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Civilization – The Center Cannot Hold April 23, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Other PC Games, Strategy Group.
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The third week of our Friday night Civilization V game saw us all online together, but we were going to have to test something new.  Loghound was with us, but would have to drop out of the game almost immediately to take care of a domestic issue.  From what we had read, the game should allow him to drop out, at which point the AI takes over, and then return to the game.

As Loghound departed I started putting my threatened Drang nach Osten together.  I opened up diplomatic relations with the Mayans, the remaining AI run civilization, and got them to agree to attack Potshot and his Ottoman empire with me after 10 turns.

After the turns had passed, I declared war and launched my forces into the heart of Potshot’s territory with an eye towards taking Istanbul.  The Mayans however, totally reneged on their deal, and everybody else, including the AI running Loghound’s Japanese empire, declared war on me.

War were declared

War were declared

That wasn’t actually as bad as it sounded.  Mattman was on the other side of the Pangea continent, so couldn’t really get to me easily.  I had the same problem getting over there when we destroyed the Mongols last week.  Japan was a bit closer, but didn’t have many troops it could bring to bear, and those that came my way were technologically outdated.  I was rolling out with US Civil War level technology (cavalry, riflemen, and cannon) while Japan was fielding pikemen.

So it was mostly a grapple between Potshot and I.  Like most armies, I found that I did not out number the enemy by the ratios I had hoped, but I was technologically superior.  Potshot’s knights, crossbowmen, and Janissaries wore me down, destroying some of my forces.  But I was able to cut off his capital from the mass of his forces and hold them around Edirne while my guns headed towards his capital.

Battle Opens

Battle Opens

There was a short, sharp battle around Istanbul… once I figured out how the simultaneous turned worked… sort of… there were times when it wouldn’t let me move units that I ought to have been able to… eventually I figured out that persistent double-clicking gets things done…  but I was able to pound it into submission, taking it and renaming it Constantinople.

You can't go back to Istanbul?

You can’t go back to Istanbul?

I was able to push further and take Ankara, just to the south of Constantinople as well as a small city Potshot had dropped on the northern coast of the continent, closest to Berlin of all cities, and in something of a cul de sac.  I marched a small army out to take it and then found I couldn’t really go anywhere from there, so the portion of the army not set to garrison the town had to march back to Berlin and around the mountain range to get to the main front of the war, only to find peace had been declared.

Potshot sued for an end to hostilities and I accepted.  He then did what any nation still possessed of military might but which just lost a war would do; he looked for somebody else to kick the crap out of in order to redeem national pride.  He proposed an alliance with me, which I accepted, and then declared war on Mattman and his Spanish empire.

They began a decades long battle over the former city-state of Almaty.

The Ottomans hold it today...

The Ottomans hold it today…

The battle appeared, from my perspective, to consist mostly of rolling cannons up to each other and blazing away in an all consuming hail of lead.  Losses were staggering.  The city changed hands several times.

About then Loghound got back, was successfully able to rejoin the game, and aside from being at war and finding me picking off his pikeman units one by one, found his empire in better shape than when he left it.  He asked for peace, which I agreed to primarily because our empires were positioned such that coming to grips with each other was going to be a problem.  I think his half-sherpa pikemen spent more than a century getting over the mountains and to my frontier.

Which left me in a similar position as last week, with a war raging far to the east, obscured by fog, and decades away for my troops.  My only real point of contact with Mattman was via a city I dropped on an island towards the end of the last session.  My city shared the island with the city state of Singapore, which was an ally of Mattman’s Spanish.  I figured the city was a lost cause, as it was half way around the world from most of my empire and right on Mattman’s doorstep.

Mattman poured a pile of troops onto the island and I expected to go down fighting in a few turns.  I continued to send supplied to Potshot to keep his war going while starting to build some early armored cruisers in order to keep Mattman away from my coast.

However, the flaw in the “blast ‘em” warfare taking place in the south came into focus on the island.  Mattman dropped cannon and Gatling guns, which proceeded to pound my city.  My only unit consisted of riflemen, who would sally out from the city to attack one of his units and then retire to heal up.  While Mattman proceeded to beat down my city defenses, he soon realized that he had not brought along a unit capable of actually capturing a city.

Then my armored cruisers started showing up, sweeping him from the sea like Dewey at Manila Bay and keeping any reinforcements at bay.  I was then able to get some lancers and cannons onto the island and was able to destroy all Spanish forces.  After a bit more build up, I was able to take Singapore, giving me an outpost off of Spain’s northern coast.

Island secured

Island secured

I sent some of my units across to the mainland to scout and pillage, but Mattman had begun building submarines in earnest.  Those were able to intercept most of my troops so my attempt to disrupt his war effort was not successful.

The bloodbath around Almatay meanwhile had sapped Potshot’s martial spirit.  He and Mattman ended their war as the evening was winding down.  That just left Mattman and I skirmishing on the high seas now and again.

My empire, turn 239

My empire, turn 239

We decided to call the game for the night at turn 240.  Amongst the victory conditions we set was a turn limit, so that the person with the highest score will win at turn 330.  That leaves us just 90 turns left to play.  The game could wrap up in the next session.

At the end I was out in front in points, though not by a huge margin.

Score at Turn 240

Score at Turn 240

The contest appears to be between the two coastal powers.  I am on the west coast of Pangea, while Mattman holds the east coast.  Those in between us suffer, and likely will continue to suffer, due to our conflict.  There has been a certain amount of talk about who is going to get what when nukes appear on the scene, though we are a ways off from that.  While I was ahead of the historical curve at one point, with Gatling guns and Riflemen in the late 1600s, we are now at 1940 and are working on 1915 technologies.  We will have to see if we can even get to nukes in the next 90 turns.  But if we do… well… I chose the name of that island city for a reason.

The demographics show Germany holding its own on most fronts.

Turn 240 Demographics

Turn 240 Demographics

I solved my lebensraum problem with my attack into the Ottomans.  My approval rating is sagging, but I have been investing in the order social policies to stem that.  The oppression will continue until happiness increases!

Technologically I believe I still hold a small edge, though Mattman has been deploying units that are up to mine in tech.  Somebody stole one of my technologies during this round.  Oh no!  But the game doesn’t tell you who committed this vile act.  However, it just so happens that Loghound got the achievement for stealing a technology during this session, so I think that mystery has been solved.

As noted, there is a chance we could wrap this up coming Friday.  Then we will have to decide if we give Civilization V another go or not.

I am going to guess that we will play Civ V again.  But what settings will be used the next time around?  There was a suggestion of setting up a game with a lot more AI civs and joining together to destroy them all.  That could work.  And then there is map size and all the fiddly little settings.

The one setting that is going to cause contention though is turn time.  We are currently playing with a 2 minute limit on turns.  Mattman complains about the lack of time to finish his moves every couple of turns.  On the flip side, 90% of the time I am done with my turn inside of 30 seconds and spend the next minute and a half waiting for the turn to end.  I automate a lot of stuff.  So we’re going to have to have that discussion.

But otherwise, the end is in sight for this match, though who will win is still in contention… just not for the civs in the middle.

Comments»

1. loghound - April 23, 2014

Great write up — I did steal the tech but trust me — I’m still a bushman running around with swords to your technology.

At this point I’m playing to ‘learn’ as this is the farthest I’ve ever gone in this game (but it’s been a blast)

What impresses me most is a multiplayer game that has gone on for weeks now and how well it works for leaving and coming back (when I had to leave I was able to seemlessly re-enter)

2. mbp - April 24, 2014

I have made several attempts to get into Civ but I have never gotten beyond the overwhelmed stage. I have started campaigns in Civ III, Civ IV and Civ V but even though I spent tens of hours in the various games I have never gotten comfortable in any of them. Part of my difficulty is that I never know what to build or research next. I tend to pick whatever shiny new thing pops up. inevitably this leads to my fielding armies of laser wielding cavaliers who are mounted on donkeys and are really good at writing poetry. Any advice? Do I need to study build orders?

3. SynCaine - April 24, 2014

Recommendation for the next game; turn on the option that stops simultaneous turns during war. Prevents the ‘who clicked first’ wars, which I found annoying and cheesy.

4. Wilhelm Arcturus - April 24, 2014

@mbp – I am not sure there is any secret to getting into the Civ series. Either you like the somewhat vast scale, turn-based strategy aspect of it or you don’t.

It can be overwhelming, and that sometimes leads people to automate as much as possible to cut down on the chaos, but then the game starts to feel like you’re just dragging through the years without much impact on events.

I found Civ IV to be the most susceptible to the automation ennui scenario. It was too easy to delegate, and delegation generally worked out very well.

One of the reasons I still go back and play Civ II now and again is that I feel very comfortable taking care of every aspect of my empire myself.

5. Solf - April 30, 2014

Consider playing as a team versus AI (actual in-game team).

You might want to turn up difficulty upwards though.


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