Civ 6 Early Game Guide: Beginner Strategy And Tips For Gaining Your First Victory

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Civilization VI Beginner's Guide
Started playing Civilization 6 on iOS but having a hard time getting a victory. Check out our beginner's guide of early game setup with tips for getting your civilization started and carrying your people to a victorious win. CIVILIZATION 6

Started playing Civilization 6 on iOS but having a hard time getting a victory? Check out our beginner's guide of early game strategy with tips for getting choosing districts, research paths and more to carry your people to a victorious win.


Over the holidays, iOS gamers received a pretty spectacular gift, as a full port of Sid Meier's Civilization 6 debuted on iPad. Since its release, we’ve been playing almost nonstop, and still can’t get enough of the world domination goodness. While Civ 6 comes with a decent, basic gameplay tutorial, making it to your first victory may be a bit trickier than it seems. So we decided to put together our own beginner’s guide of strategy and tips you need to know to achieve your first victory. We’ll discuss everything from what it takes to earn a victory to how to place districts, make friends and more.

Civ 6 Beginner’s Guide: Early Game Strategy And Tips For Gaining Your First Victory

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If it's your first time playing Civ 6, adjusting the size of map and play difficulty is advised. Photo: Player.One

Tip #1 - Play Your First Round On A Smaller Map

One thing that makes Civ 6 so amazing is the game’s depth and multifaceted nature. It has been designed multiple playthroughs and players can modify the settings make the game more or less complex. If you haven’t managed to gain a victory yet or are just starting out, we suggest you make things a little easier on yourself until you learn the ropes. You can adjust the setting of a new game by going to Single Player > Create Game. Here you will find several options you can tweak. We suggest selecting Settler or Chieftain as your game difficulty and the tiny map. These tweaks will reduce the size of game map so that there's less to scroll through while also cutting down the number of civilizations you will compete with, making it easier to get resources and find land to settle.

Tip #2 - Understand How To Gain A Victory

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There are five ways to win at Civ 6. Be sure to make one of the victories your primary focus early on. Photo: Player.One

One thing the Civ 6 tutorial leaves out are specifics on how to gain a victory. There are actually five different ways you can win in Civ 6, and every civilization will be working to achieve a victory in one of these areas. We have listed them below, but you can also find them by tapping on the gold medal icon in the upper right-hand corner of the game screen. As you are playing, you’ll want to check these victory stats from time to time to see how your opponents are doing and thwart their efforts if needed. For example, in the last game I played, Gandhi was pretty aggressively spreading Hinduism. I kept my borders closed to him so his Missionaries and Apostles could not infiltrate my civilization.

  1. Science Victory - this requires you to do three tasks before your opponents:

    1. Launch a satellite

    2. Land a human on the moon

    3. Establish a Martian Colony

  2. Culture Victory - this victory is achieved when you attract more VISITING tourists to your civilization than any other civilization has of DOMESTIC tourists in their civilization. Basically, you need to be the place to see.

  3. Domination Victory - this victory requires you to conquer the original capital of every other civilization.

  4. Religious Victory - to achieve this victory, your religion must be the predominant one in every civilization in the game.

  5. Score Victory - in the case that no civilization meets one of the four goals before 500 turns are up, then each civilization’s combined score in six areas (Civics, Empire, Great People, Religion, Technology, Wonders) are tallied. The civilization with the most points wins.

Tip #3 - Formulate Victory Strategy That Suits Your Leadership

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If domination is your victory goal, Gilgamesh comes with some sweet perks. Photo: Player.One

Civ 6 offers 20 different leaders to choose from, each with his or her own specific perks. Make sure to examine these carefully before starting the game so you can use those strengths to reach a victory in a specific area. For example, Cleopatra comes with some great faith, culture and trade perks, while Frederick has excellent military and combat perks. If you are planning to try to win via domination, Gilgamesh would be a better pick over Cleopatra. As you go through the game, your victory strategy might change, but initially, you need to focus on one, so you can plan your research around that.

Tip #4 - Set Up Defense Early

Civ 6 has a feature that shows you “recommended” units to purchase first, but generally speaking, my first production is always a slinger. Each game of Civ 6 is completely new, throwing players in new territories and with different starting opponents or scenarios. While sometimes the game starts pleasantly, with no barbarian interaction for several turns, other times, you’re encountering enemies early on. If you immediately start building stuff, improving squares or start deploying settlers without any defense, it won’t take long for barbarians to find you and destroy the fledgling civilization you’ve put together. In general, my production cycle has been Slinger, Scout, Slinger, Settler. This way, I have a couple guys defending home base while a second slinger goes out with a settler to your new city.

Tip #5 - Take Out Barbarians Right Away

In the early game, if a scout happens upon a barbarian outpost or you see an enemy scout roaming near your city, it’s time to build up your troops and prepare for battle. Just as you are working hard to build your civilization, barbarians are also improving their knowledge of weaponry and building up troops for an ambush. If one of your scouts discovers barbarian outpost, it’s best to eradicate their scouts and troops as quickly as you can and squash the outpost, or they’ll soon become a difficult force to defeat. Always make sure to leave at least one troop at your city center but then send the others out as a group to take down the Barbarians quickly. The slinger comes in handy on these raids, as he can take an enemy out from a short distance. It will earn you an Archery Eureka as well.

Tip #6 - Expand quickly

You may be tempted to spend your early moves making improvements to your home city, but truly, there’s plenty of time for that later. Start claiming territory as quickly as you can! You don’t know what kind of terrain you will end up with (in one game I found myself on an island!) and so you don’t know what expansion opportunities will be available later in the game. You should be mindful to take an archer or other troop with you each time you send a settler out, but grabbing land early plays a big role in your later success.

Tip #7 - Align Your Districts With Your Goals

As you plan your cities, you want to keep in mind the victory type you’re working towards and plan your districts accordingly. For example, if you have the goal of a religious victory, a holy site should be the first district you set up in each city. Each holy site earns you a Great Prophet point every turn, which will help you recruit a prophet to establish your own religion. There are a limited number of each kind of Great People (there are only four Great Prophets), so you’ll want to focus on attracting the right ones before your opponents do. In addition, building districts allow you to build specialty buildings related to that district. For example, an Encampment allows you to build things like barracks, stables and a military academy. To see which districts match which victory goal, you can check this list, here. Certain districts also get perks depending on what they are situated near. Civ 6 does a nice job of showing you areas of land that will provide more points for a district, which makes planning a little easier.

As the population of your city grows, you’ll unlock the ability to add more districts (one for every three citizens).It’s a good idea to build as many of these as you can in a city once you’ve established your main victory goal district. As we mentioned before, sometimes your victory strategy will change or in the end, if no civilization has reached a victory, points from all specialty areas are tallied to reach a winning score.

Tip #8 - Focus Civic & Technology Research On Victory Goals

The first time I played Civ 6 I wasn’t very intentional in my Civics and Technology research. Basically, I just filled them out in order on the tree. Though this isn’t a horrible strategy, it’s better to look carefully at what you’re trying to achieve, then direct your research accordingly. When you open the Civics or Technology tree, you’ll notice each research item has icons underneath. If you press and hold on these icons, an information bubble will appear, letting you know what it unlocks. For example, the Foreign Trade research unlocks traders and trade routes while also allowing you to launch a joint war with another civilization. The further you get in the game, the more you want to look at these carefully before making a choice. You can select a part of your branch that’s several steps down and your game will automatically research the items you need to complete first, without having to select them. If you are working towards a Religious victory, for example, it may be a good idea to select Theology ( three branches in after foreign trade) as a long-term goal on your civics tree, as it unlocks several religious building types and bonuses for Holy Site adjacency. As you get deeper into the game, the choices you make on the tree become more important. In the case of a science victory, for example, there are some very specific paths you need to take if you want to reach the goal of launching satellites and putting a man on the moon.

Tip #9 - Be Careful About Declaring Wars

Unless your goal is world domination, for the most part, you want to avoid military conflicts -- particularly surprise wars. Surprise wars are wars you launch on the spur of the moment. These will activate a warmongering penalty, which often leads to lost allies and friends. The only leader who isn’t subject to warmongering penalties is Gilgamesh. If you must go to war, first denounce the leader, then wait five turns for the Casus Belli option to appear. It’s advisable to have plenty of troops at the ready before heading into any war. If you decide you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to wait 10 war turns and select the option in the diplomacy menu. This is found when you tap on the icon of your opponent in the upper left-hand corner of the game screen. Sometimes they’ll be willing to make peace without a fuss, but other times, you’ll have to give them some of your valuable resources to put an end to it.

Tip #10 - Deploy Diplomats But Be Careful Who You Let In

Once you meet another civilization, a number of Diplomatic options become available to you. In the early stages of the game, these include: sending delegations, arranging trade deals, making friends or opening borders. It’s a good idea to send a delegation as soon as you can to a new civilization since they will feed you information about those civilizations throughout the game. Additionally, declaring friendship where you can also prove helpful, as it provides the option to discuss points of contention. If you are headed down the warpath, you’ll probably want to be more careful about who you befriend, but with most others, it should help, not hurt you.

Meeting other civilizations can come in handy for trading resources. If your treasury is a little low, you can sometimes lend out luxury resources for cash. That said,  be very careful when deciding who to give open border access -- particularly later in the game. If you give access to a civilization you are competing within science, they might bring in spies to smuggle away secrets. Meanwhile, opponents with aggressive religious goals may try to convert all your cities before you can get a handle on it, or worse yet, launch a holy war.

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