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[Civ2] The "France Game"


Terracotta Statue Man
Jul 1, 2003
Every now and then, as many Civ players know, there comes this one magical game that seems to be inscribed in their memories for life; whether a win or a loss, the experience was simply so thrilling that the player wouldn't have it any other way. For me, this game was completed about 2 years ago, and was started roughly 1 1/2 years before that. The final save, which I attempted to submit to the Hall of Fame (but never quite made it) may still be found on page 3 of the appropriate thread; a brief account of some of its later years may be found in this thread; and numerous other mentions can be found throughout the forum as well, though often without reference to it explicitly. It was a Warlord game, completed in 1959 by spaceship landing. The accomplishment seems modest in comparison with many of the experiences of other Civ2 vets, and indeed some of my later games, but this one will always hold a special place in my heart, and though some details are sketchy, there are others that shall remain forever embedded in my brain.

The game I refer to, of course, is my "France game," and I have finally decided that now is the time to present the complete story in one place.



The French nation, from which would arise a mighty empire that would literally span the entire globe and hold more than 200 cities in its sway, began as a simple tribe of wanderers on the continent now known as, simply, France. Around 4000 BC the French nomads grew to such a size that it became nearly impossible to maintain a mobile lifestyle, thus prompting them to found the city of Paris.

Relatively little remains of the original terrain of the home continent of the French, but it is safe to say that there were originally many untamed forests, swamps, and even some locations that may be classified as jungle terrain, as well as some hills and mountains. Gradually, as the French grew to fill the continent, more and more of the landscape was gradually bent to fit the needs of civilized society, starting with simple irrigation, roads, and mines. Eventually in modern times, the landscape itself came to be moulded to fit man's image of it, with the construction of artificial hills to feed the industries of the cities and the planting of "forest reserves" in undeveloped regions, while most of the rest became either "concrete jungles" or tame farmland.

Naturally, the French people's expansionistic tendencies compelled them to seek out new lands once they had sufficiently populated their homeland with settlements, and it was these early voyages of discovery, between 2000 and 1000 BC, that the French discovered the large serpentine continent of Burgundy to their west, as well as the islands of Corsica, Bessierres, and Anjou to the south. As the map unfolded, it was revealed that not only was Burgundy large and resource-rich, but also relatively undeveloped, populated only by a few native tribes on the same level of nomadic development that the French themselves had been a few thousand years earlier. Over the next 3000 years, the Burgundian continent and the Southern Archipelago would be so extensively colonized and developed that they would eventually become as integral parts of the French nation as the French homelands themselves, and to this day much of Western Burgundy remains near-pristine wilderness, with new settlements gradually filling in the spaces.

It was also during this period that the French would make their first contacts with other peoples--though the nature of these contacts would inspire a distrust of foreigners for generations to come. First, around 1700 BC, the city of Tours would be seized by a band of foreign raiders from across the seas. Though these raiders only held sway for a few hundred years, their influence would have great impact on the future development and culture of France, not only in the peculiar dialect still spoken by natives of the city, but also a certain legacy of paranoia when it came to dealing with foreign cultures and a vow to never let another foreign people set foot upon their homeland.

This may help explain their reaction to their first contact with a truly civilized culture, the Russians, some years thereafter. At first, relations were fairly peaceful, though somewhat cold and formal, never quite reaching the alliance stage. However, around 1000 BC, the Russians attempted to plant a colony, Grozny, on the northernmost point of the French continent. Not willing to risk a full-scale war with the Russian Empire yet not willing to tolerate a potentially dangerous presence on their soil, the French government (by this point a Republic) agreed to a milder course of action--they instigated a pro-French revolt in the city, then had the population deported. For good measure, they incited another insurrection in the city of Riga, on the Russian mainland, for good measure. French ownership of this city would become a major contention point in the future, though by then the region's culture had become so thoroughly influenced by France's as to render the Russian claim rather insubstantial.

Meanwhile, through the intermediary of a great embassy founded by a traveler named Marco Polo, the French also established contact with two other distant nations, the English and the Babylonians. While some limited exchanges took place, the French never in their entire history bartered their map information to other nations, fearful that knowledge of their location would prompt others to attempt an invasion to destroy their empire. For much of the French Empire's history it would hold the knowledge of nearly half of the world's extent in secret, hidden from the rest of the world, and by the Mordern Era, before the first manned space flight, their exploratory expeditions, merchants, and covert agents would map nearly the entire world alone.

Much of the French Republic's history up to this time had been fairly peaceful, with only sporadic conflict with the occasional native tribe or piratical raiding party. However, as France grew and prospered, its rivals became more and more jealous of its wealth and knowledge. Thus began a new era in the history of France, that of the "High Seas Wars." These conflicts, spanning a period of several hundred years until the 1850s, were primarily naval wars, though during some of its conflicts with Russia the French Republic did acquire the three south Russian cities of Yakutsk, Odessa, and Tblisi, adding them to the port of Riga, now solidly French in culture and mindset itself. Otherwise, relatively little effort was spent in conquering foreign territory, as France's attention was being drawn to the development of its frontier territories.

The continent of Burgundy had now been extensively explored and charted; the sheer mass of the continent astounded the French people, who speculated that it might be the largest landmass on the entire planet (speculation that would soon be proven wrong with the discovery that the Babylonian and English homelands, as well as the Russian Ukraine territories, were all part of the same massive supercontinent, dubbed the "Grand Continent" by the French thereafter). The Burgundian continent was soon discovered to extend to the southernmost limit of human habitation, and the line dividing the "Frontier" from the "Wilderness" was steadily being pushed towards that same edge. Cities soon began lining both coasts of the continent, while French colonists pushing in the opposite direction also began establishing their own enterprises in the Bernadotte Archipelago, a group of islands off the western coast of Burgundy, as well as a rather largish landmass dubbed by its colonizers as "New France" (itself to be eventually revealed as part of the Grand Continent).

Meanwhile, French science remained leaps and bounds ahead of that of its rivals. The French were the first to develop the organized study of Medicine and Metallurgy, and France had Industrialized by the late 1700s, also becoming a Democracy somewhere along the way.

However, in the 1840s, the French nation was shocked to hear that England, itself no small potatoes in the scientific field, had stolen France's thunder by developing a practical application for Electricity. The English government guarded the secret jealously, even refusing trades for other technologies such as Flight. The French, not content with simply accepting this slight to their pride, made other plans...
So I've had this one on the back burner for... (checks last post date) almost sixteen years now? Yikes, that's literally half a lifetime gone by. By some fluke the saves for this game have managed to survive multiple transfers and hard drive crashes over the years, I recently got back into Civ2 again for the umpteenth time, and I hate leaving things on a cliffhanger -- so, after far too much time spent on hiatus, here's the final chapter of my tale.



The English discovery of Electricity provoked a sea-change in the French leadership's thinking. For centuries the Republic had been content to deal with its rivals at arm's length, as aside from the overseas territories in South Russia and the rather nebulous "frontier zones" of the Grand Continent, the French shared no land borders with any of their rivals. In previous ages, French supremacy at sea and later in the air had allowed them to maintain a sort of splendid isolation, but with the other powers now rapidly closing the technology gap, the world suddenly began to feel much more cramped. In the grand scheme of things none of the other nations could truly challenge France's supremacy, but the psychological effect on the public was immense -- lurid visions of Russian and English aircraft terror-bombing French cities filled bookshelves and newsstands of the day, while generals and politicians debated plans to expand their citizens' militias and colonial police forces into a proper standing army.

World events would force their hand. A massive scandal erupted in the 1840s when the English discovered a spy ring in their midst funneling secret schematics for power generators to their French masters. The crackdown was swift and brutal, but came too late to prevent French scientists from reverse-engineering their designs. Thanks to a tangled and confusing web of treaties and factional interplay, the firing squad that executed the ringleaders in a Coventry jail would go down in history as the men who fired the first shots of the Last War.

And yet, despite their ancient rivalry, the first French campaign would not be against the English, but rather the Babylonians, their closest geographic neighbor. Though separated by only a few miles of ocean strait, France and Babylonia were worlds apart -- the former the heart of a continent-sprawling empire, the latter a relative backwater confined to a peninsular subcontinent of deserts and swamps. Despite its technological backwardness, though, French strategists worried that Babylonia's proximity to the metropole would make it a staging ground for direct attacks on French soil by the other powers.

Historians call the entire period "the Last War," but this term is essentially a label of convenience, glossing over multiple discrete conflicts, ceasefires, shifting alliances, and skulduggery and subversion. The war with the Babylonians officially ended in 1880 by a mutual peace that left the vast majority of their ancient heartland in French hands after an embarrassingly one-sided series of campaigns, though the Babylonian rump state would last only another decade before dissidents among their own people overthrew their leaders and declared allegiance to France. Indeed, after their collapse, the world would enjoy another period of relative peace, short and uneasy as it was, during which France would continue to expand and advance -- new settlement ventures on the frontiers, refrigeration, fission and fusion power, considerable advances in mass transit and manufacturing capacity, and more. By 1916, the French had put a man on the Moon; by the 1930s, routine trips to low orbit were commonplace, and planners were already discussing colonial expeditions to other stars.

Some believed that this newfound era of peace and progress would be permanent. Alas, it was not to be.

In 1927 the citizens of a Russian frontier city overthrew their Moscow-appointed governor and elected their own citizen assembly, which petitioned the French Republic for membership. Russia accused France of inciting subversive activity and issued an ultimatum demanding the return of their governor to power and the surrender of the rebels. When the deadline lapsed with no response from the French government, the world once again went to war, with the English siding with their Russian allies.

The war against Russia and England was not quite the sweeping success as the Babylonian campaign, as both powers had modern military forces of their own. Though "shock and awe" tactics employing stealth strike aircraft and cruise missiles allowed the French to make rapid initial gains, progress was often slowed by the need to root out partisans and saboteurs that sprang up in the aftermath of each new city occupied. Still, in the end, the sheer weight of French industrial and technological prowess proved decisive; the French took fewer casualties overall, and such losses as they did take were quickly replaced. By 1948, Russia had joined Babylonia in the history books, while England found itself reduced to a shell of its former glory and sued for peace. The French, exhausted from decades of total war, accepted.

The Last War, however, was not the only grand undertaking of this period. While many cities were devoting their energies to sustaining the war effort, others had thrown themselves into the monumental task of extending humanity's reach to the stars themselves. The combined resources of half the planet were pooled into a massive "sleeper spaceship" that, in 1946, carried 10,000 volunteers to a strange new world around the star Alpha Centauri -- one that astronomers had identified as a candidate for human habitation. As the cradle of humanity entered its postwar boom, these new pioneers would carry the hopes and dreams of a weary Earth to a new frontier.

Despite the proclamations of would-be prophets declaring the "end of history," there is much that remains to be written -- but that is a task for future generations.



Well, there we go. Two years or so to finish the game, plus another nearly two decades to actually finish the story. Behind the scenes, this was one of my first attempts at trying the fabled "Power Democracy" strategy, and while I'm sure twenty years of hindsight will find plenty to criticize with my execution (and the ridiculous blend of half-remembered names and faux-French barbarisms my high-school-aged brain fell back on when I ran out of city names), at the time I was quite satisfied with myself (and glad I no longer had to spend 45 minutes moving units just to complete a turn -- there's a reason this game took so long to finish, even back when I actually had the free time for that sort of thing).

Also, my original city count was a bit too high in the first post: I actually only had about 179 or so (not quite 200).

I'm not expecting anyone to still be around from when I started this, but if nostalgia brings you here like it did for me today, raise a glass to fond memories of bygone days and former fellow travelers who have found a new path. (Alternately, hello to all you new people!)

While I was writing this up, I also took the liberty of stitching together a composite screenshot of the world in 1958, one year before the spaceship landed EDIT: Now with convenient labels for your viewing pleasure):

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