Friday, September 24, 2010

Played Lately: Sid Meier's Civilization V

  • I took the night off from Civilization V for two reasons. First, I wanted to write a blog post about how much I enjoyed my first game for all you kind people while I could remember the good stuff. Second, I knew if I started a new game, I would be up until 3 AM again. I can still pull that off on a weekday, but it's getting harder as I get older.

  • That was Wednesday. On Thursday, I jumped back in for another round. Instead of the default settings I chose to play on a medium sized map with eight civilizations and on the Warlord difficulty. I figured that moving from very easy to easy would still be okay. The random civ selection handed me the Ottomans. They have a couple of nice midgame units as well as the ability to randomly convert barbarian naval units, but I wasn't planning my game around their abilities. Instead my goal was to see if I could win the game through a cultural victory.

  • My starting area seemed excellently defensible. My southern border was entirely coastal except for a long peninsula where the city-state of Warsaw was located. With only the northern frontier open, I figured that I could hunker down with a small empire and work toward generating as much culture as possible. As least, that's how I started.

  • Just about the time that I discovered iron, the other civs started to knock off various city-states. I wasn't generating enough money to make any allies like I had in my first game, so I had no stake in their wars. But then I remembered that liberating a city-state converts it to a permanent ally. And since many of the city-states generate culture, I somehow convinced myself that I should build a small army to free potential allies.

  • That's how I ended up in wars against the Russians, the Romans, and the French, the three largest military powers in the game. I was able to free two different cities through superior tactics. The AI doesn't always know when to retreat and recover. But they do know when to press the attack. Eventually my units were overcome and my allies fell. My saving grace was that I was campaigning on a different continents, so none of my opponents felt the need to sail over and kick my butt.

  • When my aspirations of military adventure crushed, I went back to advancing my culture as well as possible. My only problem was that I didn't do anything else. I was just waiting, building up my cities, tinkering with great artists, ignoring the rest of the game. When I saw the armies of my northern neighbor amass on my border, I knew that I made a tragic mistake.

  • I switched all of my cities over to producing armies, but it was too late and my empire was not capable of pushing out much production that fast. My northern most city was destroyed almost immediately. My western city, the one I built to capitalize on the recently discovered oil fields, fell just as fast. Then all attention fell on my capital. The Songhai began their siege and it looked grim. But finally, I produced two units of Infanty, the armies that won my first game for me. I struck back and destroyed a number of the opposing units, but it was not meant to be. My meager counterattack failed and the capital fell. I was left with a single city.

  • But what a city it is. Located at the northern end of that peninsula, there is only a single hex that leads to its walls. In order to get around it, the Songhai had to embark in transport ships and sail down the coast. However the guns of my city were powerful enough to sink the entire unit while it was in the water. The waters along those coasts were littered with the wreckage of destroyed vessels and drowned men. I held out just long enough to build another infantry unit and, amazingly enough, a Great General arrived. With their army in tatters, the Songhai fled from the battlefield and I took back my much depleted capital.

  • And then it was three in the morning. I stopped there, but I did save and I will be going back to the game. I'm not sure I will eek out a victory now, but I'm not going down without a fight. Here are a few lesson I learned while my cities where burning.

    1. Focus - The combat is seductive in this game. But if you're not going for a military victory, seeking out fights is a waste of time. I got distracted by the other victory conditions and did not focus on building my culture as I set out to do originally. And even worse, I squandered my cultural upgrades to bolster my interactions with the city-states, something I ended up having to abandon entirely. All those points are wasted now because I did not stick to my plan.

    2. Defend Yourself - Just because you're not going to conquer the world doesn't mean you can just ignore your armies. The other civilizations aren't going to let an easy target sit unplucked if you leave yourself exposed. I should have at least garrisoned my cities so that I wouldn't be frantically scrambling to build a army.

    3. Don't Give Up - Once I saw the armies on my border, I just knew it was all over for me. Another day, I might have turned the game off assuming that I would never survive the onslaught. But I didn't give up. I wanted to see it through and I'm glad I did. Otherwise I would never have seen the heroic defense of my last city or see my opponent driven from the battlefield. I may be crushed within a few turns when I load my save, but it will have been worth it.

  • Learn from my mistakes so that you can make all new ones of your own. It's still a fun game and I'm looking forward to seeing if the Ottomans can recover their former glory.

© 2010 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.


  1. I started my game very much like yours here, hoping to win through culture or other "peaceful" means. It wasn't meant to be. I'm going to blame Darius because it was he who fueled my passion for battle after he started getting on my case about building too close to him and then started insulting my people calling them backwards savages or some such. I decided right then and there that I wasn't going to rest until I annihilated him. When I conquered him, I realized I became addicted to war and started attacking my other neighbors. It's all actually pretty amusing, there will be a blog post on this, I'm sure :P

  2. @ GeeCee - Addicting is the right word for it. Watching your opponent's units disintegrate before you is amazing. Can wait to read your eventual post.