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The 1700 year war
June 12, 2012 5:57 AM   Subscribe


 
Vikings, man.
posted by Diablevert at 6:09 AM on June 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


The overwhelming suggestion for how to proceed is to switch to fundamentalism. I'd like to know how that works out for the player. This is interesting.
posted by Edison Carter at 6:12 AM on June 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


MetaFilter: forced to do away with democracy roughly a thousand years ago because it was endangering empire
posted by DU at 6:12 AM on June 12, 2012 [32 favorites]


This is air-tight proof. Clearly, we're all doomed.
posted by crunchland at 6:13 AM on June 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


We've always been at war with Eastasia.
posted by oulipian at 6:14 AM on June 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


The best part about this is where he uploaded the savegame, and they are going to try to "save the world"; to undo the damage and rebuild, if possible.
posted by exlotuseater at 6:14 AM on June 12, 2012 [11 favorites]


I blitzed through the main thread, didn't uncollapse all comments - did he ever upload the savegame?
posted by likeso at 6:14 AM on June 12, 2012


Ah. Carry on.
*returns to reddit*
posted by likeso at 6:14 AM on June 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I can see how this game would be difficult when the Americans are still in play. A single Marine Infantry Batallion unit can take down the entire Roman Empire.
posted by griphus at 6:15 AM on June 12, 2012 [52 favorites]


Yeah, I don't quite follow the game logistics. Still, pretty awesome.

I liked the suggestion of building lots and lots of small cities. That's clearly the Communist response.

Also, the fanfiction: "Remember, the enemy thrives when you live in excess! Report all hoarding of rations to your local Party Official. We all must tighten our belts for our fighting brothers and sisters!"
posted by anotherpanacea at 6:15 AM on June 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


This is the beginning of the 1984/Civ II parallels. Interesting.
posted by ersatz at 6:18 AM on June 12, 2012


So in fact Big Brother was just struggling to rebuild the world but bloodthirsty Vikings Eastasia meant there was no alternative to perpetual war as the only road forward?

War really is Peace after all.
posted by fightorflight at 6:19 AM on June 12, 2012


I used to play a lot of Civ II, but it never occurred to me to just keep on going (and going) after the soft end point in 2020 A.D. Really interesting!

I did have a save game once (I believe it was on the second easiest setting) where I managed to get my population up to several hundred million with all the future tech by some absurdly early time. At some point my score flipped into a negative value.
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 6:21 AM on June 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's not surprising the future is bleak if the only technological advances are an identical parade of "Future Techs" which merely add to your "score", whatever that is. In fact if we're going by score, this guy has created paradise on earth.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 6:26 AM on June 12, 2012


You've heard of the 100 year war? Try the 1700 year war: "I don't know what World War III will be fought with, but I know World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones."
posted by nickrussell at 6:28 AM on June 12, 2012


In the current Mac Update promo, I bought Civ V (I think), but I don't dare install it. I lost so many hours to Civ III that Civ V seems too risky.

Though, speaking of the different variations--I LOVED loved loved Civ III. How do the other versions compare? I actually think I have Civ IV from a past Mac Update promo (also uninstalled).
posted by Admiral Haddock at 6:28 AM on June 12, 2012


Admiral - Civ IV is the best, but an expansion to Civ 5 that looks good should be out at the end of the month.

Bestest: Civ IV plus Fall from Heaven II.
posted by blahblahblah at 6:31 AM on June 12, 2012 [6 favorites]


We've always been at war with the Vikings.
posted by Cogentesque at 6:31 AM on June 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yes, Civ IV is most certainly the best. And still heavily supported by the mod community. Haven't played in the last few months, but it is always a question of when, not if, I will be back to this gem.
posted by Meatbomb at 6:33 AM on June 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Can someone parse out what the save game means? Is that so other people can play his scenario? Did he do it? I cant tell from the thread.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:38 AM on June 12, 2012


You bastard enabler people! I told you I don't want to install any Civ games, and you go ahead and tell me that Civ IV is the best and that I should leave work early today? To go home and install the game and the various mods? How can you look yourselves in the mirror as you force me to call in sick tomorrow?

For shame, blahblahblah and Meatbomb! Once my people develop the capacity for flight, I will come kick your asses.

In fact, I am going to leave work this very instant so that my people can begin inventing immediately. Then you and the Aztecs will reap a bitter harvest.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 6:40 AM on June 12, 2012 [27 favorites]


I demand that you cancel your agreements with the vile Vikings!
posted by Brocktoon at 6:41 AM on June 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


It's okay guys, I got this. Signed, Ghostride the Gandhi.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 6:46 AM on June 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm thankful that people exist out there who are capable of doing abnormally insane things like keeping a video game going well past the point of any non-abnormally insane things doer's ability. I'm grateful that this guy has spent ten years playing a game, posted about his game, and given me a good solid ten minutes of enjoyment. Thank you, crazed game player.

And to all, a good night.
posted by Ghidorah at 6:47 AM on June 12, 2012 [11 favorites]


I mean, I understand this precludes "winning" the game, whatever that would mean at this point, but it seems like the only way to rebuild the planet is to surrender to or otherwise align with another power (probably the Vikings). But maybe I'm just a filthy hippie.
posted by uncleozzy at 6:49 AM on June 12, 2012


I hadn't played any of civ between 2 and 5. A few weeks ago steam had a free weekend of 5. I enjoyed it (for the 12 hours straight that I played it), but the deadlock wars and nonsense ai (no YOU stop amassing troops at the borders) made me not want to play more of it.
posted by jonbro at 6:49 AM on June 12, 2012


My terrible confession is that I haven't understood Civ since Civ II.

Then again, my first concession to old-mannishness has been an inability to keep up with the constant ramp-up of The Fiddly in video games. Warcraft II was the last time I saw an RTS where I felt I actually had a firm grasp on every unit and all of their special abilities; Unreal Tournament was the last time playing a FPS when I felt that I actually knew what every weapon was, and did.

Civ IV/V seems like an overwhelming amount of stuff to keep track of. This unit has a bonus ability that grants it +10% in combat if it is fighting on sand, but it has -15% against archery units, but the proximity to a city with a Barracks gives it a +5% on defense against mounted units, but that city's cultural bonus is being eroded by the presence of more than one enemy units within a 16-square radius but the presence of a Great Leader who produces watermelons out of his butt on odd-numbered turns when Virgo is in Aquarius means that my trade route is producing +15% gold when I trade incense for ivory and Jesus Christ why don't I just get a combined correspondence degree in civil engineering and particle physics at this point.

I understand how my dad feels when I try to teach my parents to play Dominion now.
posted by Shepherd at 6:51 AM on June 12, 2012 [71 favorites]


This has already spawned a subReddit.
posted by charred husk at 6:51 AM on June 12, 2012


This reminds me of this simcity game. Only 2 years, but still insane in scope.
posted by jonbro at 6:53 AM on June 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Quick, someone ... notify the Club of Rome.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 6:57 AM on June 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


Playing an endless game of Civilisation where you perpetually build and move units to the frontier without anything ever materially changing sounds like the height of tedium.
posted by Segundus at 7:00 AM on June 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


You bastard enabler people!

Am I the only one that just read that whole comment in Corky St. Clair's voice?
posted by griphus at 7:02 AM on June 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


Admiral Haddock, let me just recommend to you that in CIv V, the Incans are underrated and fun as hell to play (and they always start off in the hills, so you get a crazy early production bonus.)
posted by Navelgazer at 7:07 AM on June 12, 2012


Though, speaking of the different variations--I LOVED loved loved Civ III. How do the other versions compare? I actually think I have Civ IV from a past Mac Update promo (also uninstalled).

Civ IV is sort of an amped up version of Civ III. It's got a few more mechanics, including religion and multi-national corporations, and the culture mechanic is more fully worked out. They've also done away with the "army" mechanic, but resources are a little easier to deal with. They've also eliminated hard caps to population with an interesting health/disease mechanic.

Civ V, on the other hand, is radically different. It's a hex map instead of a square map. You can only have one unit per square. Battles don't necessarily end with the destruction of a unit. Cities are really tough nuts to crack, even if they don't have a garrison. The different victory paths are increasingly mutually exclusive, particularly culture v. science. Winning a cultural victory now requires developing a certain number of cultural policies, the cost of which goes up with the number of cities such that a smaller empire will almost always be able to grow its culture faster than a larger one. But science is pretty directly correlated with population--no more tax/science sliders--so smaller empires almost invariably lag in scientific development. The religion, mega-corp, and health mechanics have been eliminated. It's now possible to use up your resources, as each resource produces a limited quantity, and when you've got that many units/buildings in play, you can't build any more until you get more resources or lose a unit. There's no longer any technology trading, and diplomacy is less... absolute.
posted by valkyryn at 7:24 AM on June 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Playing a way long game of Civ a little bit at a time over an extended period actually seems like a surprisingly sane way to engage in the game. One of the things I don't like about the game is that as I get closer to the end, I lose the flow of it because the impact of every action has such a short time span. For most of the game, building a granary or an aqueduct, and modifying the landscape surrounding your city into something nicely balanced feels like keeping a nice garden or something. It lasts. And the steady pace of progress is comforting. When your city builds the last tank or the last radio tower you will need to win and asks "what should we build next?", I get kinda depressed.

That said, I agree with Segundus, continually marching tanks to the front is not how I'd spend my time.
posted by dry white toast at 7:36 AM on June 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


"what should we build next?"

Nuclear missiles, obviously.
posted by backseatpilot at 7:39 AM on June 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


This story is well written. Very funny to give voice to the little narrative that's in our head when we play the game, of the empire and the politics. I love games that support player generated stories; Minecraft and The Sims are great for that kind of creativity, too.

I think Civ 5 is the best Civ. The graphics are more beautiful and I think the one unit per hex is a significant improvement. Most people say Civ 4 is the best. But then when Civ 4 came out, everyone said Civ 3 was the best. Civ players are a nostalgic lot. (I'll also put out a shout for Civ Revolutions, the "dumbed down" game that's awesome on Xbox and iPad. It's streamlined so it plays faster, not a bad thing.)

The Civ 5 Gods and Kings expansion is due out in a week; you can pre-order it 10% off at various places. It's got the expected set of new units and buildings and stuff. Big changes are adding Religion and reworking Diplomacy and naval combat. But what I'm most hopeful about is new AI; the Civ 5 AI was pretty poor. As far as I can tell the Mac version comes out the same day as the Windows version. June 19.
posted by Nelson at 7:48 AM on June 12, 2012


The religion, mega-corp, and health mechanics have been eliminated.

Religion is coming back in the Gods and Kings expansion (this week! oh i cannot wait). The health mechanic is gone, but Civ V's happiness mechanic sort of conflates the benefits and consequences of happiness and health in Civ IV into a single streamlined mechanic.

The corps are gone, yes, but let's be honest and admit that the corps, while fun, were massively unbalanced in a lot of ways.
posted by mightygodking at 7:49 AM on June 12, 2012


I play the heck out of Civ I every so often . . . the other versions never really caught on with me for some reason. It has been a while. Thanks Metafilter. I now know my evening plans for the next while.
posted by fimbulvetr at 7:49 AM on June 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh boy, Civ II! That's where I'm a post-apocalyptic Viking!
posted by Nossidge at 7:50 AM on June 12, 2012 [25 favorites]


I put a lot of time into Alpha Centauri (aka SMAC). Never really got hooked on the other civ games, or on freeciv for that matter..

but of course, I always played on extra low difficulty so I could totally whip the computer players and build my world-spanning empire until I tired of it.
posted by jepler at 7:53 AM on June 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


As I understand it, Religion will be somewhat customizable in Gods & Kings, with attendant benefits, so that should make online play interesting for a good while.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:57 AM on June 12, 2012


the Incans are underrated and fun as hell to play

I actually consider the Incans to be almost unbalanced, they're so good. You get three really awesome things that no one else gets.

First, a discount on improvement maintenance. In Civ V, every square of road costs 1 coin a turn, and every railroad costs 2. But the Incans get free improvements in hill squares and half elsewhere. This dramatically decreases the cost of expanding your empire.

Second, they ignore terrain costs in hills. Even if there's forest or jungle present.

Third, they get the "terrace farm" improvement, which gives +1 food per adjacent mountain square. You can get 4 food out of a desert hill square in the right place.

So yeah, I pretty much always play as the Incans. Their bonus unit is crappy--it's an archer that retreats sometimes--but their other bonuses are good pretty much forever, and they're incredible.
posted by valkyryn at 8:05 AM on June 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


I played a ton of Civ II, but never took a game to an extreme like this.

Speaking of 1996, though, I did play unnecessarily long games of Master of Orion II. When I discovered the key to a highest possible high score was population, I would end the game by leaving a single opponent on a single Tiny Toxic planet. I would spend centuries turning all asteroid belts and gas giants into planets, and max terraforming all available planets, then growing to max population. Those were some boring turns, but somehow it felt like time well spent. I know exactly where this guy's desire to play on comes from.
posted by jermsplan at 8:07 AM on June 12, 2012 [8 favorites]


I really thought I was going to click on that link and it was going to a big page with a single black word "VIRGINITY"

And then some thing about how you should go outside or something.
posted by lumpenprole at 8:09 AM on June 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have all of the Civs, and have bought them a couple of times, recently from places like Steam and Good Old Games, because they reconfigure them to work on new OSes, which is fantastic for the really old ones. That said; my favorite is also civ4. I didn't care for civ5 changes with all the little AIs, although I wish I could have that hexagon map in civ4.
posted by dejah420 at 8:10 AM on June 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


I actually consider the Incans to be almost unbalanced, they're so good.

The Incans are situationally excellent. On a highlands map or a young-earth map they're great. On an archipelago map or a plains map, they're terrible. The Native Americans are the same way: a lot of trees and you're golden, but no trees (or worse, jungle) and you're in trouble. The English and the Polynesians are both superb on heavy water maps, but mediocre otherwise.

About half the civs in Civ V are like this. The others are "decent all the time" civs like France, Japan, Rome and Greece, with powers that aren't as wildly good as the specialist civs but which are generally always useful.
posted by mightygodking at 8:13 AM on June 12, 2012


I think the one unit per hex is a significant improvement.

I pretty much lost track of Civ5 before it was released, but heard some ... unpleasant ... things about it and especially about this. Can you clarify?
posted by aramaic at 8:14 AM on June 12, 2012


I got nostalgic for Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri recently, and bought a 'new' copy on Amazon. It supposedly had a special installation script that would make it work under Win7 and compensate for the faster processer and stuff, but for the life of me, I could not get it to work. So this is my sad face.
posted by crunchland at 8:15 AM on June 12, 2012


although I wish I could have that hexagon map in civ4

As a grognard I had a big boner about the hex grid before Civ V came out. But then, playing it, I realized it was more limiting than the Civ IV mechanics - with diagonal moves possible, you have more choice not less on the square grid.
posted by Meatbomb at 8:15 AM on June 12, 2012


I got nostalgic for Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri recently

It's on GOG.com. Works like a charm. And if you've got a copy of Alien Crossfire lying about, that works too.
posted by valkyryn at 8:17 AM on June 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


I mean, I understand this precludes "winning" the game, whatever that would mean at this point, but it seems like the only way to rebuild the planet is to surrender to or otherwise align with another power (probably the Vikings). But maybe I'm just a filthy hippie.

He's already won the game; this is post-win play.

The problem is that Civ2 has civilizations that are so mindlessly aggressive they might as well be Kzinti. The Zulu were one. If the Vikings were too, the only way to rebuild the world is to just exterminate them so they stop fucking everything up. Once you've conquered the world, you can change to democracy and shift all your cities to start producing recycling centers and the like to stop polluting and engineers to clean up the damaged world.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:17 AM on June 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


Civ I and II were the only games I've ever experienced "game lock" with, where I figure it's probably after midnight and I should stop playing and go to bed, only to discover that it's 7:00 AM.
I haven't played any beyond II. The newer versions scare me.
posted by rocket88 at 8:26 AM on June 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


crunchland: "I got nostalgic for Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri recently, and bought a 'new' copy on Amazon. It supposedly had a special installation script that would make it work under Win7 and compensate for the faster processer and stuff, but for the life of me, I could not get it to work. So this is my sad face."

I still have my original installation of Alpha Centauri and Alien Crossfire that's followed me across various hard drives and still works fine under Windows 7. It doesn't play nicely with my font renderer, though.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 8:29 AM on June 12, 2012


aramaic, the one-unit-per-hex thing in Civ 5 is mostly an improvement because it forces a playstyle with many fewer units. I hated managing giant stacks of stuff in Civ 4. The combat mechanics are nicely balanced around individual unit combat, so I'm more interested in "tank vs. artillery" instead of "25 tanks and 42 soldiers vs. 12 tanks, 15 artillery, and 5 engineers" or whatever. One result is that moving the pieces around takes more tactics. All in all combat in Civ 5 plays more like chess where combat in previous games was more like an RTS in directing flows of materiel.
posted by Nelson at 8:31 AM on June 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I almost flunked out of second year because of Civ I, and like a recovering alcoholic, it's probably best that I stay away from the stuff. Because I really, really loved that stuff, and needed that stuff, and I couldn't stay away from that stuff despite knowing the damage it was doing to my life.

That said, I did pick up Civ 4 later, and found that there was just too much of a leap. But oh -- Civ. How I love Civ. And can never, ever go back. *sigh*
posted by Capt. Renault at 8:42 AM on June 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Where are the screenshots?
posted by LarryC at 8:45 AM on June 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Love this wording from the HuffPo article: According to one visionary using a computer simulation, the distant future will be a "hellish nightmare of suffering and devastation"
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 8:45 AM on June 12, 2012 [6 favorites]


I mean, I understand this precludes "winning" the game, whatever that would mean at this point, but it seems like the only way to rebuild the planet is to surrender to or otherwise align with another power (probably the Vikings). But maybe I'm just a filthy hippie.

One of the comments on Reddit says one way to "win" is to ally with the Vikings, jointly annihilate the Americans, and then when the Vikings inevitably double-cross you and attack, lay down and let your empire be destroyed. End result - one empire left, and, finally, peace.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 8:48 AM on June 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


>I think the one unit per hex is a significant improvement.

I pretty much lost track of Civ5 before it was released, but heard some ... unpleasant ... things about it and especially about this. Can you clarify?


I'm a fan too, though it really does mean you need to reshape your thinking. One thing that always bugged me in Civ III and Civ IV was the tendency, especially for the AI, to just stack a ridiculous number of units in a single square. It got to the point where it was impossible to conquer any sizable area without dozens of units. Unlimited stacking made defensive choke-points difficult to pull off, because an attacker could bring an arbitrary amount of force to bear. Here, if I set up a pikeman in a fort on a hill across a river between two mountains... unless you've got choppers, you're probably going to want to find somewhere else to go. Because of the terrain and the stack prohibition, you can only attack me with two units plus maybe a few ranged attacks in a single turn. The ranged attacks make it possible, but they require some doing. And the possibility of swapping out defenders with fresh troops can make cracking that nut really difficult. It really becomes a question of terrain and tactics as opposed to a question of who has the most efficient economy and technological edge.

Units are just a bigger deal in Civ V than they ever were before. It's possible to conquer an entire civilization with just a handful of units, provided you take good care of them and make smart use of upgrades and promotions. Units aren't destroyed as rapidly, and falling back to regroup is a pretty common event. In Civ IV, as I remember it, one unit always died, while the survivor was frequently damaged. In Civ V, both units survive unless there's a drastic imbalance in health or power. So, for example, consider the situation of a well-fortified unit on a hill. That's going to be a pain to get rid of. In Civ III and Civ IV, you could wind up losing a few units before you even managed to damage the defender. In Civ V, you will probably need to line up two or three units to attack in concert, and while each one will take a lot of damage, you could

Still, one of the most obvious problems is apparently being fixed in the coming expansion. Currently, you can't stack an embarked land unit and a naval unit, making embarked units ridiculously difficult to protect. The expansion is adding "defensive embarkation" as a default power for all embarked units, meaning you can stack them with a naval unit, enabling actual convoys.
posted by valkyryn at 8:49 AM on June 12, 2012


Where are the screenshots?

There are some here.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 8:52 AM on June 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


There's a reason I always bailed on Civ games once modern tech started showing up. They always turned into defensive stalemates like this.
posted by kafziel at 8:55 AM on June 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Count me in as a Civ IV lover (and I-III player), although that may be due to life changes that precluded devotion to V. Every Christmas break for maybe 10 years in a row I'd run a marathon game and get it out of my system. I'll admit to specialized cheating - I'd start games and save, then reveal the map to see the overall situation. Am I alone on a continent with decent size and resources? Yes, play the heck out of it; No, start a new game - LRR. Sorely tempted to start another but most people posting here know how addicting Just One More Turn is.
posted by achrise at 8:56 AM on June 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Personal pet peeve: the naval unit rules. It's a problem that dates to CIV I.

It makes sense that it takes land units months or years to move a few hundred miles (especially with premodern logistics), that they can move across continents almost instantly along railroads and that they sit still between turns to be counterattacked. It’s a crude model, but it’s a decent first order approximation of land warfare. Likewise, air units are modeled as being able to rebase long distances in a single year and are able to conduct missions within X hexes of an airbase — that works too. In contrast, the naval rules are an astonishingly poor simulation. As of Henry the Navigator, a naval unit could circle the globe in a few years, just a turn. A modern battleship should not be moving just ~8 hexes in a year.

My suggestion would be to make naval unit rules similar to the air combat rules:

- ships don’t sit in squares at sea
- each ship has a home port (and can be rebased)
- ships can be assigned to a fleet (e.g. five battleships execute one set of orders, fighting together with their combined strength) That would cut down on micromanagement
- ships/fleets receive orders to perform missions: blockade designated port, seek battle (radius R from designated square), hit and run, commerce raiding, maintain trade route, transport, recon, amphibious assault, fishing, etc.
- ship orders are restricted by logistics (e.g. a battleship unit can only perform a mission within X spaces of a city in which a coaling station has been constructed)
- ship combat works like air combat, with fights happening whenever naval units at war have orders that bring them into conflict

What it might look like in practice:

(e.g. 1) Wolfpack#2 (5 U-Boat Units – German unique unit) receives orders to perform a Commerce Raiding mission covering an area astride an enemy Egyptian trade route (route marked on the map). On Egypt’s turn, when EgyptianFleet#3 (2 Cruiser Units, 3 Destroyer Units, 6 Transport Units) is ordered to Maintain Trade Route (Thebes-Onondaga) there will be a Y% chance that W#2 will intercept EF#3, starting a battle.

(e.g. 2) EnglishFleet#2 ordered to blockade the French city of Brest. There’s a Y% chance that a French Frigate based in Brest ordered to Recon a radius Z area of the Caribbean will be intercepted (Y+25% if the English have built Nelson’s Column)
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 8:56 AM on June 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


It really becomes a question of terrain and tactics as opposed to a question of who has the most efficient economy and technological edge.

They kind of moved away from reality in that aspect.

It seems like there should be some kind of middle ground where there is a pre-determined amount of space in each square (maybe slots?) and different units take up a different number of slots. That way, you can stack units on a square/hex but it's limited. Maybe you make spaces in different terrain have different numbers of slots so that you can't stack up a huge army and expect to take it through the mountains without spreading out.

But I've never played a Civ game so I don't know if that would help.
posted by VTX at 9:07 AM on June 12, 2012


I loved this comment at Reddit: That's pretty awesome. I've played some games that went well into the future, primarily in Civ III, but also in Civ II, but not to that extent. When global warming started to damage the terrain and my cities started declining I always lost interest and started a new game.

I just imagine a bunch of gamers sitting around in the actual future when global warming has damaged the terrain and cities are declining, all yelling "Reset, reset, reset, RESET YOU BASTARD."
posted by rory at 9:10 AM on June 12, 2012 [7 favorites]


the naval rules are an astonishingly poor simulation

A poor simulation, yes, but much more playable as a game. Making naval units more like air units would increase the complexity of managing them by a lot, since you want them to be able to perform more complicated or subtle missions than the current air forces can (basically bomb or defend against other air units). How would you go about exploring with ships if they're not treated like regular ground units? If a single ground unit can walk the equivalent of thousands of miles from home over hundreds of years, ships shouldn't be limited to a particular distance from port.

The designers had to make some choices between accuracy as a simulation and balance/playability as a game, and I think they were right to come down on the game side.
posted by echo target at 9:17 AM on June 12, 2012


This makes me think...If I were to create a game such as Civ, where one could theoretically play a single session for-freaking-evar, I'd sure as hell think about burying an easter egg somewhere deep in the bowels of the game that only becomes revealed once a session hits some insane milestone like this.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:21 AM on June 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


They kind of moved away from reality in that aspect.

Say what now?

Thermopylae. Fredericksburg. Chancellorsville. The latter two are especially good examples of how it's possible to win a tactical victory while still losing the war for lack of ability to capitalize on it. Civ I-III had this on a small scale, but once you start stacking ridiculous numbers of units, it fades quickly. The difference between winning a battle and winning a war is minimal.

But in Civ V, units are necessarily spread out more. There's both a greater and lesser possibility of a quick, decisive victory. Winning a battle in the field can be easier, as there aren't massive stacks of units lying around. But capturing cities is really a lot of work, as it should be. Cities basically act like incredibly powerful, immobile units rather than juicy targets just waiting to be snapped up unless defended.

It's just a different dynamic entirely, and one I prefer. I'm really looking forward to the expansion.
posted by valkyryn at 9:21 AM on June 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


Incidentally, the edition of Civ 4 I bought came with a "making of" DVD that was interesting in terms of commentary on map and mechanics issues.
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:22 AM on June 12, 2012


The problem is that Civ2 has civilizations that are so mindlessly aggressive they might as well be Kzinti. The Zulu were one. If the Vikings were too, the only way to rebuild the world is to just exterminate them so they stop fucking everything up.

Heh. So many games of Civ start with that nervy first contact -

"King Shaka sends his greetings!"
"Zulu, huh? Well, guess I'm spamming Swordsmen for the next 20 years."
"Wait.. what?"
"Nothing personal. You're Zulu, so you're going to be huge jerks through all time-"
"That's racist."
"No, it is your destiny. You always want to invade."
"Well, maybe that's because people like you always attack us?"
"Hrm, that's a good point, so maybe we can work something out where-"
"SHAKA DEMANDS THE SECRET OF WRITING. ALSO, GUNPOWDER."
"Sigh." *stabstabstab*
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:25 AM on June 12, 2012 [38 favorites]


I got nostalgic for Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri recently

It's on GOG.com. Works like a charm.


GOG is like crack though as it has all these classic games for 6 to 10 dollars, updated to work on modern pcs, usually with expension packs too; worse most weekends there are sales and suddenly you find yourself buying Baldur's Gate, Fallout 2 and Total Annihilation for three dollars the piece, plus a dozen other games you have no time to play...
posted by MartinWisse at 9:32 AM on June 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


Thermopylae is as good an example of superior tactical position as it is of the Greeks superior equipment and (I think) growing season. Philip (and Alexander the Great) was able to unite Ancient Greece because he had professional soldiers instead of farmers pressed into service at need. I'd say that's an example of a more efficient economy.

The American Civil war and WWII are examples of better tech and/or better economy winning wars.

Terrain and tactics are important but I think history has shown that technology and an economic advantage generally overcome any terrain or tactical advantage.
posted by VTX at 9:36 AM on June 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


The overwhelming suggestion for how to proceed is to switch to fundamentalism.

In Civ II, the productivity and economic output of your cities is directly influenced by the government you are using -- Despotism, Monarchy, Communism, Fundamentalism, Republic and Democracy. In addition, there's a degenerate state government that exists when your government status changes, called Anarchy, that lasts for 1-4 turns.

Basically, the outputs of your cities are these. You make money, which is distributed into three things -- building actual things, happiness and science. Science leads to new tech. Building new things gives you new structures or military units, and happiness keeps your cities productive -- unhappy cities revolt and stop producing.

There's also one more thing your cities do -- they support military units. Democracy is the worst at this, and also has citizens becoming unhappy if enemy units are near.

Thus, the switch to fundamentalism. The big strike against it -- your research output is halved. However, if the player has already discovered everything, this is no longer an issue. The big wins. 1) Citizens are never unhappy for any reason, so money spent on luxuries to keep people happy gets spent on other things. 2) Structures that would normally make an unhappy citizen happy instead generate money. Finally, each city can support up to 10 units for free, after that, they take out only one construction unit (shield) per unit. Finally, you get access to fanatics as a unit. Fanatics are a unit only fundamental governments can use, and there's no support cost.

As a communist government, the player has to deal with unhappy citizens, though he can use military units as police to suppress this, those units aren't doing anything else, and the player gets real advantages with spies, and (heh) corruption disappears. Research is considerably better than a fundamental government.

By switching to fundamentalism, the player would gain resources that are currently supporting military units, and gain overall by things that were making citizens happy now making cash. They limit the ability to research further into the tree, but since there's no further, there's no reason to do so -- and anything that was doing research should be moved into build/happiness, but since there's no reason for happiness, you can dedicate the entire output of your city to building things -- namely units.

So, yeah, alas, it's the exact right thing to do. The mistake in the game is penalizing science, but not penalizing trade -- fundamentalist societies seem, in the real world, to not have particularly robust economies. Part of this is taxation (tithes and normal) and part of this is lack of trade, since fundamentalist societies seem to get cut off from others in the world.

But not in Civ II. In the game, if you're fighting a war and you still need to research, Communism (which is actually more Soviet Oligarchy rather than Marxist Communism) is the best government, but when you don't need research anymore, if you're fighting a war, you want A God on Your Side, so bring on the fundamentalism.

Yay.



(Note: I have not played Civ since Civ 3 almost cost me a job. I know my addictions. )
posted by eriko at 9:42 AM on June 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


"The savegame came to the users of Reddit, who took it deep into the tubes of the internet, and there it consumed them."
posted by jeffburdges at 10:11 AM on June 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


Terrain and tactics are important but I think history has shown that technology and an economic advantage generally overcome any terrain or tactical advantage.

On the macro scale, yes. But not on the micro scale. Civ V does a better of of simulating actual battles than its predecessors, and the fact that cities are now a lot harder to conquer ups things on the macro scale too.
posted by valkyryn at 10:13 AM on June 12, 2012


Terrain and tactics are important but I think history has shown that technology and an economic advantage generally overcome any terrain or tactical advantage.

Notable exceptions being the American Revolution, Vietnam, and Afghanistan (any war against them).
posted by Edison Carter at 10:24 AM on June 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Civ2 and AC are also my favorites out of the entire series.

Just saying.
posted by linux at 10:25 AM on June 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I love the Civ games, but at some point they need to acknowledge overwhelming force. For example, every now and then a phalanx will destroy my tank. Even if we are to admit that this is possible, for a very agile and committed band of guerrilla warriors, it still should happen about once per game. And an archer against a bomber? The archer should never, under any circumstances, win that battle. Civ Revolutions for iPad seems pretty balanced in this respect, but still, all too often my tank battalion is destroyed by a very dedicated legion or group of archers.
posted by jeffamaphone at 10:27 AM on June 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


You're saying that a group of 30,000 random Persians with Persian equipment could have held the pass at Thermopylae for three days against 500,000 Greek Hopelites?
posted by VTX at 10:27 AM on June 12, 2012


Notable exceptions being the American Revolution, Vietnam, and Afghanistan (any war against them).

Don't forget LV-426.
posted by griphus at 10:28 AM on June 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


Speaking of 1996, though, I did play unnecessarily long games of Master of Orion II.

Speaking of now, I just finished a thoroughly satisfying game of MOO 2. :)
posted by Zarkonnen at 10:32 AM on June 12, 2012


I love the Civ games, but at some point they need to acknowledge overwhelming force.

They do. Civ V is pretty good about this, and I've never had a huge surprise there. Civ I was definitely the worst offender.
posted by valkyryn at 10:38 AM on June 12, 2012


Civ II is still my favorite, but Civ I is the one that had me staying up until 3 am night after night, freshman year of college. Good times.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:48 AM on June 12, 2012


I got nostalgic for Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri recently ... It's on GOG.com. Works like a charm. And if you've got a copy of Alien Crossfire lying about, that works too. -- Well, $5.99 later, I downloaded it and first got a message that said "Your cpu is not supported. You may attempt to play the game anyway; however crashes are possible." Clicking 'ok," and I get "terran.exe has stopped working. Windows is checking the problem." So I say again, this is still my sad face.
posted by crunchland at 10:52 AM on June 12, 2012


This thread on that problem leads to this patch, crunchland.
posted by griphus at 10:56 AM on June 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


if you are getting the CPU not supported, error, then that means you have to go into Alpha Centauri.ini and either add a line for "ForceOldVoxelAlgorithm=1" (no quotation marks, of course), or, if "ForceOldVoxelAlgorithm=0" is already there, change the 0 to a 1.
posted by subversiveasset at 10:56 AM on June 12, 2012


Oh god flashbacks to troubleshooting Win 95 games.
posted by griphus at 10:58 AM on June 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


So much easier in Sim City. You just hit Godzilla/Monster attack and sit back and relax.
posted by Fizz at 11:05 AM on June 12, 2012


Civ I and II were the only games I've ever experienced "game lock" with, where I figure it's probably after midnight and I should stop playing and go to bed, only to discover that it's 7:00 AM.

Yeah, you're not alone there. The problem is how the "End Turn" feature is implemented -- you feel like it's a "I'm Done" feature, but it's more of a "Make Your Move, Enemy" feature.

It's 2AM, time for bed, enough gaming for one night, so I'll hit "End Turn" and call it a night... Wait... Crap. The Greeks are moving, oh crap they sacked Atlanta, and a Viking battleship is off the coast of Baltimore. No worries, I'll just shuffle troops from New York and retake Atlanta and put together a bomber stack to take care of that battleship. Ok, got that all done, aaaaand "End Turn". Oh goddammit, now the Persians have moved in some artillery... and on... and on...
posted by LordSludge at 11:08 AM on June 12, 2012 [10 favorites]


It seems odd that after the world's population got devastated there was still enough infrastructure/knowledge to continue to produce tanks, nukes, etc. It would be fun to play a game where nuking someone back to the stone age would really send them back to the stone age.

In this case if everyone nuked each other the game would restart in a way in this swampy nuclear underpopulated wasteland with production limited to warriors. Now that would be fun.
posted by xorry at 11:15 AM on June 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


Alpha Centauri is awesome and my favourite of Sid Meier's Civ games, but I found that nerve gas is overpowered - Ignore sanctions/ other factions getting upset at your atrocities and just keep dumping nerve gas on everyone relentlessly and you get dominant easily. The Gaian faction also had a perverse master strategy - its the Eco treehugger faction but the most powerful strategy was to damage the environment as much as possible and reap the rewards of an outraged Planet
posted by Bwithh at 11:29 AM on June 12, 2012


I've never played a Civ-like game with a long-lasting Great Power equilibrium; someone always fucks up the other players. That's what struck me about this. Wrote a little blog post about the conditions for stasis in Civ.
posted by grobstein at 11:35 AM on June 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


(And let me echo the above that Alpha Centauri is my favorite Civ, as well. What a game!)
posted by grobstein at 11:35 AM on June 12, 2012


So did they beat it yet?
posted by jonbro at 11:45 AM on June 12, 2012


Interesting article grobstein. Got me to thinking about Future Tech #498 and how to reward research in a long long game where the tech tree has been exhausted. Maybe a good fix would be a small flat % increase in the offensive / defensive abilities of the unit and maybe an increase in movement points as well.

So a tank produced with Future Tech #498 would crush your opponent's tank with Future Tech #309 and your tank can move 100 spaces per turn, reflecting the invention of teleportation with tech #498.
posted by honestcoyote at 11:48 AM on June 12, 2012


The [mega-]corps are gone, yes, but let's be honest and admit that the corps, while fun, were massively unbalanced in a lot of ways.

Just like real life!
posted by Celsius1414 at 11:51 AM on June 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Maybe a good fix would be a small flat % increase in the offensive / defensive abilities of the unit and maybe an increase in movement points as well.

Civ IV had some version of this by adding +1 health and happiness each time you researched the technology. Having that in Civ II wouldn't work as well, as happiness was still counted on the city level, but adding a happy citizen per tech would free you up to choose governments which would otherwise have happiness problems late in the game.
posted by valkyryn at 12:01 PM on June 12, 2012


Presumably now the save game has been handed to a room full of infinite monkeys, someone will work out how to win properly. If it's at all possible, of course.
posted by imperium at 12:06 PM on June 12, 2012


It seems odd that after the world's population got devastated there was still enough infrastructure/knowledge to continue to produce tanks, nukes, etc. It would be fun to play a game where nuking someone back to the stone age would really send them back to the stone age.

In this case if everyone nuked each other the game would restart in a way in this swampy nuclear underpopulated wasteland with production limited to warriors. Now that would be fun.


Yeah, one of the simplifying assumptions of the Civ model is that technological growth is one-way. This is not true even in our history so far, of course. The ancient Greeks had the steam engine and complex mechanical computers; the modern Greeks wouldn't have these technologies for a long time.

It would be interesting to have a Civ game with a more granular model of the scientific and technological know-how, reflecting how advances can be lost and forgotten, and how economic and political institutions play a role in bringing scientific discoveries from the lab to the fields, roads, and battlefields of the world.
posted by grobstein at 12:06 PM on June 12, 2012


grobstein: "The ancient Greeks had the steam engine and complex mechanical computers; the modern Greeks wouldn't have these technologies for a long time. "

True, but the ancient Greeks don't really seem to have DONE anything with the aeolipile, which is the critical part.
posted by Chrysostom at 12:29 PM on June 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Totally true, which is part of what I was getting at in the second part of my comment: just making a scientific or engineering breakthrough does not guarantee that it will become part of a society's every day technology. The path from discovery to development and widespread use depends on tons of institutional factors.
posted by grobstein at 12:39 PM on June 12, 2012


I'm thinking movie script here. I give it 5 days, tops.
posted by charlie don't surf at 12:46 PM on June 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


The more I think about my granular advances for future tech, the more I think it would work for the game under normal circumstances too.

Maybe research in a Civ-type game should guarantee only incremental improvements to existing buildings and units. New inventions, new ideologies, new paradigms would appear almost randomly, reflecting breakthroughs by individuals. Money spent on research, government type, population size, and the nation being at peace / war would all affect what improvements show up and the rate at which they appear.

Regression of tech and a somewhat uneven distribution of tech could be simulated by changing around the prices for buying and maintaining units and buildings. Make an ICBM or even a tank so expensive that only a modern, well-operating economy could afford one. Once your country hits the post-apocalypse stage, you'll keep the war going with a phalanx riding in a longboat because you can no longer afford to keep your factories running and therefore can no longer produce tanks, transports, or even simple AK=47s for your infantry. You can no longer keep your hospitals open so health & happiness take a dive and any wonder which depends on them, like the cure for cancer, would no longer have an effect.

Increasing expenses for units and infrastructure would also heighten the guns vs. butter dilemma and would create simulations of a stereotypical third world nation with modern armies but crumbling infrastructure. Or the opposite: a small European nation with a great infrastructure and social services but spends almost nothing on their military.
posted by honestcoyote at 12:54 PM on June 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think he should just keep playing and wait for the daleks to be invented. That will either give him (or one of his enemies) the ability to crush the others completely, or it will bring the Doctor to him. No matter what, most of his major problems will be solved.
posted by colfax at 12:57 PM on June 12, 2012


As much as I am loathe to mention a strategy game in a thread about Civ (I kid because I love), I think the way Hearts of Iron in particular and the Paradox games in general handle units per square is a good one for Civ to adopt.

Basically, the terrain type determines how much frontage a square has, and each unit in your stack takes up an amount of frontage. You can mix and match within that restriction however you like, to take advantage of combined arms bonuses, etc.

This allows you to be strategic about unit placement but tactical about composition without allowing thousand tank spearhead attacks or whatever.
posted by feloniousmonk at 1:08 PM on June 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Of course, since we're talking about a Paradox game, the above is a vast simplification, but you should be able to get the idea.
posted by feloniousmonk at 1:10 PM on June 12, 2012


This feels a lot like Warhammer 40k to me.
posted by NoraReed at 1:10 PM on June 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


My vision of the apocalyptic future involves neither warring super-states or devastated environment, but unwashed masses of catatonic gamers, stationary, unemployable, and impotent. Behold their empty cradles and crumbling industry! And then soon, very soon, roads and buildings will give way to weeds and sunshine, and earth will return to an eternal stalemate that is neither virtual or nuclear. Carnivore vs. herbivore.
posted by dgaicun at 1:15 PM on June 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


The more I think about my granular advances for future tech, the more I think it would work for the game under normal circumstances too.

Again, Civ V already does a bit with this. It doesn't have tech regression as such, but if you run into economic troubles, you'll find yourself unable to build modern units very effectively. Two reasons.

First, most of the better units, from the ancient period on up, require a specific resource to build. No iron? No swordsmen. No coal? No factories. No oil? No tanks. So if you lose access to your resources, you can find yourself having to rely on those units that don't require special resources. There are resources of this type at every stage of the game, but an army that doesn't have aluminum isn't going to do well against an army that does.

Second, modern units are drastically more expensive than ancient ones. Warrior? 40 hammers. Modern Armor? 425 hammers (and aluminum!). Trying to build a tank in a city that isn't both large and modernized is going to take dozens of turns. Building a factory doesn't double production the way it used to, it just gives a 10% boost and a flat +4 hammers, plus it lets you devote some citizens to work as factory workers instead of elsewhere, giving +2 hammers. And you have to have a workshop built first, which also gives 10% and +2 hammers. There are other buildings that add 15% bonuses for particular kinds of construction. But only the most productive, well-developed cities can turn out an expensive modern unit in less than a dozen turns. A lot of the time, you wind up just buying units outright because you've got plenty of money, but not enough highly productive manufacturing cities to keep up with demand. That obviously doesn't work if your economy is hurting.

But beyond that, there are a lot more incremental bonuses to technological advancement and economic development this time around. In Civ IV and earlier, the first productivity-boosting buildings were in the industrial period. Now there are smaller bonuses throughout. And there are several "chains" of buildings, e.g., workshop -> factory -> power plants, monument -> temple -> opera house -> museum, colesseum -> theatre -> stadium, etc. You can't build a later building without having the earlier ones. So there's a real sense of things building on older developments rather than just suddenly building something for which there was no precedent. There are also bonuses for reaching certain tech levels. City-state bonuses get better when you enter the Renaissance age. Connecting cities to your capital with railroads gives a production boost. Discovering Fertilizer makes farms more productive. A number of technologies make embarked units go faster. Etc.

Also, if you don't have enough income, you start to lose units and buildings, which can really send you into a death spiral if you're not careful.
posted by valkyryn at 1:42 PM on June 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Civ Revolutions for iPad seems pretty balanced in this respect, but still, all too often my tank battalion is destroyed by a very dedicated legion or group of archers.

My favorite examples of this are when pikemen wave their pointy sticks and fighter planes fall out of the sky.
posted by JHarris at 1:46 PM on June 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


um, wow, this is beautiful.
posted by By The Grace of God at 1:54 PM on June 12, 2012


I never played any Civilization games, but the fact that I could torrent Civ II and burn it to a disc in an afternoon after a girl I liked mentioned she missed playing it, is the one time my WaReZ skillZ helped play a role in a doomed but briefly pleasant summer romance.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 2:00 PM on June 12, 2012


My favorite examples of this are when pikemen wave their pointy sticks and fighter planes fall out of the sky.

Before I figured out how to really play Civ 2, I always lagged way behind other civilizations... Yet I'd hang on for an astoundingly long time due to things just like this. I'd always be several tech levels behind...

I can't remember what unit I always hung on to that would become insanely overpowered, but I think it was my fortified musketeers holding off things like mechanized infantry. I always thought that would be incredible to see played out.
posted by MysticMCJ at 2:07 PM on June 12, 2012


Uther Bentrazor: "I never played any Civilization games, but the fact that I could torrent Civ II and burn it to a disc in an afternoon after a girl I liked mentioned she missed playing it, is the one time my WaReZ skillZ helped play a role in a doomed but briefly pleasant summer romance."

When I got my first computer in 1991, I got the first Civilization. It's the first time I became familiar with the space-time warp where, when you sit down to play a game at sundown, you are still there until noon the next day.

Also - this link and story are awesome.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 2:12 PM on June 12, 2012


The reddit post is too long and convoluted to look through for strategies, but on a cursory look, I didn't see the obvious solution. They are all trying to solve the wrong problem. The real issue is, do you optimize for a single civilization to win? Then you get his result: stalemate. Or do you optimize for mankind to win? Then two civilizations have to decide to suicide, so mankind can go on. Sometimes, Grasshopper, one must sacrifice a finger, in order to save the hand.
posted by charlie don't surf at 2:13 PM on June 12, 2012


One thing that used to drive me nuts: I'd be all advanced to the point of having tanks. I'd roll up on an inferior civilization's city and start pounding it with tanks. For reasons only Sid seems to know, four archers were able to take out my tank stack. FUCK THAT.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 2:17 PM on June 12, 2012


For reasons only Sid seems to know, four archers were able to take out my tank stack.

I've really thought that Civ needed an option for detailed full-screen animations JUST because I wanted to see how the developers addressed this... I'm sure it would be something as simple as seeing arrows hit a tank and then watching the tank explode, but I'd love it if the developers actually had the archers do ridiculous things like swarm the tanks, shooting arrows into it from the little door on the top.
posted by MysticMCJ at 2:23 PM on June 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Anyone notice that we haven't heard from Crunchland the Recovering Civ Addict with Win7 ever since someone posted the tech-support tip?

If you listen carefully, I think you can hear the sound of our nation's Strategic Surge Energy-Drink Reserve being tapped.
posted by jpolchlopek at 2:24 PM on June 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


Yeah, one of the simplifying assumptions of the Civ model is that technological growth is one-way. This is not true even in our history so far, of course. The ancient Greeks had the steam engine and complex mechanical computers; the modern Greeks wouldn't have these technologies for a long time.

Yeah, research systems in videogames are pretty uncritically embedded within in the whole modernist 'history as the story of humanity's progress.'

This conference paper from 2012 about the use of history in videogames has a bit about technology trees on page 207.
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 2:41 PM on June 12, 2012


For reasons only Sid seems to know, four archers were able to take out my tank stack.

Clearly the archers had studied Ewok insurgency tactics intensely.
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 2:44 PM on June 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


I always justified the pikemen defeating fighters as the fighters crashed due to pilot error, cavalry defeats battleship because main guns exploded, etc.
posted by LordSludge at 2:57 PM on June 12, 2012


I always justified the pikemen defeating fighters as the fighters crashed due to pilot error, cavalry defeats battleship because main guns exploded, etc

That just makes me think of inept supervillians... Next CIV game will have at least Skeletor and Cobra Commander as opposition.

In fairness, I suppose a phalanx with super-polished shields reflecting sunlight into the pilots eyes is a possibility.
posted by MysticMCJ at 3:10 PM on June 12, 2012


Anyone notice that we haven't heard from Crunchland the Recovering Civ Addict with Win7 ever since someone posted the tech-support tip? -- I wish. I still haven't gotten it to work. My desire to play AC will go unrequited, I guess.
posted by crunchland at 3:24 PM on June 12, 2012


charlie don't surf:

Yep, that was covered quite well over there-

[–]pe5t1lence 1359 points 10 hours ago

There is... a possible solution, but you will not like it. It will require you to give up your ideals, your ambitions, and your honor.
You must sacrifice yourself, your nation, and your people, to assure peace for mankind. You must ally yourself with the Americans, or the Vikings, and as short as the alliance will last, you need this edge.
Throw yourself at the remaining enemy. He must be crippled beyond repair. Your ally will turn on you, this is expected. You will die, this is expected. Your armies will lose, this is expected. Your enemy will not be defeated, not by you, this is expected.
You will cripple your enemy, and mortally wound yourself, and your temporary ally will destroy you. But he will also defeat your enemy. And peace will return to mankind.


Couldn't personally care less about Civ, but this kind of epic nerdery is always appealing, because dang.
posted by hap_hazard at 3:25 PM on June 12, 2012


I've really thought that Civ needed an option for detailed full-screen animations JUST because I wanted to see how the developers addressed this...

Simple, really. Archers in later centuries are basically groups of Hawkeyes and Green Arrows.
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:28 PM on June 12, 2012


Nthing Alpha Centauri (SMAC) being fantastic. Brilliant game.

Wikipedia mentions that there's a Linux port. Anyone know anything about it?
posted by zarq at 3:29 PM on June 12, 2012


Loki Games ported it way back when; they were a company that pretty much just existed to port games to linux, and it turns out there wasn't enough of a market for it. So they went belly up. But some of their product is available in the darker corners of the internet still, if you know the right doors to knock on, and are willing to work through copious pages of user-generated instructions to get it running with modern libraries...
posted by kaibutsu at 4:00 PM on June 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Loki Games ported it way back when; they were a company that pretty much just existed to port games to linux, and it turns out there wasn't enough of a market for it. So they went belly up.

It's possible that they just didn't stick with it long enough, what with news that EA is planning on making some of its catalog available on Linux desktops. Or maybe they didn't approach it the right way, as Linux tends to do well in the standings for the Humble Bundles.
posted by JHarris at 4:08 PM on June 12, 2012


I have never smoked crack, but I suspect it must be like Civ III. My husband used to play it a lot and I was all "ugh, whatever, at least he's cute", and then I played it once in the name of marital unity or something, and I was all "meh, that was okaaaay", and then I played it one more time just to be sure and it was fourteen hours straight and I couldn't go to bed even though the sun was coming up because I was in a Golden Age and just discovered an island that had all kinds of resources and I was building Riflemen and Cossacks (always play as Russia in Civ III) while the rest of the world was still hitting each other with sticks and I was involved in two different wars and was kicking their asses and I was on the verge of discovering...something...and...my husband became a Civ widower, for I had found the best. game. ever. And I still think Civ III is nearly perfect.

So I guess what I'm saying is that a ten year Civ game? Yeah. (also, I would like to combine the best parts of II and III to make one uber-Civ)
posted by biscotti at 4:28 PM on June 12, 2012 [6 favorites]


It would be interesting to have a Civ game with a more granular model of the scientific and technological know-how, reflecting how advances can be lost and forgotten, and how economic and political institutions play a role in bringing scientific discoveries from the lab to the fields, roads, and battlefields of the world.

A while back there was an attempt to build an open source Civ clone called Clash of Civilizations. The design went beyond granularity into atomism: the docs for the technology model indicate plans for the advance and retreat of technology based on the dynamic interplay of production, research, practical applications, and abstract scientific understanding.

For example, an agriculture-dominant civ would automatically accrue knowledge of animal husbandry which could lead to the domestication of horses which could lead to the production of cavalry which would automatically deepen the civ's understanding of metallurgy and the wheel. A fortification-happy tribe of hill people would take a completely different route forward. The development of physics, biology, and chemistry would be indirect until a society attained enough high-level advancement to realize that deeper levels existed, at which time the modern era would arrive as a consequence of play instead of hard-coded design.

The project fell apart around 2004. I assume it was sabotaged from the inside by time travelers dispatched to prevent an apocalyptic future full of catatonic gamers.
posted by Iridic at 4:33 PM on June 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


Just found a Civ I installation lurking in the depths of my hard drive, 8 levels deep in a series of nested directories. Original installation date, 1996, copied from computer to computer over the years as I copied the entire previous hard drive to each subsequent new computer. It still works. And there are still saved games from the late '90s. The rest of my evening is now booked.

I also found an original installation of Dos 6.22 and Windows 3.1 and my grad thesis lurking in there. Which makes me wonder, what else could be hiding in the far reaches of my hard drive?
posted by fimbulvetr at 5:41 PM on June 12, 2012 [9 favorites]


This insanity brings back some good memories. One of my favourite things about Civ II, after I'd beaten it a few times, was editing the dialogue for the computer-controlled civilizations, as well as the intro text (all of which were stored in .txt files). I don't remember what kind of childish things I made King Shaka and Napoleon say, but I definitely found it amusing at the time.

The game itself was classic, though. Does anyone know of a decent Civ II emulator?
posted by asnider at 5:48 PM on June 12, 2012


You might want to look into FreeCiv, which is based off of a mixture of Civ and Civ II rules and is highly customizable.
posted by JHarris at 5:52 PM on June 12, 2012


The ability to “win more” when you’re ahead then is a major source of the dynamism of Civ games, perhaps the most important source. Could this be a problem with the Civ design? The obvious issue is that this dynamic strongly favors nations that are already ahead — change is likely to feature powerful nations getting more powerful. But take away the “win more” systems and you get stagnation and gridlock.

It is not a problem when you keep in mind that the game was over 2000 years ago.
posted by Meatbomb at 6:02 PM on June 12, 2012


kaibutsu: "Loki Games ported it way back when; they were a company that pretty much just existed to port games to linux, and it turns out there wasn't enough of a market for it. So they went belly up. But some of their product is available in the darker corners of the internet still, if you know the right doors to knock on, and are willing to work through copious pages of user-generated instructions to get it running with modern libraries..."

Thanks! I found a torrent... hopefully some seeders will materialize. ;)
posted by zarq at 6:59 PM on June 12, 2012


Also C-Evo - a redesign focused on strengthening the AI and fine-tuning the balance.
posted by Iridic at 7:04 PM on June 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Either I am really rusty with my Civ skills, or FreeCiv is a lot more complicated than Civ II. It's probably the former, but I'm going to pretend that it's the latter.
posted by asnider at 8:35 PM on June 12, 2012


He's uploaded the save file.

Well I know what I'll be doing tonight anyway!
posted by BigCalm at 1:28 AM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


This was actually a story on The Today programme on BBC Radio 4 this morning. I nearly dropped my cereal bowl in surprise, firstly that a story had made it from Reddit to MeFi to Radio frickin' 4 in under 24 hours and secondly that John Humphreys and Justin Webb were discussing Civ II. They managed to keep their normal total contempt for anything to do with computers or gaming under control too.

It's going to be interesting in about 15 years or so when the majority of broadcasters will be gamers themselves.
posted by Happy Dave at 4:34 AM on June 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Well this thread had me going back to a game of Total War I've been playing off and on for months (usually I'd have won by now but I've been taking it slow to see the proper end game for once... though I might not even win - I think taking Jerusalem from the Mongol Horde is going to be pretty tough)

I fear going back to Civ mind after a period of total addiction back in the day. At least TW breaks things up with it's real time battles which gives you an excuse to save for another day unlike the the 'just another turn / oh the sun's come up' experience of Civ
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:46 AM on June 13, 2012


This was even mentioned on the Today show on Radio 4 this morning. Nuts.
posted by Acey at 5:44 AM on June 13, 2012


What's really tough to do is achieve a true stasis game, where every time you hit Enter, nothing happens except the accrual of a beaker or two of Future Tech. I only took the time to do this once, but it was interesting in a Game of Life sort of way.

First, of course, you have to wipe out all the other civs and populate enough areas so that barbarians won't arise. The core problem is that in Civ II (and IV, and probably also III), a city with even a tiny food surplus will eventually grow from (say) size 24 to 25, and suddenly might start starving, which traps that city in a cycle of growth and starvation. You have to de-irrigate and in some cases transform* terrain selectively in order to prevent a city from growing any further. Then you have to do this for your entire empire.

* = Transforming terrain can't be done in Civ IV, not even with mods AFAIK.
posted by AugieAugustus at 6:24 AM on June 13, 2012


"From Civilization to Big Brother: how a game recreated Orwell's 1984"
http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/booksblog/2012/jun/13/civilization-ii-big-brother-orwell-1984
posted by nielm at 6:49 AM on June 13, 2012


Yeah, research systems in videogames are pretty uncritically embedded within in the whole modernist 'history as the story of humanity's progress.'

That or a mechanic that seriously accounts for the possibility of failure is going to be ridiculously hard. All of these objections are really just subsets of the main problem, i.e., the I can count on like one two fingers, maybe three, the number of extant "civilizations" that have existed forever. China, India, and Persia. Most other "civilizations" either don't go back nearly far enough--Incas, Mayas, English--or don't really exist anymore--Celts, Romans, Babylonians, Ghanans.

Or maybe it does take that into account partially: being one of those civilizations that doesn't make it is called "losing." But there isn't really any mechanism for civs starting at different points in history, which is something that seems to happen. Or for civil wars and internal politics. Indeed, the entire game is predicated on harmonious domestic politics.

So there may be some lack of appropriate self-criticism here, and there's certainly very little effort to engage in any serious concept of historiography, but there's also a sense in which they're just trying to make a game over here. If winning in Civ was as hard as it seems to be in real life, no one would want to play.
posted by valkyryn at 6:50 AM on June 13, 2012


Fascinating.
posted by Edison Carter at 7:31 AM on June 13, 2012


valkyryn: "But there isn't really any mechanism for civs starting at different points in history, which is something that seems to happen."

At least in some versions, if you wipe out a civilization early enough, the other civilization of the same color will start up (wipe out the Chinese, the Americans pop up).
posted by Chrysostom at 7:35 AM on June 13, 2012


But there isn't really any mechanism for civs starting at different points in history, which is something that seems to happen. Or for civil wars and internal politics. Indeed, the entire game is predicated on harmonious domestic politics.

We've got that covered. :)

Anyone interested in seeing / playing with this kind of dynamic, try out "Rhyse and Fall of Civilization". It is available in Civ IV, I think III as well. It makes for a very very different game, and it is a little more constrained than the totally free-form possibilities in a standard game. But it does feel a lot more "real" - from a game to a "world history simulator"...

So, playing as Egypt, you can win (through their unique victory conditions) by the late BC years. Play Babylon, and even surviving to moderm times is a miracle, but again you can win by your unique "challenge" victory. Play as the USA and you'll be a very huge, rapidly growing state, but you only get to play the last couple centuries of the game... This is interesting in itself, as for a late entering nation the game autoplays up to your entry date and every time you enter a different (sometimes radically different) alternate history. IIRC at the 4000BC start you can only be China, India, Babylon, Egypt. Each civ comes in around its real historic starting point.

Religions can rise as per the normal mechanic, but will also spawn around the historical dates in their real world locations. I still remember (and wish I hadn't lost the savegame) when I was Persia and managed the quite tricky feat of beating the independent city state of Jerusalem to Christianity. It popped up in Samarkand, the extreme north of the Greater Persian Empire, and I had to spend the next few centuries desperately defending it from the ever bigger and badder incursions from the barbarian steppes above me... In terms of geopolitics I was perfectly positioned to spread The Word to every corner of the Old World! Why did I lose that savegame?!?

It feels like a totally different game, and takes some getting used to, but once you "get it" it is a tonne of fun!
posted by Meatbomb at 8:00 AM on June 13, 2012 [7 favorites]


Ok, so back to the original post. I've been playing the download off reddit (after various issues setting up a 15 year old game!). So, some notes:
* The save game is at warlord settings so the fighting is actually pretty easy. Watch out for the howizters though - these were always stupidly unbalanced.
* Cashflow is great. Rush-buying things is a big option.
* The opponents, as the poster says, are stupidly aggressive. Signing a peace treaty with them, however, just means they cluster massive numbers of units around your border cities, demand large amounts of cash, and sneak attack you even if you give it to them.
* The biggest, most overwhelming problem is the amount of pollution on the map.

My initial thought would be: switch to fundamentalism, scale back the military a bit (defend what you have, obviously, but don't actively try to capture anything new), build a LOT of engineers to improve the terrain and remove pollution, and finally, when your empire is productive again, then go on the offensive.

However, the ice caps / global warming problems happen at intervals every 20 turns or so, such is the pollution on the map at this time. In practice, this means that if you build lots of engineers, all the land that you improve turns back into swamps at the next global warming event. Whilst there is a lot of pollution in your territory, this isn't easily cleaned up as the computer AI likes easy targets and kills engineers that are cleaning up pollution at every opportunity. Additionally, every time all your land turns into swamps, suddenly you have big problems supporting those engineers from a city that suddenly has a big food deficit and will disband those engineers as soon as food stocks run to zero.

My slightly adjusted strategy is to rush-buy (or just build, if cash doesn't permit) harbors, offshore platforms (to ensure that both food and production are kept up even after a swamping), engineers (wherever there is current food for support), SDI (hey, let's not give the option to increase the amount of pollution that can be generated), and various other bits and bobs (e.g. military units for the front line cities). I am actually quite tempted to rush buy a few SDIs in cities a little back from the border and just abandon the front line cities (after a fight, of course) to the enemy, but that would be giving in.

Fight on therefore, sign treaties just to give your engineers chance to move in and clean up the pollution. The repeated swampings are the problem - fixing that (SDIs everywhere, engineers wherever and whenever possible) is the solution - that said, this isn't going to be easy and will take a LOT of turns to fix.

Dystopia, indeed.
posted by BigCalm at 3:42 PM on June 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


I was thinking about this last night and I was wondering if Civ 2 had a raze city (only on capture, not capitals) option (I couldn't remember for sure). From a quick google, it looks like it was introduced as an option in Civ 2.
So isn't the solution to this situation really straightforward? 1. Spam spies. 2. nuke cities with spies 3. capture cities (the original reddit poster already says some cities swap hands a lot between the factions, so capture is possible even without nuking it seems?). 4. Immediately raze city to the ground on capture. 5. keep doing the above, prioritizing major cities when you can
posted by Bwithh at 5:22 PM on June 13, 2012


and I don't think the Civ 2 AI really razes cities so this way the human player has an advantage too
posted by Bwithh at 5:23 PM on June 13, 2012


I believe Civ III had an actual raze city option. In Civ II, you could only do it by reducing a city's population to 1, and then building a settler/engineer.
posted by Chrysostom at 6:37 PM on June 13, 2012


I miss Master of Magic like you wouldn't believe. It's abandonware now (http://www.abandonia.com/games/189/5) but I keep hoping that some contemporary game company will bring in an updated version.
posted by wenat at 9:02 PM on June 13, 2012




In Civilization III, pressing shift would disable the unit movement animations, enabling faster play. Caps Lock behaved as expected, disabling the animations. A certain #mefi-denizen was playing Civilization III on October 22nd, 2000 and alt-tabbed to the irc-client. After accidentally typing one line in caps lock, he declared the entire day to be dedicated to caps lock. So you can blame Civilization for that as well.
posted by Authorized User at 3:43 AM on June 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


Took 58 years in-game, but I pulled it off, reddit.

OMFG this is why I don't play computer games seriously. If I played a game for 10 years to a stalemate, posted it online, and then somebody won the game after only 2 days, I would feel like I just wasted 10 years of my life.
posted by charlie don't surf at 4:40 AM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


I miss Master of Magic like you wouldn't believe. It's abandonware now (http://www.abandonia.com/games/189/5) but I keep hoping that some contemporary game company will bring in an updated version.

You're not the only one.
posted by ersatz at 4:44 AM on June 14, 2012


You can get Master of Magic from GOG.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 6:48 AM on June 14, 2012


anotherpanacea: "I liked the suggestion of building lots and lots of small cities. That's clearly the Communist response.
"
?? Clearly? Words explaining, please.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:26 AM on June 14, 2012




Okay, if I were to try Civ again, which is actually better for somebody who loves The Basics but does not go gaga for The Fiddly? IV or V?
posted by Shepherd at 4:23 PM on June 14, 2012


Yeah, I get the impression that this guy just isn't very good at Civ II.
posted by valkyryn at 5:22 AM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Okay, if I were to try Civ again, which is actually better for somebody who loves The Basics but does not go gaga for The Fiddly? IV or V?

I'd say go straight for V. IV is pretty robust, but it has a lot of micromanagement that V doesn't have. Ways in which V is more streamlined:

- The inability to stack units means there aren't hundreds of them running around.
- Culture and happiness both operate at the civilization level now, meaning you're not constantly worrying about individual cities' development and unhappiness.
- There aren't religions (yet!) or corporations, so there's no messing about with those dynamics and less worrying about getting to tech [x] first (wonders still matter).
- Roads now cost money to maintain, so there's less incentive to just spam 'em and more to build short-route connectors between cities.
- There aren't tax/science/culture sliders anymore. There's no flipping between civics models; you add policies over time and you're stuck with 'em.
posted by valkyryn at 5:29 AM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'd say V, as well. But wait four days for the Gods & Kings expansion, which will introduce some significant changes to game-systems.
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:34 AM on June 15, 2012


The current price for Gods & Kings is a bit of an embarrassment. Why am I paying twice for (some of the) features that were included in Civ IV?

Also, are they really going to return to stacking military units? Ugh. One of the reasons I generally go for a Cultural victory is because I can't stand the one instance of stacking in V that's required for aircraft.
posted by anotherpanacea at 9:50 AM on June 15, 2012


anotherpanacea: "Words explaining: "China plans to build 20 cities a year for the next 20 years.""

Ah, then by "Communist response" you meant "Chinese response". I don't see that this decision is particularly communist in philosophy; Cuba isn't following suit, for instance.
posted by IAmBroom at 3:15 PM on June 15, 2012


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