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Gameplay in Civilization III.

Scientific research[]

A major feature of gameplay in civ-type games is scientific research. The technology tree is divided into four ages (Ancient Times, Middle Ages, Industrial Ages, and Modern Times) and each age requires that the player research specific technologies to advance to the next age. There are several technologies that are not required to advance to the next age, although they provide useful bonuses that are often essential for good empire management, or may provide different alternatives to it. As in Civ2, a science slider is used to allocate money from the player's treasury to scientific research, and can be set at 10% intervals. City improvements such as libraries, universities, and research labs also increase scientific research, as do some wonders (such as Newton's University).


Culture is a new feature to Civ III that didn't exist in previous versions of Civilization. Each city in Civilization III has a cultural rating, which is the city's influence over local terrain. Essentially, the culture's outer edge, or "border", acts as the boundary of the player's empire. When a city is created it has a culture rating of 1, which allows influence over the closest 8 squares only (a sphere of influence 1 square in radius). As the city's culture rating increases, so does its sphere of influence, bringing more territory under the player's control.

In addition to influencing territorial borders, culture serves two other purposes. One is allowing the peaceful takeover, better known as culture flipping, of nearby foreign cities by influencing its citizens through the player's culture. Conquest through culture is preferable to military conquest due to the fact that it does not lower the player's reputation in the global community. In addition, a civilization can win the game by having a very strong culture total.

Culture is increased turn-by-turn based on what city improvements and wonders, such as a Temple or The Hanging Gardens, have been built in that city. Culture is important as it can prevent creation of unhappy citizens and thus prevent civil disorder.


Every civilization starts with certain special abilities, specifically two traits that give them bonuses that help in corresponding areas of gameplay; they also determine what two technologies the civilization begins the game with. Each civilization has a special unit that is unique to that civilization and is typically a slightly improved replacement of a standard unit; these units usually have a historical basis (for example: the Japanese unique unit, which replaces the standard knight, is the Samurai).



Every citizen has an ethnic background that is controlled by the culture system. Each citizen has a cultural 'memory', so that they will consider themselves ethnic members of the previous civilization until they are assimilated into their new occupying civilization.

For example, if Persia captures an American city, its citizens, although under Persian control, are still American until they are assimilated by Persian culture. This process will take several turns, and the chance of assimilation depends on Persia's government.

Foreign citizens become unhappy if their ruling country is at war with their country of birth. This gives recently captured cities a high potential for rebellion. Otherwise, however, they are equally productive citizens.


Combat is an important aspect of the game, and, although not required to win, it is nearly impossible to go through a full game without experiencing warfare at least once.

Each unit begins as a "regular", with 3 hit points. Below regular is "conscript", with 2 hit points. Barbarian tribes will occasionally give up conscripts; and a player may institute the draft, which also produces conscripts. Above regular is "veteran", with 4 hit points, then "elite", with 5 hit points. If a city has a barracks (or harbor for naval units and airport for air units), it will produce veterans instead of regulars. A unit can gain experience through battles.

Each unit has an attack and defense value that determines, in theory, how well it will do against another unit.

Certain terrain, as well as large cities, defending across a river, and fortifying the unit, provide defensive bonuses. (e.g. a mountain has a 100% defensive bonus, so a unit with 3 defense will have 6 when defending on a mountain). Each civilization has its own special unit that replaces and improves on an existing unit. Ultimately, however, as in Civ1 and Civ2, a random number generator (RNG) determines the outcome, so it is therefore possible (although rare) for a Bronze Age spearman to defeat a modern tank, a fact that was highly criticized by players and was partially the reason that led to a total redesign of the combat system for Civilization IV.

Another important aspect of combat is bombardment, which can be done by artillery (Catapult, Cannon, Artillery, Radar Artillery, and, in Conquests, Trebuchet), air units, and more advanced naval units (destroyer, battleship, etc.). Bombardment can soften a target before it is attacked, and, if attacking a city, may kill some of the population or destroy certain city improvements. Despite this, only certain units have the ability to kill other units through bombardment (known as "lethal bombardment").

When an elite unit wins a battle against an enemy unit, there is a chance that it will produce a Great Leader. (The chance is 1/16. The Heroic Epic small wonder increases this chance to 1/12). A Great Leader then has the ability to create an Army. An Army has the ability to "load" up to three units (four if the player has built The Pentagon). An Army fights as one unit, combining hit points. Once units have been loaded into the Army, however, they cannot be removed or upgraded, and they do not gain battle experience (but this was changed in Conquests). The Great Leader can also be used to hurry the building of a project. This is the only way to hurry production of a Great Wonder.


There are a variety of units in Civilization III which are not specific to certain nations. These include the:


In Civilization III, there are three types of resources. Each type of resource can be found only on certain types of terrain and can provide a bonus to shields, food, or commerce if found within the city radius and worked by a citizen. Bonus resources exist specifically for this purpose, while luxury and strategic resources provide other benefits as well. Luxuries and strategic resources may be traded, while bonus resources may not.

Bonus resources
Resource Terrain Bonus
Cattle grasslands, plains 2 food, 1 shield
Fish coast 2 food, 1 commerce
Game forests, tundra 2 food
Gold hills, mountains 4 commerce
Whales sea 1 food, 1 shield, 2 commerce
Wheat flood plains, grasslands, plains 2 food

Luxury resources make the player's people happier when they are brought into a city via a road or railroad. Each luxury makes at least one content citizen happy. The effects of luxuries do not stack. For example, if the player has two wines connected, only one will provide a bonus; the other is available for trading. Building a marketplace greatly increases the effect of luxuries on that city beyond the second luxury. Keeping citizens happy is important lest the city fall into civil disorder.

Luxury resources
Resource Terrain Bonus
Dyes forests, jungles 1 commerce
Ivory forests, plains 2 commerce
Gems jungles, mountains 4 commerce
Incense deserts, hills 1 commerce
Furs forests, tundra 1 shield, 1 commerce
Silk forests, jungles 3 commerce
Spice forests, jungles 2 commerce
Wine hills, grasslands, plains 1 food, 1 commerce

Strategic resources are resources required to train certain units, or construct certain city improvements or wonders. A certain technology is required to unlock these resources, and are often necessary for good empire management. Perhaps the most important resource is iron, which is useful from the moment it first appears on the map until the end, as it is a prerequisite for constructing railroads along with coal. Like luxuries, strategic resources do not stack.

Strategic resources
Resource Tech Terrain Bonus
Aluminum Rocketry hills, tundra 2 shields
Coal Steam Power jungles, hills, mountains 2 shields, 1 commerce
Horses The Wheel grasslands, hills, plains 1 commerce
Iron Iron Working hills, mountains 1 shield
Oil Refining deserts, tundra 1 shield, 2 commerce
Rubber Replaceable Parts forests, jungles 2 commerce
Saltpeter Gunpowder deserts, hills 1 commerce
Uranium Fission forests, mountains 2 shields, 3 commerce


Though corruption existed in Civilization I and II, it has been made much more severe in Civilization III. In addition to the commerce-decreasing corruption, Civ2 and Civilization III include waste, which decreases a city's productivity. The productivity of a city is measured in 'shields'. Shields are converted into units or structures, with each unit or structure costing a certain number of shields. Shields can have two colors: blue or red. The blue shields represent actual production, while red ones represent production lost to waste. In general, the farther a city is from the capital, the greater the waste will be. It is not uncommon for far-flung cities to have red shields that far outnumber the blue. The levels of corruption and waste are also dependent on the system of government of a civilization. Uniquely, in the communist system, corruption and waste are essentially spread equally amongst all cities. Also, depending on the map size and difficulty level, each civilization has an "optimal city limit". Once a civilization exceeds this limit, it will also "gain" corruption and waste overall for every new city it possesses.

There are a number of ways to combat corruption. These include building city improvements such as the courthouse and the Police Station. Connecting a city to the capital through a valid trade route (e.g. roads, a harbor or an airport) also helps to reduce corruption to a certain degree. Two Small Wonders, the Forbidden Palace and the Secret Police HQ (Conquests only) will eliminate virtually all corruption in their host city and reduce it in nearby cities. Originally these wonders functioned as second palaces in the cities in which they were built, but subsequent patches removed their function as a second pole for corruption, and merely made them reduce overall corruption in every city. Corruption will never reduce shield production to zero, but one shield per turn is virtually useless.

Victory conditions[]

There are several basic ways to win the game, some of which recur from the previous Civilization games. A player needs to meet only one of the victory conditions to win a game. They can each be enabled or disabled when setting the game rules at the beginning of a new game (except for the histograph victory). In Conquests, a Victory Status screen was added to allow a player to see how much more is needed to achieve each of the victory conditions, as well as the progress of the closest rival in regard to each particular victory path. Play the World and Conquests each introduced short game modes, which allow for faster-paced games, and specific scenarios each have their own victory requirements. The victory conditions for the base game, however, are as follows:


One of the most straightforward of the victory conditions, a Conquest victory is achieved when no civilizations besides the player's exist, a civilization being eliminated when its last city is captured or destroyed. Despite the simplicity of concept, Conquest can be difficult to achieve as other civilizations will, naturally, resist. The other difficulty is that Domination (below) is almost always achieved long before Conquest could be achieved, unless the Domination option has been disabled, or if the civilization razes the opponent's cities.


A player wins a Domination victory by controlling two thirds of the world's land and population. 66% of the world must be within the civilization's cultural borders, and 66% of the world's people must be within the civilization's cities. Exactly how the player achieves these two conditions is irrelevant and largely open-ended; any method of achieving the two conditions triggers the victory.


By having a culture so powerful that its civilization controls the world through others' longing to be a part of it, a player can win a Cultural victory. The Cultural victory is achieved when either one city the player controls has 20,000 or more culture points, or if the entire civilization meets a certain threshold (100,000 on a Standard map) and has at least double that of any other culture. The latter is more difficult as it's unlikely that not a single one of the other nations will have at least half of the player's total rating unless they have all been weakened by war.


By building The United Nations wonder, a civilization opens the possibility of a Diplomatic victory. The civilization that built it will be periodically offered the opportunity to hold elections for U.N. Secretary General. To be eligible for election, a civilization must control 25% of either the world's population or its territory, although the civ that actually built the UN is always automatically a candidate. If there are no qualified candidates other than the one who built the UN, the civilization with the next highest population is put on the ballot. The civ with a majority of the possible votes wins the election, and therefore the game. Because the player's reputation matters a great deal to voting AI civilizations, it is of paramount importance to a player seeking a Diplomatic victory to maintain a trustworthy status throughout the game.


Just as in the previous two games, a civilization not seeking domination through world conquest can build and send a colony Spaceship to Alpha Centauri to win the game. Unlike the previous two games, however, the player does not decide how many of several different types of components to build, but rather, builds ten specific spaceship parts ranging from Thrusters to the Stasis Chamber to the Interplanetary Party Lounge. The parts may be built in any order the player desires, but the player must first research the required technologies associated with each part. This method of victory favors a player with several powerful cities as the parts cost many shields to produce, and each city can produce only one at a time.

While the previous games had incorporated elements of speed and survival chance (a player could build fewer parts and thus launch sooner, although at increased risk of it not making it to Alpha Centauri), the game is won immediately once the colony ship is launched, the ultimate success of the colony, and the date of its establishment, being either assumed or irrelevant.


The histograph provides a relative indicator of each civilization's score, power, and culture at any given time. When the game timer runs out (at the year 2050 AD by default, although this can be changed in Play the World) if no civilization has met any of the other victory conditions, each civilization's score at the end of each of the time periods (Ancient, Middle, Industrial, and Modern) is averaged. The highest final score wins the game. The player may continue the game beyond this point, but no additional score is counted.

See also[]

Civilization III [edit]
Play the WorldConquests