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Civilization VI Gathering Storm

Civilization VI's new expansion "Gathering Storm" has been out for a week now, and I've been trying to play it as much as I can. There's a lot of new features, and several genuine attempts to change how the game is played -- with varying degrees of success. I wanted to take some time to share some of my initial experiences with the game, in the form of some tips that I have for playing with the new features and rule changes.

Disclaimer: I'm writing this less than a week after the expansion came out. I've only had a chance to play a few games, and I'm not totally well-versed or experienced with the new mechanics and rules. I may get some things wrong. If so, feel free to let me know in the comments!

Keep Builders handy for disaster repiar

Having a tile pillaged by a random disaster event that you cannot possibly have predicted or prepared for can be very annoying. If it happens early in the game, it can even potentially have snow-balling consequences that might even cost you the game. But I've found that it's actually not that hard to deal with. In fact, it's borderlinen trivial.

Early in the game, adopt the Ilkum or Serfdom policy and pump out a bunch of Builders -- more than you likely immediately need. This is something that you should probably do even without the Gathering Storm expansion, as it ensures that you'll have Builders ready and waiting when you settle or conquer new cities. In Gathering Storm, you should leave at least one Builder with exactly one charge just hanging around your cities waiting for a disaster to strike. Do not use this charge. Instead, keep this Builder alive so that you can use him to repair any improvements that are damaged by weather events. Repairing improvements does not consume a Builder charge, so you can use this same Builder to repair all weather damage for the entire game.

Leave a Builder (or two) with one charge around to repair any improvements that are damaged by disasters.

If you have any floodplains or volcanoes in or near your territory, keep the Builder near those, since they are the most likely areas to be hit with disasters. Coastal cities are also prone to tropical storms, deserts and plains are prone to drought, and tundra can be prone to blizzards. If you have multiple floodplains, volcanoes, deserts, tundra cities, or any combination thereof, you may want to keep multiple one-charge Builders around in case multiple disasters hit simultaneously.

Preventing damage entirely

Disasters can also be mitigated in other ways. Aqueducts will prevent the loss of food during droughts. Building a Dam district will prevent the dammed river from flooding and damaging tiles and districts. If you started near a floodplain, then you may want to invest in the Great Bath world wonder (requires Pottery), which will prevent damage from river flooding. Later in the game, you can also build Flood Barriers near your coastal cities in order to prevent sea level rise from flooding and destroying your low-lying coastal cities.

If flooding becomes a persistent problem, research the Buttresses tech to unlock the Dam district..

Liang the Surveyor Governor also has a promotion called Reinforced Materials that prevents city infrastructure from being damaged by any disaster. She can only be placed in one city at a time, and since you can't predict when a disaster will happen, it's not really possible to move her between cities in order to prevent disaster damage. Instead, you can park her in a city that is prone to disasters and hope for the best.

The one disaster that you can anticipate in advance is volcanic eruptions. Volcanoes will become active for a period of turns prior to an eruption (and may become dormant again without erupting at all). If a volcano near one of your cities becomes active, you can relocate Liang to that city in anticipation of an eruption. It will take five turns (standard speed) for her to relocate, so moving her around too often is burdensome.

If a volcano near your city becomes active, use Liang's "Rienforced Materials" promotion to protect it.

Managing strategic resources

Another big change in Gathering Storm is the addition of strategic resource supply. This system is different than it was in Civilization V, however, because instead of each resource simply providing a static stock of that resource, improved strategic resources in Gathering Storm accumulate resources each turn. After improving a strategic resource, you won't be able to immediately use it. You'll have to wait a number of turns before stockpiling enough to be able to build units or buildings that consume them. You can't even start building a unit unless you have enough of the necessary resources available to complete it. So, for instance, if you need 20 Niter to build a Musketman, the Musketman takes 11 turns to build, and you're gaining 2 Niter per turn, you can't start building the Musketman in anticipation that the 20 Niter will be available when the Musketman is completed. You must stockpile the 20 Niter first, then start building the Musketman. You should, therefore, put high priority on improving strategic resources immediately, so that you will have a stockpile available when you need them.

Improved strategic resources generally add 2
of the resource to your stockpile each turn.

The tech tree and civilopedia only list the default (standard speed) cost of 20 resources for units; however, the cost will vary depending on the game speed. Longer game speeds will increase the resource cost of units dramatically:

  • Online speed : 10 resources
  • Quick speed : 13 resources
  • Standard speed : 20 resources
  • Epic speed : 30 resources
  • Marathon speed : 60 resources

The more advanced units in later eras will require a per-turn maintenance cost of resources. These units will require 1 resource up front to build, but then will cost 1 additional resource each turn. These units include:

  • Ironclad : 1 Coal and 1 Coal per turn
  • Infantry : 1 Oil and 1 Oil per turn
  • Battleship : 1 Oil and 1 Oil per turn
  • Artillery : 1 Oil and 1 Oil per turn
  • Tank : 1 Oil and 1 Oil per turn
  • Destroyer : 1 Oil and 1 Oil per turn
  • Submarine : 1 Oil and 1 Oil per turn
  • Biplane : 1 Oil per turn
  • Fighter Plane : 1 Aluminum and 1 Aluminum per turn
  • Bomber : 1 Aluminum and 1 Aluminum per turn
  • Helicopter : 1 Aluminum and 1 Aluminum per turn
  • Mechanized Infantry : 1 Oil and 1 Oil per turn
  • Rocket Artillery : 1 Oil and 1 Oil per turn
  • Modern Armour : 1 Oil and 1 Oil per turn
  • Jet Fighter : 1 Aluminum and 1 Aluminum per turn
  • Jet Bomber : 1 Aluminum and 1 Aluminum per turn
  • Missile Cruiser : 1 Uranium and 1 Uranium per turn
  • Nuclear Submarine : 1 Uranium and 1 Uranium per turn
  • Giant Death Robot : 1 Uranium and 1 Uranium per turn

Note: this list does not include unique units, most of which do require resources in Gathering Storm! If the unique unit replaces a basic unit that requires a resource, then it's a general rule of thumb that the unique unit will require the same resource(s).

Some notable units which you might think would require resource(s) but don't are:

  • Chariot
  • Catapult
  • Caravel
  • Field Cannon
  • Ranger
  • AT Crew
  • Machine Gun
  • Anti-Air Gun
  • Aircraft Carrier
  • Spec Ops

Build Encampments to increase your supply cap

Strategic resource caps are increased
by building Encampment buildings.

You also have to deal with a supply cap on each of your resources. By default, the cap is 50 of any given resource. This cap can be raised by building Encampment buildings such as Barracks, Stables, Armories, and so forth. This makes Encampments much more important if you want to field a large army.

You can also trade for lump sums of strategic resources, which is critical if you don't have access to domestically-produced resources, or if you need extra resources in a hurry (such as to purchase some defensive units after a surprise war declaration). This makes diplomatic relationships more important, since having a friend or ally who will reliably sell a valuable strategic resource to you can mean the difference between fielding a modern army, or having your units overwhelmed by superior firepower.

In addition to selling luxury resources early in the game to make some easy money off the A.I., you can also make some easy money by selling excess strategic resources. You can't use them until you've unlocked the respective unit(s) anyway, so you might as well sell before they hit the cap. Just be careful that you don't sell them to a civ that is going to turn around and use them against you!

Trade away excess strategic resources when you hit the cap -- as long as the other civ won't use them against you.

As an aside, you'll also want at least one Encampment to ensure that you can build a Military Engineer. They build railroads and tunnels.

Don't worry too much about Global Warming

Global Warming in Civilization VI: Gathering Storm is nowhere near as big a deal as it is in real life -- at least, not from what I've seen in my limited time with the game. The only things that global warming will do is turn some coastal low-lands into water tiles and increase the frequency of some weather events (which should be easy enough to deal with due to the extra Builder(s) you are keeping around). The coastal lowland flooding can be completely prevented if you build Flood Barriers in relevant cities. As long as you tech up to Computers before sea levels rise enough to flood your cities, you'll be good.

Building factories will create CO2 that will contribute to Global Warming.

Global warming won't (as far as I can tell) turn plains into desert, destroy woods or rainforest, kill grazing animal resources from lack of plants, kill ocean animals resources due to ocean acidification, bleach or kill coral, reduce or eliminate the bonuses and appeal from natural wonders or national parks, destroy ski resorts due to lack of snow, reduce housing in cities due to lack of fresh water, turn snow into tundra or tundra into plains, release toxic methane stuck under the permafrost of thawing tundra tiles, or any other similar effects that would be analogous to the real world effects of global warming.

Picard facepalm

So, in summary, I just haven't really found CO2 pollution and rising temperatures to be that big of a deal in the game, and I don't feel pressured to avoid building power plants or to carefully manage my CO2 output. It's a shame that the in-game mechanics don't do justice to the actual threats that anthropomorphic climate change poses to human and animal life on this planet, but -- pending patches that make global warming much more extreme -- that is the state of the game...

Or at least, it is based on my experience so far. I've been playing on Emperor difficulty, with Disaster Intensity set to 3. Maybe higher difficulties and/or higher Disaster Intensity will make the Global Warming mechanic more impactful? Or maybe it will start to become more of a problem as I play more games? Only time will tell.

Global Warming will increase the frequency and severity of weather events,
as well as raise sea levels, potentially flooding coastal cities and districts.

In fact, the game can actually reward you for polluting and generating CO2! In the future era of the civics tree, there is a civic called "Global Warming Mitigation" that allows you to perform a city project to capture CO2. Completing this project removes some of the CO2 that you've generated from the game's atmosphere, and rewards you with Diplomatic Favor, which you could potentially use to make deals with other civs (including buying great works to contribute towards a Culture Victory), swing votes in the World Congress, or even earn yourself the brand new Diplomatic Victory. Talk about perverse incentives!

Global Warming Mitigation is a "Future Era" civic. There will be six future era civics and six future era technologies. As far as I know, all six will show up in the future era every game, but their exact placement on the respective tree (and their prerequisites) will be randomized each game. You won't know exactly where this civic will appear. It may be a first-tier future era civic that will be relatively easy to get to, or it might show up in a third tier and be prohibitively difficult to reach before the final turn of the game. As such, don't rely on cleaning up your CO2 emissions in order to win a diplo victory.. If it shows up early, then it may help speed up your victory.

Global Warming mitigation civic will allow you to clean up CO2 to earn Diplomatic Favor.

Reyna the Environmentalist?

Given Gathering Storm's theme of environmentalism and a living world, I was expecting to see a new "Environmentalist" governor be added. This did not happen. Instead, Firaxis modified an existing governor to have some environmental promotions. I would have expected Magnus the Steward or Liang the Surveyor to be the environmentalist, but it actually ended up being Reyna the Financier -- of all people!

Reyna the Financier will grant gold on unimproved terrain features such as forests.

In Gathering Storm Reyna's Foreign Exchange promotion (bonus gold for trade route passing through city) has been replaced with the promotion Forestry Management. This promotion has the effect of providing two gold to all unimproved, workable tiles that have a feature. This includes woods, rainforest, hills, marshes, floodplains, geothermal fissures, reefs, and natural wonders. This will make Reyna a very good governor to recruit early if you start on or near such features, as it will provide you with a healthy sum of gold each turn.

Civilizations like Brazil (jungle bias), Egypt (floodplain bias), Kongo (jungle / forest bias), and Norway (forest bias) will likely be able to benefit from this governor's promotion immediately. The new Maori civilization also gets an extra production from unimproved features, so they will likely want to use Reyna as well.

Natural Wonders can greatly benefit from Reyna's Forestry Management promotion.

If you find a multi-tile, passable natural wonder early in the game, you would be well served to settle near it and assign Reyna to govern that city ASAP! Wonders like Pantanal, Piopiotahi, Eye of the Sahara, and especially Ubsunur Hollow, Chocolate Hills, and Sahara El Beydar (4 tiles each!), are excellent candidates for Reyna and her environmentalist promotion.

Dealing with the World Congress

A World Congress is back in Gathering Storm, and it works similar to the World Congress in Civilization V, but also has some substantial differences. First and foremost is that the Congress is not dependent on meeting all other civs. Instead, it is automatically founded when the world enters the Medieval Era. Remember, as of Rise & Fall, the whole world progresses through eras in unison, rather than each civilization individually progressing as they research technologies and civics. Even if you don't own the Rise & Fall expansion, the eras will still progress in unison. This means that not all civilizations will likely have met each other when the Congress is founded, and you will go through many resolutions without having met some (or most) of the other members.

The World Congress is founded in the medieval era, regardless of whether all civs have met each other..

This will become relevant when an Emergency is triggered. Emergencies in Gathering Storm are triggered by a World Congress resolution (as opposed to in Rise & Fall, in which they were triggered automatically when certain conditions were met). If an event happens that can trigger an Emergency, affected civs will have an opportunity to call a "Special Session" of the World Congress. This can happen at any time (including [I believe] prior to the official founding of the World Congress), so the Congress can react to certain events immediately. If an affected civilization calls a Special Session, all affected civilizations will have an opportunity to vote on whether to enact the Emergency. If you have not met the target civilization, you will not have an opportunity to vote in such a session.

This means that the target of an Emergency can also vote against enacting the Emergency. If a civilization saves up enough Diplomatic Favor, they can vote against any Emergency targeting them. So if you want to conquer that city state, and don't want the entire world ganging up against you, just save up some Diplomatic Favor and vote the resolution down.

By saving up your Diplomatic Favor, you can vote against emergencies that target you..

Speaking of Diplomatic Favor, this is the second biggest change from Civilization V. Instead of gaining additional votes each era and from city state allies, you now accumulate Diplomatic Favor each turn (just like Gold or Faith). Diplomatic Favor is earned from several sources. The principle source will be your government, which will give you some Diplomatic Favor per turn (similar to influence points towards envoys). You also gain diplomatic favor from relations with other civs (including city states). Each suzerain will provide you with some Diplomatic Favor, so civs that have bonuses towards favor or the World Congress should strongly consider befriending city states instead of conquering them.

You can also gain large amounts of Diplomatic Favor from declared friendships and alliances with other major civilizations. Fittingly, being diplomatic will give you more Diplomatic Favor, which will give you more power in the World Congress.

The last source of Diplomatic Favor is that completing Emergencies or liberating cities will earn you lump sums of Favor. All of this combines to give peacemonger civilizations a lot more influence on the world stage, and a lot more flexibility in how they deal with potential threats or aggressors.

Alliances will generate more Diplomatic Favor.

You can gain favor via friendship or provocation

There is another way to earn lump sums of Diplomatic Favor. That is to make a promise to another civ. However, in order to make a promise, you first have to do something provocative in order to get the A.I. (or another player) to ask for that promise. This can include "Don't settle cities near me", "Don't convert my cities", "Stop spying on me", and so forth. If you agree to the promise, you'll earn a lump sum of Diplomatic Favor.

This can be a useful way for more aggressive (or less "diplomatic") civilizations and strategies to still earn respectable amounts of Favor. If you maintain a strong military, you can aggressively provoke other civs by forward-settling them, converting their cities, spying on them, and so forth. They might be too afraid of you to denounce you or outright declare war, and will instead ask for a promise. If you break the promise, you may lose some Diplomatic Favor. I'm going to have to further test in order to make sure.

Making promises (which usually requires some kind of provocative action) also grants Diplomatic Favor.

What are your tips for Gathering Storm?

Well, that's all [for now]. I may update this post in the future if I come up with additional tips (or write another post entirely). In the meantime, I invite you to share your tips for adjusting to the new expansion in the comments below.

Comments (1) -

Eques Eruditus
Eques Eruditus
02/22/2019 18:20:16 #

Here are a couple of tips from my observations of the game. Specifically two items I would like to add to the list above.

I have found that having a strong gold economy is more important than ever in Gathering Storm. For example, in my current game, I am generating nearly 400+ gold a turn, and typically sit on a stockpile of 5,000+ gold at any one time. On top of the things gold helped with in previous incarnations of the game, I have been able to use my gold supply to also aid in:

1) If I find myself without an available builder after a natural disaster, it is a cheap purchase to buy one out.

2) During Disaster Aid emergencies, I have found that by gifting the target player 1000 gold, I immediately gain 1000 points towards the emergency and don't have to worry about it any longer. I do not have to waste production time from my cities towards sending aid, and I do not have to worry about the other civs keeping up with that point total. Though, to be safe, I usually check on it about 5 turns or so before the Send Aid timer expires. Thus far, the closest a civ has come to me was achieving 400 points.

Second tip. It can be beneficial to build the previous version of a promoted unit. For example, building a few swordsmen as you find niter. If you take the policy (can't remember the card name at the moment) that gives you 50% off unit upgrades, it also gives 50% off the resource cost. So, you can turn those Swordsmen into Musketmen for only 10 niter, instead of 20 (on standard speed). This does create a gold cost, but, I find it can be worth it to be able to have 2 advanced units take the field in the same amount of time it would have taken me to generate enough resources for 1. If you have built a strong economy, the gold cost is negligible anyway.

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