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The game badly needs a mechanic against super expansion

Discussion in 'Civ - Ideas & Suggestions' started by SupremacyKing2, Dec 31, 2018.

  1. SupremacyKing2

    SupremacyKing2 Deity

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    Previous civ games have always had something to limit super expansion. Civ5 had global happiness. Civ4 had a city maintenance cost based on distance from capital. Civ6 does not really do anything meaningful to slow down warmongers from simply expanding into a super big wide empire. As a result, it is too easy to just keep expanding and expanding.

    Now, I love wide empires but I think there needs to be some push back mechanic in the game so that it is not so easy. Amenities are not enough to slow you down because there are plenty of ways to get amenities in the game. And besides, a lack of amenities might hurt your cities' growth but it does not really stop you from getting more cities. I can have a super wide empire and my cities might be "displeased" but it does not really matter because with that many cities, I still come out way ahead in science, culture and production.

    I would propose adding a negative loyalty modifier to cities based on distance from capital. The way it would work is the further away cities are from your capital the bigger the negative loyalty per turn. This would force the player going super wide to focus on loyalty if they wanted to keep the far away cities. And there might be some distance that is so far that even with loyalty boosts, you would still lose the city and thus there would be a soft limit to how far you could expand.
     
  2. Icicle

    Icicle Prince

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    Global happiness was one of the worst mechanics ever in a civ game and I'm glad it's dead.

    But I wouldn't mind seeing a sort of Civ 3 style where eventually cities become worthless (not negative mind you, just not helpful either). Couple that with a harsher penalty for golden ages based on number of cities and you'd have a harder time holding your giant empire, which I wouldn't have any problem with.

    And if we're going to do loyalty from distance to capital I want the old school Forbidden Palace national wonder that acts as a second capital :D
     
  3. SupremacyKing2

    SupremacyKing2 Deity

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    I definitely do not want a return of global happiness either. It was indeed a terrible mechanic, very poorly implemented. I agree that that some mechanic that just makes distant cities less valuable would also work. Maybe distance cities could also get negative amenities?

    And yes, after I posted my idea, it occurred to me that the Forbidden Palace wonder could provide a loyalty boost to help you hold a big empire.
     
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  4. Stringer1313

    Stringer1313 King

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    I am ok with having a civ 3 modifier “corruption” based on distance from capital (like in civ 1-2), but I think loyalty penalties (and other penalties) should be incurred based on whether the city was occupied or not with the penality slowly decreasing over time. Certainly newly captured cities should NOT exert loyalty pressure.

    So I think the penalties should be tied more to the conquered status of the city with the penalty slowly decreasing over time, not necessarily with how many cities you have per se or how many cities you founded on your own.
     
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  5. Scrabbler

    Scrabbler Chieftain

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    I would agree that Civ 6 could do much more to make smaller empires competitive with larger ones and I think loyalty should play a major part in this. I think it is one of the aspects that is preventing Civ 6 from becoming "great" rather than just "very good". Historically many large empires have tended to fall apart when they hit a dark age. In Civ 6 it is the smaller or partially conquered civs that tend to fall apart, whereas the cities of the large civs all get loyalty reinforcements from each other.

    If I understood the loyalty mechanic correctly, the total size of your empire does not matter. It would be good to have a penalty for large civs and a boost for small civs, even if this is a fairly minor one. I think it should be based on total number of cities rather than the distance from the capital, but it could be both.

    While we are talking about loyalty, I don't think there is any "nationality" aspect to the loyalty calculation either. It would be good if a city that you have held for a long time could get a small loyalty boost compared with a city that you have only held for a short time. Again, it would not have to be a major modifier but would help prevent the unrealistic situation where a civ's core cities suddenly want to switch allegiance just because the neighbouring cities have been conquered.

    Other ways to limit over-expansion, such as corruption (CIv 2-4) and global happiness (Civ 5) do work, but can make the game unfun for the player. I think the increased city maintenance costs in Civ 4 was one of the best systems so far. For Civ 6, I wondered about having a district maintenance cost, whereby you start to pay exponentially if you build more than two or three districts of the same type. From a game design point of view it is really difficult to balance, but I do agree they could do more to improve this aspect in Civ 6.
     
  6. Wingednosering

    Wingednosering Prince

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    This issue runs pretty deeply through the design decisions of Civ VI and was definitely intentional. One thing Civ V did to even out tall vs wide (aside from global happiness) is scale science and policy costs with the number of cities in your empire. This was pretty exploitable and wasn't explained very well, but it did a lot to help equalize the two strategies.

    Additionally, your main science draw was from population, not infrastructure. In Civ VI by contrast, costs are unaffected by additional cities (in fact, the only penalty at all is luxury amenity ditriubution) and population is only really needed for the arbitrary district count rules.

    Making population matter is pretty much a guaranteed tall vs wide play equalizer and I'm not sure why they decided to scrap it. It had to be an intentional shift to encouraging wide empires over tall. I think it's possible they wanted districts to be the 'tall' benefit, but you really only need 2-3 per city to make things efficient, which is a bit of a joke (4-7 population per).

    Loyalty is affected by population and age type more than any other factors, with Governors coming up just behind that. In theory this means wide empires should have more loyalty problems, but in practice that doesn't happen because the cities you capture from the AI grow super fast with their inflated bonuses.
     
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  7. Infixo

    Infixo Deity

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    In Civ6 still a bulk of science and culture comes from population. In R&F science from pop was decreased from 0.7 to 0.5, but it still quite high. People are excited about “playing the map”, squeezing additional yields from adjacencies, but in fact till mid-game 30-50% of science comes from pop. And with culture, just build a monument in each city plus population and the ratio is similar.
    As for limiting the wide play, there is already a simple mechanism in the game that could be used - increasing costs of districts with number of built districts, not tech or civic progress.
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2019
  8. fail-deadly-

    fail-deadly- Chieftain

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    Like Supremacy King stated, I think loyalty needs to be the limiting mechanic. However, I would mostly tie it to culture. Culture fills the loyalty buckets and citizens are the buckets. So for example a citizen starts with zero loyalty, at the beginning of a game, or when founding a new city. The culture from the palace will start to fill the citizens loyalty bucket. When it reaches ten the citizen becomes loyal. Unhappiness should act as negative culture and start to empty a citizen's loyalty bucket. Religion should tie in too, so that if a citizen follows your religion it's culture bucket should fill up faster. So a citizens becomes loyal they start generating culture and loyalty pressure. Though military force should be able to prevent a loyalty flip, if there is enough of it present.
     
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  9. Elhoim

    Elhoim Iron Tower Studio Dev

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    Yeah, I agree that the implementation of loyalty is lacking, especially regarding conquered cities and their allegiance to your empire. Loyalty needs to be civ based (national identity), plus razing shouldn't be instant and with a complete destruction of the enemy city.
     
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  10. SupremacyKing2

    SupremacyKing2 Deity

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    Thanks. I think the issue lies in the fact that right now, loyalty works strictly as an external force pulling on cities from other cities. In order for a city to flip, it requires an outside source, specifically a foreign city. So if you conquer one city, the remaining nearby foreign cities will exert loyalty pressure on your conquered city to flip, but if you conquer the entire civ, there are no more foreign cities nearby to exert any pressure, and so your conquered cities all have perfect loyalty. What is missing are internal factors that can affect loyalty so that cities have a chance to flip from things inherent in the city, even with no external pressure at all. Conquered cities should have a chance to flip even with no foreign pressure, because of their inherent national identity. And cities that have very low amenities and/or are far from your capital should have a chance to flip, regardless of foreign pressure, simply from the fact that they are unhappy and don't feel all that connected to your national identity anyway.

    Here is what I would love to see:
    - Low amenities (when a city is "displeased" or worse) would generate some negative loyalty per turn per amenity lacking. So the more amenities it lacks, the more negative loyalty per turn. This would represent internal rebellion. The city is just angry at a lack of amenities and wants to be independent.
    - Cities far away from your capital would lost a little loyalty per turn. This would represent the cities not feeling connected to your national identity since they are so far away.
    - Conquered cities would lose some loyalty per turn for X turns. This would represent their original national identity still exerting a pressure to go back until they become assimilated.

    The first two would prevent players from simply expanding their empire like crazy and neglect amenities. If you did, you would find some of your distant colonies rebelling. That makes sense. Think of the American colonies. The last point would affect warmongers and force them to pay a little more attention to pacifying conquered cities. Even after conquering an entire civ, the warmonger would still need to keep some garrisoned units, governors etc to keep loyalty up until the period of assimilation is over. As it should be. Warmongers should not be able to just blitz an entire civ with no issues.

    I also want to make clear that figuring out the specific numbers would be crucial for balance. I don't think internal flipping should be automatic. That would not be fun at all if players always lost a conquered city or a distant city. But this internal flipping should not be so weak that the player never worries about it. Flipping should be somewhere in the middle where there is a real chance to flip but if the player pays attention, they can keep the city unless the situation is already too drastic (ie foreign pressure and conquered city and low amenities etc). Obviously, if there are too many things pushing the city to flip, it should flip no matter what but under normal conditions, if the player focuses on loyalty, they should be able to keep cities.
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2019
  11. Sostratus

    Sostratus Emperor

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    The downside to this approach is that you end up making "colonial" gameplay (think civ5 terra map) impossible, and certain civs and cards (england, spain, colonial taxes etc) are built around that gameplay option existing. Not knocking loyalty as a restraint- I will get to that in a minute though.

    Amenities are too easy to get now, but they don't have to be that way:
    For example, taking away the free amenity per city from human players may itself be enough of a brake. That's an insanely strong free bonus. We can always tack an extra amenity or two onto the palace.
    A lot of players found civ4 and 5's limiting mechanics to be anti fun because they made otherwise useful and productive cities a negative thing to have. The trick is to keep expansion monotonic - more outputs means faster progress. That does not mean expansion should be linear - which is what we have right now.
    Where do many-city empires derive their science and culture advantage? From more districts! Conveniently, the entertainment complex takes up a district slot. Think of it as a growth tax. Right now, each city gets free 1 amenity tax credit, so it's more efficient to spread out (and thus have more campus slots.) What if it was different- suppose each city got zero amenities by default. Then you'd need to build more and more ECs (a substantial penalty in terms of space, production, and time) to keep people happy.

    But as you point out, why would we care about keeping people happy? Well, for one, I think the amenity system needs some more stages. +10% non-food yields in an ecstatic city is pretty weak. I would be happy if there were more stages to this- +3, maybe +4, delivering higher still non-food bonuses. This is separate from expansion though (since at the top end it's your total population, not number of cities, eating up amenities. we don't want to punish people for having large cities!) That alone changes the calculus around expansion dramatically.
    The negative stages do not do enough. They should become very punishing very fast- like the city slows to a crawl in science and culture, and there is a lot of negative loyalty. There is no limit on how many cities a player could maintain in this regime- so long as they invest enough in keeping things running. I just feel the main difference between what we have now and where the game should be is that you do not have to invest enough (be it in ECs or city center buildings or policy cards) to grant a meaningful brake on expansion. I don't want any artificial limits like civ5 had, but everything is slanted to expansion right now instead of development.

    As an aside, loyalty currently only comes from civs. There is no generic "disloyalty." So a large empire with no neighbors along its frontier will never have loyalty issues there, which is less than ideal because it means there almost no way to use loyalty to create rebellions (another tax on sprawling empires) inside a civ vs on its borders only.
     
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  12. SupremacyKing2

    SupremacyKing2 Deity

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    WOW. Thanks for the thoughtful reply. I will grant you that we don't want to kill colonial gameplay. Ok so scratch disloyalty based on distance from capital.

    I love your ideas for improving on amenities and making the player focus on entertainment districts more. More stages in city happiness would be great and making the negative stages more punishing is a must. I definitely think that the large empire with no neighbors should still have to face disloyalty on the frontier. So I think there needs to be some type of generic disloyalty added that is not based on a foreign city nearby. I do like my idea that lacking amenities would add negative loyalty. I think that would do the trick of doing what we are talking about. It would add a negative loyalty that is internal to the city, make the negative stages of unhappiness more severe, and make the player focus more on amenities.

    Good discussion! :)
     
  13. KayAU

    KayAU King

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    I agree with the premise of this thread. As someone who enjoyed playing tall, I didn't actually mind the happiness mechanic from Civ 5 as much as most others seems to do, although I admit it didn't make too much sense, and that there are better options. The way it currently is in Civ 6 doesn't make much sense either, though, and for the playstyle I personally prefer, I like it less.

    I think some mechanic based on happiness, loyalty or unrest might work fairly well, and it would also make the most sense in terms of immersion. Basically, there should be some effort/investment required to hold a large empire together, and real consequences for overextending. Perhaps there could be some form of "support cost", which would be calculated from things like:
    • Number of cities
    • Territory weighted by distance from capital
    • Population weighted by distance from capital
    If you exceed the support cost, i.e. overextend, you will start getting unrest, which affects productivity and risk of rebellion. Of course, there will be ways to either increase your "support limit" over time, or mitigate the consequences of unrest:
    • More advanced government types
    • Relevant unlocked civics
    • Relevant unlocked technologies (for example, communication technologies should make it easier to hold a large empire together)
    • Policy cards
    • Military presence in cities
    • Secondary "capital" (the Government Plaza already exists)
    • Leader or Civ unique abilities
    • Buildings in well developed cities

    This would still allow wide play, but it would be something you had to invest in, and there would be some pacing as you unlocked new techs or civics. It would also add some benefits to having a taller, more centralized civilization. I personally think there should be more benefits to large cities in general. The way it works currently is silly, as districts in small towns produce the exact same yields as in the major metropolises in the world.
     
  14. The googles do nothing

    The googles do nothing Prince

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    Making Ages era score target linked to the number of cities would even tall vs wide somewhat. Right now my experience is that the more cities I have the easier it is to get golden ages. It would have to be done in a way to prevent gaming the system by making the score target based on cities + number of settlers in production.
     
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  15. Sostratus

    Sostratus Emperor

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    The threshold is based on the number of cities; but, most of the ways you can earn era points- building districts, buildings, sending trade routes- all scale with the number of cities you have. A larger empire has more options to "do things" which is how you get points. It may make more sense to borrow from something like the steampunk scenario that shipped with Civ 5 G+K and do something like, say, reduce the spammable things you can do for points and introduce some other metrics based on you vs other players, like "most gold earned" "most great people recruited" "most eurekas achieved" etc, with those points awarded at the end of the era. And of course they need to scale the thresholds to game speed and map size.

    In my ideal vision for balancing, the trade off would basically be:

    Empires of similar overall population will, ceteris paribus, be roughly similar in outputs and therefore strength.
    Case: 10 cities of 10 pop vs 5 cities of 20 pop -
    Wide seeks to leverage the extra territory it has and thus, extract things from terrain (more builders and improvements) and resources (more coal for power, more horses, etc.)
    Tall seeks to leverage its citizens' productivity, and thus, likes to focus on infrastructure granting % boosts or yield generated by concentration of infrastructure, or specialists.
    The strategic play would be recognizing the best way to leverage what you have available to you.

    What would not be a valid comparison is to compare empires by number of cities directly. However, obviously 6's current district balance just skews towards having as many copies of districts as possible which more cities gives you.

    If more population (spread over some number of cities) means more overall power, you need to pay for pop- currently we have amenities and housing. I've previously mentioned some ways to make amenities much more valuable, but my real point is that a civ6 player should be allowed by the game rules to have as big and developed and sprawling an empire as he wants- provided he can support it. If a player manages to have twice the cities and population as another, and he can keep them happy, fed, protected from rivals and rebels, then he deserves his prize. That may mean making loyalty counteracted by generic disloyalty that can create free cities etc, but the entire system really needs one thing to be balanced:

    -Expansion vs development needs to be reasonably balanced for most of the game when good land is available to settle
    Right now war is the optimal plan for all victories because it's the cheapest way to expand. Ignoring that nuance, expansion itself is extremely strong. You gain a lot by having more campuses and zero by having an existing campus and then improving the campus because, well, you can't really.

    Imagine for a moment you are playing civ6: oversimplified edition, where there is just one district which always gives +X yield, and has only one building which also gives +X yield. You have a district in city A. Do you build a settler and settle city B, thus letting you get another district, going from X to 2X, or do you put that production into the building and double your output from X to 2X? Naturally this depends on the availability of land and how expensive settlers are vs buildings.

    Now let's change things up. We add in specialists, so a Building can slot the specialist which gives +2X more yield. Imagine your empire can only support 2 population. Now things become a question of population distribution: You have a district w/ building in city A. Do you build a settler and settle city B, letting you build another district, or do you slot the specialist in city A? Well, this is a little more complex because we already have the infrastructure in city A, but settling a new city might allow us to also do other things in the long run.

    That's what I refer to when i say development; there needs to be sufficient options to either expand into new areas or improve what you already have. The constraint is that you can only support so much population at once, so if you are able to both expand and develop, you can't do everything everywhere all the time. In order to do more you have to pay the "tax" which is having enough luxuries, ECs, loyalty buildings, neighborhoods, what have you. In the early game there aren't as many options to develop so you want to expand. In the mid game there are options to do both. In the late game you have more options to develop than expand. During the mid game, which i think is the critical period of most 4x games, these options should roughly be balanced with each other, but not perfectly.

    We can create positive development opportunities for players instead of just focusing on negative burdens to suppress the growth of expansion. That goes outside the scope of this thread. But, we still need to counteract the fact that more cities grows faster in raw pop than fewer cities, and it's cheap to get "enough" housing and food etc. That's where that whole "tax" and penalties for expansion come in to play (which is ultimately aimed at curbing raw population growth here, but for other posters it can mean the ability to generate yields from districts- which themselves are tied to having the 3 pop to support them.)
     
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  16. Draco84

    Draco84 Warlord

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    I have a few changes I wouldn't mind seeing make their way into Civ6.

    Settlers and Builders should have a fixed cost (get rid of the silly Magnus Settler ability while at it)

    Districts should scale up in cost based on the number you have currently built (e.g. +20 hammers per built district type), not based on tech/civics which makes no sense.

    Cities should pay maintenance based on their distance to the capital (i.e. 1gpt per two tiles distance/1gpt per four tiles over ocean using trader rules)
    This would reduce the value of new cities, the cost would be similar to the cost people paid for roads in Civ5, after a city grows to a certain size the they will most likely pay for themselves.(add civic's/government bonuses that reduce costs) (forbidden palace?)
    Money is only really tough to come by at the early parts of the game, by mid-game it shouldn't be too painful, this lines up with when the real world started having mass expansion.
     
  17. Ciarson

    Ciarson Chieftain

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    for me i would rather want to see a change in the way science culture and faith is generated.

    right now those three output are generated on a flat value system, a library generate 2 science be it in a size 5 or size 10 city.

    what i would like to see is a system where the science used to develop new techs is the average science/citizen.

    actual system expansion not only bring more prod and more gold but also give more chances to unlock eurekas and generate science and culture from the simple fact of having citizens.

    so in that system not expanding mean generating less everything.

    my opinion is that the "science per turn" should portrait how literate your people are on average. same goes for culture and faith.

    for that to be, all district would need to give bonus that scaled with the population of the city.

    for example :
    a city would start with 0,2 science per citizen.
    the capital would have additionnal 0,3 per citizen.
    a campus would give 0,1 science per citizen per adjacencies.
    a library would give 0,2 science per citizen
    a campus specialist would give 0,2 science per citizen

    so a capital with a campus next to 3 mountain, a library with a specialist would generate 1,2 science per citizen.
    let say the capital is size 5 you would generate 6 science from it but average science is still 1,2.

    however if you also have 2 size 3 cities (generating 0,6 each) then the total would be 7,2 but the average would only be 0,655

    end of example.

    with this you would understand that superexpansion would lower your capacity to research tech (and civics as culture would work same way).
    however as long as you can maintain a core of cities with high science and culture, small expansion would not slow you that much. (and if you are slowed too much it migh be time to pillage a neighbour to catch up).

    some building and wonder could help maintain high output from those core cities, like the university spreading their bonus to nearby cities or wonder like oxford university that increase the science of a city by 20%.

    to balance such system amenities might need to see some change like increasing the need to 1 amenities per citizen but give 1 amenity for every 2 different bonus ressource traded to a city, give +1 amenity for specialist after researching "civil servant", make wall give +1 amenity (doubled by monarchy), make unit in garrisson give +1 amenity (doubled by "retainer"), double the bonus amenities from the entertainment complex, give a "public bath" building in the aqueduc (like the Thermes but unlocked at "Sanitation") that give +2 amenities,...
     
  18. killmeplease

    killmeplease Mk Z on Steam

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    I prefer civ5 global happiness for its simplicity and clearness. Civ4's maintenance is the worst imho, as its a black box. Civ5's rising tech costs are horrible also. It feels very punishing and hard to estimate (a kind of a black box too, though it can be alleviated w better interface). I think the limiting system should be simple and logical. I have an idea of cultural upkeep: your pay with culture (and gold?) for running civics, which require per city maintenance. Some very strong civics may have high upkeep but limited scope (the capital only, or first X cities), favoring tall empire.
     
  19. killmeplease

    killmeplease Mk Z on Steam

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    Also I liked the puppets of civ5. They don't give much to the player, but are not burdersome to keep (provided there are luxes to offset unhappiness) and reduce micromanagement. It's good you have less incentives to raze cities. Maybe they shouldn't affect happiness at all. And the player should have an option to found puppet cities (collonies), grabbing the land for resources and a small tax. This way the map won't be half-empty as in civ6.
     
  20. Gronaz

    Gronaz Chieftain

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    I agree about the necessity to limit super expansions, but I disagree with fading loyalty far from capital. I fear that it would end up with only small empires. I still want some super wide empires to fight against from a tall empire but with other limits balancing the fight.
    It could be a need for more amenities in far away provinces and more risks of revolts.
    District cost raising with number of already built ones could also balance it, so as returning national wonders and specialists economy favouring tall empires.

    But the first limitation is the free room to settle and I think that the super expansion issue is more conquest related. In every games, if I want 20 cities I will easily have them before industrial era, even in deity, and most or my yields come from stolen lucrative cities and districts that I never founded or built. It could be balanced with civil resistance units and refugees shrinking cities population during wars and less happy and productive surviving population in conquered cities. And why not having the possibility to sabotage own districts if going to lose it? The winner will need time to repair before enjoying conquest.
     

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