One more turn ? A quick Civilization IV intro, and a quick game with Egypt

Bear was always featured on the cover of the game

How Bear spent countless hours, keeping Gandhi from nuking my country. Also, apparently, Bear has a lot of things to say about this game.

Civilization IV1, a Firaxis Games 4X turn-based strategy game where the player controls a Nation from its early beginnings up to the space age. It came out in 2005, and was one of my favourite games at the time. I still miss some options from back then in the newest iterations of Civilization.

It’s also very well known, as most Civilization games, for having an option when you win the game, for “one more turn”, to keep playing if you want to. And that specific option is the reason this game sucks even more time from anybody playing for “just one game”.

Back in the days (yes, the Bear is old and says back in the days), you did not always have an internet connection that allowed you to play live. Lucky for you, this game had options to play by email (and I miss this slow way of playing your round, sending the email, and then waiting for the response, it had a very interesting way of making you wonder about all your moves that you just sent). You could also play online (lucky you), or in LANs. The multiplayer side of the game was nice, but this is not why I spent countless hours on it.

The game in itself

The first experience of the game (after installation, of course) is this amazing theme https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IJiHDmyhE1A, “Baba Yetu”, the hit theme to Civilization IV – composed by Christopher Tin. This song lives rent free in my head. The animated video shows us some of humanity’s civilizations monuments and events, asking us how our civilization will fare in this world.

To start your game, you pick a nation and a leader. Nations have between one and three leader options, depending on whether you have the full version with the expansions (Beyond the Sword, Warlords). Every nation has a unique unit and a unique building, and every leader has traits that give you bonuses2.

My personal favourites are Hatchepsut (for Egypt) and Louis XIV (for France).

I really like playing with Hatchepsut3 because she’s my favourite pharaoh, and she has the Creative trait, which gives culture bonuses, and I love playing Culture oriented.

Plus the unique unit of Egypt, the War Chariot is a nice way to defend yourself in the beginning (and also attack sometimes, but I’m not the best on the attack).

I also enjoy playing Louis XIV purely for game benefits, as like Hatchepsut he has the Creative trait, but also the Industrious one which means Wonders are built faster, and that is very nice, because I love building wonders. The Musketeer is nice (moves fast), especially because it reminds me of a cartoon from childhood4.
Hatchepsut still looks better though😂.

So you pick your nation, launch your game, and on you go!

Typical game, with Hatchepsut, by Bear

Our Great Egyptian Civilization starts in 4000BC, and every turn a certain amount of years pass (at first quite a lot of years per turn, and then it’s one year per turn).

Egypt has a settler, and a warrior, and sees only the map around them.

And from there, the nation’s capital city gets founded. Behold, Thebes.

Then we create buildings in the cities, they expand, we create new settlers to build new cities, and then, after a while, we get to meet other leaders trying to leave their mark in history as well. As soon as we acquire the know how to make maps, they will pester us every two years with map sharing requests and open borders request to cross the egyptian countryside. I have to say I’m not very open to sharing in this game, as I almost never share passage through my land. I refuse to let them go settle across Egypt! Everywhere is Bear Land now!

This game might turn people into tyrants, but you have no proof. My people call me President Bear, everything is fine!

Egypt the great, nation builder of all the World Wonders. Everyone knows Stonehenge is an Egyptian marvel. Just like the Colossus, the Pyramids, the Hanging Gardens…

Roosevelt starts insulting the great Egyptian nation for not having a strong army and ‘stealing’ all the World Wonders, and the whole country’s economy is switched to unit production to protect the Egyptians. A few fights follow.

Of course, the great might of the Egyptian Empire means fair fights between the modern Egyptian built vehicles and a few peasants with longbows.

As the Americans start talking peace treaty, the treacherous Spanish people, led by Isabella try to sneak a war on America to capitalize on Egypt’s weakening of the country, trying to take one of the border cities. But a secret weapon has just been unveiled by the best scientists in Thebes.

The secret weapon, called Interesting Consequences By Massive-impact

After the tragic death of an Egyptian worker caused by Spanish troups passing through the country to invade America, Barcelona gets what was expected, and everyone sees the LIGHT.

With two wars going on and (maybe) nukes fired, most of the leaders are weirdly anti-Egyptian, which Hatchepsut finds very rude. Surprisingly, Louis XIV, leader of France, still thinks highly of Egypt. They probably hope to receive an Obelisk or something.

A very sane world, full of peace (and some wars)

As for some unfathomable reason, everybody seems to hate on Egypt, and an all-out war is about to start, Thebes launches the last of the spaceship modules to launch the Egyptian Empire into space, and the game ends on a Space Victory.

Or is it ?

After the game

If you manage to click on “Exit to Main Menu” instead of going for one more turn, you get a lot of neat infographics about your game, the biggest cities in the world, who had the most wonders, and my favourite, a small timelapse of the land ownership.

This was a game on Chieftain difficulty, hence the huge and exponential difference in Score.

And then the game kinda insults you, by giving you your place in history.

If you want to get higher, you need to play in more serious difficulty levels :D, but I like having fun.
Last words (and then, after that, just one more turn, I promise)

There are a lot of things to say about this game, the scenarios, the mods, the LANs, but one really important part of the game for me was the tech quotes read by Leonard Nimoy5. Every time you get a new tech, there’s a small flavour text, with a quote. I remember a lot of those quotes because of this game.

You can find all the quotes read by Leonard Nimoy here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=75oun5gvDAU

The bottom line is: This is a great game to spend hours on.

Thanks for reading up until there, don’t hesitate to share your favourite Civ stories in the comments (or to tell me how much you like another Civ installment better :D)!

  1. You can find a rather complete Wikipedia article on the game ↩︎
  2. A list of leaders, nations, unique buildings, and unique units is here ↩︎
  3. Check out her life as we know it https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hatshepsut ↩︎
  4. Albert the Fifth Musketeer, a Canadian-French cartoon from 1994 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iT94il81hAE (French theme song of the cartoon) ↩︎
  5. The actor playing Spock on Star Trek, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leonard_Nimoy ↩︎

Bear builds red Lego animals

What happens when Bear has friends over ?

During a housewarming, one plan with friends was to build together this small set.
There was a lot of fun, food, and talk involved, which means we all forgot about building it.

This sets includes options to build a parrot, a fish and a dragon.

A few days later, a precise inventory of the bricks was made by the Bear. Of course, construction was going to be done carefully to ensure construction quality and optimal results.

First build was the Parrot. It used the least bricks from all the different options, and was very cute at the end.

The finished parrot and the Bear

Second build was the Fish. It had a cute way of using the transparent angled thingy (I am very good with words. Everything is a thingy that does something) to make it look like the fish is making some bubbles in the water.

The fish and the Bear

I decided to keep the best one for last. The dragon used all the bricks (minus the few extra ones always present in a Lego set and looks very very cute. I really enjoyed building it.

The Red Dragon and the Bear

As usual with Lego builds, I had fun, and I am very thankful for the gift from my friends. The evening was great, and I have a nice little dragon as souvenir.

Role-playing games

Yes, a natural 20!

AKA: sitting around a table with friends, eating snacks and sharing stories together

For decades, the Bear has spent countless hours writing, playing, imagining stories, and more importantly playing those stories.

The basic idea is easy to understand, each player has a role, and they play it (I’m rebranding as Captain Obvious). To me, it’s at the crossroads between improv theater and boardgames, with a pinch of “let’s pretend” games we used to play as kids.

And from that basic idea spawns a multitude of possibilities, that are more or less popular, have more or less rules, and sometimes even switch the basic paradigm, with some games having all the players play the same character, but a different personality1, some games having a referee (also called Game Master/GM, or Dungeon Master/DM, or Storyteller, …) and others having no referees with the players sharing everything. And that’s just about the game’s structure.

You can also have completely different atmospheres and genres. Games go from playing as ordinary people facing unfathomable horrors and trying to avoid terrible fates (or just avoid insanity)2 to the classic fantasy party trying to save the world3, but also science-fiction games with space opera vibes4, or post-apocalyptic games5 and many other options. My examples are not necessarily all games I’ve played, but I’ve tried to give somewhat of a range. Wikipedia tries to make a list of them, but there is many indie games out there that can be found on various sites.

In those games, you get to live through a story and orient its outcomes through your actions. If you’re the GM, you’re going to witness your players break your carefully planned steps, but also finding very logical explanations to things you just put there because “it felt nice there”. If you’re a player, it’s going to be split between creating characters and enjoying their experiences, making plans when facing complex situations, and learning that no plan survives first contact with the enemy when everything goes awry, but you still manage to go through.

Events in games bring joy through playing them, and when something particularly funny, extraordinary, or lucky happens, it turns into great stories that will be told and retold by bards (or your group of friends). Some silly decisions creating surprising results will inspire you forever.

All of this and the sharing of food and good time around a table are the main reasons why I really enjoy tabletop role playing games, and why I will most likely be sharing stories, ideas, maybe scenarios of games on this blog. Plus throughout all those years, I have acquired some trivia about various topics because I was looking for information to make it feel more real in the game, or sound plausible. I have also learned to answer with a “yes, and…” to disruptive player actions that derailed the scenarios I had envisioned, which has made me more adaptable. I got used to speaking in front of people, and impersonating characters has allowed me to explore various things and ideas.

If you’ve never played a tabletop role playing game, you should definitely try it. If you have, don’t hesitate to share your favourite games, or even better, do share your favourite stories from games. I love anecdotes, like Sir Bearington.

  1. Like Everyone is John for example. ↩︎
  2. Like the Lovecraftian Call of Cthulhu. ↩︎
  3. The easy example being Dungeons and Dragons, but there is a very wide range of games that have a fantasy aspect and a lot of them bring variety and change to a very used genre. ↩︎
  4. There is Traveller, Stars without Numbers (who has a free edition also). ↩︎
  5. Apocalypse World is a good take on it, Polaris is one I really enjoy for its universe (but I don’t like the system very much). ↩︎

What makes a Tuesday more like a Monday?

Or how Bear rambles about week days and drives readers insane, maybe…

A regular work week for Bear
Bear trying to fight off writer’s block.

In theory, for someone working an office job with regular business hours, a work week could be seen like this:

  • Monday, as either the “what’s my job again?” day, or the “oh no, everything is breaking everywhere again!” day, since one such person would be coming back from a hopefully nice weekend back into work. Being so far from the weekend (in fact, the furthest of the week) can make it very dreary sometimes. But mostly it can offer a new perspective on past work issues, as one would have been able to disconnect and recharge one’s batteries.
  • Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday as sort of ‘in the thick of it’ days, where it’s work this, and work that, and when’s the weekend, and so on.
  • Friday, also known as FriYAY1, because the weekend is just around the corner, and one anticipates exciting activities, or even just peace from neverending requests. And also, it is the day where it can be perfectly reasonable to delay certain actions to next week because of their possible impacts that could not be mitigated over the weekend.

And yet, despite this sort of common week feel (for the Bear, YMMV, of course) we get sometimes hit by a second Monday. You had a Monday that was of the exhausting variety, with plenty of things to deal with, you try to unwind and spend a nice evening. The next morning has you checking your phone for a possible Groundhog Day 2 or something because it’s Monday all over again, disguised as a Tuesday.

Bear after reading an incantation to solve the second Monday issue

For those who have been cursed3 for real, this experience can repeat itself throughout the entire week, leaving one feeling both crushed and stretched thinner than Bilbo after holding the Ring for so long.

There is sadly no easy cure for this. The Bear does not recommend trying out spells randomly, as the cure may become a bigger problem. It could especially becoming the type of problem that stares back at you in the void, without it being your lovely black kitty. Of course the difference between your cat and a summoned horror lies in the number of eyes you can count in the dark. We advise not to count them, just in case…

The best course of action is the same as most illnesses:

  • Be kind to yourself,
  • Breathe,
  • Drink water,
  • Change your socks,
  • Throw work related problems at colleagues, with a decently crafted excuse (even better if you have a good reason to do so, such as “this is your area of expertise”, “I need your opinion on this”, etc…)
  • Keep up the hope because, as you all know:

The sun will eventually set on a new week!

Of course, this is all very much my opinion, so take it with a grain of salt, as I don’t think you should trust blindly a Bear over the Internet. You can always share your own views on time perception through the comments!

  1. I just learned it’s a somewhat accepted word: https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Friyay ↩︎
  2. If this movie reference doesn’t speak to you, maybe this TV series one will. If not, there is always this more recent TV series episode. If you still don’t know what I’m getting at, it’s a time loop. Just a loop, not a “wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey” as some British Alien said, once or twice. ↩︎
  3. For doing something terrible in any life, or angering a witch, a Great Ancient, stepping on a Lego brick, not petting a cat, saying bears are not nice, how could I know the real reason? This is beyond my skillset. ↩︎

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Hello Internet!

Welcome to my little side of the Internet.

How you got there is a good question, but I hope the time you spend around here will be at least enjoyable for you.

The Bear riding towards a glorious future (maybe)

What you have stumbled upon, is my attempt at getting a new routine of writing more because I used to write a lot and gradually stopped, even though the itch of writing is still always there. I often get distracted or carried away by dozens of ideas, or worse by an inability to decide what to write on.

Most of the posts might just stay on private because I don’t feel like it would be very interesting for anybody to just listen to a random person rambling over the internet, but making them online brings a sort of accountability to the writing process.

To briefly introduce myself, I am Freyja, I like bears, Lego bricks, writing, reading, space, and a lot of other things.

Thanks for your time and have a great time on this side of the Internet!