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Civilization VI - title

I really like Civilization VI! Of course, it has its share of nagging problems (some of which have been resolved already) - any game of this size and scope is likely to have issues at release. I've already been thinking of some ideas for how the game could be improved in expansions and DLC, and I'd like to spend a few posts to share some of those ideas with you now.

In my review of the game, I mentioned that oceans feel like they've regressed a bit since Beyond Earth: Rising Tide, in that they've returned to feeling like lifeless dead space on the map. Even though they're more important for Holy Sites and Campuses, mountains are also still mostly dead space on the map. They act as obstacles, and that's basically it. In expansions and DLC, I would like to see some of this space become more alive and useful. I'd like to spend this first suggestion post going over some ideas that I have for expanding the ocean mechanics, and for taking advantage of more of the map's dead space.

I have posted a link to this blog on Civfanatics at:
Feel free to discuss through the comments on this post, or via the linked forum topic!

Improve coastal cities

I'm very underwhelmed with coastal cities right now. Water tiles have very little utility. They provide small yield, can't have districts (other than a single harbor per city), and generally lack production. Coastal cities with lots of water are, thus, very unproductive and not really worth building. I think there's a couple ways to resolve this.

Harbors could provide a small amount of production. Or perhaps Harbors could act similarly to lighthouses from Civ V and provide production on sea resources. Or they could provide production on all adjacent sea tiles (so that placement is still important, and more of those empty sea tiles become useful and worth working, and you actually have to work them in order to get the benefit (as opposed to the Harbor just having an adjacency bonus). If we want to only use adjacency bonuses, then another alternative might be for Harbors to provide +1 production per adjacent coastal resource and +0.5 gold per adjacent water tile. That way, even cities that don't have clustered water resources can still have valuable locations for harbors.

Civilization VI - island city
Coastal and island cities lack production and have limited space to build districts.

Another way to improve coastal cities would be to have some more early policies that benefit coastal cities. Perhaps the Maritime Industries policy could be changed to "+1 production in coastal cities, and +1 production from Harbors". Alternatively, Maritime Industries could be similar to the Veterancy policy, and it could provide "+33% production towards Harbor districts and buildings for that district". Or we could have policies that do both! A new policy could be added that provides the bonus production for early naval units. Maybe there can even be a whole extra early-game civic (maybe called "Seafaring" or "Way-finding") that has some policies and buffs towards coastal and island civilizations.

The lack of production for coastal cities could also be offset by giving them more gold and/or food for growth (in order to support a specialist economy). Perhaps all shallow coastal water tiles should generate 3 food and 1 gold by default. That way, they're actually worth working, and the city can afford to work other low-food tiles or support a specialist economy.

More water-based infrastructure

Yet another way to improve coastal cities would be to add more coastal and water-based districts and improvements - especially ones that are unlocked earlier in the game. Sure, there's the Beach Resort, but it's unlocked so late in the game that it isn't really something that I typically plan ahead for - it's more like a bonus reward. So I'd like to see more early and mid-game water infrastructure.

A Boardwalk district is one such option. It could be a district that is built on the coast (i.e. on the water, adjacent to land). Much like how the Harbor is kind of a water-equivalent of the Commercial Hub, the Boardwalk could be a water equivalent to the Entertainment District and/or Theater District. The Boardwalk could have an adjacency bonus of +1/2 culture for each adjacent water tile and +1/2 culture for each adjacent district. Boardwalk buildings could include things like:

  • Wharf | Pier = +1 Production, +1 Gold. Maybe grants +1 Appeal to adjacent land tiles?
  • Marina = +1 Amenity, +1 Culture. Maybe grants +1 Appeal to adjacent land tiles?
  • Aquarium = (exclusive with the Maritime Museum) +2 Science, +1 Amenity. Amenity extends to all cities within 6 tiles.
  • Maritime Museum = (exclusive with the Aquarium) +2 Culture, +1 citizen slot, +1 Writer point, +2 Artist point. Holds shipwreck artifacts and gets theme bonuses from them.

The Sydney Opera House could also be changed so that it needs to be built adjacent to a Boardwalk instead of a Harbor. Or it could be either/or. Boardwalks could maybe also be able to be built on lakes.

Wind farms
Infrastructure like boardwalks, fisheries, and wind farms could help make coastal and island cities more viable.

There could also be a wider variety of water-based improvements:

  • Fishery : water equivalent of a farm that could have adjacency bonus for clustering them together. This could be unlocked by a medieval technology. Perhaps a new medieval tech, "Aquaculture", could be added between Shipbuilding and Cartography to pad out the era and act as a buffer between ancient and renaissance naval units.
  • Seawall : must be built adjacent to land. Provides +1 culture on the tile and increases the appeal of adjacent land tiles. A late-game tech or civic could probably buff this improvement with tourism and/or gold.
  • Wind Farm : a later-game water improvement that provides production.

Canals would also be a good candidate for new infrastructure. A canal could either be a district or an improvement that is built on land and allows naval units to cross. Like the Aqueduct, it could be something that should be built adjacent to the city center, but should also have to connect to a body of water on one of the 3 edges opposite the city. It would be tough to come up with a set of rules that makes the canals work for how they are supposed to work (as opposed to just being built next to any coastal city). I'm not sure what - if anything - a canal should do besides allow ships to cross, and maybe generating Great Admiral points. Maybe that's enough, and maybe not having other bonuses would ensure that players don't build them in a bunch of places where they don't need them. But then there's still the issue of making the A.I. smart enough to use them...

More lively oceans and islands

But buffing cities, infrastructure, and policies isn't the only way to improve coastal cities and maritime empires. This could also be accomplished with changes to the maps themselves. I don't expect to see mobile, aquatic cities like in Rising Tide, but the oceans definitely need to have something more going on in them.

Civilization Beyond Earth: Rising Tide - marine life
I don't expect to see oceans be as vibrant as in Rising Tide, but they definitely need to have more going on.

The easiest thing to do would probably be to have map scripts that generate more islands and island chains. These would likely need to have some very rare and valuable resources on them in order to make them worthwhile. The unstacked cities means that it's not very practical to build a city within the limited real estate of a small island, so there needs to be something to make the island worthwhile.

The next option would be to add more resources and features to water tiles themselves. Perhaps a reef could add science, and features like shoals or sandbars could add production (as well as possibly providing combat modifiers for naval units). New resources like Kelp or Silica could also be sources of food and/or production on the water or along beaches.

Examples of possible new resources and features:

  • Reef (feature) = 3 food, 1 science. Possibly counts as "rough terrain", slowing naval units and possibly providing combat penalties.
  • Shoal / Sandbar (feature) = 2 food, 1 production. Possibly counts as "rough terrain", slowing naval units and providing combat penalties.
  • Kelp (resource) = +1 culture, +1 food with fishing boat. Appears in shallow water.
  • Silica (resource) = +1 production, +1 production if mined. Appears on coastal land tiles and on shoal/sandbar water tiles.
Civilization VI - shipwreck
Early naval battles create shipwreck antiquity sites that can be excavated by Archaeologists.

The game already allows you to search for antiquity sites on the water, but that doesn't really do much with your actual navy. Perhaps there could be other exploratory activities that you can do with your fleets. With the invention of submarines and radar / sonar, we could maybe have the ability to map ocean floor with submarines or other naval units. This could be a way of generating science with a unit, and could potentially reveal resources, features, or maybe even natural wonders (such as the Mariana Trench).

Civilization V - Polynesia banner

Return of the Polynesian Way-Finders

If oceans and islands are made more interesting, then I would really like to see Polynesia return as a playable civilization. With a map-generator that creates more interesting island patterns, and with more to do with coastal cities and islands, Polynesia's Wayfinding ability (from Civ V) - along with an island start bias - would feel right at home in Civ VI and would be a fantastic addition to the game!

General water rule-changes

While we're trying to make coastal and island cities more viable, let's also take a moment to talk about some more general rules regarding water, coastal cities, and naval units.

I've never been happy with the implementation of early naval units in Civ games. They just never seem to be all that worth building or using. Part of this comes from the simple fact that coastal cities are so unproductive, and so getting an early navy has always been very burdensome. But there are also rules that cripple naval units that don't apply to land units. For example, I've never understood why naval units aren't allowed to heal outside of friendly territory. Embarked land units can heal at sea, so why can't naval units heal at sea? Having to return a naval unit back to your own borders or city in order to heal damage makes it incredibly pointless to use those units as anything other than defensive units. Thus, I propose that all naval units should be able to slowly heal when adjacent to land (excluding mountains, cliffs, or other impassable terrain). This would be an abstraction for the crew going ashore to look for supplies, food, etc. and to repair the ship.

I'm also not sure why naval units don't have the "Alert" ability.

Civilization VI - can't use allies' canal cities
Why can't naval units travel through an ally's canal city?

I'm also disappointed by the lack of canals in Civilization games. Civ IV's forts allowed naval units to pass, which allowed forts to be used as canals across narrow strips of land. I miss this ability. No such thing exists in Civ VI, and even cities that are built on one-tile strips of land only have minimal usefulness because only that one civ's naval units are allowed to pass through it. Thus, I propose that naval units should be permitted to cross through friendly cities. So if you have open borders with a civ that has a canal city, you should be able to pass through that city.

Buildings and wonders on mountains

Mountains are much more valuable than they have been in previous games. In older games, they were simply obstacles to units, which meant that they served little use other than to provide some defense for your cities. Now, they provide science and faith by buffing campuses and holy sites. But these districts gain their bonuses from being adjacent to the mountains, and not on them. This means that building your cities near mountains is valuable, but you still don't necessarily want to found cities next to mountains because there's nothing for you to build on them.

Civilization VI - Astronomy tech
How is there not an Observatory building?!

I'd like to see some structures that can be built on mountain tiles. For example, there could be an Observatory building or a Ski Resort / Chalet building. These could also be improvements, I guess, but then we'd need restrictions on how many we can place, and we'd have to allow builders to enter mountain tiles. The Observatory could provide science to the city, and maybe even have a specialist slot or buff any Campus districts that are adjacent to it. The Ski Resort could provide amenity, culture, or tourism (or a combination thereof), and could maybe also provide a buff to any Entertainment Complex that it is adjacent to.

For example, these buildings could function as follows:

  • Observatory = requires Astronomy technology. Can be built on a mountain adjacent to a Campus district.
    Provides +2 Science, +1 Culture to the city, and has one citizen slot.
  • Ski Resort = requires Natural History civic. Can be built on a mountain adjacent to an Entertainment Complex.
    Provides+1 Culture, +1 Tourism, and +1 Amenity to the city. Amenity extends 6 tiles. If the mountain is also on Tundra or Snow, then it also provides +1 Appeal to adjacent land tiles.

Being able to build directly on mountains also opens up the possibility for new world wonders being built on mountains. Wonders like Machu Pichu or Neuschwanstein could make a triumphant return. Perhaps Cristo Redentor could be moved to a mountain instead of a hill?

The one hiccup with this proposal is that I'm not sure if the engine allows buildings by themselves can be built on tiles, or if they have to technically be a "district". If so, then I guess Observatories and Ski Resorts could be districts...?

Tunnels to make mountains passable

I also wouldn't mind seeing the late-game ability to create tunnels to allow land units to pass through mountain tiles. In fact, I had made a mod for Civ V to allow this, exactly, but I never released it because there were a couple bugs that I was never able to figure out how to solve.

Tennels could allow units to traverse mountains.

My mod would have added a "Tunneling" technology to the late game that would allow workers to enter mountain tiles. Basically, the tech granted the Carthagenian mountain-crossing promotion to workers. The problem was that the worker lost 50 HP each turn it spent on the mountain. If the worker survived, it could then build a road on the mountain, which would allow other land units to travel through the tile.

This sort of mechanic could be added to Civ VI. Technologies like Steel or Plastics could be good candidates to unlock a tunnel improvement in Civ VI. It could also be a good candidate for a new "Dynamite" technology. That technology would grant Builders and/or Military Engineers the ability to enter mountain tiles and build a tunnel improvement. That tunnel would then allow other land units to pass through the mountain as if it were a road. If the tunnel ever gets pillaged, then land units (except for Builders and/or Military Engineers) would no longer be able to cross it - or maybe they can cross it, but they take damage for doing so.

More practical National Parks

Another tweak that I would like to see is to National Parks. They need to be a bit easier to construct. Since national parks are often created in remote areas, Civ VI should not require that all the tiles of a National Park must belong to the same city. The benefits of the National Park are mostly national anyway, so it doesn't make sense that they should be required to be owned by the same city. Heck, they shouldn't even necessarily be required to be owned by any city in particular - the benefits should just go to the nearest cities.

Civilization VI - Mt. Everest national park
The map generator screwed me out of building Mt. Everest National Park
by putting a mountain at the bottom corner of the diamond.

I also think that there should be flexibility in the shape and size of a national park. Perhaps a Naturalist should simply have 4 charges, and they can plop National Parks one tile at a time. Any adjacent National Park tiles would then be combined into a single park, and maybe a bigger National Park is better than smaller ones. This should also require that Naturalists should also be able to enter mountain tiles, since mountains are usually where National Parks get built. I don't see any reason why this shouldn't be able to work. The National Park graphic is just a wooden fence outlining the shape of the park, with one tile containing the visitor center graphic. I don't see any reason why the fence graphic shouldn't be able to conform to different shapes?

Civilization VI - Dead Sea National Park
The specific diamond shape of National Parks prevented me from putting both tiles
of the Dead Sea inside the park, even though I had left 4 unimproved tiles.

I'm OK with requiring that the park be in a more compact shape. I can accept that we maybe shouldn't be allowed to build snakey National Parks. But we should at least be able to rotate the diamond shape. This is especially true since most natural wonders end up having a Holy Site or two built next to them in order to get the faith bonus.

Civilization VI - Random seeds
These random seeds aren't displayed in-game,
so you can't regenerate a map if you like it

Map regeneration and options

And while we're on the topic of the map, there's one last little thing: it would be really nice to have the option to regenerate a new map after a game has started. At the very least, the game should remember your settings from the last time you played, and you should be able to see your map settings, random seed, and game random seed in the Esc menu while in-game. Maybe Civ VI should even remember your previous random seeds, and then have a button in the Advanced Settings to allow the player to use the last random seed you played with. I actually wonder how the seeds ended up in the game setup menu. Unless you have the foresight to write them down before starting the game, you can't view it later and can't use it to restart a game on the same map. Was this some kind of debug thing that was thrown in for the developers, but which was never removed?

I'm certainly open to additional suggestions. If you have any ideas for improving the map (particularly when it comes to coastal cities and water), feel free to leave a comment.

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