Civilization (Second Review)

Title           Civilization (Second Review)
Publisher       Microprose
Game Type       Management Sim
Players         1
HD Installable  Yes (CD version also available)
Compatibility   All

WARNING!!! This game is highly addictive. This game is the closest thing
to the 'Better than Life' Game out of Red Dwarf (read the book), at
least for certain types of people. I read on a newsgroup that someone
actually destroyed his copy, because he couldn't stop playing it. This
could be an example of a game being too good, as there are so many
possible permutations, making for infintite replay. It's sequel
Civilization II is the best selling computer game of all time, not
unfortunately or fortunately depending on your point of view available
on the Amiga. It was the main reason I bought a PC.

This game is a bit like a body building exercise, starting with next to
nothing and building a mighty Empire to crush all that would oppose it.
as the game goes on, you feel the strength flow into you, so to speak, as
your Cities, Armies, Technology, Treasury, and Conquests grow.

You start off with one (or two if your lucky) Settler Units, which can
found cities, and improve terrain. The terrain varies, having different
mixes of food, shields (for production), and trade on each, plus special
resource squares with bonuses. You also always get the Technologies of
Road Building (to generate Trade), Irrigration (to improve Food
Production), and Mining (to get Shields from Hills and Mountains). You
may also get up to 3 early random Technologies, with luck you can trade
these with other Civilizations you contact early, and build a good
starting Technology base to begin with. There is always plenty to build,
so don't worry about Technology too much, just if you get too far
behind, or miss critical ones. There are many devious ways to acquire it.

The map is 2D and divided into squares, try and pick a starting City
location with a good balance of resources, your first city is very
important as it is the Metropolis (Mother City in ancient Greek), which
will be your Capital, found other Cities, and probably build several
early Wonders. Tutorial advice is available for beginers which suggests
where to build your City, what to build in it, and what to research.
Take it with a pinch of salt, it is useful for getting started though.
Corruption (reduction in trade and shields) increases with distance from
the Capital, Courthouse improvements and better government types reduce
it, but it is best to build new Cities near your Capital. The other
Civilizations do exactly the same as you, but not as well, as computer
AI's ain't very smart, this AI is however smarter than most, but you can
still find loopholes and run rings round it. The game is turn based,
starting in 4000 BC and going to 2000 AD approx. depending on level,
time passes quickly to begin with but then slows more and more, so the
date approximates to world history, and the technology currently
available then.

Cities produce everything in your Empire, the more food they have the
faster they grow. They start off at level 1 and go up to 10, before
needing an Aqueduct improvement for further growth, they are then
limited by the food available. If they build a settler, the population
is reduced by one, if it falls to one in total, the City is disbanded. I
didn't know this to begin with, and kept building Mecca in the Desert and
ordering it to build a Settler Unit, and the City kept getting disbanded.
Granaries and the Hanging Garden Wonder double population growth and help
prevent starvation. Greater City populations mean the possibility of
disorder, while a City is in disorder it pays no taxes, and if you are a
Democracy it may bring the Government down, it is also more open to being
bribed by another empire to join it, but don't worry the Computer AI is
seldom smart enough for this. Many Wonders and Improvements, prevent
disorder but are expensive to build. Improvements require a maintenance
cost. Research Ceremonial Burial at the start of the game, to get the
cheap Temple Improvement which maintains order for a while, giving you
time to research better Technologies. Workers can stop production and
become entertainers to help (but this can lead to Starvation in extreme
cases), or taxes can be moved from Science, and Revenue to Luxuries. When
I started playing Civilization the manual was unclear about how to hire
entertainers, so I had to wait 150 turns, for the Hanging Gardens to be
built in a city in disorder, with the Mayor fleeing every turn! Also Trade
routes, make more revenue, meaning more Luxuries. Larger Cities cost, but
are worth it as you get increased production and revenues, you've just got
make sure you run you're Empire efficiently.

As is befitting an epic, this game features the 7 Wonders of the World.
But not once, but three times, for Ancient, Medieval, and Modern Times.
The 7 Ancient ones are the Pyramids, Colossus [of Rhodes], Hanging
Gardens [of Babylon], Great Library, Great Wall, Lighthouse [of
Alexandria], and Oracle [of Delphi]. It should be noted the Great
Library and Great Wall were not in fact in the original list of Wonders
compiled by the Ancient Greeks. It could be an amazing coincidence but 4
of the 7 Wonders were in fact Greek! Modern historians believe the
Hanging Gardens may not have even existed, and Greeks had no real
knowledge of China and the Great Wall wasn't built when the list was
- The only Wonder that survives today is the Pyramids.
- The Colossus was a giant statue with one foot on each side of the
Harbour of the Island of Rhodes, which poured hot oil etc... on hostile
ships, making the Island impregnable as high cliffs guarded it's other
shores. It survived less than a century, and then toppled over, being
sold for scrap for Muslims a thousand years later.
-The Lighthouse marked the Harbour of Alexandria, allowed commerce to
flourish. As Alexandria is on a delta is would have been very difficult
to find otherwise, with so many outlets to the sea.
-The Oracle predicted fortunes of individuals and nations, which were
famous for their ambiguity.
-The Great Library was destroyed by religious fanatics about 400 AD, it
contained a copy of virtually every ancient text ever written.
-The Great Wall was not built as commonly believed to keep the Mongol
barbarians out, but to prevent them getting away with their plunder. It
was built by forced labour, over a long period of time, and would have
be impossible to garrison permanently along it's 2000 Mile length,
stretching from the Yellow sea to the Gobi Desert. Hadrian's Wall pails
into insignificance by comparison, of course this was only part of a
frontier defence that stretched from the Rhine and Danube Rivers, to the
Arabian and Saharan Deserts. The other fortifications being made of Wood
and Sand have long since disappeared.

Each Wonder costs a phenomenal amount to build, but has beneficial
effects, that apply to at least one, but usually most Cities. Be warned
some Wonders have time limits, and when they expire they could throw
your Empire into chaos. There are 14 Civilizations to play as, including
all those that built the Wonders, so your could build the Hanging
Gardens in Babylon for example. You play as one Civilization, and can
have between 2 and 6 opponents, plus Barbarians with whom you are always
at War. More opponents, equals more fun, but Technology, Wonders
production, Warfare, and Population Growth will also advance faster. The
game uses one 8 bit byte to represent each Civilization, meaning no more
than 8 can ever be played, this is a shame as even more would make for a
better game (providing your processors up to it), as the Map is quite

Shields are used to build Wonders, City Improvements, and Military
Units. The more you have the quicker you can build. Units use shields as
support depending on government,  so the more units you have the slower
production will be after a point. Improvements help City Defence,
increase Revenues, increase Research, maintain Order, Increase
Production, and late in the game reduce Pollution. So this is the
standard resource management problem of trading one resource against
another, to get the optimum balance.

Military Units can wage war on other Civilizations. By attacking enemy
Units in the field, or entrenched in Forts or Cities. There are three
basic types; defence, offence, and fast. They come in ancient
spear/sword/lance type, renaissance gunpowder type, and modern armour
type, plus sea and land equivalents including nuclear bombs. If you
develop the technology for the next level of warfare before an enemy
this gives you a massive advantage on the battle field, your window of
opportunity may be small, so use it. Warfare is simple, one unit attacks
another, and a probability decides who wins. If other units are in that
square they die also, if not in a city or fort. Forts are built by
settlers. So an ancient phalanx can beat a battleship, occasionally, not
very realistic. There are movement restrictions that prevent your Units
moving to certain squares, if there are enemy Units in certain places,
this prevents exploration, and makes getting your Units to the front
more difficult. They can also be using to blockade areas of the map, and
Cities in peacetime. Some terrain offers defence bonuses as do Forts,
and City Walls, so fortify there, block passes, to cut off large sections
of the continent to you enemies at minimal cost. Leading to production
losses and starvation in blockaded enemy cities, and increasing the
safety of inland Cities. Special Units are available for trade,
transport, and diplomacy. Allowing units to trade, land on coasts to
attack, steal technology, meet with enemy leaders, and subvert cities.
Very poor cities may spontaneously join your empire which is fun (for
some reason this feature wasn't extended to Civilization II, a bad
decision in my opinion). Some units away from home cause increased
disorder for Republican and Democratic Governments.

Tax revenue is used to maintain City improvements, and bribe enemy
Cites, Units, and Barbarians. The Barbarians threat isn't very great,
and they seldom manage to take a City, although they do destroy
Irrigration, Mines, and Settlers well. If they take an enemy city, get a
Diplomat there quick, and you can get it cheap without starting a War.
So try to get a fat treasury, it makes the game much easier. If you run
out of cash you could try demanding it from you enemies, this may lead
to War, or Tribute, try to judge their strength first. You might also
receive technology. If you run out of gold, an improvement will be sold,
possibly leading to disorder, and a downward spiral.

Civilization has a complex technology tree with about 100 technologies.
These are researched, the more you spend on science the quicker you get
them. Once a technology has been successfully researched, it will allow
you to build new Improvements, Wonders, Military Units and have a
different type of Government. You get a list to choose what to research
next, most technologies require one or two prerequisite technologies
before you can start researching them, with 6 starting technologies
which have no prerequisites. The number of choices you get depends on
game level, with more at easier levels. A good early one to research is
mathematics which allows the highly effective offensive catapult weapon.
Technology can also be acquired by trading it with other Civilizations on
a one for one basis. Be aware that this will make them, as well as you,
more powerful, but if you don't, someone else might, and then you will be
cut out of the loop.

There is a certain amount of diplomacy that allows either War or Peace
with each power. Enemy Units can blockade and starve your Cities even if
you have a peace treaty which isn't very good. You can bribe powers to
attack an enemy at a huge price (or if your lucky, a couple of
technologies), and they usually aren't very effective, and give up very
quickly. Spies can be created to show what technologies enemies
have, very useful for deciding when to go to War, or who to Trade
technologies with. If a leader demands an audience be careful as he may
declare War when you are not ready, give him tribute it's cheaper, than
a bloody War, Cities without City Walls may loss a lot of population, or
even be destroyed. It's best to declare War on your terms. Be aware that
if you start building a Fort outside an enemy City, or end a turn with a
Ship next to an enemy Ship or Port City, you are likely to be attacked,
thus starting a War. So be careful if you don't want a War.

The game ends either by conquering all other Civilizations, or building
a hugely expensive Spaceship to go to Alpha Centauri. I seldom got this
far as either I had been wiped out (which didn't happen very often), it
was so obvious I had won that I couldn't be bothered, or the game had
become so slow it was unplayable. Building the Spaceship is a bit of a

There are several downsides to the Amiga version of the game:
-There is a ten minute introduction sequence at the start of EVERY game,
detailing the creation of the Earth, Evolution of Life etc... Very
interesting the first time, but after 100 rounds it gets a bit boring,
and CAN NOT BE SKIPPED!!! Sid Meier probably put this in to try and stop
people getting addicted to the game, but the junkies still want to play,
and just waste ten more minutes waiting for the game to start. The game
can be saved, but to reload you have to go through the intro sequence,
this does prevent save-and-try type cheating.
-There is a lot of disk swapping even with an extra disk drive,
particularly during negotiations, of which there are a lot. Especially
when you wish to trade technologies.
-You have to wait a long time while the computer calculates enemy moves,
particularly later in the game when it starts to get interesting.
-Although their are Despotic, Monarchy, Republic, Communist and
Democratic Types of Government. The game is set up so you play most of
it as a Despotism, and then switch to Democracy. Despotism has less
disorder problems, minimal population growth, but can build quite well
at the beginning AND support a lot of Units. Democracy has high
population growth, generates more taxes, but doesn't support any Units
for nothing, and it has increased disorder problems, so is only useful when
you have built a lot of order creating wonders, trade routes, and have
very large Cities. It's possible but really stupid to play any other
way. Civilization II has fixed this bug with an a vengeance.
-Wars are easy to start and stop, you just stockpile a load of Units
outside a City, declare War using a Diplomat Unit, take the City, and
then they will ALWAYS sue for peace, even when they have the military
power to retake it, and take some of your cities. The downside is if your
Diplomat get killed, then you can meet to end the War, or they may
demand more Tribute than you have to end the War.
-The Computer AI is seldom good enough to take enemy Cities, the Human
advantage is just too great, making for a very one sided game.
-The Computer AI is very good at bombarding your Cities with War Ships,
and Bombers, but once all you Units are destroyed it seldom follows ups,
by sending in a landing party to capture the City. This involves
controlling a transport, protection ships, and a land unit, so I imagine
it must be quite complex to program.
-Trading is extremely slow, with enemy units blocking your Caravan Units
paths frequently. In the real world they would want to speed you to
their Cities as they also benefit, by building roads, and letting you
pass their Units. Civilization II has fixed this bug a bit, by making
the AI a better road builder, but has also created new problems. Also
trade ships move extremely slowly, taking several hundred years per
voyage sometimes. The Navigavation Wonders are highly desirable for this
reason, as they speed ship movements, as do better ship designs, and
Nuclear Power. But they are still painfully slow, and mean trade only
really gets going at the end of the game when you least need it. This is
also the case as early Caravans are used to make Wonders, which you have
to get immediately.

Category list.

Alphabetical list.