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[R&F] What have we learnt?

Discussion in 'Civ6 - General Discussions' started by acluewithout, Sep 29, 2018.

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  1. acluewithout

    acluewithout Warlord

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    So, Civ of the Week has been running for a few months now. I was just wondering if anyone had some over arching thoughts yet about the various Civs?

    Here are some thoughts I’ve had:

    Civs that need an Overhaul

    Sorry. This point is a bit rambling.

    I think a lot of Civs would benefit from a tweak here or there. Not necessarily to make Civs more powerful - but just to make them more fun or flavourful. To me, a good example are the Cree. They’re basically good as they are - good power level, plenty of fun, some unique mechanics. But I think they’d be a heap more fun if they just started with their unique scout in addition to their warrior. Not a big thing. A bit of a buff, but not OP. But it would give them a unique flavour, tease out the early exploration angle, and be a subtle way to balance out the extra cost of their scout (which has the bizarre effect of making them worse at early exploration).

    I also think RnF has done a good job of making some needed tweaks. RnF made France awesome, and made every Civ with a faith bent great. So, good work guys.

    But. I do think a handful of Civs really are quite fundamentally bad. Not necessarily in a power sense. More a “just not fun” sense. FXS needs to really think about reworking these Civs.

    My list:

    China. China is probably right in terms of power level, but they seem far too passive, particularly in a game where you rarely need to defend from the AI past the Ancient Era, and it’s not hard to defend when you do. Previous versions of Civ gave China a more warlike bent. I don’t think China needs to lose its existing bonuses, but it would benefit from having some bonuses to give it a bit more aggression (maybe a unique light Cav or boost to light Cav, or great general points). We haven’t reviewed Korea yet, but I suspect similar comments could be made about them.

    Khmer and (maybe) India. Population [in the sense of “Tall”] just isn’t powerful enough. Added to that, Khmer don’t get a bonus to building Aqueducts or Holy Sites, and half their abilities feel like half baked Rome and Netherlands. And the Missionary and Relic thing just doesn’t seem to really click given the current Religion Mechanics (you build Missionaries to get them killed to get relics to boost your religion and faith but getting Missionaries killed hurts your religion and building Missionaries costs faith... uh, say what?). I think India’s Dharma ability is similarly flawed - your incentivised to have a Religion, but then also incentivised to not covert your cities fully? - and then they are also hurt by tall cities just not being that valuable.

    Georgia. Covered well elsewhere. But their unique building is just too bad for words, and again a Relgious Civ with no bonus to getting a Religion (which is fine), but sort of useless without a Religion and there’s minimal benefit to just having a dominant religion. They probably need to have a general bonus for walls (eg discount building walls or faith per wall level), with their unique Renaissance walls then doubling down on that ability (eg Tsikhe gives additional culture or loyalty or faith pressure).

    Spain. Not yet reviewed, I know. I’m okay with Spain not having a bonus to getting a Religion. Indeed, I think it would be lame if they did get a bonus to that. But leaving that aside, yeah, they’re a mess. A Naval Civ where basically everyone does Naval better. A Relgious Civ where, fine, no bonus to not getting a Relgion, but there’s no real benefit to at least having a Majority Religion. A Civ that gets early Sea Corps, but actually not all that much earlier, and Zulu do it better anyway. And a Colonial Civ where there doesn’t seem to be much benefit to founding colonial cities mid game. And the Mission - and it’s very particular requirements for any loyalty bonus - is a mess. There are some great ideas with Spain, but the Civ needs a real rethink.

    England. Not yet reviewed for CotW, but for reasons I’ve said before, it needs a rethink. Although England has its own issues, a lot of things Spain struggles with also apply to England.

    Lots of Civs are hurt by problems with Anti-Cav, Pikes specifically, Military Theory and IZ and IZ buildings.

    Norway, Japan, Georgia, Greece, Germany (not yet reviewed), Poland and Zulu are all made less fun or interesting by Anti-Cav being so rubbish, particularly Pikes being rubbish. These Civs are mostly okay in terms of power levels regardless, but they are still held back in terms of interesting strategies and good synergies. This also hurts the Civs that are strong with Cav, because they lack a really interesting counter.

    Germany and Netherlands are likewise hurt by IZs and IZ buildings being underwhelming.

    Some Civs are really quite Awesome.

    I have much greater appreciation of Egypt, Norway, Netherlands and Cree after these various CotW.

    I also think some Civs I thought were OP maybe aren’t (or, at least, are okay being OP). I might still not want to play them much, but I think Macedonia and Rome and Aztec are indeed very cool and fun Civs.
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2018
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  2. Disgustipated

    Disgustipated Warlord

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    I would be okay if they started with the scout in place of the warrior.

    Well... this was nerfed in Rise and Fall I believe. Because it was encouraging super silly wide play. I would say Tall population isn't powerful enough. There are some fixes that can be done for that, some of which are mentioned in the tall thread. I wish both India and Khmer could get just a little more housing bonus, because honestly it isn't much, and my cities never grew that much bigger than any of the other civs I play.

    If I'm purposely getting my missionaries killed it's not to boost religion and faith, but tourists, preferably with the reliquaries follower belief.

    Georgia, yeah a mess. They really just need a bonus to building all levels of walls and all levels of walls should give faith. That and a little more buff on their uu would make them pretty cool.

    I won't comment on Spain and England too much until their turn comes up on civ of the week. I have only played Spain once or twice. They just don't interest me at present. But I'll try to think of a better way to play them when the time comes. I have yet to play England post Rise and Fall, but from an outside view they look terrible.

    China I'm okay with, but it does seem silly there are better science civs than them. *cough* Korea. And I find even Arabia can out perform them. They are solid, but don't excel at Science like other civs can.
     
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  3. BarbarianHunter

    BarbarianHunter Chieftain

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    I've learned I like Egypt more than Summeria, that China is fun with a wonder spam strategy, and I'm rather partial to Japan. I've also learned that we're about 1/2 way through the civs and can soon start back to back, best civ and most fun civ elimination threads ;).

    +1 to your thoughts on population needing to be more powerful and IZ's getting a boost.

    EDIT: ...and the Winged Hussar more powerful than I had thought.
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2018
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  4. AmazonQueen

    AmazonQueen Warlord

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    I think all Egypt needs is being able to build Heavy Chariots as well as their UU. If Sumeria can when they get no advantage from it and Saku Horse Archers don't replace Horsemen there seems no real reason to punish Egypt.
    All naval civs suffer when civs like the Aztecs and Zulus get such good bonuses that apply to land and naval warfare.
    Maybe all intercontinental trade routes should get the bonus that Spains do now and Spain should get another bonus. They do have a great UU.
     
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  5. Victoria

    Victoria Regina Supporter

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    I have learnt Firaxis do not really understand the level of punishment and reward they apply.

    I think all England needs is to be able to get harbours with sailing, after all... if you have boats you have a harbour... its not tricky and not worthy of such an intense amount of research down a leaf node ( I mean what civ should not know what a harbour is... even on a swiss lake)
    Then Englands game would be wildly different, currently trying for a Free Enquiry strategy above king is a big risk... and there is not enough variety in good strategies
     
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  6. acluewithout

    acluewithout Warlord

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    Sorry, that’s what I meant, but I didn’t express it well. The problem is there isn’t much value to high population concentrated in one city.

    As I’ve said elsewhere, I’m okay with (and actually like) that Wide is more powerful than Tall. But at the same time, Tall shouldn’t feel underwhelming or pointless, and that’s how it feels at the moment.

    Maybe that’s the design. But if that is the design, then that’s a very narrow, specific, contingent and not very fun design for poor old Khmer.

    I’m fine with Egypt not having Chariots in principle. It’s just that it’s not really balanced with anything. It’s a Malus with no real upside.

    Likewise, I’m okay with military bonuses bleeding over to Naval or Religious units, but again it currently feels this is mostly random and not designed given there doesn’t see, to have been much balancing.

    As I’ve said. Lots of fundamental stuff is “right” in Civ VI. And FXS do often balance things very well, and most balance patches have been fairly well thought through (England’s nerf being a big exception). ... but lots of stuff is out of whack or isn’t thought through or is a bit “weak” and I’ve gotten thoroughly fed up with it because it means too many parts of the game are just not worth playing.

    I’m not even sure why it’s taking so, so long to balance and polish this game. I’m slowly trying to mod some of the changes I think the game needs, but I don’t have heaps of time for that and my abilities are limited. But I would of thought this stuff would be trivial for FXS. Maybe balancing is harder then it looks, or maybe it’s because they’re holding off some stuff while they’re still fleshing out the game. And in fairness, the various patches do seem to have tried tackling a lot of these issues - particularly the last substantive one we got this year and indeed RnF before that (which included a lot of balancing of the base game). I’m hoping FXS have used the interim, and the next expansion, to really nail this game. Past experience with Civ V BNW suggests that might happen.

    I don’t know. I think moving trade routes to Tier 1 buildings was actually a fairly smart choice. But then they didn’t really think through how that impacted Civs like Spain or England (much like with loyalty). And now it’s a few months on, I think FXS actually missed a trick. They should maybe have move Trade Routes to Banks for Commercial Hubs, while leaving Trade Routes at Lighthouses for Harbours. That would have been a backdoor buff for Harbours and the Naval Game, and linked Trade to finance more. FXS could have maybe even added a few more free trade routes to certain civics to help balance that out, giving the civics tree and culture a bit more of a boost.

    Likewise, I thought FXS’s idea to give walls Tourism was a good idea. But that’s all they’ve done - walls are still too weak, catapults are rubbish, and rams too powerful. Likewise, again, Anti-Cav got much needed fixes in the last substantive patch, but the underlying issues (cost too much, way to weak against ranged) haven’t been addressed.

    Yeah, I think there are quite a few mechanics that would be better moved around.

    Spain and Russia’s trade bonuses would both make senses as general abilities for everyone and or policy cards, particularly as international trade is just so weak which hurts the mid and late game a lot. I similarly think Goddess of the Harvest and Earth Goddess would work a lot better as policy cards (maybe with a few tweaks).
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2018
  7. acluewithout

    acluewithout Warlord

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    On a separate note, I think CotW has suggested three other points for me.

    First, there are actually quite a lot of Civ’s that are good at Naval. Maybe some are unintentionally good, but overall I don’t think it’s a bad thing.

    Second, the buffs to faith and diplomatic visibility have really improved quite a few Civs.

    Third, the Ancient and Classical Civs seem to mostly work pretty well, and these Era seem well represented. The Medieval Civs (at least, those with a Castles and Swords vibe) are much more of a mixed bag, which may be linked to the problems with Pikes and Walls specifically. Mongols and Arabia are quite good as Medieval Civs, maybe Poland too, but Japan, Norway, Georgia and China have some gameplay problems.
     
  8. liv

    liv Warlord

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    I think Norway is an ancient civ by the definition of an early unit.

    I have participated in these to try to pick up some fun gameplay strategies for different civs and that I have for some of them so I appreciate these threads. I am less interested in the discussions about how to change the civs since I feel like I have read them a hundred times already, but that is me.
     
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  9. Sostratus

    Sostratus Chieftain

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    I know they made a big thing before release about having ambitions for esports, but Firaxis isn't a company like Blizzard (who runs starcraft 2, an obsessively balanced game.) In the past that was okay, but once Civ5 BNW left the design table and they decided to really push the uniqueness of the civs in that release, they changed the way civ needs to be balanced. If this was civ4, where everyone gets 2 traits, a unit, and a building, then we only need to balance 1) the common assets 2) the traits 3)the UUs and UBs
    Most of the work to get to the "fun" is in 1).

    In civ 5 it was pretty similar for a few years since we mostly replaced the common traits with civ abilities. BNW started to get more wild with civ abilities, but in most cases was pretty tame compared to now.

    Civ6 took from BNW and really made all the civs unique packages. Now we have a way larger amount of points to balance on because every civ's package of traits work together to achieve a certain outcome, and we've still got the base game elements in play, which have also become more complex with districts.

    They put out a quarterly patch but it seems more focused on game stability than balance. And this was okay in previous titles! I would imagine that as an organization, they are not oriented to doing more frequent balance work. They probably don't have a lot of spare manpower just looking at balance (probably working on the next expansion) and they certainly don't have things in place for monthly balancing. This would mean having a team that looks at what players are doing, reconciling that with the design concepts of the game, working out balances, testing them, and releasing them. That's a lot of work on a constant cycle and the payoff isn't easily defined.

    By no means is that letting them off the hook; the abilities of 'players' (the civs) have become much more varied and complex, and they all play against each other. If this was Sid Meier's Civ6: Barbarian Arcade, where we only fought off barbs by ourselves all day, then it would be a different story and civ bonuses a benign twist. But, players, especially in multiplayer, have to live with the aztecs being a rabid plague of locusts and sumeria being plain cruel. They have to deal with chopping and overflow being used against them, and all the other stuff, like england sucking. I'm okay with the game not being balanced down to a knife edge but I do think they need to engage with whatever they consider the "competitive" community more. It's okay to be transparent about design intentions and mistakes.

    This, for example, is a link to a recent small balance update put out by Blizzard for Starcraft 2. The specific references are immaterial here, but what these devs do is go through the balance changes and explain why they are changing things. "We think this is generally too strong" "This is to address a very specific issue" "We are moving some power from X to Y". They'll even rollback past changes and mention it didn't work as intended, or it needs to be watched and tweaked more as players adapt. This is a good approach to balancing a game a ton of people are invested in. What you don't do is remove england's unit on conquer ability, claim it was always a bug despite described that way from pre release, and never talk about it again. This tends to make people very angry. Instead, take the mindset that this is a pretty dynamic and complex game, things will evolve organically as more content is added, and have a goal in mind for the end. SHARE some of the design goals when discussing balance. Was this change because something was too strong? Too weak? An oversight? Is this being rolled back because it caused other problems in other places? What is intended behavior vs an exploit? If it is an exploit, should it be kept? (Not all exploits need to be fixed.)

    Armed with that kind of knowledge, us players and modders could better understand how to get the fun out of the devs' design, and how to mod in even more. If we knew why they chose the production costs they did (say it has to do with the pace of science vs tech costs or something silly) then we would have more sense around how these pieces are supposed to interact. The classic pushback is that sharing this stuff might 'put players in a box' and make us only try to play the ways they had thought of; but that's a little short sighted. We're fanatics, we will find out if something even as crazy as a granary rush works.

    Bit of a rant but I think the "waterfall" approach to post launch support for these kinds of games is a relic of the past- in the age of steam and internet patching, the original roadblocks to doing frequent balance have started to go away. But there's got to be an institutional effort behind changing it, which is why even a company that tries to be more agile about balancing can fall short. (I have no ill will towards FXS guys. I've just seen enough organizations suffer without realizing why they suffer.)
     
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  10. Archon_Wing

    Archon_Wing Vote for me or die

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    Personally I think balance is not too bad. At least better than previous civs. But if you take out the outliers, we're doing pretty good plus the outliers seem easily fixed. Except Spain. I dunno wtf to do with them. And definitely England balance changes are bad and they should feel bad as well as everyone that actually supported it. Honestly, I bet everyone that thought taking the bat to them never actually played the civ before.

    They could definitely just remove Celestial Navigation since it's a pointless leaf tech, let harbors be at sailing and let shipbuilding be where you can remove sea resources. Also let us remove that damned reef too...

    That would allow more interesting play than campus campus campus because sometimes I'll find a nice harbor spot early and settling that early is 99% a mistake due to the actual time it takes to get harbors ready.
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2018
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  11. Sostratus

    Sostratus Chieftain

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    There is a link between how powerful a civ is and how fun a civ is to play; but I don't think it's as naked as "You know whats better than +5 to all combat?! +20!! WOOO"
    I think the kind of power people like to civ abilities is in doing something unique. Civs that are pure balls of stats can be good, but my impression was that people liked things that may not have been as "powerful" but did let them do something fun; Everyone knows that aztec luxury-combat ability is stupidly strong, but I would guess most people actually think builder-rushing districts is the fun part of playing them. And so on for other civs. (Although, sometimes you do just want to bulldoze everyone with hordes of impi...)
    So from that standpoint I think that UIs & UDs can be more impactful than civ abilities and UUs in many cases, just because they so dramatically adjust the look and feel of playing a civ.
     
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  12. acluewithout

    acluewithout Warlord

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    @Sostratus @Archon_Wing Excellent posts.

    AW, I agree the game is actually fairly well balanced overall. There are just a few outliers. Sadly, the outliers seem to be in areas I’m most interested in, but I worry I’m interested in them because they’re unbalanced and I’m unconsciously being perverse...

    I also think a lot of Civs don’t actually need an direct balancing, just tweaking of the overall mechanics they work with. That’s why Catherine got so much better - the more relevant diplomacy is, the better she is.

    Spain and England could be 100 times better if FXS took a good look at colonialism and mid / late game expansion, and Spain would really benefit from another look at Relgion (specifically, that grey area where you want to use Relgion but you didn’t found one). Admittedly, even then they might still be a hot mess, but they might not need so much of an overhaul to be good / fun.

    Likewise, I think a tonne of Civs would be much better if FXS took a hard look at Anti-Cav, Pikes specifically, and IZ and IZ buildings.

    I mean, think how much cooler Netherlands could be if there was a better colonial, naval, and IZ mechanics?

    Again. I’m repeating myself. And I think @Sostratus really nailed the general point anyway. Let’s hope FXS really land it with the next expansion and next few balance patches. I think FXS have a lot of support on these forums, even if some of us have got frustrated at various points.
     
  13. Archon_Wing

    Archon_Wing Vote for me or die

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    Germany is probably fine since while IZ buildings are crap, Hansas and hubs have some decent synergy going on plus the extra district space means that they're no longer that bad.

    Netherlands I'm curious on why they don't get a bonus to commercial hubs..... having +4 default hubs isn't exactly overpowered at all.
     
  14. acluewithout

    acluewithout Warlord

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    I think still Germany does suffer a little from a couple of wider mechanics being unbalanced.

    First, while the Hansa is good, the weakness of the related buildings is a problem. It makes the district overall less useful or strategically interesting. This is maybe offset a little by Germany being able to build and extra district, but the current state of IZs also mean Germany isn’t really competing with anyone re: IZs (say, e.g., Netherlands), which is a bit boring.

    Second, Germany gets hurt by Pikes being bad and Military Tactics. Basically, Germany is a Civ that wants to research along the second to top branch of the tech tree, to get your Commercial Hubs and Hansas. If you do that, then your go to units are Pikes. But Pikes suck.

    I mean, Germany is clearly fine in terms of overall power level. I’m just saying it’s strategic options are more limited than it needs to be, and it has certain synergies it can’t really capitalise because of wider balance issues.
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2018
  15. Archon_Wing

    Archon_Wing Vote for me or die

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    Nah, you just pretend that tech doesn't exist.

    Which is very easy since I do that every game regardless. And you want apprenticeship anyways IZs, or not.
     
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  16. acluewithout

    acluewithout Warlord

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    Yes, quite.

    I guess that’s the nub of my frustration. There are just too many parts of the game you’re better off ignoring, or indeed you’re punished for using. It ultimately makes the game very linear after about the Classical Era.
     
  17. local_hero

    local_hero Chieftain

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    I think the Khmer are fine as they are now. I see no problems with getting your missionaries killed, just don't let them be killed where you care about your religious pressure (or use the belief that removes pressure loss). With the Reliquary belief you'll regain the faith cost of the missionary very quickly, especially if you add the 30% faith reduction belief on missionaries and apostles and/or pick Theocracy. Get Cristo Redentor to speed up a culture victory. Or, you'll be making so much faith per turn that you could decide to aim for a religious victory mid game if you need to change strategy. Counter intuitive perhaps compared to how you usually play when chasing the religious VC. But I like the Khmer just because of that, they make a boring VC less boring.

    I think their bonuses to aqueducts are good as it is aswell. Buffing their version further would only make the bath less unique. The aquadects are already a) cheap and b) doesn't count towards the district limit.

    I agree on a general note though that high population cities doesn't give you the benefit it should though. One of my complaints with the Khmer is that they are very focused on doing one thing and it's power level against the AI is so high. They'll gladly kill your missionaries and let your tourism rocket. The only challenge is to have enough slots for relics.
     
  18. Disgustipated

    Disgustipated Warlord

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    Sometimes I think devs are expecting us to balance the game via mods or altering the text files. Are there any major balancing mods people have played? How are they? I used to alter game files in the past, haven't done so in a long time (kind of a pain going back to stock game).
     
  19. Trav'ling Canuck

    Trav'ling Canuck Warlord Supporter

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    One of the ways you balance the overall game - and make in game decisions more interesting - is to put only the most powerful units/buildings/governments/wonders on leaf techs.

    Anything that's not on a leaf tech, you're going to research anyway. So an investment in a leaf tech automatically slows you down. To compensate, there should be something really special you get for that investment.

    Right now, the only thing I'd argue is handled sort of that way is Merchant Republic, although even it isn't really powerful enough to delay your march on a Tier 3 government.

    Also, don't put a Unique Unit on a leaf tech unless there's some really compelling circumstances for why you want to encourage that civ to take what is, by design, intended to be an optional path.
     
  20. BarbarianHunter

    BarbarianHunter Chieftain

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    I agree with much of what you say, but the negatives just aren’t that negative, and the positives of the civ far outweigh the negatives. I am presently playing a Spain game, and agree that it would be lame if they got a bonus to founding a religion. I feel their bonuses are such that they would be OP if they got a bonus. If they want one, they have to suffer in the early game, which will slow their mid game and late game snowball (which, I think is quite fearsome). Here’s the rationale:

    1. Conquistadors can crack high value mid game walls/garrisons effectively enough that Spain can perma war right through the mid game where other civs might have to stand down.
    2. The extra gold from trade routes help fund extra units for item #1.
    3. Mission spam next to campus districts looks like it could be near exploitive. I didn’t do it, but the couple of +2science/+4 faith missions I did build have a meaningful impact at very little opportunity cost.
    4. Add in a religion, zen meditation (for conquest), or choral music (for civics), and, without the early game suffering to recruit a great prophet, I think Spain ends up as OP.

    On getting no bonuses to colonization, I disagree to some extent. You could send a settler and missionary forth, found a colony, convert it to your religion, use your faith during a golden age to create builders (edit: or just buy one with gold) and a grand master’s conquistador. Chop up some population, then conquer a neighboring city with the conquistador and automatically convert it to your religion which will add loyalty.
     

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