[NFP] [discussion] Major flaws of Civ VI - part 2: Flat yields vs. scaling yields

Discussion in 'Civ6 - General Discussions' started by kaspergm, May 11, 2021.

  1. kaspergm

    kaspergm Deity

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    Like in the last thread, first off a disclaimer: The point of this thread is not to bash on Civ6 in general, I think it’s a great game with many good elements. However, I also think it has some major flaws, and that if we don’t discuss these, we and the developers can’t learn from them and make Civ7 even better.

    The topic I'd like to discuss in this thread is how yields are awarded from districts and buildings in Civ6, more specifically why it is imo. A bit flaw that Civ6 operates almost solely with flat yields, as opposed to per population yields or percentage yields like in Civ5. The reason for this design choice is quite obvious, and I think the developers addressed this topic directly as well: Where Civ5 leaned heavily towards a “tall” optimal gameplay, notoriously the 4-city-Tradition approach, the developers wanted Civ6 to lean more against a wide approach. They certainly succeeded at this, to an extent that Civ6 for a while suffered heavily with ICS-strategies being viable, something that has however been fixed to some extent.

    Like in the last thread, I’ll try to list some specific points where I think Civ6 goes wrong with its yields approach, and some ideas to how they could be improved..
    • District adjacency yields: This is arguably one of the most difficult aspects to balance, because there’s here a weighing of game balance on one hand vs. fun on the other. For instance, we all know that one of the most exciting aspects of the early game is finding a superb district spot, be that an early +5 campus spot or constructing that perfect +18 industrial zone spot. On the other hand, these massive district adjacencies are fairly poorly balanced in the game as it is: You only need one or two of thee supreme campus locations to snowball to a massive lead fairly early in the game. I’m not going to suggest that district adjacencies should be taken completely out of the game (or perhaps I am? See point about districts without buildings below), but I see two ways to address the issue as it is: Progressive adjacency and adjusting tech cost scaling. By progressive adjacency I mean: Instead of having (say) those mountains provide a +5 campus bonus from turn 1, maybe we need mountains to only provide a minor bonus to start, but than have the bonus increase once you build an observatory in the city. And maybe the jungle adjacency should increase to a standard +1 bonus once you build a wildlife institute? This also plays into another of my suggestions, more alternative buildings in districts. My other suggestion is adjusting tech progression cost: If techs increase faster in cost, those initial flat yields lose value faster, which in terms will mean less snowballing.
    • Flat building yields: Building yields, and the lack of diversity in how these are handled, is probably one of the biggest missed opportunities imo. The game has opted almost completely for the flat-yields model, and I think this works poorly in several ways. First of all, it feeds into the city spam in an unhealthy way: A library, university or research centre will yields exactly the same in a pop-1 city as in a pop-20 city, which is both illogical and poor for game balance. Secondly, it doesn’t offer strategic choices that affect other parts of the game (there’s never any consideration about: Is this city too small to merit a university?). I see two strategies to solve this: First is limitations: Make high-lever buildings require a certain population number in city - a boring, but effective solution. Second is non-flat yields: These can come in different forms, for instance; a) simple percentage yields; b) per-population yields, c) per-specialist yields, and d) per terrain/resource yields. I would like to see the game use all of these to a larger extent, and particularly for late game (tier 2 and 3 buildings) a shift from flat yields to non-flat yields would make these only viable in larger cities. Again, the idea of more alternative buildings (see point later) plays strongly into this.
    • Distrit spam: Civ6 tried to make science less of a universal win factor, but it’s still generally if not universally true that spamming campuses will help you win. This is both a pity and a bit of a puzzle given that Civ6 has the perfect mechanism to prevent this already in the game: Area Of Effect on districts. I think this feature could have been used a lot more than it is: Districts like Campus, Theatre and Commercial could all have been AOE districts to promote district variation. Once you place a campus in one city, the benefits of placing another campus right in the neighborhood should be, if not completely absent, then at least so low that it may not justify the cost. Obviously you’d need a handle to balance this, so that you don’t just get full district or building bonus in all cities immediately, and some ways to handle this are capped yields (for instance, provide +0.2 science pr. population, but maximum +4 science) or population-served limits (basically the same, but say that a University can maximally serve 20 people). The latter approach imo. is interesting, because it would mean that in early game, one campus could serve several cities, but once cities start to grow, you’ll need more campuses to support all the population.
    • Alternative buildings: This is a feature with huge potential that Civ6 unfortunately barely tapped into. JRN’s Urban Complexity/Districts Expanded mod series is a prime example of how this could be done, even if I don’t agree with all his design choices, but the idea here is that each district has two or even three alternative buildings on each tier. The obvious distinction is a wide vs. tall building - one that offers (lowish but instant) flat yields vs. one that offers potentially higher non-flat yields. But this feature could be applied in other directions as well. For instance, Observatory (offers/improves campus adjacency from mountains) vs. Wildlife Institute (offers/improves campus adjacency from jungles) vs. Marine Research Centre (offers/improves campus adjacency from reefs), etc. Expanding on these choices would have excellent synergy with several of the suggestions from above, for instance you could put different buildings in districts of the same kind with overlapping AOE.
    • Districts without buildings: This is a smaller pet-peeve of mine, but: How can we get yields from a district with no buildings in it? I guess the logic is to see the district as the tier 0 building in itself, which makes sense in some cases - I can accept the “campus” granting science in its own right, and I get the “commercial hub” can generate gold even without a market (although that’s a bit thin). But how can the “theatre square” generate culture without an amphitheater there, or the industrial zone general production without a workshop? Even worse, often the flat yields of the base district adjacency will be bigger than the yields of the actual buildings, which means you may not even want to place a building there for a while. Anyway, it’s not a game breaker, but personally, I think a district should be place with no or only a very low cost, but also without any yields in itself, and that the yields be entirely linked to buildings. This again ties into the idea of buildings linking to adjacency as mentioned above in the section about flat yields.
    So again, feel free to share your thoughts for and against the way Civ6 handles yields, districts and buildings.
     
  2. civac

    civac Prince

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    The flat yields in Civ6 baffled me too initially.

    I think however that your analysis is flawed or at least the conclusion that Civ6 encourages city sprawl does not follow.

    For one thing Civ6 has the scaling settler cost (a terrible mechanic) that fairly quickly make building settlers a dubious proposition. Secondly, developed cities are vastly more productive than new ones and thus it's usually worthwhile to invest into the district infrastucture of your cities.
     
  3. Alexander's Hetaroi

    Alexander's Hetaroi Deity

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    I don't necessarily think that only higher level buildings should require a certain population. Some buildings such as the market and the bank in the commercial hub realistically should generate more gold depending on the number of citizens. At least realistically a market and bank in a larger city would produce/house more gold than in a smaller city.

    I do hope that in future games, if the district system does come back, is that most districts have some sort of alternative buildings in one of their tiers. I think that having two or three on one every tier might be too much. At the same time there are times where I think that maybe a caravanserai would be a better building in a commercial hub over a market adding two extra trader capacity instead of one and a flat yield of gold, or an opera house holding more than one slot for music. :crazyeye:
    Also I'm glad you mentioned the campus because I think splitting the research center into three separate types would be nice: Biological Research Center yields science for rainforests/reefs, Chemical Research Center yields science for mineable and strategic resources, and Physics Research Lab that yields science for every source of power in city.

    This one I can live with. I think as far as a Theater Square is concerned the inherit cultural bonuses make sense especially if you would start to develop a cultural district of a city next to a wonder you built or next to an entertainment district which are usually considered tourist spots as well.
     
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  4. vortical42

    vortical42 Chieftain

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    Well said. For me the district system in this game has always been one of those things that sounds great on paper but fails in execution. They end up adding complexity without providing meaningful depth. The fact that district costs scale based on era and tech/civics unlocked and the fact that you can't move or demolish them once placed sucks the life out of any attempts to have a 'dynamic' game. Everything has to be meticulously planned from year one.
     
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  5. Leucarum

    Leucarum Emperor

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    The big problem with progressive yields is that adjacency is already pretty opaque to newer players. I've introduced about 3-4 new players to civ during lockdown multiplayer games and adjacency has universally been the concept they take the longest to work out. Civ really rewards planning ahead to get the most out of your districts but it can be very easy for a fanatic to underestimate how long it can take a new player to learn that system well enough to be able to do that planning. I really think it'd be a bad idea for bringing players into the game.

    But tying buildings to population I really love. That would really reward developing cities and allow amenities to become more of a natural drag on city spam.
     
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  6. Hellenism Salesman

    Hellenism Salesman Prince

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    The fact that every single universal building is just flat yields of their respective district with little variance is maddening to me. It's just such missed potential... buildings could have been wonderful opportunities to incorporate new or unexpected effects into a district and sow the seeds of new strategies. They don't even have to be particularly powerful or complex, they can just be simple things like this:
    • Libraries have slots for Great Works of writing
    • Universities increasing the yields of specialists in this district and districts adjacent (because education might just help in doing your job...)
    • Research Labs generating extra Great Scientist points for each specialist (by giving dedicated scientific minds all the tools they need to conduct experiments)
    And that's just for the Campus buildings. They're subtle yet flavorful, and would actually change the way you play, while being more interesting beyond "yields+city-state yields+great person yields+powered yields"
     
  7. FinalDoomsday

    FinalDoomsday Prince

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    900 hours on Civ and I'm still pretty bad at the adjacency puzzle :lol: although its gotten easier as they have added more bonuses.

    I like buildings requiring population too, the finest university in the world is nothing without people in it.
     
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  8. TCBB

    TCBB Warlord

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    I was thinking about exactly this the other day in relation to the Preserve. When you build a Preserve, you don’t get much benefit from the go (usually, just +2 housing and a culture bomb) — it’s only when you build the Sanctuary / Grove that the yields come online.

    That’s essentially what you’re suggesting for the other districts, and I think it’s correct. In particular, the mountain adjacencies is the biggest issue as it currently stands: it’s just far too easy to get a +4, +5 or even +6 campus at, like, turn 15, simply because you spawned next to mountains.

    The Observatory suggestion is good. Or maybe you could even tie it into a series of policy cards? E.g. in classical era, a ‘Divination’ or ‘Astrologers’ economic card which makes mountains give 0.5 adjacency to campuses (and others which do the same for jungles, woods, etc); then, in the Renaissance era that becomes an ‘Astronomers’ card which makes it +1 adjacency, perhaps even rising to +2 in the modern era or something. Means you would have to dedicate a policy card to get the reward, which makes the yield snowballing much less easy.
     
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  9. Leucarum

    Leucarum Emperor

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    The terrain adjacencies work out fine for newer players but when you factor in district related adjacencies and the need to plan ahead for those from the moment you settle a city. Progressive yields would make that even worse by making terrain based yields opaque.

    Would probably be a great system for the top rung players and a real pain for everyone else to learn.
     
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  10. aieeegrunt

    aieeegrunt King

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    Ya the district adjancy puzzle thing is another one if those complicated fiddly minimaxing things in Civ6 that is all surface and no depth
     
  11. kaspergm

    kaspergm Deity

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    I only agree with this to a certain extent. It's true that you don't necessarily benefit from full ICS in Civ6, although it doesn't exactly do much to discourage you from this either. However, for a long while at least, it was established that limiting cities to pop 10 was the optimal target (to benefit from rationalism card), and I think the nerfing of rationalism ironically has had the opposite effect of intended, if any effect at all, namely that since rationalism is now a pretty useless card, instead of aiming for the intended pop 15 limit, you may rather just keep your cities at 7 or even 4 population to limit amenity demands (yet allow for 2-3 districts to give gold and science/culture/faith).

    Furthermore, it's true that Settler cost was a strong limited in vanilla civ 6, but since then, we've had changes like Ancestral Hall (extra production towards settlers + free builders), Magnus + provision, and of course the largest culprit: Monumentality GA, which is so grossly OP that a major part of the meta of the game basically revolves around getting this. And the fact that you can chain Monumentatality golden ages (why is each dedication not limited to once per game, or at least not subsequent eras?) is extremely poor game design.


    Yes, I agree with this fully, the question of how to handle adjacency best is very complex imo. It's a major and fundamental part of the game design of Civ6, and it's fundamentally a good feature imo: It adds tons of fun AND it adds a big part of the strategic planning of you cities throughout the entire game. It's a big win/win.

    On the other hand, like I said in the op, I do think that some of the very early adjacencies are too strong and have too big impact. I think mountains with their standard adjacencies to campuses AND holy sites are the worst in this regard. I've modded it myself so mountains only have a minor adjacency to these districts, but while I do think it makes the game more balanced, I also acknowledge it makes the game a little less fun when you start right next to those optimal mountain loops.

    I also agree that something like scaling adjacency would make the game more complex, and possibly too complex, or at the other hand, risking removing all the tactical elements of planning, so that you can just plop down your districts wherever, because they will end up with roughly same yieds anyway, which will not make the game better. So it's definitely not a problem I feel I have the full solution for.
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2021
  12. civac

    civac Prince

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    The reason city growth is bad is due to restrictive housing limits and growth requirements combined with lack of very strong food tiles. If this were changed it would absolutely be worth to let your core cities grow to work more strong tiles. The flat yields are only a secondary issue.

    I completely agree with the second part. Everything in Civ6 is absurdly expensive, often even increasing in cost as the game progresses. On the other hand, there are bunch of mechanics that give you free units or like Religious Settlements, Ancestral Hall, Maya ability. These mechanics are out of place in a strategy game. Monumentality is a problem because the faith economy is not properly balanced.
     
  13. Leucarum

    Leucarum Emperor

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    Part of Civ's niche will always be that it's the 'accessible 4X game' - and that makes complex systems a tough sell unless they're intuitive. Sadly, as I agree that the terrain based yields are less strategically interesing than ones you have to significantly plan ahead for.
     
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  14. Vargas1

    Vargas1 Prince

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    I have some other thoughts that will take longer for me to put together, but one thing to address the flat building yield issue that I'd like to see is more of an incentive to have specialists in districts. If you added GP points for specialists and had their yields scale exponentially (e.g. the first specialist in a commercial hub would give 4 gold, but if you have two specialists they each give 8 gold, while three specialists would each give 16) it would create a greater incentive to grow a high population in developed cities rather than always defaulting to sprawling all over the map with new cities for new districts.
     
  15. ezzlar

    ezzlar Emperor

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    I have been thinking about the river adjacency bonus for Commercial Hubs. It gives a bonus of +2 if next to a river. It doesn´t however give +4 if next to two tiles of rivers or different rivers (maybe they should when the rivers are different). This way of thinking is interesting for other bonuses like for campuses. One mountain tile could give +2 science but more than one shouldnt give more.

    This would could make small city spam around a mountain a bit less meaningful.
     
  16. hhhhhh

    hhhhhh Prince

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    When I see flat vs. scaling in the title I thought you will mention how expensive the late game districts are. They are so expensive that you cannot build it without chopping woods. How am I suppose to really build a campus/encampment in a new 1-pop city if they cost 250 production? It's just ridiculously prohibitive without chopping.
     
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  17. UWHabs

    UWHabs Deity

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    Some good points in the above. I think a lot of this is really dealing with the "v1" edition of districts, and now that we see the basics, there's a lot of new ways they can go that would really help. Some of the changes I would love to see in a civ 7:
    1. districts and buildings need population to work them. Perhaps city-centre buildings would be immune, but they already gate districts by population. What if they changed the model up so that instead of getting large yields from a building, and then small yield from the "specialist" slots, it was completely turned around to give only a minimal base yield, but a large yield per pop? So, you build a campus and it gives 0 unless if you have a person assigned to it to work it for the adjacency. Then you build a library, and again, it yields basically 0 unless if you have a person who can be assigned there. This, to me, would have a double bonus - for one, it means that you can't rush a size 1 city campus, since you only have 1 population point to play with, nobody is available to work the research lab there yet, so the city would need to grow to size 3 or 4 before you get the bonus from that.
    The added bonus to this is that you then have a perfectly natural mechanism to limit their building - no reason why you can't build a campus, commerce hub, harbor, and industrial zone in your size 1 city, but more of them are going to run abandoned until you get enough workers for them. And then you also have a natural way to simulate industrialization and urbanization - play around with amenities, food caps, housing caps, food costs, etc... to be able to switch from having more people work the "fields" to having more people work the "factories".
    2. Regional buildings: Yes, please! I definitely think it's a missed opportunity to not make universities and research labs, and museums and broadcast towers, etc... into regional buildings. Suddenly that second campus becomes a lot less valuable if you're only getting a single great scientist point from the university since the city is already covered. You can even have this balance with the above point too, by having a slot for people working in a regional building. So, for example, I need to have one of my citizens from New York work in Philadelphia's Factory in order to gain the regional benefit from it.
    3. Alternate buildings/flat yields/etc... Yes please too. The more that can be done to customize your empire, the better the game is for it. One of the aspects I actually really like are how the pantheons can totally change your holy site placement, why not do that for most districts? Like, perhaps I end up in a mountainous region, and want my campuses to focus on astronomy and stellar research and physics. But you start in the jungle, so you want to focus more on biology and natural research. Whether that's done by policy cards, buildings, pantheons, civics, etc... those are all design/balance decisions. But the more choices I have, the better the game is. There's definitely games where I would love to be given something like "Goddess of the Sea - fishing boats gain +1 production and holy sites get a major adjacency from being adjacent to coastal tiles" and now my empire builds their shrines along the water rather than hidden in a mountain range.

    Overall, I think the current system does a pretty solid job, but there's a few changes that could be done that wouldn't completely rewrite the current setup, but would give a lot more strategy and depth to how they would interact and how you would build your empire.
     
  18. aieeegrunt

    aieeegrunt King

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    More and more I think merging the concepts of disrricts, improvements and builders would be simpler, more intuitive AND deeper

    Assign a pop to a grassland tile and tell it to build a farm. After the farm is done you can assign another pop to build say a watermill that boosts farm yields if you are next to a river and you have the right tech. You have the option to rush build it with gold, faith or hammers.

    Similarily you can have a pop on a hill that builds a mine, that later can be expanded with mills, workshops etc that gives you hammers

    This way your pop directly and intuitively limits what you can work, and having more cities versus bigger cities is a real strategic decision. It also means that being hemmed in is no longer a death sentance, witj the right terrain, techs etc a One City Challenge is an actual viable strategy and historically powerful civs like the Dutch can actually exist without everything being endless ICS
     
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  19. kaspergm

    kaspergm Deity

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    I support everything you say here 100 %. I regretted that I forgot to put this in the thread, so thank you for writing this up so excellently. We had this discussion in another thread recently also (I don't recall where), but I do agree the game overall needs to move towards a regime where most of the "special" yields (science, culture, faith, and at least to some extent even culture and gold) comes from people working in buildings (i.e. specialists) rather than magical yields that just come from the building or district being there.

    Also, I don't know if you are aware of the City Lights mod, but this mod does at least some of what you suggest in terms of urbaniation and industrialization: It lets your cities specialize either as "urban cities" (through special urban districts that work a bit like extra city centers) or rural districts (through rural districts that come in the form of either farming, mining or fishing village). Urban districts will apply negative yields to farms and mines in their city, encouraging you to grow these cities tall with many districts and specialist slots to work. Rural districts will add extra yields to trade routes going to the city, thus allowing these cities to support the urban cities with food. The system is not perfect, because there's only so much that can be done within the existing frame of Civ6, but it's still a very innovative and interesting step in the right direction.
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2021
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  20. Steamboat Willem

    Steamboat Willem Warlord

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    Factories (specially with an Oil or Nuclear Power Plant), trade routes, buy districts outright with Reyna or Moksha, settle 4 pop cities with a Hic Sunt Dracones Golden Age....
     

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