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Are wonders worth it?


Aug 20, 2017
(I'm sure there already exists some kind of thread with this question, but I searched a bit and couldn't find anything in the forums. If my thread is obsolete, that's okay. Just link me a thrad where this has been discussed.)

So, I've always been into building as many wonders as I can (in Civ5, and Civ6). I mainly play on King and am just now trying Emperor.
I would, until now, always try to get the Hanging Gardens, the Great Lighthouse and the Pyramids very early in the game, but since I've been looking around in the forums and reading about how you guys tend to start a game, I started to think that spending production on wonders early on is not the best idea... And my start-up game isn't the best either.
I guess I should tone down my wonder-obsession in general, but I'm unsure if I should just let them be alltogether (except I've got nothing better to build)?
What do you think about wonders?
Are they worth it?
Early game things tend to snowball, so spending all those hammers into things that have gone into settlers and troops will slow you down and most wonders don't grant big enough benefits; in fact many just affect things locally. The GLH doesn't seem to be a very good wonder since naval units are mediocre in this game and chances are settling a city would get you a lot more than 3 gpt.

But with settlers getting more expensive and kidnapping AI settlers seems more cost effective, things might change a bit. There are a few wonders like Colosseum that are powerful and the AI doesn't seem to go for it, as opposed to something like Stonehenge which I've never managed to build, like ever.

And there are gamechanging wonders like Mt. St Michel, because of its rather overpowered ability to create apostles with matyr and cheese culture wins.
Yeah, I also abandoned the idea of building a stonehedge at all because the AI will build it before me anyways.
You're right, settlers and troops are way more important. I'd often have problems with barbarians and early wars, since I'd almost never have enough troops to defend myself.
I don't even know why I'm in love with building wonders so much.
It was just until now that it "felt" so natural to me to try and build them, since the AI is eager for them, too. But now I wonder if I should go for any wonder at all (the collosseum seems like a nice treat, though... And maybe the ones that give you free diplomacy slots?)
Early wonders, if not outright impossible to get (as Stonehenge often is), generally require too much investment to be worthwhile on higher difficulties. An extra early-game city, whether built with a settler or taken with extra archers, will generally put you further ahead than any of the wonders. Some of the midgame wonders can be quite potent, though. Great Zimbabwe and Venetian Arsenal in particular are great options in single player, as the AI can't handle their placement requirements and so virtually never competes for them.
Absolutely they're worth it, but not for everyone. If you want to compete for a wonder though, you need a city strong enough to compete for it, and you need to line up all your advantages so they hit their peak pay-off during the production period.

Those early wonders for example, splitting off a settler before production is often a bad idea. It may seem like a good idea, that way another city can grow while you sink all those turns into the wonder. It's true too, that you would be better off splitting your capital early, but the whole idea is that you're supposed to go into the wonder knowing why it's worth that sacrifice. Whatever that reason is is entirely dependant on context.

Another thing to consider is that cities do have linear development, they just seem like they don't because management is challenging and takes commitment and focus to avoid the maluses from poor management. Construction costs meanwhile are relative to a kind of global mean. So, really, what wonders are is a measure of your ability to properly cultivate a city above what could be expected as standard at that point in the game, and as far above as possible to increase the odds of not rage quitting when someone beats you.

For an easy answer to the question of whether it's worth it. If I'm sitting here with a capital which hosts every trade route and imports its builders from other cities, in other words, all my resources are centralized I hit the Eureka for Guilds and I'm looking at 10 turns, the answer is yes. If my Capital has been pumping out settlers all day to seed many cities quickly and I'm looking at 40 turns, then no, no that's not worth it.

Also, the number one priority is how do you plan to defend it? If you can't defend yourself, you're just doing someone else a favor.
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I think it depends on the Wonder. Some are absolutely worth investing resources into. An obvious example would be Petra, which can turn a mediocre city into a fantastic one. Other powerful Wonders are those that give extra Policy slots. Most early Wonders are very tough to complete and take too much time. Since you'll only have a handful of cities early on, the choices you make are even more important. In general, it's better to invest in more cities, a strong army and city growth, than most early Wonders.
Some wonders are definitely worth it, but they mostly come from the Medieval era and later . Any free policy wonder is good with the exception of Alhambra. The Great Zimbabwe and Big Ben can play a big part in science wins. Terracotta Army can be awesome for any civ which has an ancient or classical UU. You can time it so a whole mass of units are getting to level 4 once the TA is complete.

Many could use a cost adjustment to make them more attractive options. The Colossus has been one of my favorite wonders since I began playing Civ, and it's sad to me that it's not worth the effort in most games.
So far in my playthroughs I'd say the most useful wonders are the Great Zimbabwe, the Great Library and the Venetian Arsenal. If you have a bunch of resources are your city the Great Zimbabwe is honestly kind of OP lol. I built it in my cap and I got an extra 250 gold per turn from it. Trade Routes to city states even were giving me like 26 gold per turn and I had 10 trade routes or so. But, that being said, late game it seems to be super easy for enemy spies to siphon funds so late game gold doesn't seem to be the most useful.

I've not built the Great Library or Venetian Arsenal but just looking at their effects they look pretty good. Great Library gives all of the eureka boosts for like two eras. I usually get at least 2/3 thirds of the eurekas without it though so it could be just a bit useful. Venetian Arsenal would be huge on an island map because it makes two naval units instead of one when you make one. So that could be super helpful
Like the OP, I was one of those players on the civ4-5 wonder gravy train, building as many as I could with little thought of opportunity costs. Civ6 is just not that kind of a game. The early game is now solely about survival, and while it is very possible to plop down several wonders pre-Medieval, players risk falling behind competitors eager to pick off weak armies and unsettled territory from wonderlust civs.

That said, I have successfully built ancient and classical wonders while balancing the more urgent needs of a fledging civ. If I happen to start with a cap with three or more stone, I can get Stonehenge fairly quickly with a few quarries and a harvest, and an early religion CAN be useful, if played right. Petra and the Pyramids have fantastic, long-term benefits that cannot be ignored, and, as others have stated, the AI seems to be a bit daft with certain district placement requirements, so The Coliseum is very doable and very good, imo. Formerly great civ5 wonders, like the Oracle, Great Library and Colossus, have too great of an opportunity cost in Civ6 for me, usually in the form of overly high construction costs, weak/short-lived perks, or high AI competition. I am intrigued by the summer patch's changes to Hanging Gardens (housing is more important in Civ6 to me than growth), but again, do I race every other AI civ to build it when a granary and a few farms might suffice?

The fun thing about Civ6 is, that unlike civ5, each game is its own beast-- you can't rely on playing the same game over and over again. I have had to learn to be an early game aggressor, make difficult decisions on my build queues, and sacrifice a point or two to another civ so that, in the long game, I am still able to survive and thrive. Other times, by the luck of the draw, I am in fertile, empty land and can build wonders peacefully to my heart's content. Nothing is ever guaranteed. In the end, isn't that how real civilizations existed?
Wonders are a bit different in Civ6. It previous games, wonders had only possitive effects, you just had to decide whether you want to spend the time on it (instead of making something else), but if you didn't have anything better to make, you could make all the wonders. In Civ5 I very often had tens of wonders in my capital, in fact almost all of them.
In Civ6 you need to think MUCH more, because every wonder takes a tile and even more - every wonder takes a quite special kind of tile (next to something / on someting / combination). You need to plan ahead to prepare a tile for a wonder which you know you'll want to build (good example is Big Ben - you need a tile next to a river and next to a commercial district). And the tile becomes useless when the wonder is on it, you cannot work it anymore. Plus, in my opinion, the bonuses of wonders are weaker than in previous games.
This causes a new situation in Civ6 - it happens that you have nothing usefull to build in your city and there is a wonder available and you even have a tile for it, but you don't build it anyway because you don't like the bonuses and you don't want to waste a tile.

I don't say it's wrong, in fact I quite like it, it's just different.
I build oracle and forbidden palace in almost every game (immortal). Pyramids sometimes (all the time as china).

So, most wonders (IMHO) are not worth it on any difficulty above emperor.
Most wonders are of limited value. Oracle can be handy early but fairly worthless later and cost a lot of turns to produce.

The only early wonder the efficient players get is pyramids. It also gives a extra build to existing workers so they tend to leave the old workers on one charge until pyramids.

Great Zimbabwe is great for any victory and should always be considered, the AI has trouble building it. Combined with Big Ben you can have a huge treasury.

I am a heavy navy player and while the Venetian arsenal is awesome, you have no opposition so I never bother as by that time the water ways are clear.

Eiffel Tower is great, especially as you can get 50 gold per appeal of a tile for replacing a farm with a neighbourhood even if you do not finish the neighbourhood. For seaside resorts and culture victory it is THE wonder to get.

Ruhr valley a lot of people like but often the efficient players do not bother claiming it's return is not worth the build but it's a question of speed of victory. You have to be very fast to make that true

For me, I love the mausoleum of harlicanasus as doubling engineer and admiral charges can be quite impressive. But it's a nice to have rather than a need.

Coliseum is a must for most domination or big city games.

Extra card wonders are also a nice to have but not a must.

Great lighthouse to me really helps with naval domination and just getting around faster but colossus is meh.
An army is always the better option but if you already have the army needed when wonders may be an resonable option.
An army is always the better option but if you already have the army needed when wonders may be an resonable option.
The mausoleum is a case in point. It will give me an extra early battleship armada which can be a game changer.
Double boost engineers are not to be sniffed at either as you in essence can get an instant wonder for free.... or +8 on your factories or double science victory boosts.
I think it depends on the Wonder. Some are absolutely worth investing resources into. An obvious example would be Petra, which can turn a mediocre city into a fantastic one. .

Petra is a mixed bag, in my opinion. its not quite as hard to get as stonehenge or chichen itza, but its damn hard to get.

Petra can turn a crap city into an amazing, game changing, game winning powerhouse. more likely, though, on immortal or deity it will leave you with a strangulated, dusty, dump that gets nothing done all game. The trick seems to be in finding a spot that is strong enough to build it (2 good plains mines, at least), wont be a burden if you fail, and also worth the investment (4 desert tiles at least, with prospects of tile improvements). It also helps big time if no one else seems to want it.

anyway. yeah, I love wonders.
Petra is a trap, imo. Assuming you don't lose the race for it (and waste all the cogs you put into it) it's still just one city in a game that heavily favors decentralized production. I suppose you could make a killer space port city, but those final parts are usually rushed with great people and you don't necessarily need a world record number of cogs in that city. Having stuff left over to chop is better.
Oracle is one of my favorites, probably even above Pyramids. Faith feels so worthless if you don't get a religion, and a lot of civs have bonuses to faith.
Oracle gives purpose to something that would otherwise just be slowly building up and collecting dust until national parks.

It basically turns faith into an effective wild currency, and in a game where specialization often yields diminishing returns (district costs bassed on global average of districts for example) being able to rework a different branch of income to siphon it into your chosen path is a big win for efficiency.

I mean, consider for a moment that it may buy you that engineer to rush you your Ruhr Valley, and already it has payed for itself I would say. Nevermind all the other shenanigans it unlocks. Playing Gandhi and don't want a religious victory? Build oracle and hog all the great scientists. Now you're the best science civ in the game.
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Never worth building, often worth capturing.

Never say never.
-With China, it's obviously worth it to build it, because you can slap down Great Wall pieces to make some pretty solid desert tiles
-If you have a lot of desert hills, it can be very valuable too. I had a recent game (as Egypt, so I got a bonus from building along the river), where my capital had I think 7 or 8 desert hill tiles that became super-charges with Petra. Without it, I would have seriously struggled to grow to use them, but with it the city was a powerhouse. Late game, once I got Ruhr in the city and the policy cards, I could build a battleship in 1 turn.
-I had another game a long time ago that I made great use of it. I want to say that was with Scythia, where I captured an early city-state that had a lot of desert, and made good use of desert/kurgan tiles as my horse hordes were marching the continent.

But I do agree that it can be a trap if you lack enough desert/hill tiles or an improvement to throw in the desert. And in general, the cities that would benefit most might have a real challenge in actually completing it, so I hate to waste dozens of turns on something and then just be stuck with a horrible city that can't do anything else.
I love building wonders and it's a little sad that at the higher difficulties you just can't survive building them. The game I'm playing I don't have a single one. Computer beat me to like 3 within a couple rounds of completion.

In a related question, do wonders attained by conquest give you the same advantages?
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