Disasters are a brand new feature in Civilization VI: Gathering Storm. These are natural events in the game with (mostly) devastating consequences, which bring a whole new level of realism to the series and are the outward representation of the new Climate system.
Disasters happen throughout the game completely automatically, depending on a randomized event generator. A flood may hit the tiles next to a river in one turn, then 10 turns later a nasty blizzard may come from the northern tundra and freeze some land... Players have no control over these events during the game itself (up to the point when they start affecting the climate, see below) - they can only learn how to adapt to them, minimize the damage they suffer and eventually use them to their advantage.
The areas affected by disasters depend on disaster type, as you will see below. Also, the different kinds of disasters work a bit differently, but they all have some common features:
- They are localized, affecting a group of several tiles only. Note that in the case of Floods and Volcanic eruptions (which have specific areas subject to the disaster) not all tiles have to be affected by every single disaster. Which ones will be usually depends on the disaster severity level. Refer to individual disaster tables for more specifics on that.
- Most disasters are centered onto, or connected to a specific land feature, such as a River or a Volcano, or to a particular terrain type, such as Tundra or Grassland.
- Most disasters (storms, droughts) will last for several turns, until they 'fizzle' out. They affect an area of several tiles each turn while active, and the damage and yield boosts for them happen at the beginning of each turn. The extent of the affected area depends on the severity of the disaster.
- Instantaneous disasters (floods, volcano eruptions) happen in the beginning of the turn, and inflict damage (and increase yields) only once.
- Most disasters stay immobile, that is, even if they last for several turns, they will only affect one area. This makes possible to outline potentially threatened areas - check the Settler lens for that.
- Storms (all four types) are the only disaster type which moves, while also lasting for several turns. They will start in the areas associated with the storm type (Tundra for Blizzards, Plains or Grassland for Tornadoes, etc.), but after they move they may also affect other terrain types which happen to be nearby. Storms inflict damage and increase yields at the beginning of each turn in their new area - this makes them potentially the most dangerous, but also most 'profitable' type of disaster.
Disasters' rate of occurrence may be controlled in a setting in the beginning of each game. There are 5 different levels, from 0 to 4, and each subsequent level increases the general frequency, as well as severity of disasters. However, this only sets a general framework, within which players' attitude towards Climate change will also affect the rate and severity of disasters. Most of them (excluding Volcanic eruptions) will start happening more often the more global temperature rises; this holds especially for the more severe variants of disasters. Note that the difficulty level of a game does not affect the disaster rate.
|Phase I-VI||Phase VII|
|Volcanic eruptions extra range||No||No||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
Below in the table there are listed all disasters with their severity variants. The numbers in the table indicate the frequency weight of spawning the disaster (higher number indicates more frequent disaster). It is also worth noting that the chance for a nuclear accident listed below is the base chance when the nuclear reactor's age is 0. This chance will increase as the reactor gets older.
|Nuclear accident||Radioactive Steam Venting||2||1||1||1||1||1||1|
All disasters cause some sort of damage (else they wouldn't be called that). The different damages have different chances of occurring, again depending mostly on the disaster severity level: refer to individual disaster types for more info on that. Here is a list of potential damages:
- Damage improvements: the affected improvements are pillaged;
- Destroy improvements: the affected improvements are removed (some special improvements, such as the Great Wall, can never be removed - they will only get pillaged);
- Damage district buildings and the districts themselves: they will have to be repaired from the production queue. Note that all buildings in the district have to suffer damage in order for the ditrict itself to get pillaged - you cannot have a damaged district without damaged buildings in it! You can, however, have a disaster damage only some buildings in a district, and leave others and the district itself untouched. In this case buildings get damaged always from the most sophisticated to the most basic - that is, Tier 3 buildings get damaged first, then Tier 2, etc.
- Damage units: any unit caught in the disaster will suffer around 50% damage to its Health; if the unit has less HP left than the damage it suffers from the disaster, it will of course die!
- Kill units: the units caught in the disaster are killed outright (this can only happen to Civilian units);
- Kill Citizens in the nearby city (that is, the city in whose territory the affected tile(s) is): its Population will be reduced permanently, most of the time by 1, but greater loss (2 - 5) is also possible for more severe disasters.
At the same time as causing devastation, most types of disasters may also 'fertilize' tiles in the affected areas, adding Food and/or Production points. Fertilization adds to the base yields of the tile, enhancing them without changing the fundamental qualities of the tile. The only exception to this rule are Volcanic eruptions, which do change quality of the tile by imposing the Volcanic Soil feature on it, and destroying removable features (Woods, etc.) and even bonus resources (destroyed stuff is simply removed from the tile). Note that other yield bonuses can still be applied on such tiles (as, for example, the bonuses from nearby Wonders, Natural wonders or city buildings), along with bonuses from features, resources and Improvements: the end result could be quite impressive, especially in tiles hit by disasters multiple times.
Fertilization doesn't happen automatically - that is, fertilization chance is not 100%! Every time a disaster hits, fertilization chance apparently applies individually to each affected tile. A single tile may get fertilized by one, or by both types of yields by the same disaster; or it may not get any benefit. Note that only land tiles may get fertilized by disasters; so Hurricanes are potentially the least 'useful' disaster, simply because they move mostly over sea.
It is also very important to note that Wonder and District tiles are also valid targets for disasters, and as such - for fertilization. However, since Wonders can't be worked, and districts replace normal tile yields with their specific yields, they are actually unable to benefit from the fertilization itself. What happens in practice is that the game engine selects the tiles to be fertilized in the current area hit by the disaster, and if one or more of these are district tiles, the fertilization doesn't bring any benefit at all. You will notice the fertilization numbers floating above the area after the disaster, but when looking closely will notice no yield increase. Which is yet another reason not to build districts (or Wonders) in known disaster areas, unless there are overwhelming reasons to do so.
The only exception to this rule are City Centers, which are also the only districts retaining the original yields of their tile (mostly). So, when a disaster happens to hit a City center tile, and fertilizes is, it will receive and use the additional yields. So, you can choose the calculated risk of settling cities in 'disaster areas', hoping to be able to shrug off the destruction while enjoying the fertilization.
The progress of Climate change past Phase IV may also cause storms and droughts to strip off yields gained from storms earlier. This process is called 'desertification'.
Types of Disasters
There are six main classes of disasters in the game. They all have similar effects, but they appear in different biomes and each one works a bit differently. Refer to the individual articles for greater details.
- Floods, affecting Floodplain tiles along rivers.
- Droughts, affecting Plains and Grassland terrain without features such as Woods or Rainforest.
- Storms, separated into 4 different categories:
- Forest Fires, affecting Woods and Rainforest tiles; fires start on one tile with a Woods or Rainforest, and have a chance to spread to adjacent tiles with Woods or Rainforest features. Added in the Maya & Gran Colombia Pack.
- Volcanic eruptions, affecting tiles surrounding the Volcano (and on Disaster settings 3 and 4, tiles up to 2 away from the Volcano), except for Floodplains tiles.
- Meteor Showers, pummeling neutral land tiles. Exploring impact sites grants the exploring civilization a free heavy cavalry unit with no resource upkeep. Added in the Maya & Gran Colombia Pack.
There is also a seventh class of disasters, which is however not natural, but man-made: Nuclear Accidents. These happen in a city with a Nuclear Power Plant in its Industrial Zone, whose reactor has worked for a long time without 'maintenance'. As it ages, increasingly dangerous accidents may happen, the strongest of which has the same effect as a Nuclear Device explosion!
The Maya & Gran Colombia Pack introduced the Apocalypse game mode, which features two additional, unique disasters: Solar Flares and Comet Strikes. These are the most devastating and widespread disasters in the game, signifying an impending doom to the planet and urging the players toward victory. Liang's Reinforced Materials cannot help protect against these apocalyptic disasters.
- Solar Flares can happen at any climate phase but much more often when the world reaches Apocalypse, and affect the entire map. On the turn that they trigger, they can damage or destroy all Power Plant buildings, advanced units, all Power related buildings and improvements, Campus districts, Industrial Zone districts, Aerodrome districts and Spaceport districts.
- Comet Strikes only happen when the world reaches Apocalypse. Comet Strikes will happen every turn until the end of the game, and destroy everything upon impact (Wonders, cities, and even city-states included), leaving impassable craters in their wake.
Disasters are a major addition to the game, if you let them play out. And if you do not like the random factor in your carefully considered strategy, you can turn the Disaster Intensity setting to 0 or 1 (which makes the chance of disasters minuscule), and not bother reading the rest of this.
If you're still reading... Disasters are both a boon and a danger. Yes, they will destroy your stuff, yes, they will damage your cities and districts (be sure to check the areas where a disaster has hit recently, especially in the case of Storms - their path is quite unpredictable, and you might find that important Improvements have been damaged or completely removed without your noticing!), but yes, they will leave improved terrain yields in their wake! If you're lucky enough to get a couple of Floods in rivers near your starting location in the first 100 or so turns, when you haven't had the chance yet to build up the landscape chock full of districts and improvements, then you will enjoy turbo-boosted Floodplains near which to settle for the rest of the game, and that without any damage having been inflicted on you! The same is even more valid for Volcanoes, which not only will 'fertilize' nearby tiles, but also change their basic nature, thanks to the magnificent Volcanic Soil feature! That one allows you to develop said tiles with Farms and Mines regardless of the initial base terrain there! You don't know what a boon that is for those flat Desert or Tundra tiles, where you would normally put districts; now you can improve them and actually use them to boost a nearby city!
Storms are somewhat more volatile and unpredictable in nature. Floods, Forest fires and Volcanic eruptions you may prepare for, and count on (even the Settler lens will show you all tiles that may be hit by those); not so with Storms. They may come, or may not come; they may pass over the tiles you want fertilized, or not; they may actually fertilize them, or not. And in most cases they will cause destruction. Still, all deserts may give birth to Dust storms, and all tundra to Blizzards, both of which will bring nutrients and change the base yields of these otherwise barren lands. Which means that settling in these locations early in the game isn't as much a questionable move as it used to be. As for Hurricanes, they will be mostly harmless, unless you're an island nation and most of your cities are in the middle of the ocean - in this case, hurricane effects will be similar to Blizzards and Dust storms.
Disasters increase mostly the Food yield of tiles; Production increase is a bit less often, but still happens regularly. You may expect these two stats to appear everywhere some disaster has struck. Now, Science can only appear after Volcanic eruptions on Volcanic Soil; this is in part why this type of disaster is the most interesting and why you should risk settling nearby volcanoes. Mount Vesuvius and Eyjafjallajökull can even apply Culture to affected tiles!
So, how to minimize the damage while maximizing the benefits? In order to answer this question you must know exactly what the damages are; and here they are in order of increasing importance:
- Pillaged improvements: these are the easiest to fix - just keep around a Builder, who can fix any damaged improvements 'free of charge', spending a single turn per tile. Use the search lens for “pillaged” occasionally to catch any damaged tiles you might have missed.
- Destroyed improvements: somewhat more annoying, your on-duty Builder will need to expand a charge to replace the improvement. It's still quick, though, if you have enough charges left. And in case you have both Pillaged and Destroyed improvements, don't forget to Repair the Pillaged ones before expending charges to replace the destroyed ones.
- Pillaged buildings: these you need to fix from the city production queue, but usually it takes 1-5 turns per building, so it's not so serious.
- Population loss: usually just 1 population is lost. Depending on the stage of the game and the particular city, this could be serious, or not so much. For example, if you're in the very beginning and your city is not developed at all, or if your city is suffering regular Food shortages, a single citizen lost could turn into a big deal. For small cities one less citizen may bring base yields down dramatically; and without food there is no Population growth under any circumstances. On the other hand, if you were close to (but not over!) your Housing cap in a fairly well-developed city, losing a citizen will in fact quicken your population growth, and the citizen will get replaced in less than 5 turns.
- Pillaged districts: as you know, if the district itself suffers damage, you need again to occupy your production queue, but for many more turns. And if the district has suffered damage, all its buildings will have suffered as well. Prepare for 10+ turns of repairs!
- Destroyed units. This is maybe the most serious consequence of a disaster! Again, it depends what unit you lose - a lowly Warrior may get replaced fast, but a Mechanized Infantry is much more difficult to replace.
So, keeping the above points in mind, and taking into account the fact that you can predict only the locations of Floods and Volcano eruptions, we can see that the best strategy to avoid disaster damage while maximizing disaster benefits is to avoid building districts on Floodplains and near Volcanoes. Avoiding these areas altogether (as in not settling near them at all) is not an option: you still want to enjoy the benefits of disasters, and you can't do that if you have no access to the tiles they will fertilize. So, just settle your cities within 1-2 tiles of Floodplains and Volcanic fields, but don't build districts on them! Any district will replace base yields of the tile, and render any current or future 'fertilization' void, while at the same time subjecting the district to disaster damage. Remember: fixing or replacing improvements is easy, while repairing districts will both take more time, as well as occupy the respective Production queue, keeping that city from building useful stuff. So, just save yourself the pain and look to place your districts away from Floodplains and Volcanic fields: thus you will be able to work these tiles and improve them, enjoying their awesome yields, and at the same time you won't suffer much damage.
Note that one of the destructive effects of Volcanic eruptions is to 'destroy' (remove that is) any removable features in its 1-tile range. That includes not only Woods, Rainforests and Marshes, but also Bonus resources, such as Bananas, Wheat, etc. That effect is pretty much assured while the Volcano is active, especially on higher Disaster intensity settings! Of course, you don't get any bonus yields from this removal (just as if you placed something on that tile), so it is generally a good idea, once a volcano goes active, to Harvest resources and features on the threatened tiles. Yes, you can't really tell when the disaster will actually destroy the resources/features, and you will lose any potential yields you could get from improving them, but otherwise you will lose the opportunity to get the Harvest yields.
You should also try to keep units out of Floodplain and Volcano tiles at all times to avoid getting them damaged, or even losing them altogether. Note that on Disaster settings 3 and 4 Volcano eruptionscan reach two tiles away from the Volcano itself!
Forest Fires are also quite unpredictable, simply because there are so many tiles with Woods or Rainforests which could be hit! The only thing you could do is keep your units away from these features. And of course, removing the features will prevent any future fires; by definition districts cannot suffer from Forest Fires, because building a district removes the feature. The exception to this fact is Vietnam, whose districts do not remove features. Those who do play Vietnam must be mindful of this as a forest fire can pillage multiple districts. The Kongolese Mbanza also preserves the Rainforest it is on, so it can also be pillaged by Forest Fires.
As for Storms, limiting their damage is much more difficult, simply because of their fairly unpredictable nature and the fact that they move. The only possible defense is to move units into City Centers and/or Encampments where they will be sheltered from storms.
The Drought disaster is a very dangerous one: it provides no benefits whatsoever, can strike again at unpredictable locations (though always Plains or Grassland terrain if there are no 'plants' in the area), and it may last for as many as 10 turns, during which a large area will suffer -1 Food yield, not to mention the loss of food-related Improvements (which you will be unable to Repair until the drought ends). In extreme cases this may also cause Population loss, because the sudden drop in food production may reverse growth trends and bring them into negative territory. Fortunately, the Aqueduct and Dam districts will prevent the Food loss, so look for opportunities to build them in cities which may suffer from droughts. Another possible defense is to avoid deforestation as much as possible; this, however, will somewhat limit your strategical options in developing cities.
The Antarctic Late Summer Update brings a major negative effect of Climate Change: the reversal of disaster beneficial effects! Floods and Storms will no longer fertilize tiles; not only that, but Storms and Droughts will start removing benefits gained earlier! And there is absolutely nothing the player can do to stop or control this, besides trying to minimize potential Drought-affected areas. And, of course, try to prevent Climate change progressing past level IV.
Note that certain Leader bonuses or Civ abilities include immunity for that civilization's units from certain types of disaster. Examples include Hojo Tokimune's Divine Wind granting immunity to Japanese units from Hurricane damage, and the Russian Empire's Mother Russia protecting her units from Blizzards. Such immunities can be useful in getting the drop on an invading enemy (or else when you are doing the invading!).
In more peaceful times, such an immunity may allow you to get builders and other units into position while the disaster is still ongoing, ready to effect repairs or else rebuild on affected tiles the moment the disaster passes.
The Egyptians are currently unique in that their civ ability, Iteru, protects not only their units from the effects of a disaster (in this case floods), but also their improvements and districts.