Ikariam – Civilization goes Web!

Everyone who has had anything to do with computer gaming has probably heard of Civilization, the genre originated by Sid Meier and so successfully built (some would say exploited by) Microprose. There have been many branches of the Civilization pedigree, and I even reviewed one (FreeCiv) a while back.
Recently I tripped over another incarnation that has taken the Civilization concept into the ‘web 2.0’ world. Through a combination of Javascript, extremely well done graphics, and some basic gaming smarts, the folks at GameForge have come up with Ikariam, a pretty interesting little game.


The premis in Ikariam is similar to most other Civ-type god-games. You’re the administrator of a small town trying to complete against expansionism and economic pressure from towns and nations around you. Your goal? Come out on top! Beat them militarily, socially, economically – however you’d like to go, you need to build faster, expand better, and make more money than your neighbors.
Compared to other games of the genre, Ikariam has a very simplified approach. The enormously complex machinations in something like Civilization 3 are not here, but they do try to make up for it. The economic trading model is quite involved, not only trading and pillaging local towns, but also trading and shipping materials to other players. You’re also quite involved in localized production of baseline building resources, as well as luxury goods. The game is fully MMORPG’ed, so you’ll see other players live in the game. You can trade with them, talk with them, or attack them, as you will.
GameForge did a lot of work to make the game useable on the web directly. For instance, while things are ‘real time’, they’re not set up for you to spend hours glued to your browser. Building a new building? Will probably take a half an hour. Researching a new skill? Several hours. Sending a cargo ship out to pick up materials? A few hours. It’s normal to check into the game every few hours or even once a day to see how things are going, set up your researching, move your citizens around and change production, and then go on with the rest of your life.
The support forums are active and helpful, as is an IRC channel. With multiple ‘worlds’, if you’re planning on banding together into alliances with your buddies, you should make sure you’re all on the same server. Alliances can help both in trading and in combat, so if you’re planning on a large expansionism campaign, it’s a good idea to think ahead and share the same world / server with your buddies.
I’m still getting the hang of the game, having started only 2-3 days ago, but so far, it’s quite enjoyable. It hasn’t completely sucked me in, though I’ll credit the “make your move, come back in a while” tactic at both being frustrating (“I want to play more NOW!”), and making a lot of sense (“I just need to change this, then I’ll go back to work!”). Since the webpages are fairly straightforward and render cleanly, it’s very easy to just ‘pop in’ from a browser somewhere, check your town / towns, and then log off again.
So far, it’s fun. It’s free. And it works in Konqueror. A great combination. I’ll stick with it for a while.

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A wandering geek. Toys, shiny things, pursuits and distractions.

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13 thoughts on “Ikariam – Civilization goes Web!

  1. Well, I’ve been running it on Konqueror under Linux, there does’nt seem to be too much magic in it, so I think it has a pretty good chance of working properly on Safari.

  2. I use Ikarium daily on my Iphone and have found that while it is fully functionally it loads very slowly even using Wi-fi. But, it does work.

  3. I’m a huge fan of the Sid Meier’s Civilization games, and at first glance Ikariam looked like fun. For me it got extremely boring, extrememly fast. After the first few building levels, everything takes a Long time to accomplish. Combine that with heavy-handed forum modding, it was an unpleasant experience for me. They are introducing “premium” features now, and the game has many, many bugs still in it. I have never given a game a bad rating, but this game would get a 2 out of 10 from me.

  4. Yeah, I found Ikariam via Ars, playing on Kappa on the .org site. Fun little game – marble is so critical it isn’t funny. Ended up getting a palace just so I could colonise a marble island.

  5. this game is so cool u can make allies nd pillivage others towns nd get crystals and wood make palaces and more play this game it is fun

  6. this game is so cool u can make allies nd pillivage others towns nd get crystals and wood make palaces and more play this game it is fun

  7. In the beginning like lot of guys say it’s an intteresting little game, but then again after a while it starts getting boring.
    And then the pillaging starts.That’s when it gets really exciting, interesting and dangerously addictive.I was about to quit playing when a started pillaging some people to see what happens.Then I found out the REAL FUN.
    Just one word AMAZING.

  8. this i the best game i ever played.at first it start boring but when you star to build palaces,search welth,and you got loads of sholders thats where the funs began. you can pillage towns an villages. the thing that i dont like in this game is that you could be banned playing for long time.

  9. this i the best game i ever played.at first it start boring but when you star to build palaces,search welth,and you got loads of sholders thats where the funs began. you can pillage towns an villages. the thing that i dont like in this game is that you could be banned playing for long time.

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