KICKSTARTER SPOTLIGHT: "CIVICUS"

It's not unusual for me to troll through Kickstarter, looking for something that makes me feel inspired enough to write about. I'm doing that on an almost weekly basis, even if my own personal finances often kick me in the face every time I look. This is a case, where the project's creator actually found me, by proxy. Recently, at the Origins Game Fair in Columbus, Ohio, the creator of Civicus was handing out demo copies of the game, and he happened to find Josh, in the crowd. Josh handed the demo off to me, and here I am.

Civicus, is the brainchild of Will Hilburn's alter ego Elree Ellis, and is the bastard child of a passion for game design, and an obsession with cultural anthropology. This is a game of civilization building, in a competitive setting. Since I'm already offering up hybridization analogies, let me offer up another. Imagine, if you will Sid Meier's "Civilization" games, went and had a love child with "Settlers of Catan"... You now, have a very vague idea of what you are looking at with Civicus. And I am not saying this as if it is a bad thing. Actually, it is a very good thing, since it makes it feel familiar, but yet different at the same time.

Civicus is a game where you build a civilization, and compete with your opponents. You gather resources, exert influence, and destroy your enemy by having both the most technologically advanced society, as well as the biggest settlement. You take small nomad camps, upgrade them to villages, and eventually turn those villages into sprawling metropolises of the bronze age (or possibly something later... My anthropology-fu is lacking). To upgrade your camps you need resources. Resources are gathered through a series of dice rolls...which I will cover shortly.

Above you can see the components that came with the demo. The first image is player reference cards. These are used to tell you how much of the various resources are needed to upgrade your villages, they also act on the reverse side as a score card. The next shot shows a rather large grouping of some rather small components. I'm sure that in the final version of the game, these components will be much larger, especially the dice. The dice that came with the demo are incredibly tiny. So tiny in fact, that it would take 27 of them to equal a standard D6 (I just measured to make sure...) The final version of the game promises to have custom D6s with the resources printed on them, or possibly they will use a system of stickers on blank D6s, like Dwarven Miner did. Either way, the dice promise to be much larger. The final image is the demo board, you can see a simple system of hexes.

Game play flows, in a rather unusual fashion, that I can best compare to Scoville. Player 1 goes, then player 2, then player 2 again, followed by player 1. The game involves 3 repetitions of this pattern. The game calls it 6 rounds, but I find it better to conceive of it as 3. Looking at it as three rounds, rather than 6 makes the odd turn order seem much more palatable.

The game itself flows nicely, however, it does fall into a predictable pattern. There are spots on the board that are distinctly better than others. That is, if I am playing this right. On the first turn, you want to place a camp between a black dice and a yellow dice, as it offers up the best chance to upgrade to a village turn one. This makes the first move very important, as it can negate your opponent's ability to advance early on. To combat this phenomenon, I'd recommend a mutable playing field, akin to what my friends and I use when playing Quicksilver. A simple hex-grid mat, that you can draw on with dry erase marker. This will allow a completely different play experience through randomization of playing field. this could be indicative of different civilizations in different areas.  I find that this increases the replayability by a large degree. In the current play structure, I saw no real reason for the Volcano tiles. Their placement on the board can change things in my randomized structure. I place the tiles using a roll of a D8.

  1. Yellow Dice
  2. Green Dice
  3. Black Dice
  4. Meat
  5. Coin
  6. Sacred Site -Tile
  7. Sacred Site- Icon
  8. Volcano

I limit things to the same numbers on the original board. 3 Yellow dice tiles, 4 green, 4 black, 4 meat, 4 coins, 5 sacred tiles, 3 sacred icons, and 2 volcanoes. If ever a die roll would cause those ratios to go off, I ignore the dice roll, and rerolled. This randomization takes a little time, but as I stated, it increases replayability.

All in all, even played using base rules, it is a fun game. And I encourage any resource management enthusiasts to check it out now! You'll be glad you did!

-Check out the project HERE!