Alright after finishing a number of games (and doing several ~150 turns runs) to get a feel for the changes, here is my general thoughts overall. While most of this is from the most recent patch, I might throw in some older notes as I focused on certain plays.
- Goddess of Protection: Has turned out to not be too bad. It is true that the effort to get those walls both researched and built is quite an endeavor at that point in the game. The pantheon is now foundable, but you do have to give it a boost in some scenarios (faith natural wonder, shrine first plays here and there). Now whether the healing benefits plus the yields is too good that is more time will tell, but I am much more pleased with this pantheon than I expected (I thought it was going to be old Ancestor Worship levels of OP).
- God of War: Again overall the changes don't feel too bad, it still takes effort to found even with the buffs, but the barracks buffs do give you a nice synergy with Authority and it grounds the pantheon more, so its not so feast or famine.
- Way of Noble Truths: I feel like this belief has an identity crisis. To me the happiness boost is best with warmongers, it gives them a way to address their inevitable happiness problems after so much warring. But then the belief requires peace, so it feels like its barking up the wrong tree.
- Abode of Peace: Its just really weak, its so hard to maintain religion on CS that are any distance away from your empire, and even when you do the benefits aren't that amazing.
- The new authority change has been nice, I can often set it up so that my first expansion hits the timing and gets me the yields, and it gives you a nice little kickstart. But I haven't found it OP, generally Authority does really well in the early game, but then tends to hit a wall at Medieval. Inevitably the higher difficulty AIs will always (ALWAYS) outtech you with authority, and once your up against knights you can't make any real headway in war until you catch up. So you tend to flounder in medieval (whereas I find with other playstyles Medieval is my best warring period as now my strong economy and tech lets me go to work).
- I will admit that with the barracks change, there are times where I have to catch up on the barracks in order to get the yields in every city. But that said, I think the tradeoff has been more than worth it, there are so many times I want to send my units out and in the old system I would lose yields for that. Now my homestead is solid and reliable, and I can worry about doing what I'm supposed to be doing with my units...killing things.
- In my first few games happiness was a real problem (going below 35% and losing cities kind of problem). With more plays I have started to get it under control. I almost always go through periods where I hit 35%, and sometimes dip my toe underneath it, but generally I can hold out, and late game I can even get to near 100% at times. The biggest things is the inconsistency, one run through I'm as happy as can be, next run through its unhappiness for days....and I feel like I'm mostly playing the same. I don't know why there is such a large swing.
- I am really starting to question is tribute is worth it now, other than maybe my nearest CS neighbor really early in the game. The long term drawbacks are terrible, other civs hate your guts, other CS hate your guts, you lose out on friend/ally benefits....and the yields just aren't that great and they scale horribly.
- The UI improvements have helped tremendously. I can much better understand what is going on with my spies, and it really makes a huge difference in the feel of spying.
- Cs coups feel pretty good right now. I generally have to hold my spies in the CS for a good while, still worth it, but no longer a gimme. I do think the increase to coup chance for rigging can be increased a bit, but all in all we are getting close here.
- General Spy Mission Feedback
- Surveillance: This takes WAAAAAAAAAYYYY too long to establish. Information is great and all, but I am giving up precious yields for this.
- Siphon Missions: A lot of feedback in the general thread on these. They are better now, and I do use them, but they still need some love. Interesting I find the gold siphon mission now very attractive.
- Kidnap Specialists: I like this mission, but again it generally takes too long, though at least this is one where I get a nice benefit for hitting a low security city.
- Incite Riot (the pillage tiles one, can't remember the name): Honestly this is useful, I invest my spy to take out some improvements that any good civ will fix in 3-4 turns. Its worthless.
- -25% Growth one (can't remember the name): Again I just can't every find the time to use this compared to getting more yields
- Steal Tech: On average this one takes me 50 - 60 turns. Now I want this mission to be a bit tough, but I mean that can be an entire era at that point in the game.
- Counterspies: I think people underestimate how good these are. Yes it sucks that those missions still happen in your capital, but man in my last game I plopped the +50% kill spy in my capital, and I killed a LOT of spies. It really is noticable.
- I don't like how high a level a spy needs to be to do most counterspy missions.
- I have found my new pet peeve in the game, waiting 5 turns to get a spy to a city and then realize you can't do any missions because of a revolution or something. Makes me want to pull out the little hair I have left.
- I don't know if this is a bug or intentional, but mission times will change as security levels go up in the middle of a mission. My tech steal started at 50 turns, then 55 turns, eventually taking 70 turns to complete! It actually was going backwards for a time.
- The new chopping bonus is quite noticeable but you do have to incorporate it into your play to get the most out of BW early. I still sometimes decide not to go it to rush a wonder, but I have tried some BW early and then chop strats to catch up with some success. I want to do more runs with this. One thing I find annoying is how much you lose on hammers 1 tile away from your borders (in borders = 40 hammers, 1 tile away = 26). Often the problem I have is not having enough wood in my borders, and so I either chop for crappy rates or spend lots of gold on border expansions.
- The gold nerf I have really felt in game. The problem is there is a real momentum with chanceries. If you get a number of CS allies early, than building the chanceries early is worth it, and so you get more diplo units and get more allies, etc. Otherwise, its a hammer expensive building with little return, I often get it more for the specialist than the yields now. Maybe we could give it a bit of a friends bonus back, like +1 gold for every 3 CS friends or something.
- I like removing ships from increasing the garrison bonus, I think it overall improves the game, and once I got used to it, bringing a troop along to secure a city just because part of my play.
- I think the barb city steal needs to be tuned based on the yield type it steals. When a barb steals 20 food from my city, yeah that sucks but I manage it. But when it steals 18 culture that early in the game, that is ludicrous, it can cost me entire timings.
- The workshop is better, but not "better enough". I still delay building them, its just very expensive at the time they come out and they take a long time to recoup the cost.
- The AI is back to using Spheres again, and at first I was worried that we were back to "all spheres all the time". However, I've been pleased to see this has not been the case. While there is normally a "sphere fest" portion of the game, it pewters out as AIs grab just their allies as spheres and then move on to other things. The new change has been really good, now that you can't "steal" CS with spheres they feel a lot less abusive, you can't just bowl over your opponents one sphere at a time, they are a tool in the diplomacy box along with coups and dipl units...as they should be.
- The AI LOOOOOOVES decolonization now....too much. No matter the situation, I could see an AI ready to go for a DV, and they still love to decol. I think something is off in their assessment here.
- The new gold nerfs are quite noticeable. I find stock exchanges and great merchants a lot more useful than I once did, heck even Trader Sid's isn't garbage. The late late game might have been hit too hard, as I have run negative deficits with all gold buildings and trade routes intact. Not always, my last China game I had 50k gold at the end, other games I'm more scrapping by. I will say that if we keep the numbers at their current levels, we may need to nerf Peace, Land, Bread. The -20% building maintenance modifier is actually THE best gold generator in the game because the maintenance is so damn high.
- One thing that is sometimes covering up the gold nerfs is how much the AI is willing to pay for luxs. 26 GPT in medieval, sometimes 40 GPT in renaissance/medieval. I can get 70 GPT deals in the late game. Way too much.
- On the flip side, the AI is scrooge mcduck when it comes to paying for strategics, I can get more than a few GPT from them. The biggest offender is coal, when coal first comes out, its so precious, so important.....the AI undervalues them by at least 10x if not more.
- Rome: The new UA is cool but it is too strong. The ability to claim a CS so quickly is really nice, but also gaining all their units is broken.
- Persia: New changes felt fine, Persia was good, not too strong.
- China: I feel like China is situationally completely OP, and its comes down to her permanent WLETD. If a player optimizes for WLTKD, getting the Mausoleum, Theocracy, Fealty, Industry, Synagogues.... aka all the WLTKD stuff... China feels unbeatable. I can just cruise to any VC I want as yields rain from the heavens. But if you don't optimize for that, China is still quite good but not nearly as strong. Because of this I don't think China shows up as strong on the AI lists as it good, as the AI doesn't always optimize her fully. But when I do, its like cruise control. I do think we need to tone down the WLTKD generation in favor of something else that is good but more consistent and less exploitable.
- I finally had a game where I got to go submarine heavy, and boy subs are great. They murder the seas, they murder cities. You still need ranged cities to clear the coastlines, but subs are no joke, way stronger than I had remembered them being.
- The AI LOVES the bombardment promotion now, its all I ever see on their ranged ships. Assuming the text is accurate I can see why, bombardment gives you RCS defense as well as offense, vs targeting which is only on attacks (and whose extra bonus is situational). You could argue bombardment is the superior general promotion for both city AND naval engagements now.
- The recent Galleasses change was a big success to me. The ship now has enough flexibility to be useful, but absolutely is no threat to teh niche of the caravel in terms of a scouting and speedy travel vessel.
- T-34s: They need a nerf, probably remove that Armor Plating II. Its too good when it comes out, and WAY too good when it upgrades to modern armor.
- GDR: I think its time to give the unit a small nerf. GDRs are meant to be ways to speed along domination in the late game, and they do their job very well....but probably a little too well. I recommend we remove the "free ranged attack" they get. For one, the combat estimator never understands this benefit, and it just means GDRs take even less damage than they should. Considering they have 200 hp, they really don't need any more durability....at least give the opponent a chance to scratch the paint.
- Bazooka: The new bazooka is a bit better, though again by this poitn in the game I've generally moved on from basic ranged units. Splash artillery, planes, tanks/light tanks are just so much faster and provide better overall punch. I change has not been OP though.
- The change to the gatling gun aura is actually pretty noticable, they aren't the end all be all unit they once were.
- The new changes here seem fine, border growth feels reasonable, haven't noticed any problems.
- I think the change here is fine, it still feels like an essential building, but now a bit more well rounded.
- By the time you get power plants, its all about the science. You have the policies you want to get, and so science becomes the king of power growth at this point. As a consequence, any power plant that doesn't give science is off the list. I never use hydro and wind plants, its always nuclear, tidal, and solar. Heck if there is just one desert tile on my city, I still take solar because of the science bonus on other tiles.
- They feel a good bit weaker now. +1 prod, +1 gold vs +2 prod....its just a straight up nerf. Basically unless I get a wood triangle I just cut them.
- Even though its ONLY 30 turns, it feels like forever when you get stuck on a resource, just forever.
- The AI seems much more inclined to use nukes now, they use them against me, and I often see other wars where nukes are flying.
- The AI does seem able to handle fallout better now, they aren't running around like chickens when a bomb drops.
- Honestly nukes are pretty fun right now. They are strong but for their cost they aren't the end all be all, and I find that pillaging all the enemy land with a nuke does mean that your conventional forces now have to deal with fallout and don't get to enjoy pillage healing, its actually quite nasty. What I find nukes the best for is naval combats..... naval combats can get very large and stacked up, and one nuke can completely decimate an enemy force (with no fallout concerns). If nukes are "too OP" it would be in naval engagements.
- The late game is definately more involved now, but I think it could be speed up a touch. Perhaps though CERN could be nerfed to only give 1 free tech, the problem right now is if you get CERN the new tech costs don't feel that bad, but if you don't, its a slog.
- One way I've adapted to teh changes is delaying my GS bulbs. Historically I would start bulbing GS around industrial, but now I've started to wait until modern. I am finding because the game is longer I am getting more GS in the late game, and having another 30% to their bulbs from earlier academies really does make a difference.
- Manchu Picchu just feels like a lame wonder to me, unless I have the most mountainous area ever.
- Mausoleum of Halicarnassus: The more I play the more this may be one of the strongest wonders in the game. That WLTKD bonus is just amazing, your always going to have a big capital, and with that wonder it just adds a huge amount of yields nice and early. The fact you can now also make prod ITRs to boost your other cities is icing on the cake.
- Summer Palace: I think it should give a cost reduction to diplo unit buys, as that is the real way you make units at this point in the game.
- I think the porcelain tower is a bit strong. It probably doesn't need the +25% capital research AND a free GS.