In this article I will do a deep dive into the strategic trade offs created by Specialists in Civilization 4, 5, Beyond Earth and the Rising Tide mod Echoes of Earth. While Specialists themselves may appear to be relatively similar across the games, other mechanics shifting around them have a decisive impact on the role of Specialists. Understanding the evolution of Specialists underlines how game design requires a holistic perspective.
One of the big changes in Rising Tide was the replacement of the open ended trading between Civilizations with a much more constrained system involving a new resource called Diplomatic Capital. Open ended trading has existed since Civilization 3. While the trading system has changed over time (Technology Trading was replaced with Research Agreements in the move from Civilization 4 to Civilization 5) this represents a far more radical change. Despite the new system being controversial I believe it is a significant improvement that will be carried through to future games in the Civilization franchise.