Muschamp Rd

Another Civilization III Posting

May 10th, 2006

Maybe I should spend more time looking for a job than blogging about Civilization III Complete or maybe I should just shut up until Civilization IV comes out for the Mac. Regardless I still enjoy playing the game and have gotten a pretty good handle on it now, though I still loose more than I win playing on Monarch. CivFanatics though an excellent resource seems to have some inconsistencies and my writings are based on my style of play.

Although I have some general advice, this article is largely based on my research priorities and what I think makes a good civilization in the game. The two are really interconnected. I’ve already written in praise of religious civilizations but the other two key aspects are starting technology and unique unit.

I’ve decided after much experimenting that I prefer to make a bee-line for Literature or at least Writing in Ancient times. I don’t do this for the Great Library. You can win without that and often it is better to build regular libraries in many cities than try (often in vain) to build the Great Library. It is actually Writing that is the key. It allows you to establish embassies and in addition to Literature lets you research Map Making, Philosophy, and Code of Laws. The last two are needed for The Republic, but making a bee-line for that does not seem to work out as well as you would think.

Unique Unit is subjective, but most of them are good though some are downright devastating or potentially so. Therefor my ideal civilization would start with Alphabet to facilitate getting to Writing faster, be religious and have a good Unique Unit. There are two civilizations that have these three characteristics, India and surprisingly Spain.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say these are the best two civilizations though, the second civilization attribute and starting tech count for something. And all Unique Units are not created equally. The number of civilizations that have one of my identified characteristics was a huge number, nineteen. Therefore I used the Meatloaf principal, that two outta three aint bad, to come up with the following table.

The civilizations are in the order they are presented in the game menu, though I shall attempt to pick a few more personal favourites out of the list.

CivilizationStarts withAttributesUnique Unit
RomeAlphabet & Warrior CodeMilitaristic & CommercialLegionnaire 3/3/1
GreeceBronze Working & AlphabetScientific & CommercialHoplite 1/3/1
JapanCeremonial Burial & The WheelReligious & MilitaristicSamurai 4/4/2
IndiaCeremonial Burial & The AlphabetReligious & CommercialWar Elephants 4/3/2
IroquoisAlphabet & MasonryAgricultural & CommercialisticMounted Warrior 3/1/2
ScandinaviaAlphabet & Warrior CodeMilitaristic & SeafaringBerserker 6/2/1
CeltsPottery & Ceremonial BurialAgricultural & ReligiousGaelic Swordsman 3/2/2
CarthageAlphabet & MasonrySeafaring & IndustriousNumidian Mercenary 2/3/1
NetherlandsPottery & The AlphabetSeafaring & AgriculturalSwiss Mercenary 1/4/1
ByzantineBronze Working & AlphabetSeafaring & ScientificDromon 2/1/3
BabylonBronze Working & Ceremonial BurialScientific & ReligiousBowman 2/2/1
EnglandAlphabet & PotterySeafaring & CommericalMan-o-War 4/2/5
SpainAlphabet & Commerical BurialSeafaring & ReligiousConquistodors 3/2/2
ArabiaPottery & Commercial BurialExpansionistic & ReligiousAnsar Warriors 4/2/3
HittitesAlphabet & PotteryExpansionistic & Commercial3-man Chariot 2/2/2
PortugalPottery & AlphabetExpansionistic & SeafaringCarracks 2/2/4

Before I pick out a few Civs from this table that I think should be the best for me, I have to summerize my thoughts on Civilization attributes. I think Religious is the best, better than Scientific. In Alpha Centauri science is king and I was so used to that it clouded my thinking for many games of Civilization III. Agricultural, Seafaring, and Industrious all help you grow faster which is good. Commercial at first glance seems another step down because unlike in Alpha Centauri where the pursuit of money could potentially be a path to victory, though I never pulled it off, money is less obviously powerful in Civ III. But money is versatile, you can use it for so many things, having more money is good. Expansionistic is the worst civilization attribute. I’ve tried a lot of things but I would rather have any other attribute than Expansionistic. Due to my disdain for Expansionist I was tempted to chop out all Expansionistic civilizations above, but some have interesting unique units, so they made the initial cut.

Home gamers may have noted I didn’t mention Militaristic. That is because I try to win peacefully either through diplomacy, science, culture, trade, or more correctly a combination of all four. That said Militaristic is not a weak attribute, even if you don’t plan on being aggressive militarily, just having better troops makes you less obviously a target. So I don’t pick Civilizations because they are Militaristic which some may do, but it is definitely a useful attribute, more useful than Expansionistic.

Although I initially thought Scientific and therefore Babylon and Greece was where it was at, my high scores show that just isn’t so. And it isn’t from lack of effort. Greece used to have the best defensive unit and Babylon’s Bowman got better with the addition of bombardments in one of the expansions so I still like these Civilizations but their in game performance has been lacking.

Byzantine is also scientific and was the first civilization I won with in Civ III Complete. Their unique unit is very unique indeed so they too are a sentimental favourite.

Although I haven’t played every single civilization, I’ve played many, many games of Civilization in it’s various incarnations. I will have to try a few of the civilizations in this table anew. Civs who have a truely formidable unique unit include many members of the table: Rome, Japan, Scandinavia, Celts, Carthage, Netherlands.

I didn’t include Arabia or the Hittities or the other naval powers of England and Portugal because I’ve either not tried them or had limited success with them. I also skipped the Iroquois even though my highest score is currently with them. I’m going to have to try some of these civilizations out again starting with all the ones which start with The Alphabet, so I guess that means Rome is the next civilization I try.

After Rome I plan to try to play as Greece, Scandinavia, Carthage, Netherlands, Byzantine, India, Spain, Babylon, and the Iroquois again. That is ten more games of Civilization III Complete. That is a lot of time spent clicking and sitting. We’ll have to see how long that takes. At least I got my iTunes working well again.

If after all these years you still have thoughts about Sid Meier’s Civilization III you can leave a comment below. I haven’t played any video games in a long while, but reading all these old posts, I may have to try Civ VI again.


  • Muskie says:

    I finished losing the rest of the Civilization III Complete games I planned to play. I was doing well with the Celts but was doomed by a complete lack of resources and a sudden alliance between all the computer players against me.

    I don’t know if I’ll ever publish the rankings of the Civilizations I was working on. Going out of my way to help people hasn’t worked out for me, plus Civ IV will be out on the Mac sooner than later so it was another waste of my time and effort…

  • Muskie says:

    I finally won with Babylon. It took me ten tries. And even then I barely won. It was a Space Race victory and I had to carefully plan my last 50 turns. I got my ship launched with one turn to spare.

    Japan was in the lead they had eliminated all the opposition on their continent and a nearby island. I too had to fight for what little land their was. I didn’t eliminate Russia and Rome in the ancient age. In fact they lasted until the modern age until they finally attacked me one too many times and I killed them off. China was the only other Civilization to survive to the end of the game.

    I built the UN but I wasn’t sure which way China would vote, in fact the one election there was, China voted for itself, it was a three way election, something I never expected. Japan was always technologically inferior but they were slightly more powerful and refused to trade key advances. I had to therefore research everything I needed. I built a lot of wonders and had high culture but Japan was even higher, they ended up with a culture score of 117383 and I’m not sure why they didn’t win, maybe because they were at war with me at the end of the game…

    The key to my victory was having iron and using Swordsman to beat down the Russians and Rome. Early on the Swordsman attacking at 3 versus Spearman who defend at 2 is probably your best opportunity to eliminate an opponent. It isn’t until Tanks that the offense has as big of advantage. Cavalry and Knights attack at 6 and 4 respectively but their main advantage is their speed. That is why the Celts are so strong, they get a super swordsman.

    We now return you to your regularly scheduled silence.

  • Muskie says:

    I lost again, this time as Japan. I didn’t play very well though my empire looked pretty big. I didn’t get key military and goverment technologies researched in a timely manner and I got embroiled in long stupid wars I could have avoided. I should have stayed out of trouble until I had my Samurai then started telling people to ‘piss off’. I ended up with 501 points but as usual I feel I could have done better.

    I’m tired of losing. The start is huge in Civilization. You have to take some risks and if things don’t go well restart. I generally play it a little too safe and hang on for the sake of this blog.

    Better results might also come from not switching Civilizations every game. Each Civilization is unique so adjusting your strategy for the Civiliztion rather than trying to fit your strategy to the Civ…

    I’m now going to put this to the test by playing as Babylon until I win on Monarch difficulty level, when things go South I will retire and try again.

  • Muskie says:

    So I played another game as Spain. I didn’t enjoy it. I hung on for a long time and ended up with 664 points before I retired.

    I don’t see the use of the Conquistador. By the time I can get to Astronomy and Navigation everyone has guns. Even if I bee-line for it which I often do, everyone else makes straight for Gunpowder heck even Pikeman outclass the Conquistador.

  • Muskie says:

    I lost again.

    Rome overwhelmed me again. This time I was Eqypt. I refused to give them Literature as I was trying to build the Great Library. I could not stem the tide of Legionaires especially with no Swordsmen of my own. I think I made a tactical error telling them to piss off.

    I was hoping I could ally with Russia who also shared the continent. They wouldn’t but I did get Iron Working for Literature, but I couldn’t hold out long enough to get my war machine rolling.

    I was doing really well though. I had amassed 333 points in 36 minutes. I’m going to try as India again. Although they don’t get their unique unit until the second age other than that they kick ass at least for me. If I had given the Romans Literature they probably wouldn’t have attacked me. I never seem to build enough troops so perhaps I should have caved, the Romans are really starting to piss me off.

  • Muskie says:

    Well I lost again. I was doing pretty well, but Rome just blitzkrieged me with Cavalry. They couldn’t be stopped. I saw them coming and decided to sign a mutual protection pact with Rome before they attacked. I gave them a bunch of money but they just attacked anyway.

    The AI is about a subtle as a sledge hammer. You see these huge stacks marching across a neutral country right towards your city…

    I retired but not before restoring and trying a different tactic to see if it was possible to stop the Romans at one city. I just didn’t have enough good troops, I’d only recently gotten saltpeter, my biggest mistake was not researching Nationalism.

    Riflemen are alright but it is the ability to draft that is crucial. I offered two and even three techs for Nationalism no AI would trade it to me, I’ve encountered this before. As much as I like Sanitation and I’ve even tried going for Steam Power you have to research Nationalism as soon as you can, I think that is why Rome attacked me, that and they had beaten down Russia and I was in third at the time.

  • Muskie says:

    Well after not playing for a while, I started another game, mainly due to the poor weather of late. I started out well but I was perhaps a bit too distracted by the NHL playoffs. I built up an early big tech lead but then refused to just give away my tech when it was demanded. Eventually I was at war with both the Russians and Scandinavians.

    I held out for a while but eventually I could not keep the Russians at bay. I had no Iron and hadn’t even built a road to my horse resources yet… I think I could have played better but this is the second game where an excellent Unique Unit was a non-factor because it isn’t available until the middle ages.

    When I revise my list I may penalize the later unique unit civilizations, American has the latest unique unit making it almost useless.

    My score when I retired was 266pts. Next up is the Byzantines who are perhaps the funnest civilization to play due to their unique unit.

  • Muskie says:

    Well I finished my game as the Carthaginians. It was another lost, but I scored 1336 points. It was a trying game. I had no resources, just Iron and Dye for the longest time, and everyone wanted to march through my land to fight someone else.

    I figured out a way to stop that, just build fortresses or even fortify a row of troops so that it is no longer possible to march through your territory. Ideally you need a natural geographical choke point. Although I choose city sites for either resourses or ability to grow I’m going to try and look for choke points and fill them early with troops to discourage other civs using me as a highway.

    I’ve also decided it is tough to play the culture game when your civilization is neither religious nor scientific.

    This game was quite frustrating as I never really had a chance to win, I was always one of the bottom two or three civs by score though at times I was the most advanced and had the largest population, just not at the same time. Being so resource deficient, war wasn’t a good option and I had a hard time trading too. Their was never an election, whoever built the UN knew damn well they wouldn’t win. The AI never has an election unless he has a really good chance to win (100% chance?)

  • Muskie says:

    Well I got crushed as the Vikings. After making an empire that spaned from coast to coast my attempts to deny the last little tip of land to the other civilizations failed. I had lots of technology, plenty of luxury goods, even money, but no iron. Germany’s Swordsman outnumbered and outclassed my archers, spearman, and horseman.

    It doesn’t matter how impressive the Bezerker is, it can take a long time before they get on the board. Ancient Unique Units are superior, that might be another modification to my criteria above. Also being Religeous is clearly superior to just starting with the Alphabet.

    For the record, when I gave up I had 200 pts.

  • Muskie says:

    Even though it said I had 21 turns left the game ended with me loosing as Greece. My score was 979 pts. 19 more turns wouldn’t have mattered, it was an Island map and my starting island was nothing but mountains, hills and ice. I concentrated on getting off the island but it soon became apparent that Korea was just a little bit quicker. They had a better starting island and got better secondary islands.

    I think in hindsight I should have invaded my neighbour. I had no luxury resources but I did have oil, saltpeater, iron, and coal. My neighbour (Japan) didn’t have any of that. They even declared war on me early on even though they couldn’t actually sail to my island, lacking map making. That is seriously flawed, sometimes the AI makes decisions no human would make. There was no possible way Japan could attack me so why declare war?

    The computer attacks you on a whim but if you break an agreement even to satisfy another agreement the AI civilizations will never let it down.

  • Muskie says:

    I wasted pretty much the entire day on Civilization III. I finally succumbed as Rome, retiring with a final score of 735pts. I built both the Great Library and the Sistine Chapel and Adam Smith’s Trading Company. But ultimately I couldn’t stop the Egyptians and a host of other countries that continually attacked me.

    I’m not a big fan of the Great Library because I had to put off inventing University and I think that hurt me. Maybe next time even though I built the Great Library I’ll research University when I want to.

    I eventually got Iron but I had no Coal or even worse Rubber. I traded but I was just too slow getting to Moveable Parts and when I got there I kept losing my supply of Coal and Rubber.

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