Archive for March, 2015

Civilization

March 16, 2015

On Sunday I had 6 friends over, and we played Civilization.  Wow, was that fun!  I cannot recall the last time I had played Civilization.  I checked my games played on BGG, and I see I played Advanced Civilization back in 2007.

Absent any hard data, I am free to speculate…  This allows me to ramble on about my gaming history, and no one is really able to correct me.  In this age of Google-monkeys, this is a relief!

I moved to New Mexico in 1987.  By 1988, I had begun regular gaming with my old friends, Rick and Gary (along with assorted others).  We played a lot of Avalon Hill multi-player games, and Civilization was in the mix.  In 1991, Advanced Civilization was released, and we quickly embraced that.  I cannot recall going back to play the base game after we got Advanced Civ.  So I suspect the last time I played un-expanded Civilization was back in 1990 or 1991.

So why return to it?  I own Advanced Civ.  In fact, my game was configured to play Advanced Civ.  I considered my scenario, and opted for the base game due to a few factors:

  • My friends were showing up at 1:00 p.m. and we would likely want o be done by 8:00 p.m. or so.
  • I believe, generally, Advanced Civ takes longer to play.
  • I needed to reread the rules, and the original game looked easier to get through.
  • The original A.S.T. has alternate finishing points for a shorter game.
  • Advanced Civ has twice as many trade goods, making trading a slower process.
  • Advanced Civ has twice as many disasters, making that resolution slower.

I knew we could not complete a full game of Civ in the 7 hours or so we would have together.  But I thought if we played a game to the finish line in the early Iron Age, that we might time correctly.  As it turned out, this worked out perfectly.  Everyone arrived shortly after 1:00, and by 1:30, I had explained the rules and we were ready to begin.  At about 5:00, I asked that we take a break so that I could grill bratwurst for our dinner.  We were back to the game table after our dinner break, and we declared a winner at about 7:30 pm.

Everyone had a great time, and at least one of the players had never played the game before.  In fact, Alex was that player, and he was the winner!

Playing the shortened scenario was a nice way to use this game set.  We enjoyed roughly 6 hours of gaming, and it served as a great training session on how the game system works.  In reality, no one could have won the full game if we had continued.  This is because it is very important to carefully consider which cards you need to be able to cross the final thresholds.  For us, the thresholds we had to meet were:

  • Have 2 cities (early bronze age)
  • Have 3 colors of Civ cards (late bronze age)
  • Have 7 Civ cards (early Iron age)

Nothing too onerous there.  But if we had continued:

  • Have 1000 points in Civ cards (late Iron age)
  • Meet specific point totals in Civ/Trade cards & Treasury) ranging up to 1400 points.

The 1000 points in Civ cards isn’t too hard, but needs to be planned for.  No one is allowed to have more than 11 Civ cards.  And no one is allowed to slough a Civ card in favor of a higher value Civ card.  But even so, usually no one will have trouble with the 1000 point requirement.  However, getting to 1300 or 1400 points is more difficult.  You can add in your trade card and treasury value, which helps, but it is quite possible to be mathematically eliminated from winning if you don’t plan this out well ahead of time.  But too many cheap Civ cards and your hopes of victory are gone.

But we weren’t playing the full game, so we were free to buy cheap Civ cards (however, Mysticism is removed entirely from all shorter games), since all we needed were two cities, 3 colors and 7 Civ cards to win.  If this sounds too easy, it still took us 6 hours of gaming to determine a winner.

Setting up my game set to play original Civilization was a little bit of effort.  The Advanced Civ rules do not list a simple set of components, instead listing what you need to play Advanced Civ.  Since Advanced Civ is an expansion, that means it lists both base components from the original game intermingled with components from Advanced Civ.  it took some careful reading to suss out which components had been co-mingled.  For example, some of the original trade cards are used, and some are replaced, while other new trade cards are added.  Boiling out the base set took a little effort to ascertain.

I did decide to use the tan-backed disaster cards for decks 2 – 5.  In original Civ, these are brght red cards.  Unfortunately, if a deck gets jostled, it can alert a player before it was intended that they are vulnerable to an impending disaster.  The tan-backed versions from Advanced Civ work identically, and cannot be traded.  But even so, my tan-backed disaster cards for decks 2-5 were not quite the same tan color as the rest of the trade cards, so we still could see disaster coming.  Oh well.

This was a very fun game session, and I think if I scheduled another Civ session, I would be able to fill the table again!

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BGG Top 25 & February round up

March 1, 2015

A friend of mine posted a quiz on BGG.  She took a photo of each of the games in the top 25 – the components, and challenged people to identify them without peeking.  This was illuminating.  I could only identify 8 of the games on first effort.

Further, of the top 25, I have played just 12 of them.  And of those, there are a few I have no intention of getting back to.  Of the 13 I haven’t played… well, I have a someday date to try Caverna with Rob… I’d be willing to try Terra Mystica… I hear Mage Knight might be a worthy solitaire game… which leaves 10, that I am either ambivalent about or certain I don’t care about.

February was a bit light on gaming for me.  I did attend part of Juegos, which helped my game count considerably.  Apart from Juegos I managed to play 13 games in February.  At Juegos, I played 15 games, for a grand total of 28 games for the month.

New games tried in February include:

Fief – A reprint of an older wargame from Europe.  I liked it, but our play with 3 players felt a bit off.  I noticed it got played at Juegos, with a higher player count.  But the playing time swelled to several hours.

18FR – We haven’t finished this one.  But we have a 3p game going on Monday nights with Rick, Chris and me.  Basically 1830 on a French map.

Jumpin – Older 3M game that Zack and I tried.  Very abstract, and I doubt I spend much more time with it.

Die Bremer Stadtsmusikanten – I insisted on reading the overview of the fairy tale (Brothers Grimm) before we played it.  Highly tactical game, but actually a bit of fun.  I even had a request at Juegos to play it again later by Randy, who never wants to play games.  Probably more fun as an event, and won’t see much action going forward.

Camel Cup – Which I gather from BGG is really Camel Up.  This won SdJ?  Nice game, but the SdJ has scaled back in ambition it seems.

Baseball Highlights 2045 – We played it 4 player, and I think it really wants to be a 2p game.  I liked it, and so did Alex.  Zack and TG gave it a thumbs down.  I note it has solitaire rules too.

Speaking of solitaire games, I’ve found myself hankering to play some solitaire board games lately.  I’ve been buying a few older AH and Victory Games that are for solitaire gaming.  I haven’t actually been playing them yet.  We’ll see…