead.

Attacking is non-random (huzzah). You can only attack someone with a card, and it is a political action that you can only do at the start of your turn. You cant simply just attack someone. Mid-game, I tried to enslave some of Diana's people, since she was quite weak militarily. What this meant is that we had a bit of a fight, and if I won, I got some of her yellow tokens.

First of all, you look at the military strengths of the empires. Then the attacker can sacrifice units (literally, destroying them), they increase the military strength again by their amount. So, for example, I had strength 15. If I chose to sacrifice one of my infantry units that was worth 2 strength, I would go up to 17. But after the fight, I would drop down to 13.

The defender then has the option to do the same, and also to play defence cards which give a one-off bonus.

As it was, I didnt have to sacrifice anything, and I won anyway, so I enslaved some of Diana's population - Woohoo.

However, my gameplan fell apart completely because my plan was to get Alexander, get an initial good military strength and then colonise some territories (new rules for the Advanced game). Colonising takes up military strength, and the players effectively bid for who gets to colonise it. Unfortunately, at the time I had good military strength, the colonisation cards didnt come out.

Then Age II came upon us and certain things from Age A disappear. Including my leader. And it all fell apart. My military strength fell apart, the other empires were out-producing me, and bit by bit it was falling to pieces.

However, I'd picked up Michaelangelo and was producing lots of culture, so despite being in such a bad state, I was leading on points and producing more. I was trying to end the game quickly.

As it turns out, it wasnt enough. The other Paul and Iain raced ahead of me on the last 2 turns and it ended with Iain winning (no surprise there).

I cant wait to play the game again, even though I bought nearly 40 other games over the weekend. My post-Essen games weekend is in 4 weeks time and playing the full game is at the top of my list.

The mechanics are nice, the game plays well, it is cleverly thought out and very enjoyable. The cards are very thin, but you get lots of them, and also, it means you can slide the little beads right onto them, since they are nearly impossible to pick up.

Playing time I was told was 3 hours, but I cant imagine a full game even with people who know what they are doing taking less than 6. This for me is not a downside, since the game develops as progression is made through the different ages and new technologies are developed.

Paul Grogan,
UK
 
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John Weber
United States
Ellicott City
Maryland
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Just started learning the game so it's really too soon to give an opinion on the substance. But I'm disappointed with the fiddly bits, in particular the little beads that can easily drop to the floor and get misplaced. Also, the mechanism of adjusting everything after each player's turn gets a bit fiddly and I'm left with the impression that with a bit more playtesting and thought something a bit smoother and flowing in a more seamless manner could have been developed to track the status of each player's civilization. But it's way too soon for me to write off the game, hope to get in a full playing of it soon.
 
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