Civilization 6: Who Are The Best Leaders? – Culture Victory

So you’ve crushed your neighbors beneath your boot with domination, and fired your colony off towards the stars for your science victory. Now it’s time to take a step back, and appreciate the finer things in life – art, poetry, and spamming national parks. With the right civilizations and the right tactics, you can brutalize the planet gently in order to ensure that it’s YOUR blue jeans that everyone is wearing.

This time I’m going to dive in to my top 3 civilizations – in no particular order – for maximizing tourism and achieving a culture victory, and what makes them so adept at doing so.

Disclaimer: This has been the toughest of the lists to make for unique victory conditions, simply because there are so many great culture leaders. Literally half of the available leaders have abilities that tie in with a culture win, but these are three of the best that I’ve had success with. Let me know your favorites in the comments!

Kupe of the Maori


Civilization: Maori

Unique Unit: Toa (replaces the Swordsman)

Unique Building: Marae (replaces the Amphitheater)

Good at: Looking after the environment

Straight out of the gate, Kupe of the Maori is an absurdly unique civilization with an agenda and buildings to match. Starting out on the wide open ocean, Kupe can take his pick of where to settle and make the most of the rich lands available – potentially all before other civilizations even have the chance to reach them.

The big draw of Kupe is down to his leader bonus – Kupe’s Voyage – and the civilization bonus – Mana. The former means that Kupe will spawn in the middle of the deep ocean, generating +2 science and +2 culture per turn before his first city is settled. When it is settled the city will spawn a builder, and the palace will offer +3 housing and +1 amenity.

But how can you travel around in the deep ocean? Not a problem – the Maori civilization bonus Mana will start you off with Sailing and Shipbuilding, as well as the ability to enter ocean tiles (something that’s not available until you research Cartography in the Renaissance Era, or recruit Leif Erikson as a Great Admiral in the Medieval Era). Your embarked units will get an additional +2 movement, and any fishing boats that your builders put down on resources will cause a culture bomb on that tile (as well as gaining +1 food).

-deep breath-

The second half of the Mana bonus applies to the land – a cherished part of Maori culture – giving all un-worked woods and rainforest tiles +1 production, gaining an additional +1 at Mercantilism and a further +1 at Conservation. This means that settling an area rich with woodland of any type is very likely to have your cities very productive from the word go and, since you avoid having to construct mines if you settle properly, you can keep the appeal nice and high too. More on that later.

If that wasn’t enough to sway you towards keeping your land nice and tidy, then Kupe’s unique building – the Marae – will do the trick. Replacing the Amphitheater building in the Theater Square district, the Marae offers +1 culture and +1 faith to all tiles with a passable feature in the city. Woods, rainforests, reefs, oases – you name it, you’ll get your Marae bonus tacked on top. Better yet, when you reach Flight in the technology tree, these affected tiles will start to generate tourism too.

Defense might be pivotal if you’ve accidentally forward settled another civilization on their continent, and not everyone will take that fight to you by sea. Luckily, the Maori have access to their unique unit which replaces the Swordsman – the Toa – to protect their cities on land. They have a slightly higher production cost than normal, but have no maintenance cost and require no resources to maintain either. They also reduce the combat strength of any enemy units around them by 5, making them a stoic force as you battle on the shores.

As you can see, the Maori look incredibly potent, and have the ability to snowball rather quickly regardless of difficulty. The fact that they are dissuaded from working their woods and rainforest tiles is, in fact, a blessing – the production these tiles offer, especially early on, is very significant in getting the cities off and running. The key to winning a tourism victory as the Maori is appeal – how beautiful looking your tiles are – as this allows you to place National Parks when you hit Conservation. With your Maraes giving faith on your tiles, it’s likely you’ll have a fair faith economy to pump out those Naturalists and plant National Parks absolutely everywhere.

You can also – if you’re comfortable chopping some of the flat coastal tiles – plonk down some tasty Seaside Resorts to reap the benefits of your good coastal appeal, and giving you tourism and gold equal to the appeal of the tile. That tourism output can even be doubled if you can snatch Cristo Redentor and build it somewhere in your empire.

Kupe may not be able to recruit Great Writers, but that means nothing when you consider his benefits towards untouched land and the technology to find it. Keep the Great Artists flowing, plan your National Parks appropriately, and grab wonders where you can to get the adjacency for the Theater Square districts that you must endeavor to build in every city – the Marae bonuses are too good.

Pedro II of Brazil


Civilization: Brazil

Unique Unit: Minas Geraes (replaces the Battleship)

Unique District: Street Carnival (replaces the Entertainment Complex district) and Copacabana (replaces the Water Park district)

Good at: Making rainforest tiles great again

As a full disclaimer – I hate Pedro in my games. He’s always cheeky, always forward settles me where he can, and always gives me grief when I acquire great people. That said, Pedro II of Brazil, Rainforest King, is on this list because he’s a top civilization for producing tourism. Although I consider his districts to be kinda pants (but appropriately thematic), the bonuses both he as a leader and Brazil as a civilization have are great – district adjacency bonuses and appeal, and why?


Before I get into why rainforests are great with Pedro, I’ll cover the districts and why they’re low on my tier list. The Street Carnival is the worst offender, replacing the Entertainment Complex district. It offers very little in that it gives amenities, and the city project it offers to produce Great People Points is much better served on other things. The Copacabana district replaces Water Parks, which I find a bit more palatable if you’re later on in a stubborn culture game, but still weak by comparison to Pedro’s best stuff.

The unique naval unit Minas Giraes is actually pretty great, replacing the Battleship and is unlocked at Nationalism rather than Refining. This is great if you’re producing more culture than science (which is fairly likely in a culture game) and, since they’re stronger than Battleships, is a great way to protect your coasts from late-game AI pushes.

Now, onto the good stuff. Pedro’s unique leader ability is Magnanimous, meaning that anytime a Great Person is earned or purchased, you refund 20% of the cost. This is fantastic for staying on top of earning your Great People, saving you a ton of points and making it more worthwhile to purchase Great People that you might miss out on, or if you need those last vital points for your Era Score.

A fine ability no doubt, but it’s Amazon is what elevates Pedro’s Brazil to stadium status. As Brazil’s unique ability, it gives rainforest tiles +1 adjacency for Campus, Holy Site, Commerical Hub, and Theater Square districts. Brilliant, since Brazil – to nobody’s surprise – has a tremendous bias towards starting in among rainforest tiles. Better yet, however, is Amazon‘s effect on appeal.

The appeal mechanic in Civilization VI is a fickle one, but pretty easy to deduce once you get the hang of it. When you turn on the appeal lens in-game, you’ll notice lots of neutral colored tiles, with greens and oranges mixed in too. Woods, mountains, water (in general), world/natural wonders, Entertainment/Theater/Holy Site districts = good and green. Marshes, floodplains, pillaged tiles, and rainforest = bad and orange/red.

But not for Brazil. Rainforests actually give Brazil +1 appeal rather than -1 when within Brazil’s borders, meaning the land within your cities will be beautiful. Why is this good? First of all, it means that if you’re lucky enough to snatch the only worthwhile Pantheon in the game – Earth Goddess – your cities will be overflowing with passive faith production to put towards Naturalists in order to place your National Parks. It also means that those beautiful coastal tiles are only going to get more breathtakingly beautiful with the presence of rainforest tiles nearby, which means your Seaside Resorts are going to be reaping you some serious tourism. Build Cristo Redentor – a thematically appropriate wonder for the Brazilians – and you’re laughing all the way to your victory.

I wasn’t kidding when I said Pedro was the Rainforest King. It’s such an understated ability because – for reasons I can’t discern – his appeal change for rainforest tiles isn’t actually mentioned in his initial tooltip. It’s easy to miss, but it’s absolutely pivotal in helping him get towards those absurd levels of tourism needed to close out your games on higher difficulties. And really, that’s all there is to a culture victory – generate your tourism any which way you can. With high appeal, a route to solid culture and faith economies, and all the Great People you can wish for, Brazil is a civilization tailored for culture.

Kristina of Sweden


Civilization: Sweden

Unique Unit: Carolean (replaces the Pike and Shot)

Unique Building: Queen’s Bibliotheque

Unique Tile Improvement: Open-Air Museum

Good at: Organizing her Great Works

Kristina is a leader that I hadn’t had too much experience with until recently. Her bonuses seemed potent, but not as interactive as some other civilizations. After trying her out a few times though, I can say for certain that she is a culture powerhouse. Her unique building and unique tile improvement are brilliant additions to her already-unique toolkit, and propels her towards being a top-tier – and very enjoyable – civilization to play around with.

To begin with, Kristina has a great defensive unique unit in the form of the Carolean. It has lower gold maintenance and higher movement than the Pike and Shot unit that it replaces, and also has an additional +3 combat strength per movement point it has left on its turn. When you’re looking to rule the world with poetry and paintings, it pays dividends to defend your borders against those with a differing view. The Carolean serves as the perfect unit to keep your cities safe as you stay on the defense.

Minerva of the North is Kristina’s unique leader ability, and means that buildings with at least three Great Work slots and wonders with at least two Great Work slots are automatically themed. This means that they are treated as though they are sorted appropriately in order to double the culture and tourism yields. That’s mental, since organizing your great works in order to theme them can be a bit of a headache sometimes, not to mention the momentous task of actually getting the correct works. Depending on how meticulous you are with your Great Works, it can either be a weight off your shoulders or a passive boost to your culture and tourism – great either way.

Sweden’s civilization bonus is Nobel Prize which, primarily, opens up the ability for you to run the Nobel Prize World Congress events when you hit the Industrial Era. It benefits people who generate a lot of Great People Points (see: you) and also gains Sweden 50 Diplomatic Favor every time you earn a Great Person. You also generate +1 Great Scientist Point per University in your Campus district, and +1 Great Engineer Point per Factory in your Industrial Zone district.

This feeds into itself quite nicely if you don’t mind trading a bit – earn your Great People and generate your Diplomatic Favor, then sell your excess Diplomatic Favor to other civilizations for gold. Buy more Great People, rinse and repeat as necessary. It introduces a new (and lucrative) economy into your game which you can use to get an advantage.

Kristina’s Minerva of the North ability also means that you can build her unique building – the Queen’s Bibliotheque – in your Government Plaza district as a tier 2 building. It does replace the other options if you build it, but boy is it worth it – two slots for Great Works of Writing, Great Works of Art, and Great Works of Music (that’s 6 total slots), and also gives you +2 Great People Points per turn for each. Kristina doesn’t shoot for gorgeous landscapes filled with parks and resorts like Kupe and Pedro, so the ability to hold so many more Great Works is invaluable, and helps her generate tourism as early as possible.

Sweden’s unique tile improvement – the Open-Air Museum – is a very interesting improvement, but one that can offer some serious yields if you plan your empire correctly. For each unique tile type you have settled a city on – snow, tundra, desert, plains, and grassland – your Open-Air Museum tile will generate +2 culture and +2 tourism. If you do manage to settle all 5 of those kinds of cities, then the tile is an absolute beast. Even if you can’t, it still offers a very strong yield of an essential part of your culture victory. There’s only one that can be built per city, but if you’re averaging 10-12 cities in your games, that’s a lot of good stuff.

So there it is. Hate faith economies and placing National Parks? Got your empire away from the coast and the offer of Seaside Resorts? Maybe Kristina is for you! Sweden’s downside is a weak early game – she has nothing on offer for handling the early part of your game, which is a pivotal time in the construction of your empire. Settle early, stay defensive, build your Theater Squares and shoot for some wonders. Buying Great Works is expensive, but you’ll have everything you need to make it work.

Which civilization is your favorite for winning a tourism victory? Let me know in the comments below!

Author: graemefinch

Teacher, avid Warcrafter, gifted Dungeons and Dragons character creator. Passionate about all things high fantasy and RPG.

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