Blessings upon you, O great ruler.
Civilization: the game of global conquest. It spans thousands of years of human history, culminating in the rise of one civilization to either lead, or dominate, all others. Along the way, there are plenty of small victories and crushing defeats one must face before emerging as the victor of this zero-sum game. These little moments are the things that keep players coming back time and again for one more game, one more chance at eternal glory, one more turn...
Civilization is also a pretty massive franchise, spanning PC, Mac, and numerous consoles and handheld releases. Therefore, for this roundup Ill be limiting my examples to Sid Meiers Civilization V and its expansions, though several of these moments could apply to past game as well. Here are my eight "weve all been there" moments--good or bad--that all you Civilization players out there will recognize. Who knows, you may end up reliving some of these moments in Sid Meiers Civilization: Beyond Earth.
"Someone STOLE my wonder."
Okay, theyre not literally stealing your wonder. No one is absconding with the Taj Mahal slung over his back in the dead of night. It just feels that way when someone else finishes the same wonder you were working on right before you, especially when youre, lets say, THREE TURNS AWAY from completion! Its a devastating moment, one that sends even the most seasoned players spiraling through the stages of grief. My wonder cant be gone. How could they do this? Maybe I could trade them something and get it back? And then you realize you could just invade that player, and thats where the grieving stops.
It doesn't help that wonders take an immense amount of time and resources to complete, and are typically linked in some way to your overall strategy. Losing one means not only wasting a bunch of time, but also having your end-game strategy crippled. Sure, the game gives you some sort of payout--such as gold--based on how much effort you put into your lost wonder, but its a poor salve indeed for the sick burn youve just endured. Its like if they handed out "Honorable Mention" medals at the Olympics. "Here you go, little buddy, heres some aluminum. Thanks for showing up."
"I sunk your battleship, and the rest of your invasion fleet."
Play enough Civilization, and you start to develop a sixth sense for when someone is going to betray you. Your neighbor--lets call him Genghis Khan--has been awfully quiet these past few years. And he doesnt want to renew our trade agreement. Plus, he just denounced me. Obviously, someone is gearing up for a totally-not-a-surprise declaration of war. If Genghis Khan just happens to be on the same continent as you, shore up your defenses and get ready to weather the storm. However, if Khan is attacking from another continent, he may be in for a surprise.
Chances are, when dealing with an invasion fleet, most of the vessels are embarked land units, which are basically useless in open water. If you play your cards right, and have good map coverage, then you can intercept and sink the entire fleet before theyre able to make landfall. And if you want to talk about feeling like a boss in a Civilization game, few moments can top this. Khan gets sent home with his tail between his legs, and you have the perfect opportunity to launch a counterattack.
"Yup, barbarians just claimed another settler."
Civilization's settlers have got to learn how to carry a sword or a hatchet or a boom stick or something, anything, to defends themselves. Too often do I send one of these units out into the wild--just a few spaces away from one of my cities--only to find them smack dab in the middle of a barbarian warband. And those barbarians, they sure do love gobbling up hapless settlers, dont they? Its right up there with "setting all my farms on fire" and "killing all my scouts" as one of their favorite activities.
Losing a settler is just a raw deal all around. Similar to wonders, settlers are an investment to produce, as they take a long time to build and curtail your citys growth while under construction. I guess all the townsfolk are loading every newborn into the nearest conestoga wagon or something. "Heres an extra pack of Huggies and some firewood; go get 'em, tiger!" Settlers can be recovered from barbarians, but by the time thats done the Romans will have just moved into your favorite city-building spot anyway.
"My spaceship departs next turn. Time for some payback."
The whole technological victory--which involves building a spaceship to colonize new worlds--is a total smoke and mirrors routine. You need a civilization thats big, but not too big, to manage both the scientific output and production capacity to eventually produce the spaceship parts. And you need an army thats big, but not too big, to deter attackers (without inadvertently provoking them). All this while also wheeling and dealing your way into getting the other civilizations to simply leave you alone. Its a very delicate balancing act.
Along the way youll have to make some bad deals and generally suffer the short end of the stick. But when it all finally comes to fruition, its so sweet. Your spaceship is ready to depart. Victory is now inevitable, so why not spend these last few turns exacting some petty revenge? Chances are, with all that science youve accumulated, the Manhattan project is good to go. "Hey Montazuma, you shouldn't have attacked me back in 600 B.C. You get a nuke. Oh, Im sorry Isabella, you didn't want to trade me your extra silver. You get a nuke. You know what? Nukes for everybody!"
"I am horribly outclassed and didnt even know it."
I sit in my castle, fingers steepled before me as I prepare to make war upon my enemies. Smoke drifts in from the forges below, carrying with it the scent of hot coal and iron. In the distance, shipwrights can be heard barking orders at one another as my fleets are assembled. Soon my armies will be ready to march, to sow death and destruction, and...hold up, was that a musket I saw just now? When did Nebuchadnezzar find time to research muskets? What even is a musket? Maybe I should call this whole thing off.
Technological superiority is a constantly moving target in Civilization. One moment youre on top of the world with your fancy new ironclad warships, only to get humbled the next when you see a submarine skirt past your borders. Hopefully you spotted that submarine before declaring war, but if not, dont worry. Im sure the other Civilization will let you keep at least one city after the peace treaty gets signed.
"The hill I built my capital on is actually a strategic resource. Score!"
Building your city atop a hill is always a good idea. Hills give you extra defense if your city comes under attack, as well as generate extra production, which helps your young empire get off the ground sooner. This production bonus is further enhanced if the hill you settled upon just so happens to contain a source of, say, iron. Now that extra iron will get added to your empire without you having to build a mine or other tile improvement on top of it.
Getting this bonus is a gamble, however, as you cant see where these strategic resources are located until youve completed the requisite technology. Presumably, your citizens can see there are some shiny rocks hidden in the hills, but they've just been using them as medieval paperweights and doorstops this whole time.
"Whoops. I just ticked off the entire world."
This was an issue that plagued me more in the early years of Civilization V, before your relations with other civilizations became more transparent. A typical scenario might go like this: settling a new city. Thats it. Usually this is just my second city--but right after I settle it, no one wants to trade with me all of a sudden. Or talk with me. And Alexander has decided to declare war on me. What the flip happened? Come to find out, the other civs dont like it when you settle anywhere near them. Guess I shouldve settled in the boonies to avoid an international incident.
Heres another example: attacking a city-state. This is a bit more extreme, Ill admit, but at the same time there are about 100 other city-states scattered all over the map. And this one is located right in the middle of my empire. Surely my neighbors will understand my reasoning and not jump to any conclusions no, wait, Ive just been flagged as a "warmongering menace" by the rest of the world. Good luck living that one down, me.
"There's a mod for that."
Over the years, the Civilization franchise has cultivated a creative--and highly active--modding community. This has culminated in a massive database of mods for Civilization V that touch almost every aspect of the game. Want to play as Canada? Theres a mod for that. Want a more realistic map of Asia to conquer? Theres a mod for that. Want a ludicrous amount of detailed information, including several charts and graphs, about every aspect of the game at all times? Yep, theres a mod for that too.
And if the community doesnt have what youre looking for, Civilization V also includes a suite of modding tools so you can build your own. Puzzling out how to make a civilization based on, say, the Candy Kingdom from Adventure Time may take some trial-and-error to get right, but theres a vast array of resources available online to help bring you up to speed. Princess Bubblegum could be the leader, and you could build banana guard units. Oh, wait a second--theres already a mod for this as well.
History shall remember.
Of course, there are plenty more moments to share than we can cram in here. What are your favorite triumphs, victories, or otherwise silly stories from the Civilization series? Let us know in the comments below.