In addition to series mainstays like France, Egypt, and the China, Civilization VI is also introducing some deeper historical cuts into the mix. The first of these series newcomers is the Scythian culture, ancient nomads from the steppes of Eurasia. They are led by Tomyris, a legendary warrior queen of the sixth century BCE.
Tomyris led the Massagetean tribal confederation to victory against the much larger Persian empire. According to Herodotus (so it should of course be taken with a grain of salt), before the battle Tomyris promised the Persian king Cyrus the Great that she would slake his thirst for blood. After routing his army, she captured and decapitated Cyrus, shoving his head into a wineskin filled with human blood. She’s not someone you want to trifle with, apparently. She likes to play fair, though, since her historical agenda is that she hates surprise declarations of war.
As horse nomads, the Scythian unique ability allows them to produce two units instead of one whenever they make light cavalry and their unique Saka horse archer. Enabled by the invention of the stirrup, these highly mobile ranged units and their ilk dominated the steppes of Europe and Asia for hundreds of years. Saka horse archers also do not require horse resources to be produced. Tomyris can take advantage of that ability to quickly build up a powerful and mobile army with her unique ability, which gives a combat bonus when fighting wounded units, and a slight heal after kills.
The Kurgan is the unique Scythian improvement. A burial mound topped with a stone monolith, the Kurgan provides gold and faith, with a bonus for being next to pastures. They cannot be built on hills or next to one another, however.
Tomyris and the Scythians fill a similar role to the Mongols in previous Civ games, with the ability to quickly build a mobile and powerful army in the early game. Tomyris’ ability helps her maintain aggression. The Kurgan is a nice religious bonus on top of that. This is definitely the most aggressive civilization revealed so far, and likely to become a favorite for early warmongers. It’s also great to see new cultures represented in the venerable series; heretofore the most prominent role played by a Scythian in video games was the protagonist of Superbrothers: Swords & Sworcery EP, known simply as “the Scythian.”
Civilization VI arrives on PC on October 21.