Top 5 Best Island Civs in Civilization 6

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No man is an island – but every man should have the right to settle an island if they so desire.

That’s not how anything works in the 2020s, but it’s precisely how it works in Civilization 6.

Anyone with a Settler and a dream can establish a city – but will it stand the test of time or be swallowed by the rising waters?

That depends on you, the player, and the civilization you choose to play as.

So if you want to establish naval domination, these civs are the place to start.


5. João III’s Portugal

João III’s Portugal / Civilization VI

Portugal navigates the challenges of Island and Archipelago maps by paying upfront.

This civilization can easily buy new buildings and units with gold, so it’s no problem if you’re forced to settle on an island lacking Production.

João gets a new Trade Route slot for each foreign civilization he meets, which is made easier by his units’ extra Sight range.

With enough contacts and healthy international agreements, you will be swimming in cash instead of saltwater in no time.


4. John Curtin’s Australia

John Curtin’s Australia / Civilization VI

One of the biggest problems of settling water-heavy maps is finding a location with enough resources.

A lack of Production can spell the end of your civilization.

John Curtin dances around the issue with the Outback Station, which generates mad Production and good Food with the right adjacency bonuses. Building it next to Pastures is ideal, but Outback Stations alone should do the trick.

Australia also gets +3 Housing in coastal cities, greatly expanding your settlement options in maps lacking fresh water sources like rivers or lakes.

And if anyone wants to mess with you, all the better.

Defensive war makes Australians build things in half the time, opening the doors to a glorious comeback.


3. Gitarja’s Indonesia

Gitarja’s Indonesia / Civilization VI

Gitarja doesn’t usually come up in “best civs” lists.

That’s because of how specialized she is for Island and Archipelago maps.

Not only does Indonesia get coastal adjacency bonuses on key districts like the Holy Site and Campus, but they’re the only civ in the game that can make tiny landmasses into productive cities.

This is achieved through the Kampung, built on the water next to sea resources to provide Production, Food, and Housing: an empire’s basic needs.

In addition, they can easily dominate early game waters with their Jong – an early Frigate you can buy with Faith thanks to Gitarja’s unique ability.

It’s one of the most feared units in the game. Try it to find out why!


2. Victoria’s England

Victoria’s England / Civilization VI

England is the most prosperous island empire in the history of the world.

From their isolated home across the English Channel, England spread its influence far and wide across the world.

Civilization 6 encourages you to do the same with Queen Victoria’s unique ability: a free melee or naval unit with every city or Royal Navy Dockyard built outside your home continent.

The RND is built in half the time as the Harbor, so creating an early navy this way is relatively easy.

In addition, every one of those RNDs increases your Trade Route slots. In time, you’ll be the player with the most commerce worldwide – even more than Portugal!


1. Kupe’s Maori

Kupe’s Maori / Civilization VI

If you want to circumnavigate the world before your foes have even figured out how to float a raft, Kupe is the way to go.

Much like Kupe did with New Zealand, you’ll have to guide your Settler – which spawns in the middle of the Ocean – to fertile land.

Once that’s done, you can profit from Maori’s many starting bonuses, including a free Builder, more population, and a Palace with extra Housing and Amenities.

In addition, you’ll have both Sailing and Shipbuilding unlocked from the get-go. This should help you settle the islands around you and across the Ocean before your enemies.

It’s high-risk, high-reward. But on an Islands or Archipelago map you’ll dominate for sure.

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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.