Civilization VI

Considering how strong going for a “wide” empire over “tall” empire has been in the majority of Civilization’s lifespan, the game mechanics themselves certainly didn’t favour the “builder” playstyle for a long while. Civilization 2 has a hard preference towards Expansionism via the settling or conquest of new lands due to how much having an advantage in number of settlements ramps up over time.

So, no, it definitely has been a turn-based strategy game since its inception. Sure, the competency of the AI can vary how well the game pushes back against you. Trying to play Civilization 2 how you someone might play Civilization 6 though is very much going to handicap or punish them.

I think we are getting tied up in terminology.

The game has long (not sure about always, my memory is not that good) been more popular among those who like to build an empire than those who see buildup as simply the basis of war.

It’s a matter of which players are more likely to enjoy it, not a matter of defining genre.

I’ve always played it as an empire builder rather than a war game: I generally go for science or culture victories, I enjoy improving tiles, and I dislike going to war under most circumstances. I’ll declare war on a nation for picking on my protected city states or settling too close to my territory. I also avoid religious victories since it involves the same strategy as going to war but with even more tedium… shuffling units on a map to spread Sithianity isn’t much fun for me.

I mean the statement was made that it’s not a strategy game, it’s a builder.

FWIW, I play Civ as an empire builder, I don’t like warmongering and I’ve always wished it was possible to play a more cooperative game. Instead, if I want any sort of challenge I need to bump up the difficulty to the point where the AI will attack (for no apparent gain, it’s not like we’re competing over the same resources/area. I’m sure the AI just sees it has more units and so goes to war) and proceed to spend the next 50 turns ineptly throwing an unending tide of units at me that a city and a couple ranged units can annihilate on their own. And with 1UPT, it makes the turns take forever because a couple dozen units have to be individually moved instead of combined into a stack. And then the game just grinds down into tedium while I slog through it, there’s few if any interesting decisions for the “just one more turn feel”, and I quit once again.

It’s obviously a terrible wargame but the game insists on foisting that aspect of it on me every time I played it. I don’t find it a good strategy game at all because while there’s a lot of plates to spin, it’s just a distraction from the fact that most of the game systems just don’t work or at least work well. And I don’t like it as a builder because I have to deal with the tedium I mentioned in the previous paragraph.

It’s just not a good game, IMO. Which sucks because this was the PENULTIMATE strategy game franchise. :P

No matter how you look at it, Civ is and always been about war. The safest way to win the space/culture/diplomacy race is to murder or cripple other contenders. The thing is you win most wars before they start due to economy. It’s less pronounced in 5/6 where you can lose economy and win war. In fact, you have to do this early to AI - it gets magical income but is dumb in the battlefield.

So I hear people who say it shouldn’t be about war. It probably shouldn’t be about war micromanagement.

I like Civ VI. I don’t mind going against the consensus on the forum. Of course, the concerns and complaints are valid. Weak combat AI combined with 1UPT? True, maybe a dealbreaker for some, but you can play multiplayer or or try and live with it. The stack in Civ IV really wasn’t that great either; it certainly wasn’t deep strategy in my opinion. Also, Civ VI, missionaries blocking units was addressed back in 2017, and other tweaks in Gathering Storm make the mid to late game slightly more dynamic. Still gets tedious at the end.

I think that most people here have moved beyond the fairly shallow complexity of the game (despite it’s many systems). It occupies the left half of the spectrum; it’s a Nintendo Switch and iPhone game, figuratively and literally. People here want a thinking challenge a true strategy game, and on close inspection it doesn’t hold up. I find I can hold back on closely inspecting it, and enjoy it.

Maybe in comparison, I’ve completely lost interest in playing Settlers of Catan the boardgame. If there was a thread here with some people posting, I might drop in and suggest that it is just a bit too shallow, and there are other better alternatives out there to try. Is that the same thing?

Also, Civ VI has an amazing soundtrack. Faint praise I suppose.

If you own it, give multiplayer or Gathering Storm a try.

Was it? I played III, IV, V and it never really was a challenging strategy game.

Hey, I will completely agree with you on that. I like the soundtrack a lot.

I never found V to be challenging, but I could definitely lose at the higher difficulties on Civ4 especially since I never was big on delving into microing chops or exploiting mechanics.

The way I play Civ, and have played them all, is to build up and make a few cities. Then, when all the land is taken (I usually don’t get much), I build up my cities, and try to avoid war with anyone.

If I go to war, I usually end up ending the game fairly close after, since thats boring, and not what I want from my Civ games.

I just want to build, improve my cities, and let the rest of the world live as they do - So yeah, I never played the game as a Wargame myself either.

On a related note, thats how I play most strategy games, even Warhammer - It can be difficult, but its fun!

I forgot to mention. There are a couple of graphics mods that are easy to find and install, one is Civ V in terms of look, others are wetlands, forests, and districts (e.g. districts in forests). They give the game a slightly more grand and mature feel in my mind.

IMO it’s absurd to say Civ VI or Civ anything is a builder. Virtually all the game mechanics are designed for civ vs civ play, from competition over gimme-huts, city-state perks, land for cities, and the early wonders up to the end game. Prior to Civ V, if you neglected your military you would be crushed, not so much by good AI but by overwhelming force wielded by barely adequate AI. In Civ VI if you have even a modest military you can’t lose a war because the AI is so impenetrably stupid. But regardless of AI competence, the game is not a builder first. You can win just as easily with a sprawl of half-assed cities as with a carefully designed perfectly optimized set of size-50 juggernauts.

Well, to me Civ is a game about building. I don’t really care what other civs are doing, so I don’t really care about the AI. I just like to build my empire.

Nice to see I am not alone in this :-)

I don’t think it’s absurd. After you’ve built up your cities, nursed them over the millenia, chosen their upgrades, built roads between them – you get attached to them. I think the majority of players don’t like having the AI come and stomp your cities. The game also provides mini challenges to growing your cities in terms of happiness management, population caps due to tech, terraforming the area etc. The design is quite schizophrenic in that way: most of the time, you have no idea what the AI/other player is up to, and the only time you interact is when you have diplomatic relations; when you accidentally encounter the other player on their continent; or when you do the rare fighting.

The inefficiency of combat also discourages fighting. Even before Civ V, building armies, managing them, and taking them across the world to your enemy was an exercise in frustration, and being at war meant you were spending resources that could be used to advance scientifically, thus making it harder to win later on.

However, having zero military pushback from the AI (in 5 and 6) is a serious problem. Even for builders with a strong aversion to losing what they built, without the need to defend any of it, the resource decisions become empty. The game is (potentially) a builder until it isn’t, and in the best versions of the design, you’re not the one who always gets to decide when it isn’t: a militaristic AI or a random small civilization blocking your way get to make that call.

The “people shouldn’t complain that Civ 6 is a builder when it’s always been a builder” is silly on multiple levels.

Who ever played Civ on an empty map with no AIs?

Factorio and Minecraft are builders, and even their AIs have more pushback than Civ 6’s.

Civ 6 fails at even being a builder. The whole system is built on the “ding!” immediate satisfaction of being awarded bonuses until you eventually realize that all those bonus systems are meaningless, badly designed, or overly fiddly. Factory bonuses, but you realize that requires you to exactly plan city placements thousands of years in advance. Bonuses for cultural artifact sets, but you realize the whole culture system is busted and all the artifacts/works don’t matter because tourism is all about seaside resorts. Bonuses for eurekas, but you realize it makes the whole thing feel overly gamey. The list goes on and on.

And finally, the designers revamped the entire series to make it more of a war game. I do not get how someone could look at the change they made to the 1UP system and say, “Yes this is obviously a builder. It was never meant to be a war strategy game.” They tried to turn it into Empire Deluxe. They sacrificed a LOT of what made Civ a builder or 4x game to achieve this. It failed. It failed as a builder. It failed as a 4x. It certainly failed as a war game.

Regarding it being a successful seller, I’m wondering how much of that is people liking the new direction the series moved in, and how much of that is simply expanded reach with modern online advertising and digital distribution. Not one single person I’ve talked to said it wasn’t a step down from previous Civ games. I can’t imagine new casual players getting into all the overly fiddly (and ultimately pointless) systems. I think it’s mostly the sheer momentum of the brand name, with people buying, but not enjoying, the game and expansions, hoping that it will get fixed and recapture old glory.

Another thing to this point, to my recollection Civ IV is the only game in the series where playing tall (having maybe three cities or fewer) is a viable and efficient strategy. Civ V seems like this might be viable initially, but you really need more cities to pump out culture and/or science. Even with the penalty V gives for having more cities, with a bit of optimization it is still better to play wide. I haven’t played VI enough to know if that’s still the case, but from experience with it, VI reminds me of V in that it seems viable to focus on a few cities, but actually you’re better off having as many cities as possible.

I guess it’s time to revisit Civ VI, although without having bothered with the expansions, I’m not really all that excited about diving back in.

I guess I’m fairly ambivalent about whether Civ VI is better than Civ V or not overall, although I personally appreciate that Civ VI tries to make terrain more relevant when it comes to the city-building aspect.

On the topic of 1UPT, I still think it’s better than the old megastacks of doom. Maybe I’m just less annoyed about the AI upkeep bonuses now that it has to deal with the additional burden of fitting everything on the map.

This really nails it. The whole point of 1UPT was to make civ more tactically interesting. And then the AI can’t handle it, so they keep that change regardless, but double down on the complexity of building tall.

I think it’s both. The graphics, and therefore the immersion, have also improved since the early 3D of IV. But I really think that this weird cycle of ‘increase tactics -> break AI -> double down on buliding’ has placed VI in a new niche for a completely different audience. It’s not really a strategy game anymore as much as a puzzle game (aka a ‘builder’).

@Alan_Au I’d recommend the Gathering Storm DLC as it improves the game a fair bit. Remember V was not all that special until the two expansions.

I like this take, because it’s not a puzzle game of working out a solution, but assembling a puzzle. When the pieces fall together it’s pretty satisfying, and a lot of the DLC is about adding interesting new puzzle pieces to play with (resources, civs, improvements etc).

It’s not quite that bad. Try it, not having an army, and you’ll get invaded pretty quickly.

The Civ 6 war AI improved over time in the sense that it went from “you’re invincible if you have walls” to “you’re invincible if you have walls and a single defending unit”.

Ethiopia pack available now.