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Three Moves Ahead Episode 84: Civilization V with Todd Brakke

September 30th, 2010 by Troy Goodfellow · 16 Comments · Firaxis, Podcast, Three Moves Ahead


One guest cancels, but his shoes are ably filled by Gameshark’s Todd Brakke as Troy, Julian and Rob hold forth on the game that has already eaten Troy’s life – and he has to keep writing about it for at least another month.

Listen as the team talks about their favorite innovations in Civ 5, how the map brings the game to life, why the AI’s failures are so disappointing, social policy vs civics and hopes for the future.

And Julian is on drugs.

Listen here.
RSS here.
Subscribe on iTunes.

Troy’s Civ review at Gameshark
Rob’s field report at Gamepro
Jumping the Shark


16 Comments so far ↓

  • Joseph Edmond Crook

    I just played it and the A.I is a little disappointing, hopefully this will be fixed in future patches. I must say I do love the new combat system, which is a huge improvement over the “who has the biggest stack” from previous iterations. The Diplomacy is decidedly lacking as well, and was probably the biggest disappointment for me personally. I hate saying that it will probably be fixed soon, as these elements should have been polished in the first place prior to launch. The “release now-fix later” mentality has really got to stop, especially with big companies like Firaxis, where there should be no excuse.

  • belgerog

    No Tom :( ?

  • Sarkus

    Another enjoyable edition of the podcast. I thought you guys were pretty fair, though I would have liked to have heard Tom to get his seemingly strident dissenting opinion of the game more fleshed out then what we’re getting from his review and Fidgit stuff . His position seems particularly contrary when it appears, from reading various message boards, that most people are happy with the game in its current state despite its flaws. Not only does it appear a lot of people are still playing it a week after release (as evidenced by the Steam stats), stuff like the QT3 poll (obviously unscientific) are overwhelmingly favorable.

  • Jorune

    You can listen to Tom talk up Civ 5 here:



  • Three Moves Ahead Podcast covers Civ 5 | The War Realm

    […] Civ 5 and what was good or bad about the game and looks ahead to the future. You can find it on the Flash of Steel website. One guest cancels, but his shoes are ably filled by Gameshark’s Todd Brakke as Troy, Julian and […]

  • Hell-Mikey

    The maps – the sweet, heavenly maps! My games have interesting terrain, and not just the “Ooh! isthmuses!” Mountain ranges that span the continent, coastal terrain (banks?) that stretch into mid ocean and tempt me into early-game exploration, isolated islands seeded with rare resources. Mr. Goodfellow’s point that one unit per tile has the happy consequence of drawing your attention to the maps’ quality is an apt one.

    I have the opportunity to save and replay my maps, and I’m torn. I’d never play as Mr. Murdoch does, racing about and wrapping up in two hours. I may be the poorer for it, as I’d love to be able to replay an interesting map to further explore its nuances. But a new map covered in fog is a wrapped gift, tempting beneath the tree.

    Hat tip to Mr. Zacny’s appreciation for the real importance of Civ 5. Press guys, and the internet chatter are so often obsessed with the new (TMA often a notable exception) that the new good is too often preferred over the older great.

  • frags

    Ancient battles using Civ5 engine! Maybe not as an expansion but as a mod, very likely.

    You guys forgot to mention the scarcity and limits of strategic resources. I loved that in Civ5. I had no coal in the industrial era and was forced to declare war on Babylon, after decades of conflict in my continent, a short lived peace. I wonder how players will overcome not having iron in their territory. Or you having uranium and becoming a nuclear powerhouse because you horded the resource.

  • Todd

    That’s a good point about the resources, frags. I mostly like that about the game, actually, and I like that some of the strategic resources can be variable as well in terms of how much they provide.

    In terms of lacking iron, in my game on Prince difficulty I didn’t get iron until much later in the game (by conquering a Greek city that had it) and through the entire swordsman era I just had to manage without it.

    I had loads of horses at my disposal, so I made a beeline for knights, I produced a few pikeman, and I beelined for muskets. With the tech advantage I had, that combination of units pretty well steamrolled Alexander. (Well, that and his unhealthy obsession with Venice despite me knocking on his capitol’s door.)

  • Paul

    Unfortunately I’m only able to get through about half of the show today at work, but while I haven’t picked up Civ V yet (I usually wait for the “gold” editions of Civ) and while I’m also slightly burnt out on Civ V talk, I’m really enjoying the pacing and light-hearted, yet rather ferocious, banter of the show.

  • Tad

    As always, great show. You guys hit on a number of issues I have with the game, and you also talked about a number of things I hadn’t really thought about. Looking forward to using some of the strategies that were mentioned in the show.

    One thing I don’t think was mentioned in the show is that rivers no longer create trade routes between cities like they did in Civ IV – I really miss this feature (and on a side note, the river graphics really need work. Seriously). I am wondering how many other people miss this?

    And, I seem to be one of few upset by this, but I really don’t like how military units can transform into boats. I feel this takes so much away from the chess-like strategy the new 1UPT system offers. It would be fun to be able to back enemy units into a corner, but alas, you can’t really do that. True, units are weak in the water, but I still don’t care for this particular feature.

    Furthermore, in previous Civ games, mounting an attack on a different continent really took some time and planning (not to mention resources). As Civ V currently stands, I feel like at any given moment I can launch an attack anywhere I want because military units now have the power to transform. Again, I feel like I am in the minority here, but as Peter Griffin would say, ‘it grinds my gears’! :)



  • frags

    Something else to add is how happiness has caused me to look at diplomacy in a new light(more realistic). So here’s the deal:

    You have a large empire and balancing happiness becomes a problem. You meet another Civ from another continent that has an abundance of luxury resources. So you trade a lot with him/her. You’ve made them into a major trade partner. The effect is that now my happiness is strongly tied to me trading with him. If war ever breaks out between us, it would have huge repercussions on my empires happiness(as well as army effectiveness). Really discourages declaring war on major trade partners.

    Something I noted about AI trading behaviour:

    A lot of people have complained that the AI is unreasonable when it comes to trading luxury resources. They hardly do one to one trading(of one luxury resource for another). I’ve found out that smaller AI nations are very stingy when it comes to luxury resources(or AI nations that have 2 or 3 different types of them). They will often ask for more. If you ever meet a large nation or a rich nation(with lots of types of luxury resources) they will be more likely to accept one to one trade.

  • Skyrider68

    Appreciated the panelists’ attempts to record a show that tried to strike a balance between the good and not-so-good elements of C5 in its current state. Nevertheless, there just seems to be too much of “the AI doesn’t this” and the “AI is incapable of that” when the game is given a good shakedown by credible reviewers. Personally it’s more a matter of limited gaming time than anything else nowadays that steers me to the opinion that if clearly the game is not delivering in the area(s) that matter most to me, then I simply am going to pass on it until the issue(s) is fixed or I find a better alternative, be it a PC game or boardgame.

    And bravo to the podcaster on whichever show it was who summed it up concisely by simply saying the game was rushed out the door too quickly. Sounds to me like a few more months in development really could have helped. Ah, but it’s the advent of the holiday buying season, so getting it on the shelves trumps quality control. Just get the consumer’s money and worry about fixing it later!

    Bleah. I’ll just hang onto my 50 bucks for now. Let me know if it all comes out in the wash….say, around Christmas?

    (P.S. Called it.)

  • Ginger Yellow

    “I wonder how players will overcome not having iron in their territory. Or you having uranium and becoming a nuclear powerhouse because you horded the resource”

    At least on Prince difficulty, it doesn’t seem to be too much of an impediment. In my last game, which was admittedly on an archipelago map so I didn’t have to worry too much about invasions, I only ever had iron for 30 turns, which I used to uprade my fleet. Then again, I was going for (and got) a culture victory, so I wasn’t too bothered about attacking the other players.

  • Todd

    My current game (on King) was geared towards a culture victory and about the time I was wrapping up my third social policy tree I was thinking, “man, this is really easy, but why is the Utopia bar only half-filled?” That was when I realized you need five full trees and not three and that I only had 50 turns left in the game. So much for that. :)

  • Severian

    I really enjoyed this podcast, thank you. I’m a long-time civ player myself (37 years old, been playing since I), and I like Civ V quite a bit. I found myself nodding throughout your guys’ discussion. I find it a *bit* frustrating that so many of the forums (2K, steam, etc.) are filled with mundane and superficial Civ V hate – “dumbed down”, “Civ for idiots”, “where’s my religion”,etc. – who also disparage the reviewers out there who are giving the game solid grades (“i bet they’ve never played a Civ before”, “i bet they only played for a couple hours before dialing their review in”, etc.). Your podcost made it clear that you guys take your job seriously, are good at what you do, and think very deeply about games like this. As another commented mentioned, you guys brought up things I hadn’t even considered but which, in retrospect, I absolutely agree with. I *would* have liked to hear Tom discuss his negative views a bit more, beyond the obvious and truthful statement that the current state of the AI is abhorrent and deplorable.

  • frags

    Severian I feel the same way too about the state of the community forums. But its not unusual when you have a highly cherished series like Civ. WIth every iteration people will always whine about some feature they felt they loved from the previous ones that was missing. Sid and I think maybe Soren has said this, the civ games have always brought out the inner game designer in players :P And in this case, I think they don’t know what they might really want.