The Norwegians' civilization ability is Knarr, which allows them to traverse Ocean tiles once they research Shipbuilding, removes the additional Movement cost of embarking and disembarking, and allows their naval melee units to heal in neutral territory. Their unique unit is the Berserker, and their unique building is the Stave Church (which replaces the Temple).
Upon launch, Norway was widely considered to be the worst civilization of the vanilla version, due to the bonuses being too trivial and unimpactful. However, following a series of direct and indirect buffs to all 4 aspects of the civilization, in Gathering Storm, Norway becomes an absolute menace on any water map. Being one of, if not the most powerful naval powerhouse in the game, no coast is safe within the presence of the Vikings.
Thunderbolt of the North Edit
What makes Norway so terrifying on water map is Harald Hardrada's leader ability, allowing naval melee units to be built at a cheaper cost with coastal raid ability (which is an exclusive ability of naval raiders for other civilizations). In vanilla and Rise and Fall, due to the fact that the efficiency of pillaging does not scale through the game, this ability might be useful to give you a head start, in terms of Science, Gold, Culture and Faith at the beginning but it fell out of favor pretty quickly afterward. In Gathering Storm, not only pillaging rewards scale into the late game but also Harald is the only one that can gain Science and Culture from pillaging (other leaders can only gain Gold and Faith, which is much less valuable). Just this alone allows Norway to be a constant annoyance to any civilization settled on the coast, since their progress in infrastructure is nothing but delicious prey for the Vikings.
Most importantly, there is virtually no explicit counterplay to this coastal harassment of Norway, since Harald even has his own version of the Galley, the Viking Longship. It is stronger, faster, cheaper to build thanks to Harald's ability and can heal in neutral water thanks to Norway's ability. There is no way any other civilizations can churn out a navy strong and fast enough to protect their shore, especially after the nerfs to ranged units and City Centers against naval units. You should invest in at least two Viking Longships, so that you will unlock the Eureka for Shipbuilding (the technology that allows you to cross deep oceans). The more water-dominated the map is, the more Viking Longships you should build, since it is much harder for any civilization to avoid the coast completely (these units are dirt cheap anyway, especially if you want to run Maritime Industries on top). Even later in the game when these units are obsolete, you can upgrade them in Caravels if you want, but you do not have to even if you have the Gold to. The main purpose of these Longships remain the same, they are not to fight, but to harass. Naval melee units, overall, are really bad for full on Domination purposes. Of course, they will be much easier to kill as technology progresses, but if your enemies want to dedicate resources to build naval units to chase down and kill these Longships, let them. Your boats have brought home so much spoils of war for at least 2-3 eras anyway, these losses do not account for anything.
On water-dominated maps, having the ability to cross oceans earlier than anybody else is absolutely game changing. It means you meet isolated City-states earlier for that precious free Envoy, scout out bountiful lands and send your Settlers there with little to no resistance thrown your way. The only civilization that can cross oceans earlier than you is the Māori, so if they are not in the game, you are pretty much free to do whatever for the first few eras up until other empires unlock Cartography (You can actually have a sense of whether or not Māori is in the game by sailing around and meeting City-states, if none or very few of them grant you a free Envoy on a map where landmasses are isolated, Māori is most likely present). Another equally crucial piece of bonus in Knarr is your naval melee units (most importantly, your Viking Longship) can heal in neutral water. This can lead to a "camping tactic", which is rather unsporting in all honesty, where you can pillage all of your enemies' districts and improvements, then retreat your ships into deep water, heal up and go back in once the districts and improvements get repaired. Your opponents will have to make a decision of leaving their infrastructure pillaged or fixing them for temporary yields just to get them pillaged once more, which is equally painful. Again, there is no explicit counterplay to this, even Māori. They can cross oceans earlier than you but they are no match against your Longships. The removal of embarking and disembarking Movement cost benefits both civilians (your Settlers and Builders) as well as your military units (especially your Berserkers, who already has extra Movement in enemies' territories).
As the undisputed king on the water, as long as the map is favorable, you can go for any Victory that you like. Domination is quite obvious, with your two unique units. Scientific Victory is within reach too, with the extra Science from pillaging, extra Production from the sheer amount of cities you own since you can cross oceans earlier, combined with the Stave Church's and God of the Sea pantheon's Production for sea resources. If Auckland is in the game, this will be even easier. Religious Victory is at least as, if not more, favorable than Scientific Victory. You have a unique Temple that grants extra Faith, your Missionaries and Apostles can cross deep water early and fast, and other religious civilizations cannot spread their beliefs before you on a water map where all landmasses in isolation. Last but not least, unorthodox but feasible, is the Diplomatic Victory. All you have to do is to slot in Diplomatic League policy card and sail around, each time you meet a City-state where you are the first player they meet, you will get 2 free Envoys for free, just do an extra quest they have and you will be the Suzerain. This will establish a diplomatic foothold with City-states, so that when other civilizations start to compete with you in this area, they cannot topple all of your Suzerainty. This victory condition, however, should be eliminated quickly if, again, Māori is in the game, but every other more orthodox victory types are still there for you to take. The only victory type that Norway does not really have anything going for them is Cultural. It is feasible with extra cities from early colonization, but still, not the best way to make use of your bonuses.
Civilopedia entry Edit
The Norwegian Vikings had a tendency to leave Norway. By 800 AD, they had colonized the Shetlands, Orkneys, Faroes, Hebrides and other places no one else much wanted. Around 820, they planted settlements on the west coast of Ireland, founding some of that island’s great cities (including Dublin). In or about 870 they discovered Iceland and promptly divvied it up between 400 chieftains. A hundred years later they showed up in Greenland, and Leif Ericson landed in North America c. 1000 AD (but didn’t stay long). During all this time, Norway itself wasn’t even unified, but rather made up of several petty kingdoms fighting it out.
Harald Fairhair began the process of creating Norway by defeating all his rival chieftains at the Battle of Hafrsfjord around 872 (historians are not sure of the date, Viking records being what they are). But it was left to Olaf Haraldsson to truly sit as king of a united Norway, taking the throne in 1015 … not that various lords tried to break away periodically for centuries. “Saint” Olaf was determined to make his nation Christian and eliminate the Norse religion. He forced the 'things' (local governing bodies) to pass laws mandating Christianity, the building of churches and tearing down the pagan hofs, and the declaration of Trondheim as the Christian center of Norway. For this, Olaf was killed at The Battle of Stiklestad; nevertheless, Christianity was in Norway to stay.
Although Harald Hardrada fell at Stamford Bridge trying to take the English kingship in 1066, his family would rule Norway until Sigurd Magnusson, known as “the Crusader,” died in 1130. His death unleashed a century of civil wars, until at long last in 1217 Haakon IV sorted it out and established the Sverre dynasty. Under Haakon and his descendants Norway experienced a golden age, both politically and culturally. Norway annexed both Iceland and Greenland. In 1266 Magnus VI “the Lawmender” (he fixed a lot of things that were broken), realizing that he could not defend the Hebrides settlements against the fierce Scots, sold the islands along with Isle of Man to the Scottish crown. (The Shetlands and Orkneys would go the same way in 1468.)
It was time of peace and prosperity in Scandinavia, and the Norwegians made the most of it. Viking traders travelled south to the Middle East, east into the wilds of Russia, and especially to the west to the British Isles, bringing wealth back in exchange for raw materials: fur, fir, fish and ore. Agriculture flourished along the coastlines. Meanwhile, the arts reached heights never before attained. Working with wood and metal, Norwegian craftsmen created high art in a half-dozen distinct styles ranging from the Oseberg to the Urnes. Norse shipbuilders crafted vessels that could sail across the oceans. Norse smiths forged the best weapons and mail to be had in all Europe. Which was just as well, since although there was peace among the Viking kingdoms, the Norse were, as usual, attacking someone else nearby from week to week. But the fun times had to end eventually.
In 1349 or so, the Black Death reached Scandinavia, killing as much as 50% of the population over the next few years. The losses brought a reduction in taxes, naturally, and the central authority of the crown slipped. Meanwhile, the Catholic Church increased its tithes, making it increasingly powerful, to the point where the archbishop of Trondheim demanded – and got – a seat on the Council of State. During the late 14th Century, the Hanseatic League steadily took over the Norwegian trade routes; in 1343 the League had established a kontor (“foreign trading post”) in Bergen, and by 1400 had created its own quarter in the city and established exclusive rights to trade with the fishing fleet. (Bergen would remain under the Hanseatic thumb until the mid-1600s.)
All this led to thoughts of unifying the old Viking kingdoms to face the challenges. Olaf II had inherited the throne of Denmark when he was five years old in May 1376 upon his grandfather’s death; when his father died, he succeeded him as King of Norway. For the next 400 years, Norway would be ruled from Copenhagen, part of a dual kingdom. Soon these were joined to the Swedish throne as well, when Margrete I of Denmark, queen regent (an unusual post for any woman in Scandinavia) of Denmark married King Haakon VI of Norway, thus forging the Kalmar Union – which included not only the three kingdoms but the overseas Norwegian dependencies as well as Finland (via the Swedish crown). Crafted to counter the growing influence of the Hanseatic League and of the German princes in the Baltic, the Union survived until 1523 when the “Stockholm Bloodbath” triggered Swedish revolution, resulting in the crowning of Gustav Vaasa as the king of “free Sweden.”
The Kalmar Union served Norway fairly well. Except for that mess with the Reformation. Frederick I, king of Denmark-Norway, favored Luther’s heresies. But in Norway, the people did not. And therein lay a serious problem, for in 1529 the king sought to impose Protestantism on the Norwegians. Not surprisingly, resistance was led by the latest archbishop of Trondheim, who invited the aged Catholic king Christian II back from exile. But Christian got captured and imprisoned for the rest of his life. In the civil war that followed Frederick’s death, the Catholic Norwegians tried again, with even worse results. The Danish victor Christian III exiled the archbishop, demoted Norway from a co-kingdom to a mere Danish province in 1536 and imposed Lutheranism on Norway the following year.
After this, things quieted down for a while as the Norwegians settled into the new order of things. There were the occasional wars the hot-tempered Danes dragged them into – the Kalmar War (1611-1613), the Thirty-Years War (1618-1648) and the Second Northern War (1657-1660) – that resulted in changing borders. But in general things went well. The population grew some 750 thousand over 300 years (1500 to 1800). The Danish administrative system was reformed, with Norway divided into counties. Government corruption diminished under a series of able kings, despite there being 1600 government-appointed officials spread across Norway. Unfortunately, at least for the Danes, the country was soon embroiled in the Napoleonic conflagration … on the losing side.
By the time it was all over, Norway was part of Sweden, despite the fact that a national assembly had, well, assembled and drawn up a constitution for a parliamentary monarchy in May 1814. In July 1814, Sweden invaded and with the Treaty of Moss in August agreed to recognize the constitution provided Norway surrendered and behaved. Thus began the constitutional union between Sweden and Norway, with the Swedish monarch Karl Johan elected to wear the two crowns. Norwegian nationalism and liberalism took hold, for the easy-going Swedes gave them a lot of latitude. The Bank of Norway was established in 1816, and with it a national currency (the speciedaler). The old Norwegian aristocracy was abolished by Parliament in 1821. In 1832 the farmers realized there were more of them than any other group, and in elections that year ended up with the majority of seats in the Diet. Thus, rural tax cuts and higher import duties, and the Local Committees Act which established elected municipal councils to run things locally.
When Sweden abolished the free trade agreement with Norway and drew a border between the two and then refused to appoint a Norwegian foreign minister, agitation for independence spread across Norway. When in June 1905 the king again refused to grant Norway its own foreign minister (despite Parliament voting for such a post), Parliament voted to dissolve the union. In the ensuing referendum vote, only 184 people in Norway wanted to maintain it. The new Norwegian government offered the constitutional crown to a Danish prince; he accepted and became Haakon VII (his actual name was Karl). After a half-millennium, Norway was again its own nation.
Over the next decade, it proved itself one of the most progressive nations. Parliament passed laws establishing sick pay, factory inspections, worker safety laws, and a ten-hour work day – thus spoiling things for capitalist barons ever since. Women’s suffrage was adopted in 1913, making Norway the second country in the world to take such a risk. Railroads were laid along the coast; the Bergen Line was completed in 1909. Industrial plants, especially hydroelectric power plants, were being built faster than anyone could keep track of. Norwegian explorers such as Amundsen (first to reach the South Pole), Sverdrup and Nansen became world-famous. Truly, it was Norway’s second golden age.
Like its Scandinavian neighbors, Norway tried to stay out of Europe’s crises and wars. They managed to do so throughout the First World War. But not so the Second. Norway found itself caught between the British, whose navy could interdict the coastal sea-lanes and had no qualms about violating Norway’s waters, and the Germans, who desperately needed iron ore from northern Norway for its industrial war plants; in April 1940 Nazi Germany invaded and quickly overran Norway to insure a land route for the ore shipments. The Norwegian government went into exile and the infamous Vidkun Quisling (whose name has become synonymous with “traitor”) set up a collaboration government. With the exception of some commando raids and partisan actions, however, Norway was generally on the fringe of the war, although some 80% of the nation’s prewar merchant fleet (fourth largest in the world at the time) escaped to serve the Allies.
With the end of the war, Norway returned to its tradition of neutrality, focusing its foreign policy efforts on the United Nations, with native son Trygve Lie becoming the first secretary-general of that august body. But the onset of the Cold War left no one neutral, and in 1949 Norway was one of the founding members of NATO (although it never allowed the stationing of foreign troops nor nuclear weapons on its soil). In 1969 oil was discovered in the North Sea (the Ekofisk field), and billions of dollars poured into the nation’s economy, making the standard of living – given the relatively small population – one of the highest in the world. Overall, the Norwegians have devoted themselves postwar to having a good life, enjoying winter sports, hosting a couple of Olympics, and being overrun by tourists.
- Main article: Norwegian cities (Civ6)
- The Norwegian civilization's symbol is the valknut, which is associated with death, the transition from life to death, Odin, and Germanic paganism.
- The Norwegian civilization ability is named after the Norse merchant ships used by the Vikings.
- Norway is also playable in the Vikings, Traders, and Raiders! scenario.