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Beyond the Sword – Full Details

June 20th, 2007 by Troy Goodfellow · 8 Comments · Firaxis, Preview

IGN has published all the details for the epic game of the upcoming Civ expansion. New Civs, new units, new wonders. Read Steve Butts’ article for the full scoop, but here’s a nitpickers guide to what’s ahead.

New CivsBabylonians, Byzantines, Dutch, Ethiopians, Holy Roman Empire, Khmers, Mayans, Native Americans, Portuguese, Sumerians

I’ll leave aside the silliness of “Native Americans” (the Mayans, Aztecs and Incans weren’t Native Americans?) to celebrate the appearance of the Ethiopians and Khmer. New nations representing underappreciated cultures. Any game that introduces people to the military genius of Suryavarman is cool with me. Civs from earlier games that didn’t make the cut (not counting the Sioux or Iroquois) – the Hittites and the Austrians (a “hidden civ” in Civ 3.) Still no love for the Assyrians, Polynesians or Quebecois.

Some of the unique units give me pause. Both the Portuguese and Dutch get naval units, and no Civ since Civ II has really made the struggle for naval mastery decisive. Until I get Marines, I mostly avoid the naval war. Will the chance to move military units on a Carrack (caravel) change that? The Byzantine Cataphract looks like a killer. +2 strength? Sure, it can be hit by archers’ first strike now, but a 12 power unit in the Medieval stage could be trouble. But I think I fear the Holy Roman Landsknecht most – a pikeman with advantages against cavalry and melee units.

The Byzantines, HRE and Mayans start with Mysticism, meaning three more civs with an inside track to an early religion.

New LeadersLincoln (Amer), Boudicca (Celt), DeGaulle (Fra), Pericles (Gre), Suleiman (Ott), Darius (Per)

So the US and France now have three leaders each, catching up with the English and Russians. Suleiman should have been the first choice for the Ottomans and DeGaulle will be my new favorite leader.

New Buildings – The big one is the levee (the Dutch version is the “dike“) – it adds hammers to water tiles, drawing production to tiles that were, to this point, for food and commerce alone. But coastal cities get even more significant with the customs house (the Portuguese version is the feitoria), adding commerce for cities that have already built harbors. Coastal cities were already valuable because of the extra coin they could bring in, as well as being linked by sailing instead of roads. There will be real penalties to not moving to the ocean as soon as possible.

New Wonders – The most important change is the Apostolic Palace. It elects a religious leader who can then push around co-religionists. This is the wonder that has been getting the most attention, since it makes the diplomatic game more significant at an earlier point.

Cristo Redentor seems a bit unusual – it confers the benefits of the Spiritual trait (switching between civics without anarchy) but Spiritual civs can build it twice as quickly. This just encourages the Spiritual nations to be spoilers, taking away the chance of gaining this benefit.

For me, the Shwedagon Paya will be a tempting goodie – it’s the Pyramids of Religious Civics, making all available at once. Being able to jump to Pacifism and the great person bonus near the beginning of the game means extra great prophets, meaning extra Holy Cities. Which means extra cash.

New Units – It’s here where we get a little of the Civ 2 bloat. Cruise missiles are back. Missile cruisers are back. Attack subs are back. Paratroopers are back. Plus we get the mobile SAMs and privateers from Civ III. The streamlined military game of Civ IV is now getting packed with options. Note to developers – more choices is not the same as better choices. I’m getting skeptical of “you can have it all” design in my old age.

New Tech – Not a lot here. New promotion options via Military Science, and Aesthetics as a stopover tech on the way to Literature. This will slow down my standard rush to Music and the free Artist.

No new news on the scenarios, but I expect that that information will be forthcoming soon.


8 Comments so far ↓

  • Alan

    I’m cautiously optimistic about the addition of more late-game military units. Specifically, I’m hoping that they can reintroduce the rock-paper-scissors dynamic that makes classical-era warfare so interesting.

  • Eumel

    The inclusion of the HRE puzzles me a bit, really. Calling it a nation is a bit of a stretch and the “Holy Roman Landsknecht” makes me chuckle. I wonder what adjective they are going to use for the HRE, anyway.

    The addition of the new units is fine with me, if the AI can handle all of it. Through the grapevine I heard that the former developer of the (excellent) Better AI Mod is part of the team — so I’m optimistic.

  • Troy

    Good point on the HRE. Aren’t they just Medieval Germans?

    Firaxis has a strong record of plucking talent from the mod community. Master of Scenarios Jon Shafer is now a “lead designer”. And, judging from his picture, he can’t be more than 12. Well, maybe 20.

  • Jimmy A. Brown

    Having two German nations could be considered more historically accurate. The Germanic people spent most of their history in a crazy quilt of principalities.

    I am also skeptical of expansions that seem to make gameplay bloated; but the new wonders should open some interesting strategies, & I always like trying different civs.

  • Troy

    “The Germanic people spent most of their history in a crazy quilt of principalities.”

    I guess the analogy would be adding “Italian” to the list of civs when we already have Rome. Besides, the fact of Germany’s political divisions for a thousand years didn’t make them any less German, just as the Poles didn’t disappear when their country did.

    Not that I’m quarreling with new Civs. The more the merrier as far as I’m concerned.

  • Jon Shafer

    Hey now, I’m 22! :P

  • Alan

    You could argue that the Goths were also technically a Germanic nation, although it would seem anachronistic to put them in an expansion titled Beyond the Sword.