Civ IV and GalCiv 2

Okay, I’m trying not to feel stupid here, but Galactic Civilizations 2 is turning me off. I’ve never been very good at strategy games, but I’ve always liked CivII and love tactical games like Silent Storm and, well, pretty much only Silent Storm, actually.

But GalCivII is so freakin’ complex and nuanced that I can’t help but feel dumb. Why can’t I take over a planet after I’ve shot all their ships down? What’s the difference between Sentry and Guard? Why do I feel like a failure when I know that the complex UI, demanding learning curve, and nuanced, subtle gameplay choices are probably a bit over my head, and none of it is helped by the layer of remove that the space setting puts on the whole experience?

If I go buy CivIV on Steam (like I want to right now) will I regret it? I haven’t played a Civ game seriously since Civ II, and I never really advanced very far down the difficulty path. I’m not sure I played a single serious game on anything other than Chieftan level. The baby level.

So I guess I’m asking you guys to tell me that I’m not lame for being overwhelmed and underequipped for GalCiv2, even though I want to play a more “indie” game and support it.

Also tell me I should buy CivIV, that it’ll satisfy my strategy jones, and that I’m not dumb for wanting the more ‘mainstream’ experience.

They’re different games, but I think Civ4 might be the game for you. You could also wait,
and get the Civ version coming for consoles, if you’re feeling REALLY overwhelmed by strategy titles ;)

Civ IV is incredibly user friendly. The key is pop ups help you keep track of things and tell you what commands do, and the ingame civopediea(sp?) tells you everything else you need to now. A lot of things are also automated so you don’t need to worry about micromanaging to much. Still, its a 4x game. GC2 probably requires a little more complex thinking, with the sliders and and the redesigning of the ships, but Civ. 4 will require you to make long term stategic decisions. Obviously, I can’t know for certain where it falls on DoomMonkey’s Spectrum of complex<->fun. The demo might acomplish that. If nothing else you can always play on an easy setting and not worry about having to micromanage.

Oh, and watch out for the Beyond the Sword expansion. The addition of espionage makes the game considerably more complicated early on. I’d recommend the expansion to anyone interested in 4x games, but that might not be you.

I absolutely loved Civ4, even when I lost and lost and lost on the higher difficulties. GalCiv2, however, was just okay. It never drew me in quite like Civ4 could but I’m not sure if that’s because of the setting or the gameplay. It’s not that GalCiv2 is a bad game (it’s good at what it offers) but it never made me interested enough to want to keep playing over other games I have available.

I’d certainly suggest giving Civ4 a try, especially when you’re someone who likes strategy games in general.

Also, Civ IV has such a huge variance of AI difficulty. The lower ends of the difficulty range a retarded monkey could beat. The higher ends are red hot smoking death to all. There’s got to be something on that whole spectrum for every level of player.

Silent Storm was awesome. I’d reinstall it if it didn’t have Starforce.

  1. You need to invade with ground troops, which means you’ll need to get the Planetary Invasion tech, design a ship with one or more Troop Modules, load a bunch of your citizens into it, and land it on the planet while it’s undefended. Planetary Invasion is not trivial to research; it will take a while and is the main barrier to entry in terms of being technologically ready for a major war. No Planetary Invasion means you’ll never take planets, and few enemies will want peace if they haven’t lost any planets.

  2. Sentried units “wake up” if enemies approach. Guarding units don’t. Just like Civ. (I don’t use the sentry feature myself, so I’m not sure of the details. I hope enemies don’t have to come within one square to wake sentries; that wouldn’t be very useful.)

  3. I can’t speak to all possible reasons for Galciv 2 making you feel like a failure, but I think you’re being too hard on yourself. Look through the manual, check out the official site, consult the wiki when necessary, and hell, jpinard wrote a Beginner’s Guide. If you’d like to try a new game of Galciv 2 and continue this thread by posting your questions as they arise, I for one would be happy to answer them as best I can.

Jeff’s guide is very good, as is the “Paths to Victory” guide…both of which helped me ‘get’ GalCiv2 finally. If you’re interested in keeping at it, try both.

If you go for Civ IV, try this guide.

I think Silent Storm only has Starforce on the Russian release.

DoomMunky, I felt the same way about the GalCiv games. They’re just a tad bit more complex, with lots of little tricks you have to learn beyond just what’s obvious. And what made it worse for me is that the AI seemed to know all those tricks from the beginning.

That’s one of the reasons why I still like MoO2 better than the GalCiv games. In Galciv 1, after playing on and off for years and continuing to lose to the AI, (And by on and off, I do mean, trying a game once a year or so) I finally was able to learn enough about the game and the system to be able to game the system a little bit and actually beat the AI on a decent difficulty level. The key in GalCiv 1 was that you needed Constructors to build those space station module thingies, which were the key to the whole game. And I hated that the AI seemed to know all that from the beginning of the game even on lower difficulty settings, but I had to kind of stumble my around and figure it out the hard way.

And then, just when I finally thought I had that concept down, GalCiv2 came out. And suddenly, I couldn’t win again, because it added new subtleties that the AI knows about and how it games the system, but that I don’t know about yet, and instead of trying to learn them, I just kind of gave up and went back to playing MoO2.

The equivalent example I can think of for Civilization 2 was the Caravans. If you wanted to beat the game on higher difficulties, the key discovery every Civ2 player eventually makes is that if you build lots and lots of caravans, you can actually compete with the AI on getting wonders built first. The caravans help you finish your wonders fast, so having lots and lots of caravans was one of the ways “game” the system and get ahead even on the higher difficulties.

But if Civ2 had been a GalCiv game, the computer would have been building caravans and using that technique to game the system from the beginning of the game, making defeats even more crushing even on lower difficulties. I just think GalCiv’s AI is what’s to blame here. It’s just a little TOO good. Instead of acting out roles of races with its diplomacy, and behavior, it acts out roles of other competing human players and what they would do to try to win. It’s certainly a more interesting way to do AI when you’re looking to give players a challenge, but I think it makes the game less immersive. I actually kind of prefer games like Civ2 and MoO2, where the AI kind of behaves and acts out like you would think a Darlock would act out, or the French would act under Napoleon, or how the repulsive rock-eating silicoids would act out. I don’t want the AI to act like its a bot in a botmatch in Unreal Tournament where its kind of trying to emulate human behavior and be challenging by being like a human player.

On the other hand, Unicorn McGriddle’s offer of help is a very generous one. If I’d had somewhere to turn to when I first trying to learn GalCiv2, it might have made for a lot less frustrations at the hands of the AI and its gaming of the system. I’d take him up on the offer myself if Halo 3 wasn’t coming out in 3 days. :)

It isn’t that Galciv2 is super-complex. It’s just that the way the economy works can be pretty strange and counter-intuitive if you’re not Brad Wardell. The other factor is that you start with a good reserve of resources at the beginning of the game, so you’re expected to do a lot more in the opening 20 turns than you would in a standard Civ start. This doesn’t help the beginner, especially when the economic sliders start at “No, I’d rather not use all my production potential, thanks!”

However, you can reduce the AI difficulty to the point where they will basically just sit and wait to be invaded, so I wouldn’t say that it’s a harder game than Civ. Just harder to grok.

Perfectly put. I think my main issue with GalCiv2 is that I learned how to do a lot of stuff in the game, but I’ve never been fully clear on WHY stuff works when it does (or doesn’t). Some of the tech tree stuff is pretty hard to use (planning for future tech is really easy in Civ), and because of the setting it’s not always clear what stuff is or what it’ll lead to down the line. That was one of my issues with Alpha Centauri as well, as I’m sure others have mentioned.

There’s also something frustrating about reading up on GalCiv2 online and realizing that most of the guides are written by and for very high-level strategic players, and tend to give out WAY too much information for a player like me, who’s just looking to ‘get’ the game. After having read up on the game quite a bit, I know a fair number of tidbits that just end up confusing me and/or leading me off down unhelpful technological paths while I neglect basic things like the economic balance on my planets.

I’m just a little frustrated at the moment, and maybe I am selling myself short, but there’s something about GalCiv2 that just hasn’t ‘clicked’ for me yet.

Thanks for all the offers of help, guys, and for pointing me at those sweet guides. I’m downloading CivIV as I type, so I’m gonna give it a serious shot and see if it clicks for me. But posting about my questions in GalCiv is very appealing as well…

I loved both GalCivs, but I agree, DoomMunky about games with space settings having more bumps in the learning curve. It is a manufactured reality that is made up of technological inventions that some (including me) have trouble relating to. The Civ games, for the most part, have real world technological advances that we are accustomed to and can more readily wrap our brains around and for which we can recognize their logical purposes. To a lesser extent, fantasy settings are a bit easier also, probably because we have seen the same items and conventions so many times in games and books we have read.

Alpha Centauri I never enjoyed for this very reason. Luckily, I did put the time into the GalCiv games and was rewarded with teh Fun.

I didn’t like GalCiv2 that much either. Too much work for the entertainment level.

However… while I loved Civ2, I’m not wild about Civ4. It’s very polished, but the balance is different from earlier Civ games. The combat is more complex,which I disliked (as for me combat simulation isn’t really the point of the game). In my experience, there is very little fighting in the ancient world, which is OK gameplay-wise, but which absolutely ruins the feeling of historical immersion.

Fundamentally, what I enjoyed about Civ was exploring and founding cities; I typically lost interest once that phase of the game was over. In Civ 4, that part of the game seems less fun – exploration is much slower, and the chance of stealing an enemy city early is basically zilch. While the overall game is challenging enough, it’s no longer a game I care much about playing.

YMMV, of course.

Edit: speeling

Okay, first question:

Does the average game in GalCiv2 take several hours? My current game is about 3 hours in, and I’ve just gotten 6 trade routes established and a well-funded economy. I could start piling out the Constructors for starbases or I could pump out some fighters for warfare (which I tried after saving but the Yor Collective kicked my ass). It feels about halfway done, maybe a little less. I’m on a Medium map with 5 other races. Did I start too big? Should I play on some more small maps until I get my feet under me? I have played several times on smaller maps, but that was several months ago…

I may be mixing this up, but I was pretty sure that a sentry wakes up on the approach of anyone, enemy or otherwise, while a guard only wakes up on enemies. I used guard a lot for that reason, since I wanted to know mainly about enemy approaching, not the occasional ally.

To DoomMunky: I find the larger maps make for a more enjoyable game when you are a builder as opposed to a blitz player. If you like a slower pace and enjoy expansion and advancing your civilization, then smaller maps would cramp your style. I can’t say what an average game would take, because that really depends on your play style and the circumstances of the map. Perhaps someone else can give you a good idea, but all of my games seemed to take several hours at least, most times much more than that.

It depends on the settings – not just map size but also map density (stars/planets/habitables). Three hours and halfway done sounds reasonable for a medium map – I’d guess playing the game out could take six to eight hours depending on how things shake out, but that’s just a guess. What’s your difficulty? What are the other races? How many planets have you got compared to them? Do you have any likely allies? How’s your technological position compared to everybody else, particularly your closest neighbors? Has anyone tried to extort you lately? Where are you on the Military Power graph?

I wouldn’t say you started too big. It’s a matter of taste. If you’d like to play smaller maps, then by all means, go for it.

It does have a manual, you know. If that still isn’t enough, a quick perusal of sites like gamefaqs will net you plenty of specific, useful information that will enable you to not play like a newb =D

I’m not playing GalCiv because I don’t enjoy space 4x games. I’m actually a tad soured on the whole genre after the fiasco that was the Civ4 launch (I was fairly well known in the modding community and highly addicted to Civ3, but even years after I’ve still got a total meh feel on Civ4). I bought GalCiv because I really like how well they “interface” with the community, and because I want them to be successful and emulated throughout the industry.

You’re fine on Medium. Assuming you have a vaguely decent set of worlds to your name, I’d forget about military conquest - too much micromanagement, particularly when you’re new - and try to build towards a cultural victory.

Don’t fall totally behind on the military tech (trading for it is a good strategy) and keep a bit of a fleet around for defensive measures so the more aggressive AIs don’t invade you, but that’s unlikely to be a major issue at lower difficulties.

Focus on the cultural/influence techs and start building some cultural starbases to start expanding your area of influence. You’ll get increasing amounts of tourism income and eventually you’ll start flipping opponents’ worlds to your civ.

This should give you a nice, leisurely game that will give you plenty of time to learn the tech tree and get a feel for how it all works.

I’ve found that the old “keep playing unfinished games until you start to get it” method works well with GalCiv2.

You know, the non-instant gratification method.

What daedalus has suggested really seems like a good idea for me; try a low-key cultural conquest and get familiar with the concepts and the game.

Question 2: The economy. I’m really confused by the whole spending level thing. I get how to focus production on specific worlds, and that by prioritizing my overall allocations of military, cultural, and research I can change what overall percentage of resources each world will spend on those things (that’s how it works, right?), but why in God’s name would I want to not fully fund the projects I’m working on? Is this just a high-level option for economic management which I should ignore for now? I tend to set it at 100% and forget about it. Does it have any non-expert level use?

Thanks for everything, guys. Not only is this really helping me approach the game in a different way, you’re making me want to avoid CivIV till I’ve given GalCiv more of a fair shake! (and you make this forum look good, but that’s too sappy to say, and will therefore be couched in an ironic distancing device by placing it in parentheses; warm fuzzies all around)