When you're going for a Religious Victory in Sid Meier's Civilization 6, you've got to be resourceful. While other civilizations are warring and fighting each other, you're often going to be churning out religious units, building defenses, negotiating for religious concessions, and developing your Faith-generating perks.
If you're out of the loop with all of Civilization 6's new advances in the Religion mechanics and gameplay, it can be pretty overwhelming to even figure out who to play. That's why this little guide exists. These are the best civilization Leaders for a Religious Victory.
Part of what makes each of these Leaders great is their ability to pivot and change to a secondary victory condition if need be.
1. 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.
It's hard to imagine Spain not being on this list for the Religious victory condition. The powerful Faith bonuses that Spain gains are simply insane and allow for a very aggressive religious campaign.
The Conquistador military unit is the key to your victory, giving your religious units a powerful escort and allowing a quick religion takeover when capturing a city. This means that Spain is most religious when it is highly aggressive with its military might. Not only that, but the Mission tile improvement incentivizes Spain to conquer and colonize in order to boost religious influence.
Second Best Victory Condition: Domination Victory
Since Spain will already have a strong military and will be spreading across the map to accelerate their Religion Victory, it isn't too difficult to imagine switching to Domination. If you find that your opponents are easy to steamroll in war, you might as well take them out to both advance your Religion and Domination tracks. In the end, it will be likely that spreading religion will be easier than an all out conflict, but if the opportunity presents itself, you can easily steer into battle for both Domination and Religion victories.
2. India (Ghandi)
India's Unique 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 Ghandi.
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 nuclear weapons monger in the older Civilization games, Ghandi is actually a really swell guy and doesn't want to fight anyone. Instead, Ghandi gets immense bonuses to Faith in the right conditions and can ride those bonuses into the sunset atop a Varu elephant.
The Satyagraha bonuses actually make exploration and intel very valuable for India. 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.
Second Best Victory Condition: Culture Victory
Dharma gives India a huge advantage in a contested Religion game and allows India to pivot ahead based on whichever religious bonuses are available. The flexibility is really quite nice. That said, India's penchant for non-violent solutions and lack of an offensive military unit makes Domination difficult, so I'd recommend a pivot to a Culture Victory if a Religious Victory is too far out of reach.
3. Arabia (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 packs a powerful hybrid punch of Religion and Science and nothing shows this off better than the Madrasa. Because the Madrasa gives both Science and Religion, and so does the Righteousness of the Faith, Arabia doesn't have to necessarily commit to one victory condition for a very long time.
The real perk for Religion that Arabia claims is The Last Prophet. This powerful bonus means that Arabia will have its own religion founded in every game, no matter what. So, even if the early game is rocky (and the Mamluk should help fend off early aggression), Arabia can always find a way to a Religious Victory.
Second Best Victory Condition: Science Victory
Religion only slightly edges out Arabia's other powerhouse: Science. Once Arabia is up and running with Marasas and worship buildings, the Science train will leave the station at full speed. While Science is a very tough victory condition to achieve, it's much easier with Arabia's extra bonuses. If you run into a stalemate on Religion, Science will win in the long run because no other civilization can pivot to Science nearly as well as Arabia.