Mapping Peoples and States onto Civs

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I made this thread because there has been a great deal of discussion across different threads regarding the nature of civilizations-as-portrayed-in-the-game and who gets to be part of them, and who doesn't. This thread could be the under-one-roof-whatdoyoucallit, so that such discussions do not necessarily remain focused on just one civilization but instead include and contrast with similar discussions for other civilizations, so one could at least formulate and argue for a more coherent view on how civilizations in general (and not just one specific civilization) should be represented in the game.

So let me begin with the Persian question. For me, a Persian civilization could include the Achaemenids, the Sassanians, the Safavids and all other Iranian dynasties that come after the Safavids. A Persian civilization could not include, for me, the Selecuids, the Bactrians, the Parthians, the Seljuq, the Ilkhanate and the Timurids.

Now I cannot explain why I think this way. I just do. But what I want is a more rigid rule for which peoples and nations can be gathered under one civ and which cannot be.

Now, I wrote the above some hours ago. Since then I have written, rewritten and deleted a number of paragraphs trying to explain my views regarding this question, but my ideas are too confused for me to set out coherently. I will try to return to that task when I am clearer in my views. Until then, I have posted this thread because I am curious to know what the rest of you think about this question and how you approach it.
 
So let me begin with the Persian question. For me, a Persian civilization could include the Achaemenids, the Sassanians, the Safavids and all other Iranian dynasties that come after the Safavids. A Persian civilization could not include, for me, the Selecuids, the Bactrians, the Parthians, the Seljuq, the Ilkhanate and the Timurids.

Now I cannot explain why I think this way. I just do. But what I want is a more rigid rule for which peoples and nations can be gathered under one civ and which cannot be.
Well regarding Persia, you and me have similar viewpoints. I think the best explanation is the fact that a Persian civilization should feel like it's being led by or have attributed relating to the Persians/Iranian people of Iran.
Once you start adding in influences from the Greeks (Seleucids, Bactrians) and the Turks (Seljuk, Timurids) to me they feel like they should be part of a different civilization.

Now regarding Parthia, I've gone back and forth on whether it should or shouldn't, so I don't have a clear answer myself.

Where I most differ from other people is I don't necessarily mind a single unified Indian civ, representing India throughout it's history. That doesn't necessarily mean I want Gandhi to be it's sole leader, but I don't necessarily see the difference in this we do the same thing for Indonesia, China, Persia, Arabia etc.
That being said I do think there are instances where you can "balkanize" India. The Mughals for example I can see as a separate civilization from India. It probably has to do with my reasonings above in which they were a foreign power that came in and brought Islamic and Persian culture to India.
 
On Persia, I would note that while it's true that the ruling class (at least the very top of it) wasn't Persian, the people of Seleucid Persia were still Persians, and the Persians of that period, even if under foreign rule, are still part of the historical continuity of the Persian people and civilization leading to later stats. Likewise the Seljuks et al. So while we may not want a leader (or at least a sole leader) to represent that people, integrating elements of Seljuk or Seleucid culture (for example in UB or UU design) may not be out of place.

As to how to deal with foreign rulers leading people of a given civilization, I think my broad principle depend on how well integrated they were : if they were generally accepted as one of their own by the people they ruled, and/or the people they once ruled now claim them as their own (well-integrated), I have no problem with them as rulers as often as need be (Napoléon, Catherine, Victoria). If they made effort at bridging the difference between their home culture and the people they ruled but were more questionably successful, it may be best to only include them along with a less contested leader, and that only occasionally (I'd argue Cleo VII belongs here). And if they kept themselves completely apart from the people they ruled, then they have no business being a leader of that civ (most Ptolemy not named Cleo VII). The way they interacted with the people they ruled, not the circumstances of their birth, should determine whether they are fitting leaders. (And no, their birth culture does not get a say in this).

As far as deblobbing goes, deblobbing should happen in two set of circumstances:
1)The blob is essentially a fiction: it represent a group that has never had any meaningful geographic, political or cultural unity (Native Americans and maybe Polynesians being the two major cases of this). Note that Indonesia or a hypothetical Philippines, both of which do have political unity (even if only in the late 20th century) do not meet this criteria.
2)OR the blob could be a valid civilization, but you are replacing it with multiple civilizations that would all be part of the blob otherwise. In other words, deblobbing India make sense if you're going to have Mughals and Hindis and Dravidian civilizations, but if you're going to have only one Indian civ per game and just change which one, you might as well just have India at that point.
 
As to how to deal with foreign rulers leading people of a given civilization, I think my broad principle depend on how well integrated they were : if they were generally accepted as one of their own by the people they ruled, and/or the people they once ruled now claim them as their own (well-integrated), I have no problem with them as rulers as often as need be (Napoléon, Catherine, Victoria). If they made effort at bridging the difference between their home culture and the people they ruled but were more questionably successful, it may be best to only include them along with a less contested leader, and that only occasionally (I'd argue Cleo VII belongs here). And if they kept themselves completely apart from the people they ruled, then they have no business being a leader of that civ (most Ptolemy not named Cleo VII). The way they interacted with the people they ruled, not the circumstances of their birth, should determine whether they are fitting leaders. (And no, their birth culture does not get a say in this).
That is exactly how I feel too. If a 'foreign' leader worked for the advancement of the interests of the 'civilization' in question (the people, or the state if not so much the people) then they should definitely be a valid choice, as in the case of Catherine II of Russia.
On Persia, I would note that while it's true that the ruling class (at least the very top of it) wasn't Persian, the people of Seleucid Persia were still Persians, and the Persians of that period, even if under foreign rule, are still part of the historical continuity of the Persian people and civilization leading to later stats.
Pre-Sassanid history is not my forte, but from what I see on the Wikipedia page for the Selecuids makes me think they should be a different entity from Persia if they need be in the game at all:
The Seleucid Empire was a Hellenistic power in West Asia.
The Seleucid Empire was a major center of Hellenistic culture. Greek customs and language were privileged; the wide variety of local traditions had been generally tolerated, while an urban Greek elite had formed the dominant political class and was reinforced by steady immigration from Greece.
It seems to me like having the Ottomans be part of an Anatolian or even Greek civ.
 
Persia: I agree mostly with Bonyduck, although the Seleucid would be cool. I hope we get Cyrus II again.
Now, to get a bunch of people to go riot: China -
I think that all the dynasties (hopefully they don‘t do Qin or Sui though) count, but for the Qing, I think that the Qing are on the border. Qianlong and Kangxi would be cool as Chinese leaders, but if a Manchu leader is to rule China, they have to be a Qing leader first.
 
The Seleucid as a state were definitely Hellenistic, and for that reason they generally shouldn't be Persian leaders (although, case by case basis) But the Seleucid period is still a period of Persian history, and what Persian people did under Seleucid rule, even if in part due to Hellenistic influence, should be in my mind valid content for the Persian civ.

Ultimately, there's also an element of practicality/best fit. A cultural element (uu, ub, ua, leader, music) that you want to include should go to the civ it most closely fit - that has reasonable chance of being in the game. If the "better fit" civ is one you're reasonably certain you're not going to include this generation, then it may be reasonable to go for a more approximate civ. If it's a pretty good fit for more than one culture, then it can go to both cultures.

In the case of the Seleucid, then their more hellenistic elements should be Greek (that's probably in the game), or even Macedonian if we can't get rid of them, and their more Persian elements Persian, and their more mixed elements can be both. Since neither Greeks nor Persians are likely to not be included...ever...there shouldn't be much problem.
 
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In the case of the Seleucid, then their more hellenistic elements should be Greek (that's probably in the game), or even Macedonian if we can't get rid of them, and their more Persian elements Persian, and their more mixed elements can be both. Since neither Greeks nor Persians are likely to not be included...ever...there shouldn't be much problem.
That's more or less what I was suggesting. In a game where we would already have Greece, Byzantium, and possibly Macedon, I see no reason to give Persia any elements related to it's Seleucid period.
 
I wonder if a Greek/Hellenic superblob could work: one that includes Ancient Greece, Ptolemaic Egypt, Macedon, Byzantium, and the modern nation state?
Similarly a Turkic/Turkish blob that includes the Göktürk Khaganate, Uyghur Khaganate, the Karakhanids, Seljuqs, Sultanate of Rûm, the Aq and Qara Qoyunlu, the Ottomans and the modern Turkish state?
 
I wonder if a Greek/Hellenic superblob could work: one that includes Ancient Greece, Ptolemaic Egypt, Macedon, Byzantium, and the modern nation state?
Similarly a Turkic/Turkish blob that includes the Göktürk Khaganate, Uyghur Khaganate, the Karakhanids, Seljuqs, Sultanate of Rûm, the Aq and Qara Qoyunlu, the Ottomans and the modern Turkish state?
I'd rather them keep their bonuses when they were at their height of power. In regard to Greece that would be limited to Ancient Greece/Macedon. To me there is nothing compelling about having anything from modern Greece in the game.
Ptolemaic Egypt would be under Egypt and Byzantium, if not its own civ, would fit under Rome better.

As far as the Turks go, they are a wide variety of groups and would be similar to a Celtic blob, would they not? I see no problem in having a singular one for that matter and it's hard to argue against the Ottomans, though Seljuks could always appear.
 
Alexander's Hetairoi - I'm curious what your reasoning is behind making the Ptolemies Egyptians but the Seleucids Greek...
 
The 'Hellenistic" title, which applies to both Ptolemaic Egypt and the Seleucid Empire, was an amalgamation of native Persian/Middle Eastern and Greek culture traits. Everything "Macedonian" in it was derived from the Greeks, even the Macedonian military organization and system: the Pezhetairoi pike phalanx, for example, was simply a derivative of the original Greek Hoplite spear phalanx, and all the terms used for the units and commands were Greek.

Exactly how much or what percentage of the various cultures and practices was actually part of the every day life of the average peasant from Anatolia to Afghanistan is a subject of interminable debate, which has been going on since I was in school back in the 1960s. Since no author at the time bothered to ask the average peasant whether he was a Cynic, a Stoic, an old school Zoroastrian, or something else entirely (the most probable answer) the debate frankly is pointless and largely theoretical. Certainly Greek philosophical schools made an impression on the artisan and educated classes regardless of their genetic origins (Saul of Tarsus being a prime example: a Jew living in a south Anatolian city educated in the imported Greek Stoic philosophy) but how much of it 'trickled down' to the great mass of people is open to question.

Certainly there was great continuity in the personal identification of the people with their origins: Babylonians continued to identify as Babylonians, Persians as Persians, Egyptians as Egyptians, and if Greek words crept into their conversations, that was no new thing: foreign words had been borrowed back and forth throughout the middle eastern empires since at least the Akkadians and it didn't change the ethnic identifications.

So, I'd argue that in the terms the way the game uses them, the basic 'Civ' didn't change: the Seleucids might be sitting in the Palace, but the Persians still ran the ranches out in the country and the Babylonians still ran the markets and crowded the streets in Babylon.

To more precisely define the various 'layers' in the societies, the linguistic/cultural definitions would have to be separated from the political in the game, with the former very, very hard to change while the latter could change in a single day of invasion, sack and pillage, but the change might prove very temporary indeed. That would probably be too much detail for a game of Civ's temporal size and scope unless abstracted, which is what the game basically does now.
 
I'd rather them keep their bonuses when they were at their height of power. In regard to Greece that would be limited to Ancient Greece/Macedon.
Yes, but the other Hellenist states were interesting and significant in their own right, and I'd like to see them make an occasional appearance in the series.
To me there is nothing compelling about having anything from modern Greece in the game.
You could Kapodistrias as a good alternative leader, the armatoles as a unique guerrilla unit, and I'm certain something else could be taken from the Greek War of Independence
 
Alexander's Hetairoi - I'm curious what your reasoning is behind making the Ptolemies Egyptians but the Seleucids Greek...
The Ptolemies at least controlled only Egypt. That being said I agree in what you said that I do think that Egypt shouldn't be ruled under a Ptolemy besides Cleopatra VII, which I guess is my main argument.
The Seleucids on the other hand also controlled Mesopotamia, the Levant, Anatolia, and not just Persia, so it's easier to pinpoint them as Hellenistic if we had to choose one.
Yes, but the other Hellenist states were interesting and significant in their own right, and I'd like to see them make an occasional appearance in the series.
Maybe, but in a game and franchise whose fans already criticize the number of Greek civs/leaders do we need to add them? And this is coming from a self-described Hellenophile.
 
I mean, non-Seleucid Persia *also* controlled those regions as often as not, and much of the rest of the time was fighting to regain them anyway.
 
I should clarify that I am not saying this or that civilization/state/people should be included in the game, only trying to understand as to how they would fit into our and the game's understanding of what constitutes a civilization
 
I mean, non-Seleucid Persia *also* controlled those regions as often as not, and much of the rest of the time was fighting to regain them anyway.
Well yes. My statement is more from a game designment standpoint than one based on historical fact, which I guess I should clarify. I don't see any reason to include the Seleucids into a Persian design, and would much rather have those attributes toward a Greek/Hellenistic civ. By that logic we could also add in Seleucid attributes toward a Babylon as well.
 
For me is evident that Firaxis dont have a consistent criterion to define "what is a civ". A couple of points:
- The leader over the civ, the talk about how much foreign or native were Seleucids and Ptolemaics is irrelevant when the reason we have one recurrent Ptolemaic leader for Egypt is the person herself. Cleopatra is "the" figure, almost mythologized in popular culture by the nature of her history. For the average person Cleo is a dramatic and even erotic character from a story full of intrigue (not just Egyptian and Greek but also relevant to Roman history).
Meanwhile what can Firaxis exploit from Seleucids? People dont know or care about them, they know way more about Achaemenids from the greeks themselves (something also from the Bible). So Achaemenids is a secure option, then the recent addition of a modern Muslim leader for Persia also make sense when Iran is know as such.
- Seen as different for your market, talking about Nader Shah. Putting in context that Nader was a Muslim Turkoman ruling Iran from a place around one thousand kilometers and twenty two centuries apart from Cyrus the Great raise some doubts of why those two leaders share the same civ while Trajan and Theodora have different civs.
I mean, dont wanna to bring back the Rome-Byzantium topic again:deadhorse:Just point that if on the realm of historical debate both are good options, and then Firaxis decided to pick the "different entities" side, so it seems congruent to do the same for Persia and have two different civs. But no, there are two Romes but only one Persia :crazyeye: for Firaxis. Then the obvious reason is that the average civ player was taught in the traditional westerncentric historical perspective were they decided that the reformed Roman empire was not worthy of a title they claimed for themselves (after invade and destroy the western side of such empire).
Most people know Byzantium as different so its different. Then they can sell it as different, as easy as that.
 
A consistent definition of civilization is not, to me, desirable. Civilization is by nature a vague concept, and best kept that way.

Yes, that will result in uneven treatment where some civs that could be amalgamated are not, and some are. With 50-odd civs, any site of halfway decent coverage of the length and width of history require amalgamation, but any sort of audience appeal also requires that some of the subdividable civs be subdivided.

And failure to satisfy the audience is a great way to stop selling your game.

If Nader Shah had to lead a separate civ because Persia has to follow the same consistent rule as Byzantium, the result wouldn’t be a Safavid civ. It would be no Nader Shah.
 
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