Sid Meier’s Civilization® VI

One of Sid Meier’s most frequently quoted musings on game design is that games should be a series of interesting decisions. Civilization VI: Rise and Fall, the latest game’s first big expansion, feels like a reinforcement of that philosophy, restructuring each era—from ancient to modern—around big choices and important events in the history of a civilisation. 

It's a real shake-up of a system that's normally tied to technology, with each civ independently moving from era to era depending on the pace of their research. Now every civ reaches new ages at exactly the same time, but there’s still a competitive aspect. During each era, civs get points for historic moments, like recruiting unique units or founding a new religion, and at the end of an era these points determine whether the next one is going to be a normal, Golden or Dark Age. These moments can also be viewed in an illustrated timeline of the civ that shows some flavour text and the total number of points they added to the era score.

So when you bid farewell to the ancient era and slide into the classical period, you’re not simply getting a notification that you’ve moved on and some new techs to research. Depending on your achievements in the first era, you’ll be able to pick a number of ‘Dedications’ that net you major buffs for the entirety of the next era. As the Cree, for instance, I decided that I desperately needed more builders so I could construct a Mekewap, the Cree’s unique building that adds extra production and housing to a tile. I selected the Dedication that allowed me to spend faith points on civilian units as well as religious ones, giving me another route to recruit some diligent builders.

Despite getting a Golden Age at the first opportunity, my Cree nation didn’t fare as well when it entered the medieval era. Some problems with barbarians and a couple of lost wonder races left the civ’s notable moments somewhat diminished, ushering in a Dark Age, a period of turmoil.

It s possible to spread loyalty to your empire among other civs, seducing their citizens to your side and increasing the chances of the city defecting.

The biggest problem introduced by Dark Ages is the deterioration of loyalty. Every city now has a loyalty meter, reflecting how happy its citizens are with being part of the empire. Low loyalty can lead to lower yields and thus slow growth and production in the suffering city; worse, it can ultimately cause revolts, with the city joining another empire or simply declaring its independence. 

Loyalty can also be exploited, however. It’s possible to spread loyalty to your empire among other civs, seducing their citizens to your side and increasing the chances of the city defecting. It's a lot like culture flipping from Civilization IV, and to a lesser extent V, where a unhappy cities could revolt and join the civ with the most culture. In Rise and Fall, cities automatically exert loyalty pressure on nearby cities, so even when you’re not focused on it, your propaganda machine is still ticking away.

Dark Ages aren’t all bad. Nobody wants disloyal citizens, but there are some advantages to slumming it. Unique policies can be activated, for example, that give powerful bonuses but with high costs. Choose the Inquisition policy and you’ll beef up your religious units but at the cost of science. When being good at chemistry can get your burned at the stake, you’d probably pick a different career too. If the costs seem too great, you can ignore these policies entirely, but they’re a great way to keep up with the other civs if you’re willing to specialise.

It might even end up being worth dealing with a Dark Age just so you can overcome it. If you get enough points to make the next era a Golden Age then you’ll enter a souped-up version known as a Heroic Age. There are consequences and new challenges, but hitting a Dark Age isn’t a failure. And if you’ve assigned some governors to your cities, you might barely even notice any disloyalty. 

A governor, in a 4X game, is typically just another name for automation. You can set their focus and then just forget about them. Rise and Fall’s governors have definitely grown out of that mechanic, but now they’re characters with progression trees and predilections. Not only can they foster loyalty amongst the citizenry, they can evolve into powerful tools that are able to transform cities into capitals of culture,  industrial powerhouses, and stalwart citadels.  

Deciding to take advantage of the Cree’s handy trading abilities (more gold and food with every trade route, more trade route capacity, and a free trader when pottery has been researched), my first governor was Reyna, ‘The Financier’. Not surprisingly, money is her sphere of influence, and hiring her also made it easier to buy tiles and expand faster. With her influence and my trade routes, cashflow wasn’t an issue. 

By the time I hit turn 150, the end of the preview build, I’d managed to hire three governors and promote them all. When you are able to hire a new governor, you can also choose to promote an existing one instead. You level them up by picking and unlocking new abilities, just like you would a combat unit. There are seven governors in total with six abilities each.

For my 150 turns I decided to take a friendly, diplomatic approach, knowing that the loyalty system gives my opponents new ways to screw me over and steal cities. Alliances have been given a makeover in Rise and Fall. Civilization VI unstacked cities, and now it’s unstacking diplomacy. Instead of just becoming buds with the civ of your choosing, you need to pick a specialised alliance connected to each of the game’s pillars: cultural, research, military, religious and economic. Within these specialised alliances are different tiers that represent how close you are to being total BFFs. You progress through tiers by earning alliance points. These are generated every turn an alliance is maintained, and there are ways to increase the yield—by sending traders to your ally's city, for example.

The result isn’t just that diplomacy feels more varied, it’s now more proactive. Since you can only have one of each specialised alliance on the go at the same time, you need to make sure you’re picking the right civ for the specialisation. Who wants a military alliance with a chill pacifist who prefers missionaries over warriors? It’s worth finding out more about your potential pal, then, before you start pursuing them. 

Lamentably, the final new addition to the series, international emergencies, didn’t appear in my first 150 turns. Emergencies are big crises that can be solved by civs working together. It might be that a city state has been taken over by a civ, or maybe someone naughty is playing with nuclear weapons. Emergencies have objectives that must be completed before rewards are doled out and if those objectives aren’t reached then the civ that the emergency is targeting gets rewarded instead. Firaxis warns that it might not be worth the risk if the other civ’s reward is too great.

Rise and Fall makes a lot of broad changes that fatten up existing systems with more interesting decisions and consequences, and in practice it feels more cohesive than the list of features suggests. But with a game as large as Civilization VI, 150 turns is just the tip of the iceberg, we'll have to wait and see how Rise and Fall's multitude of changes affects the entirety of a campaign when the expansion comes on on February 8. 

Sid Meier’s Civilization® VI - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Jamie Wallace)

dead-cells-art

The internet is currently aflame with hundreds of takes of varying heat levels based on Nintendo’s cardboard gaming venture, but that doesn’t concern us – unless, of course, some hardware company is working on something that involves stuffing your keyboard into a papercraft robot. This doesn’t mean there aren’t gadgets and games aplenty to salivate over in our little corner of the internet, though.

As always, we’ve gathered a batch of the best PC gaming deals of the week (UK, US and other places too) so far. This week: free Carmageddon, cheap Civ 6, gaming laptops, speedy SSDs and our 2017 GOTY.

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Sid Meier’s Civilization® VI - 2kschug


Learn the details of all of the new features being added to Civilization VI in this extensive gameplay preview of the Rise and Fall expansion.

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Follow the conversation on social media by using the hashtag #OneMoreTurn, and be sure to follow the Civilization franchise on social media to keep up to date with the latest news and information on Sid Meier’s Civilization VI.
 
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Sid Meier’s Civilization® VI

The latest Civilization 6: Rise and Fall trailer takes a break from introducing new leaders and nations to provide an overview of the new systems that will be ushered in by the expansion, including Great Ages, Loyalty, Governors, Enhanced Alliances, Emergencies, and new Wonders and Units. 

The primary addition, Golden and Dark Ages, are temporary changes to a civilization that last for an era. Both can dramatically alter the state of the game and will force players to adapt their strategies accordingly, but while Golden Ages are obviously preferable, Dark Ages have upsides too: Golden Ages come more easily when emerging from a Dark Age, and they also enable Heroic Ages, which grant three Dedication bonuses instead of just the single one that comes with a Golden Age.

Changes to alliances also promise to make things more interesting, by making the alliances themselves more meaningful. Instead of merely ensuring that other civs (hopefully) won't drop the hammer on you while you're preparing to do the same to them, Rise and Fall will enable different types of alliances—Research, Military, Economic, Cultural, or Religious—that will provide better bonuses the longer they're maintained. 

Emergencies are similarly designed to encourage diplomacy and cooperation. When one happens—for instance, someone nukes a city—the other players have the option of targeting the aggressor with a joint Emergency action, which will give them a specific objective to complete within a limited amount of time. Completing the objective can confer permanent bonuses to all who take part, but failing to get it done will grant a benefit to the intended target instead. And civilizations don't have to be allied to take part in an Emergency, so doing something to trigger one could have the knock-on effect of bringing together forces that were previously unrelated, with their attention turned to you. 

Civilization 6: Rise and Fall comes out on February 8. If you don't already have the base game, you can pick it up along with a couple of DLC releases for a really good deal—$12, instead of the regular $60 for Civ 6 by itself—in the current Humble Monthly Bundle.

Sid Meier's Civilization® V - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Adam Smith)

civilizationgenghis

I get knocked down, but I get up again, you’re never gonna keep me down. That’s what I’ll be singing when I play Civilization VI‘s upcoming Rise and Fall expansion. There are loads of new features but the unifying theme is, as the title suggests, success, failure and recovery. That means dark ages that come with hardships but also bring about the possibility of a renaissance into a heroic age. All of that, and much more, is explained in the brand new video below.

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Sid Meier’s Civilization® VI

Following the Cree announcement last week—and the criticism that followed—2K and Firaxis have unveiled the next civ en route to Civilization 6. Led by Golden Age ruler Tamar, Georgia will feature in the geopolitical strategy game's incoming Rise and Fall expansion. 

As detailed in the 'First Look' trailer below, Georgia's unique ability is Strength in Unity whereby the player receives an additional bonus when transitioning into a Golden Age. Naturally, this means Georgia is better placed to achieve and, crucially, maintain Golden Ages over rival civs. 

Replacing the Renaissance Walls, Georgia's unique building is the Tsikhe—Georgian fortresses situated atop neighbouring hills and rocky cliffs that provide faith. Moreover, the Khevsureti marks the Georgian's unique unit whose melee approach leverages a combat bonus on hill terrain. As such, the Khevsureti ignores all hill movement penalties.

As for Tamar herself, her leader ability is Glory of the World, Kingdom and Faith. It's described thusly: 

Tamar can declare a Protectorate War after gaining the Theology Civic. Considering Tamar’s upbringing—and how she was known to inspire her troops before battle, they gain bonus Faith for a limited time after declaring a Protectorate War. In addition, Georgia gains bonuses as they continue to deliver the word of God. An Envoy sent to a city-state of your majority religion counts as two. 

More information on Tamar the Great can read via this blog post. Georgia is set to arrive in Civilization 6's Rise and Fall expansion, due February 8, 2018. 

Sid Meier’s Civilization® VI - 2kschug

What makes an ideal monarch? Is it someone wise and diplomatic? A forward-thinking patron of the arts or a stalwart defender of the realm? Few live up to that standard, but you can count Tamar – ruler of Georgia at the height of its golden age – among them.

Born around 1160 (dates of her birth vary) to King George III and Queen Burdukhan, Tamar would be in for an early fight to keep her crown. The nobles of the court preferred her cousin, Prince Demna, to be next in line of succession and by the time she was 17, a minor rebellion broke out. Those nobles were summarily crushed by King George III.

Tamar was proclaimed heir and co-ruler by her father shortly after that rebellion. When George III died in 1184, Tamar assumed the throne of a fractured Georgia. Compromises needed to be made and Tamar was pressured into accepting the nobles’ choice for her husband: The Rus prince Yuri.

The two were wed in 1185, but the marriage didn’t last. Yuri led Georgian forces to victory in battle, but he was a coarse and unpleasant person, causing all sorts of problems for the royal court. So she filed to divorce him on grounds of drunkenness and immorality. This was monumental considering the era: the monarch of a fervently Christian nation, divorcing her husband and then receiving permission to re-marry from the church? That just didn’t happen back then.

As Tamar left Yuri, Georgia saw the greatest expansion of its domain begin. The Georgians fought against the neighboring Muslim sultanates, aided by exceptional generals (including the new king consort, David Soslan) and conquered them. Nearby kingdoms became vassals and protectorates. Georgian nobles stopped scheming, then began rallying to her banners. Georgians even founded the Empire of Trebizond, injecting themselves into the powers of the Middle East. 

Tamar became the frequent target of marriage proposals after Yuri. After all, she was an eligible queen of a prosperous kingdom. One story tells of how the Sultan of Rum declared war on Georgia, stating he would have Tamar "as a Muslim bride or a Christian concubine." The diplomat sent to deliver this message was summarily punched in the face by a Georgian courtier.

Tamar, always pious, is said to have prayed at the cave city and monastery of Vardzia, then addressed her troops from the steps of the church. Inspired by her piety, the Georgians crushed the Sultan’s forces.

Tamar was also a strong patron of the arts. She bolstered trade and commerce, and minted coins bearing her monogram and titles. Laws were codified. Churches and cathedrals were built. Georgian culture developed as a strong and lively blend of Byzantine Christianity and Persian-inspired ideas.

Tamar is said to have died in 1213, but her grave remains a mystery. Some say she was buried in a monastery, to prevent desecration. Others claim her remains were secreted to the Holy Land, for burial near the Holy Sepulcher.

She came to power in a divided kingdom, and left it larger, more powerful, and sure of its cultural identity. She is canonized as a saint in the Eastern Orthodox faith, and a national symbol for Georgians even today.


UNIQUE UNIT: KHEVSURETI
The warriors from Georgia’s Khevsureti territory maintained their traditions for countless generations. (Until the early 20th Century, they continued to fight with weapons and armor more suited to medieval times.) These fierce Georgians dressed in chainmail and carried swords, axes, and small, black bucklers adorned with crosses for nighttime raids—due to the shield’s color, the warriors were practically invisible in the moonlight. It should come as no surprise that this warrior order gets a Combat Strength bonus, but they also suffer no movement penalties on hilly terrain. Though tradition was their watchword, they did adapt with the times, incorporating firearms as their importance on the battlefield became unmistakable.


UNIQUE STRUCTURE: TSIKHE
Sitting high over the countryside, situated in the hills and rocky cliffs, the Georgian fortresses – or tsikhe – stand guard. A tsikhe features high curtain walls with either rounded or triangular merlons (the solid part of the “cut outs” on the wall used as defensive structures).

The Georgian fortresses were particularly difficult to assault due to their position on the high ground. Unique to the Georgians, it raises the strength of your outer defenses to the highest level while at a lower production cost than Renaissance Walls.

Although this type of fortress existed during the time of Alexander the Great, the Georgians employed them effectively through the 17th Century. And even today, they are a big tourism draw. Once you advance to the Conservation Civic with Georgia, you will be able to benefit from that tourism as well.

UNIQUE LEADER ABILITY: GLORY OF THE WORLD, KINGDOM AND FAITH
Tamar can declare a Protectorate War after gaining the Theology Civic. Considering Tamar’s upbringing – and how she was known to inspire her troops before battle, they gain bonus Faith for a limited time after declaring a Protectorate War. In addition, Georgia gains bonuses as they continue to deliver the word of God. An Envoy sent to a city-state of your majority religion counts as two.

UNIQUE CIV ABILITY: STRENGTH IN UNITY
Out of a time of relative instability for Georgia, Tamar helped give purpose and unite her people. Honor her achievements through Pride Moments. When making a Dedication at the beginning of a Golden Age, receive its Normal Age bonus towards improving Era Score, in addition to its Golden Age bonus.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0aExp07EKks
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Tamar is one of the nine new leaders coming with Civilization VI: Rise and Fall when the expansion releases on February 8, 2018.

Follow the conversation on social media by using the hashtag #OneMoreTurn, and be sure to follow the Civilization franchise on social media to keep up to date with the latest news and information on Sid Meier’s Civilization VI.
 
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Sid Meier’s Civilization® VI

If you've ever wanted to play Civlization 6 but found yourself put off by the $60/£50 price tag, then you're in luck. The game, plus two DLC packs, are the early unlocks available to anyone that purchases the next Humble Monthly bundle, which you can pick up for just $12.

The brilliant turn-based strategy game has had the odd 50%-off sale, but its price has never been anywhere near this low. It really is an incredible deal, offering the base game alongside its Viking-inspired DLC and its Australian scenario pack, which normally cost £3.99/$4.99 each. 

The bundle is a subscription service, but you can just pay $12 for one and then cancel before the next one arrives. You'll immediately get Civilization 6, and then the other eight or so games in the bundle will unlock next month. You don't know what those other games will be, but usually you'll get a few decent ones. And besides, it's worth it for Civilization 6 alone.

I don't normally dabble with the monthly bundles, but I think I'll bite on this one and put some time into the game before the huge Rise and Fall expansion comes out next month. That expansion faced criticism this week for its portrayal of the Cree.

Pick the bundle up here.

Sid Meier's Civilization® V - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Adam Smith)

civcree3

In Civilization, civilization is a competition. Land and resources are limited, and even those nations that don’t expand through military might are attempting to climb to the top of the league table in other ways. Geography, technology, culture, religion, diplomacy they’re all, to some extent, weapons to be deployed, or at least arenas where an advantage can be gained. Culture and history are the clothes that Civ wears but it’s not really about building an empire or a nation, it’s about sharpening a knife.

The upcoming Rise and Fall expansion for Civ VI introduces several new playable nations, but the introduction of one civ has led to criticism from an unexpected source. Yesterday, Milton Tootoosis, an elected headman-councillor of the Poundmaker Cree Nation, spoke to CBC News about the inclusion of the Saskatchewan First Nation. He acknowledged excitement about the news and noted that historical chief, Poundmaker, is to be portrayed as working to build a bridge between settlers and First Nations . But he also voiced a fundamental concern about the portrayal: It perpetuates this myth that First Nations had similar values that the colonial culture has, and that is one of conquering other peoples and accessing their land. It’s a concern that cuts to the heart of what Civilization has always been and – I hope – to what it could become.

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Sid Meier’s Civilization® VI

2K Games announced earlier this week that the Cree, led by Pîhtokahanapiwiyin—or Poundmaker, as he's more widely known—are being added to Civilization 6 in the upcoming Rise and Fall expansion. That does not sit well with the leader of the real-world Poundmaker Cree Nation, who told CBC News that the game's portrayal of Indigenous people is "very harmful," and based far more on Hollywood than on actual history. 

"It perpetuates this myth that First Nations had similar values that the colonial culture has, and that is one of conquering other peoples and accessing their land," Headman Milton Tootoosis said. "That is totally not in concert with our traditional ways and world view." 

"It's a little dangerous for a company to perpetuate that ideology that is at odds with what we know. [Poundmaker] was certainly not in the same frame of mind as the colonial powers." 

As Nuclear Gandhi has taught us, Civilization isn't the sort of game that cleaves closely to historical accuracy. But the case of the Cree is more problematic than most, because it remains an extant civilization that continues to struggle with the gross inequities caused by colonialism. In that light, the ahistorical potrayal of the Cree as being on equal footing with other civilizations, jockeying for world domination, seems particularly galling. 

Civilization 6: Rise and Fall appears set to portray Poundmaker and his people in a favorable, and relatively non-warlike light: Cree strengths lie in diplomacy and trade rather than military power. Tootoosis expressed hope that the game's presentation of Poundmaker's commitment to peace could help its efforts to have his 1885 conviction for treason officially overturned by the Canadian government. "It could go either way," he said. "I certainly hope it helps more than it hurts the cause." 

The Cree aren't the first Indigenous nation to play a role in a Civ game: The Shoshone, Iroquois, and Sioux have all been portrayed in previous releases. But this does appear to be the first time that 2K has faced any backlash over the inclusion of an Indigenous North American people. The Poundmaker Cree Nation are waiting to consult with elders before contacting 2K with its concerns, according to the CBC report; I've reached out to 2K for more information and will update if and when I receive a reply. 

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