Don't be uncivilized!
With the enthusiasm appropriate from a Civilization II addict I grabbed the box containing the Scenarios and rushed home to jam the CD into my computer.
For the novice, Civilization II is turn based strategy game which involves the building and developing of cities, the creation of city improvements both for economic and scientific advancement and the building and improvement of military units for defense and or conquest. In the original Civ II you begin most games with a settler; build your first city at the beginning of pre-history (4000 BC) and you are off and running to become the first civilization to reach Alpha-Centauri and/or conquer the known world.
The Civilization II Scenarios are designed to be little time capsules from ancient to modern with the emphasis on military conquest. Science is relegated to a very minor role in most cases and you are lucky to achieve one or two technological advances in the course of playing any scenario.
The first Scenario is "Alexander the Great".Start off in Greece with a substantial army and attempt to duplicate the namesakes conquest of Asia minor, middle east , etc. Pretty basic stuff this. Next we have "Jihad: the rise of Islam" and in the same time frame "The Crusades" . Jihad is good fun when playing the Arab and marching through the Middle East with your quick moving and powerful fanatics. It turns out to be pretty much of a cake walk against enemies who are neither very aggressive nor very coordinated. This same criticism can be attributed to the majority of the scenarios in this package.
The "Age of Discovery" scenario allows the player the opportunity to conquer the New World which is blacked out and must be explored. The indians tun out to be both cunning and fairly aggressive. They are prone to subvert cities using diplomacy as well as stealing technology if you don't catch the diplomats before they reach your cities. Another good feature in this scenario is that you receive a full map of developed Europe and you can wheel and deal with your European opponents as well as in the New World.
The next two scenarios which appealed to me from a historic standpoint are "The Age of Napoleon" and 'The American Civil War". Both turned out to be good fun to play but did have some serious limitations. "Napoleon" from the French side is another Big Easy, even at the Deity level. The enemies of the French were easily intimidated, uncoordinated, and non-aggressive. Only the English showed any determination and they did this by throwing ships against occupied cities with coastal fortification and then failing to follow-up with a landing.
As for playing the Confederate army in "The American Civil War" the North never really gave the Confederates a serious fight. Jeff Davis (me) first built a few Ironclads and Monitors and drove the Fed Navy from both coasts. He was able to fend off any attacks by the Fed's land forces which were of a limited nature, and without determination. Jeff Davis was so full of resources that many cities made "cotton traders" (ie: Caravans) for shipment to Europe and Mexico. By mid 1863 he was ready to charge North from the base of a completely intact South. After only the first year of play a Southern victory never seemed in doubt.
We are also provided with a WW I scenario and a WW III scenario circa 1979, a Post Apocalypse and Alien Invasion All appear interesting within the same limitations as above.
Lest I be too harsh a critic, "The Best of the Net" section contains a total of eight additional games that show some real promise. For example, "The Conquest of Britain", a scenario, based upon the Norman invasion of 1066, is well designed and the Norman is hard pressed to Conquer the Brits in the appointed time. The other scenarios in this grouping are also worth taking a close look at.
In Summary, what you really need to enjoy a challenging game with the majority of these scenarios is a human opponent. Why oh why can't they add network support? Also, I came to miss the depth of full Civ II games. After playing a number of these scenarios I quickly came to realize how important the scientific advancements, wonders and city developments are to the total enjoyment of Civ II.