[Vanilla] Vanilla Civ Design

humble serf

Chieftain
Joined
Jan 29, 2018
Messages
67
Apologies in advance if this thread overlaps too much with the Vanilla Power Ranking thread, but I'm looking to analyse civs for more than just their power in terms of game mechanics. Now that we're less than 2 weeks away from our first expansion, I want to look back at all the current civs and rate them based on their gameplay (how fun and how distinctive the civ's playstyle is), their historicity (whether they're geared towards a logical victory type, and how well-chosen the themes of their unique features are), and their power (how easy it is to win a victory with them).

Obviously all three of these categories are subjective, especially gameplay, and you could easily argue that one category is more important than another. But for the sake of simplicity, I'm going to score each civ out of 10 for each category, and rank them all based on their average grade. I'm doing my best to factor all playstyles into my decisions, and I'm trying not to be too generous to my personal favourite civs (my main civ actually does pretty poorly in this ranking). Because of the averages, a lot of civs ended up with the same grade, so I'm gonna give them the same number in the rankings.

My hope here is that we can figure out some kind of vague consensus as to what constitutes a "good" civ design, and that maybe the devs will be able to take that consensus on board when they're designing future civs for VI -- so please feel free to disagree with all of my rankings as loudly as you like. Especially Macedon.

So, starting at the bottom:

#27. FRANCE. 3.7/10.
Spoiler :
Gameplay: 2/10. Honestly, not one of France’s uniques is in any way fun to use.

Historicity: 7/10. The mid/late-game wonder-based culture victory focus makes sense, and the chateau is the best possible French UI from a conceptual standpoint. Napoleonic-era military dominance of your home continent is a great concept, poorly executed. Not a fan of the gossip/espionage bonuses, and Catherine is a poor choice of leader.

Power: 2/10. None of this stuff is really of any use.

#26. EGYPT. 4.3/10.
Spoiler :
Gameplay: 3/10. It’s nice not to be blocked by floodplains, but those are for farms anyway.

History: 9/10. Pretty much everything you’d want in an Egyptian civ: sphinxes, chariots, rivers, floodplains, wonders, a little culture, a little faith, surplus food on your trade routes. It’s hard to see how the devs could have gotten all this stuff right, and yet still gotten the civ so wrong...

Power: 1/10. Wait, no it isn’t. The maryannu is objectively so much less useful than the heavy chariot that Egypt is actually worse than a featureless civ would be.

#26. POLAND. 4.3/10.
Spoiler :
Gameplay: 3/10. Hussars are fun, and I personally enjoy the market, but there isn’t really anything about Poland that actually affects my strategy.

Historicity: 4/10. I get that Jadwiga is a saint, but I still don’t like Poland as such a religion-heavy civ. Besides the winged hussar and maybe the market, I wouldn’t have picked any of their uniques, and I certainly don’t get a very Polish vibe when playing as or against this civ.

Power: 6/10. A bunch of minor bonuses that all come together to create a disjointed but reasonably effective mess.

#24. AMERICA. 4.7/10.
Spoiler :
Gameplay: 3/10. I tend to build at least one national park no matter what, so it’s nice to supercharge them. Otherwise I don’t really see where the fun is here.

History: 7/10. Founding Fathers makes sense -- you’re encouraged to minimise your revolutions, and to rest on the considerable laurels of your previous revolution for quite some time. I like the culture victory focus for the US, and I adore the film studio (the fact that it’s a percentage tourism modifier means that your best movies are made in cities with beautiful natural settings (appeal) and/or impressive urban settings (wonders)). I have to knock points off because the USA is such an obvious contender for a science victory powerhouse that it’s weird they don’t get any bonuses towards it.

Power: 4/10. The American cultural victory is interesting, but not particularly powerful. Practically all of their domination bonuses are confined to their home continent, which every domination player should have conquered several eras before the Rough Rider comes into play.

#24. CHINA. 4.7/10.
Spoiler :
Gameplay: 3/10. Wonders are okay, but they’re much weaker in VI than they’ve ever been before. Better eurekas are nice, but not a lot of fun.

History: 5/10. Is China really a top contender for a wonder-based cultural victory? What exactly do dynastic cycles have to do with eureka moments? I like China as a science and culture powerhouse, but these feel like weird ways of implementing that. +1 for the Great Wall, though. As useless as it is, it’s conceptually one of the coolest things about VI.

Power: 6/10. Pretty good, but I don’t see anything too special about China.

#22. SPAIN. 5.3/10.
Spoiler :
Gameplay: 4/10. If you get a religion, they’re kinda fun. If you get a *good* religion, they can be one of the most entertaining civs in the game. But there’s a strong chance you aren’t getting a religion.

History: 10/10. This is the reason Spain made it this high up the list -- I was surprised they weren’t in the bottom 3, but think about everything they get bonuses to. Religious conflict, colonisation, intercontinental trade, renaissance naval combat, inquisition, faith-based scientific education… Honestly, for all their flaws, I think Spain are conceptually and thematically the best civ in vanilla VI.

Power: 2/10. In practice, however, they’re trash. The only reason this is a 2 rather than a 1 is because Spain isn’t actively *worse* than a featureless civ, the way Egypt and Norway are.

#22. RUSSIA. 5.3/10
Spoiler :
Gameplay: 6/10. Free tiles are nice, and milking tundra is a lot of fun. Half-price Holy Sites are almost guaranteed to free up your early production.

History: 4/10. Why does nobody ever question Russia’s faith focus? Is a Lavra really the first structure that comes to mind when somebody mentions Russia? Cossacks are boring, but they’ve been a staple for as long as unique units have existed, so I’m not gonna knock off points for them. Also, Russia ought to be *leading* the science game, not playing catch-up. No other civ (besides possibly America) deserves a better bonus towards a science victory than Russia.

Power: 6/10. Free tiles, free science and culture on high difficulties. Nothing special.

#22. NORWAY. 5.3/10.
Spoiler :
Gameplay: 7/10. Exploring the seas is one of the most satisfying parts of any civ game, and coastal raiding is a huge amount of fun. Norway is the first civ in this list so far to break past the 6/10 gameplay score, and the reason is simple: their uniques actually push you towards a playstyle which is genuinely, meaningfully different than that of any other civ.

History: 8/10. Strong seafaring, great exploring, enhanced raiding, longships, berserks, a little bit of extra yield from forests and fishing boats. Everything you want from the Vikings. -1 for the stave church, which doesn’t quite do enough to justify itself, and another -1 for the total reliance on Dark Age Viking history. I like that they’re a Viking civ, but personally I would have thrown in at least one little bonus related to modern Norway (or Iceland, which according to the city list and the early trans-oceanic voyages is a part of Norway in VI).

Power: 1/10. There’s a couple of nice bonuses in here, but that -7 on defensive combat for Berserks (our first Military Tactics waste of time UU) drops Norway all the way down into Egypt-tier -- in practice, worse than a featureless civ.

#19. MACEDON. 5.7/10.
Spoiler :
Gameplay: 1/10. This is the only 1 I’m gonna be giving out for gameplay. I’m not kidding when I say I find these guys more boring to play as than France. Straight-up domination feels really flat by comparison to more distinctive conquerors like Gilgamesh or even Tomyris, and the cheesy no-campus SV strat gave me the most unsatisfying victory I think I’ve ever had in a game of civ.

History: 6/10. Two solid unique units, and I sorta-kinda like the free boosts on city conquest. In many ways it makes sense that Alex is a pure domination civ, and the endless rolling conquest suits him better than most -- but let’s not pretend Macedon actually deserves to be a civ in the first place. If Alex were a third alternate leader for Greece (with Hetairoi as a 2nd unique unit and Hellenistic Fusion as his LUA), he’d probably get a better score here, but as a separate civ he gets an immediate -2 to his history score. Further -1’s for the total lack of war weariness, which makes no sense, and the Basilikoi Paides, which was a single location rather than a type of structure present throughout the empire, as UI’s ought to be.

Power: 10/10. Part of me wanted to knock off a couple of points because of the nerf Alex gets at lower difficulties (you don’t get free inspirations, eurekas or heals if none of the AI have built theatres, campuses or wonders) -- but let’s be real. This is the single most powerful civ in Vanilla VI.

#18. JAPAN. 6/10.
Spoiler :
Gameplay: 4/10. Cheap districts are nice, and bonus adjacencies are pretty cool. Too bad Japan’s original civ design (high-output districts squeezed onto tiny, well-developed islands) is much more fun and much more effective for Australia and Indonesia.

History: 8/10. Samurai are conceptually better than Zeroes as a UU for Japan, and despite the boring name, the Electronics Factory is vastly superior to IV’s Shale Plant. Pity it gives culture rather than tourism, though -- surely the most significant aspect of companies like Sony and Nintendo (from a Civ point of view) is their role in drumming up foreign interest in Japanese mass culture towards a cultural victory. Divine Wind is great -- both the combat bonus and the cheap districts push a thoroughly Japanese playstyle, and the half-price Holy Site doesn’t artificially shoehorn Japan into pursuing a religious victory quite as badly as Russia and Poland’s uniques do. Meiji Restoration makes sense, but it’s a little lackluster -- and since it’s the CUA, it means that any alternate leader for Japan would lose Divine Wind, which is far more thematic as an ability.

Power: 6/10. This hinges mostly on the cheaper districts, followed up by the slightly better adjacencies, the Electronics Factory and the coastal combat bonus. Samurai don’t even factor into the equation.

#18. INDIA. 6/10.
Spoiler :
Gameplay: 5/10. Extra housing can be nice, and the Varu is surprisingly fun coming from such a peace-oriented civ. The real disappointment with regard to India is that some their unique features slip under the radar -- even if Dharma (which *ought* to be one of the most gameplay-defining uniques in VI) and the extra war weariness from Satyagraha are useful, you rarely ever *feel* like you’re getting anything out of them.

History: 8/10. War elephant UUs are pretty much mandatory for India at this point, and it’s sure as hell better than the “fast worker” from IV. Speaking of which, the Stepwell blows the “Mughal Fort” from V and the “Mausoleum” from IV out of the water. Come to think of it, this is the first time in Civ history that India’s uniques have actual names -- “War Elephants” in III and V, “Fast Workers” and “Mausoleums” in IV, “Mughal Forts” and “Population Growth” in V… I’m tempted to give a +1 here just to credit the devs for reading more than the first paragraph of the Wikipedia article on India before they designed the civ this time. The religious victory focus actually makes sense here, and culture is a logical fall-back for Gandhi, as is the peaceful, tolerant playstyle. But I never liked Gandhi as the choice of leader, and the Nuclear Gandhi bit should have died with the release of V. If the Celts can be de-blobbed, the Indians can definitely amount to more than this. If I were factoring in Chandragupta, this would be a 9, held back only by the inherent blobbiness of a generic “Indian” civ.

Power: 5/10. Nobody really uses stepwells as far as I can tell, and it’s surprisingly difficult to maximise your mileage out of Dharma and Satyagraha. The Varu is decent, but why play as the Mahatma if all you’re gonna do is yet another conquest run?

#18. KHMER. 6/10.
Spoiler :
Gameplay: 5/10. Confession time, I’m a Khmer main (yeah, we exist) and I’ve done my best to keep any personal bias out of this ranking. Domreys are a lot of fun, and it’s nice not to be punished quite so severely for playing tall for a change -- but even though the Khmer effectively get two unique districts, neither of them comes at half-cost, and neither of them shows up on the map looking all unique and Cambodian. I still think the devs overcommitted to the one-unique-per-district rule when they denied us the chance to build actual barays instead of aqueducts, all because of Trajan’s baths. Full-cost unique districts are enough to drop Khmer’s fun-score by at least -2, and even as a main, I’ve never gotten much out of the Prasat, either.

History: 9/10. Build as tall as you possibly can, maximise your fresh water supply, develop your temples, stick ballistas on your elephants. What else could a Khmer civilisation possibly look like? This really ought to be a perfect 10; it’s exactly how the Khmer should be designed -- but again, I have to knock off a point for the lack of genuine unique barays with a visual map presence.

Power: 4/10. Domreys are great, and you might get a couple of bonus relics out of your Prasats, but tall play just isn’t viable in vanilla VI.

#15. ATHENS. 6.3/10.
Spoiler :
Gameplay: 5/10. This is all in the free Wildcard, really. Hoplites, Acropolises and the reliance on suzerainty aren’t exactly weak uniques, but they all feel like obligations -- getting them to work for you requires so much time and effort that the payoff is generally disappointing.

History: 9/10. Short of a naval combat bonus, this is exactly how Athens ought to play. The wildcard creates a flexible, dynamic government -- but generally speaking, a government which is designed to produce as many great people as possible. The Acropolis ensures that a decent number of those great people are creative types, particularly writers, and Pericles rewards you for demonstrating your dominance over a league of city-states, each bolstering the cultural output of the metropole.

Power: 5/10. Again, this is mostly in the Wildcard, maybe with a touch of Surrounded by Glory. Hoplites aren’t actually unique units until you can arrange them properly.

#15. SPARTA. 6.3/10.
Spoiler :
Gameplay: 6/10. It’s easier to trigger Gorgo’s ability than Pericles’, and in the right circumstances it can net you a lot more culture.

History: 8/10. I’m not gonna knock off points for the Acropolis or the Wildcard, both of which seem far better-suited to Athens -- because really you’re playing as all of Greece, just with a Spartan flair. Thermopylae is a reasonable ability, pushing you towards endless conflict, ideally unit-versus-unit rather than city sieges, which undeniably feels very Spartan. Taken as a whole, though, Gorgo’s set of uniques don’t quite create the same sense of playing as a specific poleis that Pericles does.

Power: 5/10. I’ve never felt like one Greece plays more powerfully than the other. Again, the Wildcard and the LUA are the important factors.

#13. GERMANY. 6.7/10.
Spoiler :
Gameplay: 5/10. You’re not getting a lot from your UU, and beating on city-states is always the least interesting part of any conquest run. Extra districts are undeniably powerful, but I’d hardly describe it as fun. This is all about the Hansa and the extra policy slot.

History: 8/10. Domination (or science) backed by well-developed and highly efficient industry. When submarines come along, you’re the best at them. If you’re not getting what you want out of a nearby city-state, you can eat it up no problem. Not a bad Germany. Logically the Hansa should have been a commercial hub or a harbour, but I’ll let it slide for overall thematics (if anyone’s getting a superior industrial zone, it’s gotta be Germany). A lot of people don’t like the amalgamation of the HRE with modern Germany via the U-Boat, but personally I think it works pretty great, and both the CUA and the LUA suit both eras of German history. The extra military policy card is particularly nice -- German military strength comes from the top down, as the government dedicates additional resources to organisation, training and strategy. I probably should be giving Germany a 9 or 10 here, but for whatever reason when I play them I feel like they lack a certain unique flair.

Power: 7/10. Everything but the U-Boat is giving you a healthy lift towards a domination victory, and honestly there’s a lot you can achieve with submarines if the game still isn’t decided by the modern era and the map suits naval play. Germany is far from useless in pacifist runs, too, since your extra districts and enhanced production are ideal for science victories.


#12. KONGO. 7.3/10.
Spoiler :
Gameplay: 6/10. Playing tall always makes a nice change, and the yields you can squeeze out of Nkisi can be outrageously fun. Early neighbourhoods are a much-needed valve on housing pressure, and the way Ngao Mbebas zip through the forest is oddly satisfying. But Mvemba is locked out of an entire victory type, which in my book is an immediate -4 on what would otherwise be one of the most interesting civs, gameplay-wise.

History: 8/10. Huge medieval-era cities in the jungle, a willingness to adopt foreign faiths, and a playstyle which focuses almost entirely on the cultural victory. Makes sense to me. I only wish Kongo’s cultural victory wasn’t so dependent on great people, which doesn’t feel like a very thematic way to win.

Power: 8/10. The undisputed champions of the peaceful builder playstyle, and probably the easiest culture victory in vanilla VI.

#12. SUMERIA. 7.3/10.
Spoiler :
Gameplay: 7/10. Getting war-carts and ziggurats right out of the gate makes for a highly entertaining early-game, so long as you don’t mind being at war by turn 4. You’re gonna be killing barbarians no matter what, so anything which further rewards that can only be good. The joint war mechanic is the only dud here, as it’s generally difficult to trigger and offers a pretty meager payoff.

History: 6/10. Does anyone really think of Sumeria as a great war machine? Or a scientific eden? It’s cool that they get all of their uniques right from the first turn of gameplay, but none of it really makes that much sense. Are ziggurats really all that scientific? Did war-carts really even exist? What exactly is the explanation for Epic Quests -- particularly considering it’s the CUA, not the LUA? Personally I’m okay with the choice of a semi-legendary leader, and I have to toss out a few free points for making them such a pre-Classical powerhouse, but all things considered this is kind of a bizarrely-designed civilisation.

Power: 9/10. War-carts from the first turn, and ziggurats on every spare tile. Even if Sumeria didn’t have any unique abilities, its unit and infrastructure alone would make it one of the most powerful civs in the game.

#12. BRAZIL. 7.3/10.
Spoiler :
Gameplay: 8/10. Free yields are objectively fun, and buying great people as Pedro barely even has a downside. Jungle is a great start bias, and making use of your home terrain is always satisfying. On top of all that, you randomly become the world’s foremost naval power as soon as you hit industrial, and the late-game culture victory slump is a lot more entertaining when you also rule the waves in your spare time. Not a lot of downsides here, except perhaps the obligation to pop a few more Entertainment Complexes than you might otherwise want to.

History: 6/10. Forget everything you think you know about the British Empire -- in the 19th century, the seas belonged to Brazil. The Minas is weird, but it’s a small enough part of the civ that I’m not gonna punish it too severely. Amenity- and tourism-focused cultural play makes total sense here, and Brazil really does make a big deal out of its great people -- pretty much every major building in the country has a bust commemorating its architect on prominent display, and musicians are a close second. The Street Carnival is one of the worst names in the game, though, made all the more annoying by the fact that the type of structure depicted actually has a name -- a name with an obvious meaning, easily pronounceable in English, no less -- the Sambadrome.

Power: 8/10. Right on Kongo’s heels for cultural victory dominance, with the added bonus of an easy segway into science or religion via enhanced district yields and cheaper great people. The Minas is just the icing on top.

#9. ROME. 7.7/10.
Spoiler :
Gameplay: 7/10. Roads, monuments and trading posts are 3 of the most essential components of early infrastructure, and 3 of the most annoying to produce. How great would it be if you got them all for free in every city you built? Nobody really enjoys the Baths, but Legions are potentially the most fun unit in the early game, particularly with their ability to custom-build roads wherever you want them.

History: 8/10. Sprawling empire, excellent infrastructure, powerful Classical military, respectable culture, reasonable management of civic happiness. It’s a pretty solid design for a civilisation which is difficult to sum up in simple mechanics. Rome isn’t particularly famous for its culture, religion or science, after all, and yet it would be a travesty to reduce such a complex and highly-organised empire to pure domination. Trajan’s Column is a little contrived, though, and I’m sure there are plenty of alternatives which would better capture a sense of Rome.

Power: 8/10. Roads, man. It’s all about the roads.

#9. PERSIA. 7.7/10.
Spoiler :
Gameplay: 8/10. Personally I’m not a Surprise War kind of guy, but I can totally see the appeal of Cyrus’s ability. Satrapies is also a lot of fun, given that you basically have to trade with yourself in the very early game just to get some roads up, and most Persia players probably don’t have a lot of potential trading partners left by the time they hit medieval.

History: 6/10. Never forget which civ birthed the “+X for Y turns after declaring a Z war” ability archetype. It’s a bad trope, made all the worse by the fact that Persia really has no logical reason to declare more surprise wars than anyone else. And it’s the *leader* ability? For all of Cyrus the Great’s empire-building achievements, he’s reduced to nothing but a backstabbing, ungentlemanly villain, while the Civilopedia dismisses the Cyrus Cylinder by rather glibly stating that “most scholars” don’t think it’s really all that significant. Anyhow, Persia still scores fairly well here because the Pairidaeza and the Immortals are both solid choices, and because Satrapies is a particularly well-crafted ability.

Power: 9/10. My whole Persian entry here is dominated by Fall Of Babylon, and in a lot of ways (good and bad) it’s the single most attention-catching ability in vanilla VI. It certainly gives Persia a tremendous boost towards all conquests, while the Pairidaeza is a strong bedrock for a culture victory. Whichever route you take, Satrapies (which is less flashy than Fall Of Babylon, but in my opinion a much better ability) will back up your strategy nicely.

#9. ENGLAND. 7.7/10.
Spoiler :
Gameplay: 8/10. Easily one of the best civs for RP in the vanilla game. Dropping colonies on every continent and watching them flourish is surely the main reason anyone would want to play an English civ, and the temptation to steamroll the natives is easy enough to follow through on thanks to all Victoria’s free soldiers. On top of that, Dockyards are probably the most fun unique district in VI, because everything you get from them -- the ship movement, the gold, the first three or four Great Admirals, the extra trade routes(!!!) -- has a clear, tangible impact on the game. Sadly the AI never builds any ships for your Sea Dogs to commandeer, and British Museum is one of the clumsier, more unwieldy CUA’s.

History: 8/10. Again, settling foreign continents is exactly how Victoria’s England ought to play. Outside of the Minas Geraes window in the Industrial/Modern era, England rightly has the strongest naval presence in the game, but they’re not so overwhelming that Jongs and U-Boats can’t compete, which would have been lame. Both UU’s are strong choices and the district is fantastic, simultaneously anchoring both the naval strength and the intercontinental colonial playstyle which make England England. British Museum isn’t exactly a *bad* choice, and I like the fact that England is finally getting its rightful shot at a cultural victory, but is it really the best they could come up with for a CUA? Why buff archaeologists over Great Writers? From Shakespeare and Marlowe to Huxley and Orwell, England has had a disproportionate impact on world literature for half a millennium, probably more so than any other post-Classical civilisation thanks to the primacy of the English language over the past 2 centuries (and what better way to win a cultural victory than by making your language the world’s lingua franca?). Some kind of nod to England’s unexpected conquest of global pop music throughout the Atomic and Information eras would have been cool, too. Seriously, who do you think pushed England closer to a “cultural victory” in real life, Lord Elgin (who was Scottish anyway) or Charles Dickens? Flinders Petrie or David Bowie?

Power: 7/10. Pax Britannica, Dockyards, Redcoats. Sea Dogs and British Museum are the weak links, but still far from useless.

#6. SCYTHIA. 8/10.
Spoiler :
Gameplay: 7/10. Every iteration of civ needs a steppe horde. Rolling conquest backed by mass cavalry that heal whenever they kill something and deal bonus damage to just about everything they meet is a domination player’s dream. Don’t want another conquest run? How about one of the goofiest (but surprisingly powerful) religious victories in the game?

History: 8/10. We know what steppe nomads are supposed to look like by now, and this is it. I’m not crazy about the Kurgan, but I like the mandatory UI rule in VI, and it’s still the best Scythian infrastructure I’ve seen anyone come up with. The religious route is a little weird, but at least it’s not shoved down your throat the way it is with Poland or Russia.

Power: 9/10. Plenty of good stuff here. Better than Rome for Classical conquests, and that’s saying something.

#6. INDONESIA. 8/10.
Spoiler :
Gameplay: 10/10. Come on, how could they get less than a perfect score here? Jongs are okay, coastal adjacencies are great -- and you get Kampungs! This is the most distinctive playstyle in vanilla VI, and unquestionably one of the most fun. Kampungs are one of the few unique features of any civ which can draw me into starting a new game all by themselves -- “I feel like playing a Kampung game today” makes sense; “I feel like playing a Stepwell game today” doesn’t.

History: 8/10. You’re great at settling coastlines and tiny islands -- better than England and Norway, and usually even better than Australia. Sadly all of Indonesia’s unique features might mean we’re never getting a Polynesian civ in VI (blob or otherwise), but we got Mongolia after Scythia, so who knows. Between the CUA, the Kampung and the Jong I wanted to give a perfect score here -- but Indonesia is yet another example of a religious victory being shoehorned into a less-than-perfect choice of civ. Gitarja gets the earliest pantheon in the game, and gets to spread Hinduism far and wide with her seafaring apostles and her faith-based navy -- just like in real life, right? Hinduism *is* the dominant religion of the southeast Asian coastline, isn’t it? The Majapahit Empire didn’t famously fall to foreign missionaries, did it?

Power: 6/10. You get some tasty yields from what would otherwise be useless tiles, but that isn’t quite enough to push Indonesia into the min-max top-tier. The Jong is decent, and they’re not a bad choice for a religious game, but still nothing overly special.

#4. AUSTRALIA. 8.3/10.
Spoiler :
Gameplay: 8/10. The most fun I ever had playing Civ VI was my first game as Australia. It was one of those continent spawns where 7 of you are on one landmass and 1 is off on his own -- I was on the crowded continent, cramped into a corner with only 4 cities while Teddy conquered his way through all of our neighbours. He finally DOW’d me just as the Diggers came online, and I had double production for the rest of the game as I marched through his empire and liberated every single city on the map. And the Digger and John Curtin’s LUA are usually the *least* fun parts of Australia -- the Outback Steakhouse is consistently fantastic both for min-maxing and for RP, and the CUA is a builder’s dream. A less than perfect score here only because you’ll sometimes end up with games where you rarely (or never) get to trigger the LUA.

History: 9/10. The Outback Steakhouse alone creates a fantastic sense of Australianness, as your pastureland sprawls across enormous areas of plains and desert. Through coastlines, natural wonders and vast, flat expanses, you can pretty much sit back and get rich off of your home terrain -- but if anyone comes looking for a fight, you’ll be ready for it.

Power: 8/10. Take your pick of culture, science or religion; you should be able to pull it off without too much trouble thanks to your bonus adjacencies, high appeal and the raw output of your steakhouses. Not the best bet for domination, but foreign conquerors shouldn’t be any kind of an issue here.

#3. NUBIA. 8.7/10.
Spoiler :
Gameplay: 10/10. Faster districts, better mines, and the opportunity to actually get something out of your desert tiles. Am I forgetting anything? Oh right, the most ridiculous, distinctive and supremely satisfying early rush in the game. Even once the death machine that is the Pitati Archer finally goes obsolete, your ranged units will remain OP as hell for all of time.

History: 6/10. The desert stuff is cool, pyramids are a great choice of UI, Amanitore is a far superior choice of leader to the more obvious Taharqa or Piye, and all of the archery bonuses make for an unmistakably Nubian theme… So why the low score? The mine bonuses are fairly bland, and could just as easily have been saved for Mali. The district production bonus is blander still, and could be applied to anyone from Germany to the Aztecs. And ultimately, even if the Kandake LUA does allow Nubia to pursue any victory type, doesn’t anyone else find it a little weird that they’re such a domination powerhouse? Is that really the first thing that springs to mind when you think of Nubia?

Power: 10/10. Solid infrastructural bonuses at home, and absolutely insane combat bonuses on the front lines, right from the very early game.

#2. ARABIA. 9/10.
Spoiler :
Gameplay: 10/10. It’s a religious civ which is actually guaranteed a religion, no matter what difficulty or what map size you play on. That alone puts Arabia towards the top of the gameplay rankings, but the fun and flexibility of chasing two types of victories simultaneously pushes them right to the forefront.

History: 9/10. Looks like the Islamic Golden Age to me. Faith and science blended together, excellent choices of UU and UI, a mandatory state religion which you’re encouraged to spread far and wide… It would have been nice to get some kind of caravan bonus, but I get that they can’t have anything, and that trade would have disrupted the pure faith/science synergy a little bit.

Power: 8/10. Not quite enough production bonuses to be a truly first-class science civ, but pretty damn close. Perhaps the best religious civ in the game.

#1. AZTEC. 10/10.
Spoiler :
Gameplay: 10/10. Is anyone really surprised at who took the top spot here? The Aztecs get more out of their builders than anybody else -- and they don’t even need to produce any builders. All you need to do is declare war, capture a few slaves, use them to improve your luxuries and get up a few early districts, and use your ever-growing combat strength to keep the conquest rolling on forever. Amenities will barely be an issue, and for the first couple of eras your war machine will actually sustain itself by sending builders home to keep your infrastructure up to scratch.

History: 10/10. Go to war as frequently as possible, focus on unit-versus-unit combat, use your captives (alongside your native builders) to develop huge, glorious cities, keep your people happy with the spoils of your conquests, and use that happiness to inspire your armies to fight better and better for every new luxury you secure -- and when all is said and done, go play some ceremonial b-ball. If this wasn’t already a perfect 10, there’d be another +1 simply for the existence of Legend of the Five Suns, which finally attempts to capture the genius of Aztec urban planning, civil engineering and public service in a series which has shamefully neglected it thus far. On top of that, I want to give yet another +1 for the Tlachtli’s Great General point, because I adore the idea that all of your Great Generals are veterans of the ball court.

Power: 10/10. There’s really nothing you can’t achieve off the back of an eagle rush. Build whatever districts you want, as quickly as you like, and keep your conquest rolling in the background -- you may as well, since every few cities you take are bound to hold at least one new luxury, which means at least +1 extra combat strength both for your army and your religious units. Your amenities also stretch further than normal, and are reinforced even further by the fact that your Entertainment Complexes are actually worthwhile, since you can get some faith and General points out of them. If you rush a Holy Site with builders and secure 5 or more luxuries, you’re actually much better at religious victory than Spain, a dedicated religious civ. Oh, and did I mention you *start* with a copy of your UU? Seriously, Indonesia might be more fun, Spain might be more thematic and Macedon might be more powerful (notice I said *might*, because you could easily argue the Aztecs have all three of them beat) -- but none of that means anything compared to the combined fun, historicity and sheer power of the Aztecs in VI. This is how you design a civ.
 

Sagax

Emperor
Joined
Nov 9, 2013
Messages
1,219
As someone who lived in Russia for quiiiite some time, I can start a long rant about how Russia’s concept in Civ 6 makes perfect sense and is fine. But I’m heading to work now, and I’ve already covered this at length in Elimination Threads - so maybe later. Wanting a science-focused Russia is understandable, but at the same time I find it a very narrow-minded approach that puts way too much emphasis on USSR.
 

humble serf

Chieftain
Joined
Jan 29, 2018
Messages
67
That's fair, Russia's one of the civs I probably scored too low (I have a habit of forgetting about the extra GPP from the Lavra, which helps with all 3 of the categories I was scoring on). A purely science-based, Soviet-themed Russia would be awful, but I do miss the days of Civ IV's Research Institute UB, when the Russians didn't lag behind the Sumerians in the space race.

I just don't see Russia as an obvious choice for a religious powerhouse, considering the religious victory is all about global conversion. Victoria, who has a low-priority tag for pursuing religious victories, would make just as much sense given the spread of the English state church across the world during her reign, but we're never going to see a religion-focused England. Still, ever since the CivBE trailer it's been pretty clear that Firaxis has a crush on Orthodox aesthetics, and honestly I can't really blame them. I can live with religious Russia if it's what people want to see, and it's certainly better than religious Macedon would be.
 

ferretbacon

Obsessor
Joined
Apr 11, 2012
Messages
1,559
Location
North Texas
This is a cool way to look at the vanilla civs, even if it's doomed to be subjective. Nice first post @humble serf and welcome to the forums!

As much as I loathe CdM as a leader choice for France (they really should have just done Pericles for Greece, someone justified for France, and made CdM the alt leader example, in my mind), I have to admit that the only fun thing about France is her LUA. Those more effective spies make espionage more enjoyable and can cause a lot of disruption to rivals without ever going to war.

I wish India's Dharma ability came with a special QoL UI feature that specifically tracked what effects you were receiving in each of your cities. My biggest issue with Dharma isn't how difficult it is to invite foreign religions into your cities, but rather how frustrating it is to track what you're getting out of it at any particular time. Also, what's wrong with Stepwells? They're pretty decent tile improvements.

I agree that Russia is an extremely odd choice for such a strong religious game. They didn't found Orthodox Christianity, Orthodoxy doesn't have a strong tradition of proselytization, and I've never strongly connected religious fervor with Russia before, but I guess it's not a big deal. As far as science goes, I would say that's more of a modern thing. Before the USSR, Russia wasn't exceptional for the sciences. Russia has a stronger cultural legacy than anything else if you ask me, which I suppose is reflected in the Lavra's GPP. I think Grand Embassy would be more thematic if it was connected to delegations, establishing permanent embassies, and diplomatic visibility.

+1 for the Aztecs! I didn't know what to expect when I tried them for the first time, but it was probably hands down my favorite game so far. Everything just synergized so well. Conquest was fun throughout the game, especially since my targets were often picked more off of the luxuries they owned rather than proximity. Captured workers helped to make my cities strong, even into the late game when districts become very difficult to build in new cities. Loved the scaling combat bonus from amenities.
 
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Lily_Lancer

Deity
Joined
May 25, 2017
Messages
2,387
Location
Berkeley,CA
I don't know how "gameplay" and "historical" can be fairly judged.

But only looking at "power" it seems like more a randomly assigned number instead of real gameplay power to me.:crazyeye::crazyeye::crazyeye::crazyeye::crazyeye::crazyeye:
 

Josephias

Emperor
Joined
May 8, 2007
Messages
1,228
As someone who lived in Russia for quiiiite some time, I can start a long rant about how Russia’s concept in Civ 6 makes perfect sense and is fine. But I’m heading to work now, and I’ve already covered this at length in Elimination Threads - so maybe later. Wanting a science-focused Russia is understandable, but at the same time I find it a very narrow-minded approach that puts way too much emphasis on USSR.

That's fair, Russia's one of the civs I probably scored too low (I have a habit of forgetting about the extra GPP from the Lavra, which helps with all 3 of the categories I was scoring on). A purely science-based, Soviet-themed Russia would be awful, but I do miss the days of Civ IV's Research Institute UB, when the Russians didn't lag behind the Sumerians in the space race.
(...)
Still, ever since the CivBE trailer it's been pretty clear that Firaxis has a crush on Orthodox aesthetics, and honestly I can't really blame them. I can live with religious Russia if it's what people want to see, and it's certainly better than religious Macedon would be.

I was going to discuss Russia, but much has been already said in the post above. Russia seems to have a clear split betwent Tzarist (white) russia (which will be one represented in Civ6 up to now) and Soviet (red) russia. I think it will take still one century or so to reconciliate both russias into a single tradition (altough it will probably happen). At this moment I can ever consider the possibility of them being two different civs in Civ6 (even, except for Moscow, soviet city name changes could help building a differentiated city list).

Altough it is clear it is intended for Russians to found its own religion, I think the civ design is not focused on Religion victory, and the religion should be used instead to support other areas. Note as well Lavras extra benefit is not religious (besides the extra GP point), but tied to artist-type Great People (and with a minor bonus to territory expansion, adding to civ ability). Extra faith from tundra may be switched from religious unit production into achieving GP as well, and early access to land (and resources) may be helpful in building tall and getting wonders, so I'd try a Cultural victory type as primary tactic.

Then switch to Soviet russia, low-faith, relatively low-culture (soviet culture is quite a thing, however may not be the kind of "tourism" culture relevant to the game), but on the other hand high in science and production, and you have quite the opposite civ!
 

Phrozen

King
Joined
May 7, 2012
Messages
976
Russia's abilities don't fit Peter but they do fit Russia. Large swaths of land, religion, and great cultural people particularly writers and musicians.
 

miaasma

King
Joined
Nov 9, 2015
Messages
626
i like this list a lot; i thought you were maybe a bit harsh on Egypt though. its UU might suck, but district production bonuses on rivers (with commercial districts usually being built on rivers) makes them more than a featureless civ, in my opinion
 

humble serf

Chieftain
Joined
Jan 29, 2018
Messages
67
Nice first post @humble serf and welcome to the forums!
Thanks! I've been lurking for the better part of a month while my laptop was out-of-action, figured I'd finally register an account. You raise some good points re: Catherine and the Lavra, and I feel like France and Russia might be two of my jankiest rankings looking back. I haven't played India since shortly after release so you almost certainly know the Stepwell better than I do -- I just remember being underwhelmed by it, and reading a few comments here and there from other people who said they never used it. I'm intending to start R&F with a Chandragupta playthrough, though, so if there's some untapped potential to the Stepwell that I never noticed before then I'm even more hyped for the expansion than I was before.

I don't know how "gameplay" and "historical" can be fairly judged.

But only looking at "power" it seems like more a randomly assigned number instead of real gameplay power to me.:crazyeye::crazyeye::crazyeye::crazyeye::crazyeye::crazyeye:
Oh, I'd never pretend this list was "fair" :mischief:. But I'm trying my best to factor in all of the different victory conditions and all of the most common playstyles (conqueror, builder, RP-only, etc.), and I'm hoping to build some kind of consensus based on the areas where people disagree with me. It's probably completely pointless, but maybe it'll help capture an idea of what the community at-large actually likes in a civ design.

Altough it is clear it is intended for Russians to found its own religion, I think the civ design is not focused on Religion victory, and the religion should be used instead to support other areas. Note as well Lavras extra benefit is not religious (besides the extra GP point), but tied to artist-type Great People (and with a minor bonus to territory expansion, adding to civ ability). Extra faith from tundra may be switched from religious unit production into achieving GP as well, and early access to land (and resources) may be helpful in building tall and getting wonders, so I'd try a Cultural victory type as primary tactic.
Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Russia's one of the civs I haven't played in quite a while, and in hindsight it makes total sense to use religion and the Lavra to segway into a culture victory. I like cultural Russia more than religious Russia (especially in VI, which makes a big deal out of "Opera and Ballet" and the Bolshoi Theatre), so that would definitely affect these (completely subjective) scores.

i like this list a lot; i thought you were maybe a bit harsh on Egypt though. its UU might suck, but district production bonuses on rivers (with commercial districts usually being built on rivers) makes them more than a featureless civ, in my opinion
I actually really enjoy playing Egypt! I love any civ which takes advantage of historically-accurate terrain, so the river/floodplain bonuses are some of my favourites in the game. I just don't think they're especially powerful compared to the competition, and if you're someone who ends up involved in a lot of early wars (even as a defender), the Maryannu usually ends up being worse than the unit it replaces.
 

ferretbacon

Obsessor
Joined
Apr 11, 2012
Messages
1,559
Location
North Texas
I'm coming back to this because why not?

For America, I'm excited about the revamp to Founding Fathers (all diplomatic slots are converted to wildcards). It ought to boost your history score since it cunningly makes America want to avoid Autocracy, Communism, and Fascism. Should also boost their power since it provides a more immediate and flexible bonus than slowly accruing legacy bonuses.

As far as Macedon is concerned, I'm quite pleased that they severed Alexander from Greece. He always skewed Greece awkwardly between a military and cultural focus. With him gone, Greece is able to focus on their famed culture while Alexander can finally go all out on his conquests. Quite the amicable divorce. If Firaxis must have Alexander in the game, like they seem to must have Gandhi and Shaka, I think this is the best way to do it.
 
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