Okay! So, like I said, I can think about the game all I want.
So here’s what I’m thinking.
There are four bits to the game:
That’s it. You have one resource – production. You use production to do everything in the game,
from improving cities to buying technologies to making units.
BUT, you cannot save up a ton of production and then unleash hell in one turn because you can only do as many things as you have cities (you don’t have to do them all to/in one city, but that’s your limit). That’s the number of Actions you can take. An action is:
Buying a technology
Building a unit
Improving a city
Building a new city
When you build units, you can choose any of your cities for them to appear in. Thus, mopping up is easier because you can build all your units “on the front” instead of having to move them from the back.
Technologies are devided into three basic types – combat, civilization improvements and religious/cultural. Since this is the stone age, combat advantages amount of “oh, you discovered that leather makes your guys take a little more damage” and such, and your cultural improvements involve discovering that certain rocks sound nice when struck. But there’s only one tree and it’s not very big – in fact, it should fit on one screen without having to scroll. The tree is going to look very similar to a WoW talent tree.
So let’s see. Several tribes all starting at the edges of the map. Lots of settlement sites in the center that are either vacant (so you can easily build a city there) or have unaligned cities on them (which you must either conquer or culturally absorb). Once everything is claimed, the tribes will start trying to take territory away from the other tribes. Culture still works, but it’s much harder on aligned settlements, so the traditional way will be to attack them with armies.
Armies. We’re going to greatly simplify how units work by allowing the player to group them into armies. Armies are basically just a stack of units. BUT, once you put a group of units into an army, you can’t remove them (though you can add more units). So stacking units is actually a good thing, where it was a
terrible thing in the original Civilization. You can have an army guard a city, or move it around the map and attack with it.
So, the game progression is as follows:
You start with three settlements (thus, you can do three things a turn).
You build up your tech.
You make units so you can start taking unclaimed settlements.
You make combat units so you can start taking claimed settlements.
Everything eventually gets claimed and the infighting starts.
You try to attack or subvert your enemy’s settlements into joining your side.
Somebody gets all the settlements. They win.
The stack of doom. I think making it so that you can’t undo armies makes it so that you’ve got a Death Star: yeah, the town its currently attacking is doomed, but all the other towns are relatively undefended because you’ve spent so much production on this one thing. It also may not be using the best technologies.
So you’re wandering around with your stack of doom. You attack a city and are repulsed by the city’s defensive bonus plus the fact that while there are fewer units, they are better-equipped than you.
Meanwhile, several small, fast strike forces are taking the undefended cities in your backfield. Can you pull your SoD back in time to take them back? Either way, you’ve been put on the back foot.
So I don’t think the SoD will be that big a problem.
I think this design works, and even better, it’s not that difficult to program.
Multiplayer is also possible.