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Galactic Civilizations III v2.0 Review

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Influence, Diplomacy, and War:

Influence represents both your civilization's border as well as its ability to affect other cultures. As a border, it is merely a line drawn on the map, but the line is not often respected. It might be your territory, but other civilizations will very happily venture into it for one reason or another, and similarly you can enter theirs. It is possible to annoy civilizations by doing this, otherwise the Open Borders treaty would be useless, but I have not been yelled at for it yet. Starbases being where they should not be is a different matter.

Even if the borders do not keep anyone out, I do still like to grow my influence as much as possible because of a useful effect it can have. If another civilization has a planet within your borders, your culture will affect that planet, leading to rebellion and eventually the planet can change sides, joining you. In war this can be particularly valuable because the influence area of a star system is often held by one planet. This means you may find three planets around one star, but if you capture just one of them, all of the planets will be within your sphere of influence. It might take a while, but as long as those planets are within your influence, they are getting closer to turning, even when not at war. Minor civilizations are an exception to this, as they are immune to culture flips, unless they come from a particular option in your Ideology.

I have not optimized how to develop my civilization's ideology, but it is a very powerful tool, if you use it correctly. The options are Benevolent, Pragmatic, and Malevolent, but you do not need to restrict yourself to one or another. Anyway, as you gain points in these three you can spend them to unlock certain bonuses and among those for Benevolent is one named Enticing. When you unlock this, all planets and starbases within your civilization's influence will join your civilization. By banking that point for a while I was able to position a couple constructors to build two starbases next to two minor civilizations. When I unlocked Enticing, I got two new, partially developed planets outside of my borders and in a decent strategic position (they were both rather near each other) for free. There were another two minor civilizations within my border already, so with one option I got four partially developed planets and removed four minor civilizations from the game.

 

What can I say but that I like the Influence system? It provides a rather nice way to assertively affect the game in the background, and thus far I have not noticed any problems stemming from it, like civilizations being upset by planets switching sides to join me. They are all going to join me eventually, by one means or another.

War is obviously the most direct means of seizing control of the map and it has at least two interesting quirks to it. One is that the AI does not really prepare for war before declaring it. In every other 4X game that comes to mind for me, every time an enemy AI declares war, it already has armies/fleets ready to invade my borders. Not so in GalCiv 3. I have actually had AI declare war on me and then do nothing before I negotiate peace with them. I cannot think of another game where AI apparently initiate a cold war. Perhaps related to this is that while you negotiate with other AI to declare war on another, I have yet to see them actually fight. I assume it at least hurts the standing of the enemy AI, but has not helped me win any fights. I have seen AI fight each other, but they started that war themselves; I was not involved.

 

The second quirk is something I actually do like, though it can be annoying, depending on how it goes. When you bring an enemy AI to its knees, instead of letting you finish them off, it may decide to surrender, giving up all of its planets, ships, and starbases. This is a pretty cool way to see a war end in a game, unless the AI surrenders all of its assets and resources to another AI. Now another enemy may have just gotten a boost to their empire, and forced the next war to be on two fronts. In the game this happened to me, I only spent enough turns at peace to reposition and refill my fleets and then went right back to war. Both of these AI were very antagonistic, so defeating them has certainly improved the peaceful state of the game. Anyway, when I brought this second AI to its knees, it, like the first, decided to surrender and this time it turned everything over to me. My guess is that it had no allies amongst the other AI (I had just crushed its only friend) and potentially out of honor decided to give me the complete spoils of war.

It is possible to disable AI surrenders in the options, but I honestly like this. It can really affect how a game progresses in an interesting way, so even if it does force a two-front war I would rather avoid, it makes sense.

One last thing I want to mention about war that is definitely annoying, though it does have one odd psychological benefit, is that ships do not repair quickly. I am sure that my ships do in fact repair over time, but it is so slow I do not even register that they do. Instead I just keep building new ships, because that is a cheaper option than upgrading them, which does repair the ship as well. The psychological benefit is that it primes me to consider the ships as disposable. If I come against a planet with sizeable defenses with two fleets, I will essentially suicide-mission one of them to weaken the defenses, then send the second, stronger fleet in to finish off what remains. Of course it would be nice if I did not need to sacrifice fleets like this, but it might be necessary and since I do not consider repairing a viable solution to damaged ships, at least this puts them to use.

 

 

Diplomacy is actually the system that most caught my attention when I read the press release on the v2.0 patch. Among the patch notes is a change to the AI system that allows the reason a trade is rejected or accepted to be identified. This is really nice to have as it becomes so much easier to craft trades that will get you what you want. Also certain items may be colored red in the trade window, indicating the AI is unwilling to trade them with you. This has tended to be weapon technologies, from what I have seen, and just with AI that do not like me, which is fine because I do not want to give them my weapon technologies either.

In other games, I will typically be very protective of my technology because I recognize a technological advantage can by exploited to quickly shift the balance of power, but in GalCiv 3 I am very willing to trade technologies. I may not want to give up certain weapon technologies, but you can still get a lot by offering up some colonization technologies, including specialization technologies you did not select before.

In most other 4X games, the diplomacy system is one I ignore because so often all it does is tell me when an AI has declared war for no reason, or another AI wants my help. Here I am actively going in and trying to sway AI to my side, making trades and even just giving them things so that I can hopefully lean on them later for one benefit or another.

 

One play-style I have adopted in some 4X games is to just make it a 1v1 'superpower' match, as I tend to think about it. The idea is that there is no diplomacy to worry about, just a race to become the dominant side before a final war. This is because of how often it seems friendly AI will decide I have offended them and go to war, so by making it 1v1 none of that matters. I know the war is coming and have all the room I want to prepare. Currently I have no desire to play such a match in GalCiv 3, though I have created one of these matches purely for curiosity. I will get to it after I finish the other, more populated games I already have going and am having a lot of fun with.




  1. Galactic Civilizations III v2.0 Review - Introduction
  2. Galactic Civilizations III v2.0 Review - Graphics and Performance
  3. Galactic Civilizations III v2.0 Review - Planets, Technology, and Governance
  4. Galactic Civilizations III v2.0 Review - Influencee, Diplomacy, and War
  5. Galactic Civilizations III v2.0 Review - Additional Screenshots
  6. Galactic Civilizations III v2.0 Review - Conclusion
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