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Unique + Intrinsic bonuses

GeneralZIft

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Feb 25, 2019
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Civilisations would come with two types of bonuses, unique and intrinisic.
Unique bonuses are like Civ5 bonuses - in that they would provide that they would be a fairly powerful bonus or set of bonuses (short, to the point) that would give the Civ a custom flavour, based on their historical background.
Then they would have 2 unique replacements (no more or less ideally).

Explaining intrinsic bonuses:
Civs get one of some kind of shared modifier. Or alternatively, they all get 2 (but they should have the same amount across the board)
For example, Mercantile civilisations get 5% more Gold from trade routes.
Similar to Civ4 bonuses, each Civ should get two free Techs from the Ancient era to represent that Civilisation's historical affinity (Vikings would have sailing by default).

This sounds like a lot but here is an example:


Arabia
Intrinsic:
Mercantile
Free techs: Animal Husbandry, Idols

Unique:
Camel Rider (Knight), Souk (Market)
+15% Religious spread via trade; members of religion in other cities provide +1 gold to Holy City except at War.


What is the purpose of this change? Well, sometimes Civilisations have absolutely nothing until later in the game, and it makes them feel empty and hollow.
Until the United States reaches way later into the game, it's basically a meaningless husk, for example.

So the Intrinsic bonus is something that every Civ has, just in a load of different configurations depending on the Civilisation, which makes them feel different right from the offset.
In a way, this will cover for Civs that have fairly bad unique, but fairly good intrinsic - or vice versa.

Designers can feel free to experiment with interesting aspects without totally compromising on the balance of the faction.
Ideally though, as said before in many threads, developers should not be putting paragraph bonuses anywhere - and unique units and buildings really shouldn't have 15 unique aspects that need explaining.


Aside: unique units and buildings should have short flavour descriptions on hover eg:
Camel Rider - Fearless warriors are able to go into combat no matter the climate, and are fuelled by their religious fervour!

Then, if you go into Civpedia, you would be able to see the whole list of bonuses for that unit.
I say this because I don't want to have to hover and read, if I want to discover it for myself in game, just want a general idea.
 
Having never played any Civ games before VI, I admire this past game mechanic of free techs because I think it would (in theory) create some more variety in tech order. Even with Civ VI's 3-5 rows of techs to choose from, you tend to stay towards the middle and go for the same points.

(side note: i don't have any issues with certain techs/civic bonuses being goalposts for players. I just wish the tech and civic trees didn't pretend that Apprenticeship and Feudalism are on the same level as more niche stuff like naval tradition. Just give the players the desirable bonuses as soon as they reach the Medieval Era. It would actually create more freedom of choice)

While I do appreciate the synergies that come from some of the more complicated bonuses, I also have a soft spot for more simple and impactful bonuses. It's more concise, easier for players to understand, all while having roughly the same effect on how you play. I do understand that the design space for those ideal bonuses is limited, though.

Edit: i also wanted to say that I like this combination of unique+shared bonuses, because it gives new players some level of familiarity with a Civ they've never played before. They'll see Phoenicia is a naval power and go "oh, I know how those tend to play! I was just playing as England earlier"
 
Arabia
Intrinsic:
Mercantile
Free techs: Animal Husbandry, Idols

Unique:
Camel Rider (Knight), Souk (Market)
+15% Religious spread via trade; members of religion in other cities provide +1 gold to Holy City except at War.
I feel like having one is too simple. Besides, if for example Arabia is mercantile, wouldn't it also make sense for it to be religious too, especially if it has religious bonuses?
Similar to Civ4 bonuses, each Civ should get two free Techs from the Ancient era to represent that Civilisation's historical affinity (Vikings would have sailing by default).
Why just limit to the Ancient Era? To me there's no reason why Greece couldn't have something like being able to have a Democracy from the beginning.
 
Having never played any Civ games before VI, I admire this past game mechanic of free techs because I think it would (in theory) create some more variety in tech order. Even with Civ VI's 3-5 rows of techs to choose from, you tend to stay towards the middle and go for the same points.

(side note: i don't have any issues with certain techs/civic bonuses being goalposts for players. I just wish the tech and civic trees didn't pretend that Apprenticeship and Feudalism are on the same level as more niche stuff like naval tradition. Just give the players the desirable bonuses as soon as they reach the Medieval Era. It would actually create more freedom of choice)

While I do appreciate the synergies that come from some of the more complicated bonuses, I also have a soft spot for more simple and impactful bonuses. It's more concise, easier for players to understand, all while having roughly the same effect on how you play. I do understand that the design space for those ideal bonuses is limited, though.

Edit: i also wanted to say that I like this combination of unique+shared bonuses, because it gives new players some level of familiarity with a Civ they've never played before. They'll see Phoenicia is a naval power and go "oh, I know how those tend to play! I was just playing as England earlier"
Thank you! Agree with what you are saying. Civic trees work better when they're more "free" than linear (tech trees make sense as linear, to me)

I feel like having one is too simple. Besides, if for example Arabia is mercantile, wouldn't it also make sense for it to be religious too, especially if it has religious bonuses?

Why just limit to the Ancient Era? To me there's no reason why Greece couldn't have something like being able to have a Democracy from the beginning.
I did say, they could all get 2 shared modifiers, for this reason. But in my mind I assumed that 'Religious' isn't a shared modifier. The system is malleable, but you get the idea.
For the second part, I would say... balance purposes. It depends on what other systems they will have in Civ7 - perhaps instead of Free Techs, it could be Free Techs/Civics.
So Greece could have a headstart on the Democracy tree.
But then again, you don't want to have to force everyone who plays Greece to do Democracy.
 
I did say, they could all get 2 shared modifiers, for this reason. But in my mind I assumed that 'Religious' isn't a shared modifier. The system is malleable, but you get the idea.
For the second part, I would say... balance purposes. It depends on what other systems they will have in Civ7 - perhaps instead of Free Techs, it could be Free Techs/Civics.
So Greece could have a headstart on the Democracy tree.
But then again, you don't want to have to force everyone who plays Greece to do Democracy.
I see "Religious" as being different than having a religion. Maybe Spiritual would be a better word meaning civs who deal with faith in general?
And I didn't necessarily mean you would have to force Greece to choose Democracy. In terms of Civ 6 I was thinking of a free Political Philosophy civic, which unlocks multiple governments.
In the context of Civ 6, that would be totally busted OP.
I was thinking that a "Democracy" in Civ 7 would be closer to what a Classical Republic is in Civ 6. Yes, having a modern Democracy, which feels like it's essentially Capitalism, at the beginning of the game would be OP. :)
 
You chose intrinsic as a term here, but what you really want is to have some bonuses be more generic, and not everything having to be unique. I agree with that. It gets hard to make meaningful unique bonuses, and those make it harder and harder for the average follower to understand them. By having more generic bonuses that can repeat with several civs, you can achieve both. Create familiarity, and still have a unique playstyle (because mercantile + x plays differently than mercantile + y). How these more generic repeatable bonuses are set isn't really important for me. But I prefer a more open system to a strict categories one. So I would extend that to Units and maybe techs or even resources. Let's make the Knight a Unique Unit that every European civ has access to. Turn 0 sailing should be a benefit of the "Vikings", "Polynesians", Phoenicians and Haida and so on. See for example the Age of Empires (II) tech tree. Everything is there, but not every civ has access to everything. And let's call those the repeatable bonuses, why not: intrinsic ;-).
 
You chose intrinsic as a term here, but what you really want is to have some bonuses be more generic, and not everything having to be unique. I agree with that. It gets hard to make meaningful unique bonuses, and those make it harder and harder for the average follower to understand them. By having more generic bonuses that can repeat with several civs, you can achieve both. Create familiarity, and still have a unique playstyle (because mercantile + x plays differently than mercantile + y). How these more generic repeatable bonuses are set isn't really important for me. But I prefer a more open system to a strict categories one. So I would extend that to Units and maybe techs or even resources. Let's make the Knight a Unique Unit that every European civ has access to. Turn 0 sailing should be a benefit of the "Vikings", "Polynesians", Phoenicians and Haida and so on. See for example the Age of Empires (II) tech tree. Everything is there, but not every civ has access to everything. And let's call those the repeatable bonuses, why not: intrinsic ;-).

Intrinsic, generic, my phrasing wasn't the best. Just call it "shared"
 
I was thinking that a "Democracy" in Civ 7 would be closer to what a Classical Republic is in Civ 6. Yes, having a modern Democracy, which feels like it's essentially Capitalism, at the beginning of the game would be OP. :)
As the main elements to personalize your society I have three government characteristics, each one with three exclusive options so:
- LEGITIMACY: Selectable since Classical Era.
* Theocracy​
* Monarchy​
* Republic​
- AUTHORITY: Available from Renaissance Era.
* Autocratic​
* Oligarchic​
* Democratic​
- IDEOLOGY: Unlocked at Modern Era.
* National​
* Social​
* Liberal​
So mixing these you can have a Liberal Democratic Republic like France but also a Liberal Democratic Monarchy like Sweden, have Hitler's National Autocratic Republic Germany or Stalin's Social Autocratic Republic Russia.
 
As the main elements to personalize your society I have three government characteristics, each one with three exclusive options so:
- LEGITIMACY: Selectable since Classical Era.
* Theocracy​
* Monarchy​
* Republic​
- AUTHORITY: Available from Renaissance Era.
* Autocratic​
* Oligarchic​
* Democratic​
- IDEOLOGY: Unlocked at Modern Era.
* National​
* Social​
* Liberal​
So mixing these you can have a Liberal Democratic Republic like France but also a Liberal Democratic Monarchy like Sweden, have Hitler's National Autocratic Republic Germany or Stalin's Social Autocratic Republic Russia.

Maybe an interesting change could be that once you select your Authority for example, you're no longer able to change your Legitimacy? (And so on)
TO give your choices more permanence.
 
As the main elements to personalize your society I have three government characteristics, each one with three exclusive options so:
- LEGITIMACY: Selectable since Classical Era.
* Theocracy​
* Monarchy​
* Republic​
- AUTHORITY: Available from Renaissance Era.
* Autocratic​
* Oligarchic​
* Democratic​
- IDEOLOGY: Unlocked at Modern Era.
* National​
* Social​
* Liberal​
So mixing these you can have a Liberal Democratic Republic like France but also a Liberal Democratic Monarchy like Sweden, have Hitler's National Autocratic Republic Germany or Stalin's Social Autocratic Republic Russia.
I thought of something similar. But instead of Authority I had Economic, and Legitimacy was just called Government.
 
Interesting idea, but, IMHO, you don't address the real problem with every kind of 'Unique' attribute:
Are they applicable to the Civ you are playing AND the starting position the game gives you?

As in, why should Arabia get any Mercantile unique of any kind if they start on a small island with no other entity to trade with?

Why should any Civ get any military bonus if they never fight anyone?

Why should any Civ get a Unique Unit that requires some specific resource - like Camels, Horses, or Elephants - if there's not so much as a hoofprint from any of them animals within tiles and tiles of where the Civ starts?

Sure, I know Civ has generally ignored whether the animals are actually available when assigned Uniques, and gets around it by not requiring the Resource to build the unique unit in many cases. That doesn't change the utter frustration of, for a specific example, trying to play Harald and the Norse without a single coastal tile anywhere near my starting position - and restarting that game no less than 11 times and never getting a coastal start for a Civ that has major 'naval' Uniques and bonuses.

How about a different way to assign 'starting generic uniques'?

Base it on the starting Position and the resources it gives you.

That, in turn, means the starting sequence has to change.
You start as always by selecting a Leader and Civ.
Then you see your starting position on the map. I'd like to add you should, if the game isn't going to start with a fully-developed Neolithic Wandering Start , at least get one starting extra-long-movement turn to look for a decent starting position.

Once you have a starting position you plant your city, and then based on the resources available, you get your Starting Technologies

Because remember, no matter what 'date' you start in, your little digital people have been doing things and learning things for 1000s of years before, so they already know things.

You can select one Food Tech:
Have domesticable animals (cattle, sheep, horses) in your starting position, you can choose Animal Domestication
Have domesticable food plants (rice, wheat, maize, etc) you can start with Agriculture
Have a river or coast with aquatic foods (Fish, Shellfish) you can choose Boating

And to keep it interesting, even if your starting position is on a coast teeming with fish surrounded by plains full of Wheat with cattle munching on it, you can only choose One Starting Food Tech.

BUT if your start also has Cotton, Flax or Sheep (wooly) you could also get the option to choose an immediate Project to quickly develop Weaving Tech, which (by making Nets) enhances Fishing, and also provides woven cloth as a Luxury/Amenity/Trade Good

AND if your start has coast, marsh, or floodplains, you could opt for a Project of Pottery, which potentially provides another Trade Good, a luxury/amenity, and a bonus towards Religion because so many very early votive/religious figures and icons were made with fired clay (at least, the ones that survived to be found by archeologists thousands of years later)

There are other combinations/situations that could provide Starting Unique Techs, Civics, or Social Policies. The point is these really shouldn't be Pre-Set by Civ regardless of situation, but represent what your Civ has already developed based on their Map Position at the start.

Civ-Specific Uniques can be from much later in the game, since you will start with a certain 'specialization' of your Civ based on starting conditions and situation.
 
The way Civ has worked for quite a while now, is that they give you Unique attributes and then try to place you in a position on the map where you can use those unique attributes.
I understand where you're coming from about... why should a Civ have a bonus... if their actual starting location doesn't match it...

But I would argue that without Unique bonuses like that, the Civs would lose all flavour and authenticity.
I think you have to imagine that the Civ was plucked from the real world with some kind of magical portal into the Civ world, and hence keep (Almost) all of what made them special as people, except now you are the one that is leading them in this new world.

Otherwise, they might as well all be skins you know? If the Arabs started where the Norse were, they'd probably play like the Norse, so then... why have a choice at all? (might as well be skins)

Designers were smart enough to say - if you choose Arabs, you'll start in the Desert, with desert-appropriate bonuses, and so on, that's what lets you roleplay as the Civ effectively...

But I do understand where you're coming from!
 
IF you "choose Arabs, you'll start in the desert" I'd be perfectly content, but this has been one of Major Gripes with Civ since at least Civ V: the so-called star ting terrain bonus only rarely works. I have restarted game after game after game to get desert starts for the Arabs, or Mali, or Nubia, or a coastal start for Norway, or Britain, of Phoenicia, and it don't happen. It don't happen so often that I'm reluctant to play any as any Civ with a terrain-based Unique because I know it will be utterly worthless when matched against my starting position.
 
The problem feels like it has gotten worse in more modern Civ games (5-6), and I think that's because the importance of your unique abilities have increased significantly, and terrain plays a bigger role for some of them. The reality is that on a map which has limited coastal starting points, you can't have 6 naval-focused civilizations spawn on the coast - someone has to lose out. If we're attached to the existing way of doing uniques - which I do think works well for Civ, and is a big contributing factor towards 6 being my favourite civ - then I think picking your civ after your spawn seems a very straightforward way to handle this. It's not perfect, but I don't think it would upset many people (especially if you could optionally select ahead of time if you really wanted to), and it would substantially address the issues with starting bias which are otherwise difficult (or perhaps impossible in the case of a map where everyone has the same start bias) to solve.
 
I don't know, the thing is, If I don't get a starting area that is 1000% fitting my unique bonus, it shouldn't really be a big deal.

If a bonus says +1 gold to desert and you don't spawn inside a desert but within the general vicinity - that doesn't ruin your game totally.
You should ideally be playing to maximise your bonuses and not expect the game to give it to you for free from the start.

But because starts are always random, it doesn't matter, and it can't matter, you will always sometimes have starts which work great for your Civ and sometimes not.

But the system should at least try to put you... Somewhere... Near it.

And for all intents and purposes it does, doesn't it?

Also the argument about the inability to place 6 naval Civs on the coast can easily be argued like this:
Civ7 could have a feature where the Map actually suits the Civs.

I mean: if all Civs have desert bias, the map should be drier than usual automatically. This map type could be called Dynamic.
 
I don't know, the thing is, If I don't get a starting area that is 1000% fitting my unique bonus, it shouldn't really be a big deal.

If a bonus says +1 gold to desert and you don't spawn inside a desert but within the general vicinity - that doesn't ruin your game totally.
You should ideally be playing to maximise your bonuses and not expect the game to give it to you for free from the start.

But because starts are always random, it doesn't matter, and it can't matter, you will always sometimes have starts which work great for your Civ and sometimes not.

But the system should at least try to put you... Somewhere... Near it.

And for all intents and purposes it does, doesn't it?

Also the argument about the inability to place 6 naval Civs on the coast can easily be argued like this:
Civ7 could have a feature where the Map actually suits the Civs.

I mean: if all Civs have desert bias, the map should be drier than usual automatically. This map type could be called Dynamic
The problem to me is strictly a personal one, and it stems ultimately from having taken too many population and economic geography courses in college (courtesy of my sister who later got her PhD in population geography and insisted that my life would not be complete unless I took more geography courses - haven't listened to her since)

As result of that, whenever I see a Bonus or Unique attribute related to some aspect of the biome, climate or terrain and none of that is present where my Civ is starting, I immediately ask myself:

"How did they learn how to get a Bonus out of the X terrain if they have no direct experience of the X terrain?"

And the answer, according to every geographically - based archeological or historical study, is that they didn't, and to think that they might shoves the game into the category of Historical Fantasia complete with marching brooms and dimwitted mice with wands. Not my idea of Civ, thankyouverymuch.

Or to put it another way, you do not get experts in mountain climbing out of Kansas or Florida, no matter how many 'rock climbing walls' they have in their Malls.

Unfortunately, that makes the interaction - or lack of it - between Unique attributes and the Starting Position a source of extreme frustration for me for the past 10 years or so (Civs V and VI)
 
The problem feels like it has gotten worse in more modern Civ games (5-6), and I think that's because the importance of your unique abilities have increased significantly, and terrain plays a bigger role for some of them. The reality is that on a map which has limited coastal starting points, you can't have 6 naval-focused civilizations spawn on the coast - someone has to lose out. If we're attached to the existing way of doing uniques - which I do think works well for Civ, and is a big contributing factor towards 6 being my favourite civ - then I think picking your civ after your spawn seems a very straightforward way to handle this. It's not perfect, but I don't think it would upset many people (especially if you could optionally select ahead of time if you really wanted to), and it would substantially address the issues with starting bias which are otherwise difficult (or perhaps impossible in the case of a map where everyone has the same start bias) to solve.
I feel that if we had a "Neolithic" Era, similar to Humankind where we start as a nomadic tribe, then the starting bias wouldn't be that much of an issue. That way even if you do pick one of the six naval focused civilizations you could eventually wander to a coastal spot for your first city.
 
I always understood it not to relate to their experience with that terrain but rather the actual attributes of their people
 
I think there is not a solution but a mix of factors to ease the terrain/biome bonus issue.
- Better world generation and bigger maps. With more space it would be easier for the game to put every civ in their proper environment.
- Some selectionable early bonus. I prefer to limit it to the Agrarian, Pastoral and Maritime options to keep it simple and thematic.
- A pre-Ancient "Neolithic" era as a prologe that allows you explore and select you starting point more calmly.

Meanwhile, select your civ after start does not really fix the problem. I mean for example if your wanna try Arabia but the game doesnt put you in a desert you would restart again anyway, whatever you select Arabia before or after the world generation if you want to play with a specific civ you would end restarting again anyway.
Also just scrap civ's unique terrain bonus would be a mistake for two reasons. First, they are part of the flavor of the civ that people relate as do with their leaders, music, units and buildings, these give identity to each civ. Second, in a game with over 40 playable civs if all them start to mix all kind of "after start" bonuses their personality would dilute and every match would be the same that the previous and the next one. These two problems would put CIV closer to be another Humankind or Millennia game of descharacterized factions.
 
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