Last night a patch for Civilization V was released. After Steam downloaded it I decided to fire up the game, despite recently deciding to give it a break after sinking 200 hours into it over a three month period, and see what this new patch had changed. You can find a full list online, but I just wanted to run through the major game-changers, give my opinions and here other people's views on the matter.
The main focus of the patch is balancing the gameplay, and after playing a shit ton of Civ 5 to have a lot of fairly major gameplay systems overhauled is kinda strange. I had to start up a practice game on Prince difficulty with my #1 go to Civ (the Greeks) in order to get fully acclimatised. Anyway, here's what's new:
- Major changes to Social Policy Tree - basically the change here is to make the three starting social policies - Tradition, Liberty and Honour - much more viable, which I think is a really good idea. The way that so many games of Civ where I was playing for culture went for me was that I would max out the first policy tree while I waited for the more advanced ones such as Piety, Commerce and Freedom to unlock. Now though it seems like picking two, or possibly even three, of the initial choices is a genuinely viable strategy. Liberty seems the most improved, especially since Collective Rule spawns a settler, Citizenship spawns a Worker, Meritocracy spawns a Great Person OF YOUR CHOICE and Representation starts a Golden Age. If anything, Liberty might be a bit overpowered. Will have to see in time.
- Settlers More Expensive to Produce/Buy - this is going to have an obvious effect on the speed at which you set up your civilization and its cities. One concern here is that this further makes the Liberty social tree overpowered as you can spawn a free Settler. Civs who don't choose Liberty as a policy will have to wait much longer to found their second city than those who go with Liberty.
- City-States Now Recognised When Connected to Trade Route - this was a really annoying bug, because workers were prioritising building a road to the city state which costs gold and achieves absolutely nothing, and also since the missions to City-States never expire you could not achieve another mission to win their favour. Very glad they finally fixed this frustrating bug.
- Golden Ages Provide +20% Production in Cities, Instead of All Production Tiles Having +1 Production - an interesting twist, since Golden Ages were huge business for cities built around hills, forests and other production heavy areas. Also now buildings that increase production (Windmill, Factory etc.) will be extremely useful for Civs playing with Golden Ages in mind.
- Denouncements and Declarations of Friendship Expire After Fifty Turns - I like this change. It was annoying to be committed to staying friends with a Civ for the entirity of a game because denouncing them or going to war made other leaders lose a lot of trust in you. Then again, denouncing and forming friendships does seem a bit limp if it's only for fifty turns - a denouncement is more of a smack on the wrist rather than a condemnation.
- Cities Must Now Have Three Tiles In Between Them, Increased from Two - mainly a change for the AI, since I never built cities that close but the AI did seem to. Not sure how much of an effect this will have on the AIs expansion, but could be significant.
- Allied Maritime City-States Provide One Less Food in the Capital, Down from Four to Three - another step to make Maritime city-state alliances less overpowered. A good idea.
Major Changes to Buildings:
This is a significant topic in and of itself, because it introduces some fairly major changes:
- New Building: Aqueduct - the Aqueduct works just like the Hospital and Medical Clinic in that a percentage of food, in this case 40%, is carried over after a new citizen is born, increasing the growth of cities. Earlier in the tech tree than Hospital.
- Stable Gives +1 Production for Sheep/Cattle/Horses and Can Be Built With Sheep or Cattle - the most pointless building in the whole game just became genuinely viable. Although it doesn't make sense that a Stable should have any effect on sheep or cattle, it is a big gameplay changer.
- Hospital Adds +5 Food but No Longer Carries Over, Requires Aqueduct - this seems strange considering the addition of the Aqueduct, but +5 food is more useful than carrying over food, so hospitals become more viable.
- Workshop Production Bonus Reduced to +15% but Affects All Production - workshops are now more viable in cities where production is more focused on building units or wonders. Good, I guess, although I generally built workshops in all my cities anyway.
- Windmill Provides +15% Production Modifier For Buildings Only and Provides +2 Production - this seems really strange, to swap the function of the windmill and the workshop. Then again, the Windmill was already more case specific, since you couldn't build one in cities on hills, so now hilled cities will be more useful for spawning units and building wonders than ones on flat ground.
- Colosseum and Theatre Both Produce One Less Happiness (Down to 3 and 4 Respectively) - this is a real bummer, because now managing happiness is much more closely tied to number of cities and luxury resources; it's more difficult to compensate for large number of cities with happiness producing buildings. Then again, it does make the Stadium more viable as a late game changer. Still, sad face.
- Gold Maintenance Reduced For Garden, Granary, Stable, Lighthouse, Armory, Colosseum and Opera House, Monastery and Observatory Now Require No Maintenance - this seems to make a big difference to income and means you can be less picky about which buildings to construct in which cities. Reduced maintenance makes me feel a little better about happiness reduction for Colosseum.
Overall I'd say that the major balance changes are good, although I am slightly concerned that after a while I'll realise that not choosing Liberty is effectively a death sentence. I will need to experiment and see how the changes affect the late game.