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 definitely help a beginning player get started. The thing to remember is to tailor your eventual builds to the victory condition you have in mind, although that isn’t always possible in the very early game. 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 at and is the difficulty level this article is based on.
In Civilization VI the first thing to build is a Scout, regardless of what victory condition you are striving for. The next item to build depends on what your Warrior finds while exploring, generally it will be a Slinger to defend your city from Barbarian attacks. The third item to build will almost always be a Settler if it wasn’t the second choice.
Early Game Build Order
After founding your first city (check out my where to settle page for help in 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.
If a city-state is close by you want to become its friend as soon as you can before other empires sway it into their sphere of influence. If there are other civilizations close to you, you need to know how warlike or peaceful they are as well since it can also affect what you build next. Of course, the higher the difficulty level of the game the harder it is going to be to “play nice” with them, meaning more military units will need to be built earlier.
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) 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.
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. Keep building Settlers and expanding until you have a good reason not to, 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.
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.
Early Game Technologies
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.
I would recommend starting with the Animal Husbandry technology first so you can feed those hungry pops and help your city grow. You will probably also uncover at least one Barbarian camp with your Warrior early in the game and chances are your Warrior unit will not be powerful enough take it out. Since Barbarians can wreak a lot of havoc if not taken care of this will make the Archery research available once Animal Husbandry is complete. Another option is to build another military unit but I prefer to advance my units technologically so I can do more with less.
Once you’re advanced enough you can even combine units, check out my page about how to do exactly that.
Early Game Civics
Code of Laws will start automatically at the beginning of the game and is also the only one 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.
Once again, due to the Barbarian threat, Craftsmanship is the 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.
Policy Cards For The Start Of The Ancient Era
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. If you’re planning on a different type of victory that can be corrected later in the game but at the start the Barbarians have to be dealt with.
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.
Best Civilizations For A Culture/Diplomatic Victory
These two victory types have much in common, meaning that civilizations in this category have a better than average chance of winning either one of these victories. The Diplomatic Victory was added by the Gathering Storm DLC.
Gain diplomatic victory points for Resolutions you supported that get passed by the World Congress. In the Modern Era you can use Diplomatic Favor in the World Congress to compete for diplomatic points. Getting the highest score for Aid Requests and World Games gains diplomatic points.
You gain a culture victory when you have more visitors to your civilization than all the other civilizations combined. It’s best to try to achieve this early in the game, the later the game gets the harder it is to achieve this victory. Build as many Tourist Attractions and Tourism modifiers as you can. Building up as much Culture as you can is a good idea as well. Some of the best civilizations for doing this are listed next.
France has access to the Chateau which provides +2 Culture and +1 appeal.
Greece gets added culture for combat victories, and access to the Acropolis which gives +1 Culture bonus to a City Center if built next to it and +1 Culture for every wonder and district its built next to.
Japan can get +4 Culture per turn through an Electronics Factory, a building unique to Japan. Available after researching Electricity technology.
Sweden gets +2 Culture per turn when it builds an Open-Air Museum, a building unique to this civilization.
Korea is a worth considering depending on your playstyle. Once governors are placed in cities Culture output is increased by 3% for every promotion they earn.
Canada is a good consideration for a Culture victory if you like Ice Hockey. Building an Ice Hockey Rink will grant you +1 Culture for every Tundra, Tundra Hills, Snow and Snow Hills tile it is built next to. It will provide +4 culture if it’s next to a Stadium building. Canada also has the Four Faces of Peace ability, which grants it a 100% bonus in Diplomatic favor for completing Emergencies and Competitions, making it a leading contender if considering a Diplomatic Victory.
Best Civilizations For A Religion Victory
A Religion Victory occurs when you convert at least half of every other civilization’s population to your religion. You’ll need lots of religious sites and religious zealots, like apostles and missionaries, to achieve this victory. You should research Astrology as soon as you can get access to the Holy Site since it provides numerous bonuses that help with a Religion Victory.
India has the Stepwell which grants +1 Faith when built next to a Holy Site. It also has Dharma which gives missionaries 2 additional “spreads,” plus it gives a 100% bonus to Religious pressure imposed by your trade routes. If India is led by Gandhi you receive +5 Faith for each civilization (including India) you meet that has founded a religion and is not at war with anyone.
Egypt has the Sphinx, granting +1 Faith when constructed and +2 Faith if it is built next to a wonder.
The Aztec nation has a unique building, Tlachtli, that when built gives +2 Faith per turn in each city it is built in.
Russia is a good consideration since it gets +1 Faith per turn. Russia also has access to the Lavra instead of the Holy Site. The Lavra is cheaper to build.
Spain has access to the Mission building which provides +2 Faith per turn.
Georgia can gain +4 Faith per turn once the Tsikhe is built.
Best Civilizations A For Domination Victory
A Domination Victory is achieved when you control the capital of every other civilization, including your own. “A strong military is highly recommended” is what the Advisor recommends.
Germany gets +7 combat strength when attacking city-states and +10 combat strength when fighting on ocean tiles.
Mongolia if led by Genghis Khan grants his Calvary units a +3 in combat strength plus they have a chance to capture defeated enemy Calvary units. If their combat units have a higher Diplomatic Visibility than their opponents their combat bonuses are doubled. They also have the Ordu building, which provides +1 movement to heavy and light Calvary units that are trained in that city, plus a 25% experience boost for any Calvary units trained in that city as well.
Japan, when led by Hojo Tokimune, gets a 5% bonus to combat strength in land tiles adjacent to a coast and +5 combat strength in shallow waters. This leader also allows an encampment to be built in half the time of other civilizations, plus any invaders receive 100% damage if encountering a hurricane while in Japanese territory.
Hungary, with its leader Matthias Corvinus, gives levied units +2 movement and +5 combat strength, plus the cost of upgrading levied units is decreased by 75%. Meeting a lot of city-states as soon as possible is the key to using this leader’s abilities to their fullest advantage.
Spain, when lead by Philip II gains a +4 combat advantage over other units who do not follow their religion, making them a serious contender for a domination victory.
Zulu, when lead by Shaka, gain a +5 combat bonus to Corps and Armies.
America, when lead by Teddy Roosevelt, gains a +5 combat strength when fighting on their home continent.
An Encampment (available after researching bronze working) is good if pursuing a Domination victory. Build one only at a high production cities so you can produce a steady stream of military units. An encampment also doubles the strength of walls, making your city much more difficult to be taken over by an enemy.
Best Civilizations For A Science Victory
A Science win is when you finally get the capability to launch a satellite, put someone on the moon, and to create a colony on Mars.
Russia, when lead by Peter, gains science from trade routes that are connected to civilizations more advanced technologically. Russia gains 1 science for every three technologies or civics the other civilizations are ahead of it.
Spain has access to the Mission building, which produces 1 Science for every Campus or Holy Site district it’s next to. The bonus increases after Cultural Heritage is discovered.
Arabia, when led by Saladin, can gain a 10% boost to Science for Arabian cities through their worship building. Arabia also receives a +1 Science for every city following its religion.
Korea, lead by Seondeok, is a leading contender for a Science Victory. The leader gives Korea the ability to gain a 3% boost in research per turn for every governor in city whenever they earn a promotion. Korea has the ability to gain +1 science from any Seowon district they are next to, and a Seowon District provides +4 science per turn in each city it is constructed in.