Civilization V 3-Years Later ReviewGuest_Jim_* - November 27, 2013
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Gods & Kings Expansion:
As the first major expansion to Civilization V, Gods & Kings introduced many new mechanics and tweaked some old ones. The two most obvious additions are Espionage and Faith.
Faith is another national economy, similar to the culture economy, as I described earlier. You earn it through certain buildings and enhancements. Eventually you will accumulate enough to found a pantheon and select a bonus that depends on the number of followers. For example, one bonus awards research points for cities connected by roads. You will have this bonus for the remainder of the game.
As more Faith is brought in, a Great Prophet will appear and can be spent to found a religion, which offers two more beliefs that bring bonuses, like the pantheon did. Finally a second prophet will appear and provide two more bonus beliefs.
As the bonuses from religions are tied to the number of followers, you need the ability to manipulate the number of followers, and that comes from two units, in addition to the Great Prophet. The Missionary can be used to convert citizens to a religion, while an Inquisitor is used to remove another faith from a city. The latter is very useful if another civilization sends missionaries to your cities, attempting to convert them, or if you have conquered cities of another faith. You use Faith to purchase these two units, as well as some others, such as Great Persons, if the appropriate social policies have been unlocked.
When you found a religion you do have the ability to select which religion it is, from a list of real religions. Your choice has no impact on the religion in the game, beyond the icon and name used to identify it.
The Faith economy is similar to that of the Gold economy, as I described earlier. It can have a beneficial impact on your civilization, but can also be easy to forget it is there. Sure you will notice if your cities are converting to another religion, just as you will notice if you are losing money each turn, but outside of that and certain prompts, the world just moves on.
Espionage, the other major addition with Gods & Kings is, well, not something I really care much for. Typically I have it turned off in my games (but not in those I recorded for this review) because its affects seem too insignificant or too negative for me.
You are awarded your first spy when you reach the Renaissance Era, and then one more each time you enter a new era, or construct the National Intelligence Agency. Spies can be deployed in any of your cities, to protect against enemy spies, or sent to enemy cities to establish surveillance and potentially steal a technology. You can also send them to City-States to affect local elections. This will grant you more influence over the City-States. Successful missions give the spies experience, so they can eventually level up and become more effective.
The reasons I do not care much for the Espionage mechanic is that it feels rather limited and poorly implemented to me. Protecting yourself against the espionage of other civilizations is not easy, especially when you have a large number of cities to be spied on. There are buildings you can construct to reduce the effectiveness of enemy spies, but I honestly am not sure how effective these buildings are. I have built them in cities but seen no real impact on their potential to be spied on. The wonders, which can only be built in single cities, can have a very noticeable effect.
The only way for a spy to level up is to run successful missions. One problem with that though, is also a problem with their ability to steal technology. I tend to be the most advanced nation in my games, so my spies have nothing to steal, and thus cannot have successful missions to gain experience. Enemy nations, however, almost always can steal a technology from me. As I do not really experience a great benefit for myself, but my enemies do, I simply turn it off. It is just easier that way.
With Faith being somewhat forgettable and Espionage being something I just leave off, is Gods & Kings a worthwhile expansion? Actually it is. Faith is still a useful mechanic, but more importantly, the expansion adds several, useful tweaks. The ability to purchase Great Persons, for example, can really change things. In one of the review games I played, I purchased three Great Scientists to rush to a specific technology I wanted. The expansion also adds a number of units, buildings, and wonders that I really enjoy taking advantage of. The CN Tower, for example, places radio towers in all of your cities, which grants a 33% culture bonus to each one.
Gods & Kings really does live up to the word 'expansion,' even if some of what it adds is not as impressive as I would like it to be.
Here is a video of a complete war in the Gods & Kings expansion. If you want to see how the game began, you can follow the link below the embed.