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Sid Meier’s Civilization: The Board Game - Board Game Box Shot

Sid Meier’s Civilization: The Board Game

Civilization title

Designed by Kevin Wilson, Civilization: The Board Game is inspired by the legendary video game series created by Sid Meier. Players are tasked with guiding an entire civilization throughout the ages, taking ownership of your people’s technology, economy, culture, and military, as well as all the choices that go along with them. There are four different paths to victory, and each is riddled with opposition.

In Civilization: The Board Game, 2-4 players take on the roles of famous leaders in charge of historical civilizations, each with their own abilities. Players will be able to explore a module game board, build cities and buildings, fight battles, research powerful technology, and attract great people by advancing their culture. No matter what your play style is, there is a civilization for you!

Civilization game in play
images © Fantasy Flight Games

User Reviews (25)

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Professional Reviewer Beta 1.0 Tester
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Sentinels of the Multiverse fan
91 of 101 gamers found this helpful
“Faithful, fiddly, fun, and fantastic!”

Sid Meier is one of the kings of video game design, and one of his most timeless classics is the Civilization PC game series. The video game can take days to play, so trying to cram it into a boardgame that takes an evening must have been a huge challenge. There was an attempt years ago by Eagle Games, but it fell quite flat. Fantasy Flight Games took up the torch again and has done an excellent job remaining true to the spirit of the PC game. This game is EPIC! The goal of the game is to be the first to achieve one of the following victory conditions: get 15 coins (economic), get to the end of the culture track (culture), research level 5 tech (science), or conquer someone’s capital city (military).

Lots of ways to win
Tight mechanics
Awesome artwork
Customizable board (better replay)

Simplistic combat (just like the video game)
A lot of pieces, so very fiddly and takes a while to setup
3+ hour play time

Each round of the game is divided into five phases: Start of turn, trade, city management, movement, and research. Some these phases are done simultaneously like trade and research, but the others are done in turn order from the player with the first player marker. The start of turn phase is where players build cities and change governments. The trade phase is where players count their trade icons that their cities can reach, and then players can wheel and deal some trades for goods and trade icons. This is possibly the most interactive part of the game. A player gets to do one of three actions during city management phase: build a building, a wonder (big bonuses), unit, or figure, devote to the arts (culture stuff), or harvest a resource. These city management actions are done per city, so if you have 3 cities, then you get 3 city management phase actions. Building stuff costs production icons which are located around your city. Harvest a resource is for special icons within your influence via a city or a settler. Devoting to the arts is where you can “harvest” culture tokens and spend them to advance down the culture track and receive either “great people” (bonuses) or culture event cards (spoilers). The movement phase is where you move your figures on the map and explore new tiles. This is also where you do battle when your figures move onto squares occupied by opponents figures or cities. Combat is very simplistic where you can use 3 different units where each one can trump the other in a “rock, paper, scissors” fashion. There a rules governing how many units can deploy and who attacks first based on bonuses provided by tech levels, owning barracks, having city walls, etc. The last phase is research phase which costs you trade value. The research tech tree is very neat in that you stack your cards on the table in a pyramid form. This makes it easy to figure out what level of research you need, because you always have to research two of the same level before you can research the next. The research cards improve your civilization and certain bonuses that can be activated via resource tokens. Once the round is complete, the first player token is passed to the next player and the next round begins. The game ends immediately when one of the victory conditions is met by a player.

Even though the game is very fiddly and I personally can get tired of fiddly games, my fanboyism for the computer game makes me want to keep playing the game. I’ve organized the components better, so it’s not so painful on setup and teardown. Be prepared to spend the whole evening playing this game, because it does take about 3 hours to play. I like this game alot, and I wonder if I would really like it if I didn’t like the PC game, so I’m not sure I’m objective. I was surprised that my kids liked it. I think they like all the options of the cards and seeing their civilization grow. Even for such a complex game, I think the designer did a good job making it easy to digest the rules with the five phase rounds. The phases are logical and manageable. Not everything in the PC game is in the board game, but I’m sure that you can’t put everything in the board game or it would become a 3 day game instead of a 3 hour game. I like how the “exploration” aspect is preserved in the game with the customizable board where you flip tiles to see what they are. They also preserved the “hut” and “village” experience of the PC game which give you little bonuses throughout the early phase of the game. One of the differences is that you collect trade which is used for fueling your research engine or converted to production to rush building stuff. I guess the only downside is that it doesn’t take long to uncover all the tiles. If you don’t like long, complex, fiddly games, then this is not the game for you. If you’re a fan of the PC game and you like an epic game, get this!

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Z-Man Games fan
Plaid Hat Games fan
Stone of the Sun
61 of 68 gamers found this helpful
“A Time to Build”

I got this game for christmas from my wife as she knows I used to be obsessed by the video game. She picked this from a wishlist I have at home and what a choice!

First thing I will say is, this can look a little daunting. You pick up the box and, when you feel the weight of it, you know you are going to have a challenge with this one. But, at least you know you have gotten value for your money, this is not a few measly pieces thrown together, this is an epic game that is designed to got through ancient medieval and modern times as you play.

We have only played this a few times so far in my little league we have going but we can all see that this is going to be a contender for top game. There is just so much depth. Every individual gets a civilization and then modifies their play style to suit that civilization. With four ways to win, Economic, Science, Culture and Military, there are options to change tactics on the fly and move towards other areas. The game has been fine tuned and balanced so that everyone is not far from the lead in winning in their own areas and can see how far along the others are.

I will definitely be picking up the expansions for this as I have heard there is even more balancing and civilizations to use, one expansion even adds a fifth player!

Replay Value: Everybody looks forward to the next game, even though we only get one in a night at the moment. Every turn, there is so much going on that you watch to see what everyone is doing, while thinking of your next step and then someone might add something, a technology or unit to their army, and you have to scupper your plan and change your tactic, it’s great.

Components: Good quality, everything is thought of, nice pictures etc. my only gripe is that I would prefer a few little models, of cities, and people etc. I understand why there aren’t any, the box is packed to bursting point. Maybe they will bring out a deluxe and fix this but I am not too worried, everything works as it should.

Easy to Learn: No. Anyone who looks at the game in action will run, as it looks a crazy mess. The manual is not very clear and overly wordy, even adding complications to the rules when it could have been explained in simple bullet points. A Catan-like almanac would have really helped. I myself watch how to play it on Youtube and there are still points I am unsure of. Once you are a few gos in it runs smoothly but expect to play for 5 – 6 hours on your first game. Time will reduce massively per game afterwards. There is just so many questions at the start, but hey, it’s a big game and any time given to it will be returned tenfold.

Great Game that makes you itchy to play it again.

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I play red
61 of 68 gamers found this helpful | Medals x 1
“A worthy port from PC to tabletop”

This is the board game based on Sid Meier’s award-winning series of civilization-building games for the PC. If you haven’t played a Civilization game on the PC before, go ahead and give it a try! I’ll wait.

Did you notice how it’s now two weeks later and you’re muttering to yourself about the most efficient path to space flight, or cursing Gandhi for being a peaceful AI who always rushes to nukes? The Civilization games are some of the most compelling and addictive games in history, and the board game does a fantastic job of capturing everything that made them great and encapsulating it into a tabletop game.

Now, that means complexity. Civilization has a LOT of cardboard. It’s all very high quality and well done, but it is so much to take in! We’d played before, and we still had to keep the manual handy to refresh ourselves. Often. We sat down to play it fairly late on a Sunday evening, and eventually I had to remind my compatriots that if we took the time to read and perfect all the rules, we would be there all night long. So we dove in, and completed a three-player game in two and a half hours. Not bad, considering how much reading we had to do during the game!

There is a lot to manage and think about in Civilization, but the turn structure itself is very easy. I strongly recommend paying a lot of attention to the setup and then playing a few practice turns — you will learn an awful lot by doing the actual play. The systems are deep and intricate, but the beginning is rather accessible and it builds on itself very logically. You can win in many ways, either via culture (complete the culture track), science (be the first civilization to discover space flight), military (capture another player’s capital city), or economics (reach the highest number on the currency dial). Keep those goals in mind as you play, choose one, and work towards it.

The nagging problem with Civilization is its combat system. It is awkward, unintuitive, and difficult to succeed in without significant technological or numerical advantage. On top of that, the final deciding factor, the combat bonus, is influenced by buildings and great people all the way across the map, giving the militaristic player (at +8) a big advantage over my economics-driven civilization (at a meager +2). Combat usually feels frustratingly one-sided, and you can usually predict the victor before it even begins.

Aside from the combat issues, Civilization is a vast, deep, and fun empire-builder that captures the essence of what made the PC franchise so great. The learning curve can be very steep, especially if you’ve never played the eponymous PC games, but if you stick with it, there are plenty of layers of very good gameplay to be had here.

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Cooperative Game Explorer
Amateur Advisor
Gamer - Level 6
85 of 96 gamers found this helpful
“A faithful translation?”

Anyone who has ever played Sid Meier’s Civilization or any of its sequels knows that the game is quite complex. You need to manage your cities, collect science for new technologies, expand to make your civilization grow, build city improvements, and protect your civilization from those who would see it reduced to rubble. Playing Civilization is a major investment in time, and while rewarding, it can take a long time to complete.

Civilization: The Board Game attempts to take the tenants of the computer game and translate into a board game. No small feat, considering all of the features that are in the computer game itself. The board game doesn’t quite capture everything that makes the computer game what it is, but it does retain some features that make the game instantly recognizable to veterans. Of course, some of those same features have been tweaked radically, so it takes some getting used to.

For players that have never played Civilization in any way, shape, or form, let me break it down. You start the game as a significant civilization in history, only when you start off, you aren’t quite significant YET. You start off in ancient times, and your goal is to achieve victory through four main win conditions: A military victory, an economic victory, a cultural victory, or a technological victory. A military victory is achieved by attacking your opponents on the board and capturing their capital city. An economic victory is achieved by collecting gold over the course of the game (I believe 15 coins is the benchmark). A cultural victory is achieved by collecting culture points through certain buildings, luxury items, and building wonders. And lastly, a technological victory is achieved by researching enough technology to send your civilization to space.

Every civilization has a unique advantage. The American civilization starts off with a great person and is good at production, the Chinese get advantages in city defense and culture, the Germans are good with military, and so on. The civilization that you choose largely determines what victory conditions are good for you, but any player can win with any win condition with any civilization. An opportunity to get build a Wonder early on might prompt a Cultural victory attempt, or getting the Currency tech might spur on an Economic run.

With your civilization comes a progress tracker, which keeps track of your current trade output and finances. Researching a new technology requires a certain amount of science output to get a certain level of technology. Technology in Civilization (Civ for short) works on a tech tree. In order to get a level 2 tech, you need to have two level 1 technologies underneath it to support it. After all, in order to have writing, you need to have an alphabet and a medium to write with. Civ works the same way; most level 2 techs or above require having a prerequisite technology beforehand. However, you don’t need to use just trade alone. In Civ, having gold can offset some of the cost of researching techs. Call it government funding, if you will.

In order to gather resources in the game, you need to have areas around your city that can be harvested. You can get trade, production, and in some cases, luxury items that can be traded between civilizations or exchanged for additional goods. But one city can only provide so much. So you will need to go exploring for a site to build a new city or cities to branch out and make your civilization grow. The game features an interesting mechanic of having game tiles turned over at the start of the game, and as players explore the rest of the board, they encounter obstacles like rough terrain, barbarians, and in some cases, what are known as goodie huts that can yield something nice for those who find them. Once you build another city (with a scout unit – you have another unit called an army that can explore, but can’t build cities), you can start expanding even faster, and open up new possibilities.

Production is used to build buildings that provide additional effects, like more trade, production, or currency. It can also be used to build Wonders, which have interesting and varied effects. Some wonders can produce a whopping amount of culture, while others make certain activities easier. Ancient Wonders are the earliest, and the easiest to build, but can be obsoleted by certain technologies (like gunpowder). Later Wonders can have a profound impact on the game if you can muster up the production to create them, and can significantly improve your civ’s chance to win by Cultural victory.

Culture in the game does more than just sit on the board and look pretty. By accumulating enough culture points, you can gain cultural event cards. They can have some significant effects, like forcing a trade of technologies between two players, for example. The cards you gain are held in your own personal pool, and no other players can see what they are until you play them, which means you’ll always have your opponents guessing about what ace you have up your sleeve.

Combat in this game is done with the use of unit cards. There are infantry such as pikeman and spearmen, artillery such as catapults and cannons, and mounted such as horseman and knights (later on you can get aircraft once you have the flight tech). Some units are better than others at certain types of combat, a la rock-paper-scissors. Each unit had a specific number of health to indicate how much damage it can take before it dies. These units make up your army, and if all of your units in an army are defeated, you lose your army token and you have to invest production to create another. You definitely want to have an army, if for nothing else than to protect your city in case of an attack. Leaving a city unguarded is a risky proposition if an opponent is near your city.

By now if you haven’t played Civ before, you’re probably daunted by everything that is going on in the game. Believe it or not, this is actually simpler than the computer game so far. And I haven’t even gone into all the aspects of the game. But this should give you a good idea of what you’re in for. Civilization: The Board Game is a long game, because there is a lot that can happen in any one given turn. It’s this facet that both makes Civilization a good game and a game that could be improved upon.

The main complaint of this game is the length of time it takes to get through it. Because there is so much going on, it is easy to miss things and remember them after the fact, and a lot of players will be trying to figure out their best course of action early on. Once you decide on a course of victory, it is very rarely a good idea to change tactics in the middle of the game, because someone else will be further along than you are. Therefore, early decisions are crucial. However, it is not good to neglect other areas of the game for the sake of one; every civilization needs something of everything to be successful.

There is interaction between players in the game that are accounted for by the rules, but mostly in part you will be paying attention to what you’re doing more than what your opponents are doing. This can lead to tunnel-visioning in the game, because it can be difficult enough to manage your own turn properly without understanding what your opponents are doing as well. Cooperation between civilizations is possible, but to my experience, fairly rare. Most everyone will be out for themselves from word one.

In summary, this game does a good job of translating a lot of facets from the computer game, but I know that playing the computer game was usually a solo experience against computer AI civilizations. Bringing the game to the board gaming experience opens things up a bit, but some people won’t have the patience for this game. As the saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day. And yeah, we’re going out on that joke.

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Critic - Level 2
59 of 67 gamers found this helpful
“Really gives the feeling of building a civilization from scratch..”

This review was originally published at

Sid Meier’s Civilization: The Board Game is Fantasy Flight’s 2010 tabletop take on the popular Video game franchise of the same name. Designed by Kevin Wilson, Sid Meier’s Civilization: The Board Game attempts to capture the feel of Sid Meier’s Civilization the video game (which I’ll refer to as Civ from here on out), a game about growing a civilization from humble roots through the use of military might, technological achievement, cultural enrichment, or acquisition of wealth.

Wilson isn’t the first to tackle a board game conversion of the Civ license, but those that have tried before him have failed to really capture the essence of the original. Wilson has experience successfully bridging the gap between the computer and the tabletop with his work on Fantasy Flight’s Warcraft: The Board Game, and Doom: The Board Game. His respect for these games really shows through in his design choices, and the way he smartly approaches the licenses. His work on Sid Meier’s Civilization: The Board Game is no different. His design is not a quick attempt at slapping a licensed theme on a preconceived game design, but instead pays homage to the source material, and creates a very engaging board gaming experience.

Civ might seem like an easy target to make the transition to a board game. After all, it had definite roots in the board game medium. Sid Meier, creator of Civ, has expressed that the classic Avalon Hill board game Civilization was a strong influence on the design of Civ. But, inspiration wasn’t the only influence that board games had on the computer game. Sid Meier also employed former Avalon Hill employee Bruce Shelley as an assistant and collaborator when designing Civ. Before joining Meier, Shelly had worked for Avalon Hill bringing games such as 1830 and Titan to market. With such a tie to board games, it is surprising that almost 20 years after Civ was published, Fantasy Flight seems to be the first contender to finally capture the feel of Sid Meier’s Civilization.

Let’s take a closer look at this board game, inspired by a video game, inspired by a board game, and see what makes it tick.


In true Fantasy Flight style, the components in Sid Meier’s Civilization: The Board Game are wonderful. And, in true Fantasy Flight style, punching out the components will take a while. But, after all of the components have been freed from their cardboard sprues, it becomes apparent that the modular game board and mountain of tokens are all made of high quality cardboard, and covered with beautiful artwork. No one is going to accuse this game of having low production quality.

Sid Meier’s Civilization: The Board Game has a variety of different components:

A market board – The market board holds all of the buildings, units and wonders that can be purchased during the course of the game. It also contains as a scoring track for culture points earned during gameplay. The market board looks nice, and serves as a place to put most of the components in the game. I just wish that it had places for more of the components. While half of the game stays organized with the market board, the table can still get cluttered as the piles of tokens, plastic figures, and cards that don’t have a place on the board can fill the empty table space. Aside from that small detail, the market board is very useful, and nicely illustrated.

Map tilesSid Meier’s Civilization: The Board Game uses a modular map to create a new game world each play. The tiles that make up this map are single sided and placed face down at the start of the game. Map tiles are flipped over as areas are explored, recreating the exploration aspect of Civ. Each map tile has different terrain represented on it, and iconography describing what is produced in each area. The terrain and icons are easily distinguishable, and appealing to look at.

Civilization sheets – The civilization sheets are cardstock mats that describe the civilization, and list its special abilities, starting government, and starting technology. The civilization sheets also allow the player to manage his available gold and trade using an attached cardboard dial. These dials will be familiar to anyone who has played Runewars, as they are practically identical. The dial is a really novel idea, but I’m always concerned that I will rip the comparatively flimsy cardstock sheet when turning it.

Plastic units – Military Units and scouts are represented by plastic figures in the game. The scouts look like the iconic covered wagon from the Civ games, and the Military units are represented by colored plastic flags. Fantasy Flight is known for their detailed miniatures, and I was a bit disappointed to see that the units were represented as flags. I think this is an area that Fantasy Flight could have upgraded to increase the immersion a bit. I really would have liked to see figures that I could paint.

Cards – Cards are used to represent many things in the game. Combat is resolved through the use of cards, technology and governments are represented with cards, and events are triggered through cards. The cards are good quality, and serve their purpose well for the most part. However, I do have an issue with the combat cards: the iconography on the cards can be a bit difficult to make out at a glance; the art makes the cards feel cluttered; and the orientation of the cards changes their meaning. The combat cards are my biggest gripe with the game in general, they just seem a bit obtuse to me, and I can’t help but thinking a set of dice would serve the same purpose in a much simpler manner. Perhaps if the combat cards had clearer icons, and didn’t seem so cluttered, I wouldn’t feel as strongly as I do about them.

Tokens, Tokens, TokensSid Meier’s Civilization: The Board Game uses tokens for everything: cities, buildings, great people, culture, wonders, military tech level, resources, wounds, money, villages, etc. Even though there are a lot of these pieces of cardboard, they all serve a particular purpose and work well at representing what they need to in a clear and direct manner.

All in all, the components are top notch. My only real criticism was with the combat cards, and that may be more of an issue with the combat mechanism itself.


Sid Meier’s Civilization: The Board Game is a fairly complex game. Because it stays faithful to the source material, there are multiple paths to victory: Military, Economic, Cultural, and Technological. These multiple victory conditions require a set of rules, and components, for each path.

Players explore, collect resources, settle, and grow their cities striving to be the first to reach the victory condition in one of these victory paths. A cultural victory requires a certain number of culture points to win; a tech victory is awarded to the first person to research “Space Flight”; an economic victory is gained by amassing a certain amount of wealth; and a military victory is won by conquering another player’s capital city.

A player grows his city by purchasing buildings to add to his city. These buildings increase the footprint of his city, and in turn, allow more resources to be generated. Most resources are generalized as “Trade” or “Production”, although specific resource types can be collected and produced in the game as well. The resources that a certain position on the map produces are indicated by the icons on the map tile, and are modified by the building tiles that are placed on top of them. Resources are spent to purchase more buildings, military units, technology, and culture among other things. These newly purchased items add to the power or production of a city, generating a kind of “economic engine” moving the player forward towards his goal.

There are rules that dictate where players can grow their cities. Due to the way these rules operate, a large part of Sid Meier’s Civilization: The Board Game is about area control. It is beneficial to grow your city before your opponent does, but at the same time, it can leave you vulnerable to attack. Players have to balance their progress towards a victory goal with growth of other aspects of their civilization.

Three of the four victory paths are not directly confrontational in nature. However, like in Civ, military might plays a large role in this game. Combat can be a bit unintuitive at first. There are two representations of the player’s military might: The first is the units on the board, which move to establish the location of the player’s armies; the second is the deck of cards that players maintain to represent the military strength and unit types found in their civilization. The combat cards are more of an abstract representation of the civilization’s military might, as the same deck of cards is shared between all of the armies on the board, and a hand is drawn from that deck when combat begins. Units and cards are purchased separately, creating a bit of a dissonance between the two.

When combat actually occurs, players take turns placing their combat cards along an imaginary “battle front”. Each combat card represents a different type of military unit: Infantry, Mounted, and Artillery (There are also aircraft units, but they work a bit differently). These units have a Rock, Paper, Scissors relationship with one another when determining which unit takes damage first. Every card can represent each of the four military tech levels, with the attack value of each level oriented along one of the four sides. This makes it important to keep your cards rotated in the correct direction so that you don’t accidentally make tactical decisions using the wrong number. Each card also has an illustration of the unit type for each military tech level, and an icon for the type of unit that card represents. All of this information makes the card feel cluttered, and it can be difficult to glean information from it at a glance.

Combat is balanced, functional, and fun, but it’s a bit fiddly. I’m not sure that the card mechanic really works perfectly the way it is. I think a simpler mechanic, or perhaps dice based combat would have kept things running a bit more smoothly, but this small criticism definitely isn’t a deal breaker. I don’t dislike combat in Sid Meier’s Civilization: The Board Game, I just wish it was a bit more streamlined.

The game plays well from 2 players to its maximum of 4 players. The different victory conditions are well balanced, and I can see a player making a solid winning strategy using any of the paths. A game of civilization could easily last for 3+ hours; maybe more if the players are new to the game. The instructions suggest removing the “Wonders” for the first game, and I would agree that it creates a slightly easier, yet still fulfilling first game experience.


Overall, Sid Meier’s Civilization: The Board Game does an excellent job of capturing the feel of its video game namesake. It makes a fun, deep strategy board game that could easily stand on its own without the Civ license. It is definitely one of my favorite civilization building board games, and I don’t think I would turn down a game if I had the time and opportunity to play. I’m not totally sold on the card based combat mechanism. However, it is still fun, and doesn’t detract from the game, as it’s just a small part in the larger whole. The game is a bit on the long side, and may be hard to get to the table for people who cannot spare the block of time to play, and, due to the sheer number of components, putting the game away and taking it back out to finish a game becomes unfeasible. For those that love a nice long meaty game, Fantasy Flight’s offering definitely scratches the itch, though.

When all is said and done, Sid Meier’s Civilization: The Board Game really gives the feeling of building a civilization from scratch. With all of the different leaders, technologies, and governments available, the strategic combinations are endless. Who can resist reliving a history where Abraham Lincoln of the Communist States of America wages a vicious war against Cleopatra and the money grubbing capitalists of Egypt? I certainly can’t, and I would definitely recommend giving Sid Meier’s Civilization: The Board Game a try.

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Rated 100 Games
Stone of the Sun
Advanced Reviewer
Novice Advisor
88 of 101 gamers found this helpful
“Just like playing the computer game!”

Sid Meier’s Civilization has been a familiar brand of computer games for years now. I have played about five incarnations of the computer game and own the previous attempt at creating a board game out of it. This game, the second attempt, has been better designed and thought about than the previous one.

In Sid Meier’s Civilization: The Board Game you start with a city, two armies and a settler on one of the corners of the game board. The game board consists of square tiles that are face down at the start of the game (except for the starting tiles). So your armies and settlers will truly explore the world! They might encounter friendly villages or hostile barbarians that (when found of defeated) might give them some precious resource or advantage.

Settlers can found new cities, while armies can attack other armies or cities. The components are (wisely) limited, so no more than three cities can be on the game board for each player and the number of armies isn’t infinite either.

Each turn the players collect trade (needed for advancement in technology), after which each player performs actions with their cities. The cities might build buildings like banks, temples or harbors or devote themselves to the arts to collect art tokens. Of course new settlers, armies and cards representing the armies’ content can be build also.

At the end of the turn the players can research a new technology. Fortunately the technology tree is replaced by a technology pyramid. This means you need two technologies of a previous level to ‘build’ the next level onto it. This creates a lot of flexibility in choosing the technologies needed for your specific strategy.

Players win the game either by researching a level five technology (Space Flight), reaching the end of the culture track (by spending culture tokens), getting 15 coins or conquering a capitol of another player. These are the Scientific, Cultural, Economic and Military victories of the computer game. Because each path to victory has been accused of being overpowered, they are actually quite balanced.

I really love this game. Playing it is like playing the computer game. You discover new lands, found cities, research technology, engage in trade and warfare and create cultural monuments and wonders (yes, they are also in the game!). They even got the governments into the game! And still the game does not last very long (about two to three hours with veteran players). Compare this to the previous incarnation of this board game, which usually took a whole day to play!

So if you like the computer game and want to try it in real life with some friends: play Sid Meier’s Civilization: The Board Game!

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84 of 97 gamers found this helpful
“For people who really wanted to play Civilization online but found it impossible”

You better try Civilization: The board game.

Civilization is a really unique experience, played in pc. It simulates the building of a civilization and really makes you feel like this whole giant machine is yours to carry. The actions that you’ve done like a thousand years ago (game time) really affect the remainder of the game. Civilization: The Board Game really manages to recreate that feel, but has some serious pros over the PC game.

Firstly, what I believe the computer game lacks is the deeper interaction between players. I mean, come on. We’re playing board games because they offer us something that computer games are still not able to – A memorable experience with our friends. Really interaction simply does it better. Civ:TBG encourages this type of interaction, there is a nice conversation above the table. Lots of alliance-establishing and backstabbing. I only wish trade wasn’t occurring only during a specific phase of the turn (as in, for example, Twilight Imperium 3ed. where you can pass on Trade Goods between players at any given time in order to affect other people’s decisions). This can be solved easily with a house rule but I trust FFG that there’s a good reason behind it.

As for the down time – as weird as it may sound, in comparison to the computer game there’s actually LESS downtime. I never feel bored during play. The board game allows players to play certain stages of the turn simultaneously and more importantly – almost anything that happens on the board is in some way relevant for you in the military aspect, while in the PC game you simply don’t care what happens on the other side of the world.

It should be mentioned though that I feel like there aren’t enough clashes which evolve around resources. The game doesn’t really encourage direct conflict, you can attack another player but mostly you’ll mind your own business, as there’s no good excuse to do so. there are enough resources for everyone and real borders between cities don’t exist in the game. Sometimes it feels a little awkward and I believe there is simply too much space in the board.

Note for wargamers: If you’re looking for a deep, strategic combat in your games – this game is not for you. In it’s long play time there won’t be too many battles, and the battles themselves are abstract and not involve tactical decisions.

Besides that the game is really a lot like the original PC game. There are different nations to choose from, there are technologies, culture, trade and armies. I won’t cover all of the mechanics, as other people have already done that (and the rules are online) but I will say that it feels like a lot of thought was invested in every single aspect of the game, and they are working together beautifully to create a rich and memorable experience.

The expansion adds a lot more of the same (which is great) with some new twists like the ability to invest in different aspects of your civilization, the special great people powers and cool new technologies. Also, the new nations are really fun to play with so I strongly recommend the expansions if you liked the base game.

No doubt one of the best civilization games out there. If you like your games medium-heavyweight and enjoy the idea of creating a civilization from dust you want to make sure that you try this game.

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Gamer - Level 1
73 of 85 gamers found this helpful
“Only a few flaws”

This is much improved over the earlier version of Civilization the boardgame. Rather than lasting all night and ending when the players decide to quit, this game is done after a couple satisfying hours. It’s not a symmetric start game, each starting civ has it’s own flavor. So there is room to think the game could be unbalanced (in a more positive light someone who’s had a rough night can easily make excuses). I’ve played around 10 games and played as each civ but the Russians (haven’t got the expansion yet either) and I think that they are fairly well balanced.

So I love this game. I’ve always enjoyed the computer game and this boardgame scratches the itch well enough. You get to micromanage your cities, customize your tech track, militarily dominate if that’s your thing, explore unknown terrain, and adapt your path to victory to what life has given you. It’s simplified enough that it’s never particularly overwhelming. I enjoy searching for synergy in my techs or making a plan happen and I always walk away happy that I played.

So what are the flaws? Well not all of the paths to victory are the same, if you go the economic or military path then you can typically win much faster than someone going the tech route or culture route. This wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for the fact that those two tracks (econ and military) compliment each other very well. So I suspect that going with all of the coin techs and building a strong military tech will always be the right way to play. If that is the case (I’m not sold just yet, but I suspect it is true) then it takes away some of the need for adaptation or adjustments. If you’re in a game with more than 2 players then it’s not unlikely someone will fall behind militarily making a juicy target for an easy win (to a person in the right seating position). I’ve yet to lose this game, which means something (either the game is unbalanced and I have the right strategy, the game is not as luck dependent as it seems, or I need stronger competition to really get a feel for the depth of the game).

So as a game it’s not as strong as Caylus or even Through the Ages, but gosh darnit I have so much fun playing it. It hits the table more often than most games in it’s complexity/time class as there is such a large following of Civ fans out there already. It feels good to build up a foundation or march your military down the throat of some weakling nearby. Even players that insist on being tech players (and probably won’t win that way) have fun doing it. So I’m hoping that I’ll still enjoy the game this much in 3-5 years, here’s hoping.

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Gamer - Level 6
Asmodee fan
Count / Countess
58 of 68 gamers found this helpful
“A truly solid title”

When opening the box for the first time, you’ll be amazed at the content there. You’ll also be wanting to throw away the insert that comes with the game and provide plastic bags for everything, because the insert is utterly useless.

The game is about building up your civilization and getting to a certain goal before anyone else. And there are many ways to achieve this. The game provides the current victory condtions, and all are about getting there first: Military victory, take over another players capital. Cultural victory. Economic victory. Scientific victory.

With so many options, there’s a lot to take into account. You must explore the world that consist of some tiles. Every tile except the starting tiles are face down, so you don’t know what to expect. And depending on the locations, you must choose where to build a second or third city. The designers have made the map quite small, making conflicts unavoidable. So be ready to fight.

It’s impossible to win by focusing everything in one direction. The other player would beat you up in other ways. Cultural victory provides great powers. Research makes you stronger, and military makes you really dangerous, but not unbeatable.

It can drag out, but I’ve never felt that a game has been boring or dull, it’s exciting from start to finish. And there is never a clear leader, things might change around very quickly, which makes the game very interesting.

It’s very hard to learn. The game round itself is easy, but there are so many factors that you’ll have to take into account before doing something, and it’s very hard to know what good it does in the long run. Truly a gamers game, but very, very enjoyable.

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Amateur Reviewer
59 of 70 gamers found this helpful
“A big game, but definitely worth a play”

As someone who only joined the Civilization party on the computer at its most recent instalment, I won’t pretend I’m absolutely qualified to compare the board game to its digital father. I would even go as far to say that these days, I would much rather sit down with a game of Civ on the table than on my desk.

I bought this game because my girlfriend and I enjoyed many late nights of passing my laptop to and fro, playing Civ in Hotseat mode. This game is a must-buy if you want to enjoy Civilization as a more social game.

Since this game is so big, I will break the review into sections.

Components and packaging

It is the beauty of Civilization’s components that drew me to this title above its spiritual sister game, Through The Ages. While TTA is very abstract, Civ has a wonderfully illustrated selection of pieces and a detailed map to play the game on. The chits are pleasing, and the Civilization sheets have two dials on them, which provide an easy way to adjust the information about your Civilization’s current status. The map itself is modular, and is assembled blindly and randomly (more on this later), and means the game board scales well to the number of players.

The game also includes 2 kinds of figure to move around the board in 4 different colours – the colours also correspond to your cities and technology cards.

The downside is that there is a little bit of piece overload. Many of these pieces when not in play are arranged on the market board, which is detailed and clear, but many of them aren’t. You might want to consider using some tupperware containers to keep the pieces you are not currently using together and tidy. You will also need to invest in some way to keep the pieces separate when the game is in the box, unless you want to deal with some VERY long set up times.

The game!

Once you have assembled the board, arranged the pieces and gone over the rules, which are long but very helpful, you will discover the game to be quite a delight to play. In Civ, true to the computer game, you are the leader of a great nation, and have to develop your nation’s military, wealth, culture and technology to prosper and win the game.

These 4 facets of your nation are also the 4 paths to victory. Each victory path feels very different, thankfully. The military victory is achieved by successfully conquering 1 other opponent (although I’m sure there are many possibilities for home-brew variants on this one – elimination? 2v2?). To win by wealth, the player should invest in buildings, Great People and technologies that boost the nation’s economy. For a tech victory, the player must be the first to research Space Flight by reaching the 5th level on the clever technology pyramid (see below). Cultural victory is achieved by expending resources to advance along a track, and with each move gain increasing potent ‘chance cards’. These victory conditions feel very balanced, with the exception of Cultural Victory, which just doesn’t seem to be attainable fast enough unless the player focuses entirely on culture to the detriment of everything else, not least national security and military might.

Every leader, of which there are 6, has its own unique abilities, as well as a starting government type and a starting technology. These are balanced for the most part, and tend to be geared toward a particular victory type – the game suggests randomly selecting a leader, which will probably determine your route through the game. Russia is the only nation I would call overpowered. She starts with Communism, an advanced and effective government, and also boasts more military power than the others.

The map is hidden at the start of the game. Each leader has its own pre-set starting tile, designed to reflect the needs of that nation. The rest of the modular map is laid out face down, waiting to be explored by the players. Each map tile is divided into a grid, and each square within that grid contains information that should be familiar to anyone who has played the computer game. The terrain type affects the building possibilities on that tile (and in the case of water, movement). Each tile also has associated with it resources. These may be general resources, such as production, used to construct things; trade, used for research and other things; culture, used to advance closer to a cultural victory; and also more specialised resources, like iron, silk, and wheat, which can be used to effect more specific things – iron can be spent on various actions during combat, for instance. Building different buildings around a player’s city will modify the resources available – a bank, for instance, will make a square provide wealth instead of its usual resource.

The map might also contain villages and barbarians. These can be explored and conquered to gain rewards. Barbarians are never actually aggressive, though – the player is always the one to initiate any conflict.

A game turn is broken into 5 phases, which all players participate in, taking turns to be the first player to act on a turn. The game usually lasts around 12 turns, though it is possible to win in around 10. The game usually won’t go on too long – one nation will usually achieve Space Flight at some point and thus win the game if the other victory conditions have stalemated. It keeps a nice timer on the game.

The first 2 phases are essentially upkeep phases. Players may found new cities during this phase, change their nation’s government type (within the limits of their research) and perform other start of turn actions. The next thing the players do is count up how much ‘trade’ they have access to on this turn, provided by buildings, cities and scouts. Once they have counted, they add their trade to the dial on their Civilization sheet. During this trade phase, players may also trade resources and negotiate, though why this isn’t allowed in any phase I’m not sure.

The next phase is City Management. The players may, for each of their cities either construct a new building or wonder, devote to the arts (and thus gain culture), train more troops, or harvest a resource the city has access to, such as wheat. A lot goes on in this phase and it is really interesting – you really do feel like your nation is taking shape as you add new buildings to your cities. Wonders are like buildings, but only 1 nation may have each Wonder, and the Wonders have a special ability associated with them. The available Wonders become increasingly more modern as the game progresses, which is a nice touch.

The fourth phase is Movement and Combat. During this phase, players may move their scout and army figures about, engage enemies, and explore new areas of the map. Figures on the map are not the player’s actual units, however. they simply represent military presence. Upon engaging the enemy, players enter a separate sort of ‘mini-game’ to resolve combat which involves playing unit cards from the belligerants’ hands in a kind of rock-paper-scissors fashion.

The combat seems balanced enough, and there are lots of things you can do to gain an edge – research better troops, move multiple figures onto the enemy at once (thereby allowing more cards in your hand) and using specific moves during battle that cost resource to use. The only problem is that to me, it disrupts the feel of the game, and I have to say combat is my least favourite part of the game. I stop feeling like I’m actually controlling an army. Instead, it feels more like the children’s card game Top Trumps. Civilization on the computer involves tactical positioning, attacks and retreats. On the board, it is simply playing cards to an imaginary frontline. This could have been done a lot better. It is also possible for a player to have all his cards wiped out during battle and yet still win, since the outcome is dependent on the player with the highest score at the end of a battle, and troops aren’t the only thing that contribute to this.

The final stage of the turn is Research, and this part is very clever. Each player has a large deck of possible technologies. Any leftover ‘trade’ resource at the end of the turn can be spent on ONE technology, and these technologies have a level corresponding to a level on the ‘technology pyramid’. Rather than a tech tree, players must construct a triangle with their tech cards, each level requiring a foundation on the level below. So a level 2 tech can be constructed over 2 level 1 techs, and a level 3 over 2 level 2s. An efficient player can achieve Space Flight with 5 level 1s, 4 level 2s, 3 level 3s, 2 level 4s and finally the level 5 Space Flight. Of course, other layouts are possible. A player may choose to simply buy the cheaper level 1 techs and never advance further. Each tech provides a different benefit, such as new buildings, units and abilities, so choosing an effective path is part of the strategy of the game.

The players continue to repeat these 5 phases until a winner is found.

Final comments

Whew! That was big. You’ve done well! I really recommend this game if you are a fan of Civilization, of course, but I think any light strategy gamer who is after a game with a lot of meat on the bones. This game is definitely on the heavier end of light strategy, and is such probably the only game of its type I will buy for a long while yet. You will need a large table to play this game on.

The game balance is reasonably ok. Unfortunately, if you draw a Civilization which favours the cultural victory, you’re in for a tough battle. While the game map scales down for an enjoyable 2 player game, the game rules do not suggest any rebalances to the buildings available, so when my girlfriend and I play together we half the number of available buildings, and remove one of the wonders which would be fine with more players, but is too good in 1v1 (basically gives a player a free army every turn – with negotiation, the other players could gang up to keep this under control and destroy the wonder. in 2 player games, the never ending armies is overwhelming).

The main good things about this game is this game is the detail, the depth and the overall ‘Civilization building’ feel of the game. The worst part is by far the combat.

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74 of 88 gamers found this helpful
“Many ways to win, fairly straight forward, a delight”

I am impressed at how much I love this game. The ability to interact with other players allows for enough intrigue, bluffs, and alternate victory routes to put this title in the same league as twilight imperium. Except in half the time (or less). when I first played it I thought “oh, its like the computer game” (and it is) but the more I play it the more I appreciate it on its own right. The computer game requires a lot more management and I think is more improved by AI opponents and long drawn out games usually trying to improve all victory conditions at once for most of the early game. This is like a rush of the experience with more narrow victory alternates for some factions, but it actually enhances and changes how the game plays and makes positioning and forthought that much more important.

The pieces in the game are well made, bright, colorful. I love the spinners, though I wish culture was better tracked (the little pillers are annoying to manage, where a slider like how ‘trade’ and ‘coins’ are tracked would be an improvement).

In spite how complex this game is, its fairly simple to learn (still only getting 2 stars, on ‘easy to learn’ because you still need to play through it once to really get the feel for the game. Chances are when you 1st pick it up, you’ll understand the basics but won’t be able to rush a victory condition besides maybe military)

Really the only downside I’d put this is I feel you NEED 4 players. 3, and by horror 2, just doesn’t cut it. But if you can get 4 good spirited players (maybe not as good spirited as what diplomacy and twilight imperium require, but backstabbing can happen very quickly and harshly late game) on even a semi regular basis its a blast.

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I'm a Real Person
59 of 71 gamers found this helpful
“Plenty of depth to be discovered”

Sid Meirer’s Civilization: The Board Game is a civilization building game where 2 to 4 players vie to create the most dominant society. There are 4 potential paths to victory: cultural, economic, military, or technological. While some may feel that certain paths are easier to achieve than others, my continued experience with the game has led me to appreciate that there are powerful counters to each path available to all players. If someone is going for an economic victory, then you need to counter by denying him or her the ability to gain coins (the source of an economic victory) while you work your own strategy.

It’s a long game. Even after multiple plays we still assume at least 2.5 to 3 hours (with experienced players). And there is a lot to manage, but for me that is the beauty of the game. You have lots of options to customize your civ and an open playing field for which to expand.

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PC Game Fan
Indie Board & Cards fan
87 of 107 gamers found this helpful
“Just one more turn before I go to sleep”

I am a huge Civilization PC gamer before purchasing the board game. I remember playing and enjoying Civ II on a 486 Compaq Presario. That seems a thousand years ago.

I actually bought the board game a few years ago and tried to get into it with my son (at that time he was probably 9 or 10-younger than the recommended age, but he’s an astute gamer). Back then the learning curve seemed too steep and the game was shelved, that is until a month ago. Having charted a couple of hundred of hours on the PC based Civ 5, I was hungry for a different yet familiar civ fix. I read a few reviews of games like Through the Ages, but decided to dust off my shelved Civilization game and give it another try. My only regret is that my son and I did not learn the game two or three years ago when I first bought it. Since learning the rules and mechanics of the game we went two weeks straight playing almost every night. On one occasion my son had to remind me that it was a school night for him. The board game came close to the time altering phenomena that has happened to me countless times with the PC version- the making of a dozen “last” moves.

The pros:
With the help of the expansions (especially Wisdom and Warfare), there’s a wealth of choices of cultures to start from, as well as more regular tiles and special ancient sites.

The battle system has been fixed (again thanks to Wisdom and Warfare), simple and fun.

There’s a lot of layered strategic planning and actions that take place every round, which I certainly appreciate.

The cons:
My son and I seem to win best through Tech and Economic victories only using two cultures. Out of curiosity I’ve tried other cultures and have not been able to duplicate the same consistent results. Granted, my son and I are a tiny sample size, and though we have played a lot, we’re committed to playing more and varying our strategies.

In all, like most games with a lot of tiles, layers, and stages- the initial learning of the game could be a bit daunting. I recommend you stick with it and in due time you too might lose all sense of time.

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Advanced Reviewer Bronze Supporter
75 of 97 gamers found this helpful
“Where's the comp when we need it?”

I remember playing the first Sid Meier’s Civilization on an old IBM PC 386… All the “just one turn” moments, all the discoveries (including the fact that the civilization percentage is coded in a single byte), all the nights with not enough sleep. Well, in fact I still play the old “Civ I” from time to time. So there’s nothing strange that I was eager to try the SM’s Civilization as a boardgame.

The boardgame looks familiar to everyone who played the computer versions. We have cities, and military forces; we discover technologies, build new cities and upgrade our units; we scout the land, establish trade routes and eventually we attack other civilizations (well, sometimes we defend against their attacks). As in the PC original version we start in deep ancient times and we are to lead our people all the way to the present.

The rules of the game are complex and the mechanics is quite heavy. And the bad news is – we have no computer to take care about all the necessary calculations and adjustments! So fiddling with the components (they are well made and appealing by the way!) takes quite a big part of the long game time. Where’s the comp when we need it? 😉

There is a few ways to win the game starting from dominating the world by brutal and armed force ending at being the civilization of superior cultural achievements. This allow players to try various strategies and tailor their way of civilization development both to their own nature and to the nature of the nation they play in a given game. But then suddenly a pitfall appear: the development lines are not well balanced: there are a few no-brainer progress steps (like irrigation) and there are a few that turn out not to be worth attention. I’d say: the game looks better when it’s fresh. After several plays it tends to be more and more repetitive.

Although “SM Civ TBG” is quite a good game, for those who want to play a Sid Meyer labeled product I’d rather recommend a computer version (and you have a few ones to choose from!), and for those who like to play a civilization boardgame I’d propose trying “Through the Ages” instead.

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59 of 77 gamers found this helpful
“Fairly complex game but which leader determines your strategy”

This is a solid game from FFG that is quite entertaining. It does take a bit of time explaining the game so expect quite a bit of time explaining the game to new players. I really like the game (I love the research pyramid idea); the only thing I have an issue with is that the leader that you draw pretty much determines your strategy. For example, if you get Germany, you must follow a military path (if you want to play your side in the most efficient manner). [What I’d be interested in seeing is knowing if folks have tried this game w/o using leader abilities (more along the lines of the comp. game where what leader you are playing as is immaterial); just ignore the special abilities of the country/leader and then just have folks choose a Level I tech of their choice as their starting tech.] That said, the game is very replayable – the map is always different (unless you play this a LOT of times). It can be solidly played in about 90 min. if folks know what they are doing and aren’t prone to A/P. I’d definitely recommend this game if you are looking for a civ-building game that won’t take forever and a day to play, offers decent player interaction, and multiple paths to victory.

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I'm a Real Person
58 of 81 gamers found this helpful
“abstract but true to original computer game”

Being a fan of the computer game, especially Civ2, I loved how close this game felt to that, the squares and the units. The multiple paths to victory also more closely represent Civ3-4 better, too, while my only qualm with the game is that some paths to victory may be easier than others (warfare may not be the most viable option as is true with most games nowadays). I guess the balance comes into play when your opponent realizes your strategy and must quickly change theirs to counter act it, or it will just be too late. I would play again, multiple times. This game also presents huge expansionary potential.

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Advanced Grader
58 of 86 gamers found this helpful
“A great Civ game with lots to do”

as far as Civ games go this one is the best! Great for three or four players, there are multiple ways to win some are easier than others but a lot have to do with what civilization you play and what resources you have. But you must pursue multiple victory conditions at the same time and be willing to change tactics in the middle of the game if needed. You must also be willing to attack other players to weaken them so that they don’t accomplish their objectives.

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Novice Reviewer
59 of 88 gamers found this helpful
“A solid offering from FFG”

This game seems most similar to Civ Revolutions, if you’ve played the video game. There are several ways to win, the characters add some nice replayability, and the components are solid. My only gripe is the war mechanism is not quite satisfying. Looking forward to future expansions.

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58 of 89 gamers found this helpful
“My type of civ game”

For me a civ game needs a map. This one provides it and the desired element of “discoverability”. The unknown element is what I enjoy in exploring. The fact that there are three ways to win is attractive. That way a militaristic bully has to be careful that while beating up on one opponent, another doesn’t sneak in with a win.

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Critic - Level 1
58 of 92 gamers found this helpful
“Best CIV game to date”

This has it all. Multiple viable victory conditions. Superb balancing. Innovative, easy to learn combat. Plus Rules that are easy to learn and quick to teach. For 50 bucks you get the best CIV game the world has seen so far. In Germany you can pick this up for 36€. For that kind of money you oughta buy two and gift it to a relative, just because it is so awesome.


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