Civilization VI deep dive: The road to war
Civilization VI has overhauled many systems, but how you win seems largely unchanged. Four of the five victories (Score, Scientific, Cultural and Domination) are relatively identical to previous games, while the new way to win is via religion, which replaces Civilization V’s diplomatic victory. For you warmongers, here we focus on the Domination Victory.
WAR, WAR (ALMOST) NEVER CHANGES
The Domination Victory still requires all opposing civilizations to have lost their original capital (much easier than having to literally conquer every city), but how you attack and defend has seen quite a few changes, namely due to the changes in movement rules, the new terrain and district system, as well as unit types.
One of the biggest changes to (ancient and medieval) combat is the new implementation of city walls and encampments. Ancient cities have lost the ability to bombard, only able to do once a walls is constructed on the city centre tile. Walls also provide additional hit points to a city. Encampments are districts where military buildings are now housed, and they also provide a new spawn point for your units. As mentioned in an earlier post, encampments also halve the number of strategic resources needed to build a unit. Just as importantly, encampments gain the same bombardment ability and hitpoint buff when a wall is built in the city.
This means that a city with walls and an encampment is a military force to reckoned with. It has two ‘free’ bombards against any invading units a turn (one from the city hex, and the other from the encampment district). Strategically, where you place the encampment is also very important. For example, you could place it between two cities, using the encampment defensively, able to support both cities through the creation of units as well as bombarding any army that attacks either city. Conversely, you could place your encampment at a chokepoint or even along the border of your empire, ensuring opposing armies do not even get to your cities to begin with.
Civilization VI also has a wide range of units. Land, naval or air are the basic unit types, followed by melee, ranged, siege, support and many more. Due to the rock-paper-scissors aspect of many units (ie Spearmen are weak against swordsmen but strong against cavalry), a wide range of units are encouraged.
Conquering any city with walls and an encampment will require a wide assortment of units in your army (especially in the earlier eras). You will need at least some support or siege units with your melee units to deal with the fortifications. Also, because of the changes to the movement system (it’s much slower now, even with roads), having ranged or cavalry units to deal with harassers would be a good idea.
Interestingly enough, while it feels harder to conquer a city in Civilization VI, it is much easier to hobble one. The district system places more buildings outside of the city centre tile. This means that while you might be unable to conquer a city, pillaging all the improvements and districts will hamstring your opponents to some extent. Yes, raiding parties filled with only mounted units can actually be a thing.
Of course, another way to conquer is through science.
BLINDING THEM WITH SCIENCE
One common strategy in earlier Civilization games is to tech up early, and use scientific advancement to produce high tech units and strong arm other civilizations into submission. I am happy to report that this still works.
Firstly, certain civics allow units of the same type to ‘stack’, combining them into more powerful armies or corps (fleets and armadas for naval units). Unfortunately, this combination is permanent, so you can’t unstack them again.
Secondly, the civil engineering civic gives all cities a hitpoint bonus and the ability to bombard, so once you hit a certain point, all cities get ‘walls’. However, walls are no match against sufficient massed artillery strikes, or air bombardment (you need an anti-air rating to deal damage to aircraft, and only late-era units have that rating)
In fact, aircraft are essentially invincible against early game units (maybe up to the industrial era). The main drawback is that city centres can only hold one aircraft; you need an aerodrome district or an aircraft carrier to hold more. Another issue is that aircraft only have a limited range in which they can deploy and attack, so a good forward base is essential.
But what if every civilization has armies and armadas aplenty?
I AM BECOME DEATH, DESTROYER OF WORLDS
Nuclear devices were always scary in Civilization, but it’s a whole new different level of crazy in Civilization VI.
Firstly, you have to build the Manhattan Project. Then you need a source of uranium to build the nuclear bomb. Then you need a delivery device. This is either via a missile silo or a submarine (the WMDs are automatically added into whatever method of delivery you chose for them).
And then you access to kill anything in the world.
While I was on a tiny map, the range of the nuclear missile from my submarine was frightening, able to hit just about anything in one hemisphere. I can only imagine how far the longer-range missile silos can reach.
A nuclear missile can almost never be shot down (there is only one unit that can do so), and it utterly destroys anything in that tile, as well as all the tiles around it in a radius of one. Units and improvements are destroyed, and cities are reduced to 0 hit points. The fallout also contaminates and damages any units in the tile for 10 turns.
Repeat again for a thermonuclear bomb (which is now called Project Ivy), except this time the bomb destroys the hex and everything in a two tile radius. I’m glad you’re not allowed to rush purchase WMDs, because the power of even one is truly frightening.
A REASON FOR WAR
Strangely enough, one of the most important reasons why you want some technologies and civics under your belt before you go to war is not even a unit, but the casus belli system. In the early game, you don’t need any reason to go to war. However, once diplomacy sets in (somewhere the classical to medieval period), you will rack up some serious in warmonger penalties if you attack without good reason.
Casus belli is that reason. Bloodthirsty civilizations can find ways and means to reduce their warmongering penalty if they can claim a ‘good reason’. Taking a page out of history, the most popular casus bellis are holy wars (attacking a civilization with an opposing faith) and colonial wars (bringing the ‘light of civilization’ to the uncouth natives who are technologically behind you). Because of this system, you will end up eyeing a Civilization with an opposing faith (or low tech) to attack and pick on.
WINNING THE WAR
While domination is certainly a method of winning, war in Civilization VI is merely the means to another end. Because the faith and culture victories are based on having the most of something, war can be a way of knocking opposing civilizations into range for a non-domination win. More on that hopefully next week.