Tag Archives: State of Play

Clash of Civilizations

Then came Isaiah the prophet unto king Hezekiah, and said unto him:
“What said these men? and from whence came they unto thee?”

And Hezekiah said:
“They are come from a far country, even from Babylon.”

And he said,
“What have they seen in thine house?”

And Hezekiah answered,
“All the things that are in mine house have they seen: there is nothing among my treasures that I have not shewed them.”

And Isaiah said unto Hezekiah,
“Hear the word of the Lord. Behold, the days come, that all that is in thine house, and that which thy fathers have laid up in store unto this day, shall be carried into Babylon: nothing shall be left, saith the Lord. And of thy sons that shall issue from thee, which thou shalt beget, shall they take away; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.”

2 Kings 20:14-18

I start with this … observation … about the character and, let us say, track record of the Babylonian civilization for no particular reason.  And certainly not, because it throws any light whatsoever on the events which unfolded this weekend.

We gathered, the seven leaders of fledging stone age tribes which would – in the millennia which followed – develop into giants of civilizations which would stride across the known world like the very Colossus at the harbour in Rhodes.

My own experience of this game stretches back to my school days, when we spent many, many hours creating (and destroying) civilizations courtesy of Civilization and then Advanced Civilization, with their iconic jigsaw style boards.  I still have some of the components from that original set (which did not used to belong to me) including some of the “house rules” we liked to observe:


Some decades passed, and then I met a man at an underground venue who told me he knew where I could score another game of Civ.  Foolishly, I took him up on the offer and the addiction (which had only been dormant – never extinct) resurfaced like a submarine with fake reactor problems from the Sean Connery film “The Hunt for Red October”.

I have a soft spot for Illyria due to its “Twelfth Night” connections and was third to choose – so managed to get the thinking man’s civilization.

This is Illyria, lady.

And what should I do in Illyria?

Twelfth Night, Act 1

What should I do in Illyria? It is a good question, Viola.

Mostly building cities and learning new skills – that’s what gets you victory points in this game.  Also exchanging an unusually erudite class of table banter.

Very early in the game, the Cretans took two cities in what I would ordinarily regard as Illyrian territory:

With the benefit of hindsight, I should not have allowed this to stand.  I was too generous, and ought to have protected my boundaries with more vigour.  It left me too hemmed in for building cities – I think I had a maximum of six the whole game.  Although a protracted conflict is to no-one’s benefit in this game, my neighbours to the East and West (Asia and Italia) were both understanding and co-operative.  I ought to have joined them in their sporadic assaults on Greater Crete.

Ah well.  It ended with a Cretan victory.  We did not complete the game to the end, but my 1,777 points were good enough for a mid-table finish (4/7).  Egypt were a close second, and had the game played to its conclusion may have even stolen the win.  Babylon had a solid collection of Civ advances, but a series of costly calamaties and conflicts hampered their development too much.

The second new era game also ended before completion.  It is an unapologetically long game, but a lot of the start of it feels like set-up.  Perhaps one solution would be to have a bronze-age set up – so that it plays to the end more quickly – maybe there’s something like this on BoardGameGeek?

“If music be the food of love, play on;”
Twelfth Night, Act 1