PC Gamer

Thing I love about PC gaming #143: buying old games and buying a new games feels the same. Games get cheaper, but they don't tumble into bargain bins. They get re-promoted. Communities of fans stick around for years. When Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II was added to Steam this week, we celebrated. Today, it's in the top sellers list. The PC is where games go to thrive, on and on.

Oh, and we also spend less on them, new or old. This week in game deals: Civilization V, Grand Theft Auto IV, Torchlight, The Walking Dead, and more!

This week's best deals  ►  GTA IV, Civ V, Torchlight, and more
If I may make a suggestion: grab GTA IV for $5, gather a few friends, and set up a no-friction car mod footrace. It will be $5 well spent.

75% off Grand Theft Auto IV at GameFly- $4.99
75% off Civilization V Game of The Year Edition on Amazon - $12.49
40% off The Walking Dead at GameStop - $14.99
50% off Torchlight on GOG - $7.49
50% off Legend of Grimrock on GOG - $7.49
75% off Just Cause 2 on Steam - $3.74
50% off Age of Empires Online Steam Starter Pack on Steam- $9.99
20% off at Green Man Gaming with the voucher code DERHE-RRDER-RINGE

Steam  ►  Just Cause series
For under $4, you could justify getting Just Cause 2 just 'cause.

75% off Just Cause - $2.49
75% off Just Cause 2 - $3.74
50% off Age of Empires Online Steam Starter Pack - $9.99
66% off Day of Defeat: Source - $3.39 (Friday only)
More Steam deals

Amazon  ►  Civilization
It's nothing new for Amazon, which seems to cycle its discounts among the same set of games, but its Civilization sale is still strong.

75% off Civilization V - $7.49
75% off Civilization V Game of The Year Edition - $12.49
10% off Civilization V: Gods and Kings - $26.99
75% off Civilization IV: The Complete Edition - $7.49
67% off Mount & Blade - $4.88
62% off Trine - $7.63
More Amazon PC game downloads

GameFly   ► Grand Theft Auto
Select Grand Theft Auto games are 75% off on GameFly all weekend. What a steal!

75% off Grand Theft Auto IV - $4.99
75% off Grand Theft Auto: The Ballad of Gay Tony - $3.75
75% off Grand Theft Auto: The Lost and Damned - $2.49
75% off Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas - $3.75
75% off Grand Theft Auto: Vice City - $2.49

Get Games  ►  Rayman, Driver, Far Cry
There's no particular theme on Get Games this weekend, but some nice deals. Its Sleeping Dogs sale has gone from 25% off to 10% off, but it's still one of the few retailers that has it on sale. But there's a "but": you can get it cheaper at Green Man Gaming, with its 20% off anything voucher.

10% off Sleeping Dogs - $44.99
50% off Rayman: Origins - $14.99
75% off Driver San Francisco - $8.74
75% off Far Cry 1 + 2 - $6.25
50% off Lord of the Rings: War in the North - $19.99
More deals from Get Games

GameStop   ► The Walking Dead and Saints Row
If you didn't pick it up during the Steam Summer Sale, The Walking Dead for $14.99 isn't bad at all.

40% off The Walking Dead - $14.99
75% off Saints Row: The Third - $12.49

GOG  ►  Indies Invade
GOG's weekend theme is looser than usual, but to our benefit: it's got 50% off some great indie games.

50% off Torchlight - $7.49
50% off Legend of Grimrock - $7.49
50% off Tiny and Big: Grandpa's Leftovers - $4.99
50% off Darwinia - $4.99
50% off Spacechem - $4.99
50% off Geneforge 1-5 - $7.49

Green Man Gaming   ► 20% off it all

That voucher is still active -- until the end of August, you can save 20% on any PC download at Green Man Gaming with the code DERHE-RRDER-RINGE.

GamersGate  ► Sale 'splosion

As usual, GamersGate has ten pages packed with sales. Many of them will cause shrugging, but not all of them: try S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Shadow of Chernobyl for $3.99 (Friday only), Mount & Blade Collection for $20.97, and Warp for $2.49.

Let us know in the comments if you find any more great deals, and, though I skipped it last week: what are you playing this weekend? I'll be getting a head start in Guild Wars 2 -- if you're doing the same, come find the PCG US crew on the Tarnished Coast server. What race are you planning to choose?
PC Gamer
1 Information

My friends! Gather 'round the fire and prepare to hear an epic tale that spans the entirety of human history! I've finally finished chronicling my progress in Civ V's Gods & Kings expansion, as part of an ongoing feature every Wednesday. Last week, the Norse Democratic Union (my socialist republic that grew out of the unification of Sweden and Denmark) trounced Greece, ending a massive world war and setting us on the path to victory. This is the home stretch, but we're not out of the woods until we're literally out of the woods. On a spaceship. Will... we... go... all... the... way? Read on to find out, and learn what game I'll be playing for this column next!

Need to get caught up? Here's Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5.

The future is now
The Information Era has dawned for the NDU. We're embarrassingly far ahead of everyone else in terms of tech now. Of the five remaining world powers, two are still in the Modern Era, and the other two just behind me in the Atomic Era. I'm three whole techs ahead of Russia, and have taken the lead in production, income, and total gold. As the war to end all wars closes, the Norse have become the dominant global superpower. Winning still won't be trivial, though. Three other nations have space programs, racing me to a Science victory. And Greece, even weakened, is allied with something like 100 bazillion city-states, meaning it would win a diplomatic victory almost by default if anyone builds the United Nations.

My goal right now is to get the Hubble Telescope wonder up and running. It'll let me build spaceship components faster and grant me two Great Scientists to ensure that my tech lead stays secure for the rest of the game.

1975 A.D.: The Restoration Party, responsible for ending the war with Greece, implements high-level governmental reforms focused on turning the post-war economic boom into sustainable growth. Military scientists begin transitioning into the civilian sector, bringing wondrous new consumer technologies to the market.

I adopted the Socialism policy, which will reduce the upkeep cost of every building in my empire. This has further cemented my global economic dominance. I could probably buy an ocean or two at this point. I also purchased a Great Scientist with faith, which is where the rest of my faith points for the rest of the game will be funneled.

1976 A.D.: Work begins on the cockpit design for an interstellar manned spacecraft at Helsinki.

You need six spaceship parts to win a Science victory: a cockpit, a stasis chamber, an engine, and three boosters. Each component is unlocked by a different technology, and thanks to the production-focused infrastructure I've been building since turn one, my major cities can crank these out mega fast.

Arms race
1978 A.D.: Norse-German scientists make significant leaps in the field of internal combustion engines, putting mass-produced automobiles on the roads for the first time.

And, perhaps more importantly, letting me build tanks. It seems pretty late in the game to make this happen, but it's just the way this world developed. Everyone kinda forgot to invent tanks until the late 70s, despite having very advanced aircraft and naval units for the time.

1979 A.D.: Greece becomes the fourth nation to develop a manned space program. While everyone is occupied not caring about this announcement, the Celts and the English jointly denounce Rome.

So, this is interesting. Last I heard, the Celts and England hated one another. And England really has nothing to gain from attacking Rome right now: Russia has swallowed up all the Roman territory that used to border it. The Celts are still my longest-standing, most loyal allies, but I really don't have any intention of getting roped into an overseas war with Rome unless it's close to beating me to a science victory.

Rome goes to war with Russia again, looking to take back its Northern cities.

1981 A.D.: Norse spies report that the Greeks have nuclear weapons. They make some vague threats about the Norse military being weak or something.

While certainly a game-changer, I still basically control the geopolitical climate. Thanks to the standing defensive pacts I set up long ago with basically everybody, Greece would commit itself to another war against the rest of the world by attacking me. Any further wars between us will be on my terms, and I'll have the initiative. Using said initiative, I'll make sure to cripple its nuclear stockpiles before they get dumped on me.

I've also just researched Combined Arms, giving me access to anti-tank guns. Greece has tanks now, making this an opportune development.

For science!
1983 A.D.: Oil shortages drive up fuel prices across the NDU. Efforts are made to begin drilling in the Southwest Territories for a new supply.

I've been building a lot of ships and fighter jets to screen against potential nuclear attacks, and they all cost oil. I'm finally running out, but luckily, I'll be picking up techs that let me transition into nuclear and solar power for most applications.

1984 A.D.: A group of entrepreneurial college students from the Stockholm Valley develop the first mass market personal computers.

I'm burning Great Scientists like firewood at this point. Building Academies this late in the game would be inefficient, so I'm just dumping the one-time science bonuses into my pool. Among other things, Computers let me build helicopters, a very mobile air unit that doesn't rely on an airbase like fighters and bombers.

1986 A.D.: The NDU launches the Hubble Space Telescope, granting new views of the cosmos and inspiring the Norse people to strive for the stars. Government spending on the space program increases to new heights. Great advances are made in the fields of robotics and ballistics.

I get a free spaceship factory and two great scientists, which means I've pretty much removed any chance that I can be beaten to a Science victory. My scientists helped me on the way to Robotics and Advanced Ballistics, which let me build intercontinental nuclear missiles and spaceship factories.

I also just adopted the Communism policy, which further boosts my production capabilities in all cities.

Later that year, the cockpit of the Norse spaceship Sleipnir is completed in Helsinki, and shipped off to wait in the assembly yard at Stockholm National Starport.

I love the 80s
1987 A.D.: The Norse military rolls out its first mobile SAM anti-air units and its first armored battalion. Medical advances spur on a population boom.

I had SO MUCH SCIENCE at this point that I overshot Advanced Ballistics and picked up Penicillin in the same turn, the first time I've seen that happen in Civ V. The latter give me access to Marines, infantry that excel attacking from water, and hospitals, which make my cities grow crazy fast. Up next on the science docket: Nanotechnology, which will let me build the Spaceship Stasis Chamber.

1988 A.D.: Work begins on the propulsion systems for Sleipnir in Sigtuna.

1989 A.D.: Somewhere, a totally amazing guy is born who will go on to write about computer games.

Yeah, I'll give you three guesses and the first two don't count...

Nanobots... nanobots everywhere
1990 A.D.: The first SV-90 assault helicopters take flight from Stockholm.

1992 A.D.: A Norse Great Scientist makes major breakthroughs in the field of nanotechnology. His findings allow construction to begin on a stasis chamber that will keep the crew of Sleipnir in suspended animation for voyages to distant star systems.

I'm now headed for Particle Physics, the last piece of the puzzle needed for a Science victory. I'll pick up two very important techs on the way: Ecology and Mobile Tactics, which will let me build Mechanized Infantry, the best infantry unit in the game.

Summer, 1993 A.D.: Ever neutral England petitions for entry into the New Allied Powers Administration (NAPA), joining the NDU, Celts, and Russia. The NDU agrees to think about it.

Meanwhile, work begins on the Sleipnir stasis chamber at Stockholm National Starport, and word arrives from the NSS that Russia has become the third nation with nuclear weapons.

Untold riches
Winter, 1993 A.D.: Wise economic policies lead to a Norse Golden Age.

Well, it's been a long time since I had one of these. My strategy has been too focused on other resources to worry much about happiness, and I've generally been running at either a very small deficit or a very small surplus. It couldn't come at a better time, though. This will allow me to drop tons of gold on production buildings.

The NDU and Russia enter into a research agreement focused on interstellar exploration.

1994 A.D.: Greece constructs the Pentagon.

This will greatly reduce the cost for Greece to upgrade its military units, so maybe it won't be trying to joust my machine gun nests to death when we go to war again.

1995 A.D.: Norse scientists make great breakthroughs in environmental science and green energy.

This will let me build solar power plants, as well as the culture bomb that is the Sydney Opera House wonder.

In the year 2000...
1996 A.D.: Sleipnir's stasis chamber is completed at Stockholm National Starport, and is added to the growing framework of the ship.

A series of brief border skirmishes results in Russia regaining some of the ground it lost to Rome in the last war. The Northern coast of the Eastern continent becomes a politically unstable region of competing ideologies that is wracked by war more often than not. The area does not bring in a lot of tourist revenue.

1999 A.D.: As the Norse Golden Age ends, sweeping legal reforms lead to a stronger central government and less autonomy for the NDU member states.

I've decided to spend some of the expansive nebulae of gold my Golden Age brought in to pay for Courthouses in all the formerly-puppeted cities of Denmark, Austria, and Germany, giving me full control over their production cues. I've also adopted Secularism, giving me another huge boost to Science.

2000 A.D.: The TeleCom boom brings new jobs and new ways of doing business to the NDU.

Telecommunications opens up another wonder that will help me finish out strong: The CN Tower, which gives me a free radio tower in every city.

Winter is coming
2002 A.D.: Norse software engineers at the Sigtuna Institute of Technology complete the coding of the Great Firewall.

A new wonder in Gods & Kings, the Great Firewall, in a nutshell, makes me almost impossible to spy on. With my tech lead as wide as it is, I can't risk having anyone stealing from me.

Later in the year, the Norse military sees the introduction of the SVM-2 Infantry Fighting Vehicle, revolutionizing its ground combat doctrines. The first unit to be trained with the new tactics is the 2nd Infantry at Munich, one of the legendary three companies that took on impossible odds and came out alive in the Great War. Simultaneously, the Norse navy launches its first nuclear submarine off the coast of Denmark.

2003 A.D.: Greece completes two great construction projects: the Corinthian Opera House and the Confederation Building at Athens. They put out a call to all the powers of the world to come together in three years time to elect a Supreme Dictator of Earth.

Head, meet desk. Now meet desk again. And again. And again. Not only did Greece steal the Sydney Opera House out from under me, it has completed the United Nations after all. I thought the overwhelming stomping I delivered to its backside would have set it too far back to beat me to the punch, but I was wrong.

Basically, a handful of turns from now, a UN vote will happen, and if anyone gets over 16 votes, they win a diplomatic victory. If only major nations were allowed to vote, that wouldn't be a problem. We all hate Greece. The thing is that city-states also get to vote, and whatever GENIUS set this stupid map up placed 24 of them. Greece is allied with basically all of them, and making enough money to continue paying them off indefinitely.

The worst part is this: on my current course, I will complete my space program TWO TURNS after the UN vote happens. There is nothing I can do to speed production up at this point: I've already bought every production-increasing structure in the two cities that are building my last two spaceship components.

So, essentially, it comes down to this: I need to blow up the UN in something like the next 10 turns or I lose. Strap in, kids. It's gonna be a bumpy last few miles to the finish line.

To slay the dragon
January, 2004 A.D.: Knowing that the only way to defeat the potential world dictatorship that Greece and its city-state allies seek to create is to lop off the head, the Norse Defense Ministry initiates Operation Dragonslayer immediately. Greek forces are caught unawares and take massive losses in the opening days of the invasion. Nuclear arms are deployed against the highest concentrations of Greek troops on the border of the DMZ, leaving the way clear for Norse mobile infantry, armored divisions, and gunships to strike directly at key targets.

April, 2004 A.D.: The first Greek nuclear bomb is dropped on Salzburg. Off the coast, the Norse Navy loses a skirmish at Megara, and Norse infantry take heavy losses assaulting Hamburg. It is a grim month for the NDU.

August, 2004 A.D.: The Norse National Guard fends off counter-attacks at Kaupang and Sigtuna. Meanwhile, the NDU's mountain divisions sent to capture Herakleia are hit hard by artillery fire and forced to fall back to the bombed-out ruins of Salzburg.

Later, Munich is nuked by Greek forces, though most of the Norse ground units and much of the civilian population are able to evacuate to shelters beforehand. Greek Special Forces stationed at Herakleia begin striking against the Norse forces holed up in Salzburg.

Decisive action
February, 2005 A.D.: Dragonsbane, the first fusion warhead nuclear missile, is completed by the NDU. As it is being deployed, the Greeks drop a third bomb on Tunsberg, cutting off a key supply line to the Norse front.

June, 2005 A.D.: Greek troop transports outside of Megara are sunk by Norse submarines. As their boats go down, they watch the first nuclear missile strike the city they were just deployed from. Megara is nearly entirely destroyed. The lands of Northern Greece, Southern Denmark, and former Germany and Austria, are becoming a nuclear wasteland.

October, 2005 A.D.: The propulsion system for Sleipnir is finished, and added to the nearly complete vessel. Only the main engine is required before the initial wave of colonists can be launched to escape the nuclear fire beginning to consume the world.

Captain's log, N.S.S. Sleipnir
July 9, After Earth 2, 21:35 Ship Standard Time:

There are some who say we failed. That, when the secrets of the universe were handed to us, we only used them to destroy our fellow men. When this vessel departed from Stockholm National Starport on September 21st, 2008, the bleakness of the global outlook certainly supported that theory. The relentless military response by the Norse Democratic Union was not swift enough to keep the Greek Empire from seizing global dominance through manipulation of the world's minor states in 2006. In the process, much of the continent was blown away and irradiated by nuclear arms. Fallout sent into the atmosphere over the course of a few short years has nearly assured a global nuclear winter that will leave nothing the same.

The day we left, the Norse Defense Ministry activated its new robotic army against the Confederated Nations, driven by AI I fear they will not be able to control.

But we survived. We few hundred souls who have escaped the gravity of the small rock we were born on, and will within the next century escape the star system it orbits in. What awaits us in the depths of the wider galaxy, we cannot say. But we will journey ever onwards, and build new lives for our families among the stars... far from the reach of the fires of war. For we alone remain as testament that human ingenuity can bring great wonder, just as it can bring great destruction. Our legacy is one worth preserving. And that, alone, shall become our continuing mission.

End of log.


So, the upshot is that I technically lost. I focused all of my forces like a spearpoint to capture Athens as quickly as possible and stop the UN vote, but it just wasn't going to happen. In retrospect, I should have razed the entirety of Greece in the Great War. Hindsight is 20/20.

I actually kept the game going quite a while after my defeat, and sure enough, I won the space race two turns later. At that point, I proceeded to start cranking out Civ V's ultimate unit, the Giant Death Robot, and roleplayed that Skynet had taken over my government and determined humans were too violent to be allowed to live. While I probably could have squeezed a few more installments out of that alone, I felt like it was about time to close the book on this chronicle. It basically would have just been "giant robots stomp such and such city into dust" over and over again for about 40 years.

It's been a long ride, but there's one last page to turn...

It's the end of the world as we know it
And that was the Swedish Saga. 6000 years of grand discoveries, betrayals, warfare, and probably some innovative fish products. I'd like to thank everyone who's read along, whether you jumped in partway through, or have stuck around since the Celtic Chronicle. The positive feedback has been awesome.

While I think I've had enough Civ V in the last few months to last half a lifetime, you guys wanted more. And more you shall have! My next chronicle will take place in...

Crusader Kings 2! A nice break from the broad scope of Civ, it'll let me focus one one particular era of history as I wage wars, stab backs, and marry off daughters to gain control of medieval Europe. There's also a Game of Thrones mod, I hear, which would take the epicness of the concept to new proportions. And because you asked, I'll be posting in a new format.

I'll be taking next week off for PAX Prime, but you can expect the first entry of my Crusader Kings Chronicle on Wednesday, September 5th. Hope to see you then!
PC Gamer

My friends! Gather 'round the fire and prepare to hear an epic tale that spans the entirety of human history! I'm in the middle of chronicling my progress in Civ V's Gods & Kings expansion, with a new entry every Wednesday. Last week, my Modern Era armies ousted the corrupt Danish crown, bringing all of the Norse people under the glorious, socialist rule of the Norse Democratic Union. War has broken out between the NDU and Greece, scourge of the Western world, as we race against time to stop their bid for total global domination. Read on, as the action rises to nuclear proportions!

Need to get caught up? Here's Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.

The life atomic
I'm the third to reach the Atomic Era (after Russia and Greece), breaking my three-era streak for being first. I still have the lead in overall technologies, though. And judging by the forces Greece is "invading" with, their armies are pretty technologically poor. I've started construction on the Stockholm (Manhattan) Project, which will let me build nuclear weapons. Meanwhile, I turn my tech path toward Radar to replace my hilariously outdated biplanes with up-to-date fighters and bombers to seize control of the air.

March, 1952 A.D.: NDU infantry take heavy losses at the Greek city of Elis, and the generals order a fallback to Norse soil. Operation Firestorm is a failure, but work has already begun on Operation Brightstar.

At sea, Norse submarines continue to blockade Mytilene, and the forces at Graz (Operation Justicar) are holding hold strong.

I could win this fight, but the losses I would take are unacceptable. You may recall that the infantry I've upgraded from my unique Caroleans retain their unique unit bonuses. If they die, however, any new infantry I build to replace them will not have those bonuses. The crippling of my artillery by Greek bombers simply didn't leave me with enough traction to make Firestorm a viable strategy. At this point, I'm counting on atomic weapons to turn the tide.

July, 1952 A.D.: Incredulous Norse National Guard at Kaupang are shocked to see knights with lances approaching their city. After a moment of stunned indecisiveness, they elect to shoot all of the invaders before they even reach the gas station on the outskirts of town. Shortly after, Greece approaches the NDU with a peace treaty that involves the ceding of nearly all of their cities. The Norsemen send back a shield of a Greek knight that has been riddled with bullet holes, and a note saying, “Please, do continue to overestimate your chances of winning this war.”

Greece is attacking me with an army half-comprised of late Renaissance era units, who are crumbling beneath my fully-modernized forces.

Back on the foreign front, Norse fighter pilots shoot down Greek bombers over the Tunsberg Fields and seize air superiority.

New horizons for NAPA
October, 1952 A.D.: The Norse Secret Service (NSS) deploys agents to Moscow. At sea, the Greek Coast Guard attacks the NDU blockade at Mytilene and forces them to retreat.

Greece's navy may suck, but their cities can still bombard my submarines and kill them in two hits. With no infantry currently at Mytilene to draw their fire, I have no choice but to pull back.

1953 A.D.: Danish arms manufacturers develop the DK-53 Heavy Machine Gun, putting Norse forces on-par with Greece in terms of high fire rate squad weapons.

A Great Engineer arises in Stockholm.

Adopting the Order policy tree lets me spend my excess Faith (which doesn't really do much else at this stage in the game) on great people. This guy has one job: get my atomic weapons done faster.

1954 A.D.: The New Allied Powers Administration treaties are reconvened, with Rome, the NDU, and the Celts all joining. With Spain wiped out, this leaves England as the only independent nation, as the NAPA allies battle it out against Greece and Russia's Southern Axis.

With only five major powers remaining, things are really coming down to the wire. I've secured the Celts as my likely permanent ally, mostly because they are so far behind everyone at everything that any other civ could crush them like a bug without my continued promise of protection. England seems to have actually carved out a sizable empire for itself on the Eastern continent, winning territory from both the great superpowers there, Rome and Russia. Who they choose to side with could very well determine the outcome of this world war.

Over land, sea, and air
1955 A.D.: The standing protocols of Operation Justicar, having defended Graz since the start of the war, continue to prove exceedingly effective. Not only do they hold the city, but they inflict crippling losses on every Greek force sent to take it.

On the Eastern front, the Norse army seizes control of Tunsberg Fields, forcing the Greeks to retreat West to Salzburg and leaving Mytilene and Elis open to attack. It is also discovered that Greece has constructed a small military base called Herakleia in the Austrian Alps.

Seems like one of Greece's favorite, annoying, total douche moves is to just plop cities down wherever there's room near your borders. The town might as well be named "trollface.jpg". It's irritating and inefficient and dumb and I hate it. Whatever, I'll deal with it later.

1956 A.D.: The Norse perfect radar, and begin constructing a more advanced air force.

Awww yeah. Greece is still using World War I-era biplanes and triplanes. Now that I have for real fighters and bombers, his little hobby shop toys don't stand a chance. Next stop: Nuclear Fission, the last piece of the puzzle needed to build atomic bombs and nuclear reactors.

Summer, 1957 A.D.: A great statue of the founder of the Awesomeness Religion is built in Sigtuna.

With Cristo Redentor, I now officially have more world wonders than anyone else on the map. It will help me earn policies faster, which is going to be crucial at this stage.

To the North, the Greek navy closes in on Helsinki, having sailed around the Southern horn of the continent for a surprise attack. With their Northern ports blockaded, Greece offers a peace treaty that would require the cession of all of Denmark, as well as the city of Graz. The Norsemen refuse.

Greece has actual, metal battleships now, and I don't have much of anything in that area to defend. I'll need to drop some gold to get some submarines out immediately, defeating the Greek navy the same way I did the Danish one.

The North Greece Demilitarized Zone is established
Winter, 1957 A.D.: The quick mobilization of Norse submarines sinks more than half of the Greek Northern fleet, breaking the blockade at Helsinki decisively. England announces to the world that it is denouncing Greece, indirectly supporting the NAPA nations.

1958 A.D.: Elis is besieged with the aid of fresh Norse artillery, beginning the smaller and more focused Operation Firebrand.

One of the reasons Operation Firestorm failed was that I tried to attack too many things at once. Firebrand will focus all of my strength on one city at a time, assuring quick victories.

Greece sends a bunch of outdated militiamen that can't really fit under the Norse definition of a "military" to relieve Elis.

Greece is still being considerate enough to provide the comic relief in this brutal war, repeatedly attacking my modern units with guys on horses and other outdated crap. They have more than enough money to be upgrading them, so I can only really chalk it up to arrogance.

Summer, 1959 A.D.: The Greek militias are dead almost to a man, but more reinforcements (now armed with assault rifles) approach the Norse lines from the Southwest.

We're now neck and neck in infantry tech, but my superior artillery and air power should more than make the difference.

Artillery fire keeps the fresh Greek infantry pinned down, and Elis is captured by Norse forces before they can arrive. All Greek government officials are ousted, and much of the town's infrastructure is dismantled. It is put in the hands of a local, Greek-born governor, and becomes the first territory to fall under the North Greece Demilitarized Zone (NGDMZ) designation.

Which is to say, I burnt it down. I don't really want these little cannon fodder cities on my border. They aren't worth many resources and will just weigh down my Happiness rating. So, poof they go. This being the modern era; and I being a just ruler, I'm rationalizing this in the fiction as me creating a demilitarized zone on the Greek border. Which is, essentially, the point of this entire campaign.

The times, they are a-changin'
Winter, 1959 A.D.: The Norse army turns East for Mytilene, where most of the Greek reinforcements are already entrenched.

As they approach Mytilene, the Norse army is surrounded by Greek forces storming out of the South and Southwest into the DMZ. Despite being attacked from all sides, the Norse troops including the legendary 1st Infantry dig in and weather the initial push, then drive the Greek forces back in an immediate counterattack. The Greek gambit has failed, and this battle is largely seen as a turning point where the NDU's momentum changed the course of the war.

1960 A.D.: Russia, hearing of the crushing Greek defeat at Mytilene, becomes a signatory NAPA nation. At their first meeting as a member, they reveal that they have launched the world's first manned space mission.

Uh-oh. That is a distressing little piece of historical accuracy there. Russia has completed the Apollo Program, which allows you to start building spaceship components. The first person to build all four of these wins a Science victory. Luckily, I'm still way ahead tech-wise, and you need to almost max out the tech tree to construct all of the required pieces. Plus, Greece is now alone. The Axis is broken, and the Scourge of the West is now nearly at my mercy.

Due to the overwhelming success of Operation Justicar and Operation Firebrand, a new plan is launched by the NDU's Great General at Graz: Operation Redeemer. Its goal is to reclaim the once-magnificent Austrian capital of Vienna from Greece, and bring it under Norse rule.

Summer, 1961 A.D.: Norse SB-61 bombers dodge outdated Greek triplanes and hit a Greek counterattack aimed at Tunsberg hard. To the East, Most of the Greek forces stationed around Vienna are wiped out in the initial wave of Operation Redeemer.

Back in the heart of the NDU, the Stockholm Project is completed. Once an effective, fissionable isotope is identified, the Norse will have nuclear arms.

I still need to wait two turns for Nuclear Fission to finish researching, and then I actually need to build the bomb. But at this rate, it's going to be the icing on my victory cake, not a key ingredient in baking it. Though it is likely to bake a lot of things. Mostly Greek cities.

The Heart of the West is redeemed
Winter, 1961 A.D.: A Greek Great General trying to lead a force past the Norse lines to capture Graz is killed in an air raid. Norse artillery and bombers begin weakening defensive positions at Vienna.

1962 A.D.: As Norse forces close in for the final push to capture Mytilene, Greece proposes another peace treaty. They ask for no cession of territory this time, only requesting that peace be made with their allied city-states. The Norse parliament considers this, and decides they have much more to gain by pressing the attack now, before Greece has time to recover.

Later in the year, Norse scientists finally perfect nuclear fission. Construction of Brightstar I and the SB-62 bomber that will carry it begins immediately.

And it's all over but the mushroom cloud. Next, I'm looking to grab Rocketry, which will give me better anti-aircraft guns and artillery, on the way to Satellites, which reveal the whole map and put me one step closer to winning the space race.

Summer, 1963 A.D.: The NDU captures Vienna, once called the Unbreakable City. Austria is reinstated as a member state of the NDU, along with Westerland, the Stormlands, Sweden, and Denmark. Many families who were separated by the Vienna-Graz divide over the years are reunited, and the Norse premier expresses his wishes for great Vienna to one day be restored to its former glory.

I had a unique opportunity here: I could have actually returned Austria's capital and brought them back into the game. Unfortunately for them, if I'm going to compete with the other superpowers, I can't afford to be that nice right now. I set it up as a puppet instead, and while being twice conquered has reduced it to only a shadow of the Heart of the West it once was, it's still a very valuable location to hold.

To bring about an end
Winter, 1963 A.D.: Mytilene is besieged. Greek mounted militiamen hilariously try to assist, and are shot.

Across the continent, NDU forces blitz Greek cities. In the space of three months, Norse artillery and bombers hit Salzburg, Syracuse, and Mytilene. Just before the year's end, Mytilene is captured and made part of the DMZ.

Summer, 1964 A.D.: Following the success of Redeemer, the NDU defense ministry enacts two new campaigns. Operation Mountain Thunder looks to capture and hold Salzburg and Herakleia, solidifying the Southern border. Meanwhile, Operation Kraken will target target Greece's coastal footholds along the Viennese coast as far south as Chios, wiping them off the map. The heavily-defended city of Hamburg, Greece (once belonging to now-defeated Germany) is singled out as the probable target for Operation Brightstar. In preparation, the equally-defensible city of Munich will have to be captured for use as an airbase.

Winter, 1964 A.D.: Rome asks for aid on the Eastern front as a coup in leadership has led to renewed hostilities with Russia. Remembering Rome's refusal to join the war against Greece all those years ago, the Norse politely decline.

Meanwhile, massive naval engagements off the continent's eastern coast result in Greece's entire Atlantic fleet becoming fish food. The NDU has effectively seized control of land, sea, and air. Yet, they now butt up against the rocky, stubborn core of Northern Greece, where victory is sure to come at steeper prices.

Greece continues to lose ground
Summer, 1965 A.D.: Norse forces are hit hard by machine gun fire storming Munich, while a Greek counter-attack to defend the coastal city of Syracuse is thwarted by NDU air support.

Rome and the NDU enter into a research agreement mostly focused on space exploration.

Winter, 1965 A.D.: Greek military installations at Syracuse are wiped out. Shortly after, Salzburg is captured and put under the dominion of the NDU's Austrian member state.

Rome announces the launch of its first manned space mission.

Crap, they both beat me to square one. I'm crossing my fingers that this tech lead will allow me to hit squares two, three, and four significantly faster.

1966 A.D.: The Norse begin bombing Sicyon, just as Munich is captured and put under the jurisdiction of the new NDU member state of Germania.

No tribute, no peace
Summer, 1967 A.D.: Greece proposes a third peace treaty with the same terms as the second. After much deliberation, the Norse parliament responds that they will agree, if Greece pays a large ransom and ongoing tribute. The Greeks prove they didn't want peace that badly after all, and the war continues.

Well, I gave peace a chance. With the way this is going, the survival of their entire empire is on the line. I have enough momentum to probably push them all the way back to their capital, and from there, into the sea. My conditions were generous, but I guess they're just too prideful to accept someone else's terms.

Winter, 1967 A.D.: Greece rolls out their own modern bombers, as well as the world's first rocket artillery. They hit Norse positions near Munich, taking out most of the NDU artillery stationed there. New SF-67 fighter jets are deployed to counter any future air raids.

On the Western front, combined air and sea assaults by the NDU wipe out Greece's foothold at Sicyon.

Summer, 1968 A.D.: The NDU perfects rocketry, and immediately retrofits their artillery to match that of Greece. On the other side of the same base, Firestar I, the world's first atomic bomb, is completed. It begins the long trek to Munich airfield. The science and engineering teams responsible for its construction turn their efforts immediately to getting the Norse space program off the ground.

To the South, the NSS relocates its spies from the soon-to-be-a-crater city of Hamburg to Athens and Sparta, in the heart of the ancient Greek homeland. The Norse fleet begins bombarding Chios.

Peace at last
Winter, 1968 A.D.: Greece sends forces down out of the mountains from Herakleia to attack Salzburg. Almost simultaneously, Firestar I is dropped on Hamburg. Half of the city's population is killed, and the Greek army is decimated. Word begins to spread quickly of the devastating Norse weapon.

The city isn't gone, but I have drastically reduced its ability to produce anything. In addition, everything for two tiles around it will be covered in fallout that prevents the building of land improvements (which were also destroyed) until Greece researches the technology to clean it up.

1969 A.D.: The Greek naval base at Chios is destroyed. Back at home, word of the bomb begins to turn popular opinion against the war--especially in Germania, as Hamburg was still home to many ethnic Germans when it was hit. The pro-peace Restoration Party gains power in the Norse parlaiment, and talks begin to bring an end to the conflict.

It's about time to call this war done. I've captured four Greek cities and destroyed four more, losing none of my own in the process. I hit a ninth hard enough to turn it from a metropolis to a backwater, and proved my point to the world that I'm just as much a military force to be reckoned with as anybody. I don't need to wipe Greece out completely to ensure that I'm the dominant superpower, and I don't plan to. They've lost more than enough to derail their progress toward victory.

1970 A.D.: A peace accord is finally reached with Greece. The DMZ between Hamburg and Tunsberg remains in effect, with the NDU-installed North Greece provisional government as its stewards. the Greek settlers at Herakleia are allowed to remain there, although travel outside and through Norse territory is heavily restricted.

Okay, Herakleia can't stay there. Almost as much for obsessive compulsive reasons as safety ones, I will not abide a little foreign dot in the middle of my empire. If I'd had more troops in the area, I would have captured it really quick before making peace, but it was going to be a pain as most of my forces were in the South and Southwest. So, at some point, I'm going to be at war with Greece again to deal with that. Hopefully briefly.

The new Norse premier gives a speech praising the overwhelming victory against what had been a dangerous and corrupt enemy, but also lamenting how far things went before peace could be made. The Norse Democratic Union is stronger than ever, now including most of what were once the sovereign nations of Austria and Germany. Greece's dominance in the West has been shattered, and the Norse people have proved that they can outfight a numerically-superior foe on every front. Her closing wish is that they can continue to be as brave and victorious in peacetime as they were in war.

Exit onto the information superhighway
1971 A.D.: Greece immediately begins sending what they are calling "defensive troops" to mass on the Norse border.

Really, guys? We made peace one turn ago. Really?

1974 A.D.: Greece has its own socialist revolution, inspired by the success of the NDU. The first act of this government, however, is to denounce their fellow socialists in the NDU.

In response, the NDU's Russian allies denounce the new Greek regime, and the NAPA treaties are renewed with the NDU, Russia, and Celtica as the core member nations.

1975 A.D.: Though late to the space race, the NDU shoots ahead of all competitors when they launch the world's first comprehensive satellite network, and enter the Information Age.

Woohoo! First one here by a stretch (right on Turn 600), meaning I've reclaimed my era progression lead, in addition to the core tech lead I've had for hundreds of turns. Satellites reveal the entire map (although fog of war is still in place where I don't have units or cities) and let me start building the Hubble Telescope wonder. This will speed my production of spaceship parts, and give me two (Count 'em: TWO) free Great Scientists which I will expend to further widen my tech lead.

We have entered the final era of the world. Lasers, robots, and microchips will rise to rule. So come back next week: The revolution will be televised.
PC Gamer
1 Modern

My friends! Gather 'round the fire and prepare to hear an epic tale that spans the entirety of human history! I'm in the middle of chronicling my progress in Civ V's Gods & Kings expansion, with a new entry every Wednesday. Last week, the Industrial Era saw my Swedish Empire and its Grand Army march from sea to shining sea in the pursuit of bringing lasting peace to the world. Despite our best efforts, however, it seems that world war is just on the horizon. Read on, as the next 100 years will change the world more than any century that came before!

Need to get caught up? Here's Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

Thoroughly modern
For the third time in a row, I've reached a new era before anyone else. There are still a few civs wallowing in the middle ages, and most haven't even advanced from Renaissance to Industrial. However, even with my superior technology, I only just barely qualify for "World Superpower" status. Greece, Rome, and Russia all have larger empires and armies than I do. Speaking of Greece and Russia, they continue to dominate the southern hemisphere with their tight-knit Axis. The Northern Allies, spearheaded by Rome and myself, are doing all we can to halt their advances. And we're succeeding, thanks to the quick mobilization of the Treaty of Vienna that united us all under mutual Defensive Pacts. Declaring war on one of us would mean declaring war on all of us...which neither Greece nor Russia has had the audacity to do.

However, the Treaty is in danger of fracturing from the inside. England has dropped out to dance on the half-dead remains of France, and Austria and Denmark (two of the original signatories) seem to be trying to split off into their own third faction, though it is sure to spell disaster for both nations. My first order of business is to pick up Navigation (which will take all of 1 turn with my amazing Science score), improving the economy of my coastal cities. Second order of business: prep for a world war.

1868 A.D.: The Swedish spy network established centuries ago is formally reorganized into the RSI (Royal Special Intelligence) agency. They set up counter-spy networks in Stockholm and Sigtuna.

If you've been following along, you'll know that I have been doing... less than amazing in the espionage department. Now I have a grand total of four spies to work with, which will hopefully help my chances. Unfortunately, you can't stick two incompetent spies in one place to make the equivalent of one competent spy. I could be more aggressive here, but when you have as wide a tech lead as I do, defensive spies are much more valuable.

1872 A.D.: Rome declares war on Spain. Although they initiated the conflict, Rome is able to justify its actions to the signatories of the Treaty of Vienna, largely helped by its seniority in the organization. Spain is dropped from the Treaty, joining England as a late-comer whose time among the Allies did not last.

Betrayal at Kaupang
1874 A.D.: The Academy of Birka founds the world's first archaeology program, excavating the remnants of its Westling ancestors.

Just to the south, a massive Greek army marches on Vienna and besieges the Unbreakable City. The Northern Allies debate whether or not to get involved, considering Austria's and Denmark's less than total commitment to the Treaty. Ultimately, defense forces are mobilized.

1876 A.D.: Northern forces push the Greek army back from Vienna. While Swedish forces aid on the Austrian front, Denmark launches a surprise attack on Kaupang.

Okay, so while I'm off helping Austria, their closest ally, the Danes decide to attack me out of nowhere. In the history of scumbag moves, that ranks pretty high up there. I am done with these clowns.

1878 A.D.: Danish forces attempting to cross the River of Storms and retake Kaupang are thrown back. Though they now possess smooth-bore firearms, the rifled weapons of the Swedes prove far superior.

Pressing the attack
1879 A.D.: The Swedes inflict massive losses as they outmaneuver and outgun the Danes at the Battle of Mt. Aarhus.

1880 A.D.: Danish forces try to slip between the Swedish lines by night, but are quickly caught in a pincer maneuver that results in their entire force being killed or captured.

Meanwhile a Greek operative warns Sweden that England is plotting against it. While this is not entirely unfathomable, Sweden elects not to give too much weight to intelligence being fed to them by the scourge of the Western world.

1881 A.D.: The Danish Western "army" has been reduced to little more than a guerrilla insurgency. Most uniformed regiments have pulled back to defend the capital at Copenhagen. The Swedish Grand Army splits into two Corps. One heads North for Ribe, while the other remains to continue the siege of Aarhus.

The United Norse Kingdom
1882 A.D.: Danish reinforcements led by a Great General arrive to defend Aarhus. Far to the East, England allies itself with Spain to aid in fighting off Roman invaders.

I'm torn on whether this is good or bad. England and Spain uniting against Rome means no one is putting pressure on Russia, one of the two most dangerous civs on the map. On the other hand, I won't lose sleep over some of Rome's largest-on-the-map military getting whittled away here and there.

1884 A.D.: The Danish government proposes peace. The current Swedish prime minister, elected from the Nordic Unification Party (an evolution of the United Stormlands Party), rejects this offer, giving a famous speech in which he proclaims that the Danish nobility have made their words worth nothing with their senseless betrayals and aggression. The Unification Accords are signed into law by the Swedish parliament, declaring the standing Danish government illegitimate and all of their lands the lawful domain of the new United Norse Kingdom. Revolts begin springing up in many Danish cities supporting the Accords, but the Danish King declares that he will fight to the death before surrendering unconditionally and signing away his country.

1885 A.D.: The Swedes master Biology.

Next stop is Refrigeration, so I can start building offshore platforms, and my troops can each have a cold beer when this war is over.

Meanwhile, the United Norse Kingdom's Southern Corps takes the heaviest losses of the war so far on the slopes of Mt. Aarhus, assaulting the city for which it is named.

The Treaty dissolves
1887 A.D.: UNK forces face the first major military defeat in the nation's history, and are forced to fall back from Aarhus. All that remains are a few mountain regiments and the famed 1st Artillery.

1888 A.D.: The 1st Artillery's position is bombarded by the defending forces of Aarhus and almost wiped out. Nearly all of the UNK's Southern Corps falls back across the River of Storms to regroup.

Rome signs a research agreement with Denmark. This action causes the majority Unification Party Norse parliament to declare them no longer recognized by the Treaty of Vienna. Rome claims that the UNK has no right to make such declarations. With Celtica backing the UNK and Austria refusing to decide one way or another, this is largely identified as the dissolution point for the 35-year Treaty.

It's disconcerting how quickly things can change. Mere decades ago, I managed to unite the entire world against the mutual threats of Greece and Russia. Now, it seems, Rome, Denmark, and Austria have broken off to oppose myself, the Celts, England, and Spain... while our true, original enemies are left to do as they please. I fear it's going to take some kind of massive Southern invasion to get everyone to wake up and get back with the program.

1888 A.D.: UNK engineers finish paving a road from Sigtuna to Kaupang, greatly speeding the movement of troops to the Danish front.

The prime minister of the UNK publicly denounces Denmark, hoping to discourage Rome from aiding them in the future.

Against all tyrants
1891 A.D.: A Great Scientist founds the Academy of Linköping in the Southwest Territories. It quickly becomes a saying that academic competition is Sweden's national "sport."

Thinkers at all of the major academies begin publishing papers on the nature of government and society. The Linköping Essays, perhaps the most famous among them, lead to the adoption of a popular vote democratic system that gives the people more control over parliamentary appointments.

I've adopted Sovereignty, which gives me gold for all of my Science buildings. And guess what? I have a lot of Science buildings. I've now exceeded the GDP of everyone except Greece and Rome, and probably passed Russia in terms of the hierarchy of superpowers.

Summer, 1893 A.D.: The UNK begins raising a second Grand Army to replace their losses at Aarhus, with the goal being the total annexation of Denmark. They turn all of their remaining front line troops toward Ribe, hoping that taking the smaller town will aid future attacks on Aarhus. Once Aarhus falls, the Swedish general advises Parliament, Denmark is as good as defeated.

A Customs House between Linköping and Turku brings sweeping economic growth to the Southwest Territories. A population boom hits as many impoverished citizens of Vienna seek fortune and religious freedom across the border.

Winter, 1893 A.D.: The UNK refuses another peace proposal by the Danes that would cede Ribe, but leave Aarhus and everything south of it under Danish royal rule. Rome speaks out against the UNK's insistence on continued war, declaring friendship with the Danish crown.

Furious with Rome, the UNK and their Celtic allies declare friendship with Rome's English and Spanish enemies.

Roman conquest
Summer, 1895 A.D.: The Second Grand Army of the UNK arrives at the River of Storms and obliterates the Danish forces holding it. They turn their sights on Ribe, where the remaining Northern Corps of the First Grand Army continues their long siege.

Across the sea, Rome captures the remaining French city of Orleans, putting an end to the French Empire. The same year, they capture the Spanish capital of Madrid. The leaders of the free world begin to worry that Rome is becoming a greater threat than Greece ever was.

I've been wary of Rome ever since I met them, but have been trying to keep things civil between us. They're like a very large rottweiler that could bite your arm off if it wanted to, but is smart enough to see that the two wolves stalking around (Greece and Russia) would jump on it the second it attacked. It seems, though, that they've come down with a case of rabies and may need to be put down before they threaten the survival of myself or my allies.

Winter, 1895 A.D.: Austria publicly denounces the Celts, therefore indirectly putting their faith in the Danes and the Romans. The Treaty of Vienna is formally repealed, although it has been no more than a formality for the better part of a decade.

1896 A.D.: Norse researchers master refrigeration, and the UNK begins building offshore oil platforms.

These offshore platforms will let me eventually build units that need oil, like tanks, and give me more gold and production. I already had work boats waiting to exploit these resources. I should soon become easily the richest nation on the board.

The Unification gains ground
1898 A.D.: The Danish town of Ribe is captured by the UNK, bringing them one step closer to total unification.

Later in the year, the Celts denounce England, jeopardizing the makeshift anti-Roman alliance they are a part of.

While historically accurate, I'm not entirely sure why this happened.

1899 A.D.: UNK forces advance on the poorly-defended town of Roskilde, on the East coast of Denmark. Meanwhile, Rome proposes a defensive pact with the UNK. They refuse outright.

1902 A.D.: Roskilde is captured, and the UNK army sweeps down the coast toward the port town of Viborg.

By focusing my might on their smaller, outlying cities instead of a hardpoint like Aarhus, I'm weakening Denmark little by little and losing very little doing it.

The Danes halt the advance
1903 A.D.: The Celts make a declaration of friendship with the Russians, still staunch allies of Greece. The UNK just doesn't really know what's going on anymore.

I'm starting to run out of bars on my "WUT"-o-meter. So there's some kind of dispute going on between Celtica and England, from what I can tell. And Russia hates everyone that's not Greece--England included. So... I guess... that's why? Maybe?

1905 A.D.: The Eiffel Tower is completed in Sigtuna. Everyone is just super psyched.

I get a gigantic happiness bonus from this wonder, which is something I really needed. Capturing all of these Danish cities is putting my happiness down the toilet, and we only just got indoor plumbing to make that metaphor relevant.

Danish forces from Aarhus and Copenhagen meet the UNK army outside of Viborg. They are spotted quickly enough that most of the UNK forces are able to fall back safely from the city.

The Danes have Norwegian Ski Infantry now, a unit of equivalent tech to my Caroleans. In terms of firepower, they are evenly matched. Since they heal every turn, the Caroleans are more resilient, but ski infantry have the mobility advantage in snow and hills. And Viborg is practically surrounded by hills. I elect to pull my front line back and let my artillery and gatling guns deal with them from a safe distance.

1907 A.D.: The Battle of Viborg rages on, with heavy casualties being inflicted on the UNK 1st Artillery. They are forced to abandon their exposed position on Viborg Bay and fall back to Roskilde to replace damaged guns. The UNK infantry continues to hold the line at the border, as reinforcements from Stockholm and Sigtuna rush down the road to their aid.

The Glasgow Conference
1908 A.D.: At the Glasgow Conference, the first international meeting of leaders on Celtic soil, the UNK convinces the Celts to agree to a joint denunciation of Rome.

1909 A.D.: Celtic-allied Russia denounces Denmark. The UNK parliament begins to wonder whether it may be in their best interests to support one of the Southern Axis powers.

Ah, how times change in Civ. Russia is marginally weaker than me, and we're both weaker individually than Greece and Rome. I could work with Russia against Rome, but I'd still be supporting an ally of Greece, my principal rival. For now, I'll just take whatever aid they offer me without giving anything back.

UNK forces finally break the Danish lines in the hills around Viborg, pushing most of their forces back toward Aarhus. Back in Sigtuna, a Greek spy is captured and killed by the RSI.

My intelligence network has gone from "Utterly Useless" to "Mostly Useless." It's a start.

Summer, 1910 A.D.: UNK forces are ambushed from the South outside of Viborg and take heavy losses. The general orders a second retreat to await the arrival of the full might of the UNK army.

I'm not taking any chances here. I plan to pile up my forces in one place and hit them like a ton of bricks, all at once. Viborg has proven much harder to crack than I'd ever imagined, and I still have Aarhus and Copenhagen to worry about.

The breaking of the Unbreakable City
Winter, 1910 A.D.: Vienna, the Heart of the West, called for millennia the Unbreakable City, falls to Greek forces. The ancient Austrian Empire is no more. With the massive loss of life inflicted in the Greek bombardment and sacking of Vienna, Sigtuna in the UNK becomes the largest and most influential city on the continent. Berlin, Greece is close behind.

The UNK makes immediate plans to defend Graz, now completely open to Greek attack. They also begin exploring the possible ways to strike against Greece when the time inevitably comes. The prime minister gives a famous speech, proclaiming Greece the greatest threat to peace and freedom in the known world. He laments the Austrian lives lost, swearing to take in any refugees who can make it across the border, and expresses his anger at the meaningless destruction brought upon a city known throughout the world for art, culture, and diplomacy.

Austria and I haven't always been the best of buds. My efforts to spread my religion of Awesomeness against the grain of their native Confucianism caused a rift between us that never really closed. But you know what? I'm mad now. Greece has gone too far, and without ever directly attacking me, they've made this personal. Once I seize the rest of Denmark, I'm drawing a bead on the heart of their empire, and waiting for the perfect moment to pull the trigger.

1912 A.D.: More weapons blueprints are stolen from Stockholm.

Well, having my spy network be slightly better than incompetent was fun while it lasted.

1913 A.D.: Advances in the field of explosives lead to Swedish cannons being replaced by the world’s first howitzer artillery. The hardened 1st Artillery are the first to benefit from the retrofit.

Do you hear that? That's the sound of Denmark falling so hard, it resonated backwards through time.

The Battle of Calm Waters
1914 A.D.: The Battle of Viborg continues to be the bloodiest in the UNK's history, but the astounding wealth of the growing nation is allowing them to put two men on the front lines for every one that is lost. The general leading the assault gives the Viborg Address to his gathered troops, many of whom have seen hundreds of fellow soldiers shot dead since the conflict began. He assures them that the Danish crown's days are numbered, and soon all Norse people will be united peacefully under one flag. Inspired by his words, they charge across the border, supported by the shiny, new howitzers of the 1st Artillery, and shatter the Danish lines.

1915 A.D.: The Danish navy arrives off the coast of Ribe and bombards UNK formations from the sea. Having no answer to this sudden naval assault, the UNK immediately commandeers all of the shipyards at Roskilde to begin construction on another new surprise...

Oops, I forgot to bring boats. Luckily, my deep pockets will allow me to deal with this swiftly, bypassing the usual, pesky training time.

1917 A.D.: Denmark makes a declaration of friendship with England, putting the English at odds with their once-allies in Spain (who continue to support the Celts and the UNK).

Off the coast of Ribe, half of the wooden Danish fleet is sunk in a single day. The Danish admiral is flabbergasted, having seen no ships approaching from any direction. Below the waves, the first UNK submarine commander and his men let out a cheer.

This was one of the most gloriously gleeful moments of the campaign so far. The Danes though they had me against the ropes when they got the idea to attack me from the sea, where I couldn't shoot back, right as I was poised to capture their city. Then, torpedoes happened. It felt kind of like losing a game of rock-paper-scissors, and then drop kicking the guy you lost to across the street into a dumpster. Needless to say, any naval advantage the Danes (or anyone on the map, for that matter) may have had has evaporated.

Goin' off the rails
1918 A.D.: The remainder of the Danish navy is chased down and destroyed by UNK submersibles. With the besieging companies at Viborg holding strong, newly-arrived reinforcements are redirected to Aarhus.

1920 A.D.: A new UNK prime minister, as his first act in office, orchestrates a diplomatic pact between the UNK and both of the great Eastern powers: Rome and Russia, once bitter enemies.

With the Celts proving a notable exception, I've come to the conclusion that you just have to sail the way the diplomatic winds are blowing in Civ V. Denmark will soon be mine, which will mean I will share an enormous border with Greece. I saw a chance to unite Rome and Russia against them, and you can bet I took it. As of now, Russia is still friends with Greece (in addition to myself and Rome), so their loyalty isn't assured. I've also risked losing Spain as an ally. While not openly at war with Rome -- for the moment -- they are not exactly the best of friends.

The first major railroad in the UNK begins construction from Sigtuna to Stockholm, speeding commerce and creating thousands of new jobs.

Connecting cities with railroads gives both ends a nice production bonus, and it gives my workers (who were running out of tiles to improve) something to do. Where to set my tech path next, though? Plastics? Combustion engines? Oh, that's right. How about Nuclear Freaking Bombs? I'll pick up Replaceable Parts on the way, allowing the building of Great War Infantry and making my Caroleans obsolete. I'm going to focus all of my major cities on making as many Caroleans as possible in the nine turns before that happens, as any Caroleans that I upgrade to higher-tech infantry will retain their unique unit bonuses.

1921 A.D.: Rome and the UNK sign a research agreement. Something about cutting very tiny things in half. The majority of the world doesn't really understand the significance.

Greece capturing Vienna is really what re-asserted them as public enemy number one. I'm willing to say "No hard feelings" to Rome, so long as they can be useful.

Elsewhere, England and Denmark denounce the UNK's Celtic allies. It does them little good, as Aarhus is captured after a long and bloody siege. Viborg, amazingly, still holds out.

The New Allied Powers Administration
1922 A.D.: Russia renews its denunciation of Rome, putting an end to the brief peace between the two nations that the UNK was able to build. Another war on the Eastern continent seems inevitable.

1924 A.D.: A Great Engineer builds the UNK's first manufactory at Sigtuna, creating yet more jobs and greatly increasing the city's production output. It is immediately put to work making arms and ammunition for the troops stationed at Graz, as Greek troops begin to mass on the border there.

Well, we all knew this day would come. Greece has conquered everything between me and them. I'm no fool, and I know they're looking to claim my lands next. I won't give them an inch.

In light of these troop movements, the Norsemen call the Sigtuna Conference. After much debate and compromise, mutual defensive pacts are agreed upon between the UNK, Celts, Rome, and Russia. While tensions between the Romans and the Russians remain high, they recognize the Greek threat as greater and come together. Spain and England are notoriously absent.

This ad-hoc league is dubbed the New Allied Powers Administration (NAPA). The UNK, as the head of the Defense Council, denounces Greece to the world. Rome is the first to join in, but Russia publicly objects.

1925 A.D.: Viborg is captured at last, ending the bloodiest siege in Norse history. Fresh forces from the North move in on the Danish capital of Copenhagen.

You say you want a revolution...
1926 A.D.: Copenhagen is besieged with the aid of the UNK's fresh 2nd Artillery.

1927 A.D.: The Democratic Socialist Party comes into power in the UNK parliament, leading to a brief period of civil strife that ends with the adoption of a socialist form of government. The UNK is officially renamed the NDU (Norse Democratic Union). The rioting is worst in formerly-Danish Aarhus, where the citizens only recently released from the tyrannical rule of the Danish king are most eager for change. Yet, even in Stockholm and Sigtuna, greedy guild leaders who have been running rackets for over a century are dragged from their homes and killed. The honorary offices of the royal family are done away with as well. Sweeping and decisive action by the new parliament eventually restores order, though the nation is left forever changed.

At this point in the game, you have the choice to go into one of three mutually-exclusive policy trees: Freedom, Autocracy (Facism), and Order (Socialism). For an empire of my size and the strategy I'm going for, Order made the most sense. Freedom best fits smaller empires, and Autocracy is almost entirely military-focused. Order gives me huge production bonuses, keeps my people happier (offsetting the frowny faces from occupying most of Denmark), and perhaps most importantly, increases the strength of my units by 25% in friendly territory. Yeah, what up Greece?

1928 A.D.: Copenhagen is captured, and the Danish government is forced to flee West to Tunsberg.

Six of the twelve civs that started this game have lost their capitals. Being the last to hold mine would win me a domination victory, but again, that's not my goal.

Preparing for the war to end all wars
1930 A.D.: Agents of the NDU's newly-reorganized NSS (Norse Secret Service) in Berlin steal blueprints for military aircraft from the Greeks. The designs are immediately sent back to Stockholm to be improved upon and put into production.

The bad news is that Greece researched Flight before me. The good news is I just got it from them for free. Thanks, guys! Apparently becoming socialist has given my spies backbones.

1931 A.D.: Swedish arms manufacturers produce the SV-1, the NDU's first repeating infantry rifle. They rush to start refitting all front line troops with the new weapons, to counter the Greek troops who have been using repeating rifles for some time.

I can now spend my teetering stacks of gold to upgrade my Caroleans to Great War Infantry, retaining their bonuses for starting as Caroleans. Unfortunately, any future infantry I build will not get these bonuses.

A Great General arrives in Graz late in the year, atop a crate of shiny, new SV-1s, to help hold the city against a potential Greek assault from Vienna.

1932 A.D.: Despite inflicting heavy losses on the NDU, Danish forces at Tunsberg are overrun. What remains of the Danish government holes up in their only remaining city, Salzburg. An expeditionary unit is sent to take the city, but the majority of the NDU forces are redeployed to the newly-shared Greek border South of Tunsberg. The Norse Ministry of Defense begins drafting two comprehensive strategies: Operation Justicar, to hold the border at Graz, and the ambitious Operation Firestorm, a blitzkrieg expedition into Greece to relieve border pressure before the Greeks can mount a full invasion.

My current plan is this: I do not want, not could I sustain the unhappiness of occupying, large swathes of Greece. Graz is an incredibly defensible city, and I should have no trouble holding it. My new Danish holdings, however, are wide open. My aim is going to be to slowly attack and burn the smaller cities of Northern Greece, salting the earth and creating a sort of "demilitarized zone" between our two nations. I'll keep knocking over cities and setting them on fire until I'm sure that their production and science output is too low to compete with me any longer.

Introducing the SV-42 Westerland
1933 A.D.: The Danish government-in-exile signs the Treaty of Tunsberg, making peace with the NDU after 77 years of conflict. The premier of the NDU declares the Great Unification of the Norse people complete. The Principality of Salzburg, a traditionally Austrian holding, is allowed to remain in under hereditary Danish rule.

1937 A.D.: Russian spies make contact with the NSS, warning them of an English plot against the Norse Union. England asks for an open borders agreement shortly after. The Norse heed the Russian warning, and refuse.

1942 A.D.: Swedish arms manufacturers at Birka develop the world's first assault rifle, the SV-42 Westerland, named for its creator and the region it came from. Priority NDU infantry companies begin to receive retrofits of the new weapons.

This bodes well. I'm now replacing my Great War Infantry with "Infantry," which despite the shorter name, are much more powerful. I've passed Greece in infantry tech, which will make a huge difference when the war finally kicks into gear.

1943 A.D.: Russia finally joins the other NAPA nations in denouncing Greece, abandoning its once-ally.

1945 A.D.: Greece declares war on the Principality of Salzburg, last bastion of the Danish royal government.

1947 A.D.: Just when it seemed there would be peace in the East, Rome unexpectedly declares new war on Russia. This breach of the NAPA treaties leaves many calling for its expulsion, but Rome assures the world that its strike was preemptive and necessary. The NDU, as the standing head of the Defense Council, recognizes that its own pending actions would be seen as hypocritical if it did not support Rome's tactics. It votes to expel Russia instead. The Celts back this decision, and Russia is removed from NAPA protection.

Later in the year, Danish Salzburg falls to the Greeks, erasing all traces of the royal government. The NDU begins moving units into position for the initiation of Operation Firestorm.

Rain of fire
1948 A.D.: A great castle is built in Stockholm to house the premier and members of parliament. From its steps, the premier gives a speech outlining his 10 Year Plan to revolutionize the less-developed areas of the NDU.

Yet another Wonder, Neuschwanstein, will give me tons of gold, happiness, and culture. I've also picked up the Planned Economy policy, which gives me Science for every factory I've built. I was already outpacing the rest of the word, and this has caused my science output to SOAR, an increase of about 17% from what it was before.

January, 1949 A.D.: The Firestorm Invasion commences at dawn on New Year’s Day. NDU artillery hit Elis and Mytilene simultaneously, while infantry armed with the superior SV-42 rifles open fire on Greek troops. The Celts and Russians refuse to join the unilateral invasion.

In response, Greek special forces launch surgical strikes targeting NDU artillery. The venerable 1st Artillery is wiped out, and the 2nd Artillery is forced to fall back to Tunsberg.

This is a crushing early loss, as pounding Greece's weak border cities with artillery was the "Firestorm" part of "Operation Firestorm." Now I'm just left with "Operation New Name Pending," but the invasion is far from over.

July, 1949 A.D.: NDU submarines sink the Greek fleet outside the port town of Mytilene. Infantry units advance on the city, while Greek forces swing around the Northern flank of the Swedish armies from Salzburg. They establish a line of heavy machine gun nests between Elis and Sazlburg.

Back at home, a Great Scientist in Uppsala makes significant advances toward splitting the atom.

I expended a Great Scientist for an immediate science boost, since I already have four or five academies and we're coming up on the "late game." It wasn't quite enough to finish my research on Atomic Theory, but it did reduce the remaining time to one turn.

I am become Death
Spring, 1950 A.D.: Greek bombers deployed from Mytilene destroy the remnants NDU 2nd Artillery, further crippling the invasion force. Knowing that they won’t be able to achieve air superiority on this front yet, the NDU generals make Mytilene airfield the priority target of the invasion.

In the West, NDU forces easily repel an attack on Graz from Vienna.

Summer, 1950 A.D.: Greece bizarrely deploys outdated cavalry units deep into NDU territory. The Norsemen aren’t worried, considering many of their civilians carry handguns that would make short work of these “soldiers.”

Meanwhile, the heroic Norse Third Infantry holds off an overwhelming counterattack by land and air at Mytilene long enough for reinforcements to arrive.

Fall, 1950 A.D.: The first Norse military fighter planes are launched from Tunsberg to intercept Greek bombers, ending Greece's air superiority on the Eastern front.

1951 A.D.: Norse scientists at Uppsala split the atom. Work immediately begins on the Stockholm Project to develop nuclear weapons. The Norse Union enters the Atomic Age.

The war with Greece I've been anticipating for hundreds of turns has finally come, and I'm counting on the might of the atom bomb being enough to break their backs and end a legacy of aggression and conquest that has held the world by the throat for thousands of years. They have proved more resilient than any previous enemy I've faced so far, shoving my original strategy right back into my eye socket and forcing me to improvise. We'll see how they improvise when their cities are flattened and riddled with gamma radiation.
PC Gamer

The magic of QuakeCon has cut a modest 25% off of Steam's Bethesda/id Software catalog for the weekend, with bigger deals rotating daily. At the time of writing, RAGE is 50% off. (Note: see below for possibly better deals.)

50% off RAGE - $9.99
25% off The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - $44.99
25% off Hunted: The Demon’s Forge - $14.99
25% off Fallout: New Vegas - $14.99
25% off Fallout 3: GOTY Edition - $14.99
25% off The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion GOTY Edition - $14.99
25% off The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind GOTY Edition - $14.99
75% off Titan Quest - $3.74
More Steam deals

GameFly's QuakeCon sale is just like Steam's, except -- what's this? RAGE is cheaper on GameFly. And so is The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Huh! Keep an eye on it.

Again with the QuakeCon deals, and again with a couple better prices than Steam. (What's going on? I'm scared.) GameStop currently has RAGE for $6.79 and Skyrim for $40.19 (same as last week for that one). I've listed a few unrelated deals below:

75% off Orcs Must Die! GOTY - $3.24
50% off Quantum Conundrum - $7.49
66% off Supreme Commander 2 - $4.99
50% off Borderlands - $9.99

A new challenger! Instead of riding along on the QuakeCon bandwagon, Get Games is offering discounts on Take 2 and Batman games.

30% off Civilization V: Gods & Kings - $20.99
70% off Civilization V - $8.99
75% off Civilization III Complete - $1.25
75% off Civilization IV Complete - $7.49
70% off Mafia II - $8.99
60% off Bioshock 2 - $7.99
65% off Batman Arkham City - $6.99
45% off Batman Arkham Asylum GOTY - $10.99
50% off LEGO Batman - $9.99
75% off Stronghold 3 Gold - $9.99

Though Amazon is usually a discount powerhouse, it's way down here this week because it's got a pretty stagnant rotation of deals lately. The only major new addition I could find this week is The Darkness II, and that's not very major.

Checking hardware, I did see that most GeForce GTX 670s and GTX 680s are at least a little discounted. Newegg's prices look to be about the same, though, so cross-reference.

75% off The Darkness II - $12.49
25% off Empire: Total War - $15.05
72% off Mount & Blade - $4.17
50% off Mount & Blade: Warband - $10.03
26% off Dragon Age 2 - $14.74
25% off Mass Effect 2 - $14.92
71% off Trine - $5.83
50% off Mount & Blade: Warband - $9.95
27% off Dungeon Siege 3 - $14.68
50% off Tropico 4 - $19.99
26% off Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 - $14.84
More Amazon PC game downloads

This week's alliterative sale takes 50% off Tremendous TopWare Titles.

If you find any great deals I missed, please do share them in the comments. Additionally, I thought this might be a good space to start sharing what we'll be playing this weekend. I plan to leave Civilization V: Gods & Kings on the ground to conquer the stars in Endless Space. Probably some EVE Online too. Space: it's really, really great. What are you up to?
PC Gamer
Civilization V Gods and Kings review

When you crush someone, even an entire civilisation, it’s always best to wipe the slate clean of everything they believed in. To help with this, a mysterious city state has revealed itself close to Civilization V’s borders – an expansion that’s ready to introduce religion to an already tumultuous world.

Two years on from the Meier stable’s last missive, Gods & Kings can be seen as an act of appeasement. It reintroduces systems such as Faith and Espionage that many Civ IV acolytes felt had become part of the game’s bedrock – and who thought that the successes of Civ V in combat and game flow rang slightly hollow in their absence.

Firaxis’s approach to religion provides a nuanced and personal approach to a monolithic subject matter – letting you tend to your religion from its earliest origins. Faith is a resource like Gold or Culture, and can be gathered from the things you build and the social policies you take on – ultimately letting you create a Pantheon and choose from a long list of potential Beliefs. Each belief can provide bonuses to your Civ (say, a God of the Sea who can help with your food supply), and when a Great Prophet starts knocking around you can make your kooky belief system official. I call mine Awesomeism – and delight in strapping extra founder and follower beliefs to it, and of course using it to infect the cities of non-awesome infidels.

It’s a hugely customisable system that genuinely redirects the flow of early diplomacy, and neatly plays into advances made with City States. Formerly the favour of these mewling mini-Civs could be bought with cold hard cash, but they now provide a wider roster of potential quest hoops for you and your rivals to jump through to secure their love. These can be global (say, rewarding whoever generates the most culture in 10 turns) or applicable to you alone (perhaps building a specific Wonder, or spreading Awesomeism). It forces you to narrow your focus, and makes you properly riled when rivals try to butter up your charges.

Espionage is a little less tactile; an overlay rather than a story played out with units. Spies are ordered around the map in a separate window – providing sneak-peeks at enemy city screens, interfering with City State elections and stealing tech. Irritatingly, of course, these aloof chaps can also be used against you. Of all of Gods & King’s advances, this feels the least well integrated, but anyone who says it doesn’t come in handy has never shared a border with Hiawatha. The two-faced git.

Gods & Kings re-energises Civ V, providing a much stronger feeling of direction and personalisation to the way you rear your society. For those who, after an initial foray, retreated back to the ever-fertile fields of Civ IV it may have come too late, but those who have shown faith will be richly rewarded.
PC Gamer
1 Industrial

My friends! Gather 'round the fire and prepare to hear an epic tale that spans the entirety of human history! I'm in the middle of chronicling my progress in Civ V's Gods & Kings expansion, with a new entry every Wednesday. Last week, my Swedish civilization plowed through the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Now, with my lines of muskets and cannons on the move for Austria, war on a scale not yet seen by my people is set to commence. Read on, as the sound of gunfire echoes across the continent!

Missed the start? Here's Part 1.

Titans of industry
I'm way out in front in the tech race right now, hitting the Industrial Era when a good portion of the map is still Medieval. I'm heading straight for Rifling next, so I can begin building the Swedish unique Caroleans that will form the backbone of my grand army. I'll pick up Banking and Economics on the way. You know, since I wasn't rich enough already.

1704 A.D.: The first professional Swedish musket regiment is raised in Sigtuna. The timing is fortuitous, as later that year, Denmark unexpectedly declares preemptive war on Sweden. The Celts and Greeks immediately agree to come to Sweden's aid against the warmongering Danes. The Swedish Lord-Governors had assumed the invasion of Austria would put them in conflict with Denmark, but they never expected their Norse cousins to strike first. Skirmishes near the border signal the beginning of the Great Continental War.

Looks like I lost the initiative in this conflict. Denmark's army is primitive compared to mine, but it includes the Danish unique Berserker units. Since Denmark is my most-played Civ, I am very familiar with how badly they can wreck things. Fortunately, this is a land war, and one of the berserkers' strengths is their ability to execute coastal raids. It is with a heavy heart that I send my forces to spill the blood of my longest-standing ally.

1708 A.D.: Lightning strikes by the Danish berserkers force the Swedish border regiments to fall back toward Sigtuna. The Danes press on, but are decimated by gunfire trying to cross the River of Storms. Though they're aided by swift, agile longboats, the melee troops are unprepared to face modern firearms.

Total war
1710 A.D.: Word arrives that another great Eastern empire has fallen.

To recap, that puts us at 10 remaining world powers. Nine, really, considering the fact that Germany almost doesn't count anymore. And Austria, it seems, is not long for this world either. While Vienna is still the greatest city in the known world, it is their only city. And I have cannons.

Later in the year, Swedish musketmen cross the River of Storms to flank the Danish vanguard. The entire column is gunned down, and the few survivors rout. The Swedish army advances on the Danish city of Kaupang, capital of the Southern Stormlands. Capturing it would mean uniting all of the Stormland lords for the first time in history. To this point, Swedish losses since the war began have been the lowest of any conflict in the nation's history. Both sides put their lines under the command of a Great General, and brace for the inevitable clash.

To the East, Sweden and the Celts jointly declare war on Denmark's Austrian allies. Several Austrian-allied city-states pledge their aid to the outnumbered defenders.

Summer, 1714 A.D.: Swedish explorers come into contact with Spain, another great Eastern nation and the founders of Islam.

Elsewhere, Danish knights execute a brilliant flank and overrun a Swedish regiment at the River of Storms before they can load their muskets. They are dealt with shortly thereafter, when the Swedish column swings around to pin them against the river. Soon after, their armies dashed against superior Swedish technology, the Danes offer a peace treaty that includes regular tributes to the Swedish crown. Sweden gladly accepts, wishing to mend the divide between them and their ancient allies, while focusing their military strength on Austria.

Greece and Celtica refuse the treaty, and continue to press on Denmark from the South.

So, at this point, Greece and the Celts are at war with Denmark, but I am not. And the Celts and I are at war with Austria, but Greece is not. All three of us are ostensibly allies, but neither of the two opposing nations is facing the full might of the trinity.

Winter, 1714 A.D.: The Swedish great guilds set up the world's first unified banking system, bringing even more economic growth across the nation.

The Swedish spy network in Vienna reports that the Austrians have no technology of value to steal. Considering how the last few battles went, they assume the same will be true of Denmark, and relocate to Greece.

Denmark issues a denouncement of Sweden for its continued aggression against Austria, though it doesn't seem eager to send any more troops into Sweden to reinforce its point.

As the year draws to a close, Spain and Sweden exchange embassies and the Celts capture Danish-occupied Salzburg. At the crossroads of the continent, the Broken City (named as a humorous counterpart to Vienna, the Unbreakable City), has now been occupied by the original Austrians, the Germans, the Danes, and the Celts at different points in history.

Much intrigue is brewed
1720 A.D.: Greek spies report that the Danes are planning another invasion of Sweden. Having manned their eastern border with the best troops available, the Swedes are less than worried.

1722 A.D.: Germany denounces Denmark, mostly just to remind the world that they still exist. This, ostensibly, puts them on the side of the Swedes, the Celts, and the Greeks, though they have participated in a grand total of no battles in the Great Continental War so far.

Later that year, the Celts approach the Swedish Lord-Governors with word that Greece plans to invade Celtic-occupied Salzburg. This betrayal is sure to shatter what remains of the once-mighty Continental Alliance, and the Celts seek allies in a war on Greece. The Swedes decline, knowing that the continent has seen enough war and wanting to foster stability, not more factional disputes.

Elsewhere, the Swedes make contact with the Eastern nation of England. Its magnificent capital of London dwarfs even great Vienna.

1726 A.D.: Swedish spies uncover that Greece is building a great fleet with the intention of sailing to the New World and invading England. They elect to keep this information to themselves.

I could earn some Brownie points with England by sharing my intel, but at this point that wouldn't do me a whole lot of good. Greece is right next door and has a larger (albeit more primitive) army than I do, so I'd prefer to keep them on good terms. Plus, if they're attacking England, they won't be attacking me.

The Battle of Graz
1728 A.D.: England and Sweden exchange embassies.

Later in the year, after securing the frontier, Swedish infantry finally march on the small city of Graz, Austria. Just North of Vienna, holding it would provide a strong foothold for assaulting the Unbreakable City.

1736 A.D.: The Swedes master Economics, as their armies besiege Graz with the aid of the 1st Artillery.

Summer, 1740 A.D.: A Swedish Great General leads a daring river crossing on the crumbling walls of Graz. His forces take heavy losses, filling the river with dead. But by noon of the following day, the city is in Swedish hands. They elect to leave the existing city council in place, under the watch of a governor-general from Birka. This marks the first Swedish occupation of a city belonging to a major foreign power in history.

Conquest, at last! I now own the Northwest portion of the continent, everything west of Denmark and east of what I'm calling the Austrian Alps. I'm electing to leave it a puppet for now, which means the AI will decide what it builds while I reap the raw benefits of owning it.

Across the sea, the Swedes meet the mighty Russian Empire.

In the cannon-shattered streets of Graz, Swedish generals draft a plan to cross the Southern fork of the Austrian River and take Vienna, with Celtic troops moving in from the Northwest to assist.

Greece's infamy grows
Winter, 1740 A.D.: The Austrians offer to empty the grand coffers of Vienna in exchange for peace. Sweden accepts the ransom, leaving one seasoned unit in Graz while the rest of its forces and the 1st Artillery head to the Eastern front to counter a continually rumored, second Danish invasion.

The Swedes and the Russians exchange embassies, and the Swedes master metallurgy.

This would allow me to build my unique Hakkapeliitta cavalry... if I had ANY horses AT ALL.

Spain and Austria jointly denounce Greece, which remains at war with Austria having rejected its treaty.

1746 A.D.: The Swedes sign a research agreement with the Celts.

Good. Clearly this scuffle over Salzburg has clued the Celts into the fact that Greece is steamrollering everyone at everything but science, and they don't need any more boosts in that department. This agreement was almost free for me, as well, as the ransom I got from Austria almost completely covered the cost. Who says war can't pay for science?

England joins in denouncing Greece, making it disliked by most of the known world.

1748 A.D.: Russian spies inform the Swedes that England is plotting against them.

Uh, so, a nation far less powerful than I am is planning on crossing the world to attack me, while under threat of invasion by the world's great superpower? Sounds like a good idea.

Later the same year, Spain goes to war with England. This likely halts whatever plans England had to invade Sweden.

New alliances
1754 A.D.: A Great Merchant founds Sweden’s first customs house at Birka, turning the once desolate, barbarian-infested Westerlands into not only an academic hub, but an economic one as well.

Rome seeks Swedish aid in a war against Russia. Sweden declines, having no interest in committing troops to an overseas war it holds no stake in. Meanwhile, Celtic troops pass through Swedish-occupied Graz on the way to besiege Vienna.

Sweden and Spain make a declaration of friendship in an attempt to bridge the divide between their continents. The Swedes also make contact with France, the last of the major Eastern powers.

1756 A.D.: Austria denounces Sweden for allowing attacking Celtic troops to pass through Graz uncontested. Said troops cross the Southern fork of the Austrian River and win a favorable engagement against the Austrian defenders outside Vienna.

France and Sweden exchange embassies, making Stockholm one of the only cities in the world to host diplomats from every major power.

1760 A.D.: Rome denounces Russia, and the Spanish-English war ends with a declaration of friendship. Sweden goes on to declare friendship with both Eastern powers, looking for new allies as the Celts remain the only Western nation it can trust.

It's starting to shake out like this: Greece is the major power in the West, with my Swedes a few steps behind. On the Eastern continent, Rome in the North and Russia in the South are the big dogs, and seem poised for war. I can tell by looking at city names that Rome has conquered the Dutch, who I never met, and large portions of France. France, it seems, is the Germany of the East, just barely surviving. England and Spain are modestly-sized, and sandwiched between the Russian and Roman war machines. It seems they've come to their senses and realized if they don't stick together, they will both be swallowed up. I plan to support them both, as anything that weakens the other superpowers helps secure my victory.

Germany's last stand
Summer, 1768 A.D.: The Greeks warn Sweden that continued relations with England will put their two nations at odds.

I saw this coming. Greece and England don't get along. Actually, Greece doesn't get along with much of anyone anymore. The Danish don’t particularly like them, but they don’t like me, either. If Greece starts a war, I will only be able to count on the Celts and my overseas allies for aid, and Greece might be strong enough to wipe us all out. And that’s assuming they don’t also get the Danes on their side.

Meanwhile, Greek forces overwhelm the city of Munich, putting a final end to the scrappy German Empire. Greece's borders now extend to the south end of Denmark and Austria, claiming nearly half of the continent's land area.

Winter, 1768 A.D.: As the threat of Greek hegemony grows, the Swedes invent the first rifled firearms. Far deadlier and more accurate than smooth-bore muskets, the Swedish army begins phasing out an infantry weapon that was already ahead of most of the world. The first rifle regiment are the Swedish Royal Guard, trained at the prestigious Stockholm military academy.

Hell yeah, Caroleans! I can now build Sweden's unique infantry that heal hitpoints every turn, even if they took another action. Perfect for brute-force, protracted campaigns. To give you some idea of how technologically supreme my military is, these guys are about equivalent in power to World War I infantry... while the Celts, for one example, are still using mostly Pikemen and Longswordsmen.

Next stop on the tech tree is Scientific Theory, which will improve my production and Science yields by allowing me to build public schools.

1776 A.D.: A renewed Defensive Pact is established between the Celts, the Greeks, and the Swedes, forming the New Continental Alliance.

It may seem odd, but right now, being friends with Greece is a good plan. I've decided that eventually stomping them into feta-scented dust is not going to be optional if I want any hope of winning, but the more time I have to extend my tech lead and build a sprawling campaign army, the better. I'm also getting free Great Person points for being friends with them, so in a way, they can only harm themselves by continuing this alliance.

A Celtic spy steals some texts on astronomy from Sigtuna. Sweden confronts the Celtic queen with this, and she apologizes, agreeing to bar her operatives from working on Swedish soil.

The Swedish spy network is the laughing stock of the intelligence community. They have never stopped any action of a foreign agent, and only about half the time are they even able to identify the thief. I suppose subtlety is not our strong suite.

Lines are drawn
1782 A.D.: Roman spies warn of a Russian plot against Sweden. The last warning regarding England never amounted to anything, and Rome is known to be on hostile terms with Russia. The Swedes begin to wonder about Roman spies. Nonetheless, they play it safe and refuse a declaration of friendship proposed by Russia later that year.

I hate to turn down Great Person points from friendship declarations, but it's getting to the point on the global stage where declaring friendship with the wrong nation could have dire ramifications. My advisers tell me that Rome has an even larger military than Greece (although their people are quite unhappy), and the last thing I need right now is Romans storming my beaches.

A Great Scientist founds the Academy of Westerland near Birka, a rival to the Academy of Birka. The Westerlands become the academic center of the world.

1788 A.D.: England denounces Russia. Upon hearing of this, Greece voices its support for the Russians by refusing to renew its declarations of friendship with English/Spanish-allied Sweden and Celtica.

Interesting. It seems Russia and Greece may be building an alliance that spans the Southern Hemisphere. If that happens, the four of us non-warmongering civs will probably have to bring Rome into our fold to act as a check.

1794 A.D.: The Swedish-Austrian road begins construction at Linköping to connect Sweden’s Austrian holdings around Graz to the fatherland.

The time for war is nigh
1802 A.D.: Celtic spies uncover an impending Greek invasion of Graz. The Swedes prepare to defend.

Greece would have to go through Salzburg (held by the Celts) or Vienna (held by the Austrians) to get to me. As they're unlikely to get an open borders agreement with either, this means they'd have to declare war. This is assuming they don't try to attack from the West by sea, but from what I can tell, they don't have much of a navy on this side of the continent.

1804 A.D.: Greeks ask for an open borders pact with Sweden. The Swedes send them a painted ship's sail, which breaks the world record for the largest-ever depiction of the word "NOPE." Meanwhile, Sweden makes a declaration of friendship with tiny, impoverished France.

1806 A.D.: The Celts ask for aid in a war against the Danes. The Swedes accept, eager for a reason to relieve the tension of Danish forces in the border marches.

The powder keg is lit
1812 A.D.: An Austrian Great Prophet begins trying to spread Confucianism in Sweden. The Lord-Governor of the Southwest Territories orders his caravan arrested. Hearing of this, the Austrians become furious and declare war on Sweden.

1814 A.D.: Greece denounces the Swedes, supporting Austria in its grievances against them.
Hmmm. Until now, it seemed Greece was poised to attack Austria. But it seems my actions have thrown them into a makeshift alliance of opportunity. At least Greece hasn't gone as far as to declare war on me. Since it could now pass troops safely through Austrian lands, Graz would be very vulnerable. I dispatch a large helping of troops there immediately.

1816 A.D.: Rome asks for aid against Russia. With the war with Austria reignited, and renewed war on Denmark soon to follow, Sweden declines.

The War That Wasn't
1820 A.D.: The Swedes formalize Scientific Theory.
I'm now turning toward Industrialization, which will let me upgrade my long-obsolete Crossbowmen into Gatling Guns, among other things.

Denmark requests an open borders pact. The Swedes invent the cynical eye-roll in response. Meanwhile, the Celts denounce Greece for supporting Austria instead of their once-allies.

1822 A.D.: The Sistine Chapel of Awesomeness is completed in Stockholm.
Nice. This will give me a pretty massive culture boost.

1824 A.D.: After twelve years of posturing, Austria once again asks for peace with Sweden. The Prophet's War ends with no actual military engagements having taken place. Later generations will nickname it "The War That Wasn't."

On the march
1828 A.D.: The Celts and the Swedes declare joint war on Denmark. The Swedish 1st Artillery mows down Danish knights on the western slopes of the Snowrun Peaks, leaving the countryside open for Swedish riflemen to advance on Kaupang.

Elsewhere, a trade road to Graz is finally completed.

1830 A.D.: Celtic heavy footmen are pushed back from the Danish city of Ribe.

1834 A.D.: The Kremlin is completed in Sigtuna.

This wonder will make all of my defensive buildings better, and gives me even more culture.

Ribe continues to repel Celtic attackers, while across the sea, Russia denounces Spain. The divide between the Southern superpowers and the Northern nations grows starker.

The Celts prove their mettle
1838 A.D.: The peak of the Swedish Industrial Revolution sees the advent of many new technologies.

Industrialization lets me build gatling guns and see coal deposits on the map, which are needed for many Industrial-era units and buildings. I'm now researching Electricity, which will lead into Radio and bring me into the Modern Era.

The first Swedish troops equipped with repeating firearms are dispatched to Kaupang.

1840 A.D.: The Roman-Russian War begins far to the East. Meanwhile, foreign spies steal Rifling tech from Stockholm.

On the long list of my spy network's failures, this is the greatest so far. I've officially lost my infantry tech edge, which is my single greatest military advantage at this point. The one saving grace is that my unique Caroleans will win any 1-to-1 engagement with vanilla Riflemen, and I'm not aware of any other civ in this game that gets a unique Rifleman replacement.

In a counter-attack, the Danes capture Salzburg from the Celts.

Summer, 1842 A.D.: Celtic forces cross the Bay of Storms to aid Swedish invasion massing on the Northern Danish border. Its southern forces lose a skirmish with Danish knights near Salzburg and fall back behind Swedish lines.

The Danes out-tech the Celts almost as much as I out-tech the Danes, so my allies are just getting shredded here. On the bright side, they are weakening the Danes with every battle, and I'm not having to risk my units as much. In the long run, the outcome of this war is foregone unless Greece gets involved.

Denmark seeks Eastern aid
Winter, 1842 A.D.: Danish musketmen trying to cross the River of Storms meet with heavy losses from Swedish gatling guns. The Swedish army closes in on Kaupang.

1843 A.D.: Denmark and Rome declare friendship.

This is very interesting indeed. Rome hates Russia, who is friends with Greece, who is an enemy of Denmark. That much makes sense. But the Celts and myself are also enemies of Denmark, as well as Greece (and by extension, Russia.) So this move has gained Rome an ally while alienating two more. It also still has the largest military, so I have to be ready for Roman reinforcements to join the Danes from the coast. I hope the ongoing Roman-Russian War will limit that.

A Great Artist and a Great General are born in Sigtuna.

Those Declarations of Friendship have paid off: I'm generating Great People way faster than anyone else.

1844 A.D.: The Great Artist founds a cultural landmark near Uppsala, making it a cultural hub of Sweden.

Elsewhere, Danish berserkers ambush the Celts besieging Ribe and wipe them out.

The United Stormlands
1846 A.D.: The Swedish 1st Artillery begins bombarding Kaupang.

England joins the Roman-Russian War on the side of Russia, breaking its ties to the Swedish-Celtic-Spanish alliance. The Celts publicly denounce Russia to express their disapproval.

Later in the year, Danish berserkers rush across the River of Storms to try and break the enemy lines, and are quickly shot down by Swedish forces.

1847 A.D.: The Danes erect primitive trebuchets, firing them across the River of Storms at the invading Swedes. They fail to inflict significant losses.

1847 A.D.: Kaupang is captured. The Southern Stormland Lords who once ruled it are allowed to keep their holdings as appointed Governor Generals of the Swedish crown. Many of them join with their Northern Stormland counterparts to form the United Stormlands Party, which advocates for a union of all Nordic people under one flag. Supporting this agenda, the Swedish army advances on the Danish city of Aarhus.

Spain makes a declaration of friendship with the defending Danish government, pressured by the Romans on their Northern border. Sweden is once again left with only the loyal Celts to back them.

This is yet another one of those "AI civ, what are you doing?!" moments. I suppose their motive has to be gaining favor with Rome from having declarations of friendship with the same civilizations. Which is understandable, since Rome could pretty much squash them like a bug any time it wants to.

The Fall of the High King
1849 A.D.: The Danes propose peace. While the High King and the United Stormlands Party wish to continue the war, the majority of Governor Generals from the Stockholm Valley, Westerlands, and Southwest Territories vote to accept the treaty. A brief revolt, known as the King's Storm, is suppressed and the reigning High King is executed. The office continues by a parliamentary appointment, but never again will a monarch hold significant political power in Sweden.

I’ve captured a city, and Denmark is still too far behind me in almost every area to be a threat. I need to start worrying about Greece before it’s too late to worry.

1849 A.D.: Greece declares war on Austria. It is clear to the world that Greek thirst for conquest has gotten out of control. The Swedes seek to ally the rest of the continent against them, starting with an exchange of embassies with their once-enemies in Austria.

Rome requests a declaration of friendship. The Swedes accept, knowing that it may take a fully united North to halt aggression from power-mad Greece and Russia.

1851 A.D.: Swedish mediators ensure that peace is made between Austria and the Celts, the Greek threat weighs heavy on the minds of all Western nations. Austria publicly denounces Greece's Russian allies, spinning another thread uniting the North against the South.

The Treaty of Vienna
1853 A.D.: The Swedes invent Electricity, and the cities of Sweden become beacons in the night, just as they bring their allies together against the looming shadow of Greece.

Elsewhere, the leaders of the world gather in Vienna. Rome, France, Celtica, Sweden, Denmark, and Austria are united in mutual defensive pacts under the Treaty of Vienna. They become known as the Viennese Alliance, the first inter-continental league of its kind, forged to counter Greek and Russian aggression on their respective continents. England and Spain choose to remain neutral, and the Swedish and Austrian delegates continue to butt heads over religious differences. Similar issues arise over the Swedish occupation of Graz and Kaupang. The Alliance is not without tension, but the mutual threats it faces bind it together.

1855 A.D.: Spain cuts all ties to Russia and joins the Treaty of Vienna. England agrees to publicly denounce Greece, though they still do not sign the Treaty.

1856 A.D.: England finally signs the Treaty of Vienna, becoming the last major power to do so. The Greco-Russian Axis now has, quite literally, all the powers of the world arrayed against them.

The road to world war
1858 A.D.: Greece and Russia enter a research agreement, cementing the ties between the Southern Axis powers. Denmark and Austria sign a similar agreement in counter.

1859 A.D.: The Danes denounce Celts, and Austria denounces Sweden, causing tension among the Treaty nations.

This was just... really dumb. If Denmark and Austria think they can spin off into their own little club and fight both the Alliance and the Axis, they are in for a rude awakening. Usually I can justify seemingly incompetent AI moves in Civ. For this one, I'm basically at a loss.

1860 A.D.: The establishment of a new Danish embassy begins to repair fractures in the Alliance. The United Stormlands Party, of course, opposes this decision. Later in the year, the Danes request an open borders treaty. Hoping to foster further positive relations, the Swedes reluctantly accept.

Seems like a coin toss whether or not this is some ploy to attack me again. But I'll humor them for now. They would do very minimal damage if they did decide to backstab me. Plus, I've got some trade agreements in place with Rome that should prevent them from coming to the Danes' aid this time.

1861 A.D.: The Celts and the Swedes enter a research agreement. The Danes and the Austrians follow with an agreement of their own. This makes Sweden nervous, as they are the two Treaty signatories that like the Swedes the least.

Later in the year, Rome and Russia make peace (although Rome continues to denounce the Russians), leaving the Romans to focus on the Greek problem.

1867 A.D.: England withdraws from the Treaty of Vienna and declares war on France.

Sweden and Rome sign a research agreement.

1868 A.D.: Swedish scientists invent the Radio, propelling Sweden into the Modern Age.

Wow, considering the first four eras were so uneventful I had to combine them into two posts, a ton has happened during my years of industrialization. Germany is gone, and France, it seems, will soon go the same way. Greece is only getting stronger, as its alliance with Russia creates a united Southern front that all the world fears. The Celts have become my most loyal allies, with Rome and Spain supporting me for the most part. Denmark and Austria are caught in the middle of North and South, seemingly hoping to defy both and stand alone.

World war seems inevitable. Check back next week as I take to the skies, and look beyond!
PC Gamer
1 Medieval

My friends! Gather 'round the fire and prepare to hear an epic tale that spans the entirety of human history! I'm in the middle of chronicling my progress in Civ V's Gods & Kings expansion, with a new entry every Wednesday. Last week, I started a new game as Sweden. This week, my Swedish civilization marches into the Middle Ages as the most technologically advanced nation in the world. But threats to the glorious empire wait around every corner... so read on to see legends unfold!

The War of Three Banners

The fifth century is off to a pretty good start. My economy is doing great, but my Happiness is close to going negative. I start researching Physics so I can build the Norte Dame wonder, which will give me a big bonus to Happiness and Faith.

430 A.D.: The first mint is constructed in Stockholm, printing coins bearing the visage of the first High King of Sweden.

490 A.D.: Denmark requests a gift of luxury resources from Sweden. They happily accept, having much to spare.

I made a similar deal like this with Austria. It might seem like charity, but as you'll recall, I get Great Person points for every civ I declare friendship with, so I'm investing in keeping the Danes on good terms.

550 A.D.: The progressive Swedish government presses their monarch to sign the Book of Sovereignty. It puts into effect a system of collective rule, giving more power to Lord-Governors on the local level and taking power away from the High King. Rebels in favor of a strong monarch are quickly put down by the combined might of the lords of the West, the Vale, and the Storm. The short, one-sided conflict comes to be known as the War of Three Banners.

This policy gives me a free settler, and lets me train settlers faster. It also completes the Liberty policy tree, which grants me a free Great Person. I choose a Great Scientist.

And no, Civ doesn't have a rebellion mechanic. But it adds flavor to the narrative to imply struggles within my borders, so I've given myself permission to do so.

565 A.D.: A Swedish Great Scientist founds the Academy of Stockholm.

Great Scientists can be expended for a one-time, huge boost to Science, or they can build an Academy that gives you ongoing Science. The latter is clearly the better long-term option, especially this early in the game.

Turmoil in the Stormlands and the rise of Awesomeness

610 A.D.: Uppsala, long the unofficial capital of the Northern Stormlands, grows into a full city. Located on the Bay of Storms east of Sigtuna, a road immediately begins construction to link it to the other great cities of Sweden. The divide between Northern Stormlanders, under Swedish rule, and Southern Stormlanders, under Danish rule, grows more pronounced. The Stormlands enter a period of feudal war between lords supporting Sweden, those supporting Denmark, and those supporting Stormlander independence. Both the Swedish and Danish nobility discreetly support the combatants, but neither side goes as far as to openly declare war or send their own men to the front.

670 A.D.: Islam is founded somewhere across the sea.

Yikes, what is that? Four religions? Five? Only seven can be founded per game, so I'm running out of time.

715 A.D.: Swedish scientists at the Academy of Stockholm observe and catalog the laws of physics.

Aww yeah, in your face, Newton! What are we, like, 900 years ahead of the curve here? Next I turn my tech path toward Education, so I can start making research agreements with some of the less-enlightened people of the world.

775 A.D.: Germany founds Judaism, and immediately declares holy war on Austria. The same year, a Great Prophet begins preaching of Awesome things in Stockholm...

WOW, right under the wire! My new religion, Awesomeness, ended up being the seventh of seven possible world religions. If I'd waited any longer, I would have had to watch helplessly as missionaries from other civs spread their faiths, with nothing I could really do about it. Now I can train Missionaries to convert others to the ways of Awesomeness, and eventually, Inquisitors to burn any less-than-Awesome heretics from my lands.

Since I am last, I get last pick of the available founder beliefs. I choose Tithing, which will give me gold for every follower of Awesomeness in the world, and Religious Community, which gives me a production bonus. Wouldn't have been my first choices, but not too bad for the bottom of the barrel.

A Celtic cold war

835 A.D.: Large Celtic warbands are spotted on the border near Uppsala. The High King dispatches forces there to defend, knowing that the warring Stormland lords cannot hold the border while civil war continues between them.

For the duration of this entire game, the Celts have kind of been that creepy neighbor who you see coming and going, but who doesn't talk to anyone, and no one really knows what he does for a living. They were the first to found a religion, but they haven't made any attempts to spread it. They move their troops around near the Swedish and Danish borders, but they've never declared war. They kind of have a whole subcontinent to themselves up there, and no one really has any idea what goes on in it. Luckily, they don't seem to have any units that match my tech level, so any invasion would be quickly thwarted.

860 A.D.: The First German Crusade ends, dashed against the walls of mighty Vienna. Still standing as the largest and most glorious city on the continent, it becomes known as The Unbreakable City.

890 A.D.: With the threat of Celtic raiders still looming, a Swedish Great General takes up residence at Uppsala and builds the Storm Wall to keep the city safe.

Meanwhile, Sweden's economy struggles.

960 A.D.: Sweden's regional Lord-Governors implement a system of Civil Service, offsetting much of the economic downturn of the late 9th and early 10th Centuries.

This gives a nice boost to all of my farms that have access to fresh water, which includes all of the ones built along the Snowrun River in the Stockholm Valley.

All hail the Awesome Pope!

1000 A.D.: The High Middle Ages dawn as the massive Cathedral of Awesomeness is completed in Stockholm, creating a rallying point and symbol of unity for followers of the quickly-spreading faith.

Completing Notre Dame gives me huge Happiness and Faith bonuses, which will allow me to begin settling even more cities. I want to expand as much as possible before the Renaissance hits, so I can churn out huge numbers of my unique units and bring about an era of military supremacy.

1030 A.D.: The Second German Crusade against Austria, the third major conflict between the two nations, begins. Nobody is surprised.

1060 A.D.: Swedish Lord-Governors begin to encourage commerce between cities, ending the 170-year period of financial instability for Sweden and making it a dominant economic power on the continent in just a few short years.

I had planned to pick up the Patronage policy tree and start courting city-states at this point, but the fact that my economy was still in the red despite my best efforts made Commerce the clear best choice. This represents a major change in strategy... I may look at going for a Science victory rather than a Diplomatic one. The map is a pretty big factor. I've noticed that Continents Plus puts almost all of the city-states on their own little islands, making it very impractical to befriend them in the early game. And even when you do find them, you need a pretty dominant navy (or a massive, massive treasury) to hang onto them.

1070 A.D.: Construction is completed on a massive palace for the first Awesomeness Pope to live in. He brings new perspectives and insights into the faith.

My wonder count climbs! I built the Hagia Sophia, which gives me a free Great Prophet. Your second Great Prophet enhances your existing religion, adding new beliefs and, thus, new bonuses. Again, I don't have much to pick from being the latest comer to the world religion arena. I pick up Choral Music, which gives me extra culture from temples, and Religious Texts, which causes my religion to spread faster (a bonus that doubles when I research the printing press.)

Germany issues a public denouncement of Greece. Later in the year, Denmark pledges to aid Austria, whose walls are currently beset by German crusaders. The Swedes elect not to send troops, but issue a denouncement of Germany for their continued aggression.

I'll be honest, I get denounced a lot in Civ... but for some reason it never occurred to me to denounce offensively until now. What this will basically do is make it less likely for the other AI leaders who like me to make any sort of agreements with Germany. It also ruins our chances of ever becoming friends pretty blatantly, but I'm not so worried about that.

Germany denounces Sweden in turn. As if that means anything to anyone.

We don't need no education... but it helps, I will give you that

1120 A.D.: Sweden becomes the first nation to develop a formal education system. It is led mostly by monks of Awesomeness, who later that year begin traveling across Sweden to spread the Awesome word to the outlying Westerland and Stormland domains.

Since I'm getting tithes from every follower, I don't want to wait around for Awesomeness to spread on its own. I'll start with my own cities, then move on to Denmark and Austria. Converting Vienna, still the largest city in the world by population, would be a huge coup. In the meantime, I'm turning my tech path toward guilds to supplement my huge religious income with additional secular income.

1150 A.D.: The first Swedish war fleet is launched from Helsinki.

Naval units haven't been much of a priority in this game so far, but it would be just a little too easy for the Celts to raid my coast as-is. And besides, before we know it, we'll start making contact with whatever civs lie across the ocean.

Awesomeness becomes the majority religion in bustling Sigtuna (second only to Vienna in terms of population) and in Uppsala, where most of the Northern Stormlander lords have adopted it. Long in danger of falling to Celtic Christianity, the Awesome Pope expresses his pleasure that they have chosen the true, Swedish religion. The Westerlands remain largely unswayed by the Church of Awesome.

1190 A.D.: Nine Great Guilds rise to power in the Stockholm Valley, and are granted large freedoms to manage coin and trade by the Lord Governors. Sweden's economy booms, and the royal treasuries overflow with more gold than anyone knows what to do with.

1220 A.D.: The burgeoning Swedish navy wipes out a troublesome band of corsairs off the coast of Austria.

The University of Sigtuna becomes the first institution of its kind in the known world.

War brews in the Age of Discovery

1225 A.D.: The Danes and the Swedes enter into a research agreement.

I was waiting for this very turn for Denmark to have enough gold to make this work, and they beat me to the proposal. Essentially, we both pay a large sum of gold (which poofs into nothingness) and get a huge, mutual science bonus after several turns have passed. Since I'm currently pretty rich, I'm going to try to make as many of these agreements as I can.

1260 A.D.: A professor at the University of Sigtuna invents the compass. Swedish ships use the new device to travel the seas in ways never before possible. A Swedish Golden Age begins.

My economy was already booming. Now, the money coming in is INSANE. I start buying buildings that will increase my production capabilities in every city, and head straight for Astronomy, which will let me cross ocean tiles. In terms of the historical Norsemen, I'm already about 250 years behind in discovering the New World.

1290 A.D.: Greece seeks allies to put down the warmongering German zealots, whose crusaders continue to harass Austria. Sweden agrees, provided they are given time to prepare.

Amazingly, I made it 5300 years without ever being at war with a major power. Granted, calling Germany a "major power" at this point is fairly generous. They've made some impressive comebacks over the centuries, but against the superpower that is Greece, they have just shy of a prayer. Especially with how many troops they've lost trying to take Vienna.

1300 A.D.: The unofficial start of the Late Middle Ages and the Swedish Age of Discovery. Aided by compasses, Swedish longships will encounter the island city-states of Ragusa, Rio De Janeiro, Venice, Florence, Jerusalem, and Monaco before their Golden Age ends in 1325.

By this time, Awesomeness has also become the majority religion all across Sweden, and even among some of the Southern Stormlander lords living under Danish rule.

Summer, 1345 A.D.: The Continental Alliance of Sweden, Denmark, Greece, and Austria declare war on Germany. Only the Celts remain, as ever, neutral.

Shortly thereafter, students at the University of Sigtuna develop telescopes and pioneer Astronomy, launching Sweden into the Renaissance.

Renaissance Men

I'm the first to get here, and my lead in total technologies has grown. Sweden is the academic center of the world, which is just the way I like it. I start research on the Printing Press, which will speed the spread of Awesomeness.

Winter, 1345 A.D.: Swedish troops and siege weaponry head South through the treacherous passes of the Snowruns for German-held Salzburg. It is the first time in history that Swedish troops have marched on foreign soil.

The Guildmasters of Sigtuna work with the Swedish Lord-Governors to establish a spy network, setting their sights on the German capital of Hamburg.

The Celtic Chronicle ended before spies really became relevant, so this is my first time really trying the ins-and-outs of Gods & Kings' new espionage mechanic. Spies are not units you move around on a board, but rather a separate window where you can deploy them to any city you've discovered. Putting them in your own cities orders them to guard against foreign spies. Putting them in city-states will increase your influence with that city-state. Stationing them in a foreign city, as I've opted to, allows them to steal technology and intercept AI attack plans.

1360 A.D.: Turku is founded South of Birka, in the sparsely-settled coastal woodlands between Sweden and Austria. The Swedish government offers incentives for settlers in the new territory, and many flock to claim them.

1360 A.D.: Swedish spies report that Germany has nothing of value to steal technologically (surprise surprise), but they do uncover plans to attack the Celts. The Swedes elect to share this information with the enigmatic woodsmen, hoping to bring them into the Continental Alliance. The network delivers the information, then immediately sets up in the Celtic capital of Edinburgh to learn what they can of the long poorly-understood civilization.

The spy network uncovers their Danish counterparts, who have already been in Edinburgh for some time. The two groups elect to work together, and discover that the Celts are, indeed, planning to invade the Northern Stormlands.

The Siege of Salzburg

1380 A.D.: A second town on the Southern frontier, Linköping, is founded to help bridge Turku and the rest of Sweden. Austria grows wary of the new Swedish land claims, arguing that Austrian traders and trappers had occupied those woods for decades.

Summer, 1390 A.D.: Swedish advances in machinery allow them to begin fielding crossbows. The first units trained to use the innovative weapons are those guarding the Northern Stormlands from the threat of Celtic raids.

Swedish forces meet up with Austrian and Danish camps already besieging Salzburg. The generals of the three nations begin outlining plans to overwhelm the German defenses and end the war with minimal losses.

Winter, 1390 A.D.: Awesomeness becomes the majority religion in Turku and the surrounding frontier settlements.

Gathering that they have learned all they can, the Swedish spy network leaves Edinburgh and returns to Stockholm, setting up to prevent the actions of foreign spies in the capital.

Austria unexpectedly signs a peace treaty with Germany and pulls their troops from Salzburg. The remaining attackers are left baffled, but continue the siege along with Greek allies freshly arrived from the South.

1395 A.D.: Greece declares war on the Celts, somewhat unexpectedly. Sweden, having committed much of its strength to fighting Germany, does not follow suit.

Well, I didn't see that coming. It's good for me in any case, though. Whatever plans the Celts had to attack me are now likely done for, as they'll have to contend with the overwhelming might of Greece.

Peace and justice for all

1410 A.D.: Word comes from across the sea that an empire has fallen.

Tired of hearing "word from across the sea," and wanting to cross the sea themselves, the Swedish navy is revolutionized with the introduction of ocean-worthy caravels. Fast, durable, and armed with cutting-edge gunpowder cannons, they set Sweden up as the world's dominant nautical power.

1415 A.D.: Germany offers a large ransom for peace with the Continental Alliance. Sweden’s share, alone, includes all the nation’s remaining gold, an annual tribute to the Swedish crown, and the surrender of resources including spices, cotton, and iron. The Alliance accepts, and Swedish forces withdraw from Salzburg.

Later that year, the Celts offer a declaration of friendship. Despite their being at war with the Greeks, the Swedes accept, hoping to end the conflict and strengthen the Continental Alliance. Austria makes a similar declaration soon after.

Just when it seemed like things were going to settle down again, we've created a stark divide. Greece is not going to be happy with me, nor with the Austrians, for declaring friendship with a civ they are at war with. Germany is almost a non-player at this point, which leaves myself, Austria, Denmark, and the Celts. Greece is way ahead of all of us on an individual level, but I do have a decisive tech lead, and I doubt they could break us if we all stood together.

1425 A.D.: Greece gives into pressure from Austria and Sweden, making peace with the Celts. The Celts take the opportunity to immediately declare war on Germany, sending forces to Salzburg to aid the Danes (who never accepted Germany's peace offering and have still been besieging the city.)

The Swedes found a Chivalric Order of Awesomeness. Under the new code of chivalry, they sign mutual defensive accords with the kings of Denmark and Austria. Greece is excluded from the accord for as long as they continue to oppose accepting the Celts into the Continental Alliance.

Chivalry would allow me to build Knights... except that I still don't have Horses. This whole continent is almost bereft of them. Denmark and Greece each have some, but neither seem willing to trade for them. At least it allows me to set up Defensive Pacts, which will come in handy.

1430 A.D.: Germany successfully sues for peace with the Celts and the Danes.

Later in the year, the Greeks finally declare friendship with the Celts, cementing the five-way Continental Alliance. At the Council of the Five Kings, defensive pacts are agreed upon between all five nations. It is the end of an era of war.

Greek scientific revolution

1440 A.D.: The Greeks and the Celts enter into a research agreement.

Well, they sure patched up that whole war and strife thing quickly. I have to be careful of other civs making research agreements I'm not involved in, as it could lose me my tech lead. And I can't afford to lose that against Greece, since it's currently the only thing I'm beating them at.

1450 A.D.: The city-state of Monaco pledges fealty to Sweden, in awe of their technological advances.

1460 A.D.: A revolution in Germany deposes the religious aristocracy. The new government exchanges embassies with Sweden, and talks begin on possibly bringing them into the Continental Alliance.

Later that year, a Great Prophet of Awesomeness is born in Stockholm. He will go on to begin converting the Danes to awesomeness.

1470 A.D.: Greece and Austria sign a research agreement.

Okay, this is EXACTLY what I don't want happening. Now Greece will get double the benefits, while each of their research partners will only benefit from one agreement. And I'm benefiting from nothing, having recently emptied my treasuries to invest in science-generating universities for my outlying cities. Conflict with Greece is seeming more and more inevitable if I want any hope of winning this game.

A trade road to Linköping is finally established, linking the Southern frontier to the rest of Sweden.

A whole New World

1485 A.D.: Swedish monks invent the printing press, mainly so they don't have to hand-copy so many freaking manuscripts any more. The Holy Texts of Awesomeness begin to be mass-produced and spread across the land.

The rate at which my religion will spread without me having to do anything now far surpasses any other world religion. This will bring a steady stream of new believers and, more importantly, new tithers. The next order of business is researching gunpowder. My navy already has cannons, but the so-named tech allows me to begin replacing my melee infantry with musketmen.

1490 A.D.: The Great Prophet makes Awesomeness the majority religion in bustling Aarhus, Denmark.

Far across the sea, Swedish explorers come ashore in the New World, encountering the indigenous Romans. They are an advanced society, and followers of Hinduism.

Well, I beat Columbus by two years and missed the real-world Norsemen by almost 500. Still, I am the first Western nation to get here. So that's something.

1495 A.D.: A group of Roman diplomats sets sail on a Swedish ship to establish an embassy in Stockholm. A similar embassy is established in Rome, marking the first formal diplomatic exchange between the West and the East.

1500 A.D.: Swedish scouts liberate a group of captured Austrian settlers that had been captured by forest brigands. The Austrians express their gratitude.

I'm hoping this will start to patch things up with Austria, who still are less than thrilled with me settling cities on their borders.

Awesomeness becomes the majority religion in the Danish capital of Copenhagen.

The rise of reason

1525 A.D.: Sweden and Denmark agree to an open borders treaty, allowing free travel between the Northern and Southern Stormlands.

1535 A.D.: Rationalist thinking takes hold across Sweden, as the entire nation dedicates itself to scientific pursuits.

I've picked up Rationalism, in addition to Commerce, and am totally eschewing Patronage. At this point, a Science victory is looking much, much more viable than Diplomatic. So screw the U.N., we're gonna build spaceships!

1540 A.D.: Missionaries begin spreading Awesomeness to the German capital of Hamburg, which also happens to be the holy city for Judaism. The Germans aren't especially excited about this.

Summer, 1545 A.D.: A Great Scientist in Stockholm heads out for the Westerlands.

I, spy

Winter, 1545 A.D.: Germany denounces the Swedes for their proselytizing. As with all of Germany's denunciations, there are few who actually care.

1550 A.D.: The Great Scientist founds the Academy of Birka.

Academies take up a tile, and at this point I'm using pretty much all of the ones around my first few cities. Birka, in the heart of the Westerlands, is surrounded by Tundra, though. There isn't much you can do with tundra tiles other than build trading posts, so it's the ideal location to plop down Great Person buildings.

1555 A.D.: The Swedes invent smooth-bore infantry firearms, and begin equipping their forces with them immediately. The designs are almost immediately stolen, however, by a spy of unknown origin.

The probability of stealing a technology is based on how much Science a city is producing. I currently have two major cities producing a ton of science -- Stockholm and Sigtuna -- and only one spy to defend. You can't build new spies, either. Every civ gets one on the turn that the first civ enters a new era. I guess it'll be fairly easy to figure out who the culprit is, as they should be the only other civ besides me with musketmen.

Elsewhere, a rigged election in Monaco leads to them withdrawing their support of Sweden.

Man, I am getting demolished in the espionage game here. The trouble is that spies only level up when they succeed at something, and none of mine have yet.

In other news, some civ I haven't met yet beat me to building the Tower of Pisa, which I believe marks the 3rd wonder this game I've had to cancel. I'm turning my tech path toward Chemistry, which will improve my production in all cities and hopefully keep that from happening again.

1560 A.D.: Sweden and Greece sign a research agreement.

I'm uneasy at this, since I don't really want to help Greece get more technologies. But everyone else is too poor at the moment, and it's better they make an agreement with me than anyone else.

The Austrian Inquisition

1585 A.D.: The now majority-Awesomenist Denmark renews war on Germany after hearing of a German inquisition against followers of Awesomeness in Hamburg.

Inquisitors are a Faith unit that remove religions other than the one you founded from your cities. Germany has been using them pretty aggressively to counter my missionaries.

A Swedish Great Prophet preaches his last sermon in the world metropolis of Vienna, and it quickly becomes majority Awesomenist. Massive tithes begin rolling in to the Swedish Church of Awesomeness from the teeming Viennese.

The Austrian Confucian upper class is displeased by this turn of events.

1595 A.D.: The Swedes and the Celts sign an open borders treaty, which would have been unthinkable 100 years ago.

The Austrian nobility denounce Sweden and the Church of Awesomeness, causing a rift in the Continental Alliance.

1610 A.D.: The Viennese institute an inquisition of their own, ridding Vienna of Awesomeness. Missionaries are immediately sent from Sweden to win it back.

1620 A.D.: Scholars at the Academy of Birka master chemistry, leading to huge advances in both the civilian and military sectors.

I can now build cannons, the first gunpowder siege weapons that become available. If a religious war breaks out with Austria, I'm fairly confident I could capture Vienna without much fuss. I'm going for Fertilizer next, which will improve all of my farms that don't have access to fresh water.

The Alliance fractures

1640 A.D.: A new wave of missionaries brings about the Second Awesome Awakening in Vienna, returning it to a majority-Awesomenist city.

To the East, Denmark declares war on Germany, led by a Great General.

1650 A.D.: Salzburg, an originally Austrian city held by Germany for centuries, is captured by the Danes. Germany is once again reduced to its capital of Hamburg.

1655 A.D.: The Danes drop out of the Continental Alliance, citing Austria's grievances with Sweden.

Not. Good. The Danes have a pretty strong military right now, and if they allied with Austria against me, I would be at war with two of the three civs directly bordering me.

Time again to take the field

1660 A.D.: The Celtic royalty, seeking plunder, declares war on Germany and marches for Hamburg. Later that year, they sign simultaneous research agreements with Greece and Austria.

My blood pressure goes up a little with every one of these agreements that happens without my involvement. At least in the case of the Celts, they're so far behind me that it shouldn't matter.

The secrets of machinery are stolen from Sweden by a spy later identified as Greek.

Um... OK. That's annoying, but I already have cannons and muskets, so I'm not super worried about Greece getting crossbows, finally. I'm going to tell Greece to stop spying on me, which will hurt our relations, but also make the rest of the world wary of them if they get caught doing it again. I'm pleased to see that my spy network, though it has yet to stop any spies, is now at least competent enough to identify who is stealing from me.

1680 A.D.: Having failed to capture Hamburg, the Celts ask for aid in a war against Austria. Knowing this would likely erupt into a continental war that would pit them against the Danes as well, the Lord-Governors of Sweden are split. Ultimately, pressure from the Church of Awesomeness leads them to vote in favor of the war, in retribution for the inquisitions against the faithful of Vienna. The Swedes tell the Celts to give them time to prepare.

In preparation for the war, the shiny, new cannons of the Swedish 1st Artillery are rolled out in Sigtuna.

1702 A.D.: The Swedes perfect new techniques for fertilizing crops, marking the beginning of the Swedish Industrial Revolution.

First into a new era for the second time in a row! My tech lead is steadily growing wider. Compared to the Celtic Chronicle, things are just going amazingly well. I'm super rich, my people are mostly happy, and my military is far more advanced than any other on the planet. Tumultuous times are ahead, however: I've pledged to go to war with Austria, and their Danish allies will surely be provoked as well. Only time will tell if Swedish cannons can pierce the Unbreakable City. So check back next week, when the sound of guns will echo across the continent!
PC Gamer

My friends! Gather 'round the fire and prepare to hear an epic tale that spans the entirety of human history. I've been posting weekly chronicles of my progress in Civ V's Gods & Kings expansion, and this week begins a totally new game with a totally new civ -- a follow-up to my previous Celtic Chronicle (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3). Read on to see legends unfold, world powers rise and fall... and maybe I'll even win this time! Let the Saga begin.

För Sverige i tiden!

I'm playing as Sweden, led by the epically-bearded Gustavus Adolphus. My goal is a Diplomatic Victory, earned by building the United Nations and being voted ruler of everything. I plan to accomplish this by befriending a lot of city-states (which there will be a whopping 36 of in this game) aided by the Patronage policy tree and Sweden’s ability to gain influence by gifting Great People.

My unique units are:

The Hakkapeliitta, elite cavalry of the late Renaissance that gain added bonuses when stacked with a Great General.
The Carolean, a replacement for Rifleman that heal every turn, even if they take another action.

Because of these units I’ll be doing most of my grand military maneuvers in the 17th through early 20th centuries, as opposed to my previous Celtic empire which enacted conquest almost immediately due to the early availability of Pictish Warriors.

I’ve stuck with the same basic map presets and leader pool as the Celtic Chronicle, which I’ve nicknamed Mega Europe: cold and wet with a high sea level. This time, I tweaked the World Age to 3 billion years, which will lead to more hills and mountains.

Brave new world

3975 B.C.: Stockholm is founded near the mouth of the Snowrun River in the lush forests once home to the disparate tribes of proto-Norse hunter-gatherers.

Not a bad start at all. I'm near a coast and a river, and there's gold right in my back yard. The region I've spawned in, which I'm calling the Snowrun Peaks, has lots of impassible mountain tiles to defend me from invasion.

3900 B.C.: The Swedes war with the various barbarians of the Snowrun Peaks. By 3635, most of them will have been conquered and unified under Swedish rule. Word begins to spread of the Swedish warchiefs and their skill in battle. The tribes of the Stockholm Valley are forced to either submit or retreat further into the mountains.

3500 B.C.: The Swedes have developed an honor culture, where deeds in battle are said to bring good fortune to one's tribe and family.

It's very, very rare that I don't go Honor first in policies for that early military bonus. Being able to knock over barbarians like poorly-balanced bowling pins and accrue experience just seems way more valuable than, say, going Liberty first so you can expand to a bunch of cities that you probably can't defend.

3325 B.C.: The Swedes make contact with their cousins, the Danes: another group of Norse tribes which has organized and conquered a large swath of land. The Danes claim the coastal plains to the southeast of Sweden. Neither tribe feels overtly threatened by the other, leading to peaceful relations.

Story-wise, it's cool that the first foreigners I meet are my historical neighbors and cousins. I'll have to keep an eye on them going forward, though. Denmark is a pretty aggressive civ with strong Medieval-era units. The fact that we're separated by land and not water will benefit me, considering they can't make use of their civ power that improves embarked land units and coastal raids.

The Swedish Bronze Age
3150 B.C.: Advancements in metallurgy lead to the dawn of the Swedish Bronze Age. Surrounding tribes, including the Danes, are awed by the new metal weapons carried by Swedish warriors, the likes of which have never been seen before.

From a sample size of two civs, I'm already at a pretty good tech lead and advancing at a solid clip. Not really worrying too much about Faith has let me focus on Civ's other resources like Gold, Science, and Culture, leading to a much stronger start than I had as the Celts.

2850 B.C.: The Swedes make contact with the Greek and Austrian tribes, settling in the lowlands on the Southern side of the Snowrun Peaks. These people seem strange compared to their Danish cousins, but the chieftains seek to foster peace nonetheless.

Ah, Greece. Many a Civ V game has found me fighting it out against Greece well into the age of ballistic missiles and death robots. They seem to pull happiness and gold out of thin air, even on lower difficulties, and found new cities like it's going out of style. On the bright side, I have some very formidable mountain ranges, as well as Denmark, between me and them.

Austria, on the other hand, is new to the expansion. I didn't encounter them in the Celtic Chronicle (they were off on the other continent somewhere), so I'm unsure how they'll behave.

2800 B.C.: The small farming settlement of Sigtuna, upriver from Stockholm, high in the sloping hills of the Snowruns, grows into a proper town. Stockholm and Sigtuna will soon become known as the Sister Cities of the Snowrun, and together represent the heart of Swedish culture and power.

2775 B.C.: The discovery of carvings in an ancient ruin leads most of the Swedish chieftains to adopt a belief system based around a great messenger god.

Apparently Ruins can give you Faith, and these ones gave me just enough to found a Pantheon. I chose Messenger of the Gods, just like in the Celtic Chronicle, for the bonus Science generated by trade routes. I did a lot of things wrong as the Celts, but I don't think that was one of them.

Of Stormlanders and Althings
2525 B.C.: The Swedish chieftains establish the Althing, an assembly of Swedish free folk that allows better representation on the local and national level.

For non-Norse history nerds, The Althing was the governing body set up to rule Viking Age Iceland. So, yeah, we may be jumping the gun on the timeline here a little. But I wanted to give an appropriately Nordic flavor to my adoption of the Liberty policy tree. As you may recall, Liberty favors expansion of borders, cities, and population. Unlike the Celtic Chronicle, I will capitalize on this by expanding my borders, cities, and population.

2500 B.C.: Norse barbarians in the Bay of Storms region, known as Stormlanders, are conquered and brought under Swedish rule. With their aid, the Swedes begin domesticating animals.

I researched Animal Husbandry a little earlier than I usually do because Sweden's first unique unit is cavalry-based. There's just one problem: I've been scouting the entire region for a while, and I've found plenty of sheep, cows, and deer, but there don't seem to be any horses near a convenient city-building site. At least I've still got 3000 years, give or take, to get that figured out.

I'm now turning toward the wheel, which I researched comically late in the Celtic Chronicle and missed out on a lot of bonus Science I could have been generating from trade routes.

2275 B.C.: The Swedes encounter the German tribes living inland from Austria at the heart of the continent. It quickly becomes clear that they don't get along well with their Austrian neighbors. Shortly after, the Austrians approach the Swedes with an offer to declare friendship. The Swedes gladly accept.

One of Sweden's civ powers gives me increased Great Person generation for every civ I've declared friendship with, so I'll be doing that a lot. It's not going to make Germany terribly happy with me, but then, when are they ever?

2100 B.C.: The first Swedish gold mine is constructed near Stockholm, bringing untold wealth to its citizens.

Rise of the Westlings
1975 B.C.: Greece offers a sum of gold to the Swedes to build an embassy in Stockholm, the first of its kind. The Althing approves.

Normally the AI will trade an embassy for an embassy, but as I haven't researched writing yet, I can't build one. In this early game case, they'll offer you some gold instead. It allows them to see where my capital is, but also improves my diplomatic relations with them and allows us to make other formal agreements.

1925 B.C.: In the Westerlands, just to the West of Stockholm, the Westling barbarian tribes rise and begin attacking small settlements along the frontier. A group of Swedish scouts manages to hold off a large force of them along the coast, but it's clear that the threat won't be halted without more significant action.

The same year, a road connecting Stockholm and Sigtuna begins.

1875 B.C.: The Swedish language gets a formalized writing system. The Swedes and the Austrians exchange embassies.

Now I'm going for Construction. One of my biggest mistakes in the Celtic Chronicle was not developing the tiles around my cities fast enough. This time, I plan to micromanage every worker and every available space to saturate my entire empire with useful improvements.

Later that year, a Swedish Great General arrives in the Westerlands to deal with the barbarian threat.

1800 B.C.: The Swedes and the Danes exchange embassies and make a declaration of friendship.

Excellent, now I'm friends with both of the civs that border me, and am gaining all those great person points on top of it all.

Clasically trained
1725 B.C.: Christianity is founded... somewhere.

The first world religion is up and running, but in a civ I haven't met yet. I'm still a ways away from founding a religion myself, so that could be a problem. My money is on the Celts, based on how much I outpaced everyone in the Faith race playing as them.

1575 B.C.: The trade road between Stockholm and Sigtuna is completed, leading to a flourishing of trade and ideas between the Sister Cities of the Snowrun.

1475 B.C.: The Swedes master the art of construction, turning their previously modest tribal settlements into magnificent cities of stone and metal over the next few hundred years. They have risen from a confederation of tribes to a true civilization.

And thus, I arrive in the Classical Era! I'm already doing tremendously better than the Celtic Chronicle. I'm the 4th of 12 civs to get here (vs. 7th as the Celts), and I've reached the milestone a whole 325 years earlier. My hope is to outpace everyone and be the first to hit the Medieval Era.

Movin' on up
As a new era dawns for Sweden, both opportunity and challenge abound. It has fostered friendly relations with the Austrians to the southwest and the Danes to the southeast, though much of the continent remains unexplored. Tales of a foreign religion gaining power threaten to disrupt the indigenous beliefs of the Swedish people. In the Westerlands, the war with the fierce Westling barbarians continues, as Swedish warriors hunt for their camps over the hills and through the forests.

My first order of business is to start getting lots of workers building away on projects like plantations that will boost my economy, happiness, and trading potential.

1375 B.C.: Danish warriors arrive in the Westerlands to aid their Swedish allies. By the turn of the next century, the main Westling settlements are destroyed and most of their warchiefs are killed or captured. They will never rise as a major power again, leaving the Western frontier safe for Swedish settlement.

1325 B.C.: The Swedish calendar is formalized, with the Common Year beginning on the solstice after the Westling horde is put down.

Next, I'm looking at grabbing fishing. Because what is Sweden without fish?

During their first calendar year, the Swedes make contact with the Celtic tribes, located across a small land bridge to their northeast. They are a very devout and mysterious people who make no proclamation of either friendship or hostility.

I was right about them being the ones that founded Christianity. This is especially tricky now, since it was founded on my continent and with nothing but open space between my borders and theirs. I'll have to keep an eye out for missionaries coming to convert my cities.

1300 B.C.: The Swedes and Celts make an exchange of embassies.

Come sail away!
1275 B.C.: The last great Westling warchief is captured and killed. Helsinki is founded on the border of the now relatively serene Westerlands. It soon becomes the third most important city in Sweden, attracting many Westling commoners to join under Swedish rule as the tribes of the Snowrun Peaks and the Stormlanders did in ages past. The Westling culture continues to thrive under their new leadership, and over time, they become a very vibrant and prominent demographic of Swedish society.

Meanwhile, back in the East, starvation in Stockholm leads to growing unrest.

My city has grown too fast, and now I can't feed all of my citizens. If I don't resolve the problem quickly, people will start to die and I'll lose happiness.

1175 B.C.: The Swedes master the art of sailing, taking to the waves along the northern coast and the Bay of Storms.

I head immediately for Mathematics, which will allow me to build the Hanging Gardens wonder and solve my starvation problem in one stroke.

1150 B.C.: The Hanging Gardens are built by some non-Swedish jerk, completely inconsiderate of their plans.

Once a world wonder has been built, it can't be built again. So in the space of a turn, my long-term strategy was dashed. I set math aside and set my tech path to Iron Working instead to get better land units.

1100 B.C.: The Swedes begin equipping their troops with composite bows, putting their archers a step ahead of any other known military on the continent.

The same year, the food shortages in Stockholm are resolved, and work begins on a Colosseum.

I can feed all of my people now, but in civ, having a large population also increases unhappiness. Throwing up some venues for gladiatorial combat should remedy that in a hurry.

A time of prosperity
1025 B.C.: Word reaches Sweden that war has broken out between the Germans and the Greeks, both far to the South. This is the first war between major civilizations in the continent's history. Sweden and its neighbors see no compelling reason to get involved.

1000 B.C.: The Althing adopts Universal Representation, allowing all citizens of Sweden to be heard at the assembly, whether they be of the original tribes of the Stockholm Valley, Stormlanders, or Westlings. The mingling of cultures and ideas leads to a Golden Age for Sweden.

Aside from giving me an immediate Golden Age, this policy will also allow me to build more cities without increasing the culture cost of earning new policies by too much. Time to start laying some brick!

875 B.C.: Work begins on the Westerland Road, connecting Stockholm to Helsinki.

The same year, the Greek-German Wars come to an end. Greece has seized a significant amount of German territory, and has become the dominant power on the continent.

700 B.C.: The Swedish Golden Age ends, but Sweden remains pretty freaking awesome.

It may seem like an uneventful few centuries, but that's actually a good thing. Going through a Golden Age while at peace has allowed me to invest a lot in the future of my civ by buying buildings and workers.

The Swedish Iron Age
625 B.C.: The Swedish Iron Age begins, as it becomes the first civilization on the continent to replace bronze with the gleaming, elemental metal.

While I'm not at war right now, the Celts are constantly poking around near my border and don't seem interested in making friends or trading with anyone. Being able to build swordsmen before anyone else will go a long way toward securing my borders. I'm going for Optics next, which will boost population growth in my coastal cities and let me embark land units over water tiles.

600 B.C.: Looking to regain ground they lost to the Greeks, the Germans declare war on Denmark. The Danes are full of bluster, and assure Sweden they will require no assistance in shrugging off the German attacks.

525 B.C.: The Westerland Road finally connects Stockholm and Helsinki. With the new ease of travel, the mingling of the Stockholm and Westling Swedes becomes more common.

485 B.C.: A dockmaster in Helsinki invents the first telescope, allowing Swedish ships to explore the seas like never before.

The German collapse
455 B.C.: The Danish-German Wars end, with the Danes having held onto all of their lands stalwartly.

The same year, the Greeks found Buddhism.

That's two major religions on the continent now, and I don't have one of my own to defend against their spread. I'm going to start building some temples to speed things along.

410 B.C.: After several failed invasions of Denmark, the conquest-hungry Germans declare war on Greece, re-igniting the conflict between them after over 400 years.

Later that year, the Austrians approach the Swedes requesting a donation of luxury resources. Flush with wealth and wanting to foster continued positive relations, they accept.

Normally I laugh it off when one of the AI civs requests one of these completely one-sided trade agreements, but I figure it's a worthwhile investment when I'm playing as a civ that benefits from having as many active declarations of friendship as possible.

335 B.C.: After launching a massive counter-invasion, the Greeks capture the German capital of Berlin under a Spartan Great General. What remains of the German government relocates to Hamburg, one of the few cities it still holds. Germany is crippled, while Greece further asserts its dominance on the continent.

305 B.C.: The victorious Greeks request a declaration of friendship with Sweden, which they accept.

I may be running the risk of being in bed with too many leaders for the sake of my civ power, but at least for the moment, Greece is on good terms with everyone but Germany. Aside from never having done anything for me, Germany is easily the weakest civ on the continent right now. And on top of it all, Greece is the last civ I want pissed at me.

Cultural dominance and the Continental League
260 B.C.: A group of Swedish thinkers from across the land founds a school of philosophy.

That should be enough to help me found a religion before it's too late. I still haven't picked up Horseback Riding, but that's mainly because I still haven't found a convenient source of horses. I opt to research Drama and Poetry to enhance my culture.

230 B.C.: Birka, once a mere Westling village, has become a full city and the capital of the Westerland province. Standing beside the old cities of Stockholm and Sigtuna, and the mixed Helsinki, as one of Sweden's four Great Cities, it is the first of these to be a truly Westling city. Some among its increasingly busy streets begin to speak of Westerland's independence, but these movements will never gain much steam with the equitable treatment given to its people by the Swedish Althing.

155 B.C.: Austria founds the new religion of Confucianism.

Wow, we're up to three now, they're all on this continent, and none of them are mine. That's not a good thing. So far the Celts haven't made any efforts to convert me despite easy access to my borders, but the Austrians are even closer. I'll have to stay alert.

95 B.C.: Greece, Denmark, and Sweden are all united under mutual ties of friendship. Their alliance becomes known as the Continental League.

The arts flourish in Sweden, with their stage plays and epic poems spreading across the land and to their continental allies.

Culture: check. Now I'm going for Currency, to make sure I have a booming economy for the Middle Ages. Another of my principle undoings in the Celtic Chronicle was not having enough gold to upgrade my outdated military units into higher tech ones.

The League grows stronger
50 B.C.: Austria joins the Continental League, leaving only the weakened, warmongering Germans and the aloof, enigmatic Celts outside the circle.

55 A.D.: Buddhism is founded somewhere across the sea.

70 A.D.: The Danes declare war on the Germans, reduced through centuries of conflict to only the city-state of Hamburg. The Danish general proclaims that he will wipe what remains of their bloodthirsty empire from the face of the earth once and for all.

100 A.D.: A formal Swedish currency is adopted.

The same year, Swedish sailors encounter the Greek-allied City-State of Vatican City.

Greece is pretty boss when it comes to gathering allied city-states, which is almost certain to put us at odds if I'm going for a diplomatic victory. The Vatican is (as you might expect) a Religious city-state, so they'll respect me more if I can found and spread my own religion.

Scientific paragons and the German resurgence
130 A.D.: The Westerland Road reaches Birka, bringing economic and scientific growth to a region once known for inhospitable terrain and bloodthirsty raiders.

160 A.D.: The Danes and the Germans make peace, after a brilliant German Great General pushes back the Danish army and captures one of their smaller cities. Reinvigorated from may years of decline, Germany immediately declares war on Austria and begins marching West.

A traveling chronicler reveals in his writings that Sweden is the most technologically advanced nation in the world.

Hell yes! Every once in a while you'll get a pop-up screen detailing which civs are doing the best in certain areas. This one confirmed that I've researched more technologies than anyone else. The number two position is a civ I haven't met yet, and Greece is third. Considering I never broke the top 5 in the Celtic Chronicle, this is excellent news.

235 A.D.: The Swedes master engineering, but the country's economy begins to falter under the upkeep costs of its new infrastructure.

I had this same problem as the Celts, but the current situation is much milder. I should be able to pull back out of the red in just a couple turns, when my markets in Stockholm and Sigtuna finish building.

Getting Medieval (again)
250 A.D.: Sweden's first battalion of professional swordsmen is raised in Helsinki. Equipped with the latest in arms and armor, they are a force that can't be matched in close combat by any known nation.

265 A.D.: As this year opened, Austria consisted of only two mega cities: Vienna and Salzburg. By its end, German forces had sacked Salzburg, reducing the Austrian empire to a mere city-state. Vienna remained, however, the largest metropolis in the known world and a force to be reckoned with. The Viennese are quick to make peace with the Germans to keep the invasion from pressing on their great city.

295 A.D.: An oracle arises in Stockholm and advises the Althing. Based on her premonitions, they restructure their assembly into a Republic, where representatives are elected rather than granted a seat by hereditary right. The representatives may then give their support to a claimant of the title of High King, who shall serve as the head of state for the new republic.

Yeah, gotta write myself a reason to have kings and queens again. The Middle Ages just wouldn't be the same without them. I've once again adopted the Republic policy (for free, as a benefit of building the Oracle), increasing productivity in all of my cities.

430 A.D.: The Swedes perfect metal casting, signaling the dawn of a new era.

In the blink of an eye, I'm at the good ol' Middle Ages again. I'm still 4th to get here, but maintain my lead in total number of technologies researched. Overall, it's been a fairly uneventful 4400 years, which is why I combined Ancient and Classical into a single post this time. Other than barbarians, Sweden has never been at war. That's sure to change, though, so check back next week for Part 2!
PC Gamer
The Eternal War 1

James ‘Lycerius’ Moore played a single game of Civilization II off and on for ten years, extending far into a dystopian future that he described as “a hellish nightmare of suffering and devastation”. The story caught fire, spreading from reddit to the specialist games press and national media before returning to reddit as /r/theeternalwar, where fans trade fiction, music, and art.

Last week, I spoke to James about his experience of the game, the rationale behind playing the same campaign for a decade, and what it’s like to have your cool gaming anecdote capture the imaginations of so many people. You can check out our previous coverage of The Eternal War here.

You said in your initial reddit post that the campaign is about ten years old?


Do you know exactly...?

It’s about nine and a half, something like that.

Presumably there must have come a point when you decided that you were just going to keep on going. How did that come about?

Well, I’d played the game far into the future, and there were some issues and I was just curious to see how long I could keep going. There’s this misconception that I’ve played the game non-stop for ten years, that’s not the case - I play it often, but over the years it’s every other day or so.

I play lots of games, do lots of other things, but this game - it just kinda kept going and going. I noticed that, over time, nations were swallowing up other nations and there were these environmental factors and it was just really fascinating to muse on where it was all going. I just wanted to see what the eventual endgame would be. It was for my own edification, I never imagined that so many people would take interest in it.

Was there something specific about the way this campaign went that allowed you to get into the kind of situation you got into?

I imagine that you could start up any Civ II game and do this. The thing is, Civ II was a little bit more balanced than the other games, and you’re able to prolong and enjoy the world around you a little bit more, and in a little bit more detail - for example later games don’t really have global warming. Well, they do, but it’s maybe a single tile that’ll turn to desert instead of four.

In Civ II, things like that had enormous consequences. All of the coasts would flood and farming would be useless, and it happened over and over again - it happened two or three times before I started questioning, well, what would it be like if this kept going on? Eventually all the world’s land - the mountains and tundra - became flooded swampland. It was really neat.

Image: m00nnsplit's 'Celtania Archives' newspaper.

You found yourself in a fascinating situation at the end.

It was just morbid curiosity, you know, and I think that’s why it was so popular with all these other organisations. I think people in general have this morbid curiosity about the world and where it’s going, and I think they saw this and just kind of latched on. You know, it’s by no means an accurate simulation of world affairs or anything like that, it’s just a game roughly based on such things, but I think it really captured a lot of people’s imaginations.

You ended up in a situation with the three superstates, and people immediately said “oh, it's 1984” - this Eternal War thing. How much of that basically came from the mechanics of Civ II?

Oh, almost all of it. As time goes on, in most Civ games - well, Civ II and Civ V, now, that I’ve noticed - over time, throughout history, larger countries will envelop smaller countries until there are a few remaining superpowers. That seems to be a pattern in Civ II and Civ V in my experience, so the longer you play the more likely that outcome is going to be. Whether or not that’s part of the game design - whether they had that in mind, I cannot say - but it’d be pretty neat if that was their intention.

You said that it only maps onto real politics to a very limited extent - but it really has captured people’s imaginations because they see, for example, the story you told about having to shut down democracy. That’s interesting in and of itself. Am I right in saying that the AI factions are both theocracies?

Yeah, I believe so - a fundamentalist type of government.

Would that have been a more practical decision for you as well, that you didn’t take for other reasons?

Some people had argued that that might be the best way to go, but the person that was able to complete it in 58 years was able to do so with the communist government. In fact, the communist government worked out very well for them.

What was the key in the end, to beating it?

A mixture of units - for example, the Howitzer unit. I was primarily throwing tanks at the situation, and people who had a bit more tactical depth as far as the game is concerned were able to amass armies that my economy... well, I was concerned about saving but they just spent the entire treasury on one big push and rebuilt from there.

It’s not a particularly optimistic message, is it?

Yeah, precisely. It really wasn’t my intention to conquer the world, necessarily, but it appeared that this was the only way that peace was going to be a realistic option. There was a glitch I believe when playing on newer operating systems that the AI became much more aggressive and I believe that was what was causing my issue with the Vikings. Because of that it seemed like the only possible solution was total conquest. Were I able to vent that then I would.

Image: GildedDuke's Civ V Eternal War scenario.

The reaction to it has clearly been way and beyond what you were expecting.

No kidding!

What was that like?

It blew my mind. It was only on reddit for two or three hours before I was getting all these calls, seeing it online - it was incredible, absolutely incredible.

People have really taken to it, creatively. Solving the puzzle is one thing - thinking “how do we fix this” - but the fiction and the art, what’s that been like?

It’s a very strange sort of vindication. I’ve been playing this game for ten years. This game was very important to me personally - it had this nostalgic, sentimental value because I’d been playing it for so long. I’d been playing this one game of Civ II since I was in high school and it just grew on me. I had this narrative in my mind about how this world went and I was really content for the longest time just seeing where went. Then to have this happen, to have so many people show interest in something I had so much value and so much time invested in - it just felt really good. It was a really good experience.

Have you played any of the Civ V scenarios people are putting together?

I have not yet. I’ve seen two so far, and I do plan to play them. That in its own right is also great, that someone will do something like that.

You said that you had your own sense of what that world was like.

Yeah, after a certain amount of years of playing this it, I was just like, “wow... I had to do away with democracy”. There were so many things that happened, I couldn’t help it.

Did you document it as you were going, or was it just in your head?

It was just in my head. It was like, well, yeah I’ll return to this cool game I’ve been playing for a while. I just kept on playing, I suppose, and I thought it was pretty neat and I’d share it with reddit - and wow, the response was incredible.

Do you feel like it belongs to that subreddit community now, or are you tempted to do something else with it yourself?

I’m really not sure, but I put it on reddit and people have created art out of it - that’s incredible, and it’s the community’s at that point.

When I play Civ, my civilisations are always modelled after how I would like the world to be. But I’ve also got friends who play these games mathematically. They’re not worried about the connotations of turning to fundamentalism, say.

I’m on the opposite end of that spectrum, I would argue.

In what regard - that you play mathematically?

No, I play... romantically, I suppose.

How much do you feel like you had to break down that romantic approach to Civ to keep surviving beyond a certain point?

I think that, in its own right, was somewhat romantic. The democracy that I’d strived for was becoming a liability and the best course of action was to switch to a communist state. My ultimate intention was to restore democracy when the war was won, but that was romantic and adds to the narrative of the whole thing. Tragically so.

Image: 'Neo-Viking Spec Op', by Gauntes

Turn-based grand strategy is having a bit of a resurgence at the moment. Civ V: Gods and Kings is doing very well, Endless Space is doing very well - do you think there’s untapped potential for narrative in that genre, given your experience?

I would certainly argue that there hasn’t been enough attention in grand strategy games, or at least the ones I’ve played - Civ, GalCiv. I haven’t played Endless Space, that’s the new one, isn’t it?

Yeah. They’ve got an interesting approach to narrative, where their factions are really asymmetrical. You can be regular space dudes, but you can also be omniscient amoeba people that can see the entire map the entire time.


Your Civ story reached the point it got to because of the hard balance of the game. Would imbalance ultimately break that, or does it create better stories?

I think it can go both ways, depending on your interpretation of it - for example, in Civ IV I played as the Holy Roman Empire, built the Apostolic Palace in my capital, was the Pope, was able to set policies to have different Christian countries vote on it. That was great, because I was playing the role of the Vatican and that was a wonderful game, I really enjoyed it even though I was probably the weakest militarily. Because of my influence in the dominant religion I was able to be quite successful. I think that’s a great example of imbalance working in my favour. I think Civ IV was really great for that.

When I’m talking about balance I’m talking about the mathematical balance of Civ II, where empires were so enormous at that stage of the game where each country has at least fifty cities and taking three or four cities is nothing. In Civ V, if you take three or four cities you’ve likely destroyed the enemy empire.

Is game design something you’re interested in taking further?

I’d love to take it further, certainly. It’s an art form, and ultimately that’s where my interests lie. My day job is as an insurance agent - dare to dream, right? So yeah I’d love to take it further, see what comes along.

You mentioned the roleplaying element of playing as the Holy Roly Empire in that Civ IV game...

Yeah, it was incredible. I have an enormous love of history - I’m an enormous history buff. Of course the Holy Roman Empire was neither Holy, nor Roman - but you could play as the Vatican in Civ IV and that was as close as I came.

That drive to - not recreate history, necessarily, but to re-enact certain parts of it - do you find that makes the experience more satisfying, to have certain elements that you know you’re doing ‘right’?

Yeah, absolutely. You’re following these historical tropes that seem to play out over the course of human history. When you see them repeated in the game, there’s a wonderful sense of accomplishment.

Image: infectedmanz's 'Celtania Propaganda'.

Do you think there’s anything developers could be doing to encourage that kind of creative engagement? It seems to be the thing that creates all the best stories.

Absolutely. In fact, I think there’s a lot they can do. I’ve really enjoyed what they’ve done with Civ V in bringing back religion and espionage. If they pursued that further, and implemented internal politics - I remember in GalCiv II, if you were a democracy you had to choose a political party, and there would be an element of internal politics which was incredible. Civ II had something like, if you took over the enemy capital there was a chance their nation could fracture into two opposing factions. There was also an interesting element like that in Civ IV where if you founded cities on another continent you could grant them independence and they’d become a colony - a vassal - of your empire. That was beautiful. If they reintroduced those elements - things like vassalship, colonisation - a little bit more complexity, perhaps, when it comes to running your empire.

I understand that they’re focused on conflict and making warfare as interesting as possible but things like inflation, interest rates once you’ve built a central bank - I can understand why that might put off some more casual players, I understand that completely, but I think it should be an option. You should be able to increase the complexity of the game.

I guess the deeper and more technical mechanical aspects of these games, despite sounding really dry, really enhance the game’s potential narrative depth.

I think it really does. There’s also things on the other end of the spectrum. Perhaps the game could write its own history. The war between Egypt and Arabia in, say, 1770AD - that could be recorded somewhere in the game for you to review, for it to somehow affect relations or policy in the future just as diplomacy between the West and the Middle East today is still marred by the Crusades - a thousand years later! I think that’d be really interesting. Keeping track, every game of Civ having its own timeline, it’s own story tell - just as real history has.

This kind of story is great for Civ and Firaxis. You can expect developers to be thinking, “how do we get this to happen, how do we get a guy to drop a story on to reddit that just blows up interest in the game.” The key to that seems to be including storytelling within the game itself - so it doesn’t need to be something that people only share on blogs and reddit. Making it something that the game keeps track of.

Yeah, exactly that. And if you go to civfanatics.com there are people who have done this before, who have written stories based on individual games. If the game itself did that, and rewarded you for doing so, for creating this real history - I think it’d be incredible. The storytelling potential is just totally untapped in that regard.

Many thanks to James for his time, and a tip of the hat to the /r/theeternalwar community for their excellent work.