Haven't We Met Before? No. 1: Civilization I vs Civilization V


Some gaming ideas never die but bide their time and wait for an opportunity to re-emerge; or never really go away. Such is the case with certain concepts from the Amiga era. In this series Amiga Lore looks at how you can play post-Amiga games which have a distinct retro feel.

The core concept of Civilization was so exceptional that there hasn't been any need to change it greatly. There have, of course, been presentational updates and certain additions, removals or alterations which do transform the style of play somewhat but the heart of Civilization remains the same. The player leads a civilisation from the dawn of history into the future. Along the way the leader expands the civilisation, founds cities, constructs buildings, improves tiles, forms units, explores the world, meets other civilisations, researches technologies, manages the economy and goes to war.

These gameplay features will be familiar to anyone who played the original Civilization on their Amiga or the recent Civilization V. But what are the major differences?

Year of Release

Civilization (Amiga – 1992, a conversion of the PC DOS version from 1991)

Civilization V (Windows, Mac – 2010)

Squares versus Hexes

One of the most striking introductions in Civ V is the hexagonal tile system. In previous Civ games the tiles were squares even through various viewpoint changes (isometric in Civ II and III and zoomable in Civ IV). In Civ I the viewpoint was top-down with square tiles which allowed a unit to move from one square to eight other squares. In Civ V, the tiles are hexes, a change which reduces movement to six other tiles.

Hexes allow for more varied landmasses and coastlines but the change becomes natural once a lengthy game is underway.

Unit Stacking

In previous Civ games multiple units could occupy a single tile. This unit stacking is no longer allowed in Civ V where only one military and one support (e.g. worker, settler or general) can occupy a tile at a time. In Civ I unit stacking could result in exasperating situations where one lucky enemy unit wiped out scores of your units at once. Civ V's unit restrictions actually cause more thought about unit placement and tactics.

Ranged Combat

Some Civ V units (Archers, Catapults, Cannons etc.) have the ability to fire across multiple tiles. This is new feature because before in Civ games combat occurred across adjacent tiles. There is a greater delineation between unit types because of this and it adds an extra element to the combat.



In Civ V units don't need to be loaded onto a troop carrying vessel and can embark automatically when reaching water as long as the appropriate technology has been researched (Optics). This reduces much of the management of maritime operations. However, watch out for enemy ships because embarked units are easy prey and must be protected!



In Civ V trade routes are created by joining cities with a road along a single chain of tiles. The upshot of this change is that not every tile needs a road. In earlier Civ games the tiles around cities became dense networks of roads but in Civ V this isn't necessary.

Of course, in both versions of Civ they also allow faster unit movement and can be turned into railroads when the technology is available.



Civ V displays a list of notifications about important happenings in your empire. This is very useful to keep track of all the things that need your attention such as assigning a production in a city or promoting a unit. In Civ I it is easy to forget overlook certain events in larger empires.



In addition to the major civilisations Civ V includes a significant number of city-states which are represented by cities such as Dublin, Singapore and Warsaw. These mini civilisations are restricted to one city and aren't direct competitors. You can befriend them or go to war with them. This dual level of civilisation types adds more variety to Civ V's political dynamics than is seen in previous games.


Civ I has distinct government types (Despotism, Monarchy, The Republic etc.) but Civ V replaces this with Social Policies. There are distinct branches such as Tradition, Liberty and Commerce which each contain specific policies. Thus there is much more customisation of the government.



In Civ I Settlers are used to both found cities and to improve tiles. In Civ V Workers perform the task of tile improvement, leaving Settlers with a singular role.

End Game

The victory conditions in Civ I are conquest, winning the space race to reach Alpha Centauri and having the highest score by a certain year. In Civ V these types are joined by Cultural and Diplomatic victories.