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Subject: Western Map - too good for Africa and Iberia? rss

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Michael Bachelor
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I bought Civilization when it first came out and played the heck out of it in the mid to late 80's and into the 90's. I bought Advanced Civ, and played it - but we usually ened up with less than 7 people playing, and so I don't think we ever used the western extension map. (Which I DO own, but I am just not sure if I ever USED it)

Recently I watched a game being played WITH the Western Extension map (WXM). Players were discussing what a good starting position Africa has. Using the original Map Africa was the country that was one of the MOST difficult to play. There is little fertile land, and Africa is hemmed in by the Mediterranian and by Egypt. You have to fight for Cyrene if Egypt is a jerk. Then, of course, the most fertile site is near Carthage. "Build a city on my only population level 3 sites? Forget that! - we are making a home in the wilderness!" It seems the Afica player (in our games at least) was always streaching to make the next major AST move.

Looking at the WXM, Africa has 4 more territories and a new city site within easy reach. The expansion of Africa is now open. There is little chance for conflict over the north Africa sites during the inital phase of the game.

The same looks true of Iberia. There are no starting conflicts like Rome/Illyria or Asia/Assyria. Iberia and North West Africa are also devoid of the large flood plains and volcanoes that are the povence of Egypt and Babylon and Crete - the 3 civilizations on the normal map that are tradtionaly able to avoid early conflicts. Looking at the WXM, it looks like Iberia and Africa get land without penalties - even if the land does not hold many city sites.

SO - for those of you that DO play with the WXM, is this true? - do Africa nd Iberia have easy going at the start of the game? Does this early advantage hold through later game stages? Do people consider it potentialy game imbalancing?

I was looking at starting a game that may have as many as 8 people, and so I might have need of my Western map. If Iberia and Africa have an early advantage, then I may just decide to have the least experienced players play those countires.

Thank you for you input!

MB
 
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Adam Smiles
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I think it is fairly self correcting. The extra space that Africa and Iberia have means that they push east less, which means Illyria and Egypt can expand a little more west without real conlfict which gives everyone a little more brething room.

With fewer than 8 players, you don't realy need the expansion map, but it gives you a bit more room to play with if you do use it.

With 8 players you might want to give Iberia and Africa to the new players. Not because they have more space or more freindly starting terrain, but because baring an early cross of the Med by either Africa or Iberia, they really only each have one direct neighbor to worry about. Compare that to Crete or Asia or Thrace, who have many more borders to worry about.

As for the end game effects, because all of Africa is coast line it's really hard for Africa to wall itself off and keep all the land for itself. If people want in, they can get there. Iberia, can if they choose to, wall themself off. There's plenty of land, and they can build wilderness cities in England and Northern France that are inaccessible to invaders (Except for Civil War or Treachery), making it a more defensible position.
 
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Tim Taylor
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We used to kind of feel that way too, back when I had gamer friends (early 90s). As I remember, we felt Africa was a great power to play, like Egypt without those Nile Calamities. However, we eventually came to feel that the revised AST ameliorated this to a great degree.

In the end, we decided that pretty much all the civilizations were balanced (except for Crete which is a real stinker).

TT
 
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Mindy Kyrkos
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I recommend using it with 7 or 8 players, but not with less. We tried it once with 6 players and found that it gave Africa and Iberia a significant if not game-breaking advantage. I have never played the game with less than 6 players so I can't comment on that. Enjoy!
 
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John Elbl
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Herr Niemand wrote:
(except for Crete which is a real stinker).


Yes, yes... Crete is bad; don't play it... let me. devil
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Igor Livshits
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Indeed, I would say that African and Crete are my favorite starting countries with or without WXM. Sure, you have to make a few minor sacrifices in the beginning, but both offer tremendous advantages in the mid and the end game.

Africa offer great sheltered city sites. If you deal well with calamities and control your fleet well, middle Africa remains an unassailable stronghold. Invariably, it is the easiest stronghold to defend in the long run. It also offers great springboards E, NW, and N. With enough of the appropriate civilizations, the whole sea is your arena. In the mean time, the rest of the players piddle and bicker over the Balkans, most of Thrace and the nearby fertile places. Plus, I find it quite easy to push and constrain Egypt who invariably seems falsely content with the Nile.

Crete is a bit weaker (albeit with the silly advantage on the hordes). Nevertheless, Crete is a fabulous see-faring power with easy reach anywhere. Sacrifice a bit in the beginning and take the Balkans or Italy entirely as your own! Heck, I've seen Crete make an incredible play for Egypt as well.

Separately, I find that the WXM really adds little no matter how many people play. I tried a few times, and for the past few sessions have been incredibly content with the main board.

YMMV,
Igor
 
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Jeff Luck
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Africa is indeed easier, but not as much as you might think. You only get 4 more farmers and a cities, so it's not the run-away that it would seem.

Iberia is my last choice of starting area for a large game. You can get to 5 cities fairly easily, but getting past that is a real problem. You seem to spend the entire game just breaking even.

So, Africa is a bit easier, but still not as good as Egypt, and Iberia is a real bugger.

-JL
 
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Chris White
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Lemming wrote:
Africa is indeed easier, but not as much as you might think. You only get 4 more farmers and a cities, so it's not the run-away that it would seem.

Iberia is my last choice of starting area for a large game. You can get to 5 cities fairly easily, but getting past that is a real problem. You seem to spend the entire game just breaking even.

So, Africa is a bit easier, but still not as good as Egypt, and Iberia is a real bugger.

-JL


I mostly agree- Iberia is awful due to the lack of city sites (and it's very easy to get horribly penned in if Illyria takes all the land it can).

Those spaces are great for Africa, though- while it only seems like a tiny bit more room to begin with, it's a lot more room once you get Agriculture. And Africa retains its plum AST position, so it doesn't need to have Egypt-rich land to be a powerful civilization.
 
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LV
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Lemming wrote:
Africa is indeed easier, but not as much as you might think. You only get 4 more farmers and a cities, so it's not the run-away that it would seem.

Iberia is my last choice of starting area for a large game. You can get to 5 cities fairly easily, but getting past that is a real problem. You seem to spend the entire game just breaking even.

So, Africa is a bit easier, but still not as good as Egypt, and Iberia is a real bugger.

-JL



Yah, I can definitely see that. Even with Architecture and Coinage helping out, seems like the need to build (and, thanks to calamities, sometimes re-build) so many wilderness cities would just be a huge resources drain.

Iberia is just plain poor on city sites.
 
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Ken
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I find the western map just adds too much space, which reduces conflict, which makes the game boring. I prefer the original with the tight confines well defined so that players are forced into conflict at some point. It's both more historically accurate and forces you to make choices about who you want a war with. It also makes population management (tokens on the map) very, very important over the course of the game.

I didn't find that it made life too easy for anybody in particular, but for everybody in general since Egypt could push west knowing that Africa could, leaving room for Babylon, which freed up space for...

Bleh. Need conflict.
 
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The WXM is definitely a recommended purchase, if only because having "everything" Civilization is a given.

I disagree Africa and Iberia are good newbie countries. Africa really must aggressively negotiate or fight its way to more land and city sites than North Africa; and this is far from obvious to the newcomer. A timid Africa is a country finishing in the lower half.

The poor lands of Iberia also benefit from an experienced hand. Experience also helps in talking an Illyrian player into pushing east and south and leaving enough space to the west.

And if you never play with more than seven players you really don't need the WXM. While it adds variety, it also adds land and thus alleviates much needed tension.

For the eight player game, of course, it's invaluable.
 
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