Aztecs Conquer Russian Civilization
January 9, 2002 8:11 PM   Subscribe

Aztecs Conquer Russian Civilization …Now that Sid Meier's Civilization III has been released for the Mac OS, I shall now begin to wall myself off from our own actual civilization and begin a weeks-long campaign to rule a fictional world.
Civ3 truly is, as its packaging claims, “the Greatest Game of All Time.” Civ is not merely a battle simuator or an extrapolation of the board game Risk — it's a chance to learn how successful (and not-so-successful) societies can be developed through history. Strategy gaming at its finest.
posted by Down10 (43 comments total)
There's a version of Quake for the Amiga and a SimCity port to the C64 too, but that's front page news either.
posted by majick at 8:25 PM on January 9, 2002

...but that's [not] front...

What's the preview button do, again?
posted by majick at 8:26 PM on January 9, 2002

I received this game for Christmas, and am having trouble "getting" it. The tutorial was weak, the UI needs some help from a usability person, and all documentation seems to assume that I've played (and mastered) civ I and II.

I've played many strategy games in the past, but they've all been real-time strategy (C&C, warcraft, aoe, etc.). So far I've logged about four hours with the game, and while I am familiar with the basics, I still feel like I'm missing the bigger picture that everyone is raving about.

Any suggestions?
posted by kaefer at 8:35 PM on January 9, 2002

ive never done heroin, but i know that i could beat it.


because i have successfully avoided Civ III for one full day.

when i play this game i dont eat, i dont drink. i dont watch tv, i dont think about my stupid web page.

i have a 19 year old girlfriend who puts out. if im playing this game and she calls on the phone, i dont answer the phone.

it is a difficult, slow, tedious, highly addictive work of art.

my only complaint is that, of all things, the Save menu archaic. It takes about four steps to save.

But again, finest game ever.
posted by tsarfan at 8:44 PM on January 9, 2002

this isn't front page news......... this isn't news....this is an infomercial
posted by crog at 8:53 PM on January 9, 2002

an infomercial for the GREATEST (and most addicting) GAME EVER. Kaefer-> try out or any gameing spot.
posted by jmd82 at 9:05 PM on January 9, 2002

The original Civilization (it was first on a Mac!) occupied an entire summer of my life. I was in high school, and I would play all day, and right at 4:30, before my parents came home, I would quickly shower and pretend like I had actually done something "legitimate" that day. So I can't. I can't play Civilization III.
posted by panopticon at 9:18 PM on January 9, 2002

I'm 46, and used to be a keen "Risk" and "Diplomacy" player. Board games. Yes, I know.

I keep reading about this game. It sounds interesting. I've been to the official site. But I still don't know what it consists of. If a patient youngster could take the time to explain what it offers - and whether one has to buy all three versions or just the latest - I'd be very grateful.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 9:39 PM on January 9, 2002

Kaefer, the scope of this game may be beyond anything you've encountered before. A typical game of Civ II took anywhere from 15 to 25 hours to complete (say, a week of evenings or a weekend when you did nothing else whatever).

It will take you a couple of complete games before you even begin to get the concepts involved. What you have to understand is that all of your strat-gaming experience is irrelevant. Real-time strat games are games to an MTV-beat. This is more like chess.

There's no hurry because it's turn based, so take your time. And don't be afraid to save your game, try some things, and then rewind time when you discover how badly they turned out. (At least when you're new to it. That's considered a bit dishonorable for experienced players, though everyone does it now and again.)

One of the things that you have to understand is that Firaxis is basically selling the game to people who are already into turn-based 4X games (eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, eXterminate). This is really not related in any important way to games like C&C and Warcraft. It's much more like Master of Orion, for example, or to a lesser extent like XCOM 1. (None of the other XCOM games were worth playing, but the first one was a masterpiece.)

Civ is to be savored, like a fine wine, not chugged like cheap beer. When you put 14 hours of game time into achieving a major new technology for your nation, there's a satisfaction in it that can't really be gotten from an RT game where sessions don't last more than 20 minutes.

And don't underestimate the power of negotiations and alliances. You don't have to win with arms.

Think of this as "Sim City" with guns, not as C&C with turns. Five times as much building as C&C, 20% as much fighting. You don't build to fight, you fight to protect your ability to build. Building is the goal of the game, not fighting.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 9:42 PM on January 9, 2002

Miguel, this game is an enhancement of the earlier games, not a sequel. There's no point in getting the earlier ones.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 9:43 PM on January 9, 2002

INteresting points Steven. I have played CivII hundreds of times (hell, i've beat the entire game in one sitting before in a few hours..and no, i don't cheat). I got CivIII for x-mas, but when i start, i'm like "CivII all over again, just a bit snazzier (live CivI to CivII)." I am thinking i am wrong, i so i need to give it a shot. So far, biggest noticible differences is no "Master Wonder" (like great wall/UN where couldn't be attackes w/ those peace treaties), have workers instead of settlers to build (big whoop), but i really do like the concept of expanding cities in radius. It always made no sense to me how a vity size of 3 had same radius as a city size of 30. It seems the new culture thing has fixed this nicely. Well, off to try it out. again.
posted by jmd82 at 9:55 PM on January 9, 2002

Majick: Fortunately, the name of this site is NOT "newsfi". Links posted on the front page are not "news". This is a weblog.

And folks still are playing diplomacy, even online. :) Dip Pouch
posted by benh57 at 10:00 PM on January 9, 2002

No Great Wall? Yikes! What will I do? Are there any new wonders that change the strategy so profoundly?

As far as how long the game takes to play, it is a matter of personal preference. I've been in situations where I could have won very quickly, yet I have chosen not to take that route. I spent a month one time recovering from surgery playing one game. All cities maximised, all territory settled, etc. I just ordered the new one and am going to play one last round of CivII for old times sake.
posted by colt45 at 10:44 PM on January 9, 2002

I'm glad someone started this thread, because everyone I know in Real Life already knows this anecdote: When I was in high school, a boarding school, an entire wing of a dorm found itself utterly addicted to playing, debating, and hacking the original Civilization. It got so bad that, around final exams time, they all decided on a "Civ Pact" -- no playing Civ unless all other work has been finished, with the penalty being $5 to every other signer of the "Pact." That way, you had something to do when not playing Civ or doing your work; trying to make $5 by spying on everyone else.

But seriously, I've lost a couple of nights recently to Civ III (doesn't help that I'm quitting smoking), and I'm more amazed at how deep it is. In fact, I've been thinking about the ascent and decline of civilizations around us (American, Arabic, Indian, Jewish) and gaining a lot of insight from being forced to think of human history in such broad terms. I mean, if going from the Wheel to Alpha Centauri in two days, and watching several civilizations get wiped out in the process, different ones each time, doesn't make you think beyond September 11th, nothing will.
posted by billpena at 10:45 PM on January 9, 2002

Note: You should only spend a month playing one game of CivII if you are heavily medicated. The details are so interesting...
posted by colt45 at 10:49 PM on January 9, 2002

tsarfan, while I'm something of a computer addict myself- whiling away countless hours upon hours on games, surfing, music, etc.- and am probably the last person to counsel people on their computer use: having now seen the picture of your girlfriend at your site, I'm at a loss as to why you even own a stinkin' computer.... ;)

Can't say I've played any of the Civilization titles, but these Civ games are all their cracked up to be, perhaps I should check 'em out. I've always had a soft spot for the Sims and the AoE type games (including about a 3 week stint when I seemed to do nothing but play Black & White and, on the rare occasion, sleep) and this sounds like it's right up my alley.
posted by hincandenza at 11:10 PM on January 9, 2002

The Aztecs conquering Russia? That would be impossible, even in a game with "real rules"...

As strange as it sounds, there's a reason the Aztecas didn't show up and conquered Europe. It's in the geographical and biological distribution of the Earth, Jared Diamond's "Guns, Germs and Steel" explains it very well.

But games are games, eh? Still there are many lessons to learn from CIV.
posted by samelborp at 12:22 AM on January 10, 2002

Somewhat related:

Joystick101 is taking questions to be asked to Civ's creator.

Ask Sid Meier Anything
posted by mkn at 12:36 AM on January 10, 2002

I picked up Civ3 back in November when it first came out, played it obsessively for a couple of nights, and realized "Hmm, this is Civ2 but with a higher price tag, smarter Workers, minor rule changes, and some minimal UI improvements."

Haven't fired it up since, although I'll likely take a whack at it the next time I get a strategy hankering because I don't have a better title that fits the bill.

panopticon: "it was first on a Mac" is a neat little factoid. I'd always labored under the assumption -- and we all know the old saw about "assume" -- that the Amiga version was the original release since Microprose was primarily an Amiga shop (and formerly a C64 shop) in those days. Remember when software was released for every machine on the market all at nearly the same time and "first" was usually a two or three way tie?

benh57: Amen. In my view there's entirely too much newsy news as it is around here. I don't whatsoever object to a FPP that says, essentially, "Hey, let's talk about this popular game." I'm merely grousing because the intent of the original post sounded an awful lot like "Popular game finally released for the Mac. Woo hoo!" In and of itself that fact isn't worth a ton of discussion or even calling attention to, in my opinion. Fortunately for everyone, I'm not the universal arbiter of post worthiness and my opinion matters only to me.
posted by majick at 12:52 AM on January 10, 2002

hincandenza: If you haven't tried a Civilization game, it's definitely an experience worth having. The most enthralling part is exploring the complexity and subtlety of the game, although the challenge of going up against any sort of Sid Meier enemy AI code is always a big [but difficult] treat. But keep in mind before you buy: you are essentially going to be playing a tedious turn-based board game without the minimal social interaction. You have to actually be able to enjoy an activity like that in order to get something out of it.

In my case, I'm a fair-weather fan. When I need a strategic fix, the Civilization franchise (and the various spinoffs using the Sid Meier strategy engine, such as Master of Magic, Microprose's attempt to cash in on the Magic: The Gathering craze of the day) is the default choice for me. But my need for shuffling little stacks of counters around on a board according to occasionally arbitrary rulesets comes and goes.
posted by majick at 1:07 AM on January 10, 2002

I used to love Civ 2. I haven't bought Civ 3 yet for two reasons:

1) I buy games two years behind everybody else so I get them on a budget label. I've only just bought Unreal Tournament for a tenner and Railway Tycoon 2 for a fiver. They should keep me busy for a while. This also has the advantage of being able to use out of date hardware.

2) Everybody says how similar Civ 3 is to Civ 2. Why should I fork out so much money for what is essentially the same game? Will one of you Civ 3 freaks try and sell the game to a Civ2 veteran?
posted by salmacis at 1:32 AM on January 10, 2002

There's a great fictional portrayal of a Civ addict in Ian Banks' Complicity. The game described is called "Despot" and it's the Civ we all really want. Its so good it rots the players soul.

I ran out to buy, played it to death - err ... it's boring. Can't say why exactly (I adored Civ 1 and 2), perhaps it's just become too detailed - there's a sense in which you have to really slog through the middle ages to get anywhere interesting. It also crucifies the machine - performance is terrible (on W2K). If you still have Civ 2 hang on to it.
posted by grahamwell at 2:15 AM on January 10, 2002

A typical Civ II experience:
Came home from work. Started playing around 7 pm. Forgot about sleeping, drinking and smoking. Looked at the watch. 1 am. Promised myself to play a couple of more rounds and quit. Looked at the clock. 4 am. Promised myself to finish the round and quit. At 5 am I actually quit.
Civ III being too detailed is less addictive. I can actually quit on my first try. The game is "smarter" but there is definitely room for improvement. The cultural conquest thing is great as is the expanded trade abilities. Recommended for Civ II fans.
posted by talos at 3:20 AM on January 10, 2002

Something I've learned about CivIII is that you pretty much have to abandon all your preconceived CivII ideas. They won't work.

The single best improvement in this game is the diplomacy. You can form trading pacts, peace treaties, military alliances (against other nations), and mutual protection pacts. If you continuously try to rip off another civ in trades, or march your troops too close to their border, or send troops/workers wandering through their territory, their relationship with you will begin to deteriorate. You'll have to patch it up with tributes or more balanced trades.

As for trading, you can trade almost anything:
territory maps, world maps, workers, cities, gold, luxuries (silk, fur, gems), resources (coal, iron, rubber), contacts (with other civilizations).

Did I mention that you can take over cities in another civ if they are close to your border and your culture dominates theirs?

It really is one of the most in-depth strategy/sim games I've ever played. I never thought anything could top Civilization, but CivII did. Then I never thought anything could top CivII, but this sure as hell does.

Wow. I was only going to type a "It really is good." message, but I got carried away.
posted by Grum at 5:12 AM on January 10, 2002

I fired this up for the first time yesterday -- and I've never played any of the other Civ titles -- and I had an immediate problem: It reminded me of work. Manage, overse, run projects, get involved with details. Thank you, but that's my job, and I play games to forget about that. I'm afraid this might not be for me...
posted by Phaedrus at 5:34 AM on January 10, 2002

I keep reading about this game. It sounds interesting.

Don't do it Miguel ... we'd all miss you. I have had to develop a blind spot for the entire machine I installed it on and the surrounding desk, otherwise I wouldn't be writing this comment or still living with my partner. I haven't seen my glasses for days ...
posted by walrus at 6:01 AM on January 10, 2002

Damn. There goes Winter/Spring 2002.
posted by mikel at 6:08 AM on January 10, 2002

Civ III is great, but Alpha Centauri is better.
posted by crunchland at 6:22 AM on January 10, 2002

Like many others posting here, I was a total CivII addict, and was very excited about the promise of CivIII. If you followed the hype on Apolyton or csipgs, it was being hailed as the single greatest piece of gaming software ever designed from now until the very end of time.

Of course, it isn't. It was buggy and in need of serious patching, like every other computer game ever released. The first patch didn't help (surprise) and added new bugs. The gameplay did indeed force long time Civvers to throw out all of their old successful strategies (a good thing in my opinion), but introduced a whole host of poorly-executed gameplay concepts and failed to resolve some long-standing complaints from the previous versions.

I've played it, liked it well enough, but haven't been as obsessed with it as I was with CivII.
posted by briank at 6:22 AM on January 10, 2002

Civ III is great, but Alpha Centauri is better.

No it isn't ;)
posted by walrus at 7:41 AM on January 10, 2002

Oh, ok. If you say so.
posted by crunchland at 7:46 AM on January 10, 2002

Allow a dissenting opinion:

After a week of playing this piece of tripe, I was so angry and pissed-off I broke the CD in half. The AI is for shit, the skill levels absolutely impossible, and there's just no joy in the game. The resource stuff was neat, but the game itself is so poorly implemented, and you can see why - Sid Meier licensed it to Firaxis, who then licensed that out to Infogrames Interactive. The Civ brand was passed around like a joint at a Dead show. I was severely disappointed.

But this isn't a front-page post. ;)
posted by solistrato at 8:08 AM on January 10, 2002

as long as i can conquer the world/galaxy while wiping out other countries/cultures/civilizations/races, i'm happy.
posted by tolkhan at 8:29 AM on January 10, 2002

sjc - Meier works for Firaxis. Infogrames, while you could legitamately gripe about them, is simply the publisher.
And a small dissenting opinion on the AI. If it's for shit, then why are the skill levels impossible? At Regent, there are no bonuses for anyone. For a game AI, I think they did a great job.

As a Civ vet, here why I bought civIII and why I like it (compared to civII)
- Warring: the AI is so much better in this game. You can still beat it in a fight, but you have to actually think about it now. The first time it feinted an attack and then landed a huge force on the other side of my empire, I almost cheered. Combined arms are a must, as is strategy (not just tactics) while invading
- Diplomacy: My least favourite part about previous civ (and smac) games is way better.
- Culture: New rules make building infrastructure worth more than the tech or happiness bonus
- Resources: They increase conflict, in a good way. Someitmes you're cruising in the lead, but you find out that the only source of aluminum is in your rival's heartland. uh-oh.

Things I don't like:
- The end game is still tedious. There is too much micromanagement to do if you're going to beat the AI at higher levels.
- War is too difficult to wage to far away places.
- Modern units aren't strong enough compared to ancient.

While it's not as addictive for me as CivI was (the first time is always the best...), I like it much better than SMAC or CivII. I play it almost every day, but manage to pry myself away after an hour or two. Unless, of course, I'm just starting a game, and then I play for hours, and hours...
posted by sauril at 8:43 AM on January 10, 2002

My only experience with Civ games has been with Alpha Centauri, which I found engrossing and fun.

My problem with the game, and my primary concern about buying CivIII (now that it is available for the Mac) is that they _suck the life out of me_.

I'm the type of reader who doesn't like to pick up a book, put it down, and then come back to it. I want to consume it in one grand gulp. Applying that behavior to this type of game will _kill_ your ass... up all night, spending the next day at work daydreaming about strategic possibilities, then another sleepless night implementing them.

Highly addictive stuff, but a real "flow" experience. These games engage the mind and the senses on so many different levels. Wicked.
posted by russh at 9:09 AM on January 10, 2002

I can't get involved in Civ3! I'm saving myself for Master of Orion 3, due out Q1 2002.
posted by whuppy at 9:37 AM on January 10, 2002

And Heroes of Might and Magic IV, which is even better, because 4 is one more than 3.
posted by whuppy at 9:39 AM on January 10, 2002

War is too difficult to wage to far away places.

Build up a few galleons and frigates (or whatever) and make sure you grab and garrison a city on your opponents main continent with your hardest troops.

Then make your peace (buy it), sit back, and pile up research towards the Airport improvement, whilst building up your army and money. Make sure you build at least one type of troops to attack cities and a different type to garrison them.

As soon as you can, buy the airport improvement in your city on your opponents continent (and in some cities near your army) straight away, and your troops will be boiling into their territory like nobodies business, within a turn or two.
posted by walrus at 9:51 AM on January 10, 2002

Majick, just to set the record straight: Master of Magic was developed by Steve Barcia at a different studio. While there are obviously concepts in common, so far as I know it shares no code with Civ or CivII. Microprose published both games but that was mostly because back then Microprose was mainly catering to the turn-based strat-gamers.

Master of Magic actually owes more to Master of Orion, which is what Barcia had written before that.

Also, Master of Magic came out long before "Magic the Gathering".
posted by Steven Den Beste at 10:24 AM on January 10, 2002

Hmmm... I'd forgotten about the airlift. I was thinking more along the lines of earlier age war. Thanks.

Trying to avoid turning this into a strategy discussion, I'll just leave it at that.

(btw, it still bugs me that it takes a battleship 50 years to cross the ocean :)
posted by sauril at 10:26 AM on January 10, 2002

I can't get involved in Civ3! I'm saving myself for Master of Orion 3, due out Q1 2002.

The only two games I play, both huge time eaters. I can't not get them both. Well, I don't really like my job that much, anyway....
posted by colt45 at 11:26 AM on January 10, 2002

SDB: Thanks for clearing that up. I always enjoy when someone can come in and bust up the party with the application of actual facts.

I think I was simply confused because by the time I actually got my hands on and played MoM I was surprised to find out it contained a game element (the spell list) that was almost completely identical to the list of little bits of colorful paper I had used to play MtG the year before -- yes, I'll admit to being enough of a dweeb to have done this. It's probably just coincidence, or poor timing on my part, though.
posted by majick at 1:01 PM on January 10, 2002

Magic: the Gathering was first released to the public on August 5, 1993. MoM was also published in 1993. However both games were designed years before they were commercially available.

The resemblances in the magic system are absolutely striking. MoM lacks the "opposed/allied" color feature: in MtG, red opposes white and blue, green opposes blue and black, white opposes black and red, blue opposes red and green, and black opposes green and white; each color is allied to the two it is not opposed to. Otherwise, many of the spell names (Holy Strength) are similar or identical.

I suspect that the authors of the two games knew each other beforehand, or possibly met during the design time and discussed ideas. Maybe they both know a third person?

posted by aeschenkarnos at 10:52 PM on January 11, 2002

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