Part 22: Mechanics: Why Communism is useless
Because I'm not a Civ2 expert myself, only someone who has seen forum posts and contests by the experts, I'm also still curious about the effectiveness of Communism. I've found this statement from around the same time as the aforementioned guide:
Quite a lot of those people are just factually wrong about stuff, but nevermind that.
First of all, a good enough player can win as any terrible government- even a Despotism. Just because you're capable of winning with Communism doesn't actually make it good, it just means you're good enough to win without playing optimally.
Second of all, any bad government can look great if you play as a better government and then switch into it. Last game I won as Fundamentalism, but it was playing Democracy first that actually did the winning by giving me the insurmountable Trade and Production lead that Fundamentalism just put to work efficiently. I could have done the final section as Communism. I just would have been like 500 gold per turn poorer and had less Production and had a much harder time celebrating and thus probably turned out to have about the same Science. Oh and had to keep armies at home to quash unhappiness. Heck, I could have won as Anarchy at the point I switched to Fundamentalism!
With that out of the way, I'll start by repeating what I said before. Communism is strictly better than Monarchy- and by a lot. And Monarchy is definitely very useful in the early game. It's the best military rush government in fact. Communism is a worthless government not because it's objectively bad but because it's unavailable until after better ones are available.
Let's compare it to Democracy and Fundamentalism, the other 2 advanced governments. Democracy unlocks much earlier, which is pretty sweet. All you need for it is Banking (unlocked after Republic and Trade, which are a natural lead-in and a must-have respectively) and Invention (which is a must-have).
Communism ALSO requires Banking and Invention. And like 20 things on top of them! First of all, you'll also need to tech up the religion line to Philosophy (So 3 new techs), though of course you should already have done that. You need to pick up Industrialization too, which is a whole bunch more techs before you can get to it. Specifically, the new technologies that Democracy didn't require and that weren't included already are: Map-Making, Pottery, Seafaring, Mathematics, Astronomy, Navigation, Physics, Steam Engine, Masonry, Construction, Warrior Code, Iron Working, Bridge Building, Railroad, and Industrialization. Eighteen more technologies are required just to access the Communism tech after you already have access to the Democracy one. Crazy.
Even Fundamentalism unlocks easier than Communism! Democracy is actually one of its prereqs. In addition, you'll need Monotheism (which you'd better already have and which Communism required most of anyway). That's 6 techs not already included. Then you'll need the Metallurgy line of techs to get to Conscription. What does that entail that's not included already? Well Bronze Working, Iron Working, Warrior Code, Gunpowder, Masonry, Mathematics, University, Metallurgy, and Conscription. So in total, you need only 15 techs to get from Democracy to Fundamentalism compared to 18 to get to Communism. And a higher proportion of the Fundamentalism techs are things you already want to have.
Plus, as I've said before and will say again, the Communism tech stomps on you by making all your Cathedrals/Michaelangelo's Chapel less effective forever.
Now you can avoid all of that and get into Communism (or Fundamentalism) juuuuust after Democracy by unlocking Democracy and then building the Statue of Liberty wonder. This also avoids the negative of the Communism tech itself, so superficially it looks like the best entry. The downside is that the Communism tech is a prereq for Espionage, so if you use the Statue of Liberty method, then you won't get to get the veteran Spies that are supposed to be a big perk of playing Communism.
Now Democracy is THE government for a strong economy. 0 Corruption, massive Trade bonus, and most importantly Celebration growth. No way a Communist or even Fundamentalist who doesn't do Republic/Democracy Celebration first will EVER be able to compare to a Democracy's swarm of giant cities. So Democracy has a massive lead in Science and money and often in raw Production too. It's the government for teching up fast. Communism and Fundamentalism can manage a weak approximation of the economy of a Democracy with the same city sizes as long as they maintain Celebration in every single city. But a Democracy should always have more and bigger cities unless the Commies/Fundies were themselves a post-Celebration Democracy until recently.
So Democracy is the Science/economy government, but it does have some big weaknesses when it comes to an offensive war- at least until it gets the U.N. and Women's Suffrage wonders. Both Communism and Fundamentalism could potentially claim the mantle of the best military government. Let's compare them.
Assuming Statue of Liberty entry:
1) Fundamentalism has much more free unit support and thus more potential Production while fielding giant armies
2) Fundamentalism's zero unhappiness ever is massively and obviously superior to Communism's super martial law. The Commies must chew up some of their already extremely limited 3 freely supported units/city just to try to prevent Civil Disorder. This gives a further Production edge to Fundamentalism. Plus martial law is ultimately just not enough if you have numerous large cities. You MUST maintain some Temples and other anti-unhappiness buildings too, a further cost.
3) Fundamentalism gets truckloads of free gold per turn from tithes.
4) Same negligible Corruption
5) Same 80% max Science/Tax/Luxury rates except actually 50% Science for Fundies.
6) Commies don't eat a 50% Science penalty
7) Fundamentalism has a MUCH easier time getting into and sustaining Celebration due to no unhappiness ever anywhere. So they have a much easier time getting to pseudo-Democracy Trade levels. This makes them even richer and also does a lot to mitigate their Science penalty.
8) Fundamentalists can train Fanatic units, but who cares?
So Statue of Liberty Fundamentalism is strictly better than Communism by a LOT in everything except in Science. Even in Science their superior ability to Celebrate helps mitigate their penalty. And, again, Democracy is better than either in Science anyway. If you want lots of Science and you're playing Communism OR Fundamentalism, you're doing it wrong.
What about "natural" unlock entry?
9) Fundamentalism is available earlier
10) Fundamentalism has an ever bigger happiness advantage which makes them even more superior at Celebrating, among other advantages.
11) Communists get Spies as automatic veterans. Now anyone can train Spies and anyone can turn them veteran, but starting them as veterans does give them a few minor advantages like a higher chance of surviving missions. Problem: "Incite Revolt" and "Bribe Unit" are vastly superior to all other possible Spy actions. And even plain old Diplomats can do those. And the only limiting factor is how much cash you have- an area where Fundamentalism completely steamrollers Communism.
So basically, Fundamentalism is just better than Communism in every conceivable way except that they get a bit less Science. But there's already another government which is vastly superior to both if Science is your goal. If you're trying to fight a giant war, what you want is gold- and that means Fundamentalism.
So there really exists no situation or strategy in which Communism is the best option. Whatever your plans and needs are right now, you have always unlocked a better government for the job first. Heck, Communism isn't even useful in its supposed Jack of all trades role as a balance between Democracy and Fundamentalism because- on the rare occasion when one of those two isn't clearly superior to the other- it's really quite painless to switch between them and cut out the need for a middle government.