Religion and espionage have long been influential in the development of nations since man first started gathering together. “Civilization V: Gods & Kings” reintroduces those two elements to their successful turn-based strategy franchise in their new expansion pack.
Spies and religion have returned, and raised the level of strategic, long-term planning for players. Both elements impact the game, but at different times in history – faith and religion early in the game and spies later on.
Losing (And Regaining) My Religion
Religion was included in “Civilization IV,” still one of the most popular games in the franchise, but was left out when “Civ V” was released. Faith is a resource that is grown much like gold or science. Players can gather faith by building shrines, temples or mosques. Accumulate enough faith and you can start your own pantheon.
The pantheon will be the basis for creating a religion later and gives players bonuses mainly based on your surrounding terrain. Choose wisely, because you may need to clear-cut some of that terrain later in the game and lose some of your pantheon benefits.
Gain enough faith and you will get a Great Prophet, who will help you found a new religion. This opens up more benefits through founder and follower beliefs. You can also customize your religion with its own name and icon.
The beliefs offer additional resources when your religion expands, or benefits to cities who follow your faith. There are also benefits if you decide to go to war or maintain peace on the homefront.
Spreading your religion happens naturally within friendly cities. Players can also “force” religious change through the use of missionaries (to spread the good word) or inquisitors (to eliminate other religions in cities).
Religion also helps dealings with city-states, and can make other civilizations that follow your religion look at you more favorably. There is also a social policy branch called Piety offering faith bonuses.
You’ll want to develop your religion early to take advantage of its benefits. As the game moved toward the later eras, the value began to wane as new science advancements make some beliefs useless. Also, not every country gets to found a religion so don’t be late and get left out.
Secret Agent Man
Spies were also conspicuously missing when “Civilization V” was released, but have been re-imagined and included in the expansion pack.
Instead of an actual unit on the map, spies are stealth units that you can place using a menu in cities and city-states to see what’s going on. Players recruit their first spy when any civilization hits the Renaissance era. Actually, all civilizations get a spy at that time, so be prepared for sneaky stuff from that point on.
New spies are recruited as each player crosses over into a new era. One new spy also becomes available with the construction of the National Intelligence Agency wonder.
Utilized well, spies are great for evening up the technology race. Place them in a foreign city and they can steal new tech for your nation. While in that city, they can also listen to intrigue and find out what the other country is planning.
Are they plotting an attack on a neighboring country? You can rat them out and gain favor with their opposition. Spies will also let you know if you may be the target of a troop build-up near the borders.
Be sure to keep a spy or two in your own cities to thwart opposing espionage. Moving spies around also lets you keep an eye on all your opposition and also find out who might be ready for an invasion of your forces.
Your spies can also influence city-states by rigging their elections, winning your favor (and resources) while reducing the influence of other religions.
Is It Enough?
There are nine new leaders and nine new civilizations to conquer in ”Gods & Kings.” Each has their own special units and abilities that will need to be accounted for and exploited whenever possible.
The reintroduction of religion and spies will help fill the gaps many fans of the franchise felt existed in “Civilization V.” The use of religion early and spies later in the game adds another level of thought and planning that long-time players will enjoy.
Will the additions bring back those players who lost faith in the franchise after the fifth title’s release? Maybe, but, as some have said on forum pages, faith and espionage should have been there all along.
“Civilization V: Gods & Kings” is an expansion pack for “Civilization V.” It will be released on June 19 for Windows PC and Mac OS X. It is rated E 10+ for everyone 10 years of age and older due to drug reference, mild language, suggestive themes, and violence. This review was done with a provided digital download through Steam.