July 30, 2013

Horse 1519 - I Am Hannibal

Sid Meier's Civilization (also now known as Civ1) was released back in 1991 and is really the first "4X" style of game. Those 4 Xs being: eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate (especially helpful for Daleks).
Civ1 is very much a 2D flat cylindrical world that works roughly the same as a turn-based board game.
The nice thing with a 22 year old computer game is that there are a few editors and things to help you hack into the back of the software. Armed with one such hacking tool, I proceeded to right one wrong of the game and add back, possibly the single greatest unit that never came with it originally - the Elephant* unit.
Basically an Elephant unit is a bit like what a Musketeer is later in the game. It's a slow moving piece but is reasonably useful in both attack and defence. I've set it up as follows:
Requires "Horseback Riding"; A/D/M 3/3/1. Cost 40; Gunpowder obsoletes.

Historically, war elephants have been used by the Babylonians, various Indian armies, Chinese, Alexander the Great came across them when fighting the Persians and simply had to have them, Egypt under the Ptolemies had them; lastly and most notably, the Carthaginians used them; especially under Hannibal.

I really only know a few things about Hannibal:
1. He was the Carthaginian commander during the First Punic War.
2. He attacked Rome by coming over the Alps...
3. With Elephants...
3a. With Elephants.
It was as though Hannibal had read the then 300 year old "The Art Of War" by Chinese general Sun Tzu.

"Engage people with what they expect; it is what they are able to discern and confirms their projections. It settles them into predictable patterns of response, occupying their minds while you wait for the extraordinary moment — that which they cannot anticipate."

 "Seem humble to fill them with conceit. If at ease, exhaust them. If united, separate them. Attack their weaknesses. Emerge to their surprise."

If you'd been a Roman general circa 218BC and you'd seen elephants coming over the alps, what the heck would you think? How does one even get elephants over the alps? Do you put skis on them? That'd be pretty surprising and extraordinary; certainly something which they cannot anticipate. How do you even feed elephants on a mountain trek? Moreover, how do they survive the cold?

So of course, if there was one weapon that I absolutely had to back-hack into Civ1, it would be the Elephant unit. At 40 shields, they're the same cost as Chariots and later on Knights and as such along with Militia and a lot later on Armor, are the only units I'll bother building because... Elephants... Elephants... ELEPHANTS... ELEPHANTS!

*Elephants have been mentioned sixteen times in this post; including down here. I am Hannibal.

No comments: