The Let's Play Archive

Civilization 2

by Melth

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Original Thread: God-Emperor of Romankind: Civilization 2 Deity Difficulty Run

If you liked this LP, you might also like Fire Emblem: Blazing Sword by Melth, Monster Rancher by Mr. Swoon and Persona 3 by Schildkrote


About This Series:

Civilization is a series of turn-based strategy games, many of them developed by Sid Meier. The first one (Sid Meier’s Civilization) more or less created the entire 4X (eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, eXterminate) genre of strategy games.

Typically the focus of the Civilization series is on massive, individual singleplayer games rather than on any sort of campaign or on multiplayer. One starts by founding a single city somewhere in a randomly generated world around 4000 BC and then controls every aspect of that nascent civilization’s growth and development (from technological progress to government type to what sorts of buildings or wonders of the world are built to irrigation and road-building to which resources are exploited to diplomacy with all other civilizations in the world to military campaigns) up to the year 2000 AD or so. As a general rule, games in this series are known for convoluted mechanics, deep strategy and tactics that allow a variety of playstyles, and for taking a very long time to win.

Later games in the series added more and more features and mechanics to an already extremely complex game, although I’ve heard that Civilization 5 was a controversial simplification.

About This Game:

Despite Sid Meier being relatively uninvolved with developing it, Civilization 2 is generally more similar to Civilization 1 than to Civ 3 or the later titles. It might even be fair to describe it as more a remake or improvement than a sequel. Since I’m not fond of many of the later additions to the series (like culture victories, different national strengths and weaknesses, great people, etc.), this one is my favorite.

It’s probably not coincidence that it’s the first one I played. I got Civ 2 when it was already at least a decade old as an extra packaged with a game I actually wanted.

It came without an instruction manual (and the in-game help is incomplete, badly organized, often wrong, and generally unhelpful), so I had to figure out an extraordinarily complicated game by experiment, intuition, and trial-and-error. It took me four hours to even learn I could move troops diagonally, which was handy because some enemy cities and units are completely inaccessible without doing that. A fantastic experience. One of the most fun, engaging, and unique strategy games I’d ever played.

Now that I’ve played through it many times and become very knowledgeable about the details of the game’s mechanics (and several other games in the series), the initial excitement has worn off. I can see now that Civ 2 has many flaws. To name just a few: victory is in the bag 6 hours before it ends, random start position is critically important, and the highest difficulties are full of unpleasant nuisances.

Still, I think it’s a very interesting game and at least the first few hours can be a lot of fun. And the highest difficulties can present a tremendous challenge even to a fairly experienced player.

About this LP:

I’ll be playing the Multiplayer Gold Edition of Civ 2 since that’s the only version I have that works on a modern computer. One complaint about the MGE is that the AI was changed to be more or less permanently hostile, whereas in the original game negotiations with AI countries were often a key part of gameplay. My version is modded to restore the original AI, so despite being MGE this game will actually play mostly like vanilla Civ 2.

Unlike my previous LPs of Fire Emblem: Blazing Sword and Fire Emblem: Binding Blade, this is obviously not an LP of a Fire Emblem game. There won’t be a story or art or characters to examine.

However, like those LPs, I’ll be doing challenge runs on the hardest possible settings and demonstrating my fractactical genius by winning anyway. The first game will be Deity (max) difficulty, small world, maximum # of barbarians, maximum # of enemy civilizations. I'll employ my preferred, general-purpose strategies and try to secure an elegant and efficient win, but I'll focus more on introducing the basics of the game and the principles of high-level play than on winning as big as possible.

In the second game I'll take the gloves off and really play hard. It will still be Deity difficulty, max barbarians, max # of enemy civs and so on, but this time the world will be maximum size and I'll be trying to win as early as possible by any means necessary.

Just like in my other LPs, I'll spend a lot of time talking about why I make the moves I make. By the end, I hope to have created a fairly thorough guide to top difficulty Civ 2 play. Besides the walkthrough aspect, I’ll also talk a lot about the mechanics and design of Civ 2 more generally and the way those add to or detract from the experience of playing it.

But before I can get into the details, I’m going to need to explain the fundamentals. Unlike Fire Emblem, which eases players into the game bit by bit, Civ 2 throws everything at you from turn 1. And Deity difficulty requires one to play strategies which are deliberately self-destructive and bizarre, so I’ll need to talk about a lot of basic mechanics and tactics and whatnot in this first update. In short:

Late in the Let's Play I used Google Sheets to create the first-ever calculator for the true odds of winning battles in Civ 2. Combat does not work even remotely as the instruction manual stated or most people believe, so I cannot stress enough what a useful tool this is for serious play. I now see as the gods do! You can download it or copy it into your own sheet here:

Strategy and Mechanics Posts:
During the course of this Let's Play I got a number of questions from readers about mechanics and strategy which couldn't be conveniently answered in the middle of the main updates. My responses aren't really part of the Let's Play proper; in fact, I didn't originally plan for them to be linked to in the table of contents at all. They're a bit dry (and many of them are full of unrelated conversations with readers) and one definitely doesn't need to read them to appreciate the LP, so I've marked them for the convenience of anyone who'd rather skip them. However, people interested in knowing more about how Civ 2 actually works may find them very interesting. The analysis of the combat mechanics in particular is unprecedented in its accuracy and detail.

Table of Contents

First Game
4000 BC - 2750 BC (Setup & First Contact)
Mechanics: Methods for preventing unhappiness/civil disorder in the early game
Mechanics: Continuation of the above
2750 BC - 825 BC (Borders, Barbarians, and Revolution)
Mechanics: Fundamental city placement approaches
Mechanics: Leonardo's Workshop & wonders I think are bad
Mechanics: Details on bad wonders & also some navy talk
825 BC - 140 AD (First Conquest, First Wonder, and Second Contact)
Mechanics: Pros and cons of making military units early-game, thoughts on the quality of the combat system, even MORE details on bad wonders, & examination of the concept of the super science city
Mechanics: The role of a good AI in game design, a few last details on bad wonders, and pros and cons of Monarchy as a stepping-stone to Republic
Mechanics: Why it's a good game mechanic that there are no dedicated "workers" in Civ 2
Mechanics: Inaccurately described effects of the Great Wall wonder
140 AD - 1240 AD (Wonders, War With Everyone, Colonies, and Democracy)
Mechanics: Some techniques for good strategic thinking in general
1240 AD - 1610 AD (Crisis, Exploration, and Celebration)
Mechanics: A brief example of good celebration strategy play
Mechanics: Detailed mechanics of the food and production boxes
1610 AD - 1760 AD (Teching up and Total War)
1760 AD - 1808 AD (Victory!)
Mechanics: Benefits of sieges

Second Game
4000 BC - 975 BC (Setup, first & second contact, first wonder, first war)
Mechanics: Why Communism is useless
975 BC - 300 BC (First conquest, second war, second wonder, and roads everywhere)
300 BC - 320 AD (Second conquest, third conquest, wonders, mass exploration and colonies)
320 AD - 320 AD (4th contact and wrap-up)
320 AD - 740 AD (Final setup, Romans found)
Mechanics: Modern Units
Mechanics: Final thoughts on modern units, multiplayer, and the hidden math of the combat system
Mechanics: The true Civ 2 combat system
Mechanics: Civ 2 AI Personalities
Mechanics: How to deliberately destroy a city
740 AD - 1020 AD (Sigr!)
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