It's Civ in 7 hours!
Over the last few years, one of the holy grails was the "Civilization in 2 hours." Well, this fine morning Ben, Ted and I pulled out the original. The rules took around half an hour, then Ben took Africa, Ted played Crete and I led Italy.
Civ has plenty of systems. Your limited tokens represent people and treasury (and having a shortage of either can be devastating). The advances come in four flavors (Science, Arts, Engineering and Civics), and have a complex discount structure. Finally, you have the "Archeological Something Table." This shows turn order (for many phases) and advancement. Each turn, you move one space to the right. But a few turns have 'checkpoints' -- you need two cities, or three different colors of advances, or seven advances total, or 1000 points of purchases. Don't have the requirements? Lose a turn. In theory, countries could finish in 16 turns, but most countries get hung up for a turn or two 9at least). Each country, apart from having a different starting position, has its breakpoints at different times (and different thresholds for the final few spaces, which usually require 1100+ points).
I managed to take the early lead, purchasing the only Mysticism advance. [There are a limited number of each advance, but in a 3 player game, only Mysticism is limited. In a seven player game, there are normally only four of the basic advances]. This directed a fair amount of wrath my way. Crete used Clothe Making to increase his ships range, while Ben militarized with Metalworking and started plinking us. (Militarization just changes the order of when you lose units, so sometimes you save a unit, or force your opponent to commit another). By this point, we had encountered the other main system in Civ -- trading. There are cards valued 1-9, and you get one card from each stack up to your cities (so, four cities earns a card from the 1, 2, 3 & 4 stack). Most of these cards are just goods, but some are catastrophes. Some calamities hit the player who drew them, others can be traded. In fact, you can trade everything. You can negotiate trades as you like, with some limits on truthfulness (you can't lie about number of cards or total value, and you must trade at least one card specifically named). We mainly traded 'nicely' for the game, keeping things truthful. There's plenty of other things to consider.
By the mid-game (as judged by the AST victory track, closer to 1/3rd of the way by time) when you need seven advances to make the next age, we all got stuck. Ted got astronomy, so the Cretins rules the seas (what with their cloth). Africa over-ran Italy (ugh). Everyone had their own problem -- Ted had to keep ferrying people around (paying the cost of a navy), Ben needed to diversify his advances, and I had too many tokens on the board, which meant I had to move (and commit troops) first.
[I always liked that balance in Age of Renaissance, and now I know where they got it from].
After a few more turns, Ben started pulled ahead on the AST. But he had to surmount the 1,000 points of advances, which cost him a few turns. But he had space to fill up on Civics (which are worth the big points). At this point, he couldn't buy anything else (since you only have so many 'slots'), but was guaranteed to advance for each of the final turns, unless we destroyed all of his cities. Sadly, no earth was salted. Ted and I were both 2 spaces behind him on the AST, although if I'd had 1300 points instead of 1295, I could have moved one extra space. Ah well.
Fortunately, during cleanup we discovered that Ben had been using 55 tokens (instead of 47 for the 3 player game), so I declared that his win didn't count. As pharoah used to say, "So let it be written, so let it be done."
The game took us quite a while, perhaps 7-8 hours. I think with a bit of play we could probably squeeze two hours out of that, but probably not much more. And the game does want more people. If not the full compliment of seven, then at least five (see the comment by Chris Farrel). For day to day play, I suspect I'll be sticking to those games that try to pull this off in 2 hours, but Civ deserves its reputation.
Labels: session report