News for October 2010
Counting Your Chickens 9
A Designer Diary for Sid Meier's Civilization: The Board Game
Civilization | Published 27 October 2010

by Kevin Wilson

We’ve talked a fair amount about technology and culture so far, but I glossed over the details a bit to concentrate on the big concepts. In this article I want to talk about the economic victory, and that means I have to delve a bit into the nitty-gritty of the game.

In most editions of Civilization, you build cities that ‘harvest’ resources from a certain area around them. Thus, it’s important to choose a good spot when building a new city.

I wanted this concept represented in a form that was straightforward, but which took advantage of the modular map to create new and interesting situations every game. I had some false starts, including tracking city size and population, but eventually I trimmed things down to the image you see below.

In Sid Meier’s Civilization: The Board Game, the space in which you build your city (which I call the “city center”) produces nothing. Instead, the eight spaces around it (the “city outskirts”) produce all of the resources for the city.

An example of a City Center, with arrows
indicating the spaces from which it collects
resources. For example, this city would
have five Production (see below).

The various icons that might be in a space include:

Trade: All of the trade that a player’s cities produce is added to the player’s trade dial each turn. Trade is primarily used to research new technologies, and I’ll talk a bit more about it in a minute.

Production: If a city takes a ‘build’ action (one of three actions a city can take), these icons are used to determine what the city can build. If a city has 7 production, for instance, it can build any one item that costs 7 production or less.

Culture: If a city takes an ‘art’ action, these icons are used to determine how much culture the city generates. A city generates 1 culture plus 1 for each culture symbol it has. Culture is spent to advance up the culture track (see my last designer’s diary.)

Special Resources: If a city takes a ‘gather’ action, it may generate 1 special resource token of a type found in its outskirts. So if a city had both iron and wheat in it, it could only generate one or the other with a single action.

The icons for Silk, Wheat, Incense, and Iron

And finally...

Coins: Coins represent economic power and are kept track of on the player’s economic dial. Unlike most other icons, coins aren’t a form of income. Rather, if you have 7 coins in spaces you control, then you simply have 7 coins, and if you want more, you’ll have to build new buildings or acquire them some other way.

Which brings me to the economic victory. As I touched on briefly in my first designer diary, a player who accumulates a total of 15 coins wins with an economic victory. These coins can come from the board, as described, or from certain tech cards. Specifically, these tech cards:

As you can see, this is quite an eclectic selection of tasks to perform in order to gain coins. That’s because the economic strategy is designed to appeal to players who like to dabble in various parts of the game. Without a “dabbler’s” victory path like this, players would have to buckle down into a specific victory condition very early in the game, and it takes a chunk of fun away from the exploration process.

So, what are coins good for during the game? Well, to explain that I need to delve into specific game mechanics again – this time paying for tech cards. We’ve already discussed the tech pyramid and how to tell if you’ve got a legal spot to put a tech card in, but in order to actually acquire the tech card, you have to spend trade. Here’s an assembled civilization sheet:

The large dial on the right side of the sheet is used to track your current total trade. If you look carefully, you’ll see Roman numerals along the track at various points, starting at where the ‘6’ should be. These numerals correspond to the 5 levels of tech and act like a sign at an amusement park ride: “You must be at least this tall to ride this ride.” Or, in other words, you must have at least 6 trade to learn a level I tech, 16 trade to learn a level III tech, etc. Whenever you research a tech, you drop to 0 trade, no matter how much trade you had at the time. So, if you have 27 trade and learn a level I tech, you drop to 0 trade.

And this brings me to how coins tie into technology. For every coin you have, you keep 1 trade after researching. If you have 4 coins, you’ll have 4 trade left after learning a new tech. In this way, a good economic base can wind up accelerating your civilization’s tech by several turns, which in turn can translate into an increase in efficiency across the board.

Join me next time when I talk about military might in Sid Meier’s Civilization: The Board Game. Until then, leave a comment and give me your two cents!

Designed by Kevin Wilson, Sid Meier's Civilization: The Board Game is inspired by the legendary computer game series created by Sid Meier. 2-4 players take on the roles of famous leaders in charge of historical civilizations, each with his or her own abilities. Players explore a module game board, build cities and buildings, fight battles, research powerful technology, and attract great people by advancing their culture. Choose your path to glory!

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Comments (9)

Published: 11/3/2010 6:20:08 PM

UGGGH   The suspense is killing me slowly!

Published: 11/3/2010 5:05:06 AM

In the Pottery tech card shown, there are two markers with a question mark. What are these? Do these mean that there is a pre-requisite to triggering this card's effect?

Published: 10/31/2010 7:12:48 AM

I have so many questions and thoughts that I doubt they'll all fit... but, I'll be annoying and try.

Tech : I like the concept of a tech pyramid... but here is my question, are there only enough techs to support the lvl 5 tech, or are there more so each player can 'take a different route' through the techs? Could players tech wide enough to support say, 2-3 lvl 5 techs or tech in such a way to make their pyramid more resemble Chitchen Itza?

Wonders : In Civ 3 - 5, the Hanging Gardens is not military... so why is it such in the board game? Is there a historical reason, or is it just a recognizable wonder filling in a needed military role?

The Dials : Sounds like a good mechanic... looks like fun too. I suspect I'd feel like I'm breaking into a safe or something playing with the dials. ^_^

Players : Could the reason for 2-4 players be explained? Is it just for keeping the game time shorter, or are there other reasons? Might there be an expansion to the number of players in the future? I ask because my group ranges from 4-10 players... mostly around 6 or 7 though.

Sorry to be a bother, but if I don't ask then I won't get answers, lol.

Published: 10/28/2010 10:10:13 AM

The first big box game from FFG i've been interested in for a while, and it just keeps getting more interesting with each new diary. Maybe when they finish this they can give us some new stuff for TI.

Published: 10/28/2010 6:49:40 AM

I was one of the fortunate few who managed to pick up a copy of this game at Essen. In the games we have played so far the Economic victory seems like the easiest one to pull off, whilst the culture victory seems like the hardest. Overall though the game is fantastic and really true to the source material.

Published: 10/28/2010 2:07:10 AM

Release it already! :) 

Published: 10/27/2010 8:04:56 PM

Catherine the Great is such a hottie. Definitely one of my favorite videogame vixens (after Morrigan, of course).

Published: 10/27/2010 4:53:06 PM

Really great update. I'm stoked about the dial, it's got great design, looks very Steampunk! I'm excited about this game and hope it combines some aspects of a good euro-economic board game with an american-style military game. Will this be the chosen one to bring the two warring parties together at last? :)

Published: 10/27/2010 3:13:21 PM

Yes, but if I give you my two cents that will put you .13 (repeating) percent closer to winning and we can't have that can we?  Reading these diaries, and seeing some videos from Essen I think I may have found the elusive 'holiday game' for the year.

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