Planetfall: Jewal Gruvich and the Virginia Cull

yeah I don’t get the hate for Civilization VI. is it perfect? nope. But it’s not “Goat Simulator”. I don’t recall the AI in any version of Civ ever being any good, tbh. It has certainly been worse in earlier iterations of the game. (They all blend together at this point but I think it was Civ 2 where the AI would attack your cities with a single unprotected canon every three turns; completely ridiculous, their whole economy cranking out kamikaze units and all you had to do is stay home and let them keep it up while you built up an actual army to wipe them off the face of the Earth.)

I like Planetfall. It is pretty and slick and it has a ton of good ideas in it. It’s also ridiculously complicated to keep up with all the technologies and races and stuff. My current game I’m playing as the Assembly and so far I’ve met Amazons (in space! it’s like a Russ Meyer movie!) and two different Dvor nations on my planet. What’s that about? Do the Dvor like each other, are they on the same team, or is it like the Union and the Confederacy, out to kill each other?

The great thing about Civilization is when I meet the Japanese I know who they are. It’s just the Japanese. I know what they’re about. I don’t have any anxiety that “I need to read the manual to figure out what Japanese are…”

[edit] the new Civ VI update that just dropped has the best improvement they have made in, I dunno, 20 years? “Barbarian” camps will now turn into City-States if you leave them alone long enough. You can interact with them in various ways besides killing them (crazy, right?), including doing things to help them along to city-statehood quicker… which of course one does if they happen to be located near your enemy’s territory.

Once I meet these goals, I can declare victory and call it a game. No need to follow through with all the usual endgame stuff.

This is the bit that’s nudged my interest. It’s always the opening and early mid-gane that excites me about 4X games, the sheer Potential of what might be out there. I barely EVER actually win or lose a game of a 4X, which is fine, I love a reroll, but it does sound nice to have an intermediate “thing to do”.

I guess the main problem will be that I still don’t particularly love Planetfall’s systems nor battles… Guess I’ll still take a look though!

I wanted to like Civ6, but it’s just terrible. The AI in Civ3/4, whether sometimes cheating or not, can play the game. The AI in Civ 5/6 cannot. (and I have played hundreds of hours of Civ5) Civ6 doesn’t even feel like a Civ game to me.

Planetfall is a really good game. It’s very complicated, which makes it tough to understand. I’m not all the way there yet even now – as a player, you are buried in systems. The AI can play the game, though, whether cheating or not.

I have never had serious competition from the AI in Planetfall… the difficulty is always about the auto-generated creatures who attack your cities by appearing magically right next to them if you leave them with weak defenses… that’s not AI, that’s just deux ex machina.

I really don’t know what you guys mean about the AI in Civ 5/6 vs. 3/4. It’s always at heart been a solitaire game designed for you to win (because nobody wants to spend 40 hours playing Civ to get wiped out… a poor reflection human character, maybe).

Don’t get me wrong… if I was magically put in charge of Civ 7 my first order would be: we are going to design this game around what the AI is good at, and the second would be: we are going to make it fun to lose.

Everybody obviously has different ways of interacting with these games. Mine is definitely not learning the mythos and memorizing all the technical details of the rules: it’s imagining the story that goes along with it. In my current game of Civ VI the Persians sneak attacked me (after centuries of friendly relations), and they almost succeeded – my armies were all far to the south attacking that neighbor – but I regrouped and conquered them.

I left them one city… on an arctic island, surrounded by icy waters, glaciers, and tundra. I liked it that way. It was like an empire reduced to the Falkland Islands. I am going to enjoy their pitifulness up there, eating seals, the rest of the way.

EDIT, for Rock8man (the “rules” will not let me add another reply to this thread, so all I can do is go back in time and reply to you before you posted… sigh)

I am assuming you’re being facetious? (If the AI can’t handle One Unit Per Tile, that encourages rather than discourages militarism on the part of the player… i.e. you can exploit the bad AI by launching wars).

Just a reminder that the AI, when you could stack units, usually just put one unit per tile anyway (as I mentioned earlier: it would come at you with a completely unprotected artillery unit over and over again). So if anything the OUPT (my invention there) was to restrict the player to what the AI was already restricted to by its stupidity.

I find the military AI in Civ 6 more, not less challenging with the current rules. Maybe it’s not that the AI is any smarter, but instead that it’s just tough to deal with crossbowmen with a range of 2 (I might get some details wrong here, as I haven’t played in a bit) shooting at your slow moving units then retreating. I’m not sure if the AI is winning more, or any, wars on the strategic level, but in general it is much more of a PiTA than it has been in a long time – at least it doesn’t move catapults up to your city walls – because it doesn’t have to, since they have ranged shooting now).

The article sounds like is a bad thing. The worst aspect of civi is how it was all about militarism, and nothing about actual civilization. I for one wellcome this crazyness.

It should be interesting to visit Civ V and VI with this mindset. Forget One Unit Per Tile and how the AI can’t handle that. Maybe it’s a design decision to discourage militarism and to de-emphasize it within the game. And to give more room to the crazy other ideas that explore civilization.

I like how charitable this take is, it makes bad game design sound as if it was intentionally done to guide the player towards a particularly game play style.


That’s a great article because i wasn’t clear on what Galactic Mode actually did. I thought it was just chaining together random maps and earning small cheevos for each one won. I didn’t understand that the rewards were not tied to mapwide victory.

Indeed, alternate ways to win the map, and have them dependent on the map, is at least as cool as carrying your leaders, heroes, tech, gear etc forward to the next map, imho anyway.

I must have missed something. Is there a difference between what Tom is describing and “secondary objectives”? Because I’ve achieved my secondary objectives in this game and can’t figure out how to call it a day and leave. The “Abandon Planet” option gives me dire warnings about not getting any experience points.

Yeah, alternate victory conditions are a subset of mission objectives. They’ll say in the description something like “completing this will trigger an alternate victory condition.” Usually (always?) you actually get more XP for doing them than a “normal” win.

Am I the only one that got briefly excited that there was some news about Infocom’s Planetfall for some reason? Or is that just a showing-my-age thing?

@tomchick can you fail a mission in the campaign without ending the campaign? That would be an interesting mechanic if it worked that way.

Also, any interest in doing some more streaming of this and some Tomsplaining of how it works?

Wow, I’ve read some takedowns in my day, but that evisceration of Civ really takes the cake.

It’s so true. Civ is the monkey jesus of videogames.

It’s also really unfair to refer to anything as “the definitive expression of Dune”, because that means I have to buy it. I’ll be so disappointed if it’s only a somewhat satisfying expression of Dune!

When you finish the secondary objectives, at the moment you finish them, you must decide whether to “cash in” at that point, or play through to one of the larger victory conditions. You don’t get to just keep playing for a while and later decide, “nah, I’m just going to take the secondary objective win”.

Totally. Your campaign progress exists regardless of how you’re doing on any given map. You can always just bail on a planet, but you don’t get to add it to your list of conquered planets. Which, I believe, means you don’t get to add the faction xp you earned during that game.

Great idea! I’ll do a livestream Tomsplaining video when I move on to the next planet! I’m about to finish Virginia today, so I’ll stream and post that video shortly. Thanks for the request.


Ugh. The UX did not make this clear. Next time!

Right? And I only know this because I did the same thing. In addition to the interface not really making this clear, the words don’t help either. Calling something a “secondary objective” doesn’t make it sound like the sort of thing that will bring a game to its close. Maybe alternate objective? Supplementary objective? Elective objective? Early optional victory condition?


Also, this only applies to the secondary objectives that have the yellow Trophy Cup icon. They also have text saying something like “completing this objective will complete a victory condition”. If neither of the secondary objectives on a planet have that icon/text, then you don’t get the option of completing the scenario via secondary objectives. Secondary objectives without the icon/text provide XP and other benefits, but not a rapid scenario completion.