Civ Concept: Haida Gwaii


On Haida Gwaii, a slew of islands on the Pacific Northwest Coast, the Haida were one of many nations ruled by the Potlatch, a government system which depends on the giving away or destruction of wealth to prove a leader is powerful. To prove their strength and wealth, the aristocratic class of the Pacific Northwest Natives - such as those from the Haida, the Tlingit, the Makah, the Coast Salish, and the Heiltsuk - would give away anything ranging from slaves to blankets to food and property. (Clearly, there will be no slaves in this concept.)

However, it was expected that all property given away would eventually either be returned or passed on to a new family at a Potlatch hosted by the gift receiver.

The Potlatch is central to the sense of community and the system of government that centralizes these people.

Base Differences

Haida Gwaii has a few basic, foundational differences.

Stone -> “Merit”

Those on Haida Gwaii do not mine stone from the ground. They may control stone nodes by building a Gyaa’aang upon the stone node. Villagers within the radius of the Gyaa’aang have increased gathering rates, and military units have more health. A Gyaa’aang may be individually improved to house units to fire upon enemies as a tower when garrisoned. Towers may not be built upon Stone Nodes.


Copper and other basic metals are heavily prized among those on the Pacific Northwest as a gift to be given at Potlatches. The Haida may mine gold nodes as normal, but they have an additional way of gaining gold, aside from the normal two methods.

Potlatch Currency

Potlatch governments dictate that the Haida gift each other peace offerings regularly. As a result, the Haida may freely trade among their own buildings using Dog Caravans. Dog Caravans passively give small boosts to any units or technology training within a building - the larger the gold the Dog Caravan collects from a building, the larger the flat reduction to that specific training happening at that moment. It is a 1-time flat reduction based on gold. It is not a “speed up” to make it train faster, it simply removes a flat amount of time from the remaining training time. This can possibly complete the training if there’s little enough left. Dog Caravans can travel to allies, but as they move slower than normal Caravans, they’re less useful and trade with allies is best left to normal Caravans.


Not much to say about wood - the base idea here is that the Haida would focus on gathering wood above all else, and their units would have a skewed wood cost. With unique defensive systems constructed of wood rather than stone, wood ends up being the most needed resource for the Haida overall. Unlike the Seven Fires, however, the Haida would not need to research the tech that regrows trees a bit after they’re first cut down - it would be inherent to their culture.


Haida villagers would be capable of gathering from shore fish faster than most, but otherwise the Haida have no unique food improvements. They farm and hunt and gather berries as any other, although their tech to regrow trees would apply to berries.

More Specific Things

the Kilstlaai

Similar to the Seven Fires’ Heyoka, the Haida Kilstlaai would be a unique unit that the Haida start with. Unlike the Heyoka, however, it does not become mounted over time. It does much the same function, though it gets tankier over time rather than becoming mounted. The Kilstlaai would offer utility to Haida units in much the same manner as the Mongolian Khan.

the Blacksmith (the Armory)

Again, same base concept. Potlatch Currency would be more effective than the base Seven Fires’ Dog Caravans, however, and allow the Haida to gain access to tech faster. Generally, however, the Haida military would be slower and more focused on infantry.


  1. Spearman/MAA. Similar to the Seven Fires, the Haida would not have a dedicated Spearman - unlike them, however, the replacement unit would combine the Spearman with the MAA into a heavy unit good vs anything that gets in its face and is fast, with high armor. It would have a lower attack and wield a battle oar, giving it the occasional AoE sweep. This would be the backbone of the Haida army, and could be either gender.
  2. Archer. Heavily upgradeable. Powerful.
  3. Crossbow. The Haida did not use Crossbows… but the Inuit, their northern neighbors, did. It’s likely the Crossbow could easily be a unit from the Inuit, gained upon aging up in a specific fashion similar to that of the Chinese Zhuge Nu. This could make it heavily upgradeable as well.
  4. Horseman. Simple unit. Not heavily upgradeable, and not a strong unit for the Haida.
  5. Knight. No Knights. Instead, a spear thrower armed with an atlatl that acts similar to a Spearman in melee - the Kit’uu.
  6. UU. Stone Breaker. A woman or man wielding a heavy stone lashed to a rope. They move slowly, but are highly effective vs buildings and ships, which they can attack from shore at a short distance or from the deck of Gelwa. Reasonably effective against infantry, but easily kited by ranged units.

And to reiterate, Women could and often did go to war alongside their husbands or wives in Haida culture. None of these units should be anything but mixed gender.


The Haida navy would consist of a single type of boat - the Gelwa, a massive canoe the size of a longship. These would be richly decorated with one of four designs - for a purpose.

Depending on what Gyaa’aang has been constructed alongside the Dock, Gelwa made from a dock would have differing strengths;

  1. Orca
    The Orca Gyaa’aang would allow the Gelwa to house units on the deck of the ship, freely allowing them to fire at the shore from the deck of the Gelwa. This extends to siege weaponry, in the later stages of the game. It cannot, however, fire on its own.

  2. Frog
    The Frog Gyaa’aang would improve the economic usefulness of the Gelwa, making it an exceptional fishing boat, moving quickly for scouting along the water and to escape enemies. Villagers garrisoned within would further improve the economic abilities of the boat.

  3. Raven
    The Raven Gyaa’aang would also increase the speed of the Gelwa, as well as improve the damage the archers within do to other ships and to land enemies with greater LoS. Damage to buildings would also increase.

  4. Bear
    The Bear Gyaa’aang would improve the health and durability of the Gelwa, giving it a covered deck and a higher rate of fire and the ability to house more units. However, it would move slower and deal less damage.


Haida Gwaii - the Cedar Forest. The Haida would be able to establish an area in which they would grow their Cedar Trees, which would regrow much faster than normal trees and be visually much larger. It would be similar to the Mangrove building from AoE3 in visual appearance, but created of multiple singular trees within an area. The Haida would gain economic stats from building near it, and each Age-up would be a choice between two heavily visually distinct (and massive) Gyaa’aang along the outer edge of the grove.

Anyway, that’s about all I got. Feedback is appreciated. I’m always appreciative of it, provided it’s not something negative and useless. (Nobody cares if you don’t think the civ doesn’t match the style of the game - Nothing bad will happen by adding a civ you don’t like. Just don’t play it.)
I’ve been meaning to post this one for quite awhile, so thanks for the patience.

(Visit my other Civ Concepts, and stay tuned for the next one - the Mayans!)
The Seven Fires
The Nahua

I actually had to look up who the Haida Gwaii are. Looks like its a “civilisation” of around 5k people on some islands west of canada (nowadays). Do you think it would be meaningful to put a civ in which wasnt even remotely as powerful as the other civs (at that time)?
While I appreciate the work you put behind this I could actually not see a civ like this in game just because its historical just not … relevant. No offense.

The reasoning for including them is that they had a presence ranging from the Aleutian islands in Alaska to Baja California as raiders. With as interesting as their culture is and how notable the Pacific Northwest is for its distinctive artwork, they’d lend themselves as an excellent campaign-useful civ as well as just being wide-ranging for any other campaigns that occur anywhere between Alaska and Baja California.

They have stories of raiding Hawaii. They were prominent in the Pacific Northwest, and they’re only one piece of the Potlatch gov’t system I lightly touch on here - otherwise, the other Potlatch tribes would have stretched from southern Alaska to northern California, and quite a ways inland.
I just chose the Haida specifically for the emphasis they have on raiding and their unique style of boat.