Although you may attempt to develop a tried-and-true path to victory, each game of Civilization will be different because of the modular map -- and because you must continually react to your opponent's strategies. This is terrific for the game's replay value but makes it difficult to master. Like other popular strategy games such as Settlers of Catan, the key to winning the game is learning how to set yourself up in the beginning to gain the resources you'll need throughout the rest of the game.
One strategy is to deploy your scouts early, and continue to do so as the game progresses. During the early part of the game, these figures can travel the map and help start cities. During mid-game, they can garner valuable resources on map squares outside your civilization's cities, and your cities can then use these resources to their advantage. As the end of the game nears, scouts can block your opponents as they attempt to make critical moves; your scouts can bar their way to their own buildings, map tiles or wonders. Scouts can even take opponents' resources so that your own cities can use them.
Another solid strategy is to move to a more advanced government as early in the game as possible. Switching governments can be done at any time throughout the game, but you'll lose a turn -- through all five phases -- because the change will throw your civilization into anarchy. If you're at a critical moment in the game, either defending a capital city or on the verge of discovering a civilization-changing wonder or technology, it could become difficult or impossible to recover from anarchy.
Should you happen to want even more options, or to add a fifth player to game, there's an expansion: Fame and Fortune. This add-on introduces four new civilizations -- Arabs, Spanish, Greeks and Indians -- as well as 11 new map tiles and more than 150 additional cards into the game, including a new deck of Great Persons cards that includes Joan of Arc. It also introduces a deck of cards that players can use for investing their civilization's coins and reaping future dividends [source: Board Game Geek].
Whatever strategies you use, Sid Meier's Civilization: The Board Game lets you take on history -- hours at a time.