Civilization V - Casimir III of Poland

Halfway through my series of strategy posts about Brave New World's new civilizations, we have Poland.

Poland is a Slavic nation in Central Europe that can trace its origins to the 10th century AD, when Mieszko I united the pagan tribes that were ruled by his ancestors and was crowned the first King of the Polans. He was baptized during his reign and the young Polish kingdom quickly became part of the Catholic sphere of influence. During the late Middle Ages, the rulers of Poland began putting increasing focus on educational and social reforms, and Poland became one of the best-educated nations in all of Europe, which may have contributed to it becoming a popular destination for immigrants - particularly Germans, Jews, and Armenians. The high level of education may have also helped protect the Polish population from the effects of the plague, as Poland had one of the lowest mortality rates of any European nation during the time of the Black Death. The combination of large numbers of immigrants and the popularity of Protestantism during the Reformation helped Poland to become a very tolerant culture. Its central location in Europe made Poland a subject to many wars, particularly with Germany, Prussia, and Russian. The nation was occupied by Nazi Germany during World War II, and was firmly within the Iron Curtain during the Cold War, but eventually returned to a democratic style of governance based on a market economy after the fall of the Soviet Union.

Civilization V: Brave New World - Casimir III

Casimir III was the last King of Poland from the Piast (founding) Dynasty, and is widely regarded as the nation's greatest leader. He inherited a nation that was crumbling due to a war-blasted economy, and the legitimacy of his claim to the throne was questioned by his political rivals. In order to gain the favor of the landed elites, he reformed Polish law to grant special privileges to the higher castes; and he gained the favor of Jewish immigrants by granting them unprecedented protections under the law that allowed them to maintain their religious and cultural identities during a time in which other European Jews were being forced to convert to Christianity. During his reign, he founded Poland's first major university, and promoted an educated society. Casimir remarried several times, and since all of the children from his first and fourth (final) marriage were daughters, he left no lawful heirs; thus, he named one of his nephews to be his heir. By the end of his reign, Poland had doubled in size and had a flourishing economy and growing educated classes.

Led by the bearded and intimidating Casimir III, Poland was an immediately attractive Brave New World civilization due to Solidarity. Free social policies you say? Yes, please! Give me those policies so that I may conquer the world! Poland is Chichian's favorite civ in the expansion (and maybe the whole game) due to her fondness of social policies. I can't really argue against her.

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Civilization V Brave New World - Ahmad al-Mansur of Morocco

Continuing my series of Civilization V strategies, the fourth installation will cover the African trading empire of Morocco lead by Ahmad al-Mansur.

When the area of Morocco (north west Africa) was first inhabited about 100,000 years ago, the land was a fertile savannah, rather than the arid desert and mountains that it is today, and archeological remains of several Paleolithic proto human cultures exist in the region. During the classical era, Phoenicians established colonies on west Africa, and eventually it was conquered by Carthage and then Rome, and then by Muslim Arabs around 670 CE. The earliest independent Moroccan states were the Berber kingdoms which dates to at least 110 BC, and after the repulsion of Arab rule, the Berbers resumed control. Morocco was the first nation to recognize the United States as an independent nation, and their fleet protected U.S. merchant ships from assaults from barbary pirates. The friendship treaty with Morocco is the United States' oldest non-broken friendship treaty.

Ahmad al-Mansur - portrait

After the assassination of the Saadi Sultan Mohammed ash-Sheikh, his oldest son, Abdallah al-Ghalib sought sole rule, and Ahmad al-Mansur and his brother, Abd al-Malik, had to flee to the Ottoman empire. When Ahmad al-Mansur eventually gained control of Morocco, he resisted Ottoman annexation and maintained Morocco as an independent state, he established friendly relations with many Christian European nations, and began playing the Ottomans and Europeans against each other in order to secure his position of power. Later in his reign, he launched a military campaign against the Songhai empire, which had been weakened by civil strife. The campaign was successful, but Ahmad's heirs couldn't manage the vast territory that had been conquered, so it was divided into smaller kingdoms, and the Moroccan empire went into decline. Ahmad died of the plague in 1603

Morocco was the first civilization that I played in Civilization V: Brave New World. I chose them because their trait is very general-purpose and emphasizes the new trade route mechanic.

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Grand Theft Auto V - title

Grand Theft Auto V is a game that does not get off on the right foot at all. The intro tutorial is a complete mess.

Remember how in Grand Theft Auto IV, the protagonist was introduced in a cutscene during the opening credits? We learn about his personality and motivations, and why he is coming to America. Then you get off the boat, gameplay begins, and you are immediately given a simple driving tutorial in which you taxi your drunk cousin two blocks to his shithole apartment, all the while learning more about the characters and the game world itself. Then you do some simple taxi missions that let you practice driving while simultaneously letting you learn the layout of the city and soak in the environment. Then you start getting asked to beat people up and throw bricks through store windows and get tutorialized on how to fight, shoot, and do other advanced mechanics. And during all this time, the game slowly builds up a hatred and distrust for the criminals that you are working for while simultaneously laying the foundations of the game's depressing-but-exceptionally-introspective plot.

Remember all that? Remember how well that game was paced? Remember how the tutorials always showed up at appropriate times, explained a mechanic during non-interactive cutscenes so that you can pay attention to the instructions, then lets you practice the mechanic while it's fresh in your memory? Remember how well it slowly built up the important mechanics one at a time - as they became relevant - while also immersing you in the game world and building up its story to a climactic closing of the first act? Yeah, that was great game design, wasn't it?

Well, GTA V has none of that.

Grand Theft Auto V - intro bank robbery
An almost unbearable tutorial.

The intro tutorial literally throws the player into the middle of a bank robbery in progress. You have no idea who your character is, why he's robbing a bank, who your companions are, or what the "plan" that everybody keeps telling you to "stick to" is. Then it puts an assault rifle in your hands, and a tiny little box pops up in the corner of the screen with 6-point font telling you what to do while you're trying to do the thing that it's telling you to do - and hopefully not doing the wrong thing. And then they stick you in the middle of a gunfight with an entire small army of police, and these barely-visible text popups try to tell you how to use the cover mechanics, switch weapons, and trigger super powers - all while you're being shot at. Then you go for hours before using many of these mechanics again, so you forget them all because you had zero time to practice and remember them, and they were all thrown at you at once.

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Civilization V Brave New World - Gajah Mada of Indonesia

Continuing my series of Civilization V strategies, the third installation will cover Gajah Mada and his Indonesian "spice islands".

Indonesia is an Oceanic island nation between the Indian and Pacific oceans, north of Australia. Archaeological evidence shows that the region was inhabited by Homo Erectus, and that its primitive human occupants developed relatively advanced maritime technology, allowing them to sail across the ocean between the various islands of the Australian region as early as 42,000 years ago. Its early inhabitants took advantage of the tropical conditions to create flourishing agricultural communities and became masters of wet-field rice cultivation, as well as becoming traders and fishermen.

Much of the history of Indonesia has been shaped by maritime trade. Hinduism and Buddhism arrived in Indonesia around the seventh century through trade with India, and the Indonesian people welcomed these faiths with open arms and dedicated numerous temples (called "Candi") to the gods these religions brought with them. Islamic influences began around the thirteenth century in trade missions from the Middle East, and large portions of regional populations converted to this new religion. In the sixteenth century, Portuguese explorers brought Christianity to the islands. For the most part, the various religions in Indonesia intermixed and co-existed in relative peace and harmony. Portuguese traders quickly monopolized the trade of Indonesia's native nutmeg, cloves, and cubeb pepper. The Dutch arrived soon after and established their East India Company in the region and held tenuous control over the region until the Japanese occupation leading up to World War II. Following the war, bloody struggles for control of the nation resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths, but democracy began to supersede authoritarian rule in the early 2000's. The Republic of Indonesia is currently the world's fourth most populous country, is the 16th largest economy in the world by GDP, and currently has dominion over 17,508 islands of the Indonesian archipelago.

Gajah Mada - portrait

Gajah Mada (the "Elephant General") was a mahapatih (or "prime minister") of the Majapahit Empire during the early fourteenth century who, according to myth, made a vow not to eat any spices until he had conquered all of the southeastern Asian archipelago and united it under the empire. Little is known of his early life, but he lead the empire to the height of its power during this time and presided over the arrival of the first Muslim traders. His legacy has made him a symbol of Indonesian national pride to this day.

Success as the Indonesian Empire in Civilization V is partially determined by the player's ability to develop an intercontinental "island" empire, which grants access to the valuable nutmeg, clove, and pepper spices that dominated trade with Colonial European powers. Indonesia is also uniquely positioned in Civilization V to benefit greatly from possessing followers of multiple religions in its cities.

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Civilization V Brave New World - Pedro II of Brazil

Part 2 in my series of Civilization V strategies is intended to help you dominate the world with your Brazilian Carnivals!

Brazil was established as a colony of Portugal during the era of European colonization. It was officially named "The Land of the Holy Cross", but traders often referred to it as "The Land of Brazil", after the "brazilwood" tree dye that was the most popular and profitable export from the region. After Napoleon of France invaded Portugal in 1807, the capital of that country was temporarily re-located from Lisbon to Rio De Janeiro in Brazil. The bulk of the country is tropical and contains the majority of the Amazon rain forest and Amazon river basin. Brazil is a relatively new nation, gaining its independence from Portugal in 1822 and eventually becoming the Federative Republic of Brazil later in the twentieth century. It is the largest country in South America (in terms of both land area and population) and is the largest country which retains Portuguese as its official language. Its culture is made up of unions between primarily-Catholic Western European culture and native tribal cultures of the Pre-Columbian era.

Pedro II - portrait

Pedro "the Magnanimous" II ruled the Empire of Brazil for 58 years. He took a country on the verge of dissolving and turned it into an economic, cultural, and educational powerhouse in the western hemisphere. He was incredibly popular due to his vigorous support of freedom of speech, abolition of slavery, and public education, and he presided over the armies of Brazil to victory in all three wars that the nation was involved with during his reign. He was eventually overthrown by a military coup despite being overwhelmingly popular both domestically and internationally. He accepted European exile due to his advanced age and disinterest in maintaining the constitutional monarchy. The country then went through a period of political and economic instability before re-emerging in the late 20th century.

Brazil is a top tourist destination in the world due to its vast swaths of unspoiled lands and natural beauty. Rio De Janeiro is a particularly popular hotspot for tourism due to its festive lifestyle and the presence of the Christo Redentor ("Christ the Redeemer") statue, which is widely regarded as one of the man-made wonders of the modern world. Tourism and culture, is thus, the focus of Brazil's play-style in Civilization V: Brave New World.

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