It’s looking like Civilization VI is the most accomplished game in the franchise yet. But how can you be on equal terms with the AI? Well, you’ll need a good collection of tips and tricks.
1. Understand the Differences
Familiar with Civilization V? If so, you’ll be more attuned to the new features in Civilization VI [CA/UK], but either way, there’s a useful help system that you can access using the ? button in the top-right corner. Accessing the Civilopedia is always useful, so don’t forget that you have that resource available.
The game itself retains the hexagonal tiles, and reintroduces unit stacking, in the shape of corps and armies, from earlier games. Also returning are city-states, which have an added significance this time around. Rather than paying tribute to these one-city kingdoms, you gain envoys to apply influence, which can net progressively better bonuses. Should you have more envoys than other nations, you become Suzerain, which establishes a de facto alliance. This mean they will follow you into war, give control of their military (for a fee) and offer massive bonuses.
Policies have been replaced with civics, meanwhile, which enable you to create customized governments based upon nine individual government types. Some new units have been introduced, too, such as the Builder which replaces the Worker.
While jumping in with both feet might be fun, you’re advised to spend some time getting to know the game’s new features before you play to win…
2. Choose the Right Leader
One of the first things you get to do with Civilization VI is to choose a leader. With this version, more than ever, the onus is on you to choose the leader that best suits your style of play. As each leader and its associated civilization has a set of unique bonuses, units, buildings and abilities, it is worth spending time researching your decision.
For example, if you feel more comfortable bombarding enemy cities from the sea, then choosing the Victoria of the English will present you with a great bunch of naval bonuses, such as the Sea Dog unit and the Royal Navy Dockyard. Meanwhile, if you’re enthused by the new districts game concept, choosing Japan will deliver district bonuses.
Take a look at this great guide to the various Civilization VI leaders for more.
3. Settle Fast and Understand Districts
Districts bring a whole new dimension to your city management in Civilization VI. City improvements and wonders are now situated in districts, the number and type of which are determined by nearby resources and available tiles. For instance, if you settle by mountains, these tiles cannot be used (although those close to the mountains can be used for religious purposes). Similarly, you can’t have an entertainment district in the sea. Districts deliver bonuses, and with the right management your civilization can benefit considerably.
All of this means that your city planning takes on a new importance. It can also help you to make use of desert and tundra tiles in ways that you didn’t — or couldn’t — in earlier versions.
One thing hasn’t changed, however: issuing many settlers early in the game can put you in a very strong position for all victory conditions. This is a tactic that works in every version of Civilization, from the original through to Civilization VI, via the mobile version, Civilization Revolution, and even the open source clone, FreeCiv.
4. Specialize by City
Previous games in the series have slowly tried to push the player away from building every single improvement in every single city. Instead, the aim has been specialization. This was a concept first introduced with specialist citizens, but is now a key aspect of city management.
So, for instance, to manage happiness across your empire, focus the creation of an entertainment district and amenities in one city. Pursuing a religious victory? Make good use of the mountains to kick-start your faith.
In short, don’t waste time and money trying to build all districts and all improvements. Instead, focus on those that are boosted by the city’s position on a map, and the nearby resources. Need different resources? Time to go look for some!
5. Explore, Explore, Explore
Civilization is a 4X game (not the only one), where the aim is to eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate. But your long-term survival demands that you explore as much as possible. This is important as it enables you to find new settlement locations, resources, small villages that give science boosts, and of course rival civilizations.
Another advantage of exploration is the discovery of natural wonders, that can bring some useful benefits to your civilization and units.
Knowing where your enemies are is very important. Maintain a team of two or more scout units to explore and keep tabs on what is going on early in the game. Later, you can use spies to watch your rivals.
6. Deal With Barbarians
Exploration does have a downside, however: the revealing of barbarians. The motivations of these rogue groups — which can be equated to pirates in real life — have barely changed over the years. They want to destroy your units and improvements and conquer your cities.
In Civilization VI, Barbarians have a different modus operandi. Whereas previously you would hunt down their settlements and destroy them, this time around you first need to keep an eye out for Barbarian scout units. If these can reveal your location to other Barbarian units, you’ll have a horde attacking. So, the tactic should be to first hunt down the scout, then find the city and deal with the other units.
You’ll find that some units in the game are more useful for dealing with Barbarians than others. You can also gain a military boost from them with the right Great Person. For instance, Boudicca can be used to convert Barbarian units to your civilization. Immediate extermination of Barbarians is recommended, as they can benefit from resources. For instance, if they spawn near horses, subsequent Barbarian units will be mounted, and therefore harder to defend against for most of the game.
7. Trade When and Where You Can
Exploration reveals city states and cities of rival civilizations. This means that you have the opportunity to trade. You’ll start off with a limit on the number of trade routes you can establish, and this can be increased with policies and districts/improvements.
Trade is a massive benefit, as it can bring culture points, faith points and science, as well as money, per turn. The more cities you trade with, the better, and this can help with your international relations.
Trade units can be created for trade, but you may find that one-to-one resource trading is more useful.
8. Diplomacy: Make as Many Friends as You Can
Making friends with other leaders can be difficult, or it can be easy. Your behavior, government type, policies, territorial advantage and religion type can all influence how other civilizations view you.
For instance, a predilection to war will not be viewed with sympathy by other nations, even the warlike ones. The antidote to this is to make as many friends as possible, create alliances, and work together. Open borders help tourism, for instance, which improves your culture score.
And you’ll need friends if you don’t have access to the resources you need. Trading these resources while creating the necessary units will prove vital to your military strength. Regardless of whether you are planning a peaceful victory or a domination, maintain appropriate military units throughout the game as insurance against attack.
9. Choose Victory Types to Pursue
Four main victory types are available in Civilization VI. Along with the usual domination (military) and science victories, you have the option of accumulating high religious and cultural scores. While the more peaceful victories are less interesting than domination, they’re challenging in different ways. Your best option, however, is to pursue multiple victory options, thereby preparing your endgame for any unforeseen developments.
Victory Types in Civilization VI
How do the victory types work?
Domination — You must have captured the original capital of each other civilization. For late domination, you’ll find that conquering a previously powerful capital will yield their earlier victories over other civilizations.
Science — Difficult in multiplayer games, three milestones must be met. If you can launch a satellite, land a human on the Moon, and establish a Mars colony, then the science victory is yours.
Religious — This is simpler to explain. If over 50% of the cities in the game follows your religion, you win. Having a religious leader like Gandhi is an advantage here, although you might opt for Tomris of the Scythia civilization, or Spain, Egypt, Arabia, or the Kongo. Having control of the city-state Jerusalem is also vital as it will act as a religious city for your civilization. Other city-states offer religious bonuses if you have control of them as Suzerain. Achieving a religious victory will require some “combat” between rival Apostle and Missionary units, however, in order to spread the faith.
Culture — High amounts of culture and tourism are needed for this. If you can attract more visiting tourists than are left at home in the other civilizations, a cultural victory is possible. However, to gain an advantage, match government types with the other large tourist nations. Culture is accumulated, so requires a long game and consolidation of as many works of art as possible.
If you’ve made it to the final year (2080, or turn 500) of the game, however, with no clear winner, then victory is based on how long you survived, and your general score. Researching future tech and controlling many wonders is advantageous in this scenario.
10. Manage Your Money
Running out of money will be a disaster for your civilization. Trade is vital to avoiding this, and utilizing bonus resources (such as silver, or wine) is important. Choosing the right policies can help here, too. Economic policies, for instance, can result in useful cash bonuses; you might get gold for each city state diplomat. Alternatively, the right policy might reduce your outlay for military units, or improvements. And where faith is available, use this rather than cash to rush-build units.
For a quick cash injection, you can delete old units. Unlike earlier versions of the game, these will be sold off, rather than wasted, and can fetch as high as several thousand gold each.
Don’t overlook city districts and improvements for increasing your gold, either. In short, manage your money well, just as you would in real life.
11. Get the Science You Need
We’ve seen that trade is important to science, but don’t break your neck chasing after every little technological advance. Instead, focus on the ones you need. Smaller ones can be quickly picked up later, either by quick turnaround or by building improvements or units.
You’ll find that working towards tech advances isn’t purely down to collecting science points. Instead, your actions within your civilization will contribute to claiming new advances. Similarly, finding small tribes will also contribute.
Is there anything in Civ VI you’d do differently? What techniques have worked for you over and over? Tell us about it in the comments, along with any other suggestions you might have!