After diving into Lady Six Sky in a previous post, it’s time to see what’s up with Simon Bolivar of Gran Colombia in the new Frontier Expansion Pass of Civilization VI. Focusing more on domination in contrast to Lady Six Sky’s more friendly science benefits, let’s dive in and see how he fares against the pantheon of great civilizations already on offer.
Disclaimer: He fares pretty damn well.
Simon Bolivar of Gran Colombia
Civilization: Gran Colombia
Unique Unit: Llanero (Replaces the Cavalry), Comandante General
Unique Tile Improvement: Hacienda
Good at: Movement, and conquering
Having playing Simon Bolivar religiously over the past week or two, I realise that I am having a really hard time playing any other leader.
It’s often best to rationalize your assessment of a leader in Civilization VI by evaluating how their unique abilities impact your game from start to finish. Peter’s Lavra district replacement for Holy Sites is a great benefit because you can get going with them early, at a time when all the players are trying to nab their Great Prophets and start their religions. The extra Great People Points also start to generate before you or the AI can even tech into your Theater Squares – this is an example of a great leader ability with long term benefits.
For Simon and Gran Colombia, the benefits of his ability are felt from turn one.
The benefits of Ejército Patriota – Gran Colombia’s unique ability – are simple but incredibly effective. All units (military, builders, settlers, boats, you name it) gain +1 movement and are able to take their promotions and move in the same turn. From turn one, you have a much broader spectrum of spots which you can choose to settle your city. Your scouts can get further and scout further than any other civilization. When they find tribal villages – and they will, with their broader scouting – they can take their promotion and continue scouting without breaking stride.
It seems quaint to speak of the benefits of scouting in the early game when I’ve highlighted Gran Colombia as a domination-geared civilization, but it’s a great example of the snowball effect – strong benefits in the early game will let you access things quicker, and that effect ramps up over time. You get less era score for discovering a Natural Wonder second, you don’t get to establish an envoy if you meet a city state second, you miss that +1 era score and benefit from finding a tribal village in the Ancient Era. It all stacks up.
When it comes to domination, your timing must be impeccable. Not having your units in place or having them slightly out of position on higher difficulties can have you suffering heavy losses. Miscalculating your opponent’s tech can have your Warriors and Archers banging their heads against Knights and Crossbowmen. Luckily, Gran Colombia’s unique Great Person – the Comandante General – is the perfect signal for war.
With Simon’s unique leader ability Campaña Admirable, each era will award you a Comandante General. They are awarded at random, meaning you’re very unlikely to get the same Comandante General in multiple games. They each have their own unique Retire abilities – providing an additional trade route, awarding a Governor title, giving additional combat strength to a unit/units – and also provide +5 combat strength and +1 movement to all units in its sphere of influence. Amazingly, this will also stack with the +5 combat strength and +1 movement from a regular Great General and, best of all, the Comandante General‘s bonus will apply to any unit, regardless of era.
So how do you play it? You’ll receive your first Comandante General as you enter the Classical Era – also earning you a nice +4 era score – so you’ll need to have built your Encampment district and have hoarded a few Warriors and Archers so that you’re ready to unleash on your neighbor. As the fighting breaks out, the key is to keep producing units – don’t rest on your laurels. I’m a big fan of supplementing my initial army with Horsemen – powerful, good at pillaging, and fast enough catch up to your initial army. Not to mention, you’ll want to upgrade those Horseman units in the not-too-distant future.
As with all conquering civilizations, Gran Colombia has access to a potent unique unit. Earned in the Industrial Era, the Llanero replaces the Cavalry unit at Military Science. It’s a beast, gaining +4 combat strength for each adjacent Llanero, has a much lower maintenance cost (2g, versus the Cavalry’s 5g) and – here’s the kicker – regains all lost HP when a Comandante General uses their Retire ability.
The innate high movement speed of Light Cavalry alongside the two Great People generals that you’re likely to have in your militia by the time the Renaissance/Industrial Era rolls around means that your Llaneros are going to have their pick of the terrain. Pillaging yields and nabbing Builders is great, but you can’t downplay how powerful these units are in formation and in great numbers. Supplement them with some Ranged units (and some Melee units to combat the Anti-Cavalry) and the opposing empires’ cities will drop like flies.
Economizing your home turf can’t be ignored during war-times – it’ll undo all the hard work you did to liberate/expand the lands in the first place. Gran Colombia has a bit of a bias towards plantations – spices, bananas, that kind of stuff. Alongside being a great target for the Goddess of Festivals pantheon (+1 culture on worked plantation tiles), it also allows for your builders to construct Haciendas once you reach Mercantilism.
They provide a base yield of +2 gold, +1 production, and +1 housing. They will also yield +1 food for every two plantations adjacent, or every single plantation when you reach Replaceable Parts. You’ll also see the Hacienda getting an additional +1 production for every two adjacent Haciendas, and then every single Hacienda when you hit Rapid Deployment. They can be built only on grassland and plains tiles.
It’s a weird improvement for a civilization like Gran Colombia. Looking at the win condition that it’s built for, it sees very little benefit in seeking out big tall cities as the additional housing would afford it. These tiles – in most cases – would be better suited with a mine. Unless your city territories are filled with perfectly placed plantation tiles amongst flat, production-averse grassland (not really ideal territory in the first place), the Hacienda is simply a route to +4 era score and a pretty looking tile.
What’s the verdict?
Gran Colombia is one of, if not the, most powerful civilization in the game.
I don’t play Deity too often, but I took Simon through some games on the higher difficulties to stretch his legs. Emperor and Immortal were cakewalks, and my run with him on Deity was the easiest win I had ever had on that difficulty. Not to mention I was playing on Online speed which, historically, makes it more difficult to win domination games because you have less time to make use of what you have.
Beyond going for domination, I also tried tourism and science victories too. With some early combat and uh, “territorial assimilation” (I believe that’s the diplomatic term for killing another civilization and taking his empire) you can really start to get the run on the AI in both science and culture. The only victory type I haven’t achieved so far is a Deity space race victory but, if any of the others game are anything to go by, it will be just as attainable.
Offense, defense, good sources of era score, agile units. Gran Colombia is well-rounded, but I won’t donate too much time to defending them as a great science, culture, or religious civilization. Simon Bolivar was hand-crafted by the developers at Firaxis to dominate the world, and that is exactly what he’s good at. If that sounds up your alley, then I would definitely recommend you grab the season pass and give both him and lady Six Sky a try – you won’t be disappointed.