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"I have discovered. I have led. I have conquered. I have inspired. I have built a civilization to stand the test of time. What will your civilization stand for?"
Civilization V trailer

Civilization is a popular "4X" game developed by Sid Meier. The original game was developed in 1991, and there have been four direct sequels (all of which are sequentially improved refinements and updates on the basic concept), numerous expansion packs, and many spin-offs (Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri, Colonization, Civilization: Call To Power), as well as the much simplified Civilization Revolution for home consoles, the Nintendo DS and iPhone, and Civ World for Facebook. The game was originally inspired by a Board Games, and has since spawned two others. Many polls and lists of the best computer games ever developed have, at various times, listed several of the games in the series, often at #1.

The general concept is that the player controls a civilization from the stone age through the present day into the space age. The first installments gave you two ways to win: conquering everyone, or sending a colony to Alpha Centauri. Later, three more conditions were added: get elected leader of the world by the United Nations, controlling a dominant chunk of the planet (which kind of obsoletes the "conquer everyone" goal, which is probably why it was removed again later), or create a culture so influential that it engulfs everyone else's.

All aspects of the civilization are under the control of the player, including exploration, technological advancement, expansion, material production, culture, religion, military development and deployment, foreign negotiations, and trade. The world was viewed from a 3/4 perspective until IV let you zoom in/out and move the camera around, and took place on square-shaped tiles until V moved to hex. The game's open-ended play, and the multiple settings (involving world size, terrain, opposing civilizations, multiple victory scenarios, game play speed and difficulty) mean that every game can be different from the previous one.

It is (in)famous for leading to gameplay sessions that extend well past the player's original self-imposed deadline. So much, a joke 'Civilization Anonymous' website was made.

"Baba Yetu", the menu music from Civilization IV [1] became the first song from a video game to ever win a Grammy Award, which hopefully will spur the Grammy Awards into including an award for "interactive fiction" music scores and songs.

This game presents examples of the following tropes:

  • Acceptable Breaks From Reality: Many, as a game which truly approximated all the headaches of running an Empire would only be interesting to professors and megalomaniacs.
  • Ain't Too Proud to Beg: In Civ V leaders that are losing a war tend to offer peace agreements in exchange for every city but their capital, all their resources for 30 turns, all their income for 30 turns, their entire treasury, and their wives and daughters as your concubines (well, OK, not that last one). Oh, and guess how hard it'll be to take that lone capital once the 30 turns are over. They do it to other A Is too, so the number of powerful nations on any given continent can drop quite quickly.
    • On the flip side, some leaders will ask for peace, but only if you give all your money and loads of strategic and luxury resources, even if you are steamrolling across the empire.
    • Likewise, the minute you get two sources of a luxury in Civ5, a bunch of other leaders will offer you a Declaration of Friendship. Their sole motivation is to ask you to loan them that second luxury source for free. (A canny player will turn down the Declaration itself, as accepting Friendship but then denying a request is a hit to your reputation.)
  • The All-Seeing AI: Used completely straight in earlier versions. Mostly averted in Civilization IV, except that the AI negotiators know precisely what the relative values of various goods are, leading to weirdness such as knowing the value of trading world maps when they shouldn't know what's on yours.
  • Anachronism Stew: Somewhat unavoidable in a freeform game that features a myriad of historical civilizations, many of whom never existed in the same time/place as one another. Add religions and government styles to the mix and you have a recipe for oddness.
    • One of the oddest examples of this is the Oxford University National Wonder in Civ IV. The significance of Oxford, and the reason it's one of the world's leading establishments today is that it was the first University set up in the world (at least in any format we'd vaguely recognise today). However, in the game, you need to have built at least 6 other Universities to construct it...
      • Also, since it is a National Wonder, every nation can have one. At the same time. This means that there could be as many as 18 Oxford Universities in a single world.
    • The tech tree, at least in Civ IV, is however set up to make a few things happen "on time" in a normal game. Christianity is typically created around 30 AD and a Civilization will get the tech to find the new world (on a map type that supports it) around 1500 AD and to colonize it a few turns later. Nothing flat out stops you from progressing to these points earlier if you are devoted or get lucky with a great person though.
  • And Your Reward Is Interior Decorating
  • Arc Words: "Test of time."
  • Army of Lawyers: In Call to Power and its sequel, once you develop to the Modern Era, you can literally train Lawyers and Corporate Branches to wage economic warfare on your enemies.
  • Army of the Ages: the theme for Civilization IV: Warlord's box art.
    • And of course you and your enemies' armies could become this as well if you don't bother upgrading your units.
  • Artificial Stupidity: So much over the various installments that all the examples were moved to the trope page.
  • Ascended Fanboy: Aside from the first game, all the following games have been designed by people other than Sid who has generally only acted as an overwatching executive producer. Most notable in Civilization V in which the lead designer came from the modding community and is only around 25 years old.
  • Ascended Meme: Civilization V has three: at the end of the tech tree are Giant Death Robots, a long running joke on several fansites; using a Great Artist to make borders expand is now explicitly named a "Culture Bomb", which was a Fan Nickname for the process in Civ IV; and Gandhi's AI is tailored to put all his resources to building nukes.[2]
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Averted with Great Generals (and the mongol equivalent the Khan), who are One Hit Point Wonders whose only offensive capability is to make other units stronger. But to be fair, the Great General is just one guy while the regular units presumably represent regiments (give or take depending on the era).
  • Awesome but Impractical: The Internet wonder from Civilization IV grants you any tech known by two other civilizations. This would be awesome but for the fact that it's at the very end of the tech tree for most players, meaning that either it'll be built after it's needed or the AI will get it first. However, there is a specific strategy that ignores all other endgame tech to get the Internet built early, making it actually useful.
    • The Space Elevator in Civilization IV gives you a big boost to spaceship construction. Problem with it is that it's so frequently so expensive and requires a tech not needed for the spaceship that you're usually better off building another spaceship part in its place.
    • The Great Colossus wonder in Civilization V used to be this. It had a nice benefit, but was lost once a certain, rather early, technology was discovered by any player. It was later patched to have a slightly different effect and not become obsolete.
    • The Giant Death Robot in V comes so late that anyone aiming for a domination victory will probably get it before having an opportunity to build the GDR. It also requires uranium which could be used on the earlier and quicker-to-build nuclear options.
  • BFS:
    • A majority of leaders in Civilization V carry swords with them when you meet them for diplomacy, but special mention must go to Askia and Oda Nobunaga. Askia carries an impressive-looking two-handed broadsword, and Nobunaga carries three giant katanas!
    • On the unit side of the scale, broadswordsmen fall on this category.
  • Big Brother Is Watching: Two wonders from Call to Power, The Agency and the AI Entity. The AI Entity in particular is terrifying--see for yourself, but the Agency doesn't lack for disturbing, either.
  • Blood Knight: There are certain rulers who seem to really, really enjoy war. If you find yourself on a map with Queen Isabella of Spain, Shaka Zulu, or Montezuma of the Aztecs, expect them to attack you at some point, even if they have absolutely no chance of victory, and especially if they don't share your religion.
    • Somewhat justified with Montezuma in Civilization V, as his trait is to generate culture by killing enemy units.
  • Blow Gun: In Revolution, one of the barbarian tribes you can encounter has a spokesman who threatens you with a blow gun.
  • Cap: As of Civilization V, strategic resources work this way. However, it doesn't drain your existing stockpiles, it just determines how many of a thing you can have at once—for instance, if you have only four herds of horses, that's how many Horse Archers you can own simultaneously. This is not a great compromise, but it's way better than both Civilization III, when resources would run out at the most inconvenient time possible, and every other game, where they never ran out at all.
    • The implementation of resources in Civ 3 didn't help with this. What you may expect is a Cap on how much the resource can be used before it disappears, and that, annoyingly, there's no counter for how much longer it will last. Actually, there is no Cap at all; each resource just has a small % chance of disappearing every turn, even if you just started using them last turn.
  • Cartoon Bomb: Used by Grenadiers in Civilization IV. Seeing as Cartoon Bombs are modeled after early cast-iron, black-powder grenades, this is not surprising.
  • Chaos Architecture: In I through IV, cities radically change their layouts over time as new buildings/wonders are added, often shifting around the existing wonders to make room. V makes it a little more realistic by only showing the city itself expanding without being close enough to see the actual buildings, and wonders remain in one place for the entire game.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Catherine in Civilization IV has a unique aspect programed into her AI that she is the only leader willing to attack a friendly if the player bribes her.
    • Fairly common in "Civilization V", and recently the dialogue was updated to show when the AI does it. Once you´ve been at war with a player, you can expect it to happen again just after the peace treaty expires, even if they´ve been acting friendly and forgiving. And if you liberate a capital for a defeated AI, they will often denounce you just a few turns later... although they are still forced to vote for you in an UN Vote.
    • Some AIs will take you to war several times, negotiate peace, and go right back to being friendly again.
    • Really, take it as a rule: If the AI thinks you're too weak to defend yourself (and even when you really aren't), you will be attacked.
    • Sometimes when they act friendly, you might think they're actually friendly, because you've gone out of your to keep them satisfied with you, but behind the scenes they're angry at you for reasons you can't predict, like the famous "they think you're trying to win in a manner similar to them, and they don't like it!"
  • Chewing the Scenery: Some quotes in Civ 5. "A horse! A horse! My... KINGDOM for a horse!"
  • Church Militant: Your chosen faith under Theocracy.
  • Comic Book Time: In addition to an extreme case of Video Game Time (it's possible for a battle's outcome to change due to a forest suddenly growing around the defenders), named characters (civilization leaders and Great People) are immortal, and change appearance to suit the era. Also, in the Civ II "thingy" Test Of Time, you may notice that in extended original the time changes from 100s of years to singular over the course of 3000 B.C. to 1900 A.D. Makes you worry that it takes 1000 years to build A BARRACKS early game where a CITY in the late game takes only a few YEARS TO SET UP. EVERY. LAST. BUILDING. Worrying.
  • A Commander Is You: Starting with Civilization III, each faction can be loosely mapped to one or more of the Gimmick options, although some also fit the Spammer or Brute Force options - but see also Separate but Identical.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: This game has an entire folder on the trope page.
  • The Computer Is Your Friend: The AI Entity in Call To Power allows you to run your civilization with absolute efficiency... until it rebels against you.
  • The Computer Shall Taunt You: If another civilization considers itself superior to you, they'll let you know it, and they can be quite smug and condescending.
  • Cosmetic Award: Improving your palace in the original Civilization, your throne room in Civilization II. and your castle in Civilization III was awesome, but had no impact on gameplay.
  • The Cover Changes the Meaning: In Civilization V, every leader has a theme based on a well known folk tune from his or her respective culture ("America The Beautiful" for Washington, "I Vow To Thee My Country" for Elizabeth I, etc.) There are two arrangements for each tune - one for when you are at peace with the civ and one for wartime. The wartime tunes often change a decidedly pleasant and uplifting tune into something sinister.
  • Creator Cameo: Sid himself appears in every game as an advisor.
  • Critical Existence Failure: Mostly played straight, but some versions of the game avert this by reducing the movement points and combat power of heavily damaged units. In Civilization V, which averts it for most civs, it's actually the Japanese's unique perk -- their units don't get reduced stats for being damaged.
  • Cultured Badass and War for Fun and Profit: The Honor tree post 1.4.X, adopting it would give a culture bonus similar bonus to what Montezuma's special ability gives (and stacks with the former's ability doubling the culture output) and finishing it would allow you to earn money for killing enemy units, making War for Fun and Profit a viable tactic for fighting oriented Civs like Germany, Japan, the Aztecs and the like.
  • Culture Chop Suey: To emphasize how they're not supposed to be any one specific race, the narrator and son in the opening cinematic of V live in Mongol gers decorated with West African instruments and shields and wear Celtic and Arabic clothing.
  • Curb Stomp Battle: Alarmingly common in Civilization V, from tearing through a undamaged city with a Giant Death Robot or to seemingly exaggerated and extreme cases of bringing down an Enemy Empire with five Modern Armor units.
    • It's even worse (or better) due to the inclusion of the "heal instantly" promotion: units gain experience from taking damage and surviving, so if one has a high enough defense, gets reduced to one HP, and gains a level, they can be back to full strength immediately the next turn. In other words, attacking them only makes them stronger.
  • Cutscene: The Wonders get them. In Civilization II these were made of Stock Footage, later games have renders.
  • Damage Over Time: In Civilization II, helicopters received minor damage for every turn they spent in midair -- this was intended to simulate their limited fuel reserves without requiring them to return to base every time. Later Civ games removed this.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: in Civ 5, Germany will sometimes recruit encamped barbarians and the Ottomans will recruit naval barbs after defeating them. In the fan-made Ni GHTS mod, every civ gets these abilities.
  • Death of a Thousand Cuts: In Civilization IV, due to how reduced Hit Points also reduce combat strength, it is relatively common for two or three low tech units to gang up on and defeat high tech units. This, however, is arguably superior to previous versions in which a single die roll determined the outcome of each battle. In Civilization II, the hit point system allowed units to be overwhelmed by enough less powerful ones, though the resource costs would usually make doing this an impractical option. City sieges would also sometimes turn into this, due to the high defense bonuses of city wall type improvements.
    • In V, every unit has 10 hit points. A stronger unit will lose less HP and inflict more, but every encounter between two melee units will take at least 1 HP from both units involved. Ranged attacks also do at least 1 HP of damage, and they don't injure the attacker. Long story short, five ancient-era archers with the "logistics" promotion (which allows them to attack twice) are guaranteed to take down even the Giant Death Robot if they attack first.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Civilization V's Civilopedia points out some of the more complicated and absurd parts of history that it goes over for certain entries, and is by no means above poking more fun at them if it feels warranted.
    • By way of example, its entry for Fascism reads:

  This form of government was quite popular in certain states in Central Europe during the last century but other states didn't much like it, and it was ultimately abandoned after some unpleasantness.

  • Demoted to Extra: Brennus and the Celts are demoted from a playable faction in 4 to being AI-only barbarians in Revolution, and then brought back (under Boudica) with the upcoming Gods & Kings expansion for 5.
  • Development Gag: The screen names of Beta testers appear as Great Spies (probably because there aren't many historical great spies whose names we actually know -- because then they wouldn't be very good spies.)
  • Diagonal Speed Boost: In every game up to Civilization V, which is played on hex tiles.
  • Easy Mode Mockery: The game compares you to a famous (or infamous) world leader after it ends. On easy mode, you can beat the AI by a mile and still get compared to "Warren G Harding," or worse, "Dan Quayle." See Take That.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: In Civ V, Harald Bluetooth and the Denmark faction are available as a DLC faction, but interestingly glimpses of a Viking-type faction can be seen in the opening cinematics.
  • Easy Communication: All of your soldiers and cities can be instantly ordered to do anything, even in the ages before radio. Possibly justified by having turns take much longer in earlier eras.
  • Easy Logistics: Troops can "heal" (replenish their numbers) regardless of how far away they are from your civilization, and Civ 5 takes this a step further with the "instant heal" promotion. Incidentally, the same game has a Logistics promotion, which allows ranged siege units to attack twice in one turn.
  • Elvis Lives: The King usually stops by for a cameo in each game.
  • Encyclopedia Exposita: The Civilopedia, which contains just about everything you need to know about the game's structures, units, technologies, terrain and resources, with a smattering of Actual History scattered throughout.
  • Everyone Meets Everyone: Normally the main action in the beginning of the game.
  • Everyone Is Bi: Leaders who flirt with the player at high relation do so regardless of the gender of the leader selected by the player. Catherine the Great in Civilization IV is particularly notorious.

  Catherine We were defeated, so this makes me your slave. I suppose there are worse fates.

  • Everything's Worse with Bears: Bears are the greatest menace to early explorers in Civilization IV... at least until the roving barbarians get their hands on bronze weaponry.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The aforementioned Giant Death Robot. Yes, that's the official name.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: A lot of the diplomacy actions in Civilization IV lean in this direction, as you'll be presented with a request that will inevitably make either the requester or a third party angry. Next turn, that other party will make a similar demand in reverse. The price of neutrality (if you don't want to choose sides) is to be hated by nearly everyone.
    • Also happens in "V" to a certain extent. Your 'friends' will request spare luxury resources and gold on a regular basis, without giving a blasted thing back. Although agreeing will improve relations a bit, they can get pretty greedy. But if you decline even once, they stop asking forever and it´s a permanent diplomatic penalty. And if you make a request yourself, they will almost always decline and mark it as a penalty anyway, apparently because they are a bunch of jerkasses...
  • Fan Service: Civilization V's leaders of either gender. Among the males we have Ramkamhaeng, Montezuma, and Kamehameha, all of whom are basically shirtless, while among the women we have Catherine the Great, whose Pimped-Out Dress has an Impossibly Low Neckline
  • Fictional Holiday: Not so fictional.
    • There still is "We Love the King Day".
  • Fog of War
  • 4X: One of the titans of the genre.
  • The Fundamentalist: Isabella in Civilization IV. If you aren't whatever religion she is (usually Buddhist), prepare for WAR! There is an actual government type called Fundamentalism in Civilization II, and a Theocracy civic in Civilization IV. Civ 5 has several "Social Policies", of which one can have either Piety or Rationalism. You are forever barred from the other, likely for this reason.
  • Game Mod: Tons, including Fall From Heaven.
  • Gender Bender: In Civilization II, Leonardo's Workshop automatically upgrades all your Diplomat units to Spy units. The Diplomat is depicted as a little man in formal wear, the Spy as a Femme Fatale in a Little Black Dress. Happens again in Civilization IV, as pre-industrial era spies, men in black robes, transform into women in skin tight stealth suits upon reaching the industrial era.
    • In IV, it's actually a case of Sweet Polly Oliver, since upon being captured the "male" spies still sound female.
  • Gender Flip: All great people in Civilization IV are represented by male units, though a significant number of them are actually women. Among other things, this gives Joan of Arc quite an impressive beard.
  • Geo Effects: All types of terrain give various offensive and/or defensive bonuses to units attacking to or defending from them. Furthermore, all types of terrain produce specific amounts of Food, Gold and Production, which can be altered with "Improvements" such as farms, watermills, railroads, etc.
    • V's hex system now includes actual line of sight, and ranged units will need a clear shot at their target. If a hill, forest or mountain is one hex between the target and the unit, no dice. (Unless you're in the modern era...)
  • Glass Cannon: Cannons (duh). Also, catapults and various other forms of artillery. Generally portrayed as a powerful offensive or bombardment unit with little to no defensive capabilities whatsoever, which make them easy to capture if left undefended by another military unit.
    • In Civilization V, archers, catapults and other ranged units can now fire from further away than in front of the enemy's faces (usually leading in previous games to getting smacked down without an escort on the same tile). A necessary change as they're still as fragile as ever and units can't share spaces.
  • Global Currency: Undifferentiated gold (which is still used before you research "currency" and gain the ability to trade it with other players). Strangely enough, in Civilization IV you can use the United Nations to enact a single global currency, boosting trade. This is probably because modeling currency exchange rates is well beyond the scope of the game's economic system.
  • Global Warming: Better watch that pollution, or your cities will sink! More recent games have backed off on this and will instead occasionally alter a terrain square to an inferior type, such as grasslands to deserts.
    • Call To Power, which continued much further into the future than a normal Civilization title, took this concept to its logical conclusion. The problem got much, much worse before ultimately getting better through the use of advanced technology (and, possibly, ecoterrorism). Of course, by that point, the majority of your population will have likely already relocated to undersea cities and/or space, rendering the point somewhat moot.
  • A God Am I: Ramesses II from Civilization V. Appropriate since all Egyptian Pharaohs were considered gods. Occasionally Alexander the Great gives this to you when you beat him, he goes into a Heroic BSOD and exclaims "How could this be? I am Heir to the Gods!"
    • Subverted in Civ V, by Nebuchadnezzer II of Babylon, who when you greet him will say "The fools outside think I am a god. That seems unlikely."
    • A few others dip into this as well, depending on what culture they had. Montezuma, for instance.
  • Graceful Loser: Some of the leaders in Civilization V.
  • Have a Gay Old Time: In Civilization II, when you changed governments, the newspaper would announce, "[Your Citizens] Are Revolting!" To which all the AI players' citizens would go, "Well, duh."
  • Herd-Hitting Attack: Artillery in Civilization IV, and others with the Collateral Damage promotion. All units in the original Civilization and Civilization II.
    • Not to mention nukes.
  • Historical Beauty Update: Civilization Revolution's national leaders, especially the females.
    • Surprisingly inverted in Civilization III for the Greeks, when for some reason they make Alexander the Great, actually one of the few genuinely good-looking historical leaders, pretty scrawny and unattractive.
  • Historical In-Joke: Why does Napoleon's unique ability in V expire with the discovery of Steam Power? Because, as IV quoted, Napoleon thought the concept was nonsense.
  • Hollywood History: There has not been a single game where Roman Legionaries have been properly depicted.
  • Human Popsicle: The ones that go into the spaceship that flies to Alpha Centauri.
    • Call To Power features cryogenic freezing chambers. In addition to their normal benefits, they also provide citizens of a Theocratic government a happiness boost. Derive from that what you will.
  • Humans Are White: With the exception of special units, all units in Civilization III and IV are white. However, the Beyond the Sword expansion for Civilization IV added different skin sets for different civilizations (Mali has black swordsmen etc).
  • Humongous Mecha: Civilization V features the "Giant Death Robot", which can only be acquired in the late game and is a way to cement your Curb Stomp Battle victory.
  • Idiosyncratic Difficulty Levels: Just click the link, there's a big list on the trope page.
  • Inferred Holocaust:
    • In an eerily literal example, one of the expansion packs to Civilization III includes a fascist government type; immediately after a civilization adopts fascism, it suffers a slight population loss for a few turns, presumably as `undesirables` are, ahem, purged by the Secret Police.
    • Forced labor (present in several forms of government in the same game, and under the Slavery civic in Civ IV) has pretty much the same connotation. More liberal forms of government replace this method with the standard option to rush-build things by throwing enough money at it.
    • Razing towns kills its entire population. Although capitals can never be razed, so it´s not possible to kill off entire V. Before that, the games allowed, even encouraged genocide.
  • Injun Country: One of the civilizations added in "Beyond the Sword" is "Native America"[3]. This historical inaccuracy is justified in Civilopedia: it is explained that the "Native American Empire" isn't a historical empire, but a hypothetical result of the different Native American civilizations joining their forces.
  • Instant Awesome, Just Add Mecha: Civilization 5's Giant Death Robot (yes, it's actually called that.)
  • Instant Win Condition: Once an ending condition is reached, that civ wins, no matter how the actual situation looks at the time. There could be a massive column of tanks ready to flatten an enemy's capital, but if the spaceship reaches Alpha Centauri, they win.
    • Or, more egregiously, by cultural victory. In Civ IV for example, you win instantly for getting your third city up to legendary culture, regardless of whether it's in the process of being destroyed.
  • Irony: The United Nations in Civilization II actually makes it easier to wage war on nations that aren't willing to fight.
  • It Will Never Catch On: Napoleon providing a Real Life example is the quote for steam power in IV.
    • Added on to in V: Napoleon gets free culture per turn until Steam Power is discovered.
  • Just One More Level: Some games directly invoke this by prompting the player with the option "Just one more turn" after they win the game or when they try to quit.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: Played straight in III'. The best time to be playing Japanese is during the Medieval Era in that game. Once you get access to the Samurai, you can hack and slash your way through any and all other Civs using a pure Samurai force, until the gunpowder era finally renders them obsolete.
    • Play somewhat straight in 4, as well. Instead of replacing knights, samurai instead replace Macemen, who are the best melee units in the game. Against other melee units, the samurai's strong attack and First Strikes make them damn near unstoppable. Against knights, which serve as the medieval cavalry unit, it's a whole 'nother story.
  • Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better: You can play this game far into the future as you like, rack up a bunch of "Future Techs", discover Fusion Power and journey into the stars. However, weapons technology will never pass the modern day era. Can be averted with player-made modifications or official scenarios, such as Next War and Final Frontier in Beyond the Sword. The non-canonical Civilization: Call To Power averted this trope by introducing two new Ages: Genetic and Diamond, featuring advanced plasma and fusion-based weaponry.
  • Large Ham: The Military Advisor in 'II.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: In Civ IV, the AI loves to manipulate you into fighting its enemies for it. It goes like this: A friendly AI civ declares war on an enemy. They invite you to join the war, and then once you're involved and have moved all your troops in, they'll quickly sign a peace treaty with the enemy, leaving you to keep fighting alone, weakening you both and making you look like a Jerkass.
    • Of course, if you don't agree to join in the war with your 'ally', it's a diplomatic penalty. And they'll hardly ever help you if you ask them for aid, except when you are so strong that you could probably win the war by yourself anyway.
  • Little Black Dress: Worn by the Spy in Civilization II.
  • Lost Technology: In Civilization V, Ancient Ruins have a chance of giving a military unit a free upgrade. In the early game, you can get Archers, Spearmen, and even Swordsmen before researching them normally. It takes a turn for the absurd, however, when Ancient Ruins that have been sitting untouched since the beginning of the game can upgrade your Musketmen to Infantry, or your Tank to a Modern Armor. It's less likely to happen now since an official patch has made it impossible for a previously upgraded unit to receive this bonus.
    • This was slightly more or less (depending on how you look at it) pronounced in the earlier games, which did not have Civilization-specific units. Thus, your military typically consisted of something of an Anachronism Stew.
  • Magically-Binding Contract: In the earlier games of the series, the players were free to break treties as they wished. Later on, some treaties were given a minimum duration - for example, after signing a peace treaty in IV, it is actually impossible to declare war against the same player for 10 turns.
  • Medium Awareness:
    • On rare occasions, when declaring war, Alexander the Great will look the player in the eye and ask, "You didn't really think I was going for a cultural victory, did you?" Hannibal does this too sometimes.
    • Some of the reasons why another Civ isn't on good terms with you dip into this. From Civilization V: "They think we are trying to win the game in a manner similar to theirs, and they don't like it."
    • In IV, the AI will never trade away any techs required to build spaceship parts, because "we'd rather win the game, thank you very much."
  • Mega Corp: You can found them in the Beyond the Sword expansion.
  • A Million Is a Statistic: Inherently, based on the nature of the game. In Civilization V, this saying is read aloud when you reach the Modern Era.
  • Million Mook March: Large standing armies come at a cost not building anything else and support costs and thus not all that viable for non-pure military. They suddenly do become viable as soon as you access to "flight" and build an airport in a dedicated military city. This allows you to instantly transport a unit as soon as it is completed to any of your cities (or allied cities if needed) while the production center may not have any buildings all that useful to build at that point in the game.
    • "V" offers a few Policies that make a small army worthwhile, and the combat system generally favors small but high-tech units. However, you can have as many planes in the same city as you want, which invokes this trope if you happen to have enough oil or aluminium to support a large air force.
  • Misplaced Accent: While having the civilization leaders speak their native languages in Civilization V was a nice touch, several people criticized some of their accents as historically inaccurate: Napoleon loses his Corsican accent, George Washington has a Bill Clinton-esque modern American accent rather than anything from the 18th century, and Catherine speaks perfect Russian despite being born as and raised by Germans.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Catherine the Great, Queen Isabella and a few others.. AND HOW!
  • Multiple Endings: Multiple win conditions, actually. The first two games had the warlike method (conquer every other civilization) or the peaceful method (send a spaceship to another planet). Later games introduced diplomatic, cultural, or domination-based victory conditions.
    • Domination was taken out, and Revolution added Economic: Have 200,000 gold and build the World Bank wonder. Sadly this was not included in 5.
    • The diplomatic victory has changed quite a bit. In IV, it was about getting enough votes to become supreme leader (good luck doing this in a multiplayer game). In V, it's mostly financial. City states make requests from time to time, and if conquered by another civ, you can liberate them to guarantee a vote from them, but in practice, most influence with city states is simply bought with gold, especially if other players are competing for diplomatic victory.
  • My Rules Are Not Your Rules: When playing on the higher difficulty levels in Civ V, the AI doesn't actually get smarter but instead relies on simply ignoring the game rules that limit the player's own success to do as it pleases.
    • The main way of controlling the player's expansion is happiness. Playing on the Prince ("normal") difficulty, the AI only gets 60% of the unhappiness that the player does, and gets more happiness to start and an extra point of happiness for each luxury. This roughly translates to allowing an AI Civ to be twice as large as a human one with the same level of happiness, on normal, the difficulty where "The AI receives no particular bonuses".
    • In earlier games, it would simply decide "now's a good time to instantly build a wonder". Nowadays, the cheating is mostly relegated to numbers; a lot of them.
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Giant Death Robot.
  • Narrator: In more recent games, they've had most of their descriptive text be read aloud, following in the footsteps of Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri. Though in this case, they only have one person doing the job:
    • Leonard Nimoy in Civ IV. Though Nimoy wasn't hired for the expansion packs, and their narration ends up quite jarring.
    • W. Morgan Sheppard in Civ V.
  • Neutral No Longer: In II, a Spy planting a nuclear device causes all civilizations to go at war against the perpetrator. In V, city-states become permanent enemies to a civilization which keeps attacking and conquering city states.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: In Revolution, granting certain upgrades gives the unit a title, so you can wind up with unit called a "Ninja Samurai Knight Army." And it is just as awesome as the name would suggest.
  • No Blood for Phlebotinum: If you don't have a resource and can't get it through trade or peaceful expansion, the only options left are either do without it or resort to violence.
    • Beyond the Sword introduced the "Greed" and "Corporate Expansion" quests, which codify this.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: In Revolution, the modern era diplomacy advisor is clearly modeled on Condoleeza Rice.
  • Non-Entity General: Both played straight for the player's leader (although you can choose your leader from among all the available ones, AI players react to you the same way regardless), and averted by AI leaders, some of whom are much more trigger-happy than others (we're looking at you, Isabella), and all of whom have personalized and sometimes entertaining interactions. For instance, if sufficiently offended presented with any deal she doesn't like, Catherine the Great may "slap" "the player", complete with Star Trek Shake, while if your relations are good (heh heh) she may favor you with a flirtatious wink. Tick off Sumerian badass Gilgamesh, and he'll grab your throat, bring you up close for a Death Glare, then hurl you back.
  • No Swastikas: The Third Reich is conspicuous in its near-total absence, although there is one quote from Adolf Hitler for IV's Fascism tech, and Erwin Rommel is featured as a Great General in Warlords (though Rommel wasn't actually a Nazi). The strange people who yearn for Hitler's inclusion in the series tend to note that Stalin and Mao, who were just as nasty if not quite as infamous, are playable leaders (though no country with paying customers will ban the game because of them).
    • Because of this, one of the best-known player mods to II is the so-called "Fascism Patch", which, in addition to doing a great many other things (bugfixes, better-looking units and so on) replaces the Fundamentalism government type with Fascism and gives the player appropriate units including the Stormtrooper (elite infantry) and the Dive Bomber.
    • And there's the World War II scenario in II; it has special AI so that in the first few turns the Axis and Allies will repeat events that happened in the real world, like the Axis occupying Holland.
    • On the other hand, the only III built-in scenario dealing with World War II (in the Conquests expansion) was World War II in the Pacific.
    • The "World War II: Road to War" mod included with Civ IV: Beyond the Sword solves this problem by including two versions of each scenario -- one with Hitler, and one in which he is replaced with Franz von Papen. The former is presumably taken out in countries where Nazi symbolism and direct references to the Third Reich are banned.
    • Most egregiously, the German version even omits Hitler's name in the aforementioned Fascism tech quote, and instead gives "a German dictator" as source.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent:
    • The intro movie for Civilization V has a Arabic Chieftain explaining a dream of world domination to his son. For some reason, both speak with heavy English accents. Of course, since he dreams of his people being samurai, building the Great Pyramid, storming a castle, and being Norse invaders, the two are likely suppose to represent a generic vision of humanity rather than a specific civilization.
  • Nuke'Em: Across all the games, nuclear weapons are by far the most devastating weapon it's possible to build (but see One-Hit Kill below). Using them, however, is something of a Moral Event Horizon as far as the game is concerned, causing all AI players to declare war with you automatically and leaving horrendous pollution behind, beginning a catastrophic period of Global Warming. Interestingly, in IV you can get the UN to sign a nonproliferation treaty banning the building (but not use) of nuclear weapons, and an advanced player can sometimes do this after building his own nukes, leaving himself the sole nuclear armed power in the game.
  • Obvious Beta: When V first came out, it had a lot of bugs and balance issues, routinely crashed to desktop for many machines, and had obtuse, sociopath AIs in an over-reaching effort to make them more like human players. Patches fixed many of the crashes, fan-made mods such as VEM took care of the balance issues and bugs (and much of VEM was later implemented into official patches), and the AI has found a balance between the above and the manipulable point-based relations of 4.
  • One-Hit Kill: The Eco Ranger unit in Call To Power. Don't let that brightly-painted Flower Power exterior fool you. What it kills, in one hit, is a city.
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder: All military units were this until Civilization II, which introduced a Hit Points system to avert the "Spearman Beats Tank" problem. Civilization III simplified the combat system but reintroduced the problem. Civilization IV merged Hit Points and combat power into one figure, making Death of a Thousand Cuts a serious problem.
    • "V" generally averts this but there are several situations where units become OHP Ws (despite having 10 Hitpoints):
      • Any non-combat unit (Great People, Workers and Settlers) are instantly killed or captured if an enemy military unit moves onto their tile.
      • Any embarked unit is instantly killed by enemy naval units moving onto their tile, unless they have Defensive Embarkment.
      • Units stationed in towns are instantly killed if the town is captured or nuked.
      • Finally, Japan's cultural power is that damaged units do not lose combat prowess. There is even an achievement to be earned by sending a 1-HP unit against an opposing unit and winning.
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: Justinian I's diplomacy theme, which is contrary to popular belief NOT Deus Iudex Iustus.
  • Opening Narration: In the first game, this was used to cover the Loads and Loads of Loading. In the fourth game, it was brought back as a tribute... And recited by Leonard Nimoy! V has Xanatos' dad doing the opening narrations as well as the quotes for when you research something.
  • Overt Rendezvous: In the intro to Civilization IV's expansion, an image of Lincoln giving the Gettysburg address Match Cuts to his memorial, where two spies are passing along photos of Soviet missile sites.
  • Path of Greatest Resistance: This is very useful to determine the point of origin of an enemy (Barbarian or Civilized) whose camp/cities you haven't found yet.
  • Permanent Elected Official: You. Heck, not even TIME will free them from your rule.
  • Please Select New City Name: The Trope Namer.
  • Politically-Correct History: As mentioned elsewhere on the page, the Civilopedia and leader descriptions desperately try to portray all civilizations in an entirely positive light. They glorify expansion without necessarily mentioning what that entailed (say, for the Spanish or Mongols), and gloss over some inequality. For instance, Korea's Joseon Dynasty is praised as intellectually and culturally enlightened, while not mentioning how conditions were for females.
  • The Power of Rock: Rock 'N Roll is a constructable Wonder of the World in Civ IV. It even plays The Velvet Underground's "Rock and Roll" during the movie. Thanks to the Tech Tree, it usually gets finished around the same time a Diplomatic Victory becomes possible. Since building it allows you to export "Hit Singles," you can build global good will by giving them away for free right before elections are held, thereby literally winning the game via The Power of Rock.
  • Privateer
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: Some leaders act this way in the dialogue, although their behaviour towards you may not be that honorable.
  • Puppet State:
    • In one of the Expansion Packs for Civilization IV, any sufficiently powerful civ can make any sufficiently weak civ into their vassal state. If the vassal grows powerful enough (there are exact numbers), it can regain independence.
    • In Civ 5, you can't make an entire civ into one, but when you conquer an enemy city you have the option between annexing it (which simply makes it on of your civ's cities, but generates a lot of unhappiness until a courthouse is built) or making it a puppet (which gives all the science, culture, and gold it generates to your civ, but you cannot control its production, for either buildings or units).
      • Puppeted towns are also automatically set to focus on gold production, making them fairly useless for any other purpose.
  • Random Event: Introduced in the Civilization IV expansions. A lot of them are just random things that affect improvements and tile output (mine collapses, tornados, striking a deposit of jade), while others can change your relationship with your neighbors, such as a politically-arranged marriage collapsing or a high-ranking intelligence agent defecting. Other Random Events depend on your government, such as your hereditary dynasty dying out or an election being too close to call and being settled by the courts, giving you an incentive to try out as many Civic combinations as possible.
    • Civilization V uses this for city state requests. Especially when they ask for a certain resource or want another city state eliminated.
  • Randomly Generated Levels
  • Redshirt Army: "Nationhood" allows you to draft military units, but they are less effective than ones built the normal way and cost population.
  • Rock Beats Laser: Due to the behind-the-scenes dice rolls, you can have some truly bizarre outcomes, like the common meme among fans of a spearman beating a tank. Each game after the first altered the combat equations in various ways without actually removing the problem. Fundamentally, it's about units having attack and (in some versions) defense values that fail to take into account basic concepts like range. Therefore, the Random Number God will eventually allow the spearman to get lucky.
    • With the right combination of bonuses, it doesn't even need to be a lucky roll. In Civ II, a veteran phalanx (+50% strength) in a mountain-top (x3 defence) city, with walls (x3 defence) would win more often than lose against anything less than a tank.
    • Further, there are some "auto win" situations, as in Civilization IV where ships and aircraft in base/port are automatically destroyed when a land unit occupies their square. Yes, this means you can take out a squadron of stealth fighters and a fleet of battleships with a club-wielding warrior (presumably they bash them into nothing while on the ground/port).
      • Civilization V does this on water. Any embarked land unit can be instantly killed by any ship moving on them.
      • In Civ IV, on the lower difficulties, you are guaranteed to win your first encounters with barbarians. If you haven't used up these "free wins", you can create a barbarian modern armour with World Builder and your warrior will defeat it.
  • Sand Is Water, The Sky Is an Ocean, Space Is an Ocean, Lava Is Boiling Kool-Aid: Many game mods substitute different types of terrain for oceans. For example, the Test of Time fantasy cloud world has sky, the Sci-fi orbital map has space, and a Dune based mod uses sand for the "ocean" terrain, while using, respectively, clouds, orbital platforms, and rocky terrain as "land".
  • Save Scumming: Across all the games, it's disturbingly easy to abuse the save feature to get favorable battle outcomes or avoid negative randomly generated events. Some versions try to prevent this by saving the random number generator's seed along with the game, so you get the exact same outcomes after a reload unless you do things in a different order. This option can be turned off, however.
  • Schizo-Tech: A particularly skilled player can roll over his spear-equipped enemies with legions of tanks. (Well, all except That One Unit...)
    • This is pretty much bound to happen in any game where one player runs away with the science race, especially in Call To Power. Screw tanks against spearmen - it's far more satisfying to send giant, missile-equipped robots after them. Or, go for the ultimate insult and use a space bomber to vaporize them.
    • This problem was noticeably worse before the concept of technological eras was further developed in Civilization III. In the first two games, one could climb disturbingly far up just one or two branches of the tech tree before finally having to go back and research, say, The Wheel.
    • In II and earlier, you didn't necessarily even have to go back and research it. You could trade for techs without having all the prerequisites for them, so if you had all the follow-on techs, and didn't need the specific units or abilities that a particular tech gave you (chariots, in the case of The Wheel in II), you could ignore it completely. Which could lead to hilarious exchanges with AI civs: "We notice that your puny civilization hasn't even discovered The Wheel. We'll gladly give it to you in exchange for the secret of the Automobile."
  • Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: IV has a demographics section, and most of it is alright. However, the size in square miles is ridiculously low compared to what it should be. For instance, in an Earth map that ships with Beyond the Sword, you can own all of China, Mongolia, Korea, Siberia and Afghanistan, and it'll give you 441,000 square miles. In real life, that's only the size of Colombia. Population amounts shown in the demographics tend to be fairly low as well.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have a Nuke: Invoked by the leaders before the negotiations in the first two games: "Our words are backed with NUCLEAR WEAPONS!"
  • Separate but Identical: In full force in the first two games. Installments after III moved away from this by giving unique units and buildings to each civilization and different traits to each leader, but all civs still draw from the same Tech Tree (with all that that implies).
  • Shout-Out: Many.
  • Shown Their Work: Rhye's and Fall of Civilization, a historical simulator for the entire world, is ridiculously detailed, with pretty much every tile named after a city that really exists there, and they change according to the controlling Civ. It's a Game Mod, not something made by the developers, although one that usually gets included as a bonus in expansion packs for the game.
  • Sliding Scale of Turn Realism: Round by Round.
  • Space Is Noisy: Averted in IV. If you pull the camera back far enough to show the entire planet, the sound and music fade away to silence.
  • Standard Snippet: Also Sprach Zarathustra is played when you win II by launching a spaceship.
  • Stealth Pun:
    • In Civilization Revolution, the advance that makes the great person Leopold Stokowski more likely to appear is Superconductor.
    • In Civ IV, Julius Caesar's greeting to you when you first meet him is "Welcome to Rome, <player>. Care for some salad? I made it myself."
    • The Tech quote for "Machinery" in IV is "A god from the machine"
  • The Stoic: Augustus Caesar in Civ 5. Everything he says, including a declaration of war or the announcement of his total defeat, comes out bored and monotonous. His body language isn't more vivid either: he sits on his throne and occasionally waves a hand as he speaks. It's possible that this is him after the Battle of the Teutoburger Forest.
  • Suspiciously Small Army: A "unit" can be anything from one ship or aircraft to 10 soldiers, depending on the game. Most players, however, seem to regard this as a non-issue, regarding land and air units to represent larger groupings (what seems to be ten Riflemen is actually a whole division of rifles; what seems to be one Jet Fighter is actually a whole wing of jets). For naval units, early units like Galleys seem to be groupings, but it would actually make sense for later units to be individual ships (those things are big and expensive enough, and tend to be built in smaller numbers anyway).
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: In Civilization IV: Beyond The Sword the ordinary spy at earlier ages is a woman disguised as a shepherd with a fake beard. When the age advances she drops the act and dons a Spy Catsuit.
  • Symbology Research Failure: The Kremlin world wonder... is actually St. Basil's Cathedral. By V, this has become a running gag since the wonder portrait that pops up when you build the Kremlin depicts the actual Kremlin, while the wonder still looks like a cathedral on the world map.
  • Take That: After your score is computed, it shows where you rank among a list of historical leaders. At the top are people like Augustus Caesar, Abraham Lincoln, Hammurabi, Charlemagne, and Winston Churchill. At the very bottom? Dan Quayle. Quayle's "the future will be better tomorrow" quote is also read by Nimoy in IV when you research your first Future Tech.
  • Tech Tree: Generally containing upwards of 80 technologies. Of course, it does take 6,000 years to climb to the top of it.
  • The Theme Park Version: Revolution is definitely the "kiddie introductory Civilization game." Not that it's bad, per se, but it's very simplified and over-exaggerated, especially in art style and presentation.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: Deity difficulty in Civilization IV. "Muahahahaha! Good luck, sucker!"
  • Too Dumb to Live: The AI is fond of insulting your "puny little empire" even if you own half the world and are poised to run over them with a legion of tanks. "Now I have a warrior! Ho ho ho!"
    • Sometimes the AI will still treat you like that after getting their ass handed to them in a previous war. Including eventually declaring war on you again and losing just as badly.
    • Even better, sometimes the AI will declare war on you from that state, only to dash their army to pieces against your technological superiority. At this point they frantically sue for peace, bribing you with gold, resources and even cities. To end a war that they started.
    • In Civ V, if the computer believes it has the upper hand in a war through some nebulous logic that apparently reaches this concussion even if you are rapidly blitzkrieging through their cities, it will offer you a peace treaty in exchange of essentially everything you own (money, resources, cities) except for your capital. To end a war you are winning. Perhaps it’s betting on your hand twitching and clicking Accept by accident.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Tokugawa is a strict isolationist, and it takes ridiculous amounts of bribery to get him to even open his borders. If Japan is one of the rival empires in 4, you should probably just consider them an enemy and forget diplomatic measures - it's a lot cheaper.
  • Unreliable Narrator: The Civilopedia in 4 claims under "Police State" credits it with helping Stalin not lose World War 2, while Stalin's entry says only Russia's sheer size and winter prevented a quick loss. (Of course, would you expect any less from Stalin?)
  • Unstable Equilibrium: Present in all Civilization games. An empire that manages to secure good territory early on can research faster and produce more units, making it easier for them to expand even further. The endgame is typically resolved between two or three strong empires while the weaker ones have already been wiped out or reduced to barely influential lapdogs with practically zero chance of winning.
  • Useless Useful Skill: Some of the Civics in Civ IV were notorious for being worthless -- most notably Environmentalism, which granted a bonus for a resource (forests and jungles) that you'd more than likely eradicated by the time you became able to use it. Environmetalism became far more powerful in the Beyond the Sword expansion.
  • Video Game Caring Potential: "We Love The King Day celebrated in <city name>."
    • It's a part of gameplay for V; a City will require a certain resource and if you can get the required resource the local populace start getting busy.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Poison your neighbors' water supplies! Bomb farmlands and cause the starving deaths of millions! Nuke Gandhi!
    • Gandhi nuked me first!
    • In addition to allowing (read: encouraging) you to use slavery, Civilization also entices you to wipe out entire nations. If you manage to subjugate or genocide every race but your own, the game declares you a winner.
  • Variable Player Goals: Any civilization can achieve any of the win conditions, but some civs have particular traits that make achieving certain goals easier than others.
  • Vast Bureaucracy: Different games have found different ways to represent this:
    • The first three games had a corruption mechanic which affected individual cities, affected by government type, empire size, and the particular city's distance from the capital. This is supposed to represent a sprawling empire's tendency to be plagued by expensive red tape, inefficiency, and graft.
    • The fourth replaces the corruption mechanic with city maintenance costs and Civics upkeep, largely representing the same thing. There's also a Bureaucracy Civic, which provides a significant boost to your civ's capital (and no other city at all).
    • The fifth just gave up and made everything global; the empire itself is the basic unit of measure, instead of individual cities:
      • If you build a Colosseum, it adds +X smileys to your empire's Happiness total. This makes war a lot easier, since it eliminates the catch-22 of newly-conquered citizens who are too furious to build things that would un-furiize them. However, it does cause some Fridge Logic when you realize that angry citizens in newly-conquered (say) Shanghai are being pacified by the goings-on of a theater in New York.
      • On the other hand, other mechanics, particularly Culture, slant the game towards empires with a small number of well-developed cities. The more towns you have, the more Culture points each new policy requires; this slows down anyone who's going for a Culture Victory or who just wants the bonuses policies provide. Plus, the AI will get hostile if you encroach on (what they perceive to be) their territory.
  • Video Game Remake: Not any of the games themselves, but various scenarios from the games are updated versions of earlier scenarios--for instance, the Mongol conquests DLC scenario from V is an improved version of the one in IV: Warlords.
  • Video Game Time: The years pass by in a strange way in Civilization: In the beginning, a turn ranges from 50 years to a couple of centuries, depending on the game speed, but slows down as the years go by. Even in later ages, unit speeds are ridiculously slow (a year to fly from one city to another!). However, it's an Acceptable Break From Reality in a game of this scope. To give you an idea, you can have a unit of cavalry serving you for over 2000 years.
  • War Elephants: In Civ II, they become available when you discover Polytheism, for some reason. In Civ III, they're India's special unit, replacing knights. In Civ IV, they become available when you discover Construction, but you also need access to Ivory.
    • Two separate versions show up as special units in Civ V; the standard War Elephant replacing the Chariot Archer for India and Naresuan's Elephant replacing Siam's Knight.
  • We Will Have Perfect Health in the Future: One of the wonders in Call To Power is an immunity chip.
    • In Civ III and Civ IV, every Future Tech increases the civilization's health and happiness. If you get enough Future Tech your citizens will have perfect health and a massive grin.
  • War for Fun and Profit: Something that the A.I. civilizations invoke in Civ V. They will declare war against another civilization that they have military parity with, then rather than pour all their resources into beating down that civ, they will just fight it to a stalemate. After getting bored of this, it will then propose a peace treaty, with terms highly favorable to themselves and costly to the other civilization. In doing so, it gets to loose some of the military units it has been paying maintenance on, and get some nice access to luxury and strategic resources, and a fair amount of money to boot.
    • This can even happen without any enemy unit ever entering your borders.
  • Water Source Tampering: Poisoning a city's water supply is a potential espionage action in Civilization II. Succeeding reduces the city's population.
    • It's also possible in Civilization IV, and pulling it off slaps them with a massive health penalty for a time.
  • What Do You Mean It's Not Awesome?:
    • The Opening Menu for Civlization IV: Warlords, which is a Lebanese folk song called "Al Nadda". It sounds pretty Badass, right?. Well, it's a LOVE SONG[4]!
    • Note that "Baba Yetu," which (as mentioned above) is considered the new leitmotif of the series, is actually an adaptation of the Lord's Prayer in Swahili.
      • Which, when you think about it, is actually a pretty good fit for a game called Civilization.
    • The Greek theme, Epitaph of Seikilos, is the single oldest surviving example of a complete musical composition from anywhere in the world and is roughly 2000 years old. The song was found carved on a tombstone by Seikilos to his (presumed) wife Euterpe. For a more accurate version, try here.
    • Genghis Khan's theme, Urtiin Duu, is also a love song, and it's also incredibly ominous. They're not exaggerating it, either; here it is being performed in concert.
  • What the Hell, Player?: Try to perform certain illegal actions in the game, and you'll get some smart-aleck game notifications.
    • For Civilization II:
      • Trying to build a city at sea:

 "It may surprise you to learn that cities cannot be built at sea."

      • Trying to airlift naval units:

 "Ships cannot be airlifted, silly."

    • In a slightly more serious vein, in Civilization V you get this reaction from other civilizations (and City-States) if you're too aggressive towards City-States. This wouldn't be as big a deal if it wasn't for the complete lack of a way to repair your reputation once a City-State declares war on you. They decide you're a jerk, and that's the end of it.
      • There's a single, roundabout way to repair your rep. Example: Venice is at Permanent War with you. Venice gets conquered by another civ (say, by India). Then, when you swoop in with your Giant Death Robot and kick that bastard Gandhi out of Venice, you'll be given the option (alongside the normal options of "Annex" and "Create Puppet State") to "Liberate the City." This not only returns Venice back to being a sovereign city-state, but they'll be so grateful to be rid of Gandhi's tyrannical rule that your new relationship with Venice starts with the Allied bar heavily in the blue.
      • Note though one can make peace before this stage. It's only once a City-State has declared permanent war that relationships break down completely. It's usually justified though as it takes either intentionally going out and bullying City-States or a super-power manipulating them into going to war with you.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: Many scenarios reference the plots of other works:
  • Worker Unit: Workers and settlers.
  • Writer on Board: Some of the Civics descriptions in Civilization IV are a bit ... odd. The one for Pacifism basically denounces it as hypocrisy. And guess what the one about Universal suffrage says.
    • They all attempt to list the pros and cons of each civic. Even slavery has its advantages. Interestingly, they couldn't think of anything good to say about the caste system.
  • You Keep Using That Word: "Factoid" is used the way the word "fact" would be in Civ 5's Civilopedia.
  • You Fail History Forever: See Anachronism Stew above.
    • One Civilopedia entry infamously described Julius Caesar as being the "first emperor of Rome." That was actually his adopted son Augustus; Julius himself was never anything more than dictator for life.
    • The Civilopedia entries for marines and ironclads imply they were both American inventions.
    • The Pikeman unit in Civilization V wields a halberd, not a pike.
      • Although historically, halberds were often wielded in pikeman formations.
    • In Civilization 4 and Revolution, Saladin is the leader of Arabia. In Real Life, Saladin was a Kurd (born in what is now Iraq) who ruled most of the Arab world... from Egypt (itself a conquest of his, in a way).
    • In Civilization IV, Cyrus and Darius look quite different, while they were directly related in real life.
  • Zeppelins from Another World: Zeppelins are unlocked by the late-mid-game tech "physics", while heavier than air ships are unlocked latter via "flight" tech (not that far after physics, but some turns worth). Depending on the games tech progress, these might not go out of style for a long time. Unit wise, Airships can only bomb ground and sea units for a bit of damage, which is helpful given how strong garrisoned units can be, though it's not much damage (only able to reduce them to 80% of their max HP), and have no counters (short of taking the city they are based in) before "flight" (and if only you have that...).

Just... one... more... edit! *click*


  1. Technically, the re-arrangement of the piece for the album "Calling All Dawns."
  2. They must have been thinking about a different Gandhi.
  3. Their leader is Sitting Bull of the Lakota, their Unique Unit is the Cheyenne Dog Soldier and their Unique Building is the Haida Totem Pole
  4. Of course, with lyrics like "And if they refuse to give you to me, I will tear down the high mountains", the awesomeness of this song is probably justified
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