Saturday, October 1, 2016

Civilization V Countdown: #4 Ethiopia

Growing up in the eighties the word "Ethiopia" called to mind starvation, human misery, an expanding desert and dying children. Not exactly themes that would make for fun times in a vidiot game. Then there's Mussolini's aggression and massacres against hopelessly out-matched soldiers and I think we can all agree that the 20th century wasn't exactly good times for the land of Prester John and the resting place of the Ark of the Covenant. Suffice it to say, the Civilization 5 incarnation focuses more on these aspects and is actually a lot of fun to play.

Why is Ethiopia #4?

One of my favorite aspects of Civ 5 is the religion mechanic and Ethiopia is arguably the best choice to fully explore it (The Celts must rely on unmodified forests, ugh). The Stele gives a strong faith boost right away and, combined with shrines and temples, you might be able to still get a strong religion without relying on faith pantheons and faith natural/world wonders. Or you could throw those into the mix too and really go wild. The unique ability is a strong defensive bonus and you get a unique unit that presents a more optimistic impression of the Italian conquest. These elements combine for a very strong start that is resistant to enemy aggression. It probably isn't a coincidence that the AI Ethiopia always seems to be a powerhouse when they show up in my games as other civilizations.

The leader is Haile Selassie, Time magazine Person of the Year for 1935, symbol of noble but doomed opposition in the face of tyranny and trivia question answer.

Then I told the class about Gandhi's love of nuclear missiles.

Most Memorable Game as Ethiopia? 

Playing on Prince difficulty I was able to peacefully spread my religion almost everywhere. It was ridiculous, the other civilizations with religions were hard-pressed to even keep their Holy Cities. This, combined with the tithe belief led to sickening amounts of income and an eventual diplomatic victory. Is it just a coincidence that some of the most fun games happened on the lower difficulties, while winning on high levels requires a strict adherence to an optimal development path that tends to be largely forgettable? Nah, can't be. I must play on at least Immortal every time or people I've never met and couldn't possibly care less about will be disappointed in me.

I *heart* these.

Aaron Zehner is the author of "The Foolchild Invention" available in paperback and e-book format. Read free excerpts here and here. 

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