ByJay Ricciardi, writer at
Former Senior Editor of Now Loading.
Jay Ricciardi

Sitting down to play Civilization 6 and picking one of the 22 civs for the first time is overwhelming. Each civilization gets very specific bonuses, abilities, units, and buildings that can change the way the game plays. Each civ offers a different gameplay style and favors a specific victory type. And you can't just pick whatever one some watery tart throws a sword at.

How to use this article:

This article addresses all 22 of the currently available civs in Civilization 6 and ranks them from 20 (worst) to 1 (best) and includes the two DLC civs. Each section will detail that civ's specific perks, a recommended victory condition to pursue, and general tips for that civ's most effective strategy. If you want to find a specific civilization, I suggest using CTRL+F to jump to it since this is a long article.

Notes on rankings:

Just because a civilization is ranked low on this list doesn't mean that they're not viable or fun, and you can definitely win with every civ in the game. Conversely, you can lose with high ranked civs too – Civilization 6 is all about knowing how to take advantage of your civ's particular bonuses. Regardless of rank, play what looks like it'll be the most fun for your playstyle!

The high ranked civs tend to be the ones with the best synergy between abilities and are often the ones with the most flexibility to adapt to any game situation and greatest ability to dominate a game.

If you want a breakdown for each victory type, check out these articles:

UPDATE: Poland and Australia added, but not given ranks.

The Best Civilization 6 Civs and Leaders, Ranked:

DLC: Australia (John Curtin)

Leader: John Curtin

Poland's Unique Bonuses and Abilities

  • Land Down Under: Cities gain extra Housing when built on coastal tiles. Campuses, Commercial Hubs, Holy Sites, and Theater Squares all gain additional yields when built near tiles that offer 'charming' or 'breathtaking' appeal.
  • Citadel of Civilization: Australia gains bonus Production at the start of any defensive war and when it liberates a city.

Poland's Unique Units and Buildings

  • Digger: The Digger replaces the Infantry unit and against additional combat power on tiles adjacent to water and when fighting outside friendly territory.
  • Outback Station: This unique tile improvement unlocks with the Guild Civic and can upgraded with Steam Power and Rapid Deployment. It provides Food and Production, with bonus food for adjacent Pastures. Pastures can now also trigger a culture bomb effect, stealing tiles from adjacent Civs and City States.

Recommended Victory Condition: Any

DLC: Poland (Jadwiga)

Leader: Jadwiga

Poland's Unique Bonuses and Abilities

  • Golden Liberty: When Poland completes an Encampment or Fort inside allied territory, it gains adjacent tiles. Even if those tiles are held by another civilization. One Military policy is converted to a Wildcard policy.
  • Lithuanian Union: Any city that loses tiles as a result of Golden Liberty also immediately adopts Poland's religion as the Dominant Religion. Poland's Relics also provide bonus Culture, Faith, and Gold. Holy Sites gain additional adjacency bonuses.

Poland's Unique Units and Buildings

  • Winged Hussar: When attacking, if a Winged Hussar does more damage than a defending unit, it pushes the defending unit back. Defenders who cannot retreat take additional damage.
  • Sukiennice: This unique building provides additional Production from international Trade Routes and additional gold from domestic Trade Routes.

Recommended Victory Condition: Domination, Religion

20. Sumeria (Gilgamesh)

Leader: Gilgamesh

Sumeria's Unique Bonuses and Abilities

  • Adventures With Enkidu: When at war with a common foe, Sumeria and their allies share pillage rewards and share combat experience gains if within 5 tiles.
  • Epic Quests: When you capture a Barbarian Outpost, receive a Tribal Village reward in addition to the usual Gold. Pay half the usual cost to levy city-state units.

Sumeria's Unique Units and Buildings

  • War-Cart: This unique unit is a powerful early horse unit that suffers no penalties against spearmen and anit-cavalry units. It also gains bonus movement for starting in open terrain. Available at start of game.
  • Ziggurat: This unique tile improvement provides +2 Science and an additional +1 Culture if built next to a river, but cannot be built on a hill.

Gilgamesh's Sumeria is a strange civilization to play because its perks incentivize extremely early war. Because you get the War-Cart at the very beginning of the game, Sumeria's Domination advantage is powerful, but very short-lived.

Sumeria Ziggurat
Sumeria Ziggurat

There are simply many other civilizations with better late game prospects. Sumeria relies on an aggressive and strong military opening to establish map presence and must then constantly be timing joint wars with allied civs or know exactly when to time a pivot to a Science Victory track.

Recommended Victory Condition: Domination, Science

Tips For Playing Sumeria: I'd recommend starting with early aggression against local Barbarian tribes to take advantage of the Epic Quests bonus before finding an allied civ to wage a joint war against your biggest threat to a Domination or Science Victory in the immediate area.

Once you can cripple or remove a threat to either victory condition, you can begin investing in your long-term strategy.

19. Kongo (Mvemba a Nzinga)

Leader: Mvemba a Nzinga

Kongo's Unique Bonuses and Abilities

  • Religious Convert: Can't build Holy Sites, but does acquire the Founder Beliefs of any religion established in a majority of cities. Gains an Apostle of that dominant religion with every Mbanza and Theater District built.
  • Nkisi: Gain Food, Production, and Gold from each relic, artifact, and Great Work of sculpture. Also, Kongo gains extra Great Artist and Great Merchant points each turn.

Kongo's Unique Units and Buildings

  • Ngao Mbeba: This unique spearmen unit gains extra defense against all ranged units, and do not require iron to build. Woods and rainforests do not slow them down nor reduce range of sight.
  • Mbanza: This unique District replaces the Neighborhood, can be built earlier in the game, and provides Food and Gold.

Mvemba's Kongo can be a very strong Culture civ, but that's about it. Kongo suffers a serious debuff by being unable to found a religion at all and only has a defensive combat unit.

This means Kongo is essentially limited in potential victory conditions to only Culture; Domination and Religion are off the table and the perks to Culture are much better than the zero perks to Science.

Kongo Mbanza
Kongo Mbanza

Kongo is still a fun civ to play, but near-zero flexibility means that Kongo just can't compete with the more versatile civilizations.

Recommended Victory Condition: Culture

Tips For Playing Kongo: There's really no reason to play anything but a Culture game with Kongo. Because of the Religious Convert bonus, I'd recommend allying early with a religious civ like Spain, India, or Arabia and leveraging a strong peace treaty alliance with them.

Hopefully, you'll be able to accelerate your Culture and defensive features during this extended peace time to prepare for the end game.

18. Aztec (Montezuma)

Leader: Montezuma

Aztec's Unique Bonuses and Abilities

  • Gifts For The Tlatoani: Luxuries give Amenities to other cities and each luxury tile improved gives military units bonus combat strength.
  • Legend of the Five Suns: Builders may be used to speed up the construction of Districts.

Aztec's Unique Units and Buildings

  • Eagle Warrior: This unit is a variation of the basic Warrior unit and converts defeated enemy units into friendly Builder units.
  • Tlachtli: This unique building in the Entertainment Complex provides Amenities, Faith, and Great General points.

The Aztecs have the most flexible perks of the lower-tiered civilizations and early aggression against Barbarians, civs, and city states will save you production costs on Builders.

These extra Builders and the Builder bonus to Districts is not only a handy early game feature for rapid expansion, but is a very nice perk through the entire game as long as you have cities to develop.

Aztec Tlachtli
Aztec Tlachtli

If the Aztecs ever stop having a use for Builders, however, half of the kit is dead in the water.

Recommended Victory Type: Domination

Tips For Playing Aztec: If you're ever unable to take full advantage of your civilization's kit, you're falling behind. This means that Aztec must expand, must gain land, must gain cities to develop.

Domination makes a lot of sense, but you can also use those extra Builders to develop religious Districts and Tlachtlis to develop and quickly spread your religion through claimed territory.

17. Norway (Harald Hardrada)

Leader: Harald Hardrada

Norway's Unique Bonuses and Abilities

  • Thunderbolt of the North: All naval units can raid enemy tiles from the sea
  • Knarr: Units embarking and disembarking suffer no movement cost to do so and researching Shipbuilding allows all embarked and naval units to use Ocean tiles.

Norway's Unique Units and Buildings

  • Berserker: This unique unit gets a bonus to combat strength and pillaging tiles takes 1 less movement. However, this unit has a weak defense.
  • Viking Longship: This unique unit can heal itself in neutral territory.
  • Stave Church: This unique building has all the benefits of a Temple and gets bonus Faith for being adjacent to Woods.

If you can be guaranteed an island map or lots of opportunity for naval battle, then Norway jumps to near the top of the list for Domination. Unfortunately, sea access and usefulness could be a total crapshoot.

Given the proper starting area (surrounded by forests next to the ocean), Norway can be an absolute powerhouse. Without a great start, you'll be widely regarded as one of the worst Domination civs.

Norway Stave Church
Norway Stave Church

Fortunately, the Berserker bonuses are handy all game, even in land battles, so that gives Norway an edge over another low-tier Domination civilization like Sumeria.

Recommended Victory Type: Domination

Tips For Playing Norway: If you don't start near water and woods, you need to get there as soon as possible. Because positioning is so important to an effective Norway, you'll need to take an active, manual interest in your Recon units to at least make sure your second city is better positioned than your original capital city.

If you start in an ideal location, then begin building towards your naval Domination and combine the natural defense of the Woods to boost Faith for a Religion Victory as a second safety option.

16. India (Gandhi)

Leader: Gandhi

India's Unique Bonuses and Abilities

  • Dharma: India gets the follower beliefs of all religions present in Indian cities, not just the bonuses from their own religion.
  • Satyagraha: For each civilization India meets that has founded a religion and is not at war, India gets a large boost to Faith. Other civilizations get extra unhappiness for fighting wars against Gandhi.

India's Unique Units and Buildings

  • Varu: This unique unit reduces combat strength of adjacent enemy units.
  • Stepwell: This unique tile improvement provides Food and Housing. It gives bonus Food if built adjacent to a Farm, and bonus Faith if built adjacent to a Holy Site.

Despite his trigger-happy reputation as a bloodthirsty war monger in the older Civilization games, Gandhi's kit gives him a very powerful set of bonuses for Faith and Religion.

The Satyagraha bonuses actually make exploration and Recon units quite valuable for India since you'll want to discover other peaceful religious civs.

India Stepwell
India Stepwell

One of the strongest things you can do early game is communicate with your neighboring civilizations to find out who exactly is at war with whom and which of them has a religion.

Recommended Victory Condition: Religion

Tips For Playing India: If Gandhi can team up in a defensive peace treaty with a Culture or Science focused civilization, India can jump ahead in Religion very quickly.

Dharma gives India a huge advantage in a contested Religion game and allows India to adapt based on whichever religious bonuses are available. The flexible perks are nice, but only if they happen to synergize with your strategy. Otherwise, India's penchant for non-violent solutions and lack of an offensive military unit makes Domination very difficult. The Varu can help defend choke points, but aren't powerful enough to carry a military strategy.

15. China (Qin Shi Huang)

Leader: Qin Shi Huang

China's Unique Bonuses and Abilities

  • The First Emperor: All Builders get one extra build and may speed up production on Ancient and Classical Wonders.
  • Dynastic Cycles: Eurekas and Inspirations provide a larger boost than all other civilizations.

China's Unique Units and Buildings

  • Crouching Tiger Cannon: This powerful short-ranged ranged unique unit doesn't require resources to build.
  • Great Wall: This unique tile improvement initially provides defense and Gold, and eventually also provides bonus Gold and Tourism.

The Great Wall is no longer something any old civilization can build, now it's a China exclusive. And it defines China's gameplay. In order to take advantage of the Great Wall, you'll need to expand early and then turtle up to focus on your Culture game.

China Great Wall
China Great Wall

The Builder buffs are uniquely powerful and ability to speed up up Wonders and build Great Wall tiles, and Builders will always have that one extra use which will be handy all game long.

Recommended Victory Condition: Culture

Tips For Playing China: In the early game, it would help to actually be pretty aggressive as China. Find and remove opposition nearby to rapidly expand China's borders so you can build a large and efficient Great Wall. The early Crouching Tiger Cannon is exceptionally potent in the early game. Once you've got a sizable territory, all you need to do is build up your Great Wall, have a few defensive units on standby, and turtle up as you focus exclusively on your Wonders and Culture.

14. Japan (Hojo Tokimune)

Leader: Hojo Tokimune

Japan's Unique Bonuses and Abilities

  • Divine Wind: Land units gain bonus combat strength while fighting near a coast and naval units gain bonus combat strength while fighting in coastal waters.
  • Meiji Restoration: Districts gain bonuses for being built next to each other

Japan's Unique Units and Buildings

  • Samurai: This unique unit is unlocked through Military Tactics and does not lose combat strength after taking damage.
  • Electronics Factory: This unique building replaces the Factory in the Industrial Zone District and provides bonus Culture and Production to nearby cities (not just its home city).

Japan, similar to Norway, is all about coastal positioning. A landlocked Japan and an island-based Japan are very, very different games – but Japan has a much more versatility than Norway and still can thrive on land if needed.

The combat bonuses Japan offers near the coast will make defending sea-side cities much easier than normal for the entire game. And, Japan's ability to create dense District-heavy cities with the Meiji Restoration bonus means that small islands are totally viable for District settling.

Japan Electronics Factory
Japan Electronics Factory

Even in a landlocked Japan, the District adjacency bonuses reward multiple tightly packed cities, and the Electronics Factory building can provide boosts to each of these compact cities.

Recommended Victory Condition: Culture, Science

Tips For Playing Japan: In the early game, some light conquest is handy to take advantage of the Samurai Unit and Divine Wind bonuses to quickly clear and claim coasts to build cities. Once you have access to the ocean and the islands, you can begin expanding to sea without contesting crowded inland resources.

While the Divine Wind bonus may see underwhelming up front, it is useful all game and is invaluable for securing as much ocean access as possible.

13. Egypt (Cleopatra)

Leader: Cleopatra

Egypt's Unique Bonuses and Abilities

  • Mediterranean's Bride: Trade routes provide Egypt extra Gold. Trade routes to other civilizations provide extra Gold and Food for the civilization making the trade deal.
  • Iteru: Districts and Wonders built next to rivers will build faster than normal. Flood plains do not block placement of Districts and Wonders.

Egypt's Unique Units and Buildings

  • Maryannu Chariot Archer: This unique unit gains bonus movement when starting on open terrain.
  • Sphinx: This unique tile improvement provides Faith and Culture and gains bonuses when built next to a Wonder.

Egypt is yet another civilization heavily reliant on positioning to get the most of its kit. Are you sensing a theme for this low tier? If Egypt is next to a river, the Iteru bonus will be insanely powerful, especially in conjunction with other districts that benefit from rivers as well. If you're not next to a river, you're going to need to expand to a river quickly.

Fortunately, it's not often too difficult to find rivers and the Maryannu Chariot Archers will give a bonus on open terrain as they roll towards claiming those rivers.

Egypt Sphinx
Egypt Sphinx

Egypt's Mediterranean's Bride trade route bonuses are a little confusing, but it's simple enough to say that you want to trade early and often to gain extra Gold.

Recommended Victory Condition: Culture, Religion

Tips For Playing Egypt: If you're not near a river, get to one as soon as the game starts. If you want to risk it, I'd suggest exploring with your Settler for a few turns until you find an ideal riverside capital location. Build up your Recon quickly for two reasons: first, you'll find more civs to trade with; second, you'll find more rivers to settle near.

Your trade bonuses will be a natural deterrent for conquest-focused civilizations; they wont want to miss out on your trade bonuses or risk pissing off other civs interested in those same bonuses. Leverage this security to build towards your Culture or Religion Victory.

12. France (Catherine de' Medici)

Leader: Catherine de' Medici

France's Unique Bonuses and Abilities

  • Catherine's Flying Squadron: France gets extra information from every civilization met, and researching Castles provides an extra Spy.
  • Grand Tour: France gains a bonus to constructing mid-game Wonders and gains extra Tourism for each Wonder constructed.

France's Unique Units and Buildings

  • Garde Impériale: This unique unit gets a bonus for fighting on the starting Capital's home continent and generates Great General points per kill.
  • Château: This unique tile improvement must be built adjacent to a river and provides Culture, with bonuses for being built near Wonders.

France's devotion to the gossip system and intel gathering allows France to refocus and respond to world wide events faster than other civilizations. The Garde Impériale unit is nice for defense, but that's about it for France's bonuses.

While the gossip system is a little underwhelming, a savvy France player can trade in knowledge in multiplayer games.

France Château
France Château

In a lot of ways, France and Egypt are very similar. The Château makes France similarly bound to rivers like Egypt is, and both gain perks when it comes to Culture. But, France's the bonuses to intel and home-turf defensive units give the civ an edge over Egypt's Gold boost. Gold isn't as powerful in Civ 6 as it was in Civ 5.

Recommended Victory Condition: Culture

Tips For Playing France: France is an overall flexible civilization, has a nice defense, and has a slightly better spy network than the rest, Culture is a great fit.

Use that information from gossip and spies to time your Wonders and communicate with other civs. If you aren't talking to other players and leaders, then you're missing out on an entire perk!

Additionally, don't underestimate France's spy network and their ability to steal Great Works and Technology. Both are very handy and can help slingshot France ahead in either the Culture or Technology victory condition for essentially free. Just don't get caught.

11. Brazil (Pedro II)

Leader: Pedro II

Brazil's Unique Bonuses and Abilities

  • Magnanimous: After claiming or using a Great Person, regain some of the points cost.
  • Amazon: Districts gain additional adjacency bonuses for building adjacent to rainforests.

Brazil's Unique Units and Buildings

  • Minas Geraes: This unique naval unit and has improved defense and combat strength compared to other naval units. Unlocked via Nationalism Civic.
  • Carnival: This unique District replaces the Entertainment District and unlocks the Carnival City Project, which converts Production into extra Amenities and provides additional Great Person points.

Brazil is an odd duck of a civilization, and combines a few of the best parts of two mediocre civs. Like Kongo, Brazil thrives in Culture and attracts many Great People, but isn't constricted to just Great Artists. Like Norway, Brazil wants to be on a coast with forest nearby (well, rainforests) to get the most use of the Amazon bonus and the Minas Geraes unit.

Unlike both Kongo and Norway, however, Brazil has flexibility. Cazy flexibility. The easy access to any and all Great Persons means Brazil is suited to any Victory. Plus, the Minas Geraes unit is useful as both offensive and defensive conflicts, while, by contrast, Norway's naval units are primed only for offense.

Brazil Carnival
Brazil Carnival

The only limiting factor is the reliance on rainforests for those sweet, sweet District bonuses.

Recommended Victory Condition: Any, Culture

Tips For Playing Brazil: This is the first civilization on this list that is well suited to any Victory, and that means you've got wide options in play style or map.

Ideally, it will help to find access to the coast for the Minas Geraes to be effective, but a good patch of protective rainforest will allow you to build fast, dense cities. Read the environment. Brazil will need access to at least either coast or rainforest – both would be ideal, neither is a large challenge.

I would also note, that while any Victory is in reach, the Carnival District should be built as often as possible, giving a boost to the Culture Victory.

10. Rome (Trajan)

Leader: Trajan

Rome's Unique Bonuses and Abilities

  • Trajan's Column: All cities start with one free building in the City Center.
  • All Roads Lead to Rome: All cities start with a Trading Post and new cities within trade range of the capital are settled with a road connecting them. Rome's Traders gain extra Gold for traveling through Roman cities.

Rome's Unique Units and Buildings

  • Legion: This unique unit replaces the Swordsman and is more expensive, but has greater combat strength and has a limited number of Builder charges for roads and forts.
  • Baths: This unique tile improvement replaces the Aqueduct and provides extra Amenities and Housing.

All roads do in fact lead to Rome, and the focus on roads means that Rome has a powerful mobility and flexibility. Both of these traits are excellent for Domination and rapid conquest.

The ability to move more hexes, faster, means that combat units and religious units have a much easier time spreading around the map both offensively and defensively.

Rome Baths
Rome Baths

The Legion units' bonus abilities to build roads and forts mean that fighting away from home is much easier for Rome than other civilizations. Other civs will have trouble getting the jump on Rome if there are defensive sentry forts along Rome's borders.

Recommended Victory Condition: Domination

Tips For Playing Rome: Rome wants to expand, and quickly. At the start of the game, settle at least one nearby city asap to gain the best possible bonus from the free Monument via Trajan's Column. Once you have two, even three cities, settled, develop your Legions and prepare to carve a swath across the continent.

While Legions are technically not late game Modern Era units, their builds will be excellent all game as you establish control over your well-connected territory.

9. Russia (Peter)

Leader: Peter

Russia's Unique Bonuses and Abilities

  • The Grand Embassy: Receives Science or Culture from Trade Routes to civilizations that are more advanced than Russia (+1 per 3 technologies or civics ahead).
  • Mother Russia: Gives extra territory when a city is founded and gain extra Faith and Production from tundra tiles.

Russia's Unique Units and Buildings

  • Cossak: Replace and are stronger than Calvary, and can move after they attack.
  • Lavra: When you use a Great Person in a city with a Lavra, you gain a tile to that city's Culture border.

In the hands of a skilled player, Russia might actually be one of the best civs in Civilization 6. Because this game requires tiles for Districts, the bonus tiles from Mother Russia are very valuable and allow for a lot of flexible city development.

Additionally, tundra tiles are the most uncontested tiles in the game, so Mother Russia's bonus Faith and Production from tundra will go mostly unimpeded.

Russia Lavra
Russia Lavra

If you're unable to find tundra early, it doesn't even really matter, most civs just wont want to settle in tundra all game. It's all yours.

The Cossak, additionally, is one of the strongest unique military units in the game because of their extra mobility.

Recommended Victory Condition: Any

Tips For Playing Russia: Russia wants to claim large swaths of tundra when possible, but can comfortably settle in any area of a map and claim that tundra later. Russia is welcome to pursue whatever Victory desired, but is often best when dumping resources into to military and settlers early on.

I recommend exploring and settling with Cossak/Settler escorts to then establish Trade Routes, which will be used to catch up on Culture or Science via Russia's The Grand Embassy feature.

8. Scythia (Tomyris)

Leader: Tomyris

Scythia's Unique Bonuses and Abilities

  • People of the Steppe: Receive a second cavalry unit or Saka Horse Archer each time you train a light cavalry unit or Saka Horse Archer.
  • Killer of Cyrus: All units receive +5 Combat Strength when attacking wounded units. When they eliminate a unit, they heal up to 50 hit points.

Scythia's Unique Units and Buildings

  • Kurgan: This unique tile improvement provides +1 Faith, +1 Gold, and an additional +1 Faith for each adjacent Pasture. A Kurgan cannot be built on a hill or near another Kurgan.
  • Saka Horse Archer: This unique Classical Era ranged unit doesn't require horses to produce, has 4 Movement and Attack Range of 1.

Scythia is scary. Really, really scary. Scythia automatically instills dread in all neighboring civilizations because the early military advantage is just so insanely powerful.

While Sumeria's strong early military peters out quickly, the Saka Horse Archers are easy to churn out for a large portion of the game, and without the need for horses. Plus, the huge boost from the People of the Steppe bonus providing an extra unit for the price of one is very tough for enemy civilizations to handle.

Scythia Kurgan
Scythia Kurgan

Scythia is the only civ with a very early military option that can effectively snowball into a full Domination Victory.

Recommended Victory Condition: Domination, Religion

Tips For Playing Scythia: Scythia should quickly take out and absorb a neighbor, taking advantage of their powerful military. From there, however, Scythia does have an option: continue to carve a military assault across the continent, pause to build forces and research better military units, or pivot towards a Religion Victory.

The Kurgan provides a nice bonus to Faith and makes the Religious victory a perfect switch should you struggle in late-game military endeavors. You could actually run straight for a Religious victory as well, since other civilizations might be too afraid to start an unwinnable war with Scythia.

7. Greece (Pericles)

Leader: Pericles

Greece's Unique Bonuses and Abilities

  • Plato's Republic: One extra Wildcard policy slot in any government
  • Surrounded By Glory: +5% Culture per city-state you are the Suzerain of.

Greece's Unique Units and Buildings

  • Hoplite: This Ancient Era unit replaces the Spearman and has +10 Combat Strength if there is at least one adjacent Hoplite unit.
  • Acropolis: This replaces the Theater Square District and provides +1 Culture from each adjacent Wonder, +1 Culture from each adjacent District, and +1 Culture from each adjacent City Center.

Pericles' Greece has a powerful affinity for city-states and can snowball a Culture victory if those city states remain in play. If other civilizations challenge you by attacking those city-states, even just a few Hoplite units can fend of a lot of early and mid-game aggression to protect your city-states.

Even with the powerful Hoplite, Pericles's Surrounded By Glory bonus means that Culture is no-brainer as a first choice for victory. Additionally, the Acropolis and the Suzerain bonuses give Greece the strongest Culture bonus in the game.

Greece Acropolis
Greece Acropolis

The extra Wildcard policy, however, is what keeps Greece from being completely bound to Culture. An extra policy of your choice from the start of the game is one of the single most powerful and flexible bonuses in the entire game.

Recommended Victory Condition: Culture

Tips For Playing Greece: Your first goal as Pericles' Greece is to find all the city-states. Find those, set up shop next to a Culture-focused one if possible, or between two city-states, and dig in for a long haul.

The Hoplite can be used for some light conquest as necessary and the city-state Suzerain bonuses do give flexible options. Pericles' long term goal should usually be a Culture Victory.

6. England (Victoria)

Leader: Victoria

England's Unique Bonuses and Abilities

  • British Museum: Each Archaeological Museum holds 6 Artifacts instead of 3 and can support 2 Archaeologists at once.
  • Pax Britannica: All found or conquered cities on a continent other than your home continent receive a free melee unit.

England's Unique Units and Buildings

  • Royal Naval Dockyard: This unique District removes the Movement penalty for embarking and disembarking to and from this tile. +1 Movement for all naval units built in the Dockyard and generates Great Admiral points. This District also generates +2 Gold when built on a foreign continent.
  • Redcoat: This unique Industrial Era unit gains +10 Combat Strength when fighting on a continent other than your Capital's and has no disembark cost.
  • Sea Dog: This unique Renaissance Era naval unit can capture enemy ships. Cannot be seen unless adjacent to it.

England wants to colonize, across seas if possible. The Pax Britannica bonus unit favors drawn out military campaigns or helps defend newly conquered cities. The Royal Dockyard, Redcoat, and Sea Dog all reward rapid expansion across the seas and on islands, making England thrive in coastal or island locations.

The extra unique unit means that England gets just more stuff than other civs, and England beats out the other naval-focused civs because of the Culture bonuses. The British Museum feature makes England an aggressive Culture-focused naval civilization.

England Royal Naval Dockyard
England Royal Naval Dockyard

Additionally, England's Redcoats are so strong and adept at colonizing islands and establishing footholds in other coastal regions that you will often have a tactical advantage in wars. It's hard for other civilizations to defend against England when you launch attacks from two fronts and ignore many coastline disadvantages. England is the strongest naval civ in the game.

Recommended Victory Condition: Domination, Culture

Tips For Playing England: England, like other sea-based civilizations, needs a coast to be the best possible version of itself. If you start the game without access to a coast, get access by the time you can start sending Redcoats overseas to colonize islands and other lands.

Because England is reliant on the sea, a landlocked game will be tough, but not impossible because of the Culture Victory option is fairly strong for England. Build out those Museums in each city and stuff them full of Culture.

5. Greece (Gorgo)

Leader: Gorgo

Greece's Unique Bonuses and Abilities

  • Thermopylae: Whenever you defeat an enemy unit in combat, you'll gain Culture equal to 50% of the base strength of that defeated unit.
  • Plato's Republic: Gain one extra permanant Wildcard policy slot.

Greece's Unique Units and Buildings

  • Hoplite: This Ancient Era unit replaces the Spearman and has +10 Combat Strength if there is at least one adjacent Hoplite unit.
  • Acropolis: This replaces the Theater Square District and provides +1 Culture from each adjacent Wonder, +1 Culture from each adjacent District, and +1 Culture from each adjacent City Center.

Gorgo's Greece is much more aggressive than Pericles' Greece because of the Thermopylae bonus. Because every kill means Greece gains Culture, Culture is a little more stable.

With Pericles, if Germany eliminates a few city-states, Greece is crippled; with Gorgo, Greece can retaliate with Hoplites to gain that Culture. If you want, you could even attack city-states yourself to farm Culture that way.

Greece Acropolis
Greece Acropolis

Just as with the other Greece civ, the extra Wildcard policy is invaluable for Greece's flexibility and the Acropolis is a powerful District for Culture.

Recommended Victory Condition: Culture, Domination

Tips For Playing Greece: While Gorgo's Greece is well suited for Culture Victory, the flexibility to swap from Domination to Culture (or vice versa) is very safe. There's no reason not to shoot for a Domination Victory and still be able to settle, if you have to, for a Culture victory. Be sure to abuse the power spike afforded by your Hoplites to gain extra territory.

Or, alternatively, you could shoot for a Culture Victory and gain extra Culture from defending yourself and taking full advantage of any war waged against you.

4. Germany (Frederic Barbossa)

Leader: Frederic Barbarossa

Germany's Unique Abilities

  • Free Imperial Cities: Each of Germany's cities can build one more district than usual (exceeding the normal limit based on population).
  • Holy Roman Emperor: Germany gets an additional Military Policy slot and gains +7 Combat Strength when attacking city-states.

Germany's Unique Units and Buildings

  • U-Boat: This cheap Modern Era naval unique unit gains +1 Sight and +10 Combat Strength when fighting on Ocean tiles.
  • Hansa: This unique District replaces the Industrial Zone District. It provides +1 Production from every 2 adjacent district tiles, +2 Production from each adjacent Commercial Hub, and +1 Production from each adjacent resource.

Germany has a lot of options, and that's mostly because the bonus District granted from the Free Imperial Cities bonus cannot be underestimated. It doesn't matter what any other civilization throws at you, you can deal with it by making an extra District. Need religion? You got it. Need a military? You got it. That bonus slot gives Germany loads of options for any victory condition.

Germany's strong military presence can act as a wartime deterrent or an early domination strategy to overtake neighboring city states for their resources and land (and extra District slots).

Germany Hansa
Germany Hansa

Plus, the Hansa bonuses to Production mean that you can always comfortably make use of those extra Districts to stack up any bonuses you'd like. The U-Boat is handy in naval war, but isn't a deal breaker if you can't use it; it's a great way to compete with the navy-focused civs if you happen to fight them.

Recommended Victory Condition: Any

Tips For Playing Germany: Attacking city-states isn't a great way to make friends, but it's not quite as egregious as picking up warmongering points by waging wars in the way it is for other early Domination civs. So, feel free to blitz down a city-state or two if you can follow up with a Settler to colonize an optimal piece of land.

Otherwise, the world is your oyster. Build the Districts that make the most sense for your ideal victory.

3. Spain (Philip II)

Leader: Philip II

Spain's Unique Abilities

  • Treasure Fleet: Spain may build Fleets and Armadas earlier than usual via Mercantilism. Trade Routes between multiple continents receive bonus Gold for routes to other civilizations, and bonus Food and Production for routes that connect your own cities.
  • El Escorial: Inquisitors can Remove Heresy one extra time and combat units have a bonus of +4 Combat Strength against players following other religions.

Spain's Unique Units and Buildings

  • Conquistador: This Renaissance Era unit gains +10 Combat Strength when there is a Missionary, Inquisitor, or Apostle in the same hex. If this unit captures a city or is adjacent to a city when it is captured, the city will automatically adopt Spain's Religion as the dominant Religion.
  • Mission: This unique tile improvement provides +1 Faith, or +2 Faith if on a different continent than your Capital. It also provides +1 Science if built next to a Campus district.

Spain is a great hybrid of Domination and Religion, in a similar way that Gorgo's Greece is a hybrid of Culture and Domination. Spain is at its most religious when it is at its most aggressive: the Conquistador military unit is the key.

Because Conquistadors convert captured cities wholesale, you're going to want to expand and fight for land – because it helps you advance towards both Domination and Religion. These also give your religious units a powerful escort in times of peace.

Spain Mission
Spain Mission

Not only that, but the Mission tile improvement also incentivizes Spain to conquer and colonize abroad in order to boost religious influence.

Recommended Victory Condition: Religion, Domination

Tips For Playing Spain: It doesn't matter if you mostly want to pursue Religion or Domination, you'll need a religion and an aggressive military to win with Spain. Build your military as soon as you can get the Conquistador, then play as if you plan on pursuing Domination to the end.

If you can snowball your aggression, then just go off and conquer everything. If you meet a lot of resistance, pivot to Religion and carry a big stick by pairing your religious units with Conquistadors.

2. America (Teddy Roosevelt)

Leader: Teddy Roosevelt

America's Unique Bonuses and Abilities

  • Founding Fathers: Earn all government legacy bonuses twice as fast.
  • Roosevelt Corollary: America's units receive a +5 Combat Strength on their home continent. Also, add +1 Appeal to all tiles in a city with a National Park and gain the Rough Rider unique unit when you research Rifling.

America's Unique Units and Buildings

  • Rough Rider: This Modern Era unique unit earns Culture from kills on the Capital's continent. Each Rough Rider gains +10 Combat Strength when fighting on Hills and has a lower maintenance cost than other units.
  • P-51 Mustang: This Modern Era air unit replaces the Fighter and gains +5 attack against fighter aircraft, has +2 flight range, and gains +50% experience.
  • Film Studio: This building replaces the Broadcast Center and provides +100% Tourism pressure from this city towards other civilizations in the Modern Era.

America is a powerhouse of a civilization in Civ 6, and gains some excellent Culture bonuses and military deterrents. The Founding Fathers bonus means that America will always lead in government development, with only Greece's Wildcard policies as challenger.

On the Culture front, what can't America do? The Film Studio is a late game Culture powerhouse that also effectively 'fights' other Culture civilizations.

America Film Studio
America Film Studio

The Rough Rider units gain a similar bonus as Gorgo's Greece while defending their home continent, so any war waged against America still yields a bonus. Plus, America gets bonus Culture from National Parks. Yowza.

On top of all of that, the P-51 Mustang is the best unique air unit in the game, meaning America gets great aerial supremacy.

Second Best Victory Condition: Culture, Domination, Science

Tips For Playing America: America wants to turtle, especially since it has a weak early game compared to the several other civilizations. America only hits its stride with military once in the Modern Era – that means you'll be investing in Science and Technology pretty heavily. If it makes sense, a war might be worth it just to fight for some extra territory for more National Parks.

Culture Victory is America's first pick, if possible, but you don't need to rush to Culture at the expense of Technology or military; America will gain plenty of Culture in the mid to late game. So, instead, focus on expanding your military and making sure you aren't pushed out early by Domination civs.

As you do this, develop your Science to hit the Modern Era quickly, and then pivot to Culture. If you need to, continue to develop your Science and shoot for the Space Race.

1. Arabia (Saladin)

Leader: Saladin

Arabia's Unique Bonuses and Abilities

  • Righteousness Of The Faith: The worship building for Arabia's Religion cost very little Faith to build and produces bonus Science, Faith, and Culture.
  • The Last Prophet: When the next to last Great Prophet is claimed, Arabia automatically receives the last Great Prophet if they haven't already received one.

Arabia's Unique Units and Buildings

  • Mamluk: This unit replaces the Knight and heals at the end of every turn even if it moved or attacked.
  • Madrasa: This Medieval Era building replaces the University in Campus Districts and provides more Science than a University and provides Faith based on Campus Adjacency Bonuses.

Saladin's Arabia isn't just the best non-Domination civilization in the game, it is straight up the most powerful civ in Civilization 6.

There are no other civs that can build towards to Science better than Arabia because of the bonuses from Righteousness of the Faith and the Madrasa. Additionally, the guaranteed religion provided by The Last Prophet can be used to boost Science, too.

All three of those things, Righteousness of the Faith, Madrasa, and Last Prophet also mean that Arabia can easily generate a ton of Faith every game and a Religion Victory is always on the table. If you wanted, you could also use the guaranteed religion to boost Culture and combine that with bonuses from Righteousness of the Faith.

So, each of the three non-violent victory conditions can take advantage of at least two of Arabia's bonuses. This insane flexibility and proficiency in three victory conditions makes Arabia the best civilization by far.

AND the Mamluk unit helps give you a little extra bang for your buck in the early and mid-game while fending off foes.

Recommended Victory Condition: Science, Religion, Culture

Tips For Playing Arabia: When playing Arabia, all you need to do is survive – because you're going to have a big target on your back. Build out a military to fend off early aggression and only start to relax once you get the Mamluk and can stabilize and focus on your chosen Victory condition.

Once Arabia's Science train gets rolling, there's not much anyone can do to beat Arabia to the Space Race.


Which is your favorite civ to play in Civilization 6?


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