Civilizations, RANKED!

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Supporter
So you probably saw the title and thought to yourself, "Self, this is a thread that is absolutely cruising to a thread-lock!"


HA HA! No. A recent announcement had me thinking about a topic that is near and dear to my heart ....

Snarf's Strange Preoccupations- Power Rankings
1. The banal baneful bummer that is the Bard.
2. Greyhawk? Greyhawk!
3. Soulless, dead-eyed elves remain the same no matter how many Baskin-Robbins flavors they come in.
4. Making sure that Nickelback is playing in ur head.
5. Ranking things using completely awesome rules that people will still argue about.

Well, one of the topics, at least! And that topic is RANKINGS. For those of you who don't know, Civilization VII has been announced! And you know that this is important, because Civilization, like Super Bowls, is so important that the Romans have volunteered their numbers to show that it's, like, necessary for all you plebes to pay attention.


That's right, this thread is about the game that invented the "Just one more turn ... it's only 3am ..." mode of gameplay .... Sid Meier's Civilization!

In order to promote discussion of all things Civilization, from stacking units to Nuke 'em Gandhi, I am going to post my own, inarguable, list of the Civilization games... RANKED. As always, my lists are the products of logic and maths, have been verified by Collosson the Numberwang Robot, and cannot be questioned. Although you are welcome to articulate why I am right, and you are wrong, in the comments below.

Notes on the rankings (aka, the awesome rules that you are welcome to question and be incorrect about)-

A. I try to view the game in terms of its "complete" state (with official expansions) but not with mods.

B. All games are products of their times- so older games are viewed more generously in the context of the time they came out.

C. It has to be a "Civilization" game. This means that After Earth, Call to Power (but not CtP 2, since they didn't have the rights to use the name Civilization!), and Revolution will be ranked, but Alpha Centauri (while an excellent game, and arguably a Civilization game) will not be.


Civilization Games, RANKED!

9. Civilization: Call to Power. The Activision branch of the game, it was largely similar to Civ2 with some additional ideas. Unfortunately, the game just lacked some of the essential gameplay of the main Civ games, and was quickly forgotten when Civ3 was released.

8. Civilization Revolution. This was Civ for mobile and consoles. So credit for trying to spread the addiction, but, alas, the gameplay suffered.

7. Civilization: After Earth. Alpha Centauri was a great game for its time. Civ:AE tries, and fails, to recapture that magic. Interesting concepts, but lacking the true Civ feel.

6. Civilization. The hardest to rank. On the one hand, it was the game that started it all! A lot of the essential ideas for Civ can be seen here. On the other hand, Civ2 was such a massive upgrade that most people truly fell in love with the game with the second version.

5. Civilization VI. Arguably the most controversial Civilization? There are people that absolutely love the changes, especially the "freeing up" of cities. And there are people that loathe the changes, saying it overcomplicate the basic things, and makes the game feel too "boardgame-y." Me? I wanted to love it, but as you can see from my rankings ... naw. This was the first main Civ game that didn't make me stay up all night for just one more turn.

4. Civilization III. Fine. It improved the graphics over Civ2. It brought culture to the game.... but you still wanted to conquer everyone. You know this to be true. It wasn't until Civ4 that other options began to be really integrated into the game.

3. Civilization II. This is a tough one, and I think that it narrowly edges out Civ3. It was a quantum leap over the original Civilization, and was the beginning of the series for most players. Railroads + Tank Stacks.

2. Civilization V. Controversial when it was released, the game made some massive changes (such as getting rid of "stacking" and the square grids) and was ... let's just say ... unpolished on release. But with two expansion packs (BNW and G&K) Civilization V fully came into its own. It continues to attract players and mods to this day, despite being almost 15 years old.

1. Civilization IV. Nimoy's voice. A Grammy-winning instrumental track. Massively updated graphics. Civ4 is Civilization. Later versions introduced some good changes, but this will always be the "best" (relative to the time) Civilization. Fight me.


There it is. The inarguable truth, at least until Civilization VII is released. But this is the internet, so ...


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MGibster

Legend
I find it impossible to rank the Civilization games because it's been so long since I've played most of them. I bought Civilization 5 back in 2013 but never played it until a few days ago. My Korean empire is doing rather well.
 



TwoSix

"Diegetics", by L. Ron Gygax
I didn't get into the series until Civ V, and I enjoy both V and VI, although I'd give the edge to VI. Playing on a square grid just seems weird to me.

I prefer Crusader Kings III as far as strategy games go, though.
 



So you probably saw the title and thought to yourself, "Self, this is a thread that is absolutely cruising to a thread-lock!"


HA HA! No. A recent announcement had me thinking about a topic that is near and dear to my heart ....

Snarf's Strange Preoccupations- Power Rankings
1. The banal baneful bummer that is the Bard.
2. Greyhawk? Greyhawk!
3. Soulless, dead-eyed elves remain the same no matter how many Baskin-Robbins flavors they come in.
4. Making sure that Nickelback is playing in ur head.
5. Ranking things using completely awesome rules that people will still argue about.

Well, one of the topics, at least! And that topic is RANKINGS. For those of you who don't know, Civilization VII has been announced! And you know that this is important, because Civilization, like Super Bowls, is so important that the Romans have volunteered their numbers to show that it's, like, necessary for all you plebes to pay attention.


That's right, this thread is about the game that invented the "Just one more turn ... it's only 3am ..." mode of gameplay .... Sid Meier's Civilization!

In order to promote discussion of all things Civilization, from stacking units to Nuke 'em Gandhi, I am going to post my own, inarguable, list of the Civilization games... RANKED. As always, my lists are the products of logic and maths, have been verified by Collosson the Numberwang Robot, and cannot be questioned. Although you are welcome to articulate why I am right, and you are wrong, in the comments below.

Notes on the rankings (aka, the awesome rules that you are welcome to question and be incorrect about)-

A. I try to view the game in terms of its "complete" state (with official expansions) but not with mods.

B. All games are products of their times- so older games are viewed more generously in the context of the time they came out.

C. It has to be a "Civilization" game. This means that After Earth, Call to Power (but not CtP 2, since they didn't have the rights to use the name Civilization!), and Revolution will be ranked, but Alpha Centauri (while an excellent game, and arguably a Civilization game) will not be.


Civilization Games, RANKED!

9. Civilization: Call to Power. The Activision branch of the game, it was largely similar to Civ2 with some additional ideas. Unfortunately, the game just lacked some of the essential gameplay of the main Civ games, and was quickly forgotten when Civ3 was released.

8. Civilization Revolution. This was Civ for mobile and consoles. So credit for trying to spread the addiction, but, alas, the gameplay suffered.

7. Civilization: After Earth. Alpha Centauri was a great game for its time. Civ:AE tries, and fails, to recapture that magic. Interesting concepts, but lacking the true Civ feel.

6. Civilization. The hardest to rank. On the one hand, it was the game that started it all! A lot of the essential ideas for Civ can be seen here. On the other hand, Civ2 was such a massive upgrade that most people truly fell in love with the game with the second version.

5. Civilization VI. Arguably the most controversial Civilization? There are people that absolutely love the changes, especially the "freeing up" of cities. And there are people that loathe the changes, saying it overcomplicate the basic things, and makes the game feel too "boardgame-y." Me? I wanted to love it, but as you can see from my rankings ... naw. This was the first main Civ game that didn't make me stay up all night for just one more turn.

4. Civilization III. Fine. It improved the graphics over Civ2. It brought culture to the game.... but you still wanted to conquer everyone. You know this to be true. It wasn't until Civ4 that other options began to be really integrated into the game.

3. Civilization II. This is a tough one, and I think that it narrowly edges out Civ3. It was a quantum leap over the original Civilization, and was the beginning of the series for most players. Railroads + Tank Stacks.

2. Civilization V. Controversial when it was released, the game made some massive changes (such as getting rid of "stacking" and the square grids) and was ... let's just say ... unpolished on release. But with two expansion packs (BNW and G&K) Civilization V fully came into its own. It continues to attract players and mods to this day, despite being almost 15 years old.

1. Civilization IV. Nimoy's voice. A Grammy-winning instrumental track. Massively updated graphics. Civ4 is Civilization. Later versions introduced some good changes, but this will always be the "best" (relative to the time) Civilization. Fight me.


There it is. The inarguable truth, at least until Civilization VII is released. But this is the internet, so ...

You are far too kind to Civilization: After Earth here!

It wasn't an attempt to recapture the magic of Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri except perhaps from the perspective of whoever initially commissioned it to be made at Firaxis. The actual pair of people in charge of it behaved in truly astonishing ways, mind-blowing ways. Let me list just a couple of them:

1) Early on, they happily admitted that neither of them had ever played Alpha Centauri, and further, said they no intention of playing Alpha Centauri, seemingly on the basis that this might spoil their magnificent "vision" of After Earth. This by itself is essentially the equivalent of some director who has never made a movie before, just some music videos, making a new Mad Max movie and saying "Yeah I heard there were some other ones by some Miller dude, but like, who cares about that old man and his dumb old people movies, I get it - post-apocalypse with cars, that's all I need to know!".

Later on, this story changed slightly to only one of them having not played Alpha Centauri, but frankly, I believe the first version of the story. Nothing at all about AE suggests any knowledge of, let alone comprehension of SMAC. It's not even a cargo cult version of SMAC - it doesn't even rise to the level of cargo cult! There are some SMAC references, but they're all very low-end, and I suspect designers who worked on the game added them rather than the two lead devs.

2) The two leads were extremely pleased with themselves and gave a lot of rambling interviews and self-indulgent press info (which to be fair, was fairly characteristic of games journalism at the time). In one of them*, they listed off all their science-fiction influences.

It was... worse than you could possibly imagine. It wasn't even gonzo trash. That would have been better. Instead, the first part was basically a list of ultra-mainstream sci-fi novels from about 1960 to 1981 - not even clever, thoughtful stuff like Haldeman's Forever War - just the absolutely most mainstream stuff for that era. I was astonished by this list. Basically nothing which influenced SMAC except Dune was on the list, because SMAC was heavily influenced by a lot of then-quite-recent sci-fi (as well as a lot of deeper cut older stuff). Oh and randomly the one later book series they talked about being influenced by was the Hyperion Cantos, and this was well after Simmons had become a very intentionally public** psychotic anti-Muslim and ultra-racist bigot, so that was a bold choice to claim!

So that was bad, and then they listed their TV/movie sci-fi influences, and it was both a paltry amount of stuff, but what was really striking was - almost none of it was space SF - it was things like Terminator, which yeah, like great movie, but you're making a game about colonizing an alien world and you're not mentioning, say, Solaris? It was like having a guy who doesn't watch sci-fi name sci-fi movies.

And you're probably thinking, but Ruin you're critiquing the authors so meanly, you're not even critiquing the game, and it's like, I'd be here all day if I critiqued that game, and I have cooking to do!

But if you have lead designers with zero real inspiration, very limited love for sci-fi, like less than the average SF enthusiast, and absolutely no respect whatsoever for or understanding of SMAC, they game they are going to (rightly) be contrasted with, you're building on sand. And the ultra-bland, sad, "game" we got, which felt more like the sort of total conversion that Civ IV would have just had in an expansion pack really was not good on any level, and it was up against a straight masterpiece - a game that not only played well, was aesthetically stunning, but also genuinely was good science fiction. This bland rubbish was none of that. I'd say it was like the Sylvester Stallone remake of Get Carter, but at least that movie showed the writers had maybe seen Get Carter!

Unforgiveable and thus unforgiven. Call to Power was mediocre as hell but it wasn't as insultingly bad as this. I suspect Revolutions is better too but never played it so can't say.

Apart from that, great list and very correct ordering, frankly. Much as it pains me to admit it, Civ V did eventually become the best Civ, and Civ IV was, in the end, better than Civ II, albeit by a lesser margin than one might have hoped.

Agree completely re: Civ VI - I wanted to love it, particularly because of the Civs they chose, but it just feels too board-game-y in a bad way. Civ was never really a simulation (Civ II and SMAC were probably closest to even wanting to be that), but this was too far in the completely disconnected from even a sense of history direction.



* = Actually more than one, but I'm thinking of a specific one - I think they repeated a subset of the same points in others.
** = He published an open letter about how Muslims were going to kill us all. Still waiting on that.
 


It's a bit hard because memories of the first games are already vague, but let's try:
  1. Civilization 2 wins the top spot for me, because it falls into the era in which I feel in love with the series, but was quite a bit more polished than 1.
  2. Civilization 5 gets the next position because it tried a few new things and that made the game interesting again for me. However, the reservation is that we have are talking at least about the version with the Gods&Kings DLC.
  3. Civilization 1 gets the third place, mainly because it started everything and I played it a lot with my best friend at the time.
  4. Civilization 4 was great, but I played it a bit late and somehow it didn't really capture me.
  5. ...
  6. ...
  7. ...
  8. ...
  9. Civilization Beyond Earth was a disappointment, but had the benefit that my expectations were not too high.
  10. Civilization 6. Sorry Civ 6, but I don't like you. At all. Not your graphics style, not the town segments, and certainly not the AI. Maybe you are a better person game right now with all your DLCs, but I will probably never know.
 
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