Civ VI is slowly getting better at differentiating captured cities from settled cities, so that captured cities aren't just automatically "as good" or "the same" as cities you settle yourself. e.g. loyalty tied to grievances with original owner, negative grievances with other civs for having a captured city, mechanics tied to "settled" cities instead of "captured" cities (e.g. England's Pax B, Ancestral Hall, Casus Belli that target captured cities), and even negative loyalty for cities with a different religion. I think more of that would help with the balance between peaceful expansion and military expansion. Not necessarily with the view of punishing military expansion, but at least ensuring there is some sort of long term trade off between peaceful settlement and military conquest. One other thing to think about settled v conquered cities. The usual argument is that whereas peaceful conquest means you build settlers to get cities, but military conquest you build military to get (already developed) cites plus you keep the military and can use that to capture even more cities, you obviously don't get the yields from the captured city until you actually capture it. I suspect that sometimes you can get new cities online faster by peacefully settling rather than capturing, so you start accruing yields earlier. ...I'm sure the maths of that breaks down at some point, and probably quite quickly - e.g. sure, a settled city may get online faster, but the delay caused by building military gets cancelled out by the fact that captured cities are already developed (so you do accrue the historical production spent on infrastructure), you military can captured more and more cities (whereas a settler can literally only ever get you one more city), and once you've built your army your existing cities can focus on building even more military. But still, I don't think conquest is just "flat out" better than peaceful settlement. It's generally better, mostly because the AI is kinda weak still, but the decision has some nuance.