Thursday, 04 April 2019 06:57

Sid Meier's Civilization® VI: Gathering Storm Review

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Edited by: Tiffany Lillie

The Gathering Storm expansion for Sid Meier’s Civilization VI brings a new level of complexity and strategic micromanagement by exploring how weather (natural disasters) and diplomacy affect the world and your empire. While diplomacy isn’t new to the Civilization series, in Gathering Storm it’s now an intricate, vital strategy, no matter how you plan to win the game. As for weather, it’s entirely new and it can unleash disaster upon your early civilization and force the world to come together in the later ages.

Weather forces you consider civilization placement on a new level.

Previously, civilization placement depended on surrounding resources, which determined what kind of benefits you’d choose later on from religions, technology, luxury good trading, etc. You didn’t want to be too close to your unhappy neighbor (or maybe you did want to be close), and some civilizations worked better inland or along a coast. Extreme weather and global warming now forces you to consider how the landscape will change in the future and what natural disasters you’ll risk. With global warming as a problem later in the game, the sea levels will rise and coast tiles will disappear. You are warned about how quickly tiles will sink into the ocean, but many of those tiles that will sink early are tantalizingly close to beneficial luxury resources that will give you a leg up as you begin your civilization’s journey.

In contrast, repeat weather will affect your civilization. Settling near flood lands or volcanos guarantees that you’ll have to repair districts and enhancements, but there are benefits from those disasters. If you can harness the disasters and use the newly fertile land, then settling near disaster zones can breathe new life into micromanaging cities. They can force you to adopt new strategies and try new game styles.


Going inland to avoid flood plains, rising coastlines, and hurricanes, as well as avoiding volcanos outright, doesn’t remove the dangerous weather affects. Gathering Storm presents tornados, droughts, and more, to force you to adapt to the weather and mix up your favorite strategies, no matter where you settle on the map.


To encourage you to settle and play with guaranteed natural disasters, you can build dams, flood barriers, and other engineering projects to prevent negative outcomes from weather as you unlock different technologies. These make it easier to deal with the recurring disasters and provide new things to build and work toward in the technology trees.

If you frequently start and restart new civilizations, enjoying the early eras more than the later eras, the natural disasters may make Gathering Storm more annoying than fun. These disasters can frustrate an early civilization that hasn’t built up a lot of production or is still struggling to manage food resources. In Advanced Options during the game setup panel, you can adjust how frequent the natural disasters occur (from 0–4, with 4 being the most frequent), but you can’t turn them off completely. There are still some disasters if you set frequency to 0, though they are more spaced out.

Gathering Storm brings back Civilization V’s World Congress — with a twist.

World Congress uses a new currency, which can only be traded outside of World Congress sessions. The currency, Diplomatic Favor, replaces trading gold or resources for votes, and civilization leaders will start trading it upon meeting each other in the Ancient Era, way before the World Congress will congregate (in the Medieval Era).

The World Congress also has special sessions outside of the standard 30 turns (for standard game pace), which can be started when severe natural disasters occur or emergency situations are met (kind of like Emergencies in the Rise and Fall expansion). However, a civilization has to have gained 30 Favor to call a special session, and it can’t take place within 15 turns of the last normal World Congress session.

Trading Diplomatic Favor forces you to use diplomacy in your conquest strategies, just like global warming. Diplomacy can’t be ignored in Gathering Storms, no matter how much you’ve disliked it in previous Civilization games or expansions. However, if managed, it can benefit your civilization and help power you through natural disasters, surprise war declarations, and a variety of other setbacks in the Civilization universe.

New abilities.

The Gathering Storm expansion has given us a new set of civilization leaders with more unique and enjoyable abilities. These leaders further tailor your gaming experience to your preferred playstyle.

Like wandering around a bit looking for the most strategic placement for your first civilization? Try Kupe of Māori, who gains benefits for each turn you spend searching for the right spot for your first civilization. Personally, I love moving around to find a better strategic starting spot if I’m not happy with the one the system provided me (though after 5–7 moves I’ll just restart the game to load a better spot so I’m not as far behind). In my case, Kupe removed the frustration of being behind because I disliked my starting location. I wasn’t behind anymore — I was ahead.

Tend to mostly set up trade routes with your own city instead of the civilizations? Pachacuti of Inca receives +1 Food in domestic trade routes for every mountain tile in the origin city. There are eight new leaders for new/different civilizations (Eleanor of Aquitaine can lead England or France, the different civilizations giving her different benefits).

More ways to micromanage, more layers of complexity.

Gathering Storm adds new layers of complexity and difficulty to some of the standard Civilization mechanics. For example, spies can be tailored to city districts, enhancing espionage strategy. Strategic resources are now consumed to generate power, increasing your need for resources like coal and oil and forcing you to choose how to spend them more wisely. Electricity can provide benefits to your cities, but burns resources every turn. Meanwhile, the Warmonger system has been replaced with Grievances, which uses more detailed formulas and can be gained from more than just war.


The Verdict: Excellent

If you enjoy the complexity of micromanagement and enjoy harder challenges, then Gathering Storm will supply you with different options and new strategies to conquer the world. If you like to play more casually, the extreme weather will make the start more frustrating, as there are more events that can make you fall behind. Gathering Storm adds new elements that explore weather and diplomacy more extensively than in previous expansions and games. It’s unique, and once again supplies endless hours of entertainment, micromanagement, and strategy.

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Cherise Papa

Cherise Papa is a freelance writer and editor with a passion for writing novels and playing games. With a thirst for lore and massive damage, she heals raids, conquers civilizations, smashes things with two-handed weapons, tames dinosaurs, and eats other snakes. Accompanied by her husband and gamer toddlers, she explores new worlds and logs too many hours on Steam. Her gaming drink of choice is rich hot chocolate with peppermint candy canes, mint chocolate chip ice cream, or handfuls of marshmallows.