I've been stuck with only a tablet for a bit, so went back and loaded up Civ V to see how it compared as a final product to Civ VI as a final product. It made me realize that for all the conveniences and improvements to Civ VI (an in-game clock!), there was always something about Civ VI that seemed to be missing: emergent storytelling. TL;DR: Civ VI is better in almost every way except in the thing that I liked most about Civ V, which was its feeling of emergent storytelling, and I think the cause is Civ VI's agenda system. Here's the scenario: I started out as Morocco on a nice desert floodplain. I quickly realized that I was pinned between an ocean on one side and two city-states on the other. I needed space to expand. On the other side of the city-states was the Maya, who had pledged to protect both. I focused on building up my military, and raiding and weakening the nearest city-state. Pacal warned me to leave it alone, and I blew him off. My second attack resulted in the Maya declaring war and advancing with a large army of inexperienced and obsolete units, who I slaughtered in a pitched battle across the river. I then advanced and conquered the nearest city-state. Why it matters: Now I may have no idea what the AI was "thinking," but that scenario is as clear as anything Thucydides would write. I had obvious reasons for doing what I was doing, and the Maya had obvious reasons for doing what they were doing. I needed to expand, and the Maya needed to maintain a buffer state and uphold their credibility. OF COURSE I had more experienced and upgraded units, because I was focused on military expansion. OF COURSE the Maya threw a large, unprepared army against me, because it had to build its forces quickly once it realized the threat and while it still could benefit from the nearby city-state units. Whether that was the result of good AI or just happenstance is kind of irrelevant, because it's the kind of thing that I recall happening in most of my Civ V games, where my mind was always able to ascribe clear motives to the AI's moves. That's just not something that happens in the Civ VI, and I think that's why the game has always felt unsatisfying despite its leaps forward in game mechanics and its vast array of leaders and civilizations. If I had to guess why Civ VI lacks a sense of emerging storytelling, I'd guess that it's the fault of the agenda system. In theory, an agenda system sounds cool - hey, leaders are people too, and they have biases. But in practice, it creates random incentives and disincentives that don't seem to have any real weight to them. The AI attacks you just because. It wants to trade with you just because. It wants what it wants for no real reason and with no rational explanation. If there's something to be learned from this, it's that Civ VII could improve by losing the agenda system. I don't blame Firaxis for trying it - it was worth a shot! But some things just don't work out. The name of the game is "Civilization," not "Leader," and tying a civ's story to the whims of one regent makes the game actually feel less realistic, not more. After all, in real life, heads of state do lots of things they aren't interested in because they need to shore up political support. LBJ wanted to create a huge welfare state in the USA; he wound up micromanaging a war in East Asia. My suggestion: Firaxis, you like 1/3 new. How about the 1/3 new being rotating leaders? If a leader's agenda is at odds with the needs of that civilization, that leader is replaced with someone who will [push back the enemy/improve happiness/fix the budget crisis]. It would put new emphasis on the long-term interests of a Civ. It could create new mini-games/strategies in that players could try to get hostile leaders switched out with politicians more amenable to your civ. It would be more realistic, since countries do change leaders and vice-versa. And it would allow for all sorts of new gameplay mechanics, such as democracy being advantageous in that its changes of leaders are less disruptive but occur more often, whereas monarchies are the opposite. What say you, Civ fans?