Civilization: Rules beginners should remember

CivTheBoardGame-Banner2After running a 2 and 4-civilization sessions,
we’re beginning to appreciate all the bells and whistles that come with Sid Meier’s Civilization: The Board Game.  While the game has its well structured mechanics, many nuances may be overlooked.  There’s method to the madness keeping tracks of dual-dials, coins, culture, tracks, and cards.  Here is a list of rules we almost got wrong.   And if we did, we won’t admit to it.

Mind your civilization bonuses. 
Every player has special abilities not shared with any other.  Nor will your opponents remind you.  Russia can steal technology, Germany gets free buildings, units, and resources with technological achievements, Rome is encouraged to expand their empire and combat, and the United States is efficient spending trade for production.

Mind the benefits of your style of government.
Thinking beyond DespotismCommunism boosts production at the expense of culture.  Democracy gives you opportunity to gain wealth from trade with peace.  Feudalism makes land sharing possible.  Monarchy celebrates culture while Fundamentalism prepares your society for war at the price of trade.

Remember to put coins on your technology card.
Some coins require a conscious decision to spend resources on card benefits, Pottery, for example.  However, the Code of Laws, gets a coin with every winning battle.  But you have to remember.

An army figure entering a square of an unprotected scout counts as a winning battle.
Not only does the enemy scout goes off the map, but the army celebrates the victory with all the pomp and circumstance.  The victor gets loot and a coin on the Code of Laws, if so available.

Each given resource ability may only be used once per turn.
Taken verbatim from the rulebook, you can only take advantage of technology once per turn.  Specifically, when spending resources for coins or other benefits.   For example, Pottery and Mathematics.  Do not confuse abilities with upgrades such as increased stacking limit, speed, or other renewable benefits such as Animal Husbandry or Biology.   There is one, listed exception with Atomic Theory found in their errata.

Technology abilities can only occur when described.
Most technology cards have benefits that are available in certain phases like City Management or Movement.  Don’t mistake an option that can only occur during Trade, such as Horseback Riding, but executed during City Management.   Some important decisions are made unilaterally during trade other than counting them.

Don’t forget drawing that culture card.
Culture may be under appreciated as that thing you do if you can’t build or harvest.  As you advance on the track, don’t overlook the subtle graphic hint when to draw a card.

Keep good notes how fast you can travel and where.
Movement requires three things to keep track of.  Can you travel over water and can you end your movement in it?  How far your unit can travel in a turn?  This is known as speed.  Finally, how many units may group together in a single space?  This is known as stacking.  If you’re playing Russia, don’t forget you get +1 stacking.

You can only build what you unlock and you must have the terrain for it.
An easy mistake for beginners is to look at their city outskirts first and notice prime real estate for construction.  A grassland square is great for a granary and the future of your people, but you can’t have it unless you unlocked Pottery.  And while a trading post is an effective way to boost trade and culture, you are required to build on a desert.

Upgrade your units and buildings when deserved.
Did you just choose to research Engineering and have granaries?  Remember to begin flipping them over to aqueducts.   Advanced buildings auto upgrade their junior cousins.  Just as important, is flipping or exchanging your unit ranks.  Level 1 army units make woeful combatants.

You can’t harvest gold like iron.
There are rare tiles with precious gold mines.  Unlike iron, silk, wheat, and incense, you don’t harvest a new gold coin per turn.  If the coin rests in your city outskirts, you immediately get one coin but no more.  Otherwise, you’ll need to park a scout permanently or lose it.  The rule applies to great people equally.  If they leave the map, so goes the coin.


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