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Civ V Findings

June 18th, 2012
Civilization

Update: the second expansion Brave New World came out and I downloaded on day one (July 8th 2013). There was also possibly a Steam update released on the same day. I’ve only played this expansion for a few hours, but I did get in some Gods & Kings since I last blogged about Sid Meier’s Civilization.  The game is bigger than ever with over 40 different Civs, 5 major paths to victory, two of which (Diplomacy and Culture) were majorly overhauled in this expansion.

My same basic strategy, that of a peaceful builder/trader works fine in the expansion. I dialled down the difficulty to 5, but chose Babylon as they excel at defending and researching. I always prioritize religion early, reasoning it is better to found a religion than not found one. Building Stonehenge is a good way to ensure you found a religion, often the first one. Then I convert as many city states as possible and finish Patronage.

I opened with Tradition though previously I thought Liberty was the best opening. It is now possible to open with Piety. I made it far enough to get to try out the World Council, some of the advanced diplomacy features, I even have an ideology, Babylonian Freedom. I played the game too late into the night.

One more turn.

Alas not everyone seems to appreciate the game. It does take too long, there is a lot going on, but to dismiss it without fully exploring all Sid Meier’s Civilization V has to offer seems short sighted, the game rewards repeated plays and the designers through Steam can monitor what is working, what is overly popular, and make adjustments. Thus the first update/patch to a game this elaborate is often significant, perhaps enough to change some opinions…

Here are a collection of reviews and initial impressions of Sid Meier’s Civilization Brave New World as collected by the folks over at CivFanatics.

Original Civ V Thoughts

After previously taking over six months off from playing the game, I got dragged back into playing Sid Meier’s Civilization V by the announcement of the games first expansion, Gods & Kings. The reviews for the expansion are already out, even though us Mac users can only just download it. Not all the reviews are favourable, others consider the expansion to be essential. The game designers are in a bit of a bind. Civ V is an epic turn based strategy game, not exactly the most popular gaming niche in 2012. They simplified some things a year or more ago for the fifth edition, along with adding yet more eye candy to entice new players to try the game and for old players to return to the franchise. The downloadable content and now the expansion adds some layers back, but there are still features missing that were in previous editions of the game, such as global warming. Steam does allow for much more on-the-fly rebalancing once the masses get to try it not just self entitled professional video game reviewers.

Many threads have been started on CivFanatics with yet more polls and posts on the best, worst, favourite, optimal, civ/tactics. I of course chime in with my sub-optimal peaceful builder strategies. In the days leading up to the release of the expansion and having no CFA® exam to worry about anymore, I played several games refining my beliefs and theories about the game.

My favourite civs

  1. China
  2. Arabia
  3. Greece
  4. Babylon
  5. Polynesia
  6. Inca
  7. Rome

My Basic Tech Strategy

I’ve adopted a safety first approach especially on high difficulty levels and go with Archery to start. Next I pursue past Writing all the way to Philosophy which allows you to build the Oracle and sign Research Agreements. Then I usually backfill with techs like Calendar and Mining in order to exploit nearby luxury resources. I also often research Construction in order to build colosseums. I rely on archers, city walls, and terrain to defend myself and generally go along the top of the tech tree, the more peaceful portion.

Theology is another key tech to target. It allows you to build two wonders, both are nice. From there I usually ensure I have the Wheel before going to Education. I wrote down all the techs I’ve been selecting in recent games, but no dogmatic tech strategy will work every game with every civ.

My Basic Social Policy Strategy

I start with Liberty, then Citizenship, then Collective Rule. That gives me a free worker and a free settler. Eventually I complete Liberty and get a free Great Person. I always take an Engineer and rush build a Wonder such as the Oracle or more likely the Hagia Sophia. After Liberty is complete I open up Patronage and take both the first two policies. I then often open up another policy tree, lately Rationalism and ultimately Freedom. I also like Order, but generally Freedom opens up sooner and is too tempting to pass up. Peaceful victories through culture are possibly but difficult, completing five social policy trees is rarely accomplished before time runs out or an opponent wins. Diplomatic victories and defeats may be the most common in games that do not get abandoned.

The Best Civilizations

There are a lot of polls and opinions and I think the data you can get from Steam itself provides insight into the most popular civilizations to play. I also looked at my personal “Hall of Fame” which records my victories but also my defeats. One of the features returning to the game is the ability to ‘retire’. Currently you have to stick it out to the bitter end to record a defeat and receive an official score. I’ve been defeated many times particularly on the highest difficulty levels. These are the civs that win the most on my computer using the map sizes and settings I most commonly use, whether I was the one winning or not:

  1. Babylon & Greece 6 wins
  2. Iroquois & Siam 5 wins
  3. Polynesia 4 wins
  4. Arabia, Rome, Russia, China, Korea 3 wins
  5. France, Egypt, Inca 2 wins
I’ve won the game with most civs but I haven’t won with all of them nor played all the scenarios. I prefer to play the main game so I can try new strategies and refine the strategies noted above. I won’t be buying Gods & Kings immediately. I did get the patch it was downloading when I started this post. The patch doesn’t rebalance the game as much as some previous patches, but I need to put the game aside again and stay away from certain websites to try to focus on solving my many personal problems. I won’t be buying the 6th Edition of Warhammer 40,000 rule book right away for the same reason. I will be typing up more of my CFA cue cards.

Final Thoughts

My MacBook Pro has been giving me a lot of grief, the main culprits are Opera 12, MailSmith, Time Machine, and probably some sort of common video/graphics library. I’ve had many crashes and forced resets which has in turn made Time Machine want to backup more and more. I’ve played a few more hours of Civ and even when digging for my no longer needed recovery CD, installed SMAC on the Windows VM on my Mac. I also double checked that the unsupported OS X Carbon port is installed on my old G4 still. I may try installing some really old DOS games on my laptop, assuming I have the time and energy to find the original diskettes.

As for Civ V, I need to take a break to try and finally solve my personal problems. On the highest difficulty settings it is a challenge to win, doubly so if you strictly try to win peacefully. My fairly optimized strategy for tech and social policies above, doesn’t seem to want to cut it on difficulty level 7. One option is to take more risks. Some folks restart the game over and over until they get a very favourable start. I prefer to play the hand I’m dealt, ditto for customizing the map and game settings massively to favour one particular strategy/civ.

My fall back endgame strategy of buying a diplomatic victory seems to be unworkable on the highest difficulty level due to a huge cash surplus the AI leaders seem to build up. It is also much more difficult to keep up in tech. Consequently prioritizing means of increasing income and beakers is paramount. A cultural victory may be out, unless you get an island start. In order to keep progressing along the social policy tracks, I now think holding firm at four city foundings may be necessary. Once you found five or more cities you need to create so much culture and there is no cultural equivalent to research agreements, nor can you ‘bulb’ social policies. (You kinda can in Gods & Kings.)

Supposedly puppet’ed cities do not increase the amount of culture you need for the next social policy, so I think you have to be even more selective in where you found cities, even be a bit greedy/aggressive in placing your first four. The timing of founding the second city is also crucial. Preparing for war and taking and puppet-ing some cities is probably a necessity, a purely peaceful path to victory is probably sub-optimal, consequently I think I will build Barracks much sooner. I still like Patronage, but I don’t think as much effort can be put into it given the importance of maximizing research. So Liberty then perhaps start Patronage while biding time until Rationalism comes available. Once Rationalism is finished you probably want to work on Freedom. If you finish Freedom then you can finish Patronage and perhaps try for a diplomatic or cultural victory, but in all likelihood you won’t live this long or you may ‘retire’ and then “nobody” wins according to the high score.

Being flexible and adaptable is still important as is not looking weak and defending your cities.

Update Gods & Kings High Scores

One of my pet peeves of Civ updates is all my old high scores go out the window. That happens when you update from vanilla to Gods & Kings but didn’t happen when I updated from G&K to Brave New World. In fact I noticed you can now share your high scores with your friends and the world through Steam. This is a cool feature. 

Who cares about badges, we don’t need no stinking badges, we need to know who has the highest score.

I’ve never been one for altering the game in order to maximize my score, if anything I play Civ as an experiment, trying out new strategies and tactics, though in general I’m a peaceful neighbour who is unlikely to arbitrarily attack anyone. In fact since Gods & Kings came out I use “Friendship Agreements” and other pacts more than I have in years…

Before upgrading I noted down my top five scores, these aren’t the best five civilizations, it takes some luck to win at the highest levels, but these are five very solid civilizations in Gods & Kings:

  1. Arabia 2777 points
  2. Inca 2573 points
  3. Polynesia 2528 points
  4. Celts 1739 points
  5. Mayans 1700 points

I did try to take a screen shot, but Snapz Pro X doesn’t seem to like doing that during Civ. Now that you can publish your high scores through Steam, I might have to refine my optimal Civilization V strategy some more, I have plenty of scribbles on stickies, but I haven’t made another post about Sid Meier’s Civilization as I didn’t think it would help my job search. I’ve never recovered from doing my MBA at the Sauder School of Business.


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