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Civ 7:Rough idea about policy cards

DeckerdJames

Warlord
Joined
Nov 1, 2019
Messages
235
What if you unlock a very large set of new policy cards whenever you discover a new type of government?

If you could only change policy cards when you discovered a new government type (a new set of policy cards), then it would be a big event since it only happens a few times per game (10-20 times), depending on how you researched through the tree (you might not bother to get them all).

Then you can make each card's bonuses more impactful. There could several bonuses on each policy card and more extreme bonus numbers. You could only choose your policy cards from the set of policy cards that your government type provides. So each government type will have configurable bonuses but from within their government type. You can adjust your government anytime you want. The cost of the change can depend on the policy cards that are removed from the current government plan. Each policy card can have its own cost. This would allow the management of the government to be 100% flexible, but also be a game of managing the bonuses you get vs the penalties of changing a policy.

Second, suppose cities have policy cards that can be chosen from a set of "city policy cards". All cities can choose from the same set and cities can all be configured with the same policies or completely different policies. Each city has 100% flexibility on which policies it will utilize.

These ideas might be fun ideas and I can already see some improvements that could be explored. I hope the developers see this idea and feel free to use it as is or in any form at all.
 
At first blush, I like the idea of different "decks" of cards. It reminds me both of the Civ4 civics (groups/sets of civics) and Civ5 social policies. The current Civ6 choice of governments serves mostly as a "virtual rack" to slot cards into, with the cards spanning multiple ages and centuries.

One would need to be thoughtful about the cards included in the "deck" for merchant republic, monarchy, communism, or whatever the Civ7 labels are. If one government lacks cards in an area, or its cards are weak, then players might never choose it. One would also need to be thoughtful about the cost of change. I liked the differing degrees of anarchy that resulted from changing governments in Civ3 and changing civics in Civ4. In Civ3, the cost went up based on the number of cities the player had. In Civ4, the cost went up based on the magnitude of the change, as described here.

Having a separate slot (or slots) for city cards, in parallel with the overall government slots, is also appealing. It makes some macro/micro decisions about cards in the present Civ6 easier. I no longer have to choose between a bonus for trade routes against a bonus for cities with a governor.
 
blowing up culture into its own tech tree was, in my opinion, a mistake. Many of the culture unlocks only gave cards or government types that you might never use, because they require finite slots that they compete with other cards. the culture tree needed to give more permanent bonuses that aren’t mutually exclusive.

From a thematic standpoint, I really don’t like the Whiggish portrayal of culture and society as a progressive, inexorable march towards a single endpoint (which happens to look exactly like British industrial capitalism). The tech tree already has this problem of historical inevitability, and it doesn’t need to be replicated in the culture mechanics.

Civ5’s policy tree had its own problem, in that it was just pure snowballing yield inflation. Policies were permanent bonuses arranged in parallel mini-trees, and you could mix and match between policies. Simply having enough policies or tech allowed you to progress to the next set of 3 mini-trees, and you could adopt as many as you could afford. This had an elegance and simplicity to it, but at some point the combined power of all the policies overtakes and drowns the civ’s unique character.

I think a civ5-style is closer to the mark, but in civ7 I think they should add the ability to abolish earlier policies at any time for an instant % cost reduction towards adopting your next policy. At some point, the raw culture cost of your next policy will be far higher than what you initially paid for your first policies, and you will have to weigh keeping your the older policies and their bonuses Vs their instant :c5culture: value if they are liquidated for further progress towards later, more powerful policies. This would mean that policies are not strictly competing for space for card slots, but there is still a tension between having more, earlier policies with small bonuses vs progressing faster through the trees to get to later policies with bigger bonuses.

P.S. My opinion re: the policy card system is that it could be merged with the Governor mechanic, if it were to exist at all. I think it’s generally agreed that the governors in civ 6 were kinda bad, but I could see the idea returning if it worked more like city-specific government slots. Different policy trees could unlock different Governor types with specific slots and access to certain cards that they instantly have access to, instead of having to unlock them through a tech progression.
 
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blowing up culture into its own tech tree was, in my opinion, a mistake. Many of the culture unlocks only gave cards or government types that you might never use, because they require finite slots that they compete for with other cards. If the culture tree needed to give more permanent bonuses that aren’t mutually exclusive.

From a thematic standpoint, I really don’t like how the progressive, Whigish view of history as an inexorable March towards a single endpoint (which happens to look exactly like British industrial capitalism). The tech tree already has this problem of historical inevitability, and it doesn’t need to be replicated in the culture mechanics.

Civ5’s policy tree had its own problem, in that it was just pure snowballing yield inflation. Policies were in parallel mini-trees, and you could mix and match between policies. Simply having enough policies or tech allowed you to progress to the next set of 3 mini-trees. This had an elegance and simplicity to it, but at some point the policies start to overtake and drown the civ’s unique character.

I think a civ5-style is closer to the mark, but in civ7 I think they should add the ability to abolish earlier policies at any time for an instant % progress towards adopting your next policy. At some point, the raw culture cost of your next policy will be far higher than what you initially paid for your first policies, and you will have to weigh keeping your the older policies and their bonuses Vs their instant :c5culture: value if they are liquidated for further progress towards later, more powerful policies. This would mean that policies are not strictly competing for space for card slots, but there is still a tension between having more, earlier policies with small bonuses vs progressing faster through the trees to get to later policies with bigger bonuses.

P.S. My opinion re: the policy card system is that it could be merged with the Governor mechanic, if it were to exist at all. I think it’s generally agreed that the governors in civ 6 were kinda bad, but I could see the idea returning if it worked more like city-specific government slots. Different policy trees could unlock different Governor types with specific slots and access to certain cards that they instantly have access to, instead of having to unlock them through a tech progression.

Separating 'Culture' from 'Tech' was not a mistake in itself, because they are (or at least Should Be) entirely different things.
The problem is that neither the 'card' system for Culture nor the linear tech 'tree' model either one very well.

Changing culture/social policies is Hard - and the only way to do it in a hurry is by massively upsetting amost everything in the Civ - like through Civil War or Foreign Conquest. Flipping out one card for anoter With No Negative Consequences is simply fantasy, and a Totalitarian fantasy at that.

And, IRL, technology or Ways of Doing Things did not 'progress', it stumbled, backtracked, ignored branches and alternatives, and on occasion appeared to stagnate completely. Most importantly, it changed independently of social or cultural changes or the political situation: during the so-called 'Dark Ages' of Europe (500 - 1000 CE) iron and steel-working techniques progressed, tools made of them them became far more widespread than in the Roman Empire, and Power in the form of wind and water were applied to more and more processes right down to the village level (the Domesday Book of the 11th century counted over 6000 Mills in England alone, not just grinding grain, but also processing felt, cloth and wood in industrial scales)

And sometimes 'technology', for various reasons, simply wasn't put to use.

The crossbow was adopted in China in the 5th century BCE as the standard missile weapon for everybody's troops.. It was invented in Greece (Syracuse) at about the same time (400 BCE) but never adopted as more than a defensive weapon for men on top of walls or hunters - there were no crossbow units anywhere in either Alexander's or his Successors' or the Imperial Roman armies.

Famously, in Alexandria in the 1st century CE they understood the application of the force of steam and the Antikythera mechanism shows that they could build quite complex gear trains. So why didn't the Steam Engine come 1800 years early?

And the Chinese had fireseed (gunpowder) as early as the 11th century (earlier formulas given are more of flammables than explosives) but didn't apply it to propelling anything for centuries. Europe got access to gunpowder in the 14th century and less than a century later were using it in Bombards, Ribaldudquins (light artillery) and Hackbusses/Arquebus personal weapons.

The Chinese were making and using cast iron as early as 200 BCE, but they never cast a cannon for over 1500 years.

And on, and on, and on. A strictly Linear system for either tech or culture/social policy is simply Wrong and more importantly, locks all the Civs anywhere on the map into a single line of 'progression' regardless of any other factors in their development: climate, terrain, neighbors (or lack of them),etc. Since these are all present in the game, not making use of them as modifiers is both inaccurate and Lazy.

It all produces the ultimate in Bad Game Design: A Dull Game.
 
Separating 'Culture' from 'Tech' was not a mistake in itself, because they are (or at least Should Be) entirely different things.
The problem is that neither the 'card' system for Culture nor the linear tech 'tree' model either one very well.

Changing culture/social policies is Hard - and the only way to do it in a hurry is by massively upsetting amost everything in the Civ - like through Civil War or Foreign Conquest. Flipping out one card for anoter With No Negative Consequences is simply fantasy, and a Totalitarian fantasy at that.

And, IRL, technology or Ways of Doing Things did not 'progress', it stumbled, backtracked, ignored branches and alternatives, and on occasion appeared to stagnate completely. Most importantly, it changed independently of social or cultural changes or the political situation: during the so-called 'Dark Ages' of Europe (500 - 1000 CE) iron and steel-working techniques progressed, tools made of them them became far more widespread than in the Roman Empire, and Power in the form of wind and water were applied to more and more processes right down to the village level (the Domesday Book of the 11th century counted over 6000 Mills in England alone, not just grinding grain, but also processing felt, cloth and wood in industrial scales)

And sometimes 'technology', for various reasons, simply wasn't put to use.

The crossbow was adopted in China in the 5th century BCE as the standard missile weapon for everybody's troops.. It was invented in Greece (Syracuse) at about the same time (400 BCE) but never adopted as more than a defensive weapon for men on top of walls or hunters - there were no crossbow units anywhere in either Alexander's or his Successors' or the Imperial Roman armies.

Famously, in Alexandria in the 1st century CE they understood the application of the force of steam and the Antikythera mechanism shows that they could build quite complex gear trains. So why didn't the Steam Engine come 1800 years early?

And the Chinese had fireseed (gunpowder) as early as the 11th century (earlier formulas given are more of flammables than explosives) but didn't apply it to propelling anything for centuries. Europe got access to gunpowder in the 14th century and less than a century later were using it in Bombards, Ribaldudquins (light artillery) and Hackbusses/Arquebus personal weapons.

The Chinese were making and using cast iron as early as 200 BCE, but they never cast a cannon for over 1500 years.

And on, and on, and on. A strictly Linear system for either tech or culture/social policy is simply Wrong and more importantly, locks all the Civs anywhere on the map into a single line of 'progression' regardless of any other factors in their development: climate, terrain, neighbors (or lack of them),etc. Since these are all present in the game, not making use of them as modifiers is both inaccurate and Lazy.

It all produces the ultimate in Bad Game Design: A Dull Game.
I agree with you that cultural progression for civs definitely should not be linear.
But as far as technology goes, I think that having a linear progression makes more sense. Especially since the progression of technology leads to the use of more advanced weaponry and ultimately the end goal of reaching space, how else should it be modeled?
 
There have been games that have tried to produce alternatives to a mono-direction tech tree, and frankly they sucked to play. Tech wheels and tech webs were tried in some 4X games like endless legend and endless space. Generally speaking they are overly-complex, and filling them out doesn't feel rewarding. If you offer a web with multiple directions to start heading in as your tech tree then you have to allow players to neglect 4/5 of the tech space. In order to do that, you have to unlock so many of the base mechanics from the game start that it doesn't feel like progression.

I'm not interested in debating what technologies unlocked where, and when. A mono-directional tech tree works for gameplay reasons and is an uncomfortable, but ultimately workable solution. However, replicating that singular direction in the cultural space is far more pernicious and far less necessary.
 
I agree with you that cultural progression for civs definitely should not be linear.
But as far as technology goes, I think that having a linear progression makes more sense. Especially since the progression of technology leads to the use of more advanced weaponry and ultimately the end goal of reaching space, how else should it be modeled?
I'm glad you asked. Been thinking about that for a long time.

As @pineappledan commented right after you, there have been various 'gimmicks' tried, like tech 'webs' and tech 'wheels', and even SMAC's 'Blind' tech tree in which you didn't actually research a specific tech at all, but an Area of Interest which led to specific techs.

I think the 'non-linear' tech advance could better be modeled by going back to the Reality we are trying to model. And we have the advantage that Civ VI already implemented something along the lines I'm going to propose, in the Eureka system.

The difference is, I'd make the Eurekas not a Bonus to research but a Requirement for research.
Bluntly, if you have no cities on the coast you ain't going to waste your time researching Shipbuilding. What's that? You want to research shipbuilding and you don't think any game should tell you not to do something? Fine, but researching shipbuilding without the Prerequisite Condition will cost you 2 - 3 times more 'research' - and so probably be prohibitive.

BUT I would also include the aspect that has been left out of the game recently, that just knowing that Someone Else can do something makes it much, much easier to do it. Tech Diffusion/Borrowing/Stealing should be very real in-game, and a 'short-cut' to many Techs. As an example, the Haida adopted the sailing technology from seeing European ships so fast on their big dug-out Head Canoes that many European observers thought they had invented it independently! Likewise, the obvious utility of the horse for both transport and combat made the adoption of horse tack, saddle, training and riding almost instantaneous in game terms by the American Natives of the southern plains, and it is now suspected that adoption of Horseback Riding from observation may have happened just as fast in Central Asia - along with spoked wheel chariots and mounted archery, which seem to have spread outwards in all directions from a point somewhere north of the Caspian Sea.

This 'diffusion mechanism' will require a lot of research and tweaking, because some technologies don't diffuse/borrow well: horses and their use were both obvious and easily adopted, but no native group in America ever started building their own rifles and ammunition: the industrial processes of working steel and chemical engineering required to produce gunpowder had too many 'intermediate steps' from the native starting point to be replicable.

That doesn't make some Techs completely Out of Reach: starting from a different basis, the Ming Chinese replicated Western European steam ship/steam warship building technology within a generation, including building modern cannon, steel hulls and engines - but they were helped by being able to send their people to western schools (specifically, to American Universities) and having already achieved the organization and background for a much higher 'starting point' than hunter-gatherers had.

A system like this will inevitably lead to 'non-linear'. or at least 'non-identical' tech advances. If you are strictly an inland Civ, you may be a long, long time before researching Shipbuilding since it would be both Expensive and of little use. But if there are Horses in your area (and the Horse Resource was NOT universal even on the Eurasian Landmass until well after the nominal 4000 BCE Start of Game) others may be 'adopting' your Horse-related Techs for centuries and trying to catch up to you in Horse Riding, Mounted Archery, Wheeled Vehicles, and other related technologies throughout the first X turns of the game.
 
That doesn't make some Techs completely Out of Reach: starting from a different basis, the Ming Chinese replicated Western European steam ship/steam warship building technology within a generation, including building modern cannon, steel hulls and engines - but they were helped by being able to send their people to western schools (specifically, to American Universities) and having already achieved the organization and background for a much higher 'starting point' than hunter-gatherers had.
I think you mean the Qing? The Ming dynasty fell roughly 150 years before American independence. The Qing sent many promising young men to American universities to study naval construction and tactics as part of the Self-Strengthening Movement.

The system you are suggesting is reminiscent of tech trading from civ 4, which I would love to see make a return. You could simply buy techs off other civs in that game.
I will say that horse husbandry confounded many cultures for a very long time. Horses today are far larger, hardier and calmer around humans than earlier breeds. You can look at how relatively slow the adoption of horses in Mesopotamia was as an example; the knowledge required to keep a healthy population of horses in that environment was like re-inventing the wheel.
 
I think you mean the Qing? The Ming dynasty fell roughly 150 years before American independence. The Qing sent many promising young men to American universities to study naval construction and tactics as part of the Self-Strengthening Movement.

The system you are suggesting is reminiscent of tech trading from civ 4, which I would love to see make a return. You could simply buy techs off other civs in that game.
I will say that horse husbandry confounded many cultures for a very long time. Horses today are far larger, hardier and calmer around humans than earlier breeds. You can look at how relatively slow the adoption of horses in Mesopotamia was as an example; the knowledge required to keep a healthy population of horses in that environment was like re-inventing the wheel.
Thanks for the correction.
Some horses are far larger. It is a myth that the earliest horses had to be 'bred up' before they were big enough: there were 4 different species of Horse in Eurasia, ranging from a pony-sized in eastern Europe to an average 14-hand high breed in Mongolia - which puts them in the lower size range for a modern riding horse.

On the other hand, humans bred horses for domesticability, and apparently there are two genes which were crucial to making horses docile enough to be tamed, domesticated and useful. People were so thorough that today there are no 'wild' horses - every modern horse has the Domestication genes in it.

On yet another hand, those four species were the only modern horses, so at Start of Game there would/should be NO horse resources available to not only no American Civs, but also none in Africa, western Europe, the Middle East, India, China or southeast Asia. They had to be introduced into all those areas, mostly after the initial breeding for domestication had been completed. - And by the way, the horse didn't get to the Mesopotamia area until after 2500 BCE, which is why the early Sumerian 'War Carts' were drawn by non-horse equine species - donkeys or hybrids with semi-domesticated wild equines. (And let's have a shout-out to the 'other equine' - the donkey, which was actually domesticated AFTER the horse by several centuries, but has the advantage of being more adapted to dry semi-desert climates and a much faster pack or draft animal than oxen, so it sped up the nomadism of desert tribes considerably before the camel was domesticated centuries later)
 
I also agree that despite the "progressiveness" of the Tech Tree is exagerated, it would be better to keep it this way mostly for gamedesign/gameplay reasons. Same for the separation of Ideologies (goverment/civics/policies) as a different and more unique system that not works just as a second Tech Tree, instead as a "trigger action>event>decision>ideological change" Mission System related to Denizens, being the Ideologies specializing, exclusive, with pros&cons and narrative value.

But also agree that a diffusion system for technologies must be part of their mechanics as a way to boost underdeveloped branches (still be the first and/or develop a tech by yourself should provide some research prestige and/or tradition bonus). By the way also must remember my preference for tech research by "city project-like" lines of research slots, that instead of spend previously accumulated science yield, they start accumulating science by progressing in the project and when completed it is added to your global science total that allows you to advance eras.
 
I'm glad you asked. Been thinking about that for a long time.

As @pineappledan commented right after you, there have been various 'gimmicks' tried, like tech 'webs' and tech 'wheels', and even SMAC's 'Blind' tech tree in which you didn't actually research a specific tech at all, but an Area of Interest which led to specific techs.

I think the 'non-linear' tech advance could better be modeled by going back to the Reality we are trying to model. And we have the advantage that Civ VI already implemented something along the lines I'm going to propose, in the Eureka system.

The difference is, I'd make the Eurekas not a Bonus to research but a Requirement for research.
Bluntly, if you have no cities on the coast you ain't going to waste your time researching Shipbuilding. What's that? You want to research shipbuilding and you don't think any game should tell you not to do something? Fine, but researching shipbuilding without the Prerequisite Condition will cost you 2 - 3 times more 'research' - and so probably be prohibitive.

BUT I would also include the aspect that has been left out of the game recently, that just knowing that Someone Else can do something makes it much, much easier to do it. Tech Diffusion/Borrowing/Stealing should be very real in-game, and a 'short-cut' to many Techs. As an example, the Haida adopted the sailing technology from seeing European ships so fast on their big dug-out Head Canoes that many European observers thought they had invented it independently! Likewise, the obvious utility of the horse for both transport and combat made the adoption of horse tack, saddle, training and riding almost instantaneous in game terms by the American Natives of the southern plains, and it is now suspected that adoption of Horseback Riding from observation may have happened just as fast in Central Asia - along with spoked wheel chariots and mounted archery, which seem to have spread outwards in all directions from a point somewhere north of the Caspian Sea.

This 'diffusion mechanism' will require a lot of research and tweaking, because some technologies don't diffuse/borrow well: horses and their use were both obvious and easily adopted, but no native group in America ever started building their own rifles and ammunition: the industrial processes of working steel and chemical engineering required to produce gunpowder had too many 'intermediate steps' from the native starting point to be replicable.

That doesn't make some Techs completely Out of Reach: starting from a different basis, the Ming Chinese replicated Western European steam ship/steam warship building technology within a generation, including building modern cannon, steel hulls and engines - but they were helped by being able to send their people to western schools (specifically, to American Universities) and having already achieved the organization and background for a much higher 'starting point' than hunter-gatherers had.

A system like this will inevitably lead to 'non-linear'. or at least 'non-identical' tech advances. If you are strictly an inland Civ, you may be a long, long time before researching Shipbuilding since it would be both Expensive and of little use. But if there are Horses in your area (and the Horse Resource was NOT universal even on the Eurasian Landmass until well after the nominal 4000 BCE Start of Game) others may be 'adopting' your Horse-related Techs for centuries and trying to catch up to you in Horse Riding, Mounted Archery, Wheeled Vehicles, and other related technologies throughout the first X turns of the game.
Requiring a eureka moment to initially learn the technology would be interesting indeed, and something that I wouldn't necessarily mind.
I still think representing it as a tree towards a single end goal would still be practical. If you look how Babylon does it, they are even able to skip the prerequisites.
 
sir, this is a Wendy’s.

I only brought up the tech tree in the first place because replicating it into a culture tree was bad and dumb. That wasn’t an invitation to start talking about tech trees. Lets get this thread back on topic, and start a new one or necro an old one if people want to talk about techs?
 
Requiring a eureka moment to initially learn the technology would be interesting indeed, and something that I wouldn't necessarily mind.
I still think representing it as a tree towards a single end goal would still be practical. If you look how Babylon does it, they are even able to skip the prerequisites.
Huh, that's a thought I'd never considered. I think for that to work, eureka/inspiration triggers would have to be completely reworked so that they don't lead to insurmountable roadblocks. I'm not sure I love the idea, but it's certainly something different than just having the blue points and purple points fill up the buckets every turn.

I can't conceive of how a non-linear tech tree would work, but I think it'd be exciting if pulled off correctly. It would help each game be less samey. I always play with the randomized tech/civic tree mode anyway (which I hope returns as an option in Civ 7).
 
blowing up culture into its own tech tree was, in my opinion, a mistake. Many of the culture unlocks only gave cards or government types that you might never use, because they require finite slots that they compete with other cards. the culture tree needed to give more permanent bonuses that aren’t mutually exclusive.

From a thematic standpoint, I really don’t like the Whiggish portrayal of culture and society as a progressive, inexorable march towards a single endpoint (which happens to look exactly like British industrial capitalism). The tech tree already has this problem of historical inevitability, and it doesn’t need to be replicated in the culture mechanics.

Civ5’s policy tree had its own problem, in that it was just pure snowballing yield inflation. Policies were permanent bonuses arranged in parallel mini-trees, and you could mix and match between policies. Simply having enough policies or tech allowed you to progress to the next set of 3 mini-trees, and you could adopt as many as you could afford. This had an elegance and simplicity to it, but at some point the combined power of all the policies overtakes and drowns the civ’s unique character.

I think a civ5-style is closer to the mark, but in civ7 I think they should add the ability to abolish earlier policies at any time for an instant % cost reduction towards adopting your next policy. At some point, the raw culture cost of your next policy will be far higher than what you initially paid for your first policies, and you will have to weigh keeping your the older policies and their bonuses Vs their instant :c5culture: value if they are liquidated for further progress towards later, more powerful policies. This would mean that policies are not strictly competing for space for card slots, but there is still a tension between having more, earlier policies with small bonuses vs progressing faster through the trees to get to later policies with bigger bonuses.

P.S. My opinion re: the policy card system is that it could be merged with the Governor mechanic, if it were to exist at all. I think it’s generally agreed that the governors in civ 6 were kinda bad, but I could see the idea returning if it worked more like city-specific government slots. Different policy trees could unlock different Governor types with specific slots and access to certain cards that they instantly have access to, instead of having to unlock them through a tech progression.
I only just now discovered this thread, and I must say that this post reminds me of Errant Signal's video on Civ5 from about a decade ago. I know that video called that instalment's approach to politics "a step backwards" compared to Civ4, as in the government only ever getting better & stronger vs giving up one set of bonuses for another in order to adjust to new material conditions. Civ5 was in that sense, by far the most Whiggish instalment when it came to government. Meanwhile, Civ6 feels like a compromise between the two systems; you still unlock new social constructs through Culture, but the gameplay loop of switching between different bonuses is at least somewhat re-introduced, and it was all-in-all a step in the right direction, since I never liked the idea of unlocking new government types through Science (unless we're talking about government forms that literally requires advanced tech to even exist, e.g. AI-run technocracy), but I also think that mutual exclusivity gives more interesting choices more often than "which tree should I unlock/complete first?"

Another solution would be to just have all the different possible forms of government unlocked right at the start of the game, if we're really serious about combatting the questionable idea of "more advanced equals better". To reflect upon this even further, the different types would probably also need to be given significant amount of asymmetry, i.e. each choice have their own distinct set of both bonuses and maluses. That should convey the sense of governance evolution being less of an upgrade, and more as, well, adaption to the surrounding environment
 
At first blush, I like the idea of different "decks" of cards. It reminds me both of the Civ4 civics (groups/sets of civics) and Civ5 social policies. The current Civ6 choice of governments serves mostly as a "virtual rack" to slot cards into, with the cards spanning multiple ages and centuries.

One would need to be thoughtful about the cards included in the "deck" for merchant republic, monarchy, communism, or whatever the Civ7 labels are. If one government lacks cards in an area, or its cards are weak, then players might never choose it. One would also need to be thoughtful about the cost of change. I liked the differing degrees of anarchy that resulted from changing governments in Civ3 and changing civics in Civ4. In Civ3, the cost went up based on the number of cities the player had. In Civ4, the cost went up based on the magnitude of the change, as described here.

Having a separate slot (or slots) for city cards, in parallel with the overall government slots, is also appealing. It makes some macro/micro decisions about cards in the present Civ6 easier. I no longer have to choose between a bonus for trade routes against a bonus for cities with a governor.

Civics could work like a mini deck builder: No more unlocking the entire tree as a default, why should you after all it's not like the real world has everyone unlock all the civics. The UK and US, the world's oldest still functioning democracies, still haven't unlocked voting more advanced than "first past the post" as just one example.

This way the civics tree could go from a copycat of the tech tree to something totally different: a mini deck builder. You can't unlock the whole tree, you only ever have enough points to unlock certain things at a time. Maybe if you go down the "State controlled economy" branch a good ways one game but suddenly could really use "market economy branch" but that would take a while, what do you do? Well you have to play the cards you already have as best you can instead, that entire branch would cost time and resources you might not have.

Thinking on civics, and politics, this way makes "cards take resources to play" make even more sense. In a trading card game almost all cards take resources to play, this should be the same.
 
Just throwing some ideas out there..

For a civ 6 policy card system a second dimension could be added based on you past actions. The more surprise wars you start the less effective some "peaceful" policies become and at some point become unavailable. The more wonders you build the more effective "engineering" cards become.

For a new type of "tree" it could be hexagonal map with values assigned to sides. You add hexes (tech/civics) by matching the sides to the existing puzzle. You start off with "code of laws" which has 6 ancient wildcard sides (wildcard in the card game sense where they can match with any other size). You can add "god king" with one of its 3 ancient religious sides and 3 ancient mercantile sides.

I can't conceive of how a non-linear tech tree would work, but I think it'd be exciting if pulled off correctly. It would help each game be less samey. I always play with the randomized tech/civic tree mode anyway (which I hope returns as an option in Civ 7).

I think there would have to be at least on linear tree to go along with the no-linear trees. There would be assumptions such as you can discover democracy (non-linear tree) at any time but it become much more effective when you discover printing (linear tree).
 
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