Civ 4: Beyond the Sword

I’ve been putting off writing my thoughts on this latest expansion for civ because I wanted to play it a few times, but then I kinda stopped playing it for a bit for various reasons and kind of forgot about it.

So looking through the expansion it was a fairly good one. They added in a ton of new civs, leaders, 2 new technologies, corporations, and bunches of new units, they also had some new scenarios which all have various themes like fantasy and sci fi which I’ve not had the chance to play yet. I’ve never really been a huge fan of scenarios in these games, however I may play these because of the themes… I think it’d be cool to see dragons or what not in civ.

The first thing I noticed that while all the new things were great, 90% of them seemed to be from previous games that they just never bothered to put in Civ4 for instance the Native American civ was in the base Civ3, but hadn’t made an appearance here yet. This was not just in the civs, this was in the units as well. Still, there were some new civs & units to keep it fresh like the Holy Roman Empire and the Levee. I was still disappointed by this, it just made Civ 4 feel a little more like Civ 3 without giving it any distinctiveness of its own.1

There have been several gameplay modifications as well. Just playing it, I have noticed that they tweaked the pollution of a city a bit because nearly every city I have had seems to go into the sickly face mode fairly easily. This actually is a pretty good thing because previously you really could get through the game with only one or two health buildings in the game (I usually got by with just the aqueduct and a hospital). Now you almost need to build all of them, though you can usually put them off until other things, you’ll need to build a couple early to make sure the health of your cities don’t get too low. There are also a couple of new health buildings which help in this cause.

I haven’t totally figured out the new espionage system in the game, that is something I’ve never done hugely well with. Although it does seem that with more espionage points that you put into a particular opponent, you get more of their map whited out, you see what tech they are working on, and you see their units without any real work at all which is very nice. I always hated going through the work in Civ3 to get anything done. I’ve still found very little use for spies, I realize they allow you to go in and destroy opponents improvement & buildings, but I have never found this hugely useful, I’d rather build units to do that which can actually fight. I have however noticed that the spies are attacking me far more than before which creates a need for the new espionage buildings to get built (one of which improves defense against espionage). Great Spies, like normal Spies I find fairly useless… although I have found that they help in getting an additional golden age easier (usually after 4 or 5 it is nearly impossible to get further golden ages), and the Scotland yard that they can create are somewhat nice.

Corporations are pretty cool… I haven’t fully decided if they are really worth their weight, but it’s fun to try out a new dynamic. They basically act like late game religion, but they cost a ton of money to maintain. A few of them seemed worthwhile, but some of them seemed like they didn’t offer many benefits for the cost they incurred on the town. Actually considering you also have to sacrifice a great person of the appropriate level, this may be another reason why one may not want to have them… I think these are best looked at if you really look at the benefits of the corp.

I noticed a couple other new game dynamics, but the only one I can think of off hand comes from one of the new civ’s units which is this elephant that not only does better vs. mounts, but also will always attack mounts first. So no longer can your opponent hide the mounts in a stack, you will always attack them! That is a great idea and I hope they add more such units in the future.

Overall, a good little expansion… I think I liked the Warlords expansion a tad more just for the reason that with the civ buildings and the fighting stuff, I felt like they added more that I was interested in with that expansion. I do think they added more here though. Actually considering the number of leaders they now have in the game, it is more than a little surprising they also didn’t add new traits for them, but this was a very well balanced expansion at the very least and if you are a fan of the game it is definitely worth the buy.

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  1. They were advertising the heck out of those scenarios as well and I was really hoping to see mech suits & dragons in the normal game, or at the very least the option for them.