A Civilization VI Guide To the Best Leaders and Factions For Each Victory Type

Civilization VI is finally available. That means choosing a faction and leader to play as, which is never an easy decision in a Civilization game

There are a total of 19 factions and leaders in the base game. They are all very different from one another, meaning that some are better for certain victory conditions than others. Below we will go over the four victory conditions as well as what the best option is for each.


Culture Victory

Victory Condition: The first civilization to possess a total number of Visiting Tourists that exceeds the Domestic Tourists of each other civilization in the game wins.

Explanation: This victory type is very similar to Civilization V after the introduction of the Gods & Kings expansion. Your goal will be to erect notable buildings that draw in tourism, meanwhile carefully engaging with other factions to avoid having to invest resources in military. Obtaining enough culture to win requires an incredible investment in terms of production.

High production and growth is a must in order to effectively "outgrow" our opponents. Because of this, your efforts to acquire luxury resources and other sources of happiness is pivotal toward keeping your population satisfied. On harder difficulties, aiming for this victory type will leave your civilization exposed to aggressive factions. It is important to scout the map to see what sort of threats there are nearby, and invest in a mild level of defense in case another faction gets trigger happy.

Best Faction: Qin Shi Huang, China. This faction gets an early culture lead with its The First Emperor trait. This early lead allows it to establish control during a major segment of the game. Erecting the Great Wall provides a solid means of defense and neat perks that persist through the game. The Chinese Crouching Tiger helps in this regard with great range and damage. Although this faction falls off a little toward late game, the early lead along with Tourism bonus from the Great Wall is very difficult for other factions to equal.

Major Faction Traits: 

  • The First Emperor – When building Ancient and Classical wonders you may spend Builder charges to complete 15% of the original wonder cost. Builders receive an additional charge.
  • Great Wall – Provides an increase to Defense. Bonus to Gold if adjacent to other segments. Additional Culture and Tourism if you advance through the Technology Tree for adjacent segments. Must be built in a line along the borders of your empire.

Runner Up: ​Egypt.

Domination Victory

Victory Condition: If you are the last player in possession of your own original Capital, you win.

Explanation: This is the combat oriented victory condition, best suited for players who enjoy the thrill of battle. For the most part, this entails gaining territory quickly early on, and erecting a formidable military. There are some nuances to it, such as how it's only concerned with the original Capital, leaving opportunity for sneak attacks. You are not allowed to lose your original Capital or this victory type will no longer be available, so tread carefully.


ALSO SEE: A Full List of Civilization V Leaders and Traits


It is worth noting that this victory type becomes much more challenging to be successful with on larger maps. It requires a lot of work and patience to successfully dominate the larger sized maps, so take this into consideration when starting a game. On that note, the best faction can sometimes rely on the map type you choose. For example, England can be very strong on water dominated maps.

Best Faction: Tomyris, Scythia. This faction has a great combination of traits that make it a well-balanced domination faction.For one, Killer of Cyrus allows your units to much more effectively kill off wounded targets, and then heal up. The Saka Horse Archer provides incredible map control as it gets into and out of combat with superb potency. Even more scary for opponents, People of the Steppe grants you two units per training, allowing you to bulk up faster than any other faction during the early game. Lastly. the Kurgan building will provide Gold and Faith that can help fuel your army. 

This faction does lose its advantages toward the mid to late game, so an early lead is important. Be sure to invest in military early on and establish dominance to sustain yourself through the perks of other factions once the later years arrive.

Major Faction Traits: 

  • People of the Steppe – Receive a second light cavalry unit or Saka Horse Archer each time you train a light cavalry unit or Saka Horse archer.
  • Killer of Cyrus – All units receive +5 Combat Strength when attacking wounded units. When they eliminate a unit, they heal up to 50 hit points.

Runner Up: Sumeria.

Religious Victory

Victory Condition: You will win when you make your Religion the predominant Religion for every other major civilization in the game.

Explanation: This victory condition functions similarly to subterfuge. It's your job to not only influence other nation's cities, but to force your will upon them. You need other civilizations to succumb to your religious presence through pressure. This is achieved by using a variety of units, in addition to crafting buildings and more.

Best Faction: Saladin, Arabia. Each of this faction's traits are oriented toward a religious victory, starting with Righteousness of the Faith which encourages other civilizations to adopt your religion. The Madrasa provides a ton of Faith based on adjacency bonus, which isn't difficult to take advantage of if you know what you're doing. Also, The Last Prophet will ensure that you get a Great Prophet toward the late game, making this a very balanced faction. All this combined with a +1 Science bonus for each foreign city following your religion makes this a highly religiously influential faction.

Major Faction Traits:

  • The Last Prophet – Automatically receive the final Great Prophet when the next-to-last one is claimed. +1 Science for each foreign city following Arabia's Religion.
  • Madrasa – A building unique to Arabia. Bonus Faith equal to the adjacency bonus of the Campus district.

Runner Up: India.

Science Victory

Victory Condition: Achieved by the first player to establish a colony on the planet Mars.

Explanation: This is functionally very similar to the space race in Civilization V. However, instead of constructing various parts of a spaceship to leave Earth's orbit, your task is to launch a satellite, land a human on the moon, and then establish the colony on mars. Achieving this requires high investment in Science as you unlock the various technologies required.

Best Faction: Trajan, Rome. Although this faction doesn't have any direct Science bonuses, it has incredible economic and growth potential. All Roads Lead To makes you an economic powerhouse who can then invest its wealth into Science. This is strengthened by Trajan's Column. The Bath is a great for growth, and you can effectively defend your civilization with the Legion unit. Ultimately, you want to utilize these economic advantages to push through the technology tree quickly, and once you arrive in the later years you'll be glad you have the wealth to participate in the space race.

Major Faction Traits: 

  • All Roads Lead To – All cities you found or conquer start with a Trading Post. If in Trade Route range of your Capital, they also start with a road to it. Your Trade Routes earn +1 Gold for passing through Trading Posts in your own cities.
  • Trajan's Column – All cities start with an additional City Center building. 

Runner Up: Russia

Score Victory

Victory Condition: If no one achieves a victory by the year 2050, the winner is determined by the surviving civilization's score. Points for your score are earned from number of civics, number of population, number of cities, number of technologies, number of "future technologies", number of wonders, military accomplishments, number of Great People, and number of Beliefs.

Explanation: This victory type is not triggered very often, but is a fail safe in case a game is heading toward a tie. It will evaluate many elements of every civilization before coming up with a winner. Although it mentions many factors, the size of your civilization is the biggest one as it usually entails many cities, military points, and the resources to succeed on the technology tree.

Best Faction: Mvemba a Nzinga, Kongo. You weren't expecting this, were you? A quick read of Konngo's traits reveals what is undoubtedly the most well-rounded faction in the game. The Nkisi trait provides a a wealth of bonuses for each Relic, Artifact, and Sculpture you have. Religious Convert gives you some Religious firepower, while the Mbanza district provides another set of bonuses. You will find your civilization healthy and wealthy due to these perks, and the best part is they are useful throughout the entirety of your game.

Major Faction Traits: 

  • Nkisi – +2 Food, +2 Production, and +4 Gold from each Relic, Artifct, and Sculpture Great Work of Art in addition to the usual Culture. Receive double Great Writer, Great Artist, Great Musician, and Great Merchant points. Palace has slots for 5 Great Works.
  • Mbanza – A district unique to Kongo that can only be constructed in Rainforest or Woods. Replaces the neighborhood district but is available earlier. Provides +5 Housing, +2 Food, and =4 Gold, regardless of appeal.

Runner Up: Rome