Resolved: Civilization 4 is Superior to Civilization 5
I define Civilization IV (hereafter referred to as CIV4) as:
"A turn-based strategy computer game released in 2005 and developed by lead designer Soren Johnson under the direction of Sid Meier and Meier's studio Firaxis Games, Including any and all expansions such as Civilization IV: Beyond the Sword and Civilization IV: Warlords"
This definition is based off of this website:
I define Civilization V (hereafter referred to as CIV5) as:
"A turn-based, video game developed by Firaxis Games, released on Microsoft Windows in September 2010 and on OS X on November 23, 2010, including any and all expansions such as Civilization V: Gods and Kings and Civilization V: A Brave New World"
I wish my opponent the best of luck.
I accept. Thank you, Con, for the opportunity to debate this topic. Thank you, readers, for your interest. I've enjoyed both games very much, and look forward to defending the latest title in this epic series.
As we set out on this endeavor, I'd like to note the ambition of Pro's resolution. He didn't claim that Civ 4 is at least as good as Civ 5, but rather that it is superior. If it could be demonstrated that they are tied, then the tie would have to go to Con.
Please state your case, good sir.
Baba yetu, Yesu uliye
Mbinguni yetu, Yesu, amina!
Baba yetu, Yesu, uliye
Jina lako litukuzwe.
This music is Christopher Tin's "Baba Yetu", and it is the Lord's prayer in Swahili. This can be found on the civilization forums and at the following link where this paragraph can be found:
"The theme song of Civilization 4, Baba Yetu, is actually "Our Lord's Prayer" spoken in Swahili. If you don't know, the prayer is referenced from Christian Bible Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:2-4."
This awesome opening, and I do not use the term awesome lightly, introduces what is possibly one the best games ever created up to this point in time. However, I digress. The topic for this round is not that CIV4 is the best game ever, but simply superior to the more recent edition CIV5. I will support this by first establishing a criterion for measuring superior. I propose the criterion of Enjoyability. Now there are several reasons why CIV4 is more enjoyable than CIV5:
The first is the Diplomacy. Diplomacy is a crucial aspect of any empire strategy game. (See Total War series and Age of Empires.) In CIV4 the diplomacy not only consists of trading everything from gold, to resources to technology, and not only is opened up stage by stage as you research certain technologies, but is also used by the AI to make alliances and make enemies. The AI actively work to form and develop relationships not just with the player, but with the other computer players. This requires the player to manage not only his relations with his/her computer allies and enemies but their allies and enemies as well. This introduces a fourth dimension into the gameplay that is not reproduced in CIV5. For in CIV 4, the AI have clearly defined attitudes towards the human player and the computer players (i.e. +10, -4, or +3 resulting in Pleased, Furious, Neutral, or Friendly, etc...) In CIV5 however, the diplomacy is found lacking. The AI do not use it nearly as much to begin with. Secondly, the decreased number of players found on your average map results in less complex diplomacy reducing the enjoyment of the game, but I will go in-depth into that in just a bit. And finally there are no specified criteria for determining relationships! You can be "friendly" with a computer player you have just met, be backstabbed by him the next turn, and have him declare peace 4 turns later only to see your relations back to friendly! There is NO way to know who your allies are and who your enemies are, an unacceptable feature that reduces the enjoyment of the game for novices trying it out, to experienced players used to carefully managing diplomacy.
The second benefit of CIV4 is the units. There are several aspects of the units that increase the enjoyability of the game like the sheer number of units you can amass. I was recently playing a game in CIV5 where I (unusually) was able to win over half the map to my side via conquest. The other half was made up of a loose coalition of 4 nations. At this point I could have taken these nations if it wasn't for the fact that I ran out of units. I lacked aluminum and uranium necessary to create more powerful units and even my coal was running in short supply. None of my opponents would attack me or damage each other enough for me to be able to attack on any front. Even though I had HALF THE MAP there were only a handful of the resources I needed. The second issue is unit stacking. CIV4 allows stacked units so that you can move an ARMY to the enemy city. CIV5 does not allow stacked units so you must be content with slowly moving droves of units across the field to be slaughtered as they approach the enemy city. This feature alone significantly increases the enjoyment of CIV4 and decreases it in CIV5. The final issue under units is the kinds of units themselves. In this respect CIV5 is extraordinarily disappointing. In CIV4: Beyond the sword it seemed like hundreds of new units were added - because they were. From specialized scenario units to common gameplay additions CIV4: Beyond the Sword expanded the mind of its player and severely increased the enjoyment of the CIV4 game. CIV5 was one step backwards from CIV4: Beyond the Sword. While it did introduce new units such as the long swordsman, it failed to provide any significant amount of editions in units or even changes to the current units. So while CIV5 claims to be new a redone it actually was more of a downgrade from Beyond the Sword and hence the enjoyment factor is greatly lessened.
The Third issue is resources. Resources are used for two things: creating troops and trading. The trading aspect was a feature of CIV4 carried through to CIV5 with one notable difference: where before you traded 1 of any resource for one of another resource now you can trade 5 of a resource for 1 of another resource. While this feature sounds like a great addition, it is severely abused by the AI and is also at odds with the other use of resources - building units. It turns what was once a fun resource trading scheme to get health and production benefits into a simple resource grab for Iron, Coal, Oil, Aluminum, and Uranium. Where once you simply had to have access to certain resources to continually trade with other players, now, you must have huge pockets of these resources in order to be able to do one trade for 30 turns. The other issue with resources is their limited nature. There is now a limit on how many horse are provided by horses, cows provided by cows, oil provided by oil. Certain oil fields produce more than identical ones in other parts of the world and while that is certainly realistic it screws with trading and resource management. All you need is to be randomly generated a portion of the map with less populous resources and even if you play the game exactly right you can still be miserable because of the limited resources. Even the sheik with all the oil feels like the Americans trying to conserve and become self-dependent. This reduces the enjoyment of the game and is a reason CIV4 is superior to CIV5.
The fourth and final reason CIV4 is superior is the map. Here I intend to discuss the hex's vs. squares, the differing environments, overall map sizes. The hex's were a nice idea, but failed miserably. Aside from the fact that they are painfully obvious to your eyes, add weird angles that can screw with strategy, and are much larger in size than the squares, they have no discernible advantage to the previous system! Making them at best an unnecessary change and at worst a scar on the face of Sid Meir's game series. Then you have the differing environments in CIV4 that for some reason do not seem to be as present in CIV5. Even if they have the same different types of plots (which I don't think they do) then the difference between the different plots is significantly reduced. Then you have the size of the maps in CIV5 which are significantly reduced. The size of the biggest map in CIV4 could hold over 20 well formed nations in addition to oceans and lakes etc... The size of the biggest map of CIV5 barely contains 20 small empires in addition to a sizable number of city states. (which even if they are removed only slightly increases the overall average size of an empire). This issue alone results in reduced enjoyment from gameplay as players once able to play as isolated empires or huge nations from the beginning now find that they are struggling to even build an empire a quarter of the size in CIV5.
Ultimately, it is clear to me which game is more enjoyable, and hence, superior. CIV4 provides a more interactive and balanced diplomacy; better unit structure, variety, and management; an easier resource management system; and finally a more enjoyable map with squares, differing environments, and bigger maps for better fun! Thank you.
At this point I would like to offer my opponent the opportunity to ask me a series of specific questions at the beginning or end of his speech and I will answer accordingly. If my opponent has none than I request he specify that at the beginning or end of his speech. I know that I will be taking advantage of the opportunity to ask questions in my next speech. (I will continue to answer specific questions in later rounds but I would prefer if this "cross-examination" of a sort only applied to the first two rounds.)
I thank my opponent for his beautiful and unapologetically nostalgic tribute to Civ 4. There are a few things I wish Pro had included, for example the voice talent of Leonard Nemoy. It is hard to express the satisfaction gained from earning hearing the legendary actor who gave us Mr. Spock quote Sun Tsu as the reward for a tech advance: “Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first, and then seek to win.” My friend, like many of the rulers who have declared war against me in either of these Civ iterations, you have already lost. You just don’t know it yet.
When I first bought Civ 5, I was, like my opponent, terribly disappointed. It technically stays true to many of the core ideas of the Civilization series, but it just feels so different. I had enormous trouble getting things to work the way I wanted to, and my civilization size did feel very small and restricted compared to the globe spanning empires I had grown accustomed to governing. Instead of having all the buildings I wanted and pumping out tons of units, I felt like a warlord rummaging about with a ragtag band of brigands instead of an army. The computer was always declaring war on me without provocation. Happiness problems weren’t restricted to new conquests, so even if I was doing well my whole nation was always miserable. Tile bonuses were less generous. The social policies were so permanent compared to civics flexibility I was used to, for example being able to switch from monarchy to democracy with just a few unproductive turns as the minor penalty. In Civ 5, it felt as if there’s almost no going back. In short, I just didn’t like it. After a few attempts, and maybe 25 hours of play time, I shelved the game and didn’t play at all for what must have been at least a year. It was just as well; the land of Skyrim was in peril, and as the first Dragonborn to appear in ages, I was the only one who could save it. But after my heroics had rescued the Nordic homeland, and perhaps all of Tamriel (many times), something happened: I decided to give Civ 5 one more try. Nearly a thousand hours of gameplay later, I’ve defeated my foes with nearly every leader on every difficulty level and type of game. I’ve learned some things – one of which is that Civ 5 is, by a dominating lead, the best Sid Meier game ever produced (another is that I probably need to explore some other hobbies, like writing). I recommend playing on Epic timescale rather than Normal or Marathon.
What I initially mistook for drawbacks are on closer inspection tremendous advances in civilization gameplay. With production more restrictive, you can’t just have all of what you want everywhere. Economic principles of scarcity and opportunity cost become so much more relevant in Civ 5 (especially at higher difficulty levels). In order to win, you have to make tough sacrifices and specialize your cities. Some cities will produce lots of gold, but you’ll never be able to use them to make troops. Other cities will serve as your barracks, but their growth will be diminished because of having to use low/no food hill tiles. You have to skip over certain things that would be nice to have and accept that you will often be able to obtain only what is essential to your strategy – but that is enough. Tough choices make for amazing gameplay. These hard decisions are precisely what it means to engage in strategy. Challenges are what make victory satisfying. I’ll further build my case for Civ 5 being the ultimate achievement of the Civilization series, but for the time being I’m going to directly refute the items raised by Pro.
1) Diplomacy is not “found lacking”, but it is less obvious. Bonuses and penalties to your relationship are more fluid and the underlying calculations are not explicitly provided to the player, but they are spelled out to some degree in the diplomatic overview which also shows which wonders have been completed and what era each civ is currently in. That having been said, backstabs are a huge part of Civ 5, and you are either prepared for them, or you are a fool. The realpolitik of Civ 5 is to trust no one, never lower your defenses, and accept that all alliances are temporary. If you side with the Greeks against the Persians, then as soon as the last Aryan stronghold falls, you can expect the Greeks to be setting their eyes on you just as quickly as the victorious Allies who won World War II began aiming their missiles at one another. In Civ 4, you could count on long cultivated relationships to be predictable and bear fruit often even at the expense of the self-interest of your partner. In Civ 5, however, every leader is in it to win it. Period. If you want “friends”, the most reliable will be rivals who are at least attempting a different primary win condition, and stay out of their way. For example, if you want to be friends with Ghandi, don’t be getting in his way by building culturally important wonders, leaving him no choice but to try to take those by force. The risk to this is obvious – you risk letting him win. It is thus best in this kind of world to trust none, and be firmly loyal to none, but do be careful who you intentionally provoke.
2) If you think you have resource problems, imagine how the Japanese felt. Life isn’t fair, but in Civ 5, there are ways around it. You may be stuck without oil, aluminum, and coal, but even in the worst cases, forming alliances with city states can provide these. Additionally, with enough artillery, AA guns, anti-tank infantry, and patience, you can still advance on an oil rich sultan who arrogantly feels safe behind his mechanized army. Basic artillery is especially key for its ability to take cities and even powerful units like tanks at range, even late game, but if your forces were getting slaughtered as they slowly crawled out in the open, then my guess is that you 1) didn’t have enough AA guns mixed in and 2) didn’t build roads as you go or even pre-emptively (late game) in order to support your supply lines and give the option of retreat. Yes, planes are better, but to succeed, you must build the forces you can, and not just the forces you want. Missiles are another expensive but highly effective solution to a lack of resources. As for the lack of unit types, I have two things to say about this. Firstly, vanilla Civ 5 vs. beyond the sword is apples to oranges, and is not what is on trial here. We are considering the entire Civ 4 collection with the entire Civ 5 collection, are we not? Secondly, the number of units does not seem to correlate with “better”. In chess, arguably the greatest strategy game of all time, there are only 6 unit types. Every total war title generally has a low number of unit types, but this doesn’t take away from its incredible gameplay at all. The same is true for Civ 5, where less is more. The hexes allow for positioning considerations, and add a tremendous improvement in the nature of warfare over the uninteresting massive stack of doom that we inevitably create in Civ 4. Also, the disembark ability for every unit makes naval warfare and amphibious assault so much less tedious than it was previously.
3) Some of the most incredible games I’ve played have been ones where I’ve been stranded in a desert with only an oasis and some mountains (assuming G&K). Get a shrine, then select your pantheon as desert folklore. You’ll have a religion faster than almost anyone else, with a Petra on the way. Another favorite of mine is to settle 3 or 4 cities very quickly as the Chinese, building only paper makers and archers, using those archers to defeat barbarian camps. You should have about 12 or so archers built up by the time you research machinery, and enough gold to upgrade them. Chinese crossbowmen shoot twice, almost doubling their effectiveness, so you can conquer at least 2 or 3 opponents before they even realize what hit them. This also works pretty well using English longbowmen. Right now I’m trying the Huns. A ruins upgraded my warrior to a battering ram, and I used that 1 starting ram by itself to take 4 city states, and also built 3 cities of my own. I’m already an empire and am way ahead by turn 100. You can’t play passive, you must have a clear goal in mind. Sometimes that goal must be securing iron or horses. It is a tremendously cool innovation that strategic resources provide limited goods. Each unit consumes 1 strategic resource, again adding scarcity, trade-offs, and thus more interesting decisions. A unit of oil used for a tank is an oil not used for a bomber – choose wisely. There is actually more diplomacy involved in this, because even if you and your trade partner both have horses, there is still benefit to having more horses, and so it can be worth the gold, or maybe not, adding another layer of meaningful decisions.
4) I touched on this earlier, but although the hexes do admittedly take some getting used to, they add so much tactically to the game that it blows civ 4 out of the water. The days of squares and infinite stacking are over. Now you actually have to think about how to position your units to get them to work in a coordinated fashion, making it a different game, yes, but a far better one. Smaller map sizes and more valuable but less plentiful units help to avoid the tediousness which could come from having to manage the same mechanics on a huge map.
All of Pro’s criticisms seem to essentially boil down to the problem of him not knowing how to play Civ 5 very well yet. I’ve been there, and I remember the frustration, especially taking into consideration that I was such a boss at Civ 4, not to mention the savior of Tamriel. How can a messiah like me be humbled into defeat in Civ 5??? And yet I was. But once you get over the learning curve, you can appreciate the advantages of the game to a point that going back to Civ 4 just isn’t an option anymore.
I have no questions for my opponent at this time, but welcome any that he has for me.
AADebater forfeited this round.
Extend all arguments. Pro is still welcome to ask any questions he might want to.
AADebater forfeited this round.
You have been defeated. Your civilization has been overwhelmed by its many foes. But your people do not despair, for they know that one day you shall return - and lead them forward to victory!
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