Do we really need "balance"?

Discussion in 'Civ6 - General Discussions' started by Lily_Lancer, Nov 19, 2020.

?

Do we really need balance?

  1. Yes, balancing Civilizations is vital.

    45 vote(s)
    40.5%
  2. No, imbalance Civilizations brings more fun.

    66 vote(s)
    59.5%
  1. Lily_Lancer

    Lily_Lancer Deity

    Joined:
    May 25, 2017
    Messages:
    2,387
    Location:
    Berkeley,CA
    Do we really need balance between civilization?

    The Civ6 has never be, and will never become a balanced game, indeed power of Civs, starting locations, city states, etc. are hugely gapped.

    Hills with trees are strictly better than plains. Kumasi and Geneva are superior to Antioch or Singapore, Babylon and Gran Columbia are much more powerful than Canada or Georgia to any extent.

    Does this imbalanced setting actually brings more fun, as being imbalanced brings a lot of different situations, much more than being balanced, and therefore games will be less repetitive?

    Also, as the developers are not able to make AI with simple intelligence, for single player game there has never been balance, and balance has never been important.

    Is it the case for Civ6?
     
  2. FinalDoomsday

    FinalDoomsday Prince

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2007
    Messages:
    481
    Location:
    Maldon, Essex
    For me it feels like wasted time trying to make fair and reasonable nerfs to a civ that performs well when they could have been looking at a weak/uninteresting civ and lifting it up.

    Purely from my own standpoint when I'm browsing patch notes and see a weak civ has had some upgrades or has been reworked I'm inclined to go into a game and try them out, its exciting. If its just nerfs it doesnt interest me. A nerf can be exciting in a competitive game where some meta or character has been dominating the field and making the game stale but for Civ the AI does not play to any metas and cant exploit OP civs and play mostly the same way regardless of what civ they are controlling.

    It doesnt mean balance is worthless in a mostly single player game but I think it needs a different approach from multiplayer games.
     
  3. Futumch

    Futumch Calm as a Coma

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2001
    Messages:
    754
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    142 E 42 S
    In the original Civ, there was balance because all civs played with the same units and structures. It was only the personalities of the AI leaders that differed. The idea that all the civs have the same toolkit has long gone now. Maybe there is scope for a game mode that completely removes all civ race bonuses, unique units and buildings and has everyone using the same stuff.
    It might be lots of fun, but it might be bloody boring - given that we've become accustomed to the quirks of all these wacky civs.
     
    8housesofelixir and Josephias like this.
  4. Casworon

    Casworon Prince

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2014
    Messages:
    527
    To be honest I might actually prefer this. Currently my main gripes with Civ and more generally 4x games in general is that you create this lovely world for you to react too and adapt too, and then suddenly the very binary choices of starting civ and the way the victory conditions are designed forces you to ignore the world and stick to 'the plan' removing all the joy from adapting to your environment and making your decisions on the fly.

    Make us all start the same and then design our own custom civilizations as we play, and do something with the victory conditions. I'm not sure about getting rid of them all together but definitely make them more intertwined so progress down one helps the others in someway, so we can pivot and adapt.

    In terms of balancing the civs, I would make them all weaker modifier choices and then bring some of the unique abilities into the main game. For example Victoria's england. I feel like the +1 trade route for each continent with a city on it should be a base game mechanic that all the civs can use. Or tribal village bonuses for clearing barb camps.

    At this point I'm talking about a very different game though
     
    Cedbird77, Elhoim, j51 and 2 others like this.
  5. EgonSpengler

    EgonSpengler Deity

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2014
    Messages:
    7,819
    Gender:
    Male
    As Civ is primarily a single-player game, there's no great need for exquisite balance. I wouldn't mind seeing some kind of well-informed "Tier" ranking of the Civs that would allow people another way of tweaking the game's difficulty to suit their tastes - not just in who you play as, but who you play against, or even who you spawn near - and to help people who like multiplayer create balanced competitions without resorting to trial-and-error. I wouldn't want a new Civ to go too far outside established parameters, but balance needn't be a real high priority for the devs, imo. I was joking about the Borg and the Goa'uld in the other thread, but really, if a player wants one uber-Civ in a given game, specifically to create a late-game "boss monster" that they have to defeat to get the win, I say go for it.

    This is why I don't usually play on the highest Difficulty I can manage, because in order to win the toughest of games, I have to focus my gameplay early, cut all of the corners and all of the fat, and put the pedal to the metal. It closes down my options and narrows the game to do that, which is less fun. (I'd like the AI to be less of a goober, doing [crap] like building a Galley in a 3-hex lake - not even a Trireme, with a ranged attack, a [flipping] Galley - but not because of the relative ease of winning the game. If the AI were better, I'd probably play on a lower Difficulty setting to find my 'happy place' where I can sort of roleplay a little.)
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2020
    King Rad, Noble Zarkon and Casworon like this.
  6. Republic of San Montuoso

    Republic of San Montuoso King

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2017
    Messages:
    773
    Gender:
    Male
    Balance only interest two people: minmaxers and multiplayers with the intent to win.

    I have personally a deep hatred against minmaxers (because, in all 4X or grand strategy game, every fun thing is asked to be tone down by minmaxers because it destroys the meta) so their opinion is irrelevant for me.

    Multiplayers are a thing, and I'm sometimes one myself. But even for that, balance should not be such a thing. When you're playing, one might play to have fun, so fun should be the first criteria to judge a civ. Korea is overpowered, but it's no fun, for example. But, on the other hand, every player is not as strong as the other. Having imbalanced civ is a way of choosing your own difficulty.
    Like, for example, let's suppose a very good player and a casual one began a game together, and all civs are perfectly balanced. The very good player will ultimately skyrocket while the other one will stale behind, and it will be no fun for both because for one there would be no challenge and for the other absolutely no chance of victory.
    But now, if the very good player choose Georgia and the other one choose Gran Columbia, then the balance is somehow restaured. The good player would have some challenge while the other one will have more chance to not be behind.

    Sure, people playing with random players on the same level roughly would need balance then.

    So, who would need balance? Minmaxers and ranked, very good multiplayers. Are they an enough part of the fanbase to justify reworking every civilization and taking off the fun of a lot of them? I don't think so.

    (But, after, that, some civs are weak and boring, so they have no excuse to still be present as they are... A civ should be at least strong or fun (maybe both?) but none? Well, that's a shame).
     
  7. _hero_

    _hero_ King

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2002
    Messages:
    796
    I don't think you need perfect balance, but I do think if you're going to have civs with unique abilities, every civ needs some fun interesting strategy that they can pursue. A leader like Eleanor is considered weak, but if you ignore that fact and actually play her and get her into a power position, it becomes quite fun to start loyalty flipping entire empires out of existence. Contrast this with another weak leader, Tamar, whose abilities have no synergy and no clear way to exploit them and are just plain weak overall in the base game.
     
    Noble Zarkon likes this.
  8. Karmah

    Karmah Emperor Supporter

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2011
    Messages:
    1,125
    My position has always been that balance is a myth not reacheable at least by a human brain. The stance since warcraft3 from game designers has always been instead to organise imbalances around meta-shifts with a reasonnable cadence of patches forcing player to adapt constantly and renewing the interrest in the game. As civ is less a MP game than most , having imbalances is less of an issue , you choose what you play , roleplay if you want etc ... but stll organizing meta-shifts would go a long way in renewing the game for hardcore player.
     
    Zaarin, 8housesofelixir and Piranga like this.
  9. kaspergm

    kaspergm Deity

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2012
    Messages:
    5,262
    I agree with this, not all civs need to be equally strong, but all civs need to have a niche where they will shine.

    When that's said, I think it's very bad for the game that some terrain starts - many hills and forests - are just flat out better than others (many flat plains and grassland).
     
    Piranga likes this.
  10. Krajzen

    Krajzen Deity

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2013
    Messages:
    3,075
    Location:
    Poland
    Balance in the singleplayer matters when there is a decent difficulty level. In such case, it is a lot of fun trying to beat the game, and it does matter if there are many options to do so, none of them extremely overpowered by comparision. I am a fan of Darkest Dungeon, famously challenging rpg/tactics game, and here balance matters a lot.

    Of course, in civ6 there is no difficulty at all and nothing matters anyway, so whatever. The game is a sim city sandbox against braindead AI and pacifists, stagnating world.
     
    salty mud and Elhoim like this.
  11. Navelgazer

    Navelgazer King

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2012
    Messages:
    780
    Gender:
    Male
    For me? Well, I don't play MP, so balance is a total non-issue. You can have a ball with the bonuses of a Gran Colombia or Byzantium or see what's possible playing into the strengths and around the relative weaknesses of a Georgia (who is way better than they used to be, at least, but still no threat for a Dom victory or dom-assisted victory.)

    For others? Maybe. I dunno. The newer civs, especially in NFP, have been significantly more powerful than the older ones (Maya excepted as a special case) but also, "God Tier" is so crowded now as to, I would hope, no longer be a problem for MP. If enough civs are OP then the issue ceases to exist, really.
     
    Socrates99 likes this.
  12. leandrombraz

    leandrombraz Emperor

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2014
    Messages:
    1,443
    Gender:
    Male
    Every game needs balance. Even on SP, you don't want a Civ to be so superior that people feel like they have to always play that Civ, ignoring all the others, nor you want a Civ to be so weak, nobody wants to use it. It's pointless to have variety if the game is so unbalanced, people end up using the same OP Civs all the time. That's true for every system in the game. The game is better when most options are considered by the player and used in different situations, instead of having a few that the player feels like he can't play without choosing it. SP doesn't need every Civ to be on the exact same level, it doesn't need a fight between two Civs to be fair, but it needs to keep everything on a level that is close enough for the player to feel that he can choose any Civ he wants to play with. It's a matter of preserving the variety of the game and making options relevant.

    MP should have its own balance. Just like some game modes are getting special abilities for some Civs, some MP civs that are ok for SP but that ruins competitiveness in MP should get a unique MP version of its abilities. It could even be a separate "MP balance" game mode that MP players can choose when they start a new game.
     
    slavaskii likes this.
  13. maconnolly

    maconnolly Warlord Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2019
    Messages:
    164
    Gender:
    Male
    Civilization is a game of absolutes. There's no getting away from the idea that you need a degree of balance when the available victory conditions are the same for all the competitors.

    The approach to balance in Civilization games is to present numerous ways to win, but to give each competitor, in theory, an equal chance to reach one (or more) of those victory conditions.

    The alternative approach is to have relative victory conditions - at which point, balancing different civilizations is not necessary in the absolute context. In this model, it becomes about catering for different challenges - which is essentially what Europa Universalis does.

    I am personally OK with the relative balance and the approach Civilization takes. I prefer the variation introduced by having unique civilizations, with different characteristics, than the absolute alternative that they are all the same, but with different colour schemes/flavour text. Overall, the game is more interesting because of it.

    I think it would also be an interesting - albeit revolutionary, for Civilization games at least - approach to explore varying victory conditions with unbalanced civilizations. I guess there is already a degree of that within the Scenario framework - applying this to a 'start-from-scratch' sandbox game is much more of a challenge, though.
     
  14. Amrunril

    Amrunril Emperor

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2015
    Messages:
    1,234
    A game as complex as civ is never going to be perfectly balanced. But that doesn't mean the devs shouldn't try to make it as well balanced as possible. Having unique civs adds a lot to the game, but much of that value is lost if those civs aren't balanced well enough to compete in a reasonably fair game. And given how much effort goes into creating unique artwork for each civ, balance adjustments are comparatively small investment to ensure that a civ's potential to improve the game is actually realized.

    This balance shouldn't come at the expense of interesting abilities. Fortunately, it doesn't need to. Every civ in Civ VI has a lot of unique abilities, which means that if a given ability is stronger than average, it can be packaged with weaker than average ones with no need to water any of them down. Or, strong, asymmetric abilities can come with built in drawbacks, as we see in civs like Mali and Babylon. Most civs also have elements that can be tweaked numerically, or minor bonuses that could be removed, without compromising the overall uniqueness of the civ. If, for instance, Gaul proves to be too strong, the devs could tone down the combat bonus from King of the Eburones while keeping the unique city planning mechanics completely intact.

    Regarding the idea of separate balance for multiplayer, to me, that framework seems backwards. Multiplayer isn't adding any new rules or structure to the game. Rather, it's revealing how the game works before the AI's difficulty bonuses and arbitrary behaviors are stacked on top of it. If part of the game doesn't work well under those conditions, or if some civ or strategy isn't viable, that's not a problem with multiplayer, it's a problem with the underlying game being masked by the AI's shortcomings. Resolving these issues might seem like a focus on multiplayer, but I think it would be better understood as using multiplayer as a stress test to improve the game as a whole.
     
    maconnolly likes this.
  15. criZp

    criZp Emperor

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2013
    Messages:
    1,923
    Location:
    Nidaros, Norway
    I see balancing as making sure every option has its time and place. And if an option does not, then why even have it? So yes, balancing is important.
     
  16. Archon_Wing

    Archon_Wing Vote for me or die

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2005
    Messages:
    5,244
    Gender:
    Male
    We need balance to a degree that some choices are meaningful. If something is always useless, then why put it in to begin with? Yes, things will never be balanced, but that's like saying you should never clean you room because it's going to be dirty anyways.

    Since a lot of you are good with numbers, then you should know there's a huge difference between "97% useless" and "99% useless, and especially between "99% useless vs 100% useless".

    Also hills being strictly better than flatland is one of the worst cases of dumbing down in this franchise. In Civ 4, all hills were food deficit on their own, so you needed food to even work hills.

    Of course, it should be fine that some terrain is better than others. You should probably avoid settling in the desert though given how things work, you might as well anyways. City States being imbalanced is also a bit fine, since you should be able to target some, though some really break the game too hard.

    While all rng based spawn games often have super spawns that hand the game to you, this game does it quite a bit. Hence the "pros", who are just really good at restarting until they roll a good map and think they have brilliant strategies but in reality there was no strategy whatsoever and you could win just by rolling your face on the keyboard.

    And finally, I would like to give all my contempt against power creeped civs for the sale of DLC. I generally despise these civs; like you know, the one coming out today.
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2020
  17. IvoryPavane

    IvoryPavane Prince

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2019
    Messages:
    365
    I don’t think you need perfect balance (nor will you ever achieve it in this game), but I do think it’s a bit cynical that many of the more obviously powerful Civs are DLC.

    It’s not the most important thing to me though. The thing I prize most is cohesion. My favourite Civ is Phoenicia because I love the way all the abilities hinge around the Cothon and interlink with the base game. That’s great design to me. Whereas Korea is obviously “stronger” than Phonecia but I find its design flat and lifeless.

    Also music and personal connection are important too. I love Scotland because it’s where I was born, and Georgia because I think the music is exquisite. Again, neither are particularly powerful but given you spend hours with these Civs - those things become important!
     
    Noble Zarkon likes this.
  18. Navelgazer

    Navelgazer King

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2012
    Messages:
    780
    Gender:
    Male
    Further thoughts:

    1. The goal shouldn't be "balance" but rather "incomparable advantages." If one Civ has an advantage to Faith Generation and can buy things with it that others cannot (like Indonesia or Ethiopia) then that's not really comparable to a Civ having extra production for 10 turns when declared war upon (like Australia.) You probably have opinions about which one is stronger, but since they're apples-to-oranges comparisons, especially as a player devises strategies around them and those strategies and exploits snowball around a randomly-generated map, making them "balanced" is a fool's errand. Especially due to the fact that:

    2. Optimized victory strategies throw the whole discussion out of whack. If early domination is the clearest path to victory (as it is with Civ6) then new designs will fall into whether they can make a go at that or not, which is unhealthy for game design. A good number of players will still enjoy the game if it's purely about annihilating each other before the Medieval age comes around, but that's definitely not everyone, even if that's the most competitive, high-level way to go about things. Oh, right!

    3. Different players want different things. Not just in terms of playstyle (though that's probably the biggest issue here. If I like faith-based culture civs and you like fast early-domination civs, what would balancing that even mean? Neutering your early units? Boosting my faith and culture? Giving non-dom-focused civs better early defense? None seem like great options, honestly) but also with where the fun comes from. Some play MP, others SP. Within SP players, some will want to take an undeniably strong civ like Gran Colombia and see how hard and fast they can run over a map on Deity. Others may play lower difficulties but with niche civs like Khmer to try to make them shine. Some might wanna try perverse set-ups like Mongolia on Archipelago or Phoenicia on Highlands just for the weirdness of it. The deeper we get into this, the less "balance" has a real meaning, in my opinion.

    4. Balance, if attainable, probably makes things worse. There are numerical functions underlying all of the mechanics in this game and, yes, those of us who don't just play the game but hang out on these forums are likely to know them pretty well by now (or by rote, in some cases.) But still, if we aim for actual balance, that means trying to figure out the exchange rate of GPT vs Production vs. Faith and on and on, which is pretty unreasonable (and, again, going to be dependent on optimized strategies that aren't everyone's cup of tea) but even if that's possible, it reduces the game to numbers with different color paint on them. I'm sure that would be immensely satisfying for some players (I remember from playing Netrunner the degree to which the community would attempt to do this in order to value different cards, and I know it happens exponentially more in MtG) but it really takes the appeal away from it, for me. Alternatively, of course, we could make an objective Tier Ranking based on win-stats data, and try to play with levers from that, but that also skews highly towards certain playstyles and just reinforces (or negates, depending) the optimized strategies.

    5. All that said, of course some balance is worth striving for. Spain is a civ I never look twice at because I just can't see the point of it when other options are available, for instance. And that's sad, but there, the gap is one more of interest and excitement than raw power. Because honestly, with this game, a skilled player could win against the AI with a purely vanilla, no-bonuses-at-all civ. If I'm avoiding Spain, it's not because I can't win a game with them, but because it's not worth my time to bother. So interesting design ideas will always be far more important to me than whatever "balance" means in this conversation.
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2020
  19. agonistes

    agonistes wants his subs under ice!

    Joined:
    May 30, 2007
    Messages:
    2,526
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Vermont
    I don't think it needs balance. But at a bare minimum every civ should at least have a chance to survive. The poor man's way to do this is to give free ancient walls to all capitals.

    I don't agree with the supposition that there could be civs so weak nobody wants to use them. Leaving my own preferences aside, I believe that there is a decently sized contingent of players who weigh fun more heavily than power.

    For myself, and possibly a few others, I value theme/flavor over power.

    My concern would be a civ that in the hands of the ai just steamrolls over other ai. With random start positions, there is no one civ that does this. Start position and the weighted value of production et al in the early turns (due to the nature of the game) trump, so far, any civ mechanics. Add to that the rng of who loses a settler or gets horded.
     
    Navelgazer likes this.
  20. jasper

    jasper Warlord

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2001
    Messages:
    212
    Location:
    USA
    Doesnt need to be perfectly balanced. Id much prefer a lot of choices with degrees of power than fewer choice with same power.
     
    King Rad likes this.

Share This Page