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Second Impressions: More than the sum of its parts.

Taefin

Prince
Joined
Nov 28, 2020
Messages
460
(Feel kinda bad continuing the discussion under the thread of “why I hate this game” when the team is putting in the effort to engage the player base.)

I would love to keep hearing folks impression of the game now that we are learning dynamics instead of just learning rules/mechanics.

I’d summarize my impression of the game so far as: Millenia is a collection of surprisingly well balanced mechanisms, that when put together gives the impression of leading a living nation through each era of an alternative history/universe. The game starts as a puzzle to optimize Stone Age advancement, until the first thing goes wrong. Then it becomes 9 different games of making the best of your circumstances in each new era, playing within very logical constraints and opportunities. Everything from the parallel tech tree to tiered govt/NS trees encourages you to fully invest in the current era, rather than gaming out what you will do to satisfy a win condition 2000 years in the future or beeline some game-breaking future tech. And the mechanics are simple enough for the rudimentary AI to play mostly competently, suggesting that game parameters will be mod-able to the individuals players taste to, e.g. AI actually upgrade their units, fighters don’t require pressing a deployment button inaccessible to the AI, I can imagine emulating the rebellion part of Civ6 dramatic ages in a way that actually works, etc.
 
The game starts as a puzzle to optimize Stone Age advancement, until the first thing goes wrong. Then it becomes 9 different games of making the best of your circumstances in each new era, playing within very logical constraints and opportunities. Everything from the parallel tech tree to tiered govt/NS trees encourages you to fully invest in the current era, rather than gaming out what you will do to satisfy a win condition 2000 years in the future or beeline some game-breaking future tech.
That's exactly my feelings as well, and I love it. Multiple games for the price of one! :D Once again in a Civ like game I get the feeling of a distinct change of an era, and a refreshed and even increased interest in what comes next, and not the ever greater wish to have one big button "Lemme win already!"

I also love how movement works here, somehow difficult terrain feels much more restrictive so your exploration naturally flows into easy terrain first, unless restricted again by barbs, which makes it much less likely that you'd know how the entire world looks like in the BCs. I got to the Age of Discovery and felt that it very well justified its name for once - it was an era of the most intensive discovery of the world for me! The date evolution also follows much better the turn number, until the later ages, at least.
Obligatory pause for embarkation/disembarkation - wonderful solution to avoid the nonsense movement indications of embarked units in Civ6.

On the whole, judging by what little I've seen yet from the general flow of the game, I get flashbacks from Civ3 - the most brutal one, I'd say. Power rating is probably the most important thing guaranteeing respect in the world, and make sure you don't lag behind in it too much. AI will war with each other and you without second thoughts, if you appear weak, and like in Civ3 smaller civs get eliminated and bigger ones get bigger until, eventually, there'd be only one left, unless a victory condition is achieved earlier. And they come in with multiple armies and even do some sort of preliminary maneuvering.
And the options you get give much more battlefield flexibility. Forced march alone saved my starting capital and the entire start of my second game. After some fighting experience now I believe that your armies should also be accompanied by separate scout or mobile cavalry formations, who would finish off routed armies when forced march isn't an option.

If you have a bigger power rating, other civs will even convert to your religion on request (in Age of Harmony), despite having their own one, which was beating yours. Too bad I discovered this too late, and France managed to drag us into the Age of Rocketry a few turns shy of my finalizing the harmonisation of the world. It looks like my religion was just a heresy (hearsay?) after all, and now I will have to make a hard turn and travel into space to pose some questions to our presumed divine being in person, if we ever manage to locate them :D

And where are the production chains, domestic and external import of goods and respective fine-tuning of your regions yet! That'll be another whole game apart.

On the whole, discovering and exploring this game has been a blast so far!
 
I'd first and foremost say that I can reluctantly excuse many a thing of the game If I can Mod it - hopefully support for that is priority, I didn't see any files that seemed editable without Unity or at all. As for observation more tangible to be fixed:

Although I still never bothered to get far in the game as I find it underwhelming, one thing that I got from at least the first Eras is how Normal Eras are botheringly boring. On paper, naturally Golden Age like Age of Heroes should be more interesting compared to Age of Iron, as you had to try more for it (well in this case it's more result of RNG, but broadly speaking). But it ironically kills the variety and replayability. I don't have to fall to Age of Blood, I already feel kinda punished by falling into Age of Iron (by that I mean I can no longer postpone traversing to another Era any longer, so I must go AoI).

Since they even refer to Golden Ages as Variants, I would love it If they felt that way - that you are in for interesting time in Age of Iron OR Age of Heroes. Right now, although Age of Iron IS different mechanically a little, compared to Age of Heroes and the expeditions (which make every Turn more interesting and give you goal to work toward), it's just like playing with a feature disabled.

I hope they change this in Update before DLCs, as I would expect possible new Ages from DLCs - although I thought they would go for format of one Dark Age, Golden Age, Normal Age, they seemingly break this in some Eras, based on their Blogs and my assumptions, so it leaves space for more Ages.

Also better sources of Domain XP. Making second set of Yields on top of Yields felt like their attempt at avoiding boredom by too specialized Civs (the type that unlocks all Districts but produces one every 100 Turns, or one that could produce Districts fast, but its growth does not allow for there to be many of them). It felt like the point is that you should not feel like priortizing Government or Exploration or Engineering, but that naturally you should be good at all of these and it's not question WHETHER you get benefits, but WHAT benefits you get.

But that's not the case, at least early on. As such I find them to be pointless buckets for filling that could've easily been the Yields. Replace Government with Influence, Engineering -> Production, Arts -> Culture, Exploration -> Science (or switch with Engineering), Warfare for military variant to production or Food, Diplomacy with Wealth etc. I simply feel as they stand right now the game has twice much Yields as Civ, without much Depth being added by them - one could just produce the Settlers, Envoys, Merchants...

Having separate currencies for buying Government Tenets and separate currency for Exploration Tenets, all same system (purchase one-time Power or permanent Tenet), but different currencies, sounds like it would be perfect to make players feel like actual nations - that would not lack iconic military advancements because their urban class likes art too. I am not feeling that way right now.

Again, these may be problems mainly early, at that point my point stands, still improve early game, I am not sure whether these are improved in later parts of the game. These are two major things I would like to see improved personally.
 
I'd first and foremost say that I can reluctantly excuse many a thing of the game If I can Mod it - hopefully support for that is priority, I didn't see any files that seemed editable without Unity or at all. As for observation more tangible to be fixed:

Although I still never bothered to get far in the game as I find it underwhelming, one thing that I got from at least the first Eras is how Normal Eras are botheringly boring. On paper, naturally Golden Age like Age of Heroes should be more interesting compared to Age of Iron, as you had to try more for it (well in this case it's more result of RNG, but broadly speaking). But it ironically kills the variety and replayability. I don't have to fall to Age of Blood, I already feel kinda punished by falling into Age of Iron (by that I mean I can no longer postpone traversing to another Era any longer, so I must go AoI).

Since they even refer to Golden Ages as Variants, I would love it If they felt that way - that you are in for interesting time in Age of Iron OR Age of Heroes. Right now, although Age of Iron IS different mechanically a little, compared to Age of Heroes and the expeditions (which make every Turn more interesting and give you goal to work toward), it's just like playing with a feature disabled.

I hope they change this in Update before DLCs, as I would expect possible new Ages from DLCs - although I thought they would go for format of one Dark Age, Golden Age, Normal Age, they seemingly break this in some Eras, based on their Blogs and my assumptions, so it leaves space for more Ages.

Also better sources of Domain XP. Making second set of Yields on top of Yields felt like their attempt at avoiding boredom by too specialized Civs (the type that unlocks all Districts but produces one every 100 Turns, or one that could produce Districts fast, but its growth does not allow for there to be many of them). It felt like the point is that you should not feel like priortizing Government or Exploration or Engineering, but that naturally you should be good at all of these and it's not question WHETHER you get benefits, but WHAT benefits you get.

But that's not the case, at least early on. As such I find them to be pointless buckets for filling that could've easily been the Yields. Replace Government with Influence, Engineering -> Production, Arts -> Culture, Exploration -> Science (or switch with Engineering), Warfare for military variant to production or Food, Diplomacy with Wealth etc. I simply feel as they stand right now the game has twice much Yields as Civ, without much Depth being added by them - one could just produce the Settlers, Envoys, Merchants...

Having separate currencies for buying Government Tenets and separate currency for Exploration Tenets, all same system (purchase one-time Power or permanent Tenet), but different currencies, sounds like it would be perfect to make players feel like actual nations - that would not lack iconic military advancements because their urban class likes art too. I am not feeling that way right now.

Again, these may be problems mainly early, at that point my point stands, still improve early game, I am not sure whether these are improved in later parts of the game. These are two major things I would like to see improved personally.
Having played it, I can relate to the late game part: unfortunately it does not get any better, but rather worse (kinda). This game also fell into the "production is the absolute king" trap as many other 4X, where it's always a good (if not the best) approach to just boost your production up and build build build, and the yields come.

I often felt at the end, that why should I bother with a bunch of improvements and supply chain for one good which gives me 1 knowledge (science), when I'm making well over 100 from regions (cities) and their buildings (running the prod-to-science project is just crazy, it's even more with that). Sure, if I'd create that good in each city then it'd be higher, but I just don't feel the need to bother with it, lose the flexibility what production gives and to sacrifice the already existing improvements and their effects.

So while I really like the economy system of the game (for me that's the strongest part), it's still kinda unbaked, so to say. The good news is that with modding hopefully it can be improved, and tailored to our needs. And exactly what you said, the extra yields are just... extra yields. A bit of an underlying mechanic is going there (you can make goods which improve that domain xp, while the buildings improving it are limited, + certain domain xp costs go up the more you use them), but not nearly enough for the game not to resemble the typical build build build.

For me the most infuriating is that hills can be used only for mines, quarries and wind power later. That's it. Having a bunch of hills around you just completely screws you, as there is barely anything you can construct. If this won't get patched soon (or modding support to change it made available), then I'll change my positive steam review to negative and just delete the game. Dealing with its numerous flaws is enough, but this one is what puts me over the edge... (derail from the topic, but I just can't help it :D)
 
This game also fell into the "production is the absolute king" trap as many other 4X, where it's always a good (if not the best) approach to just boost your production up and build build build, and the yields come.
Interesting, I can certainly imagine playing a heavy production game, but in my three latest games it has always felt like a secondary priority. In the full first game, I got to a point where I needed knowledge above all, and at least based on my assessment at the time, each unit of direct knowledge was more efficient than pushing more production through the project. In the next two games I focused on military in early-mid game, trying religion and crusaders in the latter. In both, I had just enough production to produce the relevant buildings and a few units, and I was then much more interested in warfare (and later arts) XP which let me do things I couldn’t do with production (leaders, forced march, artists to rush expansion and eureka, early religious spread, etc.). I’ve actually enjoyed that I can neglect several yields (production, knowledge, etc.) early in the game and ramp them up later as needed. It has always felt useful to have a few cities dedicated to non-production yields (eg a marble city cranking out statues, a mining city making spears) due to the global value of XP vs the limited local utility of production, when not running projects.

On the latest religious victory, crusaders may be a little too effective, and paired with war priests I won by turn 3 of the age of harmony, since conquest was nearly instantly converting major cities. If nothing else, it was interesting how it became more optimal to skirmish in a neighbors territory, and destroy town, than to capture a city, keeping its population alive and converted. It seems religion is largely a way to convert faith to culture, at the cost having to full an expensive need.

I saw AI having 10-20 armies at victory, which would have been enough to destroy my armies and rush my cities before I could produce more. However, the main issue I’ve observed with AI warfare is that they won’t attack superior armies (they had 300-350 power to my 600 with crusaders). Even though the first attacking army would be routed, they’d route one of my line and the next attack would be even, before the third would break through. It’s unclear to me if modding for more aggression would fix this, or if it would just lead the AI to killing all its own units. I’m guessing the AI is not programmed to consider more than one attack at a time.
 
To me it seems more that culture is king. Then science. Production is ok. After the early game there is just not that much that is useful to spend production on. Early game buildings give +1 science for 40 production or so and lategame it is +1 science for 400 production. It's not like older civ games where buildings give +% bonuses and scale well into lategame. You can recruit units with production but if you get them with warfare or culture you can usually drop them directly on the frontline. Or you just force peace with culture. If you convert production to science with books you get 1 knowledge for 4 production. With the project you need 10 production to get a single point of knowledge.
 
I got bored of my 5th game after conquering two neighbors with raiders. It was a fun process, and the next step would be to ramp up diplomacy to get envoys and merchants into those vassals (another benefit to using books is papermaking creates diplo), but knowing I had a good head start on the other AI, I didn’t feel the need to continue the game. I’ll probably sign off until we can mod the AI to have accelerating difficulty bonuses. The highest difficulty creates interesting starts, but the economy system is only fun for me when the AI is applying pressure.


edit:
Kinda sad I didn’t get to try 80% of the variant eras, with the AI getting normal ages +aether so consistently. AI finally triggered heroes for me, and collecting the goodie huts while jumping in to lead a battle or two was sufficiently interesting.

But the game is only interesting to me when I’m behind, and the AI choosing the era removes most of the era based agency.
 
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I got bored of my 5th game after conquering two neighbors with raiders. It was a fun process, and the next step would be to ramp up diplomacy to get envoys and merchants into those vassals (another benefit to using books is papermaking creates diplo), but knowing I had a good head start on the other AI, I didn’t feel the need to continue the game. I’ll probably sign off until we can mod the AI to have accelerating difficulty bonuses. The highest difficulty creates interesting starts, but the economy system is only fun for me when the AI is applying pressure.


edit:
Kinda sad I didn’t get to try 80% of the variant eras, with the AI getting normal ages +aether so consistently. AI finally triggered heroes for me, and collecting the goodie huts while jumping in to lead a battle or two was sufficiently interesting.

But the game is only interesting to me when I’m behind, and the AI choosing the era removes most of the era based agency.
I think that is a common issue -- pick raiders and early world conquest. just buy more until they are over 200 cost per two. Similar later with Crusaders. It sort of trivialize the game but also make it kinda dull.
 
Millenia got me to start a new game, this time continents with a mix of master/grandmaster AI (I chose a seed and quickly lost a game to see which AI were where and put two grandmaster AI on each continent). The two master level AI on the other continent were eliminated in the first few ages (luckily for me, since I could start the sixth religion at the start of the age of intolerance). We all picked apart the master AI on our continent.

This was my first game as early seafarers, and first time using utility ships (2 gold upkeep to harvest one fishing resource back to the nearest(?) region) which I found to vex quite fun. Also my first game launching a conquest on the other continent as early as possible, as I was trying to play nice with my neighbors. In the age of rocketry, the two strongest AI (who ate their neighbors and did not get invaded by me) are a little ahead of me on advancement, and are fielding stronger armies than I can currently challenge, which is leading to an exciting game, seeing as I’m at war with one of them (thanks ally!) and see them attacking my ally 4-5 tiles away from my border cities.

This was also my first game that went into an age of revolution, which featured one revolution (the rebels picked off two outposts and two towns, and required rush buying a few crossbows and spawning three units with military/culture) but I could only see losing regions if engaged in a difficult war at the same time. For a little more peril, and to produce less trivial battles that have to be viewed before clicking on each city, it’d be nice if the rebels all formed in stacks of 3, instead of so many solo units with only a few stacks of 2 or 3. It also seems like it should play more like a crisis age with a different rule set. Maybe unrest suppression from stationed units should be reduced/eliminated, so that rebellions occur at different times for each nation (maybe a random vassal rebels anyone a region does), and perhaps something should be done to make AI more aggressive against nations having revolutions. As is, this age feels like it will be little more than a speed bump in future games, since it is so predictable. Maybe it would have been worse if my other advanced AI opponent didn’t accept peace before marking a superior army through my softened colony regions/vassals.

Overall impressions from this current game are:

1) I love the approach to the tech tree, and how you have to skip important techs for an era or two to keep up with age advancement. This makes every game feel different (which is what Millenia bills as its main feature) as you pick which interplay of spirits, govts, and techs to harness. This also creates (for me at least) an ebb and flow of focusing on military at the expense of economy, then letting the military fall behind to build back up, especially with the obsolescence of leaders and specialized units, and if I don’t cheese the undo button and accept unit loses (and avoid taking advantage of the most OP choices).

2) The expansion mechanic feels the most natural of civ6, humankind, and old world (my subjective opinion so far). In my current game, I started next to few minor civs and so needed to use settlers. I’m finding that outposts with trading posts are often more useful than absorbing them, since they don’t require pops and create flexible supply chains, and the utility of castle upgrades are an enjoyable byproduct of the limited number of regions you can benefit from, and the limited value of vassals. The cost of pioneers seems well tuned, so that I am inclined to add towns and upgrade about half the time. I think the different yield buckets actually work together quite nicely so that everything is a trade off, and you are encouraged to play around the 3-4 yields you chose to focus on, even as you can always add a new yield within the span of an age, as needed.
 
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