Civilization (MPS Labs, 1991)

The just one more turn syndrome is a very serious disorder. It can lead to sleepless nights, inability to leave your home or have a social life, lack of time awareness. It can ruin your life. Lucky for me, I was able to notice the first symptoms and take the necessary precautions, and now I suffer only from the occasional relapse.

This terrible sickness begun to spread in 1991, when an evil scientist at MPS labs by the name Sid Meier developed, perhaps inadvertently, the terrible Civilization virus, unaware of the consequences it would have on humanity.

Gengis Khan wants some wheels

The sheer scope of the game is what struck me the first time I laid my eyes on it. To lead a civilization through the entire history of mankind? Hell, yes. I want some of that. But is that just a noble intent or does the game deliver? Read the first paragraph regarding the just one more turn syndrome for an answer.

Really, I don't think there's anything to say about Civilization that hasn't already been told. The game is that good.
I even remember me and a classmate talking about Civilization to our history teacher in high school, trying to convince him of the miraculously educational properties of the game. To no avail of course, because back in the day videogames were mere instruments of the devil, played only by social misfits.

I also remember the talks I had with some classmates about the strategies to use during the game. You definitely should build the granary first. Because several classmates were playing Civilization. Its educational appearance gave it some degree of social acceptability even among non-gamers.

the retrogame map

What intrigued me the most about the game at first was the tech tree. The possibility, if you played your cards right in an easier difficulty level, to fight a war with tanks and submarines against opponents shooting crossbows bolts and arrows at you.
But that kind of appeal soon leaves place to a deeper one, involving the intricacies of commercial and diplomatic relationships you could tie with other civilizations. That's where Civilization really shines. The more recent installments of the game even have special victory conditions regarding diplomacy and cultural achievements. So, I started as an Apollo program kind of player and ended up as a Diplomatic victory one. Never ever passing through the warmonger phase, I really don't see the fun in that. War is the failure of diplomacy, as someone said.

Another distinctive trait of this retrogame is its turn-based nature. You carefully move all your pieces on the board, meticulously considering the consequences of your actions, and then click the end turn button and see how the other players would react to your moves. A helpless spectator, watching your clever plots unfold before your eyes. Trying to understand the other players' tactics. Because in the end that's what strategy is all about.

box content

I was finally able to track down a Civlization box to a reasonable price. Here what I found inside:

  • The game manual. This is the hearth of everything. You Bible if you wanted to become a master strategist. You were constantly scanning its pages searching for some lesser known rule that would give you the edge.

  • Five 3,5" floppy drives