What Is a Trade Civ?


Jun 21, 2019
A lot of times I fire up a game planning to make an epic trade empire. I'm hoping that my sick civ will emulate the Srivijaya, Mali, or English empires with incoming and outgoing trade spanning the globe. Or sometimes I hope to raid great trade empires by taking advantage of strategic chokepoints.
However, sending truly global trade routes has no advantages, and the civs which seem inclined toward this get generic bonuses to their own trade routes that in no way encourage outlandish expeditions. I see very few trade routes from other civs to my own civilization, and I have no epic bustling port as many of my cities seem fairly similar when it comes to being valuable trade destinations. Even if you stack bonuses from Egypt, GMs, and wonders, you don't receive many trade routes and, even if you do, the reward has no geopolitical power or tangible reward to it as the AI has no real incentive to send you specifically their routes. Consequently, no great trading lanes for raiding emerge.

In history, the motivation for these developed trading systems and networks was exchanging goods. The advantage to sailing all the way to China was that it had cool stuff that they don't have back home. And civ already has this system in trade deals containing luxuries and strategics with empires. However, the geography of the matter of trade, and the real transportation and strategy with it, is completely avoided by the fact that these goods are magically and instantly transported to any point on the globe.
I think the best way to enable the creation of my dream trade empire is to combine these systems. Both of them feel quite game-y to me unmerged anyways: with trade deals I can just magically receive Ghandi's coco from across the globe; with trade routes I just send a boat to someone nearby and get money and knowledge and faith from them for nothing? If trade routes to a civ were required to receive your end of a trade deal, you would all of a sudden have a very big impetus for sending global trade routes.
The biggest problem I see with this system is that it encourages you to just settle micro-cities across the globe to send these trade routes to every empire, completely dodging the point. To remedy this, additional systems could be introduced to connect your resource producing and receiving cities. For example, you could build permanent trade links between your own cities that allowed them to share luxuries and act as a common export hub (sort of an expanded trading post system) if connecting them with an internal trade route seemed too strenuous. This would even allow you to create trade-hub cities to which many of your own cities are connected which other civs would want to send routes to and you would want to send routes from. By incentivizing long-range trade routes to specific destinations pretty heavily, the whole geography and strategy of trading, alongside bigger bonuses for receiving routes, could allow you to create a super-epic trade empire with traders from around the globe flocking to it, or raid strategically important trade routes for bountiful cash.
Do people think this system is unnecessary? I don't see it happening in civ vi but it would be cool to have something like it in vii. I have yet to recognize any glaring issues but would gladly be informed of them. I think it could be a little confusing and micro-y, but I feel like the idea of physical trade is intuitive enough and could be fun enough that with a good UI it wouldn't be overwhelming.


Benelovent Chieftain of the Ursu Kingdom
Dec 27, 2006
Inside a Ziggurat
Nope, Civ 6 downgraded A LOT of the systems that came with Brave New World, Trade Routes being one of them (Great Works being another).

In Civ 6, it doesn't matter because Trade Routes are primarily 1 way, are boosted with minimal effect, have no changes with any buildings in any signifcant ways (apart from Sankore and Great Zimbabwe wonders).

In Civ 5, you had buildings that boosted bonuses, different cities being differently appeal because of resource diversity modifiers, caravansaries boosting distance and market improving yields.

All of those fun features were practically taken out and the entire system simplified.

Tech Osen

Nov 13, 2016
I wholeheartedly agree. A more immersive and consequential trading system would be great.
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