by jdarksun, reviewed on
Fear the turn
Civilization 4: a game that strikes fear into the free time of strategy gamers everywhere (this reviewer alone has sunk over 120 hours into it). But not content to simply be a good game, Civilization 4 was widely lauded as the Best PC Game of 2005. Warlords is the first expansion to this highly-acclaimed game, and focuses heavily on improving the martial aspects - but what improvements are possible, and are they worth the price tag?
Eighteen new unique buildings, ten new leaders, eight new scenarios, eight new units, six new civilizations, three new leader traits, three new wonders, one new diplomatic option (with two ways of using it), one new great person, and various tweaks, improvements, and upgrades (including changes to the core game's leader traits). With all these changes, Civilization 4 must be like a whole new game! Right? Well no. The good and the bad news is that Warlords doesn't change the gameplay of Civilization 4 very much at all. This is good if you like Civilization 4 the way it is, but disappointing if you were looking for substantial changes.
The world expands
The new buildings - one for each civilization - add flavor and are another touch to differentiate the civilizations from each other. They each have existing building counterparts, and provide a small bonus beyond the building from which they are based. America, for example, has Mall as its unique building - it replaces Grocer, and provides +10% Commerce and +1 Happiness from Hit Musical, Hit Single, and Hit Movie on top of the bonuses from Grocer. While some are nicer than others, none are so powerful as to tip the balance from it alone.
Veteran Civilization players will recognize some of the added leaders - Shaka, Ragnar, Mehmed II, Wang Kon, Brennus, and Hannibal lead the six new civilizations (Zulu, Viking, Ottoman, Korea, Celts, and Carthage). The remaining four are new leaders for Egypt, England, Rome, and Russia - and any student of history will know the names Ramses II, Churchill, Augustus, and Stalin. Coupled with Roosevelt, the main Allied Commanders from World War II are available to lead their nations. The Axis Commanders are absent, but that's almost always the case.
Most of the new units are the unique units for the new civilizations, and are typical unique unit fare. For example, the Viking Berserker replaces Macemen, and gain +10% City Attack and the Amphibious promotion. The two new civilization-agnostic units are the Trireme - a naval unit to counter Galleys - and the Trebuchet, an excellent siege weapon that nicely fits in the long stretch between Catapults and Cannons.
The new leader traits are pretty substantial and can have quite the positive effect depending on a player's style. The most dramatic of the new traits is Protective, which grants the Drill I and City Garrison I promotions free to Archery and Gunpowder units. Additionally, Walls and Castles are produced at double speed. This is a huge edge in the early game, allowing a player to get up walls fast and have dramatically improved Archers to guard them. The other traits, Charismatic (which provides extra Happiness and reduces the cost of unit promotions) and Imperialistic (doubles the chance of creating a Great General, and a 50% boost in Settler creation), aren't as keyed to certain time periods, and thus might be better for the long run. Still, which leader one chooses is largely dependent on how one wishes to play the game.
No Pros and Cons at this time