Quite frankly, I had had enough of the French and the Egyptians. My Roman cities were quite the prize for both empires; both wanted their religions to be the dominant faith in our little world. And so while I continued to work on launching a satellite into orbit, France and Egypt kept sending in missionaries and apostles into the eastern half of my territory, converting my cities over and over again. Theological debates rained down from the skies like lightning as my people were swayed, first to Shintoism, then to Buddhism, and then back again. Given that the Roman Empire’s official faith was Roman Catholicism, I decided that enough was enough. I declared holy war against the French and wiped them out, adding their cities to mine. That left a horde of Egyptians still in my territory; no matter how much I protested, Cleopatra still wouldn’t leave my cities alone. So I waited, biding my time until I could reach her cities with my mighty army…
That’s right, folks, I’ve been having fun with Sid Meier’s Civilzation VI, the sixth (no kidding!) installment in the uber popular, uber fun strategy game. And, while I’ve been enjoying it, there are some things that have fallen a little short for me.
For those of you unfamiliar with the franchise, Civilization is a turn-based strategy game. You take control of a civilization and build it from one city into a mighty empire. Along the way, you’ll encounter other civilizations who will vie for you for resources and territory. You have to chart the best course forward, playing to your people’s strengths and trying to get past their weaknesses, all in the hopes of your civilization becoming the greatest the world has ever seen.
I’ve been playing Civ games since college. I think I got into it with the first version or maybe the sequel (I didn’t own it; I played it on a friend’s Mac). And in many ways, Civ VI remains as addicitng as ever. This is the game that coined the term “One more turn.” It’s so tempting to keep clicking the “continue” button: until that archer is trained so you can take out the barbarians that have been plaguing your city, until you research that tech that you’ve been waiting for, or until that World Wonder is finally built. It’s so easy for a game of Civ to slip away from you.
And in many ways, Civ VI is a worthy successor. It took some of the best features of the previous games and mashed them all together: the religion building aspects of the “Gods and Kings” expansion of Civ V, and so on. And there are some new additions to it as well: where you place your city and how you expand it depends entirely on the surrounding terrain. Putting down cities next to mountains is a great idea if you’re going to build a campus, which improves your research. It’s this and the addition of districts (specialized tiles that help focus what each city does) that really sets this game apart from its predecessors. Let me put it to you this way: it was quite common for me in Civ V to build everything I could in a city, getting so far ahead that there was nothing left except to switch the city over to producing gold or research. I’ve never had that happen in this game.
Now you could have found out about most of this by reading the various reviews that have come out in the past few weeks since the game’s release. I have a few minor quibbles with the game, though, and I thought I would share them here:
- The lack of automation. One of the big changes is that the old workers have been replaced with “builders.” These builders have a limited number of charges, one for each improvement the builder can construct. Roads are generated, not by builders, but by trade routes. All of this is well and good, but there’s no way to automate the builders. Sometimes I lose track of what needs to be done. It’d be nice if we could set out the builders and say, “Build what you need to” and let them do their thing, sort of the same way that workers did their thing in previous Civ games. Maybe not, I don’t know, but I don’t like the micromanagement that pops up in this game. In line with this, I’d love a second automation function for units besides “explore.” It’d be great if I could set my military units to “hunt,” as in they’ll actively seek out barbarian units (or enemy units) and engage them if they have the upper hand.
- The stupidity of AI trading. The developers have tinkered with the NPC empires quite a bit and, in some ways, it’s fine. I like the new agendas (which help dictate how a rival Civ will interact with you; I’ve had Civs declare war on me out of the blue because I’ve gathered too many Wonders or Great People and it’s been fine). But the trade proposals these morons make is incredible! I’ll often get ludicrous demands to hand over all of my stuff for nothing, and when I prompt them to make the deal more fair, they offer me one gold per turn. That’s it. And the peace negotiations! I don’t know how many times I’ll be at war with a Civ and mopping the floor with them, only to have my enemy propose a cease fire in which I, the winning side, have to hand over my entire treasury and all the gold I make each turn. I’m sorry, that’s not how it works, sweetheart.
- The lack of potential empires. I suspect the roster of playable Civs will grow with future expansions. Admittedly, I’m comparing this to Civ V (of which I had all the expansions). There were dozens of possible Civs to choose from, meaning that every game had a unique mix of other civs to contend with. Right now, it’s the same small group, over and over and over.
Minor things, sure, but I had to share.
So should you play this game? If you’ve liked the previous instances, you should definitely check this out. And if you never have, you’re missing a great gaming experience.