Civilization V : 21st Century Chess

I'm shaking off the sleep loss from my first , open start Civilization 5 game. I wanted to go over a bit of the strategy I used, and how I am making out.

I chose to play as Germany, because I planned to hit the map hard and I wanted a start advantage. Germany has a great starting advantage and a good midgame military unit. Around 1200 I finally designed a winning strategy after figuring out that siege units cannot occupy a city (doh!), and I am about 20 turns away from Victory now. There is one last big battle with Rome. I am considering keeping them alive, so I can see what the space race victory condition will look like. I will probably save game after I blast Rome back to a single hex, or two - save, win the game by military means - and then annex the capital cities of my conquered civilizations to boost my final score. Burning them off the map. Then, perhaps, just do the space race ending so I can see what the endgame animation looks like. When you're winning, it's kind of like chess - you can't let your guard down, but it's a fun game of cat and mouse. When you're losing, it's awful. :)

Civilization is a turn based strategy game, a bit like chess. The idea is that you play high above this civilization that grows, allocates resources - and generally acts kind of like Sim City, except that you have mobile units to map, modify and network. The game - which is typically a very long process - has pathway to diplomatic, cultural, scientific and military victory scenarios. The map is different each time, so based on AI, and the other players - you're bound to be drafting a unique strategy for each game. In essence, your task to win is to try to create a timeline of history for a Civilization - whose victory condition is a position of global or technological dominance.

The new game is pretty deep. As the game progresses, there are economic, foreign, military and scientific decisions to make. Which technology do you research? What military unit to build? Can you trade the correct resources to gain an advantage? How do you apply social and foreign policy?

I thought , instead of giving away my strategy - since, after all, some of my friends read this blog and I'm going to be playing them - I would offer some insights into strategies that I'm pretty sure, will not work.

  1. Benevolence - If you build your civilization to help others out, exclusively - you will not succeed. Too many costs are involved, and you never have a guarantee that either the other player or AI will eventually apply a military solution. To retreat and utilize a diplomatic-only solution, especially in light of the fact that you cannot use espionage (in this game) to further your aims - is a doomed scenario.
  2. Piety - You have a choice of executing different social policies. If you walk exclusively down the policy tree of pious, culturally based social structure - you're going to end up with a very dangerous disadvantage condition. At least one of the players I wiped off the map, was utilizing piety.
  3. Militarism - By this, I mean specifically - only pursuing military objectives of build, and conquer. Each new city you smash will be very, very unhappy. When you annex them you'll end up decreasing the overall productivity of your civilization. A Military needs money and the support of its people.
  4. Pure Science - You can win this game by making it into space. If you're stuck on a desert island in the game, and there's no contact with any other civilization - this is the way to go. Build out your civilization with as much emphasis on technological growth, as possible. But it won't work in practice: the game provides for highly mobile units such as airplanes , in the latter part of the final turn by turn and you'll end up being discovered - you will have military units at your doorstep.

Winning Civilization will be kind of fun, but it's also tiring. There are a ton of things to keep in mind as you play, and its a pleasantly distracting and engrossing game. But when others play you - it becomes a high stakes game of chess. Play the game as a computer game, to learn how to play it - but once you have mastered mechanics and basic strategy - figure out how you will play against others - and in this iteration, you will play the 21st century equivalent of chess. A highly charged, beautiful game that lets you figure out what to do with available resources, and how to plan for what others might do when they try to take them from you. Or salted earth.