Expansion suggestion: Return of Espionage
1. Maintain the role of diplomacy in MP games
- In general diplomacy is FFA warfare. Diplomacy is but a formality.
2. Balance smaller civs against larger
- Smaller civs not only have smaller armies but will fall behind in science, unlike the real world.
3. Balance culture tracks against other
- Culture in late game serves mainly for cultural victory, but unlike warfare or science tracks it weakens the civ before that.
Background: In modern societies the propaganda, media and public relation industries play a major role in warfare, diplomacy as well as the economy. No president goes to war without first consulting his PR consultants on domestic and international opinion. The media assets are tightly tied together to the intelligence domain of psychological operations.
Suggestion: At a certain point, printing press etc, create option to divert culture to intelligence.
Intelligence actions available will be: create discontent, coup city (bonus against puppet), steal technology, casus belli, secretly discredit (like denounce without relation hit with target), counter espionage, cultural propaganda (increase standing with other nations), steal military plans and similar. Espionage costs will scale with size, but less so than policy advance. Smaller nations will thus have more intelligence actions available in comparison to their size, but less than a large empire.
AI relation values will now in addition represent public opion of that nationality towards yours (also in MP). This will be a modifier in espionage, with positive relations enabling cheaper actions and vice versa.
Cities with a different nationality will confer a bonus, proportional to the population and that nationality's relation to the nation performing espionage. English, having good relations with the French, will get a bonus in performing espionage in German cities with a large French population etc.
1. A military aggressor conquers several liberal nations, but is bogged down and fails to eliminate its enemies. With time international support of the resistance of the conquered populations will create instability, weakening the aggressor. United enemy propaganda efforts discredits the aggressor in the world opinion, further polarizing its population and weakening it hold of the conquered areas until widespread rebellions occur.
2. A cultural, liberal nation competing against a industrial giant, relying on its international influence to generate defectors to keep up with scientific progress. To counter this, the industrial giant relies heavily on counter intelligence, slowing its cultural progress.
3. A former great nation is reduced to a culturally rich city state after losing large parts in several war. Spinning a web of intrigue by using the leverage of its intelligence advantage, it manages to keep its scientific research up to date and using its intelligence operations to liberate city by city while its many occupiers are busy fighting each other.
4. A huge liberal empire uses its massive cultural influence to generate a casus belli against city state of city state, slowly expanding its extent without giving its enemies possibility to interfer.
Sounds fun, balanced and a with a certain degree of realism, doesn't it?
The problem with an elaborate approach to espionage is that it makes a lot of players hate espionage venomously, and then we wind up with what we've got in Civ V: no espionage. A good espionage system shouldn't seem like it's divorced from the mechanics of the other aspects of the game. Most importantly, players shouldn't need to invest a lot of special anti-espionage defenses just to avoid constant victimization by a spymonger.
Here are my thoughts (that I tend to post whenever I see the topic surface):
I think the most feasible way to implement spies in the current system is to continue the tradition of producing spies as a type of unit. They're available with Writing.
Spies should essentially be scouts with extra benefits. They should gain the ability to conduct certain types of missions once they reach another civ's city. Spies have an espionage rating that they use like Combat Strength against a target city. A city uses the same defense rating that it has against regular attacks. Walls, castles, and such still apply by default, but let's say an experienced spy can earn promotions that grant a bonus against such defenses. When you attempt a mission against a city, it's resolved like an attack using the aforementioned espionage rating as the attack value. The spy loses HP (which in this event represents the risks taken as their cover is compromised) and can die as a result. No actual damage is inflicted on the city (unless that's the type of mission the spy was on). Whether or not the spy survives, if the requisited amount espionage "damage" is inflicted, the mission succeeds.
Initially, a spy only has the most basic mission available to him: reconaissance. This provides intel on the enemy that is normally not available (such as unit composition, techs researched, happiness, etc). More powerful missions are unlocked through research. Gunpowder, for example, can unlock the ability destroy a building through a sabotage mission. Dynamite lets you attack a city's hit points directly (sort of like a guided missile). Education and Currency can unlock the ability to steal technology and embezzle money, respectively. Philosophy lets you cause unrest (i.e. unhappiness). Other technologies, like Optics or Civil Service, might simply improve the success chance of existing mission (decreasing the amount of espionage "damage" required).
I could go on, but it's time to head home for the weekend.
I've been playing Shogun 2 the past week and I gotta say they have a pretty nice system with the Ninja, Metsuke and Monk units, perhaps a few of the ideas could translate, ie a spy could sabotage an individual unit to cause a small damage hit and a weakening effect, or could target an opposing great general or great person for assassinating. The Metsuke in that game are good too, basically you can pay a large sum of gold to bribe units and cities to your side, maybe a diplomat or politician unit could buy opposing units off or bribe city officals in some way (cities lose defensive building effectiveness etc), won't go into the monks I strongly doubt we will be seeing religion in Civ again for a long while, but perhaps they could add in another unit and keep a rock-paper-scissors triad so specialty units can attack each other with weaknesses and strengths, maybe add an influence system with units that could increase your sway in other cities or could incite rebellion in other countries, that would be sweet. idk... good game though