After 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
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 tech 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:
- Babylon & Greece 6 wins
- Iroquois & Siam 5 wins
- Polynesia 4 wins
- Arabia, Rome, Russia, China, Korea 3 wins
- France, Egypt, Inca 2 wins
Update – 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, but I have issues with focus and willpower. 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 end game 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 max 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.
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 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 right out, 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. I’m off to walk my sisters dogs and try not to use my computer much while Time Machine backs up…
This entry was originaly posted on , it was last edited on and is filed under: 40K, CFA, Civ V, Macintosh Computers and tagged: expansion, favourites, Gods Kings, patch, Sid Meier's Civilization, SMAC, social policies, strategy, tactics, Tech Tree, update.