Follow TV Tropes


Headscratchers / Civilization

Go To

  • In II, Fundamentalism is the result of scientific research.
    • Seems reasonable enough; for example, creationism as a political position would not have existed were the theory of evolution not to have come into existence.
    • Also, most "scientific research" in Civ is not "science" in a "scientific method" way. And Fundamentalism is not non-knowledge; while they are mostly spread violently, fundamentalist belief-systems are still the result of intellectual work. A bad theory is still a result from (bad) research, right?
      • Fridge Brilliance — Fundamentalism is, at its core, a reaction to, and rejection of, Modernism.
    • Advertisement:
    • Fixed in V, where scientific discoveries are limited to what would make sense as such, and social policies are discovered by accumulating culture instead.
  • It just bugs me that Baba Yetu, from '05, is nominated for an '11 Grammy.
    • Only after they ignored the fact that it was from a game...
      • It's one more step towards games being respected as artistic medium.
    • The Grammy it won was for the new orchestration and arrangement for Tin's new album.
  • In the Space Victory cinematic in 4, as the person is looking out of the spaceship's viewport, a meteorite (more popularly known as shooting star) or two can be seen. This bugs me because meteorites only light up like that when travelling through an atmosphere, and the spaceship is, you know, in space. Without an atmosphere. Small, but annoying nonetheless.
    • Maybe they're comets?
  • Is anyone else bemused by how Christianity or Islam are almost NEVER is the religion of the dominant world powers? Polytheism (represented by Hinduism) and Buddhism are almost inevitably the dominant religions of any Civ IV game thanks to being discovered (and spread) first. By the time later religions come along, it takes way too much effort to convert people to them, and it's actively a bad idea since most rival nations have settled on the first 2-3 religions.
    • The religion mechanic is wonky at best because of cultural considerations, and we should leave it at that.
      • There are mods that alter the religion mechanic to actually give special bonuses to various religions, specifically to balance out the time difference. The game designers just figured it would avoid a whole lot of problems if they made all religions equal and minimized their effects.
    • What's really weird is that Polytheism and Buddhism are always discovered first (assuming that's the case). Everything else happens randomly with no regard to actual history.
      • Not necessarily. I was just playing (albeit with a mod) and discovered, in order, Khmeticism, Hinduism, Hellenism, Buddhism and Christianity. ...wait, ok, yeah, that's weird. I mean, others were totally discovered by other people, but the first things I discovered were four types of polytheism and buddhism.
    • Advertisement:
    • Even without mods the game has the "choose religions" option that allows you to select the religion you found instead of getting one associated with a tech. The AI in this case chooses the "favourite religion" of its leader. This usually results in a more varied and less predictable set of religions, although there's a slight emphasis on Christianity, then, since most leaders are from European religion and many of the early founders (like Isabella and Justinian) prefer Christianity.
      • Which gets kinda weird if you found Islam before Christianity or Christianity before Judaism, given they're branches of each other...
      • No less odd than founding Buddhism before Hinduism, which can happen even without the option enabled.
    • Not really? While early-founded religions have advantage of more "organic" growth, later ones needs direct intervention (usually by player or lucky AI) - which mirrors how Christianity and Islam came to power. In other words, adopting faith later gives you extra incentive to spread it via conquest/extensive evangelism, just like Muhammad or Christian kings of Europe did.
  • What is the point of building ironclads in 5? They're a dead-end unit with no lead-ins and no upgrades. There was no reason they couldn't have a frigate upgrade to an ironclad, which then upgrades to a destroyer. Yes, the ironclads in the game can only move in coastal waters, but that is not the case of all ironclads in Real Life. Yes, the American audience associates ironclads with the Monitor (used in 3) and the Virginia (used in 4 and 5), and those couldn't handle oceans. But there's no reason they couldn't use the British Warrior-class ironclads as examples, which were ocean-going. While playing, this troper specifically avoids building units that cannot be upgraded and will become useless in later periods, such as scouts and the above-mentioned ironclads. Thankfully, there are mods to fix this oversight.
    • the idea should be that non-upgradable units and buildings bring your civ more bang for the buck while they're relevant. Not saying that Ironclads follow this though.
    • Ironclads were patched to upgrade to battleship AFAIK.
    • They also changed the look of the ironclads in a patch.
    • Fixed in Gods & Kings: Ironclads now travel at a good speed on coast, on the ocean but slower, are a significant strength upgrade from the Privateer, and upgrade to Destroyers.
  • Why do resources like pig and crab provide food bonuses to civs with Judaism or Islam? Or cow for Hinduism?
    • Dang, that would actually work well for gameplay too, having some resources that are forbidden or particularly good to a religion, forcing the player to decide whether the resource or the religion is more important, and (for the "good" resources) making resource trading (to use an overly-friendly word) between religious rivals more tempting.
    • You can do things with pigs and cows other than eat them or turn them into clothing. Perhaps these religions get a bonus because the surplus allows them to increase trade output? More trade income = more goat burgers and stuff.
    • Hindus use cows for milk (in fact, milk is actually a necessary part of various religious ceremonies; besides, fresh milk tastes good).
      • Besides that, Hinduism has no hard and fast rule that cows should not be eaten.
    • Maybe they're reform Jews...
    • Real life religions usually had local reasons for their food taboos. It could be down to the alternate universe having a different set of taboos or perhaps differing variants including Loophole Abuse. Several Muslim cultures didn't fall into dietary orthodoxy for centuries after conversion considered boar distinct from pigs, including Muslim Spain for its whole existence and a 'domesticated boar' would be effectively a pig but bred to not violate their own religious classifications.
    • It's pretty obvious that the religions in Civ 4 are meant to be Cosmetically Different Sides of sorts (to avoid Unfortunate Implications and Flame Bait), so they avoided drawbacks for Judaism and Islam as an Acceptable Break from Reality.
  • How exactly does making the United Nations lead to a victory, not trying to insult the United Nations, but they aren't that powerful.
    • Cultural is even better; three highly cultured cities and you win (although, unlike Diplomatic, it doesn't explicitly make you world leader, just the winner of the game).
    • The victory isn't making the United Nations, but rather getting elected leader of the world. I guess the idea is that the UN isn't that powerful, but the combined power of the nations that vote you in are.
      • For all intents and purposes, when you get so elected in the Diplomatic Victory, you've turned the UN into a true One World Government, under your iron (or velvet) fist.
      • The poster didn't specify which Civ. In Civilization Revolution, you do just build the UN, no voting necessary. (And that's the Cultural Victory for it. The magic number for the ability to build it is 20: Number of settled Great People + Number of "flipped" cities (i.e., cities that become yours because they like your culture so much) + Number of Wonders built.)
    • It's simply a simplified representation of power through diplomatic and cultural hegemony rather than military force; sort of like how in real life, the United States has achieved global superpower status not just because of a massive military presence (although it does have that) but how it's traditionally been able to exert a lot of diplomatic power over other nations without even needing to really enforce that military power. Similarly, American cultural power comes from the fact that millions of people around the world watch American movies and TV programs, listen to American music, read American books, and so forth — and in doing so, are exposed to a lot of American ideas, where conversely their own native culture might not wield the same influence either over America or their own citizens. Within the game, you are recognized as so powerful and influential that your diplomatic skills can convince your rivals to do anything (such as, say, all but elect you as the leader of the world, essentially), and / or that your nation's cultural products influence the entire world.
    • Also, the real United Nations are not very powerful because the nations in it disagree a lot. When you've won the diplomatic victory, you've made sure they did.
  • Why do railroads make units move x times faster? Well yeah, they could've taken the train but... why do tanks and cavalry ride faster trains than infantry?
    • The military uses specially equipped trains for armored vehicle transport when airlifts are not possible. Most of the time they're disassembled on the way and reassembled back.
    • This one actually makes a little more sense in the older games, where the range of any unit is only bound by the length of track itself. Sure, effectively infinite movement isn't balanced, but at least it's relatively consistent.
  • Okay, I understand that it's part of Acceptable Breaks from Reality to give each nation a recognizable face for the player, but... how do you justify leaders being immortal?
    • ...Naturally abnormal humans? Subtle use of disguise and illusions? Some well-guarded secret? Or, the fact that if they did bother to implant an "aging" process with several leaders per civs with historical coherence, not only would it have been a highly complicated, data-heavy and "resources"-consuming feature in an already "thick" game; it would also have been nigh impossible to choose all the leaders without creating some debates, or worse?
    • Civ 5's intro monologues imply that the whole game is set in some kind of, I dunno... alien experiment, where historical leaders are resurrected and given a chance to rule again.
      • Considering that the other leaders are aware of the fact that it is a game, there is turns, etc, it would make sense.
    • Maybe they keep having identical-looking children and naming them the same? Or maybe they are some kind of immortal demi-gods and that's why they were chosen to lead their people in the first place.
    • A number of civilizations in the game, for all intents and purposes, don't exist in all the eras the game portrays, most obviously the United States existing in 4000 BC. It's bad enough the game would have to come up with 6000 years' worth of leaders even if they would just need one per turn early on; if it's completely unavoidable that some would be placed in the wrong era, that's another thing altogether. In any case, considering that many of the governmental forms imply there must be a succession of leaders of some kind (especially the democratic forms), you can think of the leaders as a kind of abstraction of each nation's government, or as the "God" or "guiding hand" behind each nation just as you are yours.
    • Perhaps hyper-longevity is normal in Civ, at least in Civilization Revolution. Start a game on Chieftain, because you get a free Warrior unit from the outset in 4000 B.C.. This same unit can survive all the way to the end in 2100 A.D.. That alone is 6100 years, and we don't even know when the three people in the unit were born.
    • The leaders are Immortals, and Civilization is the story of if The Game was a clash of mortal followers of an Immortal leader instead of one-on-one sword fights taking place in the shadows.
  • Many players complain about historical leaders being too "gamey" in Civ5 like hating the player who goes for the same type of victory. But why? The game is not a sandbox like Europa Universalis, both player and AI has clear goals. Previous Civs were silly cause AI could willingly give away victory (f.e. with voting for you in UN). And the first game that truly tries to be competetive, with AI that wins not by accident but by achieving specific goal is not praised for a change but hated?!
    • It's not the competitive aspect that bothered people, it's that they say, "We think you're trying to win the game the same way we are." It breaks the immersion when the AI says it is a game.
    • This has been removed as of (I think) "Gods and Kings", but the issue wasn't just immersion, it's also that they had no pragmatic reason to do this. Say you're playing a competitive multiplayer game. Say you're going the culture route, Mr. B is also going the culture route, Ms. C is going the diplomatic route, and Mr. D is conquering Mr. B's cities. Are you going to see Mr. B as a bigger problem than Ms. C, or especially Mr. D, based on that information? Probably not. But the AI did. The only way the "same way you are" reasoning would make sense is if there could only be one winner for each of the victory types, but in actuality, there can be only one winner period. Another reason why this was disliked: the AI would think you're tying to win in one way about 20 turns into the game when you really had another victory in mind, if any.
    • For the record, the AI has pursued specific win conditions in Civ IV as well.
  • In Civ 5, why do Giant Death Robots require Uranium to build and operate when the enabling technology is nuclear fusion?
    • It's good game mechanics, it helps keep the Giant Death Robot a limited unit, instead of a unit you can make 50 of on top of all your nukes. But beyond that, this is actually a case of Fridge Brilliance. You could never power a giant robot with a Deuterium-Tritium reactor, because there's very damaging radiation, and it produces heat, not electricity, it'd actually be a steam powered robot. But Helium3+Helium3 is aneutronic (neutrons are the hardest radiation to shield from, because they can create radioactive isotopes when they impact against the shield), and it can produces electricity directly, instead of via a steam turbine. How do you make Helium 3? With a fission reactor. That uranium is going to the process of nuclear alchemy to make the actual GDR fuel.
  • Of all things archery is the prerequisite tech required to research the wheel, in Civ5. What's with that?
    • Because it causes even more problems if you can build horse archers without archery. The first option makes little sense, but the second option is a pure impossibility.
      • You mean chariot archers? Anyway they could've done it so that both are needed to make chariot archers, but neither is a requirement for the other.
      • Note that the above solution is exactly what they did in 4.
    • The whole ancient tech tree is a case of Gameplay and Story Segregation in itself as by the starting technologies were ubiquitous for millennia even by 4000 BC.
  • In 4, the developers deliberately avoided giving the different religions in game special bonuses since they didn't want to cause any offense to members of the faiths. However, in the Middle Ages campaigns added to 3 in the Conquest expansion pack, they had no problem with having a separate 'Christian' and 'Islamic' Tech Tree for the Arab and European nations (With the Islamic Tech Tree consisting almost exclusively of military advancements, while the Christian one more focused on civil development). So if it didn't cause any problems in 3, why were the developers worried about it in 4?
    • Do we actually know that it didn't cause problems in 3? If it did cause problems, that would handily explain the change in 4.
    • In V, you choose a religion but also choose the beliefs associated with it, so all religions are treated equally until the players get their hands on them. However, some of the beliefs are for religious buildings, and each building is different. Pagodas provide more happiness, mosques are more cultural, etc. Technically, the buildings aren't tied to any religion (Christianity can claim pagodas, for example).
    • As I recall, the Islamic civs in the Middle Ages scenario also had access to lost Roman knowledge, filling in the gap in their builder techs while the Christian nations had to start from scratch. The whole scenario was meant to model a specific point in world history, so maybe that's why making the two sides different in that case was less problematic than doing so for IV's main game, which is supposed to model any permutation of human history.
  • Why do units not stack? Yeah, game mechanics and so on, but does my road construction team have to take up an entire city and prevent, say, Albert Einstein from stopping there for the night? Does a team of stone-age archers really take up so much room in a 20th century capital city (don't ask why i kept them around) that I can't squeeze in a squad of marines?
    • On that note, though, you can still fit 635 stealth bombers in one city.
    • Unit stacking was done away with to eliminate once and for all the infamous Stack of Doom, an unstoppable stack of powerful units that could usually only truly be countered by your own Stack of Doom. V chose a bit of an awkward way to handle it, truth be told.
    • Seconding the above. In Ye Olden Days (I and II), Stacks of Doom had a fairly simple counter: If you attacked a stack and defeated the strongest defender, then as long as the stack was outside a City or Fortress, all units in the stack died. It didn't eliminate stacking, but it did make you think much more about composition and disposition.
    • In some sense, the best solution may be something like what the spin-off Call to Power did. In C 2 P 2, there was a limit as to how many units could be in a single square, which was greater than Civ V's one but no higher than 12.
    • Worse than that earlier versions had AI which clearly showed that it expected to be able to stack its units.
  • In IV and V, why does culture of all things determine the expansion of your borders?
    • It may be part Acceptable Break from Reality and part game balance. On the flip side, a city that's pumping out culture is a city that is well off enough to not worry where their next meal is coming from, thus allowing the city to put more effort into expanding. Horrid explanation, I know, but it makes sense if you squint at it sideways.
    • That is you border of influence. As the culture of your city grows, so does the influence you have on that city's surroundings.
    • Pure reproduction and conquest also doesn't account for a civilization's growth, instead it is a matter of representing assimilation. Minor peoples and tribes may implicitly occupy the 'uncultured' tiles.
  • Why is the Satrap's Court in 'V', a representation of a pre-Roman form of government, the replacement for a Renaissance-era building? Wouldn't it make more sense for it to replace the Market?
    • Persia in V represents not just the Achaemenid Empire, but the entirety of Persian history; their leader is an Achaemenid Shah, but their theme is a reimagining of Morq-e Sahar, which comes from 20th century Iran, and the Immortals served as Persian honour guard up until the Islamic Revolution. It is possible that the Satrap's Court in V represents not the Achaemenid satraps, but rathers those of the Sassanids or the Safavids.
  • So you've just built, say, a water mill, which adds good stuff to your city. Well... why can't we build another? Why not build 20 factories and 20 markets?
    • Water mills specifically have diminishing returns to the energy extraction, a matter of annoyance in early industrial revolution when a rival opens up another factory which uses it up the river.
    • Presumably you did, and it's just an abstraction. You can assume that the citizens add more water mills or factories as necessary as the city grows.
    • Presumably the 'market' or the 'factory' you build is just a representation of the first market or factory that's built in that particular city.
  • Why does the Dead Sea Natural Wonder in 6 act as a fresh water source for a city? It's in the name, its the DEAD SEA. It's much saltier than any ocean! And for that matter why does the Ocean count as fresh water either?
    • It's for gameplay purposes, but yes, it's ridiculous. I didn't know Ocean also counted; why don't they just call the benefit "water source" instead of "fresh water source"?
    • Actually, I believe the ocean does not count as a fresh water source, and that a city on the coast receives less housing than one adjacent to a lake or river. But that said, it is strange that the Dead Sea gives you fresh water when the ocean does not.
    • Fixed with the Gathering Storm Expansion
  • In Civilization Revolution, at least, three of the Techs are: Alphabet, Writing, and Literacy, each a prerequisite for the next, according to the Civlopedia. "I've got it! An alphabet! But wait, I can't make its symbols stay around... guess this alphabet is getting lost to mists of time before anyone else can even learn it!" Years pass. "Oh, hey, what if I make grooves in clay in these specific patterns? Then I can record an alphabet! ...Still can't decipher what it says, or even if it says anything..."
    • Perhaps each represents the evolution of your nation's main language - after all, the Romans didn't speak Italian, instead speaking in Latin. Alphabet could be discovery of Latin or some other language; Writing could be the evolution into a primitive version of your nation's main tongue, and literacy could be the final evolution of said language.
    • Based on what you can do with Writing and Literature (establish embassies and build libraries, respectively), I'm going to guess that Literature is a mix of (1) a technological innovation, such as books or scrolls, that lets you keep long texts in one piece, and (2) people realizing that writing down a single book-length epic or treatises on math/science/etc. is a worthwhile thing to do. Similarly, Writing is probably (1) clay tablets, pieces of paper, or some other object invented for the specific purpose of writing on it, and (2) the idea that you can write down instructions and offers and basically anything you can say, and thus send letters to your embassy. Alphabet on its own doesn't do anything (at least not in III), so that's probably writing that's either non-portable (inscriptions on stone buildings), non-permanent (scratching marks on the ground), or single purpose (e.g., Alphabet is how to keep tax records, and it's not until Writing that they figure out how to write any word rather than a handful of specialized signs for how much taxable stuff you have and how much tax you owe).
    • Writing predated fixed alphabets, hieroglyphics are essentially an example of a 'pre-alphabet' writing with inconsistent meanings and may have some implicit lack of standardization. Alphabet implies standardization into something consistent with glyphs of the era, no ambiguity if an ibis and reed literally refers to the bird or plant or a symbolic value. Literacy also implies enough societal resources for a substantial portion to be capable of reading instead of just an upper caste.
    • Civ 2 has the same sequence as well. Literacy after writing makes sense, literacy seems to represent ,ore widespread literacy in a society, instead of just a small group of scribes doing the writing, so it makes sense writing would come first. Alphabet before writing is weirder, but Civ 2 has some other advances like this, where a specific sounding name actually represents stages of a more general idea (Ceremonial burial, for instance, isn't just "having nice funerals" but really represents "early religion in general".), so its possible Alphabet was supposed to represent the earliest, simplest writing or other information storage, while writing represents more fully developed writing systems.
  • Many of the leader agendas in Civ VI don't make a ton of sense. A lot of them seem to involve the leader in question liking the player if you're muscling in on their field. For example, Harald will like you more if you have a strong navy. Shouldn't he like you less if you're trying to challenge his naval supremacy?
    • If you have a strong navy, then Harald probably thinks of you as a Worthy Opponent.
    • The idea of the Agendas is to incentivize the AI to behave in ways that play to their strengths—in this case, by being more likely to go to war against those without a strong navy, Harald is encouraged to leverage naval supremacy in coastal raids. Notably, in the upcoming Rise and Fall expansion, Ghengis Khan's agenda does work the way you describe, disliking those who compete with him for cavalry—because he has the ability to capture enemy cavalry, so it's to his advantage to go to war with other strong cavalry Civs.
    • If they consider it important to their strategy they'll consider it more respectable. Vikings thought higher of boats than horses (which were also more practical for their climate), generally European nobility have their coat of arms on shields and considered archery for trained peasants as opposed to case of Asian nobility who considered it part of their warrior identity.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: