Nations was published by Lautapelit.fi, a Nordic game publisher and distributor based in Helsinki that is responsible for Eclipse, and Asmodee, a company based in USA and famous for publishing such games as Dixit and 7 Wonders.
The game was designed by Rustan Håkansson, Nina Håkansson, Einar Rosén, and Robert Rosén.
The illustrations for Nations were done by Ossi Hiekkala, Jere Kasanen, Paul Laane, who runs Aqua Games and Aqua Design, and Frida Lögdberg.
- 240 chits;
- 107 wooden pieces;
- 7 boards;
- 344 cards.
- Golden Ages;
- Historical Events.
Nations is a civilization-building strategy game, 1 to 5 players can play. You take on a historical civilization and lead it through four different ages: Antiquity, Medieval, Renaissance, and Industrial.
Each player has a board with slots where they can place cards. Each slot is meant for a specific type of cards. There are several types of cards:
The number of the slots is limited, which means that sometimes you will have to sacrifice some of the cards you have and cover them with new ones.
Every player’s board stands for an ancient civilization.
There are two central boards: the main game board (it shows everyone’s military strength, stability, available architects, and so on) and the progress board (it shows the cards currently available for purchase).
There are four levels of difficulty in the game. On an easy level, more resources will be produced for free each round.
There is a lot of interaction in the game. You have to watch what other players are doing in order not to get behind. You cannot succeed if you concentrate all your forces on one thing – you have to spread your preferences and mind everything, keeping an eye on what your opponents are up to.
The game lasts for four ages. Each age has two rounds. During every round, each player can take an action. There are three types of actions:
- Buy a progress card with your money.
- Deploy a worker.
- Hire an architect to build a Wonder.
When you purchase a card, you put it on a matching slot on your board.
To succeed in the game, you will have to be able to think fast: progress cards that everyone needs will be disappearing fast; the architects, workers, and resources are limited.
At the end of each round, you collect resources (food, stone, books and gold). Workers positioned on Building cards (blue) or Military cards (red) produce resources. You have to decide where to put your workers cleverly in order to get the resources you need.
Colony cards (green), Advisory cards (orange), and Wonder cards (brown) do not require workers, but Wonders require architects.
After all the resources are collected, there are several steps that need to be assessed for the next round:
- Turn order – Based on military strength.
- War – If one of the players has purchased a War card, all the other players who have a military power lower than his will have to pay him.
- Events – The round’s event card is assessed. It shows a reward (or a penalty) for someone who has the largest (the least) quantity of something.
- Famine – You have to pay a certain amount of food to save your meeples from famine.
After every two rounds (one age), you score your victory points based on your relative amount of books. Cards of the following age always give you more resources, but they also cost more.
When the game ends, you add everything up: you get victory points for cards on your boards, for your total resources including books and military, and add the points you have earned during the game.
The winner is the one who has most victory points.
The game that immediately comes to mind when you are playing Nations is Through The Ages. Nations is more flexible in a way that you can have anywhere from 1 to 5 players while with Through The Ages having more than 3 players becomes tiresome.
Nations may seem a simpler version of Through the Ages: while being a quite complicated game itself, Nations has rules that are a lot easier for a beginner, even someone who does not have a lot of experience in board games can understand them. Besides, it takes less time to complete a game of Nations (about 40 minutes per player).
It also could be compared with Clash of Cultures, which was influenced by a computer game. Clash of Cultures is another civilization game where you lead your civilization from a small settlement to a full-blown empire while building cities, having wars, and researching your opportunities.
Nations Promo Pack 2014: Inspiration
This promo pack brings 6 new cards: 2 event cards and 4 progress cards. The name “Inspiration” comes from the fact that different games that inspired the creators of Nations are directly or indirectly referenced in the promotional cards.
It is the first big expansion of Nations. Dynasties brings 12 new nations with dynasties. It includes 2 new concepts: Turmoil (stability becomes more dynamic) and Natural Wonders (new types of interaction).
Nations: Grand Duchy of Finland promo card
This promotional card was included in the first printing of the game only. It gets mixed with the Industrial deck, then bought and conquered like any colony.
Nations: Hagia Sophia promo card
This promotional card is available in BGG store and some selected events. It is mixed with the deck of the Medieval Age, then you use like any other Wonder.
Nations: Kremlin promo card
This promotional card was included in Spielbox magazine (issue 5/2013). It is mixed with the Renaissance deck and used like any other wonder.
Nations: Mechanical Turk promo card
The Mechanical Turk card was also included in Spielbox magazine. It is mixed with the Renaissance deck. If you build the Wonder of Mechanical Turk, you will immediately get two victory points, and then you can give it away to another player who has less stability than you. It breaks the normal conventions of the game heavily and certainly gives a surprising twist to the game. The player who receives the Turk must accept it. As their action later in the game they may choose to give away the Turk to someone else, including the player who had it first, if at this point they have less stability in the game.
It simulates the European Tour of the Mechanical Turk who was amazing, entertaining, and fooling everyone.
Nations: Nicola Tesla promo card
This promotional card is available through BGG store and some selected events and campaigns. It is shuffled with the Industrial deck and then bought like any other Advisor.
Q: What do different levels of difficulty give?
A: Each player chooses from four different difficulty levels. However, even if a strong player plays on a hard level while a weaker player plays on an easy level, it is most likely that the strong one will still win. So, this can be a good practicing mode for someone who is inexperienced in the game.
Q: How significant is the luck element in the game?
A: The luck element is present, but it is not highly important. The game mostly depends on your skills. However, if you are lucky, the right Event cards can bring you a lot of points (or cost you a lot of points if you are not lucky) if they match your current status. But this is not likely to happen every round, so do not rely on it.
Q: Is Nations a good family game?
A: Nations is recommended for players aged 14 or higher. It is a long strategy game, and although the rules can be pretty clear even for younger kids, keep in mind that you need a certain level of patience to complete the game. Another aspect that some players might not find appealing for a family gaming time is that there can be a lot of negative dynamic in the game. It is very competitive, and you will always have to struggle to keep your buildings and feed your meeples.
Q: Does war play a big part in the game?
A: That depends on your tactics. There are many possible ways to succeed in the game. If you choose to pursue a pacific strategy and concentrate on other things, you will be able to do that, as long as you keep an eye on what your opponents are doing and take necessary steps to prevent damage from somebody else’s war in time.
Q: Is the game worth buying for solo play?
A: Nations plays well as a solo game. It also has different difficulty levels. It may seem less entertaining than the multi-player version, but as a solo game it works perfectly.
Q: What happens when your stability goes into Revolt?
A: Revolt means negative stability. All nations with Revolt tie for last place in stability irrespective of the negative amount. You cannot minimize any damages done to you during a war when you are in revolt.
Nations definitely stands out among other civilization games. Every player is building an empire on their board, confronting endless difficulties and impossible choices, losing money and buildings. It is a very intense game with lots of competition, and you have to be really patient to guide your empire through four ages. Nations can be played by novices, since the instructions are quite clear and easy to understand. However, do not expect to become a master in the game right after you understand how to play it! The game calls to be played again and again to gain a level of mastery.
Nations successfully mixes the basics of a civilization game with Eurogame mechanics and can delight even most fastidious players.
You can buy Nations on Amazon.