Timesink: Sid Meier’s Civilization V


Sid Meier’s games have a habit of drawing you in and not letting you go. I, like many people, have booted Pirates up for a short sail around the Caribbean only to find the half hour or so I meant to spend with the game has actually turned into six months or so, I’ve forgotten to eat and I may have developed scurvy.


The Civilization series, similarly, sucks up a large portion of your life. It leads to “One more turn” syndrome, a condition Football Manager addicts will be familiar with, you just can’t let it go. That is to be expected though, what it does to you as a person is a lot stranger.


As a half experiment/half exercise in masochism I started a marathon game on a large, realistic start world map with no victory conditions  and 40 other civs on King difficulty (because I’m a massive fanny, apparently) and set about carving out my place in the world.


Over the next 30 hours, I funded several proxy wars, invaded the Middle East for oil, “liberated” several weaker civs that had been wiped out so I could secure control of the UN, had economic sanctions placed on China (my nearest rival), colonized Australia, conquered vast swathes of Africa and partitioned it amongst my weaker allies, took out countries that were becoming too powerful to control and spied on my “allies” and funneled the information to our enemies to stop my friends surpassing me. Essentially, I had morphed into the US government.


As things stand, I’m trying to think of a way to provoke Siam into war so I can cut off their access to uranium.


There is a good reason for all of this of course. The map itself is too vast to conquer traditionally, the game’s happiness system makes supporting a large empire difficult, so players need to find a balance between nabbing the best resources and strategic locations for themselves, giving captured cities to weaker nations that won’t pose a threat, and liberating cities other civs have lost in the past.


The liberation part is particularly important. Not only does it negate the warmonger penalty you get from capturing cities for your own empire, it also guarantees you votes when the host country for the World Congress (which later becomes the UN) is decided. In an actual game it can secure you a diplomatic victory, but in this twisted mess it just gives me extra votes. Votes I can use to stop other civs banning the luxuries that are stopping my populace getting upset and rebelling, votes that can hit China in the wallet and stop them expanding into Russia, votes that can ban the production of nukes as soon as I’m done compiling my arsenal.


I genuinely thought I was a decent person before this, turns out I’m actually a cross between George Bush and Attila the Hun.


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