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Despotic Paternalism is a Dark Age Policy Card from the Dramatic Ages Game Mode in Civilization VI. It is available from the Industrial Era to the Information Era (Atomic Era in Gathering Storm) and uses a Wildcard Slot Wildcard slot.


Despotic Paternalism can have wildly different effects on your empire depending on your number of cities. The desirable use case for this card is with a small, condensed empire of nine cities or less, with each of them having its own Governor Governor. Then, its drawback will have no effect and instead bring you a miniscule upside.

But, Civilization VI heavily rewards you for building a wide empire with dozens of cities, meaning that playing optimally makes this card's desired use case impossible. In normal games, your empire will have more cities than Governor Governors, meaning that a large number of your cities will receive harsh penalties to their Science Science and Culture Culture. If you are playing the game well, then this card is going to do far more harm than good.

And even under optimal circumstances, this card falls flat. Tall empires are often consolidated around their Capital Capital, meaning that Loyalty issues are rare. Any negative Loyalty pressure a tall empire may be experiencing can also be quelled through numerous other means that don't involve sacrificing a powerful Wildcard Slot Wildcard slot: Monuments, the Audience Chamber, and Governor Governors themselves, which already provide a substantial +8 Loyalty to their assigned city. Even the laughably bad Praetorium policy card still provides half the minuscule benefit of this card without a crippling drawback or taking up a Wildcard Slot Wildcard slot. The only other time this card could see consideration would be for a warmonger suffering a Dark Age Dark Age and struggling to prevent their conquered cities from rebelling. But even then, this card severely slices the yields of the rest of their empire, which is a drawback that far exceeds whatever yields those one or two satellite cities could have ever brought you.

Civilopedia entry[]

Thak Chaloemtirana describes Cold War-era Southeast Asia as the home of a particular kind of “despotic paternalism,” where power is invested in locally important strongmen, while independent thought and action is curtailed. One thinks of individuals like Suharto in Indonesia, or Sarit in Thailand. Such a system stifles free inquiry but the harsh action of such despotic paternalists brought dissenting voices under control.

Civilization VI Policy Cards [edit]
Military Policy
After Action Reports R&F-Only.pngAgogeBastionsChivalryConscriptionCraftsmenDefense of the MotherlandDisciplineDrill Manuals GS-Only.pngEquestrian Orders GS-Only.pngFeudal ContractForce Modernization GS-Only.pngGrande ArméeIntegrated Space CellInternational WatersLevée en MasseLightning WarfareLimesLimitanei R&F-Only.pngLogisticsManeuverMaritime IndustriesMartial LawMilitary FirstMilitary ResearchNational IdentityNative ConquestPatriotic WarPress GangsProfessional ArmyPropagandaRaidResource Management GS-Only.pngRetainersRetinues GS-Only.pngSackSecond Strike Capability R&F-Only.pngStrategic Air ForceSurveyTheir Finest HourThird Alternative GS-Only.pngTotal WarVeterancyWars of Religion
Economic Policy
AestheticsCaravansariesCivil Prestige R&F-Only.pngCollectivizationColonizationCorvéeEcommerceEconomic UnionExpropriationFive-Year PlanFree MarketGod KingGothic ArchitectureGrand OperaHeritage TourismIlkumInsulaeLand SurveyorsLiberalismMarket EconomyMedina QuarterMeritocracyNatural PhilosophyNaval InfrastructureNew DealOnline CommunitiesPublic TransportPublic WorksRationalismReligious OrdersResource ManagementSatellite BroadcastsScriptureSerfdomSimultaneumSkyscrapersSports MediaThird AlternativeTown ChartersTrade ConfederationTriangular TradeUrban Planning
Diplomatic Policy
Arsenal of DemocracyCharismatic LeaderCollective ActivismColonial OfficesColonial TaxesCommunications OfficeContainmentCryptographyDiplomatic LeagueGunboat DiplomacyInternational Space AgencyMachiavellianismMerchant ConfederationMusic Censorship GS-Only.pngNuclear EspionagePolice StatePraetorium R&F-Only.pngRajWisselbanken R&F-Only.png
Wildcard Policy
Aerospace Contractors GS-Only.pngAutocratic Legacy R&F-Only.pngCommunist Legacy R&F-Only.pngDefense of the Motherland GS-Only.pngDemocratic Legacy R&F-Only.pngDiplomatic Capital GS-Only.pngFascist Legacy R&F-Only.pngFrescoesGlobal Coalition GS-Only.pngHallyu GS-Only.pngInspirationIntegrated Attack Logistics GS-Only.pngInventionLaissez-FaireLiterary TraditionMartial Law GS-Only.pngMercantile Legacy R&F-Only.pngMilitary OrganizationMonarchic Legacy R&F-Only.pngNavigationNobel PrizeNon-State Actors GS-Only.pngOligarchic Legacy R&F-Only.pngRabblerousing GS-Only.pngRepublican Legacy R&F-Only.pngRevelationScience Foundations GS-Only.pngSpace Tourism GS-Only.pngStrategosSymphoniesTheir Finest Hour GS-Only.pngTheocratic Legacy R&F-Only.pngTraveling Merchants
Dark Age Policy
Dark R&F-Only.png
Automated Workforce GS-Only.pngCollectivism R&F-Only.pngCyber Warfare GS-Only.pngDecentralization1Despotic Paternalism1Disinformation Campaign GS-Only.pngElite Forces R&F-Only.pngFlower Power GS-Only.pngInquisition R&F-Only.pngIsolationism R&F-Only.pngLetters of Marque R&F-Only.pngMonasticism R&F-Only.pngRobber Barons R&F-Only.pngRogue State R&F-Only.pngSamoderzhaviye1Soft Targets1Twilight Valor R&F-Only.png
Golden Age Policy
Culture Industry1Exodus of the Evangelists1Free Inquiry1Heartbeat of Steam1Mandala State1Military-Industrial Complex1Monumentality1Popular Front1Praetorian Guard1Reform the Coinage1Sakdina1Sky and Stars1Solidarity1To Arms!1Wish You Were Here1
1 Dramatic Ages mode only

R&F-Only.png Added in the Rise and Fall expansion pack.
GS-Only.png Added in the Gathering Storm expansion pack.