Thursday, July 24, 2008

Civilization: The Rulings

The rules for Sid Meier's Civilization: The Boardgame are notoriously unclear on many topics. I thought I'd spend some time trying to find "official" answers to rules issues, and failing that, provide links or background to unofficial answers. Where neither official nor unofficial answers exist, I wanted to record our own gaming group "ruling". Part of the problem with this is that the old Eagle Games forum on SMC:TB, which contained many official rulings from the designers, went down with the crash of Eagle Games. There is actually a new Eagle Games forum, but it has only a few scant questions. I'm trying to use the Wayback Machine to recover what I can. Otherwise, I'm taking cues from the Civ forums at BGG.

Issues that came up last night:

Q:Are units exhaustible?

A: No. If a player builds more units than are available in the game, find some way of marking or indicating additional units.

Q: Do you have to pay current era prices for units/improvments/techs from previous eras?

A: No, for units you pay that era's price, but you may only purchase the "best" of that era.

For improvements, you pay the price of the era it dates from.

For techs, you pay half price (and get any associated Wonders, as usual).

You get the "royalty" payment appropriate to the era it comes from.

Question found in archived Wayback Machine forums: "Q: If you go into a new Epoch are you alowed to buy old Units from old epochs? At which price? and how much licence you have to pay?

A: Yes; see p. 24 Purchasing Military Units. Players may always purchase the "best" unit, of each type (e.g. infantry) from each era. The price of the unit depends on the era it is from, as does the fee received by the owner of that technology." Source: - TFK - official Eagle Answers - culled from Wayback Machine.


Q: Can a fleet stop another fleet from moving through or unloading units into a space?

A: "Armies loaded on ships are not allowed to disembark if the fleet they are being transported on has been stopped after moving one or more spaces."* SMC:tBG Rules Version 2.0

*This is actually from the Standard (not advanced rules) but is such a standard convention in most wargames of this scale and complexity that it can be assumed that Eagle just forgot to include this rule in the Advanced section.

This actually didn't come up as an issue this time, but may next session, given the number of amphibious landings about to take place. Units which are "stopped" can be land or sea (but land or sea units cannot stop air units).

I'm certain there were some other rules issues. Post them here as comments and I'll append them.


A guy at BGG took the time to collect and organize criticisms levelled at the game. I figure if we ever bother to play this game again, we agree on a set of revisions that address the issues mentioned in this thread:

(reproduced here in part for the very lazy, but the link above has in-depth descriptions of the problems mentioned )

1) random exploration markers at start, luck factor
2) bookkeeping / tracking production
3) combat too slow, tedious, random, bad mechanic
4) shared tech tree
5) only one of each happy & production improvement
6) no vps for techs
7) takes too long to play
8) no government
9) runaway leader dynamic
10) resource trading is too complicated / confusing / time consuming
11) city improvements become obsolete
12) city improvements aren't worth their cost
13) hyperexpansion strategy
14) plague too harsh in later eras
15) tech tree problems - ancient->middle too profitable, currency not purchased


  1. Anonymous4:43 PM

    As I suggested last night, I think if an event token is revealed during exploration, it should be replaced with another token face-down after the event has taken place. I think barbarians should leave behind cities if they're defeated, and I think plagues need to be limited in some manner. Maybe there's a maximum number of units that are destroyed by a plague, or a development that reduces the effects of plague.

    I also think that the technology tree should not be shared. Rather, once someone buys a technology first, others can buy it at a reduced price, or maybe the person who purchased it first can sell or trade it to others during the trading phase. Only the first person gets the wonder and bonuses associated with that technology. But everyone should have to possess all the necessary technologies themselves to advance. This may require reducing the number of prerequisites for some technologies.


  2. I really think the cost of technologies and armies will be out of whack if everyone has a resource for every territory they visit. Also, the lack of resources gives the map some texture. Otherwise, the board would all be pretty similar.

    I think a percentage of events should exist, but their lack of resource should come with a benefit. A player who ends up with a continent full of desert should be resource poor but ahead in some other way (within the confines of the existing game system, I suppose it would have to be money, units or technologies).

    It's kind of a shame that there are no events of any sort during the game, actually.