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Best elements of Civ 6 that should be retained

I said I wasn't going to post on the same subject again, and I've posted how I think Districts should work, but here it goes again . . .
1. IF Districts are supposed to be 'secondary cities' then they should look like separate cities or towns.
2. Egregious City Sprawl is completely appropriate, accurate and realistic, but only after powered transportation becomes available in the late 19th century (very late Industrial, beginning of Modern Age) when cities began to expand dramatically. Remember Wall Street in lower Manhatten? It used to be the City Wall of the city - the outer limit of New York City! Remember Athens? You can walk most of the circuit of the classical city's walls in a single afternoon - today the city of Athens extends from one side of the Attic plain to the other - 26 + miles away (the distance to Marathon, by no coincidence)
3. Cities are connected. If it's not connected, it's a separate city. Period.

So, here are the Boris Rules for Cities and Districts.

Districts come in two kinds: Districts of a City, and separate Settlements. They are graphically Different, because the Districts are part of a larger entity and Settlements Stand Alone.

The first District in any City is the City Center. ALL other Districts in the city must be adjacent to that District or another District(s) connected to it. That rule does NOT apply to Settlements.

Every District has room for 6 Buildings or Structures in it. A City Center must start with an Administrative Center as the first Building. In the case of the capital, this is the Palace. Settlements do not have this requirement - they aren't important enough to require an Administrative Center or Palace.

At the start, a city can be no bigger than 7 Districts: the Center and a 1 tile ring around it. Later, when you have some kind of River/Coastal Transport, a city can extend one more ring/District on either side of any River or one tile/District along the Coast.
ONLY with the discovery of Steam Railroads and Internal Combustion can cities expand to a 2nd and 3rd ring of Districts around the city center regardless of terrain (in other words, late Industrial, early Modern Eras)

IF a Settlement falls within the allowed distance from a City Center, it can be incorporated into the city and changes its graphic 'look' from Separate Settlement to District.

ALL Adjacency bonuses come from the Buildings in Districts/Settlements, not from the Districts themselves and only very, very rarely from the terrain in the tile or adjacent tiles. In other words, it doesn't matter that your University is or isn't next to a Mountain, what matters is that it's next to an Observatory, Technical School or Research Center in the same or adjacent Districts for Adjacency Bonuses.

The result of these is to expand the footprint of individual cities but keep them graphically distinct on the map, and add the ability to exploit more territory with Settlements. They also put a hard limit on the ungainly Adjacency Sprawl of Civ VI's Districts, while also hard limiting the excessive City Sprawl of HK until it is appropriate in the late game.
 
I like the way governments work in Civ6 but imho they should have a greater impact both on diplomacy, the way districts work and what policies can be enacted. Right now, the major difference is which slots you can use and some minor buffs and discounts.

Especially late game governments should massively support some and disadvantage other victory types. For instance Fascist/Authoritarian government should bolster war and unit production (and thus domination victory) but with a big hit to science and culture districts/gains, like -50%. On the other hand, democratic governments should support science and culture but seriously increase unit maintenance and warweariness. So I like the flexibility of Civ6 compared to Civ5, but would like to increase to need to decide what to focus on, especially in the late game. Also, use of certain policies which are very beneficial should come at a diplomatic cost.
 
I like having the leader pool option. But I would like to have more than two. I would also like to either have preset leader lists of geographic or chronological neighbors. Or to be able to setup and save my own lists.
 
Thanks-I hate it.

Interesting as this revelation makes my respect for Civ VI's district devs go down slightly XD. Just my opinion of course but if the devs were actually trying to have districts represent other mini urban centers...they've failed horribly. I don't ever plan my cities in a way that I would be cogniscent of that and am actively annoyed when my "urban centers" are further away from each other. I just asked 2 other civ-playing friends of mine and they've never thought that is what is was trying to represent either. The game is graphically and strategically designed to make you think that these are "quarters" of the city and rewards you (minorly) for having them closer to other districts. If these were truly other urban centers, why wouldn't they be separate things to manage? Why would they be so tied to the city/administrative center?

It also makes sense as parts of a city. If civ was trying to model this style of system they should not be calling these urban centers with city names. If anything it sounds like a county/province like you say. But that also isn't nearly as fun and the fact that civ was trying to go in that direction over just logically making better planned out cities is not to my liking. Maybe it's just me but I don't care as much about the scale of the map and minute details of where exactly all my population and yield come from...I'd rather just have nicely unstacked cities. Making provinces of cities just throws up a bunch of red flags. I dunno this just makes me think that this grand way of trying to represent something really in-depth was done needlessly and confusingly...but ain't that Civ VI in a nutshell.

I think districts should require another adjacent district to be placed, and they should autogenerate many more smaller building models than they current do. This would really make huge cities feel sprawling and grand.

I am going to Gordian Knot all of this increasingly convoluted mess; both gameplay and visual, and propose that you keep the concept of adjacency bonuses, move just about all of the districts back to the city centre, and make the exclusion zone for building cities one tile

Bam. Done. No more “why is London’s library located in Wales”. No more “why doesnt the city wall protect the diplomats”. No more “why does Athens train it’s soldiers in Epirus”..

We keep talking about “well this campus really represents a university town”. Ok then, why not represent it as an actual town.

Simple, clean, succinct. You have a few things like Dams, Aqueducts, possibly Encampments and Harbours that could stay as districts, but the rest is just complexity for it’s own sake.
 
I'm pretty happy thinking of a "city's" "campus" as being representative of the aggregate of a province's science infrastructure and output. That is, a "city" is really a province, and a fully loaded campus "in the city" stands in for all the various libraries, universities, and research institutions that the province possesses. This obviates the need to micromanage every little library and community college in a potentially vast province.

Now, obviously the problem with this is that the graphics and language in-game does not encourage this way of thinking, and those who came into Civ 6 playing Civ X, X<6, are going to be hardwired to keep thinking in terms of literal cities. Except for one thing: the vastness of cities as they appear on the map is unrealistic unless one views them as provinces. In real life a single city does not include both jungles and deserts, or stretch across mountain ranges.
 
I said I wasn't going to post on the same subject again, and I've posted how I think Districts should work, but here it goes again . . .
1. IF Districts are supposed to be 'secondary cities' then they should look like separate cities or towns.
2. Egregious City Sprawl is completely appropriate, accurate and realistic, but only after powered transportation becomes available in the late 19th century (very late Industrial, beginning of Modern Age) when cities began to expand dramatically. Remember Wall Street in lower Manhatten? It used to be the City Wall of the city - the outer limit of New York City! Remember Athens? You can walk most of the circuit of the classical city's walls in a single afternoon - today the city of Athens extends from one side of the Attic plain to the other - 26 + miles away (the distance to Marathon, by no coincidence)
3. Cities are connected. If it's not connected, it's a separate city. Period.

So, here are the Boris Rules for Cities and Districts.

Districts come in two kinds: Districts of a City, and separate Settlements. They are graphically Different, because the Districts are part of a larger entity and Settlements Stand Alone.

The first District in any City is the City Center. ALL other Districts in the city must be adjacent to that District or another District(s) connected to it. That rule does NOT apply to Settlements.

Every District has room for 6 Buildings or Structures in it. A City Center must start with an Administrative Center as the first Building. In the case of the capital, this is the Palace. Settlements do not have this requirement - they aren't important enough to require an Administrative Center or Palace.

At the start, a city can be no bigger than 7 Districts: the Center and a 1 tile ring around it. Later, when you have some kind of River/Coastal Transport, a city can extend one more ring/District on either side of any River or one tile/District along the Coast.
ONLY with the discovery of Steam Railroads and Internal Combustion can cities expand to a 2nd and 3rd ring of Districts around the city center regardless of terrain (in other words, late Industrial, early Modern Eras)

IF a Settlement falls within the allowed distance from a City Center, it can be incorporated into the city and changes its graphic 'look' from Separate Settlement to District.

ALL Adjacency bonuses come from the Buildings in Districts/Settlements, not from the Districts themselves and only very, very rarely from the terrain in the tile or adjacent tiles. In other words, it doesn't matter that your University is or isn't next to a Mountain, what matters is that it's next to an Observatory, Technical School or Research Center in the same or adjacent Districts for Adjacency Bonuses.

The result of these is to expand the footprint of individual cities but keep them graphically distinct on the map, and add the ability to exploit more territory with Settlements. They also put a hard limit on the ungainly Adjacency Sprawl of Civ VI's Districts, while also hard limiting the excessive City Sprawl of HK until it is appropriate in the late game.
I like the idea of less strict buildings in districts. It also means you don't completely lock down cities into roles like the current district system does.. I guess numbers of buildings etc per settlement could be tweaked. Maybe increased by technology...

Not sure it needs that much detail but I like the basic concept.
 
Except for one thing: the vastness of cities as they appear on the map is unrealistic unless one views them as provinces. In real life a single city does not include both jungles and deserts, or stretch across mountain ranges.
To me this really isn’t a valid point of criticism against viewing cities as cities. The physical scaling of everything in the game’s world is all over the place and not meant to be taken literally—or linearly. There are gigantic crabs bigger than entire buildings, models in districts inexplicably tower in size over those of improvements, and something as basic as hex size clearly makes zero sense if you try to view all hexes as one width.
 
To me this really isn’t a valid point of criticism against viewing cities as cities. The physical scaling of everything in the game’s world is all over the place and not meant to be taken literally—or linearly. There are gigantic crabs bigger than entire buildings, models in districts inexplicably tower in size over those of improvements, and something as basic as hex size clearly makes zero sense if you try to view all hexes as one width.
Uh...yeah...I guess. But on a national (or world) map one sees cities as dots and roads as lines, and the lines are typically as wide as the smaller dots. Doesn't mean the roads are as wide as a small town. In Civ 6 the map is...well, a map. And like with any map one expects dots and lines to depict the locations of things without regard to their size, whereas the size of provinces on the map are in rough proportion to their size in reality.
 
To me this really isn’t a valid point of criticism against viewing cities as cities. The physical scaling of everything in the game’s world is all over the place and not meant to be taken literally—or linearly. There are gigantic crabs bigger than entire buildings, models in districts inexplicably tower in size over those of improvements, and something as basic as hex size clearly makes zero sense if you try to view all hexes as one width.
Uh...yeah...I guess. But on a national (or world) map one sees cities as dots and roads as lines, and the lines are typically as wide as the smaller dots. Doesn't mean the roads are as wide as a small town. In Civ 6 the map is...well, a map. And like with any map one expects dots and lines to depict the locations of things without regard to their size, whereas the size of provinces on the map are in rough proportion to their size in reality.
People expect too much from the game, I always saw districts and even certain improvements as small towns within, with each city simply representing the capital of a state, county or province.

This game allows Washington to build the Pyramids in United Kingdom under the right circumstances in Medieval Era.
 
I said I wasn't going to post on the same subject again, and I've posted how I think Districts should work, but here it goes again . . .
1. IF Districts are supposed to be 'secondary cities' then they should look like separate cities or towns.
2. Egregious City Sprawl is completely appropriate, accurate and realistic, but only after powered transportation becomes available in the late 19th century (very late Industrial, beginning of Modern Age) when cities began to expand dramatically. Remember Wall Street in lower Manhatten? It used to be the City Wall of the city - the outer limit of New York City! Remember Athens? You can walk most of the circuit of the classical city's walls in a single afternoon - today the city of Athens extends from one side of the Attic plain to the other - 26 + miles away (the distance to Marathon, by no coincidence)
3. Cities are connected. If it's not connected, it's a separate city. Period.

So, here are the Boris Rules for Cities and Districts.

Districts come in two kinds: Districts of a City, and separate Settlements. They are graphically Different, because the Districts are part of a larger entity and Settlements Stand Alone.

The first District in any City is the City Center. ALL other Districts in the city must be adjacent to that District or another District(s) connected to it. That rule does NOT apply to Settlements.

Every District has room for 6 Buildings or Structures in it. A City Center must start with an Administrative Center as the first Building. In the case of the capital, this is the Palace. Settlements do not have this requirement - they aren't important enough to require an Administrative Center or Palace.

At the start, a city can be no bigger than 7 Districts: the Center and a 1 tile ring around it. Later, when you have some kind of River/Coastal Transport, a city can extend one more ring/District on either side of any River or one tile/District along the Coast.
ONLY with the discovery of Steam Railroads and Internal Combustion can cities expand to a 2nd and 3rd ring of Districts around the city center regardless of terrain (in other words, late Industrial, early Modern Eras)

IF a Settlement falls within the allowed distance from a City Center, it can be incorporated into the city and changes its graphic 'look' from Separate Settlement to District.

ALL Adjacency bonuses come from the Buildings in Districts/Settlements, not from the Districts themselves and only very, very rarely from the terrain in the tile or adjacent tiles. In other words, it doesn't matter that your University is or isn't next to a Mountain, what matters is that it's next to an Observatory, Technical School or Research Center in the same or adjacent Districts for Adjacency Bonuses.

The result of these is to expand the footprint of individual cities but keep them graphically distinct on the map, and add the ability to exploit more territory with Settlements. They also put a hard limit on the ungainly Adjacency Sprawl of Civ VI's Districts, while also hard limiting the excessive City Sprawl of HK until it is appropriate in the late game.
I agree with many of your points regarding placement and adjacency of districts, but I strongly think the ability to freely choose which buildings to place in a district would be very bad from a gameplay pov. I understand the logic behind this idea from a realism pov, but in terms of gameplay, one of the main points that makes districts engaging is that they force you to make a choice: Each time you choose to build a certain district, you also choose NOT to build all the other districts (until a new slot opens), thereby cutting you off from the buildings related to those districts. That makes for good gameplay, because it means decisions that have consequences. If you make all buildings go into all districts, they lose most of their impact on the game, and you can argue you might as well not include them at all in such a case. It will also be bad for replayability because it makes it more likely that you will default to specific build orders regardless of civ or starting conditions.

All that is not to say civ6 system was perfect. I strongly favour a system where (urban) districts need to stay attached to each other to make a coherent city feeling (I’m very much in the a-city-is-a-city-and-a-district-is-a-part-of-a-city camp) and I think some sort of region feature to secure rural areas between cities would be preferable. I’m also strongly against the flat adjacency bonuses that Civ6 has, which became much too important and potent in civ6.
 
I agree with many of your points regarding placement and adjacency of districts, but I strongly think the ability to freely choose which buildings to place in a district would be very bad from a gameplay pov.

Are we talking about putting a stable in a water park, or a stock exchange in a holy site? If so, that would be weirdness squared.
 
I agree with many of your points regarding placement and adjacency of districts, but I strongly think the ability to freely choose which buildings to place in a district would be very bad from a gameplay pov. I understand the logic behind this idea from a realism pov, but in terms of gameplay, one of the main points that makes districts engaging is that they force you to make a choice: Each time you choose to build a certain district, you also choose NOT to build all the other districts (until a new slot opens), thereby cutting you off from the buildings related to those districts. That makes for good gameplay, because it means decisions that have consequences. If you make all buildings go into all districts, they lose most of their impact on the game, and you can argue you might as well not include them at all in such a case. It will also be bad for replayability because it makes it more likely that you will default to specific build orders regardless of civ or starting conditions.

All that is not to say civ6 system was perfect. I strongly favour a system where (urban) districts need to stay attached to each other to make a coherent city feeling (I’m very much in the a-city-is-a-city-and-a-district-is-a-part-of-a-city camp) and I think some sort of region feature to secure rural areas between cities would be preferable. I’m also strongly against the flat adjacency bonuses that Civ6 has, which became much too important and potent in civ6.
Once upon a time, when I first started thinking about a revised District system for Civ VII, I proposed having everything at Building level and Districts being utterly generic, empty vessels into which any building could be slotted. I didn't actually propose that in the quoted post in this Thread, because I've noted what appears to be an increasing tendency among Threaders here to express a reluctance to change anything because it is 'too complex', as if they've forgotten how complex the game already is in a very Not Good way, complexity in systems that have no interaction with each other.

So, back to the 'empty vessel' District. It still has the advantage that it doesn't leave you with half-empty Districts for much of the game. For most of the current Defined Districts, they have one building that can go in them at first, then 1 or more Eras before a 2nd building becomes available. That's a lot of wasted space, especially when the total number of Districts is curtailed for much of the game.
On the other hand, IF any adjacency bonus or accumulation is from Buildings, then it will only make sense to put certain Buildings in a District or adjacent Districts , and that probably will not include a Stable and Water Park. On the other hand, even early in the game a Workshop next to a Market will give bonuses to Gold because of Direct Sales from workshop to market customers, and the Religious Building (Shrine, Temple, Sacrificial Altar, etc) next to the Palace will provide a 'legitimacy' bonus to trhe Government - and may be a requirement for a Theocracy of any kind.

But, just to be agreeable, the Districts could be Defined With Benefits. That is, each District would be, as now, defined as a characteristic type: Center/Administrative, Holy, Mercantile/Trade, Scientific/Learning, Harbor, Industrial, etc. Each District would have room for 5 Building slots. Why 5 instead of 6? Because a District MUST have at least 3 slots allotted to Buildings of the District type. The other 2 slots can be used for Buildings that give adjacency bonuses or other bonuses to the 'type' Buildings of the District.
So, as above, a Religious Building might be appropriate in the Admin Center, as long as 3 slots are reserved for strictly Admin-type Buildings (Palace, Central Granary, Monument, etc) a Workshop (Industrial) building in the Commercial District for a Gold bonus, OR a Market in the Harbor District for a bonus to (direct) Trade.
You wouldn't have to actually have the defined Buildings available in a District, but you could never have More 'outside' Buildings int he District than Defined Budings ( i.e., no Commercial District with 1 Market plus a Shrine and a Workshop Until you get a second Commercial Building in the District)

As for replayability, between Unique Buildings, variability in situation (trade routes, Harbor/No Harbor, defensive/mililtary requirements, Wonder placements, etc) I doubt that city design will be any more stylized than it is now when everyone beelines for combinations of Mountains and Unique advantages for every city they can arrange.
 
But, just to be agreeable, the Districts could be Defined With Benefits. That is, each District would be, as now, defined as a characteristic type: Center/Administrative, Holy, Mercantile/Trade, Scientific/Learning, Harbor, Industrial, etc. Each District would have room for 5 Building slots. Why 5 instead of 6? Because a District MUST have at least 3 slots allotted to Buildings of the District type. The other 2 slots can be used for Buildings that give adjacency bonuses or other bonuses to the 'type' Buildings of the District.
So, as above, a Religious Building might be appropriate in the Admin Center, as long as 3 slots are reserved for strictly Admin-type Buildings (Palace, Central Granary, Monument, etc) a Workshop (Industrial) building in the Commercial District for a Gold bonus, OR a Market in the Harbor District for a bonus to (direct) Trade.
You wouldn't have to actually have the defined Buildings available in a District, but you could never have More 'outside' Buildings int he District than Defined Budings ( i.e., no Commercial District with 1 Market plus a Shrine and a Workshop Until you get a second Commercial Building in the District)

As for replayability, between Unique Buildings, variability in situation (trade routes, Harbor/No Harbor, defensive/mililtary requirements, Wonder placements, etc) I doubt that city design will be any more stylized than it is now when everyone beelines for combinations of Mountains and Unique advantages for every city they can arrange.
The half-empty districts or Civ6 actually never seemed much of a problem to me visually, but I can follow the reasoning behind this argument. My main concern regarding the model you suggest - which I think is a lot better than the empty-vessel model - is still that I think you basically will end up in a situation where most cities can do everything: If you can put industrial buildings into your commercial district, holy buildings into your government district, cultural buildings into your campus - and all of these maybe even with an adjacency bonus - you basically end up with double number of districts in every city. This both goes against the philosophy of Civ6 (which one might or might not agree with) that all cities should not be able to do everything, and also raises the question: What do you build when you unlock new districts and you have already build all the lower tier buildings in your other districts?

An approach I'd much rather see taken is that which with some success was done in the mod series I think was called "Urban Complexity" or something like that. In these mods, each district had two or sometimes even three (which I felt were too many) buildings to choose from for each level. This would allow for some customization in each city's build: When you build your campus, you could go with the regular library (focus on pure science), or instead go with a religious school (gives some religion based bonuses), and you could obviously easily come up with other alternatives as well. This approach does not solve the empty-districts issue you have, but it does allow for more interesting choices and means you can have different builds catering to different victory conditions. Also if one extends the area-of-effect idea to count for more districts than just industry and entertainment - which is something I'm a strong proponent of - different possible builds would be interesting in situations where you have overlapping districts.
 
There's a different way in which something like what Boris is suggesting in regards to the "empty vessel" Districts could be achieved:

- Each Tile has 4 Building Slots;

- Tile becomes a District automatically if all buildings in that tile are of the same type and there's at least two buildings of that type (e.g. Shrine and Temple); (districts get a tiny icon floating above them)

- Districts unlock Specialists Slots. 1 Specialist with two buildings, 3 with three buildings, 5 with four buildings. Specialists generate 1 GP point per Specialist (similar to Civ 4 and Civ 5);

- A tile with all four slots occupied by four buildings all of different types is granted a single Specialist of each of those types;

- Tile Improvements do not block emergence of Districts, but they obviously limit the max level possible (e.g. three religious buildings and a farm, or two religious buildings and two farms);

- Resources are tied to a single slot in a tile. A tile can't have more than a slot occupied by a resource. Extraction requires working the single slot. Districts of any type may still emerge around the worked Resource. However, building Workshop/Factory buildings around the worked resource increases extraction rate and turns the tile into an Industrial Zone/Agricultural Zone. (depending on the Resource)

- After construction, buildings can be freely moved in your empire. It costs no gold, only time (like moving Governors, but they don't become inactive in the meantime);

- Tiles are "unitary" for the purpose of placing City Centres, Wonders, Unit movement, Natural Disaster movement and for the purpose of adjacencies (meaning it's irrelevant in which slot within a tile a building is placed. E.g. An observatory in a tile adjacent to a mountain will get bonuses for being in that tile, even if it's in the slot furthest from the mountain);

- Pillaging works as it does currently (as stated above, units and disasters occupy the entire tile).
---

This is a more dynamic District system. I may have suggested something similar before.
 
There's a different way in which something like what Boris is suggesting in regards to the "empty vessel" Districts could be achieved:

- Each Tile has 4 Building Slots;

- Tile becomes a District automatically if all buildings in that tile are of the same type and there's at least two buildings of that type (e.g. Shrine and Temple); (districts get a tiny icon floating above them)

- Districts unlock Specialists Slots. 1 Specialist with two buildings, 3 with three buildings, 5 with four buildings. Specialists generate 1 GP point per Specialist (similar to Civ 4 and Civ 5);
I like this idea as long as the concept of unique districts for civs could still be retained. For example, the Koreans could end up having a Seowon district with the requirement of building a shrine surrounded by other science, or educational, buildings. The same could be said for a Roman Forum etc. This way can make them more unique than the standard districts.
 
'empty-vesel' districts could have third-party buildings. The third-party being foreign governments, foreign corporation, religions that are not the 'official' religion of the government, rich nobles, opposition political parties, etc.
 
The half-empty districts or Civ6 actually never seemed much of a problem to me visually, but I can follow the reasoning behind this argument. My main concern regarding the model you suggest - which I think is a lot better than the empty-vessel model - is still that I think you basically will end up in a situation where most cities can do everything: If you can put industrial buildings into your commercial district, holy buildings into your government district, cultural buildings into your campus - and all of these maybe even with an adjacency bonus - you basically end up with double number of districts in every city. This both goes against the philosophy of Civ6 (which one might or might not agree with) that all cities should not be able to do everything, and also raises the question: What do you build when you unlock new districts and you have already build all the lower tier buildings in your other districts?

An approach I'd much rather see taken is that which with some success was done in the mod series I think was called "Urban Complexity" or something like that. In these mods, each district had two or sometimes even three (which I felt were too many) buildings to choose from for each level. This would allow for some customization in each city's build: When you build your campus, you could go with the regular library (focus on pure science), or instead go with a religious school (gives some religion based bonuses), and you could obviously easily come up with other alternatives as well. This approach does not solve the empty-districts issue you have, but it does allow for more interesting choices and means you can have different builds catering to different victory conditions. Also if one extends the area-of-effect idea to count for more districts than just industry and entertainment - which is something I'm a strong proponent of - different possible builds would be interesting in situations where you have overlapping districts.
The lack of 'specialization' in Cities is a legitimate concern, for which I refer to @AntSou's post following: Specialists are part of the picture.
As others have posted, I think Specialists should be a lot more prominent in the Civ VII game than the Near Forgotten aspect they have been in Civ VI.
At the moment I would like to see Specialist slots in virtually every Building in the city - including Walls and Fortifications, because where do you think all that City Defense Fire is coming from?
Starting with 1 Specialist as a Freebie for each point of general Population, but requiring at least 1 Specialist to get the most out of each Building, it isn't Racket Science ('Racket' being one of the best ways to describe early Governments) to see that even in a starting city with potentially 7 D1strict places including the City Center, you haven't got enough Specialists - and That's where a lot of the city Specialization will come from.
A Market or Shrine/Chapel with a Specialist should be nearly twice as powerful as one without. AND higher Tier Buildings can take more Specialists - Universities, Factories, Cathedrals with 3 Specialists each would be in line with my current thinking, so that the difference between a city which 'just' has an Industrial District with a Factory and a city with an Industrial District with a Factory with 3 Specialists and a Power Plant with 2 Specialists that are adjacent to a Harbor District with a Shipyard with 3 Specialists will be huge - the 2nd city is a specialized Industrial City with a large percentage of its urban population dedicated to 'feeding the machines' - and the combination of Powered Shipyard with Specialists and Powered Factory with Specialists might be required to build Capital Ships like Battleships, Dreadnaughts, Fleet Aircraft Carriers, Battlecruisers and the like.

And while I'm still thinking about the specifics of how to get more Specialists/population in the mid to late game, @AntSou's suggestion that a dedicated District would generate more of its own Specialists is a good one. Other Sources would be certain Buildings, like Family Workshops, Guild Halls, Universities, Technical Schools,, Social/Civic Policies related to Labor, Trade, Religion, Military, etc.

The idea that tiles become Districts automatically is interesting, and needs some thought. It potentially ties into my concept of Settlements as the mechanic for 'detached Districts' to exploit resourses or terrain - like HK's separate Harbors (Port Town) but also the separate Mining Towns, Suburban Population Centers, smaller Industrial Towns like Naro-Fominsk (the first textile center in Russia in the 1830s) or Food Centers like Battle Creek, MI (Kellogopolis).
In this case, the 'District' (Settlement, my terminology) would still have 5 Building Slots, but at least one would have to be an Extractive Building - Mine, Timber Processor, Plantation, Farming Complex, while the rest could be Enhancing Structures like Industry to use the Resources or Trade buildings to facilitate moving the resource around or out of your Civ.
One thing to note is that once the Railroad and steam-powered ships are available, these Extractive Settlements would frequently die. Either form of powered transportation can bring in Resources from virtually anywhere to be processed in any City, so the only thing needed at the site of the resource is a massive Extraction Complex: open-pit mines covering dozens of square kilometers, or plantations covering thousands of acres all planted with a single crop and in either case, the minimum of population to work the machinery.

More to think about.
 
There's a different way in which something like what Boris is suggesting in regards to the "empty vessel" Districts could be achieved:

- Each Tile has 4 Building Slots;

- Tile becomes a District automatically if all buildings in that tile are of the same type and there's at least two buildings of that type (e.g. Shrine and Temple); (districts get a tiny icon floating above them)

- Districts unlock Specialists Slots. 1 Specialist with two buildings, 3 with three buildings, 5 with four buildings. Specialists generate 1 GP point per Specialist (similar to Civ 4 and Civ 5);

- A tile with all four slots occupied by four buildings all of different types is granted a single Specialist of each of those types;

- Tile Improvements do not block emergence of Districts, but they obviously limit the max level possible (e.g. three religious buildings and a farm, or two religious buildings and two farms);

- Resources are tied to a single slot in a tile. A tile can't have more than a slot occupied by a resource. Extraction requires working the single slot. Districts of any type may still emerge around the worked Resource. However, building Workshop/Factory buildings around the worked resource increases extraction rate and turns the tile into an Industrial Zone/Agricultural Zone. (depending on the Resource)

- After construction, buildings can be freely moved in your empire. It costs no gold, only time (like moving Governors, but they don't become inactive in the meantime);

- Tiles are "unitary" for the purpose of placing City Centres, Wonders, Unit movement, Natural Disaster movement and for the purpose of adjacencies (meaning it's irrelevant in which slot within a tile a building is placed. E.g. An observatory in a tile adjacent to a mountain will get bonuses for being in that tile, even if it's in the slot furthest from the mountain);

- Pillaging works as it does currently (as stated above, units and disasters occupy the entire tile).
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This is a more dynamic District system. I may have suggested something similar before.
Maybe I'm being overly negative here, but what I'm seeing is something that will potentially make districts much worse than they are in Civ6 (I get nightmares just imagining the AI slotting buildings into districts in the most horrible way) but imo. has little potential to be much better than the Civ6 system in the best case. To me it seems overcomplicated instead of directly targeting the weaknesses of the Civ6 system.

The lack of 'specialization' in Cities is a legitimate concern, for which I refer to @AntSou's post following: Specialists are part of the picture.
As others have posted, I think Specialists should be a lot more prominent in the Civ VII game than the Near Forgotten aspect they have been in Civ VI.
At the moment I would like to see Specialist slots in virtually every Building in the city - including Walls and Fortifications, because where do you think all that City Defense Fire is coming from?
Starting with 1 Specialist as a Freebie for each point of general Population, but requiring at least 1 Specialist to get the most out of each Building, it isn't Racket Science ('Racket' being one of the best ways to describe early Governments) to see that even in a starting city with potentially 7 D1strict places including the City Center, you haven't got enough Specialists - and That's where a lot of the city Specialization will come from.
I agree 100 % about specialists. I think this - along with the ugly city sprawl - is the #1 issue with the Civ6 districts/buildings system, and one that needs to be targeted directly.

One thought I have been playing with - and which I really hope someone will mod for Civ6 at some point - is going completely away from flat yields, not only from districts, but also from buildings. Instead, direct yields should come from the specialists working the building. So your University generates science if and only if you have actually allocated some citizens to work there. The benefits of such an approach would be three-fold imo. 1) It completely removes the benefits of small-city ICS strategies. 2) It makes specialists much more relevant, and 3) it gives you incentive to work up those high-yields farms to support a big population in the city.

As for the city sprawl problem, I'm totally in favor of (urban) districts needing to be in contact with another urban district. So you expand outwards from your City Centre. I also like the idea that in early game, you can only slot urban districts into inner ring. Opening further rings could be tied to tech/culture tree advancement, to era, or to city culture level (the latter being my favored approach).

I also really want to see some sort of region system making it's way into Civ7. I think it's time to move away from the "a city can only work 3 rings" idea. Instead I think a city should be able to make satellite "village" districts, similar to the farming or mining towns from the City Lights mod, but working a bit differently. So a city should be able to build/connect a village district to its sphere of influence, and farm/mile/lumbermill/etc. yields from tiles around this village should go to the central city. Whether it would be better to go with a fixed-on-map region division, or a more fluid system á la old civilization settling patterns, I don't know.
 
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