A strong expansion that turns disaster into opportunity.
By Dan Stapleton
Gathering Storm is the second expansion of Civilization VI, and probably the final, and consolidates the place of this iteration in history with a new round of interesting systems that we had never seen before in a Civ game. Things like natural disasters and diplomatic claims they give a lot to consider throughout the ages, and Firaxis backs the value of a leader dump truck and other content on this fully loaded 4X strategy game.
Between Gathering Storm and the previous expansion, Rise and Fall, the list of available leaders has increased to a gigantic cast of 45, or 46, if one takes into account the ability of Eleanor de Aquitaine to lead the English or French and grant them their loyalty. Ability to undermine as two. (That surpasses the final Civ V count of 43, if you're following the track). All that narration must have taken Sean Bean's ages and played a full campaign, since each of them would be an epic venture.
Most new civilizations and leaders are more than versatile and attractive: Suleiman of the Ottomans has a unique governor, Matthias Corvinus of Hungary can turn the armies of cities and states into powerful weapons, Dido of the Phoenicians can move their city capital almost at will, and Kristina of the Swedes automatically subjects her great works. Probably, a couple is a bit too specialized to be practical unless you're playing in a very specific scenario: the Canadian Wilfrid Laurier, for example, is great if you start north or south of the map, but his ability to build farms in tundra means that it is outside its element in the tropics. Mansa Musa of Mali is in a similar stream if it does not have desert tiles in the cities from where to send its merchants for additional gold, and Pachacuti del Inca without mountain tiles for production is like a fish out of water.
For my first full game, I played (on King difficulty) as Kupe of the Maori, which starts in the ocean with the unlocked navigation technology, which is great, except you have to spend a few laps in search of dry land, which It can make you feel behind the pack. Maori are also unable to collect resources permanently and can not recruit great writers, which are significant limitations. However, they get important production bonuses for unimproved forests and rainforests, and for fishing boats, which can make their developed territory look very different from any other civilization. It was a refreshing and distinctive set of priorities.
Disasters bring an important element of the real world to Civ VI.
However, the main feature of Gathering Storm are its natural disasters. These are a great addition never seen before (unless you count the Civ IV random events) that, with the exception of generally less destructive storms and droughts, are telegraphed with enough clarity that they rarely feel they are leaving the left field to go full of Pompeii in you. At the same time, they are significant enough events so that areas of the map that had previously been blocked effectively and on autopilot can spontaneously become problems that require thinking about solutions again. Floods and volcanic eruptions only take place on the banks of rivers and next to giant volcanoes, obviously, so you know what you're getting into when you build a city there. And even when disasters strike and leave part of the improvements to your land in ruins, the residual effect is an increase in fertility, which can help you recover quickly, even if part of your population is eliminated. On top of that, mid-game technologies allow you to mitigate flooding with dams, which gives you fertility benefits without any of the damaging drawbacks.
I love having disasters in play, since not only do they add to the game variety, but they also bring an important element of the real world to Civ VI that has been losing noticeably all this time. But if you do not care about that element of randomness in your 4X strategy, disasters can be turned off (or augmented) by using a slider in the game settings screen.
The new system of Climate Change is related to disasters, since it uses an increase in storms and floods as part of its main consequences by burning too much coal and oil to feed factories in their cities, forcing it to weigh the benefit short-term maximizing Productivity versus long-term cost. But the real element that changes the game, and something completely new for Civilization as a series, is that as temperatures rise, the ice sheets of your world begin to melt and the sea level rises, which causes tiles entire coastal areas follow the path of Atlantis. Again, this is not something that will happen suddenly and will take you unprepared in an unfair way, because at the beginning of a game you can see which tiles will be flooded in what order and there is a new climate information screen that is broken down clearly exactly what is going. Of course, like many other things in Civilization, it is a bit strange and anachronistic to play like a tribal nation with armed warriors in clubs and yet have a precise awareness of the tokens that will inevitably flood some thousands of years later. (It is also a bit strange that the flooded tiles appear as looted and in flames until they are completely submerged, which does not coincide with what is happening).
Losing at least some tiles to raise the sea level will be almost inevitable.
High-level players can find a way to win without enduring the worst part of climate change, but for most, I hope losing at least some chips is almost inevitable. The only real defense against this is technology fast enough to unlock the seawall city's improvements that protect the floodplains before they disappear, and to be able to repeatedly build the carbon recovery project to reduce their emissions to that can switch to solar and wind energy updates. So it's fortunate that losing some tiles from your coastal cities is not as catastrophic as you expected. Again, you know what tiles will be flooded in each of the three stages of sea level rise, so you probably will not. to build districts or wonders on them unless you have the contamination on your hands. All in all, this new system definitely gives you more difficult problems to think about and solve during the Industrial, Modern and Atomic eras.
Climate change is mainly due to the burning of fossil fuels, coal and oil to generate energy, and in Gathering Storm those resources, along with horses, iron, niter, aluminum and uranium, are now consumable resources that are They collect in turn. and it can be stored and marketed as cash. It's a much more intuitive and a bit more realistic system than we had before, and it means that even if you suddenly lose access to your only source of niter in a surprise attack (assuming you've accumulated a reservation), you can still produce something . Musketeer men to counterattack before they run out completely.
Diplomacy is the other important system that has been significantly improved, and while it is not a total reconstruction that some may expect (just wait for Civ VII), it adds some satisfactory mechanisms with a couple of new abstract coins. The main example is the complaint system, which replaces warmongering and finally puts a number in the way that someone gets angry about transgressions, such as breaking promises not to spy or find cities too close to their territory. The fact that he can accumulate a list of complaints against his rivals and then exchange them to declare a justified war with reduced diplomatic penalties, finally makes the rest of the world feel responsible for that idiot Gandhi for his scams. AI can remain as prone to erratic behavior as ever, but at least now there is a sense of responsibility for it.
Then there is the newly redesigned diplomatic victory, which begins to be extremely promising: now there is a currency, diplomatic favor, which represents the good will won simply by making another civilization sound and can be exchanged instead of goods or cash. It is generated in large part by maintaining control of the city-states, which makes the maintenance of the Suzerain state and the realization of its search goals even more desirable, or by keeping promises to its neighbors.
After the beginning of the Medieval Era, the Diplomatic Favor can be spent to influence the main events in the meetings of the new World Congress, where it can be used to effectively buy the result of a vote in an auction. If, for example, he wanted to discourage the burning of oil (one of the few means he has to prevent other civilizations from contaminating), he could turn points into a resolution to make the construction of petroleum power plants prohibitively expensive. Or, in an emergency session, you can vote to organize the entire world to declare war on a civilization that conquered one of your favorite city-states and then compete to be the only one to free it for a reward. (The AI is not yet excellent to prioritize these missions, but I've seen that it makes at least half an effort).
Victoria Diplomatic status will probably take more time than any other means to win.
The problem is that as useful as diplomatic favor is, the opportunities to spend it on the condition of real gain are rare. Unless you win every opportunity to earn Diplomatic Points, the status of Diplomatic Victory will probably take more time than any other means to win.
You need 10 points to win, and those points can be obtained almost exclusively through the World Congress, which meets only once every 30 turns after the Medieval Age begins. You can only win two at a time, outside of the rare occasions when you can earn an extra point when completing other objectives, but this happened only once throughout the game. That means he is committed to 120 turns after the first meeting, again, assuming he wins all the votes. I missed the first two points, which meant that my game lasted 30 quiet and lethargic turns at the end of the game more than it should, which is a way to end any round of Civilization. During this time, I was sitting on a stack of Diplomatic Favor approximately four times larger than the combined total of all the other civilizations, but I could not exchange it with them because that would only give them the means to potentially overcome my offer for the following points.
I was about to lose by the Science of Victory of a rival while I waited, but at least I took the time to test the return of the Robot of the Giant Death, which is now an incredibly powerful and terrifying mech at the top of the technological tree which is balanced only by its insatiable hunger for uranium.
And, of course, there are tons of new features and improvements that range from being able to build new improvements like canals (including the wonder of the Panama Canal) that allow ships to pass through land and tunnels that allow units to pass through mountains , ski resorts and water parks. (effectively, entertainment districts built on water tiles), a new set of futuristic governments with additional spaces for policies, many new units, new wonders and natural wonders, and so many new possibilities and extremes of exchange that I will have to leave it in my hands of the wikis to list them all.
Out of the typical randomly generated map, there are a couple of new scenarios based on WWI and The Black Death. And, in the multiplayer section, a new and exciting asynchronous Play By Cloud option, in which Steam will open and warn you when a turn is ready for you after your opponents tour and play on their own time. (I still think that a game saved in Civ VI takes too long to load, even on an SSD, to play a single turn and then exit a few hundred times, but I appreciate the option).