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Civilization board game

Civilization® is a board game designed by Francis Tresham, published in Britain in 1980 by Hartland Trefoil (later by Gibson Games), and in the US in 1981 by Avalon Hill. The game typically takes eight or more hours to play and is for two to seven players. The Civilization brand is now owned by Hasbro but is no longer published in the US.

Table of contents
1 Overview
2 Expansions
3 History
4 Legacy
5 External Links


The Civilization board depicts areas around the Mediterranean Sea. The board is divided into many regions. Each player starts with a single population token and grows and expands his empire over the course of turns. Each player, of course, tries to build the greatest civilization.

As each nation grows, adding more and more population to the board, players can build cities in regions they control. Each city grants a trade card to the owner, which allows trade with other players for any of eleven commodities, such as iron, grain and bronze. Along with trade come eight calamities such as volcanoes, famine and civil war, which destroy population and cities. Trade cards are combined in sets to purchase civilization cards, which grant special abilities and give bonuses toward future civilization card purchases.

The goal of Civilization is to be first to advance to the final age on the Archaeological Succession Table (AST). The AST contains fifteen spaces and players are advanced on the AST each turn. At several points, however, certain conditions must be met (such as, the civilization must have a certain number of cities) in order to advance. Since most civilizations do not meet the advancement criteria at all stages on the AST, games usually last more than fifteen turns.

Civilization is unusual in that it does not focus on war and combat as many games of its genre do. Instead, players are encouraged to trade and cooperate in order to advance. War and combat are entirely permissible, however, and are sometimes inevitable.

Trade (via trade cards) is the most important activity in Civilization. Trade cards give the player's civilization wealth, which ultimately help the civilization advance on the AST. Cards are more valuable the more of one type the player possesses. For example, one salt is worth 3 points, two are worth 12 points, and three are worth 27 points. If a player possesses all the cards of one type, she effectively corners the markert and gains the most value for her cards. Many "trade sessions" can become quite vocal and exuberant as players try to out-trade one another. Trades are done in groups of three or more cards. Since players are only required to tell the truth about two of the cards they are trading, calamity cards can be slipped into a trade, thereby avoiding receiving the primary effects of the calamity.

The game is won by the person with the highest score at the end of the game. Points are acquired primarily by purchasing civilization cards and advancing on the AST.


All the game expansions require the Avalon Hill base board game:

Avalon Hill's Advanced Civilization is a computer version of the board game, but does not require the board game version. The rules are slightly modified from the board version for computer play.


Civilization's history is a bit twisted and ironic. Civilization went from being a board game to a computer game and back to a board game based on the computer game.

Sid Meier was a fan of this game and developed a computer game containing many of its elements. He named his game Civilization also, but gave no nod to the board game upon which he based his work. Meier's game was a huge success and gained a wide fan base.

In 1995 a new version of Meier's Civilization was released along with a computer version of Avalon Hill's board game. Avalon Hill released their game under the name Avalon Hill's Advanced Civilization in an attempt to prevent confusion with the established computer game by Meier. Its multiplayer implementation was considered by many to be sub-par and it did not do well in the marketplace. Many players also felt that the trade sessions did not translate well to the computer.

Several computer sequels of Meier's game were developed over the years. Many did not involve Meier at all as the brand name was bandied about various game publishers. With the development of Civilization III in 2001 however, Meier regained control of the brand and developed the game in his rather new company, Firaxis Games. About this time, Eagle Games released a board game version of Sid Meier's computer game Civilization.

Though Avalon Hill was not involved in Meier's Civilization games, it is clear that Civilization came full circle from board game to computer game and back to board game again. Though Avalon Hill's game is no longer published, Meier's board game version is still available.


Despite being out of print for several years, the Civilization board game still holds a loyal following. The Origins Game Convention holds a yearly tournament featuring the game.

External Links