I had this idea (probably not new) where the game would automatically group hexes together into "regions" at the start of the game. So the map would still have hexes that units would use to move but there would be regional borders around hexes to group them into regions. The regions would have names of course so that you could identify them. I would suggest making regions big enough for maybe 2-3 cities normally spaced out. These regions could be used for a lot of cool gameplay features: 1) Civs could claim adjacent regions as their own before settling cities there. 2) Civs would be able to say "don't settle region [name]" instead of the generic "don't settle near me". This would really help diplomacy. 3) If a civ settled a region claimed by another civ, it could trigger a casus belli. 4) Civs could agree to give up a claim to a region in exchange for gold or something. 5) Regions could be designated as "demilitarized zones" or granted their independence. 6) Adjacent regions could give each other extra production, gold, culture, or science bonuses to represent internal commerce. This would encourage civs to settle adjacent regions first and create more continuous empires. 7) Regional borders would be used to create national borders when you settle a city in a region. National borders would no longer expand tiel by tile but would automatically pop to the regional borders when you settle anywhere in that region. This would prevent the silliness of the AI settling in areas clearly part of your civ but technically outside because your borders haven't reached their yet. 8) Regions could grant cities in them special bonuses. For example, a region that has a lot of wheat tiles, could grant a food bonus to worked tiles in that region. 9) Leaving goodie huts intact in a region that you've settled could grant cities bonuses. This would encourage leaving goodie huts alone for a longer term bonus or popping them for a big short term bonus rather than the current strategy of always popping them. Goodie huts could automatically transform into a village once you've settled the region for enough turns. Villages could grant your closest city extra food and production. I am sure there are more possibilities. But you get the idea.