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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Civilization V: Gods + Kings

I noted in my original review of Civilization V that I expected an espionage system of some sort to be added in an expansion. I also stated, in a February edition of the Civilization Polycast webcast that I expected an expansion to be announced soon. I was right on both accounts!

I’ve spent a lot of time with Gods & Kings in the few months since its release, but I’m disappointed to say that it hasn’t quite lived up to my expectations.

The expansion isn’t a complete let-down though. It does include some significant enhancements to the core experience.

Civilization V Gods & Kings - Hunnic Battering Ram

Table of Contents

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Prometheus promotional poster

Prometheus is a disaster of almost Phantom Menace proportions. Its script is a comedy of stupid that makes the Three Stooges look like Isaac Newton, Nikola Tesla, and Albert Einstein.

This movie lost me completely about 10 or 15 minutes in, when Noomi Rapace's and Logan Marshall-Green's crackpot archaeologist characters (Elizabeth Shaw and Charlie Halloway, respectively) are explaining their mission to the newly-awakened crew of the Prometheus. They tell the crew (consisting predominantly of scientists) that they had discovered stone tablets all around the world that depict giant men pointing to a particular constellation in the sky, and that they believe that these tablets constitute an invitation from humanity's extra-terrestrial creators that they should visit them in space. They dismiss the possibility of coincidence by saying that a.) the art lines up exactly, and b.) the particular star cluster was too far away for any of those primitive cultures to have been able to see with the naked eye, and so aliens must have told them. The hypothesis itself doesn't upset me on its own. But when asked by a mohawked, punk geologist what actual evidence they have to believe that aliens had intelligently engineered life on earth, Shaw responds that she has none, but it is what she "chooses to believe".

These two crackpot archeologists' wild-ass hunch, thus became the basis for a trillion-dollar space expedition in which scientists and engineers were drafted into without even being told where they were going or what they were doing.

Now, if this silly setup had ended up being my only complaint with the movie, I'd let it pass, and Prometheus probably could have turned into an excellent science fiction (or space fantasy) movie. Unfortunately, Damon Lindelof's script is unbearably bad, and is completely dependent on every character (despite being scientists, engineers, and a hyper-intelligent andriod) being dumb as a rock.

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Considering the recent claims from the fundamentalist Christians over at Family Radio that the world is going to end, and the Rapture will occur, this coming weekend (May 21, 2011), I thought I'd take a look at how the world would be different if all the Christians were, in fact, Raptured.

While those who claim that the end is nigh will argue that anybody left behind is in for a world of misery, I thought I would lighten the load by offering the following Top 10 reasons why the Earth might be a better place after the Rapture:

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