More Civilization VI Expansion Rise & Fall and iOS version
Civilization is a game of traditions. The series has been running since 1991, is invariably turn-based and usually has a historical perspective. Another tradition that is held high in the series is that there are always expansions in which the game is being put on a big roll. In many cases the game is only ‘finished’ or ‘good’ after developer Firaxis Games has taken the complaints about the original to heart and has formulated an answer to such an extension.
Civilization VI, the most recent game in the series, is still awaiting such an expansion. He will appear on February 8, under the title Rise & Fall, and we were already allowed to play some turns. Not much, because publisher 2K Games cut off every match inexorably after 150 innings. So we have been able to play the necessary games, but never more than those 150 turns, and that is of course too little to get a good impression of all the changes that Firaxis has made. However, it was enough to look forward to more. We are very curious about the changes after those 150 innings.
On to a Golden Age
Perhaps the biggest change that Firaxis has implemented in Rise & Fall is that you no longer have to reach the next period, ie the next Era, on your own. Until now, this was linked to the research you did on new technology. If you spent more time researching, you would sooner enter the next Era. That has now been released. As time passes, the entire game world automatically enters the next Era, for all the warring parties simultaneously. You will be warned extensively for this. Ten turns before it happens, you already see prominently that the end of an Era is approaching.
The transition to a new era can have serious consequences, depending on how you did it in the previous period. If you did not perform well in the Classical Era, it can happen that you are punished for it in the Medieval Era – which follows. That is then reflected in a Dark Age. Did you do it correctly, then you will experience a Golden Age. That is also beautifully portrayed. When you end up in a Dark Age, there is a gray veil over the image, while everything in a Golden Age looks extra colorful. In spite of the fact that all civilizations simultaneously proceed to the next Era, the consequences for the various warring parties can vary considerably.
In every new Era you can choose a number of Dedications. You will always be presented with four, of which you can choose one if you reach a Golden Age, but you can also choose one if you are deposited in a Dark Age. The Dedications are bonuses that apply throughout the Age. For example, in the Medieval Era you can opt for Monumentality, a bonus that makes Builders move faster and makes it cheaper to purchase Settlers and Builders. If you stay far behind in size with the competition, you can start a growth spurt in the Medieval Era. Dedications are there for the medium-term goals. It goes far beyond what you are now building and researching in your cities, but not nearly as far as the final goal, so the way you try to win the game.
The system is even more extensive. There is an intermediate form, called Normal Age, and a superlative form in the form of a Heroic Age. You reach the Normal Age when you just get enough Era Score to avoid a Dark Age. You reach Heroic when you get enough Era Score in a Dark Age to reach a Golden Age. That will then be promoted to Heroic. As a reward you can then choose three of the four Dedications. Each Age has its own set of Dedications. The names of the four are the same, but the bonuses you get are slightly different. In a Dark Age they are obviously less powerful than in a Golden or Heroic Age.
The nice thing about the Ages is that you have to stay alert. Civ games are slow, and it is easy to pass some turns in which little seems to happen. This is less the case in the new Ages. It is now suddenly important to keep an eye on your Era Score. You score the points for that by winning Historic Moments in the game. This can be done in various ways, for example by building a Miracle or by making all kinds of discoveries. The first encounter with a hostile nation, the first Great Person to be assigned to you, your first Trade Route, the first ship you build, the first plane: you score points for anything and everything. You always see at the bottom right of the screen how many of the required points you have achieved.
In order to build in even more uncertainty and tension, there is also the new Loyalty. This is a score that is measured per city. He shows how loyal the city is to your civilization, and in the naming of each city you see how loyal he is. There are different ways to influence loyalty. The most important is the proximity to other cities. Loyalty works like a kind of radio beacon: it spreads around the city, but the influence becomes weaker as you get further from the city. The influence reaches up to nine tiles of the city, but decreases with each tile. When you build cities together in the neighborhood, they stimulate each other’s loyalty. Enemy cities in the neighborhood, however, impose their Loyalty on your subjects. This way the Loyalty of a certain city can vary, especially because there are obviously ways to further influence loyalty. With certain buildings, espionage, Dark or Golden Ages, and especially the equally new Governors, you can exert considerable influence on them.
That can have serious consequences, because if the loyalty to the possessing Civ falls to zero, the city will separate itself from civilization. The city then becomes a Free City. The army units that are located there, remain faithful to the city, so that there is a mini-state that lies ahead. It is somewhat similar to the role that culture could play in Civilization IV, in which cities could also transfer to another Civ.
The new Governors have just passed. You play them freely via the Civics Tree and you can then place them in a city of your choice. Depending on the characteristics of the Governor, this is a city of yourself or a city of another Civ. There are seven Governors that you can choose from, and you can top them up in six steps each. Every Governor has a small tech tree. The nice thing is that you can choose. Every time you have collected enough points, you can choose whether you choose a new Governor from the range or top up an existing Governor. The latter seems obvious, since each Governor is specialized. In Loyalty for example, but also in earning gold or spending it on extra tiles. Or in earning raw materials, with the highest good that you can train units for which you need resources that are not available in the city at all. You can move Governors to other cities, and thus direct the specialization of the cities in your empire.
Need for the man
Another innovation, Emergencies, we have not seen in our 150 games. An Emergency is triggered by actions by one of the players. This happens, for example, when he or she conquers a City State, throws a nuclear bomb somewhere, or gives up a close bond and attacks his former ally unexpectedly. It may also be a little less obvious, such as when a player manages to convert the Holy City of another Civ.
In the event of an Emergency two camps arise. The aggressor forms the one camp, the other Civs the other camp, although you can decide to change sides and support the aggressor. Both have enough time to reach a goal, for example conquering a city – or to prevent it. If the defending Civs manage to keep their city, they will receive a reward. If that does not work, the aggressor will not only receive the city, but also the bonus.
In our 150 sessions, there was also little room for diplomacy, while the necessary changes were made. You can enter into an Alliance with another civilization, with each Alliance now specializing in one of the five areas of the game: Research, Cultural, Military, Religious and Economic. You can enter into different Alliances, but only one of each type. You earn points for every turn that an Alliance holds. They ensure that an Alliance knows three stages, with increasingly higher bonuses. You earn the points by running Trade Routes between your own cities and those of your Alliance.
For Dutch players Rise & Fall has a nice surprise of a slightly different order in store. With the expansion you get eight new civilizations with which you can enter the battlefield, and the Netherlands is one of them. As the leader of civilization, Firaxis has chosen Wilhelmina. Not the most logical choice; someone like William of Orange or Stadholder William III would have been more likely. Firaxis, however, has already let it dawn that it wants to include more female leaders in the game, and from that point of view, Wilhelmina is an understandable choice. It is only a little strange to see Wilhelmina standing at the head of a couple of Warriors with clubs. Of course, this applies to more leaders, even though most of them are longer ago. It is a point that really stands out when it comes to your own history.
Something similar applies to the design that Firaxis has chosen. At Civ VI we have chosen a much less realistic style, and that appeals to us. This new style can also be seen in Dutch civilization. Anyone who starts with the Netherlands will start Amsterdam as the first action. For each successive city, Firaxis randomly selects the names of a number of large Dutch cities. Your second settlement can be Utrecht, but also The Hague or Rotterdam. The design of the first buildings is rather generic. The basis in your city has more Mediterranean features than Dutch. This changes somewhat when you arrive at the buildings and units specific to the Netherlands. In the long run, windmills will pop up in your cities, and they are reminiscent of the windmills in the Dutch landscape.
The specialty of the Netherlands is trade. Wilhelmina is friendly to nations that maintain Trade Routes with the Netherlands, and unfriendly to Civs who do not. Furthermore, in the Netherlands we are fond of water and culture. It is therefore beneficial to build cities on rivers or the sea. For example, you can transform tiles that border on water into Polders, which provide extra Food and Production. The Civ Ability of the Netherlands is also focused on water. A Campus, Theater Square and Industrial Zone receive a bonus when they are located on water, and building a Harbor provides a boost to Culture.
Not all civilizations that are added to the game with Rise & Fall are already known. Well known are Mongolia, Georgia, Korea, India, Scotland and the Cree Indians. We do not finish them all, but of course each Civ has some unique features. The Mongols are of course led by Ghengis Khan. Under his leadership everything is focused on trade and mobility, with large bonuses for all cavalry. Georgia is led by one Tamar, who in 1184 ascended the throne of the mountainous country. Those mountains also come back in the preferences of the Civ. Georgian units and buildings benefit from this. Furthermore, they love walls around their cities. Tamar even hates cities that lack good walls. The peculiarities of the remaining civilizations will reveal 2K Games in the coming weeks.
Firaxis gets quite a bit of a mess with Rise & Fall. Not so much by changing existing things, but by adding options to them. Especially the Ages are fun, because they ensure that the game counts less boring moments. For the visual aspect alone, you are going hard to do your best to raise your Era Score. It is a good way to keep the game exciting during each phase. The new Emergencies are also good for this, and to a lesser extent the new Loyalty. The latter element seems to be an excellent addition that can have major consequences early on in the game. Loyalty seems to be a great vehicle for unexpected attacks that can take place without bloodshed and that can be performed early in the game. Thus the theme of Rise & Fall seems outlined: Firaxis tries to make the game play more varied and exciting. That idea obviously appeals, although based on the taster that we have received, we can not yet say whether this approach has been successful. We will know more on 8 February.