submit to reddit
Pin it

PolyCast logo

Earlier today, I served as a guest host for the Civilization podcast Polycast, episode 295. I joined regular hosts DanQ, Makahlua, MadDjinn, and TheMeInTeam. The episode covered a handful of topics, ranging from the new religion mechanics introduced by the fall 2017 patch, to a proposal for athletes to be a type of great person, the new Civilization: A New Dawn board game, to the issue of micro-transactions (or "Recurrent Consumer Spending" as Take-Two Interactive CEO, Strauss Zelnick calls it), and more.

If you missed the live broadcast, then the edited archive version will be released on PolyCast's website next Saturday (December 2). I'll update this post with a link once the archive is updated.

"Recurrent Consumer Spending"

"Recurrent Consumer Spending" was one of the primary topics of the previous episode (PolyCast #294), and so we discussed it again as part of a discussion on feedback from last week's episode. Micro-transactions (and loot boxes in particular) are a hot topic in gaming of late, especially after the fiasco that was EA's launch of Star Wars: Battlefront II. Games pundit Jim Sterling has made micro-transactions an almost weekly issue in his Youtube podcast The Jimquisition. Sterling has been comparing loot boxes to gambling for months, and recently, some European regulatory agencies have started to evaluate whether loot boxes should legally be classified as a type of gambling. As someone who has previously worked for a gambling company, I am aware of how compulsive impulses are used to keep gamblers addicted to a particular game, and I definitely believe that the current implementation of loot boxes in games like Shadow of War, Call of Duty, and Star Wars: Battlefront does try to capitalize on those same addictive impulses, and so should probably be regulated similarly to gambling. I don't want micro-transactions in my games at all, but I don't necessarily think that such things should be illegal per se. But they should be regulated, and I do think that the game boxes should clearly indicate to parents that the game includes "gambling-like elements" (or some other warning).

Jim Sterling has been making a fuss about micro-transactions and loot boxes for months.
WARNING: May not be appropriate for younger or more sensitive viewers.

More importantly (for me), however, is the concerns for what micro-transactions do to the actual game. Just last night, I spent something like 4 hours in Shadow of War grinding my character and orc captains up to a point that I could siege the castle in Act II. I played every side mission available in the chapter, and then still had to do some Nemesis missions, in order to get Talion up to level 20 and unlock the ability to assign a third uruk captain to my siege assault. That third captain was essential to get my siege level up above the level of the defenders. I'm not sure if that was necessary, but I didn't want to risk having my captains killed during the attack. I actually happen to really like Brûz The Chopper, so I didn't want him dying because my siege was under-leveled. This is just Act II! I can't imagine how grindy the game might become during the later acts! And all this extra grind in the campaign is a direct result of the inclusion of the game's War Chest (i.e. loot boxes). You can spend real-life money to buy random orc captains to use in your sieges or to defend your captured forts. So the whole game is balanced such that it's just enough of a grind to encourage people to spend money to speed things along by buying the War Chest.

Well, Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick has said that he wants every game in 2K's library to include "recurrent consumer spending". That would include my beloved Civilization. And he's not talking about the little DLC packs with new civilizations or alternate leaders. He's talking about in-game purchases that are designed to affect the balance of the game so that people are "incentivized" to buy them in order to remain competitive or to save themselves from spending time grinding. I can think of at least a dozen ways (off the top of my head) that this could be accomplished in Civilization, but I don't want to speak them out loud in the fear that 2K might get some ideas.

A New Dawn for Civilization board games

Another significant topic was a discussion of the newly-released board game, Civilization: A New Dawn. The game was just released this weekend (Nov 24). I haven't picked it up yet (maybe one of my friends or family will get me a copy for the upcoming holidays ... hint hint, wink wink, nudge nudge ...), and so I obviously cannot comment much on that game. I do, however, have the previous Civilization board game, and I really like it. So I'm excited to try out the new game, even though I am a little bit skeptical of some of its new features.

Civilization: A New Dawn released Nov 24, and should be available at your local board game or hobby store.

The older game did a very good job of translating most of the computer game's core features and systems, and so it's a pretty complex game. A New Dawn looks (based on previews that I've seen) to be much more abstract and "streamlined". The game's core mechanic seems to revolve around setting policy cards that temporarily buff certain map tiles, but I'm not sure of the details of how it works. The tech tree seems to be simplified to be more of a general "technology level", and military seems to be a more abstract point system accompanied by competing die rolls.

I get the feeling that A New Dawn is not intended to be a replacement for the previous board game, but rather, a quicker, more light-weight companion piece for when you don't have 4 or 5 hours to burn on a board game.

PolyCast listeners will be hearing a lot more of me in 2018!

The biggest news out of this episode for me personally, was the announcement that I will be replacing MadDjinn as a regular host in 2018. MadDjinn will be stepping down from the show at the end of this year, and Dan, Makalhua, and MeInTeam had offered an invitation to me a couple weeks ago to join the regular panel in 2018. I'm grateful and thrilled for the opportunity. I'm clearly not as knowledgeable about the game as MadDjinn is, so I won't be bringing nearly the same level of technical or mechanical expertise. I really hope that I can bring some fresh insight into the show that will be interesting and entertaining for the listeners.

I won't be starting right away, however, as I have some family obligations through January and February that will prevent me from joining until March. In the meantime, I believe the plan is going to be to rotate through multiple guests in January and February, which should give more members of the community opportunities to be included on the show.

PolyCast is one of three internet podcasts that I've been involved with. I used to be a regular panelist on the now-defunct podcast Geek Fights. I've also recently been involved with the Youtube Let's Play channel On the Branch Gaming.

Interested parties can also listen to my guest appearances on On The Branch Gaming.

Contribute Comment


We'll incarnate your avatar from the services below.
PlayStation Network Steam Xbox LIVE Facebook MySpace Pinterest Twitter YouTube deviantART LiveJournal

  • Comment
  • Preview

Grid Clock Widget
12      60
11      55
10      50
09      45
08      40
07      35
06      30
05      25
04      20
03      15
02      10
01      05
Grid Clock provided by trowaSoft.

A gamer's thoughts

Welcome to Mega Bears Fan's blog, and thanks for visiting! This blog is mostly dedicated to game reviews, strategies, and analysis of my favorite games. I also talk about my other interests, like football, science and technology, movies, and so on. Feel free to read more about the blog.

Check out my YouTube content at

Follow me on Twitter at:


If you enjoy my content, please consider Supporting me on Patreon:

FTC guidelines require me to disclose that as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases made by clicking on Amazon product links on this site. All Amazon Associate links are for products relevant to the given blog post, and are usually posted because I recommend the product.

Without Gravity

And check out my colleague, David Pax's novel Without Gravity on his website!

Featured Post

The Humanity of NCAA Football's In-Season RecruitingThe Humanity of NCAA Football's In-Season Recruiting08/01/2022 If you're a fan of college football video games, then I'm sure you're excited by the news from early 2021 that EA will be reviving its college football series. They will be doing so without the NCAA license, and under the new title, EA Sports College Football. I guess Bill Walsh wasn't available for licensing either? Expectations...

Random Post

New Horizons space probe completes NASA's planetary collectionNew Horizons space probe completes NASA's planetary collection07/16/2015 NASA's New Horizons spacecraft set a major milestone for human space exploration earlier this week. Its approach of Pluto means that every solar body that is now - or ever has been - considered a "planet" has been visited by at least one NASA space probe. The probe was launched in January of 2006 (back when Pluto was still a...

Month List

Recent Comments

Comment RSS