Review: Clash of Cultures – civilizations meet in blood
Civilization is characterized by people, who live in a society according to some rules. Orderly. But a man is rushed forward always primarily by a desire for knowledge and new discoveries. In addition to material possessions, we desire most of all for ever new and new things. And therefore constantly exploring our surroundings. It is always just a matter of time, before we run into some other unknown mature life. It does not matter, whether its on Earth in some deep forest or in space on another planet. And when these two completely different cultures meet and try to live side by side, it rarely goes well..
It is a fact, that our people again and again confirm with their actions. And this rule is held by civilization games, which in recent years finally get from computers screens to desks in our living rooms. It all started with Kevin Wilson Civilization. Now we have his successor in front of us, who quickly became one of our favorite games.
Christian Marcussen, author of the successful game Merchant and Marauders in 2011, worked under banner of publishing company Z-Man Games and decided to focus on battle of civilizations. He called his game aptly Clash of Cultures and introduced it less than a half year ago on the show Spiel 2012 in Essen. It would certainly not look so good, it it weren’t for illustrations by Chris Quilliams and Empty Room Studios.
Cover picture on the box does not leave you in doubt. This is war. Fight among different cultures is clearly shown here – warriors on elephants and horses and atmosphere is built up by Mayan pyramid (which has added given to publishing year of 2012, as in many other board games).
Game box is not somehow large in its size, but in fact it only deceives. It is not square, like similar games, but instead has a landscape format similar to Mage Knight. And its crowded in there!
There is no big game board waiting for you inside, but you will compose it out of regions pieces of hexagon shape, representing each four map fields. In total there are twenty tiles, four of which are special starting positions for players. Each player will also be equipped with a big technology board and a smaller auxiliary card, which will be used a lot during first game. The last major board has eighteen windows, representing individual turns of the whole match.
However, there is a flood of smaller cardboard pieces. There are tokens for individual supplies, however, only one for each player. You will track your wealth on player board, where scale runs from zero to eight for every material available. You can mine stone and wood, but also to grow food and earn money. And then there’s fifth special currency, that is marked with lights, and its name is ideas. These are really important in any culture! You must agree on that.
Other indicators have form of drops with images to track state of culture and mood. This includes next forty tokens of culture and again forty, this time double-sided, tokens for mood. On one side is a yellow happy face, the other red angry. To finish all this, we must add another one token for the starting player, four crosses for exhaustion and one round marker. But we must not forget seven wonders of the world, which will be available for building.
Then we turn our attention towards cards. There is 119 of them and can be divided into four piles. First one with red back answers to those above-mentioned wonders and they are therefore also in lucky number of seven. Green cards are hiding a secret tasks for individual players, blue are events affecting game and last row is comprised of 42 brown action cards.
Heart of Clash of Cultures lies in different place – in a pile of pieces representing your cities and units. Sixteen soldiers for each of the four available colors and also for the barbarians in fifth color brings us together to eighty figures with shield and spear. There are sixteen peaceful settlers (four for each player), which will you need to establish city and also same number of ships for your navy. Wather surrounds your world, which makes boat transport much faster, than moving on foot.
More importantly, however, there are cities, consisting of center (a village) and four buildings, which can be built around it. Their stands supports it and have a semicircular shape. Basis therefore is a settlement, where you can later build a temple, fortress, academy and harbor. Each player gets seven pieces of each of these five types in their respective colors.
Entire list then ends with clear colored rules and a huge pile of cubes. Those are in fact a little less than two hundred – 48 for each player brings it together to 192 blocks, which will mark your technical advances on your player board. This sturdy piece of cardboard has many holes (you must punch out these little squares), where cubes will perfectly fit.
Now we have nothing to prevent us from plunging with vigor into game itself. Its preparation is surprisingly fast for a civilization game. Players put a game board among themselves. Its of different shape according to number of opponents. Discovered are only starting pieces, all others are shrouded in war mist and waiting to be discovered.
Each player gets his board and one indicator for each of raw materials, culture and mood. All are set to zero in a circular field at the beginning. Your civilization starts with two food, but also a pair of inventions – agriculture and mining. Both of these are marked by putting a cube of your color into an empty box with this invention. This indicates, that your people have already mastered this technological progress.
You put starting round settlement miniature on your base map tile (only a fertile space location with grass) and stand one settler next to it. All other characters and objects of your colors must rest next to game board. Everyone also gets one action card and a secret task from shuffled decks. Placing turn indicator on the first space is the last thing you do, before you send your civilization into battle.
Clash of Cultures is divided into rounds, each of which contains exactly three turns. There is seven rounds in one battle, which brings us together to approximately 21 turns. And if you think there is not enough of threes in this game, each player must make exactly three actions during one turn. Then he passes word to his opponents, and once everybody will act, they move turn counters one space forward. Each third turn, a round is over, as you can easily see on track columns.
And you have a choice of six actions, that can be performed in any order and any of them can even be repeated several times, as desired by the player. Research, foundation of the city, using its resources, moving units, improving mood of citizens or affecting residents of neighboring towns. All is there and you can simply reach and carry it out.
Your success in Clash of Cultures game is based on research. Gaming board contains exactly 48 technologies, which can developed. Some will give you access to more advanced researches, while others will allow you to construct new buildings in the city. There is everything in here, from goverment types, to improving agriculture and livelihood of your subjects.
Any research requires exactly two food tokens. This, according to author corresponds to a situation, that progress has always been closely bound to people well being. Only then will they have time to devote to progressive activities in addition to ensuring their lives. The more meals they had, the more people can be scientists for its time.
In each of these twelve categories, you must first invent upper elementary knowledge, that gives you access to all others. Then you can investigate any of the other three progresses, unless there is a condition specified. Progress will often reward you also in the form of improvements in mood (irrigation, marriage) or culture (roads, writing).
Each of the inventions has a text next to it, describing what exactly will it bring to you. Whole board is great, well prepared and clear to search any needed info. You can find out all information about researched technologies, that may be of interest, including requirements and benefits.
For further development of civilization, you must establish new cities. You need to navigate a settler to a place, where you want to build a new settlement. It can then build new village, without any distance limitations and only place, where you cannot build anything, is desert. And of course water, where settlers can not venture without ship in the first place. Simply put the settler’s piece back to reserve and replace it with a settlement.
Any such city then can be activated and used to extract materials from the adjacent fields or to build new units (soldiers, settlers and also ships in port). You simply pay the appropriate amount of raw materials and place units on the same field, where settlement lies.
Quality and speed of collecting resources is determined by size of city, specified by sum of all its buildings. Size one is smallest settlement possible, while size five is largest city – a village with four buildings. You can extract as many resources as is the size of the city. Its type, however, depends on area, where settlements is located.
Each tile can only provide you with one token per action. Mining or growing on some of them is also conditional to inventions. Profit of materials can be improved with the fact, that city is happy. Conversely village full of angry residents can provide one, and only one resource. If you use a collecting action more than once per turn, city loses one point of mood (happy becomes neutral, neutral becomes angry).
Third and final activity you can do in the city is its improvement. For one food, stone and wood, you can take one of buildings in your reserve and attach it to colony. The choice is only and only up to you, but keep in mind, that each of buildings brings different specific ability. You can never build city larger, than is total number of your settlements on a map.
And now we come to military part of the game, which revolves around moving units around the map. On each field, there may be up to four of your units. These can be moved individually or as a group. You can make a total of three (yes, three is here again) shifts per action, however, there is no way, you can move one unit more than one space away. You must divide these moves among more soldiers. Army of more characters must move together.
But you can move them more than once, when you sacrifice another action for movement. Even then, there are exceptions – unit, which ended its previous movement in woods or mountains, are in difficult terrain and cannot be moved again this turn. Likewise, you can move no further units, who participated in a battle this round. They must first regroup and prepare for the next move.
Moment your troops eneter place occupied by enemy, it’s time to fight. For each of your present units, you roll one dice, add up all results and divide it by five. You get number of hits, you inflicted to your rivals. For each hit, you will remove one unit.
If there remain both armies in the field, though weakened, they continue fighting in next round. Of course, attacker has the option to withdraw from the fight. By attacking a city, you can also capture it and replace all buildings with your color. You also get loot in gold. Defeated rival and previous owner gets one refugee – a new settler, with which he can establish another settlement. Any city, that has been taken, immediately becomes angry and thus reduces its production to one item, until its owner makes it happy.
Mood of your own cities can be improved as the fifth possible action. You have to pay mood tokens from your own supplies. A shift by one step equals to as many tokens as is city size. The larger the city you have, the harder it is to make it satisfied. You get mood tokens especially for construction of cultural buildings or new researched technology.
The last way to spend your action points and attack your opponent without fighting is using cultural influence. Each city radiates a certain satisfaction and culture into its surroundings. In your turn, you can try to influence opponents city. If you succeed (with roll of the dice), you can replace any one building in the city with your own. That counts for scoring purposes as yours.
There are also neutral barbarians in the game, who can make raids. And as you move your indicators of happiness and culture, whenever you arrive on numbers III, V or VII, you have to draw a single event card. These will generally have a negative effect on your civilization. This game forces you to spun your cultures and moods tokens.
At the end of each round, after three turns, there is a special phase. In that, you get free one advance, players can report their completed tasks and draw on a new one, as well as one action card.
Game ends either, when time for it runs out, ie at the end of sixth round, or earlier, when a player loses his last city. In both situations, players count their victory points for all owned municipal buildings, inventions, miracles and completed tasks. He, who accumulated most of them for their civilization, was the most successful in its development and is the winner.
Clash of Cultures is an awesome game about development of several civilizations on a small island. You are in constant conflict with your rivals and must be constantly on guard. The game is full of dramatic twists and developments, yet it does not present any significant dose of luck.
Of course, whole game is a little more complex, than we have presented it. You have miracles, special rules for discovery of new tiles, or transporting troops on the vessel, which has its own limitations. But each element fits into the game and does not make it too complicated or overwhelming. All the important things can be found either on your board or on the help card.
Biggest positive thing about Clash of Cultures is number of cities and their development through unique pieces of buildings. Compared to maximum three cities in Civilization, there is a possibility to control seven of them. This is far more closer to a civilization. And you are in no way restricted in their distribution on a map. There is no minimum distance.
Tech tree is clear and every invention will help you in some way. It is important, that you know and keep track of dependencies. Some technologies will bring major benefits, such as opportunities to build a particular building or to fish. Others can be used again as another action in addition to the six already mentioned.
Great is settling battles. A stronger and more substantial military has still advantage, while a smaller army can still win and has a chance to defeat Goliath, while its a little one. Such upheavals are happening in real life, although they may sometime be a little uncomfortable to some players. In comparison, very odd (although clever) way of card battles in Civilization, we consider this system to be significantly better.
Secret objectives and action cards push game to the next level of planning. These cards are not only a way to surprise your opponent, but also open up new avenues and possibilities to grab another victory points for themselves.
There is a lot of ways to win in Clash of Cultures. And you do not have to specialize. All points are added together, so you can make a little of war, accomplish tasks and even develop your city. No doors will be closed before you with decision at the beginning of the game. You can enjoy true evolving of civilization and change tactics based on game development at any time.
Author thought of everything. So, if you are bothered with luck in events, then you can play without them. Moreover, game end may not be a fixed, but instead can end in any of last five turns. You simply roll the dice, which will decide with increasing probability, when all battles should end.
And then there’s processing. Clash of Cultures extends your impression really high, when building with beautiful buildings on top of simple army miniatures. There are also elegant building of wonders of the world and convenience of all components results in great and undisturbed visual experience.
Clash of Cultures is perfect civilization game. It has beaten all known competition for us. It gives you balanced and amazingly looking experience. Possibilities of influencing course of gameplay will be a paradise for everyone strategist. If the gods were playing a war game up there on a cloud, we are pretty much convinced, it would be much like Clash of Cultures.
Review: Clash of Cultures – civilizations meet in blood
Clash of Cultures brings new option to lead a civilization from beginnings up to the top of modern nations. It does not span across such broad period as other games of this type and there are no eras in it. It puts all its money on sophistication, connection of mechanics and atmosphere of building a real nation. And it does it succesfully. We do not know, it its because of those seven cities you can cherish, chance of changing your path of evolution during gameplay or simply perfection of its processing. But all together forms a perfect whole and clicks even better, than we have imagined. Your experience can be disturbed possibly only by more difficult rules for naval movement. But you have all the vital points noted on your player boards and its second help part used to hold tokens. All the good stuff happens on the game board composed of several tiles. You build towns out of one to five parts, which fit together nicely with their rounded stands. Battle is fought with dice, but there is much lesser luck involved, than you would think. There is some chance for the smaller army to win, but giant has always better chances. Road to victory is paved by spending action points not only for movement, but also for technological progress. Every city can harvest more than once in turn from neighbourhood tiles, but you will make your citizens unhappy. And than you have to settle them, which is far too expensive. Its a bit of everything in here and everyone, who likes tougher tactical games and feeling of really creating SOMETHING, should try this excellent game.
Reader Rating0 Votes
excellent city miniatures made of five pieces
interesting advancement tree
perfectly clear boards with rules inscribed
you can have up to 7 cities
lots of materials with amount noted on single scale