Civilization VI – Useful Tips for Any Difficulty

Tips and Tricks

Plan ahead

If you’re fighting 8-12 tiles from your nearest city and your assault starts to founder, then you’re in big trouble unless you have more units ALREADY partway there….not buying them now and starting them walking (4 turns minimum plues waiting until next turn to move), and CERTAINLY not starting normal production after you’re already in trouble. If you start a war (or someone starts one with you), be making MORE troops throughout the entire war…unless you’re already guaranteed to steamroll them.

Focus on ranged

Kill enemy ranged units pronto. Make ranged units over melee units in significant ratios. Ranged units can fight without taking damage (and know how the movement rules work to get as many chances as possible to shoot without being able to be attacked back next turn…use rivers and forests and hills to your advantage). I regularly take cities by pelting them with 3-4 archers and moving in a single warrior for the actual occupation. Swordsmen are alright….lots of archers will do a lot more for you – and play into some of the other points here too.

Don’t attack walled cities with melee troops

Not until the walls are at like 20% or less. Soften them up with lots and lots of ranged attacks.

Back up injured units

Make sure you’ve positioned your units so that if they get low, they can get out of range within a single turn. retreating and healing is WAY more economical than losing the unit and making more…and keeps your army bigger and higher level. This is especially important against walled cities or garrisoned ranged units.

If things turn against you, back off and regroup

The AI is idiotic about pressing forwards. If they suddenly generate some units and your siege is in trouble, back off from the city and sure as can be, those units will chase you beyond the range of their city defenses for you to easily pick off, and then you can heal up and move back in on the city. Wall damage is the same, it sticks around, so any damage to walls will still be there when you regroup and hit the city again. You can also turn a defensive war into a conquest war this same way.

If you fend off their initial push with walls and ranged units, you can often march those same defensive units at the nearest city with minimal resistance. The AI doesn’t understand waves or reserve troops. It’s always “throw everything at them at once, and then trickle followup units afterwards 1 by 1, even if they’re dying right away”

The right hand side of the upgrade trees is generally better…

…for wars vs. Civs. for melee and ranged and siege units. obviously the increased combat vs. districts is self explanatory, but they’re on the second tier, so its tempting to start on the left side for what feels like a better bonus…and for barbarians, that often works fine.

Against Civs, those right side upgrades are really nice though. Your melee units generally don’t attack cities until the end, so ranged defense helps a bunch – even against units, your melee units are often holding the line while the range units soften up the targets. Your ranged units will defend from inside districts (city center or encampment) and can even sit inside enemy districts (campuses, holy sites, etc) for extra city-taking attack power. Siege weapons benefit from the defense upgrades just like melee units, making them last a turn or two longer getting pelted by walls before they need to retreat.


They are great for building up xp but a super obnoxious roadblock for taking cities. If you’re taking your time in your war – you have no trouble backing up units into friendly territory and quickly healing – then having some archers snipe away at an encampment, even if it fully heals every turn, is a great way to level those units up. But, if you want the city with minimal fuss, then take the city from the side the encampment isn’t on. Not only do you want the district intact if you’re keeping it, but encampments are slow to kill and deal out some moderate damage. Avoid them when you need to, use them when you want to.

Policies support

Make sure your policies support HOW you’re going to make war. If you’re going to just be upgrading a bunch of old units that were sitting around, -50% upgrade cost policies are vital. If you’re going to fund your army with gold or faith, you need policies that flood you with that resource or discount your purchases. If you’re building your units turn by turn with production, then make sure you have one or two high production cities that can churn them out and have the policies to give +50% production. Swap your policies in and out as needed every time you get a civic unlock….plan ahead so that, for example, your builders are all churned out over the same few turns and you can have +30% production and +2 charges….then ditch those policies and put something else in (+50% production to churn out a bunch of archers, then when you unlock crossbowmen, swap that over to -50% upgrade cost as soon as you can).

Most importantly, you should RARELY be losing units vs. the AI, even at moderate difficulties. Yeah, sometimes sh*t happens and some horsemen comes outta nowhere and there goes an archer or two…but if you can see the units, you should be planning how to fight them without losing your own units (spread out the damage over multiple units, ranged attacks before they get to attack, retreating into your territory or waiting units). Your 4 archers and a warrior can beat their 4 archers, a city, and a swordsman if you can effectively bait them…running away where they push and moving in for shots where you can focus hits….and then hitting the city when the units are dead.

Tips for Dealing with Aggressive AI on Immortal / Deity Difficulties

Open borders and delegations as a default will gradually make even the ones who start off with a random “first encounter” dislike for your move over time towards tolerating your existence.

Withholding open borders out of some concern that its use will give an AI some advantage is only very rarely a sound idea. The AI can’t use anything as open-ended as the advantage open borders gives to explore the ma, nearly as well as you can, so you almost always do much better off the deal than they do. The one time in all my games I refused to trade away open borders was when I had an amazing start near the isthmus to a huge peninsula that had room for 8-9 good city sites, and no other civs had spawned there. Even if they charge you gold on the side, this early it’s never more than one gold upfront, so open borders with everyone.

The delegation costs 25 gold, and that. this early in the game, is in itself a reason to consider not sending delegations to everyone. One rule is to look at the size of the first encounter dislike factor a given civ has for you, and if it’s too big, save your 25 gold to help pay for a slinger or something. The idea is that if it’s -10, it’s going to take so long for sending the delegation to erase the dislike that you will be out of the woods by then and able to defend yourself even if this civ does attack you at that point.

That’s all just the initial like/dislike factor. If they have other dislikes that amount to a big enough aggregate dislike, then your only other preventive is to have a big enough military strength that the ratio with their strength is not too small. If you haven’t done this already, turn on the yields below that so-called HUD ribbon, the row of icons of civs in the top right of the screen, because that puts the military strength number on constant display. The higher the difficulty the more that winning depends on playing off what those big powerful, but blundering, AIs are doing, so the yields under their icons are arguably the most important facts to base your strategy on until you claw your way to the top later in the game.

If prevention fails, you just have to win the wars they start. This early, it’s hard to produce units very quickly, and buying them is not much better, considering your still underdeveloped cities, but, higher difficulty has this saving grace, that the AIs’ fat yield bonuses leave them sitting on more gold than they have for you to cheat them out of than is available at lower difficulty. The most important reason you get open borders with everyone is so you can explore well past your immediate neighbors in order to discover other civs to make deals with, so that you always have some customer to give you enough gold to buy an army big enough to beat an invasion.

This further advantage of discovering plenty of civs isn’t available really early, but pretty early (at Foreign Trade) you get the ability to ask such more distant civs to join any war against a neighbor that does attack you. This will divert big chunks of the attacker’s military towards the AI you have enlisted in your war.

The ultimate saving grace in the face of Deity invasion is that the AI is just not very good at conquest. On static defense it can give you a reasonable fight even if it’s only a bit outmatched, delaying your taking their cities to the point that loyalty kicks in, but it really has to have a big qualitative and/or quantitative advantage over you to succeed at open field warfare, then taking your cities. Even if outnumbered and outgunned, if their advantage isn’t overwhelming, you can often end up annihilating their whole invading army, because they are like the stereotype of a WWI general, and will just keep up a frontal attack until all their troops are dead.

It’s going to take a maximum effort from you, maybe for many turns, because the AI tends to not actually invade (later in the game especially they declare far more promiscuously than the actually invade) unless it has a significant advantage in strength. Defeating them this early will require this monomaniacal effort at producing and buying military units instead of builders and settlers, and will require you to sacrifice other research priorities to bee-lining military techs, so that your development game is definitely going to be shortchanged in this crucial phase of the game.

Well, there goes that sensible, moderate plan of carefully developing your economy so you can bust out at some later date, with your brilliant winning strategy supported by massive yields. This is Deity, you most often need to chuck careful sensible strategies and embrace chaos, because at Deity, it’s the AIs that call the tune this early in the game, and your role is to react successfully. After you are forced to shortchange peaceful expansion and developing your economy because an AI tries to conquer you, you first take away its field army with a successful defense of your lands, then use that big army the AI forced you to build in order to pillage its now defenseless lands for yields to make up for the campuses you had to forego building, then take its cities to make up for all the settlers you had to put off building. Take the lands and cities from even one of your neighbors, and that’s it, you have leapfrogged all their yield bonuses and insured your eventual victory. This simple strategy is more powerful than any development strategy.

You always have to do some peaceful expansion, but the higher the difficulty level, the less often you can avoid also needing to do some early conquest. Early conquest is a lot harder at higher difficulty, but is more often the only way forward for you. Chaos is a ladder, as someone wrote before his book series petered out into its own eddy of chaos.

Game speed. The speed of the game. Do not play Deity games on marathon speed. Play them on standard speed.

This matters because on standard speed you can relatively quick make 2 archer and two warriors is enough to stop the aggresive AI early on.

But on marathon you simply don’t stand a chance to produce these units quickly when the AI rushes you.

Egor Opleuha
About Egor Opleuha 7097 Articles
Egor Opleuha, also known as Juzzzie, is the Editor-in-Chief of Gameplay Tips. He is a writer with more than 12 years of experience in writing and editing online content. His favorite game was and still is the third part of the legendary Heroes of Might and Magic saga. He prefers to spend all his free time playing retro games and new indie games.

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