Wot I Think: Civ V – Brave New World

I’ve founded religions, spied on my neighbours and sent a spaceship in search of a new home on a distant star. The promise of a Brave New World was enough to bring me crashing back down to Earth though, and I’ve been making new friends, meeting old enemies and creating great works of art. This latest expansion takes on the greatest challenge of all – injecting some meaningful activity into Civilization’s end-game. I’ve spent a week uncovering its charms and chores, and here’s wot I think.

Montezuma ate my camels.

The early game hasn’t changed a great deal, at least in principal, but there are new leaders to encounter and select, and even before I’d discovered trade, the first new Back of the Box Bullet Point feature, one addition had reared its ugly head.

Oh, hello, Shaka, it’s been a while. I remember when you discovered gunpowder back in the original Civilization and then shot all of my warriors while they were still wearing pants made of rocks and waving clubs that were made of pants.

Shaka is one of my oldest enemies and it’s good/horrible to see him back. Like the time you encounter a wheezing banker in a nightclub and realise that he’s the evolved form of a red-faced kid who used to bully you at school, it’s tempting to hope for an ounce of maturity. No such luck. An hour later he’ll be chortling, lager-breathed, about ‘the good old days’. By the time the bouncers push you into the takeaway reek of the night, the imprint of his shiny shoes will be etched onto your face.

Same deal with Shaka. There isn’t even time to reminisce about the old days before he’s asking me to back away from his borders, all the while churning out unsustainable armies and crippling himself with debt just to intimidate me. Maybe he doesn’t recognise me. I’m the socially progressive Casimir III of Poland now and the last time we met I think I was a Roman. Either way, he seems determined to fuck with me, hemming me in at one end of the continent we’re sharing.

My scouts and warriors find plenty of good land as we approach the classical era. Unfortunately, Genghis Khan and Montezuma have spilled their seeds all over it and angry spearmen have sprouted. I’m surrounded by expansionist, militaristic assholes and there are catapults rumbling toward my capital city. It’s the Aztecs. I think they’re coming for me even though we’re on friendly terms. The AI’s actions are still baffling at times and not always intentionally. I tend to wait for leaders to approach me rather than initiating contact because otherwise I have to deal with more rejections than a Raggy Doll.

Thankfully, the catapults trundle past Warsaw, heading to the borders of a City State, which they bombard and swiftly conquer.

Two thousand years in and I’m surrounded by Aztec cities. This leads me to my first terrifying realisation – Genghis Khan, Montezuma and Shaka are immortal. My civilization is doomed to exist on a landmass occupied by three everliving bastards. Over the centuries, they will remain belligerent and, in Montezuma’s case, terrifyingly erratic. The only way to change their ways is to destroy every trace of their existence. Like Terminators, they will not stop, ever, until I am extremely pissed off and decide to nuke them.

Because Montezuma has managed to surround my cities, by accident rather than design, it’s much easier to open trade routes with him than anyone else. Trade is the first new feature encountered in Brave New World, chronologically. A set number of trade routes are available, increasing when specific technologies have been researched, and each needs a caravan to wander back and forth along it. They can be captured, which provides a small bounty to the aggressor, but their range isn’t huge to begin with, so they’re unlikely to encounter a great deal of enemy territory. Fuck barbarians though, obviously.

The value of a route depends on distance, unique goods at each destination and various other factors. It’s give and take though, importantly, so while the originator receives greater benefits, the target state or civ also receives gold/research. Religious pressure also travels in both directions – for me, trade was the Trojan horse by means of which the newly founded Cult of the Looking Glass spread its influence across borders.

I don’t know if the straw that broke the Aztecs was the subtle dissemination of religious ideas that mostly concerned the tract ‘Tithes and the Absolute Importance of Paying Them’, but one day my caravan of camels rode into Aztec territory and never came back. The immortal Blood God, Montezuma, has declared war on me and eaten my camels. It shouldn’t surprise me. He refers to human sacrifice almost every time we sit down to chat, like an awkward grandparent sharing his views about ALL Germans over Christmas dinner.

The dilemma of a trade network – vulnerable to the whims of those near the route who may hijack it and even vulnerable to the whims of the partner. When that partner is unpredictable Uncle Monty, caravanning is far from a stable source of income.

Tourism is the second great change and it’s far more significant, providing an entirely new resource and victory condition rather than methods to bolster existing resources. As anyone who has ever booked an all-inclusive beach resort holiday can tell you, tourism is the offensive side of culture. If your tourism output overtakes a country’s own cultural output, they are in awe of your civ. If every remaining opponent is in that state, it’s game over. You’ve won.

As with the rest of the additions, tourism cleverly slots into place with existing features rather than replacing them and it’s hard to imagine the game without it after playing for a while. Essentially, there are buildings with slots for great works of art/writing/music and the appropriate great person can create a masterpiece to fill those slots.

Purely from a flavour perspective, the fact that the specific work created is drawn from the correct historical period and briefly shown makes me happy. The same is true of the artifacts discovered during archaeological digs, which make every historical battle site and ruined city/encampment a potential treasure trove by the mid-game. Dig them up with the new archaeologist unit and they too can be used to generate tourism, although other civs may be irritated if you dredge up the history of their failures and put it on display.

That’s the early game and mid-game covered. The end-game is where the real problems have always been though – generations of Civ players pressing the ‘end turn’ button, drool threading from their lower lip, the completion of a construction queue as thrilling as a thousand orgasms. Brave New World’s solution is to layer activities. As well as managing a military, if that’s your thing, it’s necessary to keep an eye on the battle between tourism and culture. One of my complaints regarding Civ in general but Civ V more specifically is that by the mid-game I often feel like I’ve set up a machine and am now the maintenance man. Brave New World avoids this somewhat, with trade routes requiring attention every 30 turns, at which point they can be renewed or replaced.

And, of course, there’s the final addition: The World Congress. The first player who has both invented the printing press and met every other civ forms the congress, which is a sort of diplomatic hub, United Nations and squabble centre. Motions are brought forward, ranging from a ban on nuclear weapons to trade embargoes on specific resources or nations, and over the next few turns players lobby for votes and influence. City States can be handy here, giving them some much-needed late-game significance, and the oft-neglected diplomatic screens are home to a flurry of activity.

It’s an excellent device for strengthening a position or screwing over an enemy, complicated by the rise of ideologies in the modern era, which provide new social policies to uncover, and can realign the entire diplomatic makeup of the world. The AI involves itself in all of this well enough to provide interest, although it’ll never pass a Turing Test. On the whole, the AI is stronger, attacking and retreating with some awareness of the tide of battle. The flags by which it operates are still too obvious, destroying the illusion of playing a thinking thing rather than a set of variables, but it’s better than before, which is admirable considering the increased complexity of the game.

When I judged Gods and Kings, I considered it a decent addition but nothing too convince those who hadn’t liked the base game. Brave New World might just convince some of those willing to give it a chance. This is by far the best Civ V has ever been, particularly in multiplayer where the congress shines. Technical issues remain, mostly on larger maps in the late game when the wait between turns can be exasperating, but the fact that I stay there, until the morning’s light, clicking, waiting, enjoying the occasional organisation or ordnance related orgasm.

Civ V is still a game about winning rather than about being, but the paths to victory are more complex and diverse than before. Take Venice, for example, which cannot build settlers and must rely on its influence to spread and succeed. More than ever, the civilizations feel specialised, which can make the future seem pre-determined to an extent, but it’s rare for twenty turns to pass without some form of surprise. And that, amazingly, is more than enough.

Civ V: Brave New World is available now.


Top comments

  1. mike2R says:

    Not so much in Civ, but Lal in Alpha Centurai very much. Mealy-mouthed backstabbing hypocrite. All that guff about human rights and the duplicity of other leaders, while he is secretly trying to find allies to launch a war of aggression against his neighbours. And what are you doing with those planet busters Lal? What are you doing with the planet busters?
  1. Alexander says:

    Did Adam Smith play Civilization with his invisible hand?

  2. JonClaw says:

    Brave New World is easily a must-buy expansion. It doesn’t completely get rid of the “end turn” button mash (and honestly, I think I’m not doing something right if all I have to do is end multiple turns without doing something), but it fleshes out the mid and late game tremendously.

    • Max Ursa says:

      There is a tick box for auto end turn.

    • bstard says:

      Once you’ve been sucked into grant strategy games, Civ is just peasant strategy. So no, it’s not a must buy, it’s just the next fast food entertainment.

      • mouton says:

        Grant strategy games? Isn’t it what academicians mostly enjoy, though?

        • bstard says:

          It’s not associated with inbred banjo players no.

        • tasteful says:

          I’m pretty sure he means the slew of Reconstruction-era U.S. presidency sims.

  3. almostDead says:

    I hope this comments section fleshes out with some people discussing this. My goodness, it’s been a long time coming; a reasonably involving, not just combat, not just buy all the city states (I lied about that one, this is still true) Civ.

    I have really enjoyed BNW, and, too, can’t imagine the vanilla, or even G&K only. I can’t imagine what I saw in vanilla or G&K now, BNW seems so fundamental. But even then, some of the mechanics, like tourism, are too etherial to be enticing.

    Anyway, I wish they’d do stuff like teach the AI to be able to move, then shoot with its ranged units. Ugh.

    And like the person above, BNW is must buy to play CiV. Can’t believe it went on sale day 1 of the SSS. That pissed some people off.

    • Drinking with Skeletons says:

      It’s still all about buying city-states if you really want to dominate in the World Council, but even people who aren’t angling for a diplomatic victory can get a lot of use out of it.

      The real benefit of this expansion isn’t so much that anything has been fleshed out (though a lot has been) but that the many options aren’t segregated based off of victory type. There are more synergies and more back doors for players to experience many different facets of the game rather than having to stick to one of several rigidly prescribed paths.

      • almostDead says:

        I agree, that with BNW, you have to do a bit of everything. I have had two incredibly enjoyable and, quite tense and exciting, in places, games since it released.

        I have even traded for votes in the world congress. The biggest change, I actually find, is the way you have to have declarations of friendship, to do some of the spamming trades you used to do. It’s stopped some of the elite strategies.

    • darkChozo says:

      Agreed on tourism. Most of the cultural bits felt fairly fleshed out, if moderately inconsequential, but my experience with cultural victory was basically 200 years of hitting next turn and watching a bar grow larger (admittedly that game was on like Chieftain or Warlord and the other civs were being really passive).

      It’d be nice if tourism had more of an effect beyond bar-filling and ideology-based unhappiness. Maybe if you got a trade advantage against them for buying your blue jeans, or maybe get specialists/units to defect or something like that. Something that breaks up the next turn spam and/or more visible, basically.

    • Grygus says:

      The new systems are so good that they have made me realize how poorly implemented the missionaries and prophets from the previous expansion really are. I already considered G&K a must-have expansion because of the combat revamp, but this one is much better.

      For what it’s worth, my understanding is that the day one sale was an accident, and that if you had purchased BNW from Steam at full price previously, you got a free copy of Civ IV by way of apology.

      • spacedyemeerkat says:

        Yes, much to my chagrin it never went on sale again after that first day, although I eventually bought it from GMG for the same price.

        • rsanchez1 says:

          I wondered why it only went on sale once.

          I bought it just in time the first day, but when I wanted to go back and buy a gift for a friend the sale had already ended. But GMG did have the 30% coupon, which was short of Steam’s sale of 33% on BNW, but enough for me to buy as a gift.

    • rsanchez1 says:

      Buying all the city states is still a strategy, yes, but you have incentive for keeping the city states alive now. I often found myself gifting units to city states at war to keep the city state around as reliable trade partners and to keep an allied city state to give me additional congress votes, which I then used to try to slap a sanction on the attacking civ.

      The strategy of defending city states falls apart when your opponent is Venice or Austria, though.

    • HadToLogin says:

      Apparently, that was a mistake. They said sorry to people who preordered by giving them vanilla Civilization 4. Kinda crappy sorry (is there anyone who preorders DLC to civ5 and would find any use for vanilla civ4?), but still better than nothing.

  4. misterT0AST says:

    Wot’s with all the spelling mistakes in articles lately?

    (Ed: corrected)

    • Drinking with Skeletons says:

      They have to research Literacy for that, but they’re going for Domination Victory so it’ll have to wait. That spearman they cued up should be on your doorstep any minute now, though!

    • seamoss says:

      > Wot’s with all the spelling mistakes in articles lately?
      > (Ed: corrected)

      Well, corrected in “principal” at least…

  5. Drinking with Skeletons says:

    Your comments about Shaka having me thinking about my own nemesis, Ramses II.

    Starting with G&K, he’s become an absolute monster. I don’t know what Firaxis did to him, but he’s a two-fisted SOB who knows how to leverage his wonder production bonus and goddamned chariots to breathtaking effect. Plus, he knows how to get the most out of religion and culture (helped out by those wonders)! If I can hold off his earth-shuddering army early on, he’ll still pull ahead by virtue of expanding into the other direction and steamrolling some other poor civ, then cranking out culture and science like a madman.

    Anyone else have an archenemy in Civ?

    • mike2R says:

      Not so much in Civ, but Lal in Alpha Centurai very much. Mealy-mouthed backstabbing hypocrite. All that guff about human rights and the duplicity of other leaders, while he is secretly trying to find allies to launch a war of aggression against his neighbours. And what are you doing with those planet busters Lal? What are you doing with the planet busters?

      • Sheng-ji says:

        Oh my god, you are so right – and Morgan is probably the most passive aggressive AI in any civ type game I have ever played (All of them, I believe)

      • running fungus says:

        AC really went in for the shared ideals angle, so by tending to play Lady Deirdre Skye, Academician Prokhor Zakharov (to some extent), or Lal himself, I never had issues with him. Santiago, on the other hand…

    • almostDead says:

      I don’t like any warring CiV next to me.

    • SquirrelKnight says:

      Napoleon would have to be my greatest enemy. He tends to show up in every game I play and always acts like a complete tool.

    • RedViv says:

      Catherine seems to usually clash with me. Must be our shared tendency to expand enough to build a border across a continent.

    • Leb says:

      Montezuma the unpredictable asshole

      Followed by Wu Zeitan – who comes off very condescending and would not accept a trade agreement even if it involved you signing to be her personal slave.

      I also hate Ramses, only because he speaks Arabic and he really should not be speaking Arabic

      • RedViv says:

        Heh. There are a few of those. It also seems to be quite hard to find native or at least good speakers of some languages, but then there are inexplicably badly directed folks like Bismarck. Then again, might be intentional to make him awfully stilted.

    • Grygus says:

      The Ethiopians. Oh look, we’re quite weak ha ha ha ha ha ha HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA have another missionary.

      • rsanchez1 says:

        Oh man I had that happen to me too. I was right next to Ethopia twice. One game they just decided to declare war on me and teamed up with Polynesia out of nowhere. In that game, I was Poland in the medieval era with ducal stables in all my cities. I had not built out my army yet, but as soon as they declared war I queued up knights in all my cities and rolled over them.

        The second game they were right next to me again, and decided to just endlessly send missionaries and great prophets my way. I declared war on him once and stopped the missionaries for a while. When he did it the second time I was forced to capture his capital and remove his religion from his former capital, decapitating the religion by removing the holy city.

    • Frisky Dingo says:

      Mahatma Ghandi

      That guy is an asshole. He was the first AI to ever nuke me back in Civ 2 and I’ve been traumatized ever since. I like to run island maps since I’m xenophobic about other civs and like to have some nice clean water between us but he was always starting near me and sending ships to colonize the good bits of MY islands. This island is MINE, Ghandi! Gaaaaaah!

    • Inglourious Badger says:

      It’s Gandhi every fucking time. The murderous, warmongering bastard

    • Nova says:

      For me it’s the bloody leader of the Siamese with the fine name Ramkhamhaeng.

      Great review, Adam.

      • rsanchez1 says:

        He has a pretty big exploit in BNW too. If you’re Siamese and you choose the reformation belief that allows you to purchase universities with faith, then you can built a Wat, Siamese University replacement, and buy a University with faith to essentially have two universities in one town.

    • Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

      The Aztecs. Always demanding the secret of Pottery, for which they threaten global thermonuclear annihilation.

    • infernalmachine says:

      Ramkhamhaeng of Siam. He is always a dick to me and appears in at least half my games. Sometimes he starts out nice, but later denounces me. He then proceeds to join with all my enemies and try to attack me.

    • horus_lupercal says:

      “Does anyone else have an archenemy in Civ”

      Alexander for me. Every bloody game he seems to cause trouble and it’s got to the case of, if he’s on the map, i prioritise wiping the *expletive deleted* out, same with Monty and it’s looking like Ashurbanipal is going to be joining that list.

    • jwil1977 says:

      Whenever Washington turns up in one of my games, he becomes a nightmare. Especially if we’re sharing a landmass.

  6. Megakoresh says:

    I always found the Science Victory to be the absolute hardest. The tourism doesn’t change that: science’s still the hardest. Just because the bloody AI is so obsessed with it’s preset paths and can never accept even a slight exception, even though logically they should.

    “I need that Iron for research, for fuck’s sake, that’s why I put a city there. I don’t even have any proper army, you moron. How is that mining city a threat to you?!” Why can’t I say that? Why?!?!

    • Drinking with Skeletons says:

      Freedom now allows you to buy spaceship parts, so if you typically play as a reasonably science-oriented tycoon, you might find the task much easier.

      • Megakoresh says:

        The fucking AI doesn’t let me :/
        What I did was skip through to iron working with a great scientist and spam a ton of heavy units and just erase the civ that will be trouble from the face of the map in early game. Now I can focus on science…. OH WAIT for some absolutely unexplainable reason the Byzantian bitch denounced me! WHY? I was on the OTHER side of the continent this whole fucking time!

        I hate the AI in this game.

        • Ringwraith says:

          Currently in my game, I only have four cities on a huge map, so I have a teeny empire, but I’m outstripping everyone in research.
          When people declare war on me, I simply switch from economic production to pumping out riflemen to stop the invasion and slowly take their border cities until they ask for peace without wanting any of my cities for it. Seems to be working.

          • cybrbeast says:

            It kind of cheapens the experience if for every victory condition besides total domination you still need an army or the resources to produce an army that can defeat all other Civs.

          • Ringwraith says:

            Well I don’t have a huge standing army, it is literally half a dozen units of riflemen with the odd piece of artillery. Leftovers of having to defend the open fields around one of my cities while fending off another war in the hills and jungle of my capital.
            I won’t build any more units until I need to, and I can’t invade vast swathes of territory with them, as it’s a huge map, so most cultures have at least a dozen, usually two, cities by this point.

  7. dsch says:

    The works of art are not tied to historical periods or cultures.

    • Premium User Badge

      Adam Smith says:

      Must be luck on my part – always had them era specific. Though not culture. Of course I may be misidentifying the date of the occasional work.

      • almostDead says:

        Yeah, you won’t find any Beatles or Rolling Stones in BNW. They wouldn’t go near anything that would need them to negotiate a royalty cheque.

      • dsch says:

        I went for cultural victory, so I probably saw a lot more examples.

  8. mike2R says:

    “Civ V is still a game about winning rather than about being”

    Neatly sums up the issue I’ve had with Civ since Civ IV came out. I like to enjoy the playing of strategy games – not exactly role play, but not min-maxing and picking a “victory condition” two thousand years before game-end either.

    Man I hated Civ IV when it first came out. Really just detested it. I made my peace with it with the BTS expansion, and have had many hugely enjoyable games with it since. Civ V seems to be similar. For what it is, its enjoyable and I imagine I’ll end up playing a lot of it. But thank God for Paradox…

    • almostDead says:

      I actually find the opposite with respect to my gameplay. I never go in with a win mode in mind. I think, in actuality, my games on Emperor, tend to be such that, if you are ahead, you can win any-fucking-method-you-want.

      You have a science and production lead, tons of gold, a big military if you want etc. You can take your pick of win condition.

      • InternetBatman says:

        That’s pretty much true. Rich states can buy off city-states and win diplomatic, rush production and then devote everything to science, or just start annihilating the other civs with mass produced death stompers. Culture takes a bit more finesse than that though.

      • mike2R says:

        I guess that is pretty much how I play too – I kind of avoid looking ahead in the tech tree and just pick the thing that makes the most sense for me now, that sort of thing. But I’m aware that I’m not really playing the game as its designed – which is fine, I have fun and all and I respect the series for what it is. I think I’m just more a Paradox style game player.

        Part of my problem may be a hold over from Civ II and (even more) Alpha Centurai. I got so used to surging past the AI in the mid game that I kind of automatically lose interest in the game if I get ahead, and just assume I’ve won at this point. I tend to fear winning in Civ (and having a game I’m enjoying become pointless) more than losing. I probably play on a harder difficulty level than perhaps I should for my skill level for this reason, and this makes it harder to avoid playing the game “properly”.

        • almostDead says:

          In my opinion, too high a difficulty in CiV really kills my enjoyment of it. Like you say, you have such limited room not to min-max.

          You know certain things will be true- you will have to whack-a-mole any Civs that get ahead of you at some point. Again, in my opinion, at higher levels, all CiV wins are applied dominations; you have to whack any necessary civs enough to allow you to win your chosen way.

          You cannot durdle about doing random stuff. I remember watching a few deity let’s plays and seeing their prior proper planning left me cold. Glad someone else was doing it.

          • TripleCripple says:

            A too low difficulty kills the enjoyment as well, at least for me. I enjoy King – Emperor the most.

          • cairbre says:

            I normally play king but have yet to finish the game. I don’t like difficulty levels that allow the AI cheat. I start a game play it for hours and then never go back. I think I only beat Civ once and it was civ II or III.

    • E_FD says:

      I’ve found this to be basically true in all the Civ games, even Alpha Centauri. The AI-controlled civs are just such assholes that the only way you can keep from being conquered is to build up enough military power that you could annihilate them all if you wanted to.

      • BlueTemplar says:

        Except that in the Civ (and most other 4X) games I’ve played, the AI sucks so much at waging war that you can annihilate it with 1/5 of what it has in army strength.

  9. nindustrial says:

    I very much enjoyed Civ V (though with a few exceptions I do still think Civ IV is better) when it came out, but have long since put it down and not played any expansion material. A large part of that is because I started getting into Paradox games (EU III, then CK II) after maybe 6 months or a year from Civ V’s release.

    I’m curious if anyone can describe whether this expansion might make a Paradox convert want to go back and play some more Civ. I realize they are very different games, and it may just be my taste changing, but I haven’t felt much urge to boot Civ up after I fell headlong into Paradox games. Any thoughts?

    • almostDead says:

      I’d actually like you to do the same in reverse. I can’t help you as I’ve never played Paradox games, but as a more than thousand hour CiV player, I’d like an in a nutshell description of why I might like to try them. They look so complex, but in a way that you don’t actually have to care about any of it, it’s just all there to confuse.

      CiV with all the expansions is a real binge game for me. I will play it non-stop until a game finishes. It is now as good as it will ever get by the original makers, without mods, I think.

      • nindustrial says:

        Hmm, interesting question, touche!

        Well I think one of the big-picture reasons that I was interested in and ultimately fell in love with Paradox games, coming from a Civ-loving background, was that as much as Civ provides great fun in founding and nurturing a civilization, it has a lot of abstractions or simplifications that remove the game from reality. I guess in some ways, Civ always got me excited about shepherding a nation through the march of time, but kind of made me yearn for something that was at least a little more of a simulation.

        So yes, the Paradox games are certainly more complex, and that may not be to your taste. (Actually, I think the line about Civ being a game of winning rather than being is spot-on; EU is more a game of being). But if you’ve ever played a game of Civ as France and then wished that you could feel *more french* while playing (or whoever), you might want to give EU a try. Or if you’ve ever thought, hey, I really enjoy the tech tree (or policies, etc.) and seeing my nation evolve, but I wish it was more specific to my actual nation, you might want to give EU a try (for example, national ideas and historical events appropriate to your country…). Part of it, too, I think was that Civ spurred a deeper interest in history in me, but it doesn’t really address specific histories, whereas Paradox games do.

        So all that said, yeah, I can’t say that coming from Civ you’ll enjoy Paradox games, but those are some of the general reasons that I think spurred me on.

        • almostDead says:

          Thank you.

          Yeah, you made me think about the RP aspect and I can say that is one bit that I really don’t care about. I never feel, or want to feel more ‘French’, when playing as them in CiV.

          So I guess you can’t do the equivalent in EU of building the pyramids as the Celts.

      • mike2R says:

        (Just realised my post has got put on awaiting moderation – I linked some old Hearts of Iron 3 AARs I enjoyed. Here it is without the last bit)

        If you are looking at Paradox games (and you owe it to yourself as a strategy fan to do so IMO) I would start with Crusader Kings II, unless one of the other games time periods really grabs you more. Its the most approachable since its easy to find small understandable tasks like family management to do, which alleviates the standard Paradox newbie complaint of “OMG there’s so much stuff, what am I meant to be doing??”

        The answer to that BTW, far far more so than with a 4X game like Civ, is whatever you want. You can start as a one province Count on the edge of the world, or as the Holy Roman Emperor ruling everything west of France and east of Poland. So you only need to expand if that’s what you want to do.

        CK2 has a decent demo – out of date but stable and playable. There are also Let’s Plays on YouTube (although I’m too out of touch to know the good ones to recommend) and a vibrant AAR writing tradition on the Paradox forums.

        • nindustrial says:

          Yeah I will say, in both reply to you and almostDead, that I first started with EU III, and honestly the only reason I was able to get into it was because I was home over holiday break and was playing on my parents’ laptop. I had pretty much nothing to do for a week except teach myself the game. CK2 is much friendlier if you want to try any of these games.

          EDIT: And that week was just enough to learn the basics; I still had to play for many more hours to become competent.

          • mike2R says:

            EU3 was my first too, with the 1.3 patch IIRC. The forums were still in ferment regarding the changes from EU2 – and to be fair, looking back, EU3 1.3 was basically a grand strategy version of Hungry Hungry Hippos, with the Great Blue Blob [France] generally eating everything.

            Coming from a Civ background was a culture shock. I can remember building a workshop and it costing several years income to give me this tiny-seeming incremental benefit in a single province. Its so different from a 4X game which is based around exponential growth!

            But once over the learning curve (which is as you say considerably more of a barrier than with Civ) I realised it was what I’d been looking for ever since I was reading previews for the original Civilization in Amiga Format.

          • nindustrial says:

            I remember starting small in Ireland (NOT the same as starting small in Ireland in CK2), and being totally confused as to how I would ever do anything while making like 1 ducat a year! I, however, did have the benefit of not playing until all the expansions were out; I’ve heard many people say the experience was much improved with the expansions.

    • Leb says:

      With EU IV on the horizion I am about to erase CIv from my dictionary

      • nindustrial says:

        I’ve refrained from installing a count-down clock above my monitor. I broke my pre-order rule for that game; all the dev diaries and previews look sooooo good.

  10. Max Ursa says:

    I picked up BNW in the summer sale when it was accidentally 33% off. Been playing a marathon large archipeligo as polynesia. In medieval age now. Obviously not played solidly but finding BNW to be a must have for civ V.

    One feature that i have not seen a single reviewer mention is that each of the first batch of trait lines is a prereq for specific wonders. Eg take liberty for access to pyramids, hono(u)r for statue of zeus. Second lot allow for particular great persons to be bought with faith in industrial era. Eg aesthetics allow for great musicians/artists, exploration gives great admirals and mercentile gives great merchants.


    • almostDead says:

      It’s tradition for hanging gardens and libery for pyramids.

      I agree, they really have uses for late game faith and all things seem reasonably well tied together. To be honest my most fun was had seeing what they had tweaked from vanilla and G&K for BNW, like the things you mention.

  11. RedViv says:

    The new culture system is interesting, and needs a bit more balance I think. It takes far too long to acquire new policies in the early game now, due to the focus on the tourism/culture spread mechanics as fuelled by the Great Creator types, which are mostly available in abundance only later on. And early expansion is rather heavily punished, methinks. No campaigns of domination of Alexander-sized greatness, at least not before the Middle Ages.

    Despite that slight problem I very much enjoy the game with this expansion. My last match had me only barely reaching the scientific victory with Poland, as my alliance with Pachacuti and Catherine did crumble when she decided to go the autocratic route, and the both of us had to fight off her attempts to get those precious late game resources that were just around the Russian border. Since the other continent, with only Napoleon, Washington, and Dido remaining, were following the Freedom ideology, it took quite some bribing of city states to convince the World Council to embargo that evil backstabbing Tsarina and get her off our backs.

  12. Reapy says:

    Are the prices a little high for what they add to the game, or do people feel they are reasonable?

    I hadn’t revisited civ 5 since release, and was going to scoop up all the expansions when I read about this one coming out to give it a whirl, then I balked at the high prices for them, my gaming money seems it can be spread out better elsewhere.

    • almostDead says:

      Well if you haven’t played since launch you are in for a treat. Still can’t get over all the 95% CiV vanilla day 1 reviews. Oh how the game changed.

      If you had bought recently, I think you could have got CiV gold for about 7.50 pounds and BNW for about 13.50 from GMG or the day 1 SSS. I think it’s worth waiting until you see these previous prices again.

      To be honest, vanilla or G&K is really just unplayable compared to BNW. They have tied everything together really nicely, that it’s just a must for now.

    • Moraven says:

      Same amount of content as God & Kings. I got that at -10% off and found worth it, especially how much time you can put into the game.

      But you can wait 2-4 months for a sale. The earliest it will be on sale is probably early Sept, Labor Day. Then maybe Halloween and of course USA Thanksgiving Weekend then Holiday sale.

    • SkittleDiddler says:

      Definitely wait for a sale. G&K was available for around $8.00 just a few months after its initial release, so the same can probably be expected for BNW.

      The prices per se for Civ DLC have never really bothered me. It’s the fact that the devs insist on charging us at all for mechanics-changing content that drastically alters the flow of the game. It just completely reeks of money-grabbing.

    • Sic says:

      You could have gotten Civ5 Gold for next to nothing in the Steam Summer Sale.

      BNW is 30% off at Green Man Gaming at the moment, if you just want that.

  13. Commander Gun says:

    I feel obligated to point out that the World Congress was a feature that already existed in Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri. Every new edition of Civ, and even some expansions, are proof of the awesomeness of that game. In memoriam!

    • almostDead says:

      I still can’t believe I never played that game. I know you can GOG purchase it, but I don’t think I’d play it.

      But Grim Fandango, if that ever became digitally buyable again……..

    • Gap Gen says:

      SMAC is the Platonic ideal form of the 4X. Civ is merely its shadow on the wall of the cave.

    • MacTheGeek says:

      It only took them 15 years to recreate that feature. But hey, better late than never!

    • lomaxgnome says:

      Even now, Alpha Centauri still has features that still need emulating, especially the incredible terrain manipulation that really should have become the standard for the genre.

      • horus_lupercal says:

        “Even now, Alpha Centauri still has features that still need emulating, especially the incredible terrain manipulation that really should have become the standard for the genre.”

        To this day I still catch myself thinking “If i start raising mountains here then it’ll screw that civs food supply…. damnnit this isn’t alpha centauri”. I was also partial to unit customisation.

        • Vercinger says:

          You just convinced me to torrent it. Never played it before, hopefully won’t be disappointed.

          In any case, thank you.

    • Rindan says:

      Whenever I play a Civ game I am always deeply annoyed that it isn’t Alpha Centauri. Alpha Centauri just had so much damned character, while the Civ games always seem hollow and flat. In Alpha Centauri you get a real sense that people are driving these civilizations, and as time goes on they diverge more and more radically. There is a kind of horrifying thrill as you get near the end game and make scary decisions about which direction to steer or society, or contemplate the mass destruction you can bring down upon the world.

      I have these feels as I am playing Civ games, and I wonder if perhaps maybe I am just idealizing an old game. I dust off my copy of Alpha Centauri… and nope that game is still freaking awesome, and I am still annoyed by all the features it has that Civ 5 is now only finally starting to achieve.

      I have not given Brave New World or Gods and Kings a shot yet, but my initial experience with Civ 5 felt so hollow and flat that it is going to take some serious bordium (or a very good Steam sale) before I plunk down the cash and see if Civ is even in the same orbit as Alpha Centauri.

  14. Lacero says:

    Or “Brian Reynold’s Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri” to give it its full title

  15. rsanchez1 says:

    Brave New World certainly makes the late game nice to play. I have one game in which I somehow ended up with just two uranium in all of my territory, while the enemy had numerous uranium mines around their territory. Luckily, I had managed to negotiate a nuclear weapons ban, and I had also managed to research the XCOM Squad, so I could wage wars far and wide without fear of extreme retaliation.

    What I didn’t try yet was BNW on multiplayer. The game is apparently already long enough for 60-80% of people on multiplayer to play past the industrial era, so features that would be really good in multiplayer, like the World Congress, probably won’t see much use. Luckily, a lot of the new civs are really useful in the early game. I can see the Shoshone dominating in multiplayer.

    I personally think this is the best civ expansion to date. It feels like the second half of Gods & Kings, and feels like it really completes the Civ 5 experience. I highly recommend it.

  16. ScorpionWasp says:

    The question I’d really need answered though, and by a reasonably skilled player, is: can the AI play the fucking game now? I remember booting Civ V vanilla for the very first time, knowing nothing about nothing, on monarch difficulty (in which the AI gets modest bonuses over human players, I.E. cheats), and getting ahead of everyone. I never touched the game again after that.

    • RedViv says:

      It’s far smarter in wrestling for city states as well as waging wars now. So that’s probably a yes.

    • Darkwings says:

      The AI still cheats on higher difficulties, but it’s also smarter than in G&K and can actually manage water now.

      It’s also a lot more friendly (most say too friendly, while in G&K most said it was too aggressive) BUT that’s to be expected because the game now offers valid alternatives to overpower other Civs without going to war:

      -You can instill discontent with your higher Culture (and Tourism) in Civs following a different Ideology.
      -You can create semipermanent trades that give you many benefits (Gold is the first one of course).
      -You actually have solid advantages to not only mantain peace but to create lasting alliances (those are now possible thanks to the AI changes) and stuff like Open Borders make sense now.

      All the above is valid in single player games, because on the other hand I find that Domination is still too fast and too easy.

      I could safely avoid wars using Trades, Tourism and Faith as a “diplomatic shield” but if the other Civs _really_ wanted to eliminate me (as in: if it was a human player) they would still Declare War, endure all the penalties and hit me really hard.
      Sadly the same can apply in single player: if I wanted to win faster, even if having less fun, I’d simply need to go for Domination.

      I don’t play mp mostly because of the amount of time required to complete a game.

    • Sic says:

      I’m confused. Hasn’t the AI cheated since the very first Civ, and in exactly the same manner?

      I’m positive they did in Civ 2 and 3 at least.

      • BlueTemplar says:

        You could rather call that an “handicap”, as long as the AI is still generally playing by the same rules as you, and just gets things like economy bonuses. And yes, AFAIK none of the Civs (nor other 4X games) have had a good AI that could beat an average human player without using handicaps. (Though it would seem that Civ5 at launch was especially bad at that.) These games are just too complex for your average AI to figure it out, and it would seem the developers never had the desire and/or means to make a good one.

  17. Fiyenyaa says:

    Y’know, I’ve still not been able to play a multiplayer game of this darned game for more than a little while without being plauged by de-syncs, high pings, disconnections, and generally shaky online stuff.
    I dunno if there’s some magic bullet out there that makes the online work well, but I’ve had no luck.

  18. UncleLou says:

    While I really like the game and the new add-on in particular, I have to say this pretty negative review (sorry for linking to another take on the game, I hadn’t even heard of the site before) and it’s metaphor about filling buckets struck a chord with me. Sometimes I wish another developer picked up the general idea of Civ and made a completely different game, with less obvious numbers, and sliders, and, well buckets:

    link to venturebeat.com

  19. Machinations says:

    Probably a minority opinion, but they completely jacked up Civ in this installment. It was a day 1 purchase for me, never again. Even now, how many dlc and xpacs later, the Mp still is totally broken. Civ IV is superior in every measurable way, except graphics. Firaxis games are now wait and sees for me.

    Praise the Sun for Paradox, indeed.

  20. Machinations says:

    Sad, but alpha centauri is still the best 4x ever made. If they could somehow remake it without bollocksing it up…but how can you trust them after this abomination?

  21. Timmytoby says:

    Abomination is really a shitty thing to say.

    I very much enjoy Civ V, allthough I haven’t had the chance to play BNW yet.
    Just because they have managed to cater to my taste and not yours, doesn’t mean it’s an abomination.

    I didn’t like Civ IV very much, except the mods like FFH. I also don’t care for multiplayer. And I don’t care for most Paradox games. That still doesn’t mean I think all of these are “abominations”.

  22. Haphaz77 says:

    This expansion is just utterly absorbing. The cultural additions are the best; I too loved the great works pop up screens. It makes it a game about civilization – not mostly a war / science game.

  23. pitchman says:

    Whatever hoops it jumps, whatever old tricks presents as new, V will never be as complex and rewarding as Civ IV RoM 2.91.

  24. Gap Gen says:

    “Montezuma ate my camels.”

    Adam are you in fact Francois Hollande?

  25. Lagwolf says:

    A friend told me Civ 5 was “quirky” and think he was being rather kind. I found its nuances to be annoying and I can’t be arsed to spend the time needed to “learn” them. I understand that BNW irons out some f the worst aspects of Civ 5/G&K so I look forward to playing it.

  26. Borsook says:

    Maybe I’m too bent on the military, but to me this is just another expansion. Sure the new civs are nice, and I like trade routes. But I see no point in tourism and in general there are mods that add more interesting things to the game… I’d like to see more improvements to land generation and Civ placement.

  27. solymer89 says:

    Still playing Civ IV, no reason to move on yet.

  28. cairbre says:

    I have tried so many times to like CK II but just can’t get into it. Maybe I am not smart enough to get it. I played Connacht. Should I try another province? Or which one in Ireland? I tried being king of Scotland too but that went wrong fast.