How Civilization Works

How to Set Up Civilization

The modular map tiles allow players to experience different challenges every time they start a game.
The modular map tiles allow players to experience different challenges every time they start a game.
Image courtesy Fantasy Flight Games

If you're like me, buying a new game means you'll want to immediately open the box, set it up and play a round. This won't work so well with Sid Meier's Civilization: The Board Game, unless you have hours to spare.

The first order of business is to read the instructions. Unlike some board games with a breezy, two-page set of rules, Civilization has a 30-page manual that will require about an hour to read. Although you'll probably need to refer back to the manual as you set up the game and play the first round, reading it before you get started will give you a good overview of the game. In addition, you can view or download a PDF of the rules from Fantasy Flight Games.

You'll also want to set aside a couple of hours to punch out the cardboard tokens and map modules, and then set up the game. You can keep the game more organized (and speed subsequent set-up times) if you separate the different kinds of tokens, cards, markers and plastic figures into plastic baggies or containers [source: Three Wise Men]. In the box, you will find:

  • One market board and 20 map tiles
  • Six civilization sheets
  • Six Trade dials and six Economy dials (these will need assembly)
  • 12 city markers
  • 24 plastic army figures, 8 plastic scout figures and one white plastic Russian army figure
  • 55 combat cards, including artillery, infantry, mounted and aircraft units, plus two combat bonus cards
  • 224 cards, including Set-up, Government, Tech, Space Flight, Culture and Wonder cards
  • 12 wonder markers
  • Six culture level markers
  • 18 Great Person markers
  • 28 military technology markers
  • 49 building markers, ranging from trading posts to banks to libraries
  • 20 hut markers
  • 10 village markers
  • 12 disaster markers
  • 1 first player marker
  • 16 market resource tokens
  • 90 culture tokens
  • 28 wound tokens
  • 75 coin tokens
  • Four reference sheets

Before play begins, the game board and pieces will need to be divvied up between players according to the rulebook. The game includes six civilizations:

  • Americans, led by Abraham Lincoln
  • Chinese, led by Wu Zetian
  • Egyptians, led by Cleopatra
  • Germans, led by Otto von Bismarck
  • Romans, led by Julius Caesar
  • Russians, led by Catherine the Great

With all these materials in place, you'll have everything a proto-empire needs to go a'conquering. So how does a fearless leader go about such an undertaking?