Civ 6 Tier List Guide – Best Civ 6 Leaders (August 2020)

With over 40 different civilizations to play, Civ 6 is a massively replayable 4X strategy experience. Each civ and leader favors at least one of the five different paths to victory (domination, science, diplomacy, religion, and tourism). Most can competently pursue any of these conditions! Not all civs are created equal, though, so we’ve put together a tier list to help you decide which one to pick for your next game.

Before we begin, it’s important to know that Civ 6 is a living, breathing game that Firaxis is constantly tweaking and balancing. As such, this tier list is less a long-term guide and more of a snapshot of how things look as of the September 2019 update. Also, this list was created using a combination of our opinion and research within the greater Civ 6 community. Places like the Civilization subreddit and the Civilization Fanatics forums are a treasure trove of resources for those of us who can’t get enough of that sweet Civ nectar. Just one more turn, right?

The accepted parlance for a Civ 6 tier list is to organize each civilization into categories named after the game’s difficulties. That’s exactly what we have done below. The best civs are in the Deity category, followed by Immortal, Emperor, King, Warlord, Chieftain, and finally Settler. Now, without further delay, here is the Fanbyte tier list for Civi 6 as of the September update. Special shoutout to Reddit user lpezlaheavy for their very useful post that helped shape some of my decisions.

We’ve reviewed this post on August 13, 2020 and confirmed it to still be reflective of the current game. 

Civ 6 Tier List – Tentative Rankings for New Civs

Right now we’re placing Ethiopia into the third tier, Emperor. It’s unique in that it doesn’t have to sacrifice Science to pursue Religion, but it’s still best at Cultural and Religious victories. Some of it’s unique abilities make is strong in the early game up to the Middle Ages, but it remains to be seen whether or not it can stand up to some of the strongest civilizations in the game.

  • Ethiopia (Menelik II) – Emperor Tier

Civ 6 Tier List – Deity Tier Civilizations

  • Japan (Hojo Tokimune)
  • Russia (Peter I)
  • Macedonia (Alexander)
  • Germany (Frederick Barbarossa)
  • Gran Colombia (Simon Bolivar) – NEW

These four civs make up the best of the best — the cream of the crop. Japan and Macedonia are the best choices when it comes to domination victories. Japan gets bonuses for having units on coastal tiles. That means you should always look to settle near the ocean. An early-game navy is always nearly unstoppable. Meanwhile, Alexander’s Macedonia never incurs war weariness, meaning you can freely declare war on your opponents. You also want to take over cities with wonders, as doing so heals your military units.

If you’re looking for a civilization strong in religion or culture, Russia’s Peter I is your guy. His passive bonus culture for every three civics you learn means you’ll accrue a ton of bonus culture over the course of a game. You’ll also gain bonus science from every three technologies researched. Truly, Russia is probably the most well-rounded civ in the game.

Germany is in the Deity tier for one reason: the hansa. If you want to drown in production, pick Germany and build yourself a bunch of hansas. These replace the standard industrial zone. The lower production cost and absurd adjacency bonuses combine for some truly bonkers production in your cities.

Like Germany, Gran Colombia is really only here for a single victory condition: Domination. When it comes to that the civilization is practically unparalleled with mobility that no one else can match. When it comes to the rest of the win conditions, Colombia is average, but it’s strength is enough to put it over the top.

Civ 6 Tier List – Immortal Tier Civilizations

  • Maya (Lady Six Sky) – NEW
  • Korea (Seondeok)
  • Australia (John Curtin)
  • Persia (Cyrus)s
  • Sumeria (Gilgamesh)
  • France (Catherine de Medici)
  • Rome (Trajan)
  • Nubia (Amanitore)
  • Hungary (Matthias Corvinus)
  • Māori (Kupe)
  • Greece (Pericles)
  • Greece (Gorgo)
  • Mongolia (Genghis Khan)
  • Arabia (Saladin)
  • Dutch (Wilhelmina)
  • Ottoman (Suleiman)
  • Aztec (Montezuma)
  • Brazil (Pedro II)
  • Canada (Wilfrid Laurier)

The Immortal tier of civs is the most robust, which is a testament to Firaxis’ dedication to balance. These civs aren’t unbeatable. However, in the right hands, they approach invulnerability. Every playstyle is represented here: from Rome’s proclivity toward either culture or domination victories, to Brazil’s impressive religious strengths, and the Dutch’s scientific minds. Naval games become more practical thanks to the Māori’s inclusion in the Gathering Storm expansion. And, if you’re more of an isolationist, Canada thrives on its own.

Both Greek leaders — Gorgo and Pericles — appear in this tier, too. They each play very differently from one another, even if they’re both strong in culture-focused games. Pericles benefits from city-state suzerainty. Meanwhile, Gorgo gains culture from killing enemy units.

One of my personal favorites is Catherine de Medici — one of two available leaders for France. With the Gathering Storm update, she became a strong diplomatic leader, which is my preferred playstyle these days. She also has an extra spy slot. Not to mention her spies come with a free promotion! Paired with France’s chateau tile improvement and its focus on tourism, de Medici is my own go-to for culture games.

Oh! And Gilgamesh is in the Immortal tier basically because of how damn friendly he is.

The Maya are one of the most ideal nations when it comes to Science Victory. But they can also pivot to all other victory types without suffering too much. Just don’t go picking them for a Religious Victory. Their strategy of building tall is great for resource generation, specifically science, but it does discourage other types. Maya is essentially a straight upgrade from Korea.

Civilization 6 Tier List

Civ 6 Tier List – Emperor Tier Civilizations

  • America (Teddy Roosevelt)
  • Zulu (Shaka)
  • Egypt (Cleopatra)
  • Phoenicia (Dido)
  • France (Eleanor of Aquitaine)

The Emperor tier of civilizations is small, but it presents a lot of good choices looking to secure a cultural victory. America, Egypt, Phoenicia, and Elanor of Aquitaine France all excel at the culture game, where the Zulu are strongest in the domination department. There are other options, too, like America’s ability to be diplomatic, and Phoenicia strong science game. The religious track to victory, though, is sadly underrepresented in the Emperor tier.

Civ 6 Tier List – King Tier Civilizations

  • England (Victoria)
  • Sweden (Kristina)
  • Inca (Pachacuti)
  • Poland (Jadwiga)
  • China (Qin Shi Huang)
  • Mali (Mansa Musa)
  • Indonesia (Gitarja)

In the King tier, we have the first of two possible leaders for England. Queen Victoria benefits greatly from expanding your empire beyond your home continent (how thematic). With the Gathering Storm update, Victoria now increases her trade route capacity for the first city she founds on each continent. Go forth and colonize! In-game, that is… That’s still very bad in real life.

If it’s a religious victory you seek, give the Inca a go. Pachacuti’s special ability makes mountains in your empire even more valuable (and they were already important for holy site adjacency bonuses). A scientific victory is just as viable, because campuses also get a bonus from being next to mountains. The Incas can also work mountain tiles, which means you’ll be looking for city sites near mountain ranges. Poland is another civ that benefits from religion. Gitarja can purchase naval units with faith, and she generates extra faith from cities adjacent to lake and coast tiles.

Civ 6 Tier List – Prince Tier Civilizations

  • India (Chandragupta)
  • Khmer (Jayavarman VII)

There are only two civilizations in the Prince tier: Chandragupta’s India and Jayavarman VII’s Khmer. Khmer is a solid combination of religion and culture thanks to the leader bonus of culture bombing nearby tiles when finishing a holy site. And Chandragupta’s units gain extra movement upon declaring war. Unfortunately, neither of these special abilities are particularly game-changing.

Civ 6 Civilization Tier List

Civ 6 Tier List – Warlord Tier Civilizations

  • Kongo (Mvemba a Nzinga)
  • Spain (Phillip II)
  • Scythia (Tomyris)
  • Scotland (Robert the Bruce)

As we approach the bottom of the Civ 6 tier list, we’re more likely to stumble on civilizations that don’t offer anything particularly special. These four leaders come with bonuses already covered by better civs. For example, Scotland gets wartime bonuses similar to Chandragupta. Meanwhile, Brazil implements better religious qualities than Spain — hence its place in the Immortal tier.

There’s still a bit to like here — like Tomyris’ ability to produce two Saka Horse Archer units at once. In addition, Scythia can easily overtake wounded units thanks to the Killer of Cyrus leader bonus. That sees its armies deal bonus damage to units who are already hurt.

Civ 6 Tier List – Chieftain Tier Civilizations

  • England (Eleanor of Aquitaine)
  • Cree (Poundmaker)
  • Mapuche (Lautaro)

In the Chieftain tier we have the second possible leader for England: Eleanor of Aquitaine. Her leader bonus incentivizes settling near enemy cities. However, England’s innate lack of a strong domination bonus makes that a dangerous prospect. And, with the loyalty system introduced in the Rise and Fall expansion, Eleanor’s cities are far more likely to rebel.

The Cree’s trade-focused bonuses seem good on the surface. Unfortunately, they’re far less likely to be useful in practice. Meanwhile, Mapuche plays heavily into the loyalty system, which, if you ask me, is a tough sell for someone who prefers to pursue a tourism victory.

Civ 6 Tier List – Settler Tier Civilizations

  • India (Ghandi)
  • Norway (Harald Hardrada)
  • Georgia (Tamar)

Well… Here we are. This is the bottom of the barrel. Really, there’s not a whole lot of exciting reasons to play any of these three civs. Norway’s naval game is made redundant by other, better leaders, Tamar is too reliant on achieving Golden Ages, and Ghandi’s leader bonus is far too situational to be consistent. It’s unfortunate to see these three here, but someone had to take the lowest rung on the ladder.

And that’s it! Which leaders are your favorite in Civ 6? Let everybody know in the comments.