Sid Meier's Civilization

aka: Civ, Civ1, Civilization, Civilization I, Civilization: Shin Sekai Shichidai Bunmei, Sid Meier's Civilization: Build an Empire to Stand the Test of Time, Wenming
Moby ID: 585
DOS Specs
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Description official descriptions

Civilization has the widest scope of any strategy game of its time. You are a leader of a nation. You begin in the Stone Age, and complete the game in the XXIth century (unless your civilization gets destroyed earlier). Your eventual goal is to become the dominant civilization in the world, either by wiping out everybody else, or being the first to get a space ship to Alpha Centauri.

As the nation's leader, you have many responsibilities. You have to build cities, and then micromanage them, constructing various buildings. Most of the people in your cities will be working on the neighbouring lands to get food (without it, your city won't survive or grow), production (used to build military units and buildings) and trade (which can be exchanged for money, science (see below) or luxuries that make people happy. You decide how much trade you want to invest into each of these areas.) You have to make sure that your people are in a good mood; if they get too unhappy, the city will collapse into disorder, and won't produce anything until you fix the situation.

If you're ambitious, you can build Wonders of the World - epic constructions, such as the Pyramids or the Hoover Dam. Each Wonder is a unique thing, and only one of each can exist in the world. They give you a lot of benefits if you complete them, but they take a long time to build, and many of them will eventually stop working.

There are other nations in the world, and there are also barbarians, so you'll have to invest into the military to protect yourself and to attack. Sure, you can sign peace treaties with other nations, and even exchange scientific knowledge with them (although sometimes they'll demand tribute from you), but eventually you'll probably have to fight. You control each of your military units on the world map, attacking your opponents' units and cities (possibly taking over them).

Not all units are for combat though. Settlers are used to build cities, create roads (for easier travel of your units) and improve the land around cities, increasing production. Diplomats can be sent to foreign cities to negotiate with the other nations or create embassies, but they can also bribe enemy units to join you and conduct espionage and sabotage in the enemies' cities. Caravans can be sent to faraway cities to increase trade in their home city, and they can also help in building Wonders of the World.

Scientific progress is an important part of the game. The more science your cities produce, the faster you research new technologies. Initially, you'll be finding out about the wonders of Alphabet or Bronze Working, but late in the game you'll be researching Computers and Robotics. Most technologies give you some new units, buildings and other things, although some have more interesting effects - for example, after inventing the Automobile, you'll find out that your citizens started producing pollution. Pollution is a bad thing; if there's too much of it, global warming may occur.

How your cities prosper depends partially on the type of government that your nation has. Initially you're living in Despotism, but this can stunt growth of your civilization, so it's a good idea to switch to something else - Monarchy, Republic, Democracy or Communism.


  • シヴィライゼーション 新・世界七大文明 - Japanese spelling
  • 文明 - Simplified Chinese spelling

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Credits (DOS version)

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Average score: 89% (based on 47 ratings)


Average score: 3.9 out of 5 (based on 329 ratings with 12 reviews)

A diamond in the rough

The Good
Sid Meier’s Civilization is widely known game that has captured the minds of a generation of gamers after it came out.

This is one of the first god games that now have become standard. Populous already existed and there were strategy games close to Civilization that existed in the board game form but this game still managed to break away from competition and become a fan favorite for years to come.

Civilization is a turn based strategy game where a player guides a civilization in its rise to power throughout the history of mankind. This is done through building cities, exploring, improving the land, mining, road building, trading, diplomacy and research. Let’s look at what comes with the game. There is a technology tree foldout with additional information on all the terrain types, units and buildings. The manual is not too large and contains a good amount of information to help the player get started in playing the game. However, manual does omit some of the things such as the unit limit, what to do when the city has finished building everything. However this is not that important as the game itself. The concept of the game is great, and the game offers a good variety. There is large number of buildings one of which does become obsolete if another one is build. The building all have specific function and it is hard to say that some are of them are useless, all of them together are used effectively to build a city that is extremely functional. However, the player is given the choice to decide where to build which buildings and when. In addition, the game has additional buildings which are called the Wonders. These buildings are based on the idea of Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. In the game however many of the of the Seven Wonders are missing however there are other wonders that are added for later time periods that all have different effects.

Now like every strategy game this one also has units, while settlers work and change the land, build roads, the diplomats establish embassies and act as spies, the military units are used to conduct warfare. The variety of units that exists and are made available through technology research makes the game fun and enjoyable as well as very nicely balanced.

The game also offers different styles of the government that all have advantages and disadvantages. The choice of government affects corruption levels, which is lost income, the production level and trade. This makes the game even more interactive and amazing as now the player is forced to consider when to switch the governments.

The game also has a different way of gaining income, the income comes from the trade that is taxed and the level of allocation of taxes for income, money spend on luxuries (social spending) that are used to boost morale and money given to science are all controllable. The money from taxes is used to support buildings in the cities and buy units for faster production, however a different resource is used for normal production rather than rush production. The shields which symbolize the different resources produced overall are what is used for the purposes of the construction of buildings and units. The city’s population determines how much the resources is gathered by working land around the city, they population grows and so is able to work more land thanks to gathering of food. Than there is also possibility to switch population from working the land to become entertainers and so boost luxuries output, become taxmen and so boost income and finally become scientists and boost science research in the city. The interface that the game has and offers is also great for its time period as each city has its own screen that can be opened and additional screen to view the city and the buildings that it has. Than there is other screens for the information about the civilization from score, to research, diplomacy standing, tax rates and etc. The icons are intuitive and symbolic of what they represent.

The game has advisors that change with each epoch and the different forms of government, the provide advice on the matters of spending, military, trade, foreign relations and science. The advice could be conflicting often showing the real dilemma that the country leaders in the real world have to deal with.

The winning conditions do not require only conquering the enemy, it is possible to win without that just by surviving till the time limit, or building a space ship to colonise Alpha Centuri.

The Bad
The game however is not without the flaws. The first being the historical accuracy of some of the descriptions becoming obsolete as better facts are found, the other being the functions of some of the buildings being slightly weird. Why do Pyramids allow player to change governments as they like, what is rationale behind that? There are other examples of that in the game.

Than there is the problem of computer A.I rarely functioning properly and it requires cheating to compete effectively with the player. In diplomatic functions the computer A.I is rarely rational in its demands.

Than there is the invisible unit population limit. It would have been good to mention that in the manual or put a counter in the game so that the player would know about it. In addition, there is also no ready solution for what to do when city finishes building everything. There are creative solutions that do come to mind but they are still annoying and are clearly not created by the designers. The colours of the backgrounds of the units also are not always good. I really hated the pink background that was used. The fact that the go to command doesn’t allow to take advantage of railroads is also terrible. These things make the game seem like unfinished product. The winning conditions still push the player towards the global conquest as the other alternatives are not attractive enough and the AI often just asks to be conquered. The overall, development of civilization is also seems to be done towards the democratic form of government, the communism form of government doesn’t really approach the ideal image of the communists as does democracy which has the zero corruption and is peace loving.

The game sounds are a bit lacking and I failed to hear any music in the game. In addition the use of different scripts for different world leaders makes it also hard to read their messages at firsts.

The game has problems with the realism besides the problems of the historical inaccuracies, the government types it over simplifies things too much, in addition it seems to put a lot of control in the hands of the player with regards to the such things as scientific development which generally is hard to influence in real life. While if the game would have detached the player from the civilization itself making him rather like invisible hand than a leader that is refereed to constantly in the game it would have been not a problem. There are of course numerous other problems such as ability of the weak prehistoric unit defeating a tank or a battleship. There are other problems that will be there naturally when the game touches on the topic of the history and real world, listing them all would hardly be worth it as they are just expected to occur. It is very hard to approximate the real thing.

The Bottom Line
Finally the idea of the game for working civilization is just approximation as it doesn’t really come close enough to the real world and just scratches the surface. However the attempt must begin at some point. It also gives a taste of the difficulty that the leaders of the nations face with the regards to their decisions in the real world and this creates a reason besides being entertaining why people should play this game.

Overall judging from all those points it is possible to say that the game is diamond in the rough and will require some more work to become a great game. It is a great concept however its realisation is not done properly enough even considering the limits of the hardware as it has some points that could have been addressed at the time of its creation.

Windows 3.x · by Tatar_Khan (676) · 2009

Quite simply the greatest, most addictive computer game ever.

The Good
Everything. It still stands up very well to this day.

The graphics were great at the time, and even today their simplicty and clean-ness makes it very enjoyable to play. The sounds do their job - they let you know what's going on without intruding. The gameplay is simply staggering, with infinite variety. No two games are ever alike.

The Bad
It's possibly too addictive. The amount of time I wasted (?) on this game over the years is mind-boggling.

The Bottom Line
Quite simply the greatest, most addictive computer game ever.

DOS · by Steve Hall (329) · 2000

The first game where AI had a meaning

The Good
Civilization was the first strategy game I ever played on a PC,and the third true game ,after Prehistorik and Chessmaster

Since I was creamed at chess due to the recursive backtracking procedure that computer used to prove it's faster than a human mind,I expected the same in this square-by-square game,but...there were to many for backtracking

So the rat-mind computer employed massive cheating:population boost,building things out of thin air,map knowledge,etc,instead of: "Gee,what happens if I send my lonely knight into thy army?"

But that added to the challenge (since I barely noticed that until my first spaceship got launched) which was based ,mainly ,on discovery of technologies,meeting leaders who had a different look each time they changed their government, advisers and senate who influenced your decisions and even blocked your desire for expansion in democracy and ancient republic

(So you could not bomb and invade everyone in a democracy:)

Unfortunately the later sequels of this great game (who also employs a good manual,at least from historic point of view) have lost many of its advantages:

The democratic rulers became mere communists and the democracy itself became just a prosperous dictatorship ,with less wars.The other leaders faces were hidden and only the diplomatic sense remained out of the personal feeling that I loved so much.Also ,when you are talking to a republic,no longer the minister of foreign affairs appear ,with he's glasses jumping at each one of your offensive proposals,no longer you talk to many in a democracy,but just with the old Stalin:(

The advances are realistically related and the pace of discovery increases,instead of decreasing ,as with all sequels

The Bad
The graphics are simply bad,even for that time,the pieces are just..that,2-D chess-like.

The settlers unit is working to hard to build roads ,essential to your commerce,and everything else that matters and unit maintenance is too high

The piece by piece movement is boring and time consuming,there are no armies

Also,it's to often when you''l find your Apache being shot down by a mounted Afghani with a Stinger missile-launcher in his hands or your Leopard tank being ravaged by slingers

There's too much cheating by the computer

The Bottom Line
That's the game I searched for 10 years ,I wanted to have it for it's the single most-important road-opener to global strategy gender

Now I'm playing it with the same sense of humor,not with the same passion and it's faults appear more disturbing to me

But,as the intelligence quantity is a constant and the size and time constraints of all strategy games are increasing,it's one of the very few smart games still available .In a very short time,you can learn a lot about balance ,focus and planning-ahead.

So go get it!

DOS · by lucian (36) · 2005

[ View all 12 player reviews ]


1001 Video Games

The PC version of Civilization appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.

Avalon Hill

The game was partially inspired by the Avalon Hill boardgame Civilization and later Advanced Civilization. When Sid Meier's version became so popular, Avalon Hill actually came out with Advanced Civilization for the PC. Avalon Hill then sued Hasbro/MicroProse for copyright infringement. Activision got involved as they want to license the Avalon Hill version for their Civilization: Call to Power. MicroProse then went on, with Hasbro's help, to buy out the original inventors of the Avalon Hill's version, thus negating the suit. Finally they settled out of court. Activision gets the license to make Call to Power, MicroProse keeps the computer game name Civilization, and Avalon Hill gets nothing.

Board game

Coming full circle from its apocryphal roots in the 1980 Hartland Trefoil / Avalon Hill boardgame Civilization, 2002 saw the release of Sid Meier's Civilization: the Boardgame.


Dan Bunten, creator of the M.U.L.E., wanted to follow this game up with a computer port of the Avalon Hill board game Civilization. Unable to drum up enough support from his Ozark colleagues, he instead went on to create Seven Cities of Gold. After leaving Electronic Arts in 1988, Bunten signs a deal with Microprose and has a choice between the Civilization port and a conversion of Milton Bradley's Axis and Allies. Fellow Microprosian Sid Meier convinces him to tackle the latter, which becomes Bunten's Command H.Q.. Meier, of course, goes on to make Civ.

Gandhi and nukes

A long-standing urban legend claimed that the Indian civilization's leader Mahatma Gandhi was especially prone to using nuclear weapons due to a game bug. In the game, each leader has their own statistics that define their personality towards others. According to the legend, once a player researches and adopts democracy in the game, all leaders would have their aggression stat towards the newly-democratic player reduced by 2. However, India's leader Mahatma Gandhi already had that stat set to 1 by default, and the effect of democracy caused an integer overflow - it would have theoretically gone to -1, but the stat apparently used an unsigned 8-bit integer format for its value, setting Gandhi's aggression to 255 and having him threaten players with nuclear weapons. The story first appeared on the TV Tropes wiki in 2012, spreading from there until it was widely reported by gaming media. However, in his 2020 autobiography Sid Meier's Memoir!, designer and programmer Sid Meier debunked the story, stating that such a bug never existed since government types do not affect the AI leaders' aggressiveness rating. And even if they did, the C dialect used to program Civilization used signed integers as a default, meaning no overflow would happen. The supposed bug became a running joke among the fans and the "Gandhi using nukes" meme made an appearance in the Civilization series itself: Gandhi's nuke production and usage stats in Sid Meier's Civilization V are always set to the maximum value, and in Sid Meier's Civilization VI, Gandhi has an increased chance of having the "Nuke Happy" hidden agenda. Since Civilization V was released before the first claim of the supposed bug, it was not influenced by the legend, possibly influencing it instead.

Further reading: Nuclear Gandhi at Wikipedia.


Although clearly inspired in part by Avalon Hill's Civilization boardgame, Sid Meier's Civilization also draws very heavily upon the original conquer-the-world computer strategy game Empire: Wargame of the Century.


The lines of text shown in the intro cinematic/animation are read from a plain text file in the game's directory, and thus can be easily modified.

References to the game

Strangely enough, but in Sliver, a thriller movie with Sharon Stone, William Baldwin and Tom Berenger, you can spot a poster on the wall to secret room of the bad guy in the movie, a close up of the front cover of Sid Meier's Civilization game. It is hardly noticeable as it appears for a split second.


An orchestral version of the game soundtrack was released on the CD-ROM (as audio tracks) of Sid Meier's CivNet in 1995.

Strategy guide

Sid Meier's Civilization was one of the first games to have a paperback strategy guide released for it: Alan Emrich and Johnny Wilson's Rome on 640K a Day.


  • Amiga Joker
    • Issue 02/1993 – #3 Best Game of 1992 (Readers' Vote)
    • Issue 02/1993 – Best Simulation of 1992 (Readers' Vote)
  • Computer Gaming World
    • November 1992 (Issue #100) – Overall Game of the Year
    • August 1993 (Issue #109) - Introduced into the Hall of Fame
    • November 1996 (15th anniversary issue) - #1 overall in the “150 Best Games of All Time” list
    • March 2001 (Issue #200) - #1 in the "Top Ten Games of All Time" list (Editors' vote)
    • March 2001 (Issue #200) - #7 in the "Top Ten Games of All Time" list (Readers' vote)
  • Game Informer
    • August 2001 (Issue 100) - #62 in the "Top 100 Games of All Time" poll
  • GameSpy
    • 2001 – #4 Top Game of All Time
  • GameStar (Germany)
    • Issue 12/1999 - #1 in the "100 Most Important PC Games of the Nineties" ranking
  • PC Gamer
    • April 2000 - #11 overall in the "All-Time Top 50 Games" poll (the oldest game to make the list)
  • Retro Gamer
    • October 2004 (Issue #9) – #29 Best Game Of All Time (Readers' Vote)
  • The Strong National Museum of Play
    • 2022 – Introduced into the World Video Game Hall of Fame

Information also contributed by Adam Baratz, Andrew Grassender, JimmyA, Kasey Chang, lethal guitar, MAT, PCGamer77 and Pseudo_Intellectual


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Are you familiar with this game? Help document and preserve this entry in video game history! If your contribution is approved, you will earn points and be credited as a contributor.

Contributors to this Entry

Game added by MajorDad.

Windows 3.x, SNES added by PCGamer77. Amiga added by Rebound Boy. Atari ST added by Martin Smith. PlayStation added by qwertyuiop. Macintosh added by Игги Друге. PC-98 added by Unicorn Lynx. SEGA Saturn added by Thiago Simões.

Additional contributors: Ummagumma, Terok Nor, MAT, Robert Teichmann, PCGamer77, Unicorn Lynx, Jeanne, Alaka, monkeyislandgirl, formercontrib, Patrick Bregger, Plok, Victor Vance, FatherJack, SoMuchChaotix.

Game added December 21, 1999. Last modified February 13, 2024.