It’s an interesting experience, teaching someone else to play a game that can be so in depth and life destroying, but enjoying as much as they are playing it.
Watching them discovering things, asking you questions and finding the intricacies and enjoyment in a game you really love is a bonding experience, whether it’s with friends, family or in my case, a loved one. And in this case, I was teaching my lovely partner Patience the ins and outs of Civilization 5.
If you’ve ever played any Civilization game, you’ll know it’s a long, strategic and satisfyingly fun game that lets you conquer the world in a variety of ways. Want to take the world through brute force? Do it! Don’t want to be a war monger? Play it peacefully and diplomatic! It’s so much fun when you figure out a complex set of tactics to take over the world.
This particular story takes place at Patience’s house. It was a Friday and she had mentioned she wanted to learn how to play Civilization. “It’s installed on my laptop!” I told her. She was ecstatic and I took over my laptop, ready to show her the Sid Meier Civ ways of strategy gaming. What followed was not only a fun and great gaming bonding experience, but an interesting learning and teaching experience.
Usually when you teach someone how to do something, they follow how you teach them until they feel comfortable with the experience to break what they know and experiment. “So what do you do in Civilization?” “You fight other world leaders in a global battle of domination. But you can win in a few ways” “Oh so it’s like Age of Empires?” “Sorta…it’s slow and methodical, but you don’t have to rely on military strength to win.” “What do you mean?” “Well you can fight, but you can become the leader of the UN and win that way. Or you can build a space station and win that way. Or you can adopt enough policies and win like that!” “Hmm…OK. This sounds tricky!” “It’s OK babe, you’ll learn”
We sit down and it’s 2pm.
We started the game. She first needed to pick her leader, which was enough trouble. “Who do yo usually pick?” “I pick the Japanese, due to obvious reasons” “Is there any difference in who you pick?” “Yeah, certain leaders have specific units and special abilities!” “Hmm…OK! I’ll take this one!” “Who?” “His name is Hiawatha!” “…WHO?!” “I don’t know either…but he has a mohawk!” “Okie doke! If you’re happy with that! Let’s go!”
So we start the game and I’m instantly hit with a thousand questions. “What do I do? What does this thing do? Baaaaaabe!” And she was warranted in asking so many questions, it’s a daunting game for anyone trying to learn it all. I start to answer her questions one by one. “Start by clicking this, then do this with that unit, research this, research that, build this, go here, be friends with that guy, go explore with this unit”. This goes on for an hour or so and the more we play, the less questions are asked.
About 2 hours on, I only receive a question every now and then, usually just to make sure she’s doing the right thing. I eventually get asked what my plans usually are at a certain point in the game, about 150 turns in. And this is where I explained that everyone is different in their play styles. I know players who just dominate everyone else with brute force, some who play diplomatically. Me? I play a weird style. I play diplomatocally, slowly building my army. I reason with every leader, try to strike deals that benefit myself and them and if they disagree with me? Then I just tell them to get stuffed and blow them into oblivion.
So I tell Patience this and she says “OK, well what should I build then?” As far as I remember, she had a few military buildings to build and a few that helped develop her nation. I said that she should focus on strengthening her nation so she can advance further than everyone else and then do what she wants. “Nah that sounds boring, I’m going to build this Military Academy instead” “But…what about your people? They need food and proper facilities!” “Nah, I need to get rid of Brussels, they’re annoying the shit out of me. I’m going to build this tank instead”.
Now, my first thought was “YOU’RE PLAYING THE GAME WRONG! WHAT THE HELL!” But I sat back and watched her. She started to plan out her attacks and what she would build and where. She was starting to get the game more and more. She got how units worked against other units, their strengths and weaknesses and how they move. She didn’t need me anymore to help, she got it. I know it may seem short that in 2 and a bit hours she didn’t need my help, but it was satisfying seeing her go from complete novice to competent in such a short time. After that we lost track of time and the next thing we knew it was 7:30PM and we were being told it’s time for dinner.
“Come on and save, you can go back to it after dinner” I tell her. We go and eat dinner and in between her talking and eating, I can see her thinking, planning our her next moves, what she’s going to do next. We finish up and I ask what she wants to do now. “Well, nothing until I beat Brussels, they’re a pain in my ass and they need to go away for good”
And now she’s obsessed.