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Civilization V: Gods & Kings

By JcDent22-03-2013
Bis18marck70 (editor)
Bobfish (editor)

The Defence

Firaxis Games
2K Games
Release Date:
US 19-06-2012
EU 22-06-2012

The Prosecution

Intel Quad Core 1.8 GHz
AMD equivalent
Nvidia GeForce 9800
AMD Radeon HD 4850
4 GB
8 GB
9.0c, 11

The Case


Do you want to be a benevolent, ageless spirit guiding a nation through all the ages? Hell yeah, you do – this beats the shit out of being a white collar pencil pusher! Luckily for your non-transcendental-dictator ass, Sid Meyer’s Civilization is a series of games that capitalize on said premise. So pick your country, generate a world and lead on! The latest iteration of the game is Civilization V and you best play it with the Gods and Kings expansion pack. In for a penny, in for 60€!

The Trial


Games like these don’t have plots as such. You select your country, generate a world and go about doing stuff. Need a story? Make one in your head – and if it’s good, turn it into a Let’s Play. Though that is not necessary to enjoy a Civilization game – we used to play Civ III back when our grasp on English was way lighter than that of a YouTube commenter. While there are scenarios and maps (including steampunk (!) and a regular world map with historic start locations), you will probably generate a random one. Pangea or continents mean more space and easier ways to spread, but you might get instantly and historically shafted by expansionist neighbors or barbarians. Islands offer more security, but you might get a horrible start location (if your island is not connected to others by shore water, you can kiss expansion goodbye).

Ah, the little known Rome-Sweden war...

Ah, the little known Rome-Sweden war...

Choosing a nation is important, too – you don’t want to end up leading pacifist trader losers, do you? Nations vary by their powers – some can be seen as way better than others, what with early ocean exploration or discounts to buildings that are already constructed in your capital (gooo Rome!). Each Nation also comes with a nifty blister pack containing a pair of unique units (or, in some cases, buildings). These guys are unique looking and better versions of the regular units they replace. Most civilizations that did not reach modern times (boo!) have pretty primitive ones – but they must not be discarded since it’s the early civilizations that are the most vulnerable, especially so since barbarians don’t give a damn about anything. In any case, powers (and the ugly mug of the leader) are the most important things when choosing a nation. Or your own nationality, ‘cos it would be un-American not to play with ‘Merica, right?

Now that you’re snugly on the campaign map and started your own city, let’s go over the basics. A city has a number of citizens, each who can either work on hex in the city’s sphere of influence or be converted into a specialist by certain buildings. Hexes can have improvements built on them by the proletariat (known as the worker unit in the game) and produce gold and food and production, while specialists produce knowledge and so forth. Gold is needed for maintenance and to upgrade units you research better ones (and you might want to do it) as well as diplomacy and speeding up construction. Food is required for cities to grow while production is tied to building. Simple enough, right?

Science, however, is probably the first and most important of the stranger resources. Research points per turn decide how fast is your technological progress. Tech tree uses the old and boring “one tech at a time” method (Space Empires V or Sins of a Solar Empire have made away with such silliness), so developing faster than the others is quite important. And not only on the military side of things – the faster you’re able to build wonders or, say, traverse oceans, the better off you are, and the faster you can go about producing culture and faith.

Culture is tied to expanding your borders and getting cultural policies – which is even more important. There are eight policy trees to choose from, each giving bonuses when you unlock them. Once you have done so, you progress over their branches and leaves all the way until the end, giving you access to different policies. There can be some cooky combinations, too – you can end up having a militant communist theocracy that’s well versed in science and tradition. Policies are a thing that greatly ties into you empire building and should reflect the goals that you’re going for. Like Islamic People’s Republic of America.

Due to lack of advancement in Analog Computation, the role of Land Ironclads was not properly recorded!

Due to lack of advancement in Analog Computation, the role of Land Ironclads was not properly recorded!

Yes, the “Gods and Kings” expansion introduced, among other things, faith into Civ V. The way it goes is that certain buildings generate faith and upon reaching a certain amount you can unlock a pantheon, which gives you a bonus you can choose. Later on, a Great Prophet will be born and you can make a religion proper, which, depending on your choices, will give you all sorts of benefits, be it production or the always elusive population happiness (it’s a bitch to maintain, but happiness and various resource production are, like, this tight). Atheists are gleeful at the fact that this shows that religion is an artificial plug and play construct, while the rest of us can just enjoy spreading the faith of our choice. While reconstructing a real life faith might be difficult with the limited tools given, you might opt for a new one. The biggest weakness here is the dearth of religious symbols, since only those of real life religions are up for grabs. A bit hard to start a death-cult with no skulls to choose from, Firaxis! Religions also give their bonuses to cities where their faithful hold majority… although that might take a backseat to a general wish to see your faith spread far and wide. Gives a bit of a moral dilemma when the time comes to nuke a city, though.

Ah yes, the fighting. Now it’s way hard, brothers and sisters! Especially if you’re gunning to conquer cities – Civilization V puts all the effort to curb rushing, expansionist players and those with ambitions of grandiose empires. Newly conquered cities not only lose a lot of their population (“how many times have I told you that slaughtering of the innocents, while fun, is counterproductive?”), but also need some time to calm down rebellious people and generate somewhat uncomfortable amounts of unhappiness. You can’t really afford that in, say, classical age, especially when cities are a tough nut to crack in the first place. Cities can fire on attackers by themselves, heal between turns, give the assaulting unit quite a wallop even on 0 HP and can garrison one defending unit. Oh, and military units can’t stack in a hex. I think that has been done so that you couldn’t land on the enemy’s shore, take a city, cram it full of units and defeat wave after wave of attacks while cranking out more units right at the enemy’s doorstep.

The Machinegunner is optimistic about his chances of shooting over the Great Wall.

The Machinegunner is optimistic about his chances of shooting over the Great Wall.

That’s why you need to be smart and crafty (in a strategy game? That’s absurd!). Terrain details matter. Unit types matter. Artillery, especially the one that can fire out of the city’s reach (available from WWI era onwards), is vital, as well as bombers and shore bombardment. And while some ships have bonuses for attacking cities, this is suicidal in later ages, where a city, garrisoned with artillery, can kill any one unit in a single turn. At any rate, city captures are hell and once you do, you’re better off choosing to make a puppet city. It joins your nation, gives you resources, yet you have no control over its production. Sounds stupid, doesn’t it? But the need to curb rushes is the king and you’re his lowly bitch.

Out of the way from the cities, however, you can have some fun, especially when you consider unit perks. Back in the old days, unit’s veterancy meant one more bar on the health bar. Now it means an opportunity to name a unit and to select perks, thus giving you both emotional investment and specialization. Some of them may be adept at fighting in hills while others are medics that heal faster and raise the recovery rate of adjacent units. Some might be better suited for sieges or beach landings. And, of course, there are counter units, like pikemen against cavalry and anti-tank guns against tanks.

Case Review

  • Historically grand: the game is HUGE
  • Works of art: it’s pretty, is what I’m saying
  • Turn based strategy: I maintain that it’s the genre of gentlemen
  • Stupid Hitler: AI is erratic at best
  • We don’t need maps where we’re going: No unit stacking is horribly enforced
Score: 3.5/5
It’s not a gem but it’s well worth your money. Now, if they only made Alpha Centauri II.
Comments (1)
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Posts: 596

I don't know what it is but Civilisations just never holds my interest. I enjoy the first few hours but then it just drags oooon and oooon and ooon. I feel like after a while I am just doing more and more of the same. The title does always have an element of strategy to it but it feels very light with mostly just being macro strategy - where and when to expand and a general research plan depending on what you need and where you need to get to in terms of technology. I don't know, it just feels like they are missing something to hold my interest in the game in the long gameplay times one match takes on SP/MP.