With its recent migration to the Nintendo Switch, fans of the console now have a deep grand strategy game with an interesting roster of leaders to play as with Civilization 6. And every single one of them has unique bonuses and incentives to achieve victory in their own way. It’s possible to achieve victory with any civilization, but there are some that are much easier than others.
By and large the domination path is always easiest to achieve, and religious victory is the hardest. Therefore the civilizations that cater to one or the other will find themselves dominating matches, while others will struggle greatly.
10 Best: Shaka of Zulu
Shaka Of Zulu is a mid game brawler. His "Amabutho" ability gives his corps and armies a plus five bonus to their base combat strength and allows him to create corps with mercenaries and armies via nationalism.
In the mid game his units are cheap and can be produced very quickly allowing you to swarm foes. The game encourages this type of strategy via the bonuses so feel free to form a massive standing army and go for the domination victory early on.
9 Worst: Wilfred Laurier Of Canada
A new leader introduced in the Gathering Storm expansion, Wilfred Laurier is very strong in the late game, but requires something of a miracle to survive that long. This is largely because his ability "The Last Best West" lowers the cost of settling the Tundra, raises production, and allows you to build farms there, providing incentive for you to brave the cold north.
In the end game this dominion of an undesirable area is huge, and can be a big advantage for production. Unfortunately, in the early game you’re a sitting duck for Russia with its strong military and similar advantages in the Tundra.
8 Best: Fredrick Barbarossa of Germany
Fredrick Barbarossa is the king of production and industry. In the early parts of the game German cities can out pace other civilizations when it comes to developing districts. His ability "Holy Roman Emperor" gives a great bonus for conquering city-states.
Once he’s conquered everything around him he can hunker down and build towards the later part of the game, where he can dominate via industry. This allows him an easy win via science, or the wealth of resources can be funneled into creating a powerful military for domination.
7 Worst: Jayavarman VII of Khmer
The leader of Khmer is very strong when he has access to rivers thanks to his ability "Monasteries of The King," which increases food and housing along rivers. But therein lies this civilization's weakness as many territories wont have many rivers for this bonus.
The other problem is that this civilization is geared towards a religion victory which is hard to do when fighting those on the path to domination or science. Yet another issue is that Jayavarman is strongest in the Classic Era and loses steam towards the end game.
6 Best: Saladin Of Arabia
Saladin is a great leader in competitive matches as he’s unpredictable. The civilization is geared for a religion, culture or science victory, and is primed to work towards all three simultaneously. His ability "Righteousness of the Faith" lowers how much faith is required for worship building, and provides a boost to science, faith, and culture.
Spreading that religion to other cities greatly expands the output of all three resources. In the mid game Saladin can then pursue one of the three victories (based on how things are going) and can switch gears if needed.
5 Worst: Ghandi of India
Ghandi is very much a peacekeeper favoring a Religion Victory, but is ill equipped to achieve it thanks to a quirky ability. His ability "Satyagraha" gives his civilization a faith bonus for every civilization encountered that is religious but not currently at war, which doesn’t often happen.
This means that there's heavy incentive to encounter as many opponents as possible, never go to war with them, and deal with their religious influence on your cities. The peaceful option is always harder in a strategy game of conflict and conquest, and Ghandi proves this.
4 Best: Tomyris Of Scythia
Tomyris of Scythia is widely considered the single strongest early game leader, and for good reason. Her ability "Killer of Cyrus" give her units a combat strength bonus of five when fighting wounded units and heal 30 hit points when they kill someone.
Combine this powerful perk with a focus on horse units and you’re looking at a military leader with fast, self-sustaining armies that can quickly sweep enemies in the early game. Aggressive expansion early on will net large swaths of territory, fewer threats to deal with, and vast resources which will carry her into the end game.
3 Worst: Harald Hardrada of Norway
Harald Hardrada of Norway is the undisputed king of the seas. His ability "Thunderbolt of the North" gives a whopping 50% bonus to Production and lets the leader conduct coastal raids using strong Viking Longships. Gathering Storm furthers this bonus with better rewards when attacking coastal tiles.
The problem is that there often isn’t much sea to fight on, and many enemies will be located inland, which is why he ranks so low. If you can generate massive coastal flooding by melting the ice caps then more coastline will be created for you to attack, but that causes more problems than it actually solves.
2 Best: Teddy Roosevelt Of America
The best leader in the game is Teddy Roosevelt of America. His ability "Roosevelt Corollary" gives a plus five combat strength bonus to units fighting on the American continent. There’s also a handy bonus for every national park in his control that receives additional appeal.
Teddy’s strategy is to use the bonus to hunker down, focus on production and defense, and then turtle around in the mid game to conquer the entire continent of America. In the late game Teddy has the option of using his resources and high defense to shoot for a culture victory, or fuel the machines of war for domination. Modern Age is where he truly shines.
1 Worst: Tamar of Georgia
Tamar of Georgia is considered by fans to be the worst leader in the game. Her ability "Glory of the World, Kingdom and Faith" gives a 100% Faith bonus after declaring a protectorate war every 10 turns. There’s also a bonus envoy for each sent to allying city-states that are under her religious banner.
Basically, the bonus only works if your city-state allies are under attack and she’s geared towards religion victory. Tamar only works if players quickly build defenses, rally the nearby city-states, and hope someone attacks the city-states. It’s a strange civilization that’s hard to manage effectively.