Choose your leader: What to expect from Civilization VI’s rulers

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Your strategy-loving significant other is about to get a whole lot more scarce becauseSid Meier’s Civilization VI releases this Friday.

The game is largely a return to the turn-based strategy Civ fans have enjoyed in the past albeit with a new sheen and an added a level of complexity the game has sorely missed.

For the most part however, the game functions the way you would expect. You select a leader, build an empire and crush your opponents. The question is however, who should you choose?

Leaders in Civ 6 grant a nation two unique abilities, a unique unit and building, and also have a predetermined agenda. So while land management might be extremely important, selecting the leader that matches your play habits is just as vital.

To help you along we’ve outlined each civilisation as well as its unique aspects so that come release day you can dive straight into world domination.

America – Theodore Roosevelt

Roosevelt dislikes warring civilizations and those who bully city-states on the continent he occupies. The leader’s unique ability, Roosevelt Corollary, grants units +5 Combat Strength bonus on the American home continent and +1 appeal to all tiles in a city with a National Park.

Civilisation Ability – Founding Fathers earns America government legacy bonuses in half the time.

Unique Unit – P-51 Mustang is a Modern era air unit that replaces the Fighter
Unique Building – Film Studio is built in the Theater Square district and replaces the Broadcast Tower. Grants +100% Tourism pressure toward other civilisations in the Modern era.

Arabia – Saladin

Saladin’s agenda is still unknown. His unique ability Righteousness of the Faith means that Worship buildings cost less faith to build and provides bonuses to science, faith and culture.

Civilisation Ability – The Last Prophet: If Arabia does not yet have a prophet and only one more Prophet can be earned in the game, Arabia receives the last Prophet.

Unique Unit – Mamluk replaces the Knight heavy cavalry unit. Mamluks heal at the end of every turn even if it has moved or attacked.
Unique Building – Madrasa replaces the University in the Campus district and can provide additional Science and Faith.

Aztec Leader – Montezuma

Montezuma’s Tlatoani agenda means that he likes civilisations with the same luxury resources as him but dislikes civilisations with luxury resource he does not have. His unique leader ability, Gifts for the Tlatoani causes luxury resources to grant an additional Amenity to two cities. Every luxury resource worked in Aztec territory grants +1 Combat Strength to military units.

Civilisation ability – The Legend of the Five Suns ability allows the Aztecs to rush district building with builders. One builder charge improves production by 20% of the total cost.

Unique Unit – Eagle Warrior replaces the Warrior melee unit. Eagle Warriors can convert defeated enemy units into Builders.
Unique Building – Tlachtli is built in the Entertainment Complex district and provides Amenities, Faith and Great General Points.

Brazil – Pedro II

Pedro’s Patron of the Arts agenda means that he loves Great People and if your civilisation has one that he wanted he won’t like you very much. Magnanimous is Pedro’s unique ability and allows him to recoup 20% of the Great Person points used to recruit or patronise a Great Person.

Civilisation ability: Amazon. Rainforest tiles provide +1 housing to adjacent neighbourhoods and +1 adjacency bonus to Campus, Commercial Hub, Holy Site and Theater Square districts.

Unique unit – Minas Geraes is a naval unit unlocked through the Nationalism civic and has improved ranged combat and defensive stats.
Unique building – Carnival District replaces the Entertainment Complex district but requires the Games and Recreation civic. Once built a city can start the Carnival city project which turns Production in Amenties and upon completion provides extra Great Person Points.

China – Qin Shi Huang

Huang’s unique agenda, Wall of 10 000 Li means that he dislikes civilisations with more wonders than he has. His leader ability, The First Emperor allows China to use a builder charge to complete 15% of a wonder’s cost. This is limited to Ancient and Classical wonders. Chinese builder also have an additional building charge.

Civilisation ability: Dynastic Cycle. Eurekas and Inspirations provide 60% of the cost of civic and technology research rather than 50%.

Unique unit – Crouching Tiger is a short range unit with high damage and does not require resources.
Unique building – Great Wall provides additional defense and Gold. In later era’s the Great Wall gives China additional Culture and Tourism points.

Egypt – Cleopatra

Cleopatra’s Queen of the Nile agenda sees her favouring relations with civilisations that have a strong military presence over those which don’t. Cleopatra’s unique ability Meditteranean’s Bride gives +4 gold to trade routes Egypt starts. Other trade routes yield +2 gold to Egypt and +2 food to the other civilisation.

Civilisation ability: Iteru. Districts and wonders are built 15% faster if adjacent a river. Floodplains do not block the placement of districts and wonders.

Unique unit – Maryannu Chariot Rider is a mounted ranged unit which gains movement if it starts the turn on open terrain.
Unique building – Sphinx grants additional Culture and Faith with additional bonuses granted if placed near a Wonder.

England – Victoria

Leading the English is Victoria and while she likes civilisations on her continent she dislikes civilisations on continents where she has no cities.
Her unique ability, Pax Britannica grants a free melee unit when the English settle on another continent.

Civilisation ability: British Museum: Each Archaeology Museum hold an additional 3 artifaces and supports one additional Archaeologist.

Unique unit – Sea Dog is a Renaissance era naval unity that replaces the Privateer. The Sea Dog can capture enemy ships and cannot be see by enemies unless they are on an adjacent tile.
Unique building – Royal Navy Dockyard unlocked by researching the Celestial Navigation technology, the Royal Navy Dockyard replaces the Harbour district. The district grants the same bonuses as the harbour and in addition grants +1 movement to all units built in the district and +2 Gold when built on another continent.

France – Catherine de Medici

The ruler of the French seeks to gain as many spies and as much diplomatic access she can with the Black Queen agenda.The French leader dislikes leaders who ignore espionage.

The Catherine’s Flying Squadron ability grants one additional level of visibility to all civilisations she has met.

Civilisation ability: Grand Tour: +20% Production toward Medieval, Renaissance, and Industrial era wonders. Tourism from wonders of any era is doubled.

Unique unit – Garde Imperiale gains a bonus when fighting on the same continent France occupies and earns Great General Points for successful kills.
Unique buildings – Chateau must be built adjacent to a river but provides Culture and additional bonuses if built near a Wonder.

Germany – Frederick Barbarossa

The Germanic leader’s Iron Crown agenda dictates that the leader does not like civilisations which befriend city-states as Barbarossa hopes to conquer them all.
His unique Holy Roman Emperor ability provides him with an additional Military policy slot and a combat bonus against city-state units.

Civilisation ability: Free Imperial Cities. Each city may construct one more district than its population allows.

Unique unit – U-Boat is a Modern era naval unit that replaces the Submarine and is cheaper to produce. The U-Boat has +1 sight and +10 Combat Strength when fighting on Ocean tiles and in addition can reveal stealth units.
Unique building – Hansa replaces the Industrial Zone and requires the Apprenticeship technology. If placed near a Commercial Hub district or resources the Hansa gets bonus Production.

Greece – Gorgo or Pericles

Gorgo’s agenda, With Your Shield or On It means she never gives up items in a peace deal and likes civilisations who don’t stop when the pleas of peace are uttered. If your civilisation has surrendered to a peace deal or has never been to war, Gorgo won’t like you at all.

Pericles’ agenda is known as Delian League. The leader prefers civilisations which are not competing for the same city-state allegiance and dislikes those that are. Pericles has the unique ability Surrounded by Glory which boosts Culture output for every city-state Greece is a suzerain of.

Civilisation ability: Plato’s Republic. Receive +1 wildcard policy slot regardless of government type.

Unique unit – Hoplite replaces the Spearman and gains +10 Combat Strength if another Hoplite unit is adjacent to it.
Unique building – Acropolis replaces the Theatre Square district and gives a Great Writer point, a Great Artist point and a Great Writer point per turn.

India – Ghandi

The unique agenda for Ghandi has not yet been revealed. Ghandi’s unique leader ability Satyagraha grants India a significant Faith boost for every civilisation it has met which has founded a religion and that India is not at war with. Nations warring against India suffer happiness penalties.

Civilisation ability: Dharma. Cities gain the follower beliefs of all religions practiced within them.

Unique unit – Varu reduces the combat strenth of adjacent enemy units by 5 points. This effect stacks with multiple Varu units.
Unique building – Stepwell provides housing and food. The Stepwell can yield additional food if placed next to a farm and additional faith if placed next to a Holy Site district.

Japan – Hojo Tokimune

The Japanese leader has the Bushido agenda which means he prefers civilisations with a strong focus on military and either culture or faith. Tokimune dislikes civilisations with a strong focus on military and little focus on culture and faith.

Civilisation ability: Meiji Restoration. Districts receive a +1 standard adjacency bonus if adjacent to another district.

Unique unit – Samurai units are unlocked by researching the Military Tactics technology and does not suffer combat penalities when the unit is injured in battle.
Unique building – Electronics Factory replaces the Factory and provides additional Culture and Production to nearby cities.

Kongo – Mvemba a Nzinga

Nzinga’s unique agenda sees him liking civilisations who have established a religion and brought it to his cities. If you have a religion and have not brought it to Nzinga’s civilisation beware.
The unique leader ability is a rather strange one. Religious Convert does not allow Nzinga to build Holy Site districts, gain Great Prophets or found a religion. Instead the civilisation gains all beliefs off any religion that has established itself in the majority of Nzinga’s cities.

Civilisation ability: Nkisi. Relics, artifacts and great works of sculpture provide +1 food, +1 gold and +1 production. Additional Great Artist and Great Merchant points are earned each turn

Unique unit – Ngao Mbeba replaces the Swordsman but does not require the Iron resource to build. The unique unit does not incur sight penalities in Forests or Jungles and has a defensive bonus against ranged attacks.
Unique building – Mbanza is a unique district that provides Gold, Food and Housing.

Norway – Harald Hardrada

The Last Viking King, Hardrada’s unique agenda, dictates that the leader wants a strong navy and respects other civilisations with a strong navy. Conversely, the leader dislikes civilisations with a weak navy. Hardrada’s unique ability, Thunderbolt of the North, allows coastal raiding for all naval melee units.

Civilisation ability: Knarr allows ships to enter the deep ocean after researching Shipbuilding. There is also no movement cost for embarking or disembarking.

Unique unit – Berserker a melee unit that has 4 Movement when starting in enemy territory. The Berserker has +7 Combat Strength when attacking and -7 Combat Strength when defending.
Unique building – Stave Church is required to build Apostles and replaces the Temple building.

Rome – Trajan

Optimus Princeps is Trajan’s unique Agenda. The leader wants to have as much territory as possible and dislikes civilisations with smaller territories. His unique ability Trajan’s Column gives each city an additional City Center building when a city is established.

Civilisation ability: All Roads Lead to Rome gives all cities a Trading Post when established. All cities within the trade route of the capital start with a road and trade routes prove extra Gold for each Roman city they pass through.
Unique unit – Legion replaces the Swordsman that requires no Iron to build but does cost more. The Legion can construct Roads and Forts.
Unique building – Baths replace the Aqueduct district and must be built adjacent to the City Center. If built next to a river, Lake, Oasis or Mountain, Baths can grant a city up to 6 Housing if there is no fresh water in the city yet and +2 Housing if the city does have fresh water.

Russia – Peter the Great

The Russian leader’s agenda has not yet been revealed. Peter the Great’s leader ability, The Grand Embassy, means that Russia can acquire science or culture from trade routes of more advanced civilisations.

Civilisation ability: The Mother Russia ability means that founded cities begin with additional territory and Tundra tiles provide +1 production and +1 faith.

Unique unit – Cossack a mounted unit that replaces Cavalry and has extra combat strength and in addition can move after it has attacked.
Unique building – Lavra replaces the Holy Site district but requires the Astrology technology be researched. It generates Faith and +1 Great Prophet Point per turn and adds a tile to a city’s cultural border whenever a Great Person is used.

Scythia – Tomyris

Backstab Averse is Tomyris’ unique agenda and she dislikes surprise declarations of war, more so if it comes from a neighbouring civilisation. Her ability Killer of Cyrus gives +5 combat strength to units attacking wounded units. Units will also heal 50 hit points when they destroy a unit.

Civilisation ability: People of the Steppe grants two units when building one Light Cavalry unit.

Unique unit – Saka Horse Archer a mounted unit that does not require Horses to build.
Unique building – Kurgan grants +1 Faith, +1 Gold and +1 Faith for every adjacent Pasture but cannot be built on hills or beside another Kurgan.

Spain – Philip II

Philip’s agenda Counter Reformer means that he likes civilisations that follow the same religon as his civilisation and dislikes any attempt to spread a different religion within his empire.
The unique ability El Escorial allows Inquisitors to remove Heresy one extra time and combat units have +4 Combat Strength against players of other religions.

Civilisation ability: Treasure Fleet provides extra yields from inter-continental trade routes and may combine ships into fleets earlier than others.

Unique unit – Conquistador a Rennaissance era unit that replaces the Musketman. The unit gains +10 Combat Strength when an Apostle, Missionary or Inquisitor occupies the same tile. If a Conquistador captures a city or is adjacent to a city as it is captured that city adopts the conquering player’s religion.
Unique building – Mission is a tile improvement that generates +2 Faith if on a different continent to the capital or 1 Faith if on the same continent. The Mission can calso generate +1 Science if built next to a Campus district.

Sumeria Leader – Gilgamesh

The agenda of Gilgamesh has not yet been revealed. His unique ability is Adventures with Enkidu which allows Sumeria to share pillage rewards and combat experience with closest allied unit within five tiles during a joint war.
The ability also allows Gilgamesh to declare war on a civilisation at war with an allied civilisation without incurring warmonger penalities. Gilgamesh can also levy city-state military at 50% of the usual cost.

Civilisation ability: Epic Quest gives a tribal village reward to Sumeria whenever a barbarian outpost is cleared.

Unique unit – War-Cart incurs no penalties when fighting against anti-cavalry units and has extra movement if it starts in open terrain.
Unique building – Ziggurat cannot be built on a hill but the tile improvement yields Science and Culture when adjacent to a river.

Sid Meier’s Civilization VI launches tomorrow and is available for pre-order on Steam for R899.

If you haven’t watched any of the videos we’ve embedded above we urge you to watch the Launch Trailer we’ve embedded below. The theme song for this game – Sogno di Volare – from Christopher Tin is enough to send shivers down your spine.

Brendyn Lotz

Brendyn Lotz

Brendyn Lotz writes news, reviews, and opinion pieces for Hypertext. His interests include SMEs, innovation on the African continent, cybersecurity, blockchain, games, geek culture and YouTube.