I find the early and mid-game great fun: there’s excitement and challenge as I explore the world, found cities, and challenge the other players. But then the end-game almost always turns into mind-numbing slog.
For example, right now I’m playing 8-player vs. AI. I’ve reached the point I always seem to reach: it’s basically inevitable that I’ll win now, but I still have to give repetitive orders to tens of cities for a hundred or more turns to wrap it up. I go in hoping for an interesting victory condition, but I usually fall back on Conquest since that ends the monotony a little quicker.
A friend of mine has the same experience. Are we doing something wrong, or do we just lack the needed patience? Are Civ end-games usually longer and less challenging than the openings?
Tedium comes from feelings that you’re making a lot of decisions that don’t really impact anything. So…
Minimize how many decisions you have to make:
(Of course, try to get rid of the decisions that don’t matter, and keep the ones that do.)
- Automate! If you’re bored with workers, set them to automate, and make them stop pestering you. There’s also an auto-explore.
- Move your units where you really want them to go, not just this turns movement points.
- Fortify or dismiss unit when they’re really not helping anymore. They stop asking for orders!
- Set build queue for cities. (thanks @Colen)
- Open the tech tree and tell it to research to something late in the tree. I think with shift or ctrl you can queue up techs as well.
- Puppet Cities – Rather than controlling every city yourself, take over a few, and leave them as puppets. They benefit your civilization, without costing your decision making time.
- City States – For that matter, don’t take over city states if you don’t have to. They’ll help you just fine as they are, with the right convincing.
- Play on faster speeds – This minimizes the extra turns you make decisions for only units, often needlessly.
- Play on a smaller map – Getting places doesn’t take a long, and there will be less cities/units overall.
- Play against less opponents – This is best accomplished as a consequence of playing on a smaller map, and the benefits are the same: less decisions to be made.
From my experience, quick games on average are just more fun, because even if the game is bad, its over quickly. Then you start a new game and have a chance to learn from mistakes all the sooner!