These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
Broken Base: When it was announced that V will have Panzer General style combat, will only allow one combat unit per tile, will be released with Steam, that there will be DLC, and that you will have to pay extra to play the Babylonian civilization. Cue Flame War. It bears noting that there is actually a "rant thread" on the Civfanatics forums that was created by the moderation staff specifically to keep the massive firestorm of complaints from cluttering up the rest of the forums and to keep said complaints at least somewhat civil.
Gods and Kings continues the tradition, generally making people who liked the game like it more and people who hated the game hate it more, "Religion and espionage were already in IV", "They're totally different here", "that's a bad thing, IV had it right", etc.
The announcement that Brave New World will have the XCOM Squad unit. Some feel it's an unnecessary crossover in a history-based game, others are fine with the idea and point to the Giant Death Robot that has existed since vanilla V.
There was also a fair amount of complaining over Maria I being chosen as Portugal's leader: the only highlights of her rule were fleeing with the rest of the royal family to Brazil during the Napoleonic invasions (which ironically make her a more revered figure in Brazil since the family taking residence there led to the country's independence a few decades later) and descending into literal screaming insanity during her last 21 years of life (which led the aforementioned Brazilians to dub her "Maria The Mad").
Also in Brave New World, the inclusion of Venice and its unique role has broken the base in many places. Some dislike it for being another European civilization when the continent is already heavily represented, others are fine with more European civs but would rather have seen a unified Italy and/or feel that Venice has had too little impact on world history, and even some who like the idea of a Venetian civilization aren't fond of its unique ability that prevents it from founding cities, instead having to rely on a unique unit to puppet city states. Minor points of contention include its colors (shades of purple and white taken directly from a small part of a flag on The Other Wiki) and unique unit names that are seen as bland (Great Galleass and Merchant of Venice).
Cliché Storm: William of Orange's diplomacy text in III was filled with cliches about the Netherlands (Tulips, clogs, windmills, etc).
Contested Sequel: Every game in the series has its fans and detractors, but by far the most controversial is V. So many staple mechanics of the series as a whole were either significantly retooled or dropped entirely that some fans of the older games refuse to buy it on principle, and an extremely bug-ridden first release didn't help matters for the rest.
Crazy Awesome: Nebuchadnezzar's quotes (such as "Are you real or just a phantom of my tortured senses?") are sometimes a bit funny. This is the guy who went crazy for a bit, according to The Bible.
When he learns of his defeat, he finds it "very interesting".
Critical Dissonance: V has been and still is lauded by the vast majority of critics, while fan opinion is much more mixed, at least with fans that played IV extensively, as V plays differently and generally has less features than IV with expansion packs and mods does. The dissonance was especially obvious when V had just launched; before patches, it had far more bugs and weird mechanics which have since been removed and changed, but most critics loved the game right out of the box.
The music played when Shaka Zulu declares war on you in Brave New World. While most music played when civilizations declare war on you are solemn and angry sounding, the music played here is upbeat, happy, and optimistic as if he's happy to delcare war on you.
Demonic Spiders: Barbarian tribes can get this way pretty easily, especially in V. Because they come from all directions, you need a competent garrison around... and because V has discontinued unit-stacking, having one becomes that more complicated. You have to keep an eye out at all times for incoming barbs who have designs on your settlers and workers. And finally, because units of similar strength are weighted to typically not lose more than 8 HP in any given battle, it requires two units to take out a single encampment quickly—during the early-game phase, where sparing even one unit for scouting is an imposition. Taking the Honor social policy track gradually leans barbarians to the Piņata Enemy side of things, as it gives you more strength against them and gives bonuses for defeating them.
Epileptic Trees: In V, from the starting narration it seems all of history's great leaders were put on an Earth-like planet to be given a second chance to rule.
Even Better Sequel: While most sequels in the series are contested, II is the true Trope Codifier for the 4X genre, taking everything that had been a hit in the original and refining it into a classic that's still widely-played today.
Broken Base of V aside, everyone seems to agree that Gods & Kings massively improved the experience in general, making naval combat not suck, adding a much-needed layer of complexity with the religion system, tightening up city-states and just making the whole thing better overall.
The second expansion, Brave New World, has also gotten overwhelmingly positive reviews in general, with plenty of new features to increase players' enjoyment of the game.
You blast your way through a continent, destroying the enemies' cities in your wake, breathing a satisfying sigh of relief when you've finally finished off the evil race. Then you realise you just enjoyed committing mass genocide. Who's the evil one now?
In V, when you research the technology that reveals Uranium on the map, and a large cache appears right under a farm, leaving you to wonder just how long your citizens have been eating irradiated food.
Nukes, for the first civ to build them. Specific games each have their own:
In I and II: The Great Library, which could be acquired early on and gave you a massive tech advantage. Changes in later games make it less overpowered, but it can still be leveraged for some tricky strategies. Like all World Wonders, only one can be built, even if another civ was just about to finish theirs.
I and II also had the Republic and Democracy governments in combination with the "We Love the X" Day and trade mechanics. While other governments simply gave resource gathering bonuses to cities with enough happy citizens, Republic and Democracy governments got those bonuses by default, and happiness allowed for instantaneous population growth instead. Meanwhile, trade caravans could be built and sent to foreign cities for absolutely ludicrous one-time cash windfalls. The upshot of this was that a civilization with these two governments could effectively pour the vast majority of its taxes into luxuries and watch as all of their cities turned into economic powerhouses over a few turns, continuously pump out trade caravans, and use the absurd amounts of money they would soon have in order to rush build any and all units and improvements necessary. The only downside (a Senate that would veto war declarations and try to force your civilization to make peace during negotiations whenever possible) was negated by the fact that the AI was already suicidally aggressive anyway, and that the player could use spies and their ludicrous piles of money to subvert enemy cities even when not at war.
In V: Bushido, the Japanese special ability, causes units to maintain full defense and attack stats even while wounded. If this wasn't overpowered enough, it's possible to combine this with the Populism social policy, which grants a 25% damage bonus to wounded units. In other words, damaging Japanese units in these conditions actually makes them stronger.
No longer the case as of Gods & Kings, which MadDjinn proved through testing (in the exact same vs health situation, the Japanese unit did the same amount of damage with and without Populism). It's now impossible to go beyond 100% attack strength in battle.
In V: El Dorado, otherwise known as Skill Dorado, gives 500 gold to the first person who finds it. That's enough to buy an instant settler, which is a massive advantage in the early game. Find it as Spain, you get 1000 gold allowing for two instant settlers.
In V: The downside to Gandhi's special ability could (before a patch nerfed these effects) be entirely negated by a social policy and a wonder. With the right buffs, India could have an incredible populace, while maintaining a happiness so high that India would be in an almost constant Golden Age.
In V: Camel Archers and Keshiks. Camel Archers have a ranged strength of 21, which is more than a Cannon has, and it can retreat after shooting. With four movement points, this means you can kill your enemies with impunity until your enemy gets something that can actually catch them with enough health left to kill. By the Modern era, though, they're demoted to Goddamn Bats. It's the same deal with Keshiks, only they have less strength, move faster and get half again as much experience as a specialty.
A game-breaker by way of tricking things out: in every game the AI occasionally beseeches you for gifts or demands you give them tribute, depending on how powerful you are compared to them, and, often, giving into more powerful nations results in them doing it more and more often and gaining a stranglehold on your resources until you become more powerful than them. If you decline, however, the opposing power will become angered and, should you keep doing it, eventually declare war, which is bad if they are more powerful than you. In IV, you can negotiate tribute, essentially attempting to make a trade out of it or lessen the blow... but the game treats this like a normal trade — that is, the game now treats the negotiations as if you started them in the first place, meaning you can exit with no consequences to relationship, basically destroying the entire tribute system completely thanks to an oversight. Since the AI is pretty conniving and cruel when it comes to lording over any advantage in the first place, this seems relatively fair, all things considered.
Although a very late game occurrence, as soon as you unlock the Giant Death Robot and have sufficient uranium in V, opposing armies are essentially completely and totally fucked, especially if you combine them with Stealth Bombers. The combat penalty against cities is all well and good, but even with that, a percentage off of 150 combat strength is all but irrelevant, especially if you happen across a civ that's still playing with swords and musketmen (and there's always one). It's entirely possible to blitzkrieg your way across about 10 cities in a few turns if you're canny about placement.
Austria's special ability in the Gods & Kings expansion for V becomes this once espionage comes into play. When a rival civilization can use spies to flip one of your allied city-states to its side, having the power to outright annex said city-state, putting it permanently into your camp (unless it gets invaded, of course), becomes very useful.
A patch released afterwards nerfed it so that you can't annex city-states unless you've been allied with them for 5 consecutive turns. This makes the ability far less useful in multiplayer, since another player can just spend some money on one of the turns and disrupt the alliance.
The "Faith Healers" belief available for religions in V grants all units +30 HP per turn they spend next to or in a friendly city. For most of the game, this is merely good. Once aircraft enter the picture, it's extremely powerful; aircraft are infinitely stackable within a city, which means any number of them get the healing benefit simultaneously. Other units have to make their way to the target, and don't get the faith healer's bonus until they make it back home, while aircraft always return back to their city after completing their mission. Combined with the air repair promotion, which lets units heal even when attacking, this makes for an entire air force that recovers nearly half of its maximum health every turn. Since there's no "non-air units" qualifier for Faith Healers, this works in practice the same way it does on paper, and can even make spreading your religion a detriment, since enemies following the same religion still get the bonus.
Civ-Veteran "Sulla" has written an in-depth analysis of V's Game Breakers and how they damage its gameplay. Warning: Walls of Text and does not cover the expansions.
In V, Siam's replacement for the University, the Wat, gives bonus culture along with the university's very strong boost to science production. In Brave New World, getting the Jesuit Education reformation belief for your religion allows a city with that religion to buy science buildings with Faith. If Siam could get this belief in their cities, they can faith buy a University and construct a Wat in the same city, leading to a science output that puts even Babylon and Korea, the game's resident Science civs, to shame. Firaxis was quick to fix this after Brave New World came out, but the fix allowed any civto faith-buy a Wat with Jesuit Education (and all except Siam could still build a University on top of it). This problem with the fix was also fixed quickly.
In V, Great War Bombers can be considered this. If one civ reaches Flight even slightly before other civs do, they'll have a decisive advantage for quite some time. At the time Flight is researched there is nothing on the ground or in the sea that can counter them effectively; it's only once other civs reach Flight that they can build Triplanes to intercept bombing runs from GW Bs, but by that time their ground armies have already been blown to dust by the bombers. It doesn't help that ground and sea units with high effectiveness against GW Bs, such as dedicated anti-aircraft guns and destroyers, come some techs later than Flight in the tech tree.
May He make His face shed light upon you and be gracious unto you
May He lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace.
As it turns out, this blessing is delivered while making the sign of the letter Shin in a specific way...a way upon which the devoutly-Jewish Nimoy based the Vulcan salute ("Live long and prosper!").
Goddamned Bats: Barbarians are usually this if they're not Demonic Spiders, forcing you to always send garrison with settlers and having to construct and send out military units to destroy their camps if they get too close to your borders and start killing your workers and destroying your terrain improvements. Even on the first rounds of the game they are never going to be able to fight their way past any city defender unless they outnumber you some 10-to-1 (and even then depending on levels), but again, killing workers and destroying terrain improvements, they're still going to annoy you.
Barbarians are kicked up a level in the Brave New World expansion for V. There are more of them, and if they are anywhere in the path of a trade route and no civilized unit is watching them, they will plunder the trade route, take the unit that took ~8 turns to build, and convert it into another barbarian!
In an eerily literal example, one of the expansion packs to III includes a fascist government type; immediately after a civilization adopts fascism, it suffers a slight population loss for a few turns, presumably as 'undesirables' are, ahem, purged by the Secret Police.
Forced labor (present in several forms of government in the same game, and under the Slavery civic in IV) has pretty much the same connotation. More liberal forms of government replace this method with the standard option to rush-build things by throwing enough money at it.
Razing towns kills its entire population. Although capitals can never be razed, so it's not possible to kill off entire races... in V. Before that, the games allowed, even encouraged genocide. Of course, you could always just assume that the displaced citizens are merely cast out into the countryside as their homes are burnt to the ground, which is still not all that great either.
It's Easy, so It Sucks: V got some of this attitude because it streamlined a fair amount of gameplay nuances. A big part of why the expansion packs were well-received was the re-insertion of many mechanics.
"Spearman beats Tank."Explanation A very annoying phenomenon in all the games, but most noticed in III, is for supposedly obsolete units to get very lucky with the Random Number Generator and survive wave after wave of technologically superior units.
"BUILD CITY WALLS!"Explanation The Military Advisor in II was very passionate about this.
"Never trust an Aztec with nukes!" As discussed here, this one probably dates back all the way to the BBS days. Explanation The Aztecs have, in every game, been a very aggressive civilization who will seemingly use nuclear weapons at the first provocation, or even without any warning whatsoever.
V: "Montezuma's peace theme doesn't actually play in-game."
TV Tropes is a hypercube wiki. Explanation Venice in the Brave New World expansion was first hinted at as a civ that was not just "outside the box" but outside the entire hypercube. It turned out to be fairly unique but still subject to pretty much all of the rules. Now any civilization\tactic\thing that's even remotely non-standard is given the hypercube label by fans.
Memetic Psychopath: "Nuclear Ghandi". Provides the main page's pic. Any aggressive civ leader, especially Montezuma, Atilla, and Shaka, get this treatment as well.
Nightmare Fuel: IV had a mod for Beyond the Sword called Next War. It's pretty much 1984 in video game form, with superpowers at constant war with each other and mind control centers (Ministry of Love and Room 101, anyone?), for instance.
Power Creep, Power Seep: A risk that every expansion runs. As new mechanics are added, older civilizations may not be able to perform the same playstyle as effectively. In V, a major example of this is Ghandi and India. Meant for the vanilla game's "build tall" style that cultural victory used and even considered a game breaker at one point, now is considered one of the worst civs because of the change in how cultural victories work.
Scrappy Mechanic: The removal of unit stacking in V has had a mixed reception, but one headache resulting is that it kills unit pathfinding. If you tell Unit A and Unit B to both make for the same hex tile, and Unit A gets there first, Unit B will ask for new orders. Imagine if you did that to your entire 15-unit army. The micromanaging is a nightmare, especially when combined with an interface bug that makes Fortified units unselectable once auto-move orders have been executed.
Trade routes being plundered in V: Brave New World. The unit for a trade route moves by itself. If a barbarian or enemy unit reaches the trade unit with any moves remaining, they can plunder it. If a trade unit runs into a barbarian or enemy unit, it can be plundered automatically. Upon being plundered, you lose the trade unit which takes 10 turns or more to build in the early game. On paper, this makes sense; can't have a caravan or cargo ship moving around undefended. The scrappy part is that it's not enough to have a ship nearby that can see your trade unit; it must be right on the same space to keep it protected. Just escorting a normal civilian unit with a military unit is more work than it needs to be (both units have to be manually moved turn-by-turn to make sure they don't split up), but with an automated trade unit, the problem becomes worse. Having an escort action (where military units attempt to stay with a specific civilian unit) would help a lot. Oh, and if barbarians take your trade route, it turns into a barbarian military unit!
The other civilizations love to butt in while you're deep in thought, planning, or an all-out war. There is no isolationist option for the game to play uninterrupted. In IV you could set up a game with no AI to play against, but this was again dropped in V.
If you accept an offer of friendship from Civilization A just to make them go away, you often find yourself immediately contacted by civs B, C, and D one after the other, each saying "I see you've become friends with A, I have done the same. Perhaps great things can come from this alliance in the future!", or conversely "I hate A, don't get too friendly with them or we'll have problems getting along" (not helped by the fact that you can't check diplomatic status when asked to declare friendship, and rejecting prevents you from proposing friendship with them for quite a few turns).
The logic routines used by UI in V to decide which units you should give orders to first is... Well, suffice it to say that you should get used to giving the wrong orders to wrong units, and to watching your screen go whizzing halfway around the globe. Sometimes twice, if you managed to give a command to the unit you actually care about while the game tries to foist some Worker Unit on you instead. It's actually very annoying how often the game will announce you have a new unit ready and then activate a different unit instead of the one it just told you about, making you send warriors to resources and workers into warzones.
That One Achievement: "Conquest of the World" in V, which requires you to win via a Domination Victory as Greece by 350 BC. Even if you play on a Duel size map (which is highly recommended for this achievement), there is still a lot of luck involved in what resources your city spawns near, what enemy you get and their playstyle, and how fast you can build up your military so you can both destroy your enemy and meet the deadline, all while ensuring your own civilization's economy doesn't collapse.
Tier-Induced Scrappy: Once civilizations started having unique qualities and traits (which started in III), this became inevitable. As of V, the losers are Napoleon, whose trait, while very useful in the early-mid game, has an expiration date (though Napoleon is unique among playable leaders for his career ending in defeat...), and Suleiman of the Ottomans, whose ability to convert Barbarian boats to your control looks lame in comparison to the German ability to do that to land units (though a patch balanced things out by giving the Ottomans greatly reduced naval maintenance costs as well).
It tends to boil down more to which playstyle people should pursue as them. Many civs have unique traits and units that help a lot early on and then taper off into nothingness, which encourages aggressive expansion or conquest in those early stages.
In Brave New World, Napoleon and France were reworked. They lose one of their unique units (the Foreign Legion, which becomes a unit only available for civs following the Freedom ideology) and get a unique improvement that boosts culture. Their new trait plays off the offensive cultural system, instead of giving passive bonuses until an arbitrary cutoff date.
Unfortunate Implications: In Civilization V, two of the policy trees are "Piety" and "Rationalism"... fair enough, except that the game will not allow you to pursue both at the same time. The Brave New World expansion would avert this trope by lifting the restrictions.
Prior to the October 2013 patch, Germany and Japan both had purely war-focused unique powers and units in Civ V. The patch gave Japan bonuses for fishing and changed Germany's medieval unit into an improved bank, to give the two countries a more varied palette.
One can argue that unlike Hitler, there is no such stigma attached to the names of Stalin and Mao in their respective home countries. Mao is still held in high regard in modern China as the founder of the People's Republic.
Furthermore, if being involved in wars and/or mass killings prevents a person from being included in the game, staples like Napoleon, Alexander, Julius Caesar, Genghis Khan and other historical conquerors shouldn't be in the series either.
Interestingly, they abandoned Stalin for Catherine The Great and Mao for Wu Zetian (the only Chinese Empress) in V. Mao was also removed from the Chinese version of IV, replaced by Emperor Tang Taizong.
A few folks on the Civfanatics board have argued for the inclusion of AyatollahKhomeini as a Persian leader, particularly when it was announced that Persia would get a second leader in one of the expansions of IV. The argument in the latter case was that he wasn't nearly as bad as Stalin or Mao and that having Darius and Cyrus was Achaemenid overkill.
This is probably because a Civ game containing Hitler likely couldn't be sold in any country that has banned Nazi iconography. He's a logical choice, given Civ's policy of choosing leaders for how much they impacted a nation and how well known they are, but it's hardly worth losing sales over. Besides, it's highly debateable as to whether he had a greater long-term impact on Germany than Otto von Bismarck or Frederick the Great.
Woolseyism: The SNES version of Civ I changes the traditional opening to a goddess charging the player to make his civilization greater than all others. If the player wins by wiping out all other nations the goddess reappears and congratulates the player.