How am I SO BAD at a game that I play SO MUCH?

by Grither
Games and Gaming

Civilization IV is a fantastic game. In fact, any game starting with “Sid Meier’s” is probably going to be awesome. But the Civilization series in particular has always gripped me, and kept me playing for hours on end. There’s something so satisfying about finally taking over the world through an ideal combination of war, politics, culture, science and/or religion.
Or, if you’re like me, just war. If it weren’t for the silly things you have to do in this life to get by (like working, sleeping and eating), I’d probably be playing Civ a lot more.

I miss building my own (entirely useless) palaces, though.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve played Civilization games aplenty, and have more than once thought to myself: “God DAMNIT, the sun is coming up, and I haven’t even nuked Tenochtitlan yet!” But even with all of the experience that I have racked up in this game, I am embarrassingly terrible at it. Of course, at the “Settler” difficulty level, I am like a god. I command troops and cities, and bend other cultures to my will with a mere waggle of my finger. And while this is fun and all, it’s not so satisfying when my final leadership score is equivalent to Dan Quayle.

Ghandi is a total dick.

So it’s time to ratchet the difficulty level up a notch to “Chieftain”. This is where I run into problems. Suddenly, my tried and true method of attacking everyone in sight is failing me. I fall behind in expanding my empire, all the good land is taken, I make no friends because I have nothing of value to trade, and even the damn barbarians are ahead of me in technology! So embarrassing. Back to “Settler” for me, to get revenge on all those who wronged me in this game.

But it doesn’t end there. I thought maybe the difficulty levels had odd scaling, and maybe the computer cheats a bit here and there, and spawns the good resources near their towns. So I figured I’d try a game with a bunch of real live people. I’m a (relatively) smart guy, I can figure this out and at least hold my own against real people, right? Wrong. In my current game against fellow Mefighters (LODers? LODkos? I like LODkos), I am just barely beating the guy who hasn’t logged in in a month. And that’s only because of the generosity and kindness of a fellow player who I am pretty sure felt sorry for me, and helped me out with some much needed technologies. Ah well, I think now my mission is just survival, or, if things improve a bit for me, going down in a flaming nuke catapult of glory!

Take THAT, Tenochtitlan!


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9 thoughts on “How am I SO BAD at a game that I play SO MUCH?

  1. WolfDaddy says:

    I rarely go past chieftan myself because I love puttering around improving squares and building cities (and ships to Alpha Centauri!) far more than going to war.

  2. Chris Hansen says:

    Chris Hansen laughs at your inadequate skills. Chris Hansen admits he is equally bad. CHRIS HANSEN WILL JOIN FORCES WITH GRITHER. And they will speak in the third person together.

    On a more first person note, nice article. Though Ghandi’s picture and caption are the highlight for my tired mind.

  3. The computer actually DOES “cheat,” quite a lot. Somewhere in the aether – I have not been able to find it again – is an interview with Meier himself (I do believe) where he talks about how HARD it is to make AI that can hang with a human, especially over like 20-100 hours. There are strat guides out there that probably talk about the advantages the computers get at every level (or, the disadvantages you are saddled with).

    These days, I generally play on Deity mode. But, to be fair, it’s always with advance start turned on and various flags flipped (no native villages, increased barbarians, stronger barbarians). The earliest part of the game can be mega tedious, especially if you tend to play on epic or marathon like I do.

    I’m really kind of sad I didn’t sign up for this, though I would have probably missed a couple of turns. I had a really good time the last game, even if my end was typically self-sabotaging and pointless. I’m a micro manager at heart, so the one turn a day is like a godsend.

    Oh, yeah, and it’s true that being the last one to go is like finding a fiver in your pocket. It’s like being the last lay setup in Catan. It is, basically, sweet.

  4. Oh: In AI I very rarely go to war. I once tried to “run the table” (win every victory condition in succession with the same country) and was doing well, but got bored with it.

    Basically, religion is like pokemon: gotta catch em all.

  5. Grither says:

    Deity!? Wow, that is impressive. Sometimes for fun I’ll try it out, but I usually end up wiped out in about three turns.

  6. busithoth says:

    I too rule at the lowest, and get spanked on higher levels. Typically to blame is overexpansion.
    I’ve read more rules on this game since playing online and waiting for the next turn so much.
    I really didn’t like it when it came out, though.
    Pre-ordered the expansion pack, then played it twice, gave it to a friend.
    Borrowed it back years later, same experience.
    Basically I couldn’t stop micro-managing my cities and it got to be a real slog with 20+ of them throughout my empire.

    I’ve pre-ordered 5, and am excited for it, but think maybe I should really read the rules, since I’m geared for Civ4 now (and will continue to be for what, another 6 months?).

    Civ4 is neat, but I think my hopes were sent soaring when I heard they were using the Pirates!’s land battle engine for the graphics. I couldn’t drink enough of that game up.

    Now I’m going to go login and rethink my strategy for the turn that’s coming in 8 hours.

  7. jefeweiss says:

    I have been hooked on the series since the first one, and I’m not very good either. Part of it is just not having time to learn the ins and outs of the vast number of choices and optimizations you have to make. I remember looking at an online CIV strategy forum looking for some tips and realizing that it was going to take me hours to get to the point where I could even begin to comprehend what they were talking about.

    And the computer cheats … a lot, especially when it comes to getting new technologies. My favorite ploy in the first Civ was to forget about everything else and race up the tech tree as fast as possible. It was tremendously satisfying to roll over everyone in sight with armor and bombers in the 1800s. After the first Civ, that didn’t really work the same way.

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