Civilization gives you lots of Government. But doesn't let you govern. Governments are a mainstay of the Civilization series. In Civ VI, your Government has a big impact on gameplay. It's a big high level choice about where you're going strategically - are you building, expanding, or going to war? - and the choice then helps you organise other key decisions - particularly what Policies you'll use. Your Government is also a big part of the game's immersion. You see, you don’t really have leaders in Civ or a cultural identity. Instead, you have one "immortal leader", that once you start playing you can’t see them. And your "leader" and your Civilization's "cultural identity" are basically fixed at the start of the game, and boil down to two abilities (maybe including some sub-abilities), a unit or two and some infrastructure. In Vanilla, the only way you really "shape" your Civilization in a permanent way is through your pantheon and maybe having a religion. But you do at least control your Government. Choosing a Government lets you feel like you're shaping your Empire at its highest level. And by linking Governments to the Civics Tree, and having Government Tiers, you get the feeling your Empire's political and cultural power grow over time, giving you concrete and powerful control over your Empire, and its territory, resources and priorities. The thing is, this is a trick. Because for all that, Civ doesn't actually let you govern your Empire. Your Goverment is really just a "character class", that is full of flavour, but short on substance. And that's why Governments are so good. Civilization is a Boardgame Civilization is a giant board game: about 2/3 Catan and 1/3 Risk. The basics of the game is this. Like Catan, you have a randomly generated map, and you build things on that map to claim parts of that map area and to take advantage of resources on the map (although, unlike Catan, you can’t see all of the map at the start). It then adds some wargaming like Risk (okay, a little more complicated than Risk). You win by either building more stuff, murdering everyone else, or a combination of both. There are a few other systems - eg a kind of card game (policies), roleplaying - but that’s basically it. Grand strategy, it isn't. Civ cements this board game feel by having (at least on the surface) mechanics that are not mathematically complicated*. You always feel like, if you had a big enough board, enough room for all the cards, pieces and bennies, and could somehow hold all the many rules in your head, then you could actually play Civ on a table with some dice and some friends - no computer needed. That's precisely the genius of Civ: a board game that you play on a scale much bigger than is possible in the real world. I talked about the importance of the map to Civ here. The key thing is this: Civilization mostly limits randomness to how it generates the map. Sure, there’s a little randomness with combat challenges, great people abilities, goody huts and barbs etc., and the AI is somewhat unpredictable. But the map is the main source of randomness. Civilization doesn’t give you control over the map. The map is random. But by minimising randomness from other sources, it gives you agency over the map. Sure, you get a random map, but you know what resources, tactics and strategies you have available to exploit any map, the mechanics though numerous are easily understandable, and you can therefore adapt to any specific map every time. Every game is different and challenging precisely because (1) the map is random and (2) nothing else is random (mostly). Civilization: can you (pretend) to build an Empire which stands the test of time? This gameplay design results in a core game which is great fun, particularly when you add in the whole 'one more turn mechanic' (basically, the constant feeling that one more cool think will unlock or happen after every turn). But this design also creates constraints, because the game can't have elements which cut across its core design. Civilization wants to be a game about Empires. But the core gameplay isn't really about Empires. It's about building stuff and murdering stuff (usually in that order). So, Civilization tries to feel like an Empire game, like Grand Strategy, through roleplaying elements. Civ uses historical elements to theme the game and to help structure the gameplay (creating analogies with real world history, or at least with a particular view of history). Civilization tries to convince you you’re managing an Empire, not just putting pins in a map and shuffling pieces. But it’s not really an Empire. Look at other grand strategy games like EU4 to see what I mean. You don’t have leaders (monarchs, dictators) or internal factions (whigs, torries) to negotiate with. You don’t really have people or an economy to manage. Your citizens always work the tiles you tell them, always with the same enthusiasm (except maybe if they're 'displeased' or 'ecstatic') and don’t really have any opinions beyond “we like tea, turtles and gypsum (but only one of each please), we don’t like war, and we don’t like changing back to governments we’ve already tried but are always happy to try something new”. You can't even really run out of food or money - not enough food and cities just stop growing rather than starve, and run out of gold and your units just disband and your citizens become a little grumpy. You don’t even really have any ability to tax citizens, or raise finance. Your empire will never face a tulip bubble, sub-prime mortgage crisis, or have a reality TV star in control of its nuclear weapons. Civ Government: all the flavour but now 100% politics free Which brings us back to the Government system. Governments are all about flavour, not history or simulation. That’s why they work so well. You can see why FXS went with the current Government system mechanically. Maximum flexibility and consistency; the ability to pivot both the direction of you Civilzation at its highest level and at a more micro level (ie Policies). It's also easy to compare Governments and Policies: Governments have only two bonuses, and then "Policy Slots" which are easy to compare; those slots increase between Tiers so it's easy to understand the power difference between Government Tiers; and while Policies all have unique effects, and can interact in interesting ways, they are again easy to compare because each Policy has the same cost (i.e. it takes up one slot). This approach does limit how much you really govern your Empire. Your citizens are equally happy with every Government and your Government never actually impacts your culture, development or economy beyond granting some buff and how they divide up card slots. There’s no need to actually sell your citizens or stakeholders on any policies: you just slot policy cards and they always work. Whatever leaders your governments have, they’re all equally good, because the benefits you get from you government don’t change. It has to be this way. Governments and Policies are predictable and flexible, precisely so you can adapt to your random map. To compensate for this, FXS pull in lots of flavour: from the different Government names, where they're placed in the Civics Tree, the cool little pictures they get, and the different names you can give policies and again linking policies to the Civics Tree. Governments are therefore a lot like a "Character Class" in a roleplaying game - it has or grants access to a few benefits, allocates value between certain key share stats, and then adds lashings of flavour text. I think the Government and Policy Card systems are a great feature of Civ. The core gameplay is great, and then FXS have been very clever to create a "government" feel within the constraints of that gameplay. So why doesn’t R&F build on this? R&F expands "governance" in three ways: Loyalty, Governors, and the Government Plaza (and its buildings). I’ve written about Loyalty here. I think it’s a good system, but it isn’t much connected with your Government, but it does interact well with Policy Cards, Governors generally, and other mechanics. Governors and the Government Plaza and its buildings are a bigger problem, however. To be clear, both Governors and the Plaza / buildings work perfectly well in terms of gameplay. Both provide predictable and consistent bonuses that let you adapt better to the map. Governors integrate really well with cities, and really help differentiate between what you could call core, satellite and colonial cities. Governors are easy to distinguish because of their character names and picture, easy to compare because each is structured broadly the same way, and easy to balance because they all do something different but you can only get one of each and they are available to everyone. Likewise, the Government Plaza is well designed to work within the existing district system. And the various different bonuses they all offer are generally very clever and throw up great synergies and strategies. But both Governors and the Government Plaza seriously undermine the feeling of governing your Empire. Governors are yet another "immortal" ruler. Your existing immortal civ leader (and other civs leaders) already requires a degree of suspension of disbelief, but at least your own leader fades into the background during games, and the leaders do at least represent great historical figures. But Governors are front and centre, don’t represent anybody and are always, always the same. For every Civ. For every game. And for every Civ in the same game at the same time, every time. And because they don’t behave differently depending on your Government (I’m pretty sure democratic, communist and fascist governors would play out differently), they only emphasise how limited and shallow your governance is, and take away focus and the significance of your Government choices. It doesn't help they all permanently dressed like its the Medieval era (except for Magnus, who I assume is some sort of Time Lord). For all that, you also don't get anything from your Governors in terms of immersion. Sure, they have a cute little picture, but otherwise they don't talk, don't have opinions or preferences. They just go where you tell them to go without complaint. They don't even really get better with experience - sure, they unlock different abilities, but a promoted Governor is no better at generating loyalty, or moving between cities, or anything else than an un-promoted Governor. The Plaza has a similar problem. The Plaza itself just feels like “another” district. And by placing government buildings outside you cities, it undercuts the idea you have a real Capital city or centre of power. Every Civ gets one and so every Civ builds one. So it feels like everyone is the same (compare other districts, where you might decide to just build campuses, or theatre squares, or maybe you think encampments are optional or instead essential). The first tier buildings are also all very flavourless, and by giving you more flat bonuses, they again just emphases that for all it is having a “cultural identity” “great leader” and “Government” these are really just a random collection of gameplay buffs. The Plaza and its buildings just take more focus away from your Government. And the worst thing the Plaza does is that it doesn't actually let you build a "government" building. There is no Roman Senate, no English Parliament, no American or Chinese Congress, no Chancellors Office or a Sun Palace. Governments are all defined by the building where that "Government" happens. Not having an actual "Government" building is a huge missed opportunity. Seriously, how do I have a "War Department" but no other Ministries or PMO? So, ah, why I you posting all this? Because I have too much time on my hands, and the harsh rays of the sun burn my zombie flesh. But also I wanted to highlight two things. First, I wanted to highlight what I think are clever design aspects of Civ, and some of the nuanced and well judged trade-offs which are made to ensure you get both gameplay and immersion. Second, I wanted to highlight an issue with R&F's Governors and Government Plaza. Mechanically, they work really, really well. But they need more flavour. Again, I don't want to make this an ideas thread. But discussing ideas does sometimes help clarify the problem. Here’s are some things I believe would help, and which hopefully illustrate some gaps. Governors should not have the same identities every game. I get why they do: they are easier for the player to identify and (I’m guessing) less art assets are required. But I think a happy compromise would be: (1) each Governor’s identity is randomly chosen from a small pool of historical figures for that type of Governor (maybe 3 for each type), (2) you only see the specific Governor for your own cities, the AI cities always just use a generic coat of arms for the different governor types (ie no clone Governors). The specific types of Governors could keep having the same abilities, so the "Steward one" would still provide bonuses to chops; but when you selected the Steward, you might get Thomas Cromwell or Pontius Pilot (just as random examples). Governors might also benefit from having some more screen time. Animating them might be too much work, but they should at least pop up and provide advice or gossip, so you feel like you’re actually interacting with someone not just assigning bonuses. (Although, perhaps that would feel like the resurrection of Clippit.) Perhaps Governors could also use a little more variation: they might not all give the same loyalty, and promoting them should make them better Governors, eg grant more loyalty per level or something. And perhaps they should interact with your Government a little, eg maybe buffing specific citizen yields based on your type of government. The Government Plaza and buildings should emphasise what’s good about the Government system. Maybe instead of providing straight bonuses, your Plaza and Buildings could unlock unique Policy Cards. So, the Audience Chamber still gives you extra housing and amenities etc., but instead as a Policy Card not as a flat bonus. Policy Cards are the fuel of the Government Tier jet plane. That’s we’re the bonuses should be, so as not to detract from Governments and their Policy Cards. Perhaps you should also have more than one Government District, so it doesn't have so much emphases (which in turn pulls attention away from Cities). Perhaps you have one Government Plaza (as is), but also a new Court House district or Governors Mansion district, which can go in other cities representing regional government and control. Lastly, perhaps FXS should let you name your Government Plaza, e.g. Parliament, and or let you “upgrade” your Capital or "main" city with some "apex" Government Building. *** Civ is a funny game. It's a Board Game with a wonderful delusion of granduer. But I think that, for all R&F gets right with gameplay, it needs to help us to share the delusion a bit more.