I’ve just released the “Settlers Retreat” mod for Civilization 6. Steam Workshop isn’t supported yet for Civilization 6 so you’ll have to download it here from CivFanatics. The mod makes it so that when a Settler is attacked by a hostile military unit instead of being captured they teleport back to the city they were built in. This makes the AI more challenging and ensures the early game economy is consistent.
Helping the AI
Capturing civilian units, specifically Settlers and Workers, has been a consistent feature of the Civilization series. But it frequently has been a source of abusive strategies. In Civilization 5 is was common to steal workers from City States. In Civilization 6 it is possible to steal a Deity AI’s extra starting Settlers if they spawn close to you.
These starting Civilian units are suppose to jump start the AI’s economy and make them more dangerous. Letting players capture them undermines this design objective. Instead of the AI being more dangerous the human now has an advantage.
Half of writing effective game AI is making it able to understand the choices it has available and picking good ones. The other half is avoiding designing systems that you can’t get the AI to understand. No matter how interesting a mechanic or system is for a player to work with, if the AI can’t understand it and constantly looks like a dunce, it probably needs to be changed to make the AI look less foolish.
Stabilizing the early game
The second major problem is that free units disrupt the early game economy. Production is so limited in the early game that every decision is vital. Having ways to get units without building them allows a weak opening to become stronger than an ideal opening. These power jumps make it impossible for a designer to consistently gauge what stage a player’s economy will be in during the early stages.
With this mod if a player wants a second city they will need to build it themselves. Attacking an AI Settler will delay the Settler’s movement but it will no longer obliterate a ten turn commitment to building their own Settler.
The future of Civilization 6 modding
This is my first released Civilization 6 mod but it is not my last. I plan to release more small scale, modular mods. These will be experiments that will eventually form the basis for a larger overhaul I am working on.
I will have more posts describing the aspects of Civilization 6 I plan to evolve with the overhaul. Like Echoes of Earth it will use the existing systems in novel and interesting ways to delivering unique game play without clogging the game just more stuff.