I’ve now spent a considerable amount of time with the December patch for Civ V (22.214.171.124). While the gameplay is still rather wonky and the AI is far from perfect, the patch has proved to be a huge step in the right direction.
Future patches should to focus on optimizing game speed and improving diplomacy. While some people like unpredictability, I personally feel that it makes a game less tactical. The fun of playing a strategy game is figuring out patterns and improvising. If I want to play an unpredictable game, I’ll play a multiplayer game.
With lead designer Jon Schafer leaving Firaxis for Stardock, one wonders how the gameplay will evolve or regress. Schafer was responsible for the incredible Beyond The Sword expansion for Civ IV, which added brilliant gameplay features such as corporations and spies. Will his replacement continue to push the envelope or mold the game into a more conservative and familiar product?
Cities Are Difficult To Capture
I mentioned in an earlier post that the AI loves to attack your cities when there’s an opening. This can be frustrating if your strategy is to attempt a space or cultural victory. To solve this, cities now ‘heal’ at a faster rate. In the past, a few swordsmen and archers could take over an entire city in a matter of turns. Not anymore.
Of course, the opposite is true. Computer-controlled cities now require more damage to capture. Tanks and cavalry now have penalties when attacking cities. You’ll need to depend on siege engines more than ever.
Level Ups Occur The Following Turn
Adding to the city penalties, players can no longer heal a unit on the same turn that it attacks. Previously, you could throw fresh units against a city, take damage, and leverage a convenient ‘level up’ to heal to 100% HP. Now, the enemy will have an opportunity to pick off weakened units before they can level up.
Diplomacy Has Improved, A Little
The diplomacy system has been overhauled. The must maligned ‘pact of cooperation’ and ‘pact of secrecy’ options are gone. In the interest of added transparency, enemy civilizations will now tell you why they like or dislike you. You can play politics by publicly denouncing another civilization and convince your allies to do the same. The system is still far from perfect. It would be nice if there were more penalties for breaking long-standing non-aggression pacts.
Upgrade Structure Is Different
Cavalry can be upgraded into tanks. Ouch!
AI Fights Less, Schemes More
The enemy AI no longer throws ineffective units against your formations. If there’s a stalemate, the AI will pull back its forces and pursue a cultural victory. This puts the onus on you to keep an eye on your enemies. If they don’t attack you for a while, get suspicious!
Is it just me or are turns faster now? Instead of waiting 60 seconds between turns on a large map, I wait about 45 now.
It seems no matter what I do in Civilization V, Gandhi is always the first to declare war on me. I don’t know if this is supposed to be an in-joke from the creators, but it took me by surprise.
I find this funny because Gandhi is supposed to be a great historical leader who mainstreamed the concept of non-violent resistance. This is true in previous Civ games where India tended to be the most peaceful nation.
In other news, Michael Soracoe, a well known Civ community member wrote a scathing analysis of the game that I mostly agree with. With Jon Schafer leaving Firaxis and getting picked up by Stardock, here’s hoping Civilization VI will be better.