I hadn't logged in civfanatics for a very long time, actually something like 3 or 4 years. The reason for this is simple: although I've played civ since I was a kid (I started with civ2 when I was about 10 years old), I felt like civ5 was just plain bad; the more I played, the less I liked it. I don't know how long this site and forum have been up for, but I do remember visiting it ocasionally in search of new game content, along with other old (perhaps even older) civ fansites, such as Apolyton. The reason I am writing this right now is because after a few years I've decided to try civ5 again with its expansions and with some considerable time for balancing and making the game more enjoyable after its release, and after a reasonable amount of games played, I just can't really enjoy it. And that really disappoints me because I consider myself a pretty hardcore civ fan and I would be lying if I told people I don't have an emotional connection with the Civilization brand. Civ4 and civ2 are probably the games I've spent most time playing during my life (I'm 28, right now, if anyone is wondering), and by far (civ3 was a bit disappointing too, IMHO, but not like civ5). When I first read the changes upcoming for civ5, I got really excited. Some of these changes were long anticipated by people of the community and friends, such as the change from the traditional square game board to a hexagonal, the impossibility of unit stacking, the addition of 'real' ranged combat to the core game and others, amongst changes that sounded really interesting. The first time I laid my hands on vanilla, though, my first thought was immediately "Don't people playtest these games?!". The game flowed in a rather boring rhytm, the combat system was simply too annoying, the AI didn't know how to take proper advantage especially of ranged combat (and was too easy to beat), so I decided to take a break from civ5, go back to civ4 and take a look at other strategy games. That's when I found out about Paradox, Europa Universalis 3, Hearts of Iron 3, Crusader Kings 2, the then upcoming Europa Universalis 4 and other titles of the company. They've been great companions during this period, and something I realized about then when comparing Europa Universalis 3 and 4 is that even though they're obviously expanding and making their games more "user friendly" (I hate eufemisms, I wanted to say "newbie friendly", but it could sound too agressive), and investing more in the design details of their games (graphics, sounds, soudntracks, interfaces, auto-explanatory menus and panels, expanded explanatory texts and panels, all kinds of stuff, even spelling checks), they manage not to compromise the quality of the core game. Even though their games are getting really pretty for the eyes and really newbie friendly, they don't compromise the core content of the game, its complexity, its immersion capacity, or the intelectual capacity of the final consumer. Another thing is that they really listen to the community (Paradox's forum is very probably the best one in the community and the developers actually pay close attention to the feedback from the users). However, as much as my fondness for Paradox's games has grown, I've also felt it was time to give civ5 another chance. I don't really know where to start with, so I'll start by what I found most disgusting: the religion system. I remember reading a Sid Meier's interview in which he said that he changed civilization from a real time strategy game that you would direct the cities production and watch them grow to the turn based classic everyone knows and loves 1 week before the global shipping date of the final game (for the younger boys and girls out there, physical distribution of software was the rule in a pre or bad internet world), and in that same interview he stated something like "adding too much content can make a game too complicated, and simpler can be better". These two statements really marked me, "it is never too late to change a game" and "simpler can be better". That's not the case in civ5's religious system introduced with G&K. Religion turned into some sort of secondary money that provides minor bonuses (although it can be used to produce some really powerful combinations, depending on the case), while it worked very interessantely as a major player in civ4 (what makes sense, to be honest). Even the more recent possibility of founding 'protestatism' before 'orthodoxy' or 'catholicism' makes me feel stupid. I understand that is a way to try to balance some completely useless flavour that the civilizations have (favorite religion), but it just makes absolutely no sense, even for a game like civilization. As the immersion of the game bases itself on building alternate timelines, doesn't it make more sense to scrap out the favorite religion flavour than to actually break one religion into 3, one of them making absolutely no sense without the existence of another one for about 1.5 thousand years? Turning faith into a resource also makes the religion reasonably too controlable, and it shouldn't be. Religiosity flows more freely, and civilization5 makes it too square, it just doesn't seem to fit in the game. The combat system. Unit stacking could really spoil the fun of the game sometimes, but the way the problem was solved isn't good. The overvaluation of the units in civilization5 makes it boring. The units move too fast for the board. The overall feeling is that there is less space in the board with the 3 hexes city range and with the multiple city states. And even though there is less space, the units are able to move faster and they might take multiple turns to die, which also tends to kind of overcrowd the game map even with fewer units if in comparison to other civ games. The AI doesn't know how to properly use ranged combat, it tends to stack multiple ranged units in nearby hexes and to target not the biggest potential threat to them, but an unit that will actually die if fired at, even if they all die on the following turn. The combination of ranged attacks with the 2 hexes default move also doesn't feel good, it adds too much flexibility to some units that shouldn't be too flexible. I gotta admit that that I really liked the hit points and firepower systems of the cities, though. Finally early sieging feels like what it should. Gold. I like the fact that gold is more important in civ5, but it shouldn't be directly generated as a resource, it should be generated as an outcome of exploring other resources, and this shortcut civ5 has taken, although valid and theoretically interesting, is also dangerous. It is dangerous because it also to an overweighting of gold. Gold can surely buy pretty much anything, as long as it is for sale. And it can't do miracles (which it pretty much does in civ5, much more than faith). The old system of commerce and direction to the investments it allowed seemed more realistic than the new too plain budget system, something should be worked out in between those two. I also like the fact that science is now an independent resource per se, but this indepence is, too, exaggerated - it makes sense that a ruler, specially a godlike one, such as is the case of civ, should be able to direct its investment in science (if any). I really got to go now, but I will continue this post later, and I hope someone discusses this feeling with me, because I got really disappointed with this game.