Lessons from Civ V

civ5I play Civilization V.

A lot.

Earlier in life, I’ve gotten hooked on other computer games, but usually there is one that I play at the time, for a few years, and then I switch.

The thing with Civ V is that it really simulates civilizations in a very real way. And without going into too many details, here are some lessons that I actually learned from playing.

  1. You want your country to be located in a corner. Civilizations that start surrounded by others will have a hard time defending themselves, because one or several others are bound to start a war on you. Being in a corner of your continent is so crucial that even if your resources are scarce, because there is snow or mountains, you will win just by not being attacked by others and having to spend time and efforts on defense and military.
  2. You want to get along with other countries, but you need to choose your friends, because if they are too aggressive or if others don’t like them for other reasons, you will end up losing. Go for the ones that are nice. Cultivate a neutral relationship with the aggressive ones.
  3. Trade with others!

About that first bullet: Here’s why we Swedes are rich. Here’s why we have all these problems in the Middle East. If you play using a world map, which is one option, at least one of the civilizations that start out there will be erased quite fast.

Now, going back to that last last bullet, here’s a true story from a fake world.

After playing Civ V more times than I want to admit, something weird happened. Here’s a bit of background:

At first, you can only go where there is land. After that, you can also go where there are coastal tiles, and finally, after about half the game, you can travel across ocean tiles.

So usually, you will share your continent with one or several other civilizations. If not, at least you will be able to reach them through coastal tiles.

But what happened was I found myself alone on a continent completely surrounded by ocean tiles. I could not meet anyone. I was all by myself.

So I considered this to be a huge advantage. I needed no soldiers, not military, I could build cities wherever I wanted without having to speed up in order to get the best spots.

However, gradually, I realized that not having anyone to interwork with was a huge disadvantage. Why? Because there was no one that I could do trade with. I ended up with big financial problems and a population that was dissatisfied because of the lack of some resources, while I had others in abundance.

The lesson learnt is that trade is good. Interaction with other civilizations is good. It’s not good always and under all circumstances, and you don’t want too much interaction with the wrong people, but in the long run, cooperation does you far more good than bad.


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