Centralization: A Suggested Concept for Civ 7


Dec 26, 2020
A common trend throughout history seems to be the waxing and waning of centralized power as opposed to more local authority. We can juxtapose modern Greece with the rabble of culturally related but politically independent city-states it was in ancient times, with the Delian League perhaps serving as a relatively brief period of albeit fragile quasi-unification. The Middle Ages was largely characterized by increased local control (via feudalism) relative to both the Roman Empire that preceded them and the development of modern nation-states that followed them. Consider as well the largely independent city-states of Renaissance Italy that preceded the modern Italian Republic.

So here's my brainstorm. It partially overlaps with the current Loyalty mechanism and might even be enough to replace it. You begin the game as what may best be called a cultural bloc. Upon reaching the city-building stage, whether it's at the very inception of the game or after a nomadic stage, you found your first city in a location of your choice, and it will behave in all the familiar ways. However, the amount of control you have over each subsequent city will vary according to distance, size, and terrain. As a rough example, let's say there are five levels of non-capital city control, where "direct domain" refers to your capital and all cities at the uppermost level (essentially like normal cities in previous versions of the game).

Level 1: Your direct domain and the city automatically share 25% of Culture output and 33% of Science output.

Level 2: Your direct domain and the city automatically share 50% of Culture output and 67 % of Science output. Units may be purchased in the city with Gold.

Level 3: Your direct domain and the city automatically share 75% of Culture output, 100% of Science output, 25% of Gold output, all War Declarations, and all Peace Treaties. Units may be purchased in the city with Gold. Builders can improve tiles in the city.

Level 4: Your direct domain and the city automatically share 100% of Culture output, 100% of Science output, 50% of Gold output, and 50% of Faith output. Units may be purchased in the city with Gold or Faith. At the start of a war, the city's independently produced military can be levied at no cost. Builders can improve tiles in the city.

Level 5: Full control. The city behaves just like what we would recognize as a normal city in previous versions of the game.

A non-capital city always starts out at Level 3 as the default, but it can become more or less centralized at a rate determined mainly by distance, population, nearby external influences, and perhaps terrain. For instance, a distant city will decentralize faster than a closer one, doubly so if it is quite populous and/or if there is a major geographical obstacle (e.g. a mountain range) between it and the nearest Level-5 city.

Centralization can be increased in specific cities via Roads/Railroads, Trade Routes, and Governors. You may even declare war on a Level-1 city and capture it in order to reset it to Level 3 status.

Centralization can be enhanced across all cities in your bloc at once via Golden/Heroic Ages, Technologies, Civics, and/or Policies that relate to transportation and/or communication (e.g. Writing, Radio, Combustion, Mass Media).

Furthermore, certain milestones in centralization (or decentralization) could serve as a useful framework for those transformations in identity that some have suggested for future versions of the game. For example, maybe after raising all of your current cities to Level 5, you have the option of rebranding your civilization in some way or other, perhaps a new name or a new leader with a new unique ability.

Picture this. Let's say you're playing as Italy, with Lorenzo de Medici as your leader. When all other cities in the Italian bloc have been brought fully into your Level-5 sphere, with great fanfare, a message pops up: "All those sharing deep Italian roots have finally been brought together under one banner for the first time! In celebration, the charismatic statesman Vittorio Emmanuele declares that the Florentine Republic shall be reborn simply as the Italian Empire!"

This is just a sample scheme, so the specifics could be tweaked for better balance and/or realism. The point is to at least roughly emulate how what begins as a single clan often branches out into multiple groups, which may then diverge culturally over time at a rate depending on how isolated they are from each other, though some significant degree of mutual cultural affinity may remain for ages. Then, maybe one group fares especially well and begins to dominate the others, either militarily or otherwise, and it eventually succeeds in uniting most or all of the independent states in its cultural bloc under a single banner. The new nation-state may then go on to compete with other blocs or even just individual and sufficiently decentralized cities within those blocs. Bring on a Dark Age, the empire fractures, and maybe the process begins somewhat anew, potentially with a different fledgling capital at the helm.

Of course, all this would be simultaneous with your interactions with other cultural blocs in ways already familiar to longtime Civ players.

So what do you think? Would you play a game like this, or do you think it would be difficult to implement without taking too much control away from the human player(s)? I'm very interested in what other Civ fans might think of this idea!
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