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Religion is Good, at least in Civilization III

April 14th, 2006

Being a big fan of Sid Meier and having some free time on my hands I’ve been playing a little Civilization III Complete. With the addition of cities choosing to join or leave your civilization based on the country’s culture, I’ve become a big advocate of building it up. The best way to do so is with a religious civilization. The other big benefit of being religious is lessened Anarchy when changing government types.

Before I go on a big ramble about the various religious civilizations I should provide a link to one of the biggest Civilization resources on the web. I’ve played Sid Games since the original Pirates!

Religious Civilizations

There are eight religious civilizations once all the expansion are installed in Civilization III: Japan, India, Celts, Egypt, Babylon, Spain, Arabs, and Sumeria. I’ve now played them all with one exception, but with limited success. In my defence I’ve been trying out a variety of new strategies, and not all civilizations are created equal.


Ever since Pirates! I’ve refused to play as Spain. I’ve also refused to play as Spain in Colonization which seems to be the forgotten Sid game. So ignoring Spain I will provide some brief insights into the other religious civilizations as well as some general thoughts on the game. It should be noted I may actually be a better Alpha Centauri player and that I’m prone to try things rather than strictly play to win. I also, pretty much never, attack another civilization unprovoked.


Japan is militeristic in addition to being religious. This may be the best combination of attributes in the entire game. Combined with the Samurai unit the Japanese can kick major booty. They are not invincible. The biggest thing that will undo any civilization is lack of resources. Although Japan needs iron, most civilizations can survive without it for a while, but coal, oil, rubber, etc. Without key resources it doesn’t matter how high your culture is, eventually someone with superior units will attack you and your defeat will be hard to avoid.


India is one of my favourite civilizations. Besides being religious they are commercialistic. On the surface this doesn’t appear as powerful as militaristic but it does enable you to buy some city improvements cheaper which is always good. The real bonus to playing India is the War Elephant. As someone who gets stymied by lack of resources being able to build a unit that is 4/3/2 that doesn’t require horses or iron. This can save your bacon in the Middle Ages.

The Celts

The Celts are the new religious and militaristic civilization on the block. Considering how good Japan is the Celts should be just as good. Alas it is not so, the Gaelic Swordsman is a 3/2/2 unit which replaces the Swordsman. It’s best asset is movement two without needing horses. Conquering the entire world in the Iron Age is difficult especially on a larger map. Without Navigation and better sailing ships it is probably impossible, the length of time that the Gaelic Swordsman is a dominant military unit isn’t as long and several other ancient units will more than give it a run for it’s money.


I always thought Egypt would be better. They get to build War Chariots. In the original Civilization and the sequel the chariot was a bad mama jama, but it is hardly worth building in Civilization III. However all is not lost for Egypt, they are industrious and I’ve gotten some surprisingly high scores while playing as them.


Babylon is the king of culture, they are religious and scientific, they can build lots of city improvements cheaply and now that the Long Bowman can be updated, the Bowman doesn’t seem so bad. The concept of bombardment which was introduced in the expansions also improves the Bowman. Despite all this my highest scores are not necessarily with Babylon. It is however an easy civilization to play, similar to Japan in that it has so many bonuses you are able to triumph despite less than stellar play, at least on the easy levels.

The Arabs

The Arabs, despite all the Muslim hysterics going on right now, seem to be decent in-game civilization on the surface. Expansionistic used to suck but with the expansions and possibly on larger maps isn’t so bad. It is the special unit (Ansar Warriors) that I thought would make the Arabs fun to play. They replace Knights and are 4/2/3. However they require both horses and iron which can be illusive. I’ll have to try the Arabs again, but the Ansar Warriors didn’t do much in my one game with them.

The Sumerians

I thought the Sumerians would be amongst my favourite new civilizations with agricultural being the new and exciting civilization attribute, but I’ve yet to win with them. They suffer from the same problem as Babylon, they have lots of cheap improvements but their special unit though available early isn’t that powerful. The Enkidu Warrior is basically a Spearman you can build without researching Bronze Working, not exactly a big advantage. If you want a good early defensive unit play as Greece. Bronze Working is popular if for no other reason than you need it to get Iron Working and Construction.

Civ VI is Out

Though I’ve yet to play having committed too many years of my life to passing all three CFA® exams. I’ve also decided to commit too much time to updating old blog posts while unemployed. If you still have thoughts about Sid Meier’s Civilization III you can leave them below.


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