Category Archives: reviews

Civilization VI First Thoughts

So I’ve put in a few hours of Civilization VI now. My initial thoughts on it… It is similar to previous entries but different in its own way.

Let’s get the negatives out of the way first.

Builders/Workers. These guys only do three improvements and then vanish. The upside on this is that it only takes one turn for them to make this improvement. There are policies and such to increase the number of improvements they can make prior to disappearing. But the days of Build-a-worker-and-let-him-go are gone.

Pacing. I do prefer longer games. Speed runs, etc. hold no interest for me. However, with the game on Standard speed, it seems almost too slow.

These are the only things that stand out as negatives for me at the moment.

Now on to the positives.

Policies. As you play, you research your technology (Pottery, Nuclear Fission, etc.) and Civic Policies. The Civic Policies can lead to a new government type, or to policies that you can implement, such as “Increased production for <insert era here> melee and ranged troops.” These are divided into Military, Diplomatic, Economic, and Wildcard. The wildcard slot will hold a policy of any type. And you are limited in the number of policies you can have implemented at any one time.

Cassus Belli. Everyone knows that when you spank a civ for encroaching on your territory, you get a warmongering penalty when you decide to chastise them. Now you can reduce these penalties by declaring war for a cause. Has someone spread his Zoroastrianism to your city? Now you can declare a holy war on him and the penalty for warmongering is reduced. I’ve also run across another method of reducing the warmongering penalty by liberating a city-state that has been previously taken over by another civilization.

Roads. I’m mixed on this one. Your workers don’t build them anymore, which is good given their limited lifespan. They are now produced by trade missions. The caravan will automatically create a road (which gets upgraded as you progress through the ages) between the two end points of the route. Military engineers can also create new roads, but I’ve not played with them yet.

Traders/Caravans. Again, I am mixed on this one. I don’t normally send out a lot of caravans. But with them being the only early game method of road creation, it is a must. Trade routes last only a few turns. At the end of the mission, a trading post is established in both end cities. Trade routes going through one of these trading posts later increase the value of the route. This gives you more incentive to send them out. And keep them busy.

Corps/Armies. You can create a stronger formation by combining two units into a corps. While I’ve not done it yet, I expect creating an army is similar, two corps to make an army. The upgraded unit is stronger than the single unit and gives you the ability (sort of) to stack troops.

Combat. Leading in from corps and armies, battles. They are pretty much the same as before. Troops battle, troops get experience, troops level up. Now the differences start to show. Each unit is a certain type; melee, ranged, cavalry, support, etc. The units have an upgrade path. Two choices at each level, one mainly for offense, the other for defense. This is capped by a seventh ability, which seems to be movement related (for the units I’ve seen). Support units, like a battering ram or a siege tower, allow the attacking unit to bypass or damage defenses during the attack. Normally, the attacker must beat down the defenses, and then the health of the city to capture it. A battering ram allows the attacker to damage both at the same time, while a siege tower allows the attacker to bypass the defense entirely and hit the health.

In all, I do enjoy this game. It has a few quirks that need to be gotten used to, but overall I like it.

Neverwinter Online Review, Part 2

So, today Neverwinter Online is “live”. They are out of beta, and celebrated it with a grand invasion of the Protector’s Enclave with undead. Many undead. Frequently. That aside, the live launch also introduced Alchemy as a crafting skill.

Alchemy is the new crafting skill. This allows a character to create potions (obviously). The biggest difference between Alchemy and the existing craft skills is the manner in which xp is gained. In alchemy, there is only 1 job per level that grants xp. So you can crank out potions and stuff until you are inundated with it, but your level won’t advance unless you do this special job. This can pose an issue since the item needed for the job seems to be somewhat uncommon. I received one from another alchemy job, out of 6 or 7 jobs. 12-14% drop rate is what I call very uncommon.

In the blog for NWO, the devs also said there will be weaponsmithing, which was a big omission from what I saw previously. This is good news in my opinion, and rounds out the crafting nicely.

Now if there was just something to make nature a viable gathering skill. Or at least a class that uses it.


I’ve been playing the new MMORPG by Cryptic, Neverwinter. It is based on the fourth edition rules of D&D. While I am not a great fan of these rules, they do lend themselves to the online medium quite nicely. The first thing most people will notice are the classes. Instead of the normal generic classes like fighter, wizard, cleric, and rogue; the classes in Neverwinter have very strict roles. The cleric class is called the Devoted Cleric for instance. While I’ve made one of each class (there are five in total), the class I’ve leveled the highest is the rogue class. This class is pure dps. The class does have stealth abilities which are handy, but the stealth ability is on a finite counter during use. Speaking of abilities, each class has two “at will” abilities, along with three encounter abilities and two daily abilities. As you level up you can unlock more abilities but you may only have a certain number ready to be used at any one time. This flies in the face of current MMORPG design with new skills being added nearly every level. It does take a bit of getting used to initially, but in the long run it works. In addition to the normal adventuring, which consists the normal types of quests found in MMOs; there is the crafting. The crafting is not done by the character, but rather by hired “assets” who perform the tasks. There are five crafting skills, Leadership, Leatherworking, Tailoring, Mailsmithing, and Platesmithing. Each one is geared towards one of the classes, with the exception of Leadership which allows you to get money and goods occasionally.

On crafting. There are five “gathering” skills; dungeoneering, religion, arcana, nature, and thievery. Great Weapon Fighters and Guardian Warriors get Dungeoneering, Devoted Clerics get Religion, Controller Wizards get Arcana, and Trickster Rogues get Thievery. At this time, no one has Nature as an innate skill. One can also buy “kits” of the appropriate types. If you do not have a skill, you may substitute a kit for one of the skills (at a reduced chance of success). For the manufacturing side of crafting, there is Platesmithing, Mailsmithing, Leatherworking and Tailoring. Platesmithing produces armor for GW (Guardian Warriors), Mailsmithing produces armor for Devoted Clerics and GWF (Great Weapon Fighters), Leatherworking produces armor for Trickster Rogues, and Tailoring produces armor for Controller Wizards. You may notice that all of the craft skills produce armor. At this point, weapons may not be created by players. There also does not seem to be a secondary market for craft goods, just the ingredients. Leadership is the exception to the armor producing crafts. Leadership gets you crates (for the most part), which give you potions and crafting bits.

Another interesting bit it the hourly divine bonuses. Each hour you may pray at a shrine and receive a bonus. The bonuses include stat buffs, astral diamonds, money, xp, potions. There are diminishing returns on the bonuses, so as you play, your bonus “quality” drops. Each day, you can also get a celestial coin from the prayer. These dissipate if you do not refresh them daily. You can get rewards from these too.

The gameplay is very well suited to solo play. Most content is able to be accomplished by the character plus an NPC companion (granted at ~15th level). Harder content requires a full group. There does not seem to be any mid-ground for people who duo or trio. There are queues for the group content, but it can be a while if you are doing content a lot have already finished.

In addition, there is the Foundry. This allows the players to create their own adventures and publish them for others to play. The quality on these varies from excellent to utterly craptacular. I’ve only played a couple, and the rewards at the end are not controlled by the author, but rather by Cryptic.


All in all, I’d give Neverwinter Online a 3.5/5. More classes and more variation in the crafting would greatly increase this.

Neverwinter Online may be found at