Civilization 6 Guide: How to Get Started

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Whether you’re completely new to the series or just a little bit rusty, here’s how to hit the ground running in Sid Meier’s Civilization VI.

Over the past twenty-five years, Sid Meier’s Civilization has become one of the most well-loved series in all of gaming, and for good reason. These games can easily swallow up an evening, but they can be rather intimidating if you’re starting afresh.

Like its predecessors, this year’s Civilization 6 is a very complicated game — even experts will have to spend some time getting to grips with the new implementation of religion, and the newly introduced districts mechanic. For any novices looking to make this their first Civilization experience, the best advice is to dive in and learn as you go.

That said, there’s one warning to be laid down beforehand: make sure to keep one eye on the clock as you’re playing Civilization, because it’s very easy to get caught up in the “one more turn” mentality…

Before You Begin

Before players start their first game of Civilization, it’s important for them to realize that they’re not going to grasp every mechanic on their first playthrough. Trying to understand everything at once is a recipe for failure — instead, focus on certain systems and de-prioritize others.

Most players won’t see their first game through to completion, so experimentation and understanding is much more important than playing to win.

Civilization 6 Announced - Samurai

That said, the game’s win conditions are an important thing to have in mind. In Civilization VI, players can pursue one of six different missions in order to win the game. The conditions required for each kind of victory should inform your overarching strategy, so it’s a good idea to commit this information to memory.

Win Conditions

Here are the victory conditions used in Civilization VI:

  • Domination Victory – The player has to conquer the capital cities of each of their opponents.
  • Science Victory – The player must fulfill three milestones: launch a satellite, land a human on the moon, and establish a Martian colony.
  • Cultural Victory – The player must attract more visiting tourists to their civilization than the amount of domestic tourists any of their opponents have at home.
  • Religious Victory – The player must have their civilization’s religion be followed by more than half of the cities in each of their opponents’ civilizations.
  • Score Victory – If no other condition is met, the player with the highest score will win once the predetermined length of the game runs out.

Because a Score Victory is basically a time limit draw, and both the Cultural Victory and Religious Victory options have deep ties to complex mechanics, the Domination Victory and Science Victory paths are the most accommodating to new players.

There’s no big secret to the Domination Victory: it’s all about amassing an army and taking the fight to the rival civilizations around you. A Science Victory focuses on researching particular technologies, so it’s a good idea for players going down this path to familiarize themselves with the game’s tech tree.

While it’s a good idea to choose a win condition to pursue, players shouldn’t feel discouraged if they fall short. To begin with, the reason to chase a particular victory method is primarily to learn the overall flow of the game, and to see what sort of civilization suits a particular player.

Production, Culture, and Science

As mentioned above, trying to understand the many different mechanics and systems at play in a game of Civilization all at once is a recipe for failure. Players will learn more and more with each session, so to begin with it’s best to concentrate on a few key areas.

Production is a resource tied to individual cities, which governs the speed that the settlement can product new units, buildings, and other projects. Each tile on the map has a certain production value when it’s being worked, which can be increased by building improvements and taking other actions.

No matter what victory condition a particular player is chasing, production is an important thing to keep track of. Without the ability to produce new units and buildings, it will be very difficult to make any kind of progress.

Civilization 6 Announced - Collossus

Science is accumulated by each civilization every turn, and can be used to purchase new technologies from the tech tree. It’s important for players to keep a steady flow of science coming in, so that they don’t find themselves outmatched by more advanced opponents — construct buildings like the Campus and wonders like Oxford University to earn more.

Finally, Culture is the method of unlocking Civics, which allow players to customize the way that their civilization operates and take advantage of handy bonuses. Working on trade routes and making full use of Great Artists, Great Writers, and Great Musicians will help your progression.

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