Vinci: Rules

The Rise and Fall of Civilizations

A Game by Philippe Keyaerts

A game of Vinci spans the growth and decline of civilizations in Europe from Prehistoric times to the High Middle Ages.

During this long period of history, new tribes and civilizations made their mark upon the continent in many ways.  Wandering into Europe from across the Mediterranean, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Ural River; or rising from the ashes of previous civilizations.  The civilizations spread, made war upon each other, assimilated each other, and eventually vanished to make room for new and growing empires.

The players in Vinci control the destinies of several civilizations, each with different characteristics.  Each civilization quickly grows into a vast empire, but the expansion is not infinite.  Inevitably, there comes a time when a civilization can no longer grow, and falls into decline.  Once this happens, the player ignores the failing empire, and chooses a new civilization to start anew.

The main game plays with 3 to 6 players.  A variant for solo play or for two players is provided at the end of the rules.

·          1 game board depicting Europe, divided into many provinces
·          150 wooden tokens in 6 colors, representing population
·          6 large wooden tokens in 6 colors for marking the scores of each player
·          33 brown wooden tokens representing neutral civilizations which cover the board at the beginning of the game.  These markers will also be used to represent fortresses.
·          52 small counters used to indicate the provinces of a civilization in decline
·          52 civilization tiles (larger counters) which show the different abilities of a civilization
·          1 cloth bag from which to draw civilization tiles at random
·          6 game summary charts showing the various civilization abilities
·          1 summary of the game rules with an example of play
·          1 booklet of rules

The Basics of Vinci
The main object is to score as many victory points as possible.  The more provinces controlled by a player’s population, the more points the player receives.

A civilization begins with a specific number of population tokens.  It will never receive more (unless noted by a Civilization Tile, see below).  The tokens allow the player to expand into new provinces.  To take over a new province, a varying number of tokens is needed depending on the terrain of the province (mountains and forests offer natural defense and therefore require more tokens) the number of defenders already there and the skills of the attacking and defending civilizations.  At the end of each turn, the player counts the number of points scored, and then redistributes the tokens of their empire freely among the conquered provinces in order to shore up its defenses.   On later turns, the player does the same thing, except that the civilization now has fewer tokens available in order to conquer new provinces and defend against encroaching empires. 

When a player decides that their civilization has become too weak, the player can declare the civilization as being in decline.  The player then chooses a new civilization which will enter play on the next turn.   The provinces still held by the civilization in decline continue to score points for the player, until the provinces are conquered by other players.

At the beginning of each turn, there is an important choice to make: is it worth trying to expand the current empire, or should you choose a new one?

The game continues until a player has scored the required number of points for victory, which depends on the number of players:
Number of players                     Victory points
6                                                               100
5                                                               100
4                                                               120
3                                                               150

Each new civilization has 2 special abilities (there are 26 different possibilities) which give the civilization various advantages (some civilizations score points more easily, and some are more stable).

Over the course of the game, each player will control several civilizations, each from its formation through its decline.

Setting Up
1.         Each player chooses a color and places the large token of this color on the 10 space of the scoring track around the edge of the board.

2.        A brown token is placed in every province on the game board, except the gray mountain provinces and in the dark blue water zones.  These tokens represent the early inhabitants of Europe and are not controlled by any players.  These indigenous peoples will defend the provinces that they occupy against the arrival of the players’ civilizations.

3.        The civilization tiles are placed in the bag.  Twelve of these tiles are then drawn at random in pairs.  The first pair is placed on the spaces marked ‘I’ on the top of the board, the second pair is placed on ‘II’, and so forth.   Each of these pairs of tiles represents the special abilities of one of six civilizations ready to enter the game.

4.        The starting player is chosen at random (players will then take their turns in clockwise order).

5.        Each player takes their first turn, which consists merely of choosing their first civilization (see Choose a new Civilization below).  The game can then begin.

Rules of the Game
Choose a new Civilization
Players choose a new civilization at the start of the game, and periodically during the game when they decide to let their current empire slip into decline.

Start of the game
On their first turn, or after putting a civilization in decline, the player chooses a new civilization from the six available at the top of the board. 

If the player chooses the first civilization (the pair of tiles in space ‘I’), no victory points are gained or lost.

If instead the player passes over the first civilization, and chooses the second civilization (space ‘II’), the player must pay 2 victory points (move their scoring marker back two spaces).  Each civilization further along the track costs an additional 2 points (so civilization ‘III’ costs 4 points, civilization ‘IV’ costs 6 points, and so on.).

For each civilization that was passed over, the player places an unused token (it can be any color) on that civilization.  Each one of these tokens represents two victory points.

For example, if a player chooses civilization ‘IV’, the player pays 6 victory points (move back the scoring marker), and places a token on civilizations ‘I’, ‘II’, and ‘III’.  There may be several tokens on a civilization.  When a player chooses a civilization with one or more tokens on it, the player gains 2 victory points for each token on the civilization.

Once a player chooses their civilization, that player takes the two civilization tiles, removes any tokens that were on the civilization, and shifts the higher-numbered civilization pairs (along with any tokens placed with them) to the left to fill the vacant space.   Two new civilization tiles are drawn and placed on the ‘VI’ space (giving the next player a choice between 6 civilizations.).

Tokens of a new Civilization
Each time a player chooses a new civilization, the player receives a number of tokens in that player’s color.  This number is the sum of the two red numbers on the civilization tiles for that civilization plus extra tokens depending on the number of players.

Number of players                              Extra tokens
3                                                             8
4                                                             6
5                                                             4
6                                                             3 

Example: In a 5 player game, the civilization ‘Astronomy + Mountaineering’ will give a player 13 tokens: 5 for Astronomy + 4 for Mountaineering + 4 because there are 5 players.  In a 4 player game, the civilization would start with 15 tokens.

These tokens are all that the civilization will ever receive; no new tokens are added on future turns.   (Exception: see the Medicine tile.)

Note: a player is not limited to the 25 tokens provided with the game.  In the rare case that more are needed players can supplement their tokens by adding those of an unused color or the brown tokens.

The effects of the 26 civilization tiles are explained later in the rules and on the summary sheets.

Course of a Turn
On each turn, the player must choose between two options: whether to expand the current empire, or put it into decline and choose a new civilization to start on the next turn. The two options, and their basic steps, are listed below. Each option is fully described in detail below that. 

An expansion turn consists of these phases:
1.       Collecting tokens or choosing a starting province.
2.        Expanding the empire, heeding the rule of cohesion.
3.        Reorganizing tokens and checking cohesion.
4.        Counting Victory Points.

A declining turn consists of these phases:
1.       Removing tokens from the player’s previous empire in decline (if there is one).
2.        Removing all but one token per province in the newly declining empire.
3.        Placing a ‘declining’ counter in each province.
4.        Returning the two civilization tiles back into the bag (with a few exceptions).
5.        Counting Victory Points.
6.        Choosing a new civilization.

Expansion Turn
1.       Collecting tokens or choosing a starting province

Collecting tokens
At the start of each turn, the player collects tokens from each of the occupied provinces of their active empire, leaving one token behind in each province.  The player may remove all of the tokens from a province, but in doing so gives up control of the province.  A province thus vacated will belong to nobody and will cost its normal amount to re-conquer it.   The tokens taken from the board can then be used to expand into new provinces - so the more an empire expands, the less strength it has for further expansion. 

Choosing a starting province
When a player is entering a new civilization onto the board, all of the starting tokens for that empire are available to expand.  (See Expansion below). 

A new civilization enters from the edge of the board.  It grabs a foothold in one province, then expands from that starting province into adjacent provinces.

The starting province can be a land province that touches any edge of the board, or a land province that can be reached from the edge of the board by crossing only one sea (dark blue) region.  Thus, a player can start in Scotland or Ireland, but not in France or Northern Italy. The sea regions (dark blue) are never occupied. They can be crossed in order to start a new civilization, but are otherwise impassable (exception: see the Astronomy civilization tile.)

Just as when expanding into any province, the player must commit several tokens toward taking the starting province (see Expansion).

Place the two civilization tiles onto the starting province (This makes it easier for all players to see what each empire can do.).

2.       Expanding the empire, heeding the rule of cohesion.


Once the starting province is conquered, the civilization can expand into adjacent provinces, and then keep expanding from the newly-conquered provinces.  Any province that has been conquered can immediately be used as a base for new expansion.

Note: Two provinces are adjacent if they share a common white border, or share an adjacent coastline. For example, Ireland is adjacent to Scotland.

Tokens are not moved around on the board.  In order to take control of a new province, each player uses tokens from his hand and adds them to the board in the new province (These tokens are either the civilization’s starting tokens or the tokens just collected from the board.).  The placed tokens must remain in the province until the reorganization phase of the turn.

 Cost of a new Province:
·          2 tokens for all provinces.
·          +1 token for a forest (dark green) or mountain (gray) province.
·          +1 token for every neutral or enemy token currently residing in the province.
·          -1 if the expanding player is attacking from a mountain province adjacent to the target province.

Cost of expanding into a province = 2 tokens (+1 for forest or mountain) +1 per defending token   -1 if attacking from an adjacent mountain province.

Special Case: Because of some of the Civilization tile modifiers, it is possible that expansion into a new province costs 0 tokens.  The attacking player does not add a token, and can use the province as a base for new expansions.  However, the player must ensure that there is at least one token in the province after Reorganization (see Reorganization below) in order to keep and score this province at the end of the turn.

In each conquered province, the defending civilization loses just one token permanently.  This token is removed from the board, and goes back into the appropriate stock (brown token stock for neutral provinces, the defender’s stock for all others). Any additional tokens of the vanquished civilization are moved by the defender to other provinces controlled by the defender’s civilization at the end of the expanding player’s turn.

If a defending civilization loses all of its provinces, any surviving tokens are removed from the board and may be used at the start of the player’s next turn to enter the board.   These tokens enter the board as if the player were starting a new civilization.  However, no additional tokens are added to this re-entering civilization.

Attacking civilizations never lose tokens.

Rule of Cohesion
At the end of the expansion phase, a civilization must be connected; that is, the provinces controlled by the civilization must be contiguous (it must be possible to travel between any two of the civilization’s provinces by moving only through provinces of that civilization). This rule is only applied at the end of a player’s turn.  If a civilization is split by attacks from the other players, the controlling player of the split empire gets a chance to reunite the civilization when it is once again their turn. 

If a player does not establish, or cannot reestablish cohesion by retaking some provinces, the player may abandon some or all of the provinces when collecting tokens at the start of the turn. (The player may collect those tokens and use them for expansion.)

If after expanding an empire, it is not cohesive, the owning player must reorganize their tokens in such a way that cohesion is reestablished.  Players must choose which portion of their non-cohesive empire to abandon, remove the tokens from that portion, and place them back anywhere in a cohesive portion.

The rule of cohesion does not apply to civilizations in decline, which may be broken up into several parts.

3.       Reorganizing tokens

Once a player finishes conquering, the player may freely redistribute all of the tokens of the active civilization among the provinces controlled by that civilization.  This is done to defend certain provinces.

All of the tokens of a civilization must be placed on the board, including any leftovers which were not used for expansion (there are often only one or two tokens left, because expansions cost dearly.)

If possible, the player must leave at least one token in each province.  Otherwise the player chooses which provinces to preserve and which to abandon, following the rule of cohesion (above).

Empty provinces belong to no player.  A province thus vacated will belong to nobody and will cost its normal amount to re-conquer it.

4.       Counting Victory Points

At the end of the turn, the player scores one point for each province controlled by their civilizations (including their declining civilization, if any).  Mountain provinces, however, score 0 points. The scoring marker is advanced around the outside of the board to indicate the new score.

Note: Some civilization tiles modify the points scored by a civilization.

Declining Turn
At the beginning of any turn, a player may abandon their current empire and declare it to be in decline.

1.        Civilization tiles for the civilization are removed from the board and go back in the bag.  (Exception: some yellow tiles remain on the board and have an effect for the declining civilization.)

2.        A player may not have more than one civilization in decline.   Any remaining tokens from an earlier declining civilization owned by the player are removed from the board (along with the decline counters.) and returned to the player’s stock.

3.        The player removes all but one token from each of the newly declining empire’s provinces and adds a ‘Decline’ counter to mark the age of decline for that civilization.

4.        The player scores points (without any of the advantages formerly given by the removed civilization tiles).

5.        As on the first turn, the player then chooses a new civilization.  This new civilization will be added to the board on the player’s next turn, following the rules for starting a new civilization.  During a declining turn, there is no expansion.

A civilization in decline can have remnants on the board for several turns if it is not absorbed by another empire.  Each player scores points for the provinces of two civilizations - their active empire, and their declining one (if any).

Note: These two civilizations are treated separately; civilization tiles of the active civilization do not benefit the declining one, and vice versa. The active civilization and the declining civilization of the same player may not come in contact. A player may conquer a province adjacent to his declining empire, but the adjacent provinces of the declining empire must be immediately cleared (the tokens removed from the board and returned to the player’s stock).

Note: This does make it easier for the active empire to claim the old territory, as the province will then be empty.

Special Case: It is possible that an active civilization can lose all of its tokens through enemy attacks.  The empire can be preserved (perhaps to keep an existing declining empire intact) or declared in decline.   It still takes, as usual, a complete turn to put the empire in decline.  If placed in decline, the previous declining empire is still removed from the board - even though the new declining empire has no provinces.  For one turn, the player will be completely off the board.

End of the Game
The game ends when a player reaches the required number of victory points: 100 with 5-6 players, 120 with 4 players, and 150 with 3 players.

When a player reaches the required point total, the round of turns is still concluded.  (Each player will therefore have the same number of turns.   The player sitting to the right of the player who started the game will play the last turn.)

The player with the most points then wins the game.  For a longer or shorter game, players may modify the target number of victory points.

The rules for Vinci end here.  The following is a variant for playing solo or with two players as well as a detailed description of the Civilization Tiles.

I would like to thank my family, my friends, and the numerous members of the Alpa-ludisme club.  They all contributed to the birth of VINCI. Their comments and their encouragement made this game possible.

I would like to specifically thank Alain Dekerpel, Alain Henry, Alexis Keyaerts, Axel Calingaert, Bernard Jorion, Bernardo Gaivao, CÈcile Keyaerts, Claude Simar, Dany Briquet, Dimitri Lefever, Etienne Nicaise, Fabienne Moreels, Florence, Francoise Keyaerts, Gert Lagrou, Henri Balczesak, Jean-Pierre Ernotte, Marc Delbaere, Michel Keyaerts, Michel Laurent, Nicolas Wautos, Patrick Pauwels, Pierre Poliakoff, Olivier Cailloux, Pierre Moreau, Serge Alard, Serge Lehman, Sophie Hanozet, StÈphane Rimbert, Sylvianne Lemmens, Thierry Berckmans, Tilly Ottinger, Vincent Delapierre, Yves Dohogne, and particularly Joanne de Terwangne for her patience, Michel Van Langendonckt for his inalterable optimism, and Michel Deprade and his accomplices at the Game Library of Boulogne-Billancourt for the invaluable aid which they provide new game designers.

I sincerely hope that I haven’t forgotten anyone. If I have, I apologize.  To those whom I have unduly credited, you are invited to play- test my next game.

Author: Philippe Keyaerts
Graphic Design: Studio Nexus
Layout: Guillaume Rohmer
English Rules Translated by: Frank Branham
English Rules Edited by: Ron Magin & C·it NÌ Dhochartaigh

VINCI is a game published by:
Jeux Descartes
1, Rue Du Colonel Pierre Avia
75503 Paris Cedex 15 

Distributed in North America By:
Eurogames / Descartes - USA, Inc.
P.O. Box 953
Phoenixville, PA 19460
World Wide Web:

Civilization Tiles
These tiles represent the abilities of each civilization.   Playing to the strengths of your population is one of the keys to victory.

All of the modifiers on these tiles are cumulative.  Exception: the cost of a conquest and the number of lost tokens may never be negative (but can be 0).

Yellow tiles and tiles marked with a yellow and black circle are abilities that affect victory points.  The civilization has ways to score bonus points, or special ways of scoring points.

If they are marked with the symbol of a broken column, the Agriculture, Livestock Breeding, Mining and Port Building tiles remain active during an empire’s decline.

Agriculture.  Farmland provinces (yellow) earn +1 victory point.  Agriculture comes in two varieties, one with, and one without the symbol of the broken column.

Currency.  Each province in the empire earns +1 victory point (including the mountains).

Livestock Breeding.  Prairie land provinces (light green) earn +1 victory point.  Animal Domestication comes in two varieties, one with, and one without the symbol of the broken column.

Mining.  Mining provinces (with a pickaxe) earn +2 victory points.  Mines come in two varieties, one with, and one without the symbol of the broken column.

Port Building.  Port provinces (with an anchor) earn +1 victory point.  Port Building comes in two varieties, one with and one without the symbol of the broken column.

Slavery.  Each enemy or neutral token eliminated from a province (except Fortification tokens) earns +1 victory point.  Only tokens that are removed from the board, and returned to the player’s (or the neutral) stock pile are counted, not those that are relocated. This modifier applies to enemy tokens from civilizations in decline as well.

Pink tiles and tiles marked with a white number on a blue square indicates an advantage in combat-either for expanding an empire, or defending against invaders.

Espionage.  Once per turn, a province can be conquered at the cost of two tokens, regardless of how heavily it is defended.  All other modifiers are ignored (including province type, other civilization tiles, etc.).  This ability may only be used once per turn, and does not affect any other conquests.

Field General.  The civilization receives 7 extra tokens at the beginning of the turn, but loses 7 at the end of the turn (they can be used only for expansion, but not for defense). These 7 tokens are removed before counting victory points and before checking for cohesion.

Fortification.  At the end of each turn, the player may place a fortress (brown token) in any province in their active civilization.  Only one fortress may be placed per turn and only one fortress per province is allowed.  The fortress remains during the decline of this empire, but new fortresses may not be added to an empire in decline.  The fortress disappears if the province is conquered or abandoned in any way.   A province with a fortress costs +1 token to conquer, and attacks made from this province cost -1 token.

Militia.  Each time another player wishes to conquer a province of a civilization with militia, it costs one extra token.

Mountaineering.  Conquering a mountain province (gray) costs one token less.  These provinces also earn +1 victory point.

Ship Building.  Expanding into a province costs one token less if the player is expanding from a province sharing a common coast (with touching light blue sections in their spaces.) Examples: Northern Italy and Southern Italy, England and Ireland.  Shipbuilding is usable in conjunction with Astronomy for a bonus when crossing a sea, as well as when a new civilization enters the board into a coastal province.

Weapons.  Each expansion into a new province costs one token less.

Blue Tiles have various special abilities.

Astronomy.  Expansion may take place across one or more sea (dark blue) regions.  Example: Ireland to Norway, then to Southern Italy.  Two provinces of an empire with Astronomy are considered adjacent (for the rule of cohesion) if they are connected by one or more sea regions.  If applicable, bonuses for attacking from a fort or from a mountain are NOT applied if attacking across a sea, but bonuses from Ship Building are counted.  Note: Light blue sections of coastal provinces are not considered sea; these may be crossed by anyone.

Barbarians.  No special abilities, but there are a lot of them.

Diplomacy.  At the start of a turn, this player may choose one opponent with whom they are at peace.  Neither player may attack the other until the start of the Diplomacy player’s next turn.  This applies only to active empires; declining empires may still be attacked normally.  The opponent with whom you are at peace may be changed each turn, or you may choose no player if you wish.  You may also choose to be at peace with a player who is not currently on the board.

Heritage.  The active empire (with Heritage) may expand into provinces adjacent to the player’s own declining empire without removing tokens from the declining empire.  If the player wishes, they may expand into their own declining empire’s province following the normal rules of conquest.

Medicine.  The civilization receives an extra token at the beginning of each turn, including the turn in which it enters the board.

Messengers.  This civilization can ignore the rule of cohesion.

Rebirth.  The decline for this civilization is declared at the end of a normal game turn, after counting victory points (instead of at the beginning of the next).  However, the victory points are counted only once.  The player therefore does not spend an entire turn choosing his next civilization.

Revolutionaries.  This civilization may appear in any province, not just on the edge of the board.  This starting province must be conquered normally.  Bonuses from the civilization’s second tile, such as Mountaineering and Ship Building, Astronomy, etc. are still applied where appropriate.

Specialization.  This civilization is considered to have two identical Civilization tiles.  The number of tokens collected to start the empire is double the other tile plus 1 extra.  Example: In a game with 5 players, ‘Barbarians + Specialization’ receives 17 tokens (6 + 6 + 1 + 4).   Specialization remains during decline if the other tile remains.

VINCI with One or Two Players
In general: For solitaire play, one player takes on three imaginary opponents.  With two players, there are two ‘virtual players’ in addition to the actual players.  The behavior of the virtual players is handled using various rules and a few dice throws.  This variant requires a six-sided die.  On the turn of a virtual player, look at the provinces adjacent to their civilization and decide which is preferable.  The virtual player’s civilization will then conquer these provinces in the order of preference.   If there are provinces of equal value, a die roll is used to decide the preference.  Equalities are frequent enough to make the virtual player’s behavior fairly unpredictable.

Start of the game
Turn order is chosen at random.  The game ends at 150 points.

Choosing a Civilization
A virtual player always chooses the first civilization available.  The virtual player receives 8 extra tokens instead of the 6 tokens which a real player receives.

Entering the Board
A virtual player chooses the province which earns it the most victory points.  If there are several candidates, choose the province that is easiest to conquer.  If there are still equal provinces, roll a die to determine where the civilization begins.

Variant: To make the game a bit more difficult, instead of rolling a die to select which province a virtual player will attack, whenever possible, choose a province that will invade one of the real player’s civilizations.

The virtual players look only for immediate gain when expanding.  Each new province to be conquered is determined in the same manner as the starting province: the one that is worth the most victory points (including subtracting points for moving adjacent to the virtual player’s declining civilization), then the cheapest province to take, and finally by rolling a die.  If the player does not have enough tokens to take the preferred province, they will instead try to take the best possible province.  However, virtual players never empty an existing province for extra tokens.

Variant: You may wish the virtual players to use the following formula: (Cost in tokens to take the province) - ( 2 x the value of the province in victory points).  This will allow a better determination of the value of the provinces.   The virtual player will always conquer the province with the lowest value first.  This will make an unoccupied mountain province preferable to a farmland province defended by 6 tokens.  (3 - ( 2 x 0) =3 which is less than 8 - ( 2 x 2) = 4.  This variant produces more intelligent virtual players, but requires extra time to calculate.

A virtual player distributes tokens so as to have a homogeneous defense along their borders (taking into account mountains, forests, and fortresses).  Any leftover tokens are distributed with the following preferences:
1.         Provinces on the edge of the board if new empires are entering this round.
2.         Provinces adjacent to an active empire.

If there is a tie, tokens are placed in provinces that are worth more victory points.  If still tied, roll a die.

Virtual players are not subject to the rule of cohesion.

A virtual player may decide to declare an empire to be in decline only if the empire would score fewer than 10 points before expansion AND the empire has fewer than 5 tokens available to expand.  If both of these conditions are met, roll a die: the civilization goes into decline if the result is greater than the number of tokens available for expansion.   Otherwise, carry on with a normal turn for the virtual player.

Civilization Tiles
  All of the provinces accessible through Sea Zones must be considered when choosing a province to invade.
Diplomacy.   An imaginary empire always declares peace with a real player.  (If two are playing, roll a die to determine who is chosen.)
Field General.   The empire is placed into decline only when there are fewer than 3 tokens available for conquest.  Also, subtract 2 from the die roll to see if the empire actually goes into decline.
Forts.   A virtual player only plays its fortresses offensively.  The Fort will always be placed in the province which is adjacent to the most opposing or neutral civilizations.  (If there is a tie, roll a die.)
Ship Building.  On its first turn, a civilization with Ship Building will always settle along a coastline that is not part of an inland sea.
Heritage.   If there are equally valued provinces during expansion, a virtual player will prefer attacking enemy-occupied provinces adjacent to their declining empire in order to protect it.  Apply this rule just before rolling the die.
Rebirth.   Have the virtual player ‘consider’ putting the empire into decline at the end of each turn, using the decline guidelines given above.
Revolutionaries.  Consider all of the provinces as candidates for the starting province.
Slavery.   Take Slavery into account when evaluating the value of a province to conquer.
Spies.   Take Spies into account when evaluating the value of a province to conquer.

Increasing the difficulty
After a few games, you can increase the challenge offered by the virtual players by increasing their starting victory points from 10 to 15.   You can also give them 9 or more extra tokens instead of 8 when they start a new civilization.



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