[NFP] [discussion] Major flaws of Civ VI - part 3: Faith economy and production costs

Discussion in 'Civ6 - General Discussions' started by kaspergm, Oct 18, 2021.

  1. kaspergm

    kaspergm Deity

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    It’s been a while since I did the last two threads on this topic (part 1 and part 2), but being back to Civ6 again after a detour around Humankind, I thought it was worth revisiting the topic of major flaws of the game, even if we’re at a point in the development cycle where changes are unlikely.

    In this topic I want to discuss the faith economy, and more specifically, how it’s turned into an effective disrupter of a number of balancing handles of the rest of the game. It’s worth noting that the fault for this not only lies with Firaxis, but that this was a big demand by many players during the first half of the game’s development cycle, where players complained that “faith was useless if not going for a religious victory”.

    The problem with the faith economy imo. is two-fold: It’s developed into an almost universal currency and it scales poorly compared to other yields (or maybe it rather scales favorably, but either way …). The reason why this is a problem is that a big part of the decision-making in Civ is centered around production and build order: What should you produce first in your city, should you focus on military, infrastructure or growth, etc. The faith economy to a large extent eliminates much of this decisionmaking because it allows you to instantly buy almost everything in the game - not right from the outset, but gradually throughout the game with the proper development and, arguably, some luck. To sum up what faith economy offers:
    • Buying builders, settlers and traders with Monumentality in classical, medieval and/or renaissance golden age.
    • Buying districts with Mokshas level 3 promotion.
    • Buying military units with the level 2 building Grand Master’s Chapel.
    • Buying city center buildings (including Flood Barriers) if suzerain of Valetta.
    • Buying the Nihang unit if suzerain of Lahore.
    • And of course buying religious units and worship buildings.
    Arguably the biggest issue here is Monumentality, so one could argue the problem is not so much the faith economy itself, but that ages and Monumentality in particular are broken, and the latter is certainly true. I will still hold that faith economy itself is bad for the game, at least in its current state of poor balance. Thus, faith is a yield that is readily available from the very early part of the game - in fact, I’d argue it’s easier to get a high faith yields early game than it is to get a high gold yield - yet faith buying requires a lot less faith for the same item than gold buying does, making faith buying a lot more accessible in early game.

    It can also be argued that faith economy is balanced by the fact that you need to invest governor promotions and envoys to get access to the different areas, or need to trigger a golden age, and that is also true. The problem is that in most games, the different applications of faith economy come at different points of the game, and thus they will not really compete with each other: In early game (classical, medieval), you will use faith economy to spam builders and settlers once you trigger a golden age (can be tricky to get faith running in classical, but by medieval, this is very easy). While you use your faith economy to expand and develop your empire, you will build up your government plaza and promote Moksha and Amani, paving the way for the second wave of your faith economy, buying districts in your newly placed cities or buying military units to defend your empire. If special city states like Valetta is in the game, even better, this will allow you to boost and bolster your new cities even faster, but even without this, buying an instant Harbor or Holy Site quickly can be extremely potent.

    The game also offers a number of synergies to make faith economy even more poorly balanced. These include Monumentality + Magnus with Provision to prevent population loss when faith-buying settlers, or Moksha + Work Ethic + Scripture + pantheon belief of choice, for potentially massive faith and production boost when buying a holy site in a new city. And finally, the issues with faith economy taps into another big problem with the game, namely that “normal” production generally takes a very long time - too long imo. - an issue which goes way back to the original Industrial Zone system (where they could overlap on their AOE yields), and which obviously makes any manner of instant-buying even more powerful.

    Tl;dr: Faith economy offers an easily accessible way to circumvent production as the bottleneck for empire development, thus eliminating much of the strategic planning normally required for succeeding in the game.
     
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  2. Varde

    Varde Chieftain

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    I must disagree, I see faith as a bonus economy, which is easily accessible to all (build a holy site; temples, etc).

    I think you're thought-wave is that faith is a distinct feature when in fact, it's part of the primary gameplay. You must juggle it as well as the other economic foundries.
     
  3. UWHabs

    UWHabs Deity

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    IMO, the problem with faith economies is that there are certainly some pieces (notably Monumentality) that are simply unbalanced. The ability to faith purchase 2 of the most valuable units in the game in settlers and builders, and having that available at a discount, is simply too valuable if you can get the faith economy set up early.

    Generally speaking, the game treats yields in a 1:2:4 ratio for Production : Faith : Gold when setting prices. So if you compare base adjacencies, a +1 Industrial zone is essentially equivalent to a +2 Holy Site and a +4 commerce hub. As base yields, given the various improvement to industrial zones with the green districts, I think in time you can get some good yields there, but it's still easier to get that early holy site going. However, more important really is the shrine. A workshop yields +3, but costs 195 to build. A shrine gives +2 faith for 70 production. A Market is only +3 gold at 120 production cost (although obviously yields much more with trade routes). Thus, you can see that shrines are massively more valuable in yield/production, which is another big factor. @kaspergm is definitely correct in that it's a lot easier to "set up" a faith economy vs a production economy, which to me truly doesn't get going until you have your dams up and running, which usually to me doesn't happen until I can spam Military Engineers to get that production, which also requires encampments and armories.

    But overall, even with the imbalance of shrines, if you didn't have the Monumentality bonus, I don't think it would be a big problem. It's great to give you another yield to potentially focus on. I do think that the Grandmaster's Chapel, especially combined with the Theocracy faith purchase bonus does also give a slightly too favorable condition, and I do think that that makes it a little too direct of a use for faith. But honestly even when I am running a large faith yield, there's many uses for it that I do get pulled in many directions, and that's not a problem.

    If I had to fix things, I think removing the faith bonus from Monumentality (which they half did with the Dramatic Ages mode, removing the bonus to settlers from the card) would be the first place I would go. If you could slightly alter the yield balance between Shrines and Workshops that would be the second step. And third, I do think that if you wanted to truly use a faith economy, it should really be more impacted by your use of the religious game. What I mean by that is that right now, you can spam holy sites, shrines, and temples, never build a missionary or apostle, but yet gain 100% use of all that faith for whatever uses. I think if the faith economy somehow forces you to at least spend a small amount of faith to keep a religion at play in your empire, that might balance it more. So, for example, if Theocracy was balanced more like "-15% faith cost in cities following your majority religion. +10% in other cities", then you would essentially need to spread the majority religion to gain full advantage of that bonus. Heck, you could even have something along those lines as a global bonus always, not even just in theocracy. That way you could still use the faith game even ignoring religion, but would give a global bonus to the faith game if you are also chaining it with religion.
     
  4. kaspergm

    kaspergm Deity

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    Well we don't really disagree on the first part, the point is rather: Is it a good idea to have faith - or any other form of - "bonus economy"? What I'm trying to argue is that the answer is no.

    The are several reasons I find this. First off, one must ask: Why do we even need another "buy" currency, when we have gold - which not only does the job in terms of game mechanics, but has the added value of being actually logically and historically meaningful in this role. Secondly. as UWHabs also makes clear, once you introduce "alternative economies", you run into trouble if these economies are not balanced properly against each other, and the problem is that faith is a much more accessible currency in the game, much more so in the early half of the game (minus perhaps ancient and early classical era), yet still faith buying takes fewer currency units than producing and gold buying.
     
  5. aieeegrunt

    aieeegrunt King

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    Monumentality is broken, full stop. There is very little reason to not pick it if available
     
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  6. GinandTonic

    GinandTonic Saphire w/ Schweps + Lime

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    There are plenty of situations where it is better to simply ignore faith entirely. Without monumentality it would be better to avoid faith in most playthroughs. Monumentality is OP, but what are the other non-religious uses of faith? The ability to snipe the right GP is nice, but it would be a better use of a district slot to simply build more districts. Valletta is very nice in the fraction of games it appears in, but even if it is there it is vanishingly unlikely you have a early suz on it.

    I used to have a lot of time for the Grand Masters Chapel strat of letting you be greedy and underdefended, but I now less convinced. Even without monumentality the hammer benefit of Ancestral Hall is hard to overcome. You need the units early to deter the early AI, after that unit prod is mostly irrelevant. By the time you can use the GMC it's too late - excepting certain civs uniques.

    Without monumentality I would rarely bother with Holy sites for a non RV, excepting a specific work ethic/ choral music strat.
     
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  7. UWHabs

    UWHabs Deity

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    To me, I think having the religious game be based on "faith" and not simply money makes sense to separate it out, and force you down a different path. It adds a different thing for you to chase, and lets you potentially play a religious game even if you don't have a superb production or economy at play. So that adds interest.

    But one of the complaints when they first brought in faith was that it was just for religion, and nothing else until much later in the game. So 6 went the other way, and has devised a lot of new ways to spend it. National Parks, Rock Bands, potentially units, etc... Now, I can agree that I think they may have gone with too many choices - why spend a lot of faith for marginal bonuses to religion, when I can use it for much bigger benefits otherwise? So I certainly wouldn't mind if they scaled back what you could spend it on, and even if they gave it a "bad" exchange rate so that you were encouraged to spend it on religion, but in a pinch could use it to help you somewhere else if you weren't worried about the religion.
     
  8. Oberinspektor Derrick

    Oberinspektor Derrick Warlord

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    Monumentality + 4x Moksha is broken OP for certain civs, especially tundra based ones. Not sure Moksha would need the nerf, but monumentality should never have been a thing. Also balancing faith buying is hard because of how the yields vary dramatically. With a good pantheon players can rake in ridiculous amounts of faith very early in the game and nearly break the game, but take away those pantheons and it becomes a lot harder. Imo dance/folklore/sacred path should get nerfed to minor adjacency bonuses, they are too much of a gamechanger in their current form with standard adjacency (and work ethic on top of it). When a game is almost won or lost based on a pantheon alone, that pantheon is too impactful. These days, if I spawn on or near tundra for instance (even as a civ with no tundra bonuses), I'll go dance of the aurora and spam holy sites, almost regardless of victory type. Had recent games like Portugal science, Greece culture and Zulu domination, where I spawned near tundra and went for it. All very smooth wins on Deity.
     
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  9. UWHabs

    UWHabs Deity

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    Yeah, they kept nerfing Goddess of the Harvest and Earth Goddess because they were way too strong, but still never touched Desert Folklore or Dance of the Aurora which can be even more broken, especially since there are other mechanisms to turn adjacency to other yields too. A minor bonus per tile yeah would give it a max +3, and more often only +2, rather than +4/+5/+6, and that would definitely help. And the fact that they add to the base adjacency also has a lot of other tack-on effects - you get one of them and it's a lot easier to hit the +3 for the era score bonus, it means you're always running +4 or more for the later policy card bonus, and because the double-adjacency card comes in fairly early, it ends up even better. It's definitely the biggest way to snowball, and because the way maps roll out, you tend to get some big stretches of desert/tundra, and don't want to place anything else on them, which just adds even more to the benefit. Like at least Sacred Path competes against chopping rainforests, even if that ends up being the less balanced way to handle it where it's usually stronger early and then will slowly fade over time as you develop the lands.
     
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  10. DizzKneeLand33

    DizzKneeLand33 Fall from Heaven 2 still rocks

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    So, in order to figure out if faith is truly broken, maybe the first step is to eliminate Monumentality? Maybe eliminating ages completely would make things more balanced. It's hard to say without doing this how much is the fault of faith itself.

    Good points overall @kaspergm
     
  11. aieeegrunt

    aieeegrunt King

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    It’s very much an all or nothing thing. Either you base your whole strategy around faith and monumentality, or you ignore religion completely

    That is a sign of a bad mechanic

    It is surprising how many of these issues go away if you only play the basic game
     
  12. Socrates99

    Socrates99 Bottoms up!

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    There's a whole lot of "if thens" in the OP. Honestly I can't remember the last time I used Moksha to faith buy a district. When I'm going religious I need that faith for spread and when I'm not going religious the governor promos are almost 100% better spent elsewhere. Nihang and Valetta are great but only an issue if you're picking your CSs and there are about a dozen CSs I'd rather get....well maybe not Valetta, those faith bought flood barriers are just so awesome but I think that goes back to conventional production just taking too long.

    GMC and monumentality might be op though. If anything I might scale faith cost for units a smidge higher.
     
  13. Oberinspektor Derrick

    Oberinspektor Derrick Warlord

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    It's really the synergy that is the problem, not either monumentality or faith by itself.
    You can get a mountain of faith per turn early, but no real "outlets" for that faith (except missionaries) if you dont have monumentality. That by itself keeps faith in check, because you arent getting a super strong snowball rolling with all that faith alone.
    Similarly with monumentality, it isn't broken by itself. If you dont have any super strong base adjacency from holy sites, you usually have so little faith that you only get a handful of builders out of it, maybe a settler or two.
    Again, nothing game-breaking.
    Combine the two however, and you can in some cases spam a new settler every 2-3 turns.
    This combination is game-breaking, and should imo not be in the game.
     
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2021
  14. James_Champagne

    James_Champagne Warlord

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    Can't believe I've played this game for over 1000 hours and I didn't even know about this. I REALLY need to start paying better attention to the governor's perks.
     
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  15. kaspergm

    kaspergm Deity

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    It's a good point that synergy is a major issue here. This also ties into Civ6's general design philosophy which seems to be "more is more" (and more with more on top is even more), which really shows with how they designed NFP (and is perhaps THE major flaw of Civ6). I'm not sure I agree that Monumentality is not in itself inherently broken, but that is probably a moot point, because as you say, the game is played as a whole, not as each individual part in isolation. The fact that Monumentality repeats over three eras - and can be picked repeatedly over all three eras - is obviously another major issue here, which ties into the design of the era system, which merits a topic of its own.

    There are some interesting points brought up wrt. pantheons and whether the desert/tundra/jungle-pantheons should be nerfed. I'd probably go the other way: I'd leave these pantheons as they are, but boost some of (a lot of) the other pantheons and increase the faith cost for buying things to make faith less valuable as a universal currency. The reason I would do this is that a lot of pantheons have already been nerfed into uselessness - Harvest was completely removed, and both Earth Goddess and Divine Spark have been nerfed to the point where they don't make much of a difference. I often find myself in the situation where I need to pick a pantheon and look at a list with 20-or-something choices and literally think: All of these are trash for me in my current situation. When the choice is between getting perhaps +2-3 culture from plantations or pastures, or getting perhaps 3-4 faith from quarries or mines, it feels rather boring.

    I certainly agree with the last part. Just out of curiosity, where are the governor promos better used? This is an honest question from my end, because I find the governors to be mostly trash. Obviously you want to throw at least three promos into Pingala for start, to get the double GP promo, in most situations I also want both the culture and science boost. Throwing at least one promo into recruiting Armani also seems universally usefull, and sometimes if a really important city state comes up and is contested (Bologna, Yerevan, Valletta?), going for the level 3 promotion on Armani can also be a priority (but I'd argue that often this can wait). Depending on food and chopping availability, recruiting Magnus and giving him the settler promotion is also generally useful (but if you have a city with good food access, for instance sugar or spice resources, I'd argue the settler promotion is actually less useful than it looks on paper, because the city will most likely be housing capped and will replace the lost population in a couple of turn anyway). On the other hand, I practically never see any reason to recruit Victor, Liang or Reyna until later.

    So depending on your priorities, you can realistically have Moksha up and running by the time you finish Guilds and Medieval Fairs in late Medieval era (by this time, you will have 6 promotions from civics and 3 from Government Plaza). Getting one or two governor promotions from huts will obviously help a lot in giving you the liberty to invest heavily in Moksha, but unlocking Moksha by late medieval is just about perfect timing to having your faith economy set up and having had the opportunity to benefit from Monumentality in classical and/or medieval era.
     
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2021
  16. Thormodr

    Thormodr Servant of Civ Supporter

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    While I am sure some rejiggering could be done in regards to faith, I am having a lot of fun in my current Khmer game with faith. Yes, Monumentality is extremely strong but meh, there are lots of strong things to have fun with in Civ VI. It's fun to REX and rapidly grow huge cities with Khmer.
     
  17. UWHabs

    UWHabs Deity

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    Yeah, if I had to choose between "all pantheons are OP" or "all pantheons suck", sure, give me some good options.

    For governors, my problem with Moksha is that it takes a lot of promotions to get to the faith buying districts that it's never worth it to me until very late. Using your numbers of my first 9 governor promotions, I would probably say that in an average game if I'm not trying to play too much to a theme I would always have:
    Pingala: 4 (base, +science, +culture, Dbl GPP)
    Amani: 1
    Magnus: 1
    And then I have 3 more to play with, so even with that, I can't get up to Moksha's faith buying districts. Especially by that late medieval time, I start to be able to have more uses for faith, so I'm not really desperate for faith buying districts. Especially in Monumentality, you can buy builders quick, so if you combine the cheaper price to buy them with the free charge from Liang, you can very cheaply make sure your entire empire is improved very quickly. It can also be a good time to be spamming fisheries, which have a fairly strong early yield in some cases and can really help make coastal cities productive. And sometimes I simply need to have multiple governors because I needed one for loyalty, so there's always some games where I just have to waste a governor title randomly because I don't want to move Pingala to the battlefront.

    Moksha does have a time, and especially if you're playing a civ like a Mali, then it's a no-brainer to go that route and use faith buying districts as a way to get new cities online super fast. Or obviously it chains really well if you have some of those super adjacency holy sites, you can easily get into the settle a city - pop in Moksha - 5 turns later, buy a +5 holy site with the doubled adjacency+work ethic giving the city +10 production. It can be a fun setup to get going, but it's still relatively rare to really be able to fully capitalize on.
     
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  18. Oberinspektor Derrick

    Oberinspektor Derrick Warlord

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    I use this all the time. To somewhat reliably use it, you need tundra (as opposed to desert/jungle where this is a lot harder to abuse). Tundra because the pantheon is relatively uncontested, there is usually a lot of tundra to settle, and the land is relatively uncontested as well.

    I recently abused this as I mentioned earlier, both for Portugal science, Pericles culture and Zulu domination, for smooth deity wins. I personally think tundra, right now, is among the absolutely strongest terrain types because of the dance + work ethic + monumentality + 4x Moksha synergy. It's absolutely bonkers how fast you can buy settlers and buy a fresh +6-8 adjacency holy site in the new cities, and eventually have the faith cost repay itself very quickly for every new city you do this with.
     
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  19. Varde

    Varde Chieftain

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    I think that 'Tithe' should be +1Gold (down from +2Gold). Other than that I'm pretty swell with faith, it's a nice gameplay element. I called it 'Bonus' economy before.

    Luxury Resources; conflated with gold.
    Bonus Resources; conflated with faith.
    Strate. Resources; conflated with prod.

    The three forms of unnatural progression seem to fit well with the game shape. I would suggest, again, halving 'Tithe', but other than that it's perfect.
     
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  20. Victoria

    Victoria Regina Supporter

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    Monumentality is the major issue, no one doubts that.
    There are niche civ’s / strategies that make gold buying good but not as great as faith buying.
    This is based the fact that you get holy sites earlier, holy site adjacency cards earlier, you get a small amount of extra faith once all the prophets are gone and there is more faith tiles to pillage. Also you have to consider getting to CH in the ancient era costs more science due to being a classical era district.
    GOTM shows time and again for the min/max era that faith is the better currency. By extending its use into modern eras a CH lost its ascendency value later. The CH is one of those districts that does give benefits to other districts but overall and more vitally, it is the early game that dictates the speed and ease of success later.

    I am not convinced by all of the OP’s arguments but most are valid.

    To me the bottom line is the faith benefits kick in earlier and you get more bang for your buck out of it but it would not be as good without monumentality to be able to convert faith into builders and settlers. This ignoring the more truly religious benefits like the CV OP reliquaries, converting faith into production and getting significant combat bonuses.

    Production was once king, gold could be considered god but faith is a better gold at the end of this civ iteration. The fact all 3 vie for top place to some degree I feel is great. If faith only gave 30% in monumentality but gold gave 50% there may be more of a balance in the game.
    There are civs in the game that you just would not push faith because they are skewed to gold or production. So things are not extreme but faith is more than queen.
     
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