Gaming with a Grain of Salt: Civ VI

“Sid Meier’s Civilization VI” (Civ VI) just released a new expansion “Rise and Fall,” adding new rulers, “Golden” and “Dark” ages and city governors to the game. While those all sound fun, I’m honestly still trying to figure out the original Civ VI. The idea of adding any additional features to the game nearly gives me an anxiety attack, and typical of a grand strategy game that puts you in charge of so much micro and macro management.  


As soon as I started playing, I was confused. Even in the tutorial, it felt like I was already sinking in how many mechanics I had to remember and keep track of each turn. To be fair, I was warned that Civ VI was a “big” game that took some time to get used to, but that it shouldn’t trip up a returning player. For maybe the first time, I thought that meant I was included in the “good gamers” club who didn’t need to worry.  I was a big fan of Civ IV; it was one of only two computer games I played as a kid, and I spent hours winning game after game. When they released Civ VI, I felt like the big kid on the block, coming back to claim my rightful turf.


But I was more like a Kindergartener on the first day of school — confused, scared, and annoyed at all of the new rules. I lost the tutorial three times in one day. I couldn’t win the part of the game designed to let you win. Instead of the usual “just one more turn” feeling I was expecting from the old game, I was dreading how many more turns it would be until I was done and could play something else.


Civ VI added what feels like 50 new requirements to be good at the game. You have to manage city districts, intensive research trees for technology and government, spy systems, war penalties, and more complicated citizen reactions. While all of Sid Meier’s games require constant planning, in Civ VI you have to be thinking at least 25 moves in advance. Since I rarely survived past the Renaissance, my first few games I had no idea what was coming later and misused my land and city resources constantly.


Once you get over the learning curve, Civ VI does have a lot to recommend it. The sprawling city system makes them much more interesting, and if you go through the trouble of building a world wonder, it looks amazing. The whole game is beautiful, from the small details on farms to the map landscape itself. There are tons of new nations and leaders to play as or against, meaning that no two sessions are really the same.


For all of my complaining, Civ VI is a good game. It’s an interesting and complicated gameplay, and if you put the time in to master it, Civ VI is engaging for hours. But, if you decide to jump into both the game and the expansion pack this weekend and suffer a panic attack, don’t say I didn’t warn you.