CVlizations is a boardgame from two to five players distributed by Granna and designed by Jan Zalewski. In this game you take the role of a growing tribe and choose the ideas you want implemented. The one who creates the civilization with the best ideas, in other words the most points, wins the game.
The setup is actually quite easy. First of you place the board in the center of the table and place the resources (food, wood and stone) in the spaces provided for it. The happiness tokens (points) are placed in a central pool. You shuffle the idea cards for the different ages and place them in their appropriate space on the board. You reveal four ideas from the first age and place them on the board. Each player starts with a deck of eight order cards and one resource of each kind. Whoever last held any tool in his hand will be the start player and receive the Viking helm token or you can choose randomly like we do. Please note when playing with only two players the game differs a bit but I will explain this later.
The game will be played over three ages each consisting three rounds and there are four phases in every round. The four phases in a round are: Order, Action, Development and Cleanup.
In the order phase you will start placing your orders. In turn order each player chooses two of their orders and places them on the table, on face-up and the other one face-down. So your opponents will only know half of what you are doing.
When every player has placed their two orders they are all revealed and you start processing them in the Action phase. Here the orders are resolved in ascending order and the number of times a certain order might be played by the different players determines how successful it is or it might simply fail. Some orders are best when only one player has chosen them, others are better when two players have chosen it. Usually when three or more players chose the same order it fails or has the worst result on the card.
The different orders in ascending order are as follows. The first one is thieving and gives you the opportunity to steal resources from your opponents. The second, third and fourth are logging, hunting and quarrying which all do the same that is give you resources of one kind. The fifth one is Cunning and lets you take resources of your choosing. The sixth one is Slacking and well it gives you happiness points. The seventh one is Trading and as the card states this lets you trade your goods for one other type of goods. The eight one actually does nothing on its own. The order is called Doubling and it lets you perform the other action you have played twice.
When all orders are performed these are turned over and placed to the side thus leaving you with less orders for the future round. Now it is time to start the Development and conjure up some ideas. Starting with the start player and going clockwise each player has the opportunity to buy one idea. Each idea has a certain resource cost, an ability or action and some happiness points. Also each idea has a type like building, tool, invention or ideology. When you buy an idea you pay the required resources and place it in front of you. The idea bought is immediately replaced with a new one from the appropriate stack.
After all players have had the chance to buy an idea it is time to start the Cleanup phase. The first player marker goes on to the next player. If at this time the players only have two orders left in their hand we go to the next age and all players reclaim all their order cards. Also at the end of the second age all revealed idea cards are removed from the board and replaced with cards from the third age.
At the end of the third age the game is over and then it is time to start counting the points you have gained from happiness tokens, ideas and abilities on ideas. The player with the most points is the winner.
There are two two-player variants included in the game, a normal one and an advanced one. In the normal one you have a dummy player who also plays a tribe called the Cave Geeks. They also get one set of order cards but when they play their orders are chosen at random. The Cave Geeks never perform their orders but just exist to influence the number of players played a certain order. In the advanced variant each player has a neutral civilization on top of their own civilization. During the orders phase the players place the orders for their neutral civilizations first. When both players have placed these they can play their own orders. Again the neutral civilization’s orders do nothing but influence the amount of times a certain order is played.
This game takes the whole civilization building into a sweet package. It is not difficult and usually takes about an hour to play. It also takes itself not too serious thanks to the beautiful artwork, for instance a tablet is portrayed as a money-grabber and a foundation references to Discworld. I really love the simultaneous action selection and the unique twist of playing one card face up and one card face down. This makes for some interesting decisions. When you see that the first player plays a certain card face up, you can also deliberately play the same card face up in the hope that no other player will play it because they would be playing a useless card. Off course the more players the more crossover actions you will have in a game. There is also a certain memory aspect to the game since played action in previous rounds are turned face down, so knowing which cards have been played can give you a bit of an advantage. I like that there is interaction in this game with the thieving which lets you steal resources from your opponents. This can sometimes mess up a player’s plan but not too much. The scoring in our games were always really close and came down to one or two points. There are different strategies that you can follow to gain those happy points. One game our friend won by having an idea that gave extra points when slacking so he usually doubled his slacking. You can also go for the ideas with a lot of points but with lesser or no abilities or you can try to gain points through abilities on the ideas. Throwing all these things together makes for a game that we love to play and will hit the table regularly.
Play with Honor