Civilization V: The Celtic Chronicle, part 1 (4000 B.C. to 1150 B.C.)

T.J. Hafer


My friends! Gather 'round the fire and prepare to hear an epic tale that spans the entirety of human history! Over the next few weeks, I will be chronicling the progress of my Celtic civilization in Civ V's new Gods & Kings expansion— a new entry every Wednesday. It is sure to be a tale of warfare, betrayal, alliances, and going bankrupt because I built too many freaking land improvements again. Pay attention. This will be on the mid-term.

The set-up

I'll be playing as the new Celt civilization, given that they are the second most awesome civilization in history (after the Vikings, who I have already played dozens of hours as in vanilla Civ V.) Their special units are an early-game spearman replacement, the Pictish Warrior, which grants Faith with every unit it kills, and the Ceilidh Hall, which replaces the Opera House and grants Happiness in addition to Culture. My strategy is to have a dominant, aggressive military in the early game to build faith before transitioning into Science and going for a space race victory.

I picked Continents Plus (easily my favorite map type), building a cold, wet world with a high sea level. I'll be competing with 11 other civilizations and 24 city-states on the Prince difficulty (which gives the AI their full faculties without adding any "unfair" advantages such as higher starting resources or clairvoyance.) Epic game length is my go-to, giving plenty of time for cool stuff to happen within each era without feeling like it takes a real-time century to get anything done.

Humble beginnings

4000 B.C.: The warring Celtic Tribes come together under a single cheiftain, founding the settlement of Edinburgh on the wooded banks of the River Celtica.

The Celts' civ power grants me bonus Faith in my cities for every adjacent forest tile, so this starting location was very fortunate. I'll have an early lead on founding a religion, especially once I research Bronze Working and can start farming barbarians with my Pictish Warriors.

3875 B.C.: The Celts develop an Honor-based warrior culture.

I go into Honor as my first Policy- sort of "talent trees" that will give my civ different bonuses. Taking this one early gives me a bonus when fighting randomly-spawning barbarians, which will further help my Pictish Warriors gain Faith.

3800 B.C.: The disparate superstitions of the Celtic people are unified into a single pantheon, led by a powerful messenger god.

Being the first to found a Pantheon is a big deal, because it makes the Fatih cost for all the other civs to do so go up. I choose to follow the Messenger of the Gods, which grants me bonus Science for the rest of the game in any city with a trade route. It's the only Science-based Founder Belief, and plays perfectly into my Religion into Science transition plan.

Arrows, mines, and Englishmen

3600 B.C.: Celtic explorers discover primitive bows in an ancient ruin, and quickly put them to use.

Of all the things I could have found in a ruin, this is one of the best. My explorer turns into a free ranged unit, which are super valuable at this point in the game.

Later that year, the Celts come into contact with the English tribes near their settlement of London. Something gives them a bad feeling about these guys...

Ah, so it seems I spawned next to one of my real-world historical rivals. Given my planned strategy, I will likely be waging war on them before long. There will be time for peace and scientific advancement once the Medieval age rolls around. For now, I will meet every new civ as a potential foe, and therefore a potential source of Faith.

3575 B.C.: The Celts begin mining with primitive, stone tools.

My first tech! This will allow me to build mines, which will increase the productivity of my cities with mineral resources.

Warriors of song and legend

3450 B.C.: The Celts win a major victory against barbarians at what will come to be known as First Blood Bay, just east of the River Celtica. Their scavenged ranged weaponry allows them to weaken their foes from the safety of a nearby hilltop before their melee warriors move in.

3350 B.C.: Celtic warriors come across a group of explorers from the neighboring Germanic tribes being attacked by barbarians. The Celts sweep in with clubs and arrows to save the day, leaving the Germans very grateful.

I haven't spotted a German city yet, but the fact that I'm encountering them so early means they're probably pretty close by. Waging two wars in the early game is a bad idea, and I already have my eyes set on England. So I think I'll try to stay on good terms with them for now.

That same year, the establishment of a formal Warrior Code leads to the rise of a Great General in Edinburgh.

Another reason I went down the Honor tree: Having a Great General this early in the game is a pretty huge deal. This will let me take on much larger forces with only a few units of troops.

Encounter at Midpoint and the Celtic Bronze Age

3200 B.C.: While scouting a barbarian-occupied ruin, a chance meeting occurs between the Celts and parties from the Russian and French tribes. They all eye one another warily, each wanting to be first to expel the barbarians and claim the secrets of the ruins.

3175 B.C.: The Russian chieftain approaches the Celts, asking for aid against their French enemies. The Celts agree to join the war on the Russian side, granted they are given time to prepare.

This was my first interesting diplomatic decision. Refusing to help would hurt my relationship with Russia, and I was planning to start a war anyway. Better that war be two-on-one, even if it does delay my conquest of England. Thankfully, Civ V allows you to request a 10-turn delay on a joint declaration of war, at which point I might finally have some Pictish Warriors ready to go.

3050 B.C.: The Celts master the art of combining tin and copper, ushering in the Celtic Bronze Age. They immediately begin using the new metal to make pointy objects of different varieties.

Yes! Now I can start churning out Pictish Warriors and advancing my faith toward the 300 needed to found a World Religion. Being the first to do so will bring me great advantages through the early and mid game. I'm now switching my research to try to build the historically Celtic Stonehenge wonder, which will give me further bonuses to Faith.


2925 B.C.: Seemingly unaware of the secret Celtic-Russian Alliance, the French chieftain approaches the Celts asking for aid against Russia. The Celtic cheiftain responds, "Well, um uh... we were just about to eat dinner, so... maybe next time?"

Interesting position here. I basically have the same amount to gain by joining either side, so the outcome of this war falls solely to my somewhat arbitrary decision. I decided, for the sake of honor, to hold to my original agreement with Russia. This will make the French suspicious, but there's not likely to be much they can do about it.

2900 B.C.: A long conflict between the Celtic-Russian Alliance and the French tribes begins when Celtic forces engage a French warband near the source of the River Celtica. The Celtic warriors settle in, knowing this will be the first test of their mettle against a foe greater than mere roving barbarians.

2850 B.C.: The Germans request a public declaration of friendship with the Celts, which they quickly accept. The beginnings of a three-way league of Celts, Russians, and Germans take shape.

A Declaration of Friendship isn't as good as an alliance, but it means Germany will be a lot less likely to attack me or help my enemies. If I can keep close bonds to them as well as the Russians, France and England don't stand a chance. We may have this whole subcontinent to ourselves by the mid-game.

The founding of Dublin

2775 B.C.: The Celts finally get around to inventing pottery, mainly to decorate with depictions of their warriors kicking the crap out of Frenchmen.

2675 B.C.: Celtic villagers east of the River Celtica found Dublin, the second major Celtic settlement.

This is somewhat late in the game to get my second city, and I really need a breadbasket. Building near these plains and a wheat resource will allow me to engineer a population boom, while still retaining the Faith bonus from having adjacent forests.

Later that year, the Russians make a declaration of friendship that further cements the Celtic-German-Russian League.

We've found them!

2650 B.C.: The Celts encounter an expedition from the Swedish tribes to the Northeast.

I'm starting to get pretty nervous. England, France, Germany, Sweden, and Russia... adding myself makes six. That's fully half of the major civilizations on the map, and I've run into them long before trans-ocean sea travel is possible. This means I've spawned on some sort of Eurasian super continent, which is tough considering you can be attacked by a lot of different people at a lot of different angles. Being on an island with only one or two other civs is a much better position to be in.

2600 B.C.: Celtic scouts discover the location of the French capital, Paris, and the small outlying city of Lyon. They are found and killed shortly after reporting this discovery.

It looks like my men have a long march ahead of them--it's 9 turns from Dublin to Paris. A lot can happen in that time, and that's assuming I don't have to stop part-way to deal with barbarians.

2525 B.C.: The French chieftain proposes a peace treaty that involves the Celts paying him a large sum of gold. The Celts send the messenger's head back with a single gold coin in each eye socket.

This behavior of Civ V's AI never ceases to annoy me. Even when they're losing, some leaders will propose peace treaties that involve the attacker paying them ransom or tribute. Needless to say, it only made me want to burn their crops all the more.

Time for a tactical withdrawal

2375 B.C.: The Celtic calendar is formalized to count the time between glorious battles.

Calendar tech lets me start building Stonehenge at my capital. Now I turn my tech path toward Philosophy, which will take me into the Classical Era and further cement my religious lead.

2250 B.C.: A German embassy, the first of its kind, is established in Edinburgh.

This lets the Germans see where my capital is, but also strengthens our friendship and lets us make Open Borders agreements and Defensive Pacts. It's a new feature in Gods & Kings, and I'm interested to see its effects on diplomacy.

2225 B.C.: After raiding the seemingly lightly-defended French town of Lyon, Celtic forces are surprised by French archers and forced to retreat into the nearby hills. This marks the first Celtic military defeat in history.

Lyon looked like a soft target, but even one unit of archers stationed in a city--which can't be attacked directly as long as the city holds--is enough to deter a much larger ground army. The mountains to the west of Lyon also ensure that all of my units have to pass within bombardment range of Lyon and Paris to attack it, so I think I'll just focus on Paris from now on.

Later that year, the Russians and the French make peace, leaving the Celts to fight the war on their own.

This is a pretty discouraging turning point. I'm still friends with Russia, but they seem disinterested in helping my fight the war that they freaking started in the first place. My armies are far from Celtic soil, and I can't expect any Russian help from the south. I could withdraw now and spend the next dozen turns farming barbarians, but I've decided to commit to seeing Paris burn.

The Woad March

2175 B.C.: The Celtic chieftain puts his riches to use hiring fierce Picts from the forests around Edinburgh. The tattooed warriors begin what comes to be known as the Woad March toward Paris.

I spent nearly all of my gold to bypass the training time and get two units of my unique troops out at once. In addition to giving me Faith with every kill, they should provide me with enough sheer military weight to overwhelm Paris without those stupid Russians.

2100 B.C.: The English request an embassy in Edinburgh. The Celts refuse, assuring the English that it's absolutely not because they have plans to conquer them and take all of their gold. They just... don't feel like it right now.

I run the risk of making England suspicious by turning down their embassy, but it's better than becoming friends and then attacking them later. Doing so would make the AI perceive me as an untrustworthy ally. If you plan to burn someone off the map in Civ V, it's best to maintain cold relations until you're ready to do it.

Later that year, the Celtic writing system is formalized.

1925 B.C.: The Picts emerge out of the jungles north of a Paris already burning from Celtic raids. The long Siege of Paris begins.

A clash of generals

1750 B.C.: A French Great General arrives to defend Paris.

This levels the field a little. Previously, I'd been holding back French counter-attacks with my own Great General. Now that each side has one, the tide could turn quickly.

1725 B.C.: The French defenders sally forth from Paris with their Great General at the head of the army. The Picts besieging the city fall back to a nearby hill and make a stand there. The French are completely wiped out trying to take the hill, and the Great General is forced to flee south, through Paris and toward Lyon, to avoid capture.

Well, so much for the tide turning. By adjusting my line of battle very slightly, I was able to absorb the French counter-attack and leave them with no actual troops to defend the city. Great Generals can enhance an army's ability, but they can't fight on their own.

1550 B.C.: Barbarian warbands take advantage of the Celtic armies being away campaigning in France to raid the countryside around Edinburgh, taking civilians as slaves.

Ugh. This is what I get for not leaving any troops behind to fend off barbarians. I've lost my only Worker, which means I'll need to capture him back or build another one before I can continue building infrastructure like roads and farms--a very important task in the early game.


1500 B.C.: Construction is completed on STONEHENGE! It is of the proper proportions, and in no danger of being trod upon by the wee folk.

Much like the historical Celts, I've beaten everyone to being the first civilization to stack a bunch of big rocks together in a circle. This grants me a huge bonus to Faith generation.

Later that year, the Celts capture French refugees trying to flee Paris and send them back to Celtica to replace the lost workers taken by the barbarians.

Additionally, the Swedes approach the Celts asking for aid in a war against the Germans. They decline, despite the Swedish leader's epic beard.

I have nothing against the Swedes at this point, but diverting any troops to a second war would be too costly to my efforts in France. Besides, I have no compelling reason to ruin my friendship with Germany.

1500 B.C. Pretty big year.

All hail the one, true platform!

1450 B.C.: A Great Prophet is born in Edinburgh, and begins preaching of a gaming experience with no equal.

As expected, I beat all of the other civs to gaining a Great Prophet by a long shot. This allows me to turn the Pantheon my people worship into a World Religion that can be spread to other cities by Missionaries, increase my relations with fellow believers, and grant me greater bonuses. And what better dogma to spread than the supremacy of the PC? Sure, my followers won't even known what a PC is for about another 3500 years, but gods are supposed to be unknowable anyhow.

I choose Interfaith Dialogue as my first new belief, which gives me Science whenever I spread my religion to a foreign city. As more people embrace the PC, my progress towards actually inventing one will increase. For my second, I choose Religious Community, which increases my production empire-wide for every follower of the religion.

1150 B.C.: With the advent of Philosophy, the Celts enter the Classical Era.

I'm a little behind the curve here, since my tech choices were focused on some very specific early-game strategies. I'm one of the last five civs to emerge from the Ancient era, and the Celts are far from the scientific paragons I'm trying to make them into. Hopefully, all of that early investment will allow me to catch up quickly.

A new era has dawned. The Siege of Paris remains long and bloody. PC Elitism, the world's first major religion, is beginning to spread. The Swedes and Germans stand on the brink of a war the Celts can't afford to become involved in, but may find themselves forced into the middle of.

What new triumphs and challenges lie ahead for the burgeoning empire? You'll have to check back next week to find out!

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