Over the last few months, I’ve been working away at a little project: to win Civilization 6 on every one of the maps, on all four victory settings. For each game I played, In decided in advance which victory I was going for and chose a map, but let the game assign me a leader, and in general it worked. A waste of time? Well, I don’t get as much from it as I do from reading or watching a film. But it is tremendously satisfying to Take Over The World, in various different ways, in various different worlds.
I have not gone overboard: I didn’t get any of the expansions, and once or twice I accidentally won the wrong way. But it is a fun game, and although I have finished this project I may go back to it from time to time.
This is actually the easiest and quickest of the four to achieve. Provided you invest in religious buildings, and, if possible, Stonehenge, from the beginning, you can build up a massive advantage in religious output very early, and successfully stamp out heresy with quite a small number of cities, sometimes even before the dawn of the Industrial Age. All the other three victories need you to have at least an average sized empire to achieve critical mass; but if you are a religious superpower, you may need only half a dozen cities by the end, four on a small map.
Shares with the domination victory a need to explore the world to find other civilisations to convert/conquer. I tried it on one of the big maps and won while pulling in over 500 Faith points a turn by the end.
You can get some lovely paradoxes by winning with incongruous combinations: Queen Victoria converting the world to Zoroastrianism was one of my favourites.
To win a domination victory, you obviously invest in military training and industrial production, but you also have to start conquering your neighbours early. The most difficult bit of this for me psychologically is that you spend most of the game with all the other empires angry with you, because they think you are a warmonger, because you are a warmonger. For a people pleaser like me, that goes against the grain. But basically once you have nobbled a neighbouring capital or two, you are already probably the biggest civilisation in the world, and then it is just a matter of industrializing, developing tanks and aircraft, and out-thinking the AI’s rather poor military strategy, until the last capital falls. Again, you have to explore the world to win.
This and the cultural victory require you to have at least an average sized civilization, but don’t require the same dominance as the military route. The space race can get quite competitive between civilizations at the end, and you need spies to sabotage your neighbours’ spaceports and stop them getting to Mars first. You need to finish with three working spaceports, which means a fair bit of strategic forward planning, more than for any of the other victory conditions. Once or twice I had to resort to a quickly assembled military strike force to take out the more advanced capitals, but it is also possible to win without fighting a single war.
This was the most difficult to get the hang of, and I am still not sure that I have completely got it. It requires a lot of investment in the early game: every theatrical district you build is a holy site or campus or encampment that you didn’t. It also needs a strong enough religion in your own territory at least to be able to send apostles into other civilizations to get martyred and generate relics. And again you need spies to steal works of art from any other civilization with cultural pretensions. The crucial Wonder for me in a couple of these games was the Eiffel Tower, which enabled me to build loads of seaside resorts and generate a winning advantage. At the end, once you have built up the momentum, the tourism points suddenly start shifting your way with dizzying rapidity, but it can feel like a long wait.
Anyway, it’s been fun, though I have spent too many nights sitting up late playing it for just a few more turns before turning in. I may even try some of the expansion kits, but before I do that I want to try this year’s Hugo finalists now that we are trying the games category.