Last week, just in time for the announcement (and release) of a new expansion for Cities: Skylines, I posted a video analysis on YouTube discussing what I perceive as weaknesses in the modular design philosophy behind Skylines' myriad expansion packs. The full video is available on YouTube (and embedded below), but I've also transcribed the text in blog form for those who may prefer reading over watching/listening.

The video is up on YouTube.

I want to start out by saying that I love Cities: Skylines. Skylines is -- without a doubt in my mind -- the single best city-builder since SimCity 4, which released in 2003 (over 15 years ago, as of the time of this recording). When I watched the first trailer for the game, in which the player apparently custom-builds freeway ramps and interchanges from scratch (at about 40 seconds into the trailer), I was sold on this game! After years of having to use boring, pre-fabricated stock on-ramps and interchanges, the little civil engineer withing me practically jizzed in his pants at the idea of being able to build my own highway ramps and interchanges! And there was no looking back.

Cities: Skylines gloriously succeeds where games like SimCity (2013) and Cities XL miserably failed. It picks up the mantle of the great SimCity games of yester-decade, and brings it into the 21st century with deep simulation based on agents, a sleek and modern UI, extensive customizability and moddability, and an attractive 3-D graphics engine. It's made all the more impressive by the fact that the game's developer, Colossal Order, is a small, independent studio that had something like nine people working for it when the game initially launched. And a company with all the manpower and resources of Electronic Arts only managed to produce a flop like SimCity 2013.

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Civilization VI - Jayavarman VII of Khmer

Civilization VI's third expansion, Gathering Storm recently released and has added a handful of new civilizations and leaders. I am hoping to write a strategy for each of them, but I also want to continue to write guides for the civilizations that were already in the game. I put up a poll on my Patreon page for my patrons to vote on which civ(s) they would like to see. The three top vote-getters (from all the three people who voted) were Khmer, Aztec, and Norway. It's been a while since I've done a strategy for a religion-oriented civ, so I thought I'd do a strategy for Jayavarman VII of the Khmer. The Khmer were present as a playable civilization in Civilization IV's Beyond the Sword expansion, but they were not present in Civilization V. They appeared as a DLC civ prior to Rise & Fall's release, but this strategy should work for players of the new Gathering Storm expansion as well.

The city of Angkor, the capital of the Angkor Empire (also called the Khmer Empire), is believed to be the largest pre-industrial urban center in the world, stretching for roughly 400 square miles and housing roughly 0.1% of the entire global population at its zenith. This empire controlled most of mainland southeast Asia from the ninth century CE to the 15th century CE, reaching its zenith between the 11th and 13th centuries. Many impressive ruins still stand in the site of Angkor, and many have been restored by local archaeological organizations and UNESCO, including the impressive Angkor Wat, the largest single religious monument in the world. Satellite imagery has also revealed an intricate network of irrigation channels which were likely used to manage the regions unpredictable monsoons, as well as to support the population.

Civilization VI - Jayavarman VII portrait

Around 1150 CE, the kingdom of Angkor was invaded by the neighboring Cham empires, who succeeded at toppling the capital. General Mahaparamasaugata (believed to already be over the age of 60) lead a successful campaign to push the Cham out of the Khmer capital, and he ascended to the throne in order to continue the war and conquer much of the Champa territory. He relocated the capital to Angkor Thom, where large monuments were constructed in his honor, including the temple of Bayon. He went on to re-unify the empire, building a network of roads connecting every major town, complete with rest-houses every 9 miles and hospitals for travelers. He reigned successfully until his death at the impressively-ripe old age 97 or 98, and is regarded as the last great king of Cambodia. He was posthumously re-named Jayavarman VII, after a line of Cambodia's greatest kings.

DISCLAIMER:
Civilization VI is still a "living game". Strategies for the game (and for specific leaders and civs) may change as Firaxis applies balance patches, introduces new features, or expands the game through further DLC or expansion packs, or as the Civ community discovers new strategies or exploits. As such, the following strategy guide may change from time to time. I will try to keep it up-to-date, and will make notations whenever changes are made. I'll also post links in the official 2K forums and CivFanatics, where I'll also report any changes made. If possible and practical, I will try to retain the original content of the strategy for posterity.

I welcome any feedback or suggestions that readers wish to offer. Feel free to post on the linked forums, or by posting a comment at the bottom of the page.

This guide is up to date as of the release of the Gathering Storm expansion (ver. 1.0.0.314) (Antarctic Late Summer Patch, April 2019)

Khmer is a strong religious civ who gets extra food from Holy Sites, and extra faith from Aqueducts, as well as other bonuses to food and amenity. It can build and support large populations in its cities, and gets relics from its missionaries and apostles much more frequently, which can contribute to a culture victory.

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Civilization VI - Wilfrid Laurier of Canada

Civilization VI's second expansion, Gathering Storm recently released and has added a handful of new civilizations and leaders. I am hoping to write a strategy for each of them, but I want to start with the civilizations and leaders who are completely new to the franchise.

One of these new civs represents a sort-of "farewell" present to the founder and former lead-host of the PolyCast podcast, Dan Q, who stepped down from the podcast at the end of 2018 in order to spend more time with his new family. However, he'll still be playing Civ, and for the first time in the franchise's history, Dan gets to play as his home and native land of Canada. It's too bad he's not on PolyCast anymore to tell us about how great Wilfrid Laurier of Canada is, eh?

PolyCast logo

On a more serious note: thank you, Dan for over a decade of faithful service and dedication to the Civilization community. And on a more personal note, thank you for inviting me to join the regular panel on PolyCast. You gave me a voice within this community that I did not think I would ever be able to reach. We'll miss you, Dan, and we hope to talk to you again as a guest host many times in the future. Best wishes to you and your new wife in your new life together. May your lives together be forever in a Golden Age!

This guide is dedicated to you, Dan. Now let's talk about Canada in Civilization VI!

Civilization VI - Wilfrid Laurier portrait

The first European colony in North America is widely accepted to be a Norse encampment in Newfoundland, which was abandoned within a few years of settlement. It wasn't until the 16th century that large-scale colonization began -- mostly by French and British colonists. In 1763, France ceded most of its North American colonies to the British following years of on-again-off-again warfare. The Confederation of Canada was formed over a hundred years later, but remained loyal to the British crown until the Canada Act of 1982. Despite being a formally independent nation, Canada still maintains the British monarch (currently Queen Elizabeth II) as its official head of state. Because many of the founding cities were French colonies, Canada is an officially bilingual country, with both English and French being its official languages, and it is now one of the most multi-cultural nations in the world due to frequent large-scale immigration from other parts of the world. Canadian interactions with indigenous peoples were generally less violent than with neighboring United States' interactions with natives. However, the expansion of Canadian territory still required the forced relocation or assimilation of somewhere between 200,000 and 2 million indigenous peoples, including the Inuit, Métis, the Cree, and several dozen other tribes.

Canada's first French-speaking prime minister was Sir Henri Charles Wilfrid Laurier. Laurier was part of Canada's Liberal party, advocating for decentralized federalism and staunchly defending individual personal liberty. Despite wishing for Canada to remain an autonomous nation loyal to the British Empire, he would go on to oppose British conscription of Canadian citizens in World War I, which would become a polarizing issue in the early 20th century. He gained a reputation as a bright and cheerful leader who always followed the "sunny ways", and has become one of the most beloved prime minsters in Canadian history.

DISCLAIMER:
Civilization VI is still a "living game". Strategies for the game (and for specific leaders and civs) may change as Firaxis applies balance patches, introduces new features, or expands the game through further DLC or expansion packs, or as the Civ community discovers new strategies or exploits. As such, the following strategy guide may change from time to time. I will try to keep it up-to-date, and will make notations whenever changes are made. I'll also post links in the official 2K forums and CivFanatics, where I'll also report any changes made. If possible and practical, I will try to retain the original content of the strategy for posterity.

I welcome any feedback or suggestions that readers wish to offer. Feel free to post on the linked forums, or by posting a comment at the bottom of the page.

This guide is up to date as of the release of the Gathering Storm expansion (ver. 1.0.0.290)

Canda is a prime contender for a turtle strategy, as it cannot surprise declare on other civs, or be surprise declared on. They also specialize in settling in otherwise-inhospitable tundra.

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Civilization VI: Gathering Storm - title

This past weekend, I put up my review of Gathering Storm, the new expansion for Civilization VI. The overall summary is that I felt very "meh" about the game's headline features, but was actually impressed by how the smaller, more subtle changes really improve the underlying game. That review focused on a lot of the high-level concepts of the game, and was already starting to get rather long (my readers all know how verbose I can be). I decided to cut a lot of my smaller criticisms of individual mechanics or functionality out of that review, and save them for their own separate post.

So now that you all know how I feel about the expansion overall, here's some of my smaller nags and nitpicks (and suggestions for resolving them) that I hope can be resolved by some post-release patches.

Table of contents

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Civilization VI: Gathering Storm - title

It's refreshing to see a video game (of all things) take seriously the second greatest existential threat to civilization (after nuclear weapon stockpiles), while governments (particularly here in the United States) fail to even acknowledge that it's real. I was honestly a little bit surprised to see anthropogenic climate change be the focus of an entire expansion to Firaxis' Sid Meier's Civilization VI. Firaxis has been playing very "politically correct" with the game in its past two iterations. Civ IV, if you remember, included slavery as a mechanic that allowed players to kill population in exchange for a production boost, and it included leaders like Joseph Stalin and Mao Zadong. Civilization III allowed collateral damage from city sieges that would kill population, destroy infrastructure, and potentially reduce wonders of the world to mere ruins. Civilization II allowed democratic congresses to overrule the choices of the player. And Civilization: Colonization actually required you to draft citizens from your cities into soldiers to fight wars.

Politically sensitive concepts like slavery, and characters like Joseph Stalin, have been in Civ games before,
but Civ V and VI have played things very safe and controversy-free with most of their content.

Civilization V and VI have dialed back from such concepts and leaders, as well as other "politically sensitive" topics in favor of diversity, inclusiveness, and a more rose-tinted vision of human history that tries to pretend that things like slavery, colonialism, opium wars, and the Holocaust didn't happen. I get it. They're going for a more optimistic vision of humanity that celebrates our achievements while overlooking the incalculable amount of [often unnecessary] suffering that came at the expense of many of those achievements.

So to see Anthropogenic Global Warming not only be included -- but to be the headline feature -- is surprising. I mean, I don't think it's a politically or culturally sensitive topic, nor should it be to anyone else if we lived in a rational world. It's the reality that we live in -- plain and simple. Nevertheless, it's a brave and important gesture from 2k and Firaxis. Anthropogenic climate change is certainly the second greatest threat to human civilization after our frightful stockpile of nuclear weapons -- or maybe an asteroid impact, but that is exceedingly unlikely to happen. It's an issue that needs to be a part of the cultural conversation, and it is perhaps the biggest price that we (as a civilization) are going to pay for the hubris of our unsustainable growth. It's a problem that every nation in the world needs to face, and solving that problem should be part of any game that attempts to simulate or systematize modern politics.

Anthropogenic climate change is one of the most serious problems threatening real-life civilization.

That is why I'm rather disappointed that the actual implementation of global warming in Civilization VI: Gathering Storm is a bit lackluster and un-apocalyptic.

The greatest existential threat to civilization is civilization

Climate change in Civilization VI: Gathering Storm just doesn't seem to be quite as devastating [globally] as it is in real life. Basically, raising the global temperature will have three effects.

  • Increases the frequency of weather-related disasters,
  • Melts polar ice caps,
  • Floods certain coastal tiles.
Many disasters are trivially managed by leaving a builder or two (with 1 charge) to repair pillaged tiles.

The melting of the polar ice is actually a benefit, as it provides easier routes for naval units if canals aren't available or useable. The other two will cause problems for every player, but I've found them fairly easy to manage (at least on the Emperor difficulty that I usually play on). Disasters will typically pillage tile improvements and districts, but a severe disaster may also outright remove improvements, and may even kill points of population.

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Grid Clock provided by trowaSoft.

A gamer's thoughts

Welcome to Mega Bears Fan's blog, and thanks for visiting! This blog is mostly dedicated to game reviews, strategies, and analysis of my favorite games. I also talk about my other interests, like football, science and technology, movies, and so on. Feel free to read more about the blog.

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