Part I - The Good Okay, So I've played CiV through a few times now, from Warlord to King. I'm going to keep ramping it up and seeing how it goes, but I wanted to post my interim impressions before doing so. I've played Civ in general since the beginning, and I think I've managed to play every single version that's come out. This is going to be long, and I realize that some of this has been mentioned elsewhere, but the point of this post is to discuss the game play as I've experienced it. I've tried organizing this post as best I can, but it's based off of 6 pages of hand written notes of thoughts as they occurred to me over the course of five games (2 epic length, 3 standard length, 1 one city challenge, 2 culture wins, 1 domination win, 2 space wins, 1 warlord game, 2 prince games, 2 king games, all continents, 2 large maps, 3 standard maps). First, to start with the things I like, including aspects that I think are particularly good or suggestions for improvement. Hexes. I like the hexes a lot. I like how they affect movement, I like how they affect warfare, I like how they affect city growth, I like how they affect the way the map looks. It all feels much more organic. City Growth I really like how cities grow with culture now. One tile at a time is amazingly cool looking to see a city sprawling all over. Again, it seems so much more organic than how 1-4 did it. I also like being able to buy more squares, it's a nice added bit of planning. I do wish I understood how the prices were calculated better, they seem to make no sense, especially since a lot of the times the tile I really want (to get a resource or something) is one of the cheapest tiles. I also wish you could direct the growth of the city. While the AI is actually pretty good here (probably the best AI in the game), it doesn't make sense to me that I wouldn't be able to direct how my city grows. New Combat/1 UPT I really like the death of the SoD. I really like how ranged units actually have range. This is one area where Civ has gotten better with each iteration since 2 I think. I also like the red arrows for bombardment. Just a neat little thing. I love the added tactical considerations of multiple terrain types and how to approach cities and developing choke points. In 4 you just took your huge SoD and moved it to the best defensive tile (hills + forest with a Guerilla II or Woodsman II unit in the stack being the ideal setup) and then bombarded over and over. Then collateral damage attacked over and over. Then cleaned up the mess. Now, some improvements could certainly be made, such as allowing units to stack as long as they have sufficient moves to get to an unoccupied tile. Basically, the 1UPT would be enforced before you could end your turn (as it is now when you generate a unit in a city with a unit already there, the End Turn button changes to Moved Stack Unit). I also think some tweaks as to how far units can fire, and which units can fire, should happen. Tanks not being able to fire at archers is a little silly. Another thought is that ranged fighters should resolve like melee fighters. When two artillery go at it, resolve it like a melee fight between warriors. Another thought is bring back the Zone of Control fire from Civ3. When you moved past an enemy tank (and similar units) in 3, there was a chance they would fire at you and damage you. I liked that. Cities Defending Themselves I like cities fighting and defending themselves. I do think that cities need a buffing (I had a strength 23 city do a whopping 2 damage to a barbarian trireme, the picture showed the city firing missiles), and probably some offense-related buildings should be added to the game. Natural Wonders. I think the natural wonders are a nice little addition to the game. I like finding them and seeing the little pop up. I wish there were more (like say 20 types with only 5+map size modifier placed per game). It gets a little stale finding the same ones over and over. I would like to see these developed more, either with unique tile improvements you could make on them, or unique buildings designed to take advantage of them if they are in a city radius. Social Policies I like the social policies. I like spending culture. In each game I find myself really thinking about which policy I want in terms of both immediate needs and long term goals. That to me is cool. Some of the choices have been fairly agonizing, because so many are useful. I also like that they are permanent, because it makes each decision matter that much more. Now, it might just be my playstyle, but so far Autocracy has struck me as being extremely useless. My last game was a Domination win on King setting, and I didn't have Freedom or Liberty trees at all, and I still thought Autocracy was a pile of crap. Domination Victory Condition I like how it's based on people controlling their capitals now. Much better than how 4 did it (I found the land mass requirement in 4 to be fairly prohibitive). However, in the aforementioned Domination win, it did feel a little cheap. Napoleon was the last leader standing besides me, and we each controlled a continent. He had the bad luck of having Paris be right on the coast. So I sailed a flotilla of 14 land units, 2 great generals, and 7 escort ships and kicked Paris's butt. And I won. Now, I think it would be cool to have a "second capital" national wonder (like the Forbidden Palace was essentially treated in 4) that would require it to be taken as well to lose by Domination. Call it The Shadow Government national wonder or something. It would add difficulty to achieving the Domination win without being prohibitive and would also add strategy in terms of placement. Embarkation Embarkation is great, because dealing with transports is a serious pain that really didn't add much to the game. Space Ship I like how the spaceship is built and then transported to the capital to be assembled. It gives you a way to prevent someone from winning via the Space Race. However, there should be other ways of interfering, but that will be discussed later. On the Space Race though I prefer older ways of doing it as a mission that had variable duration and success odds based on what you built. That gave you a way to try and pull a come from behind win by spending less time building if you didn't mind it being riskier. Strategic Resources Being required to actually have a supply to build units/buildings is great. I actually went to war over resources in one of my games because I wanted coal for factories. In 4 that wouldn't have been required if I had even one source. This is a huge improvement. I also really like how they are displayed across the top of the screen. Tech Trading I'm glad this is gone. I actually turned it off a lot in 4 because I hate it. The research agreements in 5 seem pretty good. Happiness Causing Golden Ages This is cool. I like how it adds a reason to try and have large amounts of excess happiness. In 2, happiness leading to We Love The King Day was fairly powerful (+1 City Growth per turn for Democracy/Republic, no corruption for other government types) so you had a reason to get happiness and eliminate unhappiness. I don't remember happiness in 3 all that well, and in 4 I never found a reason to have happiness more than "just enough to avoid unhappiness." But, going back to 2, causing happiness and reducing unhappiness were actually two different mechanics. to get We Love The King Day you had to have 50% of the city's population happy AND no unhappiness. It was possible to have happy, content, and unhappy people all together in the city. I wish 5 had a little gradation like that. Just a little extra factor to think about and plan around, because otherwise happiness is a little bland. Unhappiness Causing Penalties This is cool too. -1 to -9 hurting growth, -10+ causing production/fighting problems. I like that it's more than just "no Golden Age for you!" Also decrementing the Golden Age counter is good. Notifications On The Right Hand Side I like the UI here. I like the left-click to go to/right-click to ignore interface. I like how the "End Turn" button changes to "Choose Production", "Move Unit", etc. I also really like how you aren't forced to cycle through all your cities at the start of your turn. Doing it when I want during my turn makes me much happier. Great Person Generation I like how each type of Great Person is independently gone after. I like the additional control this allows in trying to get great people. Nothing aggravated me more than focusing a city on Great Engineer in 4, just to have that 5% Great Prophet chance hit. Great General Being Intrinsically Useful Moving the Great General around the battlefield to maximize his synergy bonus is neat. It adds a definite tactical feel to using the Great General. I almost think it might be better to make him a military unit though, to prevent him stacking. Yes I know he's defenseless, welcome to more planning on where to place your general and having to think about approaches to his position and how to protect him. Advisors Ahh, welcome back my minions. I really, really, really miss the animated advisors from 2. Man they were awesome. This is a step back in the right direction. One thing I will say though, is we should be able to dismiss messages from Advisor Council, I don't need to be told every time that So and So city has buildings useful to military units and we should build there. No Sliders At first, this one really caught me off balance. The first Civ with no sliders! But after playing with it for a while, I think it causes you to actually plan things out a little better, rather than being able to tweak a slider to adjust for stuff on the fly. National Wonders Needing Something In Every City I know some people are complaining that this limits your empire size or is too hard with larger empires. Personally, I like them, but I do think that maybe they should have benefits based on how many of the component items you have in your empire. Like, for example, the National College gives +50% to the city's research and can only be built if you have a library in every city. Why not make it +40% science +1% per city with a library in it (and have it get better if you add more cities later). Obviously not all national wonders would benefit (Hermitage would, Oxford University and National Epic wouldn't, etc) but oh well. Spheres Of Influence I like how making friends with city states on another continent causes the major powers on that continent to yell at you. Very Monroe Doctrine. Gradations Of Diplomatic Replies I like how when another leader comes to you with a disappointment or you turn down a request you can either say "Get Over It" or "I'm sorry this has caused a divide blah blah blah". More variations like this to try and make diplomacy more in depth are good. River Allowing Farms On Hills This is a neat little tweak on the tile/improvement system. Sadly, it might be the only thing I like about the tiles/improvements. I welcome discussion of these points. I was going to make this one post, but this part is huge already, so I'll make more posts with the rest later. For the tl:dr crowd: too bad, read the post.