Through the Ages: A New Story of Civilizaiton
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Civilization board games are some of the most fun and rewarding experiences in the tabletop hobby. In them, you set out as a small tribe or state, and gradually expand and grow your clout through military prowess or economic nous, ensuring that your domain becomes preeminent.

Whatever your favorite type of civilization board game, we believe that our list will provide you with an outstanding variety of such titles. We bring you the 15 best civilization board games that are inspired by the best franchises and brought to realization by the industry’s most acclaimed designers. 

List of Best Civilization Board Games 

1. Through the Ages: A New Story of Civilization

Through the Ages: A New Story of Civilization
One of the most gripping civilization experiences that spans the written history of mankind.
  • Designer: Vlaada Chvátil
  • Players: 2-4
  • Play Time: 120 Min
  • Age: 14+
  • Complexity: 4.43/5

Through the Ages is often touted as one of the best civilization board games – and for a good reason. While the game can be a bit fiddly at first, it offers a fantastic blend of resource management, strategic decisions, foresight, and evolving stratagems that evolve just as the course of history has!

The game evokes familiar human achievements such as scientific, civilizational, and technological advances, popular people from the modern age back to antiquity, and generally a satisfying variety of what mankind can be pretty much proud of.  

Through the Ages relies on both resource management and card drafting, which will allow you to expand access to new technology and resources that you can leverage to further advance your civilization. Plans may often be foiled if you focus too heavily on a single card, but the game itself makes it easy to adapt even when a player has beaten you to a good claim from the card marketplace.

There is a tremendous depth to Through the Ages and while the game can run a little long at over 120 minutes, you can rest assured that it’s a mighty rewarding experience the like of which any civilization board gaming buff would appreciate a great deal. 

Buy Through the Ages on Amazon US / Amazon UK

2. Civilization: A New Dawn

Civilization New Dawn board game.
Sid Meier’s Civilization finds a new beginning in New Dawn.
  • Designer: James Kniffen
  • Players: 2-4
  • Play Time: 60-120 Min
  • Age: 14+
  • Complexity: 3.15/5

Civilization: A New Dawn is inspired by Sid Meier’s acclaimed series and New Dawn does justice to the entire franchise. Relying on abstract mechanics for the sake of clarity and fluidity, this board game will see you build your nation and state, overcome terrain difficulties, trade with others, fend off barbarian attacks, and wage war on your neighbors and beyond.

Neutral policies will try to remain in your good graces as you pivot towards your unique game objectives, which could often involve the building of several wonders of your own. The expansion for the game, Terra Incognita, creates even more tension and makes a victory more hard-won and fought, adding a bit of oomph to the core gameplay. 

Even without this expansion, though, Civilization: A New Dawn is a complete civilization board game all on its own and makes for a fun and rewarding experience across the board.  

Buy Civilization a New Dawn on Amazon US / Amazon UK

3. Gaia Project

Gaia Project's official cover.
Colonize space and establish yourself as the most prosperous race.
  • Designer: Jens Drögemüller, Helge Ostertag
  • Players: 1-4
  • Play Time: 60-150 Min
  • Age: 12+
  • Complexity: 4.39/5

Gaia Project does not immediately strike as a civilizational board game as the factions you can play with are a little austere on the face of it when it comes to history. Yet, Gaia Project is one of the most ambitious, intricate, and deeply rewarding civilization board games we have personally experienced and enjoyed over the years. Gaia Project is a game of galactic conquest where you try to colonize planets before your opponents can.

Players will each have unique abilities that are accessible in exchange for a significant investment, which should be well-calculated to make sure that you are making the right choice. Rivals will try to arrive at nearby planets to deny you easy terraforming and make sure they keep the easiest exploits for themselves. All of this comes against a backdrop of a sophisticated and fascinating tech tree with plenty of modular bits that introduce variety and require strategic adaptation at each turn.

While some players argue that they don’t feel the theme of Gaia Project, this is a piece of civilization board game masterpiece which will appeal to those players who value deep strategy games that can still be placed at a decent pace. Gaia Project won’t punish you too badly if you make mistakes, but you will be wowed by how well your opponents have managed their resources, motivating you to do better with any of the 14 factions available in Gaia Project!

Buy Gaia Project on Amazon US / Amazon UK

4. Underwater Cities

Underwater Cities' official board games cover.
Take a plunge deep beyond the ocean’s surface and discover a thriving world.
  • Designer: Vladimír Suchý
  • Players: 1-4
  • Play Time: 80-150 Min
  • Age: 12+
  • Complexity: 3.61/5

Earth is running out of precious space to build new settlements and produce food to sustain the population – this is when the world’s finest brains turn to the sea bottom. In Underwater Cities, 1-4 players attempt to build the most sophisticated system of dwellings on the sea bottom, using politics, science and production to sustain the operation and give mankind a new chance. 

Players will vie to create the most livable and self-sustained places under the sea and help offset some of the overpopulation that Earth is facing. You will build farms, and desalination devices and advance scientific work through laboratories and other scientific buildings. Once again, you will have to make strategic choices as to which technology to develop and what issues to address, trying to safeguard your cities against nature’s elements and score the most points as you go along. 

Buy Underwater Cities on Amazon US / Amazon UK

5. Mosaic: A Story of Civilization

Mosaic: A Story of Civilization
A fantastic tableau builder that learns and plays easy enough for the true civilization board games buffs among you.
  • Designer: Glenn Drover
  • Players: 1-6
  • Play Time: 120 Min
  • Age: 12+
  • Complexity: 2.92/5

Mosaic has it right in the title – “A Story of Civilization” and what a story it is! Players will discover one of the best board games in the genre that uses intuitive card-drafting and engine-building mechanics to bring a fantastic experience for those who seek it. Dubbed a tableau builder, the game’s base layout focuses on the subtle domination of key regions across the map to ensure that you advance in scoring while keeping your opponents at bay and denying them opportunities to advance their own civilizations.

The game takes a more militaristic and confrontational dimension with the addition of the Wars and Disasters expansion which will have you marshal armies into battle and bring the fist down on your opponent without detracting from the original. The base game is played by 1-6 players in 90-120 minutes and is suitable for ages 12+ 

Buy Mosaic: A Story of Civilization on Amazon US / Amazon UK

6. Terra Mystica

Terra Mystica's board game.
Fantasy realms compete to dominate the known lands and waters by establishing trade and commerce.
  • Designer: Jens Drögemüller, Helge Ostertag
  • Players: 2-5
  • Play Time: 60-150
  • Age: 12+
  • Complexity: 3.97/5

Terra Mystica is an interesting but worthwhile addition to our list. It’s by far one of the best civilization board games, drawing on the theme heavily, but spinning it in its own unique way for even better results. Players will seek to establish control over swathes of land, advance technologies as one of the many fantastic factions and join cults to solidify their power.

There are 14 groups with the game never lacking in variety and a lot of economic backfoot to help you shape the destiny of your faction. You will conquer various lands to access their favorable condition and develop your faction-specific buildings which can be upgraded for various resources and advance your economic might.

You need not worry about direct conflict, as there is a subtler way to deny your opponent’s juicy patches of land by establishing your own influence in certain areas. The game also uses an interesting “proximity mechanic” whereby expanding closer to an opponent can be an advantage that will passively contribute to the development of your own civilization.

Be careful, though, because you do not want to give your opponents too much of a leg-up. Terra Mystica is fit for 2-5 players and is a game that has not only stood the test of time but is very well one of the best at what it does.

Buy Terra Mystica on Amazon US / Amazon UK

7. Tzolk’in: The Mayan Calendar

Tzolk'in's board game cover.
The bloodthirsty Mayans try to advance work on their mysterious calendar.
  • Designer: Simone Luciani, Daniele Tascini
  • Players: 2-4
  • Play Time: 90 Min
  • Age: 13+
  • Complexity: 3.67/5

In Tzolk’in, the choice of a civilization board game theme is evident – you are sent back to the time of the Mayans when rival tribes compete to rotate the big Mayan Calendar which is propelled by gears which need to be pushed by the workers. The game relies on the worker placement mechanics and innovates the board games hobby in many ways – including the concept of working together with others while advancing your own ends.

Rival tribes will compete and try to raise above the others by pleasing the gods, building new temples, and filling caves with crystal skulls to pay their respects to the bloodthirsty deities of the Mayan culture. Players will interestingly pick between actions now or in future, preparing themselves for a later boon as the Mayan Calendar turns and actions acquired later into the game bestow more benefits to those who have banked on them from the early game. 

Buy Tzolk’in: The Mayan Calendar on Amazon US / Amazon UK

8. Clash of Cultures: Monumental Edition

Clash of Cultures official monumental edition art.
Ancient people clash over culture, the economy and land.
  • Designer: Christian Marcussen
  • Players: 2-4
  • Play Time: 180-240 Min
  • Age: 14+
  • Complexity: 3.64/5

Clash of Cultures: Monumental Edition is oft hailed as the motherload of the civilizational board game genre. Designed by Christian Marcussen, a particularly frugal and perfection-focused developer, Clash of Cultures simply shines with its unique technology board and additional tech trees introduced separately for each civilization. The game runs the full gamut of a wholesome and rewarding civilizational board game experience.

Players may build their armies and slowly march out against their neighbors, set sail to reach distant land, and battle pirates. You will continually try to improve your cultural, scientific, and military strength, deploy unique leaders, and follow specific tech trees to gain access to even more powerful technological advancements and updates as the ages pass by.

Whether you choose to fight or play defensively, there will be plenty of decisions going into each round, with careful resource collecting, and the everyday vicissitudes of running an empire. Enemies are at the gates almost every hour, and you will have to prepare your defenses with one hand while conducting civilization-building in the back. By all measures, Clash of Cultures Monumental Edition is one of the best civilization board games.  

Buy Clash of Cultures: Monumental Edition on Amazon US / Amazon UK

9. Imperium Horizons, Classics, Legends

Imperium Horizons, the latest installment in the Horizons series.
Play as one of the Empires of old or Barbaric States, and dominate your opponents!
  • Designer: Nigel Buckle, Dávid Turczi
  • Players: 1-4
  • Play Time: 60-120
  • Age: 14+
  • Complexity: 3.68/5

Imperium Classics, and the subsequent installments in the series, Classics and Horizons, are some of the best card-driven civilization board games. While very abstract, Imperium Classics and its newest expansions are completely cross-compatible, allowing players to mix hundreds of cards and bring forth unique civilizations that advance from barbarian states to functioning empires.

The game has numerous end-game triggers, which makes for fun and dynamic gameplay with the factions each following their unique playstyles and adjusting their strategies to secure a bigger advantage in play. You will colonize regions and attack other players’ lands to put them on the backfoot while advancing through your own destiny deck to access even more powerful cards.

While drawing heavily on the deck-building mechanic, Imperium Classics is a game with an incredible civilization feeling to it. The factions are unique and balanced in a way that defies expectations with so many different cards in play. Yet, Imperium Classics, Legends and Horizons make for one of the best civilizational experiences we have experienced first-hand. 

Buy Imperium Legends and Imperium Classics on Amazon US. You may purchase the games on Amazon UK here and here.

10. Race for the Galaxy

Race for the Galaxy's Rio Grande Games
Colonize new worlds and build the strongest space-faring empire.
  • Designer: Thomas Lehmann
  • Players: 2-4
  • Play Time: 30-60 Min
  • Age: 12+
  • Complexity: 2.99/5

Race for the Galaxy will have you… well, race across the galaxy in a bid to conquer new worlds. In a card-driven game about galactic exploration, you will have to advance your civilization to the top tiers of known existence by mustering your own prowess and colonizing the best places in the universe to secure supplies, technological advantage and more. 

You will derive different bonuses from the worlds you visit and hold onto them to ensure that your empire continues to thrive and expand. Players will also alternate phases and trigger specific actions in each of these phases. Yet, activating one action may actually bestow advantages to other players as well, so you got to be careful that you maximize your own gains and not give other players too much headway.

Buy Race for the Galaxy on Amazon US / Amazon UK

11. 7 Wonders

7 Wonders' board game cover in a foreign language.
Civilizations vie to triumph over their opponents in this abstract board game.
  • Designer: Antoine Bauza
  • Players: 2
  • Play Time: 30
  • Age: 10+
  • Complexity: 2.32/5

7 Wonders is one of the most successful civilization board games of all time, managing to pack complex experiences in an abstract and fun form. There is a lot of tactical and strategic element to the game, even though you have to admit that it relies on concepts that have to be taken at face value. Still, 7 Wonders is a game that provides you with multiple paths to victory and the opportunity to secure different victory conditions. But watch out, because over-relying on one single path to victory could yield worse results than expected.

The game is about proper card drafting, resource management, and knowing what to focus on, making it one of the easiest-to-get-into board games about civilization building.

Buy 7 Wonders on Amazon US / Amazon UK

12. 7 Wonders Duel 

7 Wonders Duel's board game cover.
Face the mightiest empire in a head-to-head battle.
  • Designer: Antoine Bauza
  • Players: 2
  • Play Time: 30
  • Age: 10+
  • Complexity: 2.32/5

7 Wonders Duel is a scaled version of the original 7 Wonders game, but with a few intriguing and excellent twists. While the original game feels a little more abstract and random, 7 Wonders Duel is about head-to-head combat with a single player. 

The game has a highly-tactical element where you need to feel out your opponent and figure out what they are trying to do. You also have to adapt to aggressive strategies and turn them against the other player. 7 Wonders Duel is a very tight version of the original as it truly builds up on a more competitive civilization experience that really sticks with you as a player. 

It’s one of the best civilizational games that take a much smaller scale than grand games such as Mosaic and Clash of Cultures but is very competitive and rewarding.

Buy 7 Wonders Duel on Amazon US / Amazon UK

13. Tigris & Euphrates

Tigris and Euphrates board game.
Build the most prosperous Mesopotamic civilization .
  • Designer: Reiner Knizia
  • Players: 2-4
  • Play Time: 90 Min
  • Age: 12+
  • Complexity: 3.50/5

Reiner Kniznia’s Tigris & Euphrates is one of the best and most thematical civilization board games. In it, 2-4 players will compete over the course of 90 minutes to build the strongest Mesopotamian civilization and weather calamities such as natural disasters, revolutions, and wars. 

Each player can guide their civilization over four core verticals, including farming, trading, religion and government, with players trying to balance between those so that they are prepared for each conflict or challenge further down the road. Tigris & Euphrates will set up players for conflict and only the most skilful players will come victorious from the devastating events that plunge entire civilizations into decline. 

Kniznia’s immaculate design and clear competitive element make Tigris & Euphrates one of the best possible experiences in the civilization board games genre.

Buy Tigris & Euphrates on Amazon US / Amazon UK

14. Cyclades

Cyaclades' official game cover and art.
Win favor with ancient dieties and mythological beasts to establish control over Cyclades.
  • Designer: Bruno Cathala, Ludovic Maublanc
  • Players: 2-5
  • Play Time: 60-90
  • Age: 13+
  • Complexity: 2.82/5

Cyclades is a game of bluffing, skillful manoeuvring and securing favor from all high. Don’t you worry out about missing on some deity’s predisposition, though, as you have plenty of Greek gods and goddesses to choose from who, frankly, have little better to do than meddle in human affairs.

Above all else, though, Cyclades is a civilization board game of tactical and strategic gameplay, that requires you to buy favor with the omnipotent beings and use it to secure their empire in the group of Greek islands named after the game. 

You will seek to build and establish two cities, control patches of land, deploy fleets, infantry and various mythological creatures, and generally advance your cause. The game allows you to play in a free-for-all setting with 3-5 people or embark on a team fight in the 4-6 player game, which is available in the Cyclades: Legendary Edition. 

Buy Cyclades on Amazon US / Amazon UK

15. Imperial Settlers

Imperial Settlers' offcial game cover.
Construct buildings, trade resources, vanquish kingdoms and increase your own preeminence!
  • Designer: Ignacy Trzewiczek
  • Players: 1-4
  • Play Time: 45-90
  • Age: 10+
  • Complexity: 2.77/5

So far as civilization board games go, Imperial Settlers is definitely one of the better-known ones. The game was released in 2014 and it eased up the “civilizational” theme a little, offering players an approachable gameplay that is quick, strategic, and rewarding at the same time. In Imperial Settlers – and its many expansions, you will construct buildings, harvest resources, and naturally, attack your foes who are bent on doing pretty much the same to you. 

You will have to invest in every part of your civilization, including the economy, your citizens, and naturally – the military. The game is card-driven and you will leverage your cards to trade resources, subjugate foreign lands, and not least, score victory points! For those who have been longer in the hobby, the game’s core gameplay is based on the 51st State game. 

Buy Imperial Settlers on Amazon US / Amazon UK

16. Tapestry 

Tapestry's board game cover.
From the dawn of mankind to the modern ages, you try to build the strongest civilization.
  • Designer: Jamey Stegmaier
  • Players: 1-5
  • Play Time: 90-120 Min
  • Age: 12+
  • Complexity: 2.92/5

Tapestry is Jamey Stegmaier’s board game delight. A civilizational board game experience, Stegmaier just seems incapable of delivering a game that is not visually and mechanically satisfying

In Tapestry, you lead your unique civilization in strife against others. The game starts early – as in really early and you will begin at the dawn of mankind and generally advance through the ages, pushing science, technology, exploration, and military tracks, to increment benefits for yourself, access asymmetric abilities, earn victory points and write the story of your own civilization!

This is a game of gentle but firm conflict as is usually the case with Stegmaier’s titles and a game that feels and plays like a civilization title from top to bottom. It’s one of our favorite titles to try and a worthy member of the best civilization board games. 

Buy Tapestry on Amazon US / Amazon UK

17. It’s a Wonderful World

It's a Wonderful World board game cover.
Build and develop the best dystopy and boost your production as you go along.
  • Designer: Frédéric Guérard
  • Players: 1-5
  • Play Time: 30-60 Min
  • Age: 14+
  • Complexity: 2.31/5

It’s a Wonderful World is a truly inspiring game that turns the civilization board games genre on its back. The game focuses on letting players draft their unique dystopia and build a society that is dominated by a ruling cast. Fit for 1-5 players and played over 30-60 minutes, this title by Frédéric Guérard is one of the most successful takes at the civilization board games genre, especially if you are finally looking for something fresh to try. 

Players will rely on a card drafting and building mechanic to advance their kingdom and progress a step further. Each player will seek to boost their production capacity with each turn in order to maintain control over the masses, but there are some design twists that make for challenging decisions, as how you order things to happen will have a bearing on what benefits are available to you along the way! This is one of the most unique board game titles to try. 

Buy It’s a Wonderful World on Amazon US / Amazon UK

18. Nations

Nations' board game.
Guide your nation to prosperity and military supremacy.
  • Designer: Rustan Håkansson
  • Players: 1-4
  • Play Time: 20-40
  • Age: 14+
  • Complexity: 2.00/5

Nations takes a more classical bent on the civilization board games hobby, where you will start from the ancient world and gradually progress to World War I in a decisive conflict where nations try to dominate the global pecking order.

Played by 1-5 players over 40-200 minutes, this is a civilization game where swift military attacks could pay off as enemies perish before you. As you seek to settle old scores against other players, you will also have to ensure that you are providing for your state, securing food supplies and bankrolling your military and civilizational developments.

Historical events will befall players as they try to navigate the context of each epoch and come on top. Nations is a gripping civilizational experience where you can pick on more difficult nations and prove your leadership further still. 

Buy Nations on Amazon US / Amazon UK

19. Catan 

Catan's original board game cover and art.
Play the timeless civilizational board game classic of dice rolling, trade and warfare.
  • Designer: Klaus Teuber
  • Players: 3-4
  • Play Time: 60-120 Min
  • Age: 10+
  • Complexity: 2.00/5

Catan, which is originally known as Settlers of Catan, is one of the best civilization board games. The game was released in 1995 and it’s ever actual to this date. It relies on a combination of the dice roll and strategic thought. In the game, players seek to conquer land and roll the dice to trigger resource collection.

The resource is then used to build new buildings and advance their own settlements and presence on the map in a bid to score the most points. Warmongers may choose to go down a more militaristic path while peaceful traders will happily pair up to boost their defenses through mutually beneficial trade. The game of Catan is admittedly a more simplified version of some of the other civilization board games we have mentioned here, but it’s a rewarding and fun experience from start to finish.

Catan gets you the basics of the franchise and you get to explore its depth over hundreds of plays still – as the game is still as played today (if not more) as it was when it first arrived in the hobby! 

Buy Catan on Amazon US / Amazon UK

20. Age of Empires III: The Age of Discovery 

Age of Empires III board game adaptation.
The classic video games find a worthy tabletop adaptation.
  • Designer: Glenn Drover
  • Players: 2-5
  • Play Time: 90-120 Min
  • Age: 10+
  • Complexity: 3.13/5

Age of Empires III: The Age of Discovery is a worthy way to wrap up this list. This civilization board game enjoyed critical acclaim and was reviewed more than 10,000 times on BoardGameGeek, not least owing to the popularity of the video game franchise.

Designed by Glenn Drover, an established name in the adaptation of video games to the tabletop experience, Age of Empires III: The Age of Discovery is a fantastic civilization title where you deploy monks, soldiers, and merchants to advance your nation’s agenda, build settlements and enter military conflicts. 

The game is available for 2-5 players aged 10+ and plays for over 90-120 minutes. While war is a last resort in the game, it is still an option. In the meantime, nations strive to advance and outstrip competitors technologically and economically as they deploy fleets and stake their claims on new swathes of land. 

Age of Empires III is not currently available on Amazon US / Amazon UK

Disclaimer: The list was compiled with the help of and combines the mixed experience of Meeples Herald’s editorial team, BoardGameGeek ranking, and online search volumes.

Stoyan Todorov

Stoyan entered the hobby over seven years ago and his collection has been growing at a pace his spouse has described as “concerning.” Willing to push the boundaries of the connubial bliss to its extremes, Stoyan is here to bring you the latest updates and developments from the world of board games.


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