Trade routes work generally the same way they did in Civ V , though they now reward savvy players with a more diverse range of resources, corresponding in part to the districts built in the destination city. One new wrinkle, however, is the automatic construction of trading posts in the central tile of every city to which you sent a trade route, foreign or domestic. Passing through a Trading Post extends the range of the Route by fifteen (over a base of fifteen), and also adds one gold to your net profit for each Post. There is no limit to how many Civ’s Trading Posts can exist in a given city, but you can only take advantage of your own. Take this into account when selecting Trade Routes, in addition to just the immediate benefit, since a bit of planning will help extend the range and efficacy of your trade network over the long game.
Also note that you no longer build roads manually for the most part, since they are now automatically built by traders along their routes. Eventually you can do so deliberately with the Military Engineer support unit, but at a cost of one charge per tile it’s not nearly as efficient as relying on trade. Setting early, domestic trade routes can be critical for establishing infrastructure.
Protect yourself early
It’s more important than ever to invest in early military in Civ VI , no matter how you plan on winning. In Civ V, any city could bombard nearby enemies from the start; in Civ VI city centers (and encampments) can only attack after building Ancient Walls (unlocked with Masonry).
Barbarians generally have more powerful units throughout the game than before, starting with Spearmen instead of just Warriors. They also send out Scouts first. Killing barbarian scouts should be a priority when they arrive: Catch a Scout before it returns home and the Barbarians won’t find out about your city, buying you time to nip the problem in the bud. Should the Scout make it back home, however, get ready for a serious onslaught to follow if you don’t clear out their camp soon. Scouts have more movement than most of early units, so its important to have many, well-place units with which to corner them.
The second reason to soldier up early is that neighboring, AI-controlled civs seem to be much more aggressive in the early game, especially at higher difficulties. The addition of Cassus Belli, a system that penalizes civilizations for declaring war without proper “justification,” means that many civs will be more conflict-averse as the game goes on, in order to avoid diplomatic penalties if they don’t have a justification for declaring war. However, there are no warmonger penalties in the Ancient Era, and the AI definitely knows it.
Be especially wary of neighboring civs with access to strong Ancient Era specialty units, such as Egypt, Sumer, Greece, and the Aztecs, since they are most likely to catch you off guard. We’ve lost games within fifty turns on Emperor difficulty because the production bonuses that AIs get at difficulties above Prince, combined with their amped up aggression, meant that Gilgamesh showed up at our border with a horde of War Carts while we just had a handful of Slingers. The community has definitely noted this trend, so it’s possible that it will become less of an issue after patches, but be careful for now.
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