My hands are shaking, my pupils are dilated, my mouth is dry. I donít think Iíve slept since 4000BC. Iíve definitely not eaten anything and the only people Iíve spoken to have been Rameses and Caesar in tense diplomatic negotiations.
With a subtitle like ďWarlordsĒ youíll be forgiven for assuming that combat is the main focus of the development effort. While there has been the addition of the Great Warrior to complement the equally ĎGreatí scientists, engineers and the like; the rest of the changes are far more civil in nature. There is the addition of 6 new Empires to control, 10 new leaders, 3 new leader traits and unique structures for every empire. The latter further differentiate between the already varied empires while the earlier make the choices before each game near overwhelming but it provides options for every style of play while giving the option to develop countless strategies to dominate the world.
In terms of diplomacy it is now possible to make your opponents Vassal States of your empire rather than wiping them out. They can assist you in your endeavours under your control; having the puny Augustus Caesar as the lap dog of my burly Viking Chieftain was oddly satisfying. Of course wiping out a whole civilisation is the most satisfying part of the Civ games, the Great Warrior unit lends his hand to your war effort to this effect. Unlike other great people Great Warriors are generated based on the total experience that your armies earn in combat. Once he appears he can build an academy to increase the speed at which units are trained, become a super specialist or he can be attached to a unit or stack of units for an experience boost and the ability to use promotions that are only available to Warlords. Without persistent combat however, youíll not see the same numbers of Great Warriors as the other Great People.
The game also comes with eight custom scenarios which all differ dramatically from the standard style of game play offering more tightly focused action such as uniting the Chinese Warring States to produce the first Emperor or the Viking scenario that sees you raiding the lands around you for nothing but profit. All this makes it one of the more generous expansion packs of recent times with every addition feeling like it belongs in the game from the off rather than being hastily tacked on.
A few of the parent gameís pet niggles still remain, like the feeling of being rushed through the end game due to lack of time despite having already had 6000 years and the alarming frequency of which your veteran cavalry will be cut down by a green warrior despite overwhelming odds in your favour. The Vassal States option proves to be little use in single player as the ever proud AI refuse to accept the inevitable during wartime and never seem to like you enough during peace time.
Civ 4 is still infinitely replayable and Warlords only adds to the number of tactical options presented to you. Being the aggressor has always been the most fun way to play Civ 4 and now your violent efforts will be rewarded with ways to be even more violent. The GDP of this country is going to fall thanks to this game, perhaps itís time for a Civics change?
Civ 4 is like digital cocaine, only 100% addictive on first use. Itís the reason coursework deadlines have passed unnoticed, work days have been missed and loved ones have been forsaken the world over. Now Firaxis have thoughtfully brought out an Expansion.