When Civ 5 was first released, it was likely a success sales-wise, but to fans it left much to be desired. While I liked limited resources and one unit per tile, other fans of the series didn’t. But the biggest problem was a slew of bugs, a weak AI, a simplified game, and a lack of a true cultural victory. Now 3 years, and 2 expansions later, I think not only have the issues with the game been resolved, I feel it is in a much better place than Civ 4 was after all expansions were released.
This latest expansion adds to the game, a more true to Civ culture victory, archeologists & tourism, and several new civilizations and units to the game. Obviously the biggest of these enhancements is the return of the cultural victory. This actually comes along with the archeologists & tourism, and also includes other enhancements such as spies being used as diplomats and a world congress which votes on global resolutions.
Let’s start with the Tourism. Tourism is a new stat similar to culture. The main route to gain tourism is by using great writers, artists, and musicians to create great works of art. These works of art can then be placed in various buildings in your city (usually culture buildings) in order to gain influence on neighboring civs. The neighboring civs meanwhile use culture to defend against this influence. I read somewhere early on that you could actually take over cities with tourism if it was high enough and a neighbors was low enough, to date I have not done this a single time, so I wager that it is not actually a real method of conquest. If it does exist, they made it extremely difficult which is too bad. This was always my favorite aspect of previous civs and though I do think the current cultural victory is better than the previous utopian project, I still don’t care for it.
Another way to gain tourism is to build archaeologists, which you can’t build until you research the archaeology technology, and then sending them out to pillage ancient sites that have artifacts. These sites are built off of things that occur earlier in the game like major fights, cities being destroyed, ancient ruins, or barbarian encampments. This was really a wonderful idea to really make the early game have real meaning later in the game that I totally appreciate.
These artifacts and great works can be put in various buildings in the game and some old world wonders specialize in housing these great works as well, like the Louvre which has 4 slots for artifacts and works. And then if you combine works from different eras, different civs, etc. You will get tourism bonuses. There are also buildings like the hotel and airport that give bonuses to your tourism and then your tourism will also be amplified if you have the same religion as other civs, or if you have open borders with them or establish trade routes.
Yes, there are trade routes in the game, actual trade routes. You can create caravans and cargo ships which can go to city-states, other civs and your own civs. If you send them to other civs or city-states you get money, you spread religion and you could even get a science bonus (if the civ in question is more advanced than you). If you send it to another city in your own civ, you give that city a bonus to production or growth. All this is great for really advancing your cities and civilization and I think is a wonderful addition. Of course, these caravans and ships can be plundered by civs you are at war with or barbarians and that is a little bit of a drawback, but not much.
Next up is a reworking of the policies. A few were removed, a couple were added and ideologies were added as well. Overall, I feel that the new re-worked policies feel more worthwhile at every level, instead of before when only a few in each tree were worth getting and only a couple trees were really good. One thing I really like is that each policy has an associated world wonder that you need to know the policy in order to build. For instance, you can only build the Great Pyramids if you know the Liberty Policy. It makes sense, and it also allows you to get a world wonder or two even if you are playing against someone who is getting all the other wonders.
Ideologies are essentially the same thing as policies, except they get unlocked after you learn a certain technology (can’t ever remember which). You can only learn one, and then if you are the first one to unlock one of the three, you get two free policies from that ideology which is neat. The policies are split into 3 tiers and each tier you can select any policy from it. You need to know 2 from the first tier to move onto the second, and then two from the second to move onto the third. However, you only need to add 1 after the first two to get another one of the tier above. It is a good system overall and the policies are pretty varied to allow you to change what you get based on the type of game you are playing.
Lastly the civs. I was a little disappointed that they didn’t do more to take advantage of the new culture mechanics with the new civs. Unfortunately if you want to go Culture Victory, there isn’t a great civ to go to help just straight tourism. There’s really only Brazil which gets a bonus to tourism when you have a golden age going on, cool but not great. You will want to do a culture based civ and use the culture to kind of daisy into tourism like the hotel and such. That being said there is some interesting stuff out there. Indonesia gets new luxuries when you settle on new continents that can’t be razed. Venice can never build settlers, but can buy city-states to join them. Just to name a few.
Overall, this expansion really ties up a lot with Civ 5. I still miss the old way of culture victories, but the new way is much better than Civilization V had previously. Combined with Gods & Kings, I think this game has really stepped up. It had a very weak launch, but thankfully it has had two very very strong expansions. IF I had to pick out which expansion I preferred, I would say this one over the last one. Not that the last one was bad, but it was just filling in what was missing from previous versions of the game. This expansion actually brought some new ideas to the table which I felt was more impressive. The other expansion is still worth getting though. Good job Firaxis at rebounding! Now give me Alpha Centauri 2 dang it!