London has fallen.

The joy of going through a list like this is that I've essentially forced myself into playing games that I would usually avoid, and if not 'avoid like the plague' then 'avoid because I just don't have time'. Or, at least, that what I keep telling myself...

I don't have time to get into Civilization. Properly, certainly. I don't have time to master its tech tree or to learn the best strategy for a given situation or to advance my civilization to the stars via all kinds of routes through some 6 thousand years of history.

But I do have time to see how far I can fumble my way through it. I do have time to see what it's about. I may not finish it successfully, if at all, but I can see how it develops from turn one to turn one thousand and one.

And so, the story of my civilization begins...

Fun Times

Civilization starts off at a nice pace, with clear explanations about key concepts such as moving your initial settlers and founding your first city, then developing different units or improving your city with different buildings, all suggested by your advisors but otherwise, the choices are up to you. All the choices are, and there are many you can make along the way.

At first, time moves by at a steady pace. You're able to send units to scope out your surroundings and discover who your neighbours are all the while learning and discovering new technologies and ideas that will be useful to your civilization in the future. Do you build the wheel so that you can build chariots later on, or is the alphabet a little more important to you?

Your style is very much down to which civilization you start with and how you develop them into the type of civilzation you want them to be. Naturally, the English are great first choices, but these Englishmen are going to be my Englishmen, and I can choose whether my focus should be more towards the military or the sciences, generally speaking.

But your choices may soon be influenced by your neighbours. The Egyptians may have wanted peace, but they're not getting it when they're that close to good ol' Lahndahn town. Peace treaties aren't worth the paper they're signed on in my book, but you are able to try and wrangle some technology out of your neighbours in order to maintain the peace, which can be another method of jumping through the tech tree and get a headstart with the builds that you really want.


But I wasn't terribly sure what I wanted. I wasn't sure of what I needed, either, until it got to the point where I very much desperately needed it in order to keep my citizens happy and/or alive. The only way I found this out was thanks to my advisors leaping into my view as and when the shit hit the fan. If it was left up to me to manage the menus as well as the map, then London isn't going to survive for very long at all.

That's where Civilization starts to put me off - that there are so many choices that you let the computer choose for you. Do that too many times and who is doing the playing?

To be fair to Civilization this wasn't the case, but as time went on I did get the feeling it was all a bit too much. With a lot more time and knowledge, I'd know what was going on and what needed to be done. Without that, I was just seeing how far the English could get with a blithering idiot in charge.

Further Fun Times

Quite far, it seems. I was playing on Easy, of course, but I was surprised how long the game was going, even though I was essentially doing nothing but waiting to be defeated one way or another. Part of that is that time slows down the closer you get to the 20th century, to reflect the leaps in technological advancement, I'd assume, but it also goes to show just how big and complex Civilization could be, and humourous, too.

Because I made no useful advancements, I was still moving Knights around the world in the 21st Century. I didn't invent the wheel until the 1500s, and then didn't bother to use it. I built a ship, sailed it around the coast until it was destroyed, then discovered electricity - in 2014. And I still hadn't been wiped off the face of the Earth by the other civilizations, despite them drawing nearer and nearer.

It was just a matter of time, though. My Knights could only hold the line for so long before the Indian civilization broke through from the west and surrounded London, and an American advance from the south took Coventry. I forget who I took Alexandria from, but it was also taken from me too, and that meant my mighty Englishmen had finally met their end.

I was asking for a walk over, and after a few thousand years of waiting, I got it.

Final Word

And I enjoyed it. I enjoyed Civilization enough that I'm eagerly awaiting the next few titles in series to come up in the list, along with their advanced graphics, mechanics and - I certainly hope - even more welcoming appearance to new players.

I say that because I sure as hell don't have the right idea when it comes to sustaining a civilization. Taking the English through to the 21st Century was a fluke, probably only possible because I was playing on Easy in a game where nobody wanted to attack me, despite me trying and succeeding to declare war on everyone who crossed my path.

Were I to slow my pace down and micromanage every little aspect of my civilizations, I'd be able to see the grand, epic scope of Civilization, but even the glimpse of all that I have seen is enough to get me interested for more.

I've not played any Civilization title beyond a demo, I think, for Civilization Revolution, also on the 1001 list (much, much later, though), and while I won't be replaying Civilization anytime soon, it's certainly made an impression on me.

If you're put off by these kinds of games, I probably wouldn't say that this is the best place to start with them, but I would say that you've got to try. Be comfortable in the knowledge that you will fail and give it a go regardless.

Fun Facts

The infamous nature of Gandhi being the most aggressive player in a game of Civilization began here with an integer underflow bug. Achieving a Democratic government set all AI aggression levels down by 2 points. This put Gandhi's aggression rating of 1 out of 256 down to -1, which was then read as 255, thus making him pretty darn displeased at the state of the world from that point on. It was such a funny bug that it has been purposely included in later titles in the series.

Civilization, developed by MPS Labs, first released in 1991.
Version played: DOS, 1991, via emulation.