Game Review: Civilization A New Dawn Is an Engrossing Civilization-Building Board Game

By Morgenegg, Ryan | Deseret News (Salt Lake City), November 28, 2017 | Go to article overview

Game Review: Civilization A New Dawn Is an Engrossing Civilization-Building Board Game


Morgenegg, Ryan, Deseret News (Salt Lake City)


Civilization A New Dawn is a board game about building a civilization from ancient times to the modern day by making tough military, cultural and economic decisions. It offers a new mechanism that makes play quicker but doesn't lose the fun.

When a friend introduced me to the computer game Civilization in college, I was hooked. It was unlike any other game I had ever played. The machinations of building a civilization from the dawn of time to the end of days was super exciting. Board game fans wondered for years if it was possible to create a tabletop game that could even come close to the computer in terms of complexity and fun.

A new civilization game?

Being a fan of Fantasy Flight's already stellar title Sid Meier's Civilization: The Board Game, it was with eager excitement that I sat down to play the new board game, Sid Meier's Civilization A New Dawn. I was curious what the differences were and in my heart of hearts I hoped that the playtime was faster. One of the complaints of their first Civilization game was its long playtime lasting four hours.

Sid Meier’s Civilization A New Dawn is for two to four players and lasts from one to two hours. It doesn't have all the bells and whistles of its older brother but it has its own secret sauce, an original new mechanism that streamlines play while keeping things detailed and interesting.

Play begins

Players are randomly dealt one of eight civilization leader cards at the beginning of the game, indicating which civilization they will represent. There is Rome, Japan, Aztec, America, France, Egypt, Sumeria and Scythia. Each civilization begins with a special unique power.

The board

The table is set with modular board pieces consisting of several hexes. These double-sided pieces can be configured differently each game. Players take turns creating the map by adding these modular pieces to the board. It's quite fun to decide where certain resources, starting civilizations and terrain types will reside.

After deciding the starting hex for each of the participating civilizations, players are given a focus board and five focus cards. At the core of Sid Meier’s Civilization: A New Dawn is a new mechanism involving these focus cards and board.

Exciting new focus mechanism

The focus bar is a thin strip of cardboard with the numbers one through five listed in numerical order left to right. Above each number on the focus strip is also a terrain type with lush grasslands associated with one, hills with two, forests with three, deserts with four and mountains with five. Under those numbers and terrains are placed the five focus cards. Think of them as cards in numbered slots.

Focus cards represent actions that can be completed during the game. Each civilization has the same set but the game starts with different configurations of the action cards depending on the civilization. The five focus cards deal with science, culture, economy, military and industry.

On a player's turn, he or she must decide which card to play. Each card becomes more powerful if it is used in a higher numbered slot. When a card is played, it is rotated back to the number one slot on the focus board and the other cards rise in rank. Timing is crucial because the action needed at the moment may not be in the highest slot of the focus bar, thereby giving its most powerful effect.

For example, if a player uses the industry focus card, he or she may build a new city. The location of the new city could be on one of five different terrain types: grasslands (1), hills (2), forest (3), desert (4) or mountains (5). Depending on the numbered slot the industry card was played from determines what terrain a new city can be built on. An industry card in the five slot allows a player to build on any terrain type, but if played from slot three, a new city can only be placed on grasslands, hills or forests. …

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