CIVILIZATION is an abstract, grand strategic simulation of the development of human culture from about 8000 B.C. to 250 B.C. in the lands surrounding the Mediterranean Basin. The original game was designed by F. G. Tresham and published by Hartland Trefoil, Ltd. in England. This version was developed by Mick Uhl and republished in 1981 by the Avalon Hill Game Company (TAHGC).


CIVILIZATION is a grand strategic simulation of human struggle and advancement on a truly epic scale. Seven or fewer players direct the efforts of their tribal/national groups as these groups attempt to increase population, build cities, develop crafts and trade, advance their scientific understanding, and develop the social/political skills necessary to become the dominant economic, military, and political power in the Mediterranean Basin. Tokens represent population/taxation, cities, and ships (fleets), but the main action of the game is card-driven. There are two types of cards in CIVILIZATION: Trade Cards, which represent the commodities most commonly exchanged in the ancient world; and Civilization Cards, which represent the attributes of cultural advancement (crafts, literacy, art, science, and civics, to mention a few). These cards are the most critical element in a player’s attempt to win the Archaeological Succession Track (AST) race to the finish line.

As might be expected in a multi-player game, conflict and diplomacy both play a part. As populations expand in order to build cities and to establish the tax base necessary for the purchase of Civilization Cards, competition for new territory is inevitable. One nice feature of CIVILIZATION is that there is no die: conflicts are resolved in a logical, but simple manner. Instead of die rolls, Calamity Cards, which are concealed among the Trade Cards, introduce a nice element of randomness into the game. Some Calamity Cards must be played as soon as they appear, but others may be traded to an unsuspecting opponent who must then visit the effects of the calamity on his own territory. Of all the game elements in CIVILIZATION, perhaps the most appealing is that the requirements necessary for the cultural advancement of each of the seven tribes/nations is different: so perfect plans and rigid, predictable lines of play do not dominate the flow of the game.

CIVILIZATION is a two to seven player game that offers both a standard (full) game and a variety of alternative scenarios that shorten playing time. The shorter scenarios all use predetermined points on the AST as finish lines (instead of the entire track). In those situations when it is impossible to find seven CIVILIZATION players, all is not lost: the game also offers six, five, four, three, and even two-player versions of the full game. CIVILIZATION has two simplified scenarios that use only portions of the game rules: Nomads and Seafarers, suitable for two to four players; and Farmers and Citizens, which can be played by two to seven players. CIVILIZATION is one of only a handful of games that asks players to identify with a tribal/national group (instead of individuals, armies, or nation-states), and to guide it in its epochs-long scramble up the cultural ladder. No Napoleons or Rommels, no tanks or cavalry in this game, but for someone who wants to take the truly long view of history, I can think of no better way to spend an afternoon gaming with friends.

Design Characteristics:

  • Time Scale: progressive (from the beginning square on the AST which represents 3,000 years, to the final box which represents only 100 years)
  • Map Scale: not given (area movement)
  • Unit Size: indeterminate
  • Unit Types: population/taxation tokens, ship tokens, city tokens, and information markers
  • Number of Players: two to seven
  • Complexity: average
  • Solitaire Suitability: low
  • Average Playing Time: 1-10 + hours (depending on which version of the game is being played)

Game Components:

  • One (two section) 22” x 32” area movement Map Board
  • 639 cardboard Counters (varying shapes and sizes)
  • One 6” x 9” Rules Booklet
  • 74 Trade Cards (with 6 spares)
  • 72 Civilization Cards
  • One 8” x 22” Archaeological Succession Table
  • Seven 2¼” x 3” numbered Place Cards
  • Seven 4½” x 8½” Player Place Mats
  • One 3¾” x 8½” Avalon Hill ad flyer
  • One Avalon Hill Order Form
  • One Customer Response Card
  • One 8½” x 11½” x 2” bookcase-style Game Box


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