Best way to start?


Jan 13, 2023
After a dozen games, it appears my most efficient way up to immoral difficulty is always the same:
  1. First research astrology to found the earliest (or 2nd) religion to grab good beliefs. Lower holy site priority as soon as religion is found.
  2. Meanwhile, focus on population growth and producing settlers, go as wide as possible.
  3. Neglect military completely. Use heroes and/or vampires with ranged units for defense.
  4. Neglect governors. Get vampire or other secret society first.
  5. Civic: focus on getting apostles to evangelize 2 more beliefs before AI does.
  6. Tech: focus on raising max melee strength for vampires
  7. Governments: always choose Oligarchy, Theocracy and Facism. Always build Ancestral Hall, Grand Master's Chapel and War Department.
  8. Start rolling neighbors as soon as vampires are trained or my tech surpass them.
  9. Later districts: harbors first (is it needed at all?), then industrial zone.
Skip wonders (except naval related), skip great people, skip trade. Only use gold to buy tiles or upgrades.

Are there better ways? I found religion is so important in mid game it always has to be rushed first (to get Choral Music and Cross-Cultural Dialogue or World Church), even though I never go for religious victory.
Skip playing with SS and heroes mode enabled, its a massive crutch that will keep you back as a player.
As for religion, it's not needed.
Kind of surprised to hear that you go for Choral Music, as the AI usually takes that first, and most players usually take Work Ethic these days.
Meaning that if you rush religion so hard to get those religion perks, you are probably using that as a crutch to secure your passive income on culture/science even though there is no need to.

I would mix up your starting playstyles a bit and intentionally not go for a religion, so that you can teach yourself different ways to open up a game.
For instance, you could try something like a Gaul ancient/classical era rush off of 2-3 cities, with a couple of Gaesatae with heavy Archer support and a battering ram, and getting a fast Agoge policy card and Oligarchy government for the push.
Ignoring religion to get an early empire going through domination and settling, and then transitioning to a scientific game after that.
Gaul is very easy to do that with, and if you have no qualms about cheesing, rush Men at Arms (Gaul gets the entire tech for free, rather than just the tech boost) to utter destroy your first neighbour.

Also never skip trade, as in getting more trade routes.
It sets up roads, grants a ton of yields/income, and for cultural playstyles gives you a tourism modifier.
Those districts are usually the second (sometimes first) district I place down in a city, because of how important they are.
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Usually you are only in danger of AI military during the first turns of the game. By playing on a large map with few opponents you are very much safe and the game becomes soo much easier. Try a duel/small map with 2-3 extra AI:s and neglect military and see what happens...
I don't use religion either, unless I have bonuses for it (Russia, Spain, Byzantium, etc.)
And I also want to add that eureka and inspiration are very important. Very. Therefore, we need an army, among other things.
(Most often I play the deity)
I go for religion early as well for the bonus AND to slow down the AI.

buy buildings with faith, 30% discount for missionaries/apostles. stupa, papal primacy.

(the disount helps slow the AI spam of heathenism) :p

going wide early, yes.

never did much with vampires/heroes, buuuttt.... do enjoy apocalypse mode.

try Apoc/tech-civic shuffle/barb camps.

oh, I always go after the wonders that give a policy slot, and venetian arsenal. (2 for 1 boats I like), machupeachu (achoo wonder)

shuffling the tech/civics does tend to keep things lively.

(eureka for tech abc is build 2 widgets, but you can't build then until you have tech abc then get tech def! this happens a lot!) :)
This post immediately brings to mind Soren Johnson's quote: "Given the opportunity, players will optimize the fun out of a game."

Maybe try hotseat with a few civs, play against yourself using different approaches and see what comes out on top, if uncovering the optimal path is really that important to you. I don't think there is one though. There are decisions which are clearly usually the better choice, and decisions which are almost always subpar, but other than that, it's not as clear cut as you attempt to make it. Your use of words such as "always" and "never" sounds like the antithesis of strategy.
Doesn't Choral Music turn temples into temples+theaters and thus give a massive culture boost early? I usually play with 3-5 times slower research, so it's a very long way before theaters can be built. And ancient era rush is the only possible way to get it.

Heroes and SS are indeed game breaking. I couldn't have defended myself without them in higher difficulties.
Every player has his own playstyle. Judging from your outlined way up you play an aggressive optimization game. Civ6 has more victory conditions than previous games and this approach is not great if you go for a culture victory, especially. Mind that there are even multiple ways to achieve that, and some civs/leaders lean towards particular approach. But if you only wish to dominate or push for space race, you are doing it right.
... words such as "always" and "never" sounds like the antithesis of strategy.

Absolutely agree with this! For me, doing something "always" or "never" doing something turns a game into a grind. It saps the FUN right out of it. Civ VI, for me, is great FUN due to the seemingly endless choices. Leaders, Maps, Modes, etc., and then we get to the gameplay!
How can you not be aggressive?

I've been trying not to be, but a neighbor sat on snow behind me with zero production and completely miserable, another neighbor denounced me for being too weak, and an ally has too much faith output and he's a member of Voidsingers... plus I have tons of idle units used to assist the first neighbor's ending, so 100 turns later it's back to military government and all out wars again.
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