Okay, so this started as a post in the General Questions and Answers thread that completely spiraled out of control and I figured I might as well make it a guide for the (very) basics of how to win a game in Civilization VI. Fair warning, it probably contains nothing new for 99% of the forum regulars. If you have any feedback on mistakes I made in this guide, feel free to comment and I'll incorporate the changes. NOTE: This guide assumes you own the expansions. If you do not, ignore the bits about loyalty, Diplomatic Victory and civilizations you don't have. Also, I have less experience with Gathering Storm than the other game mechanics and civilizations, so my advice may be less detailed, and I may miss strong civilizations for certain victory types if they are from Gathering Storm. Layout: General Advice: Contains some basic advice on winning, turn timers and difficulty level. Specific Advice: Contains advice on winning with each of the victory types. Empire Building: Contains general advice on how to build your empire, independent of victory type. General Advice: First of all, don't bother with score victory or even much with your score at all. Your score is a basic (and often not very reliable) attempt at showing who is the 'best' civilization, and score victory is mostly a fallback for if somehow no other victory is achieved. You should not expect to ever see a score victory in your games. Ever. By my personal estimate, I think that anyone who is trying to win a game can do so in about 350 turns, even if they have very little experience with the game. If you're experienced, but don't try too hard, you should be able to win in 250-300 turns (this is what I tend to do, as someone who knows the game well but doesn't like focusing too hard on a victory). If you're experienced and trying, you can win in 200-250 turns (I could probably win in under 200 if I wanted to, depending on the victory type I am going for), and if you're a veteran who deliberately looks for every single advantage, you can win in under 200 or perhaps even under 150 turns. There's a few such people around here on the forums. Note that changing the difficulty level does not, by itself, influence how quickly you can win. Changing the difficulty level changes your interactions with the AIs and barbarians. On lower difficulty levels, barbarians are less aggressive, you are stronger against the AI, and the AI has less production, gold and so on (at least compared to higher difficulty levels, I don't know if they have penalties below Prince). On higher difficulty levels, barbarians are more aggressive, you are weaker against the AI, the AI has more production, gold and so on, and the AI starts with bonus warriors, builders and even settlers, giving them a strong advantage early on in the game. Later on, the AI becomes relatively weaker, and as a rule of thumb, if you can make it to turn 75 on a difficulty level (normal game speed), you can win on that difficulty level. Specific Advice: The game is easier if you focus on a victory type from the start. It is by no means needed (I play Emperor and I typically only decide what victory to go for about 100-150 turns in, though that does often mean Domination and Religion are off the table), but it does help you win quicker, and therefore makes it easier to beat the time at which the AI wins. This means you should focus on the following. Domination Victory: Domination victory requires less of a focus on something specific than other victories do (Encampments help, but you don't need them in every city), but one thing is very important. Start fighting wars early. The earlier in the game you are, the quicker other civilizations forget that you have fought wars, meaning it's easier to be on good terms with others while you're fighting one civilization. On top of that, cities are much easier to conquer when they don't have walls yet. Remember, in a war, cities are everything. It doesn't matter how many units you kill, territory only shifts if you conquer cities. The best units to conquer cities are melee units and siege units, but ranged units are helpful too, in particular if you don't have siege units yet. If a city has walls, keep your units outside of it's firing range (2 tiles) until you have your units placed correctly so that you can position them as you want in a single turn. When attacking a city, make sure to apply a siege as fast as possible. This happens when all six tiles around the city (including water) are either a mountain, occupied by one of your units, or in the zone of control of one of your units. If you want more details on how zone of control works, feel free to ask in the Quick Questions and Answers thread, or just look it up on the wiki. A siege is vital as it stops the city from healing 20 points per turn, which doesn't sound like much but is very important. Always attack the city with ranged units first, and only then with melee units. Ranged units do not take damage when attacking a city, melee units do, so consider not attacking with your melee units unless you have to. Melee units are required to actually capture a city; ranged units cannot do that. The ranged unit class (archer, crossbowmen, and so on) have a severe damage penalty against cities, meaning they often do little damage (depending on which unit you have and how strong the city strength is), while siege units do not. Also, if a city has walls, units do significantly reduced damage to the city until the walls are mostly broken, meaning you should wait with melee units (unless you are much stronger than the city). This reduced damage penalty only partially applies to siege units. They deal reduced damage to the city itself, but not to the walls, meaning siege units are by far the quickest way to destroy a city's walls. Recommended civilizations: Zulu, Macedon, Scythia, Sumeria, Aztec, Mongolia, Rome, in that order. The Zulu and Macedon are simply extremely good at domination, Scythia requires the specific playstyle of building a lot of Light Cavalry with their bonus, Sumeria requires the specific playstyle of starting wars extremely early with War Carts, which can be hard to balance, Aztec is similar to Sumeria but with Eagle Warriors, Mongolia is mostly overwhelming if you focus on your diplomatic visibility, and Rome simply has a strong, early Unique Unit and simplifies your infrastructure. Religious Victory: Immediately research Astrology, and immediately build a Holy Site and Shrine when available. You may want to do this in your second city as well. Also, equip the Wildcard Policy that gives Great Prophet points as soon as you can. It's not as much of a problem on lower difficulty levels, but there are only a number of Great Prophets (and therefore religions) available. As the AI is notorious for focusing on religion, you can't found a religion if you wait too long, and if you can't found a religion you can't win a religious victory. You don't need a Holy Site in every city, but building an extra Holy Site is never a bad idea. If you want to build a religion-focused World Wonder, remember that the AI often focuses on these, so you will have to be fast, just like when you are going for a religion. Missionaries are useful in converting cities that don't have a religion yet, but take a very long time converting cities that belong to another religion. Apostles have two promotions that are far superior to any others, namely Proselytizer (removes religious pressure when using a conversion charge) and Debater (+20 religious combat strength). This makes Yerevan a very strong city state to be suzerain of, as you can give all your apostles these promotions (though some other promotions can be useful, these two are always the best). Use Proselytizers to convert cities that belong to another religion. Never use more than a single charge for a city. Typically, a city will have your religion after one charge, if they do not, just use a missionary, as the city is pretty much a city that doesn't have a religion yet. Never use Debaters to convert cities, or at least don't use their last charge. Instead, use them (alone or in pairs) to hunt down missionaries or apostles belonging to other religions. Every time you kill the unit of an opposing religion, all nearby cities convert to your religion a little, and lose a little of the religion of the unit that was killed. This is about as strong as a Proselytizer's conversion, but spread over a lot of cities instead of focused on a single one, and has the downside that you cannot freely choose where it happens, as you need to kill an enemy unit for it. If your Debaters are low health, place them on or next to a friendly Holy Site to regain health. Don't bother with an Inquisition, as they are limited to your own territory (or at least much weaker if not in own territory, I believe), but do bother with adding two more beliefs to your religion. Recommended civilizations: Arabia, Russia, Poland, Greece, India (mostly Gandhi), Georgia, in that order. Wait, Russia second most recommended? Yes. The Russian Lavra is a unique Holy Site that generates two Great Prophet points rather than one, and on top of that it is cheaper to build like all unique districts, making it almost trivial for Russia to get a religion. Arabia is recommended first because you are guaranteed a Great Prophet, so you cannot miss the opportunity to found a religion, and on top of that they have bonuses towards earning faith, in particular combined with science. This also makes it easier for Arabia to not fall behind in technology, as it common when focusing on religion, so they have an easier time winning wars. Poland is partially recommended because they have an earlier Wildcard Policy slot available, allowing you to use the Great Prophet card earlier, and they also have small faith generation bonuses. Greece is similarly recommended because of their Wildcard Policy slot. India is recommended because they have several methods to increase faith generation, in particular early on, and Georgia is recommended because you can significantly boost faith gain if you play around Tamar's leader ability. Science Victory: Don't be deceived by the name, production is almost as important as science for this victory. A science victory is pretty straightforward. Build lots and lots of campuses, and race ahead of the others technologically. For optimal results, choose one city with lots of hills (but still able to grow enough to work all tiles!) to turn into your Production City (with capital letters). Builds mines (not lumber mills!) and quarries wherever available within this city's borders, and make sure you get the Ruhr Valley world wonder. A city with lots of desert hills and Petra can also work wonders (but don't forget Ruhr Valley!). If you wish to boost production further, relocate your traders to this city and send them to other cities in your civilization. This also helps the city grow and use more tiles. You will want to have at least 100 production in this city by the time spaceports become available, but more is better - don't be afraid to go for 200 or even 300. As you have to research techs pretty much everywhere in the tech tree, there's not much use focusing on specific techs other than unlocking the campus, it's buildings and spaceports quickly. As soon as you have spaceports available, build one in your Production City, and start building spaceship parts. The city probably won't be doing much else for the rest of the game, but if you do find yourself with leftover production, you can probably use it on builders, campus projects (more science to speed up the research of the next space victory project) and so on. You may want to build other spaceports for projects that speed up the spaceship once it launches, but it's not required. At best it shaves off some three or four turns off your victory. Recommended civilizations: Korea, Australia, Sumeria, Scotland, Germany, Netherlands, in that order. Typically, strong science civilizations are those with strong infrastructures. Korea is the only civilization with significant bonuses towards science, allowing them to pull ahead easily as long as you place your unique campus districts right. Australia has a lot of innate food and production with their Outback Stations, and a convenient war declaration from an AI may provide a very strong boost to your spaceship projects. Sumeria has a unique improvement that grants science, but you need to balance how many of them you build. Scotland has science bonuses in happy cities, also allowing them to pull ahead. They may be stronger than Sumeria, but I have little experience with either. Germany is strong simply because they have high production, and the Netherlands are strong because their Polders give strong infrastructure. Culture Victory: Culture victory is one of the more complicated victories. There are several separate mechanisms at work here. Culture, domestic tourism, and foreign tourism. Culture allows you to unlock civics and grows your borders. Domestic tourism is a number that is determined from all culture you have accumulated over your game. Foreign tourism is what is often called tourism, and is required to win a culture victory. To be precise, you win a culture victory if your foreign tourism number is higher than any other civilization's domestic tourism number. There's a guide out there somewhere with the exact calculations of these numbers, but those aren't important here. You will find that domestic tourism grows faster in the early game, while foreign tourism grows (much!) faster in the late game. For a culture victory, the most important aspect is creating foreign tourism. The main source of tourism (until you reach late game) is Great Works, so you need to focus on generating Great People, which means you need to build Theater Squares (and their buildings). The culture generation is but a welcome side effect here. The reason for your Theater Squares is to provide Great People Points and Great Work Slots. You may also want to generate some faith, but this mostly becomes useful in the late game. As you start hitting the Industrial and in particular Modern Era, you will unlock several other methods to generate tourism. Seaside Resorts increase gold (only if worked) and tourism (even if not worked) yields, Ski Resorts increase tourism yields, National Parks yield significant (but not game-changing) tourism, and though I am not as familiar with Rock Bands I believe they have the potential to generate a lot of tourism as well. All world wonders will also produce tourism, but this is not a lot compared to the other sources. As Seaside Resorts, Ski Resorts and National Parks all have tourism generation based on the appeal of their tiles, the Eiffel Tower is a very strong world wonder. You will also want to be on the lookout for various techs or civics that may increase tourism yields, like Computers. In general, you will also be checking the victory screen a lot to find out how much more culture you need, and who your biggest hurdle is. Recommended civilizations: Kongo, America, Brazil, Greece (Pericles), in that order. "Strongest culture civilization" is a tossup between Kongo and America. Kongo gains significant bonuses in Great Person Points for the relevant types, but America has the Film Studio, which doubles tourism in all cities that build one. Either civilization is extremely strong in this aspect. Brazil has a boost to Great Person generation as well, and can run projects in their Entertainment Districts for more Great People. Greece has cheaper Theater Squares that can generate more culture, and Pericles' leader ability also boosts culture. Diplomacy Victory: The most important part of a diplomacy victory is to 'win' aid requests and competitions, as they grant points for this victory type. Whenever one occurs, keep an eye on the scores and make sure you remain on top. For example, in the case of an aid request, donate gold if you are worried about losing your spot at the top. Other than that, form alliances and become suzerain of city-states to earn more diplomatic favor, which allows you to influence the World Congress decisions better. Also try to get a feel for what the AI will vote for in the World Congress, as diplomatic victory points are awarded to those who voted in accordance with the vote. And considering my lack of experience with Gathering Storm, I'm afraid that's about it. Maybe I'll come back here once I've played some more Gathering Storm (I recently started playing again after almost a year absence). From what I do know, I would recommend Canada, Sweden and Greece (Pericles). Empire building: There are some basics related to building an empire that are relevant no matter what victory type you go for. Sometimes, aspects that may seem equal are in fact very different. Some tile yields may be much better than others, and some districts are great while others are borderline useless. I'll also recommend some of the strongest all-round civilizations. The map: First of all, tiles and tile yields. You will want your citizens mostly working tiles that give food and production, with gold a nice but optional third. You can pretty much ignore science, culture and faith tile yields. On top of that, you will want to evaluate the terrain. Production is an extremely important statistic in Civilization VI, which means that the most important consideration while planning a new city is to make sure that the city has hills or, failing that, forests. In particular, a city that has no hills, no forests and no plains will be pretty much useless. Not an exaggeration. It's nice that you got the land, but you had to build a settler to get it, and it's not really going to give you anything other than a headache when you look at the time it takes to build a district. Send that settler somewhere else. The exception, as we'll discuss later, is Australia. Furthermore, when you place your city (or even before!) you will want to get a general idea of what to build where. A city needs mines/lumber mills, farms and districts to function. The placement of mines and lumber mills isn't very important, but you always want to have your farms together, as they give bonus food to adjacent farms, and will often want to even add the farmland of neighboring cities together. If you use Gathering Storm and have flood plains, these tend to be ideal locations for farms, due to their higher natural yields. Last, you will also want to have your districts together, as districts give bonus yields to adjacent districts, but this is a slightly less iron-clad rule, as districts can have significant bonuses from terrain. Still, a general district area (again possibly connected to a district area from a neighboring city) is normally a good idea. Districts: Districts are confusing and sometimes almost misleading. Because you might think that if you're going for a domination victory, you have to build a lot of encampments. But that's just not really the case. A Deity domination player probably has more campuses than encampments by the time they win. And then we're not even talking about commercial hubs yet. (the great ones) The single most important district in the game is the commercial hub, followed closely by the harbor. The yields granted by trade routes (in particular internal trade routes) are extremely valuable, and on top of that they are also dynamic, as you can change the origin city of a trade route if you want. Triangular Trade is also one of the strongest policies in the game. Normally, you will want to have either a harbor (with lighthouse) or a commercial hub (with market) in every single city, to have the maximum number of trade routes. If you have a coastal city next to a river and can make a city-commercial hub-harbor triangle, you'll even want both - though, in other cases, you probably don't. On top of that, gold is a very versatile resource, so you'll normally want to run policy cards that increase the yields from commercial hubs and/or harbors as well. Don't be afraid to spend your gold to purchase units, buildings, tiles or great people! Apart from these two, the most important districts are the campus and the industrial zone. Campuses are strong simply because they grant science, and you'll want to place them down whenever you have a good adjacency bonus. Industrial zones are very important for production, but as their production mostly comes from the area of effect abilities of the factory and power plant variations, you will want to place them strategically. Make sure every city center is covered by at least one industrial zone, and though it is not harmful to have more than that, you definitely don't need them in every city. Unless you're Germany. (the good ones) Next up are the entertainment complexes, theater squares and holy sites. You'll eventually want to have enough entertainment complexes to cover all or almost all cities, but you don't need any beyond that. Pretty much the only reason to build one early is in order to snatch the Colosseum, which does not have very high build priority by the AI. Be careful with the placement of these districts, as the fewer you need to cover everything, the better! Still, you won't reach endgame without needing a few. Theater squares are less attractive than most districts if you are not going for a culture victory, as culture production tends to be decent simply through natural production from your citizens and monuments in every city, but it's beneficial to build a few to speed up culture generation in the later stages of the game. At some point, you'll notice that certain districts become cheaper than others - that's the best point to start building theater squares. Holy sites are somewhat similar to theater squares. They're very important if you go for a religious victory, but if you don't, you can pretty much ignore them (get your pantheon by running the faith in capital policy card in the early game). However, in the late game there are various other things you can buy with faith, namely naturalists (who build national parks), great people and rock bands. For this purpose, you'll want to build some holy sites during the mid game, in particular if you go for a culture victory. Water parks are just entertainment complexes. However, do note that they stack with the area bonuses of entertainment complexes, meaning you should try to cover all your cities with one of both. (the bad and optional ones) And then there's encampments. Good idea, doesn't work. The AI is not good enough at war to warrant building encampments simply for their defensive abilities (seriously, I often don't even build walls all game), and having just a few cities with encampments will be enough to give all your units the bonus experience gained buff if you just make sure to use those cities to build your units. With Gathering Storm, they have an additional use in storing resources, but there simply aren't a lot of situations where you need to suddenly build more than three units that require the same resource, while most of the time you're sitting on your cap anyway. Meaning you don't need the increased resource cap. Government plaza should be built early. Don't spend too much time thinking about the perfect location, just plop it down. Aqueducts are pretty much used only to give fresh water to cities that normally don't have any. Except if you're Rome. They have become slightly more useful in Gathering Storm, as they now give +2 production to adjacent industrial zones, which may make them worth building. Baths are useful to stop floods, and also give production to adjacent industrial zones. Canals should be straightforward in when you should build them. Neighborhoods are optional. I personally build them whenever I find a city approaches the housing cap, but a lot of serious players don't, and in fact use housing limits to stop their cities from growing too fast, because every second citizen requires an amenity. They also enable enemy spies to use the spawn rebels action, which can be annoying. Aerodomes are mostly built because they're required to produce air units, but air combat isn't very important in the game (partially because the AI is so bad at it). You may want to use the airlift feature, but that does require both airports and Rapid Deployment, which is a very high investment just to move units over the map slightly faster. It's neat, but I doubt it's worth the cost if you actually get down to it. Spaceports are exclusively useful to science victory. Management: Just putting various quick tips in here. When settling a city, try to settle it in a place where there is at least one tile with 3+ food, 2 food and 2+ production or 1 food and 4+ production available in the first ring. This allows your city to either grow decently, or have enough production to quickly build a granary despite it's small size. You'll want to have about 6-7 population before too long, after that production becomes the most important yield. Yield value of a tile can be approximated as food+production+(1/3)*gold, with the condition that food becomes worth less the more you have of it, and that you want at least one and if possible two food, unless you have overflow from other tiles. However, the very first tile worked is the most important. Also, do not expect to have third ring tiles until much later in the game, unless you buy them (which is typically worth it in the case of high adjacency bonuses for districts, luxury resources you don't have yet, or strategic resources). Internal trade routes are almost always better than external trade routes. Don't be deceived by the idea of trade routes having to earn money and/or having to go to foreign lands. They're not bad, but the food and production yields are better. Remember to always put the trader in the small city before you send him on the route, as only the origin city gains yields, while the yields from the route are determined by the districts in the target city. Don't bother with the religious pressure from trade routes, it's insignificant. World wonders are good, but by no means required. Consider whether you want their bonus, and how likely the AI is to finish it before you (this is mostly an experience thing. For example, you should never try to build Stonehenge, simply because most of the time there will be four AIs trying to build it as fast as they can). 1, 4, 7, 10 are the most important population sizes, as they allow for new districts. Yes, larger cities can have more districts (13, 16 etc), but growing cities very large has relatively little benefit. Once a city reaches size 10, it's just not very important anymore how much it grows after. Decision tree for improvements: Can I improve resources? Yes: improve resources. No: next question. Is this city smaller than size 10? Yes: go to next question. No: skip next question. Will this city reach size 10 within 50 turns (more if very early game)? Yes: go to next question. No: build farms. Would I appreciate this city having more production? Yes: build mines and lumber mills. No: go to next question. Do I have a unique improvement that is strong? Yes: build unique improvement. No: go to next question. Am I going for a culture victory while having tourism improvements available? Yes: build tourism improvements. No: build mines and lumber mills. Special situation: If your unique improvement grants both food and production, place it instead of farms, mines and lumber mills whenever possible. If it grants one of them, it is a strong improvement. If it grants neither, only build it if you have reason to believe it's worth building. Also, Sumeria's Ziggurats may be worth building early on to get ahead in science, even if you have not gone through the decision tree. Recommended civilizations: Australia, the Netherlands, Germany, Japan, Inca, Cree, in no particular order. As you can see, these civilizations have something in common (other than their overlap with the science victory civs). They either have great unique improvements (as defined previously) or stronger district mechanics. Australia and the Netherlands have the two strongest unique improvements in the game, able to generate loads and loads of food and production (and in the case of the Netherlands, gold), followed closely by the Inca and the Cree that produce slightly lower amounts of food and production from their unique improvements (though the Inca may actually be on Australia/Netherlands level, I haven't actually played them). Meanwhile, Germany has more production from their unique districts and the ability to build more districts, giving them more adjacency bonuses, while Japan has a few cheaper districts and straight up higher adjacency bonuses from districts. Selecting one of these civilizations (and spamming their unique improvement if they have one, or districts in general if they don't have one) is likely to make the game easier just by itself. And I think that's it. Whew. How to turn a Quick Questions and Answers post into an entire morning of work. For those curious, this ended up just over 5000 words if I include this last paragraph. Huh.