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Civilization III - Conquests Developer Update: The Fall of Rome

Design Diary - The Fall of Rome


By Ed Beach, BreakAway Games
and Michael Fetterman, Firaxis Games

Sid Meier's Civilization III: Conquests, Firaxis's second expansion pack for the mega-hit Civilization III, features nine professionally created scenarios that introduce concepts never before seen in any Civilization title. The sixth designer diary in this series provides a glimpse at the design process and decisions made during the development of the Fall of Rome Conquest. This Conquest was designed by Ed Beach, a Producer at Breakaway Games.


The year is 324 A.D. In the Balkans, in the ancient province of Dacia (modern day Romania), a nomadic people is beginning to settle down. Pushed north of the Danube River by their recent clashes with the Roman Empire, they are ready to establish a home in this former Roman province. Here in the shadow of both the eastern and western halves of the great empire, these Visigoths will enjoy a region that contains both fertile cropland and rich deposits of iron, silver, and gold.

Description Screen
The Huns at Start

Thus starts the Visigoth nation in the Fall of Rome scenario for the new Conquests expansion pack for Civilization III. As a start to a normal game of Civilization, this Visigoth position looks pretty good. Instead of the epic game's usual starting forces (1 Settler and 1 Worker), the Visigoths start with 7 Migrants (Settlers who can move at double speed) and 10 other low-level combat units. In such a fertile land, they can soon develop a thriving base for future expansion. However, to get a true picture of their strength, one must compare it to the other civilizations in this scenario. And that is when the picture starts to look oh so bleakā€¦

Starting Assets
CivilizationCity PopulationMigrantsLegions / ImmortalsMinor Units
Western Rome26 (45)None1024
Eastern Rome19 (42)None1313
Celts06 (08)NoneNone08
Franks01 (02)07None09
Anglo Saxons01 (02)07None07
Sassanids08 (28)070212

Let's look at Western Rome in the table above. This half of the Roman empire already contains 26 cities (with a total population of 45)! Out of their 34 military units, 10 are mighty Legions. In addition, the Romans have a locked alliance with the equally strong Byzantines of Eastern Rome, meaning that either will declare war on an aggressor who launches an attack on the other half. Worse still, every single victory point location begins the game in Roman hands (about 10 in each half of the empire). Each Roman civilization will thus earn at least 250 Victory Points (VP) per turn, allowing them to get near the 35,000 VP goal for this conquest by about Turn 100. Both halves of Rome must be eliminated from the game by this time or one of them will be able to claim victory.


And guess what. There is one more problem for the Visigoths...

Off in the steppes to the east, a massive nation of mobile horsemen has appeared. Their move west in the years to come will start a massive displacement of people in Eastern Europe. With no where to go but west, the Visigoths and other barbarian tribes are about to be slammed into the Roman Empire. And when the great leader, Attila, takes command of this fierce army of Huns, how can the Visigoths possibly survive?

Center of the Civilized World
Visigoths at Start

The Visigoths in the Fall of Rome scenario are certainly one of the toughest start positions in the entire expansion pack. But victory can be achieved (in fact, our team of beta testers ensured that wins are possible from all starting positions in Conquests, even at mid-to-high difficulty levels). One of the new Conquests features highlighted in this scenario is the key element to success. In the first expansion, Play The World, a short-game mode called "Elimination" was added that causes a civilization to collapse when a single city is lost to enemy forces. Conquests extends that feature by allowing the Elimination setting for a scenario to be customized to any number of cities from 1 to 10.


The Visigoths survived by forging an uneasy truce with the Romans. By the year 400, they had invaded the Balkans and were allowed to settle in the Roman province of Illyria. But after mistreatment by their Roman overlords, their great leader Alaric was ready for action. Initially repulsed by the Vandal general Stilicho, who was serving Rome, Alaric tries once again in 408 AD. This time he marches on Rome and lays siege to the great city. His demands of gold and supplies are refused. Eventually, he uses subterfuge to get the gates of Rome opened from within. The Visigoths enter the city and burn and pillage much of the city. The Roman world is shaken to the core.


After the sacking of Rome in 410 AD, the Western Roman empire did recover, even fighting off the great army of Attila some forty years later. Thus, we wanted to make the elimination requirement in Fall of Rome fairly high, and make it require that a number of cities fall, not just the capital. Through playtesting we finally arrived at a requirement of 8 cities to eliminate any civilization (yes, even the barbarian nations can be eliminated this way).


So how do the Barbarians achieve the combat power to take on Rome in this way just 80 years (40 turns) in to the scenario? Using the new flavor-system (described in our Middle Ages Designer Diary), we have created a Barbarian branch to the tech tree. Roman and Sassanid nations are blocked from research along this path by a very high-cost entry technology (Barbarism). The units (and one Great Wonder) available on this branch of the tree are shown below. If you can build a fierce army of Warlords and Pillagers and combine it with some shrewd diplomacy with the other barbarian powers, victory is possible, even for the Visigoths.

TechnologyAllowsA / D / MSpecial
BarbarismRaider2 / 1 / 1None
MaraudingMarauder4 / 2 / 1Collateral Damage (to targeted tile)
PillagingPillager6 / 2 / 1Enslavement; Collateral Damage
SackingWarlord8 / 2 / 1Enslavement; Collateral Damage
Barbarian LeadershipScourge of God (Improvement)NACreates Warlord every 5 turns; Allows larger armies; Increases chance of military leader
Tribal Council

- Ed Beach


Click here for the WW2 in the Pacific Design Diary.

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