Hi, I'm a CIV player. I'm not a bigshot like Sid Meier or a company like Firaxis. But I know stuff. Hell, I'd have to be really dumb not to know at least something about computer gaming. After all, I've been playing computer games for 18 years now. The thing is, Sid Meier is not a great game developer. No, really, he isn't. Yes, he's famous, he has some really cool games that bear his name, games like Civilization, Alpha Centauri, Railroad Tycoon, Pirates etc. But he's not a great game developer. What he is good at is finding great game developers. Without letting nostalgia getting too much in the way, I can safely say that Civilization I was a godawful game. Civilization II was great but designed by Brian Reynolds. Colonization was designed by Brian Reynolds. Alpha Centauri was designed by Brian Reynolds. Railroad Tycoon 2 (arguably a billion times better than RRT 1 and the best in the series by far) was designed by Pop Top Software. Civilization 4 was designed by Soren Johnson. I think you can see where I'm going with this. Oh, and Civilization 5 was designed by Jon Shafer. Who the hell is Jon Shafer? Oh, he's the guy Firaxis says knows how to design games better than I do. Well I want my 50€ back Jon. Because you and Firaxis lied. Unlike Blizzard, Sid Meier nor Firaxis never really understood how or why their games work, which is bizzarre, considering Sid almost single-handedly (lol) defined the 4X genre. Unlike Blizzard or Black Isle or DMA/Rockstar (etc.) a game having a Sid Meier's label is not an assurance of quality. But the man knows how to sell himself, that's for sure. If you need further proof that Sid doesn't know jack about computer games, please watch this video (Sid Meier's speech at GDC). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bY7aRJE-oOY To understand Civilization 5 and its failures, we need to turn the clock back 25 years and take another look at Shigeru Miyamoto's masterpiece Super Mario. It would be silly of me to go into an in-depth description of this game, but the basic principles are very important. The four basic principles around which Super Mario is built are these: 1. For doing okay (having skill) you're neither being awarded nor punished. 2. For performing badly you're punished. 3. For peforming great you're rewarded. 4. For having non-essential talents (exploration, persistence, memory) you're being awarded further. Now try to think about any great game you played and ask yourself do these four principles apply to that game. I can say with a 99,9% certainty that they do. Now try to apply these principles to Civilization V (regardless of difficulty level) and you'll notice that they don't fit. In Civilization V the logic is this: 1. for doing okay you're rewarded. 2. for performing badly you're not punished. 3. For performing great you're not rewarded. 4. For having non-essential talents you're rewarded. If you watched the video, this is exactly what Sid Meier has been saying on GDC. And he's okay with it. Well good for him. Except games and gamers don't work the way he thinks they do. Isn't it bizarre that the publicly best known game developer has no clue about stuff he's been doing for the last few decades? Somewhere in these 25 years, as game became more comples, a fifth rule emerged and it's pretty simple: 5. Players need to feel the consequences of their decisions What this means is that actions from rules 1-4 can form a certain "group of actions" and the player can choose between several of these groups to make a "decision". A very simple example of this would be if the next level of Super Mario would depend on what exit you took at the previous level. Another example would be going Specialist Economy in CIV4 or deciding to be a healer in World of Warcraft. Generally speaking, "switching back" from your decision is possible but painful, almost impossible or completely impossible. *** The reason why Civilization IV plays so much better than Civilization V is because the designer of Civilization IV knew exactly what I've been typing for the last hour here. He took all five rules and distributed them evenly to last throughout the whole duration of the game. Lets look at the first 100 turns of the game and tell me which of these wonders, techs or concepts have a greater impact on your game. The Pyramids - very powerful SE The Great Wall - very powerful Classical tech stealing The Oracle - powerful slingshots Great Lighthouse - very powerful early economy Writing - powerful early tech pace Alphabet - first to be able to trade techs Polytheism, Meditation, Monotheism - first to found an early religion Iron Working - powerful early rush warfare Literature - powerful tech trading tool Construction - powerful early warfare of a different (balanced) kind Good resources in BFCs - very powerful early growth, production or commerce Neighbours, their attitudes, religion and location - they will define your game for the next X turns You can argue which of the stated wonders/techs will have a greater impact. Yes, you will argue. ARGUE. Because you can. Because all these can be ARGUED about. Because they are worth arguing about. Now play the first 100 turns of Civilization 5 and try to find game-defining decisions you made. There are few, if any. And this problem just copies itself to the next 100 and next 100 turns, until the game is over. *** Conclusion Civilization 5 is a game that doesn't reward the player, doesn't penalize the player, offers rewards only at extremely specialized playstyles and - worst of all - strips the player of the liberty (and hazard) of real decision making. The game basically runs itself, with a here-and-there very gentle nudge from the player. Good Sid Meier's games were never really Sid's and I doubt he'll stumble upon a new Brian Reynolds or Soren Johnson anytime soon. Have a nice evening.