Yes. This again.
I actually got to play a few weeks ago. We were originally going to have nearly a full boat (eighteen players), but there was a last-minute communications snafu and so we were down to eight. Or up to eight - I advertised on Boardgamegeek and Google Plus and Facebook for players when it looked like we were going to be short.
Eight is still a fun game, but I don't know if I'd want to play with fewer than that.
Because a few of us had played a lot "back in the day," and a few of us had played relatively recently, we used the Eastern half of the map.
We started around 10 am Sunday morning and wrapped up a bit after 8 pm. Here's a two-minute video of the play:
We had eight players, as I said. Andrew was Persia, Barbara was Babylon, Derek was Indus, Franc drew Parthia, James was Kushan, O. Shane was Saba, and Sean was Murya. I drew Dravidia.
Before the game got rolling, I negotiated borders with Maurya and Indus. Those borders were nearly identical to those shown in the rulebook. Since these were the only players I bordered directly, I wanted to be sure we had stable boundaries - and I worked hard to respect these boundaries over the course of the game, too. Because I had enough room for all nine cities (and support for those nine cities).
In fact, most players spent a few minutes establishing boundaries and looking hungrily at land beyond them.
As always happens, the first few turns went by quickly - populate, expand, populate, expand. Our civilizations were too small to conflict at that point - Persia and Babylon can clash, but rarely do.
With the first wall approaching on the AST, James built his first city a few turns too early (and never fully recovered). I built one turn early, but had fewer neighbors (and suffered fewer calamities), and ... mostly recovered. In fact, my struggles during the game were due to a lack of skill, not due to anyone else's actions.
The East map is either more forgiving than the West map, or else I was just playing with the nicest set of players on the planet.
To prep for the game, I grabbed a few things off of BoardGameGeek. The Errata. The FAQ. And this file. In that file, there is a "Civilization Advances - Terse" document. I printed it out (one for each player), laminated it, and had a couple of overhead (wet-erase) pens on hand. This was a huge space-saver for me - instead of buying a ton of (oversized) tech cards, I just marked this board when I bought something.
The game ran smoothly. We made a few rules mistakes (built on zero-population spaces, for example), and it was a ton of fun.
There were a handful of notable events:
1) Franc lost four cities to calamities three turns in a row. This was especially notable, as Franc's goal that game was not to trade calamities away to other players. Had this not happened, James would have been in a lot of trouble, because Franc and James were both trying to colonize the same area of the map.
2) Franc was the beneficiary of Sean's Civil War. Sean is at the opposite end of the map. This meant that Franc was on both edges of the map, with more/greater presence on the East coast than in his homeland on the West coast.
3) Franc was the beneficiary when I got hit by Tyrrany. This again put him on both edges of the map.
4) We ended a few turns early. I suspect that another turn or two would have brought out the knives.
5) I took a bunch of photos. They can be found here.
6) Final scores:
Barbara (Babylon) - 98
O. Shane (Saba) - 97
Derek (Indus) - 95
Sean (Maurya) - 94
Andrew (Persia) - 90
Franc (Parthia) - 81
Eric (Dravidia) - 70
James (Kushan) - 54
Franc was low because of all of the calamities. However he had more tech than anyone else. I think he was also in a good position to start to benefit from the knives coming out, too.
We're going to try to do this again sometime in June or July. Maybe we'll get more players, and maybe we won't. But I'm definitely looking forward to it.