John McDonald

Blogging about politics, life, and the web

Civilization 4: Colonization is buying us time until Civ 5

September 13th, 2010

Civilization’s latest sequel is on the way to stores this month, and the anticipation is high. Since I was introduced to the series when the third installment came out, I’ve been playing this game through all of its various sequels and expansion packs. You’d think that the same old concept would get tired after a while, but the quality of the strategy and competitive game play seems to only improve with age and refinement.

What really keeps the Civilization game going, in my opinion, is that each expansion or update is a significant departure from the tactics of the prior incarnation. For example, when Civ 4 first came out it seemed like early military conquest was the only way to get ahead – but by the last expansion “Beyond the Sword” you’d actually have a good shot winning with religious, cultural, and scientific strategies. Eventually it does get a bit predictable when you’re playing against the same person and the same computer algorithms, but that is where Civ 4 Colonization comes in.

In the Colonization scenario, you start off with two settlers (one is a worker and one a soldier) aboard a small ship headed to the new world. With the blessing of your king and early tolerance from the natives, you are tasked with setting up a colonial empire that is not only self-sufficient but also profitably exporting resources or even more valuable finished goods that can be fashioned from those resources. As you sell those products back to the European markets, you can hire more specialists to farm food, catch fish, or even build more of those manufactured goods like cigars, coats, and cloth.

Of course, money alone doesn’t make a revolution. Once you’ve got a decent trade economy set up you’ll need to put some specialized politicians in the town hall to whip up colonial dissent against the king. As your citizen’s patriotism rises so does their productivity – and the king’s fear. As the king gets paranoid he’s going to have to raise taxes in order to fund a larger army…

The final step then, is to build or buy enough guns so that you can field a force large enough to defend your cities and destroy the king’s counter-revolutionary army. The first player to eliminate all of their monarch’s ground units wins the game – and if no one declares independence the victor is declared as the player having the most points at the end of a set number of turns.

As the game goes on, all actions related to exploration, political exchange, trade, and military add up points for your founding fathers’ bars. If you collect the appropriate number of these points before your opponents, you’ll get the opportunity to trade those points in for a special leader who gives your colonies a specific advantage like extra liberty points, better resource production, or even free units. While these aren’t essential to winning, the person who gets first crack at the political founders usually has a strong advantage when it comes to who declares revolution first!

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