John McDonald

Blogging about politics, life, and the web

Hooked on Civilization 4 and Civ Beyond the Sword

August 16th, 2009

OK, so the Civilization line of games has been around for years now and it just keeps getting better.  Unfortunately, this means I’m spending more and more time on them.

In Civilization, you play as the leader of a nascent society.  You start off with in the year 4000 BC with a single city and one military unit for defense and exploration.  From there, you can build workers to improve the land around your city, and this increases your production of explorers, granaries, temples, and libraries.  When you’ve got enough military to defend against the wild beasts and barbarian raiders, you can train settlers to go out and build additional cities.

As the game progresses, players compete for land and resources while balancing financial concerns and scientific research.  New technological discoveries allow workers to build advanced improvements, and they can also open up new buildings and upgrades for the cities.  Certain techs will let civs who have them work on building world wonders – these are unique buildings that only go to whoever can finish it first.   Most of them provide benefits to all cities inside the civilization:  Stonehenge can expand the culture of all your settlements, and the Great Wall can protect every city from barbarian invasions.  In the medieval era, grand temples and cathedrals can spread happiness through the population, and industrial era wonders like the Statue of Liberty or Eiffel Tower can increase the output of cities.  Other technologies found religions when they’re discovered, and then religions can expand organically along established trade routes or more intentionally through the use of missionaries.

Will you pursue military conquest or a more diplomatic path to financial and technological superiority? Each civilization has its own strengths and weaknesses: unique military units, unique city buildings, and even unique attributes that give bonuses to the production of certain improvements or units.

I recently broke down and bought the $20 expansion that was released about two years ago:  “Beyond the Sword.”  I know, big spender, right? This x-pac adds a whole bunch of buildings, wonders, and new civilization leaders to the Civilization 4 baseline game.  For the most part, its Civ4 with more choices – but there are also random events shaping the course of the game and more depth to player vs. player espionage.

Religion has become an even stronger force in medieval era diplomacy: The Apostolic Palace wonder allows players of the dominant religion to make agreements and vote on united religious policies. Of course, this means crusades, embargoes, and other international intrigue.

So far, I haven’t had much of a chance to see all the subtle improvements in the expansion, but its just enough to keep this classic game fresh. With that said, I think I’ll go play for an hour before I have to head out…

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