Now that the rules are out, I figured I'd make a summary of the changes that I found from the old version of Advanced Civilization. I'm sure I missed some, so I'd definitely appreciate people chiming in.
- The game now supports up to 18 players.
- Victory is calculated differently. Advances grant 1-6 VPs, Cities 1 VP each, and AST position 5 pts per space, with an additional 5 if you are the only player to end the game.
- There are two more ways to play the game. 'The First Game' is an intro game, and 'The Short Game' roughly simulates the early game and puts players right into the midgame.
- There are 51 advances, compared to 24 in the old game. These are all over the place, giving new abilities for movement, city building, conflict, city maintenance, trade card acquisition, and a lot more.
- Credits are dealt with differently, as there are now credit tokens instead of credits per card. Some cards still credit specific other advances, though that too looks like it's been simplified.
- There's a special abilities phase which triggers advance effects that take place once per turn (like Monotheism in the old game).
- Costs have been reworked significantly.
- The map goes all the way to India, and stretches further north as well. The Western Expansion map has been integrated into the board.
- The map is divided into West and East. For games up to 11 players, only one of the two halves is used.
- The spaces that already existed on the board have been geographically tweaked a bit so that there are more spaces in some places, fewer in others, and borders have been changed.
- There are now spaces with a value of 0. These spaces can never have wilderness cities built on them.
- In general, the board is harsher. There are fewer city sites per player, and areas tend to have lower numbers.
- The map is divided differently when playing with fewer than the maximum number of players.
- There are two sets of trade cards, blue and orange. Blue are used for all games, while orange are only used for 12+ player games.
- Trade cards are also divided between West and East and are only used if playing with the corresponding half of the board.
- When playing with both halves of the board, civs from the Western half draw from the Western decks, and civs from the Eastern half draw from the Eastern decks. Each deck has a full set of one resource, and half of 2-3 others.
- The makup of the trade decks is significantly different. In general, there are larger number of cards in the sets. Many goods have been added, and others have been removed (e.g. Grain has been replaced with Wool).
- You can now purchase a level 9 trade card for 15 treasury rather than 18.
- You can keep 9 cards instead of 8 at the end of the turn in 12+ player games.
- There is a new type of calamity, called Minor calamities. All of these are new. As the name implies, they are weaker than the other calamities.
- Players can suffer no more than 3 calamities per turn, only two of which can be major.
- There are multiple copies of some calamities. Players may not be the victim of two of the same kind of calamity (including as a secondary victim).
- Slave Revolt and Civil War have been switched, so that Slave Revolt is a 3 and Civil War is a 5.
- There are now non-tradeable calamities for decks 6-9. They generally hurt pretty bad if you don't have mitigating Advances.
- Some small changes have been made to calamities based on which Civilization Advances a player holds.
- Civil War and Barbarian Hordes have been streamlined, but ultimately work very similarly.
- There are no support checks, conflict, or surplus population checks during calamity resolution.
- There's now a turn marker. I don't see what this is used for -- maybe for calling the game after a certain number of turns?
- There are now two different ASTs, one for beginners, and one for experts.
- Tax revolts now give your cities away to other players.
- You no longer can join the game late via Civil War.
- Shipbuilding and maintenance is no longer a separate phase, but is handled in the movement phase. You can now build ships with a token from the board that is not in the space that you want to build the ship.
I haven't played this yet, but it does look like it will be very familiar to players of Advanced Civ. You still do most of the basic tasks the same way: movement, ships, combat,city building, trade card acquisition, trading, purchasing advances, etc.
Rules tweaks are pretty minimal, and serve mostly to smooth out some of the rough edges of the old game. The turn procedure is a little smoother, and the credit system has been simplified immensely. Civil War's shift to the 5 deck will make it at least one turn later before it shows up, which is good, as it was decidedly nasty in the old version, especially for a being in the 3 deck. Calamity resolution and credits are more streamlined, which will eliminate edge cases which would occasionally crop up with the old rules.
The map may affect things, but it's difficult to tell without a play. The East/West division with 12+ players will alter trade cards a small bit, but not too drastically. The map in general has more spaces, but also fewer city spaces per player, which will mean more wilderness cities, and may also lead to a game with more conflict. I'm undecided yet whether I like or dislike that.
The new calamities may make the game a bit harsher, and will probably serve to pull down the players with stronger map positions. There's more mitigation options available, but also more advances that exaggerate the effects, so that's probably a wash.
The biggest differences are clearly in the the advances. Most (all?) of the old favorites are still around, though some have gotten minor tweaks. There's a ton of new ones, though, with some very strong effects. It's impossible to say what kind of effect they have on the game without playing.
Strategically, the players who traded well in the old game were the ones who won. A military-focused strategy accomplished nothing more than taking one or two other players with you to the bottom. It looks like that may not be the case with the new one. The map looks like it encourages a bit more conflict, and several of the new advances have some pretty big benefits for a military strategy, especially Advanced Military, Diaspora, Naval Warfare, and Provincial Empire.
That said, the trading strategy got some help as well. There are several advances that help players obtain more trade cards, turn in larger sets, or otherwise increase economic output. The cumulative effect seems to be that players are likely to buy more advances, and probably there will be fewer turns where players can't afford anything as a result.
I don't know how many times I'm going to have occasion to play this game with anything close to the full complement of players, but I'm excited to give it a try. The support for fewer players seems adequate, so at the very least I can see this getting played as a variant for our regular sessions of Advanced Civ.