Theocracy (new Civ 1 & 2 like 4X indie game)


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Sep 24, 2016
We've just found out about a relatively new indie game called Theocracy which the author @kaptainkook says is his personal homage to Civilization 2. On closer inspection I can also see some Civ 1, Sid Meier's Colonization and Master of Magic influences too as the game appears to be a fascinating mix of ancient to modern history with mythological elements too. I'm curious to see how a Civ like game where you can work your way up to modern marines & destroyers etc but also cast spells & summon monsters like in MoM plays out! There's not many reviews yet but the ones it's got so far are very positive! The game is quite cheap and currently on sale as I post this.

Steam page (not currently on GoG):

News/Update page:

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Here's a copy of the about section from the steam page which breaks down the game's features:

Explore, conquer, convert and... release the Kraken!​

Theocracy is a classic 4X, turn-based, single-player, strategy game. As you lead your theocratic empire to world domination, strategic usage of peaceful radiation of divine power, decisive military campaigns and wise invoking of miracles, are all necessary elements of expansion and victory.

Might and myth
Recruit armies and command them across the world. Explore the terra incognita, peacefully convert pagans and enemy regions by divine power, or conquer them by brute force. Manage and improve your regions, construct fortifications and shrines in strategic locations, discover new knowledge and advance. Oh, and thou shalt enact dogmas and cast miracles!

Do rely on miracles
Things not going well? Summon monsters and holy men, or thunder-strike an approaching army. Punish sinners by volcanic eruption, or amaze them by solar eclipse. Game too long? Trigger the Apocalypse, now! Or later. Just watch out for those formidable heretics, atheists and aliens!

Indie & old-school
Truly independent, home-made strategy game for fans of good old PC games. Call it retro, if you will. Designed, developed and crafted completely by one person. This is a game like your grandma used to make 'em: cute 2D graphics and slow-paced gameplay, which exercises your brain rather than your thumbs.

Oh mighty and pious leader, lead your faithful people to glory and subdue the foes.

Game concept​

Theocracy is a turn-based strategy game. Players take turns to move their armies, attack the enemies, cast miracles, choose research, decide what to produce in their regions and enact dogmas (commandments). Your goal is to expand your theocracy into a dominant world empire by defeating your opponents. This is achieved by conquest and peaceful conversion of other regions on the map and their incorporation into your own theocracy, and by disruptive divine interventions, which you can trigger - miracles and dogmas.
At the beginning of the game, the ancient, undiscovered world is filled with pagan regions. You and your AI opponents - leaders of other theocracies - all start with one region (the Holy Land), and from there you explore the world, expand your empires and try to defeat each other. Regions can be conquered by armies, or peacefully converted by impact of Power. Power is a special resource, which radiates from your regions, shrines, holy men and miracles, and impacts its wide surroundings. Power is used to convert tiles and other regions, and as it accumulates, it is used to enact dogmas and cast miracles.

Important achievements in the game are rewarded by Victory Points. The first player to reach 100 Victory Points wins. Victory Points are awarded for percentage of world population following your religion, for number of other players' Holy Lands which you conquered, for enacting the dogmas, creating holy men, discovering sacred mountains and (should it be necessary) invoking the Apocalypse miracle.

This is a humble, indie game, made byte by byte, pixel by pixel, from scratch, without any game engine. The game is done in retro, vintage style, with top-down 2D world based on classical antique maps.

The game avoids tiring complexity and micro-management of dozens of features typical for its larger 4X cousins, and focuses on the action - why waste time building roads and farms, when you can just flood the enemy region?!? A game can be won or lost in a single gaming session.

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Thanks Blake00 for creating this thread and providing some visibility to my game!

I'm Marcel Strbak, the guy who created this game, if someone has any questions or ideas, please let me know here, and I will gladly address them.

The game is available via Steam (and for the moment Steam only, as I have no time/resources to implement other DRM/distribution options), but system requirements are like it's 1999 :)
Have added a couple more screenshots I snapped from your steam video to show monster summoning and also conflict the modern era with ships & tanks etc.

@kaptainkook has also posted some good info and answered some questions from myself and @Civinator elsewhere so I'll stick a copy here:

"Theocracy - my personal take on older Civs, but with religion/mythology twist, should be easily enjoyable by all Civ fans who like retro, single player, turn-based 4X."

"It is my personal "project", a sort of "one day I would like to make a strategy game with reasonable AI" thing, and there is no denying it is heavily inspired by Civ1 and Civ2 - which I spent solid part of my younger years enjoying."

"the standard game can handle 9 players, so you and 8 AI opponents. Plus Pagans, Heretics and Atheists, which are special "civs" sort of like Barbarians, but they actually really play like special opponents, they don't just "roam around" like in Civ1 or Civ2. That makes it 11.
In mods/scenarios more players will be allowed, but that feature is not released yet."

"Indeed the game graphics like units [48x48 pixels] are totally Civ2-style and the game is prepared for modding EXACTLY the way that Civ2 was. For this reason the game-play graphics are simple BMP files and can be easily changed. All game rules can be stored and modified in a TXT file (again, almost exactly like Civ2 files used to be) and really a lot of the game can be modded and whole scenarios prepared. However, the scenarios support is not yet released, but I am working on finishing it. There is no animation of units at the moment. Data files are encrypted and "EBM" format is my own format, those files cannot be modified, but it wouldn't make sense. Sounds can also be modified, they are plain WAV files. As said, rules of the games (units, techs, buildings, miracles, etc.) can be stored in plain TXT file, but it's not out there yet."

Also some other things I'm curious about...
  1. Is there a flight mechanic like in Civ & MoM? eg flying monsters in ancient times and flying jets in the modern era. Couldn't see any planes in screenshots.
  2. Is there still magic and monster summoning in the modern era or is that only back in ancient & medieval times?
  3. How many Civs are there to choose from? And are they different in name only?
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1. No, there are not flying units. I try to keep the game's focus mostly on strategic geographical expansion, having in mind the effects on radiated Power and ability to protect your territory, instead of complex combat strategy. No way I could come even close to the recent Civs and their elaborate battles, so I don't even start. You can sail the oceans with land units once you discover proper techs (you just enter the ocean, there are no transporters like in older Civs or dedicated navy units). I do intent to implement sending units to a different Region (City) via airport transfer, but that is in to-do list for the moment.
2. Miracles are available throughout the whole game. That includes Monster Summoning (which is basically just one of miracles). However, their price dramatically increases after each use, and their effectiveness compared to military campaigns by more powerful units simply diminishes. Also regions will get protected against miracles by your opponents as time goes on and if they think they need to protect themselves. So to be honest, miracles are naturally more powerful in the ancient times and more expensive and more useless in the modern times. Inspired by "real" history and well, lack of major observed miracles on international news recently :)
3. 17: Sumers, Aztecs, Egypt, India, Vikings, Tibet, Greece, China, Abassid Caliphate, Byzantium, Japan, Dahomey, Incas, Tahiti, Sioux, Mayas, Zulus. There are small differences between these theocracies (some starting advantages and cheaper miracles, and as such they slightly influence your strategy) but the differences are not game-changing, as for example in Civ5. On top of that there are Pagans, Heretics and Atheists in the game but you cannot choose play for those.
To make it clear: the magic in the game comes down to casting miracles. They mostly act as some sort of religious "nuclear weapons" (btw, there are no nukes in the game...) - you can destroy a region by a volcanic eruption, or convert it by solar eclipse, etc. or you can create special units - monsters and holy men. You can also jump-grow your region by blessed rain, or protect your territory against opponent's miracles. But there is no magic in the sense of some mages walking around and performing some dragon ball magic or stuff like that.
you just enter the ocean, there are no transporters like in older Civs or dedicated navy units
Thanks for answering so quick! :) Ahh okay so there's no dedicated naval units then?.. I thought these were destroyers having a naval battle.. so are they actually land units moving across the ocean with a transport graphic 'on top' then? I remember the HoMM like Disciples series used a similar mechanic in that you'd just walk onto water and your unit would auto change into a ship graphic.

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Thanks for answering so quick! :) Ahh okay so there's no dedicated naval units then?.. I thought these were destroyers having a naval battle.. so are they actually land units moving across the ocean with a transport graphic 'on top' then? I remember the HoMM like Disciples series used a similar mechanic in that you'd just walk onto water and your unit would auto change into a ship graphic.

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Yes, it is similar to Civ5 in this aspect. When the land units move into water they change into ships graphics, they speed depends on your navy techs ("knowledges" in my game), they can attack other ships and also land units/regions, but attacking from water yields 50% attack strength penalty. So it's better to attack from land.
In Theocracy you can always produce only one type of unit (the most recent one) and if you want equip it with horses (or vehicles) - like in Colonization. Older units will require upgrades (weapons and land transport) which can be costly.
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Oh and another question I'm curious about.. what sort of exploration treasure hunting stuff is there on the map? eg in classic Civ you had little village huts granting units, techs, money, new cities or hostile encounters. In colonization there were similar risk/reward lost city places to visit, and Master of Magic had nodes filled with spells and treasures guarded by monsters.
Yep, there are Caves and Sacred Mountains. Caves are like barbarian villages in Civ - you enter and you get something - a tech, Power, money, etc. Always positive (no hiding hordes of babarians). Sacred Mountains are a big thing. They provide precious victory points to the player who finds them first, they radiate a lot of power and they are yours forever. Caves and Sacred Mountains that are not discovered will sometimes produce a pagan monster which will roam around and attack nearby players.
Oh wow.. I didn't realise you used a Colonization like unit equipping system.. that's really cool! And power nodes and roaming creatures sounds quite Master of Magic like too.

Very glad to hear there's exploration rewards, treasure hunting & sacred power nodes to capture as I think that's such an important part of 4x games like Civ, Col, MoM & MoO!

I've just purchased a copy of the game! Not sure when I'll get to playing it but I'll be following your work from now onwards. :)
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