Sid Meier’s Civilization® VI

With so many famous historical figures to choose from, how does Firaxis decide which characters to include in each installment of Civilization? Ghandi's a given, obviously, but even then the surprisingly nuke-happy pacifist doesn't represent every aspect of India. In a panel at the recent PC Gamer Weekender, Firaxis' senior producer Andrew Frederiksen, and the DLC's lead designer Anton Strenger, explained how they came up with the cast of characters for Civ 6's Rise and Fall expansion.

This time around, they wanted a cast that would fit with Rise and Fall's Dynamic Empire's system, which sees empires rising and, well, falling over distinct historical eras. The team picked figures who would embody this theme, but who would also meet fan expectations, and sometimes surprise them, which sounds like a delicate balance to achieve. They wanted a diverse cast from a variety of historical periods, who would also look rather good standing next to each other in a cast photo.

As Fraser noted in his positive review, Rise and Fall introduces several new or returning civilizations, including the Cree, Scotland, Korea and the Netherlands. Naturally, the inclusion of new civs allowed the team to geek out and research the historical figures who would be the most appropriate figureheads for each civilization.

Frederiksen and Strenger discuss the base game's strengths and weaknesses in the full panel, below, while explaining their reasoning for the changes made for the recent Rise and Fall expansion. Ultimately, they wanted to improve Civ's capacity for emergent storytelling, something that lead to the creation of the Dynamic Empires system.

Sid Meier’s Civilization® VI - 2kschug
A new update is available for Sid Meier’s Civilization VI today. This update will automatically install when starting the Steam client; if it doesn’t install automatically, please restart Steam. To our modding community, the below patch may require you to update your mods.

For the best gameplay experience, we recommend disabling mods until they have been updated by the mod creators to be compatible with this latest patch. Loading an old save or configuration that was created using mods will re-enable those mods.

Firaxis Games and 2K are committed to making Civilization VI the best experience possible and will continue to support the title. If you have any feedback on this update or just the game in general, please let us know in the Steam forums or comment below.

Civilization VI Update
  • Fixed an issue where the user could not access the builder that is awarded when the Eagle Warrior kills an enemy unit in a standard ruleset game.
  • Fixed America's Founding Fathers ability to function when progressing through a Standard Rules match.
  • Fixed an issue where a trader could lose functionality resulting in placeholder/debug string being displayed when war is declared through an emergency with a civ the user has trade routes to.
  • Fixed a crash that could happen when starting a new game under certain conditions.
  • Fixed an issue where the user could crash after attempting to join a Full game in the Multiplayer lobby.
“Rise and Fall” Expansion Update
  • Fixed the Letters of Marque Dark Policy to double the Yields from plundering a trade route when viewed during gameplay.
Sid Meier’s Civilization® VI - (Adam Smith)


Civilization is at its worst when you’re winning. Success breeds complacency as you click the end turn button and acknowledge the news of great accomplishments with the practiced apathy of a regent signing papers on behalf of an infant king. There is an inevitability about your empire’s march through history and it’s easy to feel like a passive pawn.

Rise and Fall, the first major expansion for Civ VI, attempts to address this by introducing global crises, dark ages and citizen loyalty. It gets about half of the job spot on; the fall is much better than the rise.


Sid Meier’s Civilization® VI - (Alice O'Connor)


The beating of a million drumsThe fire of a million gunsThe mother of a million sonsSid Meier’s Civilization

The looping march through history continues today with the launch of Civilization IV: Rise And Fall, the first full expansion for 2016’s turn-based 4X strategy sequel. Rise And Fall rolls with the ebb and flow of history, with different Great Ages bringing new challenges and bonuses, alliances that grow stronger over time, era goals, ’emergency’ pacts uniting civs against powerful opponents, and more. And obvs it also adds new civilisations, units, wonders, and so on.


Sid Meier’s Civilization® VI - 2kschug
Civilization VI: Rise and Fall is now available! Get the new expansion here:

Please note: For the best gameplay experience, we recommend disabling mods until they have been updated by the mod creators to be compatible with the “Rise and Fall” expansion and latest patch. Loading an old save or configuration that was created using mods will re-enable those mods.

Civilization VI: Rise and Fall builds upon the critically-acclaimed gameplay experience of Civilization VI giving players new choices, strategies, and challenges as they guide a civilization through the ages. The expansion introduces new Golden Ages and Dark Ages, a new city Loyalty system, and Governors who can be stationed in players’ cities. Civilization VI: Rise and Fall also adds nine new leaders and eight new civilizations, including returning fan favorites Shaka leading the Zulu and Genghis Khan leading Mongolia, alongside newcomers in a Civilization game for the first time such as Queen Seondeok leading Korea and Robert the Bruce leading Scotland.

Key features for Sid Meier’s Civilization VI: Rise and Fall include:

GREAT AGES: As your civilization ebbs and flows, and you reach milestone Historic Moments, you will experience Dark Ages or Golden Ages, each providing specific challenges or bonuses based on your actions in-game. Rise triumphantly from a Dark Age, and your next Golden Age will be even stronger – a Heroic Age.

LOYALTY: Cities now have individual Loyalty to your leadership – let it fall too low, and face the potential to lose your city to its own independence. One civilization’s loss can be your gain as you inspire Loyalty among Free Cities throughout the map and further expand your borders. 

GOVERNORS: Recruit, appoint, and upgrade powerful characters with unique specialization bonuses and promotion trees to customize your cities, and reinforce Loyalty.

ENHANCED ALLIANCES: An enhanced alliances system allows players to form different types of alliances and build bonuses over time.

EMERGENCIES:  When a civilization grows too powerful, other civilizations can join a pact against the threatening civilization and earn rewards, or penalties, when the Emergency ends.

TIMELINE: Review your civilization’s history at any time with the new Timeline feature, a visual journey through the Historic Moments that you encountered on your path to victory.

NEW LEADERS AND CIVS:  Nine leaders and eight new civilizations are introduced. Each brings unique bonuses and gameplay, as well as a total of eight unique units, two unique buildings, four unique improvements, and two unique districts.

NEW GLOBAL CONTENT: Eight new world wonders, seven natural wonders, four new units, two new tile improvements, two new districts, fourteen new buildings, and three new resources have been added.

IMPROVED GAMEPLAY SYSTEMS:  The Government system has been enhanced with new Policies and additional improvements have been made to existing systems.

Watch our Features Video to learn more about all the new features in Civilization VI: Rise and Fall.

Follow the conversation on social media by using the hashtag #OneMoreTurn, and be sure to follow the Civilization franchise on social media to keep up to date with the latest news and information on Sid Meier’s Civilization VI.
Sid Meier’s Civilization® VI - 2kschug
We're live on the Civilization VI Steam Store Page showing off Shaka of the Zulu and all the new features in Civilization VI: Rise and Fall.

Join us here!
Sid Meier’s Civilization® VI

It's hard to make a new strategy game that can compete with Civilization—even when that new strategy game is also Civilization. When Civilization 6 released on Steam in October 2016, it peaked at more than 160,000 concurrent players, quite a feat for any new game. But after the excitement of its first month, Civilization 6 has failed to surpass Civilization 5 in terms of regular players, according to Steamcharts. It’s gotten pretty close in recent weeks as expansion hype for Rise and Fall builds, but Civ 5 still holds the edge. Similarly, community members reported that Twitch viewership between the two games tended to favor Civ 5 prior to press and streamers receiving pre-release code for the expansion (though we were not able to independently verify this).

Why is this? Why are 4X fans (at least on Steam) still sticking to the old warhorse rather than moving on to the new hotness? Is it discontent with changes made in the newer iteration? Is it the price difference? Was Civ 5 just that good?

To unravel the mystery, we surveyed Civ players on Twitter, the Civilization subreddit, the CivFanatics forums, the Civilization 5 and 6 communities on Steam, and a handful of Civ-centric or Civ-friendly Discord servers. The results aren't scientific, but the responses give us some insight into 2010's enduringly beloved Civilization. 

Question 1: Which Civ game do you currently play most often? 

As it turns out, the survey results don’t reflect SteamSpy’s numbers right off the bat. Almost 57 percent reported that Civ 6 is already their main jam, with Civ 5 coming in second at a respectable 40.7 percent. Write-in responses mentioned no longer playing Civ, bouncing between multiple games, and at least one respondent who insisted their favorite Civ game was Europa Universalis IV. (I swear I didn’t vote in my own poll.)

A discrepancy between responses in a voluntary survey and actual player numbers isn’t that wild. But we may also be able to infer from this that the players who are very active in the Civ community have already adopted Civ 6 more widely than the general player base. A comment from Reddit user Reutermo seems to endorse this idea."I think that Civ players are a bit different than a lot of other gamers," he writes. "I know some people, especially older ones, who don't really play any other games except for Civilization. They treat the game like solitaire. They don't really need a new version, they already have theirs."

So the difference in player numbers may be made up not by active forum posters and redditors who devour new leader announcements and discuss optimal city layouts. A lot of those still playing older Civs might be someone more like your friend’s dad who doesn’t own anything else on Steam and makes a go of casually conquering the world over morning coffee. Again, we can only speculate—but I’m drawn to this theory, as it can serve as a reminder that the vocal online community for any given game is often not representative of the larger base including casual, solo, and offline players.

Image via Steamcharts

Question 2: When Civ 5 came out, how long did it take to become your "go-to" Civ game? 

Here we can see pretty clearly that Civ 5 had early adopter problems of its own. While SteamSpy data isn’t available going back that far, the most popular answer was "after two expansions," coming in at about 41 percent. 35 percent switched over right away, 15 percent more were sold after Gods & Kings, and just over nine percent said Civ 5 never became their go-to game (either because they stuck with an older iteration like Civ 4, or because Civ 6 was their first—I was silly and didn’t think to separate these two possibilities into their own responses).

Reddit user J-Codo gives some voice to this phenomenon: "Civ V was regularly denounced until the DLCs came out. Give it time, Civ VI is the better game."

And he’s not wrong. Many Civ 4 die-hards criticized changes like only allowing one military unit per tile, and the lack of features like religion in the initial release of Civ 5. In my personal experience, I switched to Civ 5 pretty early on—but it wasn’t until after the second expansion, Brave New World, that it really felt like a complete game.

Question 3: How does Civ 6 currently compare in quality to older Civ games? 

This was the most divisive question, with roughly a quarter of respondents each deeming it somewhat better, about equal, or somewhat worse. Overall, those that said it was somewhat or much better outnumbered those who said it was somewhat or much worse—43.2 percent versus 31.8 percent, respectively. If you add up all those that said it was at least as good as older Civs, we can see that around 68 percent don’t view Civ 6 as a step in the wrong direction when all things are considered.

It may be telling that the most popular answer, by a narrow margin, was "about equal." When you correct for other factors like price, that may tell us something about why many haven’t seen a compelling reason to jump ship at this point.

Question 4: If you are currently still playing Civ 5 or another older Civ as your main Civ game, what factors are most keeping you from switching to Civ 6? 

This question was specifically targeted at those who are not currently playing Civ 6 as their main Civ game. It received 208 responses, while 229 survey-takers skipped it. Respondents were instructed to select all factors that applied to them.

The most popular answer was "Missing features I liked in past Civ games," with over 55 percent of respondents claiming this affected their choice. The second most common gripe was the art style and graphics, with around 44 percent. 

27.5 percent proclaim Civ 6 is already the best in the series. A close second, at 24.7 percent, believe it will take its place at the top after two expansions

The third most common response was the write-in "Other" category, where the most common complaint was about the AI of non-player civs. This was a problem for 30 percent of write-ins and roughly nine percent of those who answered this question altogether. 6.7 percent lamented that Civ 6 was not as moddable, and/or that one of their favorite mods had not carried over from Civ 5 to Civ 6—with Civ 5’s Vox Populi mod being called out by name more than any other.

Around 32 percent criticized the user interface. A handful of others expressed that the price of Civ 6 was currently too high, or that they were waiting until all of the expansions came out to be able to buy them together as a bundle. This is definitely a major factor to consider, as Civ 5 Complete Edition has been available for as little as $12 on sale, whereas I was not able to find the base game for Civ 6 (excluding any DLC) available for less than $30 anywhere other than shady-looking key resellers (though it was recently in January's Humble Monthly Bundle).As Reddit user Portugal_TheDude put it, "I think some of this comparison is just blown out of the water. One game has been around for a lot longer, is cheaper, and has had two dedicated expansions and tons of DLC. [Civ 6] is way further along than [Civ 5] was at this point in its life cycle." Several others agreed that Civ 6 at launch was better than Civ 5 after its first expansion, and if we compared them outside of time, it wasn’t until the second expansion that Civ 5 surpassed the launch version of Civ 6 in quality.

Question 5: When do you think Civ 6 will catch up to or surpass past Civ games for you? 

The most common answer once again supports the idea that our pool of respondents have already embraced Civ 6, with 27.5 percent proclaiming that it’s already the best in the series. A close second, at 24.7 percent, believe it will take its place at the top after two expansions. Meanwhile 16.7 percent trust that Rise and Fall will give it the boost it needs to beat out its older siblings. At least 12.6 percent believe that their grievances couldn’t be addressed with an expansion, but rather fundamental changes to the base game would need to be made.

Of the write-in answers, the most commonly-cited demand was better mod support. Others once again brought up the poor AI, performance optimization, or some combination of the above. One respondent said, "When my friends buy & are willing to play multiplayer." This gives us perhaps a further hint. Even if you’re in a position to buy every brand new strategy game the day it comes out, being a part of a larger group who devotes less of their budget or energy toward having the latest version of things could cause you to hold back until the entire gang is ready to move on.

Question 6: How do you feel about Rise and Fall based on what you've seen so far? It will make Civ 6… 

The resounding majority seems to view Rise and Fall as a step in the right direction. 32.7 percent said it would make Civ 6 much better and 48 percent said somewhat better, for a total of over 80 percent feeling optimistic. Less than two percent felt it would make the game somewhat or much worse overall, and around 11 percent said they hadn’t been following news about the expansion.  

Question 7: Describe the features and changes you'd like to see in an ideal Civ 6 expansion. If Civ 6 is not currently your main Civ, focus on what would make it surpass other Civ games for you. 

This question received 228 answers, and the most commonly cited feature by far was better AI, referenced by 33.7 percent of the comments. Not far behind was the return of the UN/World Congress and Diplomatic Victory, which was mentioned in some form by 27.6 percent of respondents, and a similar number said they wanted more diplomatic options in general. Roughly 21 percent said they would like to see changes to armies, with a focus one tweaking or adding to the current military tech tree and/or overhauling movement rules.

Around 11 percent expressed a desire for more new civs or more alternate leaders for existing civs, and another 11 percent expressed dissatisfaction with the current Religion and Theological Combat mechanics—some calling for a total overhaul of the system. Nine percent brought up better mod support once again. 7.7 percent were unhappy with how districts currently work, and another 6.7 percent didn’t like the current government and policies system.

At least a handful of respondents felt Firaxis hadn’t been daring enough. "I'd like them to really be bold," one commented. "They said since Civ 6 included most of the systems from [Civ] 5 in its base game so they could expand into new territory. I like Rise and Fall but I feel it's playing it too safe. Not ambitious enough for my tastes."

Putting it All Together 

Much like the age-old questions, "Why did the Roman Empire fall?" and "Why wouldn’t Heather go to prom with me?", this is probably a quandary without a single, simple answer. At least a sizeable portion of the active, online community has already switched happily to Civ 6. Of those who haven’t, factors from price to features to aesthetics all play roles of varying importance to various people. For some, it has nothing to do with how good Civ 6 is. They’re simply content with Civ 5. And I can’t blame them—Civ 5 remains one of my favorite strategy games of all time, while I’m not sure Civ 6 would make that list just yet. The march of expansions and Steam sales will tell how long it takes for Sid’s latest flagship to overtake its predecessors. Until then, I will leave you with the definitive, final word from the immortal Ice T: 

Sid Meier’s Civilization® VI - 2kschug
A new update is available for Sid Meier’s Civilization VI today. This update will automatically install when starting the Steam client; if it doesn’t install automatically, please restart Steam. To our modding community, the below patch (as well as the addition of the Civilization VI: Rise and Fall expansion) may require you to update your mods, as certain interface and backend adjustments have been made.

This patch is only for the Civilization VI base game and is being released prior to the “Rise and Fall” expansion. Please note that this update does not include the “Rise and Fall” expansion. Civilization VI: Rise and Fall will be available to download at 00:00 ET on 2/8/18.

Firaxis Games and 2K are committed to making Civilization VI the best experience possible and will continue to support the title. If you have any feedback on this update or just the game in general, please let us know in the 2K Forums. Stay civilized!

Please note: For the best gameplay experience, we recommend disabling mods until they have been updated by the mod creators to be compatible with the “Rise and Fall” expansion and latest patch. Loading an old save or configuration that was created using mods will re-enable those mods.


  • Rework start position algorithm to spread major powers evenly across the map first and then insert city-states in the margins.  Results in improved distances between Civilizations and better quality for major civ start positions.
  • Add notification about production salvaged from a Wonder. Make sure that production is credited.
  • Diplomatic actions now scale with game speed.
  • Government Policies that increase production on Melee class units now include Anti-Cavalry class units.
  • Change tech boost for Steel to add a soft prerequisite that hints you probably want Ironclads before Destroyers.
  • Barbarian difficulty has been updated to scale with each difficulty level. (Warlord, Prince, King etc...)
  • Healing plunder reward from Farms reduced from 100 to 50.
  • ‘Sack’ government policy has been removed and its effects have been added to the ‘Raid’ policy.
  • Naval combat changes – Bombard land units are now more effective against naval units, Ranged land units are less effective against naval units.
  • Pillage rewards are now displayed in the tooltip of the Pillage action button.
  • Boost number of random Apostle Promotions from 2 to 3.
  • Reduce Science per population from 0.7 down to 0.5.
  • Great Admirals and Great Generals have a combat bonus and a movement bonus, they no longer stack.
  • Gold and Faith rewards from Tribal Villages now scale with Game Speed.
  • Apostles could run out of random promotions to choose from.
  • If a spy is traveling to a city that changes hands, abort travel and return them to your capital.
  • Warrior Monks now benefit from Great Generals and can earn the Spear of Fionn promotion.
  • Abundant resource will spawn sea luxuries.
  • Units levied from a city-state will now retain any promotions earned while controlled by a player.
  • Fixed several issues with obsolete units appearing in the production menu for a city.
  • Fortified units will now properly ‘wake up’ after being attacked.
  • Fortified or Sleeping units that have been expelled from a city will now properly ‘wake up’.
  • Support units can now be levied from City-States.
  • Fixed a bug preventing Ranged Cavalry class units from receiving the combat bonus from the Spear of Fionn ability.
  • Fixed an issue with embarked units not being able to heal in friendly territory.
  • Properly abort all spy missions if a city changes hands.
  • Fixed an issue that caused zone of control UI to show between religious units of the same player.
  • Properly update siege status of a city when units die, are deleted, etc.
  • Don’t award a Spread Religion charge to Gurus from the Mosque.
  • Make sure losing Kandy as an ally doesn’t interfere with the Reliquaries belief.
  • Fixed an issue that was causing the AI to send multiple spies on the same mission.
  • AI will look at graphic change on spaceports, and can target their spies to spaceports that are performing their science victory projects.
  • Improved opportunity cost considerations for district placement.
  • Improve ability to place / use aqueducts.
  • AI knows to move builders back into their territory if they get caught outside.
  • AI will not complain about stealth units it can’t see being too close to its border.
  • AI is much less likely to trade its cities away as part of a peace deal.
  • Improved resource trading, AI considers luxury resources it is currently importing.
  • Improved new city placement, also fixed issues where the settler would try to travel through hostile territory to get an escort.
  • AI prefers garrisoning ranged units over melee.
  • If the AI can capture, or significantly damage, a target city, it may ignore hostile units nearby to do that.
  • Fixed coordinating ranged attacks.
  • Changing default Resources option to Standard for multiplayer. There is a map generation issue where setting Resources to Abundant and StartPosition to Balanced results in civ starting positions being too close together.
  • Players could not ready up when dirty from another match.
  • Improved stability when players connect to or disconnect from launching games.
  • Pausing the game could desync multiplayer games.
  • Missing official content icon was not working in the multiplayer lobby.
  • Improved stability when game host leaves game in multiplayer.
  • Made sure you can’t declare war on a Teammate.
  • Properly credit Kongo with 1 Culture, 1 Tourism if multiple works from the same artist are in the Palace.
  • Don’t give the Hansa bonuses for adjacent Antiquity Sites/Shipwrecks.
  • Allow India to train Warrior Monks if 1 follower of that religion is in the city.
  • Fix Arabia’s unique ability so only FOREIGN cities following their religion that add Science.
  • If the Kongo captures a city-state, don’t let them grab a Holy Site.
  • Show turns until Anarchy clears.
  • Show turns until Friendship lapses.
  • Defeated notification indicates whether a city-state or full civ was eliminated.
  • Remove warmonger information on the Keep City dialog if city received in a trade.
  • Only allow religious units to Rest/Repair on tiles where they are close enough to a Holy Site to actually heal.
  • Do not hide Casus Belli sub-menu if a denouncement has not occurred (so the reason that war can't be declared is clearer to the player).
  • Show turns until Denouncement clears.
  • Correct timing of Culture Victory imminent message.
  • Add notification if an enemy spy escaped your police.
  • Emphasized several notifications indicating negative effects on the player.
  • Civilopedia bug fixes and improvements.
  • Trade Route panel bug fixes and improvements.
  • Corrected an Issue where incorrect team numbers were displayed.
  • Add whether or not an original capital was conquered or not to the associated gossip message.
  • Show requirements for each Casus Belli when that option is grayed out.
  • Fixed map pin corruption when deleting and adding map pins.
  • Version mismatched games are colored differently in multiplayer lobby.
  • If multiple players are affected by a nuclear attack, the Declare War warning dialog will now appropriately list all players involved.
  • Always show the player’s own cities first in the list of trade route destinations.
  • New Barbarian Scout skin.
  • Animation fix for Gorgo.
  • Various text updates and bug fixes.
Sid Meier’s Civilization® VI

The upcoming Civilization 6: Rise and Fall expansion will add the Zulu to the roster of nations, led by Shaka, the illegitimate son of a Zulu chief who would suffer exile and humiliation before finding his place as a warrior in the ibutho, eventually rising to become one of the most influential rulers of the Zulu Kingdom. 

The unique Zulu unit is the Impi, a light, highly-disciplined force that is less expensive than other combat units of the same era, has an increased flanking bonus, and earns experience at an increased rate. The unique district is the Ikanda, a self-sufficient, fortified homestead that provides additional housing and, when prerequisites are met, enables Corps and Armies to be built outright.

Shaka's unique ability, Amabutho, reflects his commitment to the constant, harsh training of his troops, and enables him to form Corps and Armies earlier than other leaders, with additional Base Combat Strength. The Zulu civ ability is Isibongo, awarding bonus loyalty to conquered cities when garrisoned and automatically upgrading units that conquer them into a Corps or Army when the proper Civics prerequisites are unlocked. 

Shaka was a deft politician and an outstanding military commander whose military innovations helped make the Zulu one of the most powerful and feared nations in southern Africa. But his rule was far from peaceful, and the death of his mother in 1827 led to a period of mandated grieving that resulted in the deaths of as many of 7,000 of his people. He was ultimately assassinated by his two half-brothers. Try to do better. 

Civilization 6: Rise and Fall comes out on February 8. We spent 150 turns with it earlier this month.   

Sid Meier’s Civilization® VI - 2kschug

Unquestionably one of military history’s greatest commanders, Shaka’s reforms to the Zulu armies gave them efficiency, organization, and lethality – making the impi one of the most feared forces in the world. Equally notable are Shaka’s wrath and grief which resulted in thousands of lives lost on the African continent.

He was born the illegitimate son of Zulu chief Senzangakhona, and Nandi, the daughter of a Langeni chief. The Zulu chieftain would eventually exile Nandi and Shaka. Driven out and scorned, Nandi found safe haven with the Mthethwa chief, Dingiswayo.

During this time, Shaka enrolled in the ibutho, a traditional regional military cadre program. Young men of the same age group would get grouped together into a unit within the ibutho, and the unit would eventually disband when the men aged out of the warrior class. Shaka’s unit served under the command of the chief. Dingiswayo laid the groundwork for the system of command that would eventually be brought to ultimate refinement under Shaka.

When his biological father died in 1816, Shaka, by now a renowned commander in his own right, left Dingiswayo’s armies and returned to lead the Zulu, who were at this time the smallest of the region’s Bantu clans. Southern Africa would quickly learn to fear the Zulu.

Shaka immediately reorganized the army and its training. The age-grade system of the ibutho was refined and strengthened into an age-based regimental organization, with each regiment having a distinct fortified village (or ikanda), uniform heraldry on their ox-hide shields, specific ornamentation in jewelry and headdresses, and sworn loyalty to Shaka. Organization of the impi and its tactics were standardized. Shaka introduced a corps of officers, promoted on the basis of merit and ability, from all the subordinate tribes. Comparisons to the Marian reformations of the Roman Legions are apt; both commanders took control of fundamentally competent basic forces, and transformed them into unstoppable military machines.

Shaka then took his impi on a march of conquest. His first conquest was said to be the Langeni, who humiliated him as a boy. When his former commander Dingiswayo was assassinated by the rival Zulu chief Zwide, Shaka swore vengeance, and a full-scale civil war of the Zulu broke out. Zwide was decisively routed at the Battle of Gqokli Hill by a force half his size under Shaka’s command.

But Shaka’s reign was not uncontested. There was substantial opposition to his policies within his own kingdom. Escalation of warfare between tribes into near-extermination were a marked change from previous patterns of war. Tensions were exacerbated when Shaka granted European traders concessions. But it was the death of his mother in 1827 that seems to have marked the beginning of the end of Shaka – and the bloodiest part of his reign.

Grief-stricken, Shaka ordered that no crops be planted, nor milk used for a year (and milk was the staple of the Zulu diet). Women found pregnant were to be killed with their husbands, as was anyone found to be insufficiently mournful. Cows were to be slaughtered “so that calves would know what it was like to lose a mother.” 7,000 of Shaka's subjects were killed in his grief, according to accounts.

His two half-brothers had been actively conspiring against him for some time. In 1828, while the impi were on campaign to the north, he was assassinated by his half-brothers Dingane and Mhlangana, along with a third co-conspirator named Mbopa. Tradition states that Shaka’s dying words were a warning both about the growing power of the Europeans in South Africa and about the peril of Zulu disunity.

The meteoric rise of the Zulu under Shaka, coming at a time of increasing European colonization in the region, had a profound and complex impact on the history and culture of Southern Africa, whose implications are still debated and considered. Shaka’s legacy as a ruler is not a simple one, even within Zulu culture today. But his impact on the history of the world is beyond question. 

The powerful warrior regiments of the Zulu were already a formidable force when the ambitious Shaka taught them new techniques: combining the iklwa (a short stabbing spear with a broader blade than a throwing spear) and the ishlangu (a large, oval shield with cowhide layered on top). They trained to form shield walls, both to blunt projectiles and to hide their true numbers, and attack with a “buffalo horns” formation – greener troops would sweep out and around to pin the enemy’s flanks (the horns), while a more experienced center would slam into the pinned enemy (the rest of the buffalo).

The impi training regimes under Shaka were nothing less than brutal, but harsh conditioning led to tightly bonded, well-disciplined soldiers able to carry out complex formations with ease. These Pikeman replacements have an increased flanking bonus, are less expensive than other combat units of the same era, have a low maintenance cost, and earn XP faster.

The ikanda (also known as a “kraal” or “umuzi”) were self-sufficient, fortified Zulu homesteads. A double palisade protected its residents—the inner wall kept livestock in and the outer wall kept interlopers out. Ikanda were ideally placed uphill for reasons both practical and strategic: rainwater flowed downhill to clean the ikanda, while opponents were forced to attack an elevated position.  Within Shaka’s military structure, a regiment would be stationed in an ikanda. It’s where they trained and lived.

As the Zulus conquered and absorbed neighboring tribes, more ikanda would sprout up. These encampment replacements, unique to the Zulu – provide additional housing. Once Civic or Technology prerequisites are met, Corps and Armies can be built outright. This also leads to faster Corps and Army creation.

By the age of 23, Shaka lead an impi regiment. He continued his rise based upon his deeds, becoming one of chieftain Dingiswayo’s most highly-regarded commanders. Shaka was also known for drilling and rearming his troops, trading light throwing spears (assegai) for the broad-bladed iklwa and large cowhide-covered shields. As a result, in the game, Shaka may form Corps (Mercenaries Civic) and Armies (Nationalism Civic) earlier. Amabutho alsoprovides an additional Base Combat Strength to both Corps and Armies.

A tribe, once conquered, was subordinated into the Zulu kingdom, its young men were incorporated into the ibutho, and then the Zulu marched on. Shaka also offered diplomatic carrots, with the stick of the impi ever-present. That’s reflected in the game with Isibongo. After Shaka conquers a city, it gains bonus Loyalty when garrisoned. Conquering a city with a unit will upgrade it into a Corps or Army, if the proper Civics are unlocked.

Shaka Zulu is one of the nine new leaders coming with Civilization VI: Rise and Fall when the expansion releases on February 8, 2018.

Follow the conversation on social media by using the hashtag #OneMoreTurn, and be sure to follow the Civilization franchise on social media to keep up to date with the latest news and information on Sid Meier’s Civilization VI.

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