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Civics in FfH2

Discussion in 'Civ4 - Fall from Heaven' started by apotheoser, Apr 5, 2009.

  1. apotheoser

    apotheoser Prince

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    The civics are a total mess.

    I'll outline a few reasons why first. Then I'll look at some specifics examples, and propose a few solutions.

    Overview

    First, Civics in FfH do not do a good job of portraying specific ideas - the concepts behind them are often fuzzy. Or the concept is clear, but the civic is implemented in a weird way.

    Second, the Civic categories are badly mangled. This argument relies on a high school+ knowledge of political science, so I'll try to keep it simple.

    Finally, the Civic effects are not well-balanced. Some Civics are rarely useful. Sometimes Civic choices aren't even meaningful choices. Sometimes Civics do pretty much exactly the same thing: they're not different enough to matter.

    The Ideas Behind Civics

    I understand some people don't care about the ideas behind Civics - where they come from, what they represent, how they're supposed to work - all that. That's ok, I certainly understand that. Just skip to the third section about balance.

    The first two sections are for those of us who do care about what Civics are supposed represent, in the abstract.

    I think "Cultural Values" is a really great Civic category. It reminds me of SMAC - the first game that really expanded government/civic choices (or, as it was called then, "Social Engineering").

    However, I don't think "Religion" makes sense as a "Cultural Value" - either in the abstract or how it is implemented. It seems very weird that a civilization would actually value "Religion" itself. Even more odd, non-state religion Temples provide :), which sort of implies that people are free to practice whatever :religion: they choose. So conceptually, "Religion" seems to be blurring with "Liberty" - the people aren't happy just because their religion is making them happy, they're also happy to be able to practice their religion. Sure, the state :religion: provides a bonus :), but every religious group apparently has freedom to worship.

    The alternative is that people seem to just be happy that the temples are there, even if they're not using them. Again, this is a weird sort of semi-"Liberty" concept - diversity provides happiness or something.

    Most importantly, "Religion" is just a bad name for a "Cultural Value". People value the traits that lead to religious worship, not the religion itself. People value faith, or duty, or devotion. As it is right now, it seems to be "our civilization values having lots of different religions", which, frankly, is sort of weird for a Civic you start the game with. Apparently your people can value something that hasn't even been invented yet - and it can cause your :culture: output to rise by 10% even if you don't have any religions!

    "Social Order" is also weird. The concept behind "Social Order" is sort of the whole point of every Civic. People value stability and order in life, which is why we have governments in the first place. Yet this "Social Order" seems to be a special Order :religion: brand "Social Order" since you need the Order state :religion: to use "Social Order".

    The idea that some Civic provides a stronger sense of duty or obedience in the population makes sense. But this is the same reasoning behind why people might value "Religion". These two "Cultural Values" are really about the same thing: obedience to hierarchical authority. We could call that "Duty".

    To a large extent, the same goes for "Nationhood". In regular Civ4, "Nationhood" is a "Legal" Civic, not a "Cultural Value". As a "Legal" framework, "Nationhood" might imply certain things. But as a "Cultural Value", it rests on the same foundation as "Social Order" and "Religion": it's Duty.

    Now, while these are all "Duty", one might argue they are in service of different entities: religious authority, civil authority, and military authority. But none of those is a "Cultural Value" - nobody talks about "obedience specifically to authority X" as a virtue. The virtue behind all of it is "Duty".

    Speaking of virtue, let's talk about "arete". Most people probably get look at "arete" for the first time and say "Arete? Oh well, some dwarven thing, whatever" and keep playing. But "arete" means far more than that. It is fitting that "arete" is associated with Kilmorph and dwarves, because dwarves are traditionally superb craftsmen and put the highest value on good workmanship (workdwarfship?). "Arete" makes perfect sense as a "Cultural Value" (too bad it isn't one).

    However, it is deeply weird that "arete" is implemented as a +1:hammers: boost to mines. Mining is a profession that is probably least suited to personal excellence as any I can think of. Similarly, the ability to "rush production with gold" is the opposite of what "arete" means: personal excellence, not mass production. Which is also exactly why the bonus to :gp: is a good way to implement "arete" (though there should be other effects, of course).

    Finally, I wanted to mention "Crusade" (and, by extension, "Glory" in FF). I think it is a supremely bad idea to have civilization-specific Civics. It strongly encourages the player to ignore any other options in that category. The idea of a crusading civilization is great - but it should be handled a different way - either through a special trait, or a "ritual" to mark the start of the crusade, or a spell.

    But again, I don't think the way "Crusade" is implemented even makes sense. "Crusade" relies on your state religion, which means that, again, we're talking about "Duty". Of course, "Crusade" has a special element of "total war" involved. But the mechanics of it are silly: you can crusade against a civilization that follows your same state religion. You can crusade against a tiny civilization to quickly build a military, then switch off "Crusade" and use your large military to "regular war" a different civilization. I guess that's sort of consistent with some of the Crusades in Earth history.

    Generally, "Cultural Values" Civics are ripe with possibility, and most of the obvious ones are there, like "Scholarship" (although who values "Scholarship"? Should just be "Knowledge") and "Sacrifice the Weak" (again, the name is a little off: maybe "Purge the Weak" or "The Weak Perish" or "Cull the Weak"). Instead of three and a half variations on "Duty", maybe we could get some other interesting ones? Like "Fortune and Glory" - culture values adventuring, treasure, exploration, et cetera. Or "Hearth & Home" - to replace "Consumption", with more emphasis on population growth instead of yet another that adds :) to buildings. And to replace the old Order religion civic, there could be one that emphasizes "Protection of the Innocent" or "Justice" or something - a more obvious counterpart to "Sacrifice the Weak".

    I picked those three as ideas because they all fit well within a fantasy universe. "Liberty" - not so much. I know "Liberty" is implicated in fantasy in some ways - there's not a lot of liberty in Mordor (or New Crobuzon, or Cthol Mishrak, or Gormenghast). But "Liberty" is never really the central issue. A more interesting replacement might be "Prudence". "Prudence" shares a degree of pragmatism with "Liberty" while still retaining a medieval/renaissance tone (and thus, somewhat more fantasy appropriate).

    The Civics Categories More Broadly

    Civilization 4 had five Civic categories: Government, Legal, Labor, Economy, and Religion. Each of these categories asks a specific question:

    Government: Who is in power? Or, who makes the laws?
    Legal: How does power exercise control? Or, what ARE the laws?
    Labor: What is the relationship of the workers to their work?
    Economy: What is the role of the government in the economy?
    Religion: What is the role of religion in the government?

    Each Civic directly answers the question the category poses. This is pretty obvious, with the notable exception of "Legal" and "Government", which can be confusing. In Civ 4, for example, "Bureaucracy" itself isn't a form of government - it's just the means by which any government would carry out its laws.

    In FfH2, of course, we only really have four categories: Government, Cultural Values, Labor, and Economy. It's ok that there's no "Legal" category - it just means we shouldn't have "Legal" Civics in the mod.

    "City States", is, essentially, a "Legal" civic. "City States" doesn't answer the question the "Government" category asks: "Who is in power"? Now maybe you think the answer is "Duh, the cities are in charge", but that just begs the question of who's in charge of the cities. "City States", as a concept, is perfectly compatible with every other "Government" Civic. A God King could appoint mayors to rule on his behalf. Aristocrats could have a high degree of independence in ruling their fiefs (cities), as could individual bishops in a theocracy. Thus, "City States" is a method of governing (a "Legal" civic) not a form of government (a "Government" civic).

    Along the same lines, I think "arete" is in the wrong category. "Labor" is a set of rules and methods which govern production and the division of labor. The concept of "arete" does not fit into that category. "Slavery", yes. "Guilds", yes. "Apprenticeship", yes (although that should be encompassed by "Guilds"...).

    "Arete" does fit into a category of "Cultural Values", as a motivation for laboring, but not for determining who is laboring and who keeps the profits of the labor.

    Similarly, "Military State" doesn't really fit either. None of the effects of "Military State" seem to be something that works to the exclusion of the others Civics - you could have apprentices in the military (and historically, civilizations have). You could have a warrior caste in a caste system (samurai anyone?).

    (To pick on FF again, "Industry" is supremely guilty of this as well. The concept is on the right track: something to do with the increased productivity of the workers. But the productivity itself isn't a set of rules under which labor operates).

    In the end, I am going to blame this all on "Membership". What. A. Waste. An entire Civic category devoted to the Fantasy United Nations? And in order to get this, from a design standpoint, we have to give up the entire "Legal" category of Civics? It boggles the mind. A "Legal" category would be the perfect place for things like "Military State" and "City States" and maybe unique Civics for Council of Esus, Empyrean, and Octopus Overlords.

    Or, in the absence of a "Legal" category, there could be something different. I'll bring up SMAC again. There were four Civic categories: Politics, Economics, Values, and "Future Society"."Future Society" Civics were all powerful, late-game Civics. In FfH2, the fifth category could be reserved for unusual Civics: "Crusade", or some of kind of Necromantic central mind-control, or OO terror-reign, or whatever. "Lost Lands" in FF would be another example.

    (Civ 4 does have a fifth "Religion" category, but I think this is adequately covered in FfH2: either you have a "Theocracy" Civic; a state :religion: without a "Theocracy", or no state :religion:. On the other hand, there might still be some interesting options. At the very least I could imagine an "Ecclesiastical Courts" options in a "Legal" category.)

    Balancing the Civics

    I know I have passed well in to TLDR land at this point, so I will keep this part brief. Suffice it to say, the Civics don't really seem balanced. More to the point, they're so similar that's it's generally obvious which ones are mathematically superior to the others, even if you're playing the game the same way.

    For example: "City States" versus "Aristocracy". Either take the extra :commerce: and lower your :science: slider, or take the maintenance bonus and keep the :science: slider higher. (Maybe you work less tiles from the food hit, but that's just part of the :commerce: equations). It's an accounting problem. Accounting is boring. Sure, the whole game is sort of an accounting problem: increase :hammers: here, increase :gold: there, et cetera. But "City States" versus "Aristocracy" is literally a matter of bookkeeping, not game-playing. The two Civics cater to exactly the same play-style, yet one is inevitably better than the other in a given situation.

    The "Cultural Values" are guilty of this as well. Half of them do highly similar things: +:). Frankly, it almost doesn't matter which you pick between "Social Order" and "Consumption" and "Religion". If you actually have :) problems, either you have Order state :religion:, or you have a lot of other :religion:s, or you raise your :culture: slider and take the extra :gold: from "Consumption" to compensate. There isn't a lot of decision-making: there are a lot of choices, but in any situation it's utterly obvious what to choose, so there's no way to use them in different strategies. Not much nuance in Cultural Values.

    In general I would just say the Civics are fairly stale and uniform. It would be far more interesting if Civics added specific, unique bonuses - sort of like "Can build missionaries without Monastery" or "People eat 1 food instead of 2" or "Military Units Use Food to Build".

    Conclusion

    Even if everyone thinks I'm a long-winded moron, hopefully people start a discussion based on what I've said, generating some more interesting and coherent Civic ideas, for what is otherwise a great mod.
     
  2. Sephi

    Sephi Deity

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    Aristo is unique cause it gives a special unit and social order is as unique as a civic can be (unlimited happiness which no other civic provides). I never use Consumption though, I think it should get a nice special bonus.
     
  3. apotheoser

    apotheoser Prince

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    It's theoretically unlimited, but only if you have unlimited units. No other civic provides unlimited happiness, but there are several other ways to get it, so it's not a unique feature.

    The UU for Aristo is interesting, but it's not really the main point of the Civic.
     
  4. Emptiness

    Emptiness []

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    You say several things I agree with, and many I do not. The main difference in our viewpoints can be illustrated by examining this idea:

    I don't see it as a problem that several different civics in the same category all relate to how the empire produces :). I also don't see it as a problem that which civic to use is easy to decide. Indeed, if it were hard to decide between them then they'd probably be too similar. You imply that a clear choice of which civic to use has robbed you of your decision-making ability - I say that your decision-making takes place in your empire planning and execution, and then the civic choice follows naturally from those decisions.

    This carries over beyond Cultural Values, to your analysis of the other categories and civics as well. I certainly agree that some of the civics, based on their names or effects, don't seem to fit in the category in which they are placed. Also, I agree that some of the names are awkward or inaccurate. I'm not sure that really matters too much, however. The choices they present seem to work out pretty well and make FfH2 what it is a many ways. Renaming civics to make the name more closely represent the purpose of the civic would be fine, but changing what the civics do risks changing the balance of the mod.
     
  5. Grakor456

    Grakor456 Chieftain

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    Read through the whole post, but this bit struck me as odd. Mainly because, if you're going for a religious victory in the main game, you're primarily wanting every city to have your religion of choice, and *just* that religion (correct me if I'm wrong.) It seems somewhat odd that *Religion* the civic would, therefore, be less useful for someone going for a *Religious* victory than for everyone else. This thought didn't occur to me until I read this bit about non-state :religion: temples giving :), which is a little bizarre when you think about it long enough.

    As a Cultural Value civic, I don't see anything wrong with it on that end. I can see some groups of people putting more value and faith in religion than other groups. That bit above though is a bit eyebrow raising.
     
  6. apotheoser

    apotheoser Prince

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    Sorry, I was trying to communicate that they're both (1) too similar and (2) the choice is irrelevant.

    Again, it's not just that there's a "clear choice". It's also that the choice is more or less irrelevant. If I get +2 :) from my theater+market, my courthouse+unit, or my state :religion:+temple, it's pretty much the same.

    There are some differences, but mainly just in terms of :culture:% versus :gold:%. The differences are 100% interchangeable.
     
  7. First

    First Chieftain

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    Just commenting, no actual argument:

    You bring up a lot of really good points, many of which I have considered but then realized that it may not be likely changes would be implemented. I usually find myself running the same civics every game (unless I'm playing a specific faction where certain civics are more in their flavor).

    Personally I don't have an opinion one way or the other about the exactness/perfection of the civics in FFH2 because I play this mod for far more reasons than just the civics. I do, however, think this topic will bring up a lot of really good argument (or agreement), and I look forward to that more than any potential changes in the game.


    PS: This was incredibly well written by the way
     
  8. Emptiness

    Emptiness []

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    I don't agree that the choice is irrelevant, but I respect that you do. For your play style there may not be a significant difference between Aristocracy and City States. I find that there is a large difference, however. The same is true of Religion/Consumption/Social Order. Social Order has the ability to provide an arbitrary amount of happiness to a city, without the need to build buildings or spread religions, simply by stationing units there. Perhaps under Consumption you could achieve a similar effect by using extra gold to rush-buy happiness buildings in new cities, or under Religion by using Tier 2 divine units to instantly build temples in new cities. I don't see the fact that the same effect can be produced different ways under different civics as meaning that the differences between the civics are irrelevant.

    The relevance comes in the details of the differences. With the Social Order method you'd have to keep troops around in that city until it is able to build up happiness. With the Consumption method you'd have to adjust your economy to reflect the need to have lots of gold to rush-buy buildings. With the Religion method you'd need to be periodically switching between different religions to be able to build new Tier 2 divine units of each to sacrifice to form new temples. The end result might be nearly the same (happiness in a newly conquered city), but the way to get there under different civics is definitely not the same.
     
  9. JonathanStrange

    JonathanStrange PrinceWithA1000Enemies

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    I've often thought the Civics seemed somewhat arbitrarily chosen along with their benefits but I have rarely paused to consider how else they might have been done. I think because I'm confused about the whole concept except in a very vague "this is an attempt to model economic, religious, legal, and cultural values and their practical effects" - so I supposed one civic's seeming like it wouldn't necessarily exclude another civic or its effects (like your example of Military civic being compatible with apprentices and castes yet Apprenticeship and Caste System are entire civics in themselves, instead of being subsets of another more inclusive civic) only meant I was missing something.

    I can live with the system because I've no real method of analyzing civics to determine what's trivial and what's important and what's actually a good model. I wouldn't even be sure where in the real world I'd look - perhaps in some social anthropology or sociology text focussing on a particular nation's values, beliefs, mores, economies, etc.

    I do think that there's great potential for someone to logically sort out civics and still retain the magical/dark fantasy/medieval world of FFH2 flavor. Is there a need to do so? I suppose not necessarily a strong one yet - but I haven't seen the alternative.

    It may be that there are awesome atmospheric civics that are meaningfully different and appropriate to Erebus. It may also happen that one can't balance them: maybe a Slavery civic is too good for any civ to ignore, maybe a Guardian of Nature civic is too obviously a second-choice civic for any but Elven fanatics who rather lose revenue than not be forest guardians.

    Maybe if a completely coherent system were presented I could judge. But coming up with one myself? Not me, I'd have to fall back on the old arbitrary civics we have.
     
  10. zbelg

    zbelg Warlord

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    I've got to disagree. While I can't say if it makes sense thematically, the Royal Guard is pretty much the selling point for Aristocracy for me, and it's why I keep it going for wars unless my economy really demands something else. Unless you're playing Bannor, the guardsman promotion otherwise requires Combat 5 and usually ends up getting that unit killed, and assassins can be brutal if you don't have one.
     
  11. apotheoser

    apotheoser Prince

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    Or even just raise the :culture: slider a notch with the extra gold.

    I certainly see your point. I just wish there were more substantial differences, is all.

    I mean, I look at the Cultural Values Civics and see a lot of ways to make people happy. I wish there were some way to do something else, even if it were just one or two civics that focused on something else.
     
  12. Kyroshill

    Kyroshill Huh?

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    I miss many of the old civics... I do know that.... the Welfare civics especially :(
     
  13. apotheoser

    apotheoser Prince

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    Well, it's a separate discussion, but personally I don't find Guardsman promotion to be that useful in the first place.
     
  14. Sephi

    Sephi Deity

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    Well, for me it is the main point. ;) Anyway, you leave out a lot of the current details of the civics. City states for example also increases war weariness. If you simplyfy things that much it is no wonder that everything looks the same for you.
     
  15. First

    First Chieftain

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    As far as Crusade goes, while it may be a generally bad idea to have civilization-specific civics, it plays very much into how the Bannor should be played. Crusade isn't something that is supposed to be run the moment it's available, as you seem to imply, but rather when it is most opportune.

    Your suggestion of it being a ritual (etc) rather than a civic is a good concept but I don't know about the actual implementation.
     
  16. apotheoser

    apotheoser Prince

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    Well, I have a few ideas for Civic themes, but the balance is a tricky issue I would never be able to resolve alone. I'll try and post them when I have a little time to flesh them out more.

    Yeah, I certainly think Bannor have a good, interesting play-style and I wouldn't want to change that.
     
  17. kenken244

    kenken244 Grammar Nazi

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    We did not have to give up another civic category just for council membership. We used to have no councils but had "compassion" civics (which was like a health care category which had sacrifice the weak and diplo bonuses/penalties depending on which civic you used) and "education" (which had apprenticeship and scholarship) so it is possible without any extra work to add a sixth civic category.
     
  18. apotheoser

    apotheoser Prince

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    Oh. Interesting. I had assumed that 5 was the limit for interface reasons, or that it would be a particular hassle to make more than 5 categories.
     
  19. kenken244

    kenken244 Grammar Nazi

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    I personally thought that the old civics had much better potential, but were not balanced very well.
     
  20. Valkrionn

    Valkrionn The Hamster King

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    It's actually very easy to make a new civic category. Go into CvCivicsScreen.py and change self.HEADINGS_WIDTH... a value of 165 will fit 6 categories. Then go to XML/Gameinfo, open up CivicOptionInfos, add your option, and then CivicInfos and edit the civics.
     

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