Finishing off yesterday's game of Civilization II took far longer than I expected today - about another ten hours. The quick version is that the Germans built the Manhattan Project and launched three or four nuclear missiles at me. Some of the fallout was extremely inconveniently placed, so I couldn't clean it up at all quickly and this resulted in global warming. However, I stuck with it and managed to sort most of the consequences out. It was an intense and involving experience and a lot of fun; hopefully I have now kicked the Civ habit for another two or three years, but we'll see.
This is a map of the game at its end. My cities are the green ones; I've maintained my borders, destroyed the Sioux and American nations, taken nibbles out of the German and Aztec nations, pushed the Greeks back and reduced the Celts to one city, surrounded on all sides.
I was jiggery_pokery of the LiveJournalists, starting at the circled city. An unusual feature of this particular game is that all the action took place on the one large continent, with no nation ever starting a city on any of the other, smaller islands. I made fairly rapid expansion over a considerable area, making peaceful borders with the Aztecs, Sioux and Americans. The fun started when I bridged the one-ocean-sector-wide strait and built on the other side of the continent; the Celts took one of the two cities from me, but I claimed it back about two hours later. (Still yesterday.) The Sioux capitulated late yesterday evening. I subverted a major Celt city, Kells, the closest one directly NW of the word "Celt", and managed to hold it despite extremely severe bombardment from all sides. Yesterday ended with me holding all the Celtic land to the west of the word Celt and the three Westernmost American cities.
Today I started off by taking the two southen Greek cities and alternated between pushing NE through the Celtic lands and E through the American ones. The American cities were generally easier to take by force, but I took the Celtic ones by subversion through espionage. The German nuclear missiles weren't a lot of fun - at this point, I had to rush to make sure that every city was protected with SDI protection; there were times when I just didn't take any more cities at all because the Germans had a nasty habit of sending in the nuclear weapons in the half-turn between me taking the city and being able to erect SDI protection. (Happily, sometimes my ownership of the United Nations let me force a ceasefire through.) This led to up to 17 spots of pollution and the pollution led to global warming (result: lots of carefully-farmed grasslands turned to swamps and jungles) which caused me to build about fifty engineer units to try to repair the damage and led to a lot of micromanagement to sort out the damage - but Civ is overtly a game for those who enjoy micromanagement so I didn't mind. Indeed, I was trying to make my empire as large and intricate as possible far more than I was explicitly trying to win the game. However, if I had been quicker on the mark with my SDI protection and if the Germans hadn't set us up the bomb on two or three inconvenient occasions then the game would probably have been, ooh, maybe two or three hours quicker to finish.
Eventually I rushed the final four or five Eastern American cities in about five years of German ceasefire and I managed to subvert three of the NW German ones. I think that I would have needed about another twenty years to knock the Aztecs down to one city each or possibly even out of the game altogether and about the same length of time again for the Greeks, but subverting the German cities one by one would have been expensive and time-consuming (maybe another 50-75 years' efforts). I was trying to provoke the Celts into breaking their ceasefire so I could finish them off, but they wouldn't take the bait and the Senate wouldn't let me start hostilities against them.
My final figures were a population of 96.5 million at the end of 2019 (hmph - the game records population at the end of 2019, not the start of 2020, when it would have gone up to 101.7 million) with the largest city being size 41 and an overall civilization score of 1924. On Prince level, this translated to 115% (!) but this was only good enough to earn me the title "Jiggery_Pokery the Just", a average-to-decent title on the list of titles. (Though hugely inappropriate from the context of all those who were not born LiveJournalists.) One wonders how many % it is possible to earn and how many % one needs for the best titles. I could play the game again on King level and actually try to attain a victory criterion before the time limit, but I think I've had just about all the fun that there is to be had even if I haven't actually seen all there is to see. Maybe some other time.
As it happens, Civ III has been out for some time; furthermore, a separate initiative has branched off the "Call To Power" fork and a quick look at CTP II reveals that it's rather like basic Civ but only much more so. (It's a thrill that there are enough Civ fans out there that it's worthwhile to give people who want it more of the same.) I'm not sure how Civ III and CTP II compare and/or which I would enjoy more - indeed, whether either of them would run at all on this almost-three-year-old machine. Recommendations from those who are intimate Civ fans would be welcome. Is there a Civ LJ community, for instance?
There are a couple of tiny ways that Civ II has regressed from Civ I on the dear old Amiga; I miss the speeded-up version at the end of the game showing the expansion of the various empires on the world map plus the text document with the history of the world that it would automatically produce. Even though the Civ II music is clearly much better, the tunes just aren't as catchy as the Civ I ones were. However, these are only tiny little disappointments when the basic game is much faster, rather well-thought out and generally more streamlined.
I'm not sure just how much depth the game has; I've had, what, 30 hours of play out of it recently and probably another 30 hours when I first bought the game four or five years ago. (It cost me GBP 20 and came with a free copy of Command and Conquer, which I have barely touched.) It remains an open question whether there is one definite best strategy or whether there are very many different routes to victory; there are lots of units that I've only ever used briefly and can't see any particular reason to use again. There's also the problem that the endgame seems to come relatively quickly but feels very dragged-out. (I would define the endgame as, roughly, the time from when you finish researching all the technologies on the tree and so don't need to spend any more on science - it's just an economic thrash from then on.) I'm not sure whether the game balance tends to produce longer or shorter endgames on other difficulty levels or whether I just picked a strategy and found myself in a set of circumstances through random chance where the endgame was long.
All tiny criticisms. Great game!