[Civ6] Gathering Storm: First Impressions

I’ve at least “won” the game with each of the new civs (gotta chase achievements, donchaknow?) though usually just with a duel map and either then spamming out warriors and archers for a quick domination win, or using Kongo a the other, developing a religion and then spreading it to him, so I haven’t necessarily used each civ “how it was intended.”  That said — Maori with their cultural district and special building and then planting a forest everywhere possible is rather impressive, and being Mali and buying everything in sight with gold and faith is rather fun, especially with upgraded Reyna and.. um… the Cardinal governor since one of his upgrades is buying districts with faith.  But yeah… Mali + Theocracy works VERY well in the mid-game.

Even with that, though… in my post about the announcement, I said I felt they were just adding in a lot of micromanagement and annoyances, and time has born this impression out.

The natural disasters are merely inconvenient and thus simply an annoyance rather than a fun feature.  The “climate change” is just “global warming that if you’re playing in the lower difficulties you can slow it down, but in the higher difficulties it’s simply going to happen becuz the AI civs ignore it” so it’s a political statement by the devs rather than a game feature.  Simply having a small military produces the C02 that causes the warming, and it does it fast… like you go from phase 0 to the max of phase 7 in about 50-70 turns with 2 oil plants (which the game has as being less polluting than coal) and a 12-15 unit military.  There was a lot of complaining on the r/civ subreddit about how fast it advanced and you couldn’t do a thing about it.  Except it really doesn’t affect anything.  A few coastal tiles flood but you can see from the beginning of the game which ones will and avoid them easily enough, or if you got the tech (Computers) that lets you build flood barriers (and get them built, of course) then it doesn’t even do that.  There are no changes to the map (desertification of green areas, nor greening of deserts) and while storms happen something like 2% more often it’s really again just an inconvenience, not a fun or compelling gameplay feature.  Now if they’d given us more tech for mitigation and slowdown, and even techs to let us build things to be able to reverse it and/or cause cooling (and the attendant problems with that as well) then that would have been a fun feature becuz you could actually play with it and affect things.  As it is, they’ve just made it “something annoying to deal with.”  Except it’s so minor that go in to the r/civ subreddit and all the advice there is along the lines of “it’s going to happen but it’s no big deal, so just ignore it.”

The “power” requirements of certain buildings is also an unfun feature as it requires you to build either coal or oil power plants and thus accelerate the already way-too-fast warming phases, or build nuclear and then have to spend about 15-30% of that city’s future production forever after in rebuilding it all the time so it won’t have a meltdown (in spite of nuclear being far far far safer than coal or oil IRL, with maintenance being and ongoing concern of *all* types of power plants).  Don’t build a nuke plant in a low-production city as the production diverted could then be 50% or higher.  And don’t even think about building your spaceport in the same city as a nuke plant as you’ll constantly be having to interrupt your science projects to rebuild the plant.  Not fun.

If you go the “green” route and use windmills and solar plants then that requires 5-6 hexes of your cityscape *in each city* to be turned over to power production, and the bonus you get from having power to 3-4 buildings vs their reduced unpowered state just isn’t worth losing that much of your real estate.  Sure, the power improvements have a little production, but if you lost a farm for a solar plant then that’s a LOT of food lost.  Windmills on the hills don’t fully replace a mine, though it doesn’t hurt as bad there, at least, but many things have adjacency bonuses to mines while nothing has an adjacency bonus to a windmill, so you can still be losing out on more than just the mine’s production too.  Since most cities only have about 15-20 usable hexes anyway (made worse by them now being able to be built 3 hexes apart instead of 4, thus increasing overlap, especially if you capture AI cities since the AI packs them in as tight as it can — you almost have to raze half of them to give the remaining ones any chance to really grow) using 5-6 of your limited tiles for just for energy production really isn’t feasible, so you’re practically forced to build power plants since 1 plant supplies power to all cities within 6 hexes of it.  And of course accelerates the global warming phases.

Honestly, given that they made the climate change something you really can’t do anything about (except build flood barriers), and even trying to do anything about it uses up about 1/3 of your land and/or requires devoting 20-30% of your industrial cities’ production to maintaining the nuke plants (which is ridiculous, as maintenance of coal and oil plants is also an IRL requirement, but it’s not implemented as a game function) and then if you ignore it, it doesn’t really matter anyway, it almost feels like the message of their political statement is perhaps the opposite of what they seem to intend – functionally it ends up being “if you cripple yourself to try to be green it doesn’t matter becuz the other civs don’t, so you get hit with the warming effects regardless of what you do, but that’s also just a minor inconvenience so you can safely ignore it, so don’t bother crippling yourself.”

The changes to the strategic resources to where you build up a small amount per turn (generally 2 per mine, eventually increases with tech, plus some government cards can add some also) to a cap dependent upon your tech level I’m pretty neutral to.  If anything it slows down military production as a unit generally needs 20 units of a resource and if you have 1 mine/extractor then you get 2 a turn, so even if you have the production to build a resource-dependent unit in 5 or 6 turns, the resource itself requires 10 turns.  Assuming that the AI is subject to the same limits then it actually reduces the difficulty of the higher levels as the AI’s massive production bonus isn’t as useful since they’re still resource-limited so they can’t build ginormous armies early on to overwhelm you.

The new diplomatic game is functionally useless.  The proposals are random so you never know what’s going to come up and then they’re split between a beneficial or a detrimental choice which further dilutes any diplomatic favor you spend toward them.  Additional votes cost higher favor amounts, which prevents being able to absolutely dominate the votes like you could in Civ5, at least, but it also means that you really can’t swing a benefit in your favor or a detriment to your enemy with any reliability either.  And since all the bonuses and penalties are extremely minor anyway… diplomacy is useless and safely ignored.  Toss a single vote at something randomly (1st vote is free) and hit submit when the game makes you do it, but other than that there’s no need to pay any attention to it at all.  Sell that favor off to the AI’s for something you can actually use instead.

All in all, it makes the whole thing just feel like a jumbled mess of annoyances and inconveniences.  My enjoyment of this game is just completely wiped out.  But if you like it, well.. diff’rent strokes and all that.  I just know I haven’t felt the urge to play it all at since that 1st week after it came out, nor to watch any streamers play it or anything.

Happy gaming out there!

Posted on April 2, 2019, in Civilization 5 and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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