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Epochs: Course of Cultures

Epochs: Course of Cultures is a new civilisation game from Jeffrey CCH and ICE Makes played over three six-turn epochs (Ancient, Medieval and Modern). The 2-4 players each control their own civilisation loosely based on a historical model and with asymmetric abilities. Art is by Arepko, Cold Castle Studios, James Churchill, Roxy Dai, Joel Holtzman, Maciej Janik, Amanda Phelps and Jelena Pjevic.

Tho' the number of Civ games doesn't come close to rivalling all the zombie, Viking and Cthulhu-themed titles there are already some great Civ games out there, including our current favourite Clash of Cultures (WizKids). If you're familiar with any of them, there's a lot you'll recognise in Epochs: Course of Cultures, from technological inventions to the building of Wonders and the development of different forms of government. What this game does is bring together all these familiar elements in a very accessible way: tho' there's a lot going on in this 4X game of eXploration, eXpansion, eXploitation and eXtermination, the different elements slot together well so that you can approach this game without the heavy rules overhead that can be a barrier to those coming new to similarly themed games. On your turn you either play one tech card and take one action, or you sacrifice a tech card in order to take two actions. When you play tech cards you get resources as well as the card's text effect but so does your neighbouring player, so Epochs can at times feel almost like a cooperative game. It isn't, however...

There are multiple ways of racking up points so players are able to make their own choices over how to develop and run their civilisations. Of course there's a military element but that doesn't mean you're forced to play aggressively; this is an economic engine-builder, and chaining tech can score you points for the engine you construct. Instead of attacking neighbours you can choose to focus more on trade with other players' cities and with those under no player control, tho' you'll at least need to ensure you aren't leaving your civilisation defenceless... In any event, players aren't actually placing troops out on the map; instead, you'll be relying on your military cards, applying them to hexes on the board that you occupy that are adjacent to other players' or neutral units. There's a downside to being a warmonger - you lose culture as well as trade - so there's a fine balance to be made over if and when to tear up that non-aggression pact you've made with other players. Combat is dependent on the various synergies between your military units and any terrain bonuses from which you can benefit, adding die rolls that use custom six-sided dice (0, 0, 1, 2, 3, 4).

We've particularly enjoyed playing Epochs: Course of Cultures as a four-player game, and at that full player count you should expect the game to run to 150-180 minutes. We've especially appreciated the way in which Epochs uses inventions. In the Ancient and Medieval epochs, you get to draw cards that show you the tech that will be available to you in the next epoch so you can lay the groundwork and plan ahead.

Shown here on Board's Eye View is a prototype of Epochs: Course of Cultures, which ICE Makes first introduced at last year's Spiel Essen. The game has been in development since and it's currently being funded right now on Kickstarter. Click here to check it out.

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The consequences are something that worries me. I am interested in delving into the possible outcomes of your suggestions.

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