My first major modding project ever was to perhaps the greatest of Sid Meire's Civilization games. The trouble is that, had Firaxis simply left it as it was and moved right on to the fourth title, it might be a lot more well-remembered than it is now. But instead, they had to go and make the expansions which bogged down the game with a bunch of unnecessary crap that was uninteresting at best and game-breaking at worst. Naturally, everyone who still plays Civ3 uses both of them.
Thus, I set out to perfect the core game itself. This mod is comprised of several files that should be copied directly into the Civilization III directory as-is (i.e. maintaining their file structure). Some of these files are resources taken directly from the game's expansions, while the rest are modified versions of the original game's files. A "Backup" archive is included with the mod, which contains the original versions of all of the files that it overwrites. To uninstall the mod, just unpack it.
Although this mod was designed for vanilla (unexpanded) Civ 3, it can still be used with the expansions present. This is because the expansions install themselves into subfolders of the main Civilization III directory, leaving the main "core" game untouched. After installing the mod, just run the original Civilization3.exe file in the main directory to play it; the expansions pull game data and settings from their own folders, and so the mod will have no effect on them.
(If you downloaded Civilization 3 from Steam, refer to the contents of the "Steam" archive to get the mod running).
Unlike all of my other projects, reading the rest of this document isn't necessary to play and (hopefully) enjoy the mod since the in-game help files have been re-written to serve that purpose. There is a quick reference spreadsheet included with the mod for your convenience, but all of the information that it contains is readily available in-game. The remainder of this file is a detailed changelog of my mod and is only recommended reading for people who are familiar with the game and are interested in the reasoning behind the changes I've made. If you've never played Civ 3 before, might I recommend reading the manual (at least up to chapter 5). The in-game tutorial is a good idea, too.
Likely the most notable change made in my mod - mainly because it involved breaking the editor to pull off - is that the optional techs are all now prerequisites unto themselves. This means that although you have the option of putting off researching them for a time, you will eventually need to do so in order to research more advanced optional techs down the road. This helps to prevent things like having to go back to the Ancient Era to research Monarchy in 2050 A.D. because you had no prior need for it. It also makes the optional techs more appealing to players, especially considering that the new "social" branch they form ends with the highly-important Ecology Modern Age path.
Several techs that were previously optional for era advancement - basically everything that isn't part of the aforementioned "social" tech branch - are now required since there tends to exist main-line techs in the following era that would seem to logically require them. Researching Corporations, for example, without having knowledge of Economics seems somehow wrong. Gameplay was also a concern when making these changes, namely the fact that fewer optional techs near the end of the Middle Ages allows short-lived units like Musketmen and Frigates to see a greater degree of usefulness before they are replaced by the likes of Riflemen and Ironclads.
Many adjustments have been made regarding what techs are required to do stuff or build stuff, but those will all be discussed later in the appropriate sections. Aside from the optional tech changes, the only other major change made to the tech tree itself was some tweaking of the research cost of several techs, which mostly impacts how the AI values them. Beyond that, a few techs have been deleted and some minor rearranging was done to fill the holes they left behind. Also, the names of some techs were shortened in order for their full names to fit into their display boxes without using ellipses.
A full list of changes to the tech tree is shown below.
In a nutshell, this mod attempts to rework strategic resources to make more sense. For example, a Battleship under the original rules does not require Iron to build. This and many other things have been fixed in this mod, which streamlines the game's strategic resource model into a much simpler system. Coal and Saltpeter are both gone, and the remaining six resources see a much higher degree of usefulness based on what you might expect: any sort of armored, artillery, or naval combat unit now requires Iron; anything with an engine requires Oil; anything that has tires requires Rubber; anything that flies requires Aluminum (meaning that it now shows up on the map earlier than before); anything nuclear or glowy needs Uranium (no changes here). I pray I don't have to explain Horses.
The impact that the above changes have on the game are most noticeable in that Iron and Oil both see a drastic increase in the number of things that they are required to build. Not too far behind them is Aluminum, which is now a requirement for several late-game city improvements. The absence of both Coal and Saltpeter means that the focus of the early game is more about fighting over position and luxury resources (given that both Iron and Horses are relatively easy to come by), but the strategic resource wars will hit hard in the late Industrial Age. Oil, specifically, will become the center of much conflict given both its newfound usefulness and relative scarcity. In other words, it'll be much more like real life.
The changes made to luxury resources, by contrast, are entirely cosmetic. I took issue with a couple of them - namely Ivory and Dyes - for seeming out of place and realistically kind of shitty compared to the other luxuries. I replaced the former with Tobacco from one of the expansions and renamed the latter to Tea because... well, it looks like a cup of tea if you don't look too hard at it. In a similar vein, Gold was removed as a resource since it was inconsistent with the other, tastier bonus resources and was essentially Gems without the added benefit of being a luxury (also, gold is used as currency in the game, so there's a suspension of disbelief thing going on there). Bringing the bonus resource count back up to six is Fruit from the Conquests expansion, which helps Jungle tiles be something other than pieces of shit. And on that note...
The different terrain types are not very well-balanced in the original game. Rather, some were better off either destroyed at your earliest convenience (Forest and Jungle) or just avoided entirely (Mountain). The idea that I approached them with is that each terrain type should have something different to offer. Thus, while Grassland and Plain tiles are great for food production, Hills and Mountains should also be desirable for shields and strategic resources while Forests and Jungles should contain the bulk of luxury resources and be good sources of trade in general. To greater emphasize these roles, Mountains get an extra shield to keep them from being an inferior version of Hills and Jungles get an extra food to keep them from being inferior Forests that occasionally kill people who work in them (which is detrimental enough on its own, really). Forests and Jungles now also get double the commerce boost from roads so that it's not always a better call to just level them and improve the base terrain.
Still, other terrain types are not quite as good as others. Desert and Tundra, namely, don't have much going for them aside from the fact that they're the only places to find Oil. Sea tiles aren't particularly attractive, either, unless you get one with a Whale (which now have an extra shield to help bring them back to being the kick-ass resource that they were in Civ2). Aside from that, I've changed the production bonuses of some of the other resources to balance them and/or more accurately reflect their usefulness, raised the shield bonus for clearing forests, and a few other things as shown below.
This mod makes a myriad of changes to city improvements and wonders that range from conservative to a bit on the radical side. We'll start with the removal of a few great wonders and some major changes to several that remained. Given Sid's obsession with wonders occurring in groups of seven in Civ2, I was shocked to see the half-assed presentation of them here. The Industrial Age is reduced to a barren, wonderless wasteland, while the Middle Ages contain far more than the maximum dosage. Three of them all have the exact same effect (Copernicus, Newton, and SETI), and Longevity seems more like a bad afterthought - or perhaps a joking throwback to CTP - than an actual wonder. While I didn't restore the "perfect seven" wonder system of times past, I did my best with what I had to work with.
Longevity is gone, and its effects are more appropriately attributed to the Cure for Cancer. The C4C happiness bonus gets a boost, as well, to help combat the side effects of rapid growth. Universal Suffrage also gets the boot. Although it's not nearly as overpowered as it was in Civ2 - where it for all intents and purposes turned Republics into Democracies without the drawbacks - I saw fit to push its effects back to the United Nations, which now acts as a happiness-boosting wonder instead of the catalyst for a "gimmick" victory*. And because wonders which are only useful to certain government types bother me, its primary draw is now that it doubles the happiness effects of Colosseums.
*Yes, this means that diplomatic victory has been removed from the mod entirely
The Sistine Chapel was an odd beast, as it's the only Middle Age wonder without a name attached to it (especially curious, given that it was called Michelangelo's Chapel in Civ2). It's also one of way too many wonders packed into a small portion of the game (see above) and among three happiness wonders that all appear in that same timeframe. The Sistine Chapel goes bye-bye here and its duties are assumed by J.S. Bach's Cathedral. I could've done it the other way around and gotten rid of Bach instead, but that would've made the Music Theory tech mostly pointless and I didn't want to go to the trouble of removing it. Shakespeare's Theater, meanwhile, picks up the slack left behind by getting a boost that actually affects cities other than the one it's built in, effectively becoming the Hanging Gardens 2.0 - less powerful overall than Bach, but a much better deal if you don't have (m)any Cathedrals.
With regards to wonders that only affect the city in which they're built rather than your civilization as a whole, they're really kind of shitty. Only two such wonders remain (The Colossus and Newton's University), and both now offer shield bonuses to help offset the cost of building a wonder that lacks a civilization-wide benefit. As for the others, The SETI Program is restored to its former glory by putting a Research Lab in every city and Copernicus's Observatory has been reworked into a combination of a secondary Magellan's Voyage (the one wonder effect I don't mind there being copies of) and a modern-day Oracle. Magellan's Voyage, likewise, now gets the same home-city trade bonus as The Colossus so that it's not just an inferior version of Copernicus.
Speaking of The Oracle, there's actually a few things I need to say about it in specific. First off, it gets a content citizen in every city so that it's no longer entirely outclassed by the Hanging Gardens, which both doesn't require Temples to be effective and expires later. Secondly, it now expires later (and is cheaper to build). The Great Wall is another wonder that deserves special mention for being a pain in the dick to work with, mainly because its actual effects are not very apparent and the editor help files are anything but helpful. I finally decided "fuck it" and just set it to add Shitty Walls to every city under your control (not just those on the same continent, since I think the biggest draw is that it will instantly add walls to any city you capture) to protect them from the Goddamn Mongorians. I also pushed the expiration date back to Steel so that the damn thing isn't obsolete three turns after you're done building it.
On that last note, I found it puzzling how the Pyramids are the only Ancient Age wonder that don't ever become obsolete, especially given how incredibly useful they are. So, they now follow suit with their ancient brethren and expire with the discovery of Sanitation. Further, two of the most coveted wonders in the game - Sun Tzu's Art of War and Leonardo's Workshop - are so powerful (especially in tandem with each other), that I felt it appropriate to have them expire in the late Industrial Ages with the discoveries of Radio and Mass Production, respectively. The Great Library expiring with the Printing Press rather than Education, on the other hand, was just more of a "it made sense" kind of change.
Speaking more broadly on all ancient-age wonders, common wisdom in the Civ3 community is that they are all generally poor investments regardless of their actual use due to how much they cost at a critical stage in the game where every available resource must go toward expansion. To this end, they are all now significantly cheaper (most of them by at least 100 shields) as part of the mod's changes to building shield costs. This not only makes them more worthwhile investments, but also helps prevent (at least as much) productivity from being lost if another Civ beats you to the punch.
Moving on to small wonders, we have the removal of the Military Academy, The Pentagon, and Battlefield Medicine. While Battlefield Medicine is now emulated by the one remaining military-minded small wonder (Heroic Epic), the effects of the other two are deliberately absent. Not only did I see having more than half of the small wonders geared towards war as a bit lopsided, I also felt that the ability to churn out armies at will was too imbalancing to the game. Now, the decision of what to do with a great leader whenever one may arise is more of an actual choice.
Another major change is that the remaining small wonders now all have tech prerequisites, where very few of them did before. This never made sense to me, since one would assume that composing a Heroic Epic might require knowledge of, say, Literature. Well, it does now. Wall Street now has Economics as a prerequisite, the Forbidden Palace requires Military Tradition, the Great Iron Works needs Industrialization, and the Intelligence Agency now comes with Communism since Espionage was given the boot. Satellite Defense already had a tech prerequisite, but now also gains a strategic resource requirement of both Oil and Aluminum. These changes add a bit more weight to small wonders when you finally do get them, as well as lend some much-needed allure to several of the optional techs.
As far as just regular city improvement changes go, probably the biggest one is the addition of a third corruption-reducing improvement. Now, I'm going to preface this by stating that the corruption model in this game is a fucking mess, and I've all but given up on doing anything with it beyond what I already did. About the only thing that I determined conclusively is that the corruption-fighting improvements are usually not effective enough to be worth the trouble of building, especially since cities that want them the most are the ones that are struggling to build anything, let alone an 80-shield improvement. Thus, I determined that such improvements at the very least need a more notable secondary effect so that the corruption reduction acts more as a free gift with purchase than a primary draw.
Courthouses thus, in addition to a price cut that puts them on par with Walls and Barracks(es?), now make one unhappy citizen content. Libraries now also reduce corruption in addition to their normal effects, which keeps them (and the scientific trait as a whole) more useful on higher difficulty levels where out-researching the A.I. is more difficult/fucking impossible and corruption is much more of an issue than on easier levels. Access to two corruption-fighting improvements earlier on in the game makes their effects at least slightly more noticeable, and scientific civs in particular may now find the Courthouse/Library combo a better (and more secular) way to start off new cities than a Temple.
This means that the third corruption-reduction improvement is actually the Police Station, and the catch is that it's now exclusive to Democracies. My reasoning is that I felt that Democracies weren't better enough at fighting corruption than Republics (or even Monarchies) were, and Commumism is usually better unless you're one of those crazies who ends the game with, like, 50+ cities. Further, its secondary effect is only applicable to two types of government - one of which I specifically wanted to deny it to since, as I've already mentioned, Republics have a way of becoming Democracies without the drawbacks (and only marginally more corruption) if you give them a means of combating war weariness.
Cathedrals are now less effective, making only two citizens content instead of three. The Colosseum is now the big happiness-boosting improvement, picking up the third content citizen that the Cathedral dropped. This gives us an improvement (the Cathedral) which has less of a happiness effect but produces more culture than the Colosseum rather than one that's just outright better in every way. I also went ahead and swapped around their building costs since I felt that an extra happy citizen had an edge over more culture, and also because it realistically probably takes longer to build a colosseum than a really big church. A major motivating factor in my decision was my belief that the religious trait is far too powerful in the original game with its cheap happiness and culture, so hopefully the slightly weaker effect/reduced cost of the Cathedral (along with the viable Temple alternative mentioned above) brings it down a peg or two.
In the midst of editing city improvements in particular, I also fixed (or, rather, shoddily patched) two significant bugs. The first is that, in addition to being a huge fucking mess, Civ3's corruption model is actually kind of broken. One of the few things that Conquests did right was fix a problem where relocating your Palace to the middle of fucking nowhere would reduce "rank" corruption in most of your cities to next to nothing. Of course, this fix was made to the game's engine, so I had to settle for the next best thing, which was just removing the ability to rebuild the Palace.
The other fix is that the Research Lab no longer generates either culture or pollution. This is because the SETI Program now adds them to every city, and the game gets rather buggy when wonders do that, particularly in cities where said improvement already exists. In short, the existing one will remain in any city that already had it in case you lose control of the wonder (or if it expires). Although the wonder will prevent anything that it replaces from charging upkeep for as long as it remains active, the pollution and culture output will double up unless you sell off the existing improvement. And not wanting to bother with this whole mess, I opted for the easy way out.
Aside from that, a lot of smaller, less noteworthy changes have also been made. Marketplaces are a bit cheaper now (same cost as a Library, as they were in Civ2) and produce culture, most Modern Age city improvements now have resource requirements where they previously didn't, and the tech requirements for several of the spaceship components have been pushed farther up the tech tree towards what I assume to be more logical prerequisites. This means that A) you'll have to research more of the Modern Age techs to obtain a "science" victory, and B) there's a greater chance of someone nuking your capital to the ground while you try and do it. Oh, and you also need Oil to build your spaceship now.
Below is a list of all the changes made to city improvements and wonders - great and small - by the mod.
Moving on to the units portion of the mod, we have a large number of changes. Although these edits are much more minor as compared to those in other areas, nearly every unit in the game has been tweaked in some form or fashion in an attempt to balance things out. Most of the adjustments focus on either creating upgrade paths for units which previously did not have any (so you can't still build Swordsmen in 2050 A.D.) and on enforcing strategic resource requirements that make more sense. There are no more "dead-end" units in the game - though some still take long enough to upgrade that they are for a good while - and Iron and Oil specifically are now required to build lots more units than they previously were.
Perhaps the most notable change is the addition of a new unit: the Curragh. It's an early-game predecessor to the Galley that can be built right off the bat. More importantly, it's available only to the Expansionist civs so as to compensate for the one glaring weakness of said trait wherein it, unlike all of the other traits, is completely fucking useless when playing on certain types of maps. The Conquests expansion saw this problem and responded by making another trait (Seafaring) that was totally useless on the exact opposite type of map. What I've done is similar, except pretty much the exact opposite and not retarded. Fuck you, BreakAway games. Fuck you so hard.
I also tried to address the civ-specific units, many of which seemed like either like half-assed last-minute additions, or whoever thought them up was on crack. Take the Samurai, for example, which is an armored foot unit that somebody thought would make a suitable replacement for Knights on horseback. Samurai now replace Pikemen, who are available now with Monarchy instead of Feudalism. This was done to widen the tiny gap between them and Musketmen - which was made much more noticeable with the removal of Saltpeter - as well as to shorten the time that Spearmen are the best (only) defensive unit available. It also brings back an old favorite strategy of mine from Civ 2: making an immediate run for Monarchy at the start of the game. Japan is a great Civ to do this with, since Samurai now give them a defensive advantage in the mid/late Ancient Era equivalent to the kickass one that Greece starts off with.
Following suit with Japan, French Musketeers now actually offer more defense (putting extra defense instead of offense on a unique defensive unit... what a novel concept) than standard Musketmen. On the flip side to this are offensive units like the Babylonian Bowman and the Russian Cossack, whose extra defense is about as useful to them as a ballsack on your chin (protip: chin balls are never useful). The former are now just as strong offensively as Swordsmen, while the latter now have two extra attack points as well as the ability to attack more than once a turn. Chinese Riders lose their extra movement point in favor of an extra attack point which makes them the most powerful attackers of their time, and that extra movement point gets picked back up by Indian War Elephants since not requiring any resources isn't much of an advantage (though I like how Gandhi always seems to have elephants on hand).
Last, and most certainly least, the English Manowar is perhaps the most commonly-cited "obsolete too soon" unit in the game, though in all fairness its lifespan is only one of its problems. My solution here was to grant it both additional attack and defense, thus allowing it to coexist with Ironclads until Destroyers come along and obsolete them both. Speaking of Ironclads, which were only marginally more powerful than Frigates under the default rules, they were given a significant defense boost as a nod to their actual historical context. Destroyers, of course, will still school them, and they now remain useful into the late game since Battleships have been slowed down to give you a reason (other than the cost) to build something other than an indestructible floating fortress of death.
Aside from units like Musketmen and Frigates, which were mentioned earlier in the tech changes section, the most notable offender of the "obsolete too soon" brigade was the Chariot, which I've simply removed because Chariots suck and there's no way to make them not suck since their replacements are literally one tech away. There's also Archers and Longbowmen, who have the misfortune of existing in a world with Swordsmen and Knights. They now have a zone of control to allow them to function as support units once they've been obsoleted as primary attack units. More notably, all units with a zone of control were also given the capacity for lethal bombardment, thus allowing them the potential to completely destroy anything that crosses their path (important note: no units with a zone of control are capable of regular bombardment).
Speaking further on lethal bombardment, fighter planes (but not bombers) now have the capacity to lethally bombard naval units. This is an important distinction, as lethal bombardment of land units in any capacity is very powerful and the fact that Conquests handed this ability out like candy is very possibly the worst thing it did for game balance. Here, lethal land bombardment is restricted exclusively to zone of control fire (see above) and American F-15's.
A full list of changes to units is shown below.
Lastly, we have all of the changes that just did not seem to fit anywhere else. The big ones here are the new team colors, some government reworking, and a bit of shuffling around the traits on some civs to ones that I felt fit them a little better. There's also a number of changes lifted straight from the expansions to everything from diplomacy to city specialists. Difficulty levels have been adjusted, as well, to reinforce Regent as the "normal" difficulty level and Chieftain/Warlord as the "easy" ones. Emperor and Deity remain untouched, thus reinforcing them as the levels to play if you're out of your sodding mind (seriously, don't play on them - they were designed for psychopaths).
Seriously, though, I have no idea what the developers were thinking when they assigned the "unique" colors to each civ. Were they high? Drunk? Was it all a big joke? Or were they just not paying attention and just really wanted to get the hell out of the office one afternoon just before the game was released? At least with the traits I moved around, I could at least understand the train of thought that went into the original settings; with the colors, it's as if thought never even entered the equation. Whatever the cause, I've fixed the problem by assigning each tribe one - and only one - unique color, none of which are migraine-inducing like some of the old ones were.
The government changes are probably the biggest ones that don't involve difficulty levels or colors - both of which I've already said my piece on - so I guess that's what we'll move on to next. The removal of Civ2's most off-beat government type (Fundamentalism) means that it's more important now than ever that the few remaining governments do more to set themselves apart from one another rather than the choice between them being a simple matter of determining whether or not you're going for a peaceful victory and whether or not you've discovered Democracy and/or Communism. The basic idea that I approached governments with is that the more primitive ones should be better suited to small, growing civilizations instead of just being flat-out bad, whereas the advanced ones will only be truly beneficial to larger empires.
~~~As a primary example, Despotism no longer requires support for military units. It's a shitty enough government due to its production penalties and rampant corruption without having to worry about going broke because your Scout just popped a Warrior from a goody hut on top of that. Monarchies, likewise, are better at supporting early-game armies with 4 free units for each town, city, and metropolis instead of its previous 2/4/8 spread. Communism, then, which retains the aforementioned spread, is a better deal for larger empires, but especially less so for smaller ones since each unit over the limit will require two gold per turn for support rather than just one. A similar dichotomy exists between Republics and Democracies, with the former now allowing for a very small army free of charge but being much more costly than the latter for larger ones due to, again, charging more for units over the limit.
Pretty much all of the other changes to governments (i.e. the ones that don't involve unit support) are comparatively minor and mostly for flavor. ~~~ Aside from that, Monarchies now get veteran diplomats (there's a James Bond joke in here, I'm sure), Communist regimes can now conscript more citizens per turn (because they're evil), and Democracies lose their propaganda immunity since all you'd see otherwise is a bunch of Communist states trying to steal cities from other Communist states while the capitalist pigs sit back and laugh.
Right of Passage agreements have been removed as they were basically a "rape the computer for free" card. Most anything that boils down to exploiting the overly-trusting nature of the AI is something that I try to downplay as much as possible, and the sad truth is that axing the single worst offender is the most that I can do without hacking the game's engine. Being a right bastard to your opponents still won't win you many friends, but I sincerely doubt that most players care.
Moving on to some of the more general changes, the "tax man" city specialist now generates twice as much gold as before (credit to the expansions for one of their few good ideas). They also now require Currency, meaning that Elvis is the only "specialist" citizen available intially since scientists have been removed as they were functionally identical to tax men unless you're trying to do that bullshit "minimum research" strat that shows up a lot in Diety games. The requisite tech for conscription has been moved up by an entire era, bringing it into the game soon enough to possibly be of some actual use. Stealing world maps is similarly now a diplomatic mission instead of an espionage mission since world maps are about as valueable as real estate in Detroit by the time spies roll around.
Finally, there's the Civilopedia. Perhaps I can't fault Firaxis too badly for it, since attention to detail is definitely not the forte of any technical writer, but would it have killed these people to hire an editor or something? Since I already had to rewrite it to reflect all of the mode's new settings, I went ahead and updated it with all sorts of helpful tips and information for newcomers and veterans alike. In other words, the Civilopedia is actually useful now, so plz have a read.
First and foremost, thank you to all of my friends of the New Game Plus community, and an extra-special thanks to my man Hart Hunt for his help making this mod's kickass logo and just for being one of the kindest, most awesome people I've ever met. Thanks also goes to the CivFanatics community who helped me out a lot back when this mod was in its infancy. Shout-out to Civinator in particular if for no other reason than making me glad I came back by.
I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.