Thursday, September 23, 2010

Civilization V Impressions

I spent a little time last night trying out my new toy, Civilization V. I won’t call this a review, merely my impressions from my first play session.
The first thing I figured out was my old strategies were not going to work. In previous versions of Civ, a core part of my strategy was micromanaging my science rates, and stacks of doom. A stack of doom is basically a whole lot of units moving together, something I brought over from my Risk days.
You can’t manually control the science rate any more. It is simply a function of your population. Only one combat unit can occupy a space, so you can’t make stacks of doom anymore.
This also means you can only station one unit in a city for defense, but don’t think for a minute that it makes cities easy pickings. Cities are units in and of themselves, and it is very difficult to take them out. You basically have to lay siege to them and bombard them with archers, trebuchets, or cannon. Cities fight back and bombard you units as you are attacking. One nice UI enhancement is that you get a probable outcome when you mouse over the enemy unit or city. Everything from Divisive Victory to Narrow Defeat to Crushing Defeat.
One of my favorite enhancements to this Civilization is the new unit order called Embark. Transports are no longer part of the game. Every unit can embark, giving it the ability to move over sea hexes (but not ocean hexes). This is really helpful for island hopping and grabbing resources.
Resources are really important. You are limited in the way you use them. For instance, the Swordsman unit takes Iron. If you only have one Iron mine, you can only build one Swordsman. If you want another Swordsman, you have to make another mine on a different Iron resource. That took some getting used to.
The other new addition that I’m still figuring out is City-States. These are one city civilization that do not produce settlers and are not trying to win the game. You can ally with them if you give them a gift a gold. Then they will send you culture, and resources. But after a few turns, they forget about your gift and demand more gold to keep trading. Greedy little tyrants. Sometimes city-states will get annoyed with one another and put out a hit on another city-state. The first major power to carry out the hit, get a temporary ally with the city-state that put out the hit.
Culture is used to navigate a social policy talent tree. You buy your way into a particular tree and then pick talents to give you bonuses. But some trees lock out others, so you have to choose carefully. I started both times with the Liberty tree because that gives you faster building settlers. I’m used to the land rush early game from other Civs, but it doesn’t seem as big a deal in Civ V. Unhappiness increases with each city, and its handled on a Civ-wide level instead of a per city level.
Barbarians are a force to the reckoned with early on, and serve as a good introduction to combat.
Overall, I’ve been very impressed with this latest version of Civ, and once again found myself up way too late wanting just… one… more… turn…
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