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Winning a Culture Victory – an in Depth Guide

Civilization 6 Culture Victory

So after many hours of grinding away at civ 6, playing my favourite civilizations, and neglecting the ones I deemed poor, I took a friends advice and played a cultural game as France. I fell in love immediately, and found some great little things that contribute to winning the perfect cultural victory.

This is the product of my many hours of labour playing cultural victories now, across a number of civs. A guide to winning a cultural victory. I’m sure I’ve missed some cool tip or trick, so do point them out if you see them missing, but this is my strategy for a cultural game.

The early game

The early game as always should be played a little defensively, and the popular first 20 turn production queue that is most popular is Slinger-Slinger-Slinger-Builder-Settler, or some variation of those. In playing a cultural victory, it is important to discover new civilizations to project your tourism attractions to. To do this, my favoured first 20 turn production queue is usually Monument-Scout-Slinger-Slinger-Settler. I choose this queue because the early game monument gets me a little advantage on the civics tree, which is important for getting towards the Theatre Square, and a number of wonders.

Usually one scout is good for the first bit of exploration and then a slinger once you find those first few pesky barbarian camps, the second is for defense (if you are close to someone like the Aztecs or Scythia, or are having barbarian troubles). By then, you should have found at least one other civ and a good spot for a second, high population city, as well as some goody huts for the extras they provide. After this production queue, or before the settler, try and either get up Stonehenge or a holy site, preferably Stonehenge for the later game tourism.

Then, try and rush towards getting the Drama and Poetry civic and build as many theatre squares as you can in your cities. Then, grab the Theology civic and try and build the Mahabodhi Temple (2 free apostles, +4 faith), using those two apostles to evangelize your religion. Also, try and build the Terracotta Army (+2 G General points PT, all units gain a promotion, archaeologist can move through other civs territories) as it will help later on when you reach the Natural History civic (reveals antiquity sites)

Your religion

What you choose for your religion is very important, as it can greatly determine your religious tourism output later in the game. Of course this requires you to found a religion early to make sure other civilizations don’t nab the beliefs from you. For starters, your pantheon should reflect your games starting location, but center around culture or production. For example. if you have many Plantation requiring resources, Oral Tradition could be beneficial (+1 culture from plantations), whilst having many horses, cattle and sheep nearby would better suit God of the Open Sky (+1 culture from pastures). If none of these are available, something such as Fertility Rites (10% city growth bonus) or Monument of the Gods (15% bonus production to ancient and classical wonders) would be more beneficial.

As for your actual religion, your follower belief should almost definitely be Reliquaries (x3 Tourism and Faith from relics), and in only some bizarre circumstance should it be otherwise. If reliquaries is already taken, Choral Music (shrines and temples provide culture) or Jesuit Education (Able to buy campus and theatre square building with faith) are the next best options. Your worship belief once again is almost set in stone at Cathedrals, as later on the extra relic slot becomes very handy. Otherwise Gurdwaras or Pagodas are the next best options if Cathedrals are taken.

Your founder belief is a bit more flexible, with your primary options being Lay Ministry (Holy Site/Theatre Squares provide +1 Faith/Culture respectively) or World Church (+1 culture for every 5 followers of the religion in other civs). However these benefits are generally minor and can be changed at will (Tithe is also good). Finally your enhancer belief is also flexible, but I find that choosing Holy Order (Missionaries + Apostles 30% cheaper) or Scripture (Religious pressure 25% stronger, 50% at printing) are the best for playing a defensive religious game.

As previously mentioned, it is important to build the Mahabodhi Temple, but the other most crucial wonder to build is Mont St Michel (All apostles get Martyr, +2 faith, +2 relic slots). Once you build Mont St Michel, slowly purchase apostles and send them other civilizations who are likely to have many religious combat units (Such as Spain or Arabia). Let the apostles die, and take the free relic. If you convert their city, that’s some bonus religious tourism for you. If you don’t, it doesn’t matter. This technique allows for a player gaining a lot of faith per turn to grind out 1 relic about every 4-6 turns (this is why it is important to take the Holy Order belief and the Reliquaries Belief).

Middle Game

During the middle of the game your aim is to settle as many cities as possible, and build as many wonders as possible. During the middle of the game you also reach espionage (or early on if playing France). If not playing as France, aim for Diplomatic Service (Grants a spy, gives some Casus Belli, allows resident embassies) and make a spy ASAP. Establish resident embassies with as many other civs as possible and try to be friendly with all of them, using the good trade negotiations from the embassy to try and give each other open borders (provides a +25% overall tourism boost).

Wonders to go for in the middle of the game include Alhambra (+1 military policy slot, +2 amenities, +1 G general point PT), Mont St Michel (as previously mentioned), Forbidden City (+1 Wildcard policy slot), Potala Palace (+1 Diplomatic policy slot, +2 faith, +2 culture), Hermitage (+3 G Artist point PT, 4 art slots), Bolshoi Theatre (2 free random civics, +2 G Writer/Musician points PT, 1 music 1 writing slot), and Big Ben (+1 economic policy slot, +6 gold, +3 G merchant points PT).

Having the extra policy slots is super useful for any civilization, so having them not only means that we get to have a much more expanded government, but the other civs don’t. Otherwise the extra G People points and G work slots are also very handy. It is during this time of the game that you will see in the victory panel if there is another civilization attempting a cultural victory, or happening to be coming close to one. If there is, they should be the primary target of your espionage, and in a worse case scenario, the target of a war. If you must declare war, try and wait for a Casus Belli that has the lowest warmonger penalty, as it is important you maintain good trade relations with the other civilizations and attempt to barter for their great works.

It is also during this time that archaeologists become available, and it is important to spam as many of these as possible to try and grab as many artifacts as you can. The Terracotta army is great for stealing artifacts from civs that haven’t progressed that far through the civics tree yet. Also try and keep your economy afloat and build many traders by creating many Commercial Hubs, which will help in earning great merchants.


Your government policies are important, but not the deciding factor of the game. There are not many cards that directly affect your tourism, but there are few. Heritage Tourism (+100% tourism from artifacts and great works), Satellite Broadcasts (+200% tourism from G music), and Online Communities (+50% tourism to any civ you have a trade route to).

These 3 should be in your government by the end of the game at least. Your other cards should be revolving around espionage, including Machiavellianism (50% production to spies, espionage 25% quicker) and Cryptography (enemy spy -2 levels, your spies +1 level).

Filling your wildcard policy slot should be either Frescoes, Literary Tradition, Symphonies (+2 G Artist/Writer/Musician points PT respectively) or Travelling Merchants (+2 G merchant points PT). It is important to gain great merchant points because many of the great merchants boost tourism or have tourism effects. Also look out for the great scientist Mary Leakey who provides +200% tourism from artifacts as well. As well as those, grab the cards that give bonus production to wonders.

Late Game

If you haven’t won by now it’s probably because the Kongo built up a huge population and you can’t reach the visiting tourist’s cap fast enough before they grow in population again. I get it. I’ve been there. Late game is the prime time for espionage, you have a spy cap of 5 (6 if France) allowing you to heist all of the great works other civilizations have. As for the civics tree aim for Cultural Heritage (reveals Shipwrecks, allows Opera House) and Conservation (Allows Naturalists, able to plant woods).

Once you get these civics you want to spam builders to remove unnecessary tile improvements to make way for national parks, and to build seaside resorts. The first wonder you want to shoot for is the Eiffel Tower (+2 appeal to all tiles in your civ). This helps greatly with making national parks, boosting their tourism, and boosting the tourism of your seaside resorts. Then, grab Christo Redentor (x2 tourism from seaside resorts, stops the penalty from enlightenment, +4 culture). Also worth taking are the Opera House and Broadway, each providing G cultural people points and slots.

If there are wonders that haven’t been built yet from long ago, it is worth founding new cities to try and meet their requirements to build them. Also, if you haven’t already, try and theme your museums. You can do this by going into the great works screen and dragging around the works themselves.

General Tips

  • Build the goddam Mont St Michel. That thing wins games
  • Play religion slightly aggressively. Your not aiming for a religious victory, but we want its tourism
  • Wonder spam. Wonders are great tourism outputs
  • Build the Mont St Michel. I cannot stress enough how good that thing is
  • Steal Great works. Stops others from winning, makes you win
  • Maintain a high population. Increases the cap for other civs to win cultural victories
  • Don’t chop down woods tiles for production. At conservation all old-growth woods get +1 appeal, helps for national parks
  • Build districts in the order Theatre Square, Commercial Hub, Industrial zone/encampment. (encampments provide culture)
  • Take open borders with other civs, and send trade routes, whilst maintaining good diplomatic relations
  • Keep promises to stop spying on civs until it is fulfilled. This helps relations

What about science?

So in the comments everyone spammed “Hur, what about science you’ll die instantly lol”. For science I build a campus in about 1/2 to 1/3 of my cities, only if it has really good adjacency bonuses. Then I try and build science specific wonders such as Oxford University and Great Library. Most of my science comes from stealing boosts with spies, which ultimately cuts down about half of the tech tree after the Renaissance era (60% playing as China)(after medieval playing as France). In a Russia game once I stayed just behind everyone else in science to get the boost from the trade routes which also provide slight tourism bonuses.


Civ VI Cheats

Thanks for reading, it just reached 10 pm while I’m writing this so I’m getting tired. This guide has won me cultural games with flying colours. If you want me to make more guides like this just tell me in the comments. Also don’t forget to tell me anything I forgot. Happy settling!

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