Well Here’s To Us……(An Introduction To Civilization IV And Why It’s Become My Favourite Game Of All Time)

Absolute Power You Say......... 🙂

About a month ago I found myself coming into some extra money so I decided to treat myself to something and on a whim I bought the Civilization IV pack off of steam and fired it on up.  Previously I had played Civilization II during high school but was too young and inexperienced in strategy and resource management to be very good at it, and I had tried to install Civ IV on my old PC when it first came out only to watch as it chugged like my mother at bar (basically impossibly slow) and become more or less unplayable after about 30 seconds.  Now with a faster PC I felt I might get to enjoy the experience and felt that Civ IV would be able to give me the chance to do something I’ve always wanted to do…..lead an Empire to glorious victory and total dominance of the globe over an epic period of time while micromanaging EVERYTHING along the way.  It’s all here and it’s proven to be pretty much as close to the perfect game for me in just over a month, far surpassing my previous all time favourite of Fire Emblem:  Seisen No Keifu which stood in it’s place in my heart for close to a decade (I still love you Fire Emblem don’t worry).

With ghostlightning’s blessing I’ve decided to start a short series on Civilization IV and why I love the game so much, and tonight with some spare time (which will also be spent playing the game of course) I figured I’d get things started.  Truthfully I coul talk all day about the intracies of Civilization IV and in 1000’s of words still not totally sum up what it’s like to actually play and experience the game’s depth and scope, but I have other things to do tonight as well so I just want to briefly talk a bit about the things that make the game awesome to me and hopefully in the process convince a few people to give it a try.

Part 1 – On Being A Leader:

Where To Begin....... 😦

The basic idea behind Civilization IV (or at least the most basic of the basic ideas) is to put you the player in charge of a Civilization and let them dictate the course of it’s history to either glorious prosperity, a dismal demise, or perhaps a middle power like my own country of Canada.  Nobody ever said being a leader was easy though and if you were to doubt it then I would suggest looking up the story of Damocles (no not that fortress from Code Geass, the actual morality tale).  Anyway nobody ever said being the leader of an entire civilization with it’s hopes and dreams invested in you was going to be easy and from the moment the game gets started and puts you into control of a single settler it almost immediately starts to try to kick your ass and to put an end to your feeble attempts to “build a Civilization to stand the test of time”.  Whoa holy shit watch out for that Barbarian over….oh man you just lost your only unit….so much for that civilization of yours that never was eh?  False starts are forgiven by Civ IV though and your free to try again, but do be more careful next time.

Avoiding hazards is one thing, but where to start that first city of yours and get that civilization under way?  Do you want to pick that open area with lots of farmland to focus on storing food for population growth?  What about that mine in the mountains over there that can be used to expedite building….but it’s so far away from food isn’t it, and it’s not exactly a mine full of gems to get the economy going…..ugh…I guess you’ll just have to worry about that later…..by which point another civilization may have claimed it and you’ll have to go to war with them so that you can expand your borders and claim it for yourself.  Is this a good or bad thing….I’m afraid your on your own on that one fearless leader? :/

Okay Now What....

So now you’ve got your first city up and running, but there’s only one guy in it.  You might think you want to set your city to produce another settler to make another city….or perhaps you want a worker to improve those tiles around it…..what about military protection from the marauding barbarians who want to put an end to that Civilization of yours….better make up your mind.  Done deciding are you….well to bad there’s still only one guy at work and it’s going to be damn slow in making that new unit for you.  Maybe you should set him to gather food so that your population can grow and you’ll have two workers to speed things up a little….but then who is going to do the work and build new units in the mean time?  Boy it’s tough getting a civilization off the ground, and this only a snapshot of the things you’ll have to consider in the first 5-10 turns of a game alone in order to hopefully get a head start on competing civilizations.

Civilization IV challenges you to second guess your own decisions and to consider multiple factors before committing to a course of action and like real history once you’ve chosen your path there’s no turning back so you better hope it was the right one.  Nobody ever said being a leader was easy, and I believe somebody in a comic book I once read said that “with great power comes great responsibility”.  Civilization IV comes closer to simulating this contradiction of the leadership role than any game I’ve ever played and it’s just one of the many reasons I love the game.

In the coming days and weeks I will be writing some more updates on the reasons why I love Civilization IV.  I hope people are looking forward to it as much as I am and please if anybody has any subjects concerning Civilization IV that they want me to discuss don’t hesitate to drop a comment and I’ll be happy to see what I can do.

Next Time On Here’s To Us:  The Great Ones (Paying Tribute To The People That Helped Make Our Civilization What It Is)

Further Reading

An excellent source of information on all things Civilization (Civ Fanatics 2000-2010)

The Sword Of Damocles and why being a leader may not be all it’s cracked up to be (Cicero 106-43 BC)

About Kaioshin Sama

I'm a Mecha Anime fan who can go from being rigidly straightforward to using vague references that make me impossible to understand in about 5 minutes.
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12 Responses to Well Here’s To Us……(An Introduction To Civilization IV And Why It’s Become My Favourite Game Of All Time)

  1. What I like about this version is that it forces you to play a balanced approach. You can’t mass on troops, expand until the cows come home, or get the AI to do really dumb trades like before. So yeah, in terms of game balance and all that, this game is a big improvement over its predecessors, and I love the hell out of it.

    Problems still persist in the beginning stages being really important though. The early game is where you have to do well and there’s no catch-up mechanism if you fall behind like in some games, so that takes a bit of fun away. Basically, by the time you hit the modern age, you already know if you’re going to win or not. If they ever find a way to address this problem, then this really will be the best game ever :p

    People also tell me to play Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri, but I’ve yet to do that.

    • About the trades, it sometimes feels like the AI is stubborn as hell at points. Pride is one thing (as funny as an AI simulating pride is), but when I’m offering several times as much gold as an AI nation has for a defensive pact and the AI still insists the trade is not good enough I have to wonder if the AI is off it’s rocker. The Civilization IV Colonization mod I got with the pack off of Steam seems a little more like the AI of old though in that it will gladly trade me a world map for about 1/10 of the total gold I’ve accumlated with goods trade with Europe. Not that all of that is terribly important though since I always make sure to maintain good relations with the other nations colonies and the natives (though if they get in the way of my expansion I’ll gladly take their land) and limit myself to about 5 or so colonies which is more than enough to maximize all of the potential resources that will ultimately be necessary to win the game.

      Concerning Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri….I have a mod for Civ IV that attempts to simulate the Galactic level of civilization present in SMAC called “Final Frontier”, but I’ll be sure to get to Colonization and Final Frontier in due time I promise. 🙂

      • Trading with the AI is great because they usually give me some awesome deals! Like… them giving me four technologies…. and they get a peace treaty in return! I suppose some people would call that sort of behavior extortion or them offering me concessions, but those are all semantics anyways 😛

  2. Sergio says:

    Oh, I used to play that! A lot.

    Maybe you would also be interested in Victoria: Empire under the Sun. It’s another strategy game, simulating the world from 1836 to the 1920s. I really liked it since I love the 19th century. You have to manage both economy (decisions such as adopting free trade, protectionism, buying raw materials (or conquering the producers), etc) and also war, politics and diplomacy

  3. I tried playing this but my laptop can’t handle it. Too bad. I suppose I’ll just enjoy it vicariously as I do for practically all games for the last 2 years.

  4. I’m a Civ addict too, although I’ve since started on CivRev. A lot less detailed, but that means I can actually complete a game in under 3 hours.

    I do miss Civ4 though… *reinstall*

    • I almost bought Civilization Revolution instead but decided to go for the content and the ability to use my mouse. I’m used to long games anyway with my first game of Gihren’s Greed (as Zeon) taking about 67 hours and 2 months in the end.

  5. JELEINEN says:

    If you’re not playing with Beyond the Sword, I highly recommend doing so as it really completes the game. The key in the early game is bronze working. Not only does it give you the next tier or military units, but being able to chop forests and trade in population for rushed production is invaluable.

    Also, you definitely should download the Fall From Heaven fan mod. It basically recasts Civ in an epic fantasy mold and is like getting a whole new game.

    • I’m actually doing more than Beyond The Sword. I have the Rise of Mankind mod installed which adds an incredible amount of content to the game even compared to what Beyond The Sword added to the regular install. I also tried to download Fall From Heaven but the rar file was somehow corrupted and I wasn’t able to use it. I’ll probably try again soon though.

      Here’s a list of things that Rise of Mankind adds:

      288 Techs in tech tree
      300+ Units
      199 Buildings
      84 Wonders
      53 National wonders
      54 Civic options
      33 Unit categories, modern units are superior to ancient units
      34 New resources
      26 Pre made maps included: 7xEarth, 2xMars map, 2xMediterranean, Europe, Demographica (Europe), New Zealand, 2xEurasia, North&South America maps, Australia, Antarctica, Orion and Sirius fictional planet maps, Colonization (1500AD America) scenario, 2xTamriel (Elderscrolls), Earthsea, Japan+Korea map
      52 Improvements for terrain/resources
      6 New route types
      5 New Civilizations (60 with extra civ addon pack)
      7 New Projects
      4 New Citizen types
      4 New Religions
      2 New Civic categories
      2 New Map sizes: Giant (54% bigger than Huge), Gigantic (50% bigger than Giant ie. 134% bigger than Huge)
      2 New Gamespeed: Blitz 215 turns, Snail 3000 turns
      1 New terrain type: Marsh
      Abandon city / Demolish building
      AI Autoplay
      Better BTS AI 0.82J (includes Unofficial patch)
      Corporation specific buildings
      Civic specific buildings
      Dynamic Civ Names
      Enhanced Interface (BUG 4.2 mod)
      Ethnically Diverse Units
      Ethnic Diverse Citystyles
      Examine City at Conquest
      Faster expansion in late game: Colonists and Pioneers build cities with preset buildings
      Fight in the future era with futuristic units
      Global Warming mod
      Influence Driven War
      Inquisition, destroy religions
      Modified Civics
      Modified Religions (each religion is more unique)
      More events (about 60)
      More game alerts, extra information about cities and diplomacy options
      New promotions (for air units too)
      New unit flags for Civilizations
      RevolutionDCM 2.61
      Advanced Combat Odds 1.0
      Ranged Bombardment
      Super Spies (promotions for spies)
      Supports maximum of 50 players
      Tech conquest, conquering enemy cities boosts your research
      Tech diffusion, civs can’t fall too far behind in tech race
      Unit order enhancements, icons show each units current task
      Upgradeable buildings
      User configurable options

      • JELEINEN says:

        That mod sounds really cool. I’d get it, except I’m in the middle of a couple of PBEM games right now and I’m afraid it’d muck them up. Multiplayer seems to be really sensitive to unofficial add-ons.

        • It is cool, but all of that added data that it has to load does slow down the initialization process quite a bit. We’re talking instead of 30 seconds it takes almost 2 minutes. It’s worth it for all the added content in the late game though. I don’t think many people that visit this site could say no to space elevators, space colonies, powered mecha armor, mind uploading, and quantum teleportation. Actually the late game tech tree and it’s implementation bears a startling resemblance to what is seen in Gundam 00 in terms of human progression.

          Have a look:


  6. trebor says:

    in a week you’ll get sick of it just like me

    civilization is just like spore, in start it goes up very high and when time pass, it goes down

    try total war rome, same as civ epicness

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