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Game Review: 'Clash of Cultures' lets gamers rule their own civilizations

Admit it: You've always wanted to rule your own civilization. Would you build a strong military? How about having technologically advanced people? Or maybe you would develop a nation with rich culture that is the envy of the world?

All of that is possible with Z-Man Games' new board game, Clash of Cultures. The game allows you to build a civilization from a single village, turning it into an expansive empire while managing resources, exploring new lands, developing technology and culture, accumulating wealth, building wonders and leading armies.

This is what you call an "epic" board game. It combines beautiful components, fun game play, well-written rules and replay value. Inside the box you'll find plastic miniatures, cardboard bits, cards, dice, technology boards and a modular map that creates a unique game experience each time you play.

Combat in the game is based on a simple but effective mechanic. For every army you have, you roll one six-sided die in combat. Add the total of the dice together and divide by five, rounding down. The result is the number of casualties you deliver to your opponent.

A unique mechanic in the game is influencing the culture of nearby cities that belong to other players. On certain rolls, you can influence an opponent's city by exchanging one of their buildings for yours. This affects the score at the end of the game.

A fully built city consists of five pieces represented by cool plastic miniatures. The pieces fit together with an academy, fortress, temple, port and village in the middle. A completed city looks so cool on the board.

The best aspect of the game, however, is the tech board. Players can research technologies like irrigation, currency, steel weapons or philosophy to gain unique advantages that let them bend the rules. Next to each technology on the board is a square hole where you can place a wooden cube when you have researched the technology.

To win, players try to collect the most victory points, which are given for technological advancements, world wonders, objectives, city pieces and event cards. A set of cards for objectives are given to players to help them earn victory points and action cards allow players to bend the rules.

Being an epic game, you will need to plan about an hour per player. The experience is fun, visually appealing and unique enough that civilization gamers will want a copy in their collection. Keeping track of all the technological advantages and how they affect the rules was frustrating but a minor problem. Overall, this is a balanced and well-put-together board game that will provide hours of fun.

Ryan Morgenegg is a multimedia specialist for the Deseret News.