Are you a fan of real-time strategy games? How about a turn-based strategy game that acts more like an RTS? You might be interested in Sid Meier’s Civilization V, the latest in a series of games about building civilizations and world domination. Yes, this game has been out for a while, but it’s reaching that glorious point where players don’t have to pay US$40 to purchase the game anymore.
To start, Civilization V isn’t the most historically accurate game out there, and for good reason. The premise of the entire game is that you’re one of history’s most notable leaders, and you build your civilization from the early days to post-modern times. While yes, it’s crazy to believe that a leader like George Washington would have such a long life span, this is explained during the opening cut scene that the entire game is a dream. So, that aside, the game itself has a lot to offer in terms of strategy and player appeal.
I decided to tackle Civilization V without going through any tutorials (which are available). The first thing I noticed while playing was just how abundant the choices are for you as the leader. You can choose to take different research paths and decide what your community’s social policies are. This is done much like a skill tree, giving you the ability to unlock different benefits, depending on which social policies you choose to adopt. This can also dramatically influence your society as a whole.
You can win the game in several different ways. You could choose to be an empire of war by dominating other civilizations through military strength. This path means conquering city-states and larger empires alike, gaining their people’s respect and trust, and then moving on to the next opponent. What makes this path difficult is the complex and interconnecting relationships other empires and city-states have with each other. For example, you may take on a seemingly small society only to discover that they have close relations to Mongolia or England. Before you know it, you could find yourself in the middle of an intense world war, and things get much more difficult.
Another way to get ahead in the game is through diplomatic relations. Instead of going to war with different civilizations, you could establish a good enough relationship with everyone getting along. Of course, this is as difficult as world peace would be, especially with so many empires being built on a premise of war. Some societies are friendlier than others, but they all have the goal in mind of keeping their people fed, safe, and prosperous.
The larger your area of influence is, the more likely you will anger other leaders. Being too close to another empire’s territory can make relations with them difficult. As the game advances, this is an unavoidable situation. Unless you want to be in a constant state of war, the need for establishing good relationships (or at least peaceful ones) with other world leaders is great.
Another important part of the game is resource harvesting. Spreading your reach of influence to include areas where horses, dye, steel, and uranium can be harvested is essential to growing your empire and making it strong. This can be done through natural expansion, purchasing land, domination, or a mixture of these methods. You can also trade with other world leaders for these supplies, giving you access to their resources for a limited amount of time in exchange for one of your strategic resources, open borders, defense agreements, or any other resource needed to govern your empire. Gold is an essential part of the bargaining table, but it doesn’t have to come into play when a good relationship has been established between countries.
Civilization V isn’t a game that can be played out in an hour. While a 1-1 scenario may be much faster, a larger came can take quite a long time to complete. It’s a turn based game, so keep this in mind when going for multiplayer over single player gaming.
Civilization V plays a lot like a table-top strategy game. You move your pieces, wait a set number of turns for various processes to complete, and hope for the best. Your opponent may come at you with more advanced technology and better defense, but a good relationship with a neighbor can save you. In one of the first games I played, a squad of pikemen was gifted to me by an NPC ally just as an aggressive enemy was closing in on my capital city. That squad was actually responsible for keeping me in the game as it decimated their mounted forces from behind.
One of the coolest things I learned about Sid Meier’s Civilization V was how many factors are taken into account with each battle. In addition to basic unit stats, the lay of the land has a lot to do with how your unit performs on the battlefield. You can level up your units to do better on rough terrain or smooth, focus them on siege tactics, or boost their defenses against ranged attack. If you flank your opponent’s troops, that also plays a factor in how well they do. Some troops can dish out a destructive amount of damage, but are themselves fragile in the face of certain weapons. This isn’t a game you can master after a few goes. It takes quite a while to learn the ins and outs of various combat and diplomatic strategies. Each general also has their own perks in terms of special units that make the job easier.