PolyCast logo

Over the weekend of May 24 (Memorial Day weekend), I participated in a special edition of the bi-weekly Civilization podcast called "PolyCast". It was the two hundredth episode, and in celebration, the hosts (DanQ, MadDjinn, Makahlua, and TheMeInTeam) invited as many of the guests hosts from the previous seasons as they could track down. First, however, listeners were treated to a special Q&A session with some of the Firaxis staff, in which Civ V was discusses, as well as the recently-announced Civilization: Beyond Earth!

The episode can be streamed in its entirety at thePolyCast.net.

Among the notable points of Civ V discussion was the Firaxians' response to the question of whether Civ V would receive any more patches. Although a straight "no" was not given (leaving the door open to the possibility of one more patch this summer), they made it seem like [to me] that support for Civ V has effectively ended. This was no surprise to me, but it was still a bit of a disappointment, considering that there are still a few annoying bugs (lingering auto-annex issues, broken promotions, and multiplayer bugs) as well as some in-game descriptions that are outright misleading (such as Shoshone's Great Expanse trait description). There is also still a great deal of concern on the forums about the balance of the initial policy trees (Tradition feeling much stronger than Liberty, Honor, or Piety). So it's a shame that these issues are not likely to be addressed.

Civilization: Beyond Earth - title

The bulk of the conversation, however, was focused around the upcoming Civilization: Beyond Earth. I'm excited about this game, but also a bit skeptical, considering the poor quality of Civ V's initial release. However, I'm hopeful that Firaxis has learned their lessons, and will release a much more stable and compelling game this time around, so that we won't have to wait for six-to-twelve months of post-release support to get a decently-playable game.

The remainder of the show was brief discussions with many of the guest hosts who have participated in the show during the years. My segment was the first such chunk. I used the opportunity to thank the PolyCast hosts for discussing and publicizing my strategy posts, and talked a little about my future plans for Civ V and Beyond Earth strategies before they had to stop me to allow others to speak. I hope I didn't come off as too self-promoting or inconsiderate...

Anyway, I look forward to PolyCast continuing to provide great material, and the release of Beyond Earth should give them plenty to talk about in future podcasts. I hope I will be invited back soon, as I enjoy the discussions with my fellow Civ-heads.

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Civilization V: Brave New World - banner

In my review of the Brave New World expansion for Civilization V, I expressed some disappointment that some of the legacy civilizations didn't receive significant updates. I also complained about a few mechanical issues such as how the "warmonger" mechanic works and the value of trade routes. Well, Firaxis has released a major update to the game earlier this fall that addresses some of these complaints.

Civilization V: Brave New World - German Hanse bank

Several of the vanilla civilizations received a major overhaul. As I mentioned in my review, Germany and America seem to have been completely one-upped by the Zulu and Shoshone. Well, Germany has been given a major update, and America has received a small tweak in order to better differentiate them from the BNW successors. In addition, Japan has received a small (but significant) buff.

Germany was probably the civ that was in the most dire need of a facelift, since the Zulu leave them completely in the dust. Both civs had a huge military flavor, discounts for unit maintenance, and a unique Pikeman replacement, and the Zulu had Germany beat on all accounts. In order to differentiate the two, The Landsknechts unique unit was replaced with a new unique building, the "Hanse".

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Civilization V: Brave New World - banner

One of my biggest criticisms with the Gods & Kings expansion pack for Civilization V was that none of the features added really felt all that fresh. They were just redesigns of old features that were present in previous games. Granted, they were also the most highly-requested features by the player community, but as concepts, nothing really felt new or original.

The new expansion, Brave New World changes all of that by adding never-before-seen concepts to the game, and they add a great deal of flavor and dramatically change the way that the game unfolds.

Table of Contents

A few more of the missing concepts from Civilization IV are re-introduced with a new coat of paint in Civilization V: Brave New World: trade routes and a world resolution system. Both systems are implemented differently than in the previous game, and both are kind of hit-or-miss this time around

I have long been asking for the introduction of some kind of international trade route mechanic to be added to Civ V. Without such a feature, the vanilla game (and Gods & Kings) were missing one of the key incentives to maintain peaceful relations with your neighbors. Well now we have such a feature. In some ways, it's a step forward from Civ IV's completely non-interactive trade routes, but it's also a bit clumsy.

Civilization V: Brave new World - coastal city
Coastal cities might seem weaker due to the lack of gold on sea resources, but sea trade routes are more profitable and have longer range than ground routes, so coastal cities are still valuable.
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PolyCast logo

Over the weekend of June 15, I participated in a bi-weekly Civilization podcast called "PolyCast". This episode was number 175, and it was titled "In Response to That", and focused on responding to several forum topics. The episode can be streamed in its entirety at here.

It was an interesting show, full of confusion and technical difficulties when it was broadcast live; although some of those difficulties were edited out in order to fit into the standard 1-hour format for the show archive. The show started out with difficulties getting the audio to work in the live steam, and it took us around 20 minutes to get up and running. That was a great start to the show. On top of that, I suffered several power outages at my house that disconnected me from the group chat and caused me to stumble through the show's closing sign-off. Oops. I'll do better next time.

This was my second time on PolyCast. The first time I appeared on the show, I predicted Civ V's first expansion. This show wasn't quite as prophetical (is that a word?), but I can't be Nostradamus every day!

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This review was originally published 10/17/2010 on Game Observer (now defunct as of 05/13/2014). In anticipation of the soon-to-be-released Brave New World expansion pack, the review has been republished here for archival purposes.

Civilization V

Civilization V cover art

For better or worse, I probably won’t be able to go back to Civilization IV after playing this.

I want to put my review into perspective before I begin. I’m not a day-one Civilization player. I didn’t start playing the franchise until Civilization III (after it had already been out for several years and both expansions had been released). Civilization IV, however, is probably my favorite video game ever -- or at least, my favorite PC game. The only games that I’ve probably logged more hours with than Civ IV are the Sims 2 (plus all the expansions) and the cumulative sum of all the Madden games I’ve played since 2000.

My hopes for Civilization V were sky-high from the moment the first details of gameplay were revealed about a year ago. This was despite my misgivings about the vendor and edition-exclusive gameplay content -- gameplay content should NEVER be exclusive to a vendor or edition of a game; anybody who buys a game should have the right to play any content that is released for the game (even if they have to pay extra for it) regardless of where they got it or when they bought! But now is not the place to discuss industry politics -- I’ll save that rant for another day.

Back on-topic: Civilization V promised a lot: competitive, tactical combat with a totally new rule-set; intelligent, interactive AI leaders; a simpler, streamlined interface; and simpler, more streamlined gameplay without sacrificing any of the series’ trademark depth. I’ve been spending almost every free moment playing this game for the two weeks since release. Does it measure up?

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Welcome to Mega Bears Fan's blog, and thanks for visiting! This blog is mostly dedicated to opinions about video games and the video game industry. But occasionally, I talk about other stuff too. Feel free to read about the blog.

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I called "expansion" on PolyCast, before 2K announced "Civilization V: Gods and Kings"I called "expansion" on PolyCast, before 2K announced "Civilization V: Gods and Kings"03/01/2012 Back in the middle of February, I participated in the Civilization podcast PolyCast episode 140 along with hosts DanQ, Makahlua, TheMeInTeam, and qnl. We discussed several topics relating primarily to Civilization V, including: An interview between GameInformer and series-creator Sid Meier about the future of the franchise....