New Frontier Pass Modes

A distinctive feature of the New Frontier Pass is the introduction of eight new game modes.

I have tried them all and won at least one game with each except the Zombie Defense mode. That one was so weird in that it was virtually constant combat because each time you killed a zombie, eventually it would respawn again. In addition, each unit killed – whether your own or of an AI civ or city-state that was at war – eventually returns as a zombie thereby increasing the number to deal with. Since I am not a great fan of continuous combat, I ended up just quitting that game. Maybe someday I will try again, but not anytime soon. For gamers who like playing for domination wins and relish the combat, this mode probably is an enjoyable challenge, but for me, it was just not fun.

The game modes are not exclusive – one can use one or more simultaneously.

The two I have enjoyed the most and use together almost every game I play now are ‘Monopolies and Corporations’ and ‘Barbarian Clans’. I like the former because it enhances the gold per turn production significantly (among other things) and I always seem to need more gold! The latter I really like a lot because Barbarian Camps not destroyed eventually evolve into new city-states. That expands the number of possibilities for trade routes and suzerains as the game progresses, both of which make a Diplomatic victory easier to achieve, and that has become my favorite way to play. Another side-effect of the larger than normal number of city-states is the probability that Valletta is one of them is greatly increased. Valletta is by far my favorite city-state to have as a suzerain because of being able to buy city projects, including flood barriers later in the game, with faith.

For a challenge with some unpredictability, the ‘Tech and Civic Shuffle’ mode can be added. It changes the sequence of the techs and civics in a random shuffle with all techs/civics in a given era all mixed up so planning ahead for boosts (Eurekas in the tech tree or Inspirations in the civics tree) is much more difficult. I will play this occasionally just for variety.

I don’t particularly like the other four modes much, so rarely play with any of them on anymore.

  • ‘Apocalypse’ mode makes play more chaotic in the late game due to intensified disasters, comets especially. One comet can actually destroy a complete city if it happens to hit the city center.
  • ‘Dramatic Ages’ mode is a little too dramatic for me. After the initial Ancient Era as a Normal Age, you are either in a Dark Age or a Golden Age, depending on how successful you have been in navigating the current age challenges. Special policy cards for each type of age help some to mitigate the issues that arise, but not enough as far as I’m concerned.
  • ‘Heroes & Legends’ can be interesting because the characters are useful in unique ways for various aspects of the game. When I choose to use this mode, I try to get Hercules because of his ability to complete districts, even ones just started. That is a very powerful dynamic. The down side of this mode is recruiting a hero or legend takes city production time that many times I prefer to devote to other needs.
  • ‘Secret Societies’ is a bit too much fantasy to my liking. I also do not like having to use Governor slots to advance the chosen society.

For more detail about all of the modes, visit the game modes page of the Civ Wiki.

I suspect for most Civ VI players, myself included, the introduction of the modes has made the game more interesting to continue playing. The variety they offer keeps the game somewhat fresh, although whether one uses any of the modes or not, no two play-throughs are at all alike.

Probably one reason I keep playing!

New Frontier Pass Civs & Leaders

Over the course of several months from May 2020 through April 2021, nine new leaders and eight new civilizations were added as part of the New Frontier Pass. In addition, two Persona Packs were added in July 2020.

Eight of the new leaders came with their new civilizations, but the ninth, Kublai Khan, was added as a second leader option for either China or Mongolia.

In the Persona Packs, the developers introduced two new options each for Theodore Roosevelt and Catherine de Medici. Roosevelt becomes either Teddy Bull Moose or Teddy Rough Rider, and Catherine becomes either Black Queen or Magnificence. Unless one plays with the original (Standard Rules) version of Civ VI (not Rise and Fall or Gathering Storm expansions), these personas replace the original Teddy and Catherine.

A full outline of the New Frontier Pass expansion, including a listing of the new civs and leaders, is available at the Civilization Wiki website, a site I highly recommend for all kinds of detailed information about the game.

As I mentioned in the previous post, I have played and won at least five games with each of these leaders. Some unique attributes make them all interesting to play, and some even feel over-powered at times. Although I’ve enjoyed them all as I played them, I cannot say any of them have become real favorites yet. I think it will take more intentionally playing to exploit their attributes than I did so far. I tend to play a style that favors diplomacy and not all of the new leaders or personas are as well suited to that as they might be to another focus.

For anyone who is interested in a detailed analysis of Civ VI leaders and suggestions for how to play with or against a particular leader, I recommend the excellent Zigzagzigal’s guides found on Steam.

New Frontier Pass Intro

So many things have changed in the last two and a half years that there are many topics I could write about, but first I will pick up where I left off – writing about Civ VI.

Over that span of time, I have downloaded and installed all the various game updates and patches as soon as they were released. Several of them were sorely needed fixes. I bought each of the first two expansions as soon as they were available, but was slower to get the DLC (Downloadable Content), although eventually bought them to have the full set.

I also immediately bought the last expansion – New Frontier Pass – when it launched. The final update of that expansion was April 2021 and at that time the developers said it was the last change they would make to Civ VI. We have not even seen any bug fixes since, so it is likely they are working on Civ VII now. (I wonder, has the recent release of competitor game ‘Humankind’ put any pressure on the developers to get a Civ new version out sooner?)

I believe earlier versions of Civilization (I through IV) had an original release followed later by some major expansions and several more minor updates. My first experience with the Civilization franchise was with Civ V and I know that was the case for it. This time, after two expansions, Firaxis introduced the idea of a ‘pass’ to have access to a series of new content updates over about ten months. It felt kind of weird buying a package of unknowns, but I decided to take the chance and do so rather than waiting until the end to see if buying all the new items was worth it. I have to say, I’m glad I did. The various new items have provided many hours of fun game-playing and learning.

Concurrent with the release of the New Frontier Pass, beginning in May 2020, Firaxis also released free monthly updates for all Civ VI owners. I won’t attempt to go into any detail on the content of those, but interested gamers can find more here.

In the next few posts, I will write more about the New Frontier Pass, the civilizations and leaders added bi-monthly, and the new modes introduced. I have played them all and definitely have some opinions to share.

Just for the record, I have now played and won at least five games with each civilization leader in the entire Civ VI series. At some point, I decided to take on the challenge of winning at least one game with each leader at each of the five highest levels: Prince, King, Emperor, Immortal, Deity. The lower levels are too easy to bother with. Even though I had won games at various levels before an official record was being kept by the game, I actually decided to “start over” with the original and early DLC civs so I would have an easy-to-access record of my progress using the Hall of Fame feature that was added to the Gathering Storm expansion. If I recall correctly, that came with the September 2019 update, when they moved “Additional Features” to a sub-menu on the main page.

As of today, I have 521 overall wins playing Civ VI:

  • Original Release – 50 wins
  • Rise and Fall Expansion – 23 wins (51 through 73)
  • DLC (from early through Rise and Fall) – 11 wins (74 through 84)
  • Gathering Storm Expansion – 142 wins (85 through 226)
  • New Frontier Pass – 234 wins (227 through 521)

Here is a screen shot of the total play time.

(Achievements have not been a high priority for me, especially since many of them are won through playing the various scenarios, which I do not enjoy playing much.)

By now, it may be obvious that the pandemic and my self-quarantining meant a good deal of time being spent playing Civ VI!