Much has been written about Civilization's addictive "just one more turn" design. The game is twenty years old and it still stands with Nethack and Oblivion as one of the most time-destructive single-player diversions I've tried.

The last time I played Civilization was 13 years ago, at the beginning of summer vacation. It was meant to be a harmless afternoon's fun, easily set aside when dinner called. Instead, the game kidnapped me, and a week later I was dumped back into my living room, exhausted and sore, with my brain a smoldering ruin, and little cartoon militias and chariots dancing across the wreckage.

I'm in my mid-30's now, and I should know better, but recently Civilization knocked on my door again, and somehow I forgot my lesson and let it inside. Whoosh; kidnapped. Exhausted and sore, again, with another week of my life taken from me. Swallowed up by an epic contest between me and six other backstabbing emperors.

The emperors are great. They're unstable, temperamental, wheedling bastards, and they will kick you when you're down. According to the manual, each leader has a different personality, but when you're playing as an emperor, it doesn't matter. They all hate you. Crushing them is most satisfying.

In my last great Civilization campaign I played as Emperor Cat Food, leading the civilization of the "40ft Fritos". This time I chose the venerable name of Neddy SeaGoon, and decided to lead the Civilization of the "Redshirts".

Yes, when it comes to conquering the world, I'm all business, but when it comes to naming things, I'm a dork. My sense of humor formed in junior high and has been stuck there ever since. When I play Civilization, my cities have names like "Monkey Farts", "Rabbit Spew", and "Angsty Poems". I just enjoy the idea of two citizens in a tavern, having a dialogue like:

"So, where you from?"



"Dorknozzle. It's ten miles west of Honk, near Satan's Butt."

"Oh, on the 405 after Ponce DeFraggle?"

"No no, that would be Satan's NUT. Dorknozzle is the other way."

"Got it."

"Where you from?"

"Ponce DeFraggle."

You know, I think the game is actually supposed to say "may your reign be long and prosperous" ... but someone has hacked this copy. In fact, it was probably me, so long ago that I've forgotten I did it.

With introductions and fanfare complete, my first move was to found my capital city: Asslandia. I put together a militia to guard the city gates, and then coughed out another covered wagon and told it to build a road going north. After it had laid six tiles of little brown line, I stopped it, and founded the sister city of Buttcrackia.

Asslandia and Buttcrackia would be the core of my empire, stuffed with monuments and treasure. Shortly after breaking ground in Buttcrackia I sent more covered wagons exploring around me and discovered that I was alone on a large island. It's rare to be isolated at the start of a game, and I decided that I would take full advantage of it.

From that point on, all the cities I founded were left defenseless. I didn't even build a militia to turn away barbarian raiders. After only 500 years, every corner of the island was under Redshirt control and development. There were six other civilizations out there, but they were all competing with each other for now.

Those early years were tough. I experienced a lot of civil disorder, because I was busy researching technology to become a Republic as quickly as possible.

I managed to switch in about 1500 years. Check out this issue of the Asslandia Weekly, showing my new cabinet.

As a republic, I was able to tax a lot more money out of my land and population, which was important because I needed to build something very large: The Great Library. With this wonder of the world under my control, for every two other civilizations on the map that discovered a technology, I automatically gained that technology, without doing any research.

When you play Civilization in emperor mode - like I was - the enemy players all cheat, and they are not subtle about it. They will randomly discover new technologies and spontaneously build new monuments, without actually investing the resources along the way. Their populations grow faster, they earn far more in taxes, and they never have to worry about civil unrest disrupting production or crashing their government. They outperform you in every way. Your only hope of winning is to turn them against each other, disrupt their progress, stab them in the back, kick them when they're down, and steal everything. That's the most important tactic: Steal absolutely everything!!

And that's why I built the Great Library. I invested no money whatsoever in research, but my level of technology stayed firmly in the middle of the pack, while I spent all my taxes on infrastructure to grow my population.

Here's beautiful downtown Asslandia, circa 900 BC. My peasants were living in baked adobe huts, and spending most of the time working iron and being pregnant (if the picture is to be believed), and yet they had managed to construct a majestic stone cathedral, and the Great Library across the street. The literacy rate of my entire civilization was around 5% at this time, but that didn't stop the Great Library from winning me many new technologies every couple of turns. It's best not to think about these inconsistencies - or for a certain kind of mind - like mine - it may be fun to think about them incessantly, because they're all over this game and they're fun to pick at, like lint balls on a holiday sweater.

Right around this time I began to save my game at regular intervals. That's another thing you get to your advantage, and as an emperor you'd better use it. You get to backtrack if things go really sideways.

My citizens wanted to add to my palace, and I resisted this operation for as long as possible, because I like living in a tent made of sticks and animal hides. It's rustic, and the smell is quite pleasant if you ventilate in the summer. I managed to convince them to leave my house alone and work on improving the driveway instead. That kept them busy for about 2000 years before I was finally forced - against my will! - to start adding extensions along the sides.

They looked absolutely ridiculous and I would have burned them down if I had the choice, or had the driveway lined with bigger and bigger crap until the whole estate was obscured by wild hedges and offensively patriotic statuary. Then maybe I could have some damn privacy.

The Redshirts have developed ceremonial burial! Notice the guy on the left who appears to be my main science advisor. That's actually the spitting image of Sid Meier himself, right down to the mole on his left cheek. I'll bet all you civilization players didn't know that, huh?

While I was busily attending to my fledgling civilization, I received a "traveler's report" that the Chinese had been destroyed by the Romans. Nice to know that there was bloodshed and mayhem elsewhere in the world. Also, is it just me, or do those travelers look suspiciously like muppets?

I got a lot of civil disorder in Junior High. I'm sure everyone did.

Finally in the year 280 BC the Asslandia Weekly reported that the effects of the Great Library were canceled, by some foreign civilization developing the University. This was an inevitable blow, but I considered the mission accomplished, since I had ridden the intellectual coattails of my cheating companions for about 500 years without doing a jot of research.

To celebrate I decided to build a bank in Erika's butt! Har har har.

Around this time I discovered that there were a few unpopulated islands around me, so I sent some covered wagons out to establish satellite colonies.

My first attempt failed miserably when six barbarians on horseback appeared out of nowhere and massacred my settlers. Emperor mode really is not fair. In fact it was probably eight barbarians at first, and two just fell straight into the ocean, stirrups and all.

Luckily, there's always the magic of the saved game.

In the year 400 AD I requested a graph of the relative power of me and my rival civilizations, and discovered that I was pulling ahead of the pack, probably because of my vast population. The Germans and the Aztecs were probably ahead of me technology-wise, but hopefully I could prepare an invasion soon.

With my nearby islands settled, I decided to take the sailboat that was now sitting idle and go exploring the rest of the world.

I discovered a very large continent that took up most of the rest of the map, and was dotted with settlements from the Aztecs and the Germans. This would be difficult to invade because the cities were densely packed, and it would be easy for them to pick off my diplomats. So instead of going for the Aztecs or Germans I decided to explore to the north where I might encounter the Indians or the English or the Romans.

I brought the sailboat back to port and loaded it up with three of my finest diplomats, and set sail for the new world. No aggressive military units, just diplomats. Instead of conquering the world by force, my plan was to go directly to the citizens of each empire and bribe them into defecting, so I could steal the tax revenue and resources and leave the city fortifications intact.

That's the name of the game here: Steal absolutely everything. Why destroy their army when you can make it your own? Every city you bribe adds to your tax base, increasing the size of your next bribe, so in the end the citizens purchase themselves. All you need to do is notarize the paperwork.

Also, it is fiendishly satisfying to repel your enemy's counterattack with stuff from his own barracks.

There they go, into the depths of this strange and exciting frontier.

My first encounter was with the English. From the company she keeps it's clear that the Queen is running a banana republic. Just look at those evil representatives flanking her. And check out that angry scowl, it really is unbecoming. Just recently a fellow in the Civilization forums online compared her looks to "diarrhea in a tiara". Ooooo, harsh!!

Of course she declared war on me after demanding on outlandish payment. I decided to ignore her and instead concentrate on the Indians.

This is Gandhi with his republic representatives. I bet the fellow on the right is supposed to be Shakespeare, but I'm not sure who the fellow on the left is. Perhaps Leonardo DaVinci.

The dialogue was typical. Gandhi demanded a ridiculous sum of money in the name of peace, and I refused to pay, so he vowed to destroy me. I responded by sneaking a diplomat into his nearest city and causing a revolution, making the city mine. He immediately roped me into another audience, and used it to demand even more money this time, which of course I refused to pay. Then I stole another of his cities out from under him. This went on for decades.

Before long I was in possession of half his empire and he had been shoved to the east side of the continent. Hah!!

I would like to point out here how amusing it was that my defense minister was Teddy Roosevelt in the year 1500. Nice glasses, sir!

Around this time the Germans attempted to spoil my day by loading up a transport with cannon and soldiers and sending it across the bottom of the map to make landfall on my continent and invade. Unfortunately for them, they led the way with one of their own submarines, and it got too close to my shoreline. I sent a diplomat strolling over to the beach to make them an offer they couldn't refuse.

Those German soldiers must have been pretty surprised when their own escort raised a different flag, then turned around and shot a torpedo into their hull. All six units went down with the ship, which cost the Germans an absolute fortune, except I was well aware they were cheating like crazy. Emperor Frederick was rolling in boatloads of cash, and soon he would probably send out another boatload of weapons. I would torpedo that with just as much enthusiasm.

Asslandia! That wonderful city of all cities now had a population of 2.1 million and growing fast. Caravans were still stacking up outside it to build the latest wonder, but the list of available wonders to build was growing short. In fact there were only three or four left in the technology tree. In 1540 my current project was the Cure For Cancer.

Go caravans go!

Here's a better look at Asslandia in the modern age.

Amongst the houses, you can find monuments to Darwin's voyage, the cure for cancer, women's suffrage, J.S. Bach's cathedral, Michaelangelo's Chapel, the colossus, and of course the Great Library. Oh, and Isaac Newton's College, which greatly enhances the rate of research for a good chunk of years, but doesn't last forever.

Spread out in front of the city gates, you can see a representative sample of Asslandia's population from 1540. It's comforting to see that instead of blacksmiths and homemakers, the middle class was comprised of waitresses and newspaper editors. The upper class was apparently going through a disco phase. And of course the entertainers were all Elvis. In the lower right you can see my bonus scientist who looked like Albert Einstein, and my bonus tax collector who resembled Peter Sellers.

Time for some demographics. The most amusing statistic I find in this set is my approval rating, which is 4th in the world and only about 50%. This, despite unprecedented growth and prosperity, absolutely no civilian casualties from military action, and a literacy rate of 96%. I have no idea what it takes to make these people happy.

Another amusing statistic visible here is the average length of military service, which is dead last amongst all the competing civilizations. This does not surprise me. If the game factored in the number of service years for all of the diplomats that I have spread out across the map, marching in their tuxedoes like debonair zombies, I'm sure the service years would be much higher.

Even without my foreign acquisitions, my empire would have still had a very high rating because of its exponential growth at home. Here in the city of BoopTown(tm), half of all the food produced every year was surplus and went towards feeding new populace. This created an incredible growth rate. In fact, for about 3000 years the average family size of my empire was five children. That's a whole lot of dirty diapers.

I consolidated my ill-gotten cities for a few dozen turns, and was fairly sure that I had the rest of the continent to myself, but then I sent an exploratory diplomat to map the corners and stumbled upon one lingering Roman settlement. It was wedged so far up in the northern latitudes that it may as well have been surrounded by tundra and icebergs.

Instead it was surrounded by jungle and mountains which made on extremely poor production base.

Caesar came running up to meet me with a peace treaty in his hands, ready to sign. Nice to see a world leader with some common sense for a change. Perhaps that blistering ass-kicking from the Indians had something to do with it. Check out his one lonely advisor in the background - so hopeful! "We can haz peace???"

Poor Caesar was in a terrible situation. He had no capital city, since it was conquered by the Indians and then stolen by me. His government was a republic but his city was in a constant state of anarchy so he couldn't produce anything - not even a single covered wagon that he might use to improve his land. It would have immediately starved to death. His only foreign contact was with me, and his level of technology was, frankly, pathetic. He had no chance.

I decided to keep him there as a pet. He could linger on, after I exterminated everyone else.

Here's the Redshirt's map of the known world.

The huge landmass occupied by the Aztecs and the Germans is still unexplored, but the continent previously belonging to the Indians is mapped out and mostly in Redshirt hands. The Indians are putting up weak resistance, but they are no match for shameless bribery.

I imagine my diplomats spreading out across the country wielding huge bags with dollar signs written on their sides, and whenever anything comes close, they shower it with money until it either swears allegiance or simply cannot move under the weight of coinage. The dollar signs on the sacks would be quite appropriate since my civilization is named the redshirts: The unit of currency could be called the $hirt!

I probably spent almost ten billion $hirts buying up Gandhi's populace. Under my tax code, they produced about 400 million $hirts a year. After 25 years they paid themselves off, and the rest was gravy.

You'd think that a person like Gandhi would appreciate my method of employing diplomats and bribery instead of guns and explosives, but he just never got the joke. Instead he vomited an endless wave of iron-age war toys at my city walls, which I either shot down, or bribed enroute and then disbanded. "Hey, guys. Nice chariot. Here's ten thousand in cash. Stick a plow on that thing and go be farmers."

Gandhi certainly put up a fight, and I don't blame him for it. His efforts also made it clear just how much the computer controlled civilizations can cheat.

Every time I got a diplomat close to Nanking, the defenders would leap out and shoot it. So I parked a freaking battleship outside the city and blasted it clean of military units.

Every turn I would blast it clean, but then two new units would appear inside the city. According to the rules laid out in the manual for the game, this is completely impossible. You can produce only one unit per turn in a city, but here they are, appearing in pairs. Gandhi's will is so strong that he can bend space and time.

Shortly after I purchased the city of Nanking, the nearby city of Peking celebrated "we love the president" day.

Just look at those giddy townspeople. Whenever a spontaneous celebration like this breaks out, it's an embarrassment, and a mixed blessing, because usually to get your citizens that happy you have to take them off work, which means that no one is tending the fields. For every turn they celebrate, the food stores decline, setting the stage for starvation. In a way it's like the hangover after the party ... but instead of a headache they get tasty death.

I decided to hunker down and do some research, lest I drop too far behind the Germans and the Aztecs.

After the discovery of electricity, my science advisor got a makeover. It's still Sid Meier, but now he's wearing a lab coat and pointing at a whiteboard. Check out those 5.25" floppy disks in the foreground on the desk, next to that ancient PC. When this game was first released, those were the forefront of computer technology. But rather than being ironic, it still fits in with the flow of the game, because this scene is merely a milestone in the development of your civilization. It would be interesting if someone hacked this game to include yet another makeover for the science advisor wherein he is holding an iPad and gesturing at an extremely large plasma TV.

In the last hundred years my empire's rating had almost gone vertical, because of the way I plundered the hapless Indians, and also because of the few coastal cities that I purchased from the English. I still had no direct contact with either the Germans or the Aztecs, just a few scuffles in the ocean. I decided it was time to take the fight to them.

I made landfall on the huge continent and immediately plunged into an audience with Frederick, the German Emperor. Like all the others, he demanded tribute to avoid armed conflict, which in his case was redundant since he'd been trying to invade my land for the last 1000 years. He was running a banana republic just like the English, which made sense because after all, he was a dirty cheater and didn't have to worry about his income level like I did. His advisors looked even uglier and meaner than the ones attending to the Queen.

Just after that useless audience with the Germans, I ran into the Aztecs. Turns out I'd come ashore on the section of the island that was the front line in the centuries-old war between their two civilizations. Oops!

They both hated me more than they hated each other, and for about fifty years I struggled to gain a foothold on the island while fending off dozens of military units from both sides. My standard tactic was to bribe their units as they approached, then sneak them back behind my city walls and pretend they were mine all along.

Those diplomats are amazing. Here's one bribing a bomber to switch sides while it's mid-flight. I acquired more than half of my ten-bomber fleet this way.

After a while the Germans and Aztecs built nuclear weapons and began to wave them at me, like the petulant little children they were. In response I built the United Nations back home, and forced them to sign peace treaties, over and over again. The Aztecs accepted this, but the Germans decided that it was so important to kick my ass that they overthrew their own government just so they could violate their treaty and shower me with tanks.

I responded by bribing half their army as it approached, and bombing the other half when it got to my city walls. Frederick was in a spitting rage, and I refused to grant an audience, because I knew he would be forced to offer a treaty, and I would be forced to sign it by my own senate, and we'd have peace for about three turns before he crashed his government into anarchy and pounced on my approaching diplomats. At least this way I could counterattack him if I felt like it.

Frederick was supporting twelve units with the city of Bonn, which was an underdeveloped wreck. Five tanks, three heavy artillery units, and four settler units. In response I could throw out one, maybe two, aggressive units in response, from any one city. Any more and I was risking either anarchy or starvation. Frederick is a low-down dirty cheater.

I had him beaten to a standstill, and then the Aztecs decided to sneak-attack me with bombers, canceling our treaty. The problem was their ability to change governments every single turn, without risking anarchy between. I assumed they were able to do this because they'd built the Pyramids somewhere, since that's an ability granted by the Pyramids.

So in response, I deliberately researched communism, to cancel the effect of the Pyramids. Then the Aztecs would no longer be able to cancel our treaties by becoming anarchists at the drop of a hat, and drop a nuke on me, then switch back to a republic on the very next turn. The threat was just too high to tolerate, even though the discovery of Communism would also cancel out the effect of Michaelangelo's Chapel, an artifact that was helping me enormously at the time.

As I was researching it - very very slowly - some other civilization discovered it ahead of me. Okay, whatevs.

Later on I rolled in to Delhi, the capital city of the Indians, and discovered the Pyramids there. The Aztecs had never owned them at all. Turns out the Aztecs could just change governments on a dime because they were jacked-up cheaters in Emperor mode, just like every other enemy civilization on the map. And what was the one piece of research I could steal from the Indians as I broke open their city gates? Communism. What idiots.

Since Communism was a new technology to the Redshirts, the game presented me with a description of it. The even-handed account of how Communism arose as a direct counter to the class inequality of the industrial revolution made me think for a while about how maligned it has been in American politics. The man on the street will smugly proclaim that Communism was an obvious failure because of its naïve assumption that people are good at heart. But by jumping to the conclusion, by having it fed to him without any real thought, he misses the chance to think about what a real tragedy that is. Millions of people believed in Communism. They poured their hearts and souls into it. They lived - more or less - by its decree for generations.

People can be greedy and vicious. Everyone knows that. The only reason the poor working class in Russia thought Communism was worth a shot was because they could see a strong social bond working against those traits, within their own peers and community. They saw the best in their peers, even as they endured the worst from their masters, and they thought their own culture would be foundation enough to stop greed and viciousness from poisoning a government formed with those ideas. They rose up, and even as they and shed their bonds, they changed, and immediately began to lose that solidarity as they came into power.

By contrast, the smug American man on the street knows Communism is a bad idea, because he is swimming in the evidence of it. He has no feeling of cultural solidarity or altruism to make him feel otherwise. His family is an island. His peers could just as easily cut his throat as they could shake his hand. He doesn't even believe labor unions are a good idea. His distrust in his countryman is remarkable. On the other hand, so is his distrust of government, and that has sometimes been a very good thing.

Also, I finally noticed, after a lifetime of not paying attention, that the hammer-and-sickle symbol of the Russian flag is a direct reference to Communism's decree that two things are shared by all - the land, and the means of production. The land is farmed with the sickle, the hammer is used in the factory.

But I digress.

Asslandia and the surrounding cities back home were now mighty economic centers, generating so much money that I was having trouble spending it.

Even my foreign colonies were booming. Here's Rome, which could produce such an avalanche of surplus food that it grew steadily even with six covered wagons on the dole.

With my pockets jingling, I decided to sweep up the scraps of the Indians, even while I was knee-deep in a land war with the Germans. I grabbed a few diplomats and sent them walking into Gandhi's territory investigate, and came across a wall of defensive units, including some Knights on horseback.

At this point, the majority of the world was trading fire with riflemen and tanks. Knights on horseback were a sad anachronism. They're practically worthless. Yet here was a troop of them demanding half my treasury in compensation for defecting. Why? Well... Perhaps because they were surrounded by their fellow countrymen, and standing at the gates of their own capital city. I bet Gandhi himself was leaning out from a tower window and making threatening gestures at them.

I decided not to buy them. Instead I rolled a division of tanks up to the city walls, bribed all the riflemen fortified nearby, and when the knights stepped into my path I had them vaporized.

To mix things up a bit, I played that sequence with the game in 16-color mode. Totally retro!

Ugh, you can barely see what's going on.

Destroying Gandhi's civilization delighted my people, and they decided to celebrate by adding to my palace. Unfortunately there was only one section left to improve: My beloved animal-skin tent!

The bastards swarmed all over it with hammers and dumptrucks and replaced it with this overwrought Roman monstrosity.

How was I supposed to sleep in that? Hell, how was I even going to heat it?

No matter. I decided to make the whole thing into a tourist attraction, and conduct my empire business from a tent in the backyard. Hey, if it makes those citizens produce more tax revenue, I'll accept it. I love spending their money.

Asslandia in 1750 was a bizarre sprawl of monuments and skyscrapers. The SETI Project was the newest addition. I had a little bit of civil unrest - a hoodlum in sneakers and his angry looking wife were prowling around. Luckily I also had plenty of Elvis impersonators to keep them distracted. And look! A second Peter Sellers! Truly the economy was booming.

Did I say booming? It's more like a nuclear blast. My spot on the "power graph" was so damn high that the game just gave up scaling it for about the last 800 years.

As a show of power, I built an aqueduct in Death Valley.

The other civilizations were running scared, and getting desperate. They just didn't know how to respond to an army of diplomats. One minute they were churning out tanks to blast my nearest city, the next minute I was standing inside the factory, halting tank production and turning the workers out into the fields to irrigate more land. The leaders did not seem to understand what was happening to them.

The Queen of the English was the worst - she didn't even understand what year it was. I was sending bombers across her territory, and she was trying to block my path with centurions and cavalry.

By defecting, the centurion could have avoided slaughter - but if I got the diplomat any closer he would have stabbed it. So I bombed him back into the stone age - which was not very far back from the bronze age in any case - and gobbled up the city of Nottingham, officially ejecting the English from their home continent.

I also managed to finally conquer the city of Bonn. When I got inside and looked around, I discovered this mess:

Holy monkey-eye. Even as a despot, keeping the peace with military force, it would be impossible for me to manage this steaming wreck. I had to disband almost all of the military units, yank half the population out of work, and pay a vast sum of money to build a cathedral in one turn, lest this damn settlement destroy my whole economy with civil unrest.

Frederick was furious when I took this city. He decided to change tactics and go for the sucker-punch, even worse than nuclear weapons: He decided to start building a spaceship for Alpha Centauri.

With his hyperactive cheater's economy, he was able to start crapping spaceship parts on the very next turn.

This was a major threat. If he completed and launched a spaceship before I did, he would be the victor, no matter what I did in the meantime. I had to stop him, and the only way was to crash the gates of his capital city and kick the spaceship off the launchpad and destroy it before he finished construction.

This is what I like about Civilization: It's a challenge all the way up to the end. The enemies fight you and each other like demons, then they go down swinging, all the way to the last city.

I collected every bomber and tank I had, and used all the railroad tracks I had been laying across the continent to pull my forces down into the German's territory. Then I kicked off a blitzkrieg-style sprint, steamrolling my way to Berlin.

I blasted ten military units out of the city of Leipzig and jumped into it, while stomping on everything that Hamburg and Bremen produced. The Germans tried to nuke Leipzig, so I repeatedly restored the game, slapping Frederick across the face until he tried something else. I would not allow him to kill civilians - even his own.

A few turns later I had Berlin surrounded. I bombed the living hell out of it in two waves, destroying every defense, including a stockpile of FOUR nuclear weapons. What the hell was Frederick planning to do with four nukes? God, what an asshole.

When I rolled my artillery in and sacked the city, the German spaceship was cancelled, and the emergency was over. From there, it was way downhill, and fast, for Emperor Frederick.

Hah! Capital: NONE. But he's still got some cash in the bank. I made it my mission to destroy his savings just as surely as I'd repossessed his house. Me and Teddy Roosevelt were going to rip his head off.

"Grrrrrrr!" says Teddy, doing his best woodchuck impression.

It only took another twenty years or so before the last German city fell, without a single shot fired. Frederick was on the run in a covered wagon, his palace destroyed, and with no central authority the citizens were easily bribed. I ordered them to drive all their tanks into a landfill and build cathedrals on top, and get busy procreating. It was the Redshirt way of life; and life was good.

In fact, the Redshirts were now entering an ironic golden age, where nobody died. I had long passed the point where the other civilizations posed a threat to me, and now I was just securing the most thorough victory.

I purchased the Aztecs, who were sulking on a patch of poorly developed land they'd murdered countless English to inhabit.

That brought me back into contact with the English. The Queen was still running a banana republic, still drafting her citizens into an army that fought and died on horseback. Still wearing the same outfit that made her look like a man in drag with boobs on his head.

The Queen smuggled herself into an embassy and presented my senate with a cease-fire agreement, clearly stalling for time so her diplomats could plunder the blueprints for mechanized infantry and dig themselves in like lice.

Her representatives (from left to right, Raul Julia, Julia Roberts, and half of Miami Vice cuffed to a suitcase) probably thought they had a good thing going. They probably didn't expect that I would offer every single one of their citizens about a million $hirts in cash just to raise a different flag in the village square.

Which they did. And that was the end of that. The Queen and her boob hat went to the guillotine.

More appropriate would have been, "English civilization destroyed by money."

The world was now mine, all mine, excluding that little scrap I was leasing to the feckless Romans. To demonstrate my infinite power over earth and sky, I constructed a mass transit system inside Erika's butt.

As Emperor Neddy, I had truly arrived. From my humble beginnings on a lonely, medium-sized continent, with six other civilizations bent on my destruction...

... I rose to undisputed dominance of the globe in 6000 years.

And that left me with nothing else to prove. It was time to take on the final construction project that would end this game.

When the Earth is conquered, it's time to reach for the stars!

In 19 hundred and 42, the ship would arrive with Neddy's crew.

For the next fifteen years, the game had a nervous breakdown and spewed black squares of pollution all over the landscape, mostly on arctic tundra and mountainsides where my settlers had not laid roads. I yanked everyone off work and made them all tax-men, and built recycling centers in every single city, but the pollution still came. Even the Romans, who would be hard pressed to manufacture so much as a fresh turd, somehow got fouled by pollution.

If I'd known this was going to happen I would have laid railroad on every single tile before launching my ship.

But what could I really complain about? For a thousand years I had been so powerful that the game itself had grown sick of describing it.

After a certain point, bugs in the game prevent the final score from getting any higher than around 300%. I'll accept my 262% as a jorb well done.

I think Moses is up there above 300%, but I can't remember for sure.

Totally a jorb well done.

With any luck, that lays Civilization to rest for another decade of my life. I have plenty of other things to do anyway. Like play Skyrim when it comes out three months from now!

July 24 2011