What would civilization be like you if you were the leader? Think you could protect the environment, ensure freedom of religion, and still save your country from becoming a pile of radioactive rubble? Try it, I dare you…
Civ 4 has an array of options that you can use to customize every game. First choose which map you would like to play on. There are various maps from Earthlike, to Pangaea, to island battles. Disclaimer: Island battles are NOT really as cool as this picture implies.
Now you must carefully choose from nine difficulty levels. They run from Settler (so easy you sleep through it) to Deity (which I don't recommend because all it leads to is frustration and repeated restarts inciting the claim that the computer was "cheating.") This now leads to the most important decision in the game of Civilization. Which leader will you lose as...
There are 26 Leaders that preside over 18 different Civilizations. Each civilization has a unique unit, and each leader has two different traits. Your civilization and leader choice will probably affect your play style. More importantly though, they will effect the way your opponents play. The different traits for leaders in Civ4 are:
Aggressive- These leaders will kill you whenever they get the chance
Creative- These leaders will take your land with their culture
Expansive- These leaders expand quickly taking all the prime spots, then they kill you
Financial- These leaders will always have more tech than you
Industrious- These leaders build wonders one turn before you
Organized- These leaders support huge civilizations to kill you with
Philosophical- These leaders can spawn great amounts of great people (to kill you in many different ways)
Spiritual- These leaders will discover religions one turn before you
In case you haven't noticed, everyone in the game is out to get you. Civilization is a zero-sum game so it can only have one winner, and a lot of losers. Since you want to be in the former group make sure that you read on.
Playing Civ4 requires patience, strategy, management, and an insane tolerance of odds based combat. The goal of the game is to build a civilization that can stand the test of time. You will have to progress from the cave man age all the way to mechanized infantry and space ships. Acquire land, grow population, research technology, build a military, and choose government civics to win. Many techniques can be used to accomplish this including, but not limited to, good old fashioned ass kicking.
Certain buildings generate great people points. What are these used for? Spawning great people of course! Great people are the badasses of civ 4. They come in one of 5 different varieties. Artist (culture related tasks) Scientist (can build universities) Prophet (can build religious wonders) Engineer (can rush buildings creating them much faster) and Merchant (can perform a one time trade route with another country to gain a large amount of gold). On top of their special abilities all great people can join the city giving bonuses to production, research and commerce, and help research techs.
There are various government, legal, religious, economic and labor civics available. Each one has specific strengths and weaknesses. choosing the right civics can greatly improve your chance of winning. Be wary though, AI players have favorites and by not choosing theirs you come one step closer to being annihilated.
Religions are a key part of Civilization 4. If you are the first to discover certain religious technologies you will be rewarded with a new religion being founded in one of your cities. Religions grant your cities happiness if it is also your state religion or if you have free religion. Other civs too will discover religions. If their religion is different from yours they will despise you and your people. The world is a hateful place.
War is pretty much essential. It combines the intensity of turn based play with the rush of watching your units fight and having absolutely no control over the outcome. Unlike the sissy liberal fantasy world, Civilization 4 is real, there isn't always a way to negotiate and you can't always surrender. Sometimes it's either kick ass or get your ass kicked. Of course, unlike the real world in Civ 4 rocket launchers are not always better than clubs. Thats right, welcome friends to a world of mystery where a longbow army can successfully repel a battalion of riflemen. Swordsmen can damage or even take down Apache Helicopters, and muskets can pierce through the advanced armor of mechanized infantry. It's not fair but its the (virtual) world we live in damn it!
Civ4 has totally overhauled its multiplayer capability. You can play through e-mail, On the same computer with hot seat, through social networking sites, LAN, direct IP and internet games. With the advent of turn timers civ4 online is less of a headache. You don't have to wait 5 minutes each turn for someone to go make a sandwich or walk the dog. Now your civilization can be destroyed much faster.
There are several different ways to win in a game of civilization. Each one has its own uniques challenges and goals. Except for a time victory. To win a time victory just ignore all the goals and hope everyone else does as well.
Space Race- Build a Spaceship and rocket off to Alpha Centuri. The first to launch is then declared the winner!
Time- The most disappointing victory. Your time ends at a specific year chosen at setup. Whomever has the highest score wins. Score is calculated by land, population, wonders, and technology.
Culture- Build your culture and have at least three cities with legendary culture. Harder than it seems because culture civilizations always get attacked.
Conquest- Destroy all other civilizations with military force.
Domination- Own a large percentage of the worlds land and population.
Diplomatic- Set yourself up as supreme leader through the democratic institution of The United Nations
After the congratulatory "You Win" pop up, you will be treated to statistics on how you played your game. This includes a list of top cities, your total score modified by your difficulty level, and a comparison of your abilities to real world leaders. This is usually very insulting and I recommend that you skip viewing it to keep your fragile self esteem intact.