Civilization V: The Guide to Mods

Chris Mohon, 23 June 2013

Your Guide to Civ V Modding Madness!

I am a gamer.

Like so many of you, I started gaming at an early age, pushing cardboard pieces around on colorful maps, shooing the family cat away, and rejoicing when the alien technology plucked out of the Roswell UFO crash resulted in a brand spanking new Commodore computer on my desk. Because really, of all the wonders that a computer can bring into your life, what’s better than computer gaming? Ummmm…..well, keeping in mind that this IS a family website, anyway…..

Without a doubt, no game has stolen more hours of my life away than Sid Meier’s Civilization series. I’ve logged in over 500 hours on Civ V alone, and I’ve played every previous version at least as much. Back in the days when a new top-of-the-line computer was obsolete within a year, two at most, occasionally  a game came along which drove otherwise rational gamers to upgrade their computers so they could play the darn game. Civilization II-III and Panzer General 2 were responsible for many pitiful explanations (by that I mean begging) to my wife as to exactly why I needed a new graphics card and more memory or the Holy Grail, a new machine!

Clearly, I’m not the only Civ junkie. Every new Civ is an automatic best-seller, but the most telling thing about the game is perhaps the devotion of the fans who create mods, civilizations, maps, units and scenarios for the various Civs. As thrilling as Civ has always been to me, the opportunity to add units and maps of my own preference to Civ is the icing on the cake. Dreadnaughts, air ships, helicopters, nuclear carriers and subs, panzers, giant Mechs, Celtic kings, and Southern Generals, huge maps of the real world and detailed maps of fantasy kingdoms, most of these things have found their way into proper Civ games at one time or another, with many being initially created by fans to be inserted into a very moddable Civ universe.

When I say “very moddable”, I say that with my fingers crossed…..because while Civ has always been intended to be a fan friendly game, the results have sometimes been mixed. Many is the time when I have played around with adding Redcoats to the British, helicopters down the line, toyed with the look of various infantry units, added Dreadnaughts and Zeros, then went to load my new and improved Civ only to have it crash like the stock market of 1929. Inevitably it seemed that the more you tried to add, the greater the chance of it all falling apart. My love affair with Civ has, like any relationship, occasionally been tarred with sad, lonely moments.

Yet faster than you can say “gift card to Victoria’s Secret”, Steam Workshop has reignited the passion between Civ and me. Steam has many distractors (I am not one), but the Steam Workshop is simple genius, making mods available to even the least tech-savvy among us. Steam Workshop was a godsend for the mega-popular Skyrim universe, as well as the Left 4 Dead series, so I was hopeful that the addition of Steam Workshop to the Civ family might finally be the key to unlocking so many wonderful fan-generated mods.

So color me impressed.  Browsing the Civ V Steam Workshop is one big toy store for Civ fans. Adding a mod is almost as simple as reading the description and hitting “subscribe” while on the Steam Workshop site, then checking the mod when you start a new game of Civ V (read the end of this paragraph for more detailed instructions).

The available mods are of course why you are reading this. First, know that I’m a mod-snob. That’s like a wine snob only way cooler. I read the label. If other fans have rated your Civ Mod with four or five stars, you are a definite contender. Three stars is worth a look. Less than that or too new to have any stars and I’m not going to take a chance on your mod.  Some of the mods will not interest me no matter what, so the outright silly, the alien races, the cartoony Japanese anime, none of that is going to get a look from me. Same with the uber-powerful game changers. Not interested. Although all of these things may appeal to you….somehow. Your choice. Even with these automatic exclusions, my current game of Civ has some two dozen mods attached, not counting maps! So there is plenty to choose from. And even as I write this, while checking out the Workshop I see a couple that I’m going to have to add. Like I said, it’s a toy store for Civ junkies.

Mods a-plenty! >>

The Good Stuff!

Here are some of my favorites, ranging from the shiny chrome to the mods that tighten the rules in ways I favor, to a few new units and leaders. Take a peek:

Quotes from Civ IV by Leonard Nimoy  You know that one of your favorite things about Civ IV was hearing Nimoy describe your new tech advancement in that wonderful, ever recognizable voice he has.  Now you can have Nimoy back for Civ V.  A no-brainer.

Colored Religions is chrome but makes it easier to watch the spread of religions across your territory. More color, more fun. Definitely consider playing this one along with……

Strange Religions, because why should the prim and proper denominations have all the fun when you can throw Cthulhu, Freemasonry, and the Church of the SubGenius into the mix?

Extended Eras because don’t you just hate it when you finally get all your cool units and they are obsolete about the time you build enough to cry havoc? Extended Eras makes for a long game, but the flow feels right and it’s a good mod to have if you have the time.

Reveal Iron Early a small cheat but usable by your AI opponents as well.  Helps you to decide where that next city needs to go.

City Limits  A simple mod showing the city radius, which is strangely missing from this version of Civ.

Celtic City Names/Iroquian City Names/Ethnic units  cause it’s all about the chrome, baby.

Working Workboats  makes your workboats act more like sea-going workers and not disappear after tossing out some nets.  Useful since Workboats are one of those things that you hate taking time to build.

Foreign Trade Routes  The name says it all and like the current resident of the White House, I’m in favor of anything that brings in the revenue….in Civ anyway.

Maps: Rotate Starting Position  This nifty little mod is only useful on your very first turn, but it allows you to choose from six to eight different start up positions. Nice to have when you’ve created a custom game and your starting position is crippling.

Another option is Reseed  which does just that. It takes the parameters you have set for your game and generates a new map.

Goody Huts-No Maps!   Because who wants a stinkin’ map from a goody hut anyway?

City State Leaders   A nice piece of chrome that puts a face to those small, insignificant little nations taking up real estate that you desire. This way, when you crush them, it’s a lot more satisfying.

Capture Great People because, well….why not? Think of Werner von Braun here.

Reforestation  (a favorite among our Canadian friends…and Californians) for that back-to-nature look.

Barbarians, Unlimited Experience  Just something to keep that xp ticker going while you plan on invading your neighbors.

There are always a bunch of new Wonders available, so you can pick and choose here. I’ve gone with only a few, such as

Area 51 which improves your Air Force,

The National Military Academy which makes your ground forces that much deadlier,

The National Naval Academy which of course does the same for your naval forces and

The Mesa Verde Wonder which if found gives you a nice spot to populate in an otherwise barren/desert area.

There are, of course, a variety of new military units available as well as skin-changes to existing ones. For my personal tastes, I seldom fiddle too much with the play balance here, but I’ve added:

Hoplite Mod  Makes this unit a tad more competitive with the other kids on the block.

Helicopter Gunships  Because they….well, because they blow up things, ok???

The Amphibious Assault mod, which makes a handy amphibious assault ship available to build.

The Legion Mod which gives the Roman Legion the Cover I promotion, simulating their Turtle formation.

Airship and Land Ironclad  Brings these two units from the Smoky Skies scenario into your normal Civ experience, without damaging play balance. Because, you know, steam power really could’ve been the next big thing.

As far as new Civs go, there are many to add to your playing experience, among them:

Civil War Civs  add the Union and the Confederacy civilizations to your game. Pretty much a staple type of add on since early Civ. As is……

Das Deutsche Reich-WWII Germany   Yes, after years of living in an underwater sub base off of Brazil, he’s baaack.

But so is The United Kingdom, with Adolph’s old nemesis Winston running the show and those wonderful Redcoats in play. And if that’s not enough, we have

The Texans  ready to take on anyone and everyone further north than Abilene.

Israel, ready to take on anyone else, including the Texans. Or the Reich.

Then there are The Goths  Yep, yep….there goes the neighborhood.

And even The Elves   I haven’t tested this one yet for playability, but in a nod to my own geekhood I plan on it. The Elves will be trying their luck in my next game. You think Orcs are a problem? Let’s see how they do against the British Empire, the Romans and those pesky Mongols.

There are also a number of fan supported “other” nations, including Poland, Lithuania, a variety of fantasy and sci-fi kingdoms, and North Korea.

North Korea? Seriously, is North Korea even a playable country in the real world?

Maps and Mod Sets

Everything that I have mentioned so far constitutes mods which you can add to a new game in order to tweak your playing experience.  It’s a big Civ V buffet, you can add this but skip that, according to your taste. I would be remiss however if I did not mention two more things: Maps and Total Conversion Mods.

Maps have been added to Civ since day one. The current crop of Civ V maps are impressive, with the Game of Thrones kingdom of Westros being available and very popular. You can also play on a giant map of Africa, Europe in various forms, a huge North/Central American map, Australia, Middle Earth, Antarctica, an inverted Earth, a variety of Real Earths, lands from various fantasy games, you name it and it’s probably been made into a Civ V map.

Total Conversion Mods are the area where I have the least experience, just because I don’t go that route very often, but in addition to playing on a map of Westros, you can replace a number of civilizations with the kingdoms found in A Game of Thrones.  Or play a variety of fantasy mods, refight the Civil War, WWII, or the American Revolution.

Wrapping it Up

I love Civ, in case you missed that part. I always play on a huge map with a lot of opponents, I always buy the latest DLC’s, and I always add my favorite mods. Sid Meier has created a legendary game with the Civilization franchise, and besides the always-present “just one more turn” feeling that Civ gives you, anyone who has ever played the game has likely found themselves wishing for this unit or that, or wondering why this civilization wasn’t chosen or that Wonder. With mods, you can scratch that itch and customize a great game into something greater….for you. The possibilities may not quite be endless (now repeat that with Leonard Nimoy’s voice in your mind!), but they are vast, and for the first time in Civ’s long history, mods are very accessible to the average player. Put a little spice in your Civ and take advantage of the Steam Workshop to customize your game. I don’t play Civ V any other way now.

How to……..

If you already know how to add your Steam Workshop mods to Civ, skip this part and thanks for reading my article. I’m including this step-by-step for the folks that might not have it all down yet. Ready? This is how you do it.

(1) Check out the Civ V mods in the Steam Workshop. Each has a “star” rating, a description, and often comments from folks who have tried the mod. I usually read those just in case. Click “subscribe” to as many as interest you, but I strongly suggest sticking with well rated and reviewed mods. This will be your Civ mod and map library.

(2) Load Civ normally.

(3) Hit “Click to Continue”, then choose “Mods”.

Your Guide to Civ V Modding MadnessStep 1 Select mods

 

(4) “Accept” mods. New mods will now load onto your mod choices screen and old mods will check for updates. Once this is done, check the mods you wish to use in this Civ game, as well as any maps which you wish to have access to. Any mods you check WILL be in play in your game, whereas the maps and new civs will be available when you are setting up your new world. So if you check the Westros map, the Texas civilization, and Attack Helicopters, the map and the civ will be choices you can make when you get to that part, but the Attack Helicopters will be a part of the game no matter what other choices you make.

Your Guide to Civ V Modding MadnessStep 2 Accept

(5)  Hit that big “Next” button.

Your Guide to Civ V Modding MadnessStep 3 choose and update mods

(6)  You will now see a screen which tells you which mods are in use for your new game. Hit “Set Up Game”

Your Guide to Civ V Modding MadnessStep 4 Next

(7) Make your gaming choices and either hit “Play” to kick this off, or go into “Advanced Setup” to further tinker with your world by choosing victory conditions, opponents, maps, or even disabling Spies or Al Gore. Ok, I made that last one up.

Your Guide to Civ V Modding MadnessStep 5 Single Player

That’s it. You should be able to take the wheel from here. My only parting words of advice are that once you have a game going, adding mods will not affect a saved game, but deleting any will cause the game to not load if they were in use with the saved game. While I have run across very few buggy mods, it does happen now and then, so if it happens to you, try unchecking any suspect mods and restarting a new game to see if it’s affected.

Your Guide to Civ V Modding MadnessStep 6 Set Up Game

Other than that, enjoy your game of Civ V. I extend my gratitude to the many fine folks who share their love of Civ by creating wonderful mods for the rest of us to enjoy!

Your Guide to Civ V Modding MadnessStep 7 Final Choices

 

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