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What coasts really are

Discussion in 'Civ6 - General Discussions' started by Bibor, Apr 1, 2019.

  1. Bibor

    Bibor Doomsday Machine

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    I've seen in at least two threads now (the patch thread and Victoria's) that some players want coasts to be better than they currently are.

    Well, they can't be. And they shouldn't be.

    Coast is where seawater meets land. No matter what shape or form it takes, coasts by themselves are a desolate place. Seawater is toxic to humans, and most land dwelling creatures. Generally speaking, when they could help it, people through history avoided living near the coast if the coast itself wasn't particularly well suited for fishing and other aquatic sustenance methods. Although, fishing is just... well, fishing. You can't just eat fish. It simply doesn't work.

    So, no, by themselves, most types of coasts are not particularily habitable by themselves. If anything, they represent a geographical and biological "end of the line".

    Rivers, on the other hand, are the exact opposite. They were through history a source of fresh water, water for irrigation, food and served as major transporation lanes. And they still do. It's no coincidence that all major civilizations started near abundand sources of fresh water. I can't think of any civilization that sprung up in a delta.

    All this changed of course with coastal and later transoceanic navigation.

    Before we jump to Phoenicia, Greece and their counterparts in (South East) Asia as proof that coasts and islands are somehow the place to be, know that these civilizations were an exception to the rule. In fact, Phoenician, and later Greek colonies were built in strictly limited places. It was really simple: if the island or coast didn't have a sandy beach onto which to drag the ships out, it wasn't habitable. There were no harbors back then, not in the way we think of them anyway. You can't dock a galley. This is also the reason why piracy was so popular in the Caribbean - sandy beaches everywhere.

    Long story short, coastal cities became important for connecting existing overland and river trade routes. Near the coast at first, over the ocean later.

    Regarding growth and manufacturing, well, not all coastal mercantile cities could grow. In fact, many of these cities were built in inhospitable terrain (like Venice, Dubrovnik etc.) and mediterranean mercantile city-states had dislocated manufacturing and food production, sometimes dozens or even hundreds of kilometers away from the actual city, especially if the hinterlands were mountaneous and barren.

    So yes, if you can help it, both IRL and in Civ6, if you want a coastal city, make it riverside or lakeside, or at least in close proximity to a mountain to build an Aqueduct.

    A good example of a ridiculous engineering feat is the Constantinople water supply system initially ordered to be built by emperor Hadrian. Even today, fresh water is a major problem in Istanbul. It doesn't have enough fresh water to sustain its current population.
     
  2. Pietato

    Pietato Warlord

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    You need to look up the definition of 'can't'.
     
  3. Boris Gudenuf

    Boris Gudenuf Warlord

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    Unfortunately, while all you have said is true, your last statement makes all of it invalid within the framework of a discussion of Civ VI.
    Like all Civ games, Civ VI starts (nominally) in 4000 BCE. By that date, coastal navigation had been practiced for several thousand years, at least. Given that there is evidence of human habitation 30,000 and more years ago in Australia and the Solomon Islands of the Southwest Pacific, it is entirely possible that 'boating' of some kind has been going on for far longer than the game lasts.
    Yes, salt water is toxic. It also was exploited throughout the game's time scale as both a transportation highway and source of food and other materials - both whaling and net fishing pre-date the start of game by centuries.

    Greek colonies were virtually all founded in places that had good harbors, not just sandy beaches. From Modern Marseilles to modern Sevastopol in the Crimea, a protected place to anchor/dock/beach ships was far more important than a simple 'sandy beach'.
    And enough fresh water as been a problem for cities since - the start of cities. Babylon, the Indus Valley cities, the Minoan palaces/cities on Crete, all had extensive water-supply/storage/sewage systems long before Rome made aqueducts famous, and today the problem is an order of magnitude worse as population concentration has outstripped almost all 'natural' supplies. Famously, the Colorado River stopped reaching the sea decades ago because the entire river is diverted to supply cities like Los Angeles (a coastal city built in a desert, Guaranteed water problems one way or the other!) and irrigated agriculture (again, desert = water problems, but it's too late to relocate southern California . . .)

    Venice was built in the middle of an extensive lagoon/marsh/swamp so that the terrain protected it from land invasion. Dubrovnik is a slightly different situation: any coast with mountains right behind it is a Pirate Coast, because the people living there will be making their living from the sea: fishing if they are honest, but stealing anything sailing by if they can get away with it, and since the mountains keep a central government from getting at them, historically they got away with it a lot. In fact, in Roman times "Illyrian Pirates" - from the coast that includes Dubrovnik - were a byword for piracy in general.

    Up to a point, springs and other fresh water sources could supply an ancient city - there is no major river flowing past Athens, for example - but the 'mega-cities' like Babylon (which may have reached 1,000,000 population by 600 BCE) had problems even when a major river flowed by. Engineering was applied to that early on - Places as far distant as India and Crete had sewers, indoor plumbing, and water-storing cisterns. In game terms, I suggest you could start a city on just about any coast, but past a certain point it would stop growing until the hydraulic technology improves - a 'cap' similar to the one for Housing now.
     
  4. Zenstrive

    Zenstrive Arabian King

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    There should be a +1 production +1 gold bonus for coastal city after researching cartography and +1 science after researching steam power
     
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  5. NukeAJS

    NukeAJS Chieftain

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    You're not wrong but you're also not right. Fresh water is obviously important, but there are tons and tons of places with freshwater but very few humans. The entire centers of the North and South America continents come to mind.

    On the other hand -- it's not as simple as: freshwater = more people. You mention Istanbul and that's a great example. What you didn't mention is that 15 million people live in and around it. That's bigger than a lot of countries. In other parts of the world -- I'm thinking Los Angeles and Cape Town specifically -- you have a very similar problem.

    There's a lot more going on with human population distribution than simply freshwater=people. One simple thing you've overlooked is that freshwater = people up to a VERY limited threshold because people didn't know that pooping in the water they drank was a very bad idea. Well, some people figured it out way before others but until that happened, it put a natural cap on how many people could live in a single area before the death rate from germs was greater than the benefits from freshwater.

    The most obvious one you're overlooking although it's connected to the first is that there are other ways to get freshwater that don't involve drinking. It's called food. Food was the preferred method of water consumption because, and you've already noted this even if you didn't realize it, water kills people. The most typical cause of death until fairly recently was dysentery and cholera. It was much, much safer to eat a fish or an apple and get both nourishment and water than it was to cup your hands and take a drink of water. And, yes, obviously rivers mean irrigation which means food. That's not always the case because that's not the only way to irrigate crops. There are also good ole fashioned rain, mountain melts (which -- sure, they're basically temporary rivers), and absorbed water from snow melts. Up until industrialized agriculture, nearly all food grown in the USA and Europe was via normal rain, mountain melts, and absorbed water from the winter's snow. Largescale river irrigation a la Egypt, the middle-east, china etc. was the minority method, not the dominant one.

    And while it's obvious that freshwater is somewhat useful to consume whereas seawater is completely useless, this is a good place to note that human psychology is often much more concerned with non 0% or 100% possibilities. People were never scared of seawater even though it's much much worse to drink. It's so bad to drink, people probably never worried about it as a way to consume water because it was absurd to think of it that way. People were much more worried about the small (but near 100% chance if you did it often enough) chance of drinking fresh water, getting sick, and dying.

    In fact, in many languages today this meme still exists. When people toast each other before they drink and say salud or salut or na zdrowie ("To health", basically), they're unknowingly continuing the custom of people drinking WATER and hoping they don't die. That people carried it over to mostly alcohol as a celebratory gesture vaguely aimed at the general future and not the very near, very specific future is just a good example of how memes morph away from their original intent to function as something else.

    This simple fact is illuminating when you think of the entire history of humanity up until today (and still in some places). One culinary tradition nearly everybody on Earth has is soup. Why? Because it was one of the safest ways to consume water and get nourishment. The same goes for fermentation methods of fruit and vegetables otherwise known as wine and beer. Of the cultures that drank alcohol (nearly everybody), you ALWAYS see two general results with fermentation in mind -- weak wine/beer and strong wine/beer. Most wine and beer was of the first variety and was usually less than 1-2% ABV. More than that and you urinate out more water than you put into yourself in addition to starting to get drunk (especially in children). The second kind, what we call "normal" beer and wine today, is what ancient people made in order to get drunk and have a good time. That many people had a beer or wine god(dess) or venerated alcohol in some way makes A LOT of sense when you realize that if you drank beer, you didn't die. If you drank water, you might die. Beer must have seemed magical if not godly to people.

    So, in short, it's a lot more complicated than freshwater = more people. And this is just talking about pre-modern times. If we're talking post-modern, well ... things get a whole lot more complex. But let's just leave it at more than 40% of the entire world's population lives within 100km of a saltwater coast.
     
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  6. BTSeven7

    BTSeven7 Chieftain

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    I love when a civfanatics posts turns into a Jared Diamond book. And I am not being sarcastic. Genuinely enjoy reading these posts. I just hope you guys know what you are talking about bc the next time I drink a beer I will be reciting this stuff to people...

    Cheers!
     
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  7. Zenstrive

    Zenstrive Arabian King

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    The centers of North Amerika were heavily populated until an unknown plague wiped majority of the populations. Hence an "empty" continent.
    But still, even riverside area is not quite a strong area in Civ VI.
    Really, Civ VI is all about the cards and the districts.
     
  8. Depravo

    Depravo Siring Bastards

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    In the intro to his Atlas of Ancient History, Colin McEvedy does a simple trick: divide the Med into 20-mile squares, then colour in all the ones with a majority of coastal neighbours. In other words, colour will appear where the coastline is heavily indented. Result:



    With a few exceptions, you might almost as well be looking at a map of classical Greek / Carthaginian civilisation.
     
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  9. knighterrant81

    knighterrant81 Chieftain

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    Before we get started here, I don't really give much credence to arguments that start with "well, in the real world..." Civ is not a simulator. The goal of Civ is to be a game; that is, fun. People have made a lot of good points and arguments, but they just aren't very relevant. Civ is the game that taught me about the world and history! But it is a game.

    So 1) is it fun? and 2) is it immersive? (does it a least approximate the real world enough for the suspension of disbelief.)

    1 - Mostly, yeah. The point the "coastal" types are trying to make is that Civ VI is limiting their playstyle, and thus, limiting their fun. You should not be surprised when a guy (who's forum Avatar is the leader of a Civ who has basically been a two-year long running joke as far as balance is concerned) gets upset when their playstyle is sidelined. He (we) are upset because the Devs keep making it less fun to play a coastal/naval Civ.

    2 - Yes, you can make an argument that rivers were important. There are also plenty of cities and nations who made their name on the coast. But more to the point, there are Civs in the game that are primarily focused on being coastal/naval oriented, and the Devs keep making changes that make those Civs less fun to play.
     
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  10. Takfloyd

    Takfloyd Chieftain

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    Anyone liking OP's post here: Don't trust what you read just because it *seems* like they know what they're talking about.

    In the entirety of the timeframe a game of Civilization represents, coasts were extremely vital for civilization and most population centers were situated along them.

    This is for two reasons: Virtually unlimited access to seafood, and ease of trade along the coast. Yes, most cities were and are also situated along rivers for fresh water, but rivers are much more troublesome for trade since sailing upriver is a constant struggle, and they do not produce nearly as much food.

    Civ VI should better represent how ubiquitous coastal settlements were by making them more viable in the game. I don't think they should gain more production as the sea didn't really produce much other than food until oil drilling, but more other benefits would be warranted. Extra gold for trade routes starting or ending in a coastal city, or extra housing for cities next to both coast AND river, or something like that.
     
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  11. Infixo

    Infixo Warlord

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    Maybe I am just reading it wrong, but am I the only one seeing lack of logic in that? The guy colored the coastal areas and in the end got a map with coastal areas colored? Surprising...
     
  12. Pietato

    Pietato Warlord

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    He coloured areas with coastal neighbours, showing the high prevalence of coastal settlement.
     
  13. Infixo

    Infixo Warlord

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    I understand what he did. I don't understand what it proves. Where else would you expect to have "coastal neighbours" than on the coast?
     
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  14. Unconquered Sun

    Unconquered Sun Chieftain

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    Is it, though? I thought they use the lakes to the west (at least on the European side).
     
  15. Ziad

    Ziad Warlord

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    Civilizations that thrived on the coast often relied on maritime trade and sustenance.

    Civ6 represents them pretty well at this point, now that trade route yields are effectively doubled for them.
     
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  16. Bibor

    Bibor Doomsday Machine

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    Yup. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-42982959
    BTW, I really enjoyed your early deity writeups on Civ4, especially the Hippodrome whipping game with, incidentally, Byzantium :)


    This is a really cynical comment. You're free to prove me wrong or expand on my thoughts, as @NukeAJS did. In fact, I welcome it. There are far more knowledgeable people than me. Your comment, however, that coasts were extremely vital for civilization are simply not true. Human populations in general seek the least hostile environments to live in, with notable exceptions. I don't know why or how this would be up for debate. If coasts fell under this category, then yes.

    Even in civilizations that were baseline maritime, like ancient Greece and Phoenicia, not all cities were coastal. Sparta is as far from the coast as it can get.
    Babylon is not coastal, Egyptian capitals were not coastal, Rome is not on a coast, civilizations in India were not coastal, none of the native american civilizations were coastal.
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2019
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  17. Pietato

    Pietato Warlord

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    If there were no coastal neighbours, there would be no shading. So the shading represents density along the coast. It is supposed to mean people grouped up along the coasts early.

    But yeah, it is a pretty odd way to do it.
     
  18. Ziad

    Ziad Warlord

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    Greece perhaps, but definitely not Phoenicia. If it didn't have a proper site for a Cothon, it didn't exist :p
     
  19. Stilgar08

    Stilgar08 Chieftain

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    First of All I appreciate Bibors point of view and look at the interesting discussion which takes place here and it's not that he hasn't got one or two good points. That's why I liked the post.
    Secondly: FXS already did what you suggested more or less (trade Route), it just isn't enough to counter all the downsides following the vocal debaters points. They are not totally wrong of course But neither totally right...

    I'd say the problem is that the sea isn't as vital to a civilization as it used to be in real life and trade is abstracted by trade units mainly. So not many benefits apart from that gamewise. If naval civs get another incentive to settle on the coast (because they just get more out of the sea), I'd be fine, maybe not all coastal cities need to get buffed. That would be another diversification too and historically somewhat accurate (?) - how about +production for adjacient harbor tiles?

    Personally I'm more on the roleplaying side, not so much on the "ideal road to success" side of players so I tend to build coastal cities already anyways if I like and it's a decent spot.

    I suggested making trade routes double speed starting from coastal cities and I still like that idea. :pRoutes would end much sooner making them much more flexible which is very good in the beginning and degrades in usefulness while the game moves on...
    Roads inland would be build 2x faster and the waterways would benefit from higher yields (already implemented) and flexibility.

    You... you mean... It is not?? :faint:
     
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  20. Vizurok

    Vizurok Magyar Soldier

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    Well, the map's point is that not all coastal areas are the same. The highlighted areas have majority coastal neighbors, therefore the coastline is intended - and look at that, these areas are the starting locations of the great Mediterranean civilizations. The other coastal tiles are simply the meeting point of land and see, not so valuable as the blue ones.
     
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