A look at the popular game franchise and my take on the next iteration of the series.
As I write this introduction, I am starting to receive the feedback from the first part of this feature. I am glad that it is getting responses and I look forward to more. My biggest regret is that I did not write the whole feature and release it at once so that readers could see everything before making judgements (either good or bad). However, with my outline for the feature being 9 pages (the part just concerning (Civ VII is seven pages, alone), I knew that just wasn’t feasible. Still, I may, once all is said and done, post a compilation from Part 2 of this feature all the way to the final part and conclusion. Until then, let’s continue.
One Per Hex
When the feature of One Unit Per Hex was introduced in Civilization V, I was a bit skeptical. While elements of it (such as archers with range) seemed logical, the idea of the feature took a certain “realism” view away from the game. I understand that the game was never intended as a “simulation” of history, still there were certain suspensions of disbelief that were hard to overcome. Archers shooting across the English Channel just didn’t seem right. Then, there was also the fact that there would be nowhere to place units. The whole idea was to eliminate the “stack of doom” that plagued previous iterations.
Soon after Civilization V released, it quickly came apparent that the “stack of doom” was replaced with the “carpet of doom.” By the end game, civs would have units on virtually every tile. Civilization VI helped with this a little by introducing “armies” where like units could be combined. This alleviated some of the issues, but the whole system of units could still become cumbersome. Another “fix” appeared to be increasing the “cost” of units. However, I felt that took away from my experience. Part of the game, for me, was being able to build a massive army to conquer my enemies and stand ready to react to any threat. Still, the past two games have made OUPT a staple. We can work with that. Smaller hexes (as listed previously) could help with the whole “carpet” aspect. Though, I would have to admit that the question would be how, then, to implement that graphically. That would be a difficult challenge for me to overcome just in this writing. I’m no artists and I feel it would require their expertise to solve. The only thing I could suggest is make it zoomable far enough to be able to zoom in and see the unit groups we’ve become familiar with, but a single unit representation may be required at medium zoon and further. In any case, let’s look at how we can further “condense” units so that they are not so cumbersome to deal with on the map.
As I said, Civilization VI did introduce the use of armies to help stack some like units. My problem with them is that (1) you could only combine like units and (2) they came too late in the game in my opinion. In this “new” system that I am proposing, I feel that their availability should be tied to Civilization Level (discussed previously).
First, you have Brigades which would be the combining of two similar units (2 archers, 2 swordsmen, etc.). This could be done as early as at City-State level. These would be stronger versions of the individual units (much like in Civilization VI). Once your civilization reaches the Pact level, you can create Battalions which would consist of three units of three different types. (1 melee, 1 archer, and 1 anti-cavalry or 1 archer, 1 anti-cavalry, and 1 cavalry). Battalions would gain the features of each individual unit and attack of each at the strength level (with a small bonus) of each unit per attack. For example, a Battalion with an Archer would be able to attack at a range, then follow up immediately with a melee or charge attack (depending on the other units making up that Battalion).
Finally, when the civilization becomes a State, it could form an Army which would be either made up of three different Brigades or two different Battalions. Also, up to two siege units and a Great General or Great Leader can attach to the Army giving it further bonuses and abilities. A special ability that Armies would have would be to “Lay Siege” which can be done at any location within a city’s area of control. This could “spread out” the army around the city and allow multiple abilities per turn such as attacking the city or “cutting supplies”. More than one army can lay siege to a city, even from different civilizations, provided that there is space to do so.
Similarly, naval and air forces could be combined as well. For Navy, there would be Fleet (combining 2 like units), Armada (combining 3 different naval units like “melee”, ranged, and auxiliary), and Combined Fleet (joining three different Fleets or two Armadas.) Combined Fleets can have a Carrier attached as well as a Great Admiral to enhance bonuses. For Air, Squadrons would combine two units of the same type and Air Fleets would combine 3 different Squadrons including Fighters, Bombers, and Air Auxiliary (which includes Air Recon units such as AWACS).
One final note on Armies, Fleets, and Squadrons, they can be “disbanded.” However, doing so just breaks them apart so that you have access to individual units again if you so desire.
Just as civilizations get a revamp as to how they develop, so do individual cities as well. Now, they will have levels of their own that dictate their areas of control (AoC), what can be built in them, and how they are defended would all depend on the level of their development. The most basic of these levels would be the Settlement.
- Settlement – this is the most basic form of city. They would be founded by a Settler or an Ancient Colonist. They are mostly confined to the City Center and have a single ring of AoC. This ring cannot have any other districts besides resource improvements as it is for the growth of the center city. Settlements can only be garrisoned by a single unit.
- Town – Upon reaching Town status, the AoC expands an extra ring. This is where Districts and Wonders can be placed. Advanced Settlers can settle a Town directly. Towns founded in this way will have a couple early buildings already constructed. With a Garrison District (replacing Encampment), they can have a Brigade or Battalion in place and have a minimal guard when no army is present.
- City – Cities cannot be settled directly; they can only be developed from Towns. This growth is automatic when certain conditions are met (population and buildings). The third and fourth ring can be expanded by Culture. Whole Armies can be garrisoned in the City allowing for Counter Siege abilities.
- Metropolis – The highest achievable level for a city. The fifth and sixth ring become eligible for AoC of the City (assuming that they are not already part of another city). It could even be possible to have multiple armies garrison a Metropolis.
A few notes, Districts may have to be reworked a bit to accommodate these levels and the smaller hexes. I’ve hinted at replacing some. A city (no matter the level) may need a certain district to build certain units, etc. While I enjoy the concept of Districts in Civilization VI, I do feel that the system needs an overhaul. I think smaller hexes are a step and the City Level system laid out go towards that process. I also see other areas that could use improvement… namely Forts.
I felt that Forts kind of got the short stick in Civilization VI. Personally, I feel that they should have had the abilities that Encampments had. Thus, my suggestions for Forts carry along those lines. And they have their own “levels” as well.
- Outposts – Outposts are 1 tile forts that allow single units to garrison and gives minor benefits to the units garrisoned there. They can be constructed in neutral or own territory, however, if there is no garrison, they are considered abandoned and can easily be taken over by other civilizations.
- Forts – True Forts can later be constructed or upgraded from an Outpost. These Forts will claim a central hex and the surrounding ring. However, they are not expandable on their own. They grant better defense than Outposts and can defend just like cities even if not occupied by a unit. They can still be taken over by other Civilizations if defeated and Battalions or Brigades can garrison them. Forts can potentially be upgraded to Cities if certain conditions are met and allow.
- Castles – These are special (single hex) fortifications that are as strong as forts and grant additional bonuses like income to nearby cities. They must be built in a civilization’s own territory.
With Part 1, I covered the changes to Civilizations in general. Part 2 looked at the new role for Leaders in the game. Today we went over City Development and Unit Management. Of course, all these changes are general overviews. Every change brings new challenges and details that need to be ironed out. Next up will be a discussion of some elements that have existed before in Civilization, but have been removed from the game in general.