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Welcome to episode 2 of Game Diary: Civilization 5 — the story of my first campaign in the recently released turn-based strategy game Sid Meier’s Civilization 5. Last time, I was oppressed by imposing looking fog, trapped on a small island for over a millennia, ambushed multiple times by Barbarians, and confused by the new diplomacy system. We left off with my sole trireme half-way across the world and all-but-destroyed by four Barbarian Galleys. Today we learn of the trireme’s fate.

8 October 2010

With extreme care and delicacy, I managed to guide my trireme clear of all Barbarian threat, but soon discovered that, unlike in previous Civ games, there was no way I could heal the unit outside my territory. I gritted my teeth for a long and perilous journey home.

Meanwhile, back on my island home, two Barbarian raiding fleets descended on my cities — one each at Memphis and Thebes. They pillaged a cotton plantation and kidnapped one of my workers before I could drive them back. The survivors regrouped in the top-right corner of the island in a newly formed encampment. At last things were getting interesting.

Civilization 5 screenshot -- recovering from Barbarian offensive

The warrior that I’d left in charge of guarding my territory needed a few turns to heal after finishing off two Barbarian Brutes, which gave me enough time to complete construction of my second trireme. I destroyed the encampment and sent the worker off to repair the pillaged plantation, then turned my eyes to Genoa, the city-state located just north of my island. It was time to get my first real taste of the revamped combat system, which restricts you to just one unit per tile — even within a city’s garrison.

I sent my warrior and second trireme into Genoan territory but held off on a war declaration — I needed more units if I were to stand any chance at success. For the next 500-or-so years I left those two units fortified in place while I prepared a couple of War Chariots — the unique unit for the Egyptian civilization — with which I could bombard the city. I watched with great curiosity as my relationship with Genoa deteriorated. I wondered if perhaps they would declare war on me when the score for our relations hit the rock bottom value of negative 60.

They didn’t.

My relationship with Genoa reached its worst possible state on the same turn that my second War Chariot was completed. I waited one more turn while I moved the chariot into position, then, disappointed that nothing happened as a consequence of my five hundred years of being a jerk, I declared war.

It started off well. I made small but heady progress in chipping away the city’s health, using a mixture of chariots bombarding from two tiles away, a trireme bombarding (rather ineffectively) from an ocean tile next to the city, and a warrior soaking up the counter-offensive while fortified on the adjacent hill. Each unit picked up some very handy promotions. The warrior gained the ability to heal one health point per turn, in addition to picking up a rough terrain defensive bonus. The chariots and trireme improved their effectiveness in bombarding the city.

But then they got an archer, and it all went pear-shaped. Nearly killed, the warrior had to return home to recover, which put the chariots and trireme at risk. Before I even knew what was happening, my number two trireme was dead and the weaker of the two chariots on the brink.

Clearly, combat in Civ 5 requires a lot more strategy and planning than any previous Civ game. With just one unit, the Genoans were able to turn around what was beginning to look like a certain defeat and force me into a full-scale retreat.

I’m gonna need some stronger units.

Civilization 5 screenshot - The Oracle built

In other news, I completed my first World Wonder, The Oracle, which rewards you with a free social policy. Out of the four main branches currently accessible, only Aristocracy seemed appropriate to my small island-based civilization, so I adopted Oligarchy as my second social policy (the first being Aristocracy).

Previous entries:

Game Diary: Civilization 5

Later entries:

Starting conditions

I decided to go with Prince (“normal”) difficulty on a standard map size, with standard game length. My civilization was determined randomly, as were my opponents and the map itself.