Since the game came out last week, we've been hearing from a lot of new voices on the forum. It is really great that the community is expanding.
While reading reviews and monitoring the forums, I've been noticing a couple of common complaints. I feel like these are based on some misconceptions, so I want to set the record straight. I see this as sort of a "last will and testament" because I don't plan on playing much of the game for a while. I will still monitor the forums and may occasionally comment, but I don't see myself playing GC4 again until it undergoes some refurbishment. (Also, I have some ideas for Thalan strategies in GC3 that I never got to test, so I think I'll give that a try.)
Here are the top misconceptions I see:
Galactic Civilizations 4 is disappointing because it is directed toward players who like "wide" empires and doesn't support "tall" play.
I have a couple of responses to this, but first we have to define what we mean by "wide" and "tall." For those unfamiliar with the terminology, "wide" refers to a sprawling empire with many centers for production (in this case, Core Worlds). Wide empires tend to have a strong military and infrastructure and be focused on expansion. "Tall" empires on the other hand have fewer centers for production (and thus fewer military units), but each center gets developed more. Tall empires tend to be defensive and focused on science or culture.
Anyone who says GC4 doesn't support "tall" play has never played the Baratak. At least they haven't realized the potential of the spore worlds. I went through a couple of failed attempts with the Baratak before I realized I was playing them wrong.
I imagine a lot of players-- especially players new to the franchise--come as I do from a background of playing Civilization. As I recall from my time playing Civ V and VI, "tall" empires usually consisted of three to four cities and anything with five or more cities was usually considered a "wide" empire. Given that there are some similarities between GC4 and Civ6, it's easy to see how some players might feel that GC4 is forcing them into "wide" play. This is a false comparison, however. In GC4, you can play "tall" with three core worlds, or you can play "tall" with eight. It all depends on the map.
A better way to put it might be that "tall" and "wide" are meaningless concepts in this game. "Peaceful" and "aggressive" capture the dynamic of the game much more accurately. It must be admitted, then, that there is some truth in the statement that GC4 doesn't support "tall" play. It was never supposed to. Neither does it support "wide" play. Those concepts are foreign to the game.
The fundamental difference between civilizations in GC4 is not that some of them expand and others do not. All civilizations expand. Some, like the Drengin, do it because they want to. Others do it because a convenient opportunity presents itself. Still others do it because they have to in order to survive. The old Malevolent/Pragmatic/Benevolent dynamic is still at work. The only real difference between the three is how much they care about diplomatic repercussions. The Drengin don't care one bit. The Iconians care a lot. If the Iconians didn't have to care, they would be just as bloodthirsty as the Drengin.
This leads me directly to the next misconception.
The diplomacy system in GC4 doesn't work because the AI never offers a fair deal.
I understand where this is coming from, because that was my initial impression as well. As someone who has already played this game a lot, though, I can tell you how wrong this impression is.
The AI will offer you good trades if they like you enough. It takes time to build that relationship. Be patient.
Probably what is happening is a lot of people get disheartened by the unfair trade offers the AI makes early. They reason that if they can't make good trades, then "tall" play must not be viable. They see they are slipping behind the AI technologically and seek to make up the difference through conquest. They go into full-blown Genghis Khan mode and never see a good trade offer the rest of the game.
Here's my advice. When you meet a new civ, don't do anything. Wait a few turns. Then offer them an Open Borders treaty (assuming you aren't playing the Navigators). Whatever they are willing to pay you, take it. Usually, they'll give you about fifty. In the worst case, they already have a slight bias against you and will only give you about eight gold. Just remember you aren't really sacrificing anything. That's eight free gold.
Then, if you have extra cash lying around, buy a diplomat sometime in the next 10-20 turns and assign it to that civilization. You don't need a diplomat to get good trades, but it definitely helps. Then just wait. Before long you'll be able to get an even trade.
You don't need to have a great relationship with everyone, so prioritize. Just ask yourself: given the geopolitical situation in the galaxy right now, who should I be friends with? Whose success inconveniences me the least?
The ideology system in GC4 doesn't work because there aren't enough ideology points available.
I have felt this way myself in the past, and I will concede that it might be good if Stardock offered us a few more opportunities to earn an ideology point. But the ideology system isn't broken because we don't have enough points available--the system is broken because the traits need to be reworked and rebalanced.
Since the complaints I hear tend to come in the form "I played a whole game and only got 2-3 culture points," I'm guessing that many people have not realized that you get culture points from completing certain quests. These involve building certain improvements (Torian Academy, Baratak Grove, Krynnaic Altar). You also get two citizens for completing these projects, so it's definitely worth it. The Krynnaic Altar gives you Divine Empaths, which are absolutely insane.
The one bad thing is that given how good these improvements are, the Harmony ideology trait that penalizes approval for foreign races feels really bad; but that just goes back to what I was saying about the traits needing a rework.
You get a culture point for researching Universal Translator, which you were going to do anyway. You get another one five years into the game. That's two points in exchange for doing absolutely nothing.
You get another for building one of the improvements unlocked by the Espionage technology. I can't remember what the improvement is called.
My guess is people feel like they don't have enough culture points because they are wasting the ones they do have. My advice is that if you don't have a trait available that you really want, don't spend the culture point. Wait until you have enough ideology awareness to get something you actually want.
You can also play the Arceans. They get a culture point for every leader assigned to a command ship. That's seven extra culture points total in a game. You will have so many culture points, you won't know what to do with them all.
This brings up an important point. If Stardock were to increase the number of culture points available, they would be indirectly nerfing the Arceans. They would also be massively buffing the Baratak. They should think long and hard before they do something like that. I think the amount of culture points we have now is probably just about right anyway.
In any case, it should be apparent that the ideology traits/trees have to be fixed before the amount of culture points can be adjusted. Otherwise, they won't know the value of what it is they are adjusting.
Steam users shouldn't buy GC4 because Stardock is in league with the devil, aka the Epic Games store.
Okay, I'm really just stepping into controversy on this one.
It is well documented at this point that the Epic Games store hasn't done anything illegal or nefarious. It is obvious that Steam (or Valve or whatever) benefits from the controversy persisting. There's nothing American or patriotic about boycotting Epic (which I say as a patriotic American).
Now of course I'm arguing with half the internet, which is about the stupidest thing that one can do. Conspiracy theorists will be conspiracy theorists, and I'm not going to change that.
I really just bring this up because were it not for the Epic Games store, I would never have encountered the wonderful world of Galactic Civilizations. I had never even heard of it before Retribution was offered for free on the Epic Games store some months ago. It quickly became my all-time favorite game. After I learned GC4 was in the works, I switched over. Now I'm going back to GC3 because I have some unfinished business there, just as Stardock apparently has some unfinished business with GC4.
As a way of saying thank you to Epic for introducing me to GalCiv, I feel obligated to do my part to stop the spread of misinformation. So I've brought it up here.
Those with a different opinion can denounce me, of course, and if they do so while checking their facts and sources, I will gladly listen.
This post was much longer than I intended for it to be, and I will be surprised if many people made it to the end!