codenaugh’s Civ 6 Multiplayer Survival Guide

Civilization 6 multiplayer… Sounds quite daunting, doesn’t it? Jumping into a game with a handful of other people, some of whom have been playing civ since the dinosaurs went extinct. You don’t know which civ to play or what strategy to go with… Do I take a war civ? Does my favorite civ even stack up against the others? You want to give it a try, but you also don’t want to get stomped and have a bad experience. We get it.

Well, good news; I’m here to give you some basic tips and insight to help you survive in this dog eat dog competitive Civ world. My name is Cody and my Discord username is codenaugh. I run the premier Civ 6 ranked multiplayer league known as CivPlayers League, or CPL, for short. You can find our community by navigating to in your web browser. Once you’ve joined the server, you can ask more specific questions in our Help and Advice channel or simply jump into a game. You can even find some coaching available in the Novice section.


Ok, back to the advice; First things first, let’s get your game set up for multiplayer; You don’t need all of the downloadable content (DLC) content, but you should have both of the expansions, unless the people you’re playing with agree to play with the ruleset you do own. In CPL, the host will usually have all the DLCs, allowing those without them to play against civs they may not own as well as play with wonders and city-states that would normally be missing from their single player games. The only downside to not owning all the DLC is that you cannot play as any civ you do not own.

In terms of game settings, in the Interface settings of the Game Options menu, there’s an option called ‘Show Yields in HUD Ribbon’. You’ll find most people set this to ‘Always Show’. Knowledge is power, and this ribbon at the top of your screen will give you valuable insight with just a quick glance. Military strength, gold balance, science and culture per turn, as well as other valuable information for each civilization you’ve met will be displayed there at all times.

I also recommend you turn your graphics settings to a lower setting, and enable quick combat and quick movement. Quick combat and quick movement because the slower animations take more processing power and also take more time away from your actual turn. Yes, multiplayer games regularly use simultaneous timed turns, and you want to make sure you have enough time to do all your simming as well as all your war moves. I mention lowering the graphics settings because how quickly your computer can process information and graphics does make a slight but noticeable difference in multiplayer, mostly when we refer to things like first moves and last moves.

People with good computers, or even those that don’t have to do as much processing between turns, will load into the turn slightly quicker. This allows them to “get first moves on you”, which puts you at a disadvantage. If you don’t get first moves, don’t fret. You can potentially take advantage of last moves, which are also very powerful. For example, a lot of people do all their simming first, then wait for the timer to get very low before doing a bunch of quick attacks. That makes it harder for the defender to retaliate on that turn. This becomes even more oppressive when you couple it with first moves on the next turn. Don’t get too discouraged by these mechanics, as first and last moves are simply a part of a peer to peer hosted game like Civ 6. Instead recognize that this is likely to happen to you and try to gain an advantage using them yourself, if possible.


Now, let’s get back to the task at hand, surviving in multiplayer. I say surviving because I feel like the best advice I can give you is to learn how to walk before you learn how to run, so to speak. That means that you should learn how to survive a game of multiplayer, i.e. not die before turn 40, rather than learn how to defeat a neighboring civilization, or even outright win a game. That stuff will come with experience.


So how do you survive into the mid-game? First you have to realize that more experienced players will likely come for you, and if they know you are new to multiplayer, they will come early. That means, don’t dilly dally in selecting a place to settle. Honestly, settling a city could have its own guide, but for now, just know that you should settle on turn 1, or turn 2 at the latest. Every turn you wait likely puts you 1 turn behind someone else, and 1 turn could be the difference in losing or keeping a city.

Not to sound like a broken record, but knowledge is power. In the beginning, your primary objective should be to learn about your surroundings. You want to find out who and what is around you. You’ll do this primarily with scouts. Use the settler lens (hot key 4) to look for red tiles that belong to neighboring civs or city-states. An early first meet of a blue or purple or even red city-state can be monumental in gaining a good lead on everyone else. Most players will build a scout as their first build unless there’s a really compelling reason to do something else.

As mentioned previously, once you meet your neighbors, you’ll be able to see their stats in the HUD. Once you’ve met them you’ll also be able to track what kind of districts they are making, which gives you an idea of what technology paths they have chosen. For example, if you see someone accumulating Great General points early, that means they are likely tech’ing straight towards swords and are planning to war. If you see that, and they settle their 2nd city towards you, you better get ready. You can also check the Global Resources menu to see if they are making strategic resources. If they are making horses early, that means they went Animal Husbandry and may try to horse rush you or another neighbor.


For example, if you see a Horseman near your borders, but haven’t researched the techs to find iron or horses yourself, you’re likely dead. It’s 5 turns to collect enough iron or horses to get a single classical unit. Within those 5 turns, all your ancient era units will be dead and your city will begin to fall if it hasn’t already. Hard producing a classical unit, like a sword, instead of upgrading an ancient one, like a warrior, will likely take too long, and having to choose between that or building walls is not a good position to be in.


Also recognize that your strongest non-ranged unit makes your city as strong as that unit when you have a non-ranged unit in the city. If you don’t have a non-ranged unit in the city, the city becomes that strength minus 10. This means it’s usually more effective to have a classical unit in the city rather than walls, although both are obviously preferred. 

As you can see from the above example, it’s very difficult to defend against a horse or sword rush when your opponent bee-lines those techs. If they have a Great General, you really, really need to have one too. +5 may not seem like a large combat bonus, but the algorithms are exponential, so every point matters. The extra movement a General gives also reduces the number of turns you’ll have to respond to an attack, because those units will get to you a turn or 2 quicker than they would without the General.


The absolute best way to combat a Great General is to get one yourself. This combined with a decent sized army will be a good deterrent to keep your neighbor from attacking you. They will be looking at your military strength and the Great Generals just like you should be. Go ahead and tech towards Bronze Working right out of the gate. If you get the boost, great, but if not, finish the tech without the boost. Remember, every turn counts if your opponent is bee-lining as well, so definitely don’t do Pottery, or Irrigation, or other things that cost you valuable time in the early game. Once you’ve got Bronze Working, you need to start building your Encampment district from your capital because your capital will have the most production, therefore finishing it the quickest. It would be good to have a little money saved up in case you need to buy a tile to place it well. For the early to mid-game, you only need 1 Encampment. You’ll also want a builder ready prior to building the Encampment in order to put a mine down on your iron tile. That mine will give you the boost for Iron Working, which you should now be tech’ing towards. Produce 2 to 3 Encampment Training projects to make sure you secure the General. The 3rd is only necessary if others are also doing projects for Generals. If you don’t do a 3rd project, you need to be watching the Great Person points every turn. Someone else could very quickly complete a project and chop another one all on the same turn, leaving you in the dust. In summary, your capital build order will look something like this: scout, scout, settler, builder, encampment, project, project, project or settler.


From your non-capital cities, make a few warriors using the AGOGE policy card while you are researching Iron Working. These are called pre-builds and will eventually be upgraded to Swordsmen. Don’t waste your money on things like mediocre tiles, and don’t make too many pre-builds that you won’t be able to afford upgrading later. If you have enough pre-builds or you have an iron shortage, build archers. They are great for defense if placed so that multiples of them can shoot the same tile and the AGOGE card will work for them. It’s generally a good idea to fortify classical units in front of the archers to protect them. If you do have swords/horses in a defensive line, just fortify and do not attack into your opponent. This is because your defensive bonuses when fortified make your classical units very powerful. For each turn they are fortified, they get +3 defense, up to a maximum of +6, or 2 turns. There are additional bonuses as well, and healing in and out of border to consider, but the fortification and support bonuses are our main concern for now.

A common mistake I see new players make is that they attack into their opponent leaving their units vulnerable for most of the turn. Only attack when it is safe to kill a unit, and consider using the last moves we talked about earlier. It’s best to finish units with archers so you don’t break formation. This is because you want to keep the units together to try to maximize the +2 support bonus for each friendly adjacent unit that you get once you finish the Military Tradition civic (3rd on top). If you have a good setup of units ready and waiting, you should have time to build walls when the opponent shows up instead of having to continue to build units. Walls will make your cities almost impossible to take and the aggressor may turn around or hold until a good bit later when they can bring a ram or catapults or Medieval units. To prepare for this, you should throw down a good adjacency campus, then tech straight for crossbows and civic for mercenaries. A bunch of well-placed crossbows paired with fortified swords can hold a number of Medieval pushes.


Another thing I see new players do often is that they believe that a 20 turn friendship suggests a game long alliance. Rule #1 is to always protect yourself. Opponents will attempt to use every advantage they can to gain an edge over you, including using a 20 turns friendship to secure a General and build up an attack force. Keep an eye on your friends’ stats just like you would another civilization that you’re not friends with, especially towards the tail end of the friendship.

No matter what, just getting a Great General and a few Classical units should prevent anyone from attacking you because other neighbors might look more vulnerable. Note that Swordsmen will be preferred over Horsemen due to their better promotion tree and the combat bonus they get from the Oligarchy Government.


By the way, if you prefer to play a faith civ, you can swap the Encampment/General strategy for a Holy Site/Prophet one. You would want to bee-line the Astrology tech, construct the Holy Site district, do 2 projects while you tech towards horses or swords. Do this and you should be the first to get a religion. You’ll choose the Defender of the Faith belief on the 2nd belief screen. This can be like a permanent defensive General all over your land, all game long. If you are able to get Defender of the Faith AND a Great General, you’ll be near impossible to push into as long as you don’t slack on the number of units you have.

Lastly, try very hard not to lose any units. You can do that by trying very hard not to put any units at risk. Killing an archer with a sword, thereby allowing that sword to be finished off is a bad trade. Think of units as production… If it took 45 production to build a Swordsman, and you lose that unit, you’ve basically wasted 45 production and X number of turns it took to accrue that production. You want to make your opponent waste that production. He or she will spend even more production replacing that unit, giving you even more of an edge.


To summarize, the key points here are timing and combat bonuses. You don’t want to be X number of turns behind and you do want to maximize your combat strength so it really hurts for your opponent to swing at your units. Once you have your defenses set up, you can begin to sim a bit, but make sure to keep an eye on your neighbors’ stats and the Great Generals. Someone projecting for a Medieval General definitely has military plans on their mind. If you implement the above strategies, you should be able to hold for quite some time, leading to a more enjoyable game.

Now I know I said we would focus on defense, but this defensive strategy of rushing a General and Swordsmen can easily become an offensive one where you’re in a position to catch a neighbor off guard because you are X turns ahead of them getting classical units themselves and you have the combat strength advantage due to having a Great General when they don’t. Again, let’s not try this out just yet, but go through the motions of defending a few times, then maybe look for an advantage against a neighbor and try it out on offense one day.

I hope you’ve enjoyed these tips and found them somewhat insightful. Please come join the fun on the CPL Discord server! It’s a welcoming place and really not as intimidating as one might think. Most new players just dive right into a regular game, but we also have Novice games every Saturday. Most importantly, good luck and have fun. #onemoreturn