Monday, June 25, 2012

Civ V God and Kings: Enter The Navy, Exit the AI

I have been playing the crap out of the Gods and Kings expansion and like many others who have played and reviewed it (not linking due to laziness) I like it quite a bit. The most talked about features- religion and espionage- aren't game-altering, but do add a nice extra layer of depth. What has been overlooked, and not talked about in the few articles I've looked at, is the change to naval warfare. The new naval warfare system allows melee-based ships to capture cities and for ships to protect land units who are embarking. A small change but one that has some really drastic consequences to game-play.

In my history of Civ gaming I've had a few Domination victories. I remember the old days where you had to wipe every last civ off the earth to claim that crown. Now you simply need to capture and hold all the capital cities. In the per-expansion days of Civ V I found that to be quite difficult and won most of my victories on the space race. It was getting rather dull (knowing that was the quick way to victory) so I started to remove that as an option.

And along came the Gods and Kings expansion. I dutifully started a new game with the Celts to check out the religious features of the game. I was plodding along happily when I finally noticed the change in the naval combat system. I also noted the remaining capital cities were on the coast so I put two and two together and..... Yoink!

Take that everyone!

One of the game modes, or earth types, rather, I have tried without much success in the past is the archipelago set-up. I found it quite challenging because if you get stuck on a bad island, or the resources aren't nearby, you're pretty much screwed. I wondered, however, with the new naval combat if an island-based game was feasible. The Ottoman Empire only pays 1/3 the cost of naval upkeep, and start with an ability to capture enemy melee ships. I thought it was a good opportunity to try an extreme strategy. All navy, all the time! 

It's not looking good for the Arabs who, coincidentally enough, had most of the oil in the game which I needed to keep my Battleship-based Empire afloat.

Or the Japanese. How ironic: a surprise naval strike wipes them out.

Hmmm...looking as familiar as the space race victory was previously.
The result was ridiculously predictable. I set my tech path to Battleship and never looked back.I had very, very few land units but a very, very strong navy and I absolutely crushed the AI. Whenever I'd take one of their cities I'd wait with my Frigates, and later Battleships, and pound them as they tried to re-take the city. Find the next target, rinse, and repeat.

Now I'm not gonna go crying about how the naval warfare is 'OP', or 'EZ mode'. This is a single-player game, after all, and I can decide what type of game to play, and how I play it. The new naval combat system makes it ridiculously easy to conquer your opponents, however (as long as are on the coast, of course). Why would I want to make numerous land units to attack/defend when I can pretty much devastate and entire opponent with 3 Battleships and a Destroyer (and a Carrier with three bombers is a very nice addition, along with a couple submarines to control the seas)? I can crank up the difficulty (its on the normal, default one atm) but I think (based on past games) it just lets the AI get things quicker. It doesn't let them play smarter.

In the end, I had a lot of fun with my Island experiment. I'm not looking for a massive challenge in Civ so I won't be paying on Hardcore difficult mode, nor will I be trying multiplayer. I'm quite happy finding new ways to win, and doing so in my own time. It is a shame, however, that you can simply ninja the capitals and claim victory. My next test might be to see just how fast I can do this as I don't think the AI can handle the new naval-based system in any meaningful way.

Two for Two with the new expansion.

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