Civilization VI Best Early Game Build Order

Civilization VI is a very complex game making it impossible to create a build order that suites every type of situation or victory condition. But there are some general guidelines that will help a beginning player get started. The thing to remember is to tailor your eventual builds to the victory condition you have in mind plus the situations you encounter while exploring. The guidelines in this article include the Gathering Storm DLC, and that is the ruleset that was used. As a beginner Chieftain is a good difficulty level to start with and is the difficulty level this article is based on.

Build a Scout First

After founding your first city, regardless of what type of victory you are working toward build a Scout first. You need to know what’s in your general vicinity since it can make a difference about what you build next. While your Scout is being built explore the area with your Warrior, just be sure to not let him wander too far away, you need him close by to counter any Barbarian threats. Having a Scout will free up your Warrior unit to defend your city until a Slinger becomes available. Scouts are much more well-suited for scouting than Warriors because of their added mobility. They can roll back the fog in the surrounding area much more quickly than other units due to their speed.

The Second Thing to Build Depends on the Situation

The second item to build depends on what you’ve discovered in the surrounding area with your Warrior. If another civilization is close by, then contrary to your first instinct build a Settler instead of a military unit next (unless the new civilization is openly hostile to you). This is so you can claim the land in that general direction to block him or her from advancing in your direction. If you don’t you could end up being boxed into an area that’s not very favorable resource wise, or be stuck in an area with limited space to expand in. Neither one of those is a good option for a budding empire.


On the other hand, if Barbarians are nearby (they usually are) a Slinger is a good idea as a next build item instead since cities can’t defend themselves at the start of the game, unlike Civilization V. This unit provides an excellent defense against Barbarians and hostile neighbors alike, and killing enemy units, like Barbarians, can lead to quick improvements for your Slinger units. After a kill they can be upgraded to Archers much more quickly.

No Immediate Threats

If there are no immediate threats keep building Settlers and expanding. Your available population will be the most limiting factor to doing this at first. Keep building Settlers until you can’t expand anymore and build at least two Settlers before constructing your first district. Until you have a good reason not to keep building Settlers and expanding, then take out the weaker and less friendlier civilizations close by.

If there are immediate threats keep your city’s defenses in mind. Unless on an island building defensive walls around your city is a great item to build next when enemies are close by or if you are playing on a higher difficulty setting. Walls are available after researching Masonry.

Build a Campus

Generally building a Campus (available after researching writing) is a good next step once walls and Settlers have been taken care of, and they are good to build in cities that don’t have high production. Try to build a Campus next to mountains or a rainforest so you can get adjacency bonuses.

First Technologies to Research

The first technology to research should either be Animal Husbandry (leads to Archery) or Mining. Both take around ten turns at the start of the game so they are relatively quick to complete. Once again, your surroundings play an important role in deciding which technologies to research first. If there is stone nearby, then Mining will allow your Builders to build mines and quarries making mining a good first technology to consider. Animal husbandry allows a player to construct pastures to help feed a hungry city and build camps. It also allows you to harvest cattle, sheep, and deer if they are close by and reveals the resource of horses, important if you want calvary units early in the game. It also leads to Archery.

First Civics

Code of Laws will start automatically and is the only Civic available at the start of the game. Craftsmanship and Foreign Trade are the first two Civics available once research is complete. Craftsmanship seems bent more toward helping a domination victory while Foreign Trade will go in the direction of advancing a Religion victory. Craftsmanship gives a 30% production boost for the Builders and a 50% production toward Ancient Era and classical era melee, anti-calvary, and ranged units and Foreign Trade.

Due to the Barbarian threat, Craftsmanship is the probably best choice to start with since it gives a 50% bonus toward building melee, anti-calvary and ranged units in the Ancient era. The 30% bonus for producing Builders in a nice addition as well.

First Policy Cards

Once the Code of Ethics is completed Policy Cards will become available, only Military and Economic slots will be available at first. Since you will probably be preparing attacks on Barbarian camps take the Military Discipline card since it gives a +5 combat strength bonus when fighting Barbarians. Take Urban Planning as the Economic Policy card unless you have a compelling reason to take another one, like the God King card if pursuing a Religion Victory. Due to the constant threat of Barbarian attack the game makes you gravitate toward a Domination/Score type victory at first. If you’re planning on a different type of victory that can be corrected later in the game but at the start the Barbarians must be dealt with.

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The rest of the strategy and build order will depend on what type of victory you want to achieve plus what challenges the game might throw your way, forcing you to change objectives.

Rich Gallien

I've always liked board games like chess and PC games, especially space based strategy games, which lead to the creation of this site. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed creating it and updating it with new games!

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