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Limited religions - good or bad?

Discussion in 'Civ6 - General Discussions' started by Starwars, Feb 28, 2019.

  1. Chocolate Pi

    Chocolate Pi Chieftain

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    I actually think religion, after the "Religion Update", is one of the most well-rounded systems in Civ6. It is probably the "best" designed victory condition holistically, with a lot of diversity in both offense and counter-play alike.

    The religion cap is an important component in this because it enforces an early assymetry. Civs are sorted into 3 categories:
    1. Civs with an "offensive" Religion, fully pursuing a Religious Victory.
    2. Civs with a "defensive" Religion, only seeking to deny others a Religious Victory while gaining Religion-related perks relevant to their real agenda.
    3. Civs without a religion, who can still gain some of the benefit while paying none of the investment.
    The cap clearly defines the third group, and makes their relationships with Religion bearing-Civs unambiguously non-zero-sum. Otherwise you just have this wishy-washy malaise of "civs who have religions and those who don't yet".

    Perhaps more importantly, it is very good that the game has at least one HARD CHOICE that all players have to make very early. Pursuing a Religion almost always requires a very early (major) investment, further enforcing delicious assymetry between the 3 categories. While this choice is often made over a period of time (spying on GPP progress) rather than a split second, it's still the single biggest divergence point between early strategies, broadly speaking.


    I had a quite low opinion of Religion gameplay before the Fall 2017 update, including in Civ 5. The ability to block Religious units made most aspects of gameplay pointless against both an intentioned opponent and AI alike. Apostle -> Missionary Spam -> Inquisitor -> Apostle was also too bare-bones (albeit functional) of a combat triangle, barely above the strategy involved in the game of Risk. A variety of math in all of this was underbaked to boot. The Summer 2017 Update at least fixed Proselytizer. But then the Fall 2017 Update added the 3 huge missing pieces:
    • Fixed the Layering problems by creating the religion layer.
    • Added the Guru, adding meaningful tactics to religious combat (Formations + logistical choices on balancing Guru purchases with trips home to heal.)
    • Made Missionary spread scale.
    Rise & Fall improved things a bit further:
    • The religious golden age Dedication further separated the "all-in"s from the nots, and the 4 GPP/t provided a tempting middle-ground to the player on the fence in low-Religion games.
    • Added the Religious Alliance, a very clear mechanism for "category 2" Civs to partner up.
    • Added a potent Loyalty bonus for having a Religion,
    • ...and an equally counter-potent penalty that gave significance to key border city conversions.
    • Better designed Theocracy.
    ...and Gathering Storm fixed yet a few more things:
    • Moksha is now decent. Players can now invest precious governor titles into Religion for non-trivial rewards.
    • Meenakshi Temple adds more diversity to "category 1" Wonder options, and is arguably the most interesting.
    • Rock Bands provide a more viable pivot from Faith generation to a late-game Culture victory than previous alternatives.
    • World Congress provides a (limited) mechanism for condemning a runaway religious leader that does not require war.
    • Grievances now enable all AI to react negatively to "category 1" religious extermination behavior, rather than just the target you are bullying.

    All that said, it's not perfect. A few rough edges still stand out:
    • Pantheon balance is a little suspect.
    • Most civs with Religion-focused advantages have ways of ensuring that they get a Religion, but a handful do not. These are consistently rated as some of the weakest Civs in the game.
    • Astrology's boost's map randomness can be annoying.
    • Some Follower bonuses do not give interesting dynamics with non-religious players, especially the ones that require Holy Sites/techs/buildings that "category 3" players have little interest in building.
    • "Category 3" players who aren't Kongo have little actual interaction with the spread or acceptance of Religions, as they have no reward/incentive that matches what the mechanisms to do so cost.
    • And as with most complex systems, the AI fails to live up to the full dynamics.
    • Most of all, the "head start" design of higher difficulties is fundamentally at odds with any sort of first-past-the-post race. (This includes world wonders.) The player is forced to play a "category 3" non-religion route on deity as all but a handful of Civs.
     
    oedali, Noble Zarkon, Karmah and 7 others like this.
  2. oninowon

    oninowon Chieftain

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    I never cared for religion in the CIV games. I thought the take on religion in CIV IV was a joke. CIV V was much better in that you could modify aspect of a religion to fit your civ's needs . I have not delved into the religion mechanics in CIV VI yet.
     
  3. Starwars

    Starwars Warlord

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    I actually liked the system in Civ IV. Especially the choice if you want to adopt a state religion and the repercussions that would have diplomatically. It was great to have such a clear decision in the diplomatic game. Of course, it would be in need of further balance because I think it was often wiser to hold off adopting a state religion just *because* you wanted to use it diplomatically which is maybe not solely what you'd want from a religious system.

    I've personally never liked the city-by-city religious warfare (literally so in VI) in V and VI where religions can get pushed down by religious units and all that. I don't think it's a fun system at all to engage in.

    But yeah, I'm not a fan of the limited religions in VI. I think it just serves to make the religious victory even more of the "weird off-shoot" victory type. And while I think VI desperately needs more tension and competition between the player and AI, the religious race is not an example of a particularly fun or interesting one.
     
  4. gallowsCalibrator

    gallowsCalibrator Chieftain

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    I think designating a state religion is definitely a mechanic that should comeback somehow. Ideally, I'd also like to see it integrated into a new government system; some kinda combination of 4's civics and 5's policies as a framework, while keeping policy cards as an instrument of shorter-term strategy and goals. But that's another thread topic!

    Anyways, maybe the religious victory condition could be changed to winning when everyone in the world adopts the religion you founded (or encouraged to form as a schism, something else that's been discussed) as its official one? This would ideally come with expansions to the diplomatic and cultural systems; more ways to leverage and be leveraged by other civilizations in non-warfare ways is something that would seriously enrich the game, I think!
     
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  5. Ivan Hunger

    Ivan Hunger Prince

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    This is the real problem. Players in Civ 5 didn't mind not being able to found a religion, because the largest benefit of having one, worship buildings, could still be obtained by allowing someone else to convert you. Worship buildings had no prerequisites, were purchasable with a resource you didn't need for anything else, and gave culture and happiness yields that were useful for non-religious players.

    In Civ 6, however, worship buildings have received a substantial nerf. They now require a holy site, shrine, and temple to already be built in the city. They also primary provide faith over other yields, making them inherently more useful to players who founded a religion than players who didn't.

    This problem could be greatly alleviated by buffing worship buildings to bring them closer to their Civ 5 counterparts. First, shrines and temples should not be prerequisites for worship buildings (many players might decide to build them anyway if they are converted to a religion that gives them extra yields). Second, all worship buildings should give 2 less faith than they currently do, and instead give +2 culture and +1 amenity in addition to their other benefits.
     
    Chocolate Pi likes this.
  6. Victoria

    Victoria Regina Supporter

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    ideas and suggestion thread?

    I like that you do not have to form a religion and that some mechanics appreciate this difference.
    I also like the fact you can still build shrines and temples without having your own religion and even take advantage of other civs religions.

    I seriously hate the need Firaxis has to put OP promotions in mechanics and then allow avenues of exploit so these OP abilities can be spammed.
    The religious game is simple, easy and fast based on OP mechanics and an inability for the AI to provide even the simplest defence against you
    Religion was the only mechanic like this but rock band have done a similar, albeit later thing to a CV.
     
    Starwars and acluewithout like this.
  7. kaspergm

    kaspergm Deity

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    Excellent write-up. One of the changes I really appreciate is that now, many AI civs will simply not go for a religion at all, if their strengths are in different areas. This makes it much more doable for players to get religion up to and including Immortal difficulty. I imagine that on Diety, it's still not really an option.
     
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  8. Trav'ling Canuck

    Trav'ling Canuck Deity

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    Once the patched it so that some AI don't prioritize religions, I didn't find it difficult to get a religion on Deity as of R&F. You have to make it your priority, i.e. build a Holy Site as your first district and run the holy prayers project. But anytime I did that, I got a religion, usually around middle of the pack.

    As with everything else on Deity, it's mostly a matter of how well you can handle the early AI Warrior rush. Once that's dealt with Deity doesn't play out differently. Going for a religion means delaying pushing out settlers so has an early game expansion cost, but by mid-game you're not likely to be able to tell which difficulty level you're playing.
     
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  9. Chocolate Pi

    Chocolate Pi Chieftain

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    Hot take that risks veering off-topic: The majority of the AI deficiencies we complain about (religion or otherwise) are actually better described as flaws in the difficulty--the "true" problem in Civ. Difficulty is not just a dial, it has to be designed, and "give 'em a head start plus continual % bonuses" is a really poor and archaic way of doing it. Plenty of games have stupid AI that are quite fun to beat up on!

    An equally "dumb" AI could be a much better play experience if its cheating handicaps were more closely aligned to its weaknesses and more distant from player interaction points. Imagine a high-level AI with some of the following cheats, scaled to difficulty:
    • Can rarely swap tiles around in their cities, especially before the player has vision.
    • Can rarely repair or improve tiles automatically.
    • Has a large production boost and stat bonus to walls.
    • Obtains a partial refund for all units killed.
    • Receive a lump sum of free units when accepting an emergency.
    • Immediately starts a partially complete Wonder not yet being built by anyone else for free under certain circumstances, such as a human player finishing a Wonder when they have none. Can swap tiles to do this.
    • Heavily discounted unit upgrades.
    • Large bonus against Barbarians.
    • Can very rarely auto-clear a nearby Barbarian camp.
    • Percent chance for Barbarians to fail to pillage Trade Routes.
    • Large bonus to military units escorting Settlers.
    • At the end of each era, auto-clear a certain number of uncleared CS missions.
    • AI will cooperate very readily when the player is clearly winning.
    • Percent bonus to science, culture, and faith based on how far their output is behind a target.
      • The target is a weighted average of all human players' performance plus an offset based on era and difficulty.
      • This offset should increase in the mid-game, and decrease in the later eras. It is a better play experience for the AI's unfair advantage to accelerate, and then ultimately peter out if the player(s) survive.
    I don't mean to get off topic, but you can see how CPU issues in the religious game are a microcosm of this entire broader issue.
     
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  10. Furycrab

    Furycrab King

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    Maybe not the popular opinion here, but good? I think it's a good thing that there are civs on the map not involved in the religious warfare and thus can be places to spread your religion without making anyone mad? If everyone had one, then the whole world would get angry at each other.
     
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  11. Yzman

    Yzman Deity

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    My biggest issues with religion are

    1. Opportunity cost. There are too many things in the beginning of the game to build and a holy site is rarely worth it for me. Especially when the AI is super aggressive with them.
    2. Prophet points. Basically the only way to get them is said holy site. There is also a card and a dedication that give you them...but by the time those are in the game all the religions are already taken in my game. All of the religions shouldn't be founded so quick.
     
  12. AriochIV

    AriochIV Analyst

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    I think they limit religions because if they don't, then every civ will found its own religion, and that's not what real civilizations do. You miss out on all the dynamics of nations aligning themselves based on shared religion (which isn't really a factor in the current game, but still).

    I'm not sure I like either the tech tree race or the great prophet race as methods of solving this problem, but I can't think of a better one off the top of my head.

    Right now it seems like joining the race to found a religion is much more effort than it's worth. I'd like to see religion become a deeper mechanic that has more impact on the other systems (as it did in real history), but I have the feeling that in the current political climate, that isn't likely.
     
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  13. PhilBowles

    PhilBowles Deity

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    Civ VI is ample proof that "what real civilizations do" is not any kind of constraint on game design.
     
  14. Myomoto

    Myomoto Warlord

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    I also dislike how the diplomacy modifiers for religions from V seem to be gone in VI. Only some leaders have agendas that care about religions now, it seems.

    It always made sense to me that the main source of conflict in medieval/renaissance era was religion, industrial and forward it is ideology.
     
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  15. Yzman

    Yzman Deity

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    It also never seems to be a specific religion, they only care if you are religious in general, which I feel probably takes away some diplomatic game.
     
  16. Carto

    Carto Chieftain

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    I enjoy Civ6's religion mechanic but will admit it doesn't always live up to my expectations. The existing structure has potential, but trying to balance four beliefs never feels as effective as rushing a specific belief. Building on what people have suggested, here's how I'd tweak the existing system:

    - Change Pantheons & Religions to minor religions and major religions (and come up with better names). As noted above, Civ6's religion dynamics are for state religions. So let's make that really clear. Change pantheons to non-state religions and make the bonuses more potent but generic, somewhere in line with where the worship buildings are now. E.g. one pantheon gives +3 faith and +1 production per city center, another +3 faith and +1 housing, another +5 faith, etc. Now every civ has a "minor" religion that provides enough faith bonus for the occasional GP or a GA / Valetta strategy. It also provides some thematic incentive for the occasional holy site to provide a faith boost.

    - Increase access to defensive religious units. Every player should be able to faith purchase a unit that can remove religion from their cities. This unit should not require a major religion or the use of an apostle to unlock. It could be a modified inquisitor or guru. Ideology should unlock a purchasable state censor unit that can remove major religions and combat / condemn faith units & rockbands.

    - Streamlining / emphasizing belief categories. The current system has too many variables to make sense of mid game. To compare the relative yields of Follower beliefs, for example, I need to have a ready list of wonders, districts, and populations. The system is convoluted, which makes it hard to either design a religion or adopt another player's religion.

    -- Follower beliefs shouldn't be linked to shrines or temples, so they hold more appeal to every player. I'm in favor of them providing straight-up yield bonuses (food, faith, culture, science, diplomatic favor, loyalty?, envoys?) rather than more conditional benefits. Ideally, every major religion should be able to offer some practical advantage to every player in the game. That way, players without major religions have to weigh the benefits of different major religions as well as the political consequences of adopting them.

    -- Change the worship beliefs so each worship building allows some form of faith purchasing or HS adjacency conversion (e.g., buy theater square buildings with faith, convert HS adjacency to science, etc). Only allow players with state religions to build them (with the exception of Saladin's religion). The goal is for worship buildings to allow a player to use mid-game faith to compensate for the slow early game start.

    - Add a great wonder for the reformation. The owner gains the enhancer and worship belief of the majority religion in its borders. The owner does not contribute to the founder beliefs or religious tourism of other civs.

    - Add a second version of the religious alliance that allows a player without a major religion to adopt the enhancer and worship belief of the other player's major religion.
     
  17. Red_warning

    Red_warning Warlord

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    More religions would make a religious victory even more of a chore, it's a big difference between converting a civ with its own religion and a civ without one. A civ with its own religion you got to convert entirely otherwise it might bounce back, while for the rest you just got to convert the majority of their pops. On the other hand having your own religion with bonuses that adhere to your preferences is a nice thing even if you have no plans on going for religious victory.

    Religion in this game is just clunky and repetitive, a rework would require a lot of work though, like a whole DLCs worth of work.
     
  18. kaspergm

    kaspergm Deity

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    One option I would favor was an era limit. I.e. you can only found a religion in the Ancient or Classical era. So everybody can get to found one if they recruit a great prophet in time, but cost of great prophets go progressively up, so that's the downside.

    One tactic in the current setting which I often use, but which I find borderline abusive, is to claim a Great Prophet, and then wait to found a religion til maybe medieval era, where I have build many holy sites and accumulated a good buffer of faith. This will secure I can easily defend my religion by immediately recruiting a couple of apostles to launch an inquisition and possibly get a debater.
     
  19. AriochIV

    AriochIV Analyst

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    Tying them back to the tech tree (or more likely the civics tree) would accomplish this.
     
  20. Forster

    Forster Prince

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    I like Civ IV where you could found multiple religions. There are many countries that have more than one religion. I also liked, if I remember correctly, the idea of finding a prophet/religion from a goody hut. Really, what country saves up holy points to buy a great prophet to start a religion. Popping a prophet/religion from a goody hut is probably closer to the truth. Or, since most peoples start with a shaman type person in prehistory, require the civ to create a shaman and have him progress to the point a religion comes into effect.
     

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