Montezuma's Revenge
by Meg

Montezuma is a freaking jerk.

Civilization 4 is the game addiction of choice this week while we let our WarCraft characters rest up in preparation for the release of the Burning Crusade expansion. Every evening, Stick and I load our LAN game and swear that this time, we'll save and go to bed at a decent hour. And every night, I stumble into bed, glassy-eyed and exhausted, dreaming of ways to conquer the world in just one more turn. After much careful consideration, I can say with total confidence that Montezuma's always starting shit.

I say that we've been playing multiplayer, but actually I think we're playing two entirely different games that just happen to look similar. Let's start with the fact that Stick likes to sing the Civilization themesong... which doesn't have words. I don't even turn on the sound. It's not that I don't like the song, I just don't care too much for in-game sound effects. I played the game for months before we happened to play a hotseat game on his PC, and I learned that the units speak in their native languages on activation. The Chinese units (always mine) say "What do you want now?" and the Romans (always Stick's) say "What are your orders?"

Stick will occasionally ask me if I've developed gunpowder or artillery yet. I don't know why he does this, the answer is always negative.

Stick likes to build up a huge organized army and take over other cities. This seems liek a good wya to play a strategy game. And Civ 4 has arranged a sort of rock-paper-scissors system of military units. Pikemen have an attack bonus against mounted troupes, mounts defeat catapults, catapults do serious stack damage to your force of pikemen. There's also a whole set of experience skills available; extra damage, faster healing, better defense. Or I think that's how it works... I don't actually build military units.apollo-spacecraft-over-the-111.gif

I know it sounds a little wonky, admitting that I don't like to build military units but I do like to conquer the world. Fortunately, Sid Meiers agrees with me. There's a whole cultural victory condition, based on creating such a happy and artistic society that the whole world envies you.

With bribery, clever alliances and defensive pacts with my more warlike neighbours, I've been able to win without ever engaging in battle. I usually control resources, arranging blockades or favorable trading relations instead of attacking. I figure if China can maintain good relations with the Democratic People's Republic Of Korea (also known as North Korea) and South Korea at the same time, I can convince Alexander and Tokagawa to spend their aggressive energies on each other, leaving me and my amazing cultural improvements alone.

Sometimes I play like England, trying to colonize the globe, but a freakishly successful British empire, watching cities revolt to join my glorious empire. And it is glorious, too, since I didn't spend any time or resources on building a military. Instead, I look with pride at my Parthenon, my National Epic, my Sistine Chapel, my Spiral Mineret, my Broadway, etc. They're usually in cities defended by a single low-experience warrior, but don't tell Stick, ok?

In theory, there are victory conditions based on having the highest population or the greatest percentage of the world controlled by your civilization. I can never seem to make those work out. As soon as my population increases, they're all moaning about how crowded Beijing is becoming these days, and how they want an aqueduct, and that's hardly making more productive citizens!

There's another method of winning the game, if not actually conquering the globe. I started playing Civ against my friend Eric when Civ2 was new, and I don't think we've had a game without him utterly destroying us all in the space race. One moment you're looking at Eric's wee empire, thinking about how awesome it'll be when you defeat him, and the next, Eric's landed on the moon. But I'd rather lose to Eric than that Montezuma AI.

Because Montezuma's a jerk.

Meg can goad Gandhi into attacking other civilizations.



Montezuma is a freaking jerk.

And for this reason, I have to build an army. Not a large one, necessarily - but large enough to obliterate Montezuma as soon as he starts to get feisty. Always happens sooner or later. Shaka usually meets the same fate. After that the rest of the world and I can get along.


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