Crabology. The Way of The Claw. More than just a belief system based on the somewhat vague concept of an all-knowing and powerful crab god in the sky. Crabology is also a powerful tool that can be used to pull political strings, control a populace, and even serve as the foundation for a religious and holy war. Through faith in The Claw an entire army of warriors can be raised, alongside Apostles who would love nothing more than to visit a distant city and spread The Word.
As you read this you might be sitting there shaking your head. A heart filled with atheistic tendencies, muttering to yourself something about progress, science, or what have you. Let it be known that the greatest scientific discoveries throughout history, the best universities, schools, and houses of knowledge all happened due to the peace and serenity that comes with Crustacean Consciousness. The first civilization to send humanity into the stars? Mine. The first civilization to discover thermonuclear power? Mine.
So, don’t mess with me! Or you’ll end up like Germany and Khmer.
No two people play Civilization the exact same way, be it from deciding on which Civilization they want to be in control of through to the randomly generated maps, continents, and mix of various other Civs in play. Also, there’s the wide range of decisions to be made ranging from scientific endeavours through to theocratic ones, and of course military ambition. Which is where choice, systems, mechanics, and AI come in. For me it was leaning heavily into a theocratic government, where golf courses and resorts sat next to The Great Pyramids, distracting and entertaining the masses whilst an entire world was ripe for indoctrination.
Okay, so it didn’t start out that way. My intentions were quite pure. Honest.
It’s a testament to the sheer cohesiveness of the new features and systems that Rise and Fall introduces that make this one of the most fun Civilization games in a while. An experience that you’ll want to return to and try for a different type of victory - or form of governing. Perhaps resisting the allure and power of religion. Or, to just make use of all the wonderful little touches and strategies that become apparent throughout a playthrough. Prior to the release of the Rise and Fall expansion, Civilization VI was somewhat of a mixed bag. Offering some great ideas for the series but an experience hampered by a somewhat unengaging first 50 or so turns, and erratic AI behaviour that turned the late game into a fight for your life against the world.
Rise and Fall, the expansion to the base 2016 release, does a lot more than add a bunch of new Civilizations to control. It adds numerous features that not only elevate the overall experience but make Civilization VI well worth your time. More than just new features, the changes mostly service a key problem with Civilization VI, which was incentivising players to keep pushing forward to discover new technologies, build new types of structures, engage in trade, and explore the globe.
The introduction of Era Scores, adds weight to the passage of time. Do a lot and you’re rewarded with a Golden Age. Not enough and it’ll be a Dark Age filled with disloyalty and rebellion. Or just enough to keep the status quo. Governors, which can be embedded in cities and impact trade routes, offer bonuses to suit just about any playstyle. Lose loyalty and your city may rebel and potentially join a neighbouring state. Or, vice-versa. Global states of emergency can also be called, allowing Civilizations to band together to tackle a major, and growing threat. Alliances with other Civilizations now encompass more than simple friendship – where a cultural alliance means tourism from both Civs will see a boost.
By putting the focus on incentivising players and ensuring that all new features and additional things like units and districts play into the various victory conditions, means that overall Civilization VI Rise and Fall is the fulfillment of the promise we first heard thanks to the sweet dulcet tones of Sean Bean.
Who once again provides impeccable narration.
Before the dawn of the Modern Era a global panic could be felt. The rise of a new form of thinking, one that would free the citizens of the world from the shackles of oppression. The panic though wasn’t felt in the streets, but in the pristine and jewel-encrusted offices and palaces of so-called Great Leaders. Cowards who saw The Way of the Claw as a blight that needed to be eradicated instead of embraced. Fools that got upset when I surrounded their Holy Cities with Apostles. And so, the nations of the world banded together and in this state of emergency planned to put a stop to the rise of Crabology.
What followed was what we now have all come to remember as The Hundred Year War. Where faith triumphed, money was earned, and evil was vanquished. And so now, every year, we come together and celebrate at the nearest beach resort built next to a Great Wonder or Entertainment Center. Drinks are two for one.
- His Holiness, The Founder
Rise and Fall is the expansion that Civilization VI needed, a new direction that takes what worked and adds a layer of, well, fun. Using faith earned over the course of time instead of gold to build an army? Awesome. As is surrounding a nearby city with all sorts of sights and sounds and amenities and slowly watch their citizens rebel and swear newfound loyalty to The Claw. Followed by that Civ’s leader getting all upset and declaring War on you. And then a few others joining in just because. Okay, so some of the AI issues still linger when it comes to conflict but for the most part the actions taken by other Civs mostly make sense. The motives will be clear, as will the much more strategic use of force.
When it comes to Civilization, there’s so much going on and so many variables in play that it could never be perfect. Instead, what you can hope for is a complex but easy to follow game of Civ that you’d gladly playthrough again. One that doesn’t feel broken or at odds with what it’s trying to do. Civilization VI: Rise and Fall hits that sweet spot, with deep and rewarding new features that provide a more cohesive and memorable experience than the base game. Where no path feels too detrimental, whilst highlighting self-evident things like the power of religion and a well-stocked army. From the new Golden Ages through to the Governors and expanded Districts, if you’ve ever been a fan of the series – now’s the time to jump back in.