Part 28: Interlude - Part 1Our Empire is PINK! Let's Play Civ V: Madoka Magica!
You may be rolling your eyes right now. That's okay! That's the intention. Puella Magi Madoka Magica's cutesy-wootsy art style and utterly reprehensible intro sequence are designed to fool you. That's the Madoka Paradox: its appearance repulses the very people who it actually appeals to. If you did take the time to sit down and watch its 12 episodes you'd be surprised to see how sophisticated and complex it is.
So, appropriately, I had the exact same reaction when I saw Vice Virtuoso's Madoka Magica Modpack on the Steam Workshop, where he turned all the main characters of that show into civilizations for Civ V. I thought, "What? You've gotta be frickin' kidding me." Then I actually sat down and looked at all the mechanics he'd worked up for them all and it surprised the hell out of me; they're all really well-designed. So that's what we're going to be taking a look at in this LP.
What if I want to learn more about this stupid show?
Two ways: Find a place online to watch streams of the episodes for free (it's pretty expensive to buy physical copies) or watch SF Debris's reviews of each episode. He's usually a Star Trek reviewer, so his initial reaction is the same as everyone else's: "You've gotta be fucking kidding me." But he's an awesome reviewer, and his reviews are actually shorter than the proper episodes, so it might be an insightful time-saver. He did the first three episodes here, the second three here, the third three here and the last three here.
I'm not going to be spoiling anything of the show in this update but I sure as hell will be in the next one so this is your last chance to jump on the no-spoilers train.
What if I still don't care?
That's okay too! We're not here to discuss the plot, we're here to discuss the MOD! And discuss it we will. It's a really good mod, and the civilization we'll be playing as has a very, very interesting mechanic with a lot of flexibility and replayability.
So, what is it?
This is the special ability of the civ we're playing as:
Combat units from Great People--special combat units that never go obsolete and have powerful unique promotions not found elsewhere in the game. Generating Great People is a nice perk in other civilizations but for this one it's vital. And there's a ton of strategies for generating and expending Great People!
What it mostly comes down to is what religious practices we adopt in our civilization, what wonders we build, and what social policies we enact. This civilization's benefit will require us to make different religious choices than most people usually choose, and different policies, too.
Every single Social Policy tree has some different way to generate a Great Person for us. Let's check it out.
Tradition is really good, most people swear by it. Maxing it out will let us use faith points to buy Great Engineers, but it helps us out in getting Great People even sooner because certain wonders generate points towards creating Great People, too, so making wonders faster is very helpful. We're going to be using Tradition in this LP, but not solely.
Liberty isn't as useful as it used to be, due to balance changes, but it's still really handy if you need to expand NOW. Free worker, workers work faster, free settler, build settlers faster, slight happiness boost for a spread-out empire that's connected through roads, and a free Great Person of your choice, but only one, once you max out this policy tree. Liberty is a "go hard or go home" policy track, you either max it out at the beginning of the game or don't bother at all. We're not going to be using it because it doesn't give us many long-term advantages to generating Great People, but it's there.
Honor is going to be very important in this LP. We will need most of its policies for our unique combat units, Great Magical Girls, to be at full effectiveness. There's a policy that instantly grants us a free Great General, which turns into the most powerful type of Great Magical Girl, and lets us develop more in the future faster. There's a policy that makes our combat units level up faster in general, which will be vital, and one that makes adjacent units stronger, also vital. Just opening up Honor will be handy, it'll let us hunt down barbarians to level up our Great Magical Girls (but only 2 levels worth, there's a cap on barbarian XP). Maxing it out also lets us simply buy Great Generals--we could burn them on defensive structures and then get GMGs to defend those very structures. We will be using Honor in this LP.
A lot of people never use Piety, but it's really handy if you know what you're doing. Religion is only a means to an end in Civ V, it's a customizable tool, so if you're not good at utilizing it you can skip Piety. We won't be skipping it, though. You generate a religion by amassing faith points to get a Great Prophet, plus you buy other Great People with faith in the lategame, so going Full Piety will grant us a lot of Great Magical Girls, especially if we get the Reformation Belief that lets us purchase any Great Person regardless of if we have maxed out the other policy trees. We may not jump out the gate with Piety but we'll take the time to get all its policies over the course of the LP.
Patronage is always a good, generalized policy tree with a lot of nice benefits. Maxing it out will make city-state allies give us free Great People once in a while (something like every 20-30 turns, more if we have more allies) and they won't drive up the opportunity cost of other Great People we'd generate ourselves. Going full patronage is totally viable for Madoka, even recommended, but we won't have enough policy points to do it in this LP. I encourage you to try it out yourselves, though.
Aesthetics is the Cultural Victory policy tree, geared around generating as many creative Great People as you can for making great works of writing, art and music to overwhelm your foes with tourism. Since it generates not one, but three types of Great People this is pretty great for getting lots of bodies, but there's a strong nerf in place: Creative Great People turn into weaker-than-normal Great Magical Girls to offset how many we'll be making. Still, if we wanted a defensive culture victory, we'd have a huge horde of girls protecting our nation to ensure that defense.
Commerce and the sea-based Exploration used to be one policy tree back in vanilla and G&K Civ V, but they got split here into the land-based Commerce and the sea-based Exploration. Commerce is all about making money, spending less money on purchases so you effectively have more, spending less on roads (which cost money each turn but generate money if they connect your cities), generating Great Merchants quickly, and getting extra happiness from all your luxuries (really useful!). We don't need Commerce but if we went down that path we'd have a lot of riches and a lot of Great Merchants who turned into financial Great Magical Girls who gained gold for every kill.
Exploration makes coastal cities, navies and sea-based trade routes more awesome (and they're already awesome since they're twice as profitable as land routes). Maxing it out is also recommended for a cultural victory since it lets you see extra archaeological sites. One policy here gives us a free Great Admiral and would let us generate them faster, but this whole policy tree is strictly optional for our purposes, unless we were on an Archipelago map.
Rationalism isn't as awesome as it was in vanilla Civ V, since it got hit with a few nerfs, but it's still the one of the best ways to get a tech lead on your opponents, and it's got a policy in there that lets you generate Great Scientists faster (in addition to the faith-purchase thing if you max out the tree). I'm going to try to buck the trend of maxing out this tree (at least, not before I max out Piety, Tradition and Honor) for variety's sake if nothing else.
And of course there's the three major ideologies, which I won't get into here. As you can see, there's a shitload of strategies just for generating the Great People and the subsequent Great Magical Girls, so there's many ways to play this civ.
And that's not even getting into the customization you get with all the promotions they have. Let me show you:
Insane stuff, right? Great Magical Girls can learn to do crazy things like running fast as a horse, walking over water, converting defeated enemies through the power of friendship, regenerating more health than Wolverine, shooting down bombers with the power of magic or carrying airplanes of their own in their hyperdimensional pocket. We are going to have one goddamn varied army by the end of this.
This is what the unique combat unit looks like--we get one at the start of the game! They all have different appearances based on what type of Great Person was used to generate them. We're going to have a varied army of girls defending our civilization but maybe "defense" isn't the right word to use, as I plan on going for a military victory this time around. Mua ha ha ha hah.
Our empire is really goddamn pink, and we're going to spread this pinkness all over the earth!
(I'll get into all the other civs of the Madoka modpack in the next update so if you care at all about spoilers, that's where they'll start.)
To Be Continued!