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Only a few more civs to go in my series of strategy posts about Brave New World's new civilizations. Next up is the land-snatching Shoshone lead by Chief Pocatello.

The Shoshone are a group of native Americans that originated in the rocky regions of western North America (now Nevada and Utah). Around the same time as European colonists began settling on the east coast, the Shoshone began expanding eastward, which brought them into conflict with other plains indians such as the Blackfoot, Crow, Lakota, Cheyenne, and Arapaho. Some Shoshone who migrated into Texas and Oklahoma would break off into their own tribe: Comanche, who would become expert horsemen. The Shoshone began to come into conflict with the United States in the late nineteenth century due to the U.S.'s westward expansion, leading to a massacre of as many as 500 Shoshone at a winter encampment at Bear River in 1863. Shoshone culture has survived on reservations to this day, and in 2008, began working with Utah and Idaho state leaders to create a memorial to the Bear River Massacre. At its height, the Shoshone nation was composed of many tribes that occupied vast territory, extending from modern-day Montana all the way through Nevada; and their offshoot tribe, the Comanche, exhibited strong control of Texas and Oklahoma.

As westward immigration lead to conflict between the Shoshone and United States, Chief Pocatello (or, Tondzaosha) lead his tribe in raids and attacks against settlers in Idaho along the Oregon trail. He was feared and respected by his enemies, and Brigham Young (leader of the Mormons) attempted to offer terms of appeasement to the Shoshone in order to stop the attacks. Instead, the United States army arrived and destroyed any chances of a peaceful solution. Despite the overwhelming might of the U.S. army, Pocatello avoided the total massacre of his people and eventually negotiated the Fort Bridger Treaty of 1868, which granted the Shoshone a permanent reservation at Fort Hall near the Snake River in exchange for annual compensation from the United States (which the United States rarely honored in full). Due to this agreement, the Shoshone cultural identity survives to this day, and the city of Pocatello in Idaho is named in his honor.

Civilization V - Pocatello of Shoshone

Shoshone uniques in Civilization V: Brave New World

Civilization V: Brave New World - Shoshone flag

The Shoshone have a combination of active and passive uniques that are focused mostly around early game expansion.

Great Expanse

"Founded cities start with additional territory. Units receive a combat bonus when fighting within their own territory."
Civilization V: Brave New World - Pocatello

The free tiles are granted based on the game's normal tile-annexing rules. This means that it will prioritize resources and tiles adjacent to rivers. Or at least, it's supposed to prioritize them. Shoshone's free tiles are subject to the same frustrations of the game's normal tile-annexing rules, which means sometimes, it will prioritize empty grassland tiles before some resources (especially sea resources) or natural wonders.

To offset the annoyances of the game choosing bad tiles for you, Great Expanse comes with one big perk: the free tiles do not increase the cost of purchasing additional tiles. This means that you can buy unclaimed second and third-ring tiles very cheap. It's like having a variation of America's "Manifest Destiny" as well!

If I'm understanding the game's database correctly, then you're supposed to always get eight free tiles; however, I'm pretty sure I've had a few times where I was only given seven... I'm not sure how the game determines how many tiles to give you, but it may be determined by the culture cost of acquiring those tiles. If anybody knows for sure how the number of free tiles is determined, please post in the comments! Thanks.

Civilization V - good Shoshone capital expanse Civilization V - bad Shoshone capital expanse
Examples of good [left] capital expanse, and a not-so-good [right] capital expanses. In the example on the right, resources (bananas) were ignored in favor of [apparently] empty grassland tiles.
Civilization V - Pride of the Ancestors promotion

The second part of Great Expanse is a moderate combat bonus. This bonus takes the form of a free promotion called "Pride of the Ancestors" that grants a +15% combat bonus. The description for Great Expanse is actually misleading, as it implies that this combat bonus is applied to all units. This is false! Pride of the Ancestors is only given to military land units! In addition, the bonus applies to all friendly territory, rather than just to Shoshone lands.

Civilization V - Great Expanse works in friendly foreign territory
Pride of the Ancestors works in all friendly territory, despite what the description says!
Note: 30% friendly territory bonus shown includes Himeji Castle.

This bonus applies both offensively and defensively and during embarked defense, but only if the target of the attack is within friendly lands. For example: using a ranged unit that is standing within Shoshone land to attack an enemy in neutral or enemy land will not grant the bonus; but if an enemy unit stationed outside of Shoshone land attempts to attack a unit that is inside Shoshone land, then the bonus will be applied. This bonus does not apply to the bombardment from Shoshone cities, nor does it increase the defense of Shoshone cities (even if a unit is garrisoned inside).

Combined with the large chunks of land that the Shoshone get when founding a city, this bonus is a great help in defending your land from invasion (especially from early game barbarian incursions).

Finally, if you gift your land units to other civs or city states, Pride of the Ancestors is retained, thus allowing Shoshone to grant defensive boosts to their friends and allies! This can make Shoshone a very helpful partner in multiplayer team games.


Civilization V: Brave New World - Shoshone Pathfinder


Game Info: "Excellent at exploring and fearsome in combat, this Shoshone Unique Unit replaces the Scout. It possesses a promotion that allows it to choose the benefit when uncovering an ancient ruin."
Civilopedia Strategy: "The Pathfinder is the Scout replacement, and only the Shoshone may build it. It explores as well as a Scout and fights almost as well as a Warrior. It allows the player to choose the benefit when uncovering an ancient ruin. Costs more than a Scout."


Replaces: Scout

Requirements: none (same as Scout)

Obsoleted: Scientific Theory technology (same as Scout)

Cost: 45 Production (+20 from Scout) / 50 Faith (same as Scout) / 220 Gold (+80 from Scout) [Standard speed]

Attack Type: Melee, Combat Class: Recon, Strength: 8 (+3 from Scout, same as Warrior)

Civilization V - Native Tongue promotion

Movement Speed: 2

Bonuses: Ignores terrain cost (same as Scout),
Native Tongue promotion = can chose reward from ancient ruins, there is a cool-down period for each choice.

The Pathfinder is a Scout replacement that has the strength of a Warrior, which means they can actually be used effectively in combat early in the game and are much more likely to survive encounters with barbarians - even without adopting Honor. You can use them to help clear barbarian encampments for city state influence and even use them as supporting units in very-early-game wars.

However, the Pathfinder is also more expensive than the Scout or Warrior, so don't build it unless you're planning on actually exploring with it. If you send your Pathfinders out to hunt barbarians or fight wars rather than explore, then you also won't be taking advantage of their "Native Tongue" ability. This is a powerful ability that allows the Shoshone to chose the benefit that is granted by an ancient ruin. You'll get a pop-up list of all the possible rewards from a ruin (similar to selecting a free Great Person from Mayan Long Count or the Liberty finisher), and can pick which one you want. There is a global cool-down period of 2 ruins for each option. None of your Pathfinders may repeat an option chosen by any unit until after you have explored two additional ruins.

Civilization V - Shoshone Pathfinder ruin options
The various options available to a Pathfinder at the start of the game.
Lump sums of faith are not available until a set number of turns has passed.

This cooldown includes ruins explored by other units as well. So if you explore a ruin with a Pathfinder and chose a free technology, and then your Warrior explores two ruins, then your Pathfinder will be able to chose another free technology from the next ruin that he finds. Alternatively, if a non-Pathfinder unit explores a ruin, that reward is removed from the list until after two more ruins are explored. So if your Warrior got the free technology, then the Pathfinder cannot chose a free technology if he explores a ruin the following turn.

Also the option to get a lump sum of faith is not available until a certain number of turns has passed (20 turns on standard game settings).

Of course, if you disabled ancient ruins in the advanced game settings prior to starting the game, then Native Tongue (and Pathfinders in general) will be of no use to you.

Civilization V - Shoshone Pathfinder upgraded to Composite Bow
A promoted Pathfinder that has been upgraded to a Composite Bowman.

One additional perk of the Pathfinder is that if you chose the option to upgrade the unit, then it will upgrade to a Composite Bow instead of an Archer. This upgrade can give you early access to a strong early-game ranged unit. The melee strength of a Composite Bow is actually 1 less than the melee strength of the Pathfinder from which it upgraded (so it will be slightly less durable against barbarian attacks); however, the unit will retain its Native Tongue and "Ignore Terrain Movement Cost" promotion as well as any recon promotions that it obtained while it was a Pathfinder (i.e. Scouting and/or Survivalism).

When to upgrade your Pathfinder?

The Scout can be a very annoying unit. They are immensely useful at the start of the game, but the fact that they do not have an upgrade path means that they will quickly become dead weight in your standing forces. This is especially true once you can start building Horsemen and Knights. Mounted units need only one promotion in order to unlock Sentry, which makes them just as effective at exploring than a Scout (or moreso, depending on the terrain), and they can hold their own in combat with barbarians.

The Shoshone are not burdened with dead weight scouts, as the Pathfinder can be upgraded to a Composite Bow via ruins, and then follows the normal foot ranged upgrade path. You should definitely upgrade your Pathfinders at some point. But should you upgrade your Pathfinder at the first ancient ruin that he finds? Or wait to take advantage of his higher combat strength to earn some of the useful reconaissance promotions, then hope that you'll find an ancient ruin later?


Civilization V - Unclaimed continent
Don't rely on something like this happening. Upgrade Pathfinders early, so they'll remain useful the whole game.

Remember that if you have multiple Pathfinders, you can't upgrade them all immediately. So even if you find an unexplored land mass after Astronomy that still has multiple ruins, you can't pick "upgrade" twice in a row. Because of this, I highly recommend upgrading most of your Pathfinders as early as possible. You can maybe get away with leaving one or two un-upgraded so that you can acquire some reconaissance promotions; but don't leave more than two, as it will be very unlikely that you'll find more than 3 or 4 ruins, even if you beeline to Astronomy.

Comanche Riders

Civilization V: Brave New World - Shoshone Comanche Rider
Game Info: "Mounted unit that specializes in quick attacks. May only be built by the Shoshone."
Civilopedia Strategy: "The Comanche Riders replaces the Cavalry, and only the Shoshone may build it. Cheaper and faster than the base unit."

Replaces: Cavalry

Requirements: Military Science technology, 1 Horse resource, and 1 gold per turn maintenance.

Obsoleted: Combustion technology (same as Calvary)

Cost: 200 Production (-25 from Cavalry) / 450 Faith (same as Calvary) / 680 Gold (-60 from Cavalry) [Standard speed]

Attack Type: Melee, Combat Class: Mounted, Strength: 34 (same as Cavalry)

Movement Speed: 4 (same as Cavalry).

Bonuses: Can move after attacking (same as Cavalry),
Full Moon Striker promotion = +1 movement.

Penalties: No defensive terrain bonuses; Penalty attacking cities [-33%] (same as Cavalry).

Civilization V - Full Moon Striker promotion

The Comanche Riders is not a particularly impressive unit. It's base stats are the same as the regular Cavalry that it replaces, but it receives a special promotion (Full Moon Striker) that gives it an extra movement. This promo is retained on upgrade, so the Shoshone also effectively have "Comanche Tanks" and "Comanche Armour". A "Comanche Tank" fighting in friendly territory is comparable to the strength of a German Panzer, and its movement bonus is not lost on upgrade.

Full Moon Striker is a unique promotion, and so it stacks with other movement promotions such as Mobility and Lightning Warfare, which allows the Comanche Tanks and Modern Armour (8 total movement) to be faster than helicopters on flat terrain! Combined with a railroad infrastructure and Great Expanse's combat bonus when fighting in their own territory, Comanche Riders (and their upgrades) can mobilize at a moment's notice to deal with most late-game threats to your empire.

Civilization V - Shoshone Comanche Landship
A "Comanche" Landship keeps 5 MP.

If you're going on the offensive, then the extra movement will allow your Comanche units to easily surround an enemy, and to strike further inside enemy territory and pillage more land. If given the Sentry promotion, they make excellent recon units, as they can move deep into enemy territory and then easily retreat back to safety. If given Medic promotions, they can quickly move around your front lines to help heal the most damaged of your advancing units.

The Comanche Riders is also slightly cheaper than the regular Cavalry, but only by 1/8th the cost. This difference is pretty negligible, and won't noticeably affect build times in most games on standard speed or faster; however, it can be a significant advantage on epic and marathon speeds.

Try to focus on building all your Comanche Riders in a single city, so that the cheaper cost will actually manifest in noticeably lower build times. If you build several of them in a single city, then the carry-over production will result in shaving off a turn or two of total build time for the riders or any other unit or building that you construct in that city. If you already have a sizeable mounted force, then the cheaper production cost will translate to slightly cheaper upgrade costs from Knight to Comanche Rider. Whether you built the Rider or upgraded to it, be aware that the cost of upgrade from Rider to Landship is going to be a bit more expensive due to the difference in production cost.

Finding your Path with the Shoshone

The early game is very critical for the Shoshone, and at high levels, it is very important to have an idea of your long-term strategy as soon as the game loads. What you build, where you settle, and even how you explore will all depend very much on your overall plans. This civ is designed to get off to a head start, but since they lack long-term, snowballing yield bonuses like those of the Maya, Poland, Germany, Iroquois, Spain, and other civs, the Shoshone can easily be eclipsed in most demographics by the mid game. Carefully planning and maximizing your early-game benefits is, therefore, critical at high difficulty and competitive play. Of course, since you're dependent on finding ancient ruins, your plans are always prone to defeat by a poor map.

The Shoshone typically prefer a large starting landmass on which to explore and snatch up land, so they are well-suited to Pangaea-type maps. You'll start with a Pathfinder instead of the usual Warrior, which will help you to more quickly explore the map.

Civilization V - Shoshone start with Pathfinder
The Shoshone start with a Pathfinder, which gives them a big advantage in early-game exploration.
It also isn't a bad idea to build another one right away.

Instead of the usual Monument, it might be advisable to immediately begin training another Pathfinder. They're a little bit more expensive than Scouts or Warriors, but having two of them out searching for ruins early in the game is worth it. You might even want to consider assigning your citizens to work production tiles instead of the usual food tiles. This will help get that [more expensive] Pathfinder trained more quickly, and you can always chose to add population to your capital in one of the extra ruins you'll explore. From here, there's basically two approaches that you can take: peaceful exploration, or hostile exploration.

Peaceful exploration

If you decide to use your Pathfinders for benevolent exploration, then you can use them in essentially the same way that you use a regular Scout. The biggest difference is that with the higher combat strength, they can be much more effective against barbarians. If you adopt Honor early, then you can use your Pathfinders to kill any barbs or encampments that you come across in order to get some free culture and possibly some city state influence. Just be aware that every turn that you spend attacking barbarians is one less turn that you are not exploring for more ruins! If you've already reached the far edges of your continent, then go ahead and use your Pathfinders to kill barbs on the way back.

If you intend to go for a Diplomatic Victory, then you can consider adopting the Honor and Patronage (unlocks in Classical, as of BNW) openers early, so that you can use your Pathfinders / Composite Bows to efficiently kill barbs and gain early friendships and alliances with city states. Adopting Honor first will allow you to gain large chunks of culture from the barbarian kills so that you can quickly gain enough to adopt Patronage. You can then go back to filling in the Tradition or Liberty tree.

The real tough spot is trying to decide when to upgrade to a Composite Bow. If you do plan on adopting Honor and stopping to fight barbarians, then you can probably wait until you have earned a promotion or two before upgrading, especially on a large, open map. Survivalism will allow your units to heal more quickly so you can kill barbs more efficiently. It won't be long before all the ruins are gobbled up by other civs, so don't wait too long!

Other than the upgrade to Composite Bows, the first two rewards that I like to chose are culture or more population in my capital. If you find a ruin on turn 2 or 3 and take the culture, you will have almost enough for a social policy. Taking the extra population will allow you to work another tile, which will provide you with gold or production that can be used to buy or build more early-game units and buildings.

Civilization V - 2 turns from a tech Civilization V - get that tech from ruin
Don't select the free tech unless you just finished a technology!
You don't want to be given a tech that you've almost completely researched yourself, as happened above.

If I explore a ruin right after researching a tech, then I typically like to go ahead and take the free technology. This minimizes the chance of wasting the reward if the game decides to give you the tech you're already 2-turns away from researching.

Don't bother building a Shrine at the start of the game. After about 20 turns (on standard game settings), the option to take faith will appear in the list of ruin rewards. If you take this early, it will be enough faith to found a pantheon. 20 turns will have been plenty of time for you to scout the area and see if any pantheon is likely going to provide a worthwhile benefit - you don't have to build the Shrine first, in the hopes that you'll get good enough land for it to be worth it. After founding the pantheon, you can use your next policy to adopt Piety and start taking advantage of the half cost Shrines, saving yourself several turns of valuable early-game production!

Civilization V - Shoshone can delay building Shrines
Shoshone can delay Shrines until after opening Piety by using a Pathfinder to earn enough faith to adopt a Pantheon.

If you are interested in going for a Cultural victory, you can alternate between faith and culture in order to quickly found your pantheon, power through the Piety tree, get early access to religious buildings like Mosques and/or Cathedrals, and buff your religion with Sacred Sites in order to get tons of early-game tourism. This can be very effective at high difficulty levels, in which it can be very difficult to compete for the major cultural wonders.

This land is not your land! - hostile exploration

The higher strength and upgrade to the Composite Bow can be very helpful if you want to play aggressively early on. If you upgrade your Pathfinders ASAP, you'll have a handful of very strong early game units that you can use to dominate your sphere of influence. One way to impose your dominance is to assault other player's explorers at the start of the game.

Immediately upon meeting another civ's Scout or Warrior, you can declare war and attack the unsuspecting rival's unit. This will slow down your opponent's early exploration, giving you more time to hold onto exclusive access to ruins and leaving the other player more vulnerable to barbarians. You can then go back to exploring for ruins, capture enemy workers and settlers, or you can press your unit advantage and march on their cities. Very early in the game, Composite Bows are very viable city-sacking units.

It might be hard to actually kill an opponent's units with just a single Composite Bow. If you get a Scout exposed on a flatland or marsh, then you can possibly kill it in 2 hits (with very lucky combat rolls). With any defensive bonuses, it will likely take 3 shots to take down a Scout. This will give the Scout time to run away, and if you use a movement point to attack it, then you won't have enough movement to pursue and kill it. If you can slow their movement by trapping them or forcing them to move along your zone of control, then you will almost certainly be able to kill it. You can also give them a turn to get away and fortify-heal, then hunt them down and finish them off. Otherwise, you'll just be wounding it and forcing it to fortify-heal or retreat back to friendly territory. Even if the unit is allowed to live, it will have to spend about 8 or 9 turns healing, which is time that you can spend scouting the nearby area and claiming the ruins that your opponent would have otherwise explored.

Civilization V - Shoshone Pathfinder Composite Bow attacking enemy Scout
You can use your upgraded Composite Bows to attack or kill rival Scouts before they can claim valuable ruins.

If you only kill a unit or two belonging to a given A.I., you can usually still make peace (possibly taking some gold in tribute) and be spared from too much warmonger hate. They are much more willing to forgive if you don't capture their cities, and you might even still be able to make friends with them later on.

On smaller map types with only 2 or 3 civs on a continent, this can be very effective. On larger maps or pangaea-type maps (with 5 to 8 civs competing on a single continent), it can be futile. Every turn that you spend hunting down an enemy's Scout or Warrior is one less turn that you spend exploring, and one more turn that every other civ spends seeking out your precious ruins. On the highest few difficulties, this can also be futile, since A.I.s will start with extra units anyway, so they will still be able to explore effectively even if you kill one Scout or Warrior.

Expanding the Great Expanse

Once you've explored your starting area, it's time to start looking at where to settle new cities. The Shoshone are capable of grabbing lots of land very quickly. This has the upside of securing more resources, natural wonders, and strategically significant tiles, but can have the disadvantage of pushing your borders up against rival A.I.s that might not like you eating up all their nearby tiles. The Shoshone can work well with either a tall or wide empire. If you chose to go tall, you can use your cash reserves to buy the remaining tiles near your cities so that you can start gaining a buffer zone outside of your cities' maximum range. If you decide to go wide, the extra tiles will quickly fill-in your territory, preventing rivals from annexing valuable tiles before your borders can expand.

Civilization V - Shoshone claiming natural wonders
Great Expanse allows Shoshone to land grab valuable tiles such as natural wonders.

The primary benefit of Great Expanse is that it allows you to quickly grab resource tiles, even if the city is not adjacent to them. This reduces the risk that a neighboring civ or city state will get those valuable tiles before you, and it means that you'll be able to improve and work those tiles sooner. Even if the game doesn't give you the tile you want, you can purchase additional tiles at the same cost as if you hadn't been given the free tiles. Use this ability to make sure that each of your newly-founded cities will have access to distinct luxuries, additional strategic resources, and/or natural wonders.

Earlier in the game, you won't have the population in new cities to work those extra tiles, so the ability isn't quite as useful. The ability actually gets better later in the game, when you can use trade routes to quickly grow your new cities, or use Order's Resettlement tenet to give your new cities extra population.

One hidden value of Great Expanse is that you can use it to create a solid wall of borders early in the game that other civ's units cannot cross. Depending on the shape and size of the map, this could allow you to effectively prevent rival civs from exploring sections of a continent. This can give you exclusive access to city states, ruins, barbarian XP farms, resources, and natural wonders until you either sign open borders (requires Civil Service) or your opponent declares war or researches Astronomy in order to go around your borders.

Making a Custer out of your enemies

The Shoshone also receive a combat bonus for land units fighting within their territory. This applies to both defending and attacking units! This makes the Shoshone very good at playing a defensive turtle strategy similar to Morocco.

By placing your border cities near natural choke points, you can force your enemies to have to funnel their units into a smaller space that will allow you to firmly entrench your own units and pick off the enemy's units using your combat advantage. Defensive wonders such as the Great Wall, Himeji Castle, and Red Fort, as well as Order's Patriotic War (which adds another +15% attack bonus inside friendly territory) and the Defenders of the Faith enhancer belief (combat bonus near friendly cities that follow your religion), can help make your lands virtually impenetrable with even a modest defensive fighting force.

Civilization V - Shoshone claiming isthmus
Settling in strategically valuable locations and chokepoints will force enemies to engage you within your territory.

If you go down the Commerce policy tree and adopt Mercenary Army, you can maintain a minimal standing army in the mid-game and just purchase Landsknechts if an aggressor tries to take advantage of your apparent weakness. Having a minimal standing army will greatly reduce your maintenance costs, giving you more money for buying buildings (such as Universities or Museums needed for Science and Cultural victories, respectively) or purchasing resources from other civs to boost your happiness and support further growth.

Civilization V - Pride of Ancestors doesn't apply to ranged targets outside of your borders
Remember that you do not get the bonus from Pride of the Ancestors if you are attacking a target that is outside of your borders.

Remember not to station defensive units on your border. Instead, station your front-line melee units 1 tile inside your borders, and station your ranged units behind them. This will force attacking enemies to move into your territory in order to engage you, which will allow you to counter attack with your own ranged units while the enemy is within your territory.

By forcing any would-be aggressor to fight you within your own territory, on your own terms, you can potentially lay waste to even the formidable armies of Zulu, Japan, Assyria, and other warmongers.

But you don't have to stick to a turtle strategy. The Shoshone can also be a potent force on the offensive.

Having a combat bonus in your own territory means that you can defend your lands with a minimal defensive force. That can leave the majority of your army to be used for offensive wars. If you can bait your enemies to invade you first, then you can start the engagement on your own turf, use the combat bonus to annihilate their first wave of attackers, then move in to capture their cities while they are weakened.

Civilization V - defensive Shoshone Civilization V - Shoshone on offensive
[LEFT] Pride of the Ancestors allows you to defend your land from would-be aggressors with a minimal army.
[RIGHT] You can then use Citadels to use your bonus offensively.

Since the combat bonus from Pride of the Ancestors is the same as the bonus of a nearby great general, you can use your generals to plop citadels on the front lines and gain land without having to give up the combat bonus. You do lose a little bit of range (since generals give bonuses to units 2 tiles away, while Citadels only claim adjacent tiles), but the defensive bonus of the Citadel and the automatic damage it applies to adjacent enemies can make up for that difference. Of course, if you have multiple generals, then you can use one to plop a citadel, and then stack the combat bonus with the existing general.

Then, once you have made peace, you can just replace the Citadels with improvements if they are no longer needed for defensive purposes.

Later in the game, you can use your fast Comanche Riders to harass the enemy by moving in, pillaging their lands, and then moving out - especially when upgraded to Landships if you have adopted Autocracy's Lightning Warfare tenet (which allows your armour units to ignore enemy zone of control). If you've been aggressive throughout the whole game, then you will likely have at least a couple very well-promoted ranged units (the ones upgraded from Pathfinders). A Gatling Gun or Machine Gun with Survivalism II, March, and Range is an exceptionally potent offensive weapon! Similarly, a Machine Gun with Scouting II can also make an excellent defensive unit to station along the border.

Shriveling Pocatello's "Great Expanse" - countering the Shoshone

The Shoshone's uniques don't favor any particular strategy, so an opponent can really go in any direction they want with this civ. Their defensive bonuses can really throw a wrench in any opponent's potential domination plans. Pocatello's A.I. is very middle-of-the-road in almost every category. He does seem to favor building defensive wonders such as the Great Wall and Himeji Castle, and I have never seen him not adopt the Order Ideology (so Patriotic War will likely eventually be adopted). I've also noticed that he can become quite aggressive in the later-game. You will also want to watch out for the Goddess of Protection pantheon and Defenders of the Faith enhancer belief. If there are other defensive-minded civs in the game (such as Brazil, India, or Iroquois), then Shoshone will have to compete with them for these wonders and may [fortunately] lose those contests (especially if Iroquois is present).

Civilization V - Shoshone buffed with Himeji and Patriotic War
A Shoshone unit with Pride of the Ancestors, Himeji Castle, Defenders of the Faith, and Patriotic War buffs (+65%).
Fortunately, Patriotic War only works when the unit is attacking, and so doesn't apply when defending.

You can't really do much to stop their Pathfinder. Their higher combat strength and ability to upgrade to Composite Bows means that you'll likely have to try to keep your distance and avoid antagonizing Shoshone early in the game. Fortunately, Pocatello's A.I. is generally non-aggressive in the early game, so he won't Composite Bow rush you on turn 20 like you might expect from Montezuma or Shaka.

The Shoshone can eat up land very quickly, and Pocatello's A.I. does favor rapid expansion and large city growth. His expansive borders will likely mean that he will have access to more luxuries and strategic resources than some other civs, so he'll likely be able to afford the happiness to maintain more cities and larger populations, as well as a potent defensive army dominated by mounted units. If you spawn next to the Shoshone, then you may have to accelerate your expansion plans so that you can claim the ideal city locations and resources before they do.

Shoshone get some early-game advantages, but they are all immediate, one-time bonuses. If you focus on any particular demographic, you can usually catch up and surpass them without too much trouble.

It's a TRAP!

Expect a human player to get off to a really strong start with the Shoshone, as a human player will be much better at exploring and making optimal choices from ancient ruins. They are likely to get off to an early lead in social policies and technology, and may even be the first to adopt a pantheon (assuming Celts, Ethiopians, or Maya are not in the game). A human player is also much more likely than the A.I. to use Composite Bows against you in the very early game, so be prepared to have to quickly build a handful of Spearmen, Barracks, and Walls to defend yourself if your Shoshone neighbor decides to go on the warpath.

Do not pursue Shoshone units into their own land unless you have a tech lead or raw numbers advantage, as their combat bonus in their own lands can allow them to lay waste to your army. As long as you keep your own units outside of their territory, you will be spared the effects of Pride of the Ancestors. You may also want to prepare yourself for a possible Citadel standoff, as a human Shoshone player is likely try to expand the reach of his combat bonus by plopping citadels. The only way to counter this is to have your own generals plop citadels to reclaim the land. This could result in a chain of citadels, especially if the Shoshone are facing off against Mongolia, Japan, or China (who have bonuses towards generals).

Civilization V - citadel standoff
Citadel stand-off.

The only exception to the "do not pursue" rule is in naval engagements. Even though the Great Expanse description doesn't say so, the Pride of the Ancestors promotion is only given to land units. Naval units do not get the combat bonus in Shoshone territory! Also, Shoshone cities do not have a combat bonus. This means that if you are a naval-focused civ such as England, Ottomans, Dutch, Indonesia, or Vikings, then you will have a decisive advantage if Shoshone have coastal cities worth capturing.

An ideal civ for beginners?

I've been reading and hearing some players say that the Shoshone are a very good civ for a beginner due to the early game bonuses and the Pathfinder. I'm not entirely sure that I agree with this. Great Expanse does drastically simplify the early game for many new players, since they will quickly have access to their nearby luxuries without having to worry about learning how to buy tiles, and the defensive bonuses will help them defend their land without having to invest too much in defensive units. However, I think the Pathfinder can actually be detrimental to beginning players for two reasons:

  1. Giving players the early-game choices from ancient ruins (a.k.a. "goody huts") can be overwhelming.
  2. The Shoshone are encouraged to spam Pathfinders, which do not upgrade (except through ruins), so the new player may get stuck with a whole army of Pathfinders that will quickly become worthless and expensive.
A new player who doesn't understand the mechanics or function of the various yields isn't going to have any clue which options to pick because he or she won't know what any of them do. This has the potential to be off-putting. One of the great things about Civ (Civ V, in particular) is its relatively low bar of entry. The game starts out with very little for the player to do or think about and slowly builds up the mechanics one at a time. Hitting an ancient ruin with a Pathfinder kind of throws a bunch of mechanics in the new player's face right out of the gate.

As such, I do not recommend the Shoshone for brand new players who do not understand the game's mechanics yet. If you are an experienced Civ player who understands the basic mechanics and yields - but are new to BNW - then Shoshone are a good place to start.


Discuss this strategy on Civfanatics:

or on the official 2K Civilization V forums:

Listen to the discussion on PolyCast, Episode 198, 37m05s (May 3, 2014):

Other Civilization V Strategies

America (BNW)America (BNW)
Arabia (BNW)Arabia (BNW)
Carthage (BNW)Carthage (BNW)
France (BNW)France (BNW)
Germany (BNW)Germany (BNW)
India (BNW)India (BNW)
Iroquois (BNW)Iroquois (BNW)
Japan (BNW)Japan (BNW)
Ottomans (BNW)Ottomans (BNW)
Rome (BNW)Rome (BNW)

Comments (1) -

Absolut Travis
Absolut Travis
07/15/2014 02:45:16 #

Thanks for the guide!

I'm new to Civ overall, beside Civ Revolutions on Xbox, and I found this really helpful. The Shoshone were one of the first empires I tried using, and I guess I didn't get the jumpstart I needed. I'm going to give them another shot though!

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