Civ is about the map. Until it isn’t. Ed Beech and the Firaxis team succeeded with Civilization VI. You now play the map when you play Civ. There’s no longer one path to victory; instead, the best path is determined by your territory. But where Ed and the team succeeded, they also failed. The failure of Civ is that after the classical era, the map just doesn’t matter any more. Early game (Ancient, Classical). People often say that the early game is the most fun. Why? I think it’s because in the early game, ie ancient and classical eras, you have meaningful competition over territory. You’re rushing to settle open territory, you’re fighting to hold onto it or trying to conquer more. And the territory you settle, capture or lose is meaningful: luxuries you can sell for gold, or bonus resources or natural wonders that provide game changing science or culture or growth, or mountains and hills which are ripe for district adjacency or production, or finding game changing iron or horses. Sure, there are other reasons the early game is great: the AI is more competitive militarily, you haven’t started snowballing yet, and you don’t yet have so many cities, units and traders that admin becomes a grind. But I think what really drives the fun is you are not so much just competing with other Civs, but competing with them over something. That something is territory. And that competition matters, because the territory matters. Mid game (Medieval to Industrial). It’s the mid game where the map starts to stop mattering, and where the fun starts dropping off. The mid game should be about warring states, constantly fighting to hold their home borders, or expanding them by taking land from other major and minor nations. As the mid game progresses, it should also become about expanding your empire to foreign shores and the start of (basically) colonialism. This should be a race to discover and settle; but also a battle to win over or conquer new (and sometimes more primitive) people and cultures; and a battle to take territory from other powerful nations also trying to expand beyond their continent, or to win or hold the loyalty of these distant colonies and peoples. But Civ doesn’t deliver that, even after R&F. There are maybe still some border skirmishes in the mid game. You might grab a neighbouring city or two, by conquest or loyalty flipping, if it’s got particularly good infrastructure and resources, or maybe to hobble an opponent, or it’s just particular vulnerable. But it’s pretty limited. And the cities you grab are starting to not provide a significant enough return on investment to be worth grabbing. Warmongering too makes conquest hard by turning everyone against you, locking you out of the diplomatic game (even if that is actually perhaps a realistic response to a warmonger in the rampage). But if border wars are limited, then sadly expanding to foreign shores is almost non-existent. The mid game should be when you’re setting sail, exploring and discovering new cultures which you can conquer, or learn from, or assimilate. And these colonies should provide the potential for great rewards, so much that other great Civs fight over how to divide and control these riches. That doesn’t happen. Instead, if you do venture abroad, you find either great swathes of uninhabited land or other Civs usually at the same tech level as you. There are no alien cultures; no technologically inferior people resisting your imperial conquest or to otherwise befriend and protect. And there’s very little return on your investment anyway: these late cities are unlikely to pay for themselves, and there’s no real special benefit for settling abroad bar for certain Civs (eg Spain). There is no spice trade. No opium wars. No dividing the world between Portugal and Spain. There is no age of empires and colonies. You’re better just staying home and running projects. Late game (Industrial onwards). The late game is where territorial expansion should really shift gears, and become about spheres of influence, regional alliances, and controlling key territory. Yes, there may be wars, and territory and borders might change hands. But, save for maybe some old colonial empires fragmenting, usually “nations” and their “core” territory stay broadly the same and what matters is who is in charge of these nations and who are they loyal to. But there’s none of that. By the late game, there are only the same major Civs from the start of the game (minus a few who have been eliminated), and some remaining City States. There are no spheres of influence, just “your territory” and “not your territory”; and the territory itself doesn’t matter now - late game strategic resources are nowhere near as game changing as iron and horses, and new cities or other resources now provide minimal return on investment. Seriously, how is it oil isn’t not game changing? All that matters in the late game is how many rainforests you have left to chop in your space port. The AI isn’t really the problem. Read the forums, and you’ll read comments about the AI, balance issues, features people want, and user interface. Many of these comments are valid and I respect them completely. People play Civ for different reasons, want different things, or have different ideas how the game should work. But to my mind, the fundamental reason Civ’s mid and late game is boring, the real source of frustration, is that the game actually stops after about the Medieval era. You stop having meaningful competition over territory. In the real world, and this a massive (and no doubt ill-informed) generalisation, competition over territory has never stopped, albeit the way we compete and what territory “matters” has changed drastically. R&F has not really addressed this, bar perhaps loyalty extending and expanding territorial conflict a little in the mid game. Civ is still a pretty good game. My comments don’t come from any authority. I don’t work in video games, game design or even IT / computers. I’m not an expert player. I don’t even really play other video games and haven’t played previous versions of Civ. My views are from the cheap seats. Take them with a grain of salt. Or ignore them completely. I love Civ VI. It’s a game which wears its heart on its sleeve. It is patently a game designed and built by people who are themselves enthusiasts and aware of its history and it’s appeal. And, by God, that early game is awesome, and only more so after R&F. And the mid to late game, for all I’ve said, is good enough. Civ is a game with grand ambitions: the sweep of history, grand strategy, and a bit of roleplaying and humour. It makes a real fist of it. But I wish it was better. And, sometimes, I’m frustrated that it’s not. I don’t want to turn this into an ideas thread. I really just wanted to put down my thoughts on expansion. But I think it’s worth discussing some possible solutions to help clarify how I see the problem. First, from about the Medieval Era onwards, the game needs some sort of layer of actors between Civs and City States. Maybe barbarians could become “junior civs”, or maybe City States could expand to take this role, or maybe just small nations “emerge”. I don’t know. But the game needs another layer of people in the mid game that can resist or aid expansion, and that Civs can discover, fight to influence and or conquer or even liberate. At some point, there should stop being empty space on the map, and the occupied space should be a mix of Major Civs, Smaller Nations those Civs compete over or use, and City States. Second, there needs to be a way to interact with this additional layer of “actors” or minor states. Perhaps you start by just conquering or befriending. But later in the game, as this layer become more like small nations, you should be able to influence or dominate them more diplomatically (eg vassals). Third, the rewards for gaining territory later in the game need to scale. Perhaps in the mid game colonial cities just give more yields or Era score, or let you establish ‘super’ trade routes. Perhaps when you have smaller nations, vassals improve yields in your own key cities or grant you more diplomatic clout. Coal, Oil and Uranium should be game changing, instead of just unlocking more units. You should be able to have a huge sprawling territory like Russia or the Ottomans; or be a relatively small state (such as maybe Japan) which reaches across the globe diplomatically or commercially and that it’s allies will never fail to defend. But either way, you should have and control an empire, not just a collection of cities and spaceports. But what do I know. I’m just a CivAddict with too much time on his hands. (And if you made it this far; sorry for the long rambling post.) TL;DR: Civ is fun in the early game because you’re having meaningful competition over territory. The game gets boring in the mid and late game because that competition stops.