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1936 - 2019

"I first met Francis Tresham" I have been traversing the memory bank of my solitary front lobe brain cell and the exact date/year of my first meeting with Francis is unclear. I think I maybe saw him at one of the early games shows in London. I know I invited him to TSR's GamesFair at Reading University when Fran and I ran a Bring n Buy in the coffee room and I was asked by TSR if I could get smaller games companies (smaller as in not being in the main exhibitor's hall) to come along and demonstrate/sell their games. Francis came along, as did David Watts and a few other names I wish I could remember. I do know that running that small room was my first involvement in organising and I soon had GamesCon up and running in Basildon; Francis attended there as well.

Francis was almost always one of the first faces I would go to see at Spiel Essen. He had a table at one end of the Mayfair Games booth on the left side of the main hall (#11 I think). He was always open for a chat about games or anything and always spoke clearly and intelligently and was always a pleasure to listen to as well as converse with. He was a courteous gentleman, one of a rare breed, and he will be sorely missed and mourned by gamers around the world. He certainly made, and left, his mark on so many of us.

I was never on an intellectual level (or even close) to Francis, or with the majority of the group of GamesFair friends who formed the Small Furry Creatures Press (who were good friends of his), but for the main I was accepted by them. Francis never talked down to me, or to anyone as far as I know, he understood that he was wired somewhat differently to many games players, but also that his 1800's games were a great way to bring us as close to his level as possible. 

Apart from the long-lived and ever-expanding 1800's Railway games Francis was the man who educated us through his brilliantly conceived CIVILIZATION (although I somewhat have the feeling that the 'Z' would have originally been an 'S' in his first draft).There's not many board games players over the age of 50 who haven't played 'Civ'. Francis Tresham's boardgames started 2 revolutions. One where Railway games became the go-to theme for companies starting out in boardgame production or changing their direction (David Watts shares the credit with Francis for this in my opinion) and the second where a myriad games hit the market running with their themes of Ancient Tribes and Nations fighting and trading for land and resources; this carries on to this very day as one of the most popular game themes.

So let's all stand and raise a glass to one of the most innovative and respected games designers of this modern age. To FRANCIS TRESHAM

I borrowed this next bit from


Civilization by Hartland Trefoil (1980).

Civilization by Avalon Hill (1982): 1st edition with a cover depicting an antique Greek temple, an Egyptian fresco and some baskets; the board with the map is a one-piece multifold. 2nd edition with a cover showing three heads - a Roman legionnaire, a Greek man, and a Minoan woman above the Pyramids. The board consists of two separate pieces.

Civilization by Gibsons Games/Welt der Spiele/Piatnik (1988): English and German version. The cover shows six members from people around the Mediterranean Sea.

Civilisation by Descartes (1989): French version. The cover shows a grayhaired male, a Roman temple and the Pyramids in the background.

Civilisation by Gibsons (2018): UK version. The cover shows a Roman officer and an Egyptian noblewoman.


Computer versions 

Incunabula was the first computer emulation of the board game by Avalon Hill (1984, for MS-DOS). Besides the main game, it included two shorter variants, one eliminating trade and one that includes only trade.

Avalon Hill's Advanced Civilization was a 1995 MS-DOS computer version of the board game, incorporating the Advanced Civilization expansion. The rules were slightly modified from the board game for computer play.


Despite having been out of print for several years, Civilization still holds a loyal following. The Origins Game Fair holds a yearly tournament featuring the game, and awarded the game the Charles Roberts Award for Best Pre-20th Century Boardgame of 1982.

Civilization the game shares the name and the basic broad themes of expansion, development and conflict with the computer game Civilization by Sid Meier. The computer game is otherwise unrelated to Civilization.

Although the success of the Civilization computer games series has led to multiple board games, starting with Sid Meier's Civilization: The Boardgame in 2002, none of these games has any direct relation to the Civilization board game discussed here.

© Chris Baylis 2011-2015