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The Civilization series' endless modability is one of the reasons many of us are still playing it today. In a game all about replayability, being able to inject some user made variety into your world-dominating conquests can keep the game feeling fresh after hundreds of hours. From simple gameplay changes to total conversions, the best Civ mods around are truly things to behold.
And then there's the other guys. While some players mod in snubbed historical figures or their favorite videogame characters as new playable leaders and nations, other modders take a different route. We dove deep into the Steam Workshops for both Civ 5 and Civ 6—the latter of which only has one representative on this list as official modding tools and Workshop support just arrived at the end of February—and found the weirdest custom civs players have inexplicably decided need to be in the game.
The spikey-haired host of the television show Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives gets to rule his very own country. Guy Fieri tops this list because it's a mod that goes all out in its unrelenting lunacy. It has custom graphics and text all throughout, and even has a synopsis and history at least five paragraphs long in the civilopedia. It also shouldn't be a surprise that all his unique abilities and buildings center around boosting both culture and food.
An Antarctica civ doesn't sound so crazy on the surface, but modder Methodialexis decided to take it in a very strange direction. A continent with essentially no human life, the leader is instead a "genetically enhanced Penguin named Pengu that is not only smarter than humans by a long shot, but has gained mastery over human mind control, and is seeking world domination." All of its Workers are replaced with human slaves, and the Granary is replaced with a 'Human Farm', because if you are going to make a civ of penguins why not really lean into the absurdity of it?
Not going to lie, half the reason this is on the list is because the name is just brilliant. The other half is because how on earth has Kanye West ended up as a civ mod? The civ also comes with Beyonce as a Great Musician, a Kim Kardashian unit, and a religion called Kanyeism. I also love that according to the Steam page, his first city is just 'Kanye', while the second is the also brilliant name of 'Westville'.
This may be my favorite of the entire list, and I have no idea why. Someone, for some utterly incomprehensible reason, has turned the Korean national railroad company into a playable civ. As you might expect, the entire mod is in Korean, but I'm not sure I'd really understand what was going on even if it was in English. Also as you might expect, KORAIL doesn't have to pay maintenance on Roads or Railroads and has improved Great Engineers.
Lead, of course, by Bill Gates, the Empire of Microsoft is pretty much a reskin of the American civ with some small differences. The biggest being they generate Great Scientists and Generals faster, for which the rationale on the Workshop page is "so that Microsoft can invade other companies and recreate their products with their scientists faster I guess…" Bombers become 'Flight Simulators' and Walls become 'Windows Vista Defenders', which is sure to scare opponents away.
Our only representative from Civ 6 on this list, Shia Labeouf is an alternate leader for the American civ. I was pretty disappointed to see how slim Civ 6's Workshop page still is, but I suppose Civ 5 is still the more-played game and has a longer lineage of weird mods to pull from. Shia's ability is 'Just Do It', which gives Builders more charges and improves your Theater Squares.
It was upon finding this civ that I knew my hunt was not in vain. John Madden's Moonbase Alpha is a custom civ built around the incredible videos spurred by free-to-play game Moonbase Alpha's text-to-speech feature—for those out of the loop, this is essential viewing. John Madden leads the lunar-themed civ, which is complete with its own 'Singing Astronauts' instead of Great Musicians, and the unique ability 'Aeiou'. This mod is a gift.
Why someone would want to play Civ 5 by controlling a nation themed after Lawbreakers developer Boss Key Productions wasn't entirely clear to me, but it was the story behind this mod that earned it a spot onto the list. Apparently modder Angeflo made it as part of their portfolio while applying for an Engineering Intern position at the studio back in 2015. The real kicker: four days after posting it Angeflo commented on the Workshop page saying he had been turned down, and the mod was never updated again. Pour one out for Angeflo, but at least now we can all play Civ as Cliffy B.
"We salute you with a finger pointed squarely at the two-o'clock position," the intro for the great nation of 'Pierce & Pierce Mergers and Acquisitions' begins. A civ based on Christian Bale's character in the movie American Psycho is hardly the strangest one here, but I'm left wondering all the same how someone was struck with the idea to do this. Still, their attention to detail is admirable, with lines from the movie scattered throughout trade deals and dialogue options.
The only civ on this list with a content warning on the Workshop page, saying "DO NOT install this mod if you are likely to be offended. This mod contains mild bad language, sexual references and toilet humour." Basically, it's bunch of poo jokes, with the poo emoji itself as the symbol of the civ. It also has bonuses built around cows and sheep, and a 'Sewage Plant' that increases food and culture. I'm not sure why anyone would want to spend the duration of a civ game playing as poo, but to each their own.
Right up there with KORAIL in terms of confusing theme choices, someone went ahead and made a civ based on the fighting game engine MUGEN. The leader of the civ is developer Elecbyte, and all of its unique units and abilities are fighting game themes with a focus on military bonuses. Modder nomercyjeffc has at least a dozen other custom civs ranging from Minecraft to Markiplier, so I guess they just threw topics at a wall to see what stuck.
This civ is essntially a bad montage of any and every movie Schwarzenegger has been in, pulling quotes and images from Conan, Mr. Freeze, Total Recall, and lots more. Arnold Schwarzenegger leads the land of Schwarzeneggeria, a predictably barbarous country that gets bonuses for pillaging and Great Generals. Similar to the Guy Fieri mod, just a little bit too much work has gone into making this civ, which may be why it still has nearly 10,000 subscribers three years after releasing.
Jon Shafer was 21 years old when he became lead designer of Civilization V. Now working at Paradox on an unannounced project and on his own historical strategy game At The Gates in his spare time, he says he’s learning from the likes of Spelunky along with the more obvious strategic influences. We spoke about how the second half of every Civ sucks, the part the series played in his life, the perils of boredom in strategy design, how much we love maps, and what the future holds for both Shafer and Paradox.
I began by asking how he ended up sitting at the Paradox Convention, in Stockholm, the city that has now been his home for two weeks: “It’s quite a long story, actually.”
That story begins in Denver, around 2003.
The ‘Digital Deluxe Edition’ of Civilization 6 [official site] is to receive some extra little DLC packs for free, publishers 2K announced today, which is jolly surprising given that the game has been out for six months. 2K say that it wasn’t good enough value, so they’re making it better. And yup, folks who’ve already bought the Digital Deluxe Edition will get ’em too. Digital Deluxe Editions of games tend to strike me as cheeky ways to exploit fandom, offering trinkets and baubles in exchange for an extra 10 or 20, so it’s weird to see a publisher actually care about whether one is good value or not. … [visit site to read more]
The march of progress is slow in civilisation and hey, Civilization can take time too. Civilization 6 [official site] developers Firaxis today launched the 4X strategy game’s Spring Update, bring changes and fixes that may not be mega-huge but are certainly welcome. Warmonger penalties are reworked so your people are no longer forever cursed with the mark of Cain just for twatting your neighbour with a ruler, for starters, and the AI is fixed-up a little too. The patch is a 1GB download now percolating through the pipes so fire up Steam and let’s have a look. … [visit site to read more]
The patch notes for the upcoming Civilization 6 Spring Update break down a wide range of changes coming to the game, which 2K games said will include "balance changes, AI adjustments, multiplayer changes, and bug fixes." Highlights include a Harbor buff that "will bring the strength of the various districts in line with each other," and a reduction in warmonger penalties, "so they only hit with their full strength if you are truly wresting valuable cities from your opponents."
The changed warmonger penalties will impact both your Diplomatic status and City Populations. With a few very specific exceptions, the hit to your Diplomatic status will be reduced by 20 percent if you declare war on, or capture a city from, a player you have previously denounced, or 40 percent if you take the city from someone you're already at war with. Captured cities will also suffer a reduced population loss if the city's population after it's been taken is lower than the average population of all the cities in the game.
The AI is also being tuned to improve to improve its performance on various fronts, and a handful of bugs (and a terribly awkward reference to Australian Prime Minister John Curtin as "President") have been fixed. A multiplayer issue that caused the online games list to fail to properly show all available games has been taken care of, and the list will also now show results from additional regions.
There's no hard date on the Civ 6 Spring Update yet, but 2K said it will hit the PC sometime this week, and don't forget that a couple of Great guys—Cyrus and Alexander—are on the way in an upcoming Civilization and Scenario pack, too. Full patch notes are available on Steam.