My rankings: Civ 4 Civ 2 Civ 1 Civ 3 Three had too much maintence work for my tastes and the end game dragged. I still thought it was a great game but for me the least enjoyable of the franchise. Armies were absurdly over-powered as were artillery. Basically any game could be won on the back of an early army so the incentive to war-monger was overwhelming. Also Civics were overly simplistic and religion was effectively not a part of the game. Spy "exploits" and other "tricks" (being able to store production for two great wonders under the palace and forbidden palace being a great example) made it even cheesier. I really loved 2 but it is hard to ignore how much inclusive and better thought out Civ 4 is than any of its predecessors. I am still not completely warmed up to the game (tech advances too fast in relation to production IMO making space race trivial and lame) but with a few more tweeks it will probably rate as my favorite strategy game of all time (well until Civ 5 at least).