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 (which replaces the Man-At-Arms), and their unique building is the Stave Church (which replaces the Temple).
Upon launch, Norway was widely considered to be the worst civilization in vanilla Civilization VI due to the bonuses being too trivial and unimpactful. However, following a series of direct and indirect buffs to all four aspects of the civilization, in Gathering Storm, Norway becomes an absolute menace on any water map. Being one of the great naval powerhouses in the game, no coast is safe within the presence of the Vikings.
Thunderbolt of the North
What makes Norway so terrifying on water maps is Harald Hardrada's leader ability, allowing naval melee units to be built at a cheaper cost and granting them the ability to perform coastal raids (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 falls out of favor pretty quickly afterward. In Gathering Storm, not only do 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). 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 coastal harassment from 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. 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 (except for Phoenicia; don't try to pick on them, because their Cothon and Bireme can fend you off with ease). 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 into 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. A dead Longship is not only easily replaceable, but by the time they can be driven back, they have been harassing enemy coastlines for at least 2-3 eras anyway and you have made a net gain in terms of invested effort.
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. It can also be a fantastic way to spread your religion into otherwise unassailable territories, removing the inevitable suffering of eternal Apostle wars from a religious game on a map with many separate landmasses. The only civilization that can cross oceans earlier than you is the Māori, so if they are not in the game, you are free to do whatever you please for the first few eras up until other empires unlock Cartography (You can actually have a sense of whether or not the Māori are 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, the Māori are most likely present). Another equally crucial bonus from Knarr is the ability your naval melee units (most importantly, your Viking Longship) to heal in neutral water. This can lead to a cyclical situation, 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. Again, there is no explicit counterplay to this, even from the 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, which already have extra Movement in enemies' territories).
The Viking Longship is easily the best harassment units in the game. Its battle statistics are superior in every way to the Galley it replaces, as it is cheaper (thanks to Harald Hardrada's leader ability), faster, stronger, and can heal in neutral water (thanks to Norway's civilization ability), but those are by no means its only good qualities. Thanks to the coastal raiding ability so early in the game, any civilization with coastal cities is in grave danger - if Harald decides to attack, no tile next to the Coast is safe, and neither is any civilian located on such tiles.
As if all of its inherent qualities over the normal Galley are not enough, the Viking Longship also ignores all zone of control. This feature, whether intended or not, is not mentioned anywhere in the game but is coded as such in the game files and still fully functional to date. This means that it is borderline impossible to catch and kill a Viking Longship with standard Galleys, unless it is completely surrounded, but with the improved stats and cheap cost, any counterplay against the Viking Longship in the early eras is very costly.
The best strategy for using Viking Longships is to survey and locate any civilizations with coastal cities as quickly as possible, then declare a Surprise War on them and invade with Longships. Before the enemy knows what hit them, the Norwegians will have pillaged everything...and, without actually taking any territory, amassed some nice plunder to boost their early development! This strategy is very strong in Gathering Storm since pillaging now scales into the late game, and under Harald Hardrada, Norway can actually gain Science and Culture from raids, which will further bolster their already impressive early game. There is practically no counterplay to this, since this unit is stronger, faster, and cheaper than the regular Galley, and most importantly, since Norway can cross Ocean tiles earlier than most civilizations, it can retreat into deep water and heal in neutral water. This "camping" tactic will make every civilization in the game think twice about coastal settling when Norway is present.
In vanilla Civilization VI, the Berserker started out as one of the worst units and belonged to the weakest civilization. The buffs that it has since received have turned it into an absolute menace of Medieval warfare.
The Berserker's prowess peaked with the changes made to it in the April 2021 Update. It now replaces the Man-At-Arms, so it can be inexpensively upgraded from the Swordsman if Norway already has some. Its base Combat Strength is now 48, and it receives an additional +10 bonus on offense. The strongest Medieval unit in the game is the Mandekalu Cavalry (with 55 Combat Strength), and the strongest standard unit of this era is the Knight (with 50 Combat Strength). A Combat Strength of 58 in the Medieval Era is enough to one-shot Crossbowmen and Trebuchets, and can deal significant damage to Knights. Additionally, the Berserker's defense penalty now applies only against melee attacks, which means Crossbowmen are no longer the bane of Berserkers - only units that can make melee attacks have an advantage when attacking them, and the Knight is the only Medieval melee attacker whose Combat Strength is high enough to compete with a Berserker. Berserkers, however, have the same Movement as Knights when starting their turn in enemy territory, so they have nothing to fear as long as they can either avoid or overwhelm the Knights.
For these reasons, the Berserker is designed for one thing only: going on the offensive. Norway's civilization ability allows it to quickly traverse the seas and reach enemy settlements on other continents. With 4 Movement and a Combat Strength of 58 when launching attacks there, it can do great damage to most units and unfortified cities of the Medieval Era while laying waste to every District and tile improvement in its path.
The Stave Church has two main bonuses over the standard Temple: first, it raises Holy Site's adjacency bonus from Woods from 0.5 to 1.5 Faith per Woods tile; second: it provides 1 Production to every Coastal resource. Out of these two bonuses, the second one is much more important, since overall, Production is always the most valuable yield in the game, so make sure you build Holy Sites in every single coastal city you have in your empire. If you are playing as religious Norwegians, the Faith bonus presents an interesting trade-off. Holy Sites mainly gain adjacency bonuses from Mountains and Woods (they gain major bonuses from Natural Wonders as well, but tiles next to Natural Wonders often have really high yields or high Appeal, so you want to avoid building a district on adjacent tiles and save them for later National Parks, Neighborhoods or Seaside Resorts). Mountains give standard adjacency bonus and Woods give minor bonus. By the virtue of the Stave Church you would want to prioritize Woods over Mountains, meaning you have to push back your early Faith generation if you truly want extra Faith out of this building. Considering a Religious Victory has a more narrow time window than other Victory conditions, this might not be the most ideal. However, it gives you a bit more flexibility than other empires, since now you can save your Mountains for your Campuses and Woods for your Holy Sites. It has great synergy with the God of the Sea Pantheon and Auckland, so aim for these two targets and all of your coastal cities will turn into bustling industrial hubs.
The ability to consistently get an extremely high faith adjacency bonus means that the Work Ethic follower belief should be a high priority. This adjacency bonus can be further bolstered if you have some Holy Sites in the arctic regions and the Dance of the Aurora pantheon. A Holy Site surrounded by Tundra Woods, combined with Dance of the Aurora, the Stave Church, Work Ethics, the Great Scientist Hildegard of Bingen, and the Scripture policy card can help one of your Holy Site generate an absurd amount of Faith, Science and Production very early into the game.
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 favorable, if not more so, 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, and if other civilizations keep resisting, use your army of ships and Berserkers to spread the good word instead. Last but not least, unorthodox but feasible, is the Diplomatic Victory in Gathering Storm. All you have to do is to slot in the Diplomatic League policy card and sail around, exploring. Each time you meet a City-state where you are the first player they meet, you will get 2 free Envoys for free. Simply complete the quest they give 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 Suzerainties. This victory condition should, again, be eliminated from the running quickly if Māori is in the game, but 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.
Counter strategies against Norway are rather defensive more than offensive, especially in the early game when they are the undisputed king of the sea. Coastal raids can be prevented by either moving entirely off the coast (similar to how you "deal" with the English Ship of the Line in Civilization V, considering how dominant that unit is during its reign) or guarding coastal districts and improvements with military units. Also, consider simply leaving the coast unimproved by districts and improvements, as they will most likely be pillaged anyway, and having to spend a lot of Production on military units to guard these spots feels like a waste. Remember, although naval melee units are rather worthless in full-on conquest since they cannot focus fire to take down a city easily, the Viking Longship still has 35 Combat Strength, which is equal to a Swordsman. That means if you settle your cities on tiles exposed to multiple water tiles, you basically just invite Norway to not only pillage you but to take your cities as well.
Norway's ability falls off in a number of conditions. Any civilization with a strong naval game will have an easy time defending against them when their bonus arrives, and may even choose to retaliate against Norway and weaken their hold on the seas. Examples of civilizations that have such a bonus are Phoenicia, Byzantium, and England.
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 Erikson 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 arguing about who should lead.
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)
|Males||Females||Modern males||Modern females|
- 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.
- The Norwegian palace model depicts the Storting building, the seat of the modern-day Parliament of Norway, in Oslo.
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