Video Games Discovery #4: Sid Meier’s Civilization V (PC)

Civilization is a legendary game series by Sid Meier. From the time of its first release (1991) up to now, Sid Meier’s Civilization has been one of the most popular game series of all time.

Because I play the 5th game version, so the screenshots in this post are also taken from the Civilization V.

1. What Sid Meier’s Civilization Game Series Is About

  • Game genre: turn-based, strategy, city-building
  • Single player, multiplayer
  • Network connection: not required
  • Age ratings: children of 12 or above

In this turn-based strategy game, a player plays the role of an empire’s leader.

civilization v roman empire lord Caesar
Lord Caesar with Roman Empire – my favorite leader.

Unlike Anno 1404, Civilization does not mainly focus on developing the economy or raising more citizens, but rather on the role of being a Leader who wants to build up the most powerful civilization in the world.

The game’s timeline stretches from 4000 BC. to 2050 in one gameplay if nobody wins during that time (although by that time in real life, a king probably has died several times). During this time, you, as an emperor will make important decisions about which direction you would like to drive your country as well as to keep the relationship you would like to maintain with other countries.

2. How to Play Sid Meier’s Civilization

Although the game offers a broad range of concepts, the in-game tutorials are helpful enough for a beginner to understand. However, you may need time to master those concepts to make up your decision.

choose an empire to begin the game in civilization v
Choose an empire to begin the game in Civilization V.
Civilization V game setup
Setting up the game before beginning your journey.

After choosing an empire and setting up the game, you will start with some hexagon tiles which form your first city’s borders. In your turn, you can perform one action on each of the units you currently own. For example, in one turn, you can do all of these actions:

  • Perform one action on each of the army unit you own (move/idle/stay alert/attack)
  • Decide one technology to research (the process may take many turns to finish, and you only can do new research if your technology slot is empty)
  • Set up a trade route
  • Adopt one social policy
  • Produce one unit of buildings/armies/wonders in each of your city

Then, you have to wait for other empires to make their moves.

To save you time, some units have automation mode. For example, workers can automatically travel on all of your cities to build farms, plantations, roads, etc. to make use of the resources on the tiles; or the scouts will be automatically sent on their exploration trip to expand the map vision, to explore more wonders and discover hidden cultures for you.

civilization v tech tree
The tech tree in Civilization V in Ancient Era.

You can expand the map by buying more tiles or let your borders grow gradually. Each tile includes a natural resource or provides appropriate conditions to raise a specific kind of animal. Once you own the tile, you can take advantage of that conditions to benefit your own city. For example, you can raise horses.

The Citizens

Different types of citizen that a city can produce:

  • Workers: to build farms, plantations, etc. Workers can be set on automation mode and will belong to an opponent once they attack the tile where the workers are on.
  • Scouts: to explore the world. Scouts have a wider vision than other citizens, therefore, they can observe more things on the way. However, they don’t have a good attack strength.
  • Settlers: to settle a new city.
  • Armies: range armies (attack within 2 tiles), melee armies (attack within 1 tile), siege armies (to attack castle), and so on. More armies are available once the required research is done. For example, after researching Gun Powder, you can have Musketeers.
  • Great Persons: they are special citizens that are born occasionally. They will give your empire short-term or long-term benefits. The Great Person list includes Great Prophets, Great Musician, Great Engineer, Great General, Great Writer, Great Artists, and so on. See more about Great Persons from Civilization V Wiki.
  • Spies: you can send spies to other countries as a diplomat or to steal technologies from them. Likewise, there might be spies from other countries on your territory.

The Buildings

Similar to army units, more buildings are unlocked when the empire enters a new Era. Each building benefits the empire in a different way, and require an amount of Gold to maintain. Because the list of buildings available in different eras is so long, I only list some examples here:

  • Barracks: +15 experience for all units trained in the city (Ancient Era)
  • Circus: increase citizens’ happiness (Ancient Era)
  • Market: support Trading and increase Gold from trade (Classical Era)
  • Temple: increase Faith (Classical Era)
  • Garden: +25% Great Person generation (Medieval Era)
  • University: increase Science points (Medieval Era)
  • Bank: increase Gold (Renaissance Era)
  • Windmills: increase Production and allow 1 Engineer Specialist Slot (Renaissance Era)
  • Police Station: reduce spy possibility (Industrial Era)
  • Military Academy: increase troop experience by 15 EXP (Industrial Era)
  • Research Lab: support Research (Modern Era)
  • Stadium: increase Happiness (Modern Era)
  • Airport: increase Culture points from Wonders and Travel possibility per Great Works (Atomic Era)
  • Recycling Center: increase aluminum resources (Atomic Era)
  • Bomb Shelter: decrease loss from nuclear attack (Information Era)
  • Spaceship Factory: to make spaceship (Information Era)
  • Wonders: a special form of buildings. Since Wonders are unique, if you are building a Wonder but another empire finishes it first, your building process will stop. Examples of Wonders are the Pyramid, Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, Statue of Zeus, Machu Picchu, Notre Dame, and so on.

See a full list of Civilization V buildings on Wiki.

Gold and Happiness

They are among elements that are used to measure your empire’s success.

Gold is the money that comes from trading and gifting. It is required to maintain buildings in your civilization. On the other side, armies do not require Gold to maintain. What you can do with Gold:

  • Bribe other cities
  • Purchase production
  • Buy land tiles
  • Do mutual research with other cultures
  • Maintain buildings in your empire

Happiness comes from your citizens, a measurement of how good you are as a leader. A civilization can only reach prosperity when its citizens are happy. The level of happiness affects food surplus, Golden Age time as well as production, combat and growth rate of a country.

Happiness can be generated by luxury items, buildings, Wonders, social policies, Natural Wonders. Meanwhile, the number of cities, population, puppet cities, annexed cities and razing captured cities are among causes of unhappiness.

For example, every city that belongs to the civilization will add +3 Unhappiness. A civilization of -10 Happiness or lower will not grow at all.

However, it is quite strange as the game thinks any living person will add +1 Unhappiness point to the culture.

How to Win the Game

A Civilization V game can be won in 5 ways:

  • Domination Victory: win by being the last player who can keep the original capital. So mostly this is about battling and wars.
  • Science Victory: successfully build and launch a spaceship
  • Culture Victory: complete the Utopia Project and fill out all branches of the social policies tree
civilization v social policies tree
The Civilization V social policies tree.
  • Diplomatic Victory: win a vote in the United Nations. You can gather more votes to increase the winning possibility by allying with city-states or return captured cities to defeated opponents
  • Time Victory: get the highest score when the game time ends (usually in 2050) if nobody has yet gained victory from the 4 above-mentioned methods

3. Different Parties in Sid Meier’s Civilization

You can play with other AI players (single) or online players (multiplayer). Your civilization is not the only one that exists in the world. Dealing with other players is the fun part of the game.

Your Empire

Your territory includes a number of cities. They can be the cities you found yourself or the cities from other cultures that you win after battling.

Other Players’ Empire

As in the real world, there are many other cultures exist at the same time. They can become your friends, or foes, or only trading partners. Also, they are trying to win the game, just like you.

City-States

These are small cities that are not competing to win the game. Time to time, when a player achieves great advances in technology or having a Great Person, he/she will be awarded by the city-states. In some case, an allied city-state can give you some Gold or even a troop unit to represent the friendship and admiration towards your empire.

What you can do to a city-state:

  • Give a gift (mostly Gold)
  • Pledge to protect: inform other countries that the specific city-state is under your protection
  • Ask for tribute (demand Gold)
  • Declare war
civilization v city states buenos aires
Buenos Aires, one of the city-states in Civilization V

Barbarian Camps

Barbarian camps are a kind of bandits located on some tiles on the map. Each camp stays in one tile which does not belong to any civilization. They can attack any city. Therefore, although they don’t possess strong armies, they still pose a danger to the small cities.

If you clear a Barbarian camp, you may get a prize from the nearby city which was earlier always under the Barbarian’s harassment.

4. What Is Interesting About Civilization

So, a lot of people play Civilization. What is interesting about this game series? As a gamer, I will tell you what are the most fun parts of the game in my opinion.

Exploring the World

By sending scouts and troop units to explore the world, Ruins and National Wonders can be found, which will give you Culture points or Happiness in your empire.

Also, you can discover other empires located on the same map. In the beginning, the world is full of unknown things, but the more you play, the more it opens. It is amazing to see the map expands little by little.

civilization v natural wonder and ruins explore
Exploring natural Wonder and Ruins in Civilization V

Seeing the World grown

This does not only refer to the physical size, but also to the knowledge and progresses that the World has obtained in different time phases.

That is when the human can travel faster after inventing the Wheel, or when you submit the first solution to the World Congress, thinking about how it may affect all the countries that are living in the same planet.

From Ancient Era to Information Era, the more buildings are unlocked, the more you see how the World becomes larger turn by turn.

You are not only a player but also a witness of history. And, wait for the Golden Age to dawn on your civilization is a good feeling, too.

The 2D view

Although the game offers 3D graphics, I prefer to play in a 2D viewport.

While a 3D graphics can excite you time to time, the 2D version makes the map look like a board game. You can read from one tile what resources it offers, cities’ borders or whose armies are traveling on it.

a civilization v map
My Civilization V 2D map in 1740 AD. My cities include Rome, Antium, and Cumae. Hovering mouse on each tile will provide information about the resources as well as geographical condition.
civilization v 3d map
The 3D map.

Non-Player Characters (NPCs)

Civilization V discussion to place Korean embassy
The Korean Emperor wants to place an embassy in Rome.

The NPCs in Civilization V’s single mode are rather interesting and taken straight from real historical figures, e.g Lord Caesar (Rome), Queen Elizabeth (English) or Maria Theresa (Austria). What you can do with NPC leaders from other countries:

  • Discuss with them about a recent event. For example on a solution that you commit for the World Congress
  • Exchange luxury goods or other conditions. For example open borders for both sides
  • Declare war, or declare friendship
  • Refuse or accept their demand for Gold
  • Negotiate peace in a war
  • Send spies as a diplomat to their city (may hurt the relationship between two countries when they find out)

They may act like the political emperors in real life: plotting against others, spying, asking you to join their upcoming wars. They can be hungry for wars or just want to live in peace.

The NPCs leader can be rather boring and easy to deal with in an Easy mode. However, you may face a lot of trouble to develop your countries in the Hard mode where the other civilizations seem to be always in front of you on the technology side and march armies around your borders all the time.

A Turn-based Combat System

The combat system of Civilization is not anywhere near the principles that are adopted by other strategy games. Winning battles against a city in the game is not easy. Not only because the citizens will fight back strongly, but also due to the game’s turn-based policy.

Case Study

The Portugal emperor told me that she plotted to declare war on Austria and asked me to join her. Since we were allies, I agreed.

I sent several units of troops including range armies (archers, musketeers) and melee troops (horsemen, warriors, etc.) to see their location and tried to find a way to attack them.

In the below map, each purple circle indicates one army unit of mine and the red lines form the border of Graz, which I am attacking.

civilization v war
A war with Graz.

So, there are several difficulties:

  • My empire is far away from Austria, so I have to travel a long way across the ocean. In the small map, my territory is marked in purple and Austria is in red.
  • Because one small hexagon tile can only hold one troop unit, I cannot drive all of them into the city at the same time.
  • To win against one city, having more troops is not enough, but the troops have to stand in a good position to attack. Since melee troops can only attack opponents in a tile that are bordered with theirs, I need to drive them into the Graz territory next to the castle. Range troops can attack in a 2-tile distance but still, the border lines are so small to stand all of them.
  • The road is too narrow and full of mountains. It is impossible to go straight to their territory in one or two moves. I have to pass London and Valletta. To make it happen, I need to persuade these two cities to open borders for me (that I am not considered trespassing). This would cost some Gold or I have to open mine in exchange.
  • Since it is a turn-based game, if I attack Graz with one of my troop units, they will attack back with theirs. And finally, there is a super strong city castle ready to bombard any nearby attackers.

You can find many more interesting battle situations in the game if you choose to declare war against other empires.

5. Civilization VI: Rise and Fall

Civilization V for PC on Amazon

For gamers all over the world, Civilization has been an epic game series.

The next release – Civilization VI: Rise and Fall – is announced to be available by February 8, 2018. What is new can be seen on the Civilization homepage.

Information on Steam for the upcoming release: Steam.

I hope you enjoy this post. If you want to share any thoughts, please feel free to leave comments below.

 

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