Just in case you finally managed to drag yourself away from your PC and go live a productive life, the good folks at Firaxis have released a new expansion to their superb 2010 strategy game . Titled Gods and Kings, it represents the first "full" expansion to the nearly two-year-old, turn-based giant. Though previous expansions have featured new cultures, scenarios, and gameplay tweaks, they haven't brought new game elements into the mix. Gods and Kings does so, and it rekindles that "just one more turn!" addictiveness that has become the hallmark of the Civilization series.
Oh yeah? Well, we're gonna tell the world that you wear too much makeup, lady! How does that grab ya?
As its title suggests, the foremost new inclusion in Gods and Kings is religion as a cultural and political force. A new cumulative resource, faith, is now part of the game, riding alongside culture, gold, and happiness. Faith can be gathered initially by building shrines and temples, or by stumbling across a random quantity as a prize for searching through ancient ruins. Get enough, and you can start your own polytheistic pantheon, which provides you with a choice of many potential enhancements for your civilization. Some of these help you generate more faith (for example, by giving you some faith for each gold and silver mine you have), and some give other benefits (such as enhancing the amount of food each of your hunting camps generates), but all are helpful in one way or another.
Eventually, you garner enough faith to move from your basic pantheon to a full-on religion. At this point, a great prophet, whom you use to start your religion, spawns near your capital. From here, you choose the symbol and name of any of the dozen major world religions, or create your own, and then you decide what benefits you want from that religion. You need to be careful here, because your choices have a massive effect on how you guide your civilization toward victory, especially in the early to mid game, and you almost always want to synergize your religious benefits with the strengths of whichever civilization you're playing. For example, the French, who are both expansionistic and culture-focused, might want to choose religious benefits that fortify their culture and reduce their level of unhappiness (a by-product of large empires). Conversely, more warlike civilizations, like the Aztecs or Japanese, might want religious benefits that focus on quicker production of military units or more efficient logistics.
City defense has been enhanced in Gods and Kings, and you need serious firepower to take one over.
Of course, even if you don't ever get to found your own religion, you can still take on one that was founded by another player. And if you have founded a religion, it's in your interest to convert rival civilizations and city-states to your way of viewing things. This provides both you and them with benefits, but the advantage is yours, since you ultimately control the direction of the religion (which you can alter once during the course of a game). Furthermore, civilizations that follow the same religion tend to be friendlier and more willing to help one another (although this is far from a given), and conversely, those that follow different faiths tend to form coalitions against each other. It's an aspect that greatly enhances Civ V's gameplay.