Big Imagination Games
A Preview by
- 2-4 Players
- 30-50 minutes
- 8+ Age
What is Tribes: Early Civilization?
Tribes: Early Civilization is a game of invention, discovery and survival. You will need to steer your tribe through the early dawn of mankind. Starting in the Paleolithic Era you will progress through the Neolithic Era and finish in the Bronze Age. Along the way you will.
- Explore your surroundings for resources.
- Move into new areas, allowing your Tribe to gain those resources.
- Grow your Tribe to increase your access to more resources.
- Use your Strength to dominate the other Tribes and secure the success of your people.
What’s on the box?
Before I even looked inside the box. This is one of those rare occasions where the game box itself needs commenting on. When you walk into a shop with the thought of maybe buying a game. Often you do not have a definite game in mind. You will be swayed, all be it subconsciously. By the box and its art. Tribes: Early Civilization is one of those games that will grab you. The box art is truly beautiful. All black with bronzed wording in a minimalist style, It draws you in. When you turn the box over this minimalist style continues. Unfortunately it does it so well you find out very little about the game itself and this runs the risk of breaking that spell of attraction the box has created so well.
So what is in this box then?
When you open the box your treated to quite an impressive amount of contents. No cavernous empty box here.
- 1 Double Sided Game Board
- 1 Rulebook
- 1 Starting Player Token
- 1 Cloth Bag
- 20 Shells (in game currency)
- 4 Reference Tiles
- 12 Prehistoric Event Tiles
- 10 Bronze Age Technology Tiles
- 10 Neolithic Age Technology Tiles
- 10 Paleolithic Age Technology Tiles
- 3 Starting Action Tiles
- 3 Extra Action Tiles
- 50 Resource Hex Tiles
- 60 Huts (15 in each colour)
- 60 Technology Cubes (15 in each colour)
- 16 Civilization Level Discs (4 in each colour)
- 4 Victory Point Cubes (1 in each colour)
All the components are of a very nice quality. The Tiles, Hexes, Game Board, Reference Tiles are all very nice thick quality and look really nice. The Cubes and Discs are standard quality wooden. The Huts are wooden and very nicely shaped so they look like they could be huts from that era.
How do you play?
You aim to guide your Tribe through the three eras. You will compete against up to 3 other opponents over approximately 40 minutes. You start with a small Tribe and the very basics. Explore, Grow, Invent and survive catastrophes. The most successful Tribe will emerge victorious.
WOW Civilization builder!
Well sort of but not really. Tribes: Early Civilization is more about advancing your Tribe up the tech tree gaining the precious victory points you will need to claim your place as the Alpha Tribe.
“How do I do this?” I hear you ask. Well take a seat on the log next to the fire and I will explain.
“Many moons ago our ancestors Ug, Ugg and Ugh came to this land with next to nothing. They all lived in one Hut and eked out their survival using just the three precious resources they had found. That was until that fateful day when Ugg invented………………………”
…….Some time later!
You start a game of Tribes: E.C. with three Resource Hex Tiles and one Hut. You also have five Shells, the very valuable currency used in this era. #Fun Fact. Sea Shells were amongst the earliest trade items used by early man.
Where you place your hut at the start is very important as only the Hexes occupied by your Tribe’s Huts can yield Resources (and only 1 of each resource each turn. More on this in a bit). You also start the game with a level of 1 in,
You cannot just do what you want on your turn though. OH no! There is a clever system called the Time Path. At the start it only has three options available. Grow, Move, Explore and each of these Tiles has Invent as an alternative action (either/or not both). This is the point where your Shells come into play. If you want to take the first action on the Time Path, great that is free #hooray. If however you decide you would rather take a different action it will cost you 1 Shell per Tile you wish to skip. Whichever action you take you place its corresponding Tile to the back of the Time Path. Thus ensuring the next person has to pay more for its use. If the Tile has any Shells on it you claim them as yours. This is all well and good at the start. As the game progresses however the Time Path gets longer with extra action Tiles and Event Tiles. You will find yourself having to take alternative actions to gain some of those precious shells back. Or because you do not have enough Shells to reach your choice of action.
When you take the Invent action you need to have Huts on the correct number of Resources required. You then gain Victory Points and Increase one of your core stats. You might also have to had Tiles to the Time Path. Once a player reaches the correct number of points needed (it is scaled according to player numbers). You complete the round and highest points wins.
This area of Tribes: Early Civilization is a little “unusual” Most civ-building games have a tech tree you follow to gain the higher level inventions. Tribes: E.C. is no different, except normal tech tress follow a set pattern. Invent “Hunting>Leather>Horseback>Cavalry” fairly normal set-up. Tribes: E.C. due to its modular Tile system which aides re-playability keeping it fresh and interesting can throw up some rather random trees. Invent “Cooking>Fences>Mercenaries>Monotheism” does break the immersion somewhat. Or maybe the elders of the age decided while cooking tea they wanted to keep the animals close by……..(nope got me there). This is by no means game breaking in matter of fact you can make fun out of it. “Oh look I have invented Jewellery…I know lets make Cheese out of Gold”
Sounds easy enough.
Where Tribes: Early Civilization starts to become really interesting however is in use of the Event Tiles. When they first start to appear on the Time Path they are at the top end. They will very quickly move up until they are sat in the “free” slot so everyone needs to pay to avoid them. Until, someone is out of shells and forced to take it. Some of the Event Tiles are not that bad. “Gain 2VP if you are the strongest” is an example. Others however are downright nasty. One of my “favourites” would have to be “All other players lose Tribes (Huts) equal to your Strength”. Which if you have a strength of 4 or 5 can be exceedingly good fun (for you not them of course). On the down side this can lead to a player being crippled from competing for the win. But given that games are quite short you will be back in the saddle in no time.
Tribes: Early Civilization, is by no means a heavy game. I would class it as a gateway game. It has some very nice concepts which are well executed. The graphics and component quality are very nice. It is also a game that is very quick and intuitive to learn and also to teach. The use of Shells to bypass Tiles is a nice method of immersion. The ability for a bit of a take that element should not be off-putting as it is not generally a targeted effect more of a global one. I feel like there is a lot of re-playability. Although this is at the expense of some immersion in the tech tree logic. The designers have also tried very hard to mitigate the “bad luck draw” element of the Explore action. If you find your drawing lots of excess resources you can “Exhaust” (flip them over) for one time use as a wild resource. In general this works well. Although it can lead to a bit of a “Slash and Burn” approach from some players. This approach will not guarantee a win though so the balancing does work well. Less of a civ-builder and more of a light strategy accessible to all and will encourage many to delve into both genres even more. My one main issue with the game overall is the resources required to unlock tech. I would really have liked to see some combinations of tech needed instead of multiples of one. I would hope to see an expansion pack later on of tech tiles that included this option.
If you like Strategy or civ-builder style games this will interest you. It is also very suitable for all ages. Easy to learn and easy to teach. A good gateway game towards more in-depth gaming and well worth 40 minutes of anyone’s time.
Disclaimer: I was provided with a full copy of Tribes: Early Civilization in order to review the game. This in no way affected the review above