I am back from a long hiatus of Civ playing. Just got back into things, and also even played a little Civ VI (with some of the balancing mods they have now) just to see where things are with that game. When I come to the mod after such a time away, I find it gives me a fresh perspective and removes some of my old assumptions. So as I tend to do, its time for a state of the mod report from my recent experiences. I got to play 2 full games. The first one was pretty boring and nothing to write home about. The second was an epic nailbiter the likes of which should be told in song and legend! I ultimately lost, but it was the most fun losing a civ game I can remember! So going through things...just to start off. No matter what I say good or bad this bears repeating...this mod is an amazing piece of construction. It is a work of art, and no nit picks I may have will ever take away from that. All of the people who have worked on this beast over the years should be damn proud. Religion: This was one of the few games I remember in a long while not getting a religion, and I will admit I found it very unsettling. I think most of the religious beliefs have been decently balanced with each other, but the question is....is getting a religion imbalanced with not getting one? Sometimes I think we have made religion so strong it is foolish not to go for it. Probably the biggest issue for me was when I did get a religion from someone else it overwrites my pantheon, and that feels really crummy. I remember the idea of keeping your pantheon was discussed, but I guess it never went through. I think that would help take away some of the sting. G, I know you added in some code so that secondary religions in a civ exert influence, I will admit I never saw any effect of that in the games I played. Lastly, I still find that religious conversion is still difficult to understand. This has always been a tricky balance, on the one hand it is so frustrating to throw a bunch of faith at converting another civ....just to see it erode into nothing a handful of turns later. On the other, during the phases when we made conversion to easy it was frustrating to watch your religion wiped away by the religious horde. I think my problem is that conversion is not really a gradual process. If you amass this critical amount of conversion power you quickly wipe another's religion off the map. If you go in with less than that critical number...than your entire effort falls flat. I wish that conversion was more of a gradual back and forth fight. I also hate that Inquisitors give you complete conversion immunity...it feels like a cop out from the religious game. The AI also still struggles a bit here. Even at the very end of my last game, Askia was sending his missionaries and even GP to my front door....throwing himself uselessly against my invincible bastion of faith. Naval Combat: I was a pretty vocal opponent of the newer naval changes when they first came out, and my big game gave me a chance to look at it close. Old Askia and I threw ships at each other in multiple ages across a nice "atlantic ocean style" theater of war. It was frigates and corsairs, going in to iron clads and cruisers...and finally my subs against his destroyers. Overall, I think most of my concerns were incorrect, and the changes have worked out very well. What I found was when it came to cities....my melee ships were pretty useless as always. The ranged ships that could move in and out allowed me to attack coastal cities with impunity. However....the damage they dealt was small....so it took a lot of time to beat a city down that way. Meanwhile, if the AI built up a melee heavy navy (which it did, go Askia!)...I had to run. While melee heavy navies don't take care of cities as well...they dominate the seas. I found that I had to go more melee heavy to effectively counter....and that was great to see. Meanwhile, my navies did a good job keeping the coastline clear of units but not crazy so. I never found my naval power too overwhelming. Supply System / War Weariness: I was a very small civ in this game, only had 5 cities most of the game on a small map. Meanwhile there were 2 super powers in the game. So overall the supply cap was a big deal for me. And I loved it. The supply system really made me think. I had to be very frugal with my units, choosing where to place them, and what areas I could realistically cover. I would spend gold building castles in one area while keeping my units in another to give me the best coverage. When the super powers attacked me, the horde would come, and I had to use strong tactics....and often shrewd diplomacy...more of that later, to stay alive. The system also made the defense buildings much more enticing, and I love now that burning Great Generals give me a little supply bump. The war weariness mechanic worked great. It kept my wars to reasonable lengths....and I find sometimes have to take some gambles to try and capture a city because time was not on my side. This system is very elegant, G I was very happy with it (at least as a small civ). I'll have to try a big one and see what I think on the other side. Happiness System: Hehe, G is unlikely to be surprised by this one, as I have been a long standing critic of the happiness system. I still hold to that...I honestly feel that the happiness system is one of the clunkier aspects of the game. It is terribly hard for new players to understand, even veterans struggle with it at times...and as time goes on I find it more and more....unnecessary. When the system was first developed, one of its pluses was it gave more rationale to build those buildings that people often did not build....or would only build one of. However, over time buildings have been tweaked to be great without the happiness effects. Case in point, with the new supply system I am always thinking about walls and castles...I don't even care about their crime effect. I very much doubt any real changes would be made here, I certainly would not expect it this late in the game...but its there for completeness. All of that said, I found in this game at least the tuning was good. My happiness felt reasonable, and most importantly....stable. I didn't see any of the crazy shifts that used to plague the system long ago. So I think the system is likely as good as it needs to be. Air Combat: I give this one 10 thumbs up! Finally, true combined arms combat has been brought to the game. For the first time I was battling an enemy navy, while hitting tanks with helicopters, and then watching my forces bombed to oblivion from the air....and having to mad dash to fighters. It was wonderful! The AI has gotten pretty damn good here. I found it used bombers well, get fighters around so I couldn't just take them out, and would even stop sending the bombers if I got air superiority....only to pick up the bombing turns later when I had stop patrols and moved my fighters elsewhere. I'll admit I don't understand the new air defense system...but I found that air units did very good damage, not crazy amounts, but enough that they were worth building...and building to counter. Amazing job here all! One nitpick, now that air combat is a staple....I agree with some others that interception is really hard to see and understand right now. Sometimes it is maddening to try and figure out why my bomber went down. That's really a UI concern, not a mechanical one. A few other combat notes: 1) Was wondering if this was intended. Special Forces with Survivor 3 can use enemy railroads, and also gain some ability to pillage without movement cost (wasn't sure if that was the unit or the promotion). So I could paradrop onto an enemy railroad, move and pillage, move and pillage, move and pillage. I once pillaged like 6 tiles at once doing that. It was awesome!....but I wasn't sure if that was intended. 2) I'll admit I don't understand the ranged promotion that gives bonuses under 50 hp. I found I always used the ones for over 50hp. I care about hurting strong units, weak units are easy to kill. 3) I don't think the bazooka needs a +100% damage to tanks. It does decent damage against tanks without it, they always give some nice area benefits so they are already useful...and eventually you have helicopters as a strong counter to tanks. Tanks are not so strong that they need this hard counter imo. 4) Those notes aside, I found unit stats to be pretty solid. I had a lot of wars in this game both on sea and on the ground, and no units stuck out to me as particularly strong or weak. The Toolbar is a Lie! Something that I tend to forget when I've played the mod a while, but notice it right away when I come back form a hiatus....is the crazy prevalence of "side bonuses" this mod has. The truth is...the numbers on the toolbars are just a fraction of your actually bonuses. When you get X science from building a building, Y culture from burning a GP, Z tourism from completing a trade route, etc etc.....what you find is that there is no real indicator to tell you how good yours bonuses actually are. Tourism is probably the worst offender. You can go into the tourism screen and you will see your numbers static or falling....but then a few trade routes finish and suddenly you are crushing an opponent on influence. The mod is too far down this path to change (and honestly I don't think I would want it to). But one thing would be nice is some calculation of my "actually science" for example. Like take the last 20 turns, average all of the science side bonuses I received, and then add that to my science number to give me a more realistic "true science" number. Events I think the vast majority of the mod is done, with some tuning here and there. But there is one area that needs a serious review....the event system. I know when it was first built G just put in some as a training bed...but at this point in the game we need to decide what to do with events. If they are going to be a core part of the mod, they need a serious balance pass. They are better than what they used to be, but there is still good work to be done. If we aren't going to do that, then they should be dropped as a core mechanic, and can be added back in as a modmod. So one way or another, its time to decide what to do about events. A Look at Tourism So in this game I wound up pushing for a cultural victory, though that wasn't my intention out of the gate. I lost to a science victory, though it was very close! I even tried to surround the capital to prevent the last peace...but of course he just built it in the capital to spite me (damn smart AIs!). I was playing as Arabia, and found that the historical event numbers were tuned to a good place in my estimation. It was a nice source of tourism, but I wasn't swimming in it. Ultimately concerts and trade routes seemed to be my biggest sources of tourism overall, which I think is fine. Now in terms of going tourism without going for a cultural victory....I will argue that the influence bonuses are nice but not so nice I would do any kind of tourism focus if I wasn't going cultural. But....honestly I think that is ok with the current balance. To me there are only a few true "tourism" buildings....Hotel, Zoo, and the Customs House. All of the other buildings give some nice bonuses in addition to the tourism. International Trade Routes are just fine without tourism bonuses. So...if I get some influence over another player I'll use it. If I am going for a CV then I will push tourism. Otherwise, I think its just in a good place. That said...one thing I would like to change is the trade route bonuses for getting influential with a civ. I would like to add something extra special here for 2 reasons: 1) It takes a lot of work to get influential with someone (at least when tourism is properly tuned). That extra effort should be rewarded. 2) The problem right now is that I'm getting influential with a civ because I am going for CV (otherwise I'm probably not maxing my tourism enough to do it). However, the second I do that....I am abandoning the trade routes with that civ as quick as I can. I want to shift my trade routes to my least influenced civ to push the numbers along....every player who plays CV knows you always have to target the least influenced civ. So its sad that you get to influential and the trade route bonuses only to never use them. It would be great if those bonuses were cool enough that you actually considered keeping your trade with that civ....enough knowing it is slowing down your tourism to another civ that you need to hit. Spying My honest assessment....I really do not like the new spying features. I don't like any of them, I don't like the heists, the little advanced actions. It just feels like unneeded fluff for a system that didn't need them. I think the spy system works great out of the box. Players often use it to help catch up on science, or for tourism as CV, or to work city states for a DV. Its simple and it works. What is wrong with that? When my great works get stolen, it just angers me. The steal some gold or science does nothing for me, it has 0 impact on my decision making. I would even be ok removing the constabulary and police stations, and just say that spying gets weaker as the ages go by. The simple system worked imo. Diplomacy I was very happy with the diplomacy in my big game. The AI was a smart cookie! First of all, Defensive Pacts were reasonable. AIs would offer them to me here and there when it honestly made sense. The prices they were charging were reasonable. I even had tech trading in this game (which is weird I usually have it off), and I found the AI was offering an appropriate amount for my techs....aka a lot! The AI even let me buy a tech from them at one point...but again at the expected very high fee that such a trade should require. There was a lot of war buying in this game. The AIs bribed each other to go to war with me, I would counter-bribe another civ to attack them....allowing me to live! Again...all for what I would consider reasonable prices. The AIs would go to war at reasonable times, after building up a strong army and often for specific reasons. They would try to pull me in to their wars, again offering pretty reasonable rates for the service. That last game actually felt very WWII esque. The two super powers went to war, and I was brought in through a defensive pact (as was another small civ on the other side). I had my little force, and would keep it along with the big boys to make the best dent I could). Then at one point one of the small civs switched sides and joined us! This allowed us to push back the big dog for a time, until war weariness caused us all to stop and catch our breath. It was a really nice interaction and enjoyable experience. Pathfinders / Scouts Ultimately I think the new pathfinders are good, and it did the job everyone was looking for. That said, I will say I think the double movement in forest/jungle is a bit overkill now. The pathfinder moves very quick because of the ignore terrain, the double speed just turns it into a crazy corvette. But I know that's been heavily debated in the past, and it doesn't bother me so much that I would make a strong cry to change it. Final Thoughts As I said at the beginning, I played some Civ 6 when I first came back. I do love some of the things that game brought in, and I think some of the mods are doing good work to try and push it further. But the real fundamental issue to me with that game currently is...there is no end game, none at all. The beginning is fun, and then you get a point where you are just clicking end turn, and you don't care a bit about what you build and where. It is devoid of meaningful choices past the mid game. I compared that to my last game here, where I was in the late information age biting my nails thinking of every possible way I could beat this seemingly unstoppable juggarnaut. I was using trade, military, shrewd diplomacy, diplomatic polices, spies.....everything in the kitchen sink. As I said before...I lost...and I had an amazing time doing it. The mod kept my engaged from beginning to the very end, and considering that has always been the struggle for any Civ game....it is the greatest praise one can offer this mod. It is a work of art, congratulations to everyone has been a part of it!