Now Playing: Civilization 5: Gods and Kings

I played Civilization V many times before, yet I never understood why I did anything. I failed to understand why I researched certain technologies like Animal Husbandry, or why Science points proved important to the progression of these technologies. From friends who knew the answers to why, they often preached just learning from experience. But when you feel a lack of progression after playing a game for hours, without actually knowing the significance of your actions ultimately feels pointless.

During the Holiday break, discounted the Civilization V: Gods and Kings Expansion from $20 to $3. Despite no intention of ever playing Civilization V again, I bought the expansion based on the recommendation, and promise, that with the addition of Religion, new units and new Leaders, the game drastically changed. With a long break from school and excessive amounts of free time, I committed to actually learning how to play and understanding the significance of certain units or buildings. I again encountered the endless learning process that plagued my initial Civilization V experience.

Civilization V focuses on thesettlement of cities. Within each city you manage a population to assist your city growth through the cultivating of resources. Strategic resources can allow the training of certain units or production of certain buildings. Luxury resources can affect your population’s Happiness which when not satisfied, induces penalties to expansion. To combat Unhappiness or compensate for lack of resources, World Wonders – buildings in which only one city in the entire game can build – can provide unique attributes and abilities.

Players will also have to manage Science output, Faith, Culture and even military operations. Managing a civilization only begins with the elements previously listed. Civilization V easily qualifies as the most complicated and detailed game I own. Its complexity and failure to successfully teach the significance of how the game functions, explains my difficulty in learning how to play. But once you climb over the mountain that represents the learning curve, Civilization V can become one of the most rewarding multiplayer game experiences available.

With the release of the Gods and Kings Expansion, Religion makes its return from Civilization 4.  When founding a Religion, you can pick attributes to provide returns in the form of items like gold or Happiness. When using Faith to purchase a Missionary or when Prophets are born, you can use them to spread your religion to opposing players’ cities or computer controlled City States. While my friends and I enjoy spreading religion purely to see other cities adopting beliefs with completely ridiculous names, you choose attributes that provide benefits that cater specifically towards your cities. Depending on your play style, some players won’t bother to waste time and resources on founding a religion.

The diversity and flexibility the game allows, almost eliminates predictability. Some players will prefer to expand quickly and settle multiple cities. While city expansion can benefit later in the game for science production, exposure to early attacks and lack of Culture accumulation to adopt Social Policies (policies can grant your cities with very specific benefits such as science from Trading post improvements) can severely limit a city’s potential.

Some players will keep their expansion to a minimum in order to focus on adopting Social Policies and producing military units. But if a player doesn’t settle additional cities, they cannot gather new resources or produce multiple units or buildings at once. If the military focused player does not succeed in limiting the expansion of other players, then without additional growth and Science production, other civilizations will eclipse the military focused player in technology, making their units obsolete.

To complement a player’s desire to, for example, dominate militarily, certain civilizations will provide benefits to accommodate. The Japanese Empire possesses the ability to allow their units to fight at full attack strength when not fully healed. For players who desire rapid expansion, Egypt grants an additional 2 Happiness for new cities and receives a 20% production bonus towards Wonders. Civilization V features many leaders to accommodate specific styles of play, but your leader selection will not matter if you do not practice patience.

The lust for blood and the anxiousness to raze your friend’s city will make you commit to irrational decisions. All facets of the game require patience from the player, but military requires patience in every aspect. Failure to successfully capture a city can drastically alter your city’s growth due to your focus on producing military units rather than Wonders and buildings. The technological gap between Spearmen and Longswordsmen may only result in a dozen turns. When on the offensive, the additional strength from Longswordsmen can transform a stalemate battle into a decisive victory. A controlled patience runs through all aspects of Civilization V, all the way from learning to the game, to launching the spaceship parts in order to capture a scientific victory. But bloodlust will quickly devour any patience left.