Lets talk games for a moment. Strategy games, to be precise.
I’m sure you’ve all played Age of Empires, World in Conflict, Empire Earth, Supreme Commander, or Red Alert… maybe you’ve even played Rise of Legends. But, in my opinion, anyone who is into strategy games should know the Civilization series very well.
If you’re into strategy games and don’t know of the Civ series, I suggest you acquaint yourself with it as soon as possible, because it’s probably one of the biggest (if not the biggest) strategy game series out there.
I started playing when Civ 4 came out and I currently own 5 – minus the expansion packs 😦
For those of you who don’t know anything about the Civ series, allow me to lend you a hand:
Civilization is a series of turn-based strategy games in which you guide your civilization through the ages – from prehistory to the near future – and to victory.
As with some other strategy games, there are different forms of victory (these are the different victories from Civ 5):
Domination – start a war and take over the world (only if you have the most powerful military in the game, to find out if you do or don’t I’d suggest talking to your in-game military adviser)
Science – this does not mean be the first to discover the last technology in the game it means you have to start the Apollo Program and build space ship parts for a massive spaceship which will then take colonists from your civilization to another planet, that’s a science victory.
Cultural victory – this is completed by filling out five trees of social policies (more on that later) and completing the Utopia Project.
Diplomacy – this is achieved by winning a vote in the United Nations, to win the vote you must have the majority of votes. In order to gather more votes you must gain favor with City States (small civilizations that cause havoc and get you in trouble with more powerful civilizations) or return captured cities to AI players (in an online game, most people vote for themselves).
Time – a Time victory is achieved by the player with the highest score by the end of the time period, assuming that no one has achieved any of the above victory types. The deadline for a time victory is usually the year 2050 AD, but it can be changed to an earlier or later date. At standard game speed, 2050 AD is usually around turn 500. If you’re going for any of the other victories, make sure to time it right, if you only start building your last space ship part or are one turn away from completing the Utopia Project but it’s already turn 499 and your score isn’t the highest, then you lose.
In Civ 5, the different victory types can be turned on or off before the start of the game.
City States: (in Civ 5, minus expansions)
These little buggers were introduced in Civ 5 and can be an absolute pain in the ass. But they can also be very helpful. City States are small independent political entities, which could be likened in the real world to the small nations of little significance that don’t have any ambitions for world domination. They are basically one-city civilizations that don’t compete for victory. City-States start neutrally-disposed towards everyone, and how you deal with them is your choice – you can coddle them to improve relations, and eventually make them your friends or even allies; or you can capture them (at which the Mongolian civilization is especially good); or you can just choose to ignore them. Whatever you choose to do with them, just remember that they can be quite helpful if you are allied with them.
You can become friends with city states, and after that, you can become allies. To become friends or allies with a city state, you do things for them. Sometimes they will want you to wipe out another city state due to problems with them, or they will ask you to build a trade route from their city to your capital city. Sometimes they even ask for one of your units. Doing these things grants you favor with that city state, the more favor you have with them, the better. A certain amount of favor will make them your friends, more will make them your allies. Depending on the type of city state, they grant you different things. If you are allies with a militaristic city state they will grant you military units from time to time, if you are allied with a cultured city state they will grant you extra Culture each turn (I’ll explain that in a minute) and if you are allied with a maritime city state they will grant you an extra 2 Food in your Capital and an extra 1 Food in your other cities (more Food means your cities will grow faster, allowing you to build things faster).
Should you chose to get involved with a city state, make sure to do it early on in the game, because if another civilization is already friends or allies with them (or trying to be), it will have diplomatic repercussions (IE: that civ will no longer trust you, they may denounce you (which makes other civ leaders suspicious of you, or they may try to start a war).
Culture and Social Policies:
Social Policies are a new concept in Civilization 5, representing the non-scientific or religious advancements of your society. They act as a system of gameplay bonuses, activated little by little as your empire develops its Culture. Some of these bonuses are empire-wide (meaning they act on all cities and empire components at the same time), while others are related to particular buildings, cities or units.
Social policies are organised into branches, you have to unlock a branch before you can unlock the policies in it; all policies within a branch are organised as a tree, meaning that you can’t have the last one unless you have the one before or next to it. Unlocking a policy branch activates a special bonus, each policy unlocked activates a certain bonus, unlocking all the policies in a branch also grants a special bonus. Some branches can’t be active at the same time as others, Order and Autocracy can’t be active at the same time as Freedom.
In each Civ game, there is a list of civilizations for you to play as. Technically you play as their leader, but still. Each one with their own pros and cons. You can play as Washington, leading the Americans; or as Montezuma and lead the Aztecs.
There is a Tech Tree through which you select the technologies you are going to research, but because it is a tree: you can’t research somethings unless you have researched the ones before them.
There are 7 eras in the game, each era has it’s own technologies (I won’t list all the technologies, this post is long enough as it is):
- Ancient Era – when you start the game, Agriculture has already been researched and it’s up to you to research the rest. Some of them involve Trapping, Animal Husbandry, Sailing, Pottery, Writing and Bronze Working.
- Classical Era – here you can research things like Horseback Riding, Optics, Mathematics, Drama and Poetry, Engineering and Iron Working.
- Medieval Era – you get to research things like Chivalry, Education, Machinery, Physics and Theology.
- Renaissance Era – now we’re getting somewhere, by now your civ will be a fair size and you will have a reasonable Science, Culture and Production output. You get to research things like Acoustics, Architecture, Chemistry, Gun Powder and Printing Press.
- Industrial Era – if you got this far, there is no point in stopping. You can now research things like Steam Power, Biology, Rifling, Military Science and Electricity.
- Modern Era – Advanced Ballistics, Electronics, Plastics, Lasers, Atomic Theory, Radar, Robotics, Rocketry, Mass Media, Penicillin and Nuclear Fission.
- Future Era – Nanotechnology, Nuclear Fusion, Particle Physics and Future Tech.
Surprisingly enough I just listed most of the technologies in the game, but I did leave out a good deal of them.
Production, Culture and Science Output:
Production – this affects how quickly you can build things or train units, to increase this all you need to do is ensure your cities and civ keep growing.
Culture – I’ve already discussed how this is used to purchase Social Policies, to earn Culture you can build culture buildings (eg: a temple) or Wonders (I’ll explain those in a moment).
Science – the more Science your civ outputs: the faster you can research technologies. At the start of the game, if you were to look at the end of the Tech Tree you would see that it would take more than 300 turns to research Future Tech (if you could do that at the start of the game); but when you actually get the chance to research Future Tech, your Science output will be so high that it shouldn’t take more than 10 turns to research. To increase your Science output you can build science buildings (schools, universities, etc).
As you go through the game, different Wonders will become available to you. Near the start of the game you will be able to build Wonders like Stonehenge, The Great Wall, The Colossus of Rhodes and the Great Pyramid; later in the game you will be able to build wonders like Oxford University, The Statue of Liberty and the Eiffel Tower. Wonders increase your Culture output, some increase your Production output while building them, others like Oxford University will increase your Science output. Some Wonders also increase your civ’s Happiness (more on that in a minute).
I won’t go into too much detail on units (not that there’s much to say about them).
Each unit has a limited amount of moves per turn (the map works in hexagonal tiles) and one move corresponds one tile. Eg: A worker unit has 5 moves, so unless travelling by road or railway, they can only move 5 tiles.
A catapult has to set up prior to firing. Setting up takes one move, firing (or fighting, in the case of other military units) takes up all available moves. Paratroopers are fortunate units, they can paradrop up to 5 tiles away from any location and they can still move (within a turn) after paradropping.
It should be noted that there are two types of terrain in the game; rough and open; it takes an extra move for a unit to move through rough terrain. Rough terrain includes hills, jungles and forests; open terrain is limited to plains. Early on in the game, you will also find that it may consume an extra move to get a unit over a river, but this is easily solved fairly early on in the game.
As you research new technologies, new units will become available to you. You start with basic Warriors, Archers and Frigates end up with Mechanized Infantry, Guided Missiles and Battleships.
Sometimes, to build something, you need certain resources. To build a factory you need coal, to build a Nuclear Bomb you need uranium. At the start of the game, the only resources available to you are Luxury Resources, land and water; to be able to use some resources you need to research certain technologies: to build a mine on a tile with gold, you need to research mining; for a resource like Uranium to even show up on the map you need to research Nuclear Fission (I think, you may need to research Atomic Theory instead).
Strategic Resources are limited, they do run out eventually; Luxury Resources never run out (even though they do run out in the real world). There may only be 9 Oil on a tile – which you’ll find you use up very quickly when you build a fleet of Battleships, but you can mine a tile with gold on it for the entire game and never run out. Strategic Resources are the resources that allow you to build certain things or train specific units, Luxury Resources are things that increase the overall Happiness level of your civilization (a high Happiness level can increase Production).
You can trade just about anything. You can trade Gold Coins (the in-game currency) for a resource or anything else. You can even trade Cities. You can open up the trading menu for all sorts of things: defensive pacts, this means that if you are attacked the person you hold the pact with will come to your aid, but if they are attacked you have to help, if you don’t it will have diplomatic repercussions; Open Borders, this allows you to move through tiles owned by another player, and visa versa; Peace Treaty, if someone is at war with you they may ask for a Peace Treaty, this is meant to give you and them time to calm down and rethink their diplomatic relations with one another. You can also trade luxuary resources for limited amounts of time.
That about wraps up Civilization 5. After reading all this you may be slightly confused, but trust me, the game isn’t that confusing at all; the most confusing thing about it is why Washington keeps bombing me when I haven’t done anything wrong to him; any seasoned Civ player will recall getting nuked by Ghandi when they’ve done nothing to provoke him.
Now then… I hear Civilization: Beyond Earth came out in October. I’ll have to get my hands on that one and tell you about it.
Heehee, just kidding, I wouldn’t put you through all that again.