How To Play Sid Meier's Civilization Six
Previously in this series: How To Play Video Games Part I and II. “You are going to play Super Mario World until you get to the level beyond the level you normally handed the controllers off to the nearest boy and asked him to finish that level for you….After you die unexpectedly, hide the game, to punish it for being unfair to you.”
I don’t often play new video games. I revisit the same five old video games (Super Mario World, Ocarina of Time, Majora’s Mask, Super Mario Galaxy, Donkey Kong Country I-III) over and over again, because that is what brings me the most pleasure (Proustian!!). I would rather haul one of those out for the 900th time than learn how to hold an unfamiliar type of controller even once. My basic position is, if I wasn’t playing it when I was twelve, I’m not playing it now (Galaxy being the obvious exception, since it came out when I was 19).
But two weeks ago my wife Grace purchased Sid Meier’s Civilization VI. One week and six days ago, I purchased Sid Meier’s Civilization VI. I had not played Civs I-V but I liked the little jangling sounds of money changing hands and roads being built emerging from Grace’s computer, and the gameplay reminded me of all the things I’d liked most about Encarta CD-ROMs back in computer lab class in junior high. Yesterday I wiped every trace of Civilization VI from my laptop, then uninstalled Steam for good measure.
For the most wild, yet most homely narrative which I am about to pen, I neither expect nor solicit belief. Mad indeed would I be to expect it, in a case where my very senses reject their own evidence. Yet, mad am I not — and very surely do I not dream. But to-morrow I die, and to-day I would unburden my soul. My immediate purpose is to place before the world, plainly, succinctly, and without comment, a series of mere household events. In their consequences, these events have terrified — have tortured — have destroyed me.
I cannot recommend that anyone play Civilization VI, but if you’re going to do it, these are my tips on how to do it right:
You should play as Tomyris. I don’t know exactly why, but you should play as Tomyris every time you start a new game, possibly because there are too many things to learn all at once and at least this way you don’t have to learn a new person’s name every time. Besides which, she has cool braids and special horses that nobody else has.
Play on Settler Mode and Quick (33% faster) Turns, to preserve wrist function.
I should say prolong wrist function because you are going to develop carpal tunnel syndrome in the next two-to-three days no matter what you do.
Build no more than three or four cities. Any more than that and it’s hard to keep the citizens perfectly happy at all times, and the goal here is to have perfect cities that are never running low on housing or amenities, ever.
Keep every city perfectly happy and then, if there’s time, send a few horse archers out into the world to try to kill barbarians.
You should start a new game as often as possible. “Quit and start over” is the best way to play Civ 6. Some good reasons for quitting and starting over are as follows:
Too much time has passed and you’re in the 1900s, which is boring and too similar to our own era. You want to build ziggurats and discover Yosemite, not improve freeways and think about the present.
One of your cities isn’t perfect.
Too many of the other leaders are mad at you, and you have to look at a row of little frowny faces on the top right-hand corner of the screen, and periodically read messages like “I don’t like what you’ve been up to” and “You are as treacherous as Ishtar.”
You have run out of barbarians to kill.
You were doing a great job killing a barbarian galley with your galley but then suddenly three other barbarian galleys pull up around you and start attacking at the same time, and then you lose your galley, and there’s a little sad red X to denote the loss of your nice little galley, which never hurt anybody and was just doing its best, and that isn’t fair because you didn’t see them coming.
Anyone declares war on you for any reason. If this happens, the best possible move is to yelp, “No! That isn’t fair!” and slam your laptop shut, before re-opening the game so you can quit and start over.
If someone declares war on you, especially if they had previously displayed a green and smiling emoji-face of friendship, then your next game should be dedicated exclusively to developing nuclear warheads so you can bomb the shit out of their entire territory.
If someone gets mad at you, offer them some oranges.
If they’re still mad at you after you give them some oranges, which is so unfair, punish them for the rest of the game by denying any of their requests to trade anything else.
Because Gilgamesh was my friend ten seconds ago and then all of a sudden there were like six war carts surrounding my capital city, and I thought it looked weird, but then I thought, Okay, well, we did agree on open borders, so I guess he’s just going to war with some other civilization on the other side of my city, and this is the quickest way to get here, and then I heard that little snick sound that denotes War, and I didn’t even know you could do a surprise war without getting mad first, and I didn’t even have Ancient Walls because my stupid citizens were clamoring for an Entertainment District.
Do not try to learn about what qualifies you for a “science victory” or a “domination victory” because it is too confusing. Just keep your four cities perfectly happy and beat up barbarians every time they establish a new village.
Start cutting off Sean Bean’s narration whenever he reads those weird Ayn Rand and Mark Twain coats to celebrate the discovery of coal, or whatever.
If you have to start a religion you should choose Zoroastrianism because it has the coolest-looking sigil.
Buy as many builders as you can until you run out of money. Don’t buy anything else. Just builders. They’ll keep your cities happy, which is all that matters.
Freak out whenever another civilization develops more advanced technology than yours, even though you never bothered to learn how to navigate the technology tree or what you need to pull off a science victory. This is another good opportunity to quit and start over.
The problem with quitting and starting over is that the display page will show how many hours you’ve spent playing the game.
There’s not that many hours in how long you’ve even owned the game?
Like 150 hours have not passed since I bought Civ 6, so.
You can try to play as Trajan once, but it feels weird.
Go back to Tomyris.
You can try going to war with another city or civilization but it actually takes forever, and it’s bullshit, and it sucks, and it’s not even worth it if you do win because of how long it takes and how many of your guys can die. Waling on barbarians is way better.
Oh, my God, I want to reinstall Civ VI. Just one more turn, man, and that’ll be enough.
[Begrudgingly, through the teeth, in unison with the rest of the group] Without help it is too much for us. Half measures availed us nothing. We stood at the turning point. We asked his protection and care with complete abandon. Here are the steps we took, which are suggested as a program of recovery…Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity…