Galactic Civilizations III: Crusade Expansion Pack
We seem to be going through some interesting times as far as strategy games go. The strategy genre as a whole is very, very different from what it used to be back during its golden age, which is widely regarded as the 1990s. Unfortunately, the people’s average attention spans have greatly diminished as of late. This may be good for some things, but doesn’t quite bode well for the future of games that require patience and careful planning.
For example, real-time strategy games, which are usually regarded as the front runner of the strategy genre as a whole, have gradually undergone subtle changes throughout the years. Seemingly in order to appease the throngs of impatient gamers, many gaming developers have increased the average speed (movement and building) of their games incrementally.
Fortunately, this could never be accomplished with turn-based games since each player normally has an unlimited amount of time with which to finish their turn. When it comes to one of my favorite turn-based franchises, Stardock’s Galactic Civilizations, I remember playing the original title back in 2003. GalCiv 2 came out a few years later in 2006, improving on the best aspects of the original, while expanding the franchise’s horizons. Although I really enjoyed the first two GalCiv titles, when GalCiv 3 was announced in 2014 I thought that it was going to be a real showstopper, because so much time had passed since GalCiv 2 debuted, and computer technology had advanced so far from that point in time.
Alas, when GalCiv 3 was released in 2015, I remembered trying it out for the very first time and feeling let down. Although it had somewhat improved upon the features present in GalCiv 2, it hadn’t (at least in my mind) made any additional steps which I felt were noteworthy. If fact overall it seemed that some of the features that people had said they wanted present in this new game, were sorely missing. Those included such things as a full-fledged espionage system and leaders that players could assign to individual planets/fleets.
Well that has all changed, because I’m pleased to announce that GalCiv3’s latest expansion is here, and boy is it a game-changer (quite literally). Titled Galactic Civilizations III: Crusade, this is Stardock’s second major expansion (behind Mercenaries), and signals a fundamental shift in the way that the game is played.
The introduction of Galactic Citizens is perhaps the most fundamental change to the base game, since they alter pretty much every aspect of GalCiv 3. Citizens are now the primary way that an armchair star emperor can make changes to their civilization’s economic virility, societal sophistication, military might, and technological advancements. This make managing your little interstellar fiefdom much more personal as opposed to having to adjust abstract slider bars, giving you a more “hand’s on” feeling instead of cold and detached.
Stardock went far beyond what I had originally wanted to see added to GalCiv 3 (fleet admirals and planetary governors). You have so many more options, including such specialized Citizens as entertainers, which boost morale; engineers, whom can enhance ship builds; and entrepreneurs that can provide various economic bonuses.
What’s also really interesting is that you can either give each Citizen an additional macros or a micro specialization. For example, say you just trained a fleet commander—you could either give him overall command of your entire naval forces and enjoy a minor buff, or embed him with a specific fleet, thereby granting that fleet some serious military bonuses. This really allows you to tailor your Citizen’s roles according to how your civilization is developing, or to what is most urgently needed.
Planetary assaults are another thing that have been revamped in Crusade. Instead of just mass-producing military transport ships and hurling them at enemy’s worlds, now you have a whole plethora of military options to play with. Instead of attacking worlds as a whole, you now can assault individual cities and their entrenched garrisons, which creates a much more involved (and fun) tactical layer. Citizens stationed on defending planets can also add their considerable defensive modifiers to their armies, thereby bolstering their side’s overall military capabilities.
Crusade also introduces a brand new (yay) espionage system to the galactic proceedings. After training one of your Citizens in the arts of subterfuge, you can send them off to enemy systems and have them imbed themselves within their hostile borders. After a while (and at certain intervals) your sneaky spies will accrue spy points and can eventually be given the opportunity to carry out some pretty dastardly doings, such as sabotage missions, stealing enemy technologies, and even carrying out assassinations of targeted enemy leaders.
Lastly, the resources has been (thankfully!) streamlined. Instead of sending harvesters off somewhere and having them gain “points” of particular resources, civilizations now gradually accrue resources as dividends. Once you go past a certain level, resource-wise, you begin to stockpile certain resources, and eventually, you can eventually establish a greedy monopoly over those specific resources.
Overall, the Galactic Civilizations III: Crusade Expansion Pack is an incredible wealth of content that will really spice up your games. In fact, it’s more like a reinvention of the base game rather than an evolution (which is a good thing). If you’re a fan of science fiction 4X games, you owe it to yourself to at least try it out.