I’ve spent some time recently checking out the latest patch for Civilization V. To Firaxis’ credit, they’ve been trying to address some of the game’s problems. However, I kept running into situations like the above screenshot. If you’re a Civilization V aficionado, that should look pretty familiar by now. If you’re not, let me explain what you’re seeing.
I’m playing the Aztecs. Russia has just declared war on me, which is exactly what she should do, since I’ve been pushing against her borders and harassing her allies. What’s more, I’m playing one of the more advanced difficulty levels that gives computer players an advantage, so Russia has a solid economic and military lead on me. At this point in the game, I should be worried.
The closest point of contact between our empires is my city, Tlatelolco, which is tucked between mountains and a coastline. A hilly hex is the approach from the south, where I’ve parked a relatively weak unit of jaguar warriors. Russia has showed up with a unit of superior pikemen that should be able to easily punch through the jaguar warriors, especially with the help of an accompanying catapult and archer. However, the incompetent AI positions the catapult and the archer in front, with the pikemen trapped behind them. Furthermore, as the turns go by, it doesn’t swap their positions. I easily take out the ranged units, and the pikemen wait patiently for me to bring in reinforcements. Russia has essentially marched its army into war backwards.
I still love parts of Civilization V, but the tactical combat plays a significant part of overall design. When it falls apart, the game teeters to one side and eventually topples. The result is like a foot race against a one-legged man. Winning is the easy part. Doing it without feeling foolish is the real challenge.