My husband first introduced me to the Civilization series via Civilization III. I was immediately hooked and played that game A LOT. When Civ 4 came out, I was really excited and was not disappointed. The game really came together with the next two expansions, specifically Beyond the Sword.
This game is a turn-based strategy game, meaning that you make all of your moves during your turn, end your turn, and then all the other players take their turns. If you are playing other humans, this can make for a really long game, especially if you like to play on the huge maps like I do. For this reason, I only played multiplayer for maybe two games. I prefer to keep this a one-player game against computers. I do like a lot of opponents, however, and will often add up to 15 other civs, just to keep it interesting.
Everyone plays this game differently. My husband is a war-monger. I prefer a peaceful game and would rather win by cultural victory, democratic victory or space race. I tend to focus more on defense and democracy or theocracy than conquest. While my husband builds structures to aid in his military domination, I build the great wonders of the world and make sure that all of my citizens have access to theaters and universities. That is a part of what makes this game so great – you can play it a different way every time. The maps are different, the opponents all have their own personalities and tendencies and the game feels dynamic. You can pick which era you start in, how many years go by with each turn, what the general climate of the world is and so many more things!
Your ultimate goal is to win by several different means – cultural, space race, conquest, democratic, domination or score (if you can’t achieve any of the others). You start with a single settler and military unit. You found your city and start building items to help you grow as a nation. The early exploration is one of my favorite parts of the game. There are primitive huts that you can find that will give you a surprise. They usually help, but not always. As you play, you research technologies which allow you to build new and better things. The tech tree is large and highly customizable:
There are also many civic combinations to try to play to your civ’s strengths and weaknesses:
Another big part of the game, especially for a cultural player such as myself, is religion. It is a powerful tool to earn allies or enemies. I always try to race to get Hinduism first and then use great wonders to get quick religions early. I’ve found that if you own the foundations to as many religions and spread only the one that you want, a cultural victory is nearly guaranteed. A democratic victory is also within your grasp if you build the apostolic palace early. You can build the UN later in the game, too, and try for a democratic victory that way.
Anyway, this game is awesome and I strongly recommend it to anyone who enjoys map-based games. It has endless replayability and I still play it regularly. My husband plays this near-exclusively still. We did not like Civ5 and you can find my reasons for that here.