Reviews - Updated on April 15, 2022

Firaxis does not take personalities for its series from the ceiling: each such person, together with his people, influenced the development of civilizations, left a mark on culture and changed the course of history. Most, like Cleopatra, Qin Shi Huang, Peter I or Mahatma Gandhi, do not need a special introduction, but Tomiris, Pericles or the Roman emperor Trajan are worth a separate discussion: what are they for? To understand the issue, tries his hand at a new genre with a general educational streak. We hope you enjoy our experiment.

Tomyris – Queen of the Scythians

Everyone has heard about this people, at least from Alexander Blok’s poem “Yes, we are Scythians, yes, we are Asians,” but few people know about his way of life and customs. Or that the first story in history about smoking hemp is connected with the Scythians – thanks to the ancient Greek writer Herodotus. For simplicity, the topic can be described in two words – alcohol and violence, without which not a single adventure of the ancient lords of the steppes can do.

Here’s an example for you: a detachment of Scythians hunted and sent prey to the palace of the ruler of Media, but one day the king said, they say, they sent not enough. Then the hunters disembowelled and offered the king his own son. The Medes, not understanding the hint, immediately declared war. But as a result, they were defeated, and the Scythians ruined and burned everything around for a quarter of a century, until someone guessed to give them a wine warehouse for plunder. Having reached for alcohol, the steppe dwellers got drunk to death and fell at the hands of the people’s avengers. The raids did not pass without consequences: during this time the Medes were conquered by the Persians, and the leader of the latter, Cyrus II the Great, created a huge empire from India to Egypt.

In order to calm his northern neighbors, Cyrus set out to marry Tomiris, the queen of the Scythian tribe of the Massagets. She refused – why not a reason for war? Having ferried his hordes across the Caucasus, Cyrus used a run-in method – he left the wine warehouse under the protection of the sick and the poor, while he himself hid in ambush with the main forces. The trick worked: the forward detachment of the Scythians captured the wagon train, became numb from alcohol and was completely exterminated. Everything would be fine, but in this alcohol battle, the son of Tomiris died. Cyrus found himself in a difficult position. The Persians ran out of wine, and with it, effective tactics against the Scythians, and fighting the steppes in the steppe is like riding in a demobilization carriage and asking guys in vests to be quieter. In the decisive battle, Tomiris defeated the Persian army, and, according to the same Herodotus, threw the head of Cyrus into a wineskin filled with blood.

Pericles – “First Citizen” of Athens

Today, anyone will tell you that tyranny is bad. However, for the ancient Greek, the word “tyrant” did not have a negative meaning – just think, just a form of government, like a democracy or an oligarchy. Indeed, thanks to the tyrant Peisistratus, dramaturgy arose (one might say, without him there would be no Shakespeare), and the tyrant Pericles raised his native city of Athens to the highest point of cultural and political influence.

His biography could belong to any blockhead of antiquity: the offspring of two noble families studied here and there and somehow, then served in the navy, where he took the initiative in a daring raid on the territorial waters of the Persians – fortunately for Pericles, without consequences. But he figured out in time how the snake ball of Athenian politics works. In order to win the love of the plebs, to be known as a “man of the people,” Pericles began to avoid gatherings of revelers and corrupt officials, tried to flicker more often in a crowd of ordinary people, and after a divorce from his wife, he began to live with a prostitute. “I am just like you,” he seemed to be telling his constituents. The strategy was crowned with success: Pericles led first the Democratic Party, then the whole city.

In a leadership position, he carried out a number of reforms, began the construction of the famous Parthenon, gave money to the sculptor Phidias for his immortal masterpieces, and as a strategist won several local wars that brought Athens leadership in the Mediterranean. But at the same time, he made a mistake – he contacted the Spartans. Compared to Athens of that time, Sparta was a land of uneducated, poor, hungry and therefore very angry people, who were nevertheless distinguished by military skill. The tyrant did not live to see the defeat of his homeland and the destruction of Athens by the Spartans – he fell ill and died at the end of a career typical of a Greek of those times.

Pericles is an excellent replacement for Alexander the Great, who was only a guest in Greek culture, although he spread it throughout Asia. Here, with the second leader of the Hellenes, Gorgo, the developers, perhaps, got excited: wouldn’t it be better to take her husband, the Spartan king Leonidas, who has been an example for the patriotic education of youth for more than two thousand years?

Trajan – Emperor of Rome

We are accustomed to strategists using familiar names. Julius Caesar is excellent. Octavian August is also not bad, although fewer people already know who he is. But what kind of bird, sorry, Trajan? And why does he represent Rome in Civilization VI? Asked – we answer. Peplum’s “Gladiator” with Russell Crowe in the title role greets the viewer with a note: “At the height of its power, the Roman Empire was a huge state from the north of Britain to Africa – more than a quarter of the world’s population lived and died under the rule of the Caesars.” Not Marcus Aurelius, shaking his beard in the film, but it was Trajan who gave Rome such greatness.

Under him, the empire reached its maximum size: we already know the length from north to south, and horizontally it stretched from Spain to Mesopotamia. Trajan also brought to the apogee a social policy, according to which every poor citizen received an allowance in the form of food and money – it was possible not to serve or work anywhere at all, but only to have fun. The concept of “bread and circuses” appeared just in his reign. The emperor also became famous as a city planner: even today there are many buildings erected on his orders, especially in the Danube basin, where he waged a protracted war with the Dacian tribe (now the territory of Romania). However, he was not vicious, like Nero or Caligula, and did not persecute people for religion, like Domitian. Is it any wonder that the years of Trajan’s reign were considered by many to be the “golden age” of Rome?

Hodze Tokimuné is a busido icon

There are many myths around him. Tokimune is credited with creating bushido, the samurai military code, but it originated long before this man – during the war between the Taira and Minamoto clans. One of Tokimune’s relatives really composed a treatise called “List of laws that determine what is good and what is bad,” but our hero had nothing to do with this work. Another myth is connected with the reforms in which the Hojo family participated, but Tokimune’s merit is that he spread Zen Buddhism among the samurai. Finally, he is often remembered in connection with the invasion of the Mongol-Chinese army of Khan Kublai in the 13th century and the phenomenon that the Japanese called “kamikaze”, or “divine wind”. The second invasion attempt ended tragically for the invaders: a typhoon scattered their fleet, and the samurai finished off the landing on the coast. But thousands of Japanese took part in the defense.

What made Hojo Tokimune stand out among his comrades-in-arms? His family traditionally supplied secretaries, accountants, administrators to the Bakufu (Japanese General Staff) – these people made a quiet and slow career, not showing military leadership talents. When the threat of occupation loomed over Japan, Tokimune was appointed the builder of coastal fortifications on the island of Kyushu (their ruins are still preserved). So between the landing of an enemy landing and the intervention of nature, that very “divine wind”, well-trained and well-armed Mongols, only these walls separated from the defenders of the island. How it all ended – we know. That is, the valor of Hojo Tokimune is that he did his job with high quality – today thoroughness has become a national trait of the Japanese.

Mwemba Nzinga is the King of the Congo

When he took the throne, he was already well over forty. But Mvemba’s trouble is not in the length of his path to power, but in his gullibility – for the colonial Africa of the 16th century, such mistakes are fatal. The Portuguese baptized him under the name of Afonso, they also helped him seize the throne and deal with the rebels who rebelled against the new religion by force of their weapons. Mvemba sent his son to study again in Portugal – there the offspring of the royal family, Enrique, even rose to the rank of bishop. The Europeans promised to send teachers, builders, ships and weapons. But the exchange of courtesies ended the friendship of peoples.

After all, along with Afonso, slave traders came to power in the Congo – they organized a flow of slaves from Africa to the plantations of recently developed Brazil. The king himself turned out to be not without sin: he sent fifty slaves to the governor of Sao Tome in exchange for muskets, but he, appropriating live goods, got off with excuses like “There are no guns now – maybe they will appear tomorrow.” The same story with teachers from Europe: in the Congo they preferred to do more profitable things than to teach geometry and Latin to the “savages”. Finally, the Portuguese stopped sharing with Afonso the proceeds from the slave trade, closed his access to the Portuguese ambassador, and when the king was outraged, they tried to kill him. Mvemba’s rule was a disaster for the country.

But thanks to a letter to Portugal, where Afonso reproaches the Europeans for the ruin of the country, he was known as a fighter against the slave trade. Isn’t it ironic? And the saddest thing is that the Congo became so dependent on the sale of slaves that one of the followers of Mwemba, Ngola Kiloanzhi, even advertised the local “product” to Europeans. “Buy slaves from us, ours are the best,” he wrote to the Portuguese king, hoping for a good deal. The developers at Firaxis have made a brilliant move by making Mwemba the African leader. Because, unlike Askiya or Chaka, his biography reflects the history of the entire continent.

Catherine de Medici – “Black Queen” of France

This lady, with her love of intrigue, has a place somewhere in the Game of Thrones, but art only echoes life, and not always with the same imagination. Catherine’s husband, King Henry II, died in a rather stupid way: at a jousting tournament, chips from a broken spear were stuck in his face. So Catherine received power in the country, but, being a woman, she used not so much strength and pressure as deceit. Here, family traditions also helped her, because she was from the Medici family. In Italy, the coat of arms with five red pills is well known – people of different talents were hiding under this emblem: there were also patrons, but more often – traitors, intriguers, poisoners.

The crown of Catherine’s “works” is St. Bartholomew’s Night, the culmination of the war between Catholics and Protestants in France. The queen pretended to make concessions to the Protestants (Huguenots), for which she even organized the wedding of noble persons from different faiths – Henry of Navarre and Margaret of Valois. Thousands of Protestants from all over the country came to Paris to celebrate this event. Catherine took advantage of the influx of guests and, through her son Charles, gave the order to kill them all. On the night of August 24, 1572, the streets of the French capital were drowned in blood. Well, purely Cersei Lannister – her resemblance to Catherine de Medici is enhanced by the fact that all the children of the latter were either insane or physically ill. Given the character of the queen, the authors of Civilization VI provided her with the most powerful spies in the game.

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