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Civilization III - Conquests Developer Update: Rise of Rome

Design Diary - Rise of Rome


By Charlie Kibler, BreakAway Games
and Michael Fetterman, Firaxis Games

Sid Meier's Civilization III: Conquests, Firaxis' second expansion pack for the mega-hit Civilization III, features nine professionally created scenarios that introduce concepts never before seen in any Civilization title. This, the ninth and final designer diary in the series, provides a glimpse at the design process and decisions made during the development of the Rise of Rome Conquest. Charlie Kibler, a designer at Breakaway Games, had a hand in designing this conquest.

"Alexander wept when he heard from Anaxarchus that there was an infinite number of worlds… 'Do you not think it a matter worthy of lamentation that when there is such a vast multitude of them, we have not yet conquered one?'"

- Plutarch, Greek biographer and philosopher


Evolution of a Conquest
Like many of the Conquests, this one had several major evolutions during the design and testing process. In the original version, all represented tribes were playable - including the Scythians, Celts, Goths and Egyptians. As you might imagine, playing as the Goths or culturally-spent Egyptians proved an unsatisfactory experience. In the next version only Rome was playable, thus giving the player perhaps the best shot at creating a Roman empire on the same scale as the historical one. That version featured a very strong Roman starting position, and somewhat weaker non-player civs. The third, and final, major evolvement of the scenario features four playable civs - Rome, Carthage, Macedon and Persia. To the north the player will find three "barbarian" tribes (from west to east the Celts, Goths, and Scythians), and to the south the Egyptians still cling to an agricultural subsistence along the Nile.

"What this country needs - what every country needs occasionally - is a good hard bloody war to revive the vice of patriotism on which its existence as a nation depends."

- Ambrose Bierce, 15 February 1911


Blood Feuds
Another big change to the final version came when we decided to pit each of the playable civs in an unending war with one other civ - its chief antagonist at the time - thus we have Rome vs. Carthage, and Macedon vs. Persia. Chronologically, this is the first Conquest to feature one or more civilizations starting the game at war with another. These are fights to the finish; true blood feuds - struggles that can only conclude with the successful annihilation of the enemy. To get the war wagons rolling quickly, each of the four playable civs begins with a pre-built army "shell", awaiting the arrival of troops, and ostensibly under the command of that civ's great leader; thus Carthage has Hannibal, Macedon has Alexander, Persia has Darius, and Rome has Caesar Augustus. Confined to the Italian peninsula, the Roman player begins with a relatively small starting position, but has certain advantages (to be discussed later in this article) that - under proper usage - allow quick expansion and conquest, as our guiding design principle was to have a Rome capable of putting together an impressive empire.

Roman Diplomatic Policy
Rome at Start

Culture that Goes On and On
Even with all the starting advantages Rome has (e.g., powerful fighting units, fast settlers, cheap garrison units), testing indicated that a player (of any civ) was having a hard time amassing the proper amount of land. One reason for this was that each time a city was conquered, its once-booming cultural level would plummet to zero, thus shrinking the city's borders. Since the four player-controlled civs of this game were not really bent on the cultural destruction of their conquered cities and peoples (quite the opposite, actually, as shown by the cultural influence these civilizations had on one another), a new "toggle" was added to the editor especially for this Conquest to allow a conquered city to maintain its current culture level (i.e., the "Retain Culture on Capture" setting, now found on the editor's Scenario Properties screen).

"I came, I saw, I conquered."

- Julius Caesar, 48 BCE


The Units of Rise of Rome
As mentioned, a goal of this scenario was to give the Roman player a shot at recreating an empire comparable to the size of the historical Roman Empire. To do this, the Roman player would need some extra tools - tools the other civilizations would unfortunately have to do without. The chief tool the Roman player is the Legionary, which now comes in three flavors of increasing strengths (see details in chart below). On top of that, like the Legionary of old, in his copious spare time he can be used to construct roads and build forts! Rome can also build "super settlers" (called Citizens), which have increased movement and reduced population cost. Finally, given Iron, Rome can also manufacture relatively cheap Garrison units with which to defend its (hopefully) far-flung empire. Garrisons have good defensive capacity, but offer little in the way of offense.

All players should find the powerful new Heavy Cavalry and Fire Catapult units useful for offensive operations. Furthermore, a city with access to ivory can "buy" Numidian Mercenaries. Since ivory is only available in Africa or the Middle East, this simulates the need for a link to those regions in order to hire Numidian Mercenaries. Finally, it was necessary to increase the offensive strength of the Macedonian Hoplite so that it could successfully compete with the powerful Persian Immortal.

Tech Tree

Climbing up the Tech Tree
Compared to the other Conquests, the tech tree of the Rise of Rome is fairly short and simple. Given the military bent of this conflict, most players will probably make a beeline for "Military Tactics" which allows one to build Heavy Cavalry. The Roman player certainly should consider doing this, as "Tactics" (the prerequisite of "Military Tactics") also provides the first upgrade to the Legionary. As the Roman, however, don't stop there, as you'll want to gain "The Republic", which provides a third (and final) Legionary upgrade, not to mention access to the Republic government. Finally (with visions of the opening scene of the Gladiator movie in mind), let us not forget the Fire Catapult unit, basically an improved catapult, which can be constructed once a player has gained the "Siege Craft" tech.

"Bacchus, that first from out the purple grape, Crushed the sweet poison of misused wine."

- John Milton, Comus (1637)


Let them Party their Cares Away
The one new Great Wonder featured in The Rise of Rome is Bacchanalia, which becomes available once Philosophy has been researched. It's a powerful wonder (albeit expensive, at 500 shields), and its main effect is to make three citizens happy in each city owned by that empire (not just continental ones), which, as you might imagine, can be quite useful for any aspiring emperor.

Fire Catapult
Rome VS Carthage

The Road to Victory
One wins this Conquest by Domination: being the first to amass at least 20% of the land and 50% of its population. Although a player starts at war with one other civ, being skilled in the art of diplomacy (recruiting an ally, or at least, staving off a second front) can reap rewards.

Can you, as Caesar (or Alexander, or Darius, or Hannibal) conquer a vast empire, one that will truly stand the test of time?


To the Victor go the Spoils
The primary way to win is to be the first nation to accumulate 60,000 victory points. This is done by controlling victory point locations (there are a total of 24 located in various strategic cities of Europe) and by eliminating enemy units - while trying to avoid having yours eliminated. One can also win by a modified "Domination" victory - controlling 40% of the terrain and population. Otherwise, the Conquest ends after 96 2-month turns (then end of 1815), with victory being awarded to the nation with the largest accumulation of victory points.


- Charlie Kibler

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