Brave New World – the newest expansion pack for 2K Games’ critically acclaimed Civilization V – will feature nine new civilizations, the company announced at PAX East last month. Casimir II of Poland, Pedro II of Brazil and Ashurbanipal of Assyria already have been confirmed for the new expansion.
What about the other six? In the past, the Civilization series has focused on major, historically conspicuous empires like the ones you learn about in grade school – Elizabethan England or Gandhi’s India. And if that’s any indication, the newest release will feature more of the same.
But there are plenty of civilizations and societies that have just as much to contribute to the game – even if they’re a little more obscure. Here are a few that 2K Games should consider for its new release.
THE NEANDERTHALS (Leader: Saccopastore Man)
Archaelogical evidence suggests that humans and Neanderthals may have lived side by side for thousands of years. So why not see how they fare with the great civilizations of history? This would be the choice for players looking for a challenge. Limits on the growth of cities – and limited access to the technology tree – would provide appropriate handicaps for players looking to build a civilization of small, primitive tribes. And reversing the “Pledge to Protect” mechanic that allows players to protect smaller city-states, Neanderthals who manage to survive to the late game could appeal to advanced allies for protection.
THE HASHSHASHIN (Leader: Rashid ad-Din Sinan)
A game called Civilization hasn’t truly captured its subject until it includes the ultimate foe of civilization: the terrorist. And the Hashshashin – better known in the west as The Assassins – were arguably one of the first terrorist organizations in history, battling Muslims, Christians, and Mongols alike through intimidation and strategic killings. Like most of history’s terrorists, Civ V’s Hashshashin would be stateless – and to stop them, you’d have to wipe out every last unit. Instead of producing units, the Hashashin would have to steal enemy units using missionaries and hijackers.
THE INUIT (Leader: Avalldamon)
The ice-capped poles of Civ 5 have always been uninhabitable – but a Brave New World that features the Inuit would open up new swaths of land to settle. Exclusive control of the poles would come at a price, however: strained resources. And escalating handicaps on offensive and defensive capabilities the closer your player moves to the equator would add a new, uniquely geometric dimension to game strategy. Few candidates for a leader of the nomadic Inuit come to mind, but one possibility is Avalldamon, the legendary king mentioned in sagas recounting the Norse exploration of North America.
THE SEA PEOPLES (Leader: King Meryey)
One of the greatest catastrophes in history – the Great Bronze Age Collapse which saw the end of the Hittite and Mycenean civilizations and much of Egypt’s New Kingdom – coincides with mentions, in ancient letters and manuscripts, of the mysterious Sea Peoples. They’ve been linked to any number of lost civilizations – including the Minoans, the Trojans and the Philistines – but all we know for sure is that they tormented the great empires of their age and left city after city in ruins. The Sea Peoples of Civ V would have a powerful navy, and receive massive offensive bonuses when laying siege to cities near the shore.
THE ILLUMINATI (Leader: Unknown)
As long as there has been civilization, there have always been conspiracy theories about all-powerful secret societies quietly controlling world affairs. And the Bavarian Illuminati have held that role in the popular imagination ever since they first appeared in the late eighteenth century. Usually Civ 5 only lets you control one civilization – but why not control all of them? The Illuminati in Brave New World would be another stateless empire, like the Hashashim, eliminating the usual game mechanics of city management. Instead, the player would control unique units called Conspirators – missionary-like agents capable of converting cities to Illuminatism. And once converted, the Illuminati would be able to purchase any given city as a puppet state.
How about the Kingdom of Mutapa, empire of southern Africa and the legendary home of King Solomon’s mines? Or the Durrani Empire, led by Ahmad Shah Durrani – the predecessor of modern Afghanistan, once encompassing parts of Pakistan, Iran, India, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan as well? Or the Portuguese Empire – the first global empire in history?
Let’s hope for some creativity when 2K games selects new empires for Brave New World. History may be written by the winners – but when it comes to Civilization, some of history’s losers are a lot more interesting.