Recently our patron saint and literal lord of the flies, Nate, wrote an article envisioning the next expansion for Civilization VI (Civ6). No, not Gathering Storm. That one’s already set. The next next one that we all hope will arrive in February, 2020.
In Nate’s article, he talked all about adding a sci-fi aspect to Civ6, which I think is hilarious since I brought that up over a year ago on the podcast, and he called me crazy. Who’s crazy now, huh? HUH!? Anyway, I’m on board with a speculative spin to my beloved Civ6. But what if it went in a different direction? What if we got…
Bum Bum BUM!!!
Civilization VI: Epic!
This expansion would be all about adding more narrative moments to the game of Civ. One of the problems that Civ6 suffers from right now is that game is very static. After the initial land rush, once the borders bump against one another, the map – and thus the game – loses a lot of momentum. It’s very easy (strategically recommended, in fact) to just turtle up. The game’s own mechanics encourage this behavior with constant culture pressure and maluses for players who declare war. You’re meant to more or less sit back and just roll toward victory.
This click-fest isn’t at all fun. The tough decisions have mostly been made, and now it’s simply a matter of going through the same old motions. Epic would change all of that by forcing players out of their comfort zones while also providing unique story moments throughout every game.
The first addition that Epic would bring is quests. I know what you’re saying: “Hey Dummy, this is Civ not Endless Legend.” But hear me out. History is actually full of ‘quest-like’ moments where a nation began a great undertaking for reasons that were religious, political, or just inexplicable. The Rapa Nui construction of the giant heads on Easter Island, the European Crusades against the Arab nations, and the 1960s Space Race are all examples of “quests” that have happened in history.
Now, you might point out that a lot of these aspects already exist, in game. Even quests, in a sense, exist – when City States ask for certain actions in exchange for their friendship. However, what I’m proposing is far more involved.
Imagine, for example, that you’re coasting along in the midgame when you get an announcement that France has declared a Crusade against the Aztecs. They want to levy 10 of your units in the war. If you join, you have the chance for huge rewards: cities, finances, science, etc. A massive boon. But, of course, joining the Crusade will be a massive toll on your economy (to build the units) all to burn them in some other civ’s cause.
However, if you decline the quest, France (and her allies) will turn on you. They may even decide to Crusade against you next. Crusades could also have a religious component (as they did in real life). You could be excommunicated, losing all religious bonuses, for not joining in the quest!
Notice that these are all mechanics that exist in some form in the game already, it just takes a little organization or adjustment to have them work together in a slightly different way for a far greater in-game payoff. I’m not changing what Civ6 is, fundamentally, just taking greater advantage of the features that already exist.
A space race or building a monument would work slightly differently, but you can see how it could be applied. All of these are situations where you are forced to make a massive investment into something you might not want to do, but also feel forced to participate in. It consequently disrupts your precious plans and makes you compensate – sort of like a real life leader. This also leads to what makes a game work, making interesting decisions. Not picking between multiple mediocre options, but rather being forced to choose the least worst option.
In a similar way, Epic would also introduce random events to Civ6. I know that Gathering Storm will have weather events, but Epic would build and expand on this. Imagine, you’re dominating the game in the late 1700’s and suddenly, you get an announcement: your best production city has been struck with bubonic plague!
Now you’ve got serious problems. You can quarantine the city, which decreases the disease from spreading, but also removes all of the bonuses you get from the city, essentially severing it from your empire. Trade routes shrivel up as cities try to protect themselves from the pandemic. Your civ now has to make a large investment in cleaning cities and health research to stop the disease.
It doesn’t have to be just diseases either. Volcanic eruptions, financial panics, a large migration of immigrants – there are all kinds of random events that add new challenges to empire management. These events would be more than binary yes/no choices, but would chain multiple decision points and challenges together as you’re forced to overcome the event.
Finally, Epic would rework the great people feature in Civ6. Right now, they feel like strange, random bonuses that happen to have names. Instead, the famous people would work more like Heroes/Governors in the Endless series. Want your city to be a science powerhouse, maybe invite Albert Einstein to take up residency. Of course, when he dies, you’ll lose the bonuses but then maybe Elon Musk is available.
Basically, Epic would turn famous people into characters in the story of your game. Having Joan of Arc join your empire would be an exciting moment that turns the tide of your campaign, not just a random adjacency bonus.
Altogether, Epic would transform Civ6 into something far more interesting, giving boosts to the currently ho-hum mid and late games, and make the throughline of a game feel far more dynamic. Instead of saying, “I captured a few cities and then clicked to a science victory” you would have exciting stories like “I was halfway to a science victory when suddenly my lab city fell victim to smallpox, but at the last minute I recruited Jonas Salk to run the city, clear it of plague, and complete my space race quest to win the game!”
It would add exciting decision points, interesting narratives, and make the entire experience feel truly… Epic!
What do you think? Would you want to add Epic to your Civilization experience? What features would you want to see in a Civ expansion? Let us know in the comments, and look out for the next feature in our Civ Expansion Exposition series!