I log into Civilization World (CivWorld), Firaxis’ foray into the realm of Facebook gaming with their flagship series, Civilization, and a cartoonish Sid Meier, co-founder of the aforementioned development studio, greets me.
He informs me that my glorious Aztec Coalition faces annihilation. I click the “battle” button, which depicts two crossed swords. This takes me to what looks like a collectible card game. Barbarian Grey Wolf leads an assault with grunts and archers whose collective power reads 102. Seems dangerous.
I’ve got a handful of Phalanx units with some Calvary for good measure. My number reads 138. I think I’m in the clear. Let’s roll, Grey Wolf!
But nothing happens. My unit cards sit idle. A timer at the top of the screen counts down from 4 hours, 49 minutes, and 53 seconds. So I wait. It’s well past 10 p.m., and I’m tired. I suppose I’m going to miss the fireworks.
And that’s CivWorld. Lots of waiting. And timers. Moving at a glacial pace.
In this social-gaming revision of the revered, PC strategy series, you only manage a single city that you'll annex to a nation consisting of other players. Within there, you’ll build houses for your proletarian class to harvest food for population growth, chop wood for production, create works of art for culture, read books for science, or trade wares for gold. You’ll further construct drop-off centers, such as lumber mills, granaries, libraries, and theaters, that simultaneously increase productivity.
A timer on the left side of the screen governs when you can collect these resources and add them to your spending pool. Once the clock ticks down, you receive a “harvest,” which you can cash-in at your discretion.
Once you’ve constructed as much as allocating your total production allows, you won’t have much else to do with your city. Workers collect resources so slowly that you’ll be better off doing something else for a few hours. Or days.
In the meantime, though, you can play some minigames…the kind that you’d find on a children's paper placemat at a restaurant. You can guide a ball through a maze. Or you can swap tiles to complete an image of a famous painting. Or you can redirect road pieces to complete a trade route. The only thing missing is the crayons.
You generate moves to play the maze and tile swap games based on your current science and culture accumulation rates, respectively. So expect some downtime. And after a roughly 10-minute wait watching another clock reach zero, you can rack your brain helping a merchant move from point A to B. Fun times, indeed.
CivWorld lacks the soul of its PC brethren: that just-one-more-turn addictive quality. Civilization evokes such a feeling from players because of a brilliant application of layered anticipation.
Embroiled in a war with a rival, I’ll raise an army while building the Himeji Castle to augment my units’ fighting abilities in Civilization 5. But I’m also researching Machinery to bring Crossbowmen to the battlefield and give myself an advantage, trading for iron with a friendly nation to support my Longswordsmen, and expanding to unexplored continents.
I won’t have any of these at my disposal immediately or at once, so I continually hit “next turn.” Things happen during the intermediate turns that force alternate strategies, and I’m constantly changing my focus and looking forward to new objectives — I'm never satisfied with the state of things as they are, in other words. And, more importantly, I control the pace of progression.
But I get no such feeling from CivWorld. I’m just sitting around a lot and waiting for the game to catch up to me.