Civ 4... play without BTS first?

I have never played Civ 4 (despite what Xfire claims) but I have owned it for some time. 4X games just require so much time that somehow I never get around to them.

One of my complaints about GC2 was the lack of personality in the opponents, and it strikes me that Civ 4 may be a good fix for this. What I wonder though is should I play Civ 4 w/ Warlords first, or leap straight into Beyond the Sword?

Civ4 without BTS is like sex without tears; no fun at all. You can skip Warlords (everything but the scenarios is included in BTS anyways) but you absolutely need BTS.

If you’ve played a civ game (civ3, civ3) before I’d jump straight into BtS. If you’ve never played a Civ game before then you may want to start with vanilla Civ4 for a game or two before throwing in all the new stuff from Warlords and BtS.

@smr - Why?.

As I understand it Warlords doesn’t add or change a lot, so if I were going to pass on BTS for the time being I’d plug Warlords straight in, unless there’s any particular reason not to.

Pretty much all the changes added in BTS are worth learning as you learn the rest of the game. It doesn’t make the game particularly more difficult, and what it adds shouldn’t make the learning curve that much steeper.

For instance, you get new civs and leaders, not a big deal. New unique buildings for civs, not a big deal while you’re learning. Espionage, probably the trickiest thing to get a hang of in BTS, you still should be able to pick up pretty easily. Especially if you played galciv2, learning civ4 should be no problem.

I recall some people saying though that the new AI in BTS made all the factions rather similar, removing some of the personality. Did you find that to be the case?

That´s not the case at all. You still have warmongers, xenophobes, peaceful builders etc. The new Ai just tends to be a little less retarded and can actually somewhat sensibly attack across water.

Wow, I have to really disagree with some of the posts here. I consider BTS to a be a completely broken and unplayable expansion. Personally I play Civ IV with Warlords only and actually uninstalled BTS.

Why? There are several mechanics in BTS which basically suck, and very little added that is worthwhile. Specifically, the new espionage system is just terrible IMO. It adds a HUGE amount of micromanagement and annoyance, and adds very little in the way of interesting choices as a tradeoff. Second, the new corporation system is clunky and reminiscent of the lame lawyer/preacher stuff from the Call to Power Civ spinoffs. Again, corps add a lot of micro and detail without adding enough interesting choices IMO. Thirdly Civ IV and Warlords had minimized the “pollution micro” from the first 3 Civ games (a sub-game I always hated). BTS brings pollution back, with a vengeance. Again, it adds micro without adding elegant strategic choices.

Warlords on the other hand, is a very worthwhile expansion. Not because of the scenarios, which IMO are poor, but b/c of tweaks to the units, and especially the greater diversity of opposing Civs. The new leader traits are pretty good, the unique buildings are good, and Warlords generally gives the game more personality.

I’ve been playing a fair amount of Warlords lately and its very good. BTS otoh, is not so good IMO.

I suspect that mine is a minority view, but strongly held :O.

As a vanilla Civ player, I’ve heard that BtS adds a ton of micro, vis a vis the whole espionage stuff. I’ve also heard that there are 3rd party mods that fix this and turn BtS into a viable expansion. None of this has really gotten me to add on to vanilla Civ, though. It’s meaty enough on its own.

I don’t like the espionage system either. But I think you can turn it off, IIRC.

Warlords is a fairly worthy expansion IMO. It doesn’t add any micro (no new systems) but does add a couple of useful units (the Trebuchet in particular fills a gap in the unit tree) and also the new leaders and new civ-specific buildings add a fair amount of flavor without ruining anything from the old game. Also the balance tweaks to the leaders helps as in vanilla Civ there was one overpowering leader (Catherine the Great). In Warlords, I think that Augustus overall is the strongest leader, but there is a much greater range of alternatives that are also quite good. For example, the Incas with Huyana Capac and their new building (a granary that produces culture) are a very strong civ.

When i tried BTS there was no in-game way to turn off espionage. Maybe that was patched after I gave up on it? I am somewhat curious to try the new leaders and new civs in BTS if you could avoid the new stuff I dont like. Perhaps i shall do some googling…

Uh, I don’t think you can turn off espionage, Robert. The damn stuff is threaded throughout the tech tree, economy, and city buildings. Turning it off would just mess up the BTS game balance.


With the exception of espionage, and maybe some of the corporation spam (easily circumventable via civic choices), BTS is an overall improvement due to the inclusion of all of the Warlords gameplay changes and the addition of unique buildings and new technologies. That is, if you’re going to go through the process of learning to play Civ IV from scratch, you might as well learn the BTS tech tree straight away.

You can’t turn off espionage. However, you can retune it via mods. Check out Chris Nahr’s Civ page for some examples.

  • Alan

Ah, that must be what I was thinking, Alan, thanks. I remembered there was a way to fix it. But I don’t like it, either. Still, the other enhancements are nice. It’s just got more stuff. Plus there are built in mods and such.

I agree that espionage wasn’t an improvement, but I don’t see it being that bad either, now that the AI is patched and doesn’t send a flood of Spies after you. I spend well less than 1% of my time dealing with it, and in general you can largely ignore it; simply dump your espionage points into your likely enemies, put a Spy in a few key cities to protect them, and maybe do a counterespionage mission if you’re at war.

The most annoying aspect for me is that the city management likes to use new population as Spies, which I never want.

Corporations I’m ambivalent about. By the time they crop up, I’m generally done with a game and ready to start a new one. I like the idea in spirit, but late game Civ 4 just holds so little appeal for me, although this could just be because my wife insists on flogging her trade agreements.

I don’t even want to know what this means.


It’s probably better if you don’t know. ;-)

Speaking of me, I’m currently playing Civ4 without spies. Even the more expensive espionage was just too much hassle in the long run.

So I’m taking out spies and the two buildings that produce only espionage points (Security Bureau and Intelligence Agency). I can’t remove Great Spies without the game crashing but without the SB and IA, they get generated very rarely anyway. Fortunately the AI players do not seem to overspend on espionage points when they have no spies, so game balance doesn’t suffer. Also, espionage is still good for intelligence on other players’ cities.

You could take out executives and thus eliminate corporate micro-management, too, but then you’d have to remove corporations entirely since having only the HQ is a questionable blessing, and there even are quests related to corporate expansion. So I don’t think I’m doing anything about that.

But I’ll upload the spy elimination patch in the near future…

Did you by any chance build security bureaus and intelligence agencies in those cities? I know they induce the generation of Great Spies, maybe the AI governor uses the same algorithm to determine the specialist type for unemployed citizens.