What Policy Cards you usually go for in your Games?

Zegangani

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I recently noticed a lot of People complaining about Policy cards in Civ VI and how you're always going, more or less, for the same Policies in every Game (not that it's a new Nitpick from the Game, but it's still something that people hope that it will get an updated in the final Patch). Sure, the Policy Cards in Civ VI are more viable/flexible and can be used for multiple Strategies than Civ V's Social Policy Trees, but given that some of them are very poweful and useful for multiple Strategies, most of the Time they get used over the other Policies. So it kinda makes Policy Cards fall into the same pattern as Civ V's Social Policies did.

So I'm curious to know what Policy Cards you usually going for in your Games, what Policies you never use or think that need a buff or rework, and if you also use the same Cards in all your Games.

For me, in the Early Game I tend to use more or less the same Cards, Mid Game and onwards I sometimes change my Strategies (like going for a Colonial Game or expanding on home Continent...etc) and the Policy Cards accordingly. But I find 65-75% of the Cards in the Game I never or rarely touch. Maybe that's due to my Playstyle (Pacifist (except if I have annoying Neighbors)-Builder Style: Settler/Builder/Infrastructure production reduction, ways to get more Envoys, District Cards...etc.) that I rarely deviate from, but I also think that more than 65% of the Cards available at a Time aren't useful to me, or require me to change my Strategy in order to benefit from them. I guess that's why we have so many of them, so there are Policies fo any kind of Strategy you want. Though, I think some Cards really need a buff or rework, since there are many that or really OP compared to the others, especially the ones that you can use in almost any kind of Strategy. And the Opportunity Cards (like Land Surveyors and Professional Army) also need a rework IMHO.

Side Note: I'll use the Discussion and Criticism that might evolve from this as a Source of Inspiration for a Government/Policies rework in 4XP.
 

reddishrecue

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I usually go the same route with my policy cards depending on what's around like if there were barbarians- since there usually are- I usually go for discipline and the usual urban planning.. If there were no barbarians however, I would go with something different like agoge in case there's aggressive civilizations to defend against. The rest of the time I go for limes, revelation for religion and inspiration for great scientists afterwards. Natural philosophy, conscription, and any gold saving with research increasing policy cards are all things that I go for. It depends on what I want while Im in a different situation, like for example, limes, which I mentioned earlier, is good for building up walls which don't require any maintenance costs and get you ready to defend yourself whenever you suffer from attack. Professional armies is pretty good too for upgrades.
 

kaspergm

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Here's a list of cards I almost always use for a prolonged time, listed by time of unlock:
  • God King: Pretty much always start out with this to unlock pantheon, then switch to:
  • Urban Planning: This will stay active until obsolete in pretty much every game.
  • Discipline: Will be my default military card from start in 95 % of games, later on alternating or combined with:
  • Agoge: The only military production boost card I regularly use.
  • Conscription and Levee En Masse: If I have no better to slot into military slots, these will save me some gold.
  • Revelation: I frequently use this to secure a prophet after unlocking tier 1 governments.
  • Diplomatic league: I ought to only swap this in when actually deploying envoys, but between being to lazy for the micromanagement and Charismatic Leader being underwhelming, this will often just sit there until Merchant Confederation unlocks.
  • Scripture: Admittedly not in all of my games, but many strategies around Work Ethics are too good not to (ab)use.
  • Serfdom and Public Works: These will often stay active most of midgame; too much micromanagement to swap them in and out.
  • Invention: Yes it's a "win more" card, but I love my Great Engineers.
  • Triangular Trade: Used less often than before they made Work Ethics OP, this is still a good gold-and-faith boost midgame if none of the district adjacency cards are more valuable. If game runs long enough, E-commerce is very useful as well.
  • Wisselbanken: Excellent synergy with Diplomacy government, and takes up a less-contested diplomatic slot.
  • New Deal: Loads of happiness and housing. Permanently slotted in in late game in 90 % of my games.
  • Five Year Plan: Double adjacency for my two favorite districts in one card. Pretty much always active late game.
  • International Space Agency and Collective Activism: Probably the ultimate "win more" games, but stupidly overpowered in most games.
Here are cards I occasionally use, or frequently use for shorter times or on a swap-in/swap-out basis:
  • Corvee, Gothic Architecture, Skyscrapers: Not used in all games, but fairly frequently used to secure a key wonder like Oracle, Mahabodhi Temple or Big Ben.
  • Land surveyors: Can be usefull to save gold if you need to buy a couple of tiles.
  • Inspiration: Not frequently used, but in some games, I notice no AI has early focus on science, and then this can help grab an early Great Scientist or two.
  • Natural Philosophy, Naval Infrastructure, Craftsmen and/or Town Charters: Occasionally used if I play a civ with heavy focus on a particular type of district.
  • Raid: If I do a lot of war, particularly if I have a civ that leans towards cavalry, this is a great card. Used in the minority of my games but can be crucial.
  • Retainers: A good policy card to slot in an otherwise useless military slot during peacetime. Now mostly replaced with Craftsmen since that became a military card.
  • Professional Army + Retinues and Force Modernization: The ultimate pair of swap-in/swap-out cards in the game, and one of the worst designed elements in the game that really highlights the weakness of the policy card system imo.
  • Liberalism: Not a great card, but can give some amenities midgame.
  • Colonial Taxes: Not frequently used, but can be really powerful in rare situations with lots of off-continents cities.
  • Cryptography and Containment: Both cards I use in some games but not all. Can be very useful.
  • Online Communities plus possibly some of the other tourism booster cards, occasionally to finish of a culture victory faster.
 
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Zegangani

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Interesting, that's similar to my Policy Plan and what I've observed from others. Now I wonder if only mobilizing for War or going for a different approach to Culture Victory is what forces/encourages one to change his/her Policy Card usage.
 

aieeegrunt

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Here's a list of cards I almost always use for a prolonged time, listed by time of unlock:
  • God King: Pretty much always start out with this to unlock pantheon, then switch to:
  • Urban Planning: This will stay active until obsolete in pretty much every game.
  • Discipline: Will be my default military card from start in 95 % of games, later on alternating or combined with:
  • Agoge: The only military production boost card I regularly use.
  • Conscription and Levee En Masse: If I have no better to slot into military slots, these will save me some gold.
  • Revelation: I frequently use this to secure a prophet after unlocking tier 1 governments.
  • Diplomatic league: I ought to only swap this in when actually deploying envoys, but between being to lazy for the micromanagement and Charismatic Leader being underwhelming, this will often just sit there until Merchant Confederation unlocks.
  • Scripture: Admittedly not in all of my games, but many strategies around Work Ethics are too good not to (ab)use.
  • Serfdom and Public Works: These will often stay active most of midgame; too much micromanagement to swap them in and out.
  • Invention: Yes it's a "win more" card, but I love my Great Engineers.
  • Triangular Trade: Used less often than before they made Work Ethics OP, this is still a good gold-and-faith boost midgame if none of the district adjacency cards are more valuable. If game runs long enough, E-commerce is very useful as well.
  • Wisselbanken: Excellent synergy with Diplomacy government, and takes up a less-contested diplomatic slot.
  • New Deal: Loads of happiness and housing. Permanently slotted in in late game in 90 % of my games.
  • Five Year Plan: Double adjacency for my two favorite districts in one card. Pretty much always active late game.
  • International Space Agency and Collective Activism: Probably the ultimate "win more" games, but stupidly overpowered in most games.
Here are cards I occasionally use, or frequently use for shorter times or on a swap-in/swap-out basis:
  • Corvee, Gothic Architecture, Skyscrapers: Not used in all games, but fairly frequently used to secure a key wonder like Oracle, Mahabodhi Temple or Big Ben.
  • Land surveyors: Can be usefull to save gold if you need to buy a couple of tiles.
  • Inspiration: Not frequently used, but in some games, I notice no AI has early focus on science, and then this can help grab an early Great Scientist or two.
  • Natural Philosophy, Naval Infrastructure, Craftsmen and/or Town Charters: Occasionally used if I play a civ with heavy focus on a particular type of district.
  • Raid: If I do a lot of war, particularly if I have a civ that leans towards cavalry, this is a great card. Used in the minority of my games but can be crucial.
  • Retainers: A good policy card to slot in an otherwise useless military slot during peacetime. Now mostly replaced with Craftsmen since that became a military card.
  • Professional Army + Retinues and Force Modernization: The ultimate pair of swap-in/swap-out cards in the game, and one of the worst designed elements in the game that really highlights the weakness of the policy card system imo.
  • Liberalism: Not a great card, but can give some amenities midgame.
  • Colonial Taxes: Not frequently used, but can be really powerful in rare situations with lots of off-continents cities.
  • Cryptography and Containment: Both cards I use in some games but not all. Can be very useful.
  • Online Communities plus possibly some of the other tourism booster cards, occasionally to finish of a culture victory faster.

My list is almost identical to yours, except I hate the religion system so I don’t use revelation
 

GrumboMumbo

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I think it's a shame that the policy cards are so shallow in civ6, generally just defaulting to the cards that give the most yields at any given point in time with no consideration for grand strategy. Like a lot of the mechanics in civ 6, there is a focus on min/max, gamey elements and less focus on the bigger picture and empire building.

I am also a pacifist (SimCity player), as I find war with the AI to be very boring. It is too easy to leverage the AI through trade and warfare that I basically ban it from my games. I also play online speed because it is a more balanced experience. Standard speed I always default to same gameplan of Magnus/Provision/Ancestral Hall/Chop/Monumentality. For me Online speed has more of a trade-off between tall and wide play, so I prefer it for variety sake.

With that in mind, perhaps I have a very skewed perspective of the game...But maybe it's all the same in terms of policy card choices...

Early Game:
God King until Pantheon, then Urban Planning for most of the early game
Discipline always slotted as early military, until no barbs left then swap this for Conscription

If building lots of cities I usually slot Colonization for the 50% settler production
If playing tall Corvee to rush wonders
I sometimes slot in Land Surveyors to snag tiles, but only if I can slot it back out next turn
Diplo Policies is always Charismatic leader with occasional quick Diplo league to min/max the envoys

Mid Game:
At this point I usually lean heavily on whichever 100% adjacency card suits my empire best, often that is Natural Philosophy. As a side note, these cards always feel too powerful to ignore, I think they might be game warping. They heavily influence my district placement order and overall empire management.
Serfdom is another one of those quick slot in and out cards, but I always use this. (I do hate these type of cards as I explained before, the min/max element creates a very boring repetition of gameplay)

Late Game:
The usual suspects, which have already been mentioned above...I am starting to see a pattern forming :lol::crazyeye::crazyeye::crazyeye:

Edit: I did have a thought that maybe it would be cool to see some policy cards which gave a huge buff for governors with all 6 promotions as you could make this quite a powerful ability seeing as there is a trade off between putting all your promotions into one governor or spreading them out between multiple governors. The same could work for number of districts in one city. For example: Cities with 6 different specialty districts get X bonus
 
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aieeegrunt

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Some cards, especially the more powerful ones need to be exclusive with others

Serfdom for example, for both gameplay AND historical flavour reasons should pretty much make any sort of amenity or science boosting cards disabled

You can’t have Tsarist slavery and western liberal free thinking ideas in the same society
 
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You can’t have Tsarist slavery and western liberal free thinking ideas in the same society

Not sure if I agree there.

You could perfectly well have a society that relied on feudal structures for large parts of the population, while the upper echelon of society enjoyed "liberal free thinking".
Socialists in particular have espoused this narrative of 19th and early 20th century class structures.
Let's not forget that universal suffrage for instance, is a relatively novel political invention that is about 100 years old. Whereas free-thinking aristocrats in the tradition of the enlightenment, were a thing long before societies even dared giving the average Joe any political say.

Other than that, I agree that the policy cards are unrealistic, but more in the sense that you can swap them in and out without consequence.
Right now for instance, you can swap serfdom in and out every couple of turns as you see fit.
I would imagine actually doing that (abolishing serfdom, just in order to reintroduce it five years later, then abolishing and reintroducing it 100 years later again) would cause some absolutely massive social upheavals, possibly violent revolutions and deadly wars.
This system (mindless swapping) needs to go for civ 7.
 

aieeegrunt

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Not sure if I agree there.

You could perfectly well have a society that relied on feudal structures for large parts of the population, while the upper echelon of society enjoyed "liberal free thinking".
Socialists in particular have espoused this narrative of 19th and early 20th century class structures.
Let's not forget that universal suffrage for instance, is a relatively novel political invention that is about 100 years old. Whereas free-thinking aristocrats in the tradition of the enlightenment, were a thing long before societies even dared giving the average Joe any political say.

Other than that, I agree that the policy cards are unrealistic, but more in the sense that you can swap them in and out without consequence.
Right now for instance, you can swap serfdom in and out every couple of turns as you see fit.
I would imagine actually doing that (abolishing serfdom, just in order to reintroduce it five years later, then abolishing and reintroducing it 100 years later again) would cause some absolutely massive social upheavals, possibly violent revolutions and deadly wars.
This system (mindless swapping) needs to go for civ 7.

A tiny literate elite atop a mass of brutalized peasants is Tsarist Russia, Imperial Rome, etc none of which are known for being beacons of innovation, stability, or thought. At the very least there should be a hit to amenities and loyalty

And lets face it, boosting production by that much before industrialization is only accomplished with brutality. At least Civ4 was honest about it, what with the literally whipping your pops to death

I agree that it is way too easy to swap in and out without real consequence, which simply adds MORE micromanagement and min maxing to a game rife with it, but this kinda extends to all the cards

You could have a mechanic similar to swapping governments. The first time you slot a card it takes effect immediatly, reusing a card means a delay before it takes effect
 

SammyKhalifa

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This system (mindless swapping) needs to go for civ 7.
But one of the big reasons it's in there this way is because they got a lot of negative feedback about how the social choices in 5 were more-or-less permanent.

And people also decidedly didn't like negative modifiers to choices they put into play either, it was something that came up over and over.

Designing systems like this is never going to make everyone happy. And not that you disregard it entirely, I'd avoid making a design choice based solely on "realism" too. Real life is rarely much fun.

And as far as some choices (in this instance cards) being "better" than others . . . of course that's the case. It's always going to be the case no matter how much balancing you try to do (not that I would be against more balancing). If all of the options are different, there's going to be one path that works best. And there's a big hive mind of players out there where no matter how balanced things are they'll find what it is. About the only way to remedy that is if all of the choices are the same. If that's the case, though, it's not really a choice to be made again.
 

kaspergm

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But one of the big reasons it's in there this way is because they got a lot of negative feedback about how the social choices in 5 were more-or-less permanent.
I can't speak for everybody, but I think the objection to the Civ5 system wasn't so much, or wasn't just, that they were permanent, but also that they were so imbalanced. I mean, in unmodded game, the only competitive path on higher difficulties was Tradition > Rationalism, and obviously that is poison for replayability. Now I agree with you that there's definitely a lot of subjectivity going into which system is the better, but personally I had modded the Civ5 trees to be what I felt was more balanced in terms of making them all viable under different circumstances, and I felt they really did offer very different game paths even when playing with the same civ.
 

SammyKhalifa

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I can't speak for everybody, but I think the objection to the Civ5 system wasn't so much, or wasn't just, that they were permanent, but also that they were so imbalanced. I mean, in unmodded game, the only competitive path on higher difficulties was Tradition > Rationalism, and obviously that is poison for replayability. Now I agree with you that there's definitely a lot of subjectivity going into which system is the better, but personally I had modded the Civ5 trees to be what I felt was more balanced in terms of making them all viable under different circumstances, and I felt they really did offer very different game paths even when playing with the same civ.
I didn't mind them. Yeah, the final patch was an over-adjustment and kind of froze them in an unbalanced state. One more passthrough would have done a lot of good.
 
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But one of the big reasons it's in there this way is because they got a lot of negative feedback about how the social choices in 5 were more-or-less permanent

I don't see why it has to be one or the other though.
I fully agree that Civ 5s system was bad in that it (as @kaspergm says) made certain builds nearly mandatory at high levels (like 3-4 city tall Tradition, that together with the happiness system is why I cant bother playing Civ 5 again).
We then went to the other extreme, where nearly all choices are temporary and carry no real consequences because they can be reverted at any time.

Why couldn't there be a mix of the systems?
I'm just spitballing here, but one could for instance imagine the legacy traits of different governments being much more impactful and carrying through the whole game, and certain policy cards being available only for certain governments (in play now or legacy).
That way you could get both freedom for short-term customization, while having an element of actual consequential long-term decision making as well.

Want to create a Fascist religious dictatorship, with roots in the ancient Autocratic single-person leadership style?
Be my guest, but it might interfere in your ability to pick the New Deal and Online Communities policies at a later stage, while at the same time opening up several other policy choices that may or may not not be available for someone that has chosen the unique path of a Communist Enlightened Republic.

This could obviously be solved in numerous ways other than my example, but I think that going from one extreme to the other is the wrong approach.
 
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vorlon_mi

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The franchise has tried several approaches to the challenge of updating the government. In Civ3, when one unlocked a new system of government, the player faced a period of anarchy after switching. The period of anarchy roughly scaled with the number of cities in your empire. That period of anarchy grew to be large enough that high level players only changed governments once, in the ancient age, and kept it until modern times.
In Civ4, changing civics also incurred a period of anarchy. Unless you invoked certain exceptional cases, like being in a Golden Age. The period of anarchy roughly scaled with the scope of the change; changing more than one civic at a time had a bigger impact on the empire. But the key point was that you could change -- and undo the change -- and reimpose the earlier civic -- as many times as you wished during the game, allowing for brief (less than 10 turns) periods of loss in production.
In Civ5, the pendulum swung the other way. Every social policy was, once adopted, locked in. It could not be un-adopted; it was possible to open both Tradition and Liberty, just less efficient than choosing one. That aspect was a big change from previous games.
The Civ6 policy cards have some of the feel of Civ4 civics but with fewer consequences to the empire. They are nearly infinitely resettable. Civ6 governments have a more linear/forward progress feel, in that there is a cost to going back to a form of government that you've tried before.
Having viewed the flexibility of Civ4 as an asset rather than a liability, it's hard for me to argue that Civ7 should be more like Civ5.
 
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When presented with the following cards...

Almost always:
  • God King
  • Discipline
  • Urban Planning
  • Conscription
  • Colonization
  • Scripture
  • Serfdom
  • Retainers
  • Machiavellianism
  • Liberalism
  • Public Works
  • Skyscrapers
  • Arsenal of Democracy
  • New Deal
  • Five-Year Plan
  • Collectivization
  • Cryptography
  • Ecommerce
  • International Space Agency
  • Collective Activism

Often:
  • Ilkum
  • Agoge
  • Corvée
  • Land Surveyors
  • Inspiration
  • Charismatic Leader
  • Diplomatic League
  • Veterancy
  • Limes
  • Natural Philosophy
  • Naval Infrastructure
  • Feudal Contract
  • Professional Army
  • Merchant Confederation
  • Craftsmen
  • Chivalry
  • Gothic Architecture
  • Colonial Offices
  • Invention
  • Wars of Religion
  • Logistics
  • Drill Manuals
  • Rationalism
  • Wisselbanken
  • Press Gangs
  • Colonial Taxes
  • Force Modernization
  • Levée en Masse
  • Science Foundations
  • Economic Union
  • Containment
  • Integrated Space Cell
  • Aerospace Contractors
  • Hallyu
  • Non-State Actors
Why couldn't there be a mix of the systems?
I'm just spitballing here, but one could for instance imagine the legacy traits of different governments being much more impactful and carrying through the whole game, and certain policy cards being available only for certain governments (in play now or legacy).
That way you could get both freedom for short-term customization, while having an element of actual consequential long-term decision making as well.

I think this would encourage me to grow as a player, but I am always reluctant to give up New Deal if I make it to the late-game.
 

Knightfall

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I think going forward something like the way Civ V handled late-game ideologies might be a good system to use for governments. Basically you would have within each government type 2-3 different sub-types that would each have different benefits which would be upgraded over time. For example, within monarchy you could have absolute monarchy vs. constitutional monarchy, or within communism you could have socialism in one country vs. world revolution.
 

Knightfall

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Going off of my previous post, I also think that each government should have downsides as well as benefits. For example, a theocracy should have a somewhat lower science output to simulate religious leaeders cracking down on inquiry that deviates from received wisdom, or democracies should have to pay more to upgrade their government due to the need to achieve consensus before acting.
 

aieeegrunt

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The franchise has tried several approaches to the challenge of updating the government. In Civ3, when one unlocked a new system of government, the player faced a period of anarchy after switching. The period of anarchy roughly scaled with the number of cities in your empire. That period of anarchy grew to be large enough that high level players only changed governments once, in the ancient age, and kept it until modern times.
In Civ4, changing civics also incurred a period of anarchy. Unless you invoked certain exceptional cases, like being in a Golden Age. The period of anarchy roughly scaled with the scope of the change; changing more than one civic at a time had a bigger impact on the empire. But the key point was that you could change -- and undo the change -- and reimpose the earlier civic -- as many times as you wished during the game, allowing for brief (less than 10 turns) periods of loss in production.
In Civ5, the pendulum swung the other way. Every social policy was, once adopted, locked in. It could not be un-adopted; it was possible to open both Tradition and Liberty, just less efficient than choosing one. That aspect was a big change from previous games.
The Civ6 policy cards have some of the feel of Civ4 civics but with fewer consequences to the empire. They are nearly infinitely resettable. Civ6 governments have a more linear/forward progress feel, in that there is a cost to going back to a form of government that you've tried before.
Having viewed the flexibility of Civ4 as an asset rather than a liability, it's hard for me to argue that Civ7 should be more like Civ5.

Policy cards should have a “lag” the way governments do. First time you slot a card it takes effect immediatly, subsequent times the card had a turn penalty of doing nothing.



Going off of my previous post, I also think that each government should have downsides as well as benefits. For example, a theocracy should have a somewhat lower science output to simulate religious leaeders cracking down on inquiry that deviates from received wisdom, or democracies should have to pay more to upgrade their government due to the need to achieve consensus before acting.

There was an rather obvious design choice in this game to make everything a bonus, so deciding between two cards boils down to pure opportunity cost

This makes it pretty inevitable that certain cards are going to be totally broken and others will almost never be picked unless you are picking them for Role Play reasons

Seeing Serfdom sitting next to a card named Liberalism or whatever enrages my inner Historian
 
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I use a fairly decent number of policy cards. Yes some of them often end up being the same. But this is because I have a certain playstyle, not necessarily because some cards are better than others. Although let's be honest, some cards clearly are better than others.

Lately I find myself using more amenity cards because of the changes to amenities in the last patch. During religious games I use more faith cards.

I would say military cards are probably the ones that need more work. I use the fewest number of those and often use the same ones.
 

General_Sahib

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Going off of my previous post, I also think that each government should have downsides as well as benefits. For example, a theocracy should have a somewhat lower science output to simulate religious leaeders cracking down on inquiry that deviates from received wisdom, or democracies should have to pay more to upgrade their government due to the need to achieve consensus before acting.
Expanding the "dark age" policies would fit with your suggestion. I always felt the dark age policy cards having simultaneous nerfs and buffs were a fantastic idea that needed further development. Why not use this with all the supposed "S" or "A" tier cards, regardless of era status? E.g. the totally broken Scripture card could include a significant nerf to science, to make users consider whether it was really worth it, or to focus its usage on short term faith gains, rather than slotting it in and forgetting it as we mostly do presently.
 
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