by Marko Susimetsä
previewed on PC
The enhanced Diplomacy in Gods & Kings seems to be a step to make the game feel less like a game. For example, the diplomatic penalty you would get from civilizations aiming for the same victory condition has been removed. Good riddance. You will also no longer be blamed for wars that you did not start and the AI is now more forgiving for your past actions against them. In the beginning of the game, you will have better diplomatic relations with civilizations with the same dominant religion, while in later game your relationship is more dependent on similar Policies. You can also sell techs and enter into research agreements with friendly civilizations when you have researched Education.
The City States have been revamped slightly, the most notable addition being religious city states that grant you more Faith per turn and Mercantile City States that provide access to unique luxuries. They also offer a vastly expanded selection of quests and their requirements to gain influence have been decreased. City States will also be more politically active then before, responding to bullying and forceful demands and not just to war and may even ask civilizations to protect them.
All hail the new Kings!
As the latter part of the title Gods & Kings tells you, the expansion pack will also bring you new kings to play with. The new civilizations are Carthage, Celtica, Ethiopia, Huns, Mayans, Netherlands and Sweden. Some of these nine new civilizations and rulers have been seen in previous Civilization games, but there is a welcome new surprise in the mix as well: Sweden. Sweden is fittingly ruled by Gustavus Adolphus, though oddly depicted as wearing heavy armor which in real life he stopped doing after having been wounded in the neck in battle. The unique units are Carolean and Hakkapeliitta (Finns like me will rejoice). Boudicca is also back, in a more realistic depiction than we have seen in previous games and the unique unit of her nation is the Pictish Warrior. Instead of a second unique unit, they get Ceilidh Hall, a variant to the opera house. The other rulers bring with them such old favorite units as Atlatl (archer), Quinquereme and Hussar.
Naturally the new civilizations introduce new Wonders, such as Alhambra, Great Firewall, Petra, Terra Cotta Army and more. It is still unknown how each of these new wonders affects the game. New non-wonder buildings include Shrines, Amphitheatre, Constabulary, Bomb Shelter and National Intelligence Agency, many of which tied closely to the new religion and espionage side of the game. The new units include Missionaries, Inquisitors, Composite Bowman, Privateer, Triplane Fighters, Gatling Guns and Marine. The new sea units also indicate that sea warfare is getting a bit of a boost, hopefully making the wet stuff a little more meaningful.
Hope for fans of the older games?
All the new additions to Civilization V are certainly welcome and will hopefully make the game more than a board game, returning it closer to the esteemed category of civilization simulators. But is ”closer” enough? Gods & Kings fixes some of the faulty mechanics of Civilization V but the policies are still written in stone and this seems to be true for religion as well. Unlike real religions that have changed over the centuries, the religions in Civilization V seem to be relatively static for as long as they have an effect in the game.
Even though the idiotic diplomatic penalty for the same victory condition has been removed, I am not completely assured that this single change will remove the warmongering boardgame feel from Civilization V. I hope I will be proved wrong, but to me it still seems that if you want to have a more sandbox like civilization simulator, a more organic experience, Civilization IV is still the way to go. Those who loved Civilization V for what it is - a complex multiplayer “chess” - will certainly enjoy discovering how the new mathematical factors brought by the expansion can be best used to advance them towards their victory condition.