Since humanity first banded together and settled down in one place, our ideas of civilization and how it works have been changing. All corners of the Earth have given rise to unique civilizations, vastly different and sometimes altogether alien from those on other parts of the Earth’s surface.
Some have been more or less technologically advanced than others and some have been culturally progressive based on today’s definition of the term. From music to architecture to systems of government, many variations have been tried and tested on the world stage.
Humanity seems destined to settle among the stars while events on Earth are also subject to change. With the spirit of adventure in mind, let us explore the best civilization board games!
Table of Contents
🏆 Our Top Picks for Best Civilization Board Games
In a hurry? Take a quick peek before you go.
Eclipse: Second Dawn for the Galaxy
Playing time: 60-200 minutes
Eclipse places players in command of a vast interstellar civilization, showing empires made up of various species, some humanoid and some completely alien. Players will wage war for control of the parts of this universe by using military tactics, diplomacy, and spurring innovation and exploration.
Each species has strengths and weaknesses that adversaries can exploit to their benefit, or learn from through failure. Players must be wary and play defensively at the beginning of the game, or risk being permanently weakened and used as a pawn for stronger civilizations.
One of the fiercest species in the game is the Mechanema, an android species that combines human features with robotic internal systems. They are given access to powerful spacecraft including 2 interceptors, 4 cruisers, 7 dreadnaughts, and 2 star bases from which to plan their tactics.
Through the Ages: A New Story of Civilization
Playing time: 120 minutes
Through the Ages provides a holistic approach to civilization building, putting players in charge of building monuments, electing effective leaders, building an economy, and maintaining a strong military. Failure to excel with each of these paradigms may result in destruction.
Instead of playing as a specific country, players are given the ability to meld together the greatest figures, inventions, and cultural innovations of the world’s great civilizations. Successful players may end up with leaders such as Winston Churchill, musical genius J.S. Bach, as well as great feats of architecture like the Great Wall of China.
To maintain a strong culture and sense of republicanism, players must be able to defend their natural resources from others. Although there is no territory to win or lose, players can rob each other and permanently weaken their rivals. The one with the strongest culture at the end of the rounds wins!
Twilight Imperium (4th Edition)
Playing time: 240-480 minutes
Twilight Imperium places us back among the stars as up to seventeen different races struggle for control of a galaxy traversing empire. Only one species can dominate the galaxy and ascend the throne at the capital city, Mecatol Rex!
Rounds begin by drawing a card that can affect all the players and determine who begins gameplay. Players progress by claiming planets for their empire systems and waging war with others over resources and territory.
The game itself transports players to another galaxy through the sheer depth of the storyline and the concept art is out of this world. Players can truly envision themselves in battle against anthropomorphic Lions and turtles and truly terrifying bug-like creatures!
Playing time: 60-150 minutes
Gaia Project provides another layer of fascinating gameplay and storytelling. Players here will rule and be bound to their homeworlds, while the goal of the game is to conquer and terraform nearby planets to expand their civilizations.
Each species will have the chance to shape the colonized planets to the needs and conditions of their home worlds. They must use their resources wisely in order to convert the most number of planets to their way of life.
Terraforming however can go wrong and leave players’ planets vulnerable to capture by other species. The species that spreads out the most among the stars wins the day!
Playing time: 80-150 minutes
Since life first crawled out of the water, flopping and squirming on the land, we have had an innate desire to return to the water. Underwater Cities gives us an idea of what that would be like as civilization has been forced below the waves.
The game premise posits that mankind will be forced underwater due to rising populations and a lack of suitable land to live on. Instead of a world where the superrich live underwater, imagine underwater housing estates and apartment buildings.
Players in Underwater Cities must attempt to create the ideal living environment by improving living conditions, adding domes to buildings for instance.
Players expand by bringing in raw materials and developing desalination plants and laboratories to improve the quality of life in Davy Jones’ proverbial locker!
Playing time: 60-150 Minutes
Terra Mystica lives up to its mystical connotation by placing the player into civilizations based on the realms of fantasy. Dwarves will of course take up their rightful place in the Mountain kingdom and attempt to gather resources from the area to grow stronger and dominate.
Giants must gather all their great thinkers and eke out a marvelous civilization from the barren Wastelands. Halflings find themselves upon the plains and must use their cunning to expand and not put themselves in harm’s way.
Terra Mystica is fantastic for playing over and over again because each combination of races changes how the game is played and adds variety. This game is perfect for fantasy lovers and board game nerds alike.
Race for the Galaxy
Playing time: 30-60 minutes
Race for the Galaxy provides a new take on the model of interstellar colonization board games and provides an incredibly playable game. Players must grow their civilizations by carefully selecting the right action in each round.
Every round is defined by the card chosen by the player secretly. Rounds are devoted to developing, exploring, settling, consuming, and producing. Some worlds produce more than others so players must leverage this to continue their growth, or risk being blocked by neighboring civilizations.
The game offers plot development cards that can trigger a universe-wide renaissance, or invasions of warrior races, much like the Spartans of Ancient Greece. Players can even develop their planets for tourism and gain notoriety throughout the galaxy!
Tzolk’in: The Mayan Calendar
Playing time: 90 minutes
Tzolk’in gives players a completely different approach to civilization building. The game takes place within the Mayan empire and divides players into different factions of the empire that must compete and vie for power and influence.
The gameboard includes an exquisitely designed image of the Mayan Calendar, fitting into other calendars like the gears of a clock. Corn serves as the currency of the game, helping players fuel building projects, population growth, and cultural symbols.
Players funnel their success into gifts or offerings for the Mayan gods, who in turn bless players with abundant resources. Victory points are earned by carrying crystal skulls to Chichen Itza and the player with the most victory points wins!
Civilization: A New Dawn
Playing time: 60-120 minutes
Civilization truly brings a new dawn to the world’s most famous and ancient civilizations. Players begin as one of several historic or current empires, The Aztec Empire, the French Empire, Egypt, Sumera, Japan, and the United States of America.
Players compete with their rivals from other civilizations by expanding their borders and settling barbarians in the territory. They must learn how to properly civilize the barbarians to build successful empires and outshine their adversaries.
Cites grow by obtaining resources from the nearby territories and this in turn leads to scientific advancement and the building of impressive monuments. Players win the game by completing the tasks set forth on their victory cards, drawn at the beginning of the game.
May the best civilization win!
Playing time: 30 minutes
7 Wonders puts players in control of one of the leading cities of the Ancient World. The cities where the famous 7 Wonders previously existed. Sadly, all of the wonders have since been destroyed except for the eternal Pyramids of Giza in Egypt.
Players take turns using age cards to either build their monuments completely or over time. Those who do not have the resources immediately can borrow coins from their neighbors at a hefty markup.
Players gain victory points by achieving military victories, building wonders, and constructing civic, scientific, and commercial structures.
Players should pay attention as some wonders are easier to build than others. Whichever player builds the most thorough and developed civilization in all aspects of the world, wins.
We hope you enjoyed our list of the best civilization board games! Have you tried any of the games on this list? Did we miss any of your favorites? Drop a comment below and let us know what you think! We’d love to hear from you.
Daniel Roberts is a full-time Fantasy nerd and part-time games enthusiast. As an Aes Sedai of the Green Ajah, he spends most of his time battling Dreadlords and Darkfriends. He combines his love of politics and battle with a passion for strategy games such as Risk and The Resistance. If you seek him at the Tower, invite him over for a game of Snakes and Foxes. It’s time to toss the dice again!