EVE Online was down just long enough last night for me to give in and buy the new Civilization expansion, Beyond the Sword. This was made possible by the site Direct2Drive, basically letting you download any game you want, no hassle. The site is fast, the layout is nice, and the prices are very fair, plus for an impulse buyer like me, it works well (other than the hit to the credit card, but eh).
The interesting thing about Civ expansions is that when you play the Epic game, it’s still basically the same game. Each expansion adds on to the Epic game, how much depends on the expansion, but the overall basics remain the same. You still start with a settler; you still build cities using the same basic logic, combat is overall still the same. Compare that to Warcraft 3 and its expansion, with a new campaign, new units, new terrain, etc. It’s easy to be initially disappointed by a Civ expansion; it feels like you just paid $30 for some minor changes.
This of course is not exactly true. Those ‘minor’ changes have a great impact on how the game unfolds, and your strategy options. Even one new unit can change the entire feel of warfare in a given time period. One new technology in the tree can alter a tech build, shuffle what a player feels is a ‘must’ at a given time.
Then there is the effect on the mod community, who now have new tools and game mechanics to play with. In time you will see great mods that further expand Civ in new and interesting way, extending the life of the game far beyond what you got in the original box.