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.
Within V, the second expansion, Brave New World, made the game feel a little more like its predecessors by offering trade routes, a UN-style World Council, a culture victory based on influencing other civs instead of merely building up your own, and trade caravans that enable trade between cities, even ones outside of your civ. While celebrated by much of the fanbase, all of these features add a great deal of micromanagement and, depending on who you ask, don't do enough to make the game more interesting, and may even water it down. Certain elements that were slowly balanced in patches over the vanilla game and the first expansion were thrown out of balance (e.g. the Tradition policy is indirectly much more powerful than before because of trade routes and AI behaviour), and patching activity has been minor after the release of BNW, presumably because the dev team is busy with Civilization: Beyond Earth.
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.
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 half their health 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.
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 III', IV, and 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.
Even worse is when the uranium appears right beneath one of your own cities...
In Civilization II one of the wonders you can build is the SETI Program. The short film that plays when you complete it show two grey aliens at the end. They are the exact same design as the sectoids from the original X-COM!
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, dealt with 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.
As of the Gods & Kings expansion for V, hostile leaders with nukes will occasionally exclaim this in diplomacy.
"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."Explanation A tongue-in-cheek "bug report" based on the same phenomenon as the above.
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". His threat that "Our words are backed by NUCLEAR WEAPONS!" provides the main page's image (and no, that isn't Photoshopped). 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.
There was a fan petition during inital works around V to add Poland as one of the Civs. It managed to collect 7351 signatures (but failing to reach the goal of 10 thousands).
It should be also noted that the final product of V is loathed by Polish fandom. And not because there was no Poland in it.
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 India. Its unique ability, "Population Growth", halves penalties for number of citizens in exchange for doubling penalties for number of cities. It was meant for the vanilla game's "build tall" style that cultural victory used, and was even considered a Game Breaker at one point, but with the Brave New World expansion it came to be considered one of the worst civs because of the change in how cultural victories work.
Also from V, there's America's unique ability, "Manifest Destiny", which cut the cost of buying tiles in half. Come the Brave New World expansion, you have the Shoshone's unique ability, "Great Expanse", which gave every newly-founded city eight free tiles. This thoroughly outclassed America's unique ability, which many fans felt should have been beefed up in Brave New World to make up for it.
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.
Unit stacking is problematic for military units, but it's completely killing management of your civilians, most importantly - workers. From I to IV, it was possible to stack your workers, so they could finish tile improvements faster, meaning that laying rails or expanding in later stages of game could be done very fast, if not instantly with sufficient numbers of workers. By V, you can only use one worker per tile, meaning that no matter how advanced you are and how big your empire is, tile improvements take (sometimes literally) ages. It's even more glaring when you consider that some backward Iron Age civ is building its improvements almost at the same rate as the Next Sunday A.D. empire spanning two continents.
Trade routes being plundered in 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 unit 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. 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.
"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.
Unless, of course, you play one of the five tutorial maps, which technically count as a Domination Victory upon completion. You still have to keep restarting until you're randomly assigned Greece, though.
While fairly luck-based, a Domination Victory is NOT actually required for the achievement: the criteria to complete it reads "As Alexander, defeat every known player by 350BC". 'Every known player' refers only to the players whom you have met at any point in the game. So if you were playing on a Continents map and found yourself sharing it with a single other civ, then provided you're lucky enough to not meet anyone else before you can conquer them, it counts.
In BNW, "City of Lights," which requires you to have 1) the Louvre 2) in Paris 3) with a Full Set Bonus, which involves 4) two Artifacts and two works of Art, all from different ages and civilizations. The Art is easy to swap, but the only way to get an artifact that isn't from the Ancient age is to engage in a war of conquest or run into barbarians that haven't been killed off yet, fight a bunch of battles, and then cross your fingers. (At least your ruler is renowned for his warfighting abilities.)
Also in BNW, "Raiders of the Lost Ark", which requires you to play as America and have one of your Archaeologists extract an artifact in Egyptian lands while a German Archaeologist is within two tiles. While it is a nice homage to Indiana Jones, its ridiculously specific requirements usually means that you'll probably never achieve this through normal gameplay without the help of other people online through multiplayer playing along with you to help you gain the achievement.
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).
Theodora and Byzantium's unique ability in V (1 bonus belief when founding a religion) is considered underpowered. Since Byzantium (especially in higher difficulties) needed a lot of work just to get a religion, it does not help that both of it's unique units can go obsolete quickly and the promotions lack firepower.
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.
In Brave New World, India was not reworked to take advantage of the new offensive cultural system. The old Culture Victory system rewarded civs with a small number of well-developed cities, a strategy India was specifically geared towards: it has its "Large City" penalties halved and its "Many Cities" penalty doubled. The new Tourism system is dependent on generating large numbers of Great Mediamakers, which is easier with... many cities. Its unique building does generates Tourism, but in the end it still doesn't have a viable strategy.
In IV, the soundtrack for the Ancient and Classical periods come from a variety of cultures, including African and East Asian. However, unlike in ''III', beginning with the Medieval period, all the tracks are from Western composers.
In 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. No longer the case as of Brave New World, however.
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.