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Merry Christmas, O Thief of Time!

More present blogging. I have a love/hate relationship with Sid Meier’s Civ series. It would be too simplistic to say I loved 1 and 2 and hated 3 and 4, but it’s not too far off.

Civ is basically two games for me. At first, it’s like an ant farm…exploring, building cities and then making them pretty with roads and farms and things. I interact with my neighbors as little as possible.

Then, when we get to modern-ish times, I look around at the rest of the world. If I’m lucky — due to chance and geography — I’m the most advanced civ on the planet. Then I end the game crushing my opponents like bugs.

Man, I loved that animation at the end, with the guillotine descending upon the heads of my enemies. More smiting!

Well, as of Civ 3, some a-historical lefty idiot got hold of the gameplay. All civs advance technologically at about the same rate (Huh. I guess Firaxis never heard of Papua, New Guinea). This totally ruined the “crushing my enemies like bugs” part of my fun.

Worse, the AI in Civ 4 was so aggressive, you had to build settlers like a madwoman and fling them all over the world or you’d be squeezed right off the continent, so that one even ruined the “ant farm” part of my fun.

So! Civ 5? Very, very pretty. Easier to learn and maneuver. So far, though, it seems to suffer the same aggressive AI and lack of civilizing unevenness.

Ah, but one of the best parts of the franchise is how modifiable it is. The early versions, the text and pictures were simply left lying around where you could get at them and fiddle. I discovered this quite by accident and had a stoat of a time with it.

I would replace my preferred ruler picture with my own face and called myself the Grand Exalted Queen of Clan Weasel or something. Then I’d change the conversations. Instead of, “would you like to trade iron for furs?” I’d make Bismarck say things like, “I say, what fetching panties, Weasel. And how jaunty they look on your head!”

This could be awkward if I forgot what it really meant, but totally worth it for the enhancement to gameplay.

Modifying the new versions is more complex, but there’s much more you can do. Firaxis is wise enough to encourage modding and provide tools to make it possible to get under the hood. There’s even a Civ Mod Wiki going. Stand by for weasel enhancements.


By the way, it’s clearly Patrick Stewart doing all the voiceovers, but he’s not credited on the box or anywhere else I can find. Odd. Must be a contractual thing.


Comment from some vegetable
Time: December 31, 2010, 12:51 am

I am a world dominating kind of guy myself when Mrs Vegetable let’s me be. However she tends to object when I disappear into Civ III for 40 hours or so. Thus I haven’t played for a while. I loved II and liked III but IV just annoyed me and I never finished my first game before turning fhe disks into coasters. Did I say it Sucked? It seemed sort of hoollywood sequeled where they forget all the things that made the original great and just piled on “MORE!®” higher and deeper.
I’m relucant to try V with a good review by someone older than 19. I loved to download other people’s mods – like the one that let you destroy ships with airplanes (see Billy Mitchell 1921) but I am one-thumbed when it comes to writing code myself: -)

Comment from Mark Matis
Time: December 31, 2010, 1:14 am

Patrick Stewart? Oh God, no!

But I guess once a tailor, always a tailor!

“Make it sew!”


Comment from SCOTTtheBADGER
Time: December 31, 2010, 2:37 am

To paraphrase Moxley Sorell in GETTYSBURG: ” Tell you the truth, Madam Weasel, sometimes you worry me “.

Comment from Skandia
Time: December 31, 2010, 3:16 am

I have been an obsessed, fanatical (loosing) player of Civilization since ol number one. Until a few months ago when I flipped out and destroyed the CD required to play the game.

Playing at any level higher than beginner, was always a losing game, no matter what. If you weren’t aggressive enough the other civs would destroy you. If you managed to stay alive, the other civs where more advanced. If you managed to stay ahead, one of the other civs would start a war and while you were defending the civs not at war would get ahead.

The other civs ALWAYS knew what you were doing. You had to spend time and resources to spy on them.

It was a game of fractions; an account’s dream. A fractional advantage would steadily grow larger, while you fall behind. It made no difference what track you took, tech, trade, geography, war, the human player is always at a disadvantage.

It’s like the game designer thought, ‘It would not be a challenge if you could win.’ So the human play beats his head against a wall trying the impossible.

Comment from Subotai Bahadur
Time: December 31, 2010, 3:34 am

To be honest, I have been a fan of CIV-I since it came out, even keeping it on my “new” [all relative, it is actually bloody obsolete] computer in compatibility mode. The others have more bells, whistles, etc. But sometimes I just want to relieve stress by crushing the computer AI and conquering the world.

I pondered getting CIV V, but I keep hearing about problems with it, with repeated necessity to reboot and start over. there have been 6 major patches released since September to try to fix them, and they may have worked. Please keep us posted about its stability and/or lack thereof.

Comment from David Bain
Time: December 31, 2010, 8:32 am

Computer games? So, so, sad . . .

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: December 31, 2010, 11:33 am

I’ve never seen the attraction either, DB – though I realise I’m in a tiny minority. Games where you interact with people as people, maybe, I could see that, but not the alien zappers.

Comment from SCOTTtheBADGER
Time: December 31, 2010, 12:19 pm

It must be a Badger Thing, as they leave me cold, as well. I think it’s the lack of realistic fear in many of them. I have nephews that are enthusiastic shoot em up game players. But no matter how good the graphics, you just don’t get the same feeling you do clearing a building at 0300, with God only knows what waiting for you inside. The ” I could get killed doing this ” feeling.

Comment from some vegetable
Time: December 31, 2010, 2:15 pm

Can I would dare to say that CIV is a little different than most games. There are quite a few things to ponder while playing. Was Voltaire right that religion is Necessary? Is fully peaceful business-based society possible? Can you really rule the world happily by crushing them like bugs? Is the cost of educating bugs worth it for the hope that one of them will be smarter than the average bug? Is sea power worth the expense? Is democracy really the worst form of government except for all the rest?
All these questions (and others) arise when playing

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: December 31, 2010, 3:58 pm

Civ is a bit different. It’s like trying to make a go of being Fidel Castro.

It must be said, though, I lumme a good shoot ’em up, too. The fact that you’re probably not going to die for reals is a feature, not a bug, Scott.

Comment from David Gillies
Time: December 31, 2010, 4:45 pm

Only probably not going to die? What, do you have a heart condition or something?

Oh, and how much computer do you need to play Civilisation V? Would a 15″ 2.2GHz Celeron 900 laptop with 2 Gigs of RAM cut the mustard?

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: December 31, 2010, 5:06 pm

Civ has stupidly high requirements because they do these little animations. Sucky little animations, I might add. The rulers have looked dumb in all five versions.

The intro movie is pretty good, though.

Comment from Sockless Joe
Time: December 31, 2010, 5:10 pm

I started with SM-Alpha-Centauri, which I rather liked. Then I picked up Civ-3 in a bargain bin somewhere. It took a while to grow on me but I still play it.

Stoaty, in Civ-3 not all civs develop at the same rate… “Scientific” civs get bonus techs at the dawn of each era (or age, or whatever they call it), and scientific civs build science-y infrastructure at reduced cost. Any more disparity than that would take the fun out of the game. (Who would want to be New Guinea?)

I tried some of the free Civ2 clones but thought they sucked pretty hard. I may pick up Civ4 if I find it in a bargain bin as I did with Civ3.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: December 31, 2010, 5:23 pm

I liked Alpha Centauri, too.

I may have mashed together 3 and 4 in my head, but I have to confess — I *love* having a hugely asymmetric advantage at the end. Rolling over cities with my tanks and B1 bombers while the natives turn out and shake spears at me.

Comment from Mark Matis
Time: December 31, 2010, 5:40 pm

Stoatie sez:
The rulers have looked dumb in all five versions.

So you’re saying that Civ is remarkably accurate, even down to their depiction of current world leaders?

And if you like “Rolling over cities with my tanks and B1 bombers while the natives turn out and shake spears at me.” you would probably fit right in with the FBI and BATFE…

Comment from Subotai Bahadur
Time: December 31, 2010, 6:04 pm

While I play CIV, I steer as far away as possible from the shoot-’em-ups and MMO [or any online] games. Along with the different basic strategies Some Vegetable mentions, I like being faced with multiple kinds of crisis’ and having to craft a solution that works for all of them simultaneously. Like playing GO. I also like turn-based and being able to walk away and get a cup of coffee. Or perhaps go to bed without the computer world collapsing on me.

MM, you are right about the rulers, however every so often you will find “militia” units [the spear shakers] who will be able to take out armor or battleships.

Comment from Dave in Texas
Time: December 31, 2010, 8:06 pm

Happy New Year ya goober.

Comment from Nina from GCP
Time: December 31, 2010, 9:54 pm

I only have the original Civilization board game from 1981 or thereabouts. Still play it from time to time, too.

Comment from Christopher Taylor
Time: January 1, 2011, 12:43 am

I loved Civ III and you could easily out-tech your opponents, I do it all the time. Of course I shut off the conquest option so they don’t constantly attack you. The combat system in Civ is just godawful, with spearmen able to take out tanks and so on. The less of that in the game, the better.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: January 1, 2011, 12:47 am

I must be confusing III with IV, then. It’s been a long time.

I’m still pretty sure II was my favorite, though it was ugly by today’s standards.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: January 1, 2011, 12:54 am

It was Civ I that played that little tune while it generated the world (a very hard task for computers of that era). I still think that tune is magic.

Ah, here it is. Bless you, internet.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: January 1, 2011, 12:58 am

Okay, this is hilarious. What if the Civilization song had lyrics?

Comment from Oldcat
Time: January 1, 2011, 2:13 am

I played a bit of Civ 1 and disliked it because it was too easy for everyone to expand and transport across vast distances. It wasn’t because they were just lazy that the Romans didnt have a city near Moscow in 220 BC.

The missing element was what was in a paper wargame called Empires of the Middle Ages – a competence level for your government. If the current king was a 1-1-1 you had virtally no hope of building, taxing, or avoiding revolts. (The ratings were for military-diplomacy-administration)
You could hardly keep things together on your own, and your neighbors would turn on you like vultures.

Comment from Monotone The Elderish
Time: January 2, 2011, 2:05 am

Yep, I loves me some civ… most of my neighbors think I’m dead though…. ah well.

Comment from Rod Stanton
Time: January 7, 2011, 5:42 pm

Been a CIV fan for 20 years. Been playing IV for a while and like it a lot. Thought about going to V but have been told (as recently as last week) its buggy.
Have any of you all played V; and how does it go?

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