In case any of my readers indulge in the wallet-emptying activity of playing games on Steam, you have likely at least heard of Civilization V and Sins of a Solar Empire, both of which released their own expansions very recently: Gods & Kings and Rebellion, respectively.
Civilization: Rewriting Earth’s History
I admit: I resisted buying any Civilization title until the consensus (particularly from my Google co-workers last summer) became overwhelming. I purchased the latest title and, frankly, haven’t turned back.
As someone who’s always had a soft spot for the nuances of history, I most enjoy the perspective of being able to completely muck with the established order of historical events and completely rewrite how things happened. I know it’s an intrinsic part of the game, but that’s what I personally find most enjoyable.
Take the game I started about a week ago: I’m playing as the Germans, and for starters my capital city of Berlin is located in northern Africa.
Typically in my Civ games, I don’t try to build much in the way of military; I’m often catapulting ahead of the rest of the world in research, building railroads and electric trade boats in the 16th century. This round, however, saw a different strategy.
As you can see in the picture, the Roman Empire (headed by none other than Augustus Caesar himself) started on the southern part of the African continent. They and the Ottoman Empire (you can see them east of Cologne) constantly harassed me from the start: set up an embassy, make a declaration of friendship, and then invade. Wash, rinse, repeat. At one point it became so disruptive that the Ottomans actually succeeded in capturing Cologne; luckily, I quickly won it back.
It got annoying. So I decided to shift from my usual science-based strategy to a gold-and-military approach. And I destroyed the Roman Empire; simply put, it no longer exists. Rome, Antium, and Neapolis are all former Roman cities now under German control.
The faith element added in Gods & Kings hasn’t really amounted to much for me (as you can see, my capital of Berlin is Jewish; when it came time to choose a religion for my empire, Christianity was already taken). The spying element, however, has been quite interesting: I’ve stolen a few technologies from other civilizations, and my spies have killed other spies attempting to infiltrate my own cities. It’s pretty neat! A little frustrating too, as you really have no direct control–only a probabilistic chance–over anything specific to happen once your spy is in a city.
That game has been going on for 6-8 hours at this point, and I’m only now in the early 1900s. Ottomans, your time is coming.
Sins of a Solar Empire: Now in space!
Before I even started playing this game, it had two features I already loved: a 3D space environment a la Homeworld, and unlike Civilization’s turn-based shtick, Sins played in real-time. At a zoomed-in level, it played a lot like Homeworld. Zoomed out, it played like Civilization: your empire controls planets, each of which provides resources that can be used to conduct research, build planetary structures, pursue diplomacy, or strengthen your military.
The latest expansion, Rebellion, had one new feature in particular I was eager to test: the addition of a Titan-class warship for each faction.
Like Civilization, I rarely rely on brute strength, instead opting to surpass my opponents in research and take advantage of technological superiority. My favorite race is that of the Vasari; they are, bar none, masters of interstellar travel, particularly once in possession of warp gates. I can effectively send whatever small-but-deadly fleet I have to any hot spot in my empire within seconds. No other race has this ability, and it allows me to devote my precious resources to endeavors other than a huge fleet scattered across various planets.
This strategy became even more effective with the addition of the Titan-class vessels. Each faction has a unique Titan, and can only possess 1 at any time. They take crushing amounts of resources to build and a significant amount of time to research all the prerequisites, but given my focus on research, my Titan was one of the first warships I constructed. Combined with the Vasari ability to travel extremely quickly between planets, my Titan had my TEC adversary on the retreat very quickly.
Titans are absurd. There’s no other word for it. They’re incredibly dangerous from the moment they’re built, and the longer they survive and the more experience levels they attain, their deadliness increases exponentially. Each upgrade unlocks significantly more powerful abilities; my Titan achieved level 5 (of 9) and was able to engage entire enemy fleets on its own.
In tandem with supporting vessels, my fleet crushed my TEC opponent, including their own (very late-game) Titan .
This particular game lasted about 10 hours, and was the smallest map (1 sun, ~17 planets, 2 empires) possible. Larger maps and additional empires only increase game time.
All the other stuff
I mainly just wanted to post about how awesome these two brand-new game expansions are, and that I highly recommend them, particularly if they appear on the Steam Summer Sale.
I spent a week traveling between Colorado (for The Lady’s family reunion) and Florida (for friends’ wedding), and I’ll soon be traveling yet again to Atlanta (to visit friends and family), so in the meantime I’ve been plenty with research and haven’t had a whole lot of spare time to post deep thoughts here. But I’m inching very close to publishing, at which point I’ll have a lot to say about what I’ve been working on…
ALSO: training for the Philadelphia Marathon officially began yesterday! The first actual training run was today. AHHHHHHH.