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Tall versus wide

Discussion in 'Civ - Ideas & Suggestions' started by KayAU, Aug 14, 2017.

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  1. KayAU

    KayAU Chieftain

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    As you all probably know, back in Civ 5, there was a thing called "tall vs wide", and this does not seem to be the case anymore with Civ 6. Personally, I liked tall, for a few reasons:
    • It let me build some spectacular cities
    • It didn't force me to try and keep track of a vast empire
    • I did not need to spend my time making relatively tiny decisions for a bunch of cities I didn't care about
    • It let me play peacefully, as I didn't need that much space to expand into

    This is the playstyle I enjoy most, and to some extent it mitigates what I consider one of the worst aspects of 4X games in general: You spend your time in the early game making few, but really important decisions, which is enjoyable, while the late game decisions feel more like chores. I believe this has to do with the scale of things: when you have just one city, what you choose for that city is hugely important. When you have 50, each city is less important, and to make matters worse, several will be completing their construction each turn. Tall mitigates this by allowing you to keep the scale of your nation at a level which is enjoyable to you.

    Now, while it is possible to play somewhat tall in Civ 6 with some of the civs (Kongo and India), doing so is essentially choosing to cripple yourself on purpose:
    • So many yields are dependent on number of districts (science, culture, gold, faith, great people), which require more cities and more space
    • Number of trade routes are dependent on number of districts
    • Wonders require both space and specific locations, which means more cities
    • A high population doesn't really boost your yields significantly, and specialists/district workers don't produce much
    • There are very few buildings which multiply your ouput by a percentage, it is generally all flat yields
    • Getting a high population in a city in the first place is not that easy, as population is limited by housing and amenities
    • There isn't really any significant disadvantage at any point for founding or conquering a new city

    In particular, with the way production costs are scaled up throughout the game, the most efficient way to play is as an expansionistic warmonger. Capturing cities with districts already built in them will easily put you ahead of the competition. This is a bit unsatisfying to me, because taking on the AI in war is a bit like taking on Stephen Hawking in a boxing match.

    There could be multiple ways of making tall more viable. Just a few ideas off the top of my head:
    • Higher specialist yields
    • GP points from specialists
    • Upgradeable districts
    • Some way of getting more trade routes from a large city (upgradeable districts, specialists, or just population, for example)
    • Alternatively or additionally, just higher yields from trade routes to or from large cities
    • Add some disadvantage/tradeoff to expanding too much, or tie it to tech/civic development. Logically, it should be harder to hold a vast empire together than a small one, especially in early times.

    Basically, it comes down to increasing the potential of big cities, while adding some tradeoff to expanding too much. I'm not saying it needs to be a great option for every civ, I'm perfectly happy with some civs being better for tall and other for wide. But at the moment, I think all civs are better off going wide.

    Just to clarify, what I mean by tall, is 4-8 cities through the entire game.

    So, is it just me, or does anyone else miss tall? What do you think can/should be done?
     
    Art Morte likes this.
  2. Falk

    Falk Chieftain

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    Good post - and I completely agree with you. This is one of the main issues I have with Civ6. No matter what you intend to do it's always the best strategy to beat up a neighbour and go wide.

    In Civ5 I enjoyed Venice the most, it's the playstyle I prefer. I could focus on growing my capital to a huge metropolis and have a couple additional cities in strategically advantageous positons. And with most other civs I limited myself to maybe 3-5 cities.

    Global happiness could fix this problem, but it isn't (and wasn't) a very elegant solution. You provide some good ideas.

    One thing I would mention is city states: level 2 and 3 boni are per district and thus favour wide empires. Level 1 boni are only provided to the capital, so if you send 1 envoy to every city state instead of focusing on just a few, you can get a tall empire bonus. It's not much, but it's something Firaxis could expand on.
     
  3. Kyro

    Kyro Chieftain

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    I prefer making megacities and enjoy peaceful play. I also agree with your suggestions. That said this issue has been raised from day one and unfortunately the developers for Civ 6 seem to detest that kind of gameplay for some reason.

    To put things in perspective you are essentially asking for what the developers intentionally took effort to remove from the game.

    Many of the elements in Civ 6 are all designed with the intention to create military conflict as much as possible. These include clumped starting positions, intentional nerfing of tall play advantages, high district/settler costs, removal of captured city resistance/yield penalties, increased AI aggression, intentional forward settling, useless diplomacy, removal of world congress/reduced unit costs. Etc etc it goes on and on. That is the true reason for advocating wide play.

    I must say I really don't enjoy what they're trying to do.
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2017
  4. Victoria

    Victoria Regina Supporter

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    What happens to wide empires in the more recent centuries is they break up. The wide aspect has little respect for reality. An annoying thing for me is you can just steamroll all your opponents in a blanket approach taking everything with little detriment. It should be hard to keep a huge empire together. I would like to see a dead civ or city state being able to resurrect itself in a rebellion of your further cities.
     
    zxcvbob and valerislysander like this.
  5. KayAU

    KayAU Chieftain

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    I'm still hoping they will address this with an expansion at some point. While Kyro might be right that the developers don't seem to care much for tall peaceful play, I do believe that a fair number of players do like it. And yes, there is the realism aspect of not having any kind of difficulty holding together a vast, globe-spanning empire, especially before more advanced forms of government and communication are invented.

    It is not too hard to think of ways to reward tall cities, but a bit more difficult to think of ways to limit expansion. If I suggest something, it is likely that someone will hate it. Global happiness has been mentioned, but yes, it has its problems, on of which is logic. Why should city A be more or less happy because there is now a stadium in distant city B? The concept of corruption has also been used in earlier games. I don't know what is better, but the bottom line is that I think there should be some kind of penalty or tradeoff for going wide.

    Seeing as my thread has now been moved to the Ideas & Suggestions, I'd just like to float a couple of rough ideas:
    • Implementing some kind of "support"/"logistics" system for how many cities you can effectively govern. This has been done in several other games, like Fallen Enchantress, where you can only have a certain number of cities before unrest becomes an issue. The further you go over the limit, the more problems you get. This still leaves you the option to expand quickly, but you have to be prepared to deal with some consequences. Some ideas for increasing the limit: There could be various techs or civics which increase the city support limit (Feudalism, Radio, etc.), some civs could have a greater ability to support cities as a strength, and there could be government types and policy cards to affect the city limit or effect of going over it. The last one creates a bit of a tradeoff mechanism, as those policy cards would take up slots which could have been used for other things, like enhancing tall cities.
    • Make some form of perks or bonuses for tall play which are not available or easily attainable for wide empires. The concept might be based on the notion of national unity, or equality between citizens in different cities. I have not thought this one through in great detail, but for example having some bonus for having all cities be well developed (this could be based on number of possible districts versus number of built districts, for example).
    • Change the way amenities are distributed, so that big cities either more easily starve smaller cities, or the other way around. Okay, so this might be stupid, but I do want to mention it as a rough idea. Currently, it seems that amenities are distributed as fairly and rationally as possible to create the least amount of trouble. It does seem like there may at some point have been some idea that this should limit expansion, with each luxury giving one amenity to four cities. However, in practice, it is very easy to overcome this, as new cities often connect new luxuries, and you could always build entertainment complexes. But how about, for example, each new city taking one amenity if available, even if it doesn't strictly need it. That way, if you settle an extra city, it will take one amenity away from a larger city. This, combined with more significant bonuses for having many amenities, would introduce a way to directly balance wide versus tall. Yes, you can have another city, but that will reduce the potential of your other cities somewhat.

    As I said, these are just some rough ideas, and I am not sure how good they are. I am curious to hear what other people think.
     
  6. Art Morte

    Art Morte Chieftain

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    OP makes some excellent points and I agree with a lot that's been said in the thread.

    My biggest gripe is that big cities indeed feel somewhat pointless. Greater production is good, but that's the only significant positive. I suppose the developers meant that the ability to build more districts is the main benefit of big cities, but I find myself building districts that I don't really care if I have them or not in my biggest cities. Especially when the area effects of Entertainment and Industrial districts mean you don't need to build them in many cities. Building yet another Commercial hub or Harbor isn't very exciting when I don't need any more gold or trade routes. I enjoy building cities up, balancing between using my production on yield buildings, settlers and builders, defensive buildings and units... but you reach the point too soon in the game where that building up starts feeling meaningless. Almost every city's management becomes a chore after you've got the first 2-3 districts that you really wanted to build there.

    I think you should be able to build more buildings in your city center. Maybe after every 5 population you could choose a building from any district to build in your city center, as long as you have discovered that building through science or civic. If a population 15 city could have a market, art museum and workshop, without having any of those districts, that would make it quite a bit better already.
     
  7. Karpius

    Karpius Chieftain

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    I seem to recall that in Civ 3 (which is the last version I played some 13 or more years ago) that empire size did indeed come with a whole new set of problems that included revolutions. The population of a captured city remained the same flavor as the Civ it was taken from until it started to grow. Only new citizens in the city reflected the new Civ governing it. Until the new population outnumbered the old population, 'happiness' was a definite issue in the captured city, especially if it was still quite close geographically to its former Civ. Rather realistic, yes? Much of this had to with how far a city was from the capital and the foreign cultural influence they might face. Yes, it also affected one's own citizens in far flung cities.

    Being one to play on very large maps, this made for some very interesting late game struggles while trying to dominate the world.

    In Civ 6, religion is another factor that could well play into the restlessness of a city's population. Those two cities bordering a country of devout Catholics who keep sending missionaries just might one day seek a new leader who has "seen the light of the Lord."
     
  8. Sostratus

    Sostratus Chieftain

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    Let me start by saying I agree with this exactly. I really enjoy that so many people are thinking about this!

    Consider reading through the threads here and here. Both threads were mentioned in the Sept 10 polycast.

    Speaking of which, it's a bit interesting how the term tall is defined differently. If you listen to the polycast, when the hosts (who evidently played a lot of civ 5) come to this topic, they focus in on tall vs wide to mean "number of cities." There is also the other aspect, which relates to distribution of population between multiple cities; that is to say, core vs frontier.

    We may do well to dispel the notion that tall in Civ6 means "Civ5 4 city tradition." I like that I might not be able to hole up in my region; Rome might need more amenities, so I need to get off my butt and venture to new lands. I like that if I can invest in expansion, I can reap rewards (as opposed to always strictly being worse off.) It might well be "a number of large cities developed on excellent sites." The mechanisms to prevent expansion in 5 produced a meta with unhealthy gameplay: plop four cities, rush a certain tech path, and click next turn until your spaceship launches. If other civs followed this as well, much of the map would be empty in the modern age; this in turn made war less common, and reduced struggles between players. It's also a strategy that was optimal independent of the map. We can see many artifacts of trying to flip this in 6...

    ... Not all of which hit the mark perfectly. But this is vanilla, and there's a ton of interlinked systems here. The way we manage our empire doesn't scale well with large numbers of cities. But we as players can tell we would benefit from having ever larger empires. This can lead, on maps bigger than small, to the mid/endgame becoming a chore! But what if an average sized empire had two choices in the midgame: invest production into expansion, either by settler or by swordsman, OR invest hammers into building up good cities. This doesn't mean they need to both be equally good, just that trying to further develop your cities shouldn't be vastly worse than getting more of them.

    I prefer the wide playstyle myself, but I think wide is just too dominant over tall to the point that a lot of game systems and content aren't able to reach their potential.
    -the idea of city specialization is hurt by being able to spam districts (usually a Commercial Hub + victory district) in small cities
    -spamming CH gives so much gold that international trade routes are inferior to domestic ones
    -abundant gold means other sources (like terrain) are a nice bonus, but not planned around
    And so on. So we should care about what kind of balance there is between wide and tall. With all the fun currently in the building game of Civ6, why not let that viably extend inward as well as outwards?

    Last thought: no matter what kind of boni we throw at our metropoli, Housing is a key limiter in the middle of the game before neighborhoods, which there really isn't a way to address in game right now. Non-kongo core cities can literally stop growing in the middle ages. This is a bit realistic, but the stall in development can feel pretty sucky when the only solution is the next turn button. (Although, we could potentially help taller nations with gold and housing via having cottages again.)
     
  9. Kyro

    Kyro Chieftain

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    Concerning struggles between players, especially in the context of war. Why is it unhealthy that War is made less common? Why is it that instead of introducing/improving/acknowledging other forms of struggle in the game diplomatically, culturally, economically etc, we always end up equating struggle to "War" and justifying its proliferation as the only way to make the game more interesting? In fact in Civ 6 it is clear that other forms of struggle in the game have been ignored/intentionally taken out to emphasize war.

    The struggle to be more efficient than other players in generating Science, complete research agreements, maintain peace etc. Why are those things often trivialised and nerfed in the game in favor of wars wars and more wars?

    The whole business of nerfing tall play and buffing wide play is built on this fallacy: Tall play promotes peace; wide play promotes conflict/war and war is the only way to make the game more interesting; ergo Tall play must be nerfed, wide play must be buffed.
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2017
  10. Sostratus

    Sostratus Chieftain

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    To be clear, it wasn't just less common- it was sometimes nonexistent. Then an entire facet of the game is pointless: players should probably have to build a military and think about defense over the millennia. As I mentioned, 4 city tradition was optimal almost independent of the map and what your opponents did. The pendulum was just too far in that direction.

    I can't blame the devs for reacting to the past 6 years of Civ gameplay. They probably overreacted in some areas. But we don't yet have expansions. Civ5 vanilla had a very different meta from BNW, which introduced the trade routes and the science penalty. They may well be saving the more complex diplo/espionage/etc systems for expansions. but a lot of people think that warmongering is a little too good right now- I agree. The best early game action is always to take out your neighbors asap- As opposed to expand more through settlers, build more campuses, etc. So the pendulum has gone back the other way.
     

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