Improving Religion

Jan 3, 2021
I think the religion system in Old World has a lot of potential, and is generally interesting, and there are something things I really like, especially the inclusion of the pagan religions, and I feel there are a couple areas where improvements could be made.

First, pagan religions. Like I said, its cool that they are included but I feel the four shrines restriction is a bit weird. I feel like limiting them makes them kind of ignoreable. I'll check at the start of the game which shrines I have access to and will maybe build two or three but after that I don't tend to bother with at all. I'll occasionally even notice that I had a really good spot for one that I put another improvement on because I just never really think about them outside the early game. I feel like one shrine per city is better since they are now more relevant for more of the game while also more accurately reflecting how wide spread the worship of the pagan gods were. Allowing the Cleric families to build all four shrines per city, or just their capital city, would also make that family more interesting as I find I rarely use them.

Next, I feel the opinion buff from a religion is way too strong and either needs to be nerfed or gotten rid of entirely. It makes it so that, in like nine times out of ten in my games, all of the nations practice the same religion. Occasionally there will be a second religion that made it to being a state religion and then the nations divide up into two different religious blocks. I feel like this just makes the game boring. It also biases towards Judaism and Zoroastrianism since they form first. I did a Rome game recently where I founded Judaism but everyone else was Zoroastrian and lead to be being at war with multiple nations because of that difference. Now, it was nice to actually have to hustle and fight some multi-front wars but it felt unsatisfying because of the strong tendency for one religion to dominate the game. I eventually managed to get two other nations to make peace with but it would have been far, far easier to just convert to Zoroastrianism to just get rid of the hassle. I'll notice that like half of the AI nations positive opinion of me is from their religions opinion of me which I feel is a way to strong and encourages religious uniformity. Most of the other religions won't even have a theology since they are never adapted as a world religion. Again, I just feel like it makes the game more boring. To me, it feels like the optimal play encourages the game to become more boring when it doesn't have to.

Also, as far as I can tell, you can only ask someone to convert to a religion that has a holy city you control. I could be missing something obvious but I had an Assyria game were I could only ask a family head to convert to Assyrian paganism even though Judaism was my state religion. Being able to ask characters to convert to the state religion should be an option even if you don't control the holy city.

Finally, I'm not a big fan of how you add theologies to a faith, especially since everyone can add them. I feel that civics are, by and large, better used to add laws or build wonders, especially since you get a more immediate and/or better effect from them. I have no idea if this is possible but I think having theologies added through High Synods might be more interesting. A nation calls a high synod and the various stake holders (head of the faith, owner of the holy city, the leader that called the synod, and then maybe one or two other leaders that follow the religion) try and pick a theology over several turns using events. Improving the opinion of a religion would use a regular synod instead. Again, no idea if this is possible, but I generally don't like the rush to add a theology the game currently has, especially since everyone tends to follow the same religion and the fairly high civics cost when laws and wonders, to me, have a better RoI. Honestly, as much as I'm intrigued by the religion system in the game, this why I generally don't engage with it. I feels like a bit of hassle with a low rewards and the AI is more likely to add theologies before the player has a chance. I haven't played around with religion a lot so this part is mostly my impressions of the system so I could be missing something.
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