Carta Impera Victoria
- Designer: Remi Amy
- Publisher: Ludonaute
- Players: 2-4
- Age: 8+
- Time: 15-20 minutes
- Times played: 3, with preview copy provided by Asmodee USA
Carta Impera Victoria (or CIV) was a late arrival to the Gathering of Friends, and I didn’t get a chance to play it at the convention as it arrived literally as I was leaving. I was given a preview copy on the way out, and we’ve played it a few times here at home. The subtitle of the game is “The CIVilization Game in CIV cards” – and the goal here is to be the first to reach hegemony in one of the six domains of civilization.
The deck is split up into three eras, with each era having a slightly different distribution of cards from the six domains. Each domain is color coded: military = red, religion = white, economy = yellow, science = green, culture = blue, utopia = purple. The artwork on the individual cards is somewhat varied, but in the end, the only thing that matters is the color of the card. At the start of the game, the cards are sorted by back and each section is shuffled. A single deck is made with the Era 3 cards on bottom, Era 2 in the middle and Era 1 on top. Each player is dealt a starting hand of three cards from the Era 1 cards on top.
Each player also gets a player aid which is in the shape of a Roman temple façade. This card shows the six different suits and the possible actions for that color. Additionally, it gives players a reminder for the card number threshold needed for different player counts.
A turn is fairly simple. First, the active player has to play a card from his hand. He places it on the table in front of him, in a stack or group with other cards of the same suit. Next, you have the option of applying effects from the different suits; so long as you have enough cards to do so. There are two types of actions – Permanent Effects can only be done if you meet a requirement of a minimum number of cards of that suit (and you can do a double Permanent Effect if you meet a second higher standard) while Discard Effects are triggered by simply discarding a card of that particular suit. Players can choose to enact Permanent and Discard effects in any order and they can also choose the suits in any order. You are limited to doing each particular type of effect once per turn though. Finally, draw up to your hand limit to end your turn.
Red (Military) – Permanent: Discard 1 card from your hand; Discard: Choose a suit. Discard one card from that suit and then every other player in the game must also discard a card of that suit.
White (Religion) – Permanent: Increase your hand size by 2; Discard: Choose a player, take that player’s hand and add it to your hand. Return the same number of cards back to that player from that combined hand.
Yellow (Economy) – Permanent: Discard previously played card from your play area and then play any card from your hand; Discard: choose an opponent and place your discarded yellow card across one domain in their play area. On their next turn, they may not play a card to that suit.
Green (Science) – Permanent: Exchange one card from your hand for one card from your play area; Discard: Draw the top 5 cards from the deck, add them to your hand, then discard any 5 cards from your new hand.
Purple (Utopia) – Permanent: Take any card from the discard pile; Discard: Place your discarded card UNDERNEATH the top of suit of any opponent’s display. That opponent requires one more card in order to meet the immediate victory condition.
Blue (Culture) – Permanent: (you may only use this ability if you meet the minimum requirement AND you have the sole lead amongst all players in blue cards) – copy an ability that any other player is able to do. There is no discard action for blue.
For four players, you need to have 2 cards in a suit to trigger a Permanent effect, and you need to have 4 cards of a suit to trigger the double Permanent effect.
Once you draw back up to your hand limit, the next player takes his turn. The game ends immediately if any player is able to get 7 cards played of any suit (though this requirement might be increased in Utopia discards are played on that suit). The player who gets 7 cards in a suit instantly wins. Otherwise, the game ends when the deck is exhausted. All players get one more turn after the last card is drawn. Then, each player scores one point for each suit which he has the most cards (or tied for the most cards). The player with the most points wins. Ties are broken by the player with the most Utopia cards.
My thoughts on the game
Carta Impera Victoria (or CIV) was sold to me as a fifteen minute civ game, contained within a single deck of cards… I’m not sure that it ends up being a real “civ game” – mostly due to the fact that it’s hard to get the sense of really building anything in only ten to fifteen minutes; but it does give an interesting card game in a small package.
Our first game didn’t go so well because we missed how the different actions interacted with the opponents, and we all missed the fact that discard effects could be taken even from the first card played.
For the most part, all of the actions can be useful, and it’s really a matter of getting good hand draws to allow you to get up to the powerful double action stage (though this also gets you closer to winning!). There is an interesting push-pull about discarding cards for actions. The discard effects can be quite useful, but when you discard, it makes it much harder to ever get to the point where you’ll be able to do the Permanent effect in that suit. But, the game really pushes you to pick one or two suits to specialize in – both for double effects as well as getting to the 7 card winning limit. The question is trying to figure out which suits you want to collect and which you’d rather discard.
There is a bit of take that to the game as many of the effects target particular opponents. There is some obvious targeting of a perceived leader, but that seems to even out. Of course, you have to have the right suits played in order to use the effects which target other players, so keep that in mind as you play – sometimes you need to have both offensive and defensive plans in play.
The components are simple, and as I mentioned earlier, the cards really only need to show the suit. There is no other game information on them other than that. Were the game to be further simplified, they could have even put the Permanent and Discard effects on the cards themselves. But, by using the player aid, each card can display the full card art – which is well done.
In the end, the game moves along almost too quickly to feel like I’m building anything. Thus far, my strategies have been mostly tactical – my choice of action is often determined by my initial hand draws, and once you start down a path, the game moves too fast to really change tacks midstream. The player aids do outline the distribution of each of the suits in the different eras, so you can also try to plan your strategy accordingly based on the expected probability of drawing a particular suit.
It’s a quick game, and one that will sit in the filler slot for the spring. Only time will tell if it remains there come summertime…
Until your next appointment,
The Gaming Doctor