One distinguishing feature of Civilization VI is its various game modes. Having several differing game modes adds a lot to the replayability of the game. Some game modes are free to the gaming community while others must be purchased.
Game modes refers to the additional options provided by the August 2020 update and the New Frontier Pass DLC, which will eventually add 6 new game modes along with other various features. The new game modes currently available are the Tech and Civic Shuffle, The Natural Wonder Picker, Apocalypse, and Secret Societies.
The new game modes also add things like new civilizations and leaders, new city-states, and more Natural Wonders. Game modes can also include things like difficulty settings, the ability to select maps and the ability to turn environmental factors on and off. As of the date this article was written the first 2 packs of the 6 new game packs in the New Frontier Pass DLC were available.
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Tech and Civic Shuffle
With the August 2020 update a new game mode which became available to everyone, regardless of whether the player owns any expansions, is the Tech and Civic Shuffle. This shuffle hides the technologies and civics from view and they are not revealed ahead of time except by a boost or when their prerequisites are met.
The opening Civic, Code of Laws, and the 3 opening technologies remain visible and in the same place but everything else is hidden and randomized. Technologies and Civics that are shuffled remain in their historical era. The randomized tech and civic trees are the same for every civilization in the game.
Apocalypse Game Mode
The first game pack was released in May of 2020 and adds the Apocalypse game mode (requires the Gathering Storm expansion to play). This game mode increases the disaster intensity to its maximum setting of 4, making disasters more frequent and intense. It also introduces the Soothsayer who is a promotable unit who can induce disasters in tiles that are close to him. To earn a promotion you must compete in the Appease the Gods competition, which triggers randomly throughout the game. While competing the Soothsayer can sacrifice military units to a volcano and earn experience points equal to what the military unit had. Solar Flares and Comet Strikes are introduced by this game pack too. The World Climate starts at 1 instead of zero.
This first pack also adds the Maya & Gran Colombia civilizations, along with Lady Six Sky as the Maya leader and Simon Bolivar as the leader of Gran Columbia. The Maya civilization doesn’t get any housing bonuses for settling close to fresh water or coasts but to offset this Farms give 1 additional housing and gold, plus 1 additional amenity for any luxuries next to the City Center. The Maya have a unique district called the Observatory which replaces the Campus, plus it is cheaper to build than the Campus, making them a serious contender for a Science Victory. Lady Six Sky of the Maya gives a 10% increase in all yields for cities that are within 10 tiles of the capital city. Cities not within 10 tiles get a 15% decrease in in all yields. She also grants +5 combat strength to all units within 6 tiles of her capital.
Simon Bolivar, leader of Gran Columbia, gets a free Comandante General every time the game moves into a new era. This is a Great person only available to him. His civilization gets an additional movement point per turn and promoting a unit doesn’t end it’s turn. Gran Colombia has the unique Hacienda building.
This first pack also introduces new city-states, resources, and Natural Wonders.
Pack #2 introduces the Secret Societies game mode and was released in July of 2020. This game mode adds as many as 4 secret societies to the game which can be uncovered at city-states, Barbarian Camps, Tribal Villages and Natural Wonders. Hiring a Governor from one of these societies means joining it without knowing what all the ramifications are, and other world leaders might not react favorably to your decision. This new Governor does not need to be assigned to a city and provides bonuses for your entire civilization. Only by using Governor Titles can you unlock the hidden secrets of your secret society.
With the release of pack #2 Ethiopia was also introduced with Menelik II as the leader. With his Council of Ministers ability he gives a bonus to Science and Culture that is equal to 15% of the Faith produced in cities that are built on hills. His units also receive a 4 point combat bonus when fighting on hills. Trade routes produce .5 Faith per resource at the originating cities plus Ethiopia gets 1 additional Faith for every improved resource their cities own. Ethiopia also get 1 additional Faith for every Rock-Hewn church, a building unique to Ethiopia. Rock-Hewn churches get another additional Faith when built next to Mountains and Hills, making Ethiopia another good choice to consider if playing for a Religion Victory.
This game pack requires either the Rise and Fall or Gathering Storm expansion. It also adds one new district (Observatory) and two new buildings to the game.
Natural Wonder Picker
Another game mode introduced in the August 2020 update is the Natural Wonder Picker. This option is well-hidden if you don’t know where to look for it. During the game setup it is on the Advanced Setup page on the right side of the menu. It has been inserted between the Resources and World Age options and is labeled “Select Natural Wonders” and already has “Everything” displayed. By clicking on the “Everything” button a screen gets activated letting you turn off or on any Natural Wonder you want to. It also has options to select everything or to select none, meaning no Natural Wonders will appear in the game.
Only a limited number of Natural Wonders will appear in a game, depending on the map size, and even if you’ve limited the Natural Wonder selections to just a few some of the Wonders may not show up due to not meeting the placement restrictions of the map.
Conquests of Alexander Scenario
The Conquests of Alexander Scenario is a scenario with a limited number of turns, starting at 60 for the Settler difficulty level, which is the easiest, down to 37 turns on the Deity difficulty setting. This game setup emphasizes military might and conquest. To win this game you must conquer every city on the map before time runs out.
While not all of the map is revealed all the territory containing cities is. You can still create Settlers and found new cities or build other units and buildings the same as you normally would but there is no technology or civic research and the only Great Person available for recruiting is the Great General. There is also no peace in this scenario, you are at war with everyone, and if the Alexander Great General is killed the game is lost.
All military units are available for construction at the start of the game and a standing army has already been created for your use. In this scenario the combat can begin as early as the first turn. Great scenario for Warmongers like me!
Outback Tycoon Scenario
This is another game that has limited turns, which is 60. Unlike the Conquests of Alexander scenario, this game selection emphasizes economics and has no combat. Your only goal is to explore Australia and find natural resources and Wonders so you get more gold per turn, which is your score. The difficulty level determines the amount of gold you need to amass to win the game.
This scenario opens at a coastline with your Explorer and Prospector ready to disembark and start exploring and exploiting the land. If your units end their turn in a tile uncontrolled by a city they are in the Australian Outback and have a good chance of having an Outback encounter, which can be deadly.
At Settler difficulty you need 200 gold per turn to claim victory at the end of 60 turns, on the highest level of Deity you need 900 gold per turn.
The Black Death Scenario
In the Black Death scenario you need to ensure your civilization survives the plague through cultural efforts and scientific research. As citizens die and tiles become useless you must find a way to survive until the you can unlock the final technology of invention or the final civic of The Middle Class.
During the Black Plague cities can be wiped out and tiles rendered unusable, the best defense is to have districts built to keep your cities going before everyone gets sick. Having Gold and Faith stockpiled is good too so you can rush essential buildings and units when there is no other way to get them.
Vikings, Traders and Raiders Scenario
This is another 60 turn game where you must conquer Europe and have the most victory points to win. This scenario focuses on gaining Faith through pillaging Holy Sites and gaining victory points for the number of cities and pops you have, for each Great Person you’ve acquired, trade route capacity, number of tiles pillaged, Great Admirals and Faith.