Strategic Resources (and potential additions for Civ VII)

Leyrann

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I found myself thinking about strategic resources, and specifically what other strategic resources there could be apart from the seven we have in Civilization VI, so basically looking forward to Civ VII.

Imo, all the ones from Civ VI should make a reappearance - horses, iron, coal, oil and aluminium were all very important throughout large parts of history and are obvious candidates. Uranium is by far the best way to regulate nuclear weaponry, and is therefore also very useful, and to round it out niter gives a mid-game strategic resource to bridge the gap between the ones unlocked in the Ancient Era and the ones unlocked in the Industrial Era and later.

But I'm a greedy person, and I want more. I think the most obvious candidate is copper, which could serve as a bridge towards iron later on like in Civ IV, and maybe a mechanic where copper can be used to make bronze for specific purposes? In fact, perhaps a similar thing could be extended to several other resources as well. Another one would be ivory, which could serve as a luxury/strategic resource double like in Civ IV, where it's used for the War Elephant unit. I really liked that bit of flavor.

Does anyone have any other suggestions? Perhaps a hyper-lategame resource such as lithium for batteries? Sulfur, which sees uses in all kinds of chemical processes as old as medieval times?
 

bene_legionary

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The problem I found in Civ 6 was that strategic resources became useless after their era, and stockpiling was a depthless addition. I think the strategic resource system needs a entire reworking to fix those problems, which would also need to be tied into trading. In the bronze age, tin and copper were huge supply bottlenecks and people who controlled these routes were well off. Unfortunately the bronze age is over in a few turns in Civ 6 so there isn't a good view of the complex trade routes that formed in that time. Iron should be universally important just for building buildings but since skyscrapers and improvements seem to upgarde their appearance on their own and buildings only need arbitrary production points we never see the use of iron past swordsmen, knights and railways.

A possible solution is to stockpile everything and make everything integral to the game, something like Stellaris. Copper, Incense, Ivory, Iron, Uranium, Wheat, all contribute to the stockpile and actually mean something. Maybe the production is decided upon the industriousness of your citizens (which has been suggested before) and strategic resources need to be spent for everything. Horses would not only help in warfare but on farms and in building sites, and are consumed by raceways. Iron is needed for forges. Ultimately, this was probably within Civ 6's scope but as always the designers seem to have fallen too short to make the game click.

Looking forward to more ideas (and this thread being moved)
 

Chefofrats

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Civilization games have always been very simplified strategies, and this is exactly what I have always enjoyed about them. Introducing production chains, like gathering tin and copper to make bronze, would be a big change, and one meaning more micromanagement. If you care about such systems, other games cater to you, like the Anno series.
 

Leyrann

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Unfortunately the bronze age is over in a few turns in Civ 6 so there isn't a good view of the complex trade routes that formed in that time.

Honestly, I wouldn't mind if they slowed the early game down in the first place. Make it so that these early times with bronze and such actually mean something, and that an early war can actually be an ancient era war. All but the most rushed wars in Civ VI will include Swordsmen and Horsemen by the end.
 

Linklite

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The concern that I have is that I already find it hard to obtain strategic resources. They're a heavy investment already (1/3rd of a builder per source) and hard to find in some cases. It's quite often that I won't control an iron source until after it becomes pretty much obsolete.

Having more types means that either I'm going to be swamped with sources and spending prod/gold like crazy on builders just so I can have a viable army, or I'm not going to control half of them anyway because they're so spread out. I then have half my tech tree unavailable because while Monty has 3 sources of yellow ivory, I only have 1 source of white ivory which I need to build my UU and he doesn't want to trade, nor can I take it because I don't have an army...

In theory it sounds great, but I already find that the map doesn't provide what I need and we don't want to cram more in (less space to build), so I don't think I'd want more types.
 

kaspergm

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The problem I found in Civ 6 was that strategic resources became useless after their era, and stockpiling was a depthless addition. I think the strategic resource system needs a entire reworking to fix those problems, which would also need to be tied into trading.
I partially agree with this. I agree that Iron completely losing its importance - after, what, medieval era? - is really weird (and yes, I know there is a thing called railways, but until they make them actually worth the trouble building ...). On the other hand, I agree with the concern that too much resource management can also become tedious micromanagement. When that's said, I would like you to be able to produce commodities in your factories from industrial era onwards, including industrial steel from iron ore and coal.

I actually liked the idea of accumulating resources, and I think one way of making that mechanism more interesting would be to have resource deposits contain a finite amount of their resource. So an iron mine that you start mining in ancient or classical era may run out of iron ore at some point, and not just run infinitely into the future era. That would bring a strong incentive to continue late game development and extraction of resources from new areas, which I think the game urgently needs (along with a much tighter happiness/corruption limit on expansion, so you can't just settle infinite cities from day one without dire consequences). Limited deposits would also make it easier to make more but smaller deposits scattered around the map, which would help with the no-iron starts of Civ6 which basically means you're screwed.
 

Leyrann

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The concern that I have is that I already find it hard to obtain strategic resources. They're a heavy investment already (1/3rd of a builder per source) and hard to find in some cases. It's quite often that I won't control an iron source until after it becomes pretty much obsolete.

Having more types means that either I'm going to be swamped with sources and spending prod/gold like crazy on builders just so I can have a viable army, or I'm not going to control half of them anyway because they're so spread out. I then have half my tech tree unavailable because while Monty has 3 sources of yellow ivory, I only have 1 source of white ivory which I need to build my UU and he doesn't want to trade, nor can I take it because I don't have an army...

In theory it sounds great, but I already find that the map doesn't provide what I need and we don't want to cram more in (less space to build), so I don't think I'd want more types.

Imo, strategic resources (in particular lategame ones) are slightly too rare in Civ VI. But this is a game balance thing, not a game feature thing.

I actually liked the idea of accumulating resources, and I think one way of making that mechanism more interesting would be to have resource deposits contain a finite amount of their resource. So an iron mine that you start mining in ancient or classical era may run out of iron ore at some point, and not just run infinitely into the future era. That would bring a strong incentive to continue late game development and extraction of resources from new areas, which I think the game urgently needs (along with a much tighter happiness/corruption limit on expansion, so you can't just settle infinite cities from day one without dire consequences). Limited deposits would also make it easier to make more but smaller deposits scattered around the map, which would help with the no-iron starts of Civ6 which basically means you're screwed.

One addition you could also make is that as technology advances, new deposits can become available because you now have the means to access them. This is also a way to increase the number of resources on the map without increasing clutter; early game resource tiles have largely disappeared by the time the late game tiles of the same resource become available. And then perhaps you have a lot of easily accessible iron for your early swordsmen, but in the industrial era those resources have ran out and there are no new ones available, even harder to find, so you find yourself at an iron deficit for part of the game, rather than all or nothing.
 

bene_legionary

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I don't see stockpiling everything being too hard for most players to understand as long as the UI can give that information to the player and the AI can be effective with it. I don't want Civ to be an economics simulator, I want to have fun while making sense, and I think that Civ's economy is not fun and doesn't make sense. I think micromanagement isn't fun at all. I'm not sure if it's meant to be similar to real life now. I wrote my comment late last night, I think some of it I wouldn't be writing this morning, but I still agree with most of it.

I like the idea of resource stockpiling but it's really shallow. It was probably better than before Gathering Storm, but it was still mostly the same. Prospecting for resources is a good idea, I'm just wondering how it would be done.
 

Linklite

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Imo, strategic resources (in particular lategame ones) are slightly too rare in Civ VI. But this is a game balance thing, not a game feature thing.
I agree that, in terms of income, they are too rare, but I think you missed my point. Tiles are a fairly scarce resource. Adding, say, another three strategic resources, that's (to through out a number) another tile per city lost just so I can maintain my tech tree. That's before mentioning the necessity of producing more builders.

I don't think inserting more strategic resources will actually add to the game. By the end of the game, I actually feel that I have too many to deal with. I have readouts telling me how much iron I have, how many horses, how much nitre and how much coal - why do I care? I haven't used them in dozens of turns. Adding another half a dozen is just more hassle.
 
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Having more types means that either I'm going to be swamped with sources and spending prod/gold like crazy on builders just so I can have a viable army, or I'm not going to control half of them anyway because they're so spread out.

The increased burden on builders and tiles is something I have noticed from playing with Truly Abundant Resources and resource mods including Resourceful 2. Having a ton of resources results in more micro and waste where the marginal value of a builder charge is greater than harvesting most tiles (all resources being harvestable under the first mod).

Reworking improvements such that they fall directly under city production rather than under builder charges could help. It has also made sense personally since Civ IV to have exhaustible resource deposits, as mentioned above. This could also help declutter cities, with older deposits disappearing in time for industrial expansion.
 

Leyrann

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I agree that, in terms of income, they are too rare, but I think you missed my point. Tiles are a fairly scarce resource. Adding, say, another three strategic resources, that's (to through out a number) another tile per city lost just so I can maintain my tech tree. That's before mentioning the necessity of producing more builders.

I don't think inserting more strategic resources will actually add to the game. By the end of the game, I actually feel that I have too many to deal with. I have readouts telling me how much iron I have, how many horses, how much nitre and how much coal - why do I care? I haven't used them in dozens of turns. Adding another half a dozen is just more hassle.

This is why you could have a resource like horses become obsolete in the lategame. Or maybe, in this specific case, have it turn into a luxury resource (though with how you can technically have horses anywhere once you have any, having them disappear might be better).

And to expand further on the concept of new resources being found while old deposits go empty, perhaps it can now be allowed to build on top of strategic resources. In the early game you use that horse or iron tile for resources, but then the Industrial Era rolls around and you're like, I can find a better use for this, and plant down an Industrial Zone on the tile instead.

Tying into this somewhat is a long-time favorite concept of mine, namely to make two categories of tile improvements. One that takes up the entire tile (farm, pasture, plantation, etc, also including features like forests) and one that can be built on a tile (village, lumber mill, mine, etc), visually in the center. This effectively doubles the options you have on the same number of tiles, and doesn't 'lock in' a tile into one thing completely just because of the resource. If you have iron somewhere, you'll want a mine, but do you want to build farmland around it for food, or would you rather keep the forest in place for even more production? Or perhaps something else entirely? Of course, several more tile improvements would probably be needed compared to what Civ VI has. I might make a separate thread for this sometime (after checking whether I haven't done so before).

The increased burden on builders and tiles is something I have noticed from playing with Truly Abundant Resources and resource mods including Resourceful 2. Having a ton of resources results in more micro and waste where the marginal value of a builder charge is greater than harvesting most tiles (all resources being harvestable under the first mod).

Reworking improvements such that they fall directly under city production rather than under builder charges could help. It has also made sense personally since Civ IV to have exhaustible resource deposits, as mentioned above. This could also help declutter cities, with older deposits disappearing in time for industrial expansion.

I don't know if I like the idea of completely removing builders or something like them from the game, but one thing you could perhaps add would be to give them orders on what to improve by selecting tiles and telling them what to build there, and then they automatically go and do so. Idk.

There's also the point that optimally playing Civ VI inherently requires micromanagement. That's just how the game is. While there should be no more micromanagement than needed, it's only logical that some does exist. If you don't want any micromanagement at all, this entire genre is just not for you.
 

kaspergm

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This is why you could have a resource like horses become obsolete in the lategame. Or maybe, in this specific case, have it turn into a luxury resource (though with how you can technically have horses anywhere once you have any, having them disappear might be better).
The case of Horses specifically is an interesting one, because I would argue that the idea of "Horses" as an on-map strategic resources is wrong in the first place. If I'm not mistaken, domestication of horses took place before the historic time the game represents, and the horses used for warfare were not wild horses caught in nature, but domesticated and (through breeding) genetically altered species. As such, it might be more appropriate to have mounted units require a specific building (call it Stables or something else) that can be build once you research Domestication/Animal Husbandry/Horseback Riding/whatever.

As for the other strategic resources, I'm more and more keen on having them turn into something that can be worked in factories to make modern commodities once they become obsolete as strategic resources:
  • Copper -> Wires (required for power?)
  • Iron + Coal -> Steel (required for modern districts?)
  • Niter -> Chemicals/fertilizers (required for modern farming?)
  • Oil -> Plastics (used for manufactoring luxury products)
  • Plastics + Copper -> Electronics (luxury resource - or related to science (computers))
 

AntSou

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I think the game should be more heavily centred on resources, and what constitutes a "luxury" or "bonus" dependent dynamically on availability and demand. I don't like the abstraction of farms (farms of what?) or mines (mining what?). All bonuses and luxury resources should be called Commodities, and each commodity should have a unique bonus attached to it.

The line between those and strategic resources also does not need to be too rigid. Or in other words, a resource should be strategic in more senses than just a military one. Each strategic resource should have a smaller "Tech tree" specific to it, with two development paths available. Unlocking or investing towards one path means an opportunity cost in not investing in the other path.

Unlocking Horses, for instance, should open the door to improved farming, not just new military units. They should bring back the mechanic of prototypes from Alpha Centauri, where the initial unit has a higher cost than subsequent ones. Perhaps you have access to Horses but also Iron and you don't quite need to rely as much on the former for military purposes. The initial prototype cost is an investment (e.g. +50% to 100% for the first unit), and maybe you'd rather divert the use of Horses towards agriculture. You can focus entirely on one path, or balance between the two, depending on your needs.

You can easily see such applications for most strategic resources that currently exist in the game. So I wouldn't focus so much on adding more resources, but rather fleshing out how they play out mechanically.

At the top of the Agricultural Path or Military Path for Horses could be the unlockable option of converting them into a "commodity". This would solve the issue of certain resources becoming obsolete.
 

Leyrann

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  • Niter -> Chemicals/fertilizers (required for modern farming?)

I disagree on this one. The entire problem in the late 19th and early 20th century was that natural sources of bound nitrogen were running out, and that a synthetic replacement had to be found, which became the Haber-Bosch process. It was the first big chemical process to be developed, essentially creating chemical industry as we know it today, and it is still the single biggest chemical process out there in terms of yield, power usage, money, et cetera. Unless you count oil refining as a single process, but that's not the norm.

Other than that I really like your suggestions though.
 

kaspergm

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I disagree on this one. The entire problem in the late 19th and early 20th century was that natural sources of bound nitrogen were running out, and that a synthetic replacement had to be found, which became the Haber-Bosch process. It was the first big chemical process to be developed, essentially creating chemical industry as we know it today, and it is still the single biggest chemical process out there in terms of yield, power usage, money, et cetera. Unless you count oil refining as a single process, but that's not the norm.

Other than that I really like your suggestions though.
That is definitely a good point. Again, we're discussing things that probably needs to be tuned using not only one handle, but several. By which I mean: Some resources should definitely be producable by other means than just raw extraction - not necessarily right from the point they unlock, but fairly soon after. On the topic of Niter, if I'm not mistaken, a lot of nations actually produced gunpowder using animal or even human sources of nitrogen (urine). This is definitely something that should make its way into the game through buildings in the Industrial Zone or Encampment. Given such an option, natural sources of Niter could be much scarcer and one could balance the game so that they are depleted fairly quickly.

On another note, there's always the consideration about whether Civ should exactly mimic real life human history. Just because natural sources of Niter were depleted quickly in real world does not necessarily mean it had to be that way in game. If I'm not mistaken, Civ5 map engine had a feature where one strategic resource was randomly selected to be "scarce" in each game. Maybe our world just reflects the one where Niter was chosen as the scarce resource? :)
 

Leyrann

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That is definitely a good point. Again, we're discussing things that probably needs to be tuned using not only one handle, but several. By which I mean: Some resources should definitely be producable by other means than just raw extraction - not necessarily right from the point they unlock, but fairly soon after. On the topic of Niter, if I'm not mistaken, a lot of nations actually produced gunpowder using animal or even human sources of nitrogen (urine). This is definitely something that should make its way into the game through buildings in the Industrial Zone or Encampment. Given such an option, natural sources of Niter could be much scarcer and one could balance the game so that they are depleted fairly quickly.

Oooh I like that. Make the resource scarce from the start and have players race towards the synthetic production, just like we in the real world had to race towards it.

And yeah, actual scarcity could vary somewhat to avoid the game becoming repetitive. Maybe one game you need to race for synthetic nitrogen fixation, the next you need to race to oil to replace coal, but as a consequence the nitrogen fixation technology is easy by the time you need it (in the game represented by the relevant tech already being unlocked and you just need to build the buildings).

(or just call "synthetic nitrogen fixation" "fertilizer", I guess, sorry for the chemistry speak)
 

General_Sahib

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  • Copper -> Wires (required for power?)
  • Iron + Coal -> Steel (required for modern districts?)
  • Niter -> Chemicals/fertilizers (required for modern farming?)
  • Oil -> Plastics (used for manufactoring luxury products)
  • Plastics + Copper -> Electronics (luxury resource - or related to science (computers))
Excellent stuff. I agree that obsolete strat resources shouldn't simply gather dust after a certain point in the timeline.

Horses should remain a strat resource though imho. When obsolete in terms of warfare, the tile icon can vanish and the stockpile can - quite literally - become "glue", a special and exhaustable modern era reserve that can be spent on demand to boost production of just about anything (akin to having a store of chopped wood), perhaps? It's almost a tongue in cheek suggestion, but honestly, why not?

As an alternative, obsolete resource stockpiles could be turned into Great Engineer points?
 

kaspergm

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If we retain Horses as a strategic resource, I like better the idea that someone else promoted to convert them from military horses into dressage horses (requires an arena?) and have them count as a luxury resource.
 

BuchiTaton

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If we retain Horses as a strategic resource, I like better the idea that someone else promoted to convert them from military horses into dressage horses (requires an arena?) and have them count as a luxury resource.
Is as easy as horses provide bonus to your Entertainment Complex when Professional Sports civic is researched, no other complex change is needed to gain from them.
 

kaspergm

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Another thought, on the topic of mounts: What do you think about the idea of region specific "mounts" as different strategic resources? We've already had Horses and Elephants in some of the previous games, and Camels have also made an appearance in Civ5, although not as an actual resource. Are there other examples of animals being used as mounts in combat historically?
 
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