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Thursday, February 16, 2006

Civilization 4 blogging...

I've been a life-long "Civilization" addict since I got the original PC game in 1993 or thereabouts. I played the game continuously for a week, and was glad it didn't exist in college or I may not have graduated!

Anyway, I got the newest incarnation for Christmas, and it's a much better game than Civ 3. Unfortunately, it needs a maxed-out computer, and still can crawl late in the game if you're playing a huge world with lots of opponents, particularly if there's several wars going on. My 3Ghz P4 with 1GB RAM and a 256MB video card is barely enough, and I still have to turn the graphics settings down late in the game.

My favorite strategy is a fairly expansive but largely peaceful strategy emphasizing religious and cultural techs and buildings early, followed by a heavy focus on economics and building up trade. My "Moneybags" strategy seems to work reasonably; on "Prince" level (where the human player and the computer players are on an equal footing), I can get to the industrial age by about 1600 or thereabouts, with modern techs appearing around 1750.

I've found a few useful combinations:

o Sistine Chapel + Mercantilism. The Sistine Chapel gives cultural output from specialists, and Mercantilism gives a free specialist in each city. This helps when you're colonizing new continents in midgame as your new cities will crank out culture. Getting the Statue of Liberty up doubles this strategy.

o Another useful thing is to shoot for Representation (+3 research per specialist), until later in the game; if you have two specialists per city, you'll get a bunch of aggregate research.

o I haven't quite figured out "Caste System" (can make as many specialists as you want using population) and rarely use it.

Things I like about Civ 4 (versus Civ 3):

o Civil disorder and corruption are much better handled than in any of the earlier versions. Big empires are just more expensive, not oppressively squashed by corruption. Also, disorder doesn't croak your empire anymore - it just impairs the city's production.

o Democracy isn't always the best form of government. In midgame, Representation + Mercantilism are better at producing research than Universal Suffrage + Free Market. Later in the game, the various pieces of Democracy are good, but not completely the best.

One comment: Environmentalism as an economic form is pretty useless. I usually stick with Mercantilism, switching to State Property once my empire is over about 25 cities or so.

Back in the blog saddle again...

My mom had open-heart surgery late in January, and it was successful, so I'm back to the daily world, thank goodness. She's recovering nicely...

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