Discussion in 'Civ6 - General Discussions' started by Archon_Wing, Nov 26, 2018.
lol finally something we can all agree on.
Gandhi's India is worse than Georgia, change my mind.
I would agree if the Varu wasn't such an awesome uu. Your only hope as Gandhi is to conquer a neighbor or two. But for peaceful religious victory I do feel Georgia is better. Getting 2 golden ages in a row for +2 apostles is great.
I agree that Tamar > Gandhi. Georgia is deceptively... err... (what's the opposite of weak again?) Not Weak. Strength In Unity provides great boosts for Wide Play and being able to expand gives you an easy advantage. The caveat is that, um, you need to be in a Golden Age (which Georgia gets zero bonuses towards if they're in a Dark or Normal Age), and um, also, other civs can get the same boosts as you.
Also re: Gandhi: Varu's are good and Gandhi is a deceptively good Warmonger (but again, so is Tamar because Walls + she can reliably FB Armies and declare Golden Age Wars) but he is completely and utterly CANCELLED by Chandragupta's existence who is a downright terrifying Warmonger. Nothing resists +5 CS Varu's that move at double the usual speed. NOTHING.
The problem with India and Varu is you either want to prioritize religion or Varu. Trying to go for both simultaneously isn't a good idea, especially on higher difficulties. Add the problem of getting religion without any help towards that + (non)upgradability of Varus into Tanks without sufficient scientific output, and you've got a weak civ.
Gandhi is really correct... Far better then many others.
You don't need religion to take advantage of any of Gandhi's abilities though.The only reason why you'd want religion is to take Defender of the faith so you can tech safely.
And Varu can give knights trouble, so it's not like the upgrade is missed.
Roughly where I think every civ stands. Some positions are debatable. Indonesia is probably S tier on large water maps, because of something on stilts...
I agree, Chandragupta Varu's are OP if you are lucky enough to be able to declare Territorial Expansion. Gandhi just can't keep up to that legacy.
Still can't bring myself to like Georgia. Yes, there is some synergy, but it's so underwhelming. I'd hardly ever build Renaissance Walls anyway, the UU is a bit meh and UA's are rather dependent on other stuff to give results. Overall, not good...
Khevsurs aren't bad if you can faith purchase and you have no resources. Don't ask me how to get the faith and chapel though.
Find the best "Wonders Racer" & you'll probably discover a few more hints on the general ranking (for just about anything else) of every civs, IMHO.
Sooo.. check out this comprehensive ODS spreadsheet that goes through the whole Wonders/Civs relationships by giving a number of details on their Datasets & other AI-Bias values.
Not too many entries left, just three more after this one. Let's cut to the chase:
The Great Tier
Now we’re getting into the real heavy hitters of the game, and who better to ring in the tier than everyone’s (least) favorite warmonger, Alexander. Alexander is in the same ballpark as our friends Genghis and Shaka, as a leader with a singular focus: war, war, and more war. However, what separates Alexander from the other two and places him a whole tier above them, is that Alexander can execute a strong domination push while also getting rewards in other areas.
First, let’s discuss that domination push, since it’s the crux of what Macedon is built on; if Macedon can’t conquer, then Macedon has no game plan. Fortunately, Macedon does indeed have an extremely strong window of opportunity in which they can wage war on their neighbors. Out of all the leaders in the game who have access to more than one unit, none of them have those two units pop up in the same era—except Alexander. He gets access to the Hypaspist (a Swordsman that shreds city centers, especially with a Battering Ram present) and the Hetairoi (a Horseman who starts with a free promotion, earns Great Generals faster, and gets an added combat bonus when adjacent to a Great General), both of which are replacements for central units in your Classical Era expansion. The synergy here should be relatively obvious: your Hetairoi shred all opposition that dares to stand in your way, and the Hypaspists level any walls for you to waltz into your new city. No other Civ in the game has access to this double-whammy of unique units within the same era, and results in them having one of the strongest timing pushes in the game. Speaking of war: Alexander is not crippled by it the same way other leads face some difficulty when off to conquer. You don’t get war weariness—which is really powerful by itself—and your armies are totally healed when you conquer a city that has a wonder in it. Considering how wonders are more dispersed across your empire than prior Civ games, you can activate this full heal a few times per invasion, expediting your conquest to a great degree.
While Alexander’s imminent danger to opponents is obvious, what sets him apart from other warmongers is that he can dump everything into conquest while also not falling behind in other aspects of the game. The main way you do this is through Hellenistic Fusion, which grants Eurekas/Inspirations for conquering cities, depending on what districts are present. While this is not a direct increase to science or culture, it should shave time off your research projects, which really adds up over the course of the game. However, through the Basilikoi Paidies, you do get a direct bonus to science. Building units means you’re spending time away from building infrastructure that helps your army stay competitive through the eras, namely referring to science. You get science whenever you complete a military unit, and while the boost isn’t incredible per unit (25 for building a Hypaspist, maybe a little bit more than what you’d normally earn per turn in the Classical Era), it does grant you science in a way that no other Civ can earn along with your normal income. This helps Alexander move along the tech tree while also investing in his army, allowing him to further focus on his conquest. And that in a nutshell is what sets Macedon apart from other Civs: they can pour all their eggs into the domination basket without falling behind, and their ability to wage war and be rewarded from wars exceeds the competition.
Alexander is an extremely potent leader when looking at the domination victory, and is easily within the top five for that victory condition—potentially the top three. However, they have some features lacking compared to other Civs. First among them is that Macedon is very one dimensional; while they are a bit more multifaceted than other “unga-bunga domination” civs, they still are pretty pigeonholed into a domination playstyle. Barring maybe one notable exception, every other Civ that we’re going to discuss here has multiple options to winning the game, and Macedon is clearly a domination Civ. Second, is that Macedon has a very specific timing to hit, which is to push in the Classical Era and then to not stop. While this push is very strong, if they cannot hit this timing, you’re going to be playing what is essentially a no-bonus Civ for the rest of the game, and will likely fall behind. This caveat is less of a big deal than it sounds, since your push is among the strongest timing pushes in the game, but it is something to consider. Regardless, Alex has tools to go to war, get rewarded more for war, and keep going to war. Macedon is a “win more” Civ, and they’re the best “win more” Civ in the game.
Hey, you know what are good in Civ traditionally? Science civs! Science just works great within the framework of the game, since you can not only push towards a specific win-condition, but it helps you in every other facet of the game as well. While you can’t just neglect culture in favor of science in Civ VI, science is more tied to army strength than other yields, making science naturally important in every game. And Arabia is a science Civ, which naturally makes them fit into the metagame very nicely. They also can play a very strong religious game and domination game as well.
The Last Prophet at first glance seems like a very strong ability, but it doesn’t quite stand up under scrutiny. A guaranteed religion is nice to have, for sure, but if you want to play a religion game, you generally want to rush it to have the finest crop of beliefs to choose from. Getting a religion last leaves you with often more undesirable choices, meaning that even though you’re guaranteed a religion, you’re not necessarily guaranteed a good religion. The extra science is nice, but unless you’re really investing in a religious game, it’s not that consequential—and if you are playing that game, the science doesn’t matter all that much. Righteousness of the Faith is a much stronger bonus; this is probably the highest production discount in the game, and it makes buying your faith buildings much more worthwhile; the percentage boost to all those yields are fantastic to have as well, and scale great as the game moves along. Overall, the Civ abilities have a good deal of synergy and bolster your science and religious game, even though The Last Prophet isn’t as good as you might think it is.
What is great is the Madrasa; this is probably the strongest asset Arabia has in its arsenal, though why that is might not be immediately apparent. Much has been said about the extra science and faith generation, and yeah, that’s all great to have. What makes the Madrasa special is actually how it’s unlocked—through the civics tree. You get the university replacement at Theology, a whole era before you normally would at Education. This means that Arabia can accelerate its science game faster than other Civs in the game, giving you a distinct edge over your rivals. You’ll earn more science faster, which can get you key technologies early on, and go for a Knight push very quickly. And speaking of Arabia’s Knight push, we have the Mamluk, which belongs in the conversation for best unique unit in the game. First off, the Mamluk is a Knight replacement; this is already a great start, since the Knight is among the most important units in the game, and getting one that doesn’t require iron is a great quality of life improvement. The real kicker though, is that the Mamluk heals at the end of every turn—no matter what action it has taken. The applications or why it’s so good should be obvious; healing chip damage, safely sieging cities—you name it. The Mamluk is a truly phenomenal unit, and it can be used to either leverage an advantage in your victory type of choice, or to kick start your domination game.
Arabia’s science gains simply work well within Civ VI’s framework. Furthermore, they can quickly earn themselves a vastly improved Knight which gives them a great advantage over their neighbors, and an avenue for easy expansion. Their bonuses to the religious game allow them to invest in religion at a pretty low cost, and doing so benefits the other areas of the game as well. However, some of their bonuses aren’t as powerful as you might expect, and they lack a lot of advantages in the early game. Nonetheless, they are a very powerful Civ once their bonuses kick in, and can set themselves up for an easy game in a number of routes. Just not amazing enough to crack our top 10.
Rome is a very straightforward Civ, yet one who’s bonuses are just as powerful as they are intuitive. I initially rated them fairly low, as the simplicity of their bonuses might belie their true strength, but they are very, very powerful. Their ease of execution also makes them a great candidate for either a first time player, or someone moving up into another difficulty.
Let’s start with the most underrated of their bonuses, All Roads Lead to Rome. People really sleep on the strength of getting free roads in your empire, as it allows you to mobilize your armies for defense and invasion much quicker than you might otherwise find, especially if you find yourself in a start that really hampers your movement. The extra gold is equally great, as it both allows you get gold from internal trade routes—which you otherwise would miss out on—or get additional gold from foreign trade routes. It’s a really great ability that you might not give much thought to initially, but really makes the early game easier. What has a greatness that is immediately apparent is Trajan’s own ability, Trajan’s Column. I’m going to assume you’re playing on the standard Ancient Era start, which means you start the game with a free monument in every city. This ability, though simple, is so, so strong. You free up an initial production queue, saving you resources; your borders expand quite quickly compared to other civs; and most importantly, you accumulate culture faster than any other civ in the game. This means that you unlock Political Philosophy faster than any other Civ, unlocking your first government before anyone else, grabbing you a bunch of era score in the process. The free monument provides an array of bonuses, all of which grant them a huge advantage in building an early empire.
Speaking of empire building, Rome’s unique unit, the Legion, further aids them in this regard. Though Swordsmen are the backbone of a Classical Era army, the units themselves are not particularly amazing. The Legion changes this status quo, as they are pretty great. Barring the Varu, they are the strongest unit of the era, even outstripping the mighty Horsemen. This gives them a huge advantage in expansion through conquest. What makes the Legion special however, is its build charge. They can use that build charge to build forts, which can be useful, but you don’t want to use it for that. Rather, you want to use it for chopping resources; essentially you get a free builder charge for speeding up production for whatever you want to use. The Legion is particularly interesting that regard, as through upgrading it from a warrior—which you can always do since it doesn’t require a strategic resource—you get both a boost in power and a boost in development. Speaking of development, Rome’s unique district is the Bath. Though this district seems underwhelming at first—since it replaces the aqueduct, something you rarely build—there are some interest aspects about it. First, is the free source of amenities; amenities are always nice to have, and getting one where someone else can’t is a nice asset. The real power of the Bath, however, is the half-production cost, which opens up some interesting opportunities for Rome. The aqueduct in theory allows you to settle in places without access to water, but generally the production cost is too high to actually bother settling in those places without being crippled by a bad city for a bit. However, the cheaper Bath cuts that time in half, effectively allowing Rome to settle in places other Civs wouldn’t dream of doing so. This can potentially open the entire map up to Rome, allowing them to expand either further.
Rome’s bonuses are all centered on empire-building and expansion—you know, the thing that the entire Civ game is based around. Giving a Civ a bonus that ties directly into both rapid progression, expansion, and conquering plays right into Rome’s hand. Eventually their bonuses will taper off, and not remain relevant for the entire game; however, they’re so set up for early success that it’s hard to see Rome as anything other than great once you get your hands on them.
May I suggest you check the link above for making a picture of tier lists? If you could do that and a table of contents for your posts, I will link to it on the opening page so it's easier to access all of your posts here.
Yes, I plan on doing that once they’re all done. That would be very appreciated
One thing I want to do with them is go the science route since they get science yield when producing units with their unique building. It was mentioned in the elimination threads, and I want to see how powerful this can be. I would say they have more flexibility than Zulu and Mongols.
Yes, they do, which is why I placed them a tier above those other two. The problem is that eventually those units are going to be a drain on your economy, so you’ll eventually have to use them. Science can be a viable path, but you still have to go through domination to an extent, and if your push fails, Macedon is going to feel pretty bad.
*Extremely Snake voice* Kept you waiting, huh?
I do apologize for the delay on this update, I've been bogged down by university classes really kicking into gear and trying to get good at Smash Ultimate, so my time spent on writing has been spread thin. However, I hope to get the God-Tiers out before the release on Gathering Storm, since the aspects that make them so good are pretty easy to talk about. Anyways, enough from me; let's get right down to it.
The Top-Tiers (Cont.)
Ah, Persia. Another Civ I horribly underrated in my previous tier lists. Persia is a major threat that has a number of traits that push them to be excellent in two victory types: domination and culture. They have a great ability towards warmongering and a stellar unique unit, while also having bonuses towards appeal, culture, and empire building.
Persia has to be one of the strongest domination Civs in the game, with a game-long conquering bonus and a very strong unique unit. Fall of Babylon is a great ability that lets you be a sneaky warmonger while avoiding the diplomatic consequences. Being able to abruptly declare war without any warning is an obvious strategic advantage, and doing so with no consequences is fantastic. Oh, and the extra loyalty is actually a pretty substantial chunk, and makes holding onto your new cities pretty easy. The bonus movement speed really allows you to strike quickly and fiercely, potentially surrounding a city out of nowhere. Speaking of fierce strikes, the Immortals are one of the best unique units in the game. Getting a Swordsman/Archer combo without the weaknesses of either is such a strong asset. You can upgrade into them, they don’t cost Iron, and they can even take cities since the recent patch. Just all around fantastic. They’re not as strong as the Swordsman, sure, but that’s offset with accompanying Horsemen, and what they lack in strength they sure make up in utility. Plus, they’re a ranged unit that gets access to the Melee promotion tree, making them effectively near-Crossbowmen in the Classical Era. These two uniques in tandem make Persia devastating to face in the early game, and a relevant military power throughout the rest of the game.
That isn’t to say that Persia’s sole strengths are just warmongering though; they’re really excellent at the culture game too, and that largely stems from the Pairidaeza—or as I like to call them, good Chateaus. I call them that because they’re like the Chateau, but straight up better. More gold, equivalent culture, more appeal, less placement restrictions—it’s just a superior tile improvement (c’mon Firaxis, buff France please). The appeal in tandem with the culture makes for the Pairidaeza to function as a great source of tourism on its own right, but it also buffs the heck out of your Seaside Resorts; with a bit of decent planning, Persia will be swimming in tourism. They also get a good deal of culture from Satrapies, but this ability goes more towards early empire building. Extra trade route, free culture and gold, more advanced roads; the works! Persia will speed through the civics tree, get a good income from both trade routes and Pairidaezas, and their advanced roads let them mobilize their army really quickly. All in all, a great set of bonuses in general, but especially for a culture victory.
The only con, and I mean the real only con for Persia is that their abilities don’t kick in until the Classical Era in earnest. Additionally, their bonuses are all uniformly great, but none of them are what I would consider game-breaking. Nonetheless, they’re a very powerful Civ that requires a bit of shrewdness on the part of the player to get the full rewards out of them; in the hands of such a player though, Cyrus is the true King of Kings.
Remember back before vanilla Civ VI was released and everyone thought that Russia was going to be one of the worst Civs in the game? Oh, how times have changed…
Nowadays, most people are aware of just how good Russia is, with some people even putting them into the God-tier. While I might not go that far, I can’t argue that Russia isn’t a fantastic Civ. Easily the best religious Civ in the game, Russia has excellent tools for expansion, a fantastic unique unit, and a strong culture game to boot. The fact that Russia has a decidedly mediocre Leader Ability and is still this high up should tell you something about just how powerful the rest of their uniques are.
The best place to start might be with that “weak” bonus that Peter has, just to get it out of the way. The Great Embassy grants you one culture and science in trade routes for every three techs or civics that you’re behind your trade partner in. At first glance, this does seem kind of awful; you’d have to be behind your opponent to use it, which means intentionally falling behind—hardly a winning strategy. However, there are a number of uses for it. For one, this ability makes Russia amazing on Deity, where you’re naturally going to fall behind. I don’t want to dwell on that point too much though, since I want this to be a general tier list, not just one for Deity or multiplayer (though I imagine that the high tiers in this list will do well in those environments).
Moving onto the rest of Russia’s bonuses—all of which are amazing—let’s get to that top-tier religious game, and that largely stems from the Lavra. First of all, the main amazing thing about the Lavra has nothing to do with the Lavra in particular, but has to do with unique districts in general: the half-production cost. This lower cost on Holy Sites means that Russia can start earning Great Prophet points early—of which the Lavra also provides one extra. This means Russia is almost guaranteed in any game to earn the first Great Prophet, meaning you get the all-important first crop of beliefs to choose from. The Lavra also grants a point for every cultural great person, which means that Russia starts to earn these units far earlier than any other Civ in the game, giving them a huge head start on everyone else in that camp. If that wasn’t enough, any city that has a Lavra earns a tile whenever a great person is expended within its borders. All in all, the Lavra plays great into a religious game, giving Russia a huge advantage straight out of the gate, but it also grants a wide range of bonuses that aid expansion and culture.
Speaking of expansion—Russia’s own ability, Mother Russia, is the single-best border acquisition tool in the entire game. This ability grants Russia a whole eight extra tiles every time they found a city. You know how I made a big deal out of Trajan’s ability to get tiles faster? Peter gets them for free. The Shoshone were an excellent Civ in Civ V, and they had a similar ability, so it’s not hard to see why this is such a strong ability, but within the context of Civ VI, it’s even better. More tiles means not only more tiles to work, but also means more flexibility in district placement and wonder placement. A surplus of tiles means more in Civ VI than in previous iterations, giving Russia a big advantage in what they can work, what they can build, and most obviously, the amount of territory they can control. This synergizes beautifully with the Lavra as well, making the increased cost of tile acquisition apply less to them, since they just get them for free. The other part of Mother Russia is that tundra tiles gain an extra faith and production yield. Now, this sounds great and all, but remember that the only yield from tundra tiles is one food. At best, you’ll be working a tile that has one food, three production, and one faith—assuming it’s a tundra tile with hills and forest. This ability doesn’t not necessarily make tundra amazing, but it does make tundra viable, opening up a new avenue of expansion that other Civs are unlikely to try and contest. Plus, the extra faith just adds to Russia’s amazing religion game, which is always nice.
It’s not enough that Russia has excellent bonuses towards setting themselves up for vast expanses of territory and two victory conditions; no, Russia also has to get an excellent unique unit. The Cossack replaces the Cavalry, a unit that comes along pretty late, but is an extremely relevant unit for the Industrial Era, and it’s an amazing upgrade over the Cavalry. It is the strongest unit of the era—clocking in at 67 combat strength—and like all unique units, it does not have the standard strategic resource requirement. What elevates it to disgusting levels of strength, however, are its unique properties. Remember the Civ V mounted units meta? How you could spam horse units and attack, quickly retreat, heal and repeat? Those were good times. However, no Civ can play that game anymore—except Russia with the Cossack. Getting the opportunity to move after attacking is ludicrously powerful, and opens up so many options for combat: retreating after combat if you’re too low, moving away to allow a new unit to attack your target, or attack and then immediately promote and heal, saving your unit face on defense. Plus, even if you don’t want to play aggressively, that just makes the Cossack even better; they gain an extra five combat strength when in your own territory. If the Cossack came earlier, it would be in easy contention for best unique unit in the game—instead, it will just have to settle for being one of the best without being the absolute king.
So yeah, Russia’s amazing. They have so many strengths that set them up for great success that they’re almost God-Tier. Unfortunately for them, and the next entry in this tier, I had to cut off somewhere, and Russia’s lackluster leader ability puts them just below the others in the competition. Still, they’re incredibly powerful once they get going, and if we’re talking strictly Deity difficulty, they’re likely the best option in the game.
Tomyris, former Queen of Vanilla Civilization VI, has fallen a good bit from her top billing in my original tier list. Out of all of the Civs in the game, she got hit the hardest with the nerf bat (barring England… for some reason). However, just because she got nerfed, doesn’t mean she’s bad—that is far from the truth. Scythia is nonetheless among the top Civs in the game for domination, and once she gets snowballing, very few Civs can rival her. However, she’s more dependent on that Classical Era push than she was prior, and she can actually end up in a tough spot if it doesn’t work. Still, the upside potential for Tomyris is insane, and that alone catapults her to the top of the Great-Tier.
The strengths of Tomyris are pretty apparent at an immediate glance, and the main point is strength in war. This primarily comes from Killer of Cyrus, an ability that was way too strong on release. After nerfs, it’s been pushed down to a reasonable level, but it still stands as one of the best abilities in the game. Getting a damage boost from attacking damaged units is a very easily ability to capitalize on, and healing from kills is even better. While you don’t heal as much as you used to, so you can’t just sustain your army ad-infinitum, but it’s still egregiously good. In a one-on-one engagement with equivalent forces, almost no one can stand up to Scythia.
This also works nicely with her ability to accumulate a huge army via People of the Steppe. While you can’t just spam & sell units to fabricate currency anymore, this does let you build an army very quickly, allowing you to spend the rest of your early game bolstering your economy and infrastructure. People of the Steppe can either be used to build a super-mega army, or to just delay your unit spam for later. This unit is also what makes the Saka Horse Archer good, or at least decent. If one were to look at the Horse Archer on its own merit, then yeah, it wouldn’t be very good; however, within the context of the rest of Scythia’s abilities, it becomes pretty decent. People of the Steppe lets you get a two-for-one deal, which is nice for a unit that doesn’t require a strategic resource. Furthermore, the Saka Horse Archer works brilliantly with Killer of Cyrus: simply run up with your Archer, chip damage them for no health cost, and let your Horseman finish them off. It’s a pretty elegant synergy in all honesty. These three abilities set a strong groundwork for Scythia’s army and combat, and it’s honestly one of the most effective militaries in Civ.
The Kurgan, however, is a bit of an oddity, as it doesn’t fit in with the rest of Scythia’s uniques. The bonus gold and faith is nice for early pantheons and keeping your massive army paid, but you don’t really want to be working these kinds of tiles early on if you’re going for a domination push—you want growth and production. Now, at this point I suppose it is worth mentioning that Scythia is actually pretty decent at Religious victories. The Killer of Cyrus bonus applies to theological combat as well, and though this isn’t the core of a religious playthrough, having stronger theological combat than everyone else is a nice asset to have. If you are going for a religious playthrough as well, having extra faith from the Kurgan does aid in pumping out religious units. However, they don’t have much in the ways of actually earning a religion, so this is more of an alternate path than Scythia’s optimal game plan. All in all, the Kurgan is just there—you’re not going to get too much out of it, because you’re going to want to promote growth and production over the yields that the improvement provides.
Scythia is probably the single strongest military Civ when looking exclusively at their combat bonuses. In a one-on-one fight, Scythia’s units will always come out on top; on the battlefield, Tomyris is unbeatable. However, pretty much all her bonuses converge around combat, and if she cannot develop enough to a point where she can win that first war, she will fall behind. The Kurgan will give you just enough gold to sustain your army, but not much beyond that. In other words, if Scythia fails their Classical Era push, they will fall behind. However, their bonuses in that area are so strong that it is difficult to imagine Scythia’s failure. Still, their insular focus and lack of a diverse game plan are just enough to keep Scythia outside of the very best Civs.
So you thought I was going to abandon this thread? Wrong. I'm a man of my word, and I intend to grind this out before the release of Gathering Storm, now that my exams are past. I'll hopefully have the last three Civs finished before midnight; stay tuned.
In any case, let's get into the final grouping:
The God Tiers
If I were to describe Germany in a single word, it would be “potential.” I would wager that if every Civilization were isolated on a single continent in a game, Germany would easily rise to the top of the competition. This is due to Germany’s focus on production, arguably the most valuable resource in Civ VI—a game where production is scarce. Simply put, Germany gets easy access to an important resource where other Civs have to struggle to accrue it. On top of this, Germany simply gets more out of every city they found, further accentuating their upward potential. Unchecked, Germany cities become powerhouses that can push them to any victory type, though Science and Domination victories are best for them. However, Germany has two cons: their strongest abilities don’t really kick in until the late game, and they have a really mediocre unique unit. However, even that is not that huge a deal for Germany, as Frederick’s unique ability gives Germany an avenue for early expansion and increased early game options, making their relatively weak early game not as weak as you’d think.
So let’s start with Germany’s insane production, which is contingent on the Hansa. The Hansa is the second best district in the game, free. Though you do have to finesse some district placement to get the most out of the district, it’s not too hard to get a really high production output with some smart planning around commercial hubs and luxuries. The sheer amount of production Germany can get gives them so much utility for pretty much anything you could possibly want to do in a game of Civ, but it particularly is handy for building spaceships and units. Speaking of utility, Free Imperial Cities is an amazing ability as well. Although unique districts now do count towards the overall district count, meaning you can no longer found a city and get three districts out of it from the get-go, this ability simply makes every city you accrue better. You know—the thing that the entire game of Civ is based around. It’s not unfeasible to be able to put a core of Theatre Squares, Campuses, and Commerical Hubs/Harbors in every city, plus a flex district for whatever you may need. I don’t think I need to explain these two uniques further, because what makes them strong is readily apparent.
Unfortunately, Germany has some weaknesses in their design, like the U-Boat. To put it simply, this isn’t a unit that is going to see much use. It upgrades from the Privateer, has a lower production cost, and has bonus sight and combat strength in ocean tiles—all very good bonuses for this unit. However, it just doesn’t mesh too well with the rest of Germany’s uniques. Just realistically, you’re not going to see much use out of the U-Boat, which is a shame. Additionally, most of Germany’s bonuses don’t kick in until later on, meaning that compared to the rest of the Civs within this tier, Germany will have a relatively weak early game. That does not, however, mean that Germany has a weak early game overall; quite the contrary. Holy Roman Emperor’s free military policy card is probably the weakest out of all the extra policy card abilities in the game, because military cards are probably the weakest of the bunch. However, it is still useful; there are plenty of great military policy cards that make your empire overall stronger later in the game, and Germany can chug out multiple types of units early on thanks to being able to field extra cards. The real strength however, is the combat strength versus city-states. I cannot stress how easy this makes capturing city-states. It’s not even particularly hard to capture city-states in the early game, but this makes it trivially easy. This gives Germany the opportunity to expand via conquest and settlers simultaneously, giving them a chance to edge out ahead of their neighbors. So even Germany’s “weaknesses” are not as relatively weak as you’d expect.
So Germany suffers from a comparably weak early game compared to the next five Civs we’re about to discuss, but even that can’t hold Barbarossa back. He can easily expand via city-state conquest in the early game, get more out of his cities than any other Civ in the game, and has access to production that other Civs would die to have. The only problem that is holding Germany back is that if you get early rushed as them, you essentially have no counter play. But if you can get your feet on your ground, they become easily one of the best Civs in the game.
You’ve probably noticed a trend in this list where “jack of all trades” Civs tend to not do very well. This is because most of these types of Civs tend to offer bonuses that set you up for a good game via solid infrastructure, without having any particular bonuses that push them towards a victory type (i.e. actually winning the game). Australia is a particular exception to that rule, because while they do offer those generally solid all-around bonuses, they also have bonuses that push them towards not just one victory type, but every single one in the game. Because of this, Australia stands far and away as the most versatile Civ in the game, and is able to navigate the state of the game towards any victory type.
The main reason why Australia is amazing is due to their Civ ability, Land Down Under. First off, it does something that really only Indonesia (and maaaaybe Norway) does as well: makes coastal cities viable. While it doesn’t improve the tiles that are worked by a coastal city like Indonesia does, it does improve the city by giving them extra housing for settling on the coast. This causes Australia’s coastal cities to either be on the level of everyone else’s river-settled cities, or in a best case scenario where you get the coast and a river, you unlock a mega-city from the first turn of settling. Australia can foster megacities in a way that makes the Khmer jealous, allowing them to work a lot of tiles and hold a lot of districts. Speaking of districts, we have the second, more significant section of this ability, involving the extra adjacency bonuses districts (specifically Theatre Squares, Campuses, Commerical Hubs, and Holy Sites) receive from charming or breathtaking appeal tiles. This ability is so good, that it pretty much catapults Australia into Great Tier, if not God Tier all by itself. If you’re playing Australia, it’s pretty easy to get the +3 bonus on coastal tiles—not even factoring in how tiles next to mountains typically have that high appeal, all but guaranteeing at least a plus four yield for campuses. It’s also worth noting, that Australia’s yields apply to the districts that you will consistently want to build in every city. This means two things for Land Down Under: one, that this is a bonus that is both consistent and strong. Secondly, these yields set up Australia to compete in any victory type, and to be able to get off to a strong start early. Faith? You got it. Science? You got it. Culture? You got it. The only con here is that these breathtaking tiles that would otherwise be used for Seaside Resorts, but if you’re settling the coast you shouldn’t have a scarcity of these tiles. All around, one of the best abilities in the game, easy.
What Australia also has is access to one of the best unique improvements in the game, the Outback Station. Remember what I said about production being an important, yet scarce source in Civ VI? Australia has an easy access to production via this improvement, and it scales incredibly well, granting lots of it by the Industrial Era; not the best timing imaginable, but good enough regardless. It also bolsters Australia’s growth provided by all that extra housing, making good use of those extra working tiles via production. It’s also arguable that Australia is even the best desert Civ in the game, since these Stations can be placed on desert—though I’d assert that one Civ has that title over them. Still, this is among the best improvements in the game in that it synergizes well with Australia’s housing and grants them extra production, while arriving at a decent point in the game. Speaking of production, we also have Citadel of Civilization, granting you double production when you’re declared war upon. There’s the obvious intent behind this ability: Australia can focus on producing infrastructure, and then quickly mobilize an army in the event of an attack. However, there’s a sneaky application as well for those who want to conquer—you can provoke your neighbors to war, and then use that production boost to build an even larger army. You could even use this production to spam wonders, but that’s a bit of a risky strategy (though this is more viable if you can use this ability to liberate cities). Essentially, while Australia has less overall production than Germany, they have more tools to augment that production, and put it to better use.
There’s also the Digger, I guess, but that unit isn’t super relevant. Its stats and bonuses are nice, but as an Infantry replacement, it comes too late in the game to really impact a domination victory—though it’s nice if you want to play a liberationist. Overall, Australia has a great shot at any victory type. You can evaluate your position and then pivot to the victory type of your choice; lots of cultural Civs in your game? Fine, you can switch to science. While other Civs might be jacks of all trades, but masters of none, Australia is a jack of all trades and a master of all indeed.
Look, I’m going to keep this brief. You know why Sumeria’s this high, I know you know, so there’s no point in beating around the bush: it’s the War Cart. Yeah, extra rewards for destroying barb encampments are nice. Yeah, the Ziggurat is a pretty good unique improvement that speeds up the early game, but comes at the cost of working growth or production tiles, a valuable early builder charge, and a coveted river tile spot. Yeah, Adventures with Enkidu is pretty weak—though the extra experience from collaborative barbarian removal is ok. But let’s be honest folks: it’s the War Cart that makes Sumeria amazing. A high combat strength, high mobility early cavalry unit that is cheap, has no counter in Spearmen, and can be spammed from the very first turn? Sign me up. When playing Sumeria, you have access to the earliest Zerg Rush in the game, and can quickly conquer your neighbor before they know what’s hit them. For this reason, if this were strictly a multiplayer tier-list, Sumeria would be numero uno. Sumeria can simply hit a triple threat: fast, strong, and early, and do all those collectively better than anyone else.
From there, things are pretty simple: you can continue domination, or go some other victory path—most optimally science. But you essentially use your early lead to snowball further for the rest of the game. The only real con for Sumeria is that even though all their bonuses are active from the beginning of the game, they wain in relevant beyond the Classical Era. After that, they’re kind of a vanilla Civ with some slight science and culture boosts via the Ziggurat. But that’s not too bad of a con, considering how strong that turn one threat is. When you can conquer another Civ by turn 50 and ride that snowball for the rest of the game, does their lack of late game bonuses matter? Not really.
And just like I promised, here we are: the final three. The podium Civs. The absolute paragons of Civilization VI's metagame. It's hard to rank these against each other, since they're all so good, but I think I did an OK job of it.
Enough waiting though, we have a brand new meta to explore in an hour and a half, so here we go:
The God Tiers (Cont.)
Korea being in this tier probably comes as no surprise. As we’ve said many a time before, science is king in all Civilization games, and Korea is the science Civ. Sure, they got nerfed, but only ever so slightly so they weren’t broken beyond belief anymore. They still have a disgusting science output, and they are still very, very strong.
Most of that early science output comes from the Seowon—AKA the best unique district in the game. A cheaper campus—arguably the most important district to build early in any playthrough—is already a great start, but four free science right off the bat for just building it? That is just outright disgusting. Not to mention the other adjacencies you could be getting, Korea gets crap tons of science, and gets it early on. Who cares about the adjacency penalties in all honesty; they’re very easy to work around. This district by itself lets Korea build such a huge lead in the science department that few Civs can keep up with. And to exacerbate that lead, we’ve got Hwarang. Yes, this ability is worse because you can’t get as much science out of every city. But it’s not that much worse, because you can now get more science out of a select core. The boost doesn’t come online as early as with the pre-nerf version of this ability, but the bonus scales harder with more governor upgrades. I would still take the former if given the choice, but to find a more balanced version, this one is just fine.
Honestly, there’s not too much else to say about Korea besides science. The extra food and science from farms and mines next to Seowons respectively is nice, but not game changing. And the Hwacha is admittedly a very strong defensive unit, but worse than the Field Cannon on offense; still, you get it really early, and considering that with Korea’s science traits, you can have this really powerful ranged unit faster than other Civs. But back to the big picture: people somewhat over-exaggerated Korea’s nerfs when they came out. Yes, they get less overall science, but those people were missing the point. Korea’s sheer amount of science is nice, but the real strength is how much they can get early. And that hasn’t changed. The only real thing I can lament about Korea is that they don’t do as much with their science as other Civs, but that’s pretty irrelevant. When you can be one or two whole technological eras ahead of every other Civ, what bonuses they have can be kind of irrelevant.
It’s weird to say that a Civ I put at number six—in the Great Tier—for my last tier list was underrated, considering how high that was, but man—did I underrate the Aztecs. All it took was one clear playthrough and the sheer strength that this Civ has shined through. The Aztecs simply have so many good things going for them that it’s hard to figure out where to start.
But, I guess the best place to start should be with the Eagle Warrior, since a lot of their abilities synergize around this unit. Now, I pooh-poohed this unit originally for its high production cost, and because of that I still don’t consider it the best unique unit in the game; however, this is one of those rare unique units that are totally worth the production cost. First, a 30 combat strength unit from the beginning of the game that has access to the Battlecry promotion: good start. Next, it can be built and the start out the game, and you actually spawn with a free one: ok, now we’re talking. Finally, if the unit kills an enemy civilization’s units, they get free builders: now you’re balling out of control. The Eagle Warrior by itself can kick the Aztecs’ infrastructure into overtime: simply invade your closest neighbor, and watch the builders stream back into your empire. Oh, and since you’re there, you might as well finish them off and take their empire with your thirty-base combat strength warriors. Yeah, this unit’s pretty darn good.
Oh, but what’s that? You’ve somehow run out of tiles to improve. Not to fear, the Aztecs have a Civilization ability on par with Australia’s in Legend of the Five Suns. This ability lets you use builder charges to complete 1/5th of a district’s production. This is amazing for reasons that should be obvious. Not only can you rush build districts similar to how China rush builds wonders, but you can use the blatant synergy between it and the Eagle Warrior; capture builders, use them to supercharge your core cities. This even works with Spaceports, making the Aztecs a surprisingly strong science Civ. I don’t have too much else to say about this one, because the reasons for why it’s great are crystal clear.
So now you’ve conquered that new city, but what’s that? You want to conquer some more lands? Well, Montezuma has you covered for that, with his handy-dandy leader ability, Gifts for the Tlatoani. Not only do they get extra amenities from luxury resources (I’m glossing over this one here, but this part it actually pretty amazing), but their units get extra combat strength from each luxury you’ve improved. Now let’s crunch some numbers here: assuming you’ve expanded a bit, and reasonably you might have 2-3 luxury resources, giving all your units the same combat strength boost. Now, this might not seem like much, but remember: Civ VI calculates damage based on difference in combat strength, not overall values, meaning little values like this add up. Ok, so now back to where we started: you conquered that neighboring Civ, and you want to expand some more. By now, you’re probably looking at around 4-5 luxuries, and you have the same damage. By that point, you’re considerably stronger than your opponent. The Aztecs essentially snowball harder than any other Civ in the game within a domination playthrough, simply because their units straight up get stronger with every conquest. Once you’ve conquered like two neighbors, absolutely no one can contest you; you’ve transcended mere mortality and become a god. And hey, that little extra boost from your standard luxuries goes a long way too for getting you a headstart.
The only reason the Aztecs aren’t in first in this list is because of the Tlachtli; simply put, the extra faith and Great General point aren’t going to do much for you. It’s great for historical flavor, but it has no synergy with the rest of the Aztec uniques, so it’s really random and out of place in the regard. But does that matter? No. The rest of the Aztecs’ abilities are so good, that you can either play arguably the best domination Civ in the game, or just conquer your neighbors and build up your empire via the free builders to go towards any victory type. Heck, in my most recent Aztec playthrough, I won a Science Victory; not bad at all for a supposed one-dimensional warmonger. The only reason the Aztecs aren’t the supreme Civ is because only ¾ of their abilities are God-Tier. Our final contestant has 4/4.
And with that, in first place we have…
This might be a slightly controversial pick to place them over Korea and the Aztecs, but I’m sticking to my guns: Nubia, in my post-DLC and Patch tier list was my first place finisher, and they haven’t moved an inch. Why? Well, they didn’t receive any nerfs and R&F didn’t change up their game plan in any significant fashion. So, you spare you the diatribe (and me valuable Gathering Storm time), I’ll link my previous reasoning here, as everything I wrote here pretty much stands.
But, here’s the TL;DR version: Nubia has better mines for both purchasing and building units, and has a start bias to start near a mineable resource—great. On top of that, they get an extra boost to building ranged units and their ranged units get extra experience; ranged units, especially Archers, are some of the most important unit types in the game, so being able to churn out highly skilled Archers are really important. And oh, would you look at that—they get a super beefed up Archer replacement that is effectively cheaper, has higher movement speed, and more damage, putting it into consideration for Best Unit in the Game (the War Cart barely edges it out IMO, but that’s semantics). Man, this is already looking really strong; if only they had some boost to infrastructure building as well. Oh, what’s that? They have 1/5th off of the production cost of every district? And that gets boosted up to almost half off if you just build their unique improvement next to the city center? And with just a little bit of city-planning that tile improvement can become a 5-6 yield tile? Huh—Nubia do sound pretty darn good.
So yeah, I still think they’re the best in the game as of right now. The only real con for Nubia is that desert-start bias. But even that is a blessing in disguise; between the Nubian Pyramid and all those mineable resources, Nubia is a contender for Best Petra Civ (though Australia probably has them beat). All in all, everything Nubia has to offer is both stellar and works amazingly well holistically in Civilization VI’s metagame, which is why they’re my pick for the absolute best in the game.
Well, if you're still reading this after all the delays, I thank you for making it this far. I do this because I like writing and I like thinking about systems in games, so this is a fun little exercise for me. But I also like talking about games that I like, so I appreciate all the discussion and feedback I get from these rankings; not only are they interesting discussions, but I learn a lot from them too. So again, sincere thanks if you've followed me up to this point; after I get a decent enough time on Gathering Storm, I hope to write a more abridged version of this for early metagame impressions.
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