Old World's Two Main Weaknesses

Jan 3, 2021
Before I get into the actual topic of the thread, I do want to say that Old World is an amazing game and one of the best games in the broader category of historical strategy games that I have played. I would easily give it an 8.5 or 9 out of 10. I like the basic gameplay loop, the game is very well balanced, the mechanics (mostly) improve on issues found in games like Civ6 and CK3, and I really like that the game continuously puts you in interesting situations that you have to deal with while still (mostly) giving the players reasonable outs even if they are never painless. I also really appreciate the fact the devs are continuously improving the game and are willing to do more than just tweak numbers or modifiers. This is honestly of the best things about the game in my opinion. That said, I still think there are some issues with the game.

First, is the lack of a distinct late game. Even though Civ6's late game could be a real slog at times, I still appreciated the fact that the game went through distinct phases throughout a whole playthrough with early expansion, midgame consolidation, transitioning to the late game based on your victory type and then doing the required steps to win in the last 30 odd turns of the game. To me, Old World just has the early game where you are clearing tribal camps to claim city sites and then the rest of the game where you are basically doing the same things regardless since the three different victory types all kind of bleed into each other. This isn't the worst thing in the world but it does mean that each game tends to be the same in a way that I never felt in Civ6. Each different victory type required you to interact with different mechanics and the differences became more and more noticeable as the game went on game when you needed to hyper-focus on doing specific things in the late game. I do like the way victory conditions work in Old World* but I still think the game needs something in the late game besides some new units you will rarely use. I do appreciate that the games generally end before they wear out their welcome but sometimes I do want the game to go on longer because it has a lot of interesting things going on but even in those situations I still find the late game kind of dull and tedious compared to the early game. The same can broadly be said of Civ6 where everything up the late mid-game, generally the late Renaissance or early Industrial Era, is more interesting and engaging than what comes later but the late game still has its own pleasures in a way that I don't think is true with Old World and something I would like to see improved upon.

The other big issue I have with the game is something that's been bouncing around in my head for a while and I've the best I've come up with to describe is this - Old World feels like a game made by game designers for game designers. I know that can sound kind of derogatory but I don't intend it as an insult or anything like that. I guess what I mean is that some mechanics seem more like they were designed in a way that is more interesting on a conceptual level than interesting a fun-to-play level. This isn't to say that the devs' approach to the game design is bad, far from it as I believe one of the best things about Old World is the way the devs have gone about solving some of the issues that affect 4X games and some of their solutions are really great, like the orders system and splitting up production into growth, training, and civics. The tech deck is another great mechanic that offers a variety of interesting choices to the player and has some nice push back against the basic min-maxing that is a basic part of these kind of game. These are really great solutions that add a lot of depth and choices into the game and order system in particular is Old World's best feature in my opinion. However, there are several elements of the game that are interesting ideas that fall flat when it comes to actual the actual gameplay itself. To me, the perfect example of this amenities in Cvi6 vs discontent in Old World. Amenities are fairly straight forward with each city needing X amenities for Y population and you get bonuses or maluses based on how well you are managing your amenities. You primarily get them through luxury resources that you have improved or traded for with the AI and from the Entertainment District. The big issue though is that how many amenities you can get is almost entirely based on location, location, location with the AI being an unreliable trading partner and the Entertainment District only doing so much, especially in the early game. Discontent definitely has more ways for you to deal with it but none of them are terribly engaging and feel more like background elements of the game. Furthermore, the mechanic itself doesn't feel interesting to engage with the same way amenities do because you are just getting rid of malus instead of, in the best circumstances, planning part of your game around having excess amenities. By the time you've effectively dealt with discontent in your cities, you've basically already won the game whereas in Civ6 an amenity focused strategy can be a thing and offer great dividends as part of larger strategy. Of course, sometimes you just screwed by a lack of amenities in a way that just isn't true with discontent but I still feel like amenities are a better overall mechanic.

The other big example of this to me is warfare and military units. Overall, I think war is just a significant upgrade compared to Civ6, especially because the AI actually puts up a decent fight, and I really like having to consider using orders either for engaging with my military units against the need for diplomatic actions and making sure my economy doesn't collapse. However, I feel like there are some significant downgrades compared to Civ6. Obviously, great generals don't work well with the order system but I don't really engage with generals outside of the early game. At some point your army just comes too big to keep track of every unit with a general and what those generals do. You can do this at the beginning of the game but it just becomes more and more tedious as the game goes on. Honestly, I just make sure my siege units have generals once I get to them and will assign extra generals if I have them but that's it after the early game. The same with unit promotions. I think Civ6's are just better since each type of unit has its own promotion path and therefore a unit with more promotions is almost always a better unit. This is not true with Old World since you have defensive promotions, offensive promotions, movement promotions and so on. Combined with the way generals work, it just becomes too much of a hassle keep track of your individual units to make the "best" decisions every turn since there are too many things to keep track of. The way generals and promotions work aren't bad in and of themselves but work better in a game where you are dealing with ten or so units, not in a game managing twenty, thirty, or more units.

Similar, but lesser, issues apply to the game's unique units. It's nice that you unlock them by simply doing things you are already doing, enacting laws and building garrisons/strongholds/citadels, instead of having to unlock a specific tech that may be one of several techs you need to unlock at a particular point in a game but after that things kind of fall apart. First is that since you have a specific requirement to upgrade them, you can't do so during the middle of a war without backtracking to a city with strong culture. You can't just upgrade after taking a city and continue your conquests in the same way you can in Civ6. Your choice is either continue with lesser units or slowdown and backtrack to upgrade your units. This is on top of the issues cause by the fact that you can't upgrade regular units into your unique units. I absolutely hate playing as Rome, building Warriors in the early game, and then having to rebuild my entire army if I want to use Hastatus units. These issues are not the worst thing about the game but it's just noticeable issue compared to Civ6.

In conclusion, I would say that Old World is an overall great game but the issues I mentioned above are all the more glaring given how well balanced and well designed the game is generally. Nothing I mentioned above are that awful to me all things considered, outside of the occasional bit of frustration, but they are areas where I feel there is room for improvement. The recent changes made by the devs in the past couple of updates have me really excited for the game’s continued development and these issues being addressed in part or whole in the future.

*The one obvious thing I would say is missing is the ability to specifically set the amounts you need to win. Like 150 turns instead of 200 turns or 12 Ambitions or 100 points.


Aug 9, 2006
All 4x games have the same problem: end game gets tedious and boring. Micromanaging the first few cities is fun, but when you have 10 cities, it gets tedious.
One solution is to end the game before tedium sets in. Double victory is a step in the right direction. Maybe add a religious victory if you control all 4 holy wonders, military victory if you have more troops than the next 2 nations combined (no need to war), economic victory if you have more than certain amount of gold, scientific victory if you can generate 300 science per turn for example. Allow the AI to win by these victories also.


Sep 1, 2014
All 4x games have the same problem: end game gets tedious and boring. Micromanaging the first few cities is fun, but when you have 10 cities, it gets tedious.
One solution is to end the game before tedium sets in. Double victory is a step in the right direction. Maybe add a religious victory if you control all 4 holy wonders, military victory if you have more troops than the next 2 nations combined (no need to war), economic victory if you have more than certain amount of gold, scientific victory if you can generate 300 science per turn for example. Allow the AI to win by these victories also.
Yeah, the boring endgame is a universal problem, and it's interesting to see how different games deal (or don't deal) with it. I feel like Civ 6 stands out negatively in this regard, as it is often clear who is going to win long, long before the game ends. I think there are two main approaches to dealing with this:
  • Phase out the micro of the early game, and give the player something else to focus on. Civ 5 is a decent example of this, as a tall empire requires little micromanagement towards the end, and the late game is more about the World Congress and Ideologies. The reason you have less micro here is essentially that the tasks you did early on are no longer relevant, as your core cities are more or less fully developed, and you will only occasionally settle a new one. Puppeted cities do not require any work. Another approach is more automation. In Civ 3 and 4 you could let cities be controlled by a governor. This was removed in Civ 5. In Civ 6 governors are back, but they provide extra micromanagement rather than automation.

  • Make the dominant player win faster. I have seen this idea floated in the forums from time to time, but can't think of many clear examples of games which do it. Maybe it's not that easy to do in practice. It is an interesting idea, though. It seems logical, since the player often know they are going to win long before the game ends. I seem to recall the ancient Interplay game "Conquest of the New World" let you define your own victory conditions at game start, so the game would end after a set number of turns or when you reached a certain score.

An interesting approach to giving the player something new to focus on in the late game is the "end game crisis" which seems to be especially popular in fantasy and sci-fi games. An obvious example is Stellaris, which has a whole bunch of different crises which can trigger in the late game. I would also argue that Colonization had an end-game crisis which worked very well.
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