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Subject: First Impressions rss

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Jacob
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Please be aware that this "review" is based on about four full turns on a prototype.

I was fortunate to be able to demo Sid Meier's Civilization at GenCon. The booth was crowded during the entire convention, but we made a point to be at the front of the throng one morning and got the first demo session on Saturday.

We sat down and my first impression was, "Whoa...there's a lot of stuff going on here!" At first glance it was a bit overwhelming...

Here's what I saw:

The Map: There is a 4x4 grid that serves as the map. Only the four corners are right-side up and one of them is your new home. The upside-down tiles are explored later in the game. Each square of the grid is also another 4x4 grid meaning that the entire map in all its glory consists of 256 spots! Your corner of the world starts with a city, a scout, and at least one army. The various powers had various starting advantages (Russia had an extra army, China had a bonus to production, Germany had a bonus to combat, and America had a "great person" which was a bonus to their home city). These bonuses alter the initial setup in each corner slightly.


Your Stuff: You have army units (these are cards, not pieces), four piles of technologies, and a spinner-dial-thingy (that's the technical word for it...) that keeps track of your research points, gold, and something else (culture maybe?). You also have a stack of government cards, extra army and scout tokens, and extra city tiles. All of this is in front of you.


The Other Stuff: Off to the side were stacks of buildings, stacks of army units, culture cards (I think that's what they were anyway), various scoring or record-keeping tracks (mainly for culture), and extra resources (grain, iron, silk, and maybe one or two more).


Here's how it played:

Gameplay: Our friendly host spent quite some time explaining how the various bits and pieces all flowed together. I was the Germans and so I didn't pay as much attention to the culture parts of the game. My plan was simply to steamroll everyone else into oblivion with my mighty might. Once everything was duly explained we started trying to take a turn. Your turn consists of four things: trade, manage your cities, move your pieces, and research new techs, in that order.

Trading: Basically, everything is up for grabs. You can trade culture, gold, resources, trade points, cards, promises, alliances, your mother and/or firstborn child, etc. The one thing you can't trade (which sucks) is technologies. Perhaps that would enable two players working together to unbalance the game too badly. In our game we traded a little bit, but I suspect this will usually not be an extremely important phase of the game.

Managing Cities: You can do a lot of different things here, but the nice thing is that you can only do one thing per turn per city. This keeps the game from getting bogged down and keeps things moving along nicely. I'm not going to cover everything here exhaustively but the main options are build units, build buildings, and get culture.

Movement: Movement is pretty straightforward. You start the game with a movement limit of two. You only have army tokens (little flags) and scouts. The scouts can send resources back to the cities and can also transform into new cities once you have them in the location you want. The armies can stack which gives you a combat advantage (you get to draw a larger hand of unit cards). Armies can enter huts (two huts on each newly explored tile each containing a single random resource). The best part was exploring the tiles. When a unit gets to the edge of a square it can spend a movement point to flip over the square next to it. Each square has an arrow on one side. Once you reveal the square simply orient the arrow so that it is pointing toward the unit which revealed the square. This will keep the map dynamic from game to game and should provide plenty of replay value. Various technologies allow you to increase movement, move across water, end your move in water, or move long distances in one fell swoop.

Research: I love how they did this! Instead of a tech-tree with prerequisites for each tech, you simply have a tech pyramid. There are four levels of techs. You need at least two level 1 techs to have a space for a level 2 tech. You would need three level 1 techs and two level 2 techs in order to get your first level 3 tech. Obviously, it will be difficult to get level 4 techs. There was a whole stack of level 4 techs just as big as the stacks for the other three levels. This means that in a regular game you won't be able to play all the level 4 techs. I'm guessing you'll only get to play two or maybe three level 4 techs. In other words, knowledge of the techs coupled with a solid game-plan is going to be important.

So, a typical turn would look something like this: No one wants to trade, build a building, move three pieces, pay for a new tech. Simple. Next turn might be: trade a resource for an extra research point, collect a culture, move into a barbarian hut and turn your scout into a new city, pay for a new tech.

Once we started playing I felt like I had no clue what to do, but then it hit me: wait a minute – this is Civilization! All you have to do is keep on improving your cities until they ROCK, build up massive armies of units to DESTROY your opponents, and research some KICKIN' techs that will have your rivals quivering in fear. This is cake! In my opinion this game more faithfully gives you the civilization computer game feel than anything else out there. If you've spent any length of time playing the computer game you will very quickly have a good feel for how the game flows and what types of things you will want to do.

Strategy: Well, just like in the computer game you are going to want to explore and build cities as quickly as possible. You are going to want to improve your cities by building special buildings around them. You will want to get armies on the board with powerful units in them as quickly as possible. You will want to research technologies as fast as you can. You will not care about culture at all because only sissies play the game that way.

Combat: Combat between armies consists of drawing cards out of your hand and matching them up against whatever your opponent chose out of his hand. There are some special bonuses that can apply automatically or can be activated by utilizing buildings and resources. Unfortunately we did not get to see how attacks against cities are handled.

Winning: You can win via military might, technological advance, maybe diplomatic victory (can't remember how that works or even if that is correct at all...)[edit: economic victory is the other victory], and cultural advance (sissy!).

Here's what I thought:

Overall things I liked:
The exploration is neat. Some of the tiles had interesting configurations of terrain. It would be possible to get unlucky in the beginning though if your first scout explored a tile and ran into a wall of water. Still, the exploration is neat and some of the tiles have some really choice terrain that will be fought over.
The size and scope is fantastic. It's big enough to allow you the freedom to explore and expand, but small enough that you will collide with your enemies within the first ten to fifteen minutes of play. I can also foresee additional sets of tiles as expansions!! I wouldn't be at all surprised to see some BGG user custom files added very quickly after the game is released. You could easily expand this to create a game as large as you want with as many people as you wanted provided you found some tokens to use of differing colors. How sweet would that be??
They got the civ feel absolutely right. I really can't wait to play a full game of this. I often wanted to play the computer game against other real people, but I never got the chance to do that. This game is perfect in that regard!

Overall things I didn't like or am still unsure about:
I'm not sure I like the resources. I like that they included the barbarian huts, and it made me excited to capture them, but it kind of felt like unnecessary chrome. I'm not sure I like the combat. Overall I think it's probably ok especially given all the other elements in the game. If combat were any more complex it might just make the whole game too difficult. I'm not sure the starting advantages for the different factions are balanced. Russia (or maybe it was China) can get a second scout on the first turn and America can get a couple technologies very quickly. Germany's power doesn't help until combat is joined which I found somewhat irritating. I'm not sure about the length of the game. We suffered from some AP problems although some of that was certainly due to the newness of the game. I hope this game can really be played start to finish in two to three hours. Somehow it looks more like a four to six hour endeavor to me.

All in all I'm excited and looking forward to playing this game.
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Darrell Hanning
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Microver99 wrote:
Jayolas wrote:
... I was the Germans and so I didn't pay as much attention to the culture parts of the game ...



Perhaps not what you intended, but it made me spurt my coffee.


I guess for some, the entire history of Germany is forever doomed to be stuck in a certain, 6 years of the mid-twentieth century.
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DarrellKH wrote:
Microver99 wrote:
Jayolas wrote:
... I was the Germans and so I didn't pay as much attention to the culture parts of the game ...



Perhaps not what you intended, but it made me spurt my coffee.


I guess for some, the entire history of Germany is forever doomed to be stuck in a certain, 6 years of the mid-twentieth century.


Good grief, are you writing WWI out of the history books so soon?
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So it looks like the tiles themselves can be moved and uncovered--we're not using the seemingly preset tiles of water next to desert and grass as appear in some screenshots of the game, I take it?
 
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philmcd wrote:
DarrellKH wrote:
Microver99 wrote:
Jayolas wrote:
... I was the Germans and so I didn't pay as much attention to the culture parts of the game ...



Perhaps not what you intended, but it made me spurt my coffee.


I guess for some, the entire history of Germany is forever doomed to be stuck in a certain, 6 years of the mid-twentieth century.


Good grief, are you writing WWI out of the history books so soon?


Sorry - a certain, twelve years of the twentieth century.

Feel better now?
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Mythdracon wrote:
So it looks like the tiles themselves can be moved and uncovered--we're not using the seemingly preset tiles of water next to desert and grass as appear in some screenshots of the game, I take it?


There are 16 tiles which each consist of 16 squares. Each tile is preset, but the tiles will be in a different configuration every game. The orientation of each tile will be determined by the direction from which it is discovered.

The original four corners may be the same every time. I'm really not sure about that, but I'm assuming that the designers wanted the starting positions to be balanced.
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DarrellKH wrote:
philmcd wrote:
DarrellKH wrote:
Microver99 wrote:
Jayolas wrote:
... I was the Germans and so I didn't pay as much attention to the culture parts of the game ...



Perhaps not what you intended, but it made me spurt my coffee.


I guess for some, the entire history of Germany is forever doomed to be stuck in a certain, 6 years of the mid-twentieth century.


Good grief, are you writing WWI out of the history books so soon?


Sorry - a certain, twelve years of the twentieth century.

Feel better now?


Well, WWI and WWII were a different kinds of war. WWI was a war between imperail powers, without no more differences between the two sides.
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Let's just be clear here - the intention of this review was absolutely to stimulate conversation about WWI and WWII
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Jayolas wrote:
Research:I'm guessing you'll only get to play two or maybe three level 4 techs. In other words, knowledge of the techs coupled with a solid game-plan is going to be important.
I'd probably suggest against going for that 3rd Level 4 tech. With 2 Level 4 techs, you can build a Level 5 tech. The Level 5 tech says "Win the Game".

Seems like a no brainer...
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DarrellKH wrote:
philmcd wrote:
DarrellKH wrote:
Microver99 wrote:
Jayolas wrote:
... I was the Germans and so I didn't pay as much attention to the culture parts of the game ...



Perhaps not what you intended, but it made me spurt my coffee.


I guess for some, the entire history of Germany is forever doomed to be stuck in a certain, 6 years of the mid-twentieth century.


Good grief, are you writing WWI out of the history books so soon?


Sorry - a certain, twelve years of the twentieth century.

Feel better now?


Not at all, now you're overlooking the repression of the Jews, gays, mentally unballanced and dissenters pre-1939, and I don't think the murder of 6 million jews and others can be included neatly as part of WW2 either.

Then there was their bombing of civillians during the Spanish civil war.

And your point is?
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philmcd wrote:
DarrellKH wrote:
philmcd wrote:
DarrellKH wrote:
Microver99 wrote:
Jayolas wrote:
... I was the Germans and so I didn't pay as much attention to the culture parts of the game ...



Perhaps not what you intended, but it made me spurt my coffee.


I guess for some, the entire history of Germany is forever doomed to be stuck in a certain, 6 years of the mid-twentieth century.


Good grief, are you writing WWI out of the history books so soon?


Sorry - a certain, twelve years of the twentieth century.

Feel better now?


Not at all, now you're overlooking the repression of the Jews, gays, mentally unballanced and dissenters pre-1939, and I don't think the murder of 6 million jews and others can be included neatly as part of WW2 either.

Then there was their bombing of civillians during the Spanish civil war.

And your point is?


I think that germans/prussians always had a bit of a knack for military tactics and soldiering - I dont think it is just the world wars. I dont see how the germans having a combat-focused special power is summing the entirety of germany history into two wars (granted, these wars changed the face of the world, and set the stage for everything up to the present. Quite an eventful 12 years, at the least ).
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Jayolas wrote:
The original four corners may be the same every time. I'm really not sure about that, but I'm assuming that the designers wanted the starting positions to be balanced.


Somewhere it was stated that the four corners are tied to the four civs, so X always gets tile Y, etc.
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bsushort wrote:
Jayolas wrote:
Research:I'm guessing you'll only get to play two or maybe three level 4 techs. In other words, knowledge of the techs coupled with a solid game-plan is going to be important.
I'd probably suggest against going for that 3rd Level 4 tech. With 2 Level 4 techs, you can build a Level 5 tech. The Level 5 tech says "Win the Game".

Seems like a no brainer...


True, but each level of tech is more costly to research than the one before it. Sometimes you can afford another level 4 but not a level 5 and you *need* that shiny level 4 military unit to prevent Germany from steamrollering you this turn.
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JMacCaull wrote:

Thanks for the impressions!

And to almost every other poster on this thread: He ignored the culture part because he knew that he was going all military! I'm sure he wasn't making some sweeping generalization.
Nice job focusing all your comments on that and having this spiral into a pro-Germany rally.


His constant re-iteration of cultural victory as a "sissy way to play" demanded he be chastised for his unapologetic anti-Euro sentiment.

Many of us, on the other hand, prefer to play games where there are both aggressive and assertive means to achieve success. If conditions indicate I should use military might, I'll use it; I won't singly rule out turtle-ish victory point hoarding as a valid strategy if the rules explicitly encourage it.

Call me a sissy if you want; if I successfully repel your military might with my technological/cultural defensive capabilities, the W still goes in my column until you decide this isn't your type of board game.

Or, you can house rule it when you play with your friends that you can't achieve cultural victories, but then without the influence of music and the arts, who would write the kick-ass gut-bucket rock n roll that you play in your jet fighters as you glass your opponents' cities? I. Ask. You. Sir.
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bhz1 wrote:
His constant re-iteration of cultural victory as a "sissy way to play" demanded he be chastised for his unapologetic anti-Euro sentiment.

Many of us, on the other hand, prefer to play games where there are both aggressive and assertive means to achieve success. If conditions indicate I should use military might, I'll use it; I won't singly rule out turtle-ish victory point hoarding as a valid strategy if the rules explicitly encourage it.

Call me a sissy if you want; if I successfully repel your military might with my technological/cultural defensive capabilities, the W still goes in my column until you decide this isn't your type of board game.

Or, you can house rule it when you play with your friends that you can't achieve cultural victories, but then without the influence of music and the arts, who would write the kick-ass gut-bucket rock n roll that you play in your jet fighters as you glass your opponents' cities? I. Ask. You. Sir.


sissy.
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philmcd wrote:
DarrellKH wrote:
philmcd wrote:
DarrellKH wrote:
Microver99 wrote:
Jayolas wrote:
... I was the Germans and so I didn't pay as much attention to the culture parts of the game ...



Perhaps not what you intended, but it made me spurt my coffee.


I guess for some, the entire history of Germany is forever doomed to be stuck in a certain, 6 years of the mid-twentieth century.


Good grief, are you writing WWI out of the history books so soon?


Sorry - a certain, twelve years of the twentieth century.

Feel better now?


Not at all, now you're overlooking the repression of the Jews, gays, mentally unballanced and dissenters pre-1939, and I don't think the murder of 6 million jews and others can be included neatly as part of WW2 either.

Then there was their bombing of civillians during the Spanish civil war.

And your point is?


Why not go way, way back to the Germanic Tribes that pillaged and sacked the Roman Empire?
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rett_brone wrote:
philmcd wrote:
DarrellKH wrote:
philmcd wrote:
DarrellKH wrote:
Microver99 wrote:
Jayolas wrote:
... I was the Germans and so I didn't pay as much attention to the culture parts of the game ...



Perhaps not what you intended, but it made me spurt my coffee.


I guess for some, the entire history of Germany is forever doomed to be stuck in a certain, 6 years of the mid-twentieth century.


Good grief, are you writing WWI out of the history books so soon?


Sorry - a certain, twelve years of the twentieth century.

Feel better now?


Not at all, now you're overlooking the repression of the Jews, gays, mentally unballanced and dissenters pre-1939, and I don't think the murder of 6 million jews and others can be included neatly as part of WW2 either.

Then there was their bombing of civillians during the Spanish civil war.

And your point is?


Why not go way, way back to the Germanic Tribes that pillaged and sacked the Roman Empire?


Because he specified the 20th century you wally !!
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Jhamin wrote:
bsushort wrote:
Jayolas wrote:
Research:I'm guessing you'll only get to play two or maybe three level 4 techs. In other words, knowledge of the techs coupled with a solid game-plan is going to be important.
I'd probably suggest against going for that 3rd Level 4 tech. With 2 Level 4 techs, you can build a Level 5 tech. The Level 5 tech says "Win the Game".

Seems like a no brainer...


True, but each level of tech is more costly to research than the one before it. Sometimes you can afford another level 4 but not a level 5 and you *need* that shiny level 4 military unit to prevent Germany from steamrollering you this turn.
Except that for a 3rd L4 tech you also need another L1, another L2, and another L3 to build your tech pyramid. That totals to twice the resources of an L5 tech. And by the endgame, you only have to wait one more turn to get that L5 if you've built up to L4 resources already.
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Thanks for the review and good luck with the direction of this thread.
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philmcd wrote:
rett_brone wrote:
philmcd wrote:
DarrellKH wrote:
philmcd wrote:
DarrellKH wrote:
Microver99 wrote:
Jayolas wrote:
... I was the Germans and so I didn't pay as much attention to the culture parts of the game ...

:p

Perhaps not what you intended, but it made me spurt my coffee.


I guess for some, the entire history of Germany is forever doomed to be stuck in a certain, 6 years of the mid-twentieth century.


Good grief, are you writing WWI out of the history books so soon? :)


Sorry - a certain, twelve years of the twentieth century.

Feel better now?


Not at all, now you're overlooking the repression of the Jews, gays, mentally unballanced and dissenters pre-1939, and I don't think the murder of 6 million jews and others can be included neatly as part of WW2 either.

Then there was their bombing of civillians during the Spanish civil war.

And your point is? :)


Why not go way, way back to the Germanic Tribes that pillaged and sacked the Roman Empire?


Because he specified the 20th century you wally !!


LOL! Without certain stereotypes world would be way too difficult ;)!! Nice preview! I am so looking forward to this game!
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philmcd wrote:
DarrellKH wrote:
philmcd wrote:
DarrellKH wrote:
Microver99 wrote:
Jayolas wrote:
... I was the Germans and so I didn't pay as much attention to the culture parts of the game ...



Perhaps not what you intended, but it made me spurt my coffee.


I guess for some, the entire history of Germany is forever doomed to be stuck in a certain, 6 years of the mid-twentieth century.


Good grief, are you writing WWI out of the history books so soon?


Sorry - a certain, twelve years of the twentieth century.

Feel better now?


Not at all, now you're overlooking the repression of the Jews, gays, mentally unballanced and dissenters pre-1939, and I don't think the murder of 6 million jews and others can be included neatly as part of WW2 either.

Then there was their bombing of civillians during the Spanish civil war.

And your point is?


It think it is unfair to suggest the evils of one nation is inherent to that nation alone. Horrible crimes against humanity is not unique to Germany. I'm still in disbelief what we put our citizens through in World War II, just because of their Japanese background. It doesn't match the nightmares overseas, but we should be ashamed. Human beings are capable of great evil. It is not unique to Germans.



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Hey, let's keep it in perspective here eh?

Stereotyping? I only replied because the original poster thought that Germany's crimes amounted to six years in the 20th century, and then continued to try and minimise them.

I firmly believe that the sins of the fathers should not be apportioned to their sons.

But let's keep in mind the context in which my REPLIES were made eh?
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So concerning trade, how does one trade culture with another player? Do you put yourself down on the culture track in exchange for the resource/promises, give them the culture card, or...?
 
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Mythdracon wrote:
So concerning trade, how does one trade culture with another player? Do you put yourself down on the culture track in exchange for the resource/promises, give them the culture card, or...?


Well, in my game the one time I traded was when America offerred me a culture card in return for one point of research. I'm not sure that your position on the culture track is up for trade. If I remember correctly though the chips are for culture and you turn in your chips to move up on the track so I think you could trade unused culture chips.
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