Stolen Pixels #230: The History of Civilization, Part 1

By Shamus Posted Tuesday Sep 28, 2010

Filed under: Column 106 comments

So I’m playing a lot of Civilization V these days. A process which led to the creation of this comic and the loss of a couple of nights of sleep. It’s been a while since I’ve really experienced the Civ bug in full force.

It’s a remarkable game. The game has so many complex systems that work well together, remain roughly balanced, remain consistent, and follow the pseudo-historical premise of the game. It’s a remarkable achievement.


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106 thoughts on “Stolen Pixels #230: The History of Civilization, Part 1

  1. Old_Geek says:

    Thank you Shamus for such an optimistic opinion of Civ 5. Every civ forum has turned into such a war between haters and fanboys that they are truly unreadable. You should do a colmun about that (oh wait, you just did 2).

  2. Bit says:

    What’s with the site downtime?

    1. Irridium says:

      Shamus played so much Civ 5 he forgot to pay the bills. Instead he tried to demand gold from whoever hosts the servers using the threats of his Aztec musketmen.

      Or something like that.

      1. Coffee says:

        Somehow, the idea of Shamus trying to get his site back up from the hosting company made me think Spoiler Warning. Which made me think Bioshock.

        Which made me think “Would ye koindly turn me soite back aaaan?”

        1. Bit says:

          “Frum the souund a tose in’erwebs, et lookes loik you’re th’ papa of a bran’ new nurrd blog.”

          1. Coffee says:

            Ironically, Shamus’ hosting firm is based in Rapture.

            Bioshock is Reginald Cuftbert’s attempt at tech support.

      2. mixmastermind says:

        Sadly the host had a research agreement with Harun al-Rashid and had just made riflemen.

    2. Andy_Panthro says:

      I figured he was launching a new website, and starting a Baldur’s Gate LP.

      Guess I was wrong!

  3. NonEuclideanHat says:

    Never played a Civ game before, or any of its ilk. I’ve been considering it lately because of how much good stuff I’ve been hearing about it.

    1. SKD says:

      Try the demo on Steam. Gives a good taste for what the early game is like. Just long enough to figure out whether or not you want to drop the cash on the game.

  4. Tim Skirvin says:

    I am finding Civ V… lacking. Shallow. Not quite *boring*, but it’s certainly not as good as I was hoping, or as good as it will be after a few expansion packs.

    1. Veloxyll says:

      Yeah, there’s something not quite there with it.
      (also I’m stuck in peace treaties with a couple of Civs at the moment so I’ll have to try for a space or diplomatic (or points) victory. Made more difficult by the fact that me, and every other empire on the map, are currently losing gold)

      1. SKD says:

        30 seconds is better than having to sit through the cinematic every time, but still it would be nice if they could fix it.

      2. pinchy says:

        It’s annoying but I can’t help but feel that the intro is just a placeholder for a generic loading screen. I’ve noticed that it’s been skipping at different points, if my pcs been on all day or other things are open in the background it skips later into the movie than if I’ve just restarted. Even so I’d still rather stare at a generic (and silent) x% loaded screen than the opening movie every time.

      3. Moriarty says:

        You could always disable the entire intro video:

        My Documents->My Games->Sid Meiers Civilization 5->usersettings.ini

        and change “SkipIntroVideo = 0” to 1.

        Now, opening the game will take you straight to the main menu. Of course the game has to load beforehand and because it can’t show you the intro to hide it’s loading times you’ll get 5seconds of black screen instead, but I prefer it to seeing that old guy everytime I start up civ.

      4. ngthagg says:

        Yeah, the reason you can’t skip anything is because the game is loading and it doesn’t have anything else to show you. This seems reasonable, except that any presses of ESC are forgotten once everything is loaded, so you have to sit there pressing the key every few seconds. Because, um, otherwise you’ll lose vital seconds of playing time.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          Its not that,its that intros get annoying when repeated too much.Even the best of them you can get sick of with.Id rather have a blank screen and no sound.

    2. Nasikabatrachus says:

      There’s a user on YouTube called TheMeInTeam who has already posted at least part of a Let’s Play of CIV V. So far he seems to have successfully broken the game. In the first 4 videos he was able to get a Great General, 3 horsemen, and with them stomp all over almost every civilization and city-state on his continent. I’ve seen great reviews of the game from people whose opinions I respect, but that kind of thing makes me worry that it’s not going to satisfy me as a lover of Civs 2 and 4. Of course with my usual game purchasing habits it will probably be all smoothed over by the time I actually get around to purchasing it.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Well you can always break a game,any game.Civilization was never the exception.Spamming settlers,gold for nothing,handling percentages,….Id be very surprised if we got a civ game that no one could break in the very first days.

  5. Meredith says:

    I can never seem to get into strategy games. I always seem to expend too many resources in the wrong places early in the game and frak myself over for the later stages. Civ 5 does look pretty, though. Is there a demo? I always like to try out different games just so I know what people are on about. Off to check…

    1. Ernheim says:

      There’s a demo on steam. You get the first 100 turns and four civs to choose from, I think.

    2. hattimatti says:

      Then civ V is made for you. With the new “improvements” it is almost impossible to fail, and all economic choices are reduced into nothing. The difficulty is roughly 4 levels below the equivalent difficulty in civ 3/4. Civ V was essentially made for people with no sense of strategy, so… Well, let’s say you are the target demographic.

    3. Zukhramm says:

      At least it’s not real-time. I never got the popularity of the RTS genre. Strategy and fast-paced games are opposite in my mind.

      1. Mistwraithe says:

        Try Kohan (ideally Kohan Ahriman’s Gift) if you want to see a true (the only?) RTS where strategy actaully matters and it isn’t just a clicks per minute fest.

  6. Irridium says:

    Despite some troubles I had trying to get it to install from the disk, I find myself loving Civ 5. However as Tim said, it does feel kind of lacking. Its not bad by any case, the game is great fun and a great evolution of the franchise.

    I wonder if some god-like modder to splice Alpha Centauri and Civ 5 together. Oh the amount of time I would lose if that happened…

    1. krellen says:

      I’ve lost time a plenty recently with just AC. I’m really hoping GOG gets it at some point, because I’d like a more stable version.

      1. Pickly says:

        There is a civ 4 mod based on Alpha Centauri that did pretty well, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see some more people attempt one. I’m planning to attempt one when the mod tools come out, and when I actually get the game. (At the moment, the demo runs pretty slowly on my computer, plus I have to figure out how to squeeze the required hard disk space out.)

      2. Irridium says:

        If GoG gets Alpha Centauri, I may as well just write up a marriage proposal.

        Baldur’s Gate and Planescape Torment in such short periods of time? Its like they’ve been sent to grant my wishes.

        1. Mari says:

          Seconded. GOG is my new best friend, lover, and husband rolled into one, topped with whipped cream and chopped pecans and cherries then deep fried and rolled in sprinkles and powdered sugar.

          1. Jarenth says:

            And now I’m stuck with the mental image of a deep-fried husband for the rest of day.

            1. Mari says:

              LOL Real excitement causes me to mix metaphors.

  7. Daemian Lucifer says:

    It really is a nice game.However,there are some things I dont like.1 unit per tile is nice,but this mechanic requires an undo button.It is annoying when you miss a move and end up in harms way.Forests and jungles dont spread anymore,which is also bad.The balance is a bit off,but I am confident this will be patched soon.As well as the dumber than before ai.

    However,they have made your cities expand farther,which is something I always wanted for in civ games since the spinoff call to power.Oh and that reminds me that the inclusion of the end game mecha was completely unnecessary,but there probably is a mod to remove it.

    1. Pickly says:

      Check out the civfanatics Civ 5 modpacks forums. There’s one mod there that allows stacking of units. the change is also apparently relatively simple to make, so you may be able ot just change it yourself if wanted.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        I like the absence of stacks.What I hate is that I have to be extra careful about the order of unit movement.Thats what undo buttons are for.Like in wesnoth.

        1. Someone says:

          The problem with the undo button is the fog of war you reveal once you move your unit.

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            Thats why I said like in wesnoth:When you move,fog of war is not uncovered.Only when you press a button does it get uncovered.Once uncovered,you cannot undo.And units in wesnoth move much farther than those in civv,so it would be even easier to implement it here.

    2. Ernheim says:

      I haven’t played it yet (my computer is utterly worthless) but the one unit per tile thing sounds awesome. I never really liked the stack-of-doom approach and found myself going for space/cultural/diplomatic victories. The new system looks like they’ve spliced Civ and Advance Wars, which is certainly enough to get me interested in the military side of things again.

  8. Aldowyn says:

    I tried the demo, and for some reason I just couldn’t get into it. It may have been me accidentally screwing with a setting, or just me sucking, but it felt WAY slow. Not to mention I didn’t really have time to do much of anything. Two cities! I mean, I saw that 4 or 5 is actually practical in Civ V, but… two? and this was like 50 turns into the game or so! I just finished a game of Civ IV (On Chieftain, I’m afraid to say. Though I did completely own everyone), and I must have had like 15!

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      But cities are much bigger in 5.I played standard and ended with a city of 40+ that was still growing.Something I couldnt achive even on marathon in 4.Its more of a quality in 5 versus the quantity in previous ones.

      1. Abnaxis says:

        This is what I love about 5. I always got sick of micromanaging fifty cities in the endgame of IV, and it’s nice to be able to do with fewer.

        1. Aldowyn says:

          In that game I just finished I ended up with like 5 cities over 20, and my capital had 25. Crazy huge, for Civ IV. I’m going to try the demo again, see if I can do something differently.

  9. Pickly says:

    Is the site just hiccuping, or is something else odd going on today? (Have been attempting to add a second comment, but it has not gone through after 4 tries.)

    1. Pickly says:

      Is the site not allowing links at the moment? (I’m attempting ot reply to Damien Lucifer with a comment with a link, and attempted ot reply to this post, but nothing is going through.)

  10. ooli says:

    What happend to shamus.. a part 1 with like huh less than 200 words?! Civ V is THAT good??

    1. krellen says:

      Given Shamus’s geeky bent, this is likely a reference to Mel Brooks’ classic “History of the World, Part 1”, which means there is no Part 2 to come.

    1. Nidokoenig says:

      Chime, chime chime? Chime…

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Can you build a civilization that will stand the test of chime?

        1. Irridium says:

          Isn’t that how you win a Chime victory?

  11. simmuskhan says:

    And again, pity us down here in Australia who get charged so much for games, it used to be just boxed games, but now even on Steam there’s a “down under premium” Civ V is $80 US on Steam =(

      1. Searly says:

        Try here:

        Its only $40 for a boxed copy

        1. Ernheim says:

          Holy shit, is that place for real!?! Thank you so very much

          1. Searly says:

            Well i hope its for real b/c i’m placing my order for it now!
            I just played the demo and WOW!!! Its awesome

  12. Mari says:

    I haven’t played Civ since Civ III but I used to be a total junkie. IV just proved completely unimpressive to me. The few things they changed besides the pretty were made worse in my opinion. You give me some hope for Civ V but it’ll be a while before I find out if it’s any good because Baldur’s Gate *dance, dance, dance* and Planescape Torment are at GOG and my life is full. I’m neglecting household duties just to hear, “You are amusing…in a what the hell is wrong with you kind of way.” I mean, why would you make clothes for your daughters when you could pick pixelated pockets and build your lockpick skills to get the really good stuff?

    1. Zukhramm says:

      That’s great. Baldur’s Gate seems to be sold in even the smallest food store here, but Planescape: Torment is a game I’ve wanted to buy for a long time.

      1. Mari says:

        The exciting thing about Baldur’s Gate isn’t that it’s available but that it’s been fixed to work with modern operating systems. It went all to hell with my Windows XP computer and it wasn’t even installable on my 64-bit OS. Darned near broke my heart. But now I’m dancing again.

    2. Mistwraithe says:

      As someone who loved Civ2 and was thoroughly unimpressed with Civ3 (mainly due to ramptant corruption and other mechanics) I find Civ4 with the addons by far the best Civ ever.

      However I haven’t tried Civ5 yet.

  13. JohnAdams says:

    Lol, one of my first experiences with Civ 5 was going bankrupt because I built too many roads! Prior experiences with Civ meant building roads everywhere, since increased mobility meant easier defense of the nation and of workers working in the borders.

    I don’t miss the stacks: I’m a wargamer by heart and I love the extended fronts that naturally arise from such rules. Now your units need to watch their flanks.

    Most of all, I love the Roman Legion: they build roads and forts. That little bit of fluff made the game for me. Now I literally don’t want to upgrade them to swordsmen. Need to build fortifications for your artillery so the city you’re attacking doesn’t kill them? Use the Legion. Need to build roads so that your armies get to the enemy city faster? Use the Legion. It does all the beneficial wartime activities of a worker but with one of the best strength values of the Ancient age.

    1. Nidokoenig says:

      My big experience with a Civ game was Alpha Centauri, and I tended to play Hive and blanket the world with forests and cities. Not having roads meant any invasion would proceed at a snail’s pace, giving me ample time to use my production bonuses to pump out billions of units and roll over them using their lovely roads. Well, I say billions, the cap was 1024.

      1. JohnAdams says:

        Oh, I forgot to mention: in Civ 3 (maybe 4), enemies in your territory didn’t get the advantage of using your roads. So my roads benefited me and me only. So I could have a huge prod cap and still have 3x the mobility of my enemies.

        But the blanket of forest is a really good strategy too, if you can keep production at a reasonable level. (I’ve never played Centari)

        1. Nidokoenig says:

          Forests were actually the best production tiles for non-rocky tiles unless you had the tech to exploit the xenofungus in SMAC, the big problem was food, but on higher difficulties you were better off spreading yourself out in dozens of small cities to prevent riots, especially with the global transit system project boosting all cities to 3 population. Paying money for population booms made it fairly easy to catch up once you got hybrid forests going.

          The only resource effects from roads were one point of energy(i.e. gold) from what I remember. Enemy units not being able to use roads just messes with my head. A road with IFF sensors?

  14. acronix says:

    I find interesting that Civ5 has the most prominent/representative nations in human history, and somehow they missed Spain. I guess they are saving factions for the expansion packs and DLC.

  15. (LK) says:

    The civilization series contains the only strategy game that I have ever won when attempting to lose.

    I felt the game was too easy, so I tried to make my civilization go all pear-shaped by just goofing around and not applying any meaningful strategy.

    I still won.

    I honestly think these games are just too darn easy.

    1. hattimatti says:

      So…. Adjust the difficulty level?

      I dare you to try civ 4 on deity or civ 3 on sid and say the same.

      Your comment is true for civ V though.

  16. Itse says:

    I have to say this is easily my favourite Civ. Civ IV and even Civ III both felt all too much like working (which is not to say I didn’t waste too much time on them), but I’ve found this to be a really great game. I already feel like this is going to be one of my all time favourite games, although of course it’s a little too soon to say.

    Btw I find it somewhat amusing how many people complain about “shallowness”. There really hasn’t been much anything removed from the game, it’s just that your own AI:s are doing more for you by default, and the same stuff as ever is now presented in a much clearer fashion, and there’s much less stuff you _have_ to do, which is fantastic. No more building units that stay in your home town for four thousand years. You don’t have to build a granary in every town. You don’t need a temple in every town. You really don’t have to expand rapidly if don’t feel like it (and actually that strategy definitely has it’s downsides).

    And thank the Sid for puppet states. It’s such a pleasure to be able to romp over those annoying Greeks without having to put up with managing their puny little towns afterwards.

    The game has really become more about deciding what you _want_ to do, instead of what you _have_ to do. It’s a pretty radical development that they’ve actually managed to pull this off.

    Sure, the specialties seem really unbalanced, although it might to some extent be intentional. It could be just another way of putting up extra options that could make the game more difficult. For example yeah, fighting wars with the Japs is propably a real pain, and it’s really just better to deal with them in other ways.

    One thing I also really like is that all units can now cross the seas to some extent. This makes playing in areas like the mediterranean much more interesting and realistic, since now the sea is often the easy way to get somewhere, as it should be. I also believe they’ve made the early parts of the game last longer (although you can make the game run faster if you want to, there’s a setting for that too), which works great for me as minmaxing every move in the first years used to be way too important.

    The most annoying things that I’ve found is this; my first game I started with 28 city-states and 22 civilizations (on a huge map, so that’s the biggest game you can have). However, there are only 18 different civilizations, and now I’ve found three Darius I’s already, and two Hiawathas. This is really confusing, especially since two of the Dariuses are right next to each other, and constantly at war, which means that their units are all over each other and they both keep wanting stuff from me, and I keep forgetting which is which. Naturally I intend to fix this by removing at least one of them, which will happen just as soon as I can roll my shiny new cannons over there.

    But really that’s bickering, since I find that those 50 starting cities make for a really nicely crowded game even on a huge map. I think next time I’ll try the same on a smaller map to make things really interesting.

    That’s a really great thing about this version of Civ; there’s so many ways you can play it, and that’s just without any mods. Fiddling with the lenght of the game, style and size of the map, difficulty level, number of city-states and other civs and starting era really gives you a lot of options. Since they’ve actively encouraged modding, I think in a year or two people will be kind of blown away with all the possibilities.

    Yeah, I’m a total fanboy by now :)

    1. SKD says:

      I like the amphibious nature of all the units as well. Thank goodness I no longer have to build transports just to move units across the sea. Of course this is probably a side effect of the no stacking as only aircraft and missiles can “stack” now.

  17. KremlinLaptop says:

    After reading all of this…

    God dammit, guys, see you next year. I’m going to pick up a copy.

  18. Jarenth says:


    I’ve already resisted any and all attempts by various people, institutions and outside forces to make me play Civ V. Shamus is not going to be the one to break my resolve.

    I don’t care how much amazing fun it is, I have to get some work done. And I have poor time management skills as it is; I really cannot deal with the one-more-turn-hey-when-did-it-turn-five-AM bug.

    1. houser2112 says:

      Firaxis obviated the need for me to resist buying this by releasing it on Steam only. I’m scratching the itch with Age Of Wonders from GOG.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Enjoy while you can guys,because when the expansion comes,it will be even more awesome,and you will be assimilated.

        1. Jarenth says:


          As if I can keep resisting until an expansion of sorts launches!

          I’m giving myself a week, tops.

          1. SolkaTruesilver says:

            Don’t worry.. just close your eyes, and pick up that copy. You will discover how much it is a joy, here, in Civ Land..

            Hexes.. complex combat strategies.. strategic ressource nodes.. organic city developments…

            One of us. Jarenth, you could be one of Us.

            1. Jarenth says:

              You say ‘organic city development’, and the first thing I can think about is the Zerg.

              So, thanks for that: the knowledge that there are no Zerg in Civ V will help keep me out of its clutches for a few more precious days.

              EDIT: Of course this does mean that if Sid Meier ever decides to remake or sequel Alpha Centauri, I will most likely cease to exist.

              1. SolkaTruesilver says:

                This blog will cease to exist instantly. The blogger himself, and the readers.

                Although the fan screams of “RUINED FOREVER” would probably drown the internet for at least 3-4 days…

              2. SolkaTruesilver says:

                You make me think. Yes, it looks like the creep-spreading mechanic of the Zerg.

                In short, your cities have automatic 1-hex distance cultural reach. But they develop and spread the culture 1 hex at the time, toward what the AI thinks is more efficient (they are right more often than not). But it’s not everything! You have a system that allows you to force-buy tiles as long as you have a sequence of hexes already connected to your city that reaches there.

                Price for the hex depends on the terrain, on the price and the level of development and exploitation of nearby tiles.

                It allows you to totally never develop culture on a desert right next to your city, and instead go grad the nifty Horse resources 4 tiles away immediately.

                Or force-buy lands on the best ressources just on your rival’s doorstep, which WILL infuriate them. Be warned.

                1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                  Damn you guys!Now when I get over the unit limit Ill just hear “spawn more overlords” in my head!

                2. Jarenth says:

                  Haha! I am still an agent of chaos!

        2. krellen says:

          I’m +10 vs. Steam-only games. I shall never submit.

          1. Andy_Panthro says:

            I bought the “Jacket of Steam resistance” from GOG too…

            Age of Wonders all the way!

            (And Civ4 from GamersGate).

          2. Sekundaari says:

            I have that bonus too, after a sub-par experience. It doesn’t seem to be enough against free games though, but I’m fine with that.

            1. Daemian Lucifer says:

              Too bad for you guys that the difficulty level for a will save against civ expansions is over 8999.

              1. Sekundaari says:

                Really? Then I must have some additional bonus against them, because I played Civ IV vanilla for a long time, long enough that Civ IV: Complete was cheaper than the two expansions combined, and then some.

                Of course, it should be even easier to resist when I don’t have the base game, at least until the complete version.

                EDIT: Also, I can cultivate a protecting feeling of betrayal if needed, considering they jumped from not even a disc check in Civ IV: Complete, to mandatory Steam in this one.

                1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                  Nah,you can resist the expansions easily if you have the original,but if you dont,than its harder and harder.

  19. Old_Geek says:

    This is the most civilized (pun intended) discusion of this game I’ve seen in any forum. Nobody yelling “GO BACK TO CIV IV” to anyone with the slightest negative opinion, no conspiracy theories of Firaxis unleashing an “obviously inferior” game just to make a quick buck. Just many pros and cons of a good but not flawless game.

    That’s what makes this the best blog anywhere.

    1. X2-Eliah says:


  20. Mike Riddle says:

    I am enjoying it …
    2 MP makes the game play faster (ships being faster helps too)
    1 unit per tile (added tactical decisions)
    City/City states asking for various resources/tasks to encourage/distract you to do things
    puppet states make larger empires easier to deal with
    The diplomacy options seem a lot better (miss the tech trading but it could be abused) (the war in 10 turns option in particular)
    no more one side must lose combat

    Things I miss/do not like
    wished there was a way to set focus on an empire basis ( oops I need money, do I really have to go to each city and change focus ?)
    Great General 2 MP when CAV have 3 MP (GG should be “attachable”)
    Removal of Hot seat (I understand why.. but my kids and I can not play together now )
    More of the “.ini” options should be in the game displays
    Popup screens in general are too big. (I know it is a nitpick)

    1. Abnaxis says:

      Supposedly they are adding hot-seat in a later update, but that didn’t stop my cussing when my girlfriend and I sat down to have a fun game together and found out we couldn’t when I bought it.

      They (Firaxis) say they didn’t include on opening day because it was a less-popular option, but I can’t help but sit and wonder how they came to that conclusion. A survey maybe? And just which people do you think would respond to said survey–the people playing online already or the ones offline playing hotseat.

      Yeah, I’m still fuming about it…

      And I would KILL to be able to group GG with other units. So many times, I’ve lost generals when their pathfinding decides to take a different path than the infantry that they’re supposed to be moving with. Of course, the alternative is to individually pick their move every single turn….ugh…

  21. RTBones says:

    I have resisted the temptation of Civ V so far…partially because I haven’t felt the tug of a Civ for a while, and partially because I found another game to waste my life away playing…err, spend time playing: Caesar IV.

  22. SheffieldSteel says:


    What do you think of the AI? What about getting free transport across the sea? Actually, I don’t want to put words in your mouth.

  23. SolkaTruesilver says:

    Civ V is a great game that is, for the moment, underachieved.

    There is so much potential for a very deep, very strong and interesting strategy game, because the game has such incredibly quality bases. The organic city development, the strategic ressource nodes, the 1-unit per tile, etc…

    A but there are a few strong VERY BAD POINTS that are just overshadowing, because right now, the game is underachieving. If they had propely developped the new introduced ideas, we wouldn’t care that much about the almost nil diplomatic system, and the other bad elements.

    But I am confident the game will be a classic, and will revolutionnise the Civ genre. Ideas:

    1- Luxury Ressource nodes. Rather than have just “Gold = 5 happiness and losing the spare gold, have Luxury ressource be nodes like strategic ressource, and provide happiness that way: 1 Luxury Ressource A = +1 happiness. 3 Luxury Ressource A = +2 Happiness. 6 Luxury Ressource A = +3 happiness. etc.. That way, it’s better to have 3 ressource of A and 3 of B (+2 happiness each) than 6 of A. That kind of design would fit nicely with the gameplay mechanics about large empires, as a large empire would hold many nodes of the same ressource, and still would be able to scale the proper happiness. You could also trade ressources for quantities, etc… Also, you could go and say that Tile Improvement increase the quantity of ressource gathered there, rather than simply allowing you to mine the ressource. Sugar provides you with a natural 2 Sugar, while Sugar Plantation increases it by +4.

    2) Military deployment. with the city able to defend itself, why not able to deploy military units anywhere in the producing city’s territory? That way, you could muster troop at the right location, and not have to worry about putting cities near the sea, as long as the cultural border extend all the way to the sea, you can still deploy boats there.

    3) No arbitrary limit on a city’s reach radius. Why is there a 3-tile limits? What if I want my cultural border to extend exclusively south, because I’m right on the border of the desert? Just make balancing mechanics that makes it costlier and costlier to develop farther and farther. It’s just so goddarned annoying to realise the Wine ressource just outside of your capital’s reach, but at the tip of a peninsula, making it IMPOSSIBLE to reach it.

    4) City states diplomacy. Right now, it’s primitive, it’s clunky. How about an option of “giving X gold/turn to city-state”? With a base value of x. When you are “neutral” with the city-state, it cost you x gold/turn to increase 1 relation. When you reach “friend” status, it’s gonna cost you x just to MAINTAIN relationships, and an additional x to increase it an additional 1 relation/turn. When you reach “allied”, it cost 2x just to maintain your relation.

    However, circumstances modifiers would apply to x. helped them in a war? -30% to x. Given them units? -5%/units. Them being connected to your trade network? -25%. You attacking other city-states? +10%/attacked, +15%/conquered city-states. Etc… etc…

    5) Food ressource node. they really dropped the ball on that one. Rather than have food ressources being a simple (and stupid) + foor on the tile, again, keep the Node concept. Make a Deer ressource to be a 4-deers node, which is going to provide +1 food for 1 ressources, +2 food for 3 ressources, ec.. To a single city. Better spread ressources across your empire for better efficiency, but it would be possible to trade for it, or maybe focus it entirely on your capital?

    6) Allow some flexibility regarding multiple troops per tile. For example, a Great General would allow an additional trooper in the same tile. I can’t think of example, but make some special occasion where it’s possible to combine units for defensive purposes? Putting a limit of 1 unit/tile mean that it should be possible to break that limit for additional strategic value and pure FUN!!!

    As I said, the game has a lot of potential right now. It IS a good game, it’s just could be AWEOME.

    1. Cerapa says:

      I want number 3 soooo much.
      I want a single megacity that spans an entire continent.

      I wouldnt find the others fun though I think.

      1. SolkaTruesilver says:

        I know I am nitpicking, but if you could give me what you think about each one of them. I plan to make elaborated posts on their forum giving basic ideas for each of those core mechanics that could be improved for a much, much richer game experience.

        1. Cerapa says:


          1) I think this undermines the new attempts at making smaller empires viable. It would also make resources less strategical, since you could just go for those 2 sugars rather than attack the persians and take their whales or something.

          2) Again, would trivialize city placement and would create needless micromanagement and just feels weird from a tactical standpoint.

          4) Too complex. This is actually weird for me since I like highly complex games, but it just seems to contribute little and adds useless complexity.

          5) Similar to 1 but seems a bit better. I wouldnt actually mind if you would have 3 cities, but only 2 cows and need to choose who gets them. Im just opposed to the bonus stacking.

          6) Just…wouldnt feel right. Having things suddenly stack would be very confusing and just create a ton of micromanagement.

    2. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Points 1 and 5 are what I would also like.5 could be spread amongst your cities.So if you had say 6 food resources,youd get +3 food spread across all your cities.+3 if you had only one,+1.5 if you had 2,+1 if you had 3 cities,+0.5 if you had 4,and +0 if you had more than 4 cities.

      Point 2 is also something I would really like.Though having a harbour in a city not next to water should cost more to maintain.Say +1 if 1 tile away,+3 if 2 tiles away,+6 if 3 tiles away,etc.This would also connect well with point 3 which I also like and wanted almost forever in a civ game.

      Point 4 is also very nice,and city state diplomacy does need much more work.

      Point 6 is unnecessary.The way it works now is quite good.The only thing missing is the undo button and ability to chain noncombat unit to a combat unit and have them walk as a stack.

      As an addendum,I would also like to see customizable units,like in alpha centauri,and simultaneous unit and building building like in galciv(you have separate military and civic production,but if you dont produce one of those,half of the production goes to the other one).

    3. Sekundaari says:

      I recall your point 1) was partly in Civ III, in that the first two different luxuries would give 1 happiness each, third and fourth would give 2 each and so on. Maybe it needed some building.

    4. Irridium says:

      Suppose I should give my opinion as well. Can’t make a good argument by running it past just one person.

      1) Pretty much what Cerapa said, it would be a pain for smaller empires and would make resources less strategical.

      2)It sounds like a nice idea, and would help with getting settlers to places quicker, but it seems to add little and just cause needless complexity. Say you have a large empire, and a city in the middle of it builds a swordsman, unless you set it to automatically place them somewhere, which would undermine the intent of this feature, you’d have trouble knowing where to place him, and you wouldn’t even need to place him anywhere outside the city. It would add a small bit and not really be worth it.

      3) I don’t really have a problem with this one. So yeah…

      4) Seems to add needless complexity. What if another nation is trying to woo the same city-state you are? How will the modifiers work then? Will they change based on your empire’s past transgressions, the others, do either of you trade with their enemy? Did either of you attack one of their friends? It just adds a big amount of complexity for a rather small payoff.

      5) Again, pretty much what Cerapa said.

      6)That would rather undermine the whole “no stacking” aspect of the game. It would add lots of micromanagement that wasn’t supposed to be in the game in the first place. Yes its just two, trying to navigate through different stacks would end up just being a pain and would provide a rather small benefit. However I would like to see workers being able to stack, as it would be nice if 2 workers on one tile could complete whatever their building faster than if they were alone. Something I really wish was in Civ 5.

      Just my two cents on the whole thing.

      1. SolkaTruesilver says:

        Two cents which I appreciate. If ennough people put theirs in, I might gather ennough to skip the Mathew Patel fight for my bus fare.

        (Seriously, don’t hesitate to praise/damn/improve the ideas I proposed here. All inputs are nice)

    5. Robyrt says:

      Don’t take this the wrong way – proposing improvements is always welcome – but I am not a fan of this list.

      #1: Does this game need a new mechanic encouraging land grabs for resources? Not really, large empires are already good.

      #2 and #3 have a really bad interaction, allowing you to make boats from a thoroughly landlocked empire, cross the ocean before researching any tech, ambush archers from behind, or wall off a choke point via borders without defending it. Not to mention that putting cities on the sea is extremely flavorful, and the map gets a lot easier to understand if you can tell where a city extends just by looking at the map. (You don’t want to have to zoom out to see a single city’s territory.)

      #4 has a good idea – letting pay city-states X gold per turn to keep up relations indefinitely – and needlessly complicates it. With all those modifiers, it’s difficult to predict how much gold you’ll have next turn, which is very frustrating.

      #5 sounds good to me.

      #6 again has a good idea – letting your Great General tag along with other units – overlaid with a heaping helping of awful – breaking the core, easily understood combat paradigm of “No unit stacking.”

      1. SolkaTruesilver says:

        #1) It would make things a little easier on expanding empires, and it would also encourage trades. Since having 4x 1 ressources is better than having 1x 4 ressource, you would be encouraged to trade your excess sugar for other people’s excess tea.

        #2 and #3) I wouldn’t allow deep-sea development before getting optics, first of all.

        So, you do not have to worry about crossing the ocean with cultural buy-out. Also, I think it’d be pretty overly expensive to buy cultures deep into the ocean.

        If I had to expand on the idea, I would also add to make it cheaper to buy culture on the sides of a road (so you would link you city developments with those, think like a Highway). Also, you would progressively lose your cultural hold on tiles that you leave un-worked.

        I guess we could add limitations regarding where you are allowed to deploy your troops inside your cultural terrains. For example, forbidden to spawn a trooper within an ennemy’s zone of control, exception made for the Citadel and the City. I’d also add non-Great Person Barrack-like tile improvement that would allow you to spawn your army there, so capturing these points would be quite important for the ennemy if they want to choke-hold you.

        (I am aware my ideas aren’t perfect, but there is nothing I love better than to have them improved)

  24. Maxie Zeus says:

    I sympathize with those who think that CiV feels shallower, but I also admit that it is hard to say why. I do think part of it is that cities are less customizable. There are no longer individual happiness/health ratings for each one, and lots of tile improvements (like windmills, watermills, and growable cottages) have disappeared. This also means that the cities feel like they have less personality, and the improved board looks blander. It is also harder to build a big specialist-oriented city because specialists do not join cities, but have to build their improvements within a city’s radius””this means you have to decide if you actually want to sacrifice an improvement to get a marginal increase in some other good, and that means Great People get burned a lot more often on tech, gold, or land grabs than contributing to the lushness of the empire.

    There are other issues: Diplomacy is far more opaque, with fewer trade options (no map-trading?! WTF?!), pacts whose purpose isn’t explained, and AI leaders who love dropping these diplomatic koans you are supposed to somehow interpret. I think the Research Agreement system is broken””I used it at one point to game the system into giving me 13 tech advances in one turn, which ought not to be allowed. Religion wasn’t the greatest addition to Civ4, but it added another flavor note to the experience. City states are nice in theory, but they feel interchangeable.

    Overall, it just feels like there are fewer tools in the toolbox for those of us who like custom-crafting each city. Elsewhere, I said CiV felt like a dumbed-down version of Civ4, designed for people who were overwhelmed by all the choices that game offered.

    But it has enough in common with Civ4, and the hexes are pretty enough, that I’m not disliking it. I’m still ambivalent about the combat system because it breaks my suspension of disbelief on small Earth-like maps, but I agree that it is more challenging than trundling Stacks of Doom around. Culture has definitely been improved for this version so that it’s not just a boring exercise in point-piling. Some small things, like the buggy pathfinding and lack of move takebacks, can be patched, I suppose.

    I’ll play vanilla games on it, but I won’t be giving up Civ4 mods like Rhye’s and Fall in favor of it.

  25. says:

    The last few days I slept a few hours because of civ 5, damn you Sid Meier :D
    @ Shamus: If you like Civ 5, try Tropico 3, it’s a great game, and i think some great comic material may come out of it :)

  26. Itse says:

    As a general note I think you could summarize some of the biggest problems with this: Diplomacy in Civilization just isnt’t very good.

    It’s been a problem with the game since the beginning, and I really can’t understand why, as there are some rather obvious problems. It really seems they are somehow too careful about adding too many options. For example, why are deals always 30 turns long? This is really annoying for many reasons, one of which is that you easily end up in a situation where you always have multiple resource trades ending in one turn, which means that your happiness takes sudden dips and comes back a little while after

    Also, I definitely want to see my empires needs while trading, it’s hard trying to keep it all in my head.

    More importantly: I signed a defensive pact that I now want to get rid of. It seems the only way to do that is by getting the other player to hate me enough to end it himself. But since I’m the big guy with big weapons right next to him, he isn’t going to be easily offended without going to war.

    Also, it’s really annoying that when you try to set up a multiple front war against someone, you notice that despite getting two other civs declare war, they are not actually doing anything to contribute. Why can’t I give them hell for this?

    Generally speaking, why can’t I say “don’t do this and don’t do that” to the AI’s the way they do to me all the time?

    And yeah, why no map trading? Most importantly the game needs an option to trade maps of third party civs.

    I could go on and on, it really is pretty bad.

    Still a great game though.

    1. krellen says:

      Which is sad, really, because Diplomacy in Alpha Centauri was really good. AC had “puppet states” (“Very well, but you must swear a Pact to serve me”) ten years ago. AC had various methods of trade, world councils, votes to resolve, ways to request and demand (“To refrain me from crushing you like a bug.”) things from other players/AIs. After AC, all other diplomacy has seemed fairly shallow to me.

      Also, this is the hundredth comment, so I think I win. But so does everyone else.

  27. Neil Polenske says:

    Wrong thread. ^_^

  28. Growing crops and making a farm has a massive appeal.
    They should put a feature in the next expansion to turn that guy off.
    It’s been years since I first purchased Tropico: Mucho Macho Edition but I still play it whenever I have the

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