Brave New World Review

I’ve played through a few games of Civ with the Brave New World expansion. Overall, I’m loving the expansion. Lots of cool new features that really change the end-game dynamic, for the better. I’m going to take a look at the main new features of the game below.

Culture/Ideology

By far this is the best new feature added to the game. Generating Great Works, searching for archaeological sites, building up your tourism and culture is a whole mini-game within the greater game. I really like the theming bonus you can get with certain buildings and Wonders. Trying to collect the right works to maximize your gain is a fun little puzzle.

It’s also nice that even playing with this system as a side note allows your Civ to generate modest culture. Before, if you weren’t devoted to gaining culture, you kind of got screwed on culture. Now, social policies seem to come more often so you can really get the ones you want. Not having categories (outside of Ideologies) that exclude each other helps there too.

The Ideologies have some cool new effects. The Freedom branch can really crank out the culture and tourism. The Autocracy makes you into a powerful army.  And while I haven’t used it yet, Order looks to be a good production route.

One thing I’m still unclear on with the Ideologies is the pressure to switch to different ones.  Two games I’ve played Freedom and not had any pressure to switch. In my latest game I went Autocracy and have a ton of unhappiness due to a desire to switch to Order.

What I can’t figure out is what determines that pressure. My Tourism and Culture aren’t the best but aren’t failing. The combined Tourism of all Autocratic civs is higher than Order by a lot. I don’t have trade routes or borders with Order civs. How to counter that is a missing link for me.

 

World Congress

The addition of the World Congress is another nice new feature. It’s a lot more exciting to get a Diplomatic victory and requires quite a bit more effort. The periodic votes can be fun and make some interesting dynamics. Do you vote against the world religion and offend your powerful ally or do you vote for it and harm your own religion?

Having two different proposals to vote on was a great idea. You get one pool of votes and you have to spread them out between the two options. Do you throw all your weight into something you really want or spread them out between both proposals? What will the other civs do? This can generate some nice and tough choices.

Some of the proposals are also quite cool. The World Games and World’s Fair are cool. Great bonuses for participating in building them but requires a complete halt to your cities progress. If the vote comes in the middle of a war you have to choose between more units or winning the world game/fair.

The one thing I don’t like about the World Congress is the ban on luxury goods. This seems really unbalanced. For some reason, Civs are always voting for the bans. It feels like the only way to stop a ban is to be the one with the majority of total votes. I’ve lived in almost perpetual unhappiness in my latest game because the damn Portugese keep voting on bans to all my luxuries.

Once these go into effect, you’re screwed. Unless you become the host of the congress, or have the second most votes, you’ll never get it repealed. Since there’s no way to defy the vote you’re stuck. And unless you’re really devoted to winning a diplomatic victory, the only thing you can do is nothing.

If someone with a different ideology and religion hosts the world congress, the only way to gain votes is to gain alliance control of every city-state and really spend a lot on buying votes from other civs. Civs seem very reluctant to sell their votes and you’ll never have the funds to do both them and city states.

 

New Civs

Of the 9 new civs added, I’ve played with three so far: Shoshone, Venice and Assyria. The expanded territory and ability to choose what you get from ruins can really give the Shoshone a big advantage starting out. Instead of waiting many, many turns to get those resources, they start in your territory. This can be huge in contested areas.

Venice is in many ways almost over powered. Which, since they can’t build settlers, seems counter intuitive. But because they are always only a one city civ, gaining social policies comes quickly. Stealing city states by using the merchant of venice can undermine other civs power in the World Congress. And with double trade routes, you’re raking in the money.

In the game I played as Venice, I never once went to war. I dominated culturally and diplomatically. I had money to throw around for whatever I wanted. It was cool in a way but got quite boring after a time. Playing on a harder difficulty would probably make a difference.

Assyria’s unique power is quite interesting. This game I played on Emperor and was quite far behind culturally and technologically for a long time. But then I decided to beat up the Germans before they got to far ahead. They had reached the Industrial age ahead of me but hadn’t yet upgraded most of their units.

It was a tough fight but since the computer is still pretty strategically stupid, I managed to take Berlin, which was full of Wonders and great works. After taking a few other small cities, I got a nice tech boost from their special ability and now was on par with everyone else culturally.

This game is still going on, and my biggest problem is unhappiness due to the aforementioned luxury bans. But it was cool that while I was behind, I wasn’t completely dead. Using the tech boost I managed to catch up.

 

Overall, Brave New Worlds is a great expansion. A few things I’m still getting use too and some minor annoyances, but it really turns a good game into a great game.

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