Oct 26th, 2016

One of the most important aspects of having fun with Civilization is choosing a leader that matches your playstyle and offers you bonuses that will help advance your civilization faster than your opponents. Some leader bonuses are better than others, so we’ve ranked the leaders according to how easy it is to win with them through the five victory types.

America – Teddy Roosevelt

Teddy Roosevelt returns to the Civilization series in Civ VI after being absent since Civ IV. The 26th president of the United States has several perks that are well designed to help you achieve Culture, Science, and Time victories. While Teddy confers great military bonuses to your cities on your home continent his agenda is one of peace so he dislikes warmongers.

Special Unit: Rough Riders – Culture is earned from kills on their Capital’s continent. Gains +10 Combat Strength when fighting on Hills. Lower maintenance cost.

Leader Bonus: Units receive a +5 Combat Strength on their home continent. +1 Appeal to all tiles in a city with a National Park.

Agenda: Big Stick Policy – Likes peaceful civilizations have a city on his home continent. Hates civilizations starting wars against a city-state or civilization based on his continent.

Special Ability: Founding Fathers – Lowers the time it takes to gain government bonuses.

How to win with Teddy: Teddy is best suited to continental maps thanks to the culture bonuses generated by the Rough Riders. The +5 combat strength from Teddy comes in handy as well for maintaining your borders and keeping more warlike civilizations from attacking you while you focus on culture.

The Rough Riders are one of the best unique units in the game, so make sure to research Rifling in the technology tree as early as possible so you can start reaping those culture points. America’s unique building is the Film Studio, which provides culture bonuses in the modern era.

Arabia – Saladin

Saladin paves the way for both Religious and Science victories, depending on which you want to pursue. His special abilities give bonuses to both and his unique unit the Mamluk provides a great military buffer.

Special Unit: Mamluk – A unique horse unit that replaces the knight, it always heals at the end of each turn, even if it moved, attacked or took any other action

Leader Bonus: Righteousness of the Faith – Worship buildings cost less faith to build and provide bonus science, faith, and culture.

Agenda: Ayyubid Dynasty – He likes civilizations with his Worship Building, and dislikes civilizations following other Religions, or civilizations waging war on followers of his Religion.

Special Ability: Arabia always receives the final prophet gotten in a game, if they didn’t already have one. This allows them to always found a religion.

How to win with Saladin: Arabia’s set-up with strong faith, science, and culture bonuses thanks to Righteousness of the Faith means you can pursue just about any type of victory you want, but Religious and Science victories can be assured. The Mamluk is good at padding your military and fending off aggressors while you expand your faith and science buildings, so use it accordingly.

Arabia’s unique building is The Madrasa, which generates more science than the standard university and also provides faith as long as their are faith buildings next to it.

Greece – Pericles

Greece finds itself on this list twice thanks to it being a great early-game civilization to get yourself a leg up as you progress into the late game. Hoplites can be used to great devastation in the early game thanks to the bonuses they get when multiple units are adjacent to one another.

Since Greece is such a versatile civilization you can pursue any of the five types of victory with ease, but the split in leaders means you need to decide between Pericles who is well suited to a culture victory, or Gorgo who is suited to more military-minded players. This is also the first time Alexander the Great is no longer leading Greece, though he’ll probably make an appearance in later DLC.

Special Unit: Hoplites – Gets a bonus when near other Hoplites and generally acts as a great early game spear unit.

Leader Bonus: Surrounded by Glory – +5% Culture per city-state you are the Suzerain of.

Agenda: Delian League – Likes civilizations that aren’t competing for the same city-state allegiance. Dislikes civilizations that are directly competing for city-state allegiance.

Special Ability: Plato’s Republic – This gives them an extra wildcard slot in any government, giving more access to policies.

How to win with Pericles: Pericles’ is set up from the start to achieve a culture victory thanks to his leader bonus. You’ll need to spend the early game making quick friends with your nearby city-states, as you’ll gain a +5% culture bonus for each one who is a big fan of you.

That extra wildcard slot can help you finagle more out of your government policies and while the Hoplites are a good early game unit for defending yourself from more aggressive civilizations, don’t rely on them too long past the Ancient era.

Greece – Gorgo

Interesting fact, Gorgo is the Queen of Sparta that is depicted in Frank Miller’s 300. Yes, the very same Queen Gorgo who was portrayed by Lena Headey. She’s the second leader for Greece and while her civilization bonuses are the same, her leader bonus gives her units the ability to generate culture with each kill.

Leader Bonus: Thermoplyae – Combat victories provide Culture equal to 50% of the Combat Strength of the defeated unit.

Agenda: With Your Shield Or On It – Never gives up items in a peace deal, and likes civilizations who match that approach. Dislikes civilizations who have capitulated or who have never gone to war.

How to win with Gorgo: For the most part, you’ll still be going for a culture victory with Gorgo thanks to Greece’s early culture powerhouse special building, the Acropolis. Setting it up on a hill adjacent to your city center will grant you a nice culture bonus and you can begin working on your military in order to expand and get culture through Gorgo’s Thermoplyae bonus for each unit you kill.

Sometimes it can be beneficial to leave a nearby barbarian camp unmolested so it will continually spawn units that you can harvest for their culture bonus. Be careful with this though, the barbarians in Civilization 6 have a lot more bite to them than previous games.

France – Catherine de Medici

France is set up from the start so you can achieve any victory you want because France’s special talent is espionage. You’ll know everything every civilization you come into contact with does at the end of each turn, thanks to the French bonus. This means you can plan around what your enemies are doing instead of attempting to guess and hope you outfox them. In multiplayer games, this can be especially valuable.

Special Unit: Grande Imperiale – Replace the Musketmen, have a bonus for fighting on the home continent and get Great General points on kills.

Leader Bonus: Ladies in Waiting – Has 1 level of Diplomatic Visibility greater than normal with every civilization that she’s met. Receives capacity to build an extra Spy with the Castles technology.

Agenda: Black Queen – Gains as many spies and as much diplomatic access as possible. Does not like civilizations who ignore these espionage activities.

Special Ability: Grand Tour – Makes it easier to produce mid-game wonders – think castles rather than hanging gardens or internets – and gives bonus tourism for wonders, making cultural victories more effective.

How to win with Catherine de Medici: Thanks to Catherine’s ladies-in-waiting, you’ll never be in the dark about what the enemy is doing. You can plan your moves accordingly, which gives you greater flexibility in achieving the type of victory you’re aiming for. France’s unique building the Chateau generates culture when placed next to rivers and wonders.

For this reason, we think France is the best all around civilization to tailor your victories, since information is at a premium in the early game. Exploring to meet your foes as soon as possible will give you the most information.

China – Qin Shi Huang

All the Civs we’ve explored so far have been about exploring and conquering while exerting your influence across the map. If you’re the type of player who likes to build up your own civilization before striking out to terrorize others, there’s no better Civ to play than China, which is led by Qin Shi Huang.

Special Unit: Crouching Tiger Cannon – Has high power and a single-hex ranged attack, while not requiring special resources to be build.

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

Agenda: Likes civilizations not competing for wonders, and builds wonders whenever possible. Dislikes losing a wonder to another civilization.

How to win with Qin Shi Huang – China is perfectly designed for turtling, thanks to the extra builder charges and the boost to building wonders. You can shoot for early ancient wonders like the Pyramids to get another boosted builder to help you in your quest. Builders can also be used to boost construction on ancient and classical wonders.

The Great Wall is back and is unique to the Chinese, granting culture and defensive improvements. While you’ll have to dedicated builders to expanding the Great Wall, it’s worth it if you plan on playing the long game.

Russia – Peter the Great

As a counter to the turtling play style, if you’re the type of player who doesn’t want to be hindered by where you settle, Russia is your civilization. Russia gets bonuses to their territory upon foundation of cities. Extra faith and production from tundra tiles mean you’ll want to stay in the icy north to benefit yourself.

Special Unit: Cavalry replacement with increased attack stats and ability to move after attacking.

Leader Bonus: The Grand Embassy – Russia receives Science or Culture from trade routes to more advanced civs.

Agenda: Friendly to those civilizations that are ahead of him in Science and Culture. Dislikes backwards civilizations that are lacking in Science and Culture.

How to win with Peter the Great: The strategy with Russia is all about expanding your borders faster than your opponents so you can claim vast tracts of the map. Russia benefits working with advanced civilizations through the Grand Embassy leader bonus, so setting up trade routes with more advanced neighbors will help you advance your own science and culture goals.

The unique building The Lavra means every time you use a great person in one of your cities, you’ll get an extra tile to your culture border.