25 civilisations that should be added as DLC for Civilization V: Part One
by Greg Mengel
Sid Meier's Civilization series is about a lot of things. Planting personality tumors on the pristine images of celebrated world leaders. Winning a pious cultural victory as a peaceful Mongol empire filled with flowers and hippie children. Destroying the primitive United States of America and annexing its archipelago'd island territories during the Renaissance. Sending Babylon to the moon. If you were forced by a crazed video game journalist to describe the Civilization series in one word at gunpoint, you might squeak out words like "history", "possibility" or "alternative reality", past trembling lips.
Civilization is, at its core, a lump of moist clay that the player moulds with artistic skill, as they sculpt a geography and human culture any way they wish.
It's a game wherein changing history is all the fun.
To effectively alter the course of history, one must have tools to work with. In Civ, these tools are civilisations themselves. The more you have available, the more you can change the course of human experience, tweaking its story into something utterly historical and wonderfully unique. Here are, in two parts, 25 civilisations that should be welcomed with open arms into the melting pot of Civilization V, complete with possible Special Units, Special Buildings, Special Abilities, and explanations from my history major brain as to why I selected each.
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Leader: Hannibal Barca
Special Unit: Numidian Cavalry. The most important cog in Hannibal's trans-alpine army had to be his Numidian Cavalry, light horsemen who he constantly used to flank, surround, and generally irritate Roman Legions, with constant raids in nearly all of his campaigns. An affordable replacement for the Horseman, costing fifty hammers and boasting a whopping five moves per turn, with the same negative penalties as its forerunner for crossing rough territory. Perfect for the frugal ancient warlord on the go.
Special Building: Cothon. A protected inner harbour that secured Carthaginian naval and trade interests when besieged by a superior naval force. Acts as a dual harbour and market.
Special Ability: Sons of Tyre. As descendants of the Phoenicians who founded Tyre, Carthage knew how to build and maintain a gigantic trade network that spanned north-to-western France, and south to the eastern coast of Africa. Not too shabby for a navy of quinqueremes and galleys. + 1 movement for naval vessels, and x2 gold received for meeting new city-states.
Overview: The Lex Luthor of Ancient Rome has already made appearances in Civilization II and IV. If Carthage isn't offered as Civilization V DLC in the near future (alongside an Ancient Mediterranean scenario), I'll eat my hat.
2: Plains Indians
Leader: Sitting Bull
Capital: Black Hills
Special Unit: Dog Soldier. A military society of the Cheyenne who fought fiercely against American expansionism. Not the biggest fans of Washington's 'Manifest Destiny' ability in the game... Replaces Lancer, receiving +1 movement and +50% combat bonus when fighting in friendly territory.
Special Building: Hunting Party. Worker improvement which causes Horse and Deer tiles to provide production points, and Deer to produce twice as much food as usual. Even better, add Buffalo to the game. Appears as Tipi on the map (like the Polynesian Moai).
Special Ability: Ghost Dance. The prophet Wovoka's vision of a world of peace and prosperity with all nations plants the seed for a Plains Indian utopia, which the entire world can look upon with awe and harmony. Golden ages last 60% longer when Sitting Bull is not at war.
Overview: The idea of a broad Native American civilisation led by Sitting Bull in Civ IV cheapened the unique cultural history of many a Native American tribe lumped into it. Whittling the civilisation down into Plains Indians and Iroqouis (who are already in Civ V) makes much more sense.
Special Unit: Mossad. Yep, it's time for Sid Meier to bring back the spy. How the Mossad functions will rely heavily on what abilities normal spy units are given (if Firaxis ever implements them). That said, this secretive espionage network has penetrated just about every international trade network on the planet. It even emerged from the shadows in 2001 to warn the Pentagon of "a major [terrorist] assault" that turned out to be 9/11. They're all cloaks, daggers, and ninja stars of Jerusalem.
Special Unit 2: Caterpillar D9. Part bulldozer, part tank, this mechanised, armoured engineer is suitable for duty in both peace and war. Replaces worker in modern era, defends itself with 20 strength.
Special Ability: I have two ideas that might be kosher... The first is Promised Land. As the high seat of the land given to your people through divine covenant, your first city automatically receives a Temple at no cost. Additionally, happiness and gold obtained from Incense and Wine is doubled for the course of the game. A second special ability could be Diaspora, which gives your civilisation a free settler at your capital every time an enemy captures one of your cities, or two settlers if they take your capital. Founding new cities with those settlers costs no penalty to culture.
Overview: Israel has straddled the fence between moderately important nation and world power since the Middle East worshiped djinn and sent tribute to Babylon. It deserves its first invitation to the big civilisation dance since Call to Power.
4: Byzantine Empire
Leader: Justinian I
Special Unit: Cataphractos. Mail-clad katafraktos, heavy melee horsemen, had existed in Greece and the Middle East since ancient times, but were revived and perfected by the Byzantines as they set out to reconquer the territory of ancient Rome. This heavy cavalry hammered relentlessly against Persian and Arabian lands, reclaiming huge chunks of lost Roman territory in the Middle East. Cheaper and more mobile than their western-European counterparts, Cataphractos boast +1 extra movement and half the production cost of Knights.
Special Building: Hippodrome. Who says sports and politics don't mix? There was a long period when Byzantine politics were split up according to who cheered for which faction in Constantinople's famous Hippodrome, a giant, circular horse-racing arena. The Hippodrome replaces the Circus, and provides +3 happiness and +3 culture per turn.
Special Ability: Roma Orientae. Founded as a second capital to protect the Eastern territory of the Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire has always considered itself the last bastion of Roman might, order, and civilisation, and seeks to restore their territory through military means. As far as your citizens are concerned, sending generals to force out barbarians squatting in Italy, Spain, and Numidia is all part of the family business. Annexing cities or installing puppet states causes half as much unhappiness.
Overview: Civilization IV gave players their first shot at playing Rome's younger, smaller brother, the Byzantine Empire. Somehow, they weren't as fun to play as I had anticipated... Civ V should give them another shot.
Leader: Haile Selassie I
Capital: Addis Ababa
Special Unit: Kush Footman. Mentioned repeatedly in ancient texts, like the Bible, the Kingdom of Kush stood as one of the most powerful countries in the ancient Mediterranean. It repeatedly pushed back invasions from larger powers like the Seleucid Dynasty, Egypt, and Rome. A quick Spearman replacement which receives a two extra strength (9 instead of 7) and twice as many moves per turn (4 instead of 2) than its counterpart.
Special Unit 2: Oromo Militia. While it had a cavalry, early modern Ethiopia probably didn't need one. Due to their cultural predisposition towards foot travel, the Oromo people living in Ethiopia have repeatedly demonstrated their quick ability to pick up their guns and defend their homeland. A fast replacement for the musketman, that receives +3 movement in friendly territory.
Special Ability: Abyssinian Tenacity. Egypt. Italy. Arabia. Rome. A rogue's gallery of civilisations have tried and failed to crush the Kingdom of Ethiopia under their heel and come back battered, beaten, and a little less belligerent towards the soft-spoken African of ranchers and intellectuals. Military units facing superior forces (units with higher strength) receive a 50% combat bonus. Take that Mussolini.
Overview: The Kingdom of Ethiopia has been too important for too many centuries not to be considered as viable DLC content for Civ V. While we're at it, Firaxis should add Bob Marley as a Great Artist, just so the game has a dash of Selassie-inspired Rastafarianism to calm its torrents of international war. One love, brother. One heart... The last time we saw Ethiopia was Civ IV.
Leader: Pedro II
Special Unit: Jungle Brigade. When your backyard is the Amazon rainforest, you'd better know a little bit about wilderness survival. Every one of these guys could've killed the Predator. A replacement for the Rifleman, the Jungle Brigade receives no moving penalty for trekking through rugged environment tiles, and enjoys a +50% bonus when fighting in forests or rainforests.
Special Building: Engenho. Want bananas? Spices? Rubber (which, by the way, should be added to Civ V immediately)? Then find your way to Brazil: they've got luxury resources aplenty and a specialised system of cultivating them. Cities with access to any resource that requires a plantation can build an Engenho, which doubles the happiness obtained from all such plantations within city limits and provide a small (one hammer) boost towards production.
Special Ability: Jewel of the Amazon. Since its earliest colonisation by Amerindian tribes, the geographic location of Brazil has enjoyed an exotic cornucopia of natural resources to cultivate, export, and enjoy. In a way, the wide range of goods found in Brazil's fields and plantations is representational of its extremely varied cultural and biological diversity, which itself is a wonder to the known world. Happiness output of luxury items is doubled for the course of the game. That, or they could treat all jungle tiles as roads, à la Hiawatha's Great Warpath. It's up to you, Firaxis.
Overview: Analysts around the globe are predicting that the next twenty-or-so years will be Brazil's time to step up to the plate as a major hitter in the international "Big Power Club." Its GDP is currently ranked eighth, making its economy larger than those of Russia, India, South Korea, and Australia. That's impressive to say the least. This would be Brazil's first trip to the big civilisation dance.
Leader: Kiviuq. Finding a famous Inuit chieftain has proven to be a difficult task, for two reasons: (a) the scattered nature of Inuit tribes provides no framework for a united leader, and (b) Europeans seem to have taken only generalised, unspecific records of their dealings with Inuit tribes since the Age of Exploration. Choosing Kiviuq as the leader of the Inuit is the equivalent of choosing King Arthur as the leader of the English.
Special Unit: Qajaq Hunter. As inventors of the qajaq (anglicised as "kayak"), Inuit hunters often traveled in search of better whaling territory. Oftentimes, the best spots had to be wrestled from the hands of rival tribes through violent raids, which meant that Inuit tribesmen had to be ready to both attack and defend themselves from threats on land and at sea at a moment's notice. Replaces the warrior, can instantly embark and receives no penalty for making amphibious assaults.
Special Building: Odoodem Monument. To honour both the lives and deeds of their ancestors and the grand mythology of their tribes, indigenous peoples in the North American Pacific Northwest created great cedar monuments, physical reminders of the deeds of their clan. These unique Odoodems (totem poles) stand tall as constant reminders of the history and culture of the Inuit civilisation, and can be built by workers directly on a game map. +4 Culture, limit one per city.
Special Ability: Sacred Orca Hunt. Plains Indians are to Buffalo Hunts as Inuit are to Whaling. Nearly every aspect of Inuit life, from the fabric used to make their clothes to the bones needed to create their sleds and weapons, relies on the ability to obtain resources from the sea. All naval and embarked units work as fishing boats, and sea resources (Fish, Whales) produce double food and money. As a luxury resource, Whales also produce double happiness.
Overview: I believe the Civilization series is about not only pitting great powers that never would have contacted each other in actual history against one another, but also about giving civilisations that never developed into great powers a chance to do so. Imagine what a vast, advanced Inuit civilisation would look like, towering over smaller, less technologically advanced cultures like the indigenous Russians. To me, that's a core aspect of the historical free-for-all that is Civ.
Photo by Rolf Hicker.
Leader: Benito Juárez
Capital: Mexico City
Special Unit: Zapatistas. Nobody does rebellion like the Mexicans. Is el presidente ignoring your hungry, poor territory? Rebellion. Are you feeling a little communist-y this morning? Rebellion. Did bad salsa from the official government Cinco de Mayo picnic incite a revolution of heartburn in your gastronomic heartland? Rebellion. When you're taking down governments with nothing but your poncho and a dream, your greatest ally is mobility. And tequila. But mostly mobility. Replace normal Cavalry with a boost to movement (from 3 to 4) and no terrain cost.
Special Building: Hacienda. Though owned by often opulently wealthy patróns, haciendas have been centres of peone and campesino (peasant) society since the first Spanish landowners built their mansions in the New World. One unique group to grow out of hacienda culture is the vaquero, a Mexican cowboy whose impact on cultural history gives all livestock tiles, within the limits of any city possessing a Hacienda, +2 food per turn. Becomes available upon the discovery of Civil Service.
Special Ability: Batallón de San Patricio. During the Mexican-American War several thousand Irish, German, Canadian, English, Italian, Spanish, Polish, Scottish, and Swiss Americans were so struck by Mexico's almost mystical devotion to Catholicism that they expatriated, forming a now-legendary battalion of treasonous heroes who stood toe-to-toe with the onslaught of an adolescent but bloodily effective American military. Let's assume that the Mexico you play as is as closely tied to a similarly widespread religion, giving you a 10% chance to convert an opposing civilisation's units to your side after defeating them in friendly territory.
Overview: Say what you like about Mexico having never grown into a power worth representing in Civ V; its unique and lasting effect on world culture is more than substantial enough to merit a chance to wave the red muleta of competition at the bullish kingdoms of England, Persia, or Siam in the high-stakes international dance found only at el grande plaza del Civ.
Special Unit: Impi. Though they later adopted rifled weapons, these legendary warriors originally used shields and heavy throwing spears so effectively that they proved a challenging foe first for Boer Commandos, and then for the technologically-far-superior British Empire at the height of its power. Sporting only slightly higher attack power than Spearman, which it replaces, the beauty of the Impi is its ability to also launch ranged attacks (Melee Power: 8, Ranged power: 8, Range: 2). One unit type, all the ancient invasions you can eat.
Special Building: Ikhanda. Same as the Barracks, except that it requires no maintenance and cuts the cost of military units bought in that city by 33%. Experienced warriors lead to pillaging, which leads to cash back home, which when taxed purchases more warriors, which in turn leads to more pillaging! It's basic economics.
Special Ability: Stealing Their Rifles. Just as the Impi eventually adopted rifles after waging war against the Royal Army and Boer colonists, so does Shaka adopt the technology of all his opponents. Gain science from every enemy unit killed. Go on, wipe out that peaceful city-state full of monks, orphanages, and unicorn giggles. For science.
Overview: The Zulu have been in Civilization since its humble beginnings. As a perennial alumnus, its warm welcome into the Civ V fold is just a matter of time.
Leader: High Mississippian Chief. We know so very little about Cahokia in the academic community that a generic name will have to do. That said, scholars have excavated a large building at the top of Monk's Mound that could have likely been a paramount chief's palace, and large, ornamented burial grounds protecting the remains of an important individual surrounded by weapons and icons of a falcon-man.
Capital: Monk's Mound
Special Unit: Falcon Warrior. To create its impressively vast trade network, Cahokia must have sent warriors far and wide to 'coerce' smaller Native American tribes to trade with them. The Falcon Warrior acts as a Scout-Warrior hybrid, enjoying the attack power of a Warrior (6), the free movement over terrain of a Scout, and the promotion trees of each.
Special Building: Ceremonial Workshop. Cahokian excavations have unveiled a copper workshop surrounded by religious items such as large earrings and long-nosed god maskettes. Has the same cost and bonuses as the Workshop, which it replaces, with an additional +1 culture for every cultural building created after it.
Special Ability: The Long Arm Barters. At its height, Cahokia likely oversaw a vast north American trade network reaching as far as California, Canada, and the Aztec capital, Tenochtitlan. Around 1250 AD, its population is estimated to have included as many as 40,000 people, making it larger than the London of the time. Maritime and Cultural City-States offer gifts of resources at Friendly (instead of Allied) status.
Overview: Cahokia, like the Inuits, are another 'civ that could have been'. If it hadn't mysteriously disappeared during the 15th century, for reasons that I can only assume are somehow tied to the Philosopher's Stone, Cahokia might have blocked European colonists from decimating North American civilisation with the awesome power of blankets.
Special Unit: Bolyar Knight. Representing both minor and major Bulgarian nobility, Bolyar knights were responsible for leading Bulgarian troops into battle against their many enemies lurking both along and just beyond the East European frontier. With threats against the kingdom encroaching from all sides, Bolyar Knights boast the same high movement rate and attack power as basic knights, but enjoy the Medic promotion free upon spawning.
Special Building: Literary School. During the early medieval ages, Bulgarian Emperors mandated that literary schools promote scholastic study of the Glagolitic and Cyrillic alphabets (the most famous alphabets ever). Replaces the Library, providing +1.5 science for every 2 citizens instead of the normal +1.
Special Ability: Bolyar Justice. Life is hard in Bulgaria (pretend I just said that with a Bulgarian accent). As the border between Christian Europe and the forces of the East, drastic measures must repeatedly be taken in order to stop those belligerent neighbours and rampaging barbarians from running amock, with a mailed grasp to the throat. Bulgarian tradition must be protected by any means necessary. The Bulgarian people know that, accept it, and even celebrate it from time to time. +1 happiness per 5 enemy units defeated, which resets every age.
Overview: Bulgarian history is... scary. The dark, cruel nature of the First and Second Bulgarian Empires are hallmarked by rigid religious piety and fear of invasion from strange religions and bloodthirsty hordes. By creating and sustaining two empires in such a volatile hotbed of political, religious and ethnic hostility, the Bulgarian people overcame a challenge that few other nations could have worn. They have every reason to be in Civ V (and a Medieval-to-Renaissance East European scenario wouldn't be find any problems getting played, either).
Leader: Songtsän Gampo
Special Unit: Himalayan Infantry. When people think of Tibet, their first thoughts usually don't produce the image of an imposing, tyrannical empire crushing the hopes and dreams of neighbouring kingdoms under the heels of their spiked, plate-mailed feet. Before it adopted Buddhism and became the international paragon of peace and harmony, Tibet was a formidable nation of warriors who became a thorn in the side of Chinese, Indian, and Arabian monarchs (amongst others). While Tibetan cavalry was widely considered slow and cumbersome, its heavy infantry - protected by layers mail and furs - were widely feared in combat. Replaces the Swordsman, does not require Iron to build, receives no penalty for crossing hilled terrain, and can cross mountain tiles.
Special Building: Gompa. Fuse a monastery, a nunnery, a university, and a citadel together, add a mountain, toss in several generations of dedicated monk caretakers, and you've got a Tibetan Gompa: a center of prayer, meditation, exercise, and learning. Gives all the benefits of a Monastery, with the exception that it additionally receives +1 happiness and culture for every mountain tile and +.5 happiness and culture for every three hill tiles within city limits.
Special Ability: Home of the Golden Urn. Though it was originally renowned for the tenacity of its mountain-manly warriors, Tibetan fame reached its height when it became home to the Dalai Lama and his descendants. This font of spiritual wisdom gushes into the minds and souls of your people, giving you access to the Piety Social Policy tree from the start of the game. Another possibility is Roof of the World, which would offer some kind of benefit involving mountain tiles, such as a production bonus, or the ability for all units to cross mountains, instead of just the Himalayan Infantry.
Overview: Despite living in an ecosystem that generally frowns upon the survival of anything living, the Tibetan people have thrived both as a militaristic empire and as a quiet nation of enlightenment. Its success in both manifestations is more than enough reason to let it hang out at the cool kids' table of Civ V.
Leader: Boudica. I would suggest Vercingetorix instead, as he actually won some victories to place on his trophy shelf when fighting Rome, but after how popular Boudica (and her bodice) were in Civ IV, I think players would revolt.
Special Unit: Wild Beasts. Greek and Roman contemporaries describe their enemies in Celtic Gaul as erratic, unpredictable, and incredibly forceful warriors who fought naked, or covered in animal furs. Though genius generals like Julius Caesar capitalised on the chaotic strategy of Celtic warriors, the vast majority of armies sent to subdue Gaul met swift defeat. That's what made Julius Caesar so popular to Romans; he subjugated the only culture able to sack the Roman Republic. Wild Beasts replace the Swordsman, offering a 14 strength upgrade over the former's 11. Rawr.
Special Building: Dun. Nobody played sofa fort like Celtic children. These ancient, round, moated walls of wood and stone that held back advancing Roman and Germanic armies may have been the father of the medieval castle. Offers 8 city strength, 3 more than is provided by Walls, which it replaces.
Special Ability: Druidism. The spiritual and practical leaders of all Celtic civilisation, regardless of tribe, were the druids. Secretive and cryptic hermits, these magnificently-bearded sages dwelled in caves and forests, studying secret oral traditions and communing with the Celtic gods. Upon re-entering society, druids often instigated great cultural or political change, stopping battles from being fought, unifying rival tribes, or offering tips for a full harvest. When entering a new age, you may select a Great Person of your choice to appear next to your capital twice per game (when entering a new age, an option will appear to select one of your two free Great People, or save them for a subsequent age).
Overview: Ever seen the movie Druids? Yech.
Well, that's it for Part One of my '25 civilisations I believe deserve a chance at world domination by way of Civilization V'. Can you guess what the next twelve will be? Throw your guesses in the comments section below. I'll bet the souls of my unborn pets and children that nobody will divine number 25.
Check back on Saturday (around 5pm BST) to see Part Two of this list, or embrace the short-term memory loss caused by spending the majority of your life staring at a screen and follow The Official, Formal, Incredibly-Intense GGTL Twitter Account of Serious Business and Undeniable Gravitas to get a reminder.
Editor's Update - the second half of this list has been published, and can now be found here. Thanks for reading, and feel free to bookmark Gamer's Guide to Life!
- Greg Mengel
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