The Civilizations I Want to Play First in Civ VI: Gathering Storm

Gathering Storm, the latest expansion to Civilization 6, is out today, and in addition to the new features, I’m looking also forward to the new civs that I get to play. All nine (or I suppose eight and a half, as I’ll get into later) have something that makes them worth trying out, but there are some I want to play first. Now, keep in mind that this isn’t necessarily the best new civilizations, they’re just the one’s I want to give a try before others. I’ll get a review of Gathering Storm out as soon as I can, and you can certainly guess who I’ll be playing first to write that review.

GS Laurier


  • Leader – Wilfred Laurier
  • Civ ability – Four  Faces of Peace – Cannot declare or bet the target of surprise wars. Cannot declare war on City-States. +100% Diplomatic Favour from successfully completing Emergencies or Scored Competitions, and 1 Diplomatic Favour every 100 Tourism.
  • Leader ability – The Last Best West – Can build farms on flat tundra, and tundra hills with Civil engineering. Double extraction of consumable resources on snow and tundra. Snow and tundra tiles are 50% cheaper to purchase.
  • Improvement – Ice Hockey Rink – Can only be built in snow or tundra. One per city. +1 Amenity. +2 Appeal to surrounding tiles. +1 culture per adjacent snow or tundra, and +4 culture if next to a Stadium. +2 Food and Production with Professional Sports, and bonus Tourism with Flight.
  • Unit – Mountie – Light Cavalry unit. Can construct single National Park. +5 combat strength within 2 tiles of foreign National Parks, and +10 combat strength near Canadian National Parks.

As a Canadian, it’s pretty exciting to have Canada as a civ in a Civilization game. This is the first time, and while I played a Canada mod in Civ 5 (also Laurier), it’s going to be a lot of fun to play one built into the game. Beyond that, it actually looks like a very fun civ to play. I generally never declare surprise wars, meaning being unable to declare one is of little issue, while being unable to be the target of one gives you a few extra turns of prep time. You generally know when a war is on the horizon, but sometimes they do come out of the blue. Emergencies are also being improved in Gathering Storm, and should be participated in a lot more by the AI, which will be able to grant you a lot of Favour, an important currency with the addition of the World Congress. Finally, Canada can make good use of the snow and ice, lands too barren for other civs, and use hockey rinks to build additional National Parks for Mounties to patrol.


  • Leader – Suleiman
  • Civ ability – Great Turkish Bombard – +50% production to siege units, and siege units gain +5 combat strength against districts and cities. Conquered cities lose no pop, and gain +1 Amenity and +4 Loyalty.
  • Leader ability – Grand Vizier – Unlocks unique Governor, Ibrahim. Can be established in another civ’s capital, allowing for greater diplomacy. Allows building the Janissary.
  • Building – Grand Bazaar – Replaces Bank. Gains bonus Amenities and Strategic Resources.
  • Unit – Janissary – Replaces Musketman. +5 combat strength and free promotion. Half production cost, but takes one population from Ottoman-settled cities upon completion. Conquered cities cost no pop.
  • Unit – Barbary Corsair – Replaces Privateer. Unlocks at Medieval Faires rather than Mercantilism. Coastal raids cost no movement points.

Sulei! About time you got here. While the Canadians are masters of peace, the Ottomans are masters of war, and man does it show in Civ 6. Siege units can be built crazy fast, are stronger,while conquered cities will face less pressure to return to their former civs, or none with an upgraded Ibrahim. The Bazaar gives bonus Amenities and Strategic Resources to further help your conquest, while the Janissary can be build quickly in captured cities to continue your onslaught. I’ve done a lot less warring in Civ 6 after the introduction of Loyalty, and the quick-to-judge AIs made it frustrating to do since day one. Suleiman can plow his way through enemy cities with less worry of Loyalty, however, and the better diplomacy coming with the World Congress will make the AI not completely unforgiving when if comes to warmongering.


  • Leader – Dido
  • Civ ability – Mediterranean Colonies – +2 movement and +2 sight for embarked Settlers, and settlers pay no movement cost to embark or disembark. Founded coastal cities on the same continent as Phoenicia’s capital are fully loyal. Start with Writing boost.
  • Leader ability – Founder of Carthage – Can move capital to any city that has a Cothon. Government Plaza and Government Plaza buildings provide additional trade route capacity.+50% production to Government Plaza buildings.
  • District – Cothon – Replaces Harbour. Lower production cost, and +50% production to naval units and Settlers. Naval units within the cities borders fully heal at the end of a turn.
  • Unit – Bireme – Replaces Galley. +5 combat strength and +1 movement. Traders on water within four tiles cannot be plundered.

The Phoenicians are another civ that can bend the loyalty system to their advantage, and I can see it being super trolly, especially in the early game. With the addition of Harbours, I’ve found it a lot less necessary to settle directly on the coast, as inland cities can now build ships without the risk of being captured by sea (not that the AI is any good at naval combat). Dido’s ability to keep naval cities fully loyal however, allows for forward settling good areas without having to worry that a city’s going to flip. Later on, when cities by your original capital aren’t at risk of joining another civ, the capital can be moved, allowing you to build more cities on another continent, and pressure other cities to join you. Loyalty was fun when it was added in Rise and Fall, but it felt underused, and I’m happy to see so many Gathering Storm civs improving on it. Finally, the Phoenicians are almost unbeatable in defensive naval wars, with boats building more quickly and needing to be killed in a single turn near any city with a Cothon.

GS Suli


  • Leader – Matthias Corvinus
  • Civ ability – Pearl of the Danube – +50% production for districts and buildings across a river from city centre
  • Leader Ability – Raven King – Levied units gain +2 movement and +5 combat strength, and can be upgraded without gold or resources. Levying units gives +2 envoys with a city-state.
  • Building – Thermal bath – Replaces zoo. Bonus +1 amenity from entertainment, +2 production to cities within 6 tiles, +3 tourism and +2 amenities with a geothermal fissure.
  • Unit – Black Army – Replaces Courser. +3 Combat strength for each adjacent levied unit. Upgrades to Huszár.
  • Unit – HuszárReplaces Cavalry. +3 combat strength per alliance, and does not require horses.

As Hungary, you’ll be able to take major control of City-States. Not only are levied troops better, but whenever you cake control of a City-State’s units, you’ll get them deeper into your pocket. They also have two back-to-back units, allowing them to assert their dominance for a long period of time. Unfortunately, that dominance requires alliances, with City-States throughout the game and with other civs in the time of Huszárs, and lots of money to constantly levy City-State troops. Hungary can be really powerful if played right, but if they’re low on cash during the game or can’t keep Suzerain status with City-States, they could find themselves in trouble.


  • Leader – Kupe
  • Civ ability – Mana – Start with Sailing and Shipbuilding. Embarked units gain +5 strength and +2 movement. +1 production to unimproved woods and rainforest, increasing to +2 with Conservation. +1 food from fishing boats, and fishing boats trigger a culture bomb. Cannot harvest resources or earn Great Writers.
  • Leader ability – Kupe’s Voyage – Start turn 1 at sea, and receive bonus science and culture before settling. Free builder and bonus pop, housing, and amenities on settling capital.
  • Building – Marae – Replaces amphitheatre. +2 Culture and Faith to passable features (like floodplains or forest), and +2 tourism to features after flight. No maintenance cost. No great work slots.
  • Unit – Toa – Replaces swordsman. Reduces combat strength of adjacent units by -5. Can construct single Pā, which behaves like a fort that also gives healing to units.

The Maori sound insanely fun. Starting at sea is a really cool idea, although it makes your choice of map pretty important. They’re going to fall behind in something like Pangaea, but Archipelago? Fuggedaboudit. While Phoenicia will be able to dominate the sea with ships, especially near home, the Maori will be able to take control what’s in the sea, and dominate overseas while keeping land units safe. Not having Great Writers is definitely a setback, but the Tourism from passable features will help make up for that to an extent. Also, the fact that you can wait a bit before settling means you can forward settle your capital, which is about the biggest and possibly troll move that can be done. Heck, they might deserve #1 on this list for that.


  • Leader – Pachacuti
  • Civ ability – Mit’a – Mountains may be worked. Mountains gain +1 Food and +2 Production for each adjacent Terrace Farm.
  • Leader ability – Qhapaq Ñan +1 Food from domestic Trade Routes per mountain in origin city. Can build Qhapaq Ñan improvement with Foreign Trade.
  • Improvement – Qhapaq Ñan – Must be built adjacent to mountain tile.  Allows units to move through mountain ranges to another Qhapaq Ñan like a tunnel, at the cost of 2 Movement.
  • Improvement – Terrace Farm Must be built on hills. +1 Food, and +1 Food for adjacent mountains. +1 Housing every two Terrace Farms. + 2 Production for adjacent Aqueducts. +1 Production if adjacent to fresh water but not an Aqueduct.
  • Unit – Warak’aq – Replaces Skirmisher. +10 bonus ranged strength and +5 bonus melee strength. Can make one additional attack if not moved. +15 Production cost.

The Incans will have have food and production coming out the wazoo, and will be able to move extremely quickly through mountain ranges. This will eventually be available for all civs with tunnels, but the Qhapaq Ñan will allow Incan units to do it much earlier. However, they face an issue similar to Hungary needing City-States: they need mountains and hills. And while every game has City-States, and a civ can become Suzerain of any City-State on the map, mountains and hills are not guaranteed. While the Incans will undoubtedly have a hill or mountain start bias, cities that can make use of Qhapaq Ñans and Terrace Farms may be few and far from the capital. I wasn’t sure which of the two to put first, but the fact that Hungary can always use its ability, even in poor conditions, means it wins out.

GS Kupe


  • Leader –  Mansa Musa
  • Civ ability – Songs of the Jeli – City Centres gain+1 Food and +1 Faith per adjacent desert. -1 Production and +4 Gold from mines. -30% Production to buildings and units. Can purchase Suguba buildings with Faith.
  • Leader ability – Sahel Merchants – +1 Gold from international Trade Routes for each desert tile in origin city. Golden Ages give +1 Trade Route capacity.
  • District – Suguba – Replaces Commercial Hub. 20% discount on Gold and Faith purchases. +2 Gold for nearby rivers, and +0.5 Gold for nearby districts.
  • Unit – Mandekalu Cavalry – Replaces Knight. Gains Gold equal to combat strength of defeated units, and friendly Traders on land within 4 tiles cannot be plundered.

Production is really important in Civilization 6, and losing one hammer from every mine is going to take its toll on Mali, even with the -30% Production cost. They’re going to be in the desert, and while they can make use of it just as Canada can make use of snow, it also means their Production will be coming mostly from hills, not forests. Kind of like Venice in Civ 5, their strength will be coming mostly from money, and the fact that Gold is needed for a lot more than producing units means it has to be spread out a lot more than Production. Mansa Musa will have a good shot at winning using the World Congress however, as the AI seems very eager to Diplomatic Favour. Throwing that money into controlling the World Congress rather than into units could be a good strategy…unless the AI is made a bit smarter. But it’s been two an a half years already, and I’m not sure that will ever happen.


  • Leader – Kristina
  • Civ ability – Nobel Prize – Adds three competitions to the World Congress. +1 Great Scientist Point from Universities and +1 Great Engineer Point from Factories. 50 Diplomatic Favour after earning a Great Person.
  • Leader ability – Minerva of the North – Buildings with three Great Work slots, and Wonders with two Great Work, are automatically themed when filled. Can build the Queen’s Bibliotheque in Government Plaza.
  • Improvement – Open-Air Museum – Limit one per city. +2 Loyalty per turn. +2 Tourism and +2 Culture for each terrain type a Swedish city is founded on.
  • Unit – Carolean – Replaces Pike and Shot. +1 movement, and +3 combat strength for each unused movement point.

Sweden has some fun bonuses, and I’m sure they’ll be able to dominate in the World Congress, but Great Works aren’t top in my mind when I play. I don’t doubt they’d be higher on someone else’s list, and the Great Work theming bonus means they have a chance to be complete champs as far as Tourism is concerned. They feel like they’re going to be a pretty good civ, they’re just not one I want to play all that much. It will however be fun to have them in a game and get to do the bonus Nobel Prize competitions in the World Congress…that is of course until they start stealing all my Great People.


  • Leader – Eleanor of Aquitaine
  • Leader ability – Court of Love – Can be played as England or France, using the English and French abilities. Foreign cities within 9 tiles receive -1 Loyalty per Great work in a French or English city. Flipped cities immediately join Eleanor, not becoming Free Cities.

Elanor of Aquitaine is interesting. She’s not a new civ, she’s a new leader, one that can play two different civs! That’s never been done before, and it’s pretty cool. Elanor’s ability is that she can use Great Works to take foreign cities through Loyalty pressure, and cities joining her won’t become Free Cities first. Like I’ve said before, I like the Loyalty mechanic from Rise and Fall, and am glad it’s being improved upon. England and France both have strong Tourism bonuses, and I’m sure both will be able to use this to flip a city every once in a while, I’m not convinced Elly will flip all that many cities that wouldn’t get flipped already. And since I’ve played games as both nations already, I’m not super eager to do it again just to try her out, so she’s unfortunately relegated to last place. An Elanor v. Elanor duel game would be pretty fun to try out, though.

Who will you be playing first? Let us know!


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