The first major expansion for Civilization VI has been released, and as expected, it opens up an entire new world of strategy by completely changing the way the game is played. With its focus on empires and domination, Rise and Fall brings to the table many features that reinforce the legacy aspects of the series, while softly reinventing or reorganizing some familiar mechanisms of Civilization games past. If you’re just getting started, you’ll need a primer on how these play into the rules already established by the base game and reshape how you approach a win state. Here’s an explainer for my fellow Civilization vets / Rise and Fall beginners.
This feature seems to have evolved from Civilization V’s use of Happiness, which was later used to provoke rebellions in unhappy cities. Loyalty will determine how appeased your settlements are based on your management of their needs. It is measured on a scale of 1-100 (which you can see in the city’s menu, with an additional breakdown on each source of influence). Amenities (which also replaced Happiness from the previous game) will be a major factor in keeping a city under your control. Loyalty pressure can be positive or negative, and it can come from other civs in either form. This means that maintaining good relationships with your neighboring civs is more important than ever. Influence is maintained within nine tiles of a city center, however it diminishes as it approaches the borders. Settle your cities close together to maintain the best control. Try to keep it within three tiles of one of your borders. Isolated cities are harder to protect and send additional units to, so this is a good strategy anyway.
If the Loyalty scale reaches zero, the city will declare its independence, and become its own civilization. At that point it is still subject to heavy influence and can be “turned” to another civilization (not unlike how, in Civilization V, players were able to gain a city through pure cultural influence if the city’s civilization was at war). This is where Governors come in. They can be appointed to stabilize the region, and military force can also be used.
Oh and when you have a Settler unit and set out to establish a new city, pay attention to the tiles. They’ll alert you to where negative Influence from other civilizations will affect their Loyalty to you. It will give you a clue as to where the most vulnerable locations are.
The Governors (which seem to carry over some aspects of the Spy system of Civ games past) are a group of appointees who can boost certain aspects of your cities’ growth and manage their Loyalty to the civilization. There are seven different types, and each generates +8 Loyalty per turn (which is a lot. My last rebelling city had -14 Loyalty per turn, and no Governor). The idea is to assign a Governor whose boosters are specifically beneficial to the city you send them to. For example, use Reyna, who speeds up the acquisition of new tiles, in a newer city or one near a border you’d like to expand. Or if you have a Production-focused settlement, assign Liang the Guildmaster, who gives an extra build to your Builder units.
Governors can be reassigned as needed. One of them, Amani, is a diplomat who can be sent to City States as an enhanced Envoy, so if you’re heavy on trade and City State alliances, use her to your advantage. As time goes on Governors will also get Promotions and gain additional bonuses to their original abilities, each supporting their area of strength.
Emerging from the basic structure and premise of the Golden Ages from Civilization V, Great Ages are another means to gauge the progress (or failure) of your civilization while you manage your resource ecosystem. They’re a little tricky to understand, but basically, each Era of your civilization is determined by its advancement in technology and civics, and that in turn influences the World Era of the entire game. A brand new Era score is now also tallied, and this reflects whether your civilization, which begins the game in a Normal Age, is heading for a Dark Age or a Golden Age.
There are four total Ages: Normal, Golden, Dark and Heroic. The major achievements of your civilization that are made during a World Era will determine the Era Score, and thus, which Age your civilization swings towards at the end of that World Era. Many in-game moments previously commemorated as major progressional milestones are now known as Historic Moments, and for every one of these achieved within the World Era, the Era Score goes up one or more points. They will be familiar to the seasoned Civilization player: finding a tribal village for the first time, making first contact with a City State or civ, or discovering a Natural Wonder. They are somewhat era specific, in that early achievements are not considered significant if they are earned during advanced eras.
If your Era Score at the end of the World Era is below the threshold for a Dark Age, the civilization will enter a Dark Age. During this time your citizens’ Loyalty is heavily tested and it becomes easy to lose cities to independence or other civilizations. If it is between the score for Dark Age and Golden Age, the civilization will remain in or enter Normal Age. If it is sufficient for Golden Age, the civilization will benefit from multiple enhancements and rewards for the duration of the World Era, including heavy influence on the Loyalty of foreign civilizations. A Heroic Age, meanwhile, is earned when the player enters a Golden Age immediately following a Dark Age.
Bear in mind that each Age’s score thresholds are affected by the Ages the player has already achieved. If you enter a Golden Age, the necessary Era Scores for both Normal and Golden Ages are increased. Likewise, Dark Ages lower the necessary Era Score for a Normal Age. Note that it is easier to achieve a Golden Age from a Dark Age than it is from a Normal One, as the threshold is decreased by five.
Additionally, at the start of each new World Era, a Dedication can be chosen from a set of various advancement boosters that will benefit your civilization. They are tailored to a few different playstyle strategies, like Culture or Religion or Production, and as certain goals are achieved that fit within those values, additional Era Score points are earned. If the player has entered a Heroic Age, they may choose three Dedications.
This feature supports the historical aspects of the game by allowing the player a linear look at their civilization’s significant achievements. Historic Moments, which are used to determine Era Scores, can now be seen in a series of annotated illustrations, celebrating key points in a nation’s history, like founding a religion or training the civilization’s unique unit for the first time. It doesn’t play a serious role in the strategy of a Civilization VI game, but it’s fun if you like to keep track of your civilization’s glory.
In what appears to be an effort to balance the game against late-stage turbo-dominance from particularly skilled (or underchallenged) players, a game state called Emergency has been added. An Emergency is triggered when one of the players makes a significant gain or takes an extreme course of action—for example, converting a Holy City to another religion (ouch) or using a nuclear weapon. At this point, other civilizations may come together and either join or decline to join the state of Emergency. During an Emergency, there is a specific time-based objective, with permanent rewards for whichever civilization completes them—a civ that is the target of an Emergency, for example, can still participate and obtain rewards if their opponents fail to do so.
So far, the reward sets for these are static and underwhelming (and the entire system itself seems primed for more AI abuse), so maybe don’t sweat it too much if you haven’t figured out how to incorporate it into your strategy just yet.
Holly Green is the assistant editor of Paste Games and a reporter and semiprofessional photographer living in Seattle, WA. She is also the author of Fry Scores: An Unofficial Guide To Video Game Grub. You can find her work at Gamasutra, Polygon, Unwinnable, and other videogame news publications.