So, the first thing about CtP2 military tactics that’s different from Civ 3 is to never be overconfident because of the technological edge – always bring sufficient numbers of attackers. In Civ 3, the common way to move troops is the Stack of Doom – have a ton of units stacked in one tile, and move them towards cities methodically. In CtP2, the maximal number of units in a tile is 12. Therefore, you need to approach in a more spread-out manner, and you must make use of roads. Roads work for your troops just as well as the enemy, regardless of where the roads are, your land, enemy or neutral. So taking control of a road is crucial, denying your enemy quicker movement through that road without needing to confront your stack. Also, in Civ 3, you see every square having a road at some point, while that’s not the case in CtP2, because Public Works aren’t that abundant and need to be spent with care. So, you will see few roads, especially early on, that will normally be between cities. Moving across a road gives you big advantage in mobility.
Bombard units are more versatile in CtP2. Most good ranged units can bombard – and if an enemy stack of 12 includes 5 or 6 bombardment units, that should be no surprise, yet the stack is strong. In Civ 3, bombard units are weak in small numbers, but create a possible exploit or, rather, a pushover strategy for the human player. That would be to build masses and masses of bombard units (works best with Artillery due to bombard range of two squares), bring them to enemy city, bombard all units town to 1 HP, easily take it. Such an approach is for slow conquest, but basically assures low losses. In CtP2, you can also bombard enemy cities before attacking them, but beware of counterbombardment from within the city – or if you have a stack composed only of bombardment units, it will fall to a more balanced stack.
Similarily, navy is more useful in CtP2. In fact, the low usefulness of ships is a common complaint about Civ 3, where having a strong navy doesn’t indeed do much and little water combat takes place. In CtP, navies are important at least because they can pirate trade routes, but there’s also the important fact that there are water tile improvements, such as fisheries. When at war, enemy ships can pillage your water improvements – and if you don’t have a navy to defend them, then a few cheap ships can damage the growth or commerce of some of your cities significantly by just pillaging those improvements. So you need a navy to protect your tile improvements and possibly pillage those of the enemy. Of course, like all other CtP2 units, ships have different abilities. First there are only transport and combat ships, one of each type, but then two combat ships exist at some point – Ship of the Line, a good medieval ship, and the Ironclad – more powerful, but slower. After that, also Destroyers, Submarines, PT Boats and Battleships come into play. Destroyers are mobile with good firepower and ability to defend themselves against air units. Submarines are good for their stealth ability. PT Boats are very fast and detect submarines, while Battleships have the most impressive firepower, but lack any special abilities and are poor against air units.
Government types and social sliders: The government types in CtP2 are more numerous than in Civ 3, and much more different. Depending on your government, you may get access to special units (such as the powerful Fascist infantry, or the Theocracy Clerics), and your government has impact on how tolerant your people are towards war, what’s your maximal number of cities before people become unhappy, and many other things.
Also, your nation is defined by the sliders of workday, rations and wages. You have sliders for each of these parameters. Increase workday, and your production goes up, decrease rations and the growth is more speedy, decrease wages and you get more gold in treasury and towards science. Obviously, your people won’t be happy about that, so to make them happier you can make other changes – like make a really short workday, lowering production, but at the same time lowering rations, for high growth – and happiness should be balanced. Depending on your government, people will have different expectations. For instance, under Democracy your people expect an 8 hour workday and pretty high wages. Under other governments, though, your people may be content with a longer working day.
This system puts you in better control of your empire, and you can make ‘pumps’ when you need to. For instance, put workday at the highest value, and set the Public Works rate to 90% (100% will probably render you unable to maintain your troops), and you will have an enormous number of PW coming in.
Future technologies: This is another very highly debated aspect of CtP2. Simply put, the game doesn’t nearly stop at the modern age with Tanks and Bombers. In CtP2, there are two more ages after Modern, the Genetic and the Diamond age. In these ages you get more sophisticated units and technologies. For instance, the Fusion Tank is an upgrade of the Tank that can not only travel by land, but also by coastal waters. Or, you get the ability to build undersea cities, that are typically very good sources of income. At the end of the technology tree, you also have access to a very difficult technological victory, where you have to also cover a good part of the planet by certain tile improvements.
The future ages are actually quite fun. They allow you to see how will the civilization develop under your rule – it might become a machine-centric technocracy, or a happy ecotopia with minimal pollution. Of course, the additional weapons are also an important factor.
You also get the ability to transport units through space – which means that they can arrive to any part of the map very quickly. CtP1 also had a space layer above the earth, where you could build space cities and wage war, but in CtP2 it has been removed.
Unconventional Warfare: This is a feature that has been argued a lot about. Many CtP-bashers point this out as a pretty ridiculous part of the game, though us, the CtP fans, like it. You’ll have to decide for yourself.
The basic idea is that there are some unconventional units that can damage your enemy without you formally declaring war on them. The first such available unit is the Slaver, which can capture enemy citizens and send them to one of your cities as Slaves. Later, you get Clerics that convert the citizens of enemy to your religion and thus provide you income, Lawyers who can file injunctions to halt enemy production, the versatile Spies who can initiate revolts in enemy cities, steal technology and even plant nuclear devices, and more. Unconventional units have the stealth ability, which means that they are not seen by normal units – only by other stealth units, unless a regular unit tries to move into a square occupied by a foreign stealth unit, in which case it is revealed.
Civ 3 basically lacks the aspect of espionage, and whatever there is, is done through a special screen. Civ 2 had the spy unit, but the system in CtP2 is much more advanced. Personally, I am a big fan of stealth units. It’s great to load some Spies on a helicopter, drop them in the middle of landmass of an advanced enemy civilization, and get all their technology you lack in a single turn.
Trade: The CtP2 trade system is completely different from that of Civ 3 and Civ 2. You build caravans in CtP2, but those are “virtual” – you never see them, they just contribute to the total number of caravans you have. Now, the map is scattered with various trade goods. When a city has access to a trade good, it can create a trade route with another friendly city – the trade route will require a different number of caravans depending on how far the two cities are, also, foreign trade routes require more caravans. Having these trade routes generates gold for you. As it stands now, the trade system might be a little bit hard to understand, or you ay at times even find that it does not offer enough rewards, but this is for the most part fixed in CtP2 modifications.
The above points summarize the main parts where CtP2 differs in gameplay, though there are many smaller things you will notice. For instance, pollution is harder to deal with and is thus more of a concern, naval battles are of bigger importance, etc. Now to give Civ 3 a fair credit, here are some things that Civ 3 does better.
Where Civ 3 is better
Trade: I believe, personally, that the idea of strategic resources is excellent. It can surely be developed even more than it is in Civ 3, but its implementation is better than having none. Also, it makes it really important for you to have roads and other trade connections before your cities. Basically, trade in Civ 3 is crucial, like in real life, while in CtP2 it remains a booster to income, at the expense of production spent to build the Caravans.
Diplomacy: Civ 3 has the most sophisticated diplomacy system, as virtually any deal can be offered. CtP2 still has the model where one thing might be offered and one demanded in an exchange. So, you can ask for Gunpowder in exchange for 5000 gold – that’s good. In Civ 3, though, you can ask for Gunpowder in exchange for your map, 3000 gold and 40 gold per turn. While the Civ 3 AI sometimes might apparently have a strange idea of what’s a fair deal, the system certainly works. On the upside, though, CtP2 has interesting treaties such as an agreement to reduce nuclear or biological armament, for instance.
Of course, there’s still a lot to wish for in the diplomacy system for either game, like deals with multiple parties involved, for instance.
Culture: Well, this is something absent in CtP2. I’m not saying that this is a perfect part of Civ 3 – the whole deal about culture flipping cities seems a little bit strange, especially the fact that your forces completely vanish if your city joins an enemy empire. I do, however, appreciate the fact that culture adds another aspect to Civ 3, something else to build, and another peaceful victory. I do, though, believe that this concept can really use some redesigning.
Concept interaction: I would have to say that the various concepts in Civ 3 work together better than in CtP2, with the exception of Civ 3 espionage, which sort of falls out of the game. In CtP2, though, sometimes you end up playing without using some things the game has to offer, or you sometimes may get the feeling that some concepts are maybe a little bit too isolated from the others. This is, however, a pretty subtle thing, and you may actually feel differently on this issue.
OK, so far, so good. I know that many civ players, myself included, put very high value on how good the AI in a game is. And, this is a pretty big topic, both for Civ 3 and CtP2. I’ll try to give some insight for possible basis so that you could compare the two games.
I have to say, first and foremost, that the AI that CtP2 ships with is weak. It may not seem so to you during your first CtP2 game, as you still don’t know the CtP2 strategies, which are after all different to those in Civ 3. However, regrettably, once you learn the basic strategies about the game, you will probably find the AI, even at the highest level, not competitive. Yes, it will defend its lands with all the production bonuses it gets, but it will never mount a good offensive against you, and you will soon build a much superior civilization and push him over with general better economics and far better planning.
This is one of the main reasons to use mods for CtP2 – I’ll have another section on mods later in this post, though, for more detail on the issue. For now, I’ll say that the various mods improve CtP2 AI dramatically. At the very least, AI follows a rather intelligent pattern when building its empire, and can defend it lands properly, periodically striking you, and dealing some damage. Also, in the better mods, the AI can actually do intercontinental invasions properly, and sometimes it will certainly surprise you with a pretty massive appearance of forces at your borders. Note that CtP2’s stacked combat means that you can’t expect to see 20 enemy units on the border, send 20 defensive units there and be sure that you will win. If the enemy pops up, say, with two 12-sized stacks, you need at least two 12-sized stacks of your own that would have proper composition of forces.
The Civ 3 AI is fairly competent. It can beat you even when you know the basic and some of the more advanced strategy. The AI will strike you at your weak points, and probably the best thing about it is that it will use all the tools the game has to offer – that is, bombardment, naval invasions, Marines, air power, diplomatic isolation through getting other civs to sign an embargo against you, etc. Also, you may notice that the AI can achieve significant success in war, but this is mainly because of the extremely simplistic combat system of Civ 3. If you have a border city defended with 3 units (more simply isn’t practical, usually), and the AI shows up near that city with a dozen attacking units backed up by half a dozen bombardment units, it shouldn’t come as a great surprise when you see the city fall. True, the Civ 3 AI knows some tactics, like it can actually strike you from two directions, but again, much of the possible fun that could come from there is negated by the relative simplicity of Civ 3.
In CtP2, conquest is harder because of stacked combat, the need to place tile improvements strategically, using the unconventional units, etc. And the AI can actually be rather effective at that – I have been hampered seriously by the AI unconventional units at times. Yet, the AI manages to provide a good challenge when you fight it, and it will take your capital and raze it if it’s given the chance.
Of course, both AIs have some pretty stupid flaws. For instance, the CtP2 AI will very often take a city of yours, and on the very next turn move all the units out of the city, leaving it empty and thus easy for you to recapture. While the Civ 3 AI, for instance, places an extremely high value on Workers, and it will usually capture your Worker instead of attacking and killing your unit – which is often bad, as, for instance, very late in the game killing that single unit would mean more than capturing a single worker. Also, I’ve noticed the Civ 3 AI being pretty ineffective if I set up a strong defense line at my border, with bombarding all his approaching units, and having a unit fortified at every tile of my border. Then, the CtP2 AI sometimes misses good opportunities to strike in the field and eliminate an attacking stack.
That should show that neither AI is perfect, and given the higher complexity of CtP2 AI, it actually does some very good things. Again, install one of the mods, and you shouldn’t be disappointed by the AI performance.
I would like to take the chance and give credit to Soren Johnson of Firaxis, who created the Civ 3 AI, alone. It is, in my opinion, an amazing work, and I have been amazed by the Civ 3 AI many times, when it dropped a transport of troops behind my lines or did similar things. For a programmer to accomplish this alone, while also having to work on other parts of the game, this is a most remarkable achievement.
Now, this is one area where CtP2 is undeniably superior to any other civ-game. First, it has almost all of its data stored in text files, that can of course be edited. Second, it feautures SLIC, a fully developed language for writing event scripts, enhancing the AI and doing many other things. Through the use of SLIC, many great scripts have been created, that improve the AI, add new feautures to the game, and so on.
Also, approximately half a year ago, in October 2003, the source code for CtP2 has been released. This gives the community complete access to the game, and thus it’s now possible to modify absolutely anything about it – though, clearly, it would be a massive undertaking. Yet, many bugs are already fixed, and pretty significant improvements are made to the game.
Over the years, many great mods have been developed for CtP2. You can refer to this thread to see a comprehensive list of the most important mods. I’d like to point out that the Cradle mod improves the AI a lot – beating it on the highest difficulty level is a feat that not everyone can accomplish. Also, the Apoyton Pack leaves the game quite similar to its original state, but it improves the AI, fixes bugs and addresses some of the most obvious balance issues in the original game.
How does the moddability compare to Civ 3? Well, unlike Civ 3, every rule can be edited. In Conquests, yes, the rules editing ability of Civ 3 is good. In CtP2, you get all of that and more. For instance, you’ll never be able to create events for scenarios in Civ 3, or complex scripts that, for instance, award you additional gold if you have n units, or anything like that. In Civ 3, mods can provide balance and experience changes, in CtP2, they can add complete new feautures. Also, CtP2 has modifiable graphics, unlike Civ 3.
The people working on the CtP2 source have already done much to improve this game. You can go to the CtP2 Source Code forum to see the changes and download the latest build. Soon, there should be a better patch that would make it possible to play any of the released mods for CtP2 with all the improvements made to the source code as well.
Would *I* enjoy the game?
You have to decide for yourself. The above list of concepts and differences in CtP2 should give you a fairly good idea of whether you find these concepts attractive. However, if you enjoyed Civ 3, I have no doubt that you will like CtP2, and probably see also the parts of it where it shines. Just remember – this game is NOT civ 3. Don’t expect the same strategies to work. Yes, there currently may not be too many strategy threads about CtP2, certainly not as many as in Civ 3, but look around the forums, and you’ll find what you want.
CtP2 has full support for normal multiplayer games and PBEM. CtP2 is less active than Civ 3, so you have little chance of starting up the game and finding an online match at once, but if you post at the forums, you should be able to arrange for a game. Note that, to enable PBEM, you need to read this thread. CtP2 has been played online since it came out, and the players agree that the online experience is just as enjoyable as in any other civ game. Also, more enhancements are expected in the long run as the source code project develops.
If you’re considering to buy CtP2, there are some more good threads and links.
Guide to CtP2 by Locutus – it contains a lot of useful info for potential buyers
The CtP2 FAQ – addresses the most common complaints and questions
CtP2 Files – a section of the Apolyton directory where you can download mods and other files for the game.
Velocyrix’s strategy thread – here Vel gives some basic ideas on CtP2 strategy, and those are supplemented by input from the other players.
Cradle Differences – if you’re in doubt about Cradle, check this out for information about the mods.