Civilization IV: Caveman 2 Cosmos

We’ll all disagree on which of the titles in the Civilization series was our favourite. We will continue to do so. And we all started out at different points in the series. Civilization III was the first for me; it also had the honour of being my first 4X game, full-stop.

Despite now being a full two iterations beyond Civ IV, I keep going back to it. The scope of the mods developed for Civ IV was just incredible; in fact, they’re still being developed, some 12 years after its release and 10 years after the release of Beyond the Sword. Head on over to the Civ4 – Creation & Customization forum at CivFanatics and you’ll see plenty of activity.

As far as I know, no mod developed for Civ V ever came close to the ambition of some of the projects completed for Civ IV, although Super Power: Clash of Civilizations came closest, in my opinion. (Perhaps that will be the subject of a future post.) Whether Civ VI will live up to expectations here remains to be seen.

There are a couple of Civ IV mods I want to discuss on Odin Gaming. I’ve got to start somewhere, and in terms of sheer audacity, I need to start with Caveman 2 Cosmos.

c2c-header

This is a very long post, so for your convenience, these are the headings and content summaries:

More is More!

C2C was a project started in November 2010 and built upon a precursor mod, Rise of Mankind, and its mod mod (yes, there is such a thing!) A New Dawn. There have been updates almost daily since then with contributions from in excess of 100 modders.

The “mod owner”, if one could assign such a title, uses the pseudonym StrategyOnly, who, in the beginning, worked alongside two others known as Hydromancerx and Dancing Houskuld. StrategyOnly assigned a long-standing modder as the acting team leader; this person goes by Thunderbrd online, and Ryan Moore when his head isn’t buried in Civ IV code. I was lucky enough to have a conversation with Thunderbrd. I had a lot of questions, and he had a lot of answers (like, a lot – this guy likes to talk), some of which I’ve included below. It was really great to have some insight into this colossal project and to hear what some of the hard-working chaps and chapettes have managed to accomplish.

C2C is not shy about its scale. To begin with, it adds several new eras, arguably the most prominent being the Prehistoric era, which extends the start date from 4000 BC to 50,000 BC. In the other direction, it predicts a long history of technological development, with the Future era roughly corresponding to 5000 AD (and beyond). Thunderbrd gives some insight into the baby steps of C2C:

I believe StrategyOnly’s primary goal was to collect all the modmods of RoM/AND that had become largely obsoleted in Afforess’s last version of A New Dawn.  He also wanted a mod which he could infuse the best artwork from the modding community into.  As a part of that goal, he was also working in a prehistoric mod that had surfaced on the forums that had grown in popularity quickly.

With that in mind, C2C’s goal is simple: make Civ IV deeper and more complex in virtually every dimension. If you have a cool idea and there’s no obvious scale on which it expands, then introduce the scale and blow any expectations out of the water. Or, as the team like to say:

More is More!

There are more units, more buildings, more civilizations, more leaders, more leader traits, more religions, more wonders, more terrain types, more city improvements, more resources, more technologies, more promotions, and more civics. That’s just the stuff you would recognise as a Civ IV player. A selection of additional features:

  • alternate technological timelines (such as Dieselpunk, Steampunk, and Clockpunk, and the ability to train megafauna such as rhinos and mammoths);
  • prehistoric hunter-gatherer mechanics, such as significant growth and production sourced from hunted animals, and captured animals generating science and culture by way of myths and legends;
  • new city modifiers (such as education, crime, and air pollution);
  • new combat mechanics (such as a stealth scale, ranged attacks, and size factors);
  • a leader development system, so that you start as a generic leader and gain traits as your civilisation’s culture grows, allowing you to choose traits which benefit your starting hand;
  • negative leader traits, because nobody’s perfect;
  • detailed building requirements and upgrade pathways;
  • a supply chain: many new resources are only acquirable by producing them with buildings, and buildings only buildable by acquiring certain resources;
  • more complex economies with inflation;
  • more complex espionage;
  • more realistic culture, religion, and corporation spread;
  • technological diffusion (less advanced neighbours might acquire technology just by virtue of its being used around them);
  • group wonders: you may only construct one wonder from a mutually exclusive set;
  • more diplomatic options (such as embassies and Rights of Passage).

[StrategyOnly] has always been enthusiastic about including new and great, particularly aggressive design concepts and ideas.

This is just a smattering of what C2C has to offer. There’s a (now quite outdated) list on the MODDB site.

Wut?

With all of that, getting into C2C can be daunting, to say the least. It used to be a matter of trial and error to figure out how all of these things worked together. That is until Thunderbrd produced a player guide for (at the time of writing) the most recent version.

That guide is long. I ended up reading it start to finish one lunch time because I’ve been following this mod for some time and never has anything so comprehensive existed. It was a magical hour. But I don’t think that’s how it should necessarily be consumed.

I think the best way to learn C2C is to just get a game going. The second of Thunderbird’s posts on the player guide is a really good place to start. If you, like me, want to tinker from the get-go then skip to the third of his posts to learn a bit about what all of the game options mean and maybe cobble something together. Read ahead to learn a bit about how I play the game.

World Domination

This is not my first time playing C2C. I’ve more or less got to grips with all the extra content included in this supermod through various playthroughs over multiple versions. In this post, I’ll walk through game setup and some of the new gameplay elements, but it’s worth noting there’s simply too much to pack into a single blog post; this is not intended to be an exhaustive feature list or a play guide, but a taster of what you’re getting if you decide to dive into the world of C2C.

I’ll give my take on these new elements and how they all work towards the whole, so there’s a bit of mod review sprinkled in here.

Leader

I want to play a world map with true starting locations. These have been a fan favourite since players figured out how to mod the base games, and C2C comes bundled with an adapted version of Giant Earth Map, or GEM. This includes the extra resources, terrains, and wonders that C2C adds.

I pick Goyathlay of the Apache nation.

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As mentioned, C2C adds lots of new civilisations and leaders. Also mentioned is the fact that there is a leader development system, so that there is nothing distinguishing leaders at the start of the game (besides the one Neanderthal leader, Wrub). As my civilisation gains culture I’ll be presented with opportunities to add traits.

You’ll also notice that there are no unique units and an odd-looking unique building; “Native Culture (North American) – (Native Culture (Human))”. As mentioned, there is already a Neanderthal leader. Thunderbrd gives a peak into some of the crazy ideas rumbling around behind the scenes:

It is more than likely that NPC factions will control alien forces and yes, there may be more than one of them, though there will ultimately be a very limited amount.  And yes, some diseases and things like that may require that the city have a non-human designation and so on.  A city entirely controlled by AI forces during the rise of the machines event that may eventually be implemented might not ever be capable of suffering from a common cold but those pesky computer viruses on the other hand…

Anyway, I picked the Apache Tribe purely on the start location. I’ve played a lot of TSL Earth maps in various Civ games, but I’ve rarely picked a civilisation starting in North America.

Setup

Thunderbrd’s guide includes a great breakdown of what the various game setup options mean. I’m not going to give complete detail on what I do and don’t have set, but some settings that I’ve changed my mind about over the course of time using C2C, along with how I like them set, are:

  • No Technology Trading (Off) and No Tech. Brokering (Off): The first option means that civs wouldn’t be able to trade any technologies, the second option means that civs would only be allowed to trade technologies that they had researched themselves (i.e. hadn’t acquired in another trade). I used to have both of these on because I wanted there to be scope for technological backwaters in the game, but it ends up giving the player too much of an advantage.
  • No BarbarianCivs (On): There’s a mechanic in the game which allows barbarians, when left alone, to form new civilizations in the game. This can be kind of fun, but I also find that it just ends up meaning there’s less scope for colonisation in the later eras as any land that was left free by chance is snapped up by barbarians wanting to settle down.
  • No Tech Diffusion (Off): Tech diffusion means that any technology not known to a civ, but known to other civs that it knows, is quicker to research. I used to think that this wouldn’t allow me to gain the sort of tech advantage that I like, but really it just resulted in me steamrolling everyone because I was decades, if not centuries, ahead of the game.
  • Start as minor civs (Off): This is a cool idea in principle; civs are considered “minor” if they haven’t discovered writing yet. Minor civs can only be at war with other civs; there’s no opportunity to conduct diplomacy. I suppose it’s intended to mirror the perception of older cultures being more willing to resort to violence to solve their problems. However, I’ve found that writing comes too late (with the inclusion of the massive Prehistoric era); I just don’t enjoy being forced to be at war with my neighbours for that long, especially while I’m dealing with the aggressive world that C2C creates for the early game.
  • Increasing difficulty (Off): I actually like this one. It increases the game difficulty after a number of turns, and again, until it levels out at Deity. Confusingly, however, this is also controllable from within the in-game “BUG” menu where the player can customise the turn interval and the maximum difficulty. I’ve found that this can help a bit with the “snowballing” that’s commonplace in lots of 4X games by ramping up the AI advantage as you yourself get stronger.

Immediately upon entering the game I open the BUG options menu (which looks like a cartoonish green ant head in the top-left button bar) to turn flexible difficulty on, as well as play with some other options. (There are so many here – you’ll learn how you like to play as you try the mod.)

It’s also worth noting that I’m playing this particular game on Standard speed. C2C actually has Standard as its lowest game speed and it’s recommended to play it much slower, but for the purposes of having some semblance of a playthrough to report on in this post, I’m keeping it short! A game at this speed still lasts over 1000 turns.

Gameplay

Man vs. Nature

C2C presents a familiar opening setup, on a high level – a military unit to accompany a lone settler-type unit. Most of the map is undiscovered. Look any closer than that, and things start to change a little. You’ll notice much more variety in the landscape due to the additional terrain types. The unit models are different. If you were able to see the opening setup for all civilisations at once, you’d even notice that different cultures have different appearances to account for different phenotypes scattered across the world.

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The Apache’s North American culture group has an effect on unit appearance.

The core gameplay elements remain – moving units, fighting, terrain movement costs, settling, line of sight etc. Anyone familiar with Civ IV shouldn’t have trouble getting stuck in and getting to grips with the basics of C2C. What they might notice is that, on founding their first city, it starts off unhealthy. The early game in C2C is wildly different to a normal Civ game with much more of a Man vs. Nature vibe.

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Your first city starts off unhealthy – your tribe must struggle against the elements to gain a foothold in this environment.

Quite how primitive your civilization is in 50,000 BC becomes apparent when you first look at the tech tree. Among the options available to you are “Language”, “Gathering”, and “Cooperation”; this really goes to the heart of human cultural development, and its something that C2C really tries to capture.

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Early-game techs really stretch back to the beginnings of humanity’s rise to power on Earth.

Contrast this with some of the late-game technologies such as “Utopia Destiny”, “Megastructure Engineering”, and “Whole Brain Emulation”, and you should immediately grasp the immense scope of C2C.

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Late-game techs elevate your civilisation to the level of technological gods.

If I’m being quite honest, a lot of these technologies are easy to gloss over. Indeed, there’s often so much choice that choosing an “optimal route” is out-of-the-question. What I normally do is identify a need in my empire (e.g. I want to start exploring the coast) and find an appropriate tech to beeline to. This often ends up queuing 20 or so technologies. The result is that I’m now able to build water vessels of some description (rafts or canoes in the early game) but there were lots of interesting technologies to tide me over. (Pun somewhat intended.)

I quite like this way of progressing technologically; it means that there are unexpected developments along the way, keeping the game fresh and interesting. There’s no way you can learn the tech tree in C2C in the way you can in the base game, so there are always a few surprises.

Leader Development

Some of C2C’s new mechanics begin to introduce themselves to you at this early stage. Amongst them is the leader development system; leaders start off totally neutral, traitless, and ready to learn as their civilization grows. You’re soon given the option to choose a new trait.

leader-progression.png

Traits in C2C have both positive and negative effects by default. These can be altered to pure traits (only positive or negative) at game setup.

What you’ll notice is that there are downsides to every one of these so-called “positive” traits. In the screenshot above, we see that the Philosophical trait carries some bonuses such as increased Great Person birth rate and increased Golden Age length, but also carries penalties such as more war unhappiness and increased anarchy lengths between civic changes.

As you develop your leader, you’ll have to think more carefully about the traits you choose. Positive traits will be largely beneficial and negative traits largely harmful, but there are some opportunities for synergistic trait choices, which really draws me into this system. You need to pick a negative trait for every two positive traits (or you can skip a positive trait pick to remove a negative one).

negative-traits.png

The “Idealistic” negative trait increases anarchy length and civic upkeep, but also increases culture and Great Person birth rate. I ended up picking this to stack the Great Person birth rate on top of my existing positive traits and civics.

One of the advantages of the leader development system is that you can choose traits to match the game you’re starting to experience; if you have some aggressive neighbours, it might be worth picking the Protective trait to help you deal with any potential attacks.

Promotions

In a similar vein, the promotions system in C2C has been massively expanded and provides a huge amount of flexibility to deal with the challenges of the day.

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Some “basic” promotions available on prehistoric units.

A lot of these promotions naturally relate to the deeper combat systems that have been added to the mod. They might enable such bonuses as improved combat with animals, improved combat against smaller units, or improved odds to withdraw from a losing battle.

The promotions don’t draw my interest as much as other features in C2C, and I often end up choosing generic promotions anyway (generally because I can’t spare the attention for everything else that I want to do in a turn), but I’ve certainly found they can swing engagements in my favour when I have bothered to think a bit about them.

Hunting

An absolutely essential part of the early game in C2C is making sure you hunt animals. The mod has introduced dozens, if not hundreds, of new animal units. The animals spawn not just as solo entities, but will spawn in varying size groups, making them more or less difficult to hunt. (This is the “Size Matters” feature.) They’re also linked to the terrain – deer might spawn on the deer resource. Similarly for bison. You probably won’t find a desert tortoise too far from a desert.

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This tasty tortoise will provide both food and production to the nearest city when hunted.

The prehistoric buildings in the first few thousands of years don’t provide enough food and production to really get your civilization out of first gear. You need to supplement these buildings with hunting; you’ll spend a lot of time building military units, including dedicated hunter-type units, to provide food and production to your first cities.

Upon defeating an animal unit in battle, you might end up subduing it rather than butchering it. It can then be brought back to a city and provide some other benefit to the populace – this might be as a military mascot (more experience points for military units) or as inspiration for a myth or story (to provide science, culture, and/or education), for example.

Even with sufficient hunting, you’ll find early-game growth to be slow. I was nearly 70 turns in (corresponding to roughly 30,000 years) before my capital city, Poverty Point, reached a population of two.

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Poverty Point gains an additional population point 30,000 years after its founding. It celebrates by digging some Excrement Holes. (Ain’t no party like a prehistoric party.)

My first few playthroughs of C2C saw me at odds with this system. It is quite a departure from the base game, but once you realise you need to spam hunters in the early game it becomes more than manageable, and actually quite enjoyable. Gaining that first population point feels like a real achievement.

Your hunters, set to hunt automatically (there’s a new button for that!), double as explorers of the harsh world around you; they fare much better in the untamed deserts, forests, and jungles of life BC than other contemporary units, so make sure to capitalise on them.

Realistic Culture Spread

Civ V and VI utilise different border expansion mechanics to their predecessor. In these games, single tiles would be individually acquired as the city’s culture improved. Alternatively, additional tiles could be purchased with gold. In Civ IV, cities expanded in all directions equally at certain culture “milestones”. A cornerstone of city location strategy in Civ IV was the “fat cross” representing the city’s workable tiles. One could rely on your city borders adopting a particular shape when its borders first expanded.

C2C does away with that with its realistic culture spread mechanic. In C2C, some terrain features (mountains, hills, jungles, forests) slow the spread of culture through them, resulting in borders that more closely follow the map’s geography. This mirrors real-world borders which are often demarcated by mountain ranges, rivers, seas, deserts, and other natural obstacles.

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My culture spreads more easily over the plains to the east than the hills and mountains in the west.

It’s also worth noting that there are buildings that can be built later in the game that expand a city’s workable area up to three tiles out from the city itself (rather than two in vanilla).

C2C’s realistic culture spread is just one more example of how the mod has aimed to make geography a much bigger influencing factor in the history of a civilisation. (For anyone who hasn’t read it, I highly recommend reading Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond, which considers this very factor in determining world history.) Other mechanisms include terrain damage (that scout might just die if it tries to cross that huge desert without help) and storms (which can be a nightmare for naval units.)

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This storm rolled in off the Atlantic. For me it had little effect, but for a burgeoning naval civilisation it could cause havoc.

In case it’s not become obvious yet, this struggle against nature that is captured so excellently in C2C is, for me, one of the biggest draws to the game. Every milestone feels like a real win against the game world, let alone the other civs you’ve got to contend with. Everything feels so much more alive and impactful on your civ’s development, even more than Civ VI which actively set out to address this very issue.

New players, not realising that C2C’s game world is much more aggressive than vanilla Civ IV, might get frustrated with this. But set out expecting the world to try to eat you alive and you’ll rise to the challenge, much as our own forebears did.

City Properties

Civilization players are used to balancing a number of numbers in their games; in Civ IV, this might have been adjusting the science, culture, and espionage sliders with respect to gold income, or managing city happiness and health. C2C goes much further and introduces the concept of city properties, which includes disease, crime, education, water pollution, air pollution, and flammability. Let any of these get out of hand and you’ll suffer for it later.

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Additional city properties introduced by C2C with their associated values and per-turn changes. In this example, disease and crime are both decreasing (good), while education is increasing (also good).

These properties have a per-turn change associated with them, which is influenced by buildings in the city or even nearby units (e.g. a healer unit might act to decrease the disease in a city). The properties also have an absolute value associated with them; when the properties acquire a certain value, some special buildings will be automatically built in the city. This might include pests, for example (in the case of a rising disease value), or vigilantes (in the case of a rising crime value).

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Above an education value of +10, my citizens automatically build the special building “Education (Intuitive)”, which gives many bonuses but also increases war unhappiness and slows growth.

All of these values, except education, should be kept as low as possible. Raising education is generally a good thing, but it also makes your populace question your leadership more, which has some implications if your civilisation starts to become unstable. (Revolutions and civil wars are possible in C2C.)

The city properties took me a while to get to grips with, especially their impact on the special buildings. They really need a close eye to manage throughout the game because they can quickly snowball out of control; ignore crime for too long, for example, and your city will quickly become a wretched hive of scum and villainy. (This is really what happened on Tatooine – they should have recruited the Town Watch before they let their crime figures enter positive values.)

I do like this system, but I fear the AI haven’t quite got to grips with it. Thunderbrd tells me this is being addressed, thankfully!

More Great People

There are lots of additional flourishes included in C2C; so not only have new meaningful mechanics been added, but more quotes (for techs), voiceovers (from the contributors – some British, some Australian, some computer-generated audio), great person descriptions, great person portraits, leader portraits, wonder videos etc.

In the Prehistoric Era you’ll hopefully notice the addition of a few more types of great person; most prominently is the Great Hunter and Great Doctor, who have a huge part to play in the early game when it comes to taming beast and disease.

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Tapio, Great Hunter.

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Hippocrates, Great Doctor.

I often gloss over the flavour text, but I appreciate that it’s there; it does make the mod feel a lot more polished and goes to show the commitment of the team to fill in these gaps.

Culture Development

When I chose a leader for this campaign of world conquest, I noted that there was just a single unique building available to me: “Native Culture (North American) – (Native Culture (Human))”. As you may have guessed, not all leaders have the same Native Culture, with some having “European” or “African”. These “supercultures” define which narrower cultures your empire can develop.

Cultures are “buildable” and behave like wonders – only one civilization can build each culture. Cultures give you access to unique units and can only be built when the prerequisites have been met, which includes technologies, base culture (as mentioned), and access to particular resources. In the case of TSL Earth maps, this means that cultures get built more-or-less where the real-world culture existed.

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The first culture I’m able to build is “Huron”. The Huron Nation in the real world developed closer to Lake Ontario than the Gulf of Mexico, but we’ll roll with it.

Building cultures can give you a real leg-up militarily, but other than that, I feel they’re being underutilised. Perhaps I’ve missed something, but the cultures could certainly be expanded upon to add more flavour. There’s plenty else on the developers’ plates, so I can let this one slide – it’s certainly a good idea!

Settling

With relatively lower unit and building costs than the base game, it might be easy (and tempting) to spam Settler units. There are a few things that C2C does to prevent this, one of which is through the use of civics; until you research the “Tribalism” tech, you can’t even build settler-type units.

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Tribalism is one of those “turning point” technologies that really accelerates your civilisation’s progress to greatness.

Having research Tribalism, one can then adopt the “Tribal” civic, which allows settling up to three cities before suffering penalties. If you want a higher limit, you need to research new techs and adopt the new civics. After Tribal comes “Chiefdom”, which allows up to nine cities. This simulates waves of settling and larger empires in line with more advanced social structures, much like what was observed in our own history.

In terms of gameplay, I find it helps reign in empire management. Given that you can only expand within certain limits for each civic advancement, it makes you think a little harder about city placement. When you’re finally able to settle more cities, you have a well-developed core around which to expand. You end up with “shells” of decreasing development away from your capital, which sort of simulates the wild/undeveloped frontier that may have existed historically.

City Management

Casual players may only have dipped in and out of the city management very occasionally. In C2C it becomes a central tool in working with many of the mod’s features.

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The city management screen in C2C is a lot busier and carries a lot more information.

To be quite honest, I rarely go back to vanilla Civ IV any more so I do wonder a little quite what’s changed. Certainly all of the unit filtering tools in the lower half of the screen; one can filter by unit, building, or wonder, and then by function (e.g. you can select “building” and then “only those that affect production” to get a reduced list of all the buildings that affect production). This becomes vital pretty early because of the massive number of units and buildings available to you. It becomes quite natural to use after a few tries.

On this screen you can also track the city properties mentioned earlier and the special buildings produced as a result.

This city screen is a little intimidating and it’s easy to overlook important information, particularly the city properties. I would definitely advise spending some time familiarising yourself with it. I consider it a bit of a necessary evil to all of the features that C2C has added. It can be clumsy and obscure, but it does provide you with the information that you need, and the team have really done as much as they can with the tools they’ve been given to make things easier for the player.

Warfare

Warfare has changed significantly from the base game. Thunderbrd himself handled much of the revamp to the system and continues to do so. Developments here include the following features:

  • Fight or Flight: more intricate rules for withdrawal.
  • Size Matters: makes each unit take on a definition for its size, volume, and “combat quality”.
  • Hide and Seek: turns stealth into a skill contest between the one trying to be invisible and those trying to spot them.
  • Without Warning: allows units to ambush other units and attack other units on the same tile.

And much, much more!

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Preparing to capture the Aztec capital city. I had to utilise the “Size Matters” mechanics by combining up to three identical units into a larger group, giving me a significant advantage against isolated units in Tenochtitlan.

These interacting systems do the job of adding more depth to combat in Civ IV and I know Thunderbrd has gone to some lengths to discourage the “doom stack”. I think, though, that whether or not these changes have their intended effect depends entirely on the player’s priorities; if you dive into these combat features, there are innumerable ways to improve combat odds and you can become a master of tactical battles. Not just that, but you definitely end up with “bands” of units that serve a unique function; for example, I end up patrolling my borders with specialised units (such as spies and canines) to detect any attempts by my neighbours to infiltrate my empire and cause havoc, heavily utilising C2C’s “Hide and Seek” feature.

However, if you’d rather get on with the empire management, it’s still pretty easy to build a doom stack and steam-roll your opponent. In this regard, C2C hasn’t lost anything with regards to the base game. Many are critical of the combat system adopted in Civ V and VI, but I quite enjoy the opportunity for out-manoeuvring that it allows, even if it implies armies spread across hundreds of square miles.

Only one group of one type of soldiers can fit into a 300 or more square mile area?  Give me a break!  Talk about a disruption of the suspension of disbelief!

This last point is crucial in C2C’s development; it does, after all, intend to mirror reality in many ways.

Future Development

There is still a huge amount of work still being put into C2C. There’s a bit of housekeeping for the next year or two, including:

  • Balancing unit and building stats.
  • Combat polish (for combat systems and AI use of them).
  • “Advanced Outbreaks and Afflictions” system, which would make disease much more dynamic.

Further into the future, there are two “holy grail team projects”, each featuring at either end of the tech spectrum: Nomadic Start and Multi-Maps.

Nomadic Start

Already featured in the Prehistoric Era of C2C is the struggle against nature in the early game. Disease, scarcity, hunting, and a general sense of vulnerability to the enormous world you’re emerging in are all prominent in 50,000 BC. The team would like to expand this to mirror human history even closer, which of course saw societies sticking to their hunter-gatherer roots long before they hunkered down to a sedentary lifestyle.

The feature boils down to this: you can’t actually settle your first city unless you’ve discovered the “Sedentary Lifestyle” technology. In the mean-time, your tribe needs to roam and live off the land, which would experience resource depletion.

Thunderbrd is perhaps best-placed to explain how he sees this feature developing in the future, with all the detail you might be hoping for:

The game would open up with you having perhaps nothing but a Nomadic Tribe.

[…] You would not be able to plant a city with this family unit but it would be able to collect yields (Food, Production, and Commerce) from the tiles where they end their turns.

[…] At first, the tribe can only collect up to one of each yield, provided that’s available where the tribe ends its turn.  As the tribe grows and techs develop, it can collect more, and once it gets to a point, it starts depleting the tiles they collect from and the tiles will need a little time to recover, forcing the tribe to wander in as strategic a manner as possible to maximize its collections.

[…] You’ll also want to hunt as much as you can, without becoming the prey.

[…] at the end of the Prehistoric, you’d have the birth of the Sedentary Lifestyle and, at your option, you can start to settle your tribe(s).

Thing is, many of your tribes will have taken on their own cultural identities.  As you grow, you have probably split a number of times without having any control over that, and yet you only continue to be able to control one or a small handful of tribes for a while, so you’ve spawned lots of other potential civilizations along the way.

It should be possible to have a game start off with perhaps even just one player, you, and have the rest of the board fill with ‘Human’ life from your success.

As you can see from the above, the Nomadic Start feature will go some way to expanding the Man vs. Nature experience that I mentioned earlier. I absolutely love the idea that the world’s civilisations all spawn off of this one band of hunter-gatherers. This goes some way to simulating the original African diaspora as early humans expanded out of Africa, into the Middle-East and, eventually, the rest of the world.

Multi-Maps

Multi-maps featured prominently in the Civ II expansion “Test of Time“. In ToT, when one built the Alpha Centauri spaceship, the game didn’t end; instead, it unlocked a secondary tech tree that allowed the player to battle the Centaurians. This was further explored with sci-fi and fantasy campaigns, with the game taking place on different celestial bodies/fantasy planes.

A literal description of Multi-maps is given by Thunderbrd:

We’d like for the game to be able to store and run multiple maps.  The user would be able to switch what map he’s interacting with in his user interface and some units would have the ability to perform a mission that takes them, through some defined parameters, from one map to another (example: a ship launching into orbit and then can move on the solar system map to another planet, then enter the map for that planet).

The Civ II: ToT implementation acts very much as a model to bring to Civ IV via C2C, perhaps the most-discussed and most-requested feature if you follow the C2C forum.

Some of us want Multi-maps for multiple realms of exploration and some of us want it for zoomed-in strategic combat features, but regardless, we all want it badly.

C2C begs for Multi-maps and its need is quite obvious.  If we want to colonize the Moon, we need a map for the Moon that’s separate from the map for Earth.  Then we need space maps and maps for other planets and galactic maps and so on.  We really need a nearly infinitely expandable amount of maps that the game somehow juggles all in summary without crashing.  I don’t know exactly what we’ll find is our ultimate limitation, but that would be the ideal.

Given the desire for this feature, by both fans and developers, one might wonder why it’s not already done. There are some pretty hefty technical challenges, including UI work, memory management (for an ageing game engine), and difficulties dealing with quantity inflation (gold and culture values in the late game can become very large, and will be even larger for a solar-system-spanning empire).

If you feel like you can be of use, get over to the mod forum and see if you can chip in. Alternatively, get in touch with me via the Contact page and I’ll introduce you to the relevant party.

Reflection

C2C introduces a lot of additional depth and complexity to Civilization IV. It goes beyond a TBS game and makes Civ a civilisation simulator, which is arguably what Sid intended when he set out on this journey with the original Civilization back in 1991.

Often when I reflect on these mods, and for the benefit of you, the reader, I open with the qualification that more depth and complexity isn’t for anyone. I stand by that, but I feel like this doesn’t quite apply with C2C. The mod is so massive that it shifts its base game’s genre significantly enough that it can no longer be compared directly alongside it.

There are features in C2C that I could quite happily ignore. In fact, one can quite easily do just that with many features given how customisable the game experience is (in game setup and the in-game BUG menu). However, there are many, many more features that I just couldn’t go without in Civ IV knowing now that they exist.

There’s enough in C2C to keep a player occupied for dozens, if not hundreds, of hours before they’ve even seen it all just once. And there are some incredibly ambitious expansion ideas on the horizon, such as the aforementioned Nomadic Start and Multi-Maps, which make it worthwhile to keep coming back and seeing what’s changed. I can’t express how excited I am to see Multi-Maps – and the possibility of expanding naturally into a space 4X game – arrive in C2C.

The years of work by its many contributors has generated a truly iconic game in Caveman 2 Cosmos. It’s not perfect – there are technical issues – and it’s not finished – some later eras have not had the same love and attention as their predecessors. But it draws you into an historical simulation – no, a bonafide anthropological study – like no other.

Installation

Civ IV was ahead of its time a bit with mod support, so installation of mods is actually pretty easy compared to its contemporaries.

  1. Install Civ IV and it’s expansion, up to and including Beyond the Sword with the 3.19 patch. If you install through Steam you should get the most up-to-date version. You can get the Complete Edition on Steam for £14.99 (29.99 USD or 24.99 EUR).
  2. Download the latest version of C2C. At the time of writing this is version 37 with a release date of 23rd December 2016.
  3. Unzip the downloaded file. It’s in .7z format so you’ll need to use an archiver that can work with this format, such as the open source and free 7-Zip.
  4. Copy the Caveman2Cosmos folder into your Beyond the Sword mod folder. If you’ve installed from Steam, this will be in something like C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\common\Sid Meier’s Civilization IV\Beyond the Sword\Mods. If you’ve installed from a CD this will be in C:\Program Files (x86)\Firaxis Games\Sid Meier’s Civilization IV\Beyond the Sword\Mods. (I’m not 100% on these locations – you may need to hunt around for a bit, and some of the directory names might be different if using the Complete Edition. If anyone knows definitively, please let me know in the comments.)
  5. Run “Start C2C.bat” located in the Caveman2Cosmos mod folder to launch the modded version of the game directly. (You can alternatively launch Beyond the Sword and from the main menu, select ‘Advanced’ > ‘Load a Mod’ > ‘Caveman 2 Cosmos’.)

SVN – The Bleeding Edge

If official releases just aren’t enough for you and you absolutely must have the latest and greatest, then you need the SVN. This will give you literally daily updates to the codebase as the modders make them.

You may want to weigh the pros and cons of using the SVN over a release version, but I know lots of fans are in favour of this approach.

Closing Remarks

I first want to say a massive and public thank you to Thunderbrd for obliging me for the sake of this post. He exceeded all of my expectations in the level of detail he gave for every little question I had. It’s good to know that one of my favourite mods is under the guidance of such a fantastic chap.

Speaking of which, his talents extend beyond his substantial contribution to C2C. You can check out an ongoing literary work of his, Heavy Metal, over on the City of IF forums.

Let me know your thoughts and questions on any of the above in the comments section! Alternatively, tweet at me. I love feedback, good and bad, so have at it. And subscribe to Odin Gaming for more like this!

7 responses to “Civilization IV: Caveman 2 Cosmos

  1. heavymetal thing at ens of your post is abadoned – last post on that forum was 6 years ago! Probably Thunderbird doesn’t even remember he used to be on that forum lmao
    also its “nomandic start” not “nomandic starts”

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    • The Heavy Metal link was provided to me by Thunderbrd himself, since I enquired. Just because it hasn’t been updated in a while, doesn’t mean it’s abandoned! Indeed, the author doesn’t consider it to be so.

      Thanks for the pointer on nomenclature. Updated to reflect.

      Like

  2. Pingback: Caveman2Cosmos gets rave review! | CivFanatics·

  3. Wow, you really go into depth here. I got my Civ bug from Civ V, and for the most part, I filled it with Fallout inspired mods. I might have to check out IV just for the sake of this.

    Liked by 1 person

      • No mod in particular. I mainly just used the ones in the Steam Workshop that added Fallout factions then I would make my own scenarios. I did find a scenario there once but I couldn’t get it working :/

        Like

  4. Pingback: Civilization IV: Fall from Heaven 2 – Ashes of Erebus | Odin Gaming·

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