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
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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 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 an 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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Average score: 89% (based on 47 ratings)


Average score: 3.9 out of 5 (based on 324 ratings with 12 reviews)

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

One of the greatest games. Does anyone not like civ?

The Good
This game was the ulitimate sim game untill Civ II came out. Cool graphics, outstanding music and top notch gameplay made this a winner. This game was so addicting that once during summer break I started playing a new game a hour after I woke up at 10:00 am. I only left the room a few times for very small amounts of time. (just to use the restroom and get a quick bite) Just as I was conqureing the last of my enemies I looked up and noticed that the room was really dark. I looked at the clock and it said 11:00 pm! I had spent the whole day totaly wraped up in this game and I didnt even have a clue of what time it was. I probably would have though it was mid day if you had asked me. When I play civ everything just stops and time just seems to fly away without me knowing it. Now I know that you are probably thinking that I am crazy but the game will suck away your free time like nothing I have ever seen. But the unique thing about that is, you won't mind. :-)

The Bad
Absolutly nothing.

The Bottom Line
If you havent played Civ then you cant call your self a Computer gamer.

DOS · by William Shawn McDonie (1130) · 2001

Grossly overrated

The Good
Addictive. I remember paying $99.99 for it and staying up all night playing it, emerging bleary-eyed, having just made it at the lowest level. Today I wonder which I had most of, money? and least of, sense? I shan't repeat here what the game is about--that would be as silly as explaining what a mouse and a keyboard are. And you will find here at MobyGames more than a dozen reviews that will tell you all about it. Many years after my first exposure to Civilization, thinking back on it, I am still at a loss as to what made this game such a success. Yes, it is addictive, but so is crack, they say. So let's turn to:

The Bad
Absurd, utterly absurd. I realized that when I was building a space ship and a Zulu diplomat stole the technology and the Zulus started building their own spaceship. Now in this game, when a civilization gets wiped out, another one often pops up in the form of a settlers' unit, which builds a city, and starts again from scratch. The Zulus were one of these newborn nations. They hadn't discovered anything much beyond chariots and they set about building a space ship! I was also pretty miffed once when I attacked a Barbarian diplomat with my tanks, and got zapped out of existence. That is when I stopped playing, to take a long hard look at the game and to write myself a saved-game editor allowing me to modify the properties of military units and the contents of cities. In the process I discovered what a mess the coding was. It was like digging middens in an archaeological site, uncovering layers upon layers of rubbish. But, once finished, I then could price diplomats right out of anyone's reach, and make movement a bit more realistic. Still I could not knock any sense into combat rules, that is, short of disassembling CIV.EXE, I imagine, and rewriting the mess.

Combat is as unrealistic as the rules of chess compared to real war. There is only one possible outcome to each engagement with an enemy unit: total annihilation of him, or of you. No attrition, no morale, nothing. And you can only attack a unit on an adjacent square, even with artillery, even with a battleship. Now have a battleship attack an enemy phalanx. Your battleship, the most powerful unit in the game, stands a chance of getting zapped out of existence by the phalanx. And with what weapons would that be, pretty please, javelins?

The so-called AI is nothing but cheating, cheating, and more cheating. Have you ever tried to build a Wonder, say, the Pyramids, or the Hanging Gardens? Suspiciously often another civilization will beat you to it, just before you succeed. And all out of thin air. Just hit %^ to reveal the map and you'll see. They just didn't have the production capacity by far, but they still managed to build that Wonder. The only way you can hope to beat those cheats is to build caravans, caravans, and caravans, and keep them stored away until you have enough to build your Wonder in one single turn so as not to give your hand away.

Speaking of caravans, have you ever seen an enemy caravan roaming the map? Of course not. But when you take over their cities, by battle or, better, by subverting them, you will see trade routes to here, there and everywhere bringing in good money. YOU have to build caravans and send them under military escort to distant cities, THEY just conjure them out of thin air and teleport them.

Diplomacy? There is no diplomacy. Blackmail and intimidation, yes, but you cannot strike an alliance with another civilization. Oh sure, you can ask the Romans to attack the Babylonians. They will want payment up front, and then they will do nothing at all. And once you have sworn eternal friendship (sic) with, say, the Russians, they will turn against you at the drop of a hat. Which is whenever your coffers are full enough to make blackmail a going proposition. As for striking an alliance against a common enemy, forget it: there is no way it can be done. Soon you learn your lesson, which is (spoiler ahead): once you are a Republic or a Democracy, always refuse to talk to foreign delegates--otherwise the Senate will force you to sign a peace treaty and then forbid you to sabotage their cities and steal their technologies. And just before you become a Republic or a Democracy, don't forget to declare war on everybody you are at peace with.

Movement? Movement is ridiculous. In the early stages one turn is equal to twenty years of calendar time, so that it takes a phalanx about 400 years to go from Rome to Moscow. Yes, dem soldiers were long-lived in dem days. How long would Alexander's conquests have taken? And Xenophon's march? Something like 2000 years I guess.

Scoring. Starry-eyed me played his first few games trying to shower his citizens with goodies, and got rewarded with defeat and a Dan Quayle rating. Oh yes, building Wonders and keeping citizens happy does count towards the final score, but not as much, by a very very long sight, as destroying other civilizations. Once I had figured that out, I managed to end up regularly with top marks, having destroyed ten civilizations, sometimes eleven. "Civilization"? This should have been called "Thuggery and Savagery".

The Bottom Line
Search me. The more I think about it, the less I understand. Yes, it is addictive, but, as I have already written, so is crack. I suppose that outsmarting the cheating, brain-dead AI might be what makes it attractive to many. I had a good belly laugh when, having priced diplomats at 200gp, I started "building" one, immediately "bought" it, and found myself credited with 1752gp. A great way of making money. There are many more such gems, such as when you discover the trick for opening a mine in just one turn, instead of five. But in the end, it's a bit like playing chess against a retarded five-year old.

DOS · by Jacques Guy (52) · 2004

[ View all 12 player reviews ]


1001 Video Games

The PC version of Civilisation 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)

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

Related Games

Sid Meier's Civilization III
Released 2001 on Windows, 2002 on Macintosh
Sid Meier's Civilization IV: Complete
Released 2007 on Windows
Sid Meier's Civilization II
Released 1996 on Windows 3.x, 1997 on Macintosh, PlayStation
Sid Meier's Civilization III: Complete
Released 2004 on Windows, 2006 on Macintosh
Sid Meier's Civilization V: Brave New World
Released 2013 on Windows, Macintosh, 2014 on Linux
Sid Meier's Civilization V
Released 2010 on Windows, 2010 on Macintosh, 2014 on Linux
Sid Meier's Civilization IV: Colonization
Released 2008 on Windows, 2009 on Macintosh
Sid Meier's Civilization: Revolution
Released 2008 on Nintendo DS

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by MajorDad.

SNES, Windows 3.x 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, Yearman, Patrick Bregger, Plok, Victor Vance, FatherJack.

Game added December 21st, 1999. Last modified September 20th, 2023.