By revealing Queen Gorgo of Sparta as an alternate leader for Greece, Firaxis Games has confirmed what many Civilization VI fans (including us) had already inferred: The upcoming game will feature multiple leaders for its civilizations. Chosen at the start of the game, different leaders swap one of the civilizations unique abilities for an alternative that shifts its focus while maintaining its overall contours.
Gorgo was Queen of the warlike Greek city-state of Sparta in the early part of the 5th century B.C. She was the only child of King Cleomenes, wife of King Leonidas (famous for leading the 300 Spartans to their death against the Persians in the Battle of Thermopylae) and mother of King Pleistarchus. She is one of the few powerful women mentioned by the historian Herodotus, who praised her sound judgment and firm leadership, which is particularly notable given the generally pervasive misogyny of the culture during that period. Plutarch also noted that she had that famous, dry Spartan wit: “When asked by a woman from Attica, ‘Why are you Spartan women the only ones who can rule men?’ she said: ‘Because we are also the only ones who give birth to men.'”
Pericles, meanwhile, ruled Athens a little later in the 5th century, uniting the Delian League of city-states that Athens had pulled together against the Persians into a full-blown Athenian empire, which eventually led to the outbreak of the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta. A noted statesman and patron of the arts, culture and education, Pericles bore a lot of responsibility for Athens’ reputation as a flourishing cultural capital.
Reflecting the Delian League and the humanist focus of Athens, Pericles’ unique ability provides a 5 percent bonus to overall cultural production for every city-state of which Greece is the suzerain (holding more influence than any other civilization). Gorgo, meanwhile, brings Sparta’s militancy to the fore, with a culture bonus every time her troops defeat an enemy that’s equal to half of the defeated unit’s strength. Both abilities retain Greece’s focus as an early cultural civilization, but alter the means by which it is achieved.
Both Gorgo and Pericles have access to the same other unique features. These include the Acropolis, which replaces the theater district and has additional adjacency bonuses to culture from being near other districts and the city center, though it must be on a hill. The Hoplite replaces the spearman, gaining a bonus to combat strength when next to other Hoplites. Finally, they receive an extra Wildcard policy slot in their government from the beginning, giving a nice bit of extra flexibility.
Gorgo and Pericles are a fantastic integration of flavor and mechanics, capturing the distinct historical characters of Sparta and Athens, respectively, within the larger tapestry of ancient Greece. Their presence also suggests the possibility that one of the scenarios at launch (which have not been detailed at all so far) could very well involve the Persian and/or Peleponnesian Wars, which should get any Classics enthusiast excited. Having Trajan of Rome, Tomyris of Scythia, and Gilgamesh of Sumeria allows for some exciting role-playing in the Classical world in general.
This is not the first time that a Civilization game has featured multiple leaders for its civs, but it was not the case in CivilizationV. No other alternate leaders have been announced yet, so Gorgo may be the only one available at launch, but more options for other civs will almost certainly feature prominently in future downloadable content. The large and impactful sets of special abilities that each civ has in VI do a great job of making them feel unique, and choosing from multiple leaders tocustomize that even further is an excellent addition.
Civilization VI arrives on PC on October 21, 2016.