Ponderings On the Great War
By Dwip July 15, 2008, 1:04 pm Comments Off on Ponderings On the Great War RSS Feed for this post

Because I haven’t really talked Civ for a while, and I just played a pretty epic game.

Every so often, you have this desire, when playing world maps, to conquer the world. This is the unquestionable natural order of things. The world is there, we desire to conquer it and bend it to our wills, preferably while killing several million of its other digital inhabitants. I had not previously done this, preferring to win instead by space or culture or what have you, becase do you know how much land you need to conquer to go from this:

To the winning 51% land?

Quite a lot, as it turns out:

During the not quite 5,000 years it took to do that, I managed to find myself at war with every single one of 18 civilizations except one: Pericles, who pretty much kicked back in Australia and sailed around in caravels a lot.

Pacal II of the Mayans and Ragnar of the Vikings, I partially conquered and left with viable holdings as my chief vassals.

Julius Caesar of the Romans, Peter of the Russians, and Churchill of the English were less lucky – I relieved them of all but a handful of worthless cities, then made them my vassals.

As for Isabella of Spain, Shaka of the Zulus, Hammurabi of Babylon, Bismarck of Germany, Asoka of India, and Montezuma of the Aztecs? Dead, their empires mine.

Justinian of Byzantium, whose empires in Turkey and South America I took from him, ended up precipitating a world war by becoming a vassal of George Washington, my only serious rival, who had at the time as vassals Charlemagne, Darius of Persia, Charles DeGaulle, Montezuma, and Bismarck.

And it was a pretty serious war, although by that point I was driving around with a not-quite 500 unit army of battle-hardened veterans, and cranking more each turn. Guys like:

Charles Martel, who started off as a maceman in my initial wars against the Aztecs and Mayans in BC days, and was at the forefront of every conflict I ever fought;

Heinz Guderian, who got his start as an infantry unit fighting the Zulus, then went on to become the scourge of the Americas;

Georgy Zhukov, my best tank general, who fought his way through two North American campaigns before returning home to lead the struggle against the Aztec threat.

And as struggles go, it was pretty one-sided. I lost 108 units, mostly at sea where I lacked any sort of technological edge. On the other hand, I ultimately killed 1,320 of other people’s units, which is slightly better than 12 to 1 in my favor, and was worth a total of 11(!) great generals.

It also took 22 hours of playing to do all this, which is one reason I don’t do it very often. The other reason is the domination victory movie, which is so irrevocably lame I can’t believe it. The space movie? It suffers by being lame compared to the Civ 2 space movie. The domination movie is just worthless. But I’ve been blathering about my hate for Civ 4’s movies for like 4 years now, so.

A couple other thoughts:

– 51% land. Jesus that was a slog. Granted it’s a custom map size and land ratio, but holy shit.

– As it turns out, once you hit a certain point, bonus to specialist wonders combined with the Statue of Liberty that gives a free specialist are pretty much like buttons labeled “Win.” Representation in particular was letting me run stupid amounts of cash (I ended with 20k, after a whole series of multiple-hundred unit upgrades) while cranking technology at a ridiculous pace. The whole future era took me, oh, I don’t know, less than 20 turns. I ended up skipping straight over most industrial warfare simply because by the time I got the resources hooked up I was two turns from modern armor and stealth bombers.

– Marines are pretty great in this game (finally!) and always have been. I can’t say the same about naval warfare, which essentially consists of “throw units at one ship until it dies, then watch the AI do the same to you” at any level of technological parity, or “win instantly” if you have anything not sail powered, and they don’t. Here we are, still fucking about with battleship navies, subs still suck, and there’s basically no reason for all the guided missile units because you’ll never get the chance to kill anything with them. All of the subtlety and complexity of land-based warfare is lacking, and that’s sad, because it doesn’t need to be the case.

– OTOH, Paratroopers are probably the best addition to Beyond the Sword for units. I got great use out of them this game in conjunction with air units for bombardment, both as an early form of blitzkreig before I had tanks, and then to capture remote settlements over water and mountains. Considering how much they sucked previously, this is great.

– The whole modern era unit progression is whack with regards to air units, and always has been. Also, with the advent of the F-22 Raptor, can we finally get a stealth fighter in one of these games that’s not just a shitty version of the stealth bomber, and can actually go shoot guys? Because seriously, the jet war I was having with Charlemagne got really old, compounded by…

– …my legions of mobile SAM batteries doing precisely nothing. Zero, zilch, nothing. Incredibly useless. Great idea, but if I’m supposed to have mega interception chances, I want to actually, you know, intercept dudes.

– Also, getting to that point where you can watch somebody’s empire crumble completely in 2-3 turns? Awesome. Just awesome.

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