So You Want to Rule an Empire?

Welcome to the first game review on Carey’s Cardboard Castle! I’m going to kick this off with the most complex game I own. If you want to play this game with 3 other people, you best clear out your schedule for the afternoon and evening. You could say the same if you are planning on playing the virtual version of this game as well, where the common phrase uttered is, “One more turn.” I’m talking about Sid Meier’s Civilization: The Board Game by Fantasy Flight Games. This is an all time favorite of mine, but you need people who are as interested in it as you are, because it can take 2 – 4 hours for a play through.

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Keep in mind, I’m reviewing the version that was released in 2010 (pictured above), not the newer version “A New Dawn”.

As you can see by the above picture, this is by no means a small game. This game about empire building through the means of economy, military, culture, and technology is as massive as it sounds. You will need a pretty substantial table area to comfortably play this game with any more than two people. Also, depending on how organized you keep the game, the set-up of this can take almost a half hour by yourself – and that isn’t an exaggeration.

There are a lot of components to this game, but they all make sense, and all work together seamlessly. The design of this game is very well done. However, with the complexity and depth, it is definitely not a game for just anyone. Your entry level board gamer who has only been exposed to basic party games and the park brother classics (and prefers only those levels of complexity), might not be able to get into or enjoy this.

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You have flag figures to represent your armies, and then individual cards to represent the units in your army. You have figures to represent settlers, you have cards to represent which type of government your civilization has, and you have a civilization card showing your leader, their ability, and a tracker wheel to track your science points and gold. You’ll also have a technology deck with all the separate techs you can research, you’ll have wonder cards, culture cards, and different building tiles strewn across your empire. Add in a few expansions, and you’ll have even more parts and pieces.

My Thoughts: This game is fantastic. If you have the passion for 4X type strategy games, you will thoroughly enjoy this game. I cannot stress enough though – this is a ‘heavy’ game. There is a lot going on, but it’s structured. However, the amount of what’s going on, what you have to consider during your current turn and future turns, and the overall scale of this can be very overwhelming for some people. I have played it 4 or 5 times now, with anywhere from 2 to 5 players (5 with an expansion – the base game only plays max 4), and I haven’t had a poor experience regarding game play. Apparently the newer version of this, “A New Dawn” plays in half the time at $10 less MSRP. From what I’ve heard it’s still an excellent empire building experience, and it is on my short list of games to play.

My personal rating for this game is 8/10. I would rate it a 9/10 if the complexity was lower and it didn’t seem as intimidating to new players. Perhaps “A New Dawn” fixes those issues.


Boardgamegeek.com stats:

  • Rating: 7.5
  • Play Time: 120 – 240 minutes
  • Complexity Rating: 3.87 / 5
  • Category: City Building, Civilization, Exploration
  • Mechanisms: Card Drafting, Grid Movement, Hand Management, Modular Board
  • MSRP: $59.99

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