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6:34pm on Thursday, 14th October, 2010:

Civ 5


I finished my fourth game of Civilization V last night. Whether I finish the first three depends on whether the next patch fixes the problems I had with them.

I can't say I'm a fan of the new tactical combat system they have instead of the strategic one of earlier games in the series. There's something about archers firing arrows across the English Channel that kind of breaks the immersion. It's also too easy to punch a hole through to an opponent's capital city with this kind of combat system. If they were worried about stacks of doom, they should have done what board game designers did decades ago and introduced stacking limits. Well, I guess they did do this, but they made the stacking limit 1, which is bonkers...

When I finally did win, I was disappointed by the ending. All I got was a victory screen — no way to see a replay like in earlier games in the Civ series. Other things that bugged me were the artificial preconditions on buildings: so to build a broadcast tower I need to have a museum? Say what? And before I build a museum, I need an opera house? Uh? Where's the fiction that explains that? I don't think much of the city states, either; they're an irritant and they add nothing.

The leaders are also annoying. Montezuma's role of mad warmonger seems to have been taken over by Askia (who?) of Songhai (what?); if you start off next to him, you're pretty well guaranteed a long war of attrition that sucks all the fun out of playing. Hiawatha is similarly suicidal, Wu Zetian is perfidious, Napoleon has some kind of quest to slaughter all city states, Alexander attempts to conquer the world even when the world has tanks and he has bows and arrows ... There are only 18 of them, too, which means that in a huge game you're going to meet pretty well all of them.

On the positive side, it is possible to win a huge map by conquest again without having to switch to communism, and the way that the different ways of winning (conquest, science, culture, diplomacy) all come together at the same time is very nicely balanced.

Yes, I think I'll play another game once I've posted this, even if it's only because Patrician IV has been dumbed down so much I can't yet bring myself to carry on the game I saved before I went to Austin...

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Copyright © 2010 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).