How to Build the A Famosa in Civilization V

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As a Malaysian, if I were to be asked on what’s interesting about my own country would be the bustling city of Kuala Lumpur with its pretty skyscrapers, and.. the historical city of Malacca, where the remnants of colonialism for the West is well preserved as a tourist trap attraction nowadays.

So, it’s interesting to see that some parts of Malaysia made cameos in Civilization V, a strategy, or more accurately a 4X (Explore, Expand, Exploit, Exterminate) game using elements of world history. In the game, you can be any of the huge selection of historical civilizations, and try your best to build the civilization that can stand the test of time. There are also City-States, small, unplayable civilizations that do not compete with you, but may help or hinder progress, and two of them are Kuala Lumpur, and.. Malacca.

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With the introduction of a new civ, Portugal in the last expansion: Brave New World, now you can create the signature trademark of Malacca, the A Famosa (pictured in the header) in your very own Civ V game!

Well, sort of. Let me explain.

First is a little bit history lesson. A simple, romanticised one.

Malacca was the centre of power of the Malaccan Sultanate, formed in 1400. As the West enters the age of Renaissance, they were seeking new routes to the world, and to gather more resources. Malacca was an interesting one for the West, as it’s a central hub for spices in Southeast Asia.

The Sultanate of Malacca, as depicted in another strategy game: Europa Universalis IV. Unfortunately, I forgot which time period this geographical map is reflecting.

The Sultanate of Malacca, as depicted in another strategy game: Europa Universalis IV. Unfortunately, I forgot which time period this geographical map is reflecting.

The Portuguese first was first from the West to make contact and  immediately established trade with the newfound land. The Portugese stroke a deal with Malacca to build a fortress in the land. Later, Malacca was conquered by the Portuguese in 1511, prompting the retreat of the current sultan to further territories of the former sultanate, forming the Johor and Perak Sultanate, Malacca, along with the rest of the peninsula, had gone through a few changes of Western occupation, before gaining independence in 1957 as Malaya, and formed Malaysia in 1963.

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Now, back to Civ V. Portugal has a unique ability that encourages trading, by upping its trade bonuses significantly (or so I think). They also have two unique items, one is a unit called a Nau, a Renaissance era ship that has the ability to immediately make trade with a city-state for a one-time bonus of gold and experience points; The other is a building (or more accurately, a tile improvement), called Feitoria,that can only be built in city-states, but provides Portugal a copy of a resource in the said city-state.

Now, does the abilities and items sound familiar with the history? As I said, the history lesson is pretty much romanticised to fit with the story I’m writing, but it shouldn’t be far off from the truth.

Turns out, the A Famosa is actually a remnant of a feitora, which literally means factory- but serves historically as a trading post cum warehouse cum fortress. Other places where Portugal stopped by also had their versions of the A Famosa, such as in Goa, and Macau. (references made from wikipedia)

Map of Malacca, drawn by the Dutch. On the right is A Famosa- the fortress the Portuguese had built.

Map of Malacca, drawn by the Dutch. On the right is A Famosa- the fortress the Portuguese had built.

So, to build the A Famosa in Civ V is simple:

1. Load your copy of Civ V, with the Brave New World expansion.

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2. Pick Maria I, the leader for Portugal.

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3. Increase the city-state number to your liking. It’s to increase the likelihood to have Malacca in play. (City-states are selected randomly)

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4. Play the game, and try to find Malacca before the Renaissance Era. (If Malacca doesn’t appear, quit and repeat from step 2)

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5. Focus for the Navigation Tech, available by the Renaissance Era. Continue with your desired play-style by the mean time.

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6. Once researched, send a worker on its way to Malacca. It’s best to send a military unit too if the trip is long. Be aware of barbarians/enemy troops.

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An inaccurate screenshot. This is still early game.

7. Find an available space in Malacca where your worker can stand. If the military is hogging up all the space, wait a turn or two for them to move.

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8. Create the feitora improvement.

9. Wait a few turns… and it’s done!

couldn't get a screenshot of the fetoria built in Malacca unfortunately. Apologies!

couldn’t get a screenshot of the fetoria built in Malacca unfortunately. Apologies!

Now you don’t need to be an ally to receive a copy of the resources available in Malacca. With the feitoria, you can have one. It’s also helps the city-state by giving defence bonuses on that tile. However, be prepared to be dragged to war if any other civ starts pillaging the tile improvement you’ve build.

I find it interesting for a game like Civilization can gamify the concepts of world history to make it fun, and be educational if players took time to dive into history. Heck, it even carefully thread the needle and executed a swell approach on religion (but that did not stop a local tabloid spinning up stories of this game ‘making heresy and slander on religion’, heh. Page is in Malay)

(maybe I should write how Civ V is not mistreating any depiction of Islam, or any other religion)

Games like this can make a boring school subject of old people doing stupid things or great things we just don’t care (when all we want to do as kids is to play around with friends) to be engaging, or at least interesting.

Keep up the good work Firaxis.

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