Civilization 5 Blatherings

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 6.03% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

WARNING: Gaming blathering.  You can probably skip past.
Yesterday, I finally downloaded all the Civilization 5 add-ons, and was pleasantly surprised to find a different game entirely.
Now, as far as I’m concerned, Civ 5 has exactly two victory conditions: Science and Cultural.  I’ve tried to conquer the world, but on any reasonable-sized map the grind of warfare is tedious; I got as far as knocking five out of seven civilizations out of the ring before going, “God, I don’t want to build one more Giant Death Robot.”  And when you find yourself saying things like, “I don’t want to build another Giant Death Robot,” you know it’s pretty dull.
The Diplomatic Victory, I’m told, is doable, but it’s also pretty boring.  I got tired of stockpiling five billion gold to bribe these nebbishy city-states, who seemed eager to forget about me at every opportunity, and frankly if I had the economy to acquire five billion gold them it was a lot more fun to just conquer them with Giant Death Robots.
So that leaves Science.  Science is all about wide empires, massive numbers of cities pumping out research.  That’s pretty fun, because what I love about Civilization is the Barbie-doll customization of buying ALL THE BUILDINGS for every city.  Seriously.  I’m not happy until every city is fucking blinged to the max.  I don’t care if it only has three citizens, I want a Market and a Bank and a University and a Garden and fifteen Public Schools ….
But Cultural Victories in the old Civilization were pretty boring.  Cultural Victories were designed as a way for a small civilizations to remain competitive.  Each building provides a static bonus (+2 Culture per turn, say), and periodically you’d “level up” in culture.  The trick is, each new city made it harder to “level up” in culture, and with no way to change that static bonus you’d find that your five-city Civilization would only be able to crank out 10 culture a turn but needed 200 culture to level up, making it twice as hard as One-City Joe who cranks out 2 culture a turn but could level up at 20.
(WARNING: Not real numbers.  Math bores me.)
That sounds appealing if you got stuck in a clogged zone and couldn’t found good cities in time, but realistically it made the end game a slog.  You couldn’t really improve your culture output after the Sydney Opera House, so all of the play after 1900 consisted of hunkering down, churning out tanks, and defensively waiting for the inevitable invasions when the AI realized you were about to win.  Which might take seventy turns.
The new Civilization add-ons basically changes the whole fucking game.  Now you have Tourism, which offensively targets other civilizations to make them fall in love with you!  You have Religion, which you can found early and spread it, giving bonuses and goals!  And you don’t just plunk down a Museum and have it crank out Culture, you have to create Great Works to put in the Museum and attract people to you!
…and this is so shoddily documented that I have zero idea how any of it works!
Yeah, yeah, it comes with a Civilopedia, but realistically I had to keep stopping the game to go and read FAQs, then I got bored because I didn’t want to spend half an hour analyzing the minutiae of putting John Sebastian Bach in my Amphitheater, so I dumbly charged ahead.  I am in 1920 right now in my latest game, and I actually have zero idea if I’m winning.  I think I am, because my founded Religion is in like 80% of the world’s religions and I keep cranking out prophets to annoy my neighbors, and I have ALL THE MUSEUMS, but I don’t know if that means I’m actually getting there.
But I have to say, at least the peaceful game is busier.  I have to manage Trade Routes, which is annoying (JUST KEEP GOING TO HAWAII, GUYS, IT’S GOT ALL THE GOLD), but it does provide the AI with less incentive to kick small civilizations – yes, you can declare war on me, but you’ll lose the 70 gold we have going every turn.  And the Religion makes other, potentially larger, civilizations like me.  So my turtling strategy seems to be more effective.
I don’t know, though.  Because I don’t know if I’m winning (one country out of five is converted to my way of thinking), I can’t say if all of these little fiddly bits are more fun, or just something else to do while I merrily piss away my chances at victory.  And it makes the game a lot longer, certainly, as it added like 50% more time to my game while I’m also managing missionaries and World Councils and whatnot.
I’ll let you know if I like it, but the issue is that I am also staggeringly bad at these games and never quite get all the fiddly details right.  I play on Prince, because that’s the last level where the AI is just dead-even with you – after that, they start handicapping you by giving the AI mathematical advantages and leads, and I’m handicapped enough by my own marked lack of strategy, thank you.
But hey!  My museums are full of art pieces.  I think that means I’m winning.  Now I just have to figure out what to do with all these spare Prophets lying around.

4 Comments

  1. Mishell Baker
    Jun 25, 2014

    I think our play styles are pretty similar. I’m kind of obsessive-compulsive and so I HAD to win each kind of victory, but the domination victory was basically like watching paint dry. For me the game takes even longer when you play in a warlike manner because every turn you have to move about 15314653426 different units. Argh.
    The thing with the cultural victory is that (at least as far as I’ve played it) it’s kind of an exponential curve. You’re never quite sure if you’re winning until the game is almost over, when you suddenly rocket ahead of everyone in like, 10 turns.
    My main issue with Civ V is that I find winning a vastly anticlimactic experience. You spend all that time lovingly crafting a kajillion cities and then when you win it’s just sort of… boop! Up pops a window saying YOU WON! CONGRATS. And then it’s over. I want fireworks and a 15 minute movie, gdi.

    • TheFerrett
      Jun 25, 2014

      That makes sense on the Cultural Victory front. I’m not entirely sure how it’s all working now.
      And I wish the unit-moving would work better. I understand the Stack of Doom issue in Civ IV, but there has to be some way to not have units criss-crossing and stupidly forgetting to move because someone else got there first.

  2. Billy
    Jun 29, 2014

    Here are a couple of suggestions that might make the game more fun/less tedious:
    Specialization is key on the harder levels as you have less time to get where you want before you get destroyed by the other civs massive difficulty bonuses.
    Conquest Victory – Remember you only need to go for the capital buildings to win. Don’t bother taking over every city from every civ.
    If you want to cut down the amount of work it takes to conquer someone, team up with stronger rivals to take down civs more quickly. Ones that are closer to other civs than you are particularly helpful. Then, once everyone is gone, take down your former ally!
    Diplomatic Victory – Money is important in keeping city-state allies, but doing quests for them can make the experience a little more colorful. Check out what favors city-states want from you and it will make the game a bit more interesting while also keeping your monetary gifts at a minimum. Many city-states will also ask for the same thing which can cut the work to keep multiple allies happy.
    Also, to make it a bit more interesting, go to war with a civ that has a lot of city-state allies. It will make the warmonger penalty a little less taxing, you can take down their allies which cuts down the amount of votes you need to win, and you will have the fun of having a big world war!
    Science Victory – The best way to win a science victory is to focus on two things: food and science points (crazy huh?). Make farms, food-generating buildings, and science-generating buildings.
    Wide empires can do this well but they usually do not start producing until later in the game. Talls empires do a better job early on as you can focus your workers efforts on the three or four cities that you have and make them super productive. Then go wide once you have workers that are available to help develop the new cities.
    Culture Victory – They definitely turned the strategy needed to win this victory on its head. It seems like you are on the right track to winning this kind of victory (e.g. creating lots of buildings with great work spaces, pumping out great artists). I would also suggest creating great writers and musicians if you have not been doing that already. Make a designated city focused on producing each one (one city making artists, an other writers, an other musicians). Also, once you get archaeology, you can start mass producing archaeologists which can make culture sites that greatly increase tourism and culture!
    Another thing you can do to increase influence is make agreements with civs. Open borders, embassies, and a declaration of friendship will all help increase the amount of tourism points you have with a specific civ by providing multipliers.
    Finally, since religion seems to be your forte, you can actually use stockpiled faith points to purchase great people once you reach the industrial or modern era (I forget which). This depends on if you adopt a social policy tree so, for example, if you adopt honor you can then purchase great generals with faith points. Use your extra great prophets to create holy site tile improvements to increase your faith point generation. Once you reach the right era switch your automatic purchase in the faith screen to the great person of your choice. If you adopt aesthetics then you can buy more great artists, musicians, and writers to help towards a culture victory.
    To determine if you are winning the culture war, click on the tourism icon at the top of your screen. You can check out how much tourism you are producing and also see how its affecting other civs. Once you become influential with all existing civs you win!
    Winning in General – The best way to determine your overall standing in the world is to check out the demographics within the scroll menu button. This will provide a ranking for your civ in a number of categories (GNP, Population, Literacy, etc). It will also tell you the best civ, the worst civ, and the average of all the civs in every category. It is very valuable information to have at any point of the game as it helps let you know what you should focus on to win.
    Hope this is helpful and not too long winded!

    • TheFerrett
      Jul 1, 2014

      That IS totally helpful, and thanks for taking the time to write all that up.

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