Civilization VI


If you’ve waited this long, you might want to wait until they’re done with expansions and release the modding tools (assuming they’re still planning to do that). Civ5’s modding community was able to whip the AI into shape, so I’d expect the same thing here.


I’d agree; it’s a pure wargame in space. And yeah, the aesthetics aren’t for everyone with the cartoonish ships, but they remind me of the space cartoons of my younger years so I like them.

I’ve also been around the block with the game once or twice, so I MAY be slightly biased …

(editor’s note - I leave the game running in the background while doing other stuff, lol)


I just downloaded Vox Populi so perhaps that’s the best solution. Clearly good AI is not profitable to 2K or they would hire one of these guys.


I thought the colours were garish, the illustrations amateurish, and the use of gradients just terrible. So that definitely didn’t help.

And I put Civ6 away until they’re finished tinkering with it. Same as Stellaris now, too. I’ll play these games when they’re done. (Though I’ve had more fun with Stellaris than any Civ since IV.)


Since the original Civ board game had floods, I like seeing them and other weather events return, even though I don’t know how much difference they will make. And I am like the random technology trees, even though I wish they had pushed this to earlier eras too. And I really like having build queues.


Even at max difficulty, it is impossible to lose against the AI (outside of a starting unit rush in the first 30 turns).


I lose to the AI all the time! On Emperor, anyway. But then, I play a peaceful game. I like building a civilization, not fighting. If I want a wargame, I play War in the Pacific or something.


Same here. AI seems to only be ‘bad’ for those that play the wargame. Playing a peaceful game, it’s just a tech/build race and it seems to do just fine at squashing me. Then again, I’m probably not considered a good Civ player, either.


I wonder if there’s a way forward for the Civ series to simply double-down on the civilization builder/manager aspects and abandon some of its 4x trappings? It seems like Civ 6 is in kind of purgatory right now between genres. It’s probably too radical a departure for such an established series, but abstracting the military conflicts could solve a lot of its AI problems, and at the scale Civ operates at it’s not as if the combat was every especially compelling to begin with. Plus, the 4x genre as a whole looks to be on a serious downswing. So long as I can still explore the world, I don’t think I would miss not being able to shuffle military units around a map in Civ.


I might enjoy that, personally. The boardgame “Through the Ages” works sort of like that. I get to work on building my empire, and while I do have to put resources into the military, combat is resolved abstractly. But yeah, it would be a pretty radical departure, and I doubt Firaxis would ever do it. Maybe a modder could?


You mean, like going back to stacks? I never understood the need to go 1UPT with Civ in the first place. Though Warhammer 40K: Gladius has shown that you can actually make it work, I agree that it doesn’t fit the scale of Civ.


In the own words of Jon Shafer, see update #5 on At The Gate KS page


By far the most significant change I made with Civ 5 was to way in which wars were fought. Instead of large stacks of units crashing into one another as had always been the case in the previous Civ games, there was now 1UPT (one unit per tile). This forced players to spread out their armies across the landscape, instead of piling everything into a single tile.

This was a model very much inspired by the old wargame Panzer General . On the whole, I would say that the combat mechanics are indeed better in Civ 5 than in any other entry in the series. But as is the theme of this article, there’s a downside to consider as well.

One of the biggest challenges unearthed by 1UPT was writing a competent combat AI. I wasn’t the one who developed this particular AI subsystem, and the member of the team who was tasked with this did a great job of making lemonade out of the design lemons I’d given him. Needless to say, programming an AI which can effectively maneuver dozens of units around in extremely tactically-confined spaces is incredibly difficult.

The reason why this wasn’t an issue in Panzer General was that their AI didn’t actually need to do anything . It was always on the defensive, and a large part of that game was simply solving the “puzzle” of how to best crack open enemy strongholds. It was plenty sufficient if your opponents simply ordered a single tank to stir up some trouble every so often.

What made Panzer General fun was you blitzkrieg-ing through Europe while your enemies quickly and dramatically fell before your might. However, in a Civ game, the AI has to be capable of launching full-scale invasions, sometimes on different landmasses. Needless to say, we’re talking about a challenge on completely different scale.

Speaking of scale, another significant issue with 1UPT was that the maps wasn’t really suited for it. The joy of Panzer General was pulling off clever maneuvers and secretly encircling your helpless enemies. Unfortunately, in Civ 5 nasty bottlenecks aren’t uncommon and this tempers much of the natural value added by 1UPT. Ultimately, there just wasn’t enough room to do the fun part.

To address this, I could have done something crazy like added sub-tiles to the existing grid. I really don’t think this would have been a good idea though, as the whole point in having a tiles is that everything happens on the same playing field, which makes it very easy to tell what’s going on. Once you start muddying the waters of what goes where, you lose that clarity and mechanical chunkiness tiles offer. And at that point, you might as well just get rid of them entirely.

Speculation aside, the reality was that the congestion caused by 1UPT also impacted other parts of the game. In every prior Civ title it was no problem to have ten, fifty or even a thousand units under your control. Sure, larger numbers meant more to manage, but hotkeys and UI conveniences could alleviate much of the problem. But in Civ 5, every unit needed its own tile, and that meant the map filled up pretty quickly.

To address this, I slowed the rate of production, which in turn led to more waiting around for buckets to fill up. For pacing reasons, in the early game I might have wanted players to be training new units every 4 turns. But this was impossible, because the map would have then become covered in Warriors by the end of the classical era. And once the map fills up too much, even warfare stops being fun.

So is there a way to make 1UPT really work in a Civ game? Perhaps. The key is the map. Is there enough of room to stash units freely and slide them around each other? If so, then yes, you can do it. For this to be possible, I’d think you would have to increase the maximum map size by at least four times. You’d probably also want to alter the map generation logic to make bottlenecks larger and less common. Of course, making the world that much bigger would introduce a whole new set of challenges!

In fact, there were technical reasons this wasn’t really feasible - our engine was already pushing up against the capabilities of modern computer hardware. Drawing that many small doo-dads on a screen is really expensive, trust me. Well, unless you make your game 2D, like ATG!


Yeah, I read Jon’s comments. What mystifies me is why they didn’t revert back to stacks in Civ6, or go in a completely different direction. Ah, what could have been…


I find that a lot of the comments I hear about a new Civ or expansion as it appears are about how many features it has. If, say, religion is missing from Civ VII, many people will automatically conclude it’s a step backwards, not caring or understanding why it was dropped or how the design as a whole holds up. Trying to do away with a headline feature like 1UPT would be a nightmare for Firaxis no matter what a good decision it would be.

I’ve been very impressed with how well Paradox have managed this for Stellaris, getting rid of a number of broken or uninteresting features like different types of warp and tile-based planet development. They’ve certainly had howls of complaint from a vocal section of the players, but they’ve pushed ahead with what they thought needed doing anyway.

A completely different direction for Civ could be presented as an advance and so be more palatable to the players (and management), but it’s difficult to see where they could go without heading away from what people consider as the core mechanics of the series. Personally, I think a province-based system could work well mechanically, but I’m not sure it would still feel like Civ.

The thing that annoys me most is the decision to move Civ to 1UPT in the first place. Jon discusses all the effects this had later during the development process, but honestly these were all predictable with adequate thought about the consequences of the basic design during the pre-production phase. This seems like Firaxis’ fault for employing a relatively untested designer in the lead role. I just hope the series can recover from this misstep eventually (in game design quality rather than commercially, where it seems to be doing well enough).


Yeah, I understand all the points you’re making, but why not a reboot? Or do something like Civilization: Revolution – a more stripped-back experience. There’s an awful lot of bloat in Civ, to the point that it doesn’t feel like a game any more so much as a toy box you can fiddle around with and “win”.

At this point, I’m not looking to Firaxis for the next step in 4X game development.


I actually had in mind something like Through the Ages, except keeping the map and having more complexities since bookkeeping isn’t an issue with PC games.

I was thinking of abstracting it further than that to the point where military units are no longer on the map at all. I’m not a game designer, but maybe something where you have military resource points from tech, units, buildings, and investments and then when war breaks out you have different theaters that you spend those points in (e.g., conquer that city, defend that city) on a separate screen. (Sort of like setting war goals in EU I guess so that the involved Civs have a hand in determining the theaters.) A less radical departure I wouldn’t be against would be the return of the stacks, but only when combined with the army units from Civ 3, except that it’s mandatory that units either be in a city or in an army to cut down on clutter. It could do some things with combined arms then too to encourage balanced stack building. I hate the point in the latter Civs where nearly every tile on the map is occupied by military unit. Even disregarding the scale issue, it looks so messy.


Yup, never want to overlook the extent to which most of us remember past games through the distorting lens of nostalgia. A lot of games (and music and books and eras of life) take on this rosy glow years later, totally forgetting the aggravations. And realistic attempts to fix the aggravations lead to a huge “How dare you!” because people forgot the problems and are just trying to relive this rosy version of the past.


This might be one of the smartest things I’ve read about the Civ series since Soren Johnson left it. @Spock’s Through the Ages comparison is great. From y’all’s mouths to Firaxis’ ears!

Unfortunately, I think too many people like walking their little figures around and punching all the other brain-dead figures. There’s simply no incentive for Firaxis to give their game a competent AI.



I played a board game where in each battle units have to be split between winning the objective, capturing prisoners and causing casualties, attacker choosing first. Could be an interesting mechanic to adapt to something like Civ: with a stronger army you can make sure of capturing a city but the defender’s army can respond by causing your army lots of casualties and taking few itself.


W/r/t repealing 1UPT, keep in mind that Civ V sold a hojillion copies of the game and presumably a similarly absurd amount of DLC. I doubt 2K was ever going to let Firaxis make it look all that much more different from a marketing perspective.