Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Games I Play - Civilization 4


Civilization 4 is an awesome computer game, and I say that not just because it's really cool to play, but also because it's so FREAKIN' HUGE!!!

I don't get much chance to play it any more, but back when I did, I was pretty good at it, and I was also a regular on the CivFanatics forum, as TheDS. (I still occasionally stop by there to see how everyone's doing.)

I wrote a couple good articles on how to play the game, one entitled My Religious Experience, and the other entitled How to Pop your Borders Quickly, plus a number of useful mod suggestions to the game that might make it better. (And lets not mention all my sarcastic comments over the years, okay?) And fairly recently I finally got around to releasing my Reference Sheet from Hell, which is the most complete set of reference information available for Civ4 and its Beyond the Sword expansion.

Then back in June (2009), my buddy Dan Quick of Apolyton fame asked me to cohost his podcast show and I couldn't say no, seeing as how I'm a big fan of Civilization 4 and know a lot about it. (PSST! It's Episode #71!) For those of you who are interested only in my brand of general mayhem, and/or want to hear me tease poor Makahlua half to death, the first few minutes and the last few minutes are non-Civ-specific and most entertaining. Dan puts out one of these programs every other week, and he's got about 3 years he's been doing it now. I was invited to do another one a couple weeks ago, but unfortunately I couldn't make an appearance. I might make one in the next 4-6 weeks, though, but no promises. Thanks, Dan, for the opportunity to be a part of this!

So what's so freakin' awesome about Civilization 4 (+ the BtS expansion)? I could go on for a LOOOOOOONG time about how Sid Meier et al have outdone themselves, but I'll just say this: I like strategy games like this which are so huge that you can't possibly hold it all in your head at once. I'm no grandmaster at Chess, but nowadays, Chess bores me most of the time. (Don't tell my mom and dad!) I need something a little more interesting, and Civ4 fits the bill. You build your civilization from the dawn of time to the launch of the first starship, and over the course of this multi-day journey, you make tons of decisions, trying to wring the most efficiency out of your nation as you can under the circumstances you're faced with (terrain, neighbors, resources, random events, etc, etc, etc) and hopefully you make the right decisions that put you at the top of the heap and you conquer the world or you are the first to colonize another planet.

There is so much to see and do that you can play it with many different strategies, and indeed, that's one of the tenants of the way I play: I have a central strategy I use, but each game I change at least one thing to see what happens. One game I may try to conquer everyone, another I may leave them all alone, another I may try to control the oceans, another I may try to spread my religion(s) to all corners of the globe, another I may try to strangle the world economy, another I may nuke all my enemies, and so on and so on. There are LOTS of different strategies to try! How could you ever get tired of a game that's never quite the same twice?

Granted, this game isn't for everyone. I know someone who can't stand to play any particular game for more than about an hour (so you know he doesn't like Mega-Monopoly at all), and I know people who are even more in depth in their strategies than I am. Me, I design techniques and then use them. I want to get on with subjugating my enemies and ruling the world through military/economic/religious/diplomatic/scientific means, not analyze every little detail for hours. (I'll do that when I'm not in the middle of a game!)

Oh, and you can learn a lot about history by playing it, thanks to the built-in encyclopedia. Wouldn't want to play as Hannibal and not know what he and Carthage are famous for, would we?

Check it out!

To assist you, I've linked up Civ4 Complete, which has both of the Civ4 expansions, plus it's also got the new Colonization in it. They also have apparently released an album of music, so I linked that up for you. And if you have a game machine, you can play Revolution and tell me how you like it. (I haven't got a game machine.)

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