Friday, August 16, 2013

Civ V Multiplayer

I have now tried to play Civ V multiplayer a couple of times in the last month or so. The first time didn't go so well. Lino, Randy, and Matt had started a game with the 3 of them and an AI and were about to resume their game. I could tag in and take over for the AI. What could go wrong? Well, it turns out they were playing on an easy difficulty so the AI wasn't cheating. So my position was practically unplayable. The map was set up with two islands, so Lino and Randy were off on an island and Matt was on an island with the AI. And he took all the space. And built a huge army. I was way down in tech, and had no chance to survive if he decided to attack me. So I asserted that he wasn't going to attack me and tried to power up.

He attacked me. I died. A winning play to be sure, but not exactly a fun one. Especially since the game doesn't handle interplayer war very well. Normally it lets you all take your turn at the same time, so each turn takes as long as the slowest person that turn, not as long as the sum of all turns. But once war was declared there's the issue of simultaneous movement in combat. Alpha Centauri had this issue, and I can remember one game we played at Chateau Monterrey where Duncan was trying to attack me with a bomber but I had a fighter jet in my town. If he came out of his town and I noticed I could shoot him down before he got to me. If I didn't notice he'd get to demolish my stuff and get out safely. So the game devolved into the two of us not taking an action in the hopes the other one would blink first. So I can see why Civ V implemented things the way they did, but it really made things drag on. Because Matt would have to take his turn, then I would have to take my turn, then Lino and Randy could take their turn. Until Lino came over to help me, and then we were all taking turns serially. And the game freezes things in bad ways when it isn't your turn, so I couldn't even preplan while Matt was moving. I couldn't even see his units move until he was done. It sucked.

This morning Robb and I were looking for something to play and we decided to give Civ V a shot. There's a team mode, so we could play on the same team and I could explain the changes in Civ V from other editions while being able to see pretty much everything he was doing. We quickly discovered that science is shared between the team, and we could research the same thing together to get it done faster. We played against two teams of two AIs, and the way the map was laid out worked very well for us. One island with 4 people, one island with 2. Robb and I were together along with one member of each team. The weaker member, as it turns out, since Robb expanded enough to choke them out for space. It felt like the best way for a team to work was to have one person expand a lot, grab all the luxury goods, and be the science and military guy. The other person would have one city and focus on culture. I ended up winning on culture before any of the other victory conditions were even plausible. Military was an option I guess, if one of the other teams which were on both islands had been strong enough to win wars on both continents. But since Robb eliminated both of the AIs on our island that wasn't very likely to happen.

We played on King, which let the AI cheat a little, but I suspect the AI is really bad at collaborating the way we did. Having one player able to ignore military and defense and everything was pretty sweet. (Robb had cities on all sides of me, so I couldn't be attacked until he lost many cities regardless.) I did rush buy several of my civ's unique unit to help out in Robb's expansionary wars so I didn't do nothing for the team, but he really made most of the science and did most of the fighting. I just won the game.

It was fun, and reasonably fast, so I wouldn't mind trying it again on a harder setting. I don't know about full on multiplayer. The massive delays for interplayer war really felt like it was going to make things drag, and not being able to interact with the game while it's going on is frustrating. Maybe if I had a book to read when it wasn't my turn or something? I guess I'd be willing to try again, but maybe even in that case teams would be a better way to do things. Reduce the number of different wars that could take place to hopefully reduce the delays. Or maybe if there are only two teams of humans at least there won't be people who aren't in the war having their time wasted?

1 comment:

Matt said...

I'd be willing to give multi-player another try.

I tried team multi-player against the AI. I don't really see the point - how can you possibly lose? Maybe on the highest difficulty setting. It seems like single-player Civ with a social aspect.

Everyone seems to dislike the alternating turns version. Did no one play video games in the 80s and early 90s when that was the only multiplayer option? It's a pain, but I feel it's worth the thrill of playing against an unpredictable human opponent.

I suspect 2 humans is the way to go though, so there aren't delays for battles that don't involve you.

I had to crush you that game. Randy plays to win and you were in the way of me stopping that goal.