Casual Thoughts on Civ VI from a Bad Player


Well, I lost my first game of Civ VI last night, so I figured it was time discuss the game in a casual light.

I’m going to be up front with this: I am a bad Civ player. I’ve piddled around with the series on and off since about Civ III, I think, but I don’t really know what I’m doing. I usually just set the game on easy mode, then enjoy building cities, watching them grow, and winging the whole thing until I earn a Science win or something.

Oh, that Tech? Don’t really know what that does, but yeah, that sounds good.

Yep. I have no sense of strategy at all. I don’t know what I’m doing. I’ve heard that other people focus for specific tech paths and so on. I just click anything that seems quick to make. (Warned you that I’m bad).

Any tips or resources on learning to play Civ better for a complete noob? 

So, with that out of the way, Civ VI. I wasn’t going to buy Civ VI at launch. But then Green Man Gaming had a really nice sale on the game that I couldn’t pass up. And here we are.

Casual Civ VI Thoughts

Now, I call this a casual view of the game because I remember so little about playing Civ IV and Civ V that I can’t even tell you what’s changed between them. I just know that I sat down and had fun with what I did play.

The tutorial has two flavors – New to Civ and New to Civ VI. I chose the New to Civ path and actually learned things I didn’t know before. Not that that’s hard to do.


Some people seem to dislike the art style, but it didn’t bother me. Again, I don’t recall much about the previous games, but the style seemed to be along the same lines I’d expect from a Civ game. The world leaders are somewhat stylized and cartoony, but I felt they had a lot of expression.

Anyhow. I spent my first two hours playing the tutorial before I realized I couldn’t save the game. So, I decided to start a new standard game from the menu, and rolled up England as my random civilization. Good enough.

I realized very quickly, however, the game starts a standard player on level 4 Prince difficulty, and started to freak out a little. I remember having my head handed to me when I tried playing on Prince years ago in Civ V, so I usually kept the difficulty lower than that.

This time, though, I decided to roll with it and see what happened. I was never one to focus much on naval units, which seemed to be a specialty of England, so I figured it would be a learning experience.

Of course, the first civilization I meet was Azetc, and I had to groan. Montezuma hates my guts no matter which Civ game I’m playing. I usually have to wipe him out to get him off my back. And in this game, his civilization was going to share borders with mine… so… Yeah. The game wasn’t shaping up well from the outset.

But somehow, I managed to survive . And even more amazing, Montezuma never invaded me. No, instead, we ended up allied and friendly. I think this is the first time I’ve actually played a Civ game where I’ve figured out how to befriend other Civs.

I’m not sure what I did right. I played a very cautious game.

I had a lot of trouble growing my cities, though. Part of this was because the game tossed me out on the coast, and I was afraid of settling more inland due to stirring Montezuma’s revenge. Seeing that naval units were England’s strength, I built up that aspect of my army. I’m not sure how, but I was second on the Conquest win, even though I didn’t declare war with anyone, nor did I try to attack people. I guess I had a strong army, which was probably what made Montezuma happy with me.

This actually worked very well. Greece kept pitching hissy fits at me (I assume they hated my government style), and would repeatedly declare war. Only, they were also usually on bad terms with the Azetcs, whose sprawling civilization stood between mine and Greece. This forced the Greeks to have to sail around the continent to reach me, where I met the troops with my navy, and blew them out of the water before they could reach landfall.

After trashing the Greek army with no risk to my own units, they’d reconsider their course of action, and offer me a bunch of stuff for a peace treaty. XD

And all this time, Montezuma loomed over my shoulder like a psychopath big brother. He’d pitch a fit the moment I did anything that seemed suspicious – It’s just a scout passing through, dude… relax.

I threw trade routes all over the place and did massive trading between other countries. I have no idea what I was doing there, but I must have done something right, because I always had more than enough money on hand to upgrade troops and sometimes buy hexes. I probably never built enough Wonders, though.


New Features Thoughts

I like the new districts feature. It helps me focus on what I want to use each city for because I have to keep a balance between building stuff and maintaining enough food/resources. It does add a layer of complexity to the game, but rather than just building everything in every city willy-nilly, I find myself picking and choosing based on the function I want the city to perform.

Barbarians remain relevant longer. In earlier Civs, once you wiped the barbarians, that was it. They were history (no pun intended). In this game, they kept coming back somehow, heckling me through the ages. I was actually okay with this. They were challenging at first, but eventually became less and less of a threat over time. But they could still take a wandering settler if you aren’t careful to escort it.

I like the new government system. Slotting cards to change the effect of government gave it an RPG-ish feel, and made more impact and sense to me than previous governments did in Civ.

I know some people complain about the fickle AI in the game, and I did experience some of that. But I also had more luck befriending and interacting with the other leaders in this game than I ever have before. I was able to befriend and ally with the Aztecs, Russians and China over time. Trade was actually beneficial, especially before I found resources like Iron for my own settlements. I’m sure this was the case in older games, too, but this is the first time I understood what to do to get results.

I like being able to earn bonuses to speed up tech and civic discoveries. It’s like working towards mini-quests, and it always made me feel good about myself to cut the research time in half.

I don’t understand the whole spy system so far, but I did like that you could send spies on missions. I ended up drumming up diplomacy between myself and China from the spy I sent there, when previously, China was ignoring me.

I do have a beef with how the game ends. I lost the game, but I’m not entirely sure why. I just got a game over screen, and eventually deduced that China won a culture victory… I think. I’m not the only one who had an issue with how games abruptly end with little information on why.

But, hey, my little struggling civilization did survive to see end game despite not having a clue on really what I was doing. I’m almost tempted to continue the game because I’ve grown rather fond of the map. But maybe I’ll try something new to see if have better, or at least the same, luck as the first. I have a sinking feeling that my success was all a series of lucky guesses. 🙂


  1. I cannot say for sure, but I have read that happiness affects barbarian spawns. That seemed to correlate with my experience. I had a religion-focused game as Egypt and I never bothered to do much as far as entertainment goes, so most of my cities were less happy.

    Also, religion is significantly different in this game. A religious victory can be had by converting a majority of cities in every other civ (I thought total religious population was the goal). Furthermore, religious units can fight it out with each other, so if you have someone trying to convert you, it is best to have a few Apostates or Inquisitors handy. You get the latter by sacrificing an apostate to start an inquisition.

    All in all, I think it is a solid addition to the series. What amazes me most is how bland and vanilla it feels, even though it has features that had to be added in expansions in iterations past. Not really a knock since I fully expect several more years of support and releases that I will purchase, but fascinating nonetheless.

    Also, one last tip, don’t be afraid to specialize, even at the expense of not producing things like gold, faith, culture, or religion. Once you get going, you may not need most of those things if you have already focused on a victory type. My religion game also had me as a trade/gold superpower and I ended up stockpiling the gold in case I needed to churn out a sudden army. Not much else to do with it since I wasn’t advancing much more scientifically or culturally.

    1. I did notice religion as a possible victory in the list, which I thought was cool. I didn’t explore it very much (was trying to learn too many things at once), but I did take note of the religious units of other countries going head to head.

      That’s a good point about the use of gold and trade. I certainly had more gold stockpiled than I was using in my game, and only later into it did I realize you could buy hexes and such!

      I’m probably going to restart and see what else I can learn. 🙂

      1. I didn’t notice religious victory as an option either until I had it done to me in Turn 212 on the easiest level. The loss screen didn’t say why, but since I’d just had a majority of my cities converted by the Aztec Apostle Horde that had swept through my lands…. I think that was it.

        I started a new game last night as Germany with the plan to put 4 cities asap into a square (ish, as the map allows) formation and then build all my districts in the middle of the square. I rushed to being able to do the Industrial zone since Germany has that as a unique district (and thus a discount to build the district) and put them all next to each other to maximize their adjacency bonuses, and.. well… I logged out last night at turn 200 and I’m in the Industrial Era already, plus I’ve got over 100 production in my capital and over 70 production in the other 3 cities of the square. And I had to build a 5th city in a different direction in order to pick up Niter so I could upgrade to Musketmen. It’s already over 20 production as well and once I’ve got the Hansa (Germany’s industrial district) upgraded it will be adding more production to the capital as well.

        Yeah, I’m kinda dominating this game. All due to finally knowing a little of what I’m doing and then having a plan and executing it. Only took me several days and reading a lot of reddit threads about it to get there.

        1. I’m poking around Reddit a bit to see if I can pick up any tips and general thoughts. I started over on a lower difficulty setting just to learn. Still enjoying it.

  2. Hey, you’re not supposed to finish a game of Civ before me! =P

    In seriousness, it’s good, but the UI needs to be more helpful. You really have to dig around to find necessary information for a lot of things. The game mechanics feel solid, but they’re kind of too well hidden.

  3. Ha, sounds like me when I dabble with 4x or Civ-type games. I usually just set difficulty to easy and then progress on to a slow, inexorable military annexing of any and all civilizations, hopefully based on superior science/technology. And had fun, even while playing at a super-primitive level.

    I’ve found that one of the more eye-opening things that I can do, if wanting to learn more about how deep the rabbit hole goes for a particular game, is to watch someone else – preferably a more expert player – play it. Twitch or Youtube is handy, if time-consuming.

    I remember watching people play/stream Endless Space/Endless Legends/Civ variants and had my mind blown as to how intensely strategically they were calculating every resource from every tile their city/planet had, and what decisions were prompted based on that. Plus understanding in-depth what advantages the AI civs had on higher difficulties, in order to respond to that handicap, catch up and overtake.

    What I’m still personally working on figuring out is how to be ok with the intermediate learning stages of not-being-very-good, being ok with incremental progress and being ok with not being an expert overnight or if ever.

    1. That’s a good idea. I haven’t really thought to watch people playing Civ. Of course, I’m not a mathy or min-maxer type of player, so while all that sounds cool, it’s too much work for a casual gamer who just likes to see cities grow. XD

      I started over last night on an easier setting, and I am slowly learning some new things. The game gave me my own little island without real competition, so I feel like I have more time to look around and figure things out. It’s been enjoyable.

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