Peter the Great leads Russia in new Sid Meier’s Civilization game

Peter the Great by Paul Delaroche (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sid Meier’s Civilization VI comes out today and Peter the Great has been chosen to lead Russia. How does game Peter compare to real Peter?

Just as Peter the Great led Russia into greatness in the late-1600s to 1700s, art will imitate life when the hugely popular strategy game Civilization VI features him as a leader to the Russians.

The game pitches civilisations against each other led by historic figures, from the ancient era to modern times, such as Augustus Caesar and Mohandas Gandhi. Players can select one civilisation and expand its empire through time and conquer the world through cultural prominence, diplomacy or domination by flexing its military muscle.

Each civilisation also has abilities and units that only they possess.

Here’s a first look at Peter the Great’s abilities:

Peter the Great was known for his expansion and modernisation of Russia, mostly upping Russia’s game against major European powers of his time. He set up St Petersburg as Russia’s new capital, on the west-end of the Russian continent, intending for it to be the “window to Europe”.

He aggressively imported European influences and wooed technicians, scholars and artists into Russia. At the same time, he also sent Russians abroad to Western societies so they could one day return as skilled workers ready to improve Russia’s standards across all industries and disciplines.

How close is this to the Russia of Peter the Great’s time?

1. Making good use of the semi-frozen tundra environment

Civilization VI’s version of Russia has a special ability of gaining extra territory when they start new cities, which are known to be terrible for their lack of yield. Russia is the only civilisation out of the 19 available ones to be able to cultivate a seemingly useless tundra environment into something fruitful (game speak: The Russian civilisation gets extra Faith and Production from tundra tiles).

What does this say about Russia? This speaks to Russia’s vastness and harsh environment. Tundras are found in colder climates, just as Russia is situated in the real world. Also, every time other players decide to go to war with Russia, they better be prepared for the cold.

2. Grand Embassy

The Grand Embassy was one of the cornerstones of Peter the Great’s diplomacy. In Civilization VI, this will be Peter’s special ability. Russia receives extra Science points or Culture points from trading with more advanced civilisations.

During Peter’s time, he ordered ambassadors to go to Western Europe under the Grand Embassy (Великое посольство) diplomatic mission to strengthen the Russian-Europe alliance against the Ottomans, hire foreign specialists for the Russian service and acquire military supplies and weapons in an attempt to modernise the Russian army and navy.

While the Grand Embassy failed to accomplish its initial goals, it gathered much information and knowledge of the international situation and relations. Peter also met with other leaders who would later ally with him in the Great Northern War.

3. Lavra

Civilization VI also sees the inclusion of the Lavra, which makes the expansion of Russian cities faster. In history, Peter twice escaped from his enemies to a lavra, a type of Orthodox Christianity monastery. Lavras are bestowed upon by the Patriarch of Moscow, in today’s case that would be Patriarch Kirill, only to the largest and most important monasteries. There are only two such lavras in Russia, with one of them in St Petersburg at the eastern end of Nevsky Prospekt.

4. Cossacks

The Cossacks are the Russian’s unique units in Civilization VI. They’re stronger than the normal cavalry from other civilisations. Throughout Russia’s history, the Cossacks have played a significant role in wars Russia engages in. Leo Tolstoy once wrote, “… that all of the Russian history has been made by Cossacks.”

Cossacks are made up of different nationalities, backgrounds and ethnicities living in Ukraine and Russia. In 2005, a bill was approved by the Duma to recognise the Cossacks not just as a distinct ethno-cultural entity but also as a potent military force.

So is Peter the Great and the Russian civilisation a good reflection of historical Russia? It seems like it. There’s an emphasis on Russia’s expansionist tendencies and religious beliefs, at least during Peter’s time.

Apart from Peter the Great, the Civilization series has also featured Russian leaders like Josef Stalin (Civ 1 & 4), Vladimir Lenin (Civ 2) and Catherine the Great (Civ 2 to 5). Peter the Great also appeared in Civilization 4 which came out in 2005.

Sid Meier’s Civilization VI comes out today (21 October) six years since the release of its equally popular predecessor. It’s available on Steam for 1,999 roubles (29 euros) for only the base game, and 2,599 roubles (38 euros) for the deluxe version. The game already has stunning reviews, so get it soon!

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