Play or Pass: Civilization

Welcome to the next post in my year-long series “Play or Pass” that takes on the proverbial “must before death” theme with video games. Every other week I will be covering one or two games from “32 Video Games You Have To Play Before You Die,” a list compiled by BuzzFeed based on a reader poll. I will not be critiquing the list itself, but rather I’ll be discussing each game or games in whatever manner feels fitting and will attempt to answer a couple simple questions: Have I played [insert game name here]? If yes, do I consider it a “must” and why? If no, do I want to play the game before I die? I’ll be going through the games in the order in which they appear on the BuzzFeed list. Good? Good. Let’s get on with the games!

Week thirteen: (17) Civilization

Screenshot from the original PC game from 1991.

When gaming folks first hear that I both game and harbor an interest in history they often ask if I’ve ever played a Civilization game.  My answer has been, and remains “no.” The usual response to that varies somewhere between admonishment (Oh but shame on you, you should, it’s such a great game) and dismay (:(, that’s too bad, it’s such a great game).

To a certain extent, I have to agree. Because, as I understand it, the Civilization games are amazing and engrossing world-building, strategy games that give players the chance to, proverbially, rule a world. In fact, some might consider them second to none as far as games of this ilk go.  There have been many different Civilization games released since the first one came out in 1991, and they’ve taken players to all corners of history, space, and time.

Really, the Civilization games should be right up my alley, but here’s the thing. I kinda suck at honest-to-goodness strategy games, and I’m bad at games that require management.

Maybe I have the Civilization games “figured out” all wrong, but don’t they require certain amounts of babysitting, waiting, decision-making, and then more babysitting, followed by more waiting? Wash, rinse, repeat?  And while I enjoy games that require me to plan and strategize while I’m in the game,  I can’t see myself devoting time to a game that is ONLY planning and strategizing.  Not anymore anyway? I got rid of games that demand micromanagement some time ago, as I just didn’t (and still don’t) have time to check into games regularly. Hell, it’s hard enough for me to remember where I left off in most games with two or three weeks between sessions. And would I really want to spend those precious hours determining military placements, economic procedures, and the allotment of natural resources in order to build an imaginary empire? I honestly can’t say that I would.

Still… here’s the thing. I do feel that f I could find the right 4x, real time, turned based strategy game, that maybe, just maybe, I’d be able to get into it somehow. I’m not totally averse to the idea at some point in the future…like, maybe when I retire (*chuckle snort*). Sorry. It’s just hard for me to imagine ever having the time again that I used to have to devote to long, lengthy games that need players to check in frequently. But, if my life ever does free up, maybe a Civilization game would be a good way to fill things up. Like I said, I don’t hate the idea. So…

Have I played Civilization?
Nope, not a one.

If yes, do I consider it a “must” and why?
A “must?” Maybe not. A “noble pursuit?” Probably.

If no, do I want to play the game before I die?
A solid maybe. Which game would be a good one to try?


  1. Civilization has always been one of those games that I’ve found fun to read about (the community stories and the jokes about Gandhi and such), but one that I don’t think I’d ever play.

    I agree with your impression of Civilization and other 4X: interesting in concept, but sounding a bit too involved and or boring in terms of actual gameplay.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The evolution of the series has really been something to watch. It’s almost as if it’s taken on a life of its own! It’s hard to argue with a game that has such a devoted fanbase — there’s got to be something that keeps people coming back again and again, right? I still don’t like the commitment/babysitting factor, and I agree with you that often the games seems too involved (and maybe to their detriment), but it probably worth trying to see for myself. So Civ is a “maybe-must,” i.e. maybe I must play this game someday. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Civilization is the hardest game to stop playing. Know this if you decide to play any games from the series. “One more turn to take Rome, one more turn to learning writing, one more turn!”

    I’ve loved it since Civ II, especially the different historical scenarios (WWI & II and others). This despite the fact that I tend to prefer more wildly imaginative games — e.g. something set in the future in space — to most historical video games. This is also despite the fact that I studied history. This is also despite the fact that I don’t love all strategy games. Civ is that good.


    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s the commitment factor that worries me! 🙂 And that’s especially because I don’t have time to regularly play. So my worry is that I’ll start a Civ game, love it, but then not be able to play it but once every week or two. And that would make me sad. But the concept behind the games is so very interesting. Hmmm….this is going to require a lot more thinking…

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dealing with complexity in a game is one of my worries with the Civ series. But as Mr. Murf pointed out in one of his comments, it seems that maybe the later titles are a little more accessible? I suppose that’s a matter of degrees depending on one’s familiarity with the series. I do like the idea of the games but worry about committing to something that’s overly complicated.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Maybe you can try one of the Civ Revolution games? That spin-off was designed to be more streamline than the mainline games.


  3. Civilization has never been about winning to me, which makes the decision more fun. I view it as an elaborate RPG/Roguelike played with a strategy bent. To me, it was always about the story that comes from your rise and fall, as well as the stories of your neighbors interacting with you. I’d give it a go!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I like that description much more than my own terrible assumptions. For awhile (several years back), I strongly considered getting Civ 5 but never did. I’ll have to bite the bullet someday.


      • I vote Civilization VI this year! The mechanics are complex, but there’s been a lot of simplification over the last few iterations to make it more accessible.

        Besides, haven’t you always wanted to be Teddy Roosevelt, spreading Islam and trying to convince the world to elect you its de facto ruler?

        The other thing to consider is Civ games don’t require you to win by force. You can also win culturally or technologically. It doesn’t have to be a game of Risk; it can feel more like SimCity or the like, just with a need to build defenses against Gandhi and his ilk

        -Unabashed Fanboy of Civ, Career Gandhi hater.

        Liked by 1 person

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