The 8 Best AI & Difficulty Mods for Civ 6 (All Free)

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A game of Civilization 6 will always give your brain a good workout.

Building up an empire from the ground up isn’t easy, especially when you have to worry about religion, culture, scientific advancement, and the economy on top of your neighbor’s growing military.

Still, after a couple thousand hours of practice, even the game’s toughest challenges will start becoming achievable. Before you know it, you’ll be trashing the floor with Deity-level AI.

If you want to keep things challenging, you’ll have to rely on mods that raise the difficulty.

From harsher climates to improved AI, check out these challenging Civ 6 mods.


8. More Coastal Flooding: 100%

More Coastal Flooding: 100% / Civ 6 Mod

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First up, we’re looking at an unorthodox way to raise the difficulty of your game.

More Coastal Flooding by JNR makes it almost impossible to keep an industrialized society from going the way of Atlantis.

Instead of just 45% of coastal lowlands getting flooded due to global warming, this mod makes it 100%, doubling the affected tiles.

Other players and the AI will also be affected by this, but it’ll be a more challenging experience for everyone involved.


7. Third Party Grievances Reduced

Third Party Grievances Reduced / Civ 6 Mod

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If you’d rather make your games a little easier instead of harder, consider Zee’s Third Party Grievances Reduced.

This mod opens the way to more successful domination games by significantly diminishing warmonger penalties among third parties.

You’ll no longer be demonized by the entire globe for going to war over local affairs.

The game will be a little more violent and a lot more immersive, especially during the first couple of eras.

After all, why would Gaul care about my war with Vietnam in 2000BC?


6. Real Balanced Pantheons

Real Balanced Pantheons / Civ 6 Mod

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In a competitive Civ 6 match, competition for the first few pantheons is fierce.

There are only about three outstanding pantheon beliefs, while the other 21 are just meh.

At any decent difficulty, it’s unlikely you’ll beat the AI to the first few pantheons, but you seldom run into trouble given how bad they are at picking beliefs.

Real Balanced Pantheons by Infixo buffs several pantheon beliefs to make them more attractive to the AI.

The mod also adds two legacy pantheons from Civ 5: One with Nature, granting faith for Natural Wonder tiles, and Sun God, which yields faith from farms over resources.


5. Dynamic Diplomacy

Dynamic Diplomacy / Civ 6 Mod

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Diplomacy is lacking a lot in Civ 6.

The AI tends to be hyperfocused on its agenda regardless of the reality on the ground. It seems everyone hates you automatically and declaring war once can make you a pariah for the rest of the game.

Creator Iroh-Q offers a solution in Dynamic Diplomacy, which gives you a short “period of grace” to establish positive relationships with new neighbors before their agendas kick in.

This mod also adds custom “friendship bonuses” to each civilization, giving you more reasons to pursue comradeship and alliances with other world powers.


4. Better Balanced Game

Better Balanced Game / Civ 6 Mod

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One of the most celebrated balance and difficulty mods available for Civ 6 is Better Balanced Game (BBG), which tweaks nearly every aspect of the game for a more balanced experience.

The mod changes civilization and leader bonuses along with unique unit/district/improvement stats so Barbarossa doesn’t wipe the floor with Tamar every single time.

Governors are also entirely reworked, so there are real reasons to pick anyone other than Pingala or Magnus for your first few cities.

Non-unique units/districts/buildings, city-states, religions, and even wonders have also been improved – and the list just goes on and on!


3. Smoother Difficulty 2.0

Smoother Difficulty 2.0 / Civ 6 Mod

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The way difficulty works in Civ 6 is primarily by giving the AI material bonuses at the beginning of the game rather than making it strategize better.

Among other things, the AI gets a massive army (in Ancient Era terms) and a couple free settlers so they can forward-settle you to death and restrict your expansion.

What often happens is that – if you survive the brutal onslaught of the AI in the early game – you’ll overtake them later as their boons become less important.

Schwarzpol’s Smoother Difficulty re-balances Civ 6 by giving the AI fewer starting bonuses but providing long-lasting modifiers to keep them competitive in later eras. These include science, culture, and even tourism bonuses, making an AI cultural victory a real possibility.


2. Real Strategy

Real Strategy / Civ 6 Mod

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Another way to increase difficulty without AI bonuses is to raise their IQ with Infixo’s Real Strategy.

This mod makes the AI more sophisticated, helping system-controlled leaders choose victory types and giving them more ways to get there. You’ll also notice more competent military and naval strategies from your rivals.

It’s important to note that these changes apply equally to every AI player regardless of the chosen difficulty, which still only determines how many bonuses they get at the start of the game.


1. AI+

AI+ / Civ 6 Mod

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If you’re a relatively experienced player looking to challenge yourself, you can’t go wrong with Siesta Guru’s AI+.

Much like our previous entry, AI+ sharpens your digital opponent’s mind, helping them design better cities and – most importantly – wage wars they can actually win.

I picked AI+ over Real Strategy because it adds a lot more complexity to the AI than just tweaking what was already there.

They have entirely new behavioral trees that can totally change how a match plays out.

Moreover, AI+ does make a distinction between lower and higher difficulties, which makes it useful for players of different skill levels.

Deity games will be brutal!

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Nelson Chitty

Nelson Chitty is a Venezuelan expat living in Argentina. He’s a writer and translator passionate about history and foreign cultures. His ideal weekend is spent between leisurely playing games of Civilization VI and looking for the next seinen anime to marathon.