Dale Yu: First Impressions of CVlizations

 

CVlizations

  • Designer: Jan Zalewski
  • Publisher: Granna
  • Players: 2-5
  • Ages: 10+
  • Time: 45 minutes
  • Times played: 3, with review copy provided by Granna

cvlizbox

CVlizations is a followup game to CV, a underground hit from SPIEL 2013.  Granna is a Polish company which has been around for awhile, but they didn’t hit my radar until about 2014 (when I was introduced to CV about 8 months after the Essen where it debuted!).  CVlizations is not a strict sequel game, but players are again tasked with building up a CV of traits over the course of the game.

In the game, each player controls the development of a tribe, trying to be the happiest group of people by the end of the game.  Over the three rounds of the game, players will try to implement different ideas to generate this happiness.  Players have a set of 8 order cards which they will use in each age.  There is a board in the center of the game that stores the three resources (food, wood and stone) as well as the display of 4 idea cards that are available.

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The game is played over three ages, and each age is comprised of three rounds. In each round, players (in turn order) choose two of their remaining order cards to play.  One is played face up to the table, one is played face down – when everyone has played their two cards, all are revealed face up.

The Empty Board

The Empty Board

Then, the orders are resolved in numerical order (from lowest to highest).  The overall effect of each order though is modified by the number of players which chose that particular order.  In general, the sweet spot is at two players.  The order is somewhat less effective when you are the only one who chose it, and least effective (sometimes having no benefit at all) if three or more players choose an order.  The different effects of an order card are printed at the bottom of each card.  (Once a card is used, it is turned facedown on the table.)

In general – the actions are:

  1. Thieving – stealing resources from other players
  2. Logging – get wood from the supply
  3. Hunting – take food from the supply
  4. Quarrying – take stone from the supply
  5. Cunning – gain (wild) goods
  6. Slacking – gain happiness tokens
  7. Trading – allows you to trade one resource for another
  8. Doubling – this is not an action per se, but it doubles the effect of whatever card you played with it.  The Doubling card does not count as another player playing the action.  Thus, if you are the only player to play Logging, and you have also played the Doubling card, you get the effect of the 1 player Logging action twice, NOT the 2 player Logging action.

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Once the actions have been resolved, then players get a chance to buy an Idea card.  If they can pay the cost printed on the card, they take it from the board and out it next to them.  Each card comes with a special ability that will have effect for the rest of the game.  Each also gives the player a certain number of happiness points.  If a card is bought, a new one is added to the supply so that each player has 4 to choose from.

Finally, the first player marker moves clockwise and the players get ready for the next action selection round.  Cards previously played this age remain facedown on the table and cannot be used again until the start of the next age.  At the start of the third age, the display of cards is wiped and the Age 3 deck is brought into play (the initial deck is used for Ages 1 and 2).  Otherwise, the third age is played as noted above.

Idea cards from Age 1 + 2

Idea cards from Age 1 + 2

At the end of that age, the game ends.  Players add up their happiness points found on their idea cards and add them to the points obtained through play.  The player with the most points wins.

Idea cards from Age 3

Idea cards from Age 3

My thoughts on the game

CVlizations is an interesting card games that puts a premium on reading what your opponents want to do – so that you can maximize your own actions from the cards that you play.  The importance of maximizing actions is further reinforced by the fairly small and finite number of actions you get in the game – only eighteen total card plays (and nine possible card buys).

The card playing phase offers some interesting chances to play some cards, play your opponents and maybe even get in a bit of bluffing.  I like the idea of playing one card up and one card down.  It gives you a chance to read some of the intentions of your opponents, but still leaves enough unknown to keep you guessing.  However, you might be able to figure out what Idea cards a player is going for by which resources they are trying to grab – and this might allow you to change your strategy with your own card play.

Close up of the different rewards

Close up of the different rewards

There are only 3 rounds in each of the 3 Eras, and this means that there are only 9 opportunities to buy cards.  This makes getting one at every opportunity a very important factor in the game.  That’s not to say that you MUST get one each round, but you shouldn’t be passing that often.  Some of the Idea cards offer play advantages that you can use in later rounds while others give some scoring benefits – you’ll have to weigh the pros and cons of the card’s abilities – though there will be a few rounds when you really only have one card that you could buy – and then the question becomes one of whether it’s better to buy the card now while you can or whether you should save your resources and hope for a better card next round.  A possible issue with the waiting strategy is that you can only buy one card per turn, so you can’t just save and save.  Sometimes you just have to buy whatever card you can afford at the time, and just take the VPs that come on it.

In our group, it seems like there is a slight advantage to going earlier in the round.  In the card playing phase, we have found that the first player often gets the maximal play out of whichever card he shows face up – because it is often copied by the second player in order, and then once the table knows that there are already two of that card chosen, they are much less likely to then want to play an action that they know will be suboptimal.  Further, in the card buying phase, only the first player can be sure of the card selection (and thus the resources needed) when it’s their turn to buy.

The game moves along quite rapidly, and now that we’re familiar with the game, I’d say that we’d be pretty close to a 30 minute playtime now for 4p.  There is a fair amount of luck in the game – sometimes a player will just get a perfect Idea card flipped up for him when it’s his turn to buy – but in a game that plays in such a short timeframe, it doesn’t feel out of place.  While I’ve personally never been too concerned with the theme of the game, I know that some of my fellow gamers in the area have mentioned that it really doesn’t feel like you’re developing a tribe.  This possible disconnect hasn’t stopped me from enjoying the game though, and I’m looking forward to playing it more this winter.

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Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers

I love it!

I like it. Dale Y., Craig V., Liga

Neutral. John P, Craig M

Not for me… Nathan Beeler

 

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About Dale Yu

Dale Yu is the Editor of the Opinionated Gamers. He can occasionally be found working as a volunteer administrator for BoardGameGeek, and he previously wrote for BoardGame News.
This entry was posted in Essen 2015, First Impressions. Bookmark the permalink.

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