Civ 6 Guide – Build Order and Important Tips
Last Updated: October 2021
Start as Rome (Trajan)!
Rome is NOT the best Civ in the game, but this is still our recommendation for the reasons outlined below. For a comprehensive list of the best Civs, check out our Civ 6 Tier List by clicking here. However, we suggest going down that road once you’ve got the fundamentals down with Rome.
- Their unique ability requires no effort on the players part which means the bonus is 100% consistent and useful in all games.
- They have a good early unique unit for both attacking and defending in the early game which helps for any win type.
- They can aim for any victory condition. With Rome you can wait to decide what win type you want to go for based on your situation and what districts you will have good spots for.
- Their unique district adds free housing and amenities which is a mechanic that tends to annoy new player as the game bombards you with notifications about it.
As a new player I also recommend that you ignore wonders for your first few games. While there are good wonders in 6 they are often not worth the cost vs. other things you could be building and are tricky to plan the placement of. They are really not necessary for a win in civ 6.
Settling your First Capital
- You do not want to take more than 3 turns to move to where you are going to settle your first city. The sooner you put down your capital the better, but sometimes moving a bit is necessary.
- You always want to settle the best housing when available so this means fresh water is priority (especially for your capital). Settling on coast is fine as long as you build a harbor adjacent to the city center for the housing. Later cities can be settled off of water if you have no choice as long as you can build an aqueduct.
- A city center will default to 2 food and 1 production, however settling on top of certain tiles that have extra yields beyond that will add to your city. What this means is settling on a resource (particularly a luxury resource) will actually give you a better city center than you would normally have. Later in the game settling on resources may not be as beneficial as you will likely get better yields from putting a tile improvement on the resource instead, but for your first 2 cities at least settling on resources is ideal. The only normal terrain that will add to the city center is a plains hill which will give you 2 food and 2 production instead so look for plains hills if you don’t have a good resource to settle on.
- You want to have at least 1 2 food 2 production tile in your first ring of tiles to be able to work initially. Ideally you will have more 2 2 tiles available within the first 2 rings as well as 4 or 5 hills for mines (later on flat forest is fine as well for lumber mills).
Your Build Order after your Capital is Settled
- Scout – exploring is key in the beginning for tribal villages, city states, civs, and good settle locations. Sometimes you might even want to start with 2 scouts but stick with 1 for now.
- Settler – as soon as you hit 2 population you want to get your first settler out. Having 2 starting cities really helps you build the early infrastructure and units that you need.
- Builder – once you have 2 or 3 pop you want a builder to improve 3 tiles so that you are working optimum tile yields. It also boosts craftsmanship which has the agoge card which is very important early.
- Slinger – an early ranged unit for defense against barbarians, but more so that you get the boost to archery so you can then upgrade the slinger. Archers are key to early defense and expansion so you want to unlock them quickly.
So after your starting build order there are a few other things you want to focus on. In that second city you settled you want to build a monument immediately for the culture and in each city you settle you usually want to build the monument first. Culture in the early game is more important than science because you want to get your first government unlocked for more policy cards. The other thing you want to do is build a starting defensive army. From craftsmanship you got the agoge card which you want to put in once you get it so that you can quickly build 4 warriors and 4 slingers/archers, this is a solid starting army to fend off barbarians, deter other civs and to escort your settlers. If you are planning on going on the offensive early game you may want more units, but this is plenty to start.
The next thing you are aiming for is political philosophy to unlock your government. In the meantime there are a few things you can build:
- Trader – usually I build one as soon as I unlock it because there are few helpful things you can get with it. Initially I always put it in my second city to send it back to my capital mainly for the road and also for a little extra food and production. You can also send it to a city state if they have a quest for it for the free envoy which will bring you close to an early suzerain and extra yields in your capital (if you did not meet them first). You can also send it to a neighbor you want to conquer for the road to be able to get units to the front faster.
- A specialty district – getting a district in one of your 2 initial cities can be beneficial to boost state workforce, however in most games you won’t have time to build one before you have to research the civic. The only districts you can build this early are the holy site and the campus. If you are getting a religion then you have to get a holy site this early, but I recommend ignoring religion when you start. The campus is always worth building, but its only really worth building this early if you can get a +3 adjacency or more, otherwise just hard tech the civic.
- More military – If you have any indication that a neighbor might attack you or you think you want to conquer a neighbor yourself you probably want to keep building units beyond the initial 8 you made earlier.
- More civilian units – By this I mean builders mostly. You probably want at least 1 more for your second city, but more is still good if you have things you want to chop or improve. You might also want 1 more settler before you get to political philosophy if you have a close neighbor and you want to grab a certain spot or resource before they do.
- Gov Plaza – This is one thing you really want to get before getting to political philosophy, basically build it once you unlock it. First you need to choose which city you want to put it in as you only get the one, ideally you can place it in a spot between 2 or 3 cities where you can place other districts surrounding it as it gives adjacency bonuses to surrounding districts. Mainly though you just want to place it in the city with more production and more growth potential (since it will take up a district slot).
On your way to getting political philosophy you will get 3 governor promotions, 2 from civics and 1 from building the gov plaza. I always start with putting the first from the civics into Pingala and place him in the city that you did not build the gov plaza in. For the second from your civics I also place it into Pingala where you have the choice to get science or culture from population, you want to pick what you are lacking in the early game which is usually culture, but sometimes you may get lots of early culture from other sources and will want to choose science. The third point from the gov plaza depends on your plan for the game and if you will be doing any kind of early military or just expanding normally. If you are doing military then pick Victor as you will need him for the loyalty benefits and the free promotion. In most scenarios where you will just be expanding by building settlers then you want to take Magnus and put him in the city with your gov plaza.
Once you get to political philosophy and your gov you really have 2 choices, oligarchy or classical republic (autocracy is rarely worth it). If you will be doing any kind of war then chose oligarchy, but if not then choose classical republic. You also have the choice of building 1 of 3 buildings in your gov plaza and again there are really only 2 choices, the ancestral hall or the warlord’s throne. This is basically the same decision as when you picked a second governor so if you took Victor then build the warlord’s throne and if you took Magnus then build the ancestral hall. Building that will also give you another governor point which you will want to put into that second governor, for Victor take the one that gives +4 loyalty for cities in 9 tiles and for Magnus take the one that removes the population cost for building settlers.
You can also now put 4 cards in your gov. If you are going the military route then choose the ones that will get you gold and production. If you went classical republic the 1 card that you absolutely have to put in is colonization which makes settlers 50% cheaper because this is when you will be doing all your expanding. Once that’s in your city with the ancestral hall and Magnus will be doing nothing but building settlers, since you now you can build settlers twice as fast in that city, until you have enough for 8 cities. As a new player I recommend aiming for at least 6-8 cities, but ideally you want 8-12 cities. Also you want to make sure you are settling cities on fresh water or coast and place your cities 4 to 5 tiles apart from each other to maximize the amount you can place and so cities and districts can benefit from each other.
Infrastructure and District Considerations
So as you are placing all your cities you need to start focusing on your infrastructure, mainly your districts, but also your tile improvements. Its easy to get distracted by building districts and buildings, but its almost always better to improve your tiles first to increase your production so that everything else you build is faster. That being said the districts are the most important aspect of your city in the long run as they give you most of your economy yields (faith, gold, science, culture). Generally all of your cities are going to have 3 core districts based on the win condition your are going for, which means you need at least 7 population in each city. A list of the core districts you want to focus on for each victory can be found in the districts per victory tab. As a new player I recommend aiming for science victory as its the most straightforward of the win types and in that case the districts you want to focus on are the campus, commercial hub/harbor, and the theater square. An important thing to note is that 7 population is really all you need to have a successful city, but 10 population is more what you want to aim for as it allows you to work most of your tiles and build a 4th district which will usually be an AOE district like the industrial zone or entertainment complex. So while the game will warn you that you are low on housing alot, if you have at least 11 housing in a city then it really isn’t worth building any housing districts (also as a side note never build neighborhoods).
Once you have your core districts placed you really just want to continue to improve your tiles with builders, build buildings in your districts and keep up with military production to make sure you don’t get surprised and overrun (you can check other player’s military strength in the victory screen or with the HUD ribbon). When choosing techs and civics look at what they provide and ask if it helps you with your victory. Often nothing currently available will help you but there is a tech 2 or 3 rows down that you really need. I always recommend opening the full tree when choosing what to research next so that you can see past the immediate options to see what you really need.
Beyond that you just want to focus on what gets you the win condition and if there is nothing available to build that you really need don’t be afraid to run district projects instead.
Once You’ve Got All That
While this guide was written with Rome in mind, many of the lessons are applicable to any Civilization. Once you are ready to try out something different, be sure to check out our Civ 6 Tier list, which will outline the pros and cons of all of the other Civs. That list sorts the Civs by different win conditions, so you will know which is the best overall regardless of your playstyle. As a bonus, it also highlights the best wonders, natural wonders, pantheons, and all different elements of religion. Game on!
Special thanks to “Fun Breakers” on YouTube who put together this great guide