Meaning is a conserved quantity
Well *I* liked it. :-)
You are definitely correct that Civ VI does seem to have more choices than previous Civs. I was put off by Districts at first because they limit what you can do: I'm used to building a library in every city, not just in a few specialized cities. But in the end I think Districts was a great decision precisely because it gets rid of the "one build order for every city" problem. That's boring. Also, we all like to see number go up and the thrill of finding the perfect site for a district, successfully getting a settler there, and finally seeing the mad adjacency bonuses pile up makes my brain happy.
Honestly, *big-number gives brain happy juice* may be the main reason I enjoy Civ VI so much. Every time it prompts me to renew a trade route, and I see *bignum gold* I'm reminded of the number and I get another little dopamine squirt. That does a lot for me.
My main complaints with Civ VI is that the global warming mechanic is badly implemented (if you carbon capture *all* the carbon that's been produced the ocean levels do not go back down, nor can you start an ice age by the same method. Boring!) and that the constant stream of DLC makes it difficult to keep up with new mechanics.
What's your favorite Civ? Mine is II for nostalgia, either V or VI in practice (I haven't played V in years, but I still don't have a game I've sunk more hours into).
I've spent more time in every Civ game (except the first) than I'd care to admit. Personally I find myself in somewhat the opposite scenario than what you described in that I enjoy the mid to end of the games much more than beginnings. Possibly related, my by far favorite Civ game is Alpha Centauri, which really lets you dial up the micromanagement aspect if you're into that sort of thing (plus the wonder movies and quotes were unequaled).
Citizens were already in Civ 1.
Spies and Diplomats were only introduced in Civ 2.
Diablos are not role playing games, while 4X arguably are ? It's probably important to remember that Bruce Shelley and Sid Meier considered that the normal win condition was to survive until someone reaches Alpha Centauri, and they were particularly bemused that some players played it as a strategy game, trying to find exploits to military eliminate the other civilizations as fast as possible :
( But then, they were only lead designers on Civ1, not the subsequent ones : https://www.filfre.net/2023/01/sequels-in-strategy-gaming-part-1-civilization-ii/ )
Diablos are not role playing games, while 4X arguably are ? It's probably important to remember that Bruce Shelley and Sid Meier considered that the normal win condition was to survive until someone reaches Alpha Centauri, and they were particularly bemused that some players played it as a wargame, trying to find exploits to military eliminate the other civilizations as fast as possible :
P.S.: The 1 unit per tile system arguably made Civ5-BE-6 *less* tactical, not more (especially by crippling the AI), the overhyped "stack of doom" issue having already been solved in Alpha Centauri.
"The simplest model of games focuses only on how choices eventually result in winning of losing"
Should be "winning or losing".
On the contrary, I think -- the reason Civ VI is so much better than the previous games in the series is because it rewards you significantly more for the time you put into the game. In Civ V, you get about 30 hours of gameplay (at most) before your sense of how to "do good" is pretty well fleshed-out. In Civ VI, this is not the case -- the complexity of the trading, envoy/suzerain, spy/counterspy and policy card systems is sufficient to prove a challenging optimization problem even dozens of hours in; I also think that these systems are generally pretty great at tying into your core goals of empire growth, state capacity, and advancing towards a chosen long-run win condition.
I've long felt that the biggest design failing in the Civilization games is that they don't have a "one more turn" button. That is, next to "next turn", there should be a button called "one more turn" that takes you to your next turn, but then at the end replaces both buttons with a single "save and quit" button. It's of course very easy to just start right back up, but many times playing the earlier games, I would have loved this "one more turn" button at 2 am.
I think a lot of the design features you mention are related to why I stopped playing the Civilization series (and never played 6 at all) but I'm still not entirely sure how the Paradox studios games manage to avoid it.
Happy to see someone ranting about Civ micromanagement. Great game, but it could be much better by reducing the importance of small decisions and tresholds.
Districts should just go.
They are very bad as simulation.
They are very too hard for new players.
They are too easy to abuse and get outsize importance for a good player
They being "non-reversible" creates too much stress for what should not be a super important decision (you can allways move the university campus in real life)
The cost increasing by era is just... ridiculous. Why handicap so much new settlements?