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Build a civilization and conquer the world. Maybe you dream of it, maybe not. But that's what Civilization offers you the chance to do. You start as a wandering tribe of people looking for a place to build your first city and can end up as the premier civilization on the planet or a forgotten footnote in the annals of history.
Throughout the game, you receive notes on the progress of your own and other civilizations through the "Top Five" Lists that appear, and the newspaper from your own capital city.
Along the way, you will meet other tribes looking to trade with you or perhaps even to destroy you utterly. Although quite a bit of warfare goes on in the game, you don't have to fight to win. Through gaining "Civilization Advances" (science and technological breakthroughs), you can gain the ability to build a spaceship and be the first civilization to build a colony on Alpha Centauri, thus winning the game.
You will always have to do some fighting, either against renegade barbarian tribesmen, or other civilizations looking to cause trouble. Strategy—and the balance between being warlike enough to smash your enemies and peaceful enough to be approached by other civilizations looking to trade valuables and knowledge—is always important. Lead your people well. ~ Lisa Karen Savignano, All Game Guide