Civilization – We Have Met The Enemy, And It Is The Game Itself

We managed to assemble a group for the second week running, which isn’t as impressive as it sounds since we have already shown we will play if only two of us show up, letting the AI wreck havoc with the empires of those who fail to attend.  This time it started off with Mattman and I, Loghound having let us know that he was running behind but would join as soon as he could.

Potshot, however, was feeling under the weather… the weather being an oppressive hundred degrees Fahrenheit is his part of the state, so much misery… and would not be able to make it.

This was going to make the game “interesting” for me.  If Mattman or Loghound fail to show, it has very little impact on me.  Most of the time I barely know what they are up to on their side of the world, aside from fighting barbarians and Russians.  Potshot and I, however, have been cooperating allies in a war of conquest against the Aztecs.  We left off last match stuck into the enemy, hostilities still on and with the Babylonians throwing in against us.

Lunge into Montezuma's territory

Our lunge into Montezuma’s territory

The AI is very, very bad at cooperation.  And it isn’t just a matter of heightened self-interest.  The team working for Sid Meier managed to capture the petulant selfishness of a grumpy five year old for the diplomatic relations aspect of the AI.  So, when you look at why the AI civs are mad at you, it is things like, “You’re trying to be friends with Zurich, and they are MY friend! Go Away!” and “You have a city that I want!” and “You’re friends with China and I hate China, so now I hate you too!” along with “I won’t take this mutually beneficial trade deal because you were being mean to somebody else on the playground!”  Plus there is the whole, “You have ideological cooties!” thing.

It is like the devs got in there and said, “Realpolitik? Screw you, Ludwig von Rochau! We’re going with Kinderpolitik!”

So that programming was going to be driving my close ally with whom I share a border and a whole series of open border and mutual defense agreements, not to mention the whole coordination of the war thing.  I was clearly pessimistic as to how that would turn out.

More after the cut.

Into the game yet again.

The first turn took a bit, as Mattman and I got our bearings.  We also got to see the results of the international games competition.  I managed to eke out first place on that, but due to my forgetting that, for Steam, I have F11 setup to take screen shots and not Print Screen, I cannot show you how narrowly I managed to edge out Mattman, who had to be content with second place.   That win gave me all sorts of benefits for the next 20 turns plus a free social policy.  I took the one that increases your cultural influence when you are fighting a common foe with another culture.  Another step towards a cultural victory by boosting the rate that my influence was increasing in Brazil.

And then Brazil made peace with the Aztecs the next turn, throwing that in the trash for the time being.

I could not cajole or bribe Pedro II to commit again to the war against Montezuma, though I did manage to get him to declare war on Morocco.


That was actually pretty cheap, too.  And it kept my cultural bonus in play while putting somebody else on the scent of Morocco.  One of my goals remained to remove Ahmad al-Mansur from the game.  He had been out of cities for ages, but still had a few units running around somewhere.

I also bribed Assyria into declaring war on the Aztecs.


That helped keep the pressure on Montezuma as well as improving my rather dismal cultural influence over Ashurbanipal.

Meanwhile, Brazil was roundly denounced by the Aztecs, Morocco, and Assyria for their trouble.  That will teach Pedro II to make peace.

About that point Loghound showed up and spent some time getting into the game.  All of these sorts of operations seem to take a lot longer than they should as the whole game pauses to transfer data to sync up the joining player.  For three of us playing over broadband connections, moving the data should be quick, so it clearly takes Civ V time to digest the data.

With Loghound in for his first turn, we had to let him catch up to what the AI had done to his empire.  This is not a trivial, as I was to find out shortly.  In just a turn the AI can send you into a tail spin, and after a session away, the AI had caused such unhappiness that the Celts had separatists springing up along their border with Russia.  Hrmm?  But once he had thwarted whatever ill advised policies the AI was pursuing, we were off to the races again.

Well, races might imply speed.  Things were not speedy.

I was continuing the war against the Aztecs, pushing forward to capture two more of his cities and a whole host of his workers.  He kept putting workers out in the open and I kept snatching them.

Newly taken cities

Newly taken and renamed cities

But the efforts were painful.  I learned to just not bother to try and do anything at all for the first minute or two after a turn started because the game needs that time to get itself set and move the AI in the war zone.  The AI always gets to go first.  Anything you try to do before the AI is done will have no impact.  I thought maybe peace with Babylon would help, which I managed to negotiate.


But even with a wider peace and my patience in waiting for the AI, the game seemed to be faltering.  We got dropped to the loading screen and returned during one round, at which point I thought it might be a good idea to take a save point and to make peace with the Aztecs lest I get dropped and the AI take over the war effort.  I was able to extract one additional city as part of the peace terms.

Soon renamed "Opie"

Soon renamed “Opie”

Peace came just in time.  I was just consolidating my forces and working on a build plan during the next couple of turns when we again were dropped to the loading screen.  Well, Loghound and Mattman were dropped to the loading screen.  I ended up with a black screen, which is usually the sign that there are problems at your end and you are doomed to be dropped.  After some waiting, I brought up the task manager and killed Civ V, which allowed Mattman and Loghound to get back into the game.

It also meant that the AI would be running/ruining my empire until I could get back into the game.  Unfortunately, Mattman got picked as host by the game and promptly started having issues.  For several minutes they were struggling to get back to playing or to at least be able to take a save.  At one point both Mattman and I were in the lobby ready to join Loghound, who had been promoted to host, but the game wouldn’t let us join.  Meanwhile, the game was behaving erratically for Loghound and it was starting to look like we might have to all drop and start the game over from the last save, which was now a few turns back.

With some patience eventually the game let Loghound grab a save, and which point we all quit and restarted Civ V.

Loghound was the host from that point, and we managed to get back into the game.  But all told, we spent probably half an hour not being able to play due to the game becoming bogged down.

Then it was time for me to fix what the AI had wrought.

I had cities building things, units in motion to various places, other units planted in various strategic locations or cities, and a war against Morocco in hopes of eliminating them from the game.  The AI messed all of that up.

I think the AI reversed the course of every single unit I had in motion.  I have a wave converging on Montezuma’s island, so as to resume the war when the time was ripe, but the AI turned them all in other directions.  I had units holed up in cities on my frontiers, which the AI blithely marched off to who knows where.  I seriously could not account for all the units I had at one point, so I think the AI must have just deleted them.  And the ones the AI did not delete were out of their cities, costing me extra gold per turn as I have the social policy that cuts unit upkeep costs so long as they are garrisoned in a city.

The AI had also changed all of my city production to try and produce a huge navy.  Nearly every coastal city had a battleship or a submarine being produced when I returned.  I had already swept the Aztecs from the sea, what I needed were land forces to drive on his remaining cities.

And then the real kick in the nuts was that they made peace with Morocco.  That not only pooched my common foe benefit with Brazil (which denounced me for making peace after I had paid them to go to war… what about that war with the Aztecs Pedro? ) but happened just as I spotted what might have been the last couple of Moroccan units.  So now I was locked out of attacking them and eliminating them from the game for another 15 turns or so.  I thought maybe I would just break the treaty, reputation be damned, but the game would not let me.

Oh, and the AI moved all my spies as well.  I had diplomats out there spreading culture and mis-information in distant empires.

Did you hear about the Netherlands?

Did you hear about the Netherlands?

So it was a long turn once we were back in.  Then we carried on.  Loghound went after the Russians again, who had, at one point, been at war with the Aztecs and had denounced Brazil, because denouncing Brazil was clearly in fashion.  He took a city then sued for peace again.  And Brazil was plotting its little plots.


A sneak attack on the Arabs!  That will show them!  I think the Arabs were the only AI civ not to denounce Brazil, which probably says something about how the AI works.

Mattman began to dominate on the city state front, claiming the allegiance of a couple of my more important allies, including Zurich on the isle of the Aztecs.  It was also his turn to propose something for the World Congress.  Having decided to embrace his inner autocrat and run with it, he proposed Autocracy as the world ideology, which passed handily once the time came.  All of us autocrats stick together.

Unable to declare war for a while, I tended my empire, building up forces for the next assault on the Aztecs, along with some local striking power to thwart Brazil should Pedro II get frisky before Potshot returns.  The last of my diplomatic agreements with Brazil expired so it was all fair game between us at that point.


Also, Aunt B demands crab.  You cannot take her to Red Lobster without there being some sort of scene.  I think she is banned from every place that serves seafood in Mayberry.

Then, finally, the long standing peace treaty with Morocco finally expired.  I had what I thought were the final three Moroccan units in sight, destroying one immediately while closing in on the other two.

See you in hell Morocco!

See you in hell Morocco!

And then Loghound said he was too tired to go on, so we finished the turn, took a save and called it a night.  Morocco lives for another week.

So we have the final round up as usual.  I remained on top when it came to score.


Score at turn 686

Mattman managed to pass Harun al-Rashid of the Arabs at last, while my attacks had set Montezuma back some.

In the demographics department, it was still me in front and Morocco, lacking any cities, in last place.  That should be fixed next time, when Morocco is eliminated and Russia takes up the hindmost spot.

Demographics Turn 686, July 2018

Demographics Turn 686, July 2018

And the world map, tiny though it may be, shows more Dutch orange than last time.

The World at turn 686

The World at turn 686

And we have moved past the present day and are now playing in the future, though our technological progress has been somewhat stunted, so that in 2018 we are working with 1940s technology.  But Mattman and Potshot both moved into the atomic era this time, which means that nukes are just around the corner.  We shall see what that unleashed… and if the game can hold up under the strain of it.

So there we stand at the end of week 11 of the game.  You can find past weeks here:

10 thoughts on “Civilization – We Have Met The Enemy, And It Is The Game Itself

  1. SynCaine

    Yikes, how are you guys that far behind in tech?

    The multiplayer code in Civ V certainly isn’t great. Even when I just play with one other, crashes and disconnects happen a little too often to really enjoy.


  2. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @SynCaine – We’ve been stealing each others tech pretty regularly, so that hasn’t been the problem. But way, way back at the first world congress I put in an proposal that basically sacrificed some tech advancement in favor of boosted cultural progress and managed to get it passed. That has no doubt sapped our progress some. The AI has also been good at getting all the tech progress related wonders and then squandering them by not building even libraries.


  3. Isey

    I can’t imagine programming AI, let alone programming AI to take over for a human player. You would suspect there would be a nice way to see the style of moves the Player has been making over X number of turns and stick with that… but I am guessing they just have a profile for each of the leaders and they default to those base actions regardless of what the player was doing prior to not making their own decisions.

    I have only played Civ 5 vs the AI so imagining how much better it would be with humans =)


  4. sleepysam

    I was half expecting y’all to give up after crashes and hangups, exacerbated by the endgame, based on the title, and my own experience playing Civ V with an old laptop when it first came out. So, I’m encouraged you have persevered.

    Nuclear holocaust incoming…

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @sleepysam – The general group response to my wife’s comment about me not looking like I was having fun during the previous session has been, “This stopped being about fun a while ago.”

    This is now a grudge match, as much against the game and its AI as it is against each other. We are stubbornly determined to finish this game.

    My spies report that both China (Mattman) and Brazil (Potshot) are even now working on the Manhattan project. Nuclear terror to commence shortly.


  6. Matt

    You would think the AI would carry out any existing multi-turn build and move orders if possible, so as to allow for someone to temporarily DC without derailing his whole game.


  7. Gali

    fwiw, looks like you went for a huge game or large game. That’s the biggest part of your performance issues. If you’re going to do that, it behooves you to do small landmasses and bigger oceans. Maybe make the world younger with more mountains too. You want to minimize the number of cities on a map to keep performance better into the late game.


  8. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Gali – Yes, I actually outlined the game parameters in the first post on the game, which is linked at the bottom of this post. We went epic in scale as much as we could, that being something of the point of this effort.

    Your response sounds like something I got from Firaxis support back during the Civ IV timeframe, which I have saved away somewhere, and which essentially said that if I wanted the game to run well and not crash, I shouldn’t play on big maps with lots of civs.

    That, to me, is a lame excuse from a dev. (From you it is okay.) I am not running a low end machine. I have a quad core Intel Core i7-950 and 18 GB of RAM. If your game cannot run on that without trimming back the game parameters, I am inclined to think, as a developer myself, that you ought not to blame the customer for exploring the settings that you provided.

    But Civ games have always run badly on the generation of equipment around when they have shipped. Civ II was horribly slow and crashed when it shipped, but a couple of processor generations later it was great. The problem is that raw processing power isn’t ramping up like it used to. There isn’t something out there that will double the speed of my current processor, as there are too many other bottlenecks in the way.


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