Three ways a computer game taught me how to potentially conquer the world

Three ways a computer game taught me how to potentially conquer the world
Seriously. Avoid this dude. He is the pits.

I went on a Sid Meier's Civilization V bender over the weekend.

In case you've never heard of it, Sid Meier's Civilization V is a turn-based 4X strategy computer game in which you try to guide a national leader from the past to world domination. In case you've never heard of what a turn-based 4X strategy game is, congratulations, you're not a geek. So – as far as benders goes – it is somewhat on the tamer side.

That is, if you consider taking over the world as freakin' William I of the Netherlands tame. That's right Rome, you stood no chance against the mighty Sea Beggar – some sort of ship thing – and powerful polder – some sort of land thing. You threw your mighty legions and ballistas after me and I laughed in Dutch in your general direction.

Tame? Ha! Don't make me laugh in Dutch again! (Another word that rhymes with tame comes to mind, but let's just pretend that word doesn't exist for the moment.)

I have played the Civilization series since Civilization II came out when I was in high school. I've taken over the world countless times as countless leaders in countless ways. (Sesame Street's The Count just read that sentence and shouted at me, "C'mon, give me something to do here!)

Along the way, I'd like to think I've come to a few conclusions about world domination. Not that I plan on conquering the world anytime soon, mind you. That just sounds like way too much work and I have some TV series' I still need to catch up on. But I'd like to think I could have given Ghengis Khan a few tips.

"Dude, Genghis, stop throwing dead cows into people's cities. It's gross. Nobody is going to want to hang out with you anymore."

Other than hygiene tips, I have gained a few other nuggets of wisdom that might help future world conquerers:

Napoleon was a Level 1 doughnut hole. In every game of Civilization, that little runt goes around stirring up trouble and starting fights. And if you let him stick around for too long, he'll mess up your plans just enough to let another country leave you in the dust. The lesson? Beware of short, angry men with complexes named after them. If you want to take over the world, make sure you avoid them or take over their cities as quickly as possible if such a possibility exists.

Science. Science. Science. Defending a city against artillery and infantry with a few crossbowmen = bad idea and quick end to your civilization. As countless (sorry, Count von Count) 90s celebrities could have told you, "The more you know ... the less likely you are to be trampled by Napoleon." Or something to that effect. So, if you plan on some world conquery, learn yourself up first. Quick, go find as many books about calculus as you can! Then, go sell them all to college students who have no choice but to buy them at your price and then use the proceeds to hire some scientists who can think for you. At least, I think that's how this works. I'm not sure. I sometimes end up fighting artillery and infantry with crossbowmen.

If all else fails, cheat. This used to be a lot easier back in the Civilization II days when you had the option to go into cheat mode and "gift" yourself 200 million nuclear warheads. (Paging, Dr. Strangelove.) Newer Civilization games have eliminated that option, though, so you have to cheat in another way, specifically reverting back to a previous save file, preferably before you did that really stupid thing that set you back a millennia. So, future world leader, your path is clear. Build a time machine. After that, world domination is yours. Or you could just use the time machine to replay the weekend over and over again so you can keep playing a computer game.

Yeah, that's probably what I would do, too.

• Going for Gusto is a blog by Joe Grace that looks for the awesome in life. Please support Going for Gusto by liking the Facebook page at Facebook.com/GoingForGusto.

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