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Taking Beijing


                Sid Meier’s Civilization 5 is a turn based strategy game by Firaxis that was released in 2010. The game is the fifth installment in the tremendously popular Civilization series where the player builds a civilization up from its humble roots in the Stone Age all the way up to modern times and the space age. As your civilization grows you can expand outward and form treaties or declare war on other nations to improve your own civilization in land and resources. The game uses new hexagonal tiles to represent advancement unlike past games which used square tiles. There are numerous ways to “win” the game through military, science, development, and diplomacy among others.

Getting Started

                When first beginning on your conquest for the free world you will pick from the list of available kings, queens, and dictators as well as the conditions for the map. These include map sizes, number of civilizations, map layout, etc. All of these will have a large effect on how you play and you can always test yourself by randomizing everything. You start out on the map with a group of warriors and settlers to start your first city. From there you must explore the surrounding area for resources that workers can use to improve the cities production and food intake. From there it is up to you whether you will build a military or if you will choose to be diplomatic or even isolationist in some cases.

Research/ Production

                Every new technology must be researched before it can be implemented into the game. For example, math and physics must be researched before building catapults and currency must be researched before building markets and other financial structures. To research something you simply choose which area you will study and it tells you how many turns of gameplay it will take before it is complete. You can only research one area at a time and it is up to you which one you do first but you will need some technologies before you can access others. These areas can range from writing and theology to horseback riding and gunpowder as well as anything in between. It is important to constantly be researching new technology to increase your empire’s standing.

                Production is the means by which you create everything the game. Anything from soldiers to temples and watermills must be produced, one at a time, by a city. You can produce multiple units at a time if you have more than one city an each unit also requires a certain time to complete. The turns required will be based on the resources available to you and can vary from city to city so it becomes important to prioritize production. Some units will require resources that may need to be traded for from other civilizations and thus it is important to be on good standing with them.


                A large part of the game comes down to how well you interact with other cities and city states. City states are small, non-playable, areas that can be used as allies but are not full-fledged civilizations that can be traded with. As for civilizations, each is controlled by a historical figure from that time and each can be interacted with in numerous ways. There is of course trading where you can give other nations items in return for goods that you need. You can also allow embassies to be put on your city and allow them to cross through your borders, and vice versa. You can offer tactical and luxury items as well as offering to help them in a war against other players. It is important to keep other cities happy if you do not want conflict because they can choose to denounce you or even declare war if they feel the need. For example they could come after you for the land or, as I found out, if you go back on your word after saying you were not going to attack them. In the diplomacy tab it shows how each leader feels about you and there is an extensive breakdown of the why. And what would a civilization themed game be without being able to go to war with other nations?


                Like the other Civ games, there are numerous available military units that have their own strengths and weaknesses based on your opponent. Unlike Civ IV however, you cannot stack military units on the same tile. You must spread out the units in a more realistic portrayal of siege warfare where you would surround the city instead of stacking ten units on the same tile. Units can be promoted and upgraded such as swordsmen to longswords men and even to Minutemen if you play as Washington which I did. Upgrading them allows you to keep with the times without having to spend money and resources to create new units. There is a system implemented that shows you in graph form how effective your attack will be against another opponent and can help you decide if it is worth it to you. You must be careful though because sometimes city states and smaller empires are protected by other nations which means that they will declare war on you then as well.


                I only have experience with the smaller add on packs and the expansion “Gods and Kings” and have not played “Brave New World”. The base Civilization 5 game does not include religion but that is added in the Gods and Kings pack as well as espionage. This allows you to found religions in your nation and then send missionaries to other towns. Espionage allows you to spy on other nations and see what they are up to as well as seal technology from them. This pack, along with the others, provides more civilizations to play with as well as new scenarios and units to use.


                This game is so massive that I could spend pages talking about the finer details and the cool little features. That however would be no fun for you to read and it would take away some of the mystery. In my opinion this game was completely incredible and I found almost no faults in it but it was my first game in this series and thus veterans may find features that they do not like. I would recommend anyone who has not yet played these games to go out and try them but be warned, you might not be able to step away and it may suck away hours at a time. But if that is the consequence for conquering the world, then so be it.