Meet the Leaders of ‘Civilization VI’

Nico Faraguna
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Sid Meier’s newest game, Civilization VI, is just around the corner. With the imminent release, we’ve got the low-down on all the civilizations and leaders that will be available to you come launch day. Let us know who you think are the strongest civs and who needs a buff in the discussions.


Theodore Roosevelt

America has been a civilization fixture since the game’s inception. In Civilization VI, the trend continues.

The 25th President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt, was known for his domestic policies, protecting resources, consumer protection, and relegating corporate greed.

Leader Bonus

Roosevelt Corollary

Units receive combat strength bonus on their home continent. Appeal to all tiles in a city with a National Park.

Civilization Ability

Founding Fathers

Earn all government legacy bonuses in half the usual time.

Unique Units and Buildings

Film Studio

The Film Studio boosts American tourism output during the modern era.

P-51 Mustang

The P-51 Mustang has extended range and bonuses versus other fighter aircraft.

Rough Riders

Rough Rider units have advantages on hills and gain culture on kills that are within America’s territory.


America thrives in the mid to late game, when it’s cultural production starts to take off. The Rough Riders and Film Studio provide culture and tourism respectively, making America a great choice for players who want to pursue that victory type.


Queen Victoria

At the young age of 18, Victoria became queen after her uncle, King William IV died. Her rule would span a staggering 63 years from 1837 to 1901, and saw the English empire expand further overseas.

Her reign was known as the Victorian era, which brought great change to England in many forms including scientific, militaristic, political, and cultural.

Leader Bonus

Pax Britannica

When you settle on a continent other than your home continent, receive a free melee unit.

Civilization Ability

British Museum

Each Archaeology Museum holds six artifacts instead of three and can support two archaeologists at once.

Unique Units and Buildings

Royal Navy Dockyard

On top of the standard effects of a Harbor, the Royal Navy Dockyard provides bonus gold on other continents, and Great Admiral points. Naval units built here will have bonus movement points. This district ensures English cities will always have control over international waters (provided a coastal tile lies within three tiles of the City Center district).


The Redcoat is a unique gunpowder unit of Victoria and is unlocked with Military Science. Players gain a bonus when fighting on foreign continents, and can disembark without using a movement point.

Sea Dog

The Sea Dog is a unique naval unit of the English civilization which replaces the Privateer. It can bully weaker units and can capture enemy ships.


England is best played on a map where there are expansive oceans. Their specialized naval unit and district will help allow for England to expand faster. Focus on early game expansion and combat to secure your interests in the later game. If you succeed in building a formidable empire by the mid-game, you should be in a position to win.


Hojo Tokimune

The 8th Shikken of Japan, Hojo Tokimune, was known for being a strict ruler and for his victories against the invading Mongol forces.

Besides being a tactician and proponent of the Samurai warrior class, Tokimune is also credited with spreading Zen Buddhism.

Leader Bonus

Divine Wind

Land units receive combat strength in land tiles adjacent to Coast; naval units receive combat strength in shallow water tiles.

Builds encampment, Holy Site, and Theater Square districts in half the time.

Civilization Ability

Meiji Restoration

All Districts receive an additional standard adjacency bonus for being adjacent to another district.

Unique Units and Buildings

Electronics Factory

The Electronics Factory is the unique building of the Japanese civilization and replaces the Factory. It provides bonus culture and production to nearby cities.


The Samurai is a powerful early game melee unit that does not lose combat strength as it takes damage.


Similar to England, Japan thrives with maps that have water. Their naval units gain advantages in shallow waters and their land units gain advantages next to shores.

Players who enjoy a militaristic civilization, Japan is for you. Protecting your homeland and seizing others makes Japan an ideal choice. With Samurai being available in the early game, Japan is ideal for early naval domination and city sieging.


Qin Shi Huang

The first Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang, was a ruthless leader who was credited with unifying China’s independent states and beginning construction of the Great Wall of China.

In addition to his unification of China, Qin Shi Huang is responsible for the creation of the Terracotta Army. He died in 210 BC after unsuccessfully searching for the elixir of immortality.

Leader Bonus

The First Emperor

When building Ancient and Classical wonders, you may spend Builder charges to complete 15% of the original wonder cost. Builders receive an additional charge.

Civilization Ability

Dynastic Cycle

Eurekas and the Inspiration policy card provide 60% of civics and technologies instead of 50%.

Unique Units and Buildings

Great Wall of China

Available only to the Chinese Civilization, the Great Wall is a unique tile improvement of the Chinese civilization. It provides defense and gold. In the later eras, it also provides bonuses to culture and tourism.

Crouching Tiger

A unique ranged unit, the Crouching Tiger has a short range but high power. The unit does not require resources to be produced.


China is a civilization that can build wonders fast and often during the early game. This can afford you a fast start and become a strong, insular force. Building the Great Wall is a must, and can be an asset through your entire campaign.


Catherine de’ Medici

The most powerful queen of the 16th century, Catherine de’ Medici was most known for her cunning statecraft and innovative espionage techniques.

The French queen gave birth to three sons that all served time as the King of France during tumultuous times. Her leadership enabled the French monarchy to stay in power during the “French Wars of Religion”.

Leader Bonus

Catherine’s Flying Squadron

Has one more level of diplomatic visibility greater than civilizations she’s met. Receives extra capacity to build Spies with the Castles technology.

Civilization Ability

Grand Tour

Production toward Medieval, Renaissance, and Industrial era wonders. Tourism from wonders of any era is doubled.

Unique Units and Buildings


The Chateau is a unique building for the French civilization and must be built adjacent to a river. It provides culture with special bonuses for being near Wonders.

Garde Imperiale

The Garde Imperiale gets a bonus for fighting on the starting capital’s home continent and earns Great General points from kills.


A late-game oriented Civilization, France can start to produce Great Wonders during the mid-game to set themselves up for a cultural victory win.

However, France is also capable of building a formidable late-game military as the Garde Imperiale can earn Great General points. Coupled with spies, France can be a very sneaky opponent in Civilization VI.


Pedro II

Pedro II was the final leader of the Empire of Brazil in the 19th century. Left with a crumbling empire that his father abandoned, Pedro II steered Brazil towards prosperity.

Sadly for Pedro II, a surprise military coup caused his empire to fall and he was exiled to Europe for the rest of his life.

Leader Bonus


After recruiting or patronizing a Great Person, 20% of its Great Person point cost is refunded.

Civilization Ability

Grand Tour

Rainforest tiles provide adjacency bonuses for various districts. Rainforest tiles also provide additional housing if neighborhoods are built on them.

Unique Units and Buildings

Street Carnival

The Street Carnival replaces the Entertainment Complex. It requires discovery of the Games and Recreation civic.

Minas Geraes

Unlocked through the Nationalism civic, the Minas Geraes has improved defense and ranged combat values.


Gold, culture, and faith make up the three pillars essential to Brazil’s success. Great People spawn more frequently when you play as Brazil, making victory swifter.

By taking advantage of rainforests, you can make Brazil into a very flexible civ that can start to shine heading into the late game.



A power hungry leader, Cleopatra was put into a position of power before her teenage years. Forced to marry her younger brother, she put forth a plan to dethrone him and rule the Egyptian empire herself.

Her affairs with Roman idols such as Julius Caesar and Mark Anthony helped Egypt ally with some of the most important nations at the time and maintained their elite status.

Leader Bonus

Mediterranean’s Bride

Your trade routes to other civilizations provide gold for Egypt. Other civilizations’ trade routes to Egypt provide food and gold for Egypt.

Civilization Ability


Districts and wonders are built 15% faster if placed next to a river. Floodplains do not block placement of districts and wonders.

Unique Units and Buildings


The Sphinx provides culture and faith with additional bonuses if placed next to a wonder.

Maryannu Chariot Archer

A mounted ranged unit, the Maryannu Chariot Archer gains bonus movement when starting their turn on open terrain.


Players should choose Cleopatra if they want to have a booming economy. With the inherent great wonder production speed boost and the bonus gold from trade routes, Cleopatra can be a big spender during the mid to late game.

Be sure to build near a river as Cleopatra heavily relies on this terrain feature and early expansion/exploration can help you establish trade routes faster.



Once the nomadic leader of the Scythian people, Tomyris is probably one of the lesser-known leaders on the announced Civilization roster so far.

She took over her husband’s tribes after he passed. The most famous story involving Tomyris is at the expense of Cyrus the Great. Cyrus tricked her army by leaving casks of wine at their settlement and waiting until they were in a drunken stupor. He used the opportunity to kill her men and kidnap her son. Once sober, Tomyris and her army retaliated and killed Cyrus the Great, stuffing his decapitated head into a wineskin.

Leader Bonus

People of the Steppes

When producing light cavalry units, receive two instead of one.

Civilization Ability

Killer of Cyrus

Combat units receive a bonus versus wounded opponents and heal when defeating a unit.

Unique Units and Buildings


Provides faith and gold, with additional bonuses if placed next to pastures. Kurgans cannot be built on hills or next to another Kurgan.

Saka Horse Archer

Early game fast ranged unit. Highly mobile, Saka Horse Archers do not require horses to be produced.


Perhaps the most dangerous early game military civilization. Scythia can amass a formidable army with their Saka Horse Archers and the two-for-one production means you can make quick work of unprepared civilizations and city-states.

For those who want to fight right away, Scythia is the civilization for you.


Frederick Barbarossa

A formidable military leader, Frederick Barbarossa was known to also be an excellent negotiator. He is credited with assimilating several Italian city-states and deposing Henry the Lion to allow for peace.

Despite his old age, he answered the call to take part in the Third Crusade. He died while in combat and has been a German folklore hero ever since.

Leader Bonus

Holy Roman Emperor

Provides an additional military policy slot. Improved combat strength when attacking city-states.

Civilization Ability

Free Imperial Cities

Can build one more district than the population limit would normally allow.

Unique Units and Buildings


Replaces the Industrial Zone. The Hansa requires discovery of the Apprenticeship technology.

Gets bonus production if placed next to a Commercial Hub, additional adjacent districts, or resources.


The U-Boat has a low production cost and receives a combat bonus in deep ocean.


A great choice for those who like to take over city-states. Barbarossa can quickly dispatch to smaller civilizations due to his leader bonus.

His overall production boost makes him a civilization that is open to a myriad of victory types. Truly a jack of all trades, Germany should be played on a map with an ocean as the U-Boat unit is a formidable military threat.


Philip II

Ruler of Spain during its Golden Age, Philip II championed the Catholic faith and spread it across the world.

His religious warfare paid dividends for Spain — culture flourished under Philip II and their empire’s expansion is still felt to this day.

Leader Bonus

El Escorial

Combat bonus versus units of factions following other religions; Inquisitors have one extra remove heresy charge.

Civilization Ability

Treasure Fleets

Trade routes between continents give additional yields; can combine ships into fleets earlier.

Unique Units and Buildings


Provides faith. Gives bonus faith if built on a different continent from the capital and gives science if built next to a Campus.


Conquistadors gain a significant combat bonus when there is a Spanish missionary, inquisitor, or apostle on the same hex. Converts cities to Spain’s majority religion if adjacent to them when they are captured.


A faith-oriented civilization that when coupled with military can be an unstoppable force. Best played with expansion in mind, Spain can craft its religious attributes to accompany this.

With a strong production in gold, Spain can amass and sustain a formidable army. Crafting a religion that benefits your army is essential to your quest for domination. The last thing you will want to do as Spain is stop expanding.


Mahatma Gandhi

The ever familiar and memed leader, Gandhi, makes his return to the franchise as India’s leader. A proponent of peace, Gandhi is known for promoting women’s rights, independence from England, and non-violent protests.

His work to bridge the divide between Muslim and Hindu people in his country cost him his life. Gandhi was assassinated in 1948, but his methods and practices were not forgotten.

Leader Bonus


Receive a faith boost for each civilization you have met that has founded a religion and with whom you are not at war. Other civilizations suffer additional happiness penalties for warring against Gandhi.

Civilization Ability


Receive the benefits of all follower beliefs of religions present in your cities, not just the one you founded.

Unique Units and Buildings


Provides housing and food. Provides additional food if the Stepwell is placed adjacent to a farm, and provides faith if adjacent to a holy site.


Reduces the combat strength of adjacent enemy units, with the penalties being cumulative for enemies adjacent to multiple Varu.


A faith-based civilization, India can be adaptable due to their ability to benefit from other religions’ follower beliefs. This allows for India to be flexible in their quest for victory.

Gandhi also provides debuffs for those who wish to war with him. These traits mean it’s best to leave India alone. If you can use religion to its full potential, India is a great, flexible civ that can be strong throughout the game.


Mvemba a Nzinga

For the first time ever, you’ll be able to play as Kongo in Civilization. Led by Mvemba a Nzinga aka King Afonso I who was a proponent of Christianity and helped spread it across the region.

Mvemba a Nzinga was also loosely allied with Portugal during his reign. He detested their slave trade business and fought to put an end to it. Portugal helped Nzinga modernize Kongo and encouraged the spread of religion. The partnership saw schools, architecture, and beginnings of a noble class.

Leader Bonus

Religious Convert

Kongolese cities can’t build holy sites, but they do receive the benefits of the founder beliefs of any religion that has established itself as the majority religion in that city. Receives a free apostle whenever a Mbanza or Theater District is built.

Civilization Ability


Bonus food, production, and gold from each relic, artifact, and great work of sculpture. Bonus Great Artist and Great Merchant points each turn.

Unique Units and Buildings


Replaces the Neighborhood. The Mbanza can be constructed earlier and provides food and gold in addition to housing.

Ngao Mbeba

Replaces the Swordsman. Does not require iron to built and does not suffer movement or sight penalties in forests or jungles. It also gains a defensive bonus against ranged attacks.


One of, if not the strongest civilizations for forest and jungle tiles, Kongo can build massive cities around these tiles. Combined with their ability to adapt and benefit from religion that spreads to their territories, Kongo is a great civilization to pursue multiple victory types.


Harald Hardrada

A Viking king, Harald Hardrada had an interesting path to power. Exiled from Norway in 1030 for supporting his half-brother’s campaign for power, Hardrada fought overseas for Slavic tribes.

After 12 years, Hardrada returned to this native land and worked his way up the food chain to become joint king with Magnus I. His ambitions as king eventually led to his demise as he lost his life during a battle in England.

While his overseas conquests stand out, Norway flourished under his rule, and its government and economy excelled.

Leader Bonus

Thunderbolt of the North

Norwegian naval melee units can perform coastal raids.

Civilization Ability


Norwegian units gain the ability to enter ocean tiles after researching Shipbuilding. Naval melee units heal in neutral territory. Units ignore additional movement costs from embarking and disembarking.

Unique Units and Buildings

Stave Church

The Stave Church replaces the Temple and is required to train apostles. Holy site districts get an additional standard adjacency bonus from Woods.


Berserkers use one less movement to pillage tiles. They possess increased combat strength when attacking and decreased combat strength when defending.


An ocean-focused civilization, Norway can be a dominant naval force in the early game. Their units can embark early into open waters and can suppress other coastal cities and hinder their growth.

Stalling the advancement of other civilizations can help you get a head start on your development and keep yourself in the lead for the remainder of the game.

Being an early game bully is essential as Harald Hardrada. You’ll want to secure yourself an advantage early and command a large naval fleet throughout the game if you want to win.



A politician and warrior, Pericles is credited with creating a stronger Greece. After successfully staving off the invading Persian forces, Pericles focused on uniting the city-states of Greece and forming a consolidated army in Athens.

His reign produced some of Greece’s most prized cultural advancements and artifacts.

Leader Bonus

Surrounded by Glory

Boosts Culture output for every city-state of which Greece is the suzerain.


Also leading the Greek empire in Civilization VI is Gorgo. The Greek queen was known for her wise counsel and embodiment of Spartan culture.

She was a unique leader that had to overcome adversity due to her gender and became a highly respected politician and formidable leader. Alongside her husband, King Leonidas I, they were successful in dispelling the Persian forces trying to invade Europe.

Leader Bonus


Provides culture upon defeating enemy combat units. The culture is equal to 50% of the base strength of the defeated unit.

Civilization Ability

Plato’s Republic

Receive an extra wildcard policy slot no matter which government is chosen.

Unique Units and Buildings


The Acropolis replaces the Theater Square. It yields a Great Writer point per turn, Great Artist point per turn, and a Great Musician point per turn. Requires discovery of Drama and Poetry civic.

Receives an adjacency bonus of culture from each adjacent wonder or district tiles. It also gains culture when adjacent to the City Center. Unlike the Theater Square, it must be constructed on a hill.


Replacing the Spearman is the Hoplite. Gains combat bonuses while adjacent to other Hoplite units.


Right from the start, Greece has a massive cultural advantage from their additional wildcard policy and the ability to construct an Acropolis.

Depending on which leader you choose, culture is the pronounced victory type when you play as Greece. You’ll want to craft your gameplay around this aspect if you want to succeed in the mid to late game.

By taking advantage of your rapid policy expansion, you can open the doors for a variety of victory types. In addition, having an early game unit such as the Hoplite should help sustain your military in the early game to focus on your domestic advancement.



A formidable soldier and visionary leader, Marcus Ulpius Traianus (Trajan) was Rome’s greatest expansionists. During his reign, he expanded the Roman Empire more than another emperor after him.

Besides his military prowess, Trajan was also known to create welfare programs for the less fortunate and was revered for his kindness. Trajan’s Column, a monument in Rome commemorating the leader, still stands today.

Leader Bonus

Trajan’s Column

All cities start with one free building in the city center.

Civilization Ability

All Roads Lead to Rome

All cities start with a Trading Post, and new cities in trade route range of your capital will automatically have a road going to them. Trade route going through your cities earn extra gold.

Unique Units and Buildings


Replaces the Aqueduct. The Baths provide more housing and amenities than an aqueduct.


Replaces the Swordsman. The Legion have higher combat strength and does not require iron to build, but is more costly to produce. Can construct roads and forts as though it were a Military Engineer.


Rome is best played as an expansionist civilization. Investing in engineering to gain the Baths unique building should be a priority.

With having multiple cities, your gold output should supplement your expansion and help you buy your way to victory!



2/3 God and 1/3 Man, Gilgamesh is best known for being a character in an ancient Sumerian poem. His strength is said to be inhuman, as he was able to build giant walls to protect the citizens of Uruk.

While he was a character from the poem, scholars are mostly in agreement that Gilgamesh did exist at one point. An ancient list of Sumerian kings notes that Gilgamesh ruled over the city of Uruk for an unbelievable 126 years.

Leader Bonus

Adventures with Enkidu

Allows Sumeria to share pillage rewards and combat experience with the closest allied unit within five tiles, while fighting a joint war. Gilgamesh can also declare war on civilizations at war with one of his allies without suffering from warmonger penalties. He can also levy city-state military forces at 50% of cost.

Civilization Ability

Epic Quest

Every time Sumeria captures a Barbarian outpost, they also get a tribal village reward.

Unique Units and Buildings


Provides science as well as culture when adjacent to a river. The Ziggurat cannot be built on a hill tile.


The War-Cart is very strong for an early game unit. It suffers no penalties against Spearmen and other anti-cavalry units. It gets an extra movement if starting in open terrain. It has no civic or technology requirements, and can be constructed from the beginning of the game.


A military-focused civilization, Sumeria can be dangerous from the start of the game. The Sumerian bonus against barbarians can cause quick early game research to propel you ahead of your opponents.

Sumeria is also a civilization you’ll want to ally with. Their ability to bolster your army should not be overlooked, and coupled with their early game units, they can provide the military you need to dominate others.

You’ll want to mobilize an army as soon as possible as Sumeria. Even if you don’t plan to fight early, the benefits from killing barbarians shouldn’t be ignored.



Starting off as a scholar, Saladin soon transitioned to the world of politics and warfare. His uncle took him under his wing and he soon became a military expert in Egypt.

His rise to power through the military ranks eventually led to his anointment as ruler of Egypt. He went on to conquer Damascus, Aleppo, and Mosul.

When Saladin died in 1193, he left behind his riches to the Arabian people and also a legacy of respect amongst his friends and foes.

Leader Bonus

Righteousness of the Faith

Worship buildings cost less faith to build and provide bonus science, faith, and culture.

Civilization Ability

The Last Prophet

Ensures Arabia will always found a religion by having the final Great Prophet automatically given if they haven’t founded a religion by the time the second-to-last Great Prophet appears.

Unique Units and Buildings


This replaces the University and is built in the campus. Not only does Madrasa provide more science than a university, but it provides additional faith based on the campus’s adjacency bonuses.


Mamluks replace the Knight. Mamluks heal at the end of every turn, even if they move or attack an enemy unit.


Science and religion will be your main focus when you play as Saladin. His leader bonus helps ensure and promote faith while giving bonuses to other aspects.

Since Arabia doesn’t rely on any particular geographical tiles, they’re an excellent choice to play on various maps and are obvious choices for those who want to reach a science victory.


Peter the Great

Peter the Great’s reign saw Russia expand, develop, and adapt. His campaign to take the Baltic region was successful and helped grow the already massive Russian juggernaut.

Besides his impressive resume involving warfare, Peter the Great was essential to Russia’s foreign relations. He helped improve naval trading, industrial investment, and manufacturing.

Leader Bonus

The Grand Embassy

Russia can receive science or culture from trade routes to more advanced civilizations.

Civilization Ability

Mother Russia

Founded cities begin with additional territory. Tundra tiles provide production and faith.

Unique Units and Buildings


This replaces the Holy Site. In addition to generating faith and great prophet points per turn, the Lavra adds a tile to the city’s cultural border whenever a great person is used in the city. A religion can be founded in the Lavra. Requires discovery of Astrology technology to be built.

Receives Major bonus (+2) to faith for each adjacent Natural Wonder, a standard bonus (+1) to faith for each adjacent mountain tile, and minor bonus (+½) to faith for each adjacent district tiles and each adjacent unimproved woods tiles.

Religious units heal in a Holy Site district and tiles adjacent to it.


Replaces the Cavalry. Cossacks have extra combat strength and can move after attacking.


Russia is best played as an expansionist civilization. Their ability to start with more tiles and gain culture and science from trading make them a threat on any map.

You’ll want to research trading technology and choose civics that help your empire expand and bolster your trading routes. If you are not harassed early by other civilizations, you should be looking at a vast empire and booming economy.



King of Tenochtitlan, Montezuma was the 2nd emperor of the Aztec Empire. His accolades include the expansion of the Aztec Empire and reforming the social classes in Aztec society.

His death in 1469 of unknown causes led to his son, Axayacatl to become the new emperor of the empire at the ripe age of 19. Unfortunately, the Spanish invasion and victory over the Aztec people led to the demise of the empire, eventually losing it all to the Conquistadors.

Leader Bonus

Gifts for the Tlatoani

Luxury resources in Aztec territory provide an amenity to two extra cities. Military units receive combat strength for each different luxury resource improved in Aztec lands.

Civilization Ability

Legend of the Five Suns

Spend builder charges to complete 20% of the original district cost.

Unique Units and Buildings


Built in the entertainment complex, the Tlachtli provides amenities, faith, and great general points.

Eagle Warrior

Replaces the Warrior. Eagle Warriors can turn defeated enemy units into Builders.


An excellent civilization for players who want to build fast. Aztec’s are an ideal conquest civilization who can really excel if there are plentiful luxury resources nearby.

Your Eagle Scouts need to be utilized ASAP so you can out build your opponents and grow your empire before they do.

That’s a wrap-up on the Civilization VI leader roster. 2K has announced that they will add additional leaders, civilizations, maps, and more to the game in the form of DLC in the future. Stay tuned to for information on Sid Meier’s newest game, Civilization VI.

Nico Faraguna
I enjoy playing PC games, watching motorcycle racing, and eating good grub
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