I really enjoyed starting a civil war by capturing another civilization's capital city. There was one game where I was in the Americas and the Zulus (always crazily warlike and expansionist) had conquered the rest of the world. It looked like they were going to overwhelm me.
So I parked an aircraft carrier and a bunch of transports off of southern Africa and captured their capital city with a surprise attack by overwhelming forces. The entire Zulu empire immediately started a civil war, with half of it becoming the Egyptians. I was unaware of the civil war feature when I did so (wasn't documented in the manual), and it really improved my opinion of the game. I ended up winning because the new Egyptian civilization and the Zulu civilization were too busy fighting each other to send enough against my forces.
The technology capturing feature was great too. I was playing in the Americas one time, and I was hopelessly behind the Chinese. I had musketeers and cannons, while they had tanks. I launched a surprise attack with all the forces I could muster and captured a few of their cities, getting technologies such as the automobile by doing so. I was then able to produce tanks, and ended up modernizing myself by capturing more cities and stealing technology.
I absolutely loved that game.
One of the civilization was way ahead of me in term of tech.
Fortunatly I had a large empire, able to produce a lot of units, and this civilization was rater small.
So I sent loads of units on this civilization to take one city. Countless units died, but in the end I was able to take over the city and gain one tech.
What I did later was a bit of a cheat, but it worked. I removed all my units from the city, let the other civilization retake it, reconquered it the next turn and got another new tech.
I did this for a few turns, and presto, I was on par with the other civilization in term of technology. Then, it was game over for all the other civilizations as I was also the biggest producer in term of industry.
As for the capital, I did the trick to make a raid on it in another game. The motivation was a little different however. They were getting really close to launching to Alpha Centauri, taking their capital destroyed their spaceship. And I was able to win.
I also remember playing the game way past its end (something like year 3000 or 4000). It was quite funny, because of global warming, all the terrains were converted to swamps or deserts.
It might have been in civ 2, but I think I once lots of nukes just to see if I could terraform the deserts into arable land through global warming.
Turns out I could, but it would make so much damage to the rest of the land or infrastructure that just sending loads of engineers/settlers to do the transformation was more economical.
I remember spending hours on it, not knowing what I was doing.
I had an english version of the game, and being 9 or 10 at the time, I didn't speak a word of english.
It took me ages to understand that you could switch from despotism to another form of government (monarchy, republic, etc). I was always wondering why my cities were so small, even with irrigation and railroads everywhere.
Also, I didn't have the manual, so with time, I started to learn the tech tree by heart (the "license" verification was based on knowing the parents of a given tech IIRC).
I've also read the civilopedia countless times.
I'm still proud to have beaten the game in Emperor ^^.
I've also spent a lot of time on other Sid Meier's games like Railroad Tycoon or Colonization.
Thank you for these lost hours.
Think my parents may have overreached a little on the educational software, there.
Thank goodness for Civilization on SNES, too. ;)
Civ.exe was also the first game I customized. I was entertained to no end when I found out you could use a hex editor to change the strings. I rewrote the introductory text, and gave all the leaders new dialogue. That was also probably around when I started getting more interested in how games worked, rather than just playing them...
I remember eventually seeing "my" intro texts on the computers of people who had absolutely no chance of understanding the terrible in-jokes I put in there years earlier. Fortunately they did not know who ruined the experience for them.
We had absolutely no concept of "legitimate copy" at the time, I had one industrially labeled disk (Genius mouse driver) and its existence confused me to no end.
I've commented on HN before about the power I think "hackable" games had teaching us how to create on the computer. I have a similar fond memory of heavily tampering with Halo PC via the fan-made Halo Editing Kit, which gave hex access to do all kinds of fun things. Those summer weekends spent changing which side I played on Silent Cartographer were key to me becoming more than "just" a computer user.
One was this Galaga clone for the TRS-80 Color Computer. The CoCo had a couple analog joysticks  which were ergonomically horrible. The player would move the joystick left and right to position the on-screen spaceship. The x-position of the joystick would correspond to where the spaceship would be. However, you couldn't just let the player move the joystick quickly from one side of the screen to the other, that would be "unrealistic" video game physics, and from a gameplay perspective, would make it too easy to dodge incoming bullets.
So the ship would move slowly on the screen until it reached the position which corresponded to the joystick position. This was rather annoying and hard to control.
Since I had seen an article to convert a digital joystick (from an Atari 2600) to be used on the CoCo, I also modified the game code to use a more normal control scheme. That involved searching through the disassembled code to find the joystick polling routine, and patch it out with my on version instead. Which, unfortunately, didn't fit, so I had to jump out to a bit of code past the normal end of the program, and then jump back when finished.
Fixed that for you :).
So I wrote something very close to this:
In the beginning the earth was without form, and void.
But the sun shone upon the sleeping earth,
And deep inside the brittle crust, massive forces waited to be unleashed.
The seas parted, and great continents were formed.
Mountains arose, earthquakes spawned massive tidal waves.
Volcanoes erupted and spewed forth fiery lava,
And charged the atmosphere with strange gasses.
Into this swirling maelstrom of fire and air and water,
The first stirrings of life appeared.
Tiny organisms, cells and amoeba, clinging to tiny sheltered habitats.
But the seeds of life grew, and strengthened, and spread, and diversified, and prospered.
And soon every continent and climate teemed with life.
And with life came instinct, and specialization, natural selection, reptiles, dinosaurs and mammals.
And finally there evolved a species known as man.
And there appeared the first faint glimmers of intelligence.
The fruits of intelligence were many:
Fire, tools, and weapons,
The hunt, farming, and the sharing of food,
The family, the village, and the tribe.
Now it required but one more ingredient:
A great leader to unite the quarrelling tribes,
To harness the power of the land,
To build a legacy that would stand the test of time:
It was just so deep, and so far beyond anything else I’d ever seen. I think I can honestly say that it was the first game that was at least as good as a great book.
Bright would later be known for earning over 18000 karma on Hacker News: https://news.ycombinator.com/user?id=WalterBright
Among other things :)
I just want a good Empire Deluxe for tablet. Polytopia is the closest I've found, but it's not really the same.
Similar in SimCity: build all three types of zones, then build whatever services are in demand. There is nothing creative in those games. Intersperse commercial and residential zoning to reduce traffic? Nope. Build a school blocked in by coal power plants? Sure!
I don't think Brian Reynolds had ill intentions by any stretch; you can, of course, be peaceful in Col, and it's probably the best way to play at higher levels (France becomes really advantageous, especially stacking with the Pocahontas bonus). And the way the manual is written clearly indicates that they understood the parts of the historical record that the game leaves out. I have always assumed that there was fear from higher-ups at MicroProse that made them sanitize the game a little. But it mostly makes me wonder what a more honest game, made today, would look like.
I might or might not have half an engine written on this laptop, as it happens...at some point I'd love to sit down and talk to Reynolds about that game. Everyone asks him about Alpha Centauri, but I really want to know about Col!
(Also: while Civ4Col is pretty lame, I think its biggest mods, The Authentic Colonization and Religion and Revolution, take important steps toward a more honest representation of things. They're also really, really fun in ways Civ4Col was not.)
I wonder if Colonization for Windows fixes the trade route bugs though...
Colonization was great too...
It's like a game about space exploration missing the USSR, for example...
This reminds me of Will Wright's answer to the typical deep questions he's frequently asked about the design of SimCity:
>Designing User Interfaces to Simulation Games.
>On the simulation model: ...
>Some muckety-muck architecture magazine was interviewing Will Wright about SimCity, and they asked him a question something like "which ontological urban paridigm most influenced your design of the simulator, the Exo-Hamiltonian Pattern Language Movement, or the Intra-Urban Deconstructionist Sub-Culture Hypothesis?" He replied, "I just kind of optimized for game play."
For example, in Civ 6 establishing trade routes becomes really important, but it's impossible to automate. So EVERY time a trader finishes a route you must MANUALLY select which city to trade with. By endgame you're clicking through a dozen trade routes every turn.
Also, unless you decide to annihilate everyone prepare for NPCs to constantly pester you with stupid requests, like trading your capital for a resource of peaches. And then they can keep repeating the same requests. Why can't I just set my disposition to always automatically deny all incoming requests?
The waging war by religion seems incomplete too, you only have two unit types: apostles and missionaries.
I recommend 6 overall but Civ 1 doesn't overcomplicate it, it's still as great today as it was back then.
There are actually four or five: missionaries (inexpensive weak offensive unit), apostles (expensive strong offensive unit with random unique bonuses), inquisitors (defensive unit), and gurus (support unit, heals adjacent units). There are also warrior monks, which only one religion may have and, despite being melee units rather than religious units, will spread their religion when defeating another unit in combat.
I'm still a little torn on the religious mechanics in 6, but it's certainly the most involved the series has ever made it, and probably strictly better than 5's implementation. Your points about AI trading are true to home, though there have been a few improvements to trade routes in patches and the recent expansion (by adding a "repeat route" button to the trader menu, and also generally by nerfing trade routes so you generally have fewer of them).
At some point it became clear that my path to victory was an all out religious assault, and effectively all I was doing was micromanaging my missionaries and apostles.
This got old extremely quickly in the hot seat format. I'd kill for an engaging 2 player couch-coop gameplay mode in here that didn't make us hate each other.
I think it is far too complicated for something that is entirely optional. In v6, you either do an early bet of going all-in on religion or you ignore it completely, just keeping in mind that a military intervention might be necessary if someone gets too close to a religious victory.
I'm generally not too fond of the multitude of victory conditions: space player vs religion player vs culture player isn't the most exciting game imho. Imagine a race where all the contestants run off in different directions, towards different goalposts. "It looked like it would become a close finish between the swimmer reaching Dover and the runner arriving at Athens, but then the weather changed and the cyclist got up Mount Ventoux much faster than expected, so he won", that's not how triathlon works.
The one big improvement of Civ 6 I can attest to is not having to build individual boats/ships for melee units once you have the appropriate skills -- just direct your helicopters to the oceans and they turn into transports.
All good games. But a few simple adjustments would just really relieve a lot of the small annoyances.
Call to power was quite good too - with undersea, space, and future tech.
Actually seems like a pretty accurate description of American diplomacy in 2018. "This week, I shall make peace with North Korea but demand tribute from Canada. Next week, we'll see what happens?"
Imagine Civilization, but in space, and maybe crossed with the Foundation series by Asimov. It's really really good, and the new patch (2.0) makes it much more enjoyable (in true Civil fashion, where you wait for the mature DLC or big balancing summer patch to really bring the game into its stride).
Have you encountered that problem and/or do you know if it has been addressed?
Stellaris is trying to be generic (the Stellaris world could be the background for almost any interstellar epic, it's full of little cameo references to every sci-fi classic the authors could think of), where Alpha Centauri went to great lengths filling the canvas, in one specific way.
If you do encounter that in a game just do what you'd perhaps do 'in real life': try and be friends with them and not tempt them to anihalate you until you're strong enough to defend yourself. That might mean giving them resources, or not taking stars near their borders. And obviously up your ship building capacity and start investing more resources there.
But Stellaris fails to pull it off. There are a few sleeping giants which, after learning the hard way, you'll just ignore until you are ready to take them on. When you have mastered those pitfalls (and that isn't hard) you are back to the single-minded race for empire, with no interesting goals for those left behind due to some early blunder which stalled the resource throughput growth rate for a while.
Makes me sad that I only got into the series at Civ5, which I enjoyed every bit of except for the ultra creepy 3D models of the leaders.... totally unnecessary in this kind of game. Also it's ridiculous to see Gandhi pop up and declare war on you. It was a good example of a typically superfluous feature tacked on to an otherwise decent piece of software.
Yeah, but it's a staple of the series now. If anything, I think an installment without a warmongering Gandhi would be disappointing!
In the original Civilization, it was because of a bug. Each leader in the game had an “aggression” rating, and Gandhi - to best reflect his real-world persona - was given the lowest score possible, a 1, so low that he’d rarely if ever go out of his way to declare war on someone.
Only, there was a problem. When a player adopted democracy in Civilization, their aggression would be automatically reduced by 2. Code being code, if Gandhi went democratic his aggression wouldn’t go to -1, it looped back around to the ludicrously high figure of 255, making him as aggressive as a civilization could possibly be.
That said, the best user experience does not always derive from the perfect game. What the developers have to do is compare the experience for a new user (who knows nothing of Gandhi's warmongering history in the Civilization games) to the experience of someone who is familiar with the series and might even expect such behavior.
They clearly couldn't keep the old rule in place — that Gandhi suddenly gains the highest aggression value possible is unexpected for new players. Instead, they simply made Gandhi have a slightly elevated aggression — something that new players can handle ("Oh, haha, it's funny because it's Gandhi I guess") and something that old players will recognize. It's a good middle ground. (Note that they have kept around Gandhi's elevated aggression in more recent incarnations, though they have reduced its effect somewhat.)
But, again, from a pure gameplay perspective, the bug should have been fixed.
Kind-of. Civ 6 makes him sneaky and shitty aggressive rather than just straight-out homicidal. This matches my experiences pretty well: https://kotaku.com/gandhi-is-still-an-asshole-in-civilizatio...
So, I learned to play the game without learning Trade, and instead just destroying my enemies as fast as possible without it.
Classic Game Postmortem: Sid Meier's Civilization (with Civilization creators Sid Meier and Bruce Shelley):
Absolutely No Pressure: Continuing a Successful Game Series with Civilization VI (with Civilization VI lead designer Ed Beach):
sadly, Pirates went the same way, as well as getting removed from the App Store.
Community Patch Project & Community Balance Patch. Still under regular development, a lot of (if not all) base game issues are ironed out. After playing this I couldn't force myself to endure Civ6 and its many flaws.
It was crazy how much play I got out of this game. While I've enjoyed the successors to various degrees none has matched the life-alterigness [tm] of the first Civ.
I sort of found Civ2 & 3 just more... tedious.
Civ4 was huge for me however. In particular a mod called Fall From Heaven 2. I probably played this 20x as much as base Civ4. At least.
Civ5 of course invented the hexagon, which people went nuts for for some reason. I played this some. Likewise I played Civ6 some.
Oh and let's not forget Alpha Centauri, which seemed a little... underdeveloped? I mean it wasn't bad. It was good in fact. It just could've used some fleshing out in the sense of sequels to expand on the concept.
The way Starcraft solved balancing a strategy game is genius. Basically, most unit have the same damage / cost ratio, but they have different orthogonal abilities. Kinda remind me the weapons of Duke3D which none was better than the other, and all useful depending on the circumstances (little known was the fact that the default gun was absolutely deadly at distance).
Civilization is given as a great example of political views influencing a game in the win states it provides : militaristic cultural or economical domination, all very American values. That's a very imperialistic view of the world.
It has certainly changed my perception of this great game (although not as much as it did for Sim City)
When I mentioned this to high school friends, too many of them asked: "Wait - so he's involved in cannon technology?"
Jimmy Maher's thoughts about "experientialist" games (linked in TFA) definitely echo Peterson. Worth a read for anyone interested in games.
I have good nostalgic memories of Global Conquest, and every so often wish to replay it again. It is indeed much more limited in scope than Civ, focusing on the purely military aspect, but like Civ (and Empire before it) had the notion of cities producing units and forming the economic backbone of your faction.
Its twist was the random events that would come up every 5 turns, applying effects for the next 5 turns, like Battle Fatigue (units wouldn't regen) or my favorite: Solar Flares, that would make the interface glitch and sometimes ignore clicks.
I spent a great many hours playing multiplayer hotseat with Global Conquest.
I wonder if anyone's re-implemented it as a web-game since...
Edit: here's one DosBox/emscripten online playable version: https://classicreload.com/global-conquest.html
I haven't really liked the latter games in the series. It just seems like something is missing :/
I like it because you run your own nation and see if you can do better.
Civ 4 marks the end of the 'old' Civilization games, and honestly I don't think there's much reason to look further back than that if you're just joining the series. It's fully-featured, cheap with all expansions, and offers a great experience.
Civ 5 was the start of the new era, but has been out long enough to get two much-needed expansions. It cleaned up the look and interface of the game substantially, and changed the feel of combat to a more modern TBS approach. I think common consensus is that it's a bit less deep than 4, but plays more smoothly and with more engaging combat.
They're both great, and I don't know that it matters too much which way you go. If anything about either game frustrates you, there will be a mod to change it. You really can't go wrong.
Civ 6 is more controversial - it reworked a lot of the city-building elements really substantially, and I'm not sure it's for the better. It'll probably be a solid game by the time all the expansions are out, but right now it doesn't feel complete and polished the way 4 & 5 do.
Don't get Beyond Earth. Honestly, it's just not worth it - it doesn't have any real merits beyond 5 except "in space!", and it's long on balance and design issues.
But I still hugely prefer it to the doomstack approach - wars actually involve doing something now.
Of the mainline series, 1-4 is a straightforward progression that doesn't rock the boat too much. Civ1 is still fairly easy to get into but has a lot of crude, unbalanced or easily exploitable elements(e.g. the AI has a random chance of building a Wonder of the World every turn instead of having to actually allocate a city's production to the project over many turns like the player). Civ2 has fewer exploits and more polished 90's-era graphics, but now the number of units and cities explodes into a very tedious, micromanagement heavy late game - the degenerate strategy of Civ2 is called "smallpox" because it involves spamming a lot of small cities across the map. Civ3 added a lot of additional balancing and finetuning and graphical flair, and Civ4 does more-or-less the same. I have trouble remembering Civ3 after Civ4, really. But the basic feeling remains consistent: Most Civ strategy is focused around optimizing fine details across your entire empire towards a focused direction, so that you survive now and gradually get ahead of the AI players later. And the late game slows down because a lot more is going on in each turn. It gets hard to keep track of things.
The games after that make more drastic changes. They still feel like Civilization, but with major changes to the cities, board and combat components that differ from the "Empire" model that had been employed since the first game. The ways in which you have to make tradeoffs of "now" versus "later" or the kinds of capabilities to emphasize are more varied. And they have higher system requirements - Civ5 at release was quite heavyweight and buggy, and Civ6 has gone similarly. But these are things that everyone expects will get smoothed out with time. With the newer Civ games, it's more a case of the designs just being different versus being definitely better, with emphasis placed on different things.
Some vocal long-time users of things tend to dislike newer versions of that thing, no matter what it is. Personally I started with Civ 3 until I tried Civ 4, and then it just felt outdated. I liked Civ 4 until I tried Civ 5, and then it felt outdated. I liked Civ 5 until I tried Civ 6, and then it felt outdated.
If you started with Civ 5 or Civ 6, I don't think you'd be missing out or disappointed with anything.
It has the particularity that it has an optional "extended game" where the tech tree goes further into the future. Instead of stopping developing technologies at the present time, you could develop cyborgs, plasma weapons, force shields, and stuff like that. And you could go to Alpha Centauri, where you would find a different map and an alien civilization there. IMHO no game in the series has done the future so well.
As a bonus, Test of Time lets you play the original Civ2 game with improved graphics if you don't like the extension, and it also includes space and fantasy scenarios that are not bad at all.
Why almost no one knows that game? Probably the reason is that it was panned when it came out as it was widely seen as a cash grab. It came out a few years after the regular Civ 2, and it didn't feel good that they were charging the price of a full game for what was essentially an extended remake of the game people had spent their money on previously. But now that we are in 2018, who cares about that. In my view it's the best game in absolute terms.
Civ 3 introduced many new concepts, but some of them didn't worked too well and the playability was not too polished IMO (culture, and absurd lack of basic resources like iron and coal, I'm looking at you). Civ 4 continued the trend of Civ 3 but polished it, nerfing or buffing mechanics that were unbalanced, and it is the game I would rank as the second best of the series if you don't want to play Test of Time.
Civ 5 made some quite radical changes mentioned by other commenters, while it's still great I personally don't find it as fun as the earlier games. And the same goes for 6.
Also, RIP Civ World. Not quite a Civ game, but maybe the best Facebook game I've ever seen. It would have been great if they had bothered to solve the bugs. Some of us still remember you.
In particular I found it way too easy to get a tech advantage and march across the map in 5.
Civ 4 is the best version of "classic civ", so if you want a modern take on 1, 2, or 3, go with Civ 4.
Civ 5 was dramatically re-developed. Instead of a square grid (4 possible movement directions for a unit) they moved to a hex grid (6 directions!). And they removed unit stacking, so you don't have these army hoards on single tiles that can wipe out everything in their path. They changed a lot and I think it was for the better - a lot of quality of life improvements. It plays much better than 4 while still retaining the classic civ "just one more turn" feeling.
Civ 6 is too much. It's got too many features and too much user interface. It feels like a chore to play some times. The music is better in Civ 6 than 5, but nothing beats Civ 4's Baba Yetu.
That's true in the same sense that it's true thst I did all the vocals on Civ 1.
Civ5 brought some significant changes to the gameplay but you are in the great position to make an unbiased choice. I loathe it (playing since the first release does that to you) but I have friends who prefer the new gameplay.
By the time Civ 5 came out in 2010, most series fans would have been playing fully-expanded Civ 4, with all the rebalancing and new content that entails. Anyone who liked vassal states, Great Persons, corporations, or the complex space and culture victories was going off expansion content.
First-release Civ 5 made some interesting alterations to the series, but had a lot of implementation issues. Unbalanced wonders, AI bugginess, and a late-game slog often made it feel bad regardless of the design choices. BNW-era Civ 5 brought a lot more logic to the tech tree, smoothed out broken features like "one free technology", and made the late game vastly more interesting.
Honestly, I suspect we've only recently gotten to a 'fair' comparison of 4 and 5, with both of them feeling like classics in light of BE and 6.
There was so much polish in other areas that it was odd that the rough edges were never sanded down. The bad AI & especially diplomacy were one of the most immersion-breaking experiences and unlike some of the other tweaks they haven’t been well solved by community modders.
It's funny seeing Civ V so praised, because it was a decisive game when it was released. The AI bugs you mentioned were occasionally annoying, but overall I loved V - the combat changes alone made the game better then IV, but I always felt like a bit of an outcast when people would rag on the game.
I feel similarly about VI now. I really enjoy the depth added to the city changes and how they cleaned up the UI. I hope it gets a similar hindsight appreciation as V.
Let's just pretend BE and 6 never happened.
I'm not sure how else you explain screwups like "will trade 9 gold now for 1 gold-per-turn over 10 turns". It's like they understood the concept of a loan but got the system backwards.
Or military strength judgements, which are blatantly just running on "number of currently active units". You can be feared for having lots of spearmen in the Industrial Era, but the ability to crank out 10 high-end infantry per turn isn't even present in the assessment.
It's a bizarre and embarrassing weakness for a series most people play in single player. These aren't grand strategic errors, they're "make the number bigger/smaller" errors that random modders handle vastly better than 2K.
5 is a perfected 4. 4 Will forever be the GOAT because of Leonard Nimoy's narration, but 5 is technically the better game IMO.
I also liked IV and I and all the newer ones too (I never played III because IV came out before I got my hands on a Mac port of III). The main negative point of the newer versions is how slow turns get toward the end on large maps with lots of civilizations.
I literally did not study for history from grades 6-10 because I had learned 80% of the content by reading Civilopedia entries during gameplay. It's been a huge inspiration later in life as I've thought about educational gaming -- both as a classroom teacher and now as a technologist.
PS - I still quote CEO Nwabudike Morgan and Chairman Sheng-ji Yang on a monthly basis in adult life
That's not exactly new; it's just if you're playing Civ I or II today, turn processing takes maybe a hundredth of the time it did at the time of release.
I need a new computer :D Or maybe just play Civ IV instead.
I think I'd probably recommend Civ4 or Civ5 as a starting point. Civ4 is the "old school" style, Civ5 is a very boardgamey experience. Colonization, modulo the historical issues I described in my other post, could be a good fit for the more economically-minded.
Make sure you use the latest community AI mod since the original AI is usually not great (mediocre in Civ4, bad in Civ5 and nonfunctional in Civ6).
If you get stuck refer to this: https://lparchive.org/Civilization-2/
As someone who's been playing since 3, I consider those people tragic victims of nostalgia. :P The newest game, 6, is great and strictly better than 5 (I could make this a very, very long comment explaining why, but I'll spare you), though with one exception: the mod scene on 5 is much more mature, so if you were considering modding the hell out of 5 you could make something that rivals 6. In contrast, it's hard to compare 6 to 4, because they're really such different games (5 was sort of a conceptual break in the series). If you don't mind the dated graphics then 4 is super solid, and I think you can get it on Steam for $20.