I'm a ginormous Civilization fan -- Civ IV and its predecessors have eaten countless hours of my sad, lonely little life -- but hey, I know slightly more about the ancient world, so it's all worthwhile. Being such a big fan, however, does make the announcement of a new expansion pack a red-letter day, and at least worthy of a blog post.
Beyond the Sword is in the same mould as Firaxis' first Civ IV expansion, Warlords -- with 12 new scenarios that are basically fancy mods, dressing the game up in a new way, plus a bunch of enhancements and new civilisations for the normal game.
I'm particularly excited about the addition of Corporations, which seem to work a little like religions (nice metaphor, Sid). From the press release: "A new gameplay feature allows players to create corporations and spread them throughout the world. Each corporation provides benefits in exchange for certain resources." Drool.
The scenarios will focus on the late-game period after the invention of gunpowder, so expect more technologies and units exploring the modern age. Other features include an extended Epic mode, spies earlier in the game, natural disasters, a more complex space race and -- by popular demand -- advanced starts, whereby impatient players can 'buy' the various aspects of their empire and start at a later stage, avoiding the process of founding cities. Personally that's my favourite part, but it's horses for courses.
Civilization IV: Beyond the Sword will be out in July, probably for around the £20 mark. I'd expect a bundle with Civ IV and Warlords thrown in before long, too.