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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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.

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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. 

Dota 2 - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

We’ve already seen which games sold best on Steam last year, but a perhaps more meaningful insight into movin’ and a-shakin’ in PC-land is the games that people feel warmest and snuggliest about. To that end, Valve have announced the winners of the 2017 Steam Awards, a fully community-voted affair which names the most-loved games across categories including best post-launch support, most player agency, exceeding pre-release expectations and most head-messing-with. Vintage cartoon-themed reflex-tester Cuphead leads the charge with two gongs, but ol’ Plunkbat and The Witcher series also do rather well – as do a host of other games from 2017’s great and good.

Full winners and runners-up below, with links to our previous coverage of each game if you’re so-minded. Plus: I reveal which game I’d have gone for in each category. (more…)

Path of Exile

Tim Clark: Simulacra  

Look, I'm nothing if not entirely predictable, so to the surprise of absolutely nobody, least of all myself, I failed to catch up on Assassin's Creed: Origins. To be fair I did boot it up and made it through a couple of missions, but as I saw its vast sandy expanse stretching away into the distance, I felt the clarion call of my old favourites. And so most of the break was spent grinding Destiny 2 for masterworks weapons, of which I now have an indecent amount, but somehow still no raid hand cannon. I also managed to crank out a successful Hearthstone Dungeon Run with every remaining class, thereby earning the card back. Shaman was the last to fall, and finally got over the line last night—but only after I started auto-quitting unless I was able to get the 'double Battlecry' passive buff and a decent batch of Jade cards.

In at least a slight change of pace, I did play most of my games on a laptop this Christmas, a gift from my family and myself to myself. Being able to plug the 1070-equipped ASUS into the bedroom TV and enjoy Destiny 2 at 1080p/60fps made for an illicit pleasure and long lie-ins. (I also ended up buying a wireless adapter and charging pack for the Elite controller.) And at least I managed to play one entirely new game stuff on the laptop. Inspired by Hannah Dwan's retrospective on 2017's best visual novels, I picked up Simulacra and finished it over the course of a couple of nights on the sofa with my other half.

This was the first 'missing phone' game I'd tried, and I loved the mix of stalker-themed Tinder mystery with weirder supernatural trappings. Creeping around the emails, Twitter account and chat logs of a girl who has disappeared becomes propulsively dramatic when a blizzard of new notifications start popping up. Simulacra doesn't quite stick the ending, but as a self-contained mystery it was still a great way to spend a few hours. You can pick it up on Steam in the Christmas sale right now at 30% off.

Steven Messner: Path of Exile

I had great, ambitious plans for this holiday break. With a back catalogue of games that had grown considerably over 2017, I was looking forward to making a big dent while sipping rum and eggnog in my underwear. I was going to finally wrap up Persona 5. I was going to try out PUBG’s new desert map. I was going to shovel the walks like a good neighbour should. And then I logged back into Path of Exile to give the new seasonal league a quick taste. I fell in love with the free-to-play ARPG back in September with its Fall of Oriath expansion, but I was curious about seeing how it had grown since then. Nearly two weeks later, I’m looking back at my holiday break in despair. Where the hell did it go?

I clocked in over 60 hours an average of five a day (though I m ashamed to admit there were a few days where it was much more). Path of Exile consumed me.

It’s been years since a game has wormed itself so deeply into my brain, but Path of Exile is like a fever that won’t break. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I woke up exhausted more than once because of a restless sleep filled with dreams of running maps, finding exorbitantly expensive unique items, and theorycrafting my build. I clocked in over 60 hours this holiday break—an average of five hours a day (though I’m ashamed to admit there were a few days where it was much more). Path of Exile consumed me. I’m finally willing to say that it might even be my Dota 2, the game that I will happily clock a thousand hours into and countless more talking and dreaming about.

Tyler Wilde: Civilization VI 

I uninstalled all my Civ 6 mods (some old, manually-installed mods were breaking all the icons and I couldn't remember which) and relegated half of New Year's Day to building a prosperous Russian civilization. I quit in the Classical Era to go find my old mods, though, disappointed by how few quality of life improvements have been made standard so far. Still no production queue? A strange omission. That aside, I still love Civ 6's district system, as I always thought it was silly that a city near the ocean couldn't have a harbor, and city-planning minutia is my favorite aspect of the series. 

Building mines, farms, camps, and roads, protecting caravans, erecting wonders and ensuring that every district is placed exactly where it out to be, maximizing gains—these are the reasons I play Civ, not warfare, so I'm typically on the defensive, protecting my perfectly symbiotic metropolises and hamlets from the absurd imperialist reasoning of my neighbors. Presently, Mvembra a Nzinga is furious that I won't spread my religion to his people, and Qin Shi Huang is upset that I've built more wonders than him. What did my peaceful, overly efficient society do to deserve such petty neighbors? Yet again I wonder if I wouldn't enjoy Civ more if I were by myself in the world.

Evan Lahti: They Are Billions 

Some of the most fun I had with RTSes as a kid was messing around with Command & Conquer: Red Alert's map editor. I'd make winding tesla coil death mazes that my opponent had to navigate in order to reach my spacious, well-supplied base. They Are Billions revives that same feeling of defense-focused strategy, except I'm the one being tortured.

I love the preparation for the payoff at the end, a Left 4 Dead-style finale where thousands of zombies are on screen simultaneously.

The structure of it is somewhere between StarCraft and a horde mode game like Killing Floor 2: you expand outward with pylon-like towers, hoovering up wood, minerals, and food off the map to feed your economy, but there isn't a true opponent on the map with you—you're the only one with an expanding base. Instead, there are crowds of mostly stagnant undead (with various durabilities, speeds, and attack types) occupying the map, and massive waves of them that attack every 15 minutes or so from a random direction.  

I love the preparation for the payoff at the end, a Left 4 Dead-style finale where actual thousands of zombies are on screen simultaneously, seeping in from all cardinal directions. Your north wall may be impregnable, but did you gather enough resources to reinforce that bottleneck to the west? An Early Access game, They Are Billions needs a little more depth and unpredictability in its midgame, but it nails the fun of building a sprawling defensive death machine and having it continually tested by a tough enemy.

Chris Livingston: Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-ality 

I finished Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-ality before the break, but despite its size (it mostly takes place in Rick's garage and only gives you three spots to stand in) it's a impressively expansive VR playground. This is mostly to do with the Combinator, one of Rick's inventions that allows you to put two items onto it and see what you get when they're scientifically merged (think of Jeff Goldblum and a fly getting into a teleporter together). 

Often it's nothing exciting (combine a glass with a bar of soap and you'll get a bar of soap made of glass) but there are enough weird and surprising combinations to make you want to combine everything with everything else, and then combine the resulting combinations with the resulting combinations. And then combine those some more. Throw in some growth pills and the fact that you can copy your own brain (by laying your VR head on the combinator) and you might, with enough re-combining, wind up with an enormous twitching brain that fills the entire garage.

And despite it looking like a cartoon, it's still the most convincing VR experience I've had. I almost fell over after trying to lean on a countertop that doesn't actually exist, I've punched a few real walls throwing things around, and I realized that when eating or drinking something in the game I actually open my (real) mouth.

Wes Fenlon: Thimbleweed Park and Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward 

My holiday gaming involved a lot of puzzle solving. Over Christmas I was away from home and my gaming PC, so I actually spent most of my time with friends playing games on Nintendo's SNES Classic and Switch. If you love XCOM, you really need to try Ubisoft's excellent Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle. In the last few days of the break, though, I really dug into two games I've been meaning to play for months: point-and-click adventure Thimbleweed Park and escape room visual novel Virtue's Last Reward.

Information from some dead-ends actually lets you progress down paths that don't end with horrible suicides or deaths by lethal injection.

Thimbleweed Park is delightful so far, with classic adventure game puzzles that err on the side of reasonable instead of impossible logic. It gives you multiple characters to control so you don't get stuck and can jump between puzzles and areas at will, and there are also some clever bits that require using one character to help another. It's a little meta jokey for my taste (as mentioned in our review) with frequent jokes about the genre itself, but the laughs I've gotten from the ridiculously foul-mouthed Ransome the Clown have more than made up for it.

Currently, though, all I can think about is Virtue's Last Reward, which has its hooks in me deep. The central mechanic of this escape room game is solving the mystery of your imprisonment, with every major decision you make creating a new branching path—but you can go back and take a different route whenever you want. Information you gain from some dead-ends actually lets you progress down paths that don't end with horrible suicides, explosions, or deaths by lethal injection. The way it teases out the solution to its mystery is maddening, and there's a bit more repetition of similar conversations than I'd like, but I need to find out what happens, and each cliffhanger I hit just adds fuel to the fire.

Andy Chalk: Hob 

I started playing around with Hob shortly after it came out in September, but I didn't make a concerted effort to really do anything with it until the holidays arrived. With time on my hands, I got down to the business of properly exploring the bizarre, wild mechano-landscape, collecting its secrets, and unraveling the great mystery that lies beneath. Most of my gaming time is dedicated to shooting dudes or playing roles, but this odd little diversion ("little," I say, as Steam shows 36 hours sunk into it) was nothing less than magical: Complex without being obtuse, challenging but never punishing, and set in one of the prettiest and most unusual game worlds I've ever explored.

The sights and sounds are so wonderfully weird that even after botching an obvious move, I never felt the urge to pound my mouse into pieces with my keyboard.

The platforming is a tad wonky at times but never unfair, and more importantly the sights and sounds are so wonderfully weird that even after botching an obvious and simple move, I never felt the urge to pound my mouse into pieces with my keyboard. The ending was brilliant, too. No spoilers, but there is a story being told amidst all the strange grunts and glowing hieroglyphics, and the payoff was unexpected—and unexpectedly difficult to process, too. For all that I loved the game world, the fact that Hob isn't just jumping and slashing its way to a simple happy ending might be my favorite part of the game.

Everything we said in our review was spot-on (although I would've scored it ten points higher—sorry, Other Andy) but I feel like it could stand to be shouted from the rooftops a little more loudly: Hob is a fantastically good game. (And Runic deserved better.) 

...

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