Civilization is inherently about extracting resources and waging war on other nations, but with the latest expansion, Civilization VI: Gathering Storm, it’s all about your relationship with the land. This time, planning your path to victory will require a lot more consideration for your surroundings, as the environment is often just as much of a threat as Barbarians and other world leaders themselves. As far as Civilization expansions go, Gathering Storm introduces some of the most dramatic changes and will require an entire overhaul of your victory strategy. To get you started, here are a few beginner’s tips.
Scout your first city location very carefully
No matter what Civilization game or expansion you’re playing, it’s always a good idea to make sure you scout the land a little bit before you settle in. After all, just a few tiles in any direction and you may find a cluster of resources that change your entire game.
But in Civilization VI: Gathering Storm, it matters more than ever. Any geological feature may pose a unique risk factor. Expanses of desert are extremely susceptible to tornadoes, including tornado clusters, which send one or more whirling dervishes across the map to destroy buildings and kill citizens. The desert can also cause droughts, which will similarly damage tiles. Damaged tiles then have to be repaired by Builders, who naturally will be even more important to your game now in light of this new feature. Items that can offset nasty conditions will also be important. Aqueducts can help with drought and geothermal vents, while building a dam district can prevent flood damage while retaining the fertility bonuses to the soil and reduce losses from drought.
Also keep in mind that as you look around for a location to settle, tiles will be marked by the unique hazards that they pose to your civilization. For example, a small surf icon marks coastal tiles that will become flooded due to global warming. While a single environmental hazard may be easy to handle, settling too close to multiple different ecosystems will eventually be too much to handle, especially if you do not watch your CO2 levels, an excess of which will increase the frequency of storms.
Appoint Liang as Governor in your most at-risk city
In the previous Civilization VI expansion Rise and Fall, a system of Governors was added to given new dimension to city management by adding unique bonuses to whatever city they are stationed in. At least one of these Governors, Liang, has a new upgrade that was introduced specifically for Gathering Storm, a second branch choice called Reinforced Materials. With this unlocked, Liang will make your city’s improvements, buildings and districts immune to environmental damage, making her suddenly the most valuable Governor in the entire game.
As for the others, Moksha has been updated to include an upgrade that allows the player to buy entire districts with Faith. Victor has also been given among one of the best bonuses of the Governor system, a bonus that completely prevents a city from being sieged during war. Reyna and Magnus meanwhile will have features that will help you adjust and balance your power needs so as to avoid rising CO2 levels, which will result in coastal flooding.
Take environmental risks for a bigger payoff
Once you get the hang of how the environmental features work, it’s time to play with fire, sometimes literally. Observe the volcanic overflow patterns from nearby mountains and determine the tile’s area of effect, then establish a city just out of it’s reach—volcanic ash will enrich the soil and turn Tundra into farmable land. While occasionally the Farms have to be rebuilt due to eruptions, the crop yields more than make up for it. Similarly, watch how many tiles are affected by a nearby flooding river, then plan your Farm locations accordingly. Once certain buildings have been established to offset the damage, you will retain the benefits in the soil without having to rebuild. Proximity to geothermal fissures can also be beneficial, providing clean energy once a plant is built, and generating additional Science.
If you want the biggest diplomatic advantage, play as Suleiman
In Gathering Storm, diplomacy and the World Congress are supplemented by a new Grievances and Diplomatic Favor system that uses a point system to quantify exactly where you stand with other civilizations, and how much influence you have to leverage in certain negotiations. These points can also be accumulated and used to vote on Resolutions, to benefit you or sabotage others.
As with other expansions, the game uses a few of the new world leaders to reinforce key aspects of the new features, and the Ottomans, whose leader is Suleiman, are unique in that they offer the only exclusive Governor, Ibrahim, in the whole game. Ibrahim’s also the only Governor that can be established in a foreign city that is not a city-state. When Ibrahim is established in a foreign capital, not only are the Grievances levied against the Ottomans reduced by one per turn, but you can also use him to eliminate Loyalty pressure from all of that civilization’s cities on every one of theirs. Given that his starting bonus reduces military costs by 20%, this makes him one of the most valuable Governors in the game.
Invest in Science as much and as fast as possible
Gathering Storm is essentially a Science-focused expansion. Any level of industry and technology, even just deforestation, will have direct and devastating effect on the game’s weather systems, and offsetting it will require some very high tech. Hydroelectric, wind and solar energy dramatically reduce your cities’ dependence on coal and oil, while nuclear energy will produce a minimum amount of CO2. Removing marshes, jungles and forests will increase CO2 emissions heavily, so try to leave them intact, while building wind and solar farms on the empty spaces where possible—solar farms can be built on desert and tundra, which is very helpful. Set yourself up for long term consideration for vegetation and forests by establishing related bonuses early on, i.e. civilization and pantheon benefits that reward you for having undeveloped land. And keep in mind that in the later stages, you will be able to use a carbon clearing technology to remove CO2 from the air, but it won’t make a dent unless you have researched it by the time fossil fuels are in heavy use across the map.
Despite your best efforts, global warming may occur anyway, as you may have other, less considerate civilizations on the map who do more damage than you can compensate for.
Some negative effects can be mitigated by various barriers like Flood Walls and Dams (get the Great Bath Wonder as fast as you can) but as coastal waters rise, you may lose tiles. If your capital is at risk, remember that you can move it to another city, so at least it doesn’t take damage and become vulnerable to other civilizations.
Holly Green is the assistant editor of Paste Games and a reporter and semiprofessional photographer. She is also the author of Fry Scores: An Unofficial Guide To Video Game Grub. You can find her work at Gamasutra, Polygon, Unwinnable, and other videogame news publications.