The good and the bad of Sid Meier's Civilization series

Just a thread for fans of the series to discuss what they like and don’t like about the various Civ games.

I’ve only played some of the games. And I mostly play singleplayer at the noble difficulty level - I’m no wizard at these games. :slight_smile:

  • III
  • IV, IV: BTS, IV: Colonization
  • Revolution (iOS)
  • V, V: G&K, V: BNW
  • Revolution II (Android)
  • VI: R&F

Personally I like the board game the most (with both expansions), but that’s kind of a cop out since it’s not really part of the series, and my favorite part is the people I play with. The Revolutions are closest to the board game but they are my least favorite entries in the series proper.

III always had that problem where a new city is profitable, and the computer would always over extend themselves. I don’t particularly enjoy pumping out settlers and spearmen, nor do I enjoy steamrolling a bunch of pop 1 and 2 cities with a lonely regular spearman as their only defense. My goal in Civ III is to make it to the industrial age where it’s still anyone’s game. On the other hand great people are kind of an afterthought, and I have to micromanage a lot of units every turn. The worst part is having to remember what I’m doing when I load a save. Is this unit blocking the path or was he going somewhere?

Civ IV is my favorite game in the series. I love being able to move whole stacks around without expending a great person. A lot of people don’t like catapults but I think it’s good, cheap defense. I don’t like being able to steamroll my enemies, and I don’t like my enemies steamrolling me, so it’s a win-win from my POV. It does kind of suck that catapults (which are cheap) last so long into the game, but the expansions help with extra flanking and castle bonuses. Religion is a little bit overpowered in vanilla, especially if you build up multiple religions. By the late game you can fund your entire government on pilgrimage and tithes, not to mention the +10% monastery bonuses for science. I don’t use espionage much and neither does the CPU, I usually just try and out-spy one or two major rivals for the passive bonuses, and leave spies sitting in my major cities. I’ve gotten into corporations a few times, especially when going for culture, and I’ve tried many different city management schemes, great person focus, whipchop, etc. Balancing the city management is probably my favorite part of the game.

Unfortunately Civ V removes a lot of things that I liked most. People say the hexes really killed it but after a week or so I got over the hexes - it’s a lot more like a traditional strategy board game. I don’t hate the later games for the hexes or removing stacks, but I think it’s lost some of its uniqueness. The whip is gone, if I’m not mistaken. Also, cities can defend themselves for years and the whole world has a really short temper. Tech trading is gone and for some reason the computer players don’t like signing research agreements. If you try and corner the city states (diplomatically or by force) you’ll find yourself denounced. If you try and conquer someone, everyone else will hate you for the rest of the game. That means I spend most of my time hunting barbarians with solo units, sometimes a pair. Social policies were pretty cool, and I didn’t have trouble winning games. But the music is kind of repetative, and so is fogbreaking and barbarian hunting. I use the strategy map view a lot because I’m just doing the same thing over and over. I just got bored of it all.

I’d rank Civ VI between IV and V. Civs don’t go around denouncing everyone every five years so I can actually make lasting alliances with the CPU. Nobody sends me trade routes though. I like the district system, and I love the eurekas/inspirations. The culture victory path (tourism) is more fun than ever, IMO. I like these civics more than Civ IV. The maps are beautiful. Espionage is decently good, if a bit annoying. But there are downsides, too. Diplomacy is too weak - I don’t think I’ve ever been subject to a declaration of war by a major civ. The AI doesn’t seem to know what a sword is (I’ll be up against warriors/archers in AD 1000, quadriremes in 1500). After mobilizing my tributaries I can usually blitzkrieg a civ out of the running, if not the game. So long as I don’t sack a city state nobody else cares. I haven’t been able to grasp the religion system, I’ll be sending apostles and missionaries out and by the time the next one arrives, an enemy missionary has undone all my work. By the mid-rennaisance there’s serious unit clutter, especially around city states which always seem to hold important choke-points. The whole city-state envoy system is pretty weak in my opinion.

So, there’s my opinion. Now let’s see what you like and dislike in the series!


Related topic: Civilization 4/beyond the swrd .... how much do i hate thee let me f***ing list the ways
Also the Civ tangent here: Are there any good strategy games for the PC anymore?

Gawrsh, I loved version I. Played it for hours and hours. Enjoyed it hugely!

I couldn’t deal with higher versions, because of the “lozenge” map grid. I like map “squares,” and I simply could not force myself to look at that caterwampus sidelong diagonal map view. So, one and done.

First of all, while one might argue that these games are works of art, I think you intended this for the Game Room. Moving.

That said, the only ones I’ve played were III and Alpha Centauri. I would have played IV, too, but at the time it came out, the Mac system requirements were stupidly high (why the heck is an almost-new computer incapable of playing a turn-based game?).

I think that gameplay-wise, SMAC was better than Civ III, but I had a harder time getting into it. I think the issue was a lack of benchmarks: In Civ Whatever, I can say “Woo-hoo, I have railroads in 1200! I’m going to space in 1750!”, or whatever. But getting monopole tubes in year 120 after landing? Is that good? How should I know? IV, I think, incorporated a lot of the good ideas from SMAC, but like I said, I couldn’t play it.

For V and above, everyone praises how Stacks of Doom weren’t a thing any more, and I just don’t understand that. Of course stacks of doom were dangerous-- They’re big armies; big armies are supposed to be dangerous. Don’t like it? Then make bigger armies, or negotiate your way out of having to fight the folks with big armies. I also didn’t like the move to hexes: While a hex grid is better at emulating reality than a poorly-implemented square grid, they’re worse than a well-implemented square grid, and the Civ game square grids were mostly well-implemented.

My personal introduction was Civ II and I don’t think I’ve been so obsessed with a game before or since. It’s certainly in my personal Top 5 pantheon and at least challenging for #1.

I’ve been much less engaged with its successors. I enjoyed Alpha Centauri, but Civ III didn’t grab me. I skipped Civ IV entirely and played around with but didn’t really get into Civ V. Civ VI I have enjoyed and played a fair amount but it is not close to challenging II in my mental ranking.

But my hats off to the series as a whole. Ground-breaking, important and addictive.

I didn’t start with the earlier ones, but instead started with Civ V, which I still play (though not in the past few months). I have Civ VI, but I just can’t get the hang of it. So I stick with Civ V.

I also bought Civilization: Beyond Earth, which I played for a while, but lost interest in it.

Oh, absolutely. I would put Alpha Centauri right up there with IV, probably the only reason I like IV more is due to nostalgia (I didn’t play AC until ~2014). I omitted it because I wasn’t sure it counts as Civilization.


I’ve only heard great things about Civ II, it’s on my list of games to play. :slight_smile:


I’ve only played the Fantasy Flight (2010) board game (I think I played with the 1st expansion)
I like it OK.
For civ type games I like Through the Ages (playing the computer version is SO much faster than the physical game) and (once, maybe twice a year) Mega Civilization.
For some reason I’ve never played the computer version of Sid Meier. I think I would like it, and would likely get stuck in the “one more turn” situation (maybe that is a reason I never started…)


Thank you, that was a mistake on my part.


If you ever feel like giving the series a second chance, Civ IV uses a mostly square grid even though it has polygon graphics. The promo screenshots show this weird camera angle that is rarely used in-game (for battles and to tell you a wonder has been finished). Most of the time it’s top-down with squares, if you’re interested I can take some screenshots of the grid.


IMHO, Colonization 1 had the best music.

Honestly I wouldn’t expect it to be the same experience for a modern gamer. After all it is like a quarter century old at this point :slight_smile: and there is nothing novel about anymore. But it was a giant in its time and place.

There was also a cool Star Trek game that was mighty similar overall. I played a bit of that, but never actually finished a game. It was actually pretty good!

I love these games but I am TERRIBLE at them. I’m not sure exactly why since I’m generally pretty good at strategy style games, but I think that I have a bad habit of having tunnel vision when it comes to production. I inevitably end up with a few small-ish cities producing a expensive but non-essential improvement for 30+ turns. I suppose I get impatient constantly mashing next turn without making enough adjustments. Considering that 90% of my games are played in one sitting, from start to finish, with standard settings fatigue is probably part of the problem. I don’t play often but when I do, it’s a 6 hour binge.

Like I think most people Civ IV and Civ V were where I spent the majority of my time, though back in college Civ III was a regular diversion. I never really understood the angst over the shift from squares to hexes. I liked both games and being a bad player in general, I can’t say that any of the new features really changed my enjoyment one way or another. I suppose Civ V made things more complicated with Culture, Great People and some of the other new mechanics which probably hurt me a bit.

I usually don’t play it as a war game, I tend to prefer to target a scientific victory, but the AI usually manages to get in the way there.

Random question, has anyone played Civ 6 on one of the game consoles? How’s the user experience compare to PC? Features?

The Civ series is my one true gaming addiction going back to the original (God I’m old).

IV and SMAC were my favorites till I updated my hardware recently and tried out VI. The learning curve was a bit steep (I never played V) but the old “just one more turn” magic is there.

If you find yourself stuck (or lost) there are a lot of helpful YouTube vids out there. PotatoMcWhisky is a particularly good channel.

One kinda strange problem I’ve been having is the last three or four times I picked a conquest civ and aimed for a domination victory I’ve ended up with enough free land to build a large enough number of cities that I was peacefully expanding past the era my unique units were worth using. Not that I mind steamrolling with tanks but it would be fun to get some Eagle Warrior action one of these days.

One of my favorite things about II was how easily moddable it was. You could edit the unit icons in any paint program and change the unit stats in a text editor. Heck, they even left you with three blank units and technologies to to fill in as you wished. I remember I made hot air balloons (flying explorer, 4 movement had to land safely every other turn or crash), Kamikazes (weaker rockets, available with Flight) and Heavy Infantry (fill the gap around Armor and Mech. Infantry). I made a Machine Gun tech for the Heavy Infantry and edited one of the other redundant units to a standard Infantry (post-Rifleman) with a new Trench Warfare tech. Pretty sure I still have the files somewhere; one of those things that went with me from computer to computer on floppies or saved hard drives.

In middle school, I had a copy of Civ I installed across a stack of floppy discs wrapped in a rubber band. I’d play on the computers of indulgent teachers, slowly memorizing the tech tree through trial and error every time I hit the oldschool DRM.

I forget if it was 2 or 3 that had the FMV advisors, but that shit blew my mind.

I’ve played a lot of Civ II and a little bit of Civ V. I like the former better. A friend of mine who knew I was a big SimCity honk suggested Civ II. It was my very first Amazon purchase back in 2003 (already an old game by then).