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[GS] Civ VI lacks tension

Discussion in 'Civ6 - General Discussions' started by acluewithout, May 10, 2019.

  1. Trav'ling Canuck

    Trav'ling Canuck Warlord Supporter

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    I'm personally okay with the Civ series evolving beyond 4x. For me, the interesting aspects of the game are struggling with the tension involved with dealing with your neighbours and the internal challenge of growing your empire. What I dislike is moving towards the pure Sim-Civ model where there's no tension from external forces, only internal ones. I'm also not happy that those internal ones have been toned down; or, more accurately, that even at higher difficulty levels there's little challenge to managing your empire, I'm fine with that being easy when playing Chieftain level.
     
  2. Bitterman

    Bitterman Chieftain

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    I didn't say that would make it perfect, but 100 times better yes. Just imagine being totally able to lose the game after classical. Would't that add tension to the game? Most people here complaning about other things would probably forget them if that were the case. Your mind would be busy trying to survive.

    Of course it has other problems, but you can already adress many of them with mods. This is not the case with the horrible AI.
     
  3. acluewithout

    acluewithout Warlord

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    I don’t think improving the AI would actually add much tension.

    My point is that Civ goes from being an amazing 4X game in the early eras to a very boring “sprint” from the mid game onwards as you race towards your victory condition. The problem is that a “sprint” is inherently passive (because the main thing you focus on is just yourself) and boring (no strategic decisions; just optimising). Fundamentally, and sprint mechanic lacks a “game loop” and it’s a strong core game loop that usually makes video games really fun.

    Improving the AI would be very welcome. But it wouldn’t change the core problem causing a lack of tension.

    Improve the AI and the AI would be better at War. That would make late game war harder, so it would be harder to capture more territory. But why are you capturing territory late game? At that point, you don’t really need more land. And there’s no other strategic reasons to war or conquer other than maybe capturing a particular Wonder (the AI should really stop building “my” pyramids) or resource (blood and oil) or getting a tonne of envoys, and all that is pretty marginal. It’s not like the game has strategic trade hubs that you need to control or you need to guarantee access to some fresh water port.

    Improve the AI and it would be better at racing to victory itself and disrupting the player’s plans (and resisting the player’s attempt to do the same). That would be great if the AI could do that, and it would make the race to the more challenging. But my point is that a race to the finish is just inherently boring and passive.

    I was thinking about Civ V. That game really punished wide, and created powerful incentives to go tall, and that wasn’t fun. FXS were right to push players wider in Civ VI, with some incentive to have a few high pop cities and mechanics that let players go against the meta and play tall if they really wanted to. The game is about empires, and so it should encourage you to build an empire, and that means wide.

    But I think FXS missed a subtle point. IMO, Civ V’s problem isn’t that it made wide hard, it’s that it incentivised tall. Civ VI makes wide easy but and created incentives for wide in the early game. But here’s the thing. What it should have done is made wide hard but keep the incentives for wide and extend them for the whole game.

    At the moment, it’s fairly easy to expand your empire in the early game. It gets very challenging to keep expanding from the medieval era onwards, but worse there’s no reason to keep expanding. So, you don’t. You stop expanding. And just focus on the race to the end.

    I think the late game would be more exciting if

    (1) there were more ways to expand in the late game, eg vassals, cultural influence, whatever. (Actually, the game isn’t too bad there. There are ways to keep expanding eg loyalty flipping. But it is a bit limiting having only one way to own a city - i.e. it’s part of your empire).

    (2) there was more of a driver for expanding late game other than just more territory (which isn’t a good incentive).

    One idea I had was having colonial cities generate diplomatic favour, maybe via a diplomacy card. If you tweaked the other sources of diplomatic favour, you’d have strong reason to get cities on to foreign continents and so wrestle with the challenges that creates.

    Having key trade modes that pop up late game and that you compete to control would also maybe work. Or maybe if you have x cities you can link them up into a region (like a multi city super city), so you’re maybe forced to capture a few neighbouring cities to complete your set and found a region.

    The game does need a better AI, particularly as the current game design does emphasise challenge coming from outside forces rather than internal empire management. But more fundamentally, the late game needs to have a point to; a fundamental strategic challenge; a strong core game loop. And I think the best “loop” would be to keep momentum on the explore and expand aspects of the game.
     
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  4. _ViKinG_

    _ViKinG_ Chieftain

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    Why capturing territory late game? I like having wars with modern units. Or we dont need late game units to be used maybe ? I agree they could add more stuff in late game than just get more territory
     
  5. glider1

    glider1 Chieftain

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    Basically at the moment an empire in civ is just a blob that generates yields. There is nothing to control except for the integrity of the blob and yield faster than everyone else. You can conquer but often you are in stalemate and can't.
    Your "territory" has to be dependent on networks to thrive.
    Early game you grow your territory, late game you grow your networks.
    Military bases are one form of network. Trade routes should have to be protected as a vital network. Diplomatic networks etc etc. Vital supply chains.

    But it is all too complicated for the AI and also too complicated for humans that just get angry and spit the dummy when their networks break down then complain that they aren't having fun that they paid for.
     
  6. Zenstrive

    Zenstrive Arabian King

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    Actually after Rise and Fall, many of the era points on medieval onward got to do with doing things to your neighbours: spying, killing their units, taking their capitals, flipping cities.
     
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  7. juanpavo

    juanpavo Chieftain

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    But it can be more than that. Imagine an AI that knows how to bring a mid- to late-game war to you, with tanks, artillery, bombers, etc., enough to make you sweat. I call that tension.
     
  8. acluewithout

    acluewithout Warlord

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    Yeah, maybe.

    The late game does allow for lots of conflict - war (by late game, it covers land, sea and air), spies, loyalty, rock bands. Competitions are another source of conflict too in a way. Religion is also a kind of conquest / conflict mechanic.

    But there’s not really anything to fight over. I can capture territory, but by that stage of the game I don’t need just more territory. I can try distrupting my opponents, but I’d probably be better off just focusing on racing to my own victory faster. And I can defend the AI’s attempts to disrupt me - but that’s not strategy, it’s just avoiding distraction.

    And the conflict is very one dimensional. Really, the only outcomes are capture city (in which case it immediately becomes just another city in your empire save for cities with a unique wonder or critical resources maybe), extract gold / resources etc via peace deal, and or pillage.

    The only exception are liberating city states - which gets you envoys and maybe suzerain and could have a diplomatic or suze bonus dividend - or emergencies which can have a reward. You might also improve relations with allies because joint wars etc make civs more favourable to you.

    Look. I get it. If the AI was better, late game conflict would be better, there would be more competition for victory, and that would create more challenge. I don’t disagree and would very much like some better AI.

    But even with the AI firing on all engines, Civ’s late game doesn’t have a strong core game loop like the early game. The game goes from being a 4X game to a sprint race - and sprint races are kinda dull. If the AI was better, then the sprint would be more challenging because the AI would also be racing you and trying to trip you up. But regardless, and sprint to the finish is still just kinda dull.

    What I’m saying is this: the early game is about competing to control territory. That creates a game loop that is incredibly fun. To be as fun, the late game should do the same thing. You should continue to compete to control territory. The competition should be harder, but the rewards should be greater too. Instead, what we have now is that late game expansion is harder (which I’m okay with), you have some cool new toys to help you expand (dedications, new units, whatever), but fundamentally there’s less reward for expanding.

    To make late game expansion more rewarding you maybe need different ways to control territory beyond just capturing cities. Like, maybe there’s some new mechanic that makes some cities more strategically important than others because they’re a trade node. Maybe you can vassal cities and that improves your diplomatic influence or something. Maybe you have “spheres of influences”.

    But yeah. There you go. If all we get from future patches and another expansion is a better AI and more challenging conflict late game between the player and AI, plus maybe a few more options for fighting those conflicts (dunno, super rock bands? girl bands? DJs?) then ... yeah, I’d be okay with that. And would probably still play the game for hours.

    But I think Civ could be better than that.
     
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  9. Morningcalm

    Morningcalm Keeper of Records

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    Maybe the mid to late game needs new continents to be discovered, expanding the map (these continents would only appear at a certain point in the game). Would certainly keep exploration a viable interest in that time period, and the rush for settlers would become important again (as it stands, it's mostly important early and mid-game only). Most Civ games exploration post-Renaissance is virtually useless since you know where most things are already.
     
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  10. Zenstrive

    Zenstrive Arabian King

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    On my Matthias playthrough (King, Detailed Continent, Huge): Kongo was about to win cultura victory, and I can't win anything if I just focusing on my kingdom. So what the heck, I popped several bombers and began taking civs after civs until I won a science victory. Kongo's culture victory was canceled since his tourism progress is less than Mongol's tourism progress (go figure)
     
  11. Bitterman

    Bitterman Chieftain

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    There are already some mechanism for what you refer:

    -From medieval onwards, religion should be much more important than it is right now. Expanding your religion to another civ without religion should earn you something beneficial apart from some yields. And should change the way they play their game, so everyone would be involved in the religious game, somewhat. Expanding your religion to another civ with its own religion should be a great risk / great reward movement, sprawling holy wars, diplomatic conflicts and unexpected alliances. In other words, other players must "feel" that their population got converted to a foreign religion and should not be able to ignore this fact.

    -Industrialization should have more weight in the general gameplay. Those who invested in religion during medieval / early renaissance should pay now, watching how the others get the first industrial production yields and new resources that allow them to do things that other will have to wait some more time to do. Religion should still have its importance, but those who heavily invested in it in the first third of the game have to play now around the fact that their neighbours have a slightly advantage over them.

    -From the atomic era onwards ideologies should be the center of the game. Somewhat like in CIV V, picking one or another means getting into one team or another. You shouldn't be able to maintain strong alliances with someone who has a different ideologie and vice versa. At some point, some kind of militar conflict which involves all civs (or at least most of them) should happen. Preparing for it and trying to win (this is very duable with the emergency mechanic) would be enough for enyone to not get bored.

    -The last part of the game should have tourism and diplomacy as the main factors. War is now something expensive, both economic and diplomatically speaking, so you try to mess with the others with some other subtle means. That is, tourism, spying, loyalty, something that greatly affects amenities... You try to get influent with other players (and this should get you some great benefit in return) or get their votes so you can control the congress and beat your enemies there with embargos and so on.

    All of this is very duable with the systems that are already in the game, but I sincerely doubt FXS will do something even remotely similar. They are aware that the ones here are a minority. Civ V and Civ VI are the most played strategic games in steam. The sum of them probably outnumber all of those of Paradox in a normal day, and one of the reasons behind this is the ease of getting into the game and how easy is to win for someone new. The other (and this is just my opinion) is mods. This game is so moddable (or more likely will be) that everyone can basically play exactly the game they want to play. We just have to be patient and wait. I hope.

    PD: Sorry for grammar errors but I have to write fast now.
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2019
  12. Victoria

    Victoria Regina Supporter

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    War is its own economy. Deterrence is expensive, war can be quite profitable to a country but is complex.
    it should be very important in the Medieval and in game this is when religious units are at their strongest. Historically religion became ineffectual with rationalism.

    One could argue that corporations become the new religions. Certainly religions use corporations.

    This forum shows such a variation in ideas that it shows the game designers also have much variation in their approach. Time and compromise as also factors. I am not surprised few ideas see the light of day.

    What are the tensions in modern life anyway? 3rd word civs still struggle with food and medicine. A lot of the issues faced (including global warming) are in fact population based.
    They should be speeding up population growth in the modern ages and having effects based on that. But that is just one of 1000 ideas posted never to see the light of day.
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2019
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  13. Boris Gudenuf

    Boris Gudenuf Warlord

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    Let me comment some more, building both on the comments above and on IRL Historical mechanisms that the game lacks now, and could use. I'm going to stick to the '4X' framework, because I really think it's the way to increase Tension/Enjoyment/Playability in the mid and late game.

    1. EXplore
    First of all, the game needs a good 'Terra' or 'Terra Incognita' style map: one in which All Civs start on one continent or set of connected continents, and about 1/3 of the landmass on the map is in a separate Continent/set of continents in the other half of the map, reachable only by Oceanic travel. And that separate landmass has Resources not available at all in the landmass where all the Civs start, so there are really good reasons to want to go there. That would, at least, extend the Exploration 'phase' of the game to the beginning of the Industrial Era.
    And I think the other possibility is to make it necessary to 're-explore' the Map. Make, as stated earlier, Resources appear based on new Technologies. Divide Resource deposits into normal and Industrial Quantities, and to feed your Factories the Industrial are required, so that your dinky little surface deposit of Iron disappears in the Industrial Era (or changes to Industrial because you've only scratched the surface so far). Needing new resources by type and quantity would push Exploration into the Modern Era at least.

    2. EXpand
    We aren't gong to get an Infinite Map, so at some point in the game, Expansion becomes a Zero-Sum Game: for you to expand, it has to be at Someone else's expense. Historically, this meant conquest of new territories and peoples, absorption of same, or Combining with same and holding the Combine together by really good advantages to those involved (Rome) or shared Culture/Ethnicity/language (China, for one). In the Modern and later Eras, Combine, as in International organizations, runs a constant tension with Nationalism/Exclusivity - making for a very complex potential set of interactions and mechanisms between becoming strong enough in some way to 'go it alone' or convincing your people that you can afford to Absorb the neighbors without cultural penalties.

    Yet an entirely different possibility is to make City Founding subject to Real Penalties. Nobody started a city in the Tundra until relatively modern times - the technology of food production/distribution just wasn't there, and in fact a slight cooling of the area could cause human settlements to be abandoned and the 'settlement line' to move south (this may have happened in Scandinavia and central Asia, and it happened to the Scandinavian settlers in Greenland with catastrophic results). Settlements in rainforest/jungle areas by people not native to that type of climate/terrain was also a very 'ify' proposition: the mortality rate among early European settlers in the Caribbean exceeded 50% almost everywhere - try building a city in Civ VI when 1 out of every 2 population points disappears every X turns! Introducing mechanisms like these could leave room for settling New Cities in the Industrial and later Eras.

    Yet another form of Expansion, mentioned in one of the Posts above, would be to model that massive increase in population and size of cities in the Modern and later Eras. This would both give you a set of new opportunities to get more out of Mega-Cities, but also give you a whole new set of problems in managing Mega-Cities - food, amenities, etc. No new cities or city sites, but a whole new set of considerations in keeping your old cities from revolution and ruin.

    3. EXploit
    New resources to exploit by type (new continent) or quantity (Industrial Quantities, depletion of old deposits), but also the Religion Diplomacy, Trade mechanics to exploit throughout the game.

    First, Railroads should massively change Trade from the Industrial Era on, and so their finance, construction, and negotiation for construction internationally could be a whole new 'mini-game' - with successful results enhancing military, diplomatic, cultural (access to Resorts, Wonders and Parks at a minimum) and Industrial/Production all over the map.

    Second, Religion from the Renaissance Era on changes its type of importance: from pure Faith/Diplomatic to potentially Diplomatic/Cultural/Nationalistic (Ideology). Some Beliefs should dwindle in Importance, others arise or 'morph' into something New: Religion, like resources, should be Dynamic to keep you from being able to ignore it all later in the game.

    Third, International Diplomacy from early in the game should have more possibilities. Just for starters, City State equivalents IRL, banded together in Leagues for mutual support and protection. Put that in the game, and imagine trying to attack a City State when the nearest 3 other City States add their armies to the conflict against you. Diplomacy Required First, then attack. On the other hand, imagine getting Suzereignty with a City State and it gets you Diplomatic/Trade bonuses with 3 - 4 other City States. Imagine becoming the chief city (a form of Advanced Suzereignty?) of a League (as Athens did), and adopting Inclusive Policies (as Athens Didn't) and getting City States to join your Civ Voluntarily? Exploiting Diplomacy to Expand - why not?

    As stated above, Ideology takes the place of, or expands on, Religion. IF Religion becomes Dynamic, with later-game Beliefs becoming available and earlier Beliefs becoming 'obsolete', then some of the later Beliefs are going to cross the line into Ideology, and that in turn will influence Culture and Diplomacy - and internal Civilization/City Management and Government Type.
    Potentially, then, you could get entirely new Resource, Religion/Ideology, Diplomacy/Government systems in the late game (certainly from Industrial/Modern Eras on) to deal with, exploit, or succumb to.

    4. EXterminate
    It's outside the direct scope here, but most of the Units, Unit Factors, Promotions, Resource Requirements, and influences on Units from Diplomacy, Religion and Resources need to change. Putting it bluntly, right now that entire set of systems Sucks Like a Starving Leach, but that's the subject of another one of my interminably long posts.

    What can be discussed is what you should be able to do with units: loan or sell them to other Civs or City States, buy or borrow them from other Civs, get Unique Units from Barbarians or City States not otherwise available, 'Promote' Units with new technologies the way the GDR can be now (why did they waste the Tech Promotion Mechanic on an End Game Unit rarely seen in any game?).
    At the very least, let us Name Units from their formation, and let actions by the unit earn Honors or Honorifics: I want to have the 7th Legion "Hammer of the Scots" or the 3rd Impi "Spears Washed in British Blood" as a result of victorious battles against Scots and British/English units. Put some Life into the Units.

    The other side of that is that Expansion through Extermination should get much more difficult as the game goes on. You can conquer like Miles Gloriousus throughout the first third of the game, but from the Industrial Era on, Nationalism and its malevolent offspring, Guerrilla/Partisan War should raise its head. We had that in older Civs, we need it back to keep late-game Massive Armies busy stamping out fires that, if you've botched your (Mega) City Management, Ideology selection, Religion or Diplomacy after the Industrial Era, should be able to turn your Sprint to Victory into a nasty game of Whack-A-Mole where the Moles Whack Back.

    Military systems and mechanisms should go hand in velvet glove/mailed fist with Diplomacy. In fact, botch the Diplomatic part, and you should from early in the game face the prospect of a simple war of conquest/Extermination turning into a war against a Coalition: "Emergencies" should be a lot more Interactive instead of just Something That Sometimes Happens, and the consequences for getting yourself onto the receiving end of an Emergency should be more severe and daunting.

    Just my ideas.
    I don't think there is any single thing - even something as important as Improved AI - that will completely 'cure' the game of its Mid-Late Game Malaise. It's going to take a bunch of changes, revamps, 'tweaks' and I suspect they will have to encompass many or most of the aspects of play - all '4 Xes' of the game genre/
     
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  14. Mahi

    Mahi Chieftain

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    Just being in Ghandi bug where he nukes you out of nowhere. That added some tension. Actually AI using nuclear bombs in surprise wars would step up then tension late game.
     
  15. Boris Gudenuf

    Boris Gudenuf Warlord

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    As someone posted earlier: just give the AI Leaders some real personalities: Genghis should congratulate you on your successful Surprise War, not Denounce You; Phillip should be willing to declare War on you at the drop of an electron if you have a different religion from his; putting a city on plains/grassland anywhere near Tomyris should get you Horse Archers and Horsemen Pillaging everything in sight; and Montezuma should declare war on somebody whenever he goes too many turns without taking a Builder/captive for his latest Religious Festival involving Heart-y Congratulations . . .
    Right now, Diplomacy is much too predictable and boringly similar regardless of the Leaders: each one of them should have a Personality, not just a lame Agenda.
    - Or, jack up the influence of the Agendas, and especially the 'hidden' Agendas so you really have to Tread Lightly around some of the Leaders.
     
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  16. UWHabs

    UWHabs Warlord

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    Some good ideas here. But yes, coming back to the 4X framework and making sure that you sustain that through the game I think would be nice bonuses. Some other things:
    -Clearing jungle happens too early in-game, and has too many benefits. In civ, it's just too easy to clearcut the entire Amazon, and farm all that land, whereas in real life, we obviously haven't done that (yet). Honestly, you probably shouldn't even be able to clear a jungle tile until the modern era, although obviously that would render too many tiles virtually unworkable through most of the game, so you would have to change the mechanics (maybe you can plant districts on jungle with a penalty, or maybe you allow jungle tiles to have lumber mills or plantations on them)
    -Having exploring early on be about the landmass and the area, and exploring late-game be about resources make some sense. As mentioned, you can't have more map to search, but in the modern era, you search deeper. So while your old scout would simply search around a river and map the land, a later game scout would actually explore for oil or coal or whatever.
    -If you don't want to make major changes to how you found cities, then a good form of modern expansion I think would come with a revitalized neighourhood. Basically, while in the olden era you build settlers to expand, in the modern era it should be all about building neighbourhoods to grow. And then as well, you need to have a real purpose to grow your cities in the modern era. Right now there's virtually no point to having a city past size 10 or 12 since all it does is cost you amenities, whereas in real life, there are obviously some benefits to having a metropolis. Even if they made T3 buildings give you bonuses per citizen, that would give you new avenues to "expand" your cities up.
    -Your comments on city-states is important too. I think a needed change would be to make city-states more dynamic in how their allegiances go. Even something as simple as either losing an envoy per era for the city-state, or changing the limits from a fixed 1/3/6 to grow upwards in the later eras, would at least alter the dynamics. If suddenly it's going to need 12 or 14 envoys to stay suzerain, maybe you actually start thinking about invading it for the land. Or if there was a proper way to "defend" a city-state in return for like double-diplomatic favour, that alters the balance.

    Most importantly, I do kind of feel like the game needs a way to change in the modern era. Too much of the game is still static - so you build a campus in 3000 BC, yet it cannot move, it cannot grow, and may never need repairs. It was in a perfect location then, and it's still in a perfect location now? Or maybe you have to make some new decisions - your 1000-year old university is now nice as a tourist destination, but perhaps you need a more modern facility to actually progress forward for research. If you can make the rules change and be more dynamic, suddenly you have all new things to worry about. Personally I think it's horrible that if I'm building my entertainment complex in 2000 BC that I'm placing it in such a way that I get the maximum benefit for it 150 turns later once I get a zoo. No - I should be placing it so that I get a maximum benefit for it NOW, and then 150 turns later when i start the zoo, that's when I worry about what happens then. Although I don't know how exactly to handle that, because we, as omnipotent overlords, already know the future rules. So there's no tension because I can predict the future with a fair degree of certainty, and know that there's no way that this nation in the corner of the continent will ever be able to "break out" and suddenly become a super-power to threaten me.
     
  17. glider1

    glider1 Chieftain

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    It would be great if civ would simulate the rise and fall of civilizations. You would build an ancient empire that would last an era or two. It collapses due to factors that can be only partially controlled. Start again but this time with a different mix of newer technology and culture and you carry over benefits according to how you did relative to other civs that can be built into the next empire and so on. A tall "civ" would be one that collapses and regrows quickly. A "wide" civ would be one that lasts for much longer periods of history (but at a slower pace).
     
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  18. Boris Gudenuf

    Boris Gudenuf Warlord

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    That was sort of what we expected the Dark Age - Golden Age - Heroric Age mechanism to do, but after they finished watering it down, we got a Dim Age - Less Dim Age - Lesser Dimmer Age system that means Diddly/Squat in the game.
     
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  19. qqqbbb

    qqqbbb Chieftain

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    Declare war on everyone you meet and never make peace. This will add a lot of tension.
     
  20. _hero_

    _hero_ Chieftain

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    This seems to be a problem in nearly every 4X and grand strategy game, at least that I have ever played. This genre is set up in such a way that once you get strong enough, you know victory has been secured and it's just a matter of passing the time until you secure a victory. Civ6 makes it worse because there's not a lot that can be automated. Some older Civ games let you give control of cities over to governors, or simply put them on building wealth indefinitely. Now we have a build queue, but that's only a bandaid. Then there's war. If you compare 1UPT to stacks of doom that could be controlled as groups, it's clear that 1UPT is more micromanagement.

    Don't get me wrong, micromanagement is fine, even part of the fun; when there's tension. Picking and choosing where to position your units and who should attack where for maximum effect is part of what makes the game fun, but once you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you're going to win the game and your military is just mopping up the remaining cities/units that are preventing you from securing a victory, it quickly goes from fun to tedious. It can literally take hours to finish a game after you've already realized you are going to win.

    I think the problems here are twofold. First of all, there's nothing that really throws a wrench into your revelation that you're going to win. There's no internal strife in your empire. No coups or civil wars. No AI coalitions (the emergency system does a horrible job of creating coalitions to fight off a run away player). Natural disasters don't really do enough damage to matter, only enough to be annoying (pillaging stuff, not wiping cities out in the worst case scenarios). Second, there's not much you can do to automate or simulate the micromanagement that you have to deal with every turn until you finally win. There have been times when I'd have been perfectly content to just let the AI take over my empire with a specific focus and just hit end turn 50 times in a row.
     
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