TL;DR – We explore the newest addition to Civilization 6 and the interesting story that led to her choice.
Today we are having a look at the story of one of the civilizations that has just been announced for Civilization VI’s first expansion pack Rise and Fall. So for those playing at home, the civilizations in the expansion pack so far are Queen Seondeok of Korea, Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, Genghis Khan of Mongolia, Chandragupta of India, Chief Poundmaker of the Cree, and now Queen Tamar of Georgia, with three more yet to be announced. So why have we picked Tamar to write an article about rather than any of the other civilizations, well first, we will be writing something about Pouundmaker and the Cree this week because that is something that needs an exploration, but mostly because there is an interesting story about how Queen Tamar became the fan base’s go-to meme in 2016, a meme that has now come full circle. Now do not believe the lies, this has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that I predicted this two months ago and that I am trying to highlight my prophetic powers.
So before we move on to the fun story I want to answer the question as to why was Tamar of Georgia picked? Well, the reasons we will talk about in a moment probably helped, but in reality, why was this nation picked? Well because simply it is a worthy addition to the game. The first reason is that it is representing a region has never really been represented in the game so far, the Caucasus Mountains, and no before you bring it up, appearing in the city list for Mongolia in Civilization V does not count. The Caucasus Mountains region is an area of the world with a fascinating history, it is on the crossroads of continents so it has been influenced Rome, Persia, Byzantium, The Ottomans, Mongolia, Russia and more. Living on the crossroads can be prosperous, see ancient Israel, it can also be very dangerous, once again see ancient Israel, but within that danger we had Queen Tamar rise and lead Georgia to a golden age.
I won’t go into every detail of her life, you can read the Wikipedia article on her yourself, but Tamar lived a fascinating life. She first came to power as a joint ruler with her father George III but after his death, she reigned in her own name, something that was not done at the time. However, not only is Tamar one of the multiple examples throughout history that obliterate the notion that women can’t lead, but she ushered in a golden age, and consolidated power in a region almost designed to make that sort of thing impossible. When her husband tried to usurp her power she divorced him, kicked his ass out of the country, and quashed his coup attempts like it was no big thing. She was a patron of the arts, champion of religion, and not content with all that she reformed the military taking Georgia to its strongest position so far in its history. Indeed, if it was not for the march of the Mongols that came in the decades after her death who knows where the kingdom could have gone next. Also frankly I’m just happy that we are getting a more diverse roster of leaders, I’m personally tired of every time a female leader is announced sections of the internet respond with “But there were better candidates”. I am over that constant negativity, more female leaders I say, I’d would have been happy with an all-female expansion pack, so bring on Catherine, Hatshepsut, Zenobia, Boudicca, The Trung Sisters, Elizabeth, Isabella, Dido, Theodora, Nanye’hi, Amina, Maria Theresa, Yaa Asantewaa, Omphale, Idia, Nzinga Mbande, Jigonhasasee, Taytu Betul, Shammuramat, Liliʻuokalani, and many, many more.
So not only is Georgia and Tamar a fantastic civilization to be in the game, it is also an interesting choice because they have obtained almost a mythical status in the Civilization fan community. To explain why this is the case I have to go back to 2016, it was a different time, a more optimistic time, and the launch window for the Civilization VI base game (see review) or Civ Vi vanilla, if you are talking about it on the fan forums and Reddit. During the build-up to the game’s release, there were a number of promotional development videos released about the game. On the whole, they were interesting, but they weren’t really followed like the screenshots and in-game videos where people would freeze frame and search frame by frame looking for new information on the game. Indeed, the night when the First Look at The Development Team was released there was a flurry of excitement on the local Civfanatics Forum thread but it soon died down when people realised there were no new screenshots to dissect. However, later that evening, deep in the early hours of the morning Australia time one of the forum members wales260 paused the game at the perfect moment and noticed something in the background, something everyone else had missed, even likely the Firaxis staff themselves. For you see in the background of a single shot, hard to see deep in the background was a poster, a poster with every leader’s portrait for every civilization in the base game.
This announcement was greeted a wave of excitement, also some mirth at my own expense, for it is known on Civfanatics that secrets are found and stories leaked only when I am asleep and thus I get to wake up with the news. Soon there were hundreds of users in the Thread and on the Civilization Reddit Page dedicated to working out who the leaders were, which would end up going for over 200 pages, one of the largest discussions in the forum’s history. The poster was divided into a grid and people went off into the wilds of Google to hunt down the information and their Google-fu was strong. Almost immediately forum members were tracking down the leader’s images and comparing them against the grainy poster blown up in Photoshop, like Eagle Pursuit who locked down Gilgamesh of the Sumerians (E2), or Cerilis who spotted Frederick Barbarossa (B4), and the game of leader head bingo was born. It was a fascinating time of collaboration and discussion, as names and photos were thrown into the mix and confirmed or discounted. Soon it became apparent that the poster was in alphabetical order, which led to the discovery of a number of the outstanding leaders, but still, a few would not be pinned down and one of them was the infamous B5. What nation came alphabetically between Germany and Greece, between Frederick Barbarossa and Pericles? Well, the internet was scoured and after consulting Wikipedia a number of contenders were raised. Now it was the forum member Opera who first put out the guess of Tamar of Georgia for B5, and everything seemed to fit, there were images that were close but not quite to the poster, Georgia was between Germany and Greece on the Wikipedia page, success, but no, of course it was not Tamar, or we would not be here discussing it. For you see someone on Wikipedia had misfiled Georgia in the wrong location, as many of you probably had already worked out Georgia is not alphabetically between Germany and Greece. Indeed, it would eventually be discovered that B5 was actually Gorgo a second leader for Greece, but by that time Tamar was already in the consciousness of the fans. So from this point whenever someone pointed out a leader we didn’t know, someone would reply it had to be Tamar of Georgia and thus a meme was born that lives on to this day, though maybe not anymore.
So would Tamar of Georgia have even been on Firaxis’ radar if it had not been for the meme, who knows, but the company has said in the past that they do watch the local fan forums and Reddit for civilization ideas. Indeed, was the poster leak an honest accident, or was it on purpose to give the fans something to research. Well even if it was later I don’t think they would have expected the response, it must be both equal parts wonderful and frustrating for the developers to have such motivated fans. Whatever the case, welcome Tamar of Georgia to Civilization VI, and I very much look forward to playing you in the game when Rise and Fall is released in February.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
Are you looking forward to Rise and Fall and Queen Tamar?, let us know what you thought in the comments below, feel free to share this review on any of the social medias and you can follow us Here. Check out all our past reviews and articles Here, and have a happy day.
Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Civilization VI
Lead Designer – Anton Strenger
Lead Engineer – Ken Grey
Producers – Dennis Shirk & Ed Beach
Writing – Pete Murray
Marketing – Sarah Lynn
Art Director – Brian Busatti
Music – Geoff Knorr & Roland Rizzo
Developer – Firaxis Games
Publisher – 2K
Disclosure – I am a moderator on the site Civfanatics of which several staff and players are members of the ‘Frankenstein Testing Group’, Firaxis Games internal playtesting team. I am not part of this team nor do I have any links to Firaxis Games or 2K.