There were forty-five leaders as of Gathering Storm, and now there are nine more with the Civilization VI: New Frontier Pass. So, which are the best civilizations in Civ 6? We’ve crunched the numbers and put together some of the best Civilization 6 leaders and civs. Are you ready to dominate your enemies? This list will help you play your way to victory!
Taking over the world is a big job, even in Civ 6. You have to collect resources, strategically settle cities, set up trade routes, and find a religion — all while battling those annoying little barbarians. To win, you must learn to be as efficient as possible. Each turn presents dozens of choices for you to make as you attempt to balance your nation’s population growth, economy, scientific advancement, military, and international relations.
But one of the biggest decisions you have to make happens before the game even begins. Who will be your avatar in this world, and which civilization will you lead?
Which Civs Are on the List?
Civilization VI has received three major DLC expansions and eight Scenario Packs since the base game was released in 2016. For this article, leaders from all of these expansions will be included in our list of Civ 6 ranked leaders.
We will not, however, be including any civilizations or leaders from the modding community. This list will only feature official leaders and civilizations. Feel free to check out our article on the best Civ 6 mods if you’re interested in stepping outside the list of leaders with the Firaxis seal of approval.
Choosing the Right Leader for the Job
There are six different ways to win a game of Civ 6. You can win a Science, Culture, Domination, Religion, Final Score, or Diplomacy victory. Each kind of victory is tailored to a specific type of gameplay. You might ignore cultural and religious growth and focus on economic and military growth if your aim is a Domination victory, for instance.
It’s best to decide what kind of victory you’re going for at the beginning of the game. That way, you won’t waste any time improving unnecessary traits.
It’s also best to choose the civilization leader with the best bonuses for the strategy you have in mind. No one leader is best suited to every kind of victory. Some are natural diplomats. Others excel at developing scientific advancement or spreading their religious influence. Choosing the right leader with the right bonuses is essential.
This list will help you pick the best Civ 6 leader for each victory condition.
To achieve a Science victory, you must research Rocketry, build a Spaceport, and complete the Launch Earth Satellite Project. These are the best leaders to help you achieve these goals and make Einstein proud.
Seondeok – Korea
The best leader for Science victory in Civ 6
Seondeok was the twenty-seventh ruler of Silla, one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea. She was added to Civ 6 in the Rise and Fall expansion.
Korea has a unique science district called the Seowon, which replaces the Campus. Not only is it cheaper, but it also adds a +4 to Science as long as there aren’t any adjacent districts. This district should be the cornerstone of your Science victory as it will allow you to grab the writing technology early and rocket your way toward space travel. Surrounding the district with farms and mines will give additional bonuses.
Seondeok also has the leader bonus, Hwarang. This gives her a 3% Culture and Science bonus for each promotion the governor has.
Stacking bonuses like this will help you achieve a Science victory in no time.
Lady Six Sky – Maya
The best alternative leader for Science victory in Civ 6
Also known as Lady Wak-Chanil-Ahau, the Lady Six Sky was a Mayan Queen who ruled Naranjo from 682 to 741 AD. She is an isolationist, preferring to keep her cities all close together and far away from anyone else.
Because of this, Mayan cities are designed a little differently from other civs. They get a majority of their housing from farms. This is convenient, since the Observatory districts provide extra Science from nearby farms and plantations.
Couple those two building blocks together, and you have a significant boost toward a Scientific victory.
Some of us come to Civilization for scientific achievement and nuanced politics. But let’s be real — most of us are here to conquer cities.
You must capture the original capital city of every civilization to achieve a Domination victory. Here are the leaders who are best suited to raising the banners of war.
Alexander III – Macedonia
The best leader for Domination victory in Civ 6
Alexander the Great needs no introduction. This Greek golden-boy conquered most of the known world in his day. Now you can too!
Macedon has two amazing Classical Era units, the Hetairoi and Hypaspist. Having both of these allows you to start the conquest early and hit your fledgling neighbors hard.
Alexander has the To the World’s End ability, which eliminates war-weariness in his cities. It also allows all combat units to heal when he captures a city containing a world wonder. So, not only does the combat start early, but it doesn’t stop until you’ve achieved total domination.
Furthermore, Alexander gets Science bonuses from having units trained in the Basilikoi Padids building, and from capturing cities featuring an Encampment, Theater Square, Campus, or Holy Site.
With Alexander, all the world will be Macedonian in no time.
Matthias Corvinus – Hungary
The best alternative leader for Domination victory in Civ 6
Mattias Corvinus was the King of Hungary and Croatia circa 1458-1490 AD. His character was added in Gathering Storm.
Mattias has the Raven King ability. He can levy units from friendly city-states, giving them +2 Movement and +5 Combat Strength. These units can then be upgraded at a 75% discount. He also gets an additional two envoys with that city-state whenever he does this.
Another major perk? Players who choose Matthias Corvinus also receive a special unit, and the Black Army gets strength bonuses for every adjacent levied unit!
In summation – befriend city-states, take their units, upgrade them on the cheap, add Black Army light cavalry, and attack. You’ve got to love an easy strategy.
Hojo Tokimune – Japan
The best naval leader for Domination victory in Civ 6
Hojo Tokimune was the eighth Shikken of the Kamakura Shogunate from 1251-1284 AD. This world leader likes big boats, and he cannot lie. Land units aren’t the only way to wage war, after all. In fact, many people prefer to wait for naval units before they begin their quest for military expansion.
Hojo uses the Divine Wind ability. This grants his land units +5 Combat in tiles that are adjacent to the coast. His naval units also gain +5 Combat Strength in shallow water tiles. That means that whether it’s by land or sea, Japanese units rule the coast.
Using Tokimune is particularly effective on water maps like Archipelago.
There’s nothing quite like popular culture. Whether that be Hollywood movies, blue jeans, or American MTV, there’s something for everyone. Truly, our capitalist society is a paradise for the masses. All hail Hulk Hogan!
It might seem like one of the sillier paths to victory, but you should never underestimate the power of culture. You achieve a Culture victory when you attract more visiting tourists from all the other civs than they have at home.
Kristina – Sweden
The best leader for Culture victory in Civ 6
Kristina was the Queen of Sweden from 1626-1689 AD. Any Civ 6 leaders ranked, Gathering Storm inclusive article has to feature Kristina. She comes with several Cultural bonuses that make her the clear choice for this particular path to victory.
She has the Minerva of the North ability, which makes it so buildings and wonders automatically become themed when they are full of Great Works.
Sweden’s Open-Air Museums are a unique district that grants two Loyalty points per turn and adds two Culture and Tourism points per turn for type of terrain hosting a Swedish city. That means Culture and Tourism points will flood in if you found cities on as many types of terrain as possible and then build an Open-Air Museum district in each of them.
Kristina can also build the Queen’s Bibliotheque, which grants you six Great Works slots and two Great Writer, Artist, and Musician points per turn.
Pretty much all my furniture is Swedish now that I think of it. Their influence is already here.
Kupe – Maori
The best alternative leader for Culture victory in Civ 6
Kupe was a Maori explorer who was involved in the 10th-century discovery of New Zealand. The Maori are the only civ that starts with access to ocean navigation. Kupe was added in Gathering Storm.
The Maori leader has the Kupe’s Voyage ability. He begins the game on an ocean tile. He also receives +2 Science and Culture for every turn before he founds his first new city. This helps as an early bonus, but players won’t want to go too long before additional cities.
That’s why it’s so important that they have their own unique district. The Marae district generates +2 Culture and +2 Faith for each tile that contains woods, rainforests, floodplains, oases, reefs, marshes, or geothermal fissures.
That means they can navigate the ocean and choose from any number of prime settlement spots early, build the Marae district, then soak up those Culture points.
Kupe also gets a Cultural bonus every time he builds a fishing boat.
Peace be with you, my friend. Take a look at these leaders if you’re looking to spread enlightenment to every corner of the globe.
You will have a Religious victory when yours is followed by more than 50% of the populous in every civilization.
Menelik II – Ethiopia
The best leader for Religious victory in Civ 6
Menelik II was the Emperor of Ethiopia from 1844-1913 AD. He is a brand-new addition to the game, coming as part of the New Frontier Pass.
Everything about playing as Menelik revolves around settling on hills. You should always make sure that as many hills surround your capital and cities as possible.
Ethiopia gets a bonus to Science and Culture based on 15% of their faith output in cities built on hills due to Menelik’s Council of Ministers ability. This ability also grants +4 Combat Strength to all units stationed in those hills. Menelik can build Rock-Hewn Churches on hills, which gives him an additional buff to faith. On top of all that, Ethiopia also has special hill-based military units called Oromo Cavalry that move in the hills without penalties.
Then there’s the Aksumite Legacy ability. This grants +1 Faith for every improved resource.
All these traits make Ethiopia extremely difficult to attack, provided its cities are settled correctly, allowing Menelik to focus 100% of his efforts on Faith and Culture production.
“I am pleased you find comfort in flat land, for the hills are mine.” – Menelik II
Peter I – Russia
The best alternative leader for Religious victory in Civ 6
Tsar of the Russian Empire from 1672-1725 AD, Peter the Great is one of the most well-rounded civs in the game. He has natural bonuses that let him settle large swaths of land quickly. He’s useful in garnering Culture and Science, but he truly excels at religious influence.
The trick to Religious victory is establishing a religion early and spreading its influence quickly. If you can convert civs that don’t even have a faith yet, you’re off to a serious head start.
Peter has a serious advantage here. The Lavra building, which is unique to Russia, can be produced much faster than the Holy Site. It also grants double “Great Prophet” points. That means that you are all but assured to be the first civ to found a religion.
The Mother Russia ability makes it so those tundra tiles people usually try to avoid grant +1 to both Faith and Production. Russian districts, units, and improvements are also immune to blizzard damage, making the frozen north ideal for Peter to set up shop.
The cold never bothered him anyway.
Alright, this is where all those years of practice in the model UN are going to come in handy. Its time to lay down our weapons and figure this out like civilized human beings.
This victory condition was added in the Gathering Storm expansion. You can achieve Diplomatic victory by accumulating diplomatic favor and collecting Diplomatic victory points on the World Congress page.
Wilfrid Laurier – Canada
The best leader for Diplomatic victory in Civ 6
Huh, Canada’s good at diplomacy. Who knew?
Wilfred Lautier was the seventh Prime Minister of Canada, serving from 1896 to 1911 AD. He was added in the Gathering Storm expansion.
Laurier loves nothing more than contributing to international emergencies and competitions. He receives several production bonuses from procuring tundra and snow-based tiles, which are useful in contributing to international projects. But the real reason you want him is for Canada’s civ ability.
Four Faces of Peace makes it so that for every 100 points of Tourism Canada earns, they also get a point of Diplomatic favor. It also grants them +100% Diplomatic favor earned from completing projects.
Plus, they can make an ice hockey rink. That’s just cool.
Top 10 Best Leaders & Civs Overall
Here’s a quick Civ 6 leader tier list of the most well-rounded leaders and civs to start with:
- Peter I/Russia – The Mother Russia ability lets him soak up a ton of land early on. Russia is defendable and strong in Religion, Culture, Science, and Domination. It’s easily the most well-rounded civ.
- Fredrick Barbossa/Germany – While not the best at any one victory type, Germany has the Hansa in place of the Industrial Zone. This allows them to use their colossal amount of production to excel in nearly any arena.
- Trejan/Rome – Founded cities start with a free building, trade route, and road if they’re within trade distance of the capital. Trejan is an excellent choice for both Culture and Domination play styles.
- Lady Six Sky/The Maya – The Mayan method of using farms and plantations for housing while getting Observatory bonuses is ideal for a Science victory. It also frees them up to work toward nearly any other victory type. It’s one of the best civs for turtling.
- Catherine de Medici/France – Catherine is an excellent choice for a diplomatic leader, and for those interested in exploring the world of espionage. She gets an extra spy whenever she builds a castle, and all spies start with a free promotion.
- Alexander III/Macedonia – Alexander is going to be your guy if you want to play a quick, aggressive campaign. His Classical Era war bonuses are second to none.
- Kupe/Maori – Kupe has a serious advantage on any water-based maps with his early access to oceanic travel. He’s great at developing Culture and Science, but I’d be careful about going against Japan’s military.
- Victoria/England – Another excellent choice for the water. Excels at domination, production, trade, and culture.
- Simon Bolivar/Gran Columbia – Gran Columbia’s Ejército Patriota grants +1 Movement to all units. Bolivar is great for both exploration and combat.
- Gorgo/Greece – Killing a unit grants a Culture bonus equal to 50% of its Combat Strength. This makes it so fighting efficiently works toward both Culture and Domination victories.