For the record I’ve gone 4-1 with one NC. I lost Orleans and decided I’d be better off restarting only to learn Civ V no longer scores abandoned games. I could have perhaps rallied, but I had tried some different and apparently less effective things that game. Although I’ve been far from productive post return to Vancouver and haven been playing a lot less than I could, I feel I should write down some of my thoughts and observations and as a life time Side Meier game fan.
First things first, the hexes and the new combat system are great. I’m a peacenik, a builder, but now that combat is much more tactical I enjoy it more. I’m much more willing to engage in offensive campaigns especially against past foes and for a prize.
Second, City States are great, all my wins were a result of earning the trust and support of many city states even if I had to buy it. In fact I’d say winning diplomatically is the easiest way to win. It is the only way I’ve won besides the time out, which is really a hollow victory.
The documentation says Wonders count the most towards your score and if you’re at peace you can try to optimize your civilization to maximize your score, that’s what I did one my one timeout victory. Usually I just build the United Nations and gradually buy enough votes to win.
Culture is still important though the cultural victory is much more difficult to achieve than in the previous two versions. Culture is important as it gives you Social Policies which really allow you to boost your Civ. So far I’ve only completed Patronage and Liberty I think. It has proven more effective to cherry pick rather than dogmatically complete one Social Policy after another.
One thing I like about Civ V, even though it barely functions on my less than one year old MacBook Pro, is that the experts haven’t weighed in. In fact I think a lot of the die hards are sticking with previous versions. I quite liked IV before Corporations were added. The game is largely over before the modern age. Civ III I played a tonne after the fact, but Civ I or Alpha Centauri are the games I probably played the most and have the fondest memories of.
The first thing I noticed is there is no slider. Every Civ game has had a slider. You can spend your production more on research or commerce or luxury. Now all that is controlled by the Social Policies, which if you don’t have much Culture you can’t use very much at all.
The real first thing I noticed is to move units it is no longer “G for go“. Every single Civ game has used the keyboard shortcut “G for go” now after over a decade of loyal support of the franchise, they change it to “M for move”. That is just dumb. Longtime customers like myself should be cherished not punished for learning old keyboard shortcuts. There is no good reason not to support “G for go” in Civilization V. This is bad software engineering, bad product design, and bad customer care.
Also missing is pollution. The original Civilization and more so some of the sequels had really harsh penalties for fucking up the environment. No more, you can build as many factories and nuclear reactors as you want with no pollution, no protests, nothing. As long as you have the resources you can exploit them. I’m not sure this is the right signal to send in 2011. I’m also betting this gets addressed eventually given the role pollution and cleaning up pollution played in previous editions.
The senate or the congress or whatever no longer steps in. War mongers were formerly restrained somewhat if they ran a representative government. No more it seems you can attack anyone you want and more importantly refuse to make peace. No one can force you. Not the UN. Though if you’re too aggressive your other neighbours will not be pleased, but it seems warmongers lost another obstacle to world domination.
What keeps the warmongers in check? Well they changed the military victory conditions. Also individual cities are tougher. It takes tactics not just the biggest stick to win a war. I haven’t tried but I suspect invading another continent is even more difficult. This was always hard, but warmongers just play on Pangaea or adjust some other game conditions to get what they want. Force them to play on the default map and some of their mojo disappears.
Cash is now king
My very first game was with Arabia. That is still my highest score. I used to try and maximize culture or research or both. Now the single most important factor to watch is your cash flow. Money = Power in Civilization V. You can use it to buy territory. You can use it to buy city improvements. You can use it buy units. You can use it to upgrade units. You can use it in trades. You need it to start research agreements. You don’t seem to be able to lend it to other Civilizations, but they’ll ask for gifts of cash.
Next to cash the most valuable things in the game are luxury resources. If your people aren’t happy they won’t kick you out of office, though they may try eventually. Mainly they just work less hard, fight less hard, farm less hard etc. etc. Not all luxury resources are created equal. Some like silver and gold can be converted to commerce, others can be converted to culture, some help with food production.
Strategic rewards aren’t game breakers. The computer Civs seem more willing to trade these for cash or luxury resources and if you don’t have one or two you can overcome. There are just some units and buildings you can’t construct. I still like Coal, Iron, and Horses as they are the first three. Horses can be used to make people happy. Iron lets you build Swordsmen and other early military units. Coal lets you build factories. I see no reason not to max out on factories now.
In previous editions I was very reluctant to build them, now with no pollution why worry? The game ends in 2050, screw all subsequent generations.
Research is easier to produce than Culture. I know this because a lot of buildings increase research by a %, whereas most Cultural bonuses are fixed. I’ve achieved the 100 Research from a City but I’m not sure I’ve achieve the 100 Culture from a City.
Bigger isn’t better. Expanding your empire has to be weighed by how unhappy it will make your existing citizens. Unhappiness is primarily the product of number of cities and population. This may seem a bit odd, but it makes you build up a surplus of gold and happiness before expanding. It also keeps your overall empire size in check even when your are clearly in front. Padding your score is no longer as easy as it once was.
I’m not sure War Weariness is still a factor.
I like the sharing of badges/accomplishments. This makes all the lonely nights somewhat worthwhile at least for bragging purposes, that said my computer barely runs the game and I’ve yet to try multiplayer. I’m not sure why the downloadable content doesn’t work on the Mac either.