Civilization V Customisation Wiki

The Karen under Saw Ba U Gyi is a custom civilisation mod by EmeraldRange, with contributions from ExplosiveWatermelon and others.

This mod requires Brave New World.

Karen People[]

The Karen people are a heterogenous group of ethnic groups that include many ethnicities considered distinct today, including the Kayah and Karenni. In modern times, a pan-Karen identity has emerged out of British colonial practice and Christian missionaries. The word Karen comes from the Burmese word for the people, Kayin.

The Karen people have legends of coming from rivers of running sands that may refer to the Gobi Desert or the Yellow River of China where Sino-Tibetan people, of which the Karenic people are a part, likely originated. The Karen people likely migrated to their current location in south-eastern Burma and western Thailand between the 4th and 9th century around the same time or earlier than the Burmese.

In 1885, the British took over the lands of the Konbaung Empire and took over the lands of the Karen in the same process. However, western missions into Karen country had begun in 1830 as Baptist missionaries found success within the Karen. The legends of the Karen talk about the creation of three brothers by God with a book given to the Karen that the Burmese brother destroyed out of jealousy. Although the source of this legend is contested, many Karen saw the white missionaries as the return of the third brother to return the book to the Karen. However, not all Karen converted to Christianity as many retained their animist beliefs or Buddhist beliefs.

The colonial period also saw British policy to use the Karen as government bureaucrats and to educate Christian Karens with western education. The Karen National Association was founded in 1881 to represent their interest to the British and was a force in arguing that Burma was not fit for self-government. In 1938, British Burma even recognized the Karen New Year as a public holiday.

Saw Ba U Gyi[]

Saw Ba U Gyi born to a wealthy land-owning Karen family in Burma and was the first president of the Karen National Union and studied law in England in 1927. He was a Minister within British Burma and led the revolution of the Karen people in the Karen Conflict from 1949 to his death in 1950 from a Burmese Army ambush.

The Karen National Union (KNU) was formed in 1947 with delegates from both the Buddhist and Baptist Karen National Associations. Karen people continued to hold positions in the government and army in post-independence Burma. The Aung San Attlee agreement that gave the country independence left no provisions for Karen aspirations. At the Panglong conference, the Karen were only afforded observer status despite their despites for a Karen state within the Union of Burma like the Shan, Chin or Kachin. After the denial from the Burmese government, Burmese-Karen tensions rose. Political militias established by the U Nu government went on a rampage in Karen communities that catalysed the start of the Karen conflict. In January 1949, General Smith Dun, a Karen, was removed from office and replaced by the Burmese nationalist Ne Win. This catalysed the creation of the Karen Nation Defence Organisation (KNDO) which declared war on the Burmese government on the 31st of January 1949 beginning the Battle of Insein.

The Karen Rifles within the army's Burma Rifles and the Union Military Police defected and denied the government crucial anti-insurgency forces. The fighting started right next to the capital in Insein which was majority-Karen at the time. The KNDO held out against the Burmese army in a 112-day siege in the Battle of Insein using existing rice silo for supplies. Saw Ba U Gyi formed the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) after the Burmese were successful at sieging Insein.

His four principles are still the guiding Principles of the Karen National Union. 1) Surrender is out of the question. 2) The recognition of the Karen State must be completed. 3) We shall retain our arms. 4) We shall decide our own political destiny.

In 1950, at a small village near Mawlamyine, Saw Ba U Gyi and his unit were ambushed by the Burmese Army. Several Karen leaders and an English Major were imprisoned for sedition and supplying arms to the rebellion. However, Saw Ba U Gyi was gunned down by the Burmese forces on the 12th of August ambush. The Burmese government transported his corpse four miles out to sea and threw him overboard to ensure no martyr's grave. Regardless, he remains a martyr to the Karen people. The Karen Martyr Day on the day of his death commemorates all fallen Karen soldiers fighting for the independence and autonomy of the Karen people.

The Conflict Continues[]

Although General Smith Dun was the inciting incident, he refused to join the rebellion. Despite this, the KNU won several engagements against the Burmese army throughout 1949 and the early 1950s. However, pushes from the army forced them further in Karen lands and the fall of their base in Hlaingbwe in 1953, moved the war into the second slower phase. [1] As the 1950s went on, the Burmese army reorganised and modernized themselves. In the 1960s, they enacted the Four cuts: food, funds, intelligence, and recruits; pioneering counter-insurgency techniques. With this effective strategy, a peace talk ceasefire was called briefly in 1963 and 1964.

The Karen held steady as the Burmese government transformed into Ne Win's dictatorship. The guerrilla fighting became increasingly difficult for the Burmese army as the front crawled towards the Thai border. In the 1980s, the Karen were at the height of their power. Despite the constant fighting, they had stabilized and kept control of a lot of Karen lands. They sustained money through the Burma-Thailand trade passing through their territory. During this time, their demands for and independent Karen country was revised to a demand for more autonomy. Peace talks were held in 1994, 1995, 1996 and 1997 to no fruit as the Karen expected the international community to support them soon.

The War entered its third phase in 1994 as religious tensions built up within the KNU. The Burmese military began to sow discontent amongst Buddhist Karen through a whispering campaign. [2] The tipping point was when the Buddhist Karen wanted to build a pagoda on a strategically important hill near Manerplaw. the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) was formed in 1994 on the back to troops complaining about religious discrimination from Christian leadership. The infighting in Manerplaw caused the fall of Manerplaw and for the original KNU to be forced into a bad military position where the Burmese Army could effectively fight them .

After the massive dissolutions in the 1990, there are now many Karen grows that separately held peace and ceasefire talks with the Burmese government. Especially as the Burmese government liberalised in 2011, many ceasefires were agreed upon. The KNU, severely weakened, agreed to the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement of 2015. However, the Burmese government violated the agreement by trying to build a road through KNU held territory in 2018. Thus, clashes erupted between the KNU and the Burmese army again.

Dawn of Man[]

Katohduh, Saw Ba U Gyi, president of the Karen National Union. You spent your life working for the independence of the Karen people from the British or the Burmese. Your words have inspired many to continue to fight for an unblemished Kawthoolei and for the dignity of the Karen people. You rose valiantly to secure independence by any means and put the thought of surrender out of the Karen peoples' minds. From legal battles to armed battles, your leadership in many fronts serves as an eternal memory for those who fight on today.

Karen LS

Leaderscreen by EmeraldRange

Alas, Saw Ba U Gyi, while your martyrdom inspired the fight far longer than any other war today, the goals have not been achieved. The Karen people look for leadership in their modern struggle for autonomy. Can you bring the issues of your people to the forefront again? Will you lead the Karen to independence? Can you build a civilization that can stand the test of time?

Introduction: "Welcome to this unblemished land. I am the President of the Karen National Union, Saw Ba U Gyi. Do not forget that we will determine our own political destiny..."

Defeat: "You can take me and this fort, but the Karen people shall never give up their arms!"

Attacked: "You have started a war you will never win. The only surrender we will consider is yours."

Unique Attributes[]

Karen (Saw Ba U Gyi)
Karen Leader

Art by EmeraldRange

Land Without Blemish

Cities near Enemy Cities get a +1% Production Production increase each turn for the duration of war. Unit starting their turn on unimproved friendly tiles gain the Medic Promotion.

Karen UUr

Art by EmeraldRange

Thukay [3](Anti-Aircraft Gun)
  • Weaker than anti-aircraft gun.
  • Gain 2 Strength Combat Strength every time it is attacked (max 100).
  • No movement cost to pillage and ignores enemy ZOC.
  • Pillaging sends Production production and FaithIcon faith to your nearest city.
Karen UB

Art by ExplosiveWatermleon

Buphaw [4](Water Mill)
  • Does not require a river.
  • +1 CultureIcon Culture, +1 FaithIcon Faith on food yielding resources in the city.
  • Passively heals Karen units on any farm within 3 tiles of the city, regardless of who owns the tile or the city.
City List
  1. Hpa An
  2. Manerplaw
  3. Papun
  4. Kawkareik
  5. Myawaddy
  6. Thandaung
  7. Insein
  8. Kawmura
  9. Hlaingbwe
  10. Kyaukkyi
  11. To Kaw To
  12. Saw Hta
  13. Kanchanaburi
  14. Three Pagodas
  15. Azin
  16. Mae Sot
  17. Shwe Ko Ko
  18. Mae Ta Waw
  19. Kyaikdon
  20. Mae La
  21. Nu Po
  22. Myaing Gyi Ngu
  23. Pathein
  24. Kamamaung
  25. Htoo Wah Lu
  26. Kyondo
  27. Mae Hong Son
  28. Ywathikon
  29. Zartabyin
  30. Kawt Bein
  31. Kyainseikgyi
  32. Apalon
  33. Waw Lay
  34. Umphang
  35. Minneapolis
Spy List
  1. Naw Sheera
  2. Naw Bway Paw
  3. Naw La Paw
  4. Naw Pawpre
  5. Naw Mae Mae
  6. Saw Htoo
  7. Saw Hla Tun
  8. Saw Bo Mya
  9. Saw Ba Tin
  10. Saw Tha Din



Peace Theme War Theme
"Karen Harp Traditional Song"; "KNU Anthem"
Karen Icon

Mod Support[]

Mod Support
Community Balance Patch
Ethnic Units
Map Labels
Unique Cultural Influence
Wish for the World

Direct Download
Steam Workshop
Latest Version: v 1
Last Updated: 13 January 2021



Full Credits List[]

  • EmeraldRange: Leaderscene, Art Design
  • ExplosiveWatermelon: Lua, UB Icon
  • Senshi: Colour Scheme and Moral Support
  • Saw Htoo: Culture/Research Help
  • Firaxis: Making the models invisible for no reason
EmeraldRange's Civilizations and Collabs†
TaungooKonbaungThayae KhittayaBurma (Aung San)Burma (U Nu)Myanmar (Than Shwe)
Shan StatesPeguLannaKarenKokang† • Wa
South Asia
Bengal† • Gupta
One a Continent
Africa: Mogadishu • Australia: Yolngu • Europe: Kalmyks • North America: Cayuga • South America: Guyana
  1. Ralph (2019). Fifty Years in the Karen Revolution in Burma. Cornell University Press, pg. 59
  2. Ibid., pg. 94
  3. Sterling (December 2011). Karen Rebels Go Hi-Tech. Soldiers of Fortune.
  4. Ralph (2019). Fifty Years in the Karen Revolution in Burma. Cornell University Press, pg. 46