Civilization V: The Celtic Chronicle, part 3 (520 A.D. to 1450 A.D.)

T.J. Hafer

Gather 'round the fire of time and prepare to hear an epic tale that spans the entirety of human history! Well, a millennium of it. Every Wednesday, I've been chronicling the progress of my Celtic civilization in Civ 5's new Gods & Kings expansion. In Part 2 , the Celtic Republic was formed, and brought holy war to the lands of England in the name of PC Elitism. Now, with the Celts and the English united under the growing religion, the Middle Ages dawn in a rare state: peace.

Missed Part 1? Read how it all began .

So much for peace in the Middle Ages

Things are looking up from when I entered the Classical Era. I'm not at war, my economy is turning a reasonable surplus, and I have one of the larger land empires on the map. My situation is far from ideal, though. I'm still quite a bit behind in tech, being the last of the five civs on this continent to enter the Medieval Age. If the pace of my scientific advancement doesn't pick up, I'll be the last one with gun powder. That doesn't tend to end well (see any history book ever).

Beyond our shores, rival religions are popping up that I'll have to deal with. My missionaries continue to spread PC Elitism, and I also have access to a new unit called an Inquisitor that can remove other religions from my cities. I turn my tech path toward Theology to make sure I don't lose my religious lead.

520 A.D.: PC Elitism becomes the majority religion in Stockholm, capital of Sweden, making it the first city outside the Celtic Republic to accept the faith.

The Swedes have been my strongest allies for a while now, and this will improve relations even further. Over time, the religion will spread to other Swedish cities connected to their capital by roads.

535 A.D.: The Celtic Republic and Germany exchange embassies. Later that year, the Germans found Confucianism.

You may recall that I haven't been on great terms with Germany lately. Until recently, they were denouncing me for "settling lands they claim to be theirs." Whatever. I thought allowing them to build an embassy might patch things up. Plus, getting my own embassy in Berlin reveals its location to me on the map.

Then they had to go and found a rival religion, being the first civ on this continent to do so. That is almost assured to offset the diplomatic progress we made, and then some. In keeping with the theme, I've nicknamed the German religion "Xboxism."

560 A.D.: Germany and their Russian allies denounce Sweden.

Things are about to get messy. Sweden and Germany share a very close border. They've already been to war twice since the game started, and that was before they had religious conflict escalating their disputes. Sweden's cities are quickly adopting PC Elitism, while Germany is pushing its new Xboxism forcefully. I may have to step in if a German crusade targets my fellow believers and my closest ally.

Escalation

580 A.D.: France and the Celtic Republic sign an open borders pact, allowing eager PC Elitist missionaries to begin preaching to the French.

Later that year, word arrives that Hinduism has been founded across the sea.

Unless I've lost count, that brings us up to five major world religions. Hinduism, which I've nicknamed "Zyngalam" after the casual/Facebook game developer, as well as Christianity (Nintendoism) and Buddhism (Sonyism) are still separated from this continent by impassible ocean tiles that can only be crossed when someone researches more advanced naval technology. Still, being a coastal nation, I must be ready to contend with them.

Sweden and France declare joint war against Russia, beginning the Great Southern War.

625 A.D.: London, long the most staunchly English city in the Republic, becomes the last to accept PC Elitism as its majority faith.

670 A.D.: While their French and Swedish allies are tied up fighting Russia, the Germans declare open war on the Celtic Republic, with Russia quickly following suit. The Great Southern War escalates into a continent-wide conflict over land, country, and faith. The King and the Celtic Senate elect not to press the attack, and begin preparing to defend against German invasion.

Germany is on the east coast of the continent, over a dozen turns away, and they have to either cross through allied Sweden (which would be taken as a declaration of war), or the barbarian-infested, inhospitable tundra to the North to reach me. I should have plenty of time to build and station forces to fend off an attack.

I'm not even worried about Russia; they've been fighting the Swedes and French 2-on-1 for several turns, and would have to break through the French lines to get anywhere near me.

The calm before dem Sturm

685 A.D.: Missionaries from Dublin set out to convert the French to PC Elitism.

Bogged down fighting Russia, both France and Sweden refuse the Celtic call for aid against Germany. As ravens deliver the grim news to all of the men along the eastern front, they look down from the city walls, knowing they are alone.

This comes as an unpleasant surprise. I had thought for sure that at least Sweden would declare war on Germany, considering declaring war on Germany has been one of the hallmarks of Swedish culture for hundreds of years. They also have a much more vested interest in doing so, considering the shared border and the fact that Germany is starting to push its new religion on their PC Elitist people.

715 A.D.: Word comes from across the sea that an unknown empire has fallen.

I won't know who it is for a while, but with my conquest of England, that means only 10 civs remain. You can win a Domination victory by being the last civ in possession of your original capital, but that isn't my aim this time around.

An oracle emerges in Edinburgh, claiming to bring visions of the future from the holy PC. After hearing her council, the Celts establish a warrior elite social class.

My second wonder, The Oracle, gives me one free social policy. I choose Military Caste, which increases my happiness in any city where I have a unit garissoned. Which is... basically all of them at the moment, considering the Germans could be on my doorstep any turn now.

760 A.D.: After the arrival of Celtic missionaries, PC Elitism quickly becomes the majority religion in Paris, and begins spreading to other French cities.

Dark clouds gather

805 A.D.: Celtic scouts capture a group of German civilians near the border and send them southward into serfhood.

I did a little bit of eyebrow-raising here. For some reason, Germany just marched a group of defenseless workers right up to my border. They are much slower and have a smaller vision range than cheaply-built Scouts, so I don't know why they'd be using them as spies.

The Celts encounter the city-state of Brussels, North of London. Many waffles are had!

I've met my first City-State, which are independent countries that can't expand or conquer new territory. Fostering good relations with them will allow me to make them trading partners, and gain their aid in wars. Unfortunately, I don't have the gold right now to build influence with them.

820 A.D.: France, having been at peace with the Celts for almost 2000 years, publicly denounces their former allies. As PC Elitism spreads through France, the upper class grows concerned that it may lead to the same fate befalling them as did the English monarchy in the 3rd Century.

And just like that, the power balance shifts again. The French are still fighting the Russians, who have also declared war on me. The fact that we have a shared enemy means open conflict is unlikely for now. It's still a cause for concern, however.

850 A.D.: A massive German horde is spotted outside London, led by two Great Generals. The Celts send one of their own finest generals and a battalion of seasoned Picts North up the road to meet them.

Whoa. Whoa, whoa, whoa. When the Germans moved into my vision range, I literally lost my breath. Their army is GIGANTIC. They have more troops in this one formation than I could match, even if I brought up all of my forces from the home cities in the South. I expected them to maybe throw a few men my way before being turned back and asking for peace. I was not prepared for this onslaught at all.

To make matters worse, they are made up mostly of the Landsknecht, a German unique unit that is more effective than the Pikeman it replaces, and is higher in tech than any melee troops I currently possess.

I've never lost a major war in Civ this far into a game before. This is looking like it could break my streak.

The Battle of Nottingham

860 A.D.: The bulk of the German forces veer South, going around the Celtic defenders bound for London and heading toward Nottingham. Seeing the signal fires, the Celtic general turns his troops back the way they came as swiftly as possible to defend the city.

880 A.D.: Nottingham burns. Every available troop is sent up the Dublin Road to relieve the siege.

Unrest grows as the cities of the Celtic South are left to local militias.

Remember that policy I took that gave me happiness for every city with a garrison? Yeah, well, pulling all of my troops to meet the Germans has caused my Happiness to take a plunge.

890 A.D.: Nottingham falls to German forces, becoming the first Celtic city ever to be captured.

This is not good. I've gone entire games of Civ without ever losing a city, so it's a pretty big deal. And since Nottingham lies at a crossroads, the Germans have also broken my trade routes and supply lines to York and London.

900 A.D.: Intense fighting at the River Nottingham leads to heavy German and Celtic losses. Their blood is carried out to sea, leading to the day after the battle becoming known as the Morning of the Red Tide.

Word finally reaches the French and Swedes of the horrors visited upon their fellow PC Elitists. They declare war on Germany.

It's about time. Apparently one of my cities needed to be sacked before they decided this was pressing enough for them to bother. The tide may be turning, but I'm still in a lot of trouble. France and Sweden are each over 10 turns from Nottingham, and the Germans could reach York or London in only two.

That same year, the Celtic town of Truro is founded West of Cardiff.

At this point, I'm preparing to lose all of my English holdings to the Germans. If that happens, I'll need to replace my lost infrastructure by founding new cities and trade routes.

Battle rages on

920 A.D.: All the remaining Celtic forces between Nottingham and York are wiped out at the Battle of Grey Hill. York prepares for the invaders while the elite Republic Rangers try to hit the German lines from behind.

In case you missed an earlier installment, the Republic Rangers are a group of elite archers I've had since the first few turns of the game, and have been continually upgrading as new tech becomes available. So far, they've participated in every major battle I've seen, and are still going strong.

To the South, a Great Merchant arises out of the guilds of Edinburgh. He builds Celtica's first Customs House, bringing unprecedented wealth to the city.

This will provide a great, ongoing boost to my economy. In the mean time, I'm turning my tech path toward Education. This will allow me to make research agreements with other nations, which is the fastest way to seize a technological lead.

930 A.D.: Word arrives that Islam has been founded across the sea.

That makes six of the seven possible world religions that have been founded, and I nickname this one "iOSism." Considering four of these are on another continent, I almost wish I could peek over and see what kind of a holy mess they're in right now.

German forces land from the sea near Cardiff, leaving the Republic Rangers surrounded. They barely escape with their lives.

This ranks as the most tense moment of the game so far. I was not expecting a coastal attack from the West, and was only a few hitpoints away from losing my most experienced and emotionally significant military unit. Luckily, their guile and knowledge of the Celtic woodlands allowed them to fall back to Cardiff in one piece.

As the German siege of York begins, Swedish forces capture Berlin far to the East. With their capital taken, the possibility of German reinforcements is dashed. They remain determined, however, to keep pressing the attack from occupied Nottingham with two Great Generals and a bloodied, but still dangerous, army.

I wish I could breathe a sigh of relief now, but the war is far from over. If I lose York, it's unlikely I'll be getting either city back any time soon. That would leave London isolated, my trade routes still broken, and a bastion of German power and troop production right in the middle of my lands.

Not to mention the fact that I'm still being denounced by the French, who are no doubt aware that almost my entire army has been destroyed fighting the German invasion.

950 A.D.: The Celtic town of Nantes is founded South of Dublin.

Last stand of the Picts

960 A.D.: France and Germany sign a peace treaty, as do Sweden and Russia. Sweden remains at war with Germany, as does France with Russia, but it's clear that the 400-year, continent-spanning war is winding down.

The Great Prophet Rayman founds Ubiism in Paris, weakening PC Elitism's hold on the French people.

The in-game name of the religion they founded is Judaism, but since they're French and I'm running out of names of PC competitors, I gave it a nickname based on French publisher Ubisoft. No matter what I call it, it spells trouble. My relations with France were decaying even before they had their own major religion competing with mine.

On the bright side, only seven major religions can be founded in a given game. This means that I should have an easy time keeping the Swedes firm adherents of PC Elitism, which will preserve our alliance going forward.

970 A.D.: With Celtic siege weapons from London firing at the Germans from across the Bay of York, the York city guard hold off and route the advancing German army against all odds. As the German general flees, a cheer goes up from the walls. The Battle of York will go down as the turning point in the German Invasion, with what remains of the attacking forces pushed back to occupied Nottingham.

990 A.D. A ship carrying one of two German Great Generals is sunk by siege weapon fire in the Bay of York. The remaining leader of the invasion remains holed up in Nottingham with only a handful of men left under his command.

Back in Edinburgh, the Queen of the Celts gathers a new army from the recently-settled countryside. The German Invasion has made it abundantly clear that it is the end of an era for the Celtic military. Their old weapons and tactics were completely undone by the might of a large, contemporary force. The Picts, the fierce core of the Celtic armies for centuries, are simply no longer effective in large-scale warfare.

But their legend is not ready to draw to a close yet. The Woad March will be called one last time, as the remaining Picts advance to retake Nottingham like they did in days of old. It is likely that few will survive, but all will be remembered until the end of time.

I always hate when I get to the point that my civ's unique units have been out-teched, but if I'm going to defend myself from here on, it's time to say goodbye to my painted tribal warriors and start building the shining-armored knights and footmen this era is known for. At least I can give them a proper, glorious send-off in retaking my lost city from the crippled Germans.

Attacked from all sides

1110 A.D.: As the last Woad March liberates occupied Nottingham, a vast, Russian army crosses the Celtic border from the South. French troops wait to the East of the Russian lines, but do not make any moves to engage.

Well, crap. Apparently I was wrong not to fear the Russians. Having sent about a third of my army up North, they have me very outnmubered—but we are fighting on my home turf, near my most defensible, early-game cities. I honestly have no idea what the French are doing. They could be here to help either side. The fact that they let the Russian army get this far is not a good sign.

1120 A.D.: The Russian army is nearly exterminated by Celtic troops with a superior knowledge of the terrain, and quick supply lines to the capital. Russia signs a peace treaty almost immediately.

The same year, French troops turn on the Celts and beseige Nantes, having waited all this time for the Russians to wear down the defenders. Lead by the Duke of Orleans, the Orleanian Invasion brings the greatest threat the Celts have ever faced to their doorstep.

If I was outnumbered in the conflict with the Russians, this situation requires a new word. The French army rivals the size of the Russian force and the German horde that attacked me in the 8th century combined. I'll be honest with you: this may be game over. I might be able to hold onto Celtic Britain, but if I lose all of my developed cities in the Celtic heartland, my chances of achieving any of Civ's victory conditions before the time limit of 2050 A.D. are out the window.

The skies are grey with clouds and the smoke of French camp fires, but the rain does not come. It is a grim day. Blackbirds circle the skies above the forests and meadows, waiting to descend on the fallen...

CELTICAAAAAAAAA!!!

1140 A.D.: With the Picts streaming out of the woods like ghosts and arrows raining down from the walls of Edinburgh and Dublin, the astounding might of the French army is dashed like so much surf against mossy, kilt-wearing rocks. The queen who commanded the defense becomes known as Queen Alesia the Indomitable, and the day of the French retreat is declared Celtica Day. Many retreating French troops are cut off by carefully-positioned Celtic ambushes, and do not leave Republic soil.

You know those moments in gaming when you just pull something off that totally shouldn't have been possible? That just happened to me. It's impossible to convey the emotions of several tense turns of meticulously-calculated maneuvering, and the utter joy of finally watching the French retreat. I had no business winning this. Even on my home soil, I was outnumbered at least two-to-one, out-teched, weakened from fighting off the Russians, and mostly unprepared.

What I've essentially pulled off is defeating the largest professional army on the continent with a bunch of shirtless guys with pointy sticks. It wasn't easy, by any means, and I had to spend whole minutes each turn thinking ahead, anticipating French movements, and doing as much damage as I could to priority targets. I've lost Nantes, but they won't hold it for long.

1150 A.D.: The Republic Rangers, having held Dublin almost single-handedly, pepper the retreating French with arrows and wipe out most of what remains of their invasion force. The survivors fall back to occupied Nantes.

1190 A.D.: Nantes is retaken. This represents the height of the Celtic Empire, with the homeland and Celtic Britain being whole for the first time since the German Invasions. And yet, all good things...

Decline

Over the next 200 years, the Celts would face continuing poverty, outstripped even further by the technological advances of larger nations. Tensions rose as the Pictish senators called for a march on Paris in retribution for the Orleanian incursions, but the crown would not stand for it.

By the 14th Century, Sweden and France had ceased fighting each other long enough to turn their sights on Celtica. The French still coveted the fertile, Celtic lands on their borders, and an increasingly corrupt Swedish crown sought new conquest, heedless of any justification.

In 1370, the Swedes invaded Celtica and burned Dublin, her second oldest and largest city, to the ground. Though Edinburgh would hold fast and the Swedes would be repelled, the Republic never recovered from the loss. The homeland and Celtic Britain became increasingly fractured, and while the Republic would hold together for some time after, it had missed its chance at becoming a major world power.

With a heavy heart, I had to call it on this game. The Swedes randomly declaring war on me was the straw that broke the tattooed forest warrior's back. What I did to make the AI hate me so much, I couldn't say. But on top of being far behind in tech and economy thanks to putting too many eggs in the religion basket, the constant invasions wore me down to a state of just barely surviving.

Did I hold my capital and my empire? Yes. But by the mid-1400s, it was pretty clear that all of Civ's victory conditions were pretty firmly out of my reach. This was the first time I had lost a game of Civ that progressed this far. Usually I get wiped out super early, or dominate utterly. However, this was not a total wash...

Despite this, the Celtic religion of PC Elitism remained the world's leading major religion, holding majority sway even in the mighty Swedish capital of Stockholm. It would eventually spread across the seas to dominate all who heard its teachings. When the PC was finally invented some time in the 19th Century, the loyal Elitists rose up in celebration that the Promised Platform had arrived at last.

And never forgotten were the brave Celts who held their homeland time and time again against superior foes, so that the word of the PC could survive and spread and flourish across borders and oceans. All was good...

New beginnings

So, let's be honest. This game ended pretty prematurely, and while I was able to add some narrative balm to it, what you guys really deserve is to see a chronicle that spans all the eras... not just the first three. Luckily, I didn't allow myself to be discouraged. If I could not succeed in this world, then onto the next!

Starting next Wednesday, we shall turn in our plaid and our shamrocks for pungent fish and legendary facial hair. The tome is closed on the Celtic Chronicle... let the Swedish Saga begin!

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