Civilization V: The Swedish Saga, part 1 (4000 B.C. to 430 A.D.)

T.J. Hafer

My friends! Gather 'round the fire and prepare to hear an epic tale that spans the entirety of human history. I've been posting weekly chronicles of my progress in Civ V's Gods & Kings expansion, and this week begins a totally new game with a totally new civ -- a follow-up to my previous Celtic Chronicle ( Part 1 , Part 2 , Part 3 ). Read on to see legends unfold, world powers rise and fall... and maybe I'll even win this time! Let the Saga begin.

För Sverige i tiden!

I'm playing as Sweden, led by the epically-bearded Gustavus Adolphus. My goal is a Diplomatic Victory, earned by building the United Nations and being voted ruler of everything. I plan to accomplish this by befriending a lot of city-states (which there will be a whopping 36 of in this game) aided by the Patronage policy tree and Sweden's ability to gain influence by gifting Great People.

My unique units are:

  • The Hakkapeliitta, elite cavalry of the late Renaissance that gain added bonuses when stacked with a Great General.
  • The Carolean, a replacement for Rifleman that heal every turn, even if they take another action.


Because of these units I'll be doing most of my grand military maneuvers in the 17th through early 20th centuries, as opposed to my previous Celtic empire which enacted conquest almost immediately due to the early availability of Pictish Warriors.

I've stuck with the same basic map presets and leader pool as the Celtic Chronicle, which I've nicknamed Mega Europe: cold and wet with a high sea level. This time, I tweaked the World Age to 3 billion years, which will lead to more hills and mountains.

Brave new world

3975 B.C.: Stockholm is founded near the mouth of the Snowrun River in the lush forests once home to the disparate tribes of proto-Norse hunter-gatherers.

Not a bad start at all. I'm near a coast and a river, and there's gold right in my back yard. The region I've spawned in, which I'm calling the Snowrun Peaks, has lots of impassible mountain tiles to defend me from invasion.

3900 B.C.: The Swedes war with the various barbarians of the Snowrun Peaks. By 3635, most of them will have been conquered and unified under Swedish rule. Word begins to spread of the Swedish warchiefs and their skill in battle. The tribes of the Stockholm Valley are forced to either submit or retreat further into the mountains.

3500 B.C.: The Swedes have developed an honor culture, where deeds in battle are said to bring good fortune to one's tribe and family.

It's very, very rare that I don't go Honor first in policies for that early military bonus. Being able to knock over barbarians like poorly-balanced bowling pins and accrue experience just seems way more valuable than, say, going Liberty first so you can expand to a bunch of cities that you probably can't defend.

3325 B.C.: The Swedes make contact with their cousins, the Danes: another group of Norse tribes which has organized and conquered a large swath of land. The Danes claim the coastal plains to the southeast of Sweden. Neither tribe feels overtly threatened by the other, leading to peaceful relations.

Story-wise, it's cool that the first foreigners I meet are my historical neighbors and cousins. I'll have to keep an eye on them going forward, though. Denmark is a pretty aggressive civ with strong Medieval-era units. The fact that we're separated by land and not water will benefit me, considering they can't make use of their civ power that improves embarked land units and coastal raids.

The Swedish Bronze Age

3150 B.C.: Advancements in metallurgy lead to the dawn of the Swedish Bronze Age. Surrounding tribes, including the Danes, are awed by the new metal weapons carried by Swedish warriors, the likes of which have never been seen before.

From a sample size of two civs, I'm already at a pretty good tech lead and advancing at a solid clip. Not really worrying too much about Faith has let me focus on Civ's other resources like Gold, Science, and Culture, leading to a much stronger start than I had as the Celts.

2850 B.C.: The Swedes make contact with the Greek and Austrian tribes, settling in the lowlands on the Southern side of the Snowrun Peaks. These people seem strange compared to their Danish cousins, but the chieftains seek to foster peace nonetheless.

Ah, Greece. Many a Civ V game has found me fighting it out against Greece well into the age of ballistic missiles and death robots. They seem to pull happiness and gold out of thin air, even on lower difficulties, and found new cities like it's going out of style. On the bright side, I have some very formidable mountain ranges, as well as Denmark, between me and them.

Austria, on the other hand, is new to the expansion. I didn't encounter them in the Celtic Chronicle (they were off on the other continent somewhere), so I'm unsure how they'll behave.

2800 B.C.: The small farming settlement of Sigtuna, upriver from Stockholm, high in the sloping hills of the Snowruns, grows into a proper town. Stockholm and Sigtuna will soon become known as the Sister Cities of the Snowrun, and together represent the heart of Swedish culture and power.

2775 B.C.: The discovery of carvings in an ancient ruin leads most of the Swedish chieftains to adopt a belief system based around a great messenger god.

Apparently Ruins can give you Faith, and these ones gave me just enough to found a Pantheon. I chose Messenger of the Gods, just like in the Celtic Chronicle, for the bonus Science generated by trade routes. I did a lot of things wrong as the Celts, but I don't think that was one of them.

Of Stormlanders and Althings

2525 B.C.: The Swedish chieftains establish the Althing, an assembly of Swedish free folk that allows better representation on the local and national level.

For non-Norse history nerds, The Althing was the governing body set up to rule Viking Age Iceland. So, yeah, we may be jumping the gun on the timeline here a little. But I wanted to give an appropriately Nordic flavor to my adoption of the Liberty policy tree. As you may recall, Liberty favors expansion of borders, cities, and population. Unlike the Celtic Chronicle, I will capitalize on this by expanding my borders, cities, and population.

2500 B.C.: Norse barbarians in the Bay of Storms region, known as Stormlanders, are conquered and brought under Swedish rule. With their aid, the Swedes begin domesticating animals.

I researched Animal Husbandry a little earlier than I usually do because Sweden's first unique unit is cavalry-based. There's just one problem: I've been scouting the entire region for a while, and I've found plenty of sheep, cows, and deer, but there don't seem to be any horses near a convenient city-building site. At least I've still got 3000 years, give or take, to get that figured out.

I'm now turning toward the wheel, which I researched comically late in the Celtic Chronicle and missed out on a lot of bonus Science I could have been generating from trade routes.

2275 B.C.: The Swedes encounter the German tribes living inland from Austria at the heart of the continent. It quickly becomes clear that they don't get along well with their Austrian neighbors. Shortly after, the Austrians approach the Swedes with an offer to declare friendship. The Swedes gladly accept.

One of Sweden's civ powers gives me increased Great Person generation for every civ I've declared friendship with, so I'll be doing that a lot. It's not going to make Germany terribly happy with me, but then, when are they ever?

2100 B.C.: The first Swedish gold mine is constructed near Stockholm, bringing untold wealth to its citizens.

Rise of the Westlings

1975 B.C.: Greece offers a sum of gold to the Swedes to build an embassy in Stockholm, the first of its kind. The Althing approves.

Normally the AI will trade an embassy for an embassy, but as I haven't researched writing yet, I can't build one. In this early game case, they'll offer you some gold instead. It allows them to see where my capital is, but also improves my diplomatic relations with them and allows us to make other formal agreements.

1925 B.C.: In the Westerlands, just to the West of Stockholm, the Westling barbarian tribes rise and begin attacking small settlements along the frontier. A group of Swedish scouts manages to hold off a large force of them along the coast, but it's clear that the threat won't be halted without more significant action.

The same year, a road connecting Stockholm and Sigtuna begins.

1875 B.C.: The Swedish language gets a formalized writing system. The Swedes and the Austrians exchange embassies.

Now I'm going for Construction. One of my biggest mistakes in the Celtic Chronicle was not developing the tiles around my cities fast enough. This time, I plan to micromanage every worker and every available space to saturate my entire empire with useful improvements.

Later that year, a Swedish Great General arrives in the Westerlands to deal with the barbarian threat.

1800 B.C.: The Swedes and the Danes exchange embassies and make a declaration of friendship.

Excellent, now I'm friends with both of the civs that border me, and am gaining all those great person points on top of it all.

Clasically trained

1725 B.C.: Christianity is founded... somewhere.

The first world religion is up and running, but in a civ I haven't met yet. I'm still a ways away from founding a religion myself, so that could be a problem. My money is on the Celts, based on how much I outpaced everyone in the Faith race playing as them.

1575 B.C.: The trade road between Stockholm and Sigtuna is completed, leading to a flourishing of trade and ideas between the Sister Cities of the Snowrun.

1475 B.C.: The Swedes master the art of construction, turning their previously modest tribal settlements into magnificent cities of stone and metal over the next few hundred years. They have risen from a confederation of tribes to a true civilization.

And thus, I arrive in the Classical Era! I'm already doing tremendously better than the Celtic Chronicle. I'm the 4th of 12 civs to get here (vs. 7th as the Celts), and I've reached the milestone a whole 325 years earlier. My hope is to outpace everyone and be the first to hit the Medieval Era.

Movin' on up

As a new era dawns for Sweden, both opportunity and challenge abound. It has fostered friendly relations with the Austrians to the southwest and the Danes to the southeast, though much of the continent remains unexplored. Tales of a foreign religion gaining power threaten to disrupt the indigenous beliefs of the Swedish people. In the Westerlands, the war with the fierce Westling barbarians continues, as Swedish warriors hunt for their camps over the hills and through the forests.

My first order of business is to start getting lots of workers building away on projects like plantations that will boost my economy, happiness, and trading potential.

1375 B.C.: Danish warriors arrive in the Westerlands to aid their Swedish allies. By the turn of the next century, the main Westling settlements are destroyed and most of their warchiefs are killed or captured. They will never rise as a major power again, leaving the Western frontier safe for Swedish settlement.

1325 B.C.: The Swedish calendar is formalized, with the Common Year beginning on the solstice after the Westling horde is put down.

Next, I'm looking at grabbing fishing. Because what is Sweden without fish?

During their first calendar year, the Swedes make contact with the Celtic tribes, located across a small land bridge to their northeast. They are a very devout and mysterious people who make no proclamation of either friendship or hostility.

I was right about them being the ones that founded Christianity. This is especially tricky now, since it was founded on my continent and with nothing but open space between my borders and theirs. I'll have to keep an eye out for missionaries coming to convert my cities.

1300 B.C.: The Swedes and Celts make an exchange of embassies.

Come sail away!

1275 B.C.: The last great Westling warchief is captured and killed. Helsinki is founded on the border of the now relatively serene Westerlands. It soon becomes the third most important city in Sweden, attracting many Westling commoners to join under Swedish rule as the tribes of the Snowrun Peaks and the Stormlanders did in ages past. The Westling culture continues to thrive under their new leadership, and over time, they become a very vibrant and prominent demographic of Swedish society.

Meanwhile, back in the East, starvation in Stockholm leads to growing unrest.

My city has grown too fast, and now I can't feed all of my citizens. If I don't resolve the problem quickly, people will start to die and I'll lose happiness.

1175 B.C.: The Swedes master the art of sailing, taking to the waves along the northern coast and the Bay of Storms.

I head immediately for Mathematics, which will allow me to build the Hanging Gardens wonder and solve my starvation problem in one stroke.

1150 B.C.: The Hanging Gardens are built by some non-Swedish jerk, completely inconsiderate of their plans.

Once a world wonder has been built, it can't be built again. So in the space of a turn, my long-term strategy was dashed. I set math aside and set my tech path to Iron Working instead to get better land units.

1100 B.C.: The Swedes begin equipping their troops with composite bows, putting their archers a step ahead of any other known military on the continent.

The same year, the food shortages in Stockholm are resolved, and work begins on a Colosseum.

I can feed all of my people now, but in civ, having a large population also increases unhappiness. Throwing up some venues for gladiatorial combat should remedy that in a hurry.

A time of prosperity

1025 B.C.: Word reaches Sweden that war has broken out between the Germans and the Greeks, both far to the South. This is the first war between major civilizations in the continent's history. Sweden and its neighbors see no compelling reason to get involved.

1000 B.C.: The Althing adopts Universal Representation, allowing all citizens of Sweden to be heard at the assembly, whether they be of the original tribes of the Stockholm Valley, Stormlanders, or Westlings. The mingling of cultures and ideas leads to a Golden Age for Sweden.

Aside from giving me an immediate Golden Age, this policy will also allow me to build more cities without increasing the culture cost of earning new policies by too much. Time to start laying some brick!

875 B.C.: Work begins on the Westerland Road, connecting Stockholm to Helsinki.

The same year, the Greek-German Wars come to an end. Greece has seized a significant amount of German territory, and has become the dominant power on the continent.

700 B.C.: The Swedish Golden Age ends, but Sweden remains pretty freaking awesome.

It may seem like an uneventful few centuries, but that's actually a good thing. Going through a Golden Age while at peace has allowed me to invest a lot in the future of my civ by buying buildings and workers.

The Swedish Iron Age

625 B.C.: The Swedish Iron Age begins, as it becomes the first civilization on the continent to replace bronze with the gleaming, elemental metal.

While I'm not at war right now, the Celts are constantly poking around near my border and don't seem interested in making friends or trading with anyone. Being able to build swordsmen before anyone else will go a long way toward securing my borders. I'm going for Optics next, which will boost population growth in my coastal cities and let me embark land units over water tiles.

600 B.C.: Looking to regain ground they lost to the Greeks, the Germans declare war on Denmark. The Danes are full of bluster, and assure Sweden they will require no assistance in shrugging off the German attacks.

525 B.C.: The Westerland Road finally connects Stockholm and Helsinki. With the new ease of travel, the mingling of the Stockholm and Westling Swedes becomes more common.

485 B.C.: A dockmaster in Helsinki invents the first telescope, allowing Swedish ships to explore the seas like never before.

The German collapse

455 B.C.: The Danish-German Wars end, with the Danes having held onto all of their lands stalwartly.

The same year, the Greeks found Buddhism.

That's two major religions on the continent now, and I don't have one of my own to defend against their spread. I'm going to start building some temples to speed things along.

410 B.C.: After several failed invasions of Denmark, the conquest-hungry Germans declare war on Greece, re-igniting the conflict between them after over 400 years.

Later that year, the Austrians approach the Swedes requesting a donation of luxury resources. Flush with wealth and wanting to foster continued positive relations, they accept.

Normally I laugh it off when one of the AI civs requests one of these completely one-sided trade agreements, but I figure it's a worthwhile investment when I'm playing as a civ that benefits from having as many active declarations of friendship as possible.

335 B.C.: After launching a massive counter-invasion, the Greeks capture the German capital of Berlin under a Spartan Great General. What remains of the German government relocates to Hamburg, one of the few cities it still holds. Germany is crippled, while Greece further asserts its dominance on the continent.

305 B.C.: The victorious Greeks request a declaration of friendship with Sweden, which they accept.

I may be running the risk of being in bed with too many leaders for the sake of my civ power, but at least for the moment, Greece is on good terms with everyone but Germany. Aside from never having done anything for me, Germany is easily the weakest civ on the continent right now. And on top of it all, Greece is the last civ I want pissed at me.

Cultural dominance and the Continental League

260 B.C.: A group of Swedish thinkers from across the land founds a school of philosophy.

That should be enough to help me found a religion before it's too late. I still haven't picked up Horseback Riding, but that's mainly because I still haven't found a convenient source of horses. I opt to research Drama and Poetry to enhance my culture.

230 B.C.: Birka, once a mere Westling village, has become a full city and the capital of the Westerland province. Standing beside the old cities of Stockholm and Sigtuna, and the mixed Helsinki, as one of Sweden's four Great Cities, it is the first of these to be a truly Westling city. Some among its increasingly busy streets begin to speak of Westerland's independence, but these movements will never gain much steam with the equitable treatment given to its people by the Swedish Althing.

155 B.C.: Austria founds the new religion of Confucianism.

Wow, we're up to three now, they're all on this continent, and none of them are mine. That's not a good thing. So far the Celts haven't made any efforts to convert me despite easy access to my borders, but the Austrians are even closer. I'll have to stay alert.

95 B.C.: Greece, Denmark, and Sweden are all united under mutual ties of friendship. Their alliance becomes known as the Continental League.

The arts flourish in Sweden, with their stage plays and epic poems spreading across the land and to their continental allies.

Culture: check. Now I'm going for Currency, to make sure I have a booming economy for the Middle Ages. Another of my principle undoings in the Celtic Chronicle was not having enough gold to upgrade my outdated military units into higher tech ones.

The League grows stronger

50 B.C.: Austria joins the Continental League, leaving only the weakened, warmongering Germans and the aloof, enigmatic Celts outside the circle.

55 A.D.: Buddhism is founded somewhere across the sea.

70 A.D.: The Danes declare war on the Germans, reduced through centuries of conflict to only the city-state of Hamburg. The Danish general proclaims that he will wipe what remains of their bloodthirsty empire from the face of the earth once and for all.

100 A.D.: A formal Swedish currency is adopted.

The same year, Swedish sailors encounter the Greek-allied City-State of Vatican City.

Greece is pretty boss when it comes to gathering allied city-states, which is almost certain to put us at odds if I'm going for a diplomatic victory. The Vatican is (as you might expect) a Religious city-state, so they'll respect me more if I can found and spread my own religion.

Scientific paragons and the German resurgence

130 A.D.: The Westerland Road reaches Birka, bringing economic and scientific growth to a region once known for inhospitable terrain and bloodthirsty raiders.

160 A.D.: The Danes and the Germans make peace, after a brilliant German Great General pushes back the Danish army and captures one of their smaller cities. Reinvigorated from may years of decline, Germany immediately declares war on Austria and begins marching West.

A traveling chronicler reveals in his writings that Sweden is the most technologically advanced nation in the world.

Hell yes! Every once in a while you'll get a pop-up screen detailing which civs are doing the best in certain areas. This one confirmed that I've researched more technologies than anyone else. The number two position is a civ I haven't met yet, and Greece is third. Considering I never broke the top 5 in the Celtic Chronicle, this is excellent news.

235 A.D.: The Swedes master engineering, but the country's economy begins to falter under the upkeep costs of its new infrastructure.

I had this same problem as the Celts, but the current situation is much milder. I should be able to pull back out of the red in just a couple turns, when my markets in Stockholm and Sigtuna finish building.

Getting Medieval (again)

250 A.D.: Sweden's first battalion of professional swordsmen is raised in Helsinki. Equipped with the latest in arms and armor, they are a force that can't be matched in close combat by any known nation.

265 A.D.: As this year opened, Austria consisted of only two mega cities: Vienna and Salzburg. By its end, German forces had sacked Salzburg, reducing the Austrian empire to a mere city-state. Vienna remained, however, the largest metropolis in the known world and a force to be reckoned with. The Viennese are quick to make peace with the Germans to keep the invasion from pressing on their great city.

295 A.D.: An oracle arises in Stockholm and advises the Althing. Based on her premonitions, they restructure their assembly into a Republic, where representatives are elected rather than granted a seat by hereditary right. The representatives may then give their support to a claimant of the title of High King, who shall serve as the head of state for the new republic.

Yeah, gotta write myself a reason to have kings and queens again. The Middle Ages just wouldn't be the same without them. I've once again adopted the Republic policy (for free, as a benefit of building the Oracle), increasing productivity in all of my cities.

430 A.D.: The Swedes perfect metal casting, signaling the dawn of a new era.

In the blink of an eye, I'm at the good ol' Middle Ages again. I'm still 4th to get here, but maintain my lead in total number of technologies researched. Overall, it's been a fairly uneventful 4400 years, which is why I combined Ancient and Classical into a single post this time. Other than barbarians, Sweden has never been at war. That's sure to change, though, so check back next week for Part 2!

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