The Sioux will be the second Native American nation to be featured in Age of Empires III: The WarChiefs, the upcoming expansion to last year's best-selling real-time strategy game. The WarChiefs will feature three Native American nations, and they'll offer a different perspective and play style compared to the European nations found in the core game. To get the very first details on the Sioux, we caught up with Sandy Petersen, lead designer of WarChiefs, which is scheduled to ship later this year.
GameSpot: The first question may seem rather obvious, but why choose the Sioux to be one of the three Native American civilizations in the expansion?
Sandy Petersen: We wanted a nation which was prominent later in history than the Iroquois and that would be expected to play very differently. We also needed it to be a nation which covered a large area. The Sioux ruled a huge expanse of territory, larger than any European nation except Russia, and their allies and tributaries were numerous and powerful. They were skilled in war and had an exciting history.
GS: What can you tell us specifically about how the Sioux will play in the game? What are their specialties? What sorts of military units will they rely on? What sorts of Sioux-specific bonuses do they receive?
SP: Well, most obviously the Sioux are a cavalry-heavy civ, though they do have some infantry. I don't want to go into too much detail yet, but you can expect them to be fast, hard-hitting, and resilient.
GS: Will the Sioux get their own single-player campaign, or will they be playable only in skirmish and multiplayer games?
SP: The WarChiefs campaign is an expansion of the Black family saga. The Sioux do make an appearance in the campaign.
GS: How will the Sioux balance against the other civilizations, namely the European ones that are armed with steel and guns? That kind of match up doesn't seem fair.
SP: If you remember your history, the high point of the Sioux nation was actually during the time of steel and guns. They seemed to function quite effectively against a European-style military, in fact. There is an unfair stereotype of Native Americans being reactionary and unwilling to adopt new ways, and it's just not true, particularly for the Sioux. They adopted firearms, horses, and steel as soon as they became available and in many skirmishes were better armed than their European-style opponents. The fact that the Sioux didn't actually manufacture firearms is really a moot point. Neither did the Confederacy during the Civil War! Like the Sioux nation, the Confederate government purchased arms from other sources.
GS: What sort of research did Ensemble do on the Sioux for the expansion? Of course, the artist probably studied pictures and drawings, but what kind of research did the designers do?
SP: We read many, many books on the subject. Some of the books we read were Chronicle of the Indian Wars by Alan Axelrod, Native American Mythology by Gill and Sullivan, The Plains Wars 1757-1900 by Charles Robinson, and the periodical Journal of the Indian Wars. There were others too, of course, and we didn't neglect sources such as films The Comancheros or A Man Called Horse.
GS: Each civilization has its own unique hero units. Who are some of the major Sioux figures that will be represented in the game?
SP: I don't want to go into too much detail, but I will say that Crazy Horse makes a very prominent appearance.
GS: We know from our last Q&A that battles in the campaign tend to be inspired by historical events. Are there any major Sioux battles that you'll re-create specifically in the expansion?
SP: Yes, there are. Some famous battles of Crazy Horse that will be included are the so-called "Fetterman Massacre" during Red Cloud's War, in which he successfully lured a troop of soldiers away from their force and destroyed them, and the time when he attacked and drove off surveyors that Custer had illegally sent into the Black Hills Sioux lands.
GS: Finally, what's the best part for you about having the Sioux in the game?
SP: I grew up in the 1960s. When we played Custer's Last Stand in our Cowboys versus Indians games, most of the other kids wanted to be the 7th Cavalry. I always voted to be the thousand screaming Sioux warriors charging down the hill into them. So I've been a fan of the Sioux since a very early age.
GS: Thanks, Sandy.