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Improving religious game


Oct 16, 2016
Having been reading this forum for some time, I have got the feel that the religious game feels lackluster to many players. There are three main sources of frustration in the religious game:

  1. The Religious units of other players clutter your territory, if you don't beat them.
  2. The Religious Victory is very hard to achieve in MP and by the AI, because the Religious units get killed straight away by Combat units.
  3. The bonuses from Faith are, although not minimal, less competitive compared to other resources.
This post presents three ideas for the improvement of the religious game. The feasibility as to how to implement these ideas is not considered in this post. The intention of this post is to provide suggestions and start a thread about how to make the religious game more involved and less cluttered with the other parts of the game.

The points 1. and 2. can be addressed with the first suggestion to

(i) add a separate unit layer for Religious units.

There is already a separation into Combat, Support, and Civilian units in Civ VI. However, the separation with Religious units has to be different in that units from different Civilizations could occupy a single tile simultaneously, provided that the units are of different types. To further exemplify this, this would mean that in a single tile, there could be one Combat, Support and Civilian unit from Civilization A in layer 1), but one Religious unit from Civilization B in layer 2).

The separation of the layer of Religious units addresses 1., but as such does not improve the relevance of Religious Victory for your enemies, the AI and other human players in MP. However, if the layer distinction is extended such that the units in layer 1) (Combat, Support, Civilian units) do not interact with units in layer 2) (Religious units) in any way, this would mean that the Combat units cannot kill the religious units anymore. In this way, the only way to fight religion is to build religion, and the Religious Victory would become feasible in MP and for the AI.

It should be noted, however, that if the means to fight Religion would be reduced, the religion would have to be more accessible. Hence, the added layer would probably require that the Great Prophets would no longer be of limited number. To address this, and to address the point 3., the second suggestion is to

(ii) greatly increase the number of religious Great People.

However, these Great People would have two separate roles (similarly to, e.g., Great Generals and Great Admirals having distinct passive and retirement bonuses). These roles would be the conventional 1) Great Prophet role for the first unlocked religious Great Person for each Civilization, and the following religious Great People would be 2) Great Philosophers, a concept discussed in thread https://forums.civfanatics.com/threads/great-philosophers.611847/. These Great Philosophers could have various bonuses, similar to Great Merchants.

My third suggestion for increasing the relevance of Religion also addresses point 3. Faith has already comparable roles to Gold, in that Great People can be purchased with Faith, and in that the Religious units can be purchased with Faith. To improve the relevance of Religion, this role could be expanded. There are already Beliefs that enable certain building purchases with Faith, and the Theocracy government enabling to purchase Land combat units with faith. However, these purchases are much more limited than what can be purchased with Gold. The third suggestion of this post is to

(iii) make the purchasing capabilities of Gold and Faith more comparable.

One way to achieve this would be to separate the purchases more evenly to Gold purchases (e.g., buildings in Encampment, Industrial Zone, Commercial Hub districts and Combat units) and Faith purchases (e.g., buildings in Holy Site, Theater Square, and Entertainment Complex districts and Religious units). Another way to achieve this would be to make all purchases possible through Policy Cards only. (For example, two distinct Military Cards that enable purchasing Land combat units, from a particular era, with both Gold and Faith.)
While you do offer a solution for the problem introduced at the first point where military units can no longer kill religious units, I do not think this is going to be enough, for the very simple reason that the religion game is totally seperated from the rest of the game, and therefore there will always be a substantial amount of people that do not wish to go for a religion at all, and that will not like being forced to in order to keep those religious units out of their borders.

As for your third suggestion, it feels a bit weird to me if you are able to buy, say, a Stadium with faith. I can see the Holy Site buildings, as they're religious in nature, but in my opinion even Great People are already a stretch, and Naturalists even moreso. I would like to see faith contained to the religious aspects of the game.
Designing a part of game so that it can be easily ignored is a peculiar approach. Nevertheless, with separate unit layers, if one wishes to ignore religion, they can even more so than currently as the opposing players religious units block your territory, unless you DoW them or fight them with Religion.

I do agree that the third suggestion has some challenges in terms of realism. However, the capability of purchasing these is not a new concept, just that they would not only be possible through rare occasions (e.g., being Suzerain of Valletta and different beliefs) for improved gameplay. It is worth to note that there are similar realism issues in the unlimited capabilities of Gold purchases. One could say that it is a stretch as well to be able to summon large buildings (such as Stadium) in an instant.
I think that, if you were to make religion so that it would not be so seperate as it is now, you would have to fundamentally change the system, even more than it changed over the years in the game, to truly make it integral in the game. No more earning a pantheon and later getting a religion (or in IV getting a religion if you were the first to discover a certain tech), but instead automatically having a pantheon in a city, and this pantheon having grow into a religion over itme. I don't know if people would enjoy that, however.
You could say they already went into that direction, because currently all that you need to get a Pantheon is to have the God King Policy card for a while, and because the Pantheon beliefs are no longer overridden by Religion.

It is somewhat less integral only due to Religions no longer starting after certain number of individuals have started their cults. But does this represent real world behavior? New religions have been starting in different places at different times constantly in the human history.
I was about to start a new thread but it seems to fit in here.

It has always bugged me that Great Prophet Points go to waste once you've got your religion going. So why shouldn't it work like this:

Once religion has been founded, you start gaining Great Persons from a different set of generic Great Prophets. Those are used like normal Great Prophets and have effects similar to other Great Persons. For instance:

  • Gain x faith and create a Relic

  • Build a Shrine and a Temple at this Holy Site. Shrines and Temples here produce +2 culture.

  • Religious Units built in this City get a special promotion that makes them lose 50% less strength when damaged.

  • Posetylize against this city is at -33% strength. (2 charges)

  • This Holy Site produces Gold equal to its adjacency bonus.

  • Religious Pressure from this city is increased by 50% per Relic present.

  • Heals adjacent religious units by 10 points/turn if they didn't act on their turn. On retirement: Create a Relic

  • etc.

In addition, Evangelize Faith gets removed from Apostles and becomes an alternate function of Great Prophets.

Great Prophets behave like other great people. They cannot be attacked or initiate religious attacks.

I can think of two ways how the transition from initial Great Prophets to later Prophets is made:

  1. Once you have your first prophet, the list of Great Prophets to acquire changes just for you while other civs still try to get one of the founder Prophets.
  2. You compete against the other civs for more of the founder Prophets. If you get another one, you murder him automatically which earns you a relic, a diplomatic penalty with every civ that had Great Person Points toward him and effectively reduce the number of possible religions by one. (For balance reasons, the base number of available religions might have to be adjusted slightly.)
Loved to hear that the separate layer for religious units will be implemented in the fall patch! Moreover, you could say they somewhat improved the purchasing capabilities of faith with the warrior monk belief and the Indonesia's ability to purchase naval units with faith.

I wonder if they will later add more religious Great People, too?
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