5 Best Defensive & Isolationist Civilizations in Civ VI

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They say no man is an island – but your Civilization VI society? That’s a whole other story.

While most civilizations in this fantastic strategy game are focused on warring, trading, or creating powerful alliances, there are some whose abilities are better suited to go it alone.

These civilizations value independence above all else. Whether it’s by building super-fortified defenses or fostering a self-sufficient economy, some civilizations can just pretend Civ VI is a single-player game.

Let’s take a look at the most promising civs for introverted rulers!


5. Peter’s Russia

Peter’s Russia / Civilization VI

One of the best strategies to keep your rivals from trying to invade is to settle lands nobody else could use.

Russia gets extra faith and production from Tundra tiles – which are almost useless to anyone else. In addition, their units are immune to blizzard damage, and any invading forces will take double blizzard damage within Russian borders.

These two factors are usually enough to keep invaders at bay, allowing you to focus on a Religious or Cultural victory with their excellent holy Lavra district.


4. Lady Six Sky’s Maya

Lady Six Sky’s Maya / Civilization VI

Lady Six Sky’s whole shtick is playing a tall, defensive game – in fact, it’s the only game it makes sense to play with this ancient South-American leader.

Mayan cities within six tiles of the capital get a very nice 10% bonus to all yields and a free Builder when they’re settled. Coupled with the Mayans’ powerful farms – which generate extra housing and gold – this should help you expand fast and furiously in the early game.

In addition, Mayan units – like the Hul’che unique archer – get +5 combat strength within 6 tiles of the capital, guaranteeing your territorial sovereignty.

The flip side is that if you get unlucky in your starting position, you’re done for. Mayan cities get a -15% debuff to all yields if settled over 6 tiles away from the capital, crippling your chances at victory.


3. Bà Triệu’s Vietnam

Bà Triệu’s Vietnam / Civilization VI

Along with forcing me to enable a new language for my keyboard to write her name, Bà Triệu shines for being the single most defensive leader in the entire game.

Hell, she even has a turtle on her empire’s flag!

That’s because Vietnam is designed to settle the forests and jungles of the world without cutting down a single tree.

Their districts can (and must) be built on Woods, Rainforest, and Marsh tiles, and don’t remove them once they’re finished.

This gives Vietnam natural protection against invading forces, which becomes even better when you consider that their units gain +5 combat strength and +1 movement from these tiles. These bonuses double within Vietnam’s borders.

Add to that their cheaper Thành encampment replacement and their elephant-mounted archers, and they’re nearly impossible to conquer.


2. Seondeok’s Korea

Seondeok’s Korea / Civilization VI

If you’re looking for an easy path to victory that doesn’t require input from any of your foes, Seondeok’s Korea is your leader.

Korea is the Bugatti Veyron of scientific research. Thanks to its robust Seowon science district and innate ability to generate 3% extra culture and science in any city with a governor, Korea can outperform any other civ when pursuing a science victory.

There’s no defense like having Mechanized Infantry while everyone else is still figuring out gunpowder.


1. Pachacuti’s Inca

Pachacuti’s Inca / Civilization VI

The Great Wall of China is a marvel of ancient engineering.

But wouldn’t it be easier to settle next to a natural barrier like a mountain range?

Congratulations, you just figured out Pachacuti’s strategy.

The Inca are uniquely suited to settle next to mountains. From the start of the game, they can work these tiles for some nice production. Later on, mountains will also provide food if any Terrace Farms are built in the vicinity.

Eventually you’ll build the Qapaq Ñan improvement, which lets your units (and trade routes) go through mountains with ease. You’ll even generate some extra gold in the process!

Your trade routes will produce extra food for every mountain in the starting city, enabling steady growth undisturbed by foreign powers.

And if you beeline Machu Pichu… well, I’ll let you find that out yourself!

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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.