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Chiefdom is the default form of government in Civilization VI. It is unlocked by the Code of Laws civic.


Chiefdom is the first and only form of government available in the Ancient Era. Unlike all forms of government that follow it, it does not have a unique effect or legacy bonus.

As a general rule, Chiefdom's Economic Policy Economic card slot is best used for God King when trying to found a pantheon and religion, Corvée when trying to rush early wonders, Colonization or Ilkum when trying to expand or develop territory quickly, and Urban Planning in all other situations.

Civilopedia entry[]

In the last century, anthropologist Robert Carneiro defined chiefdoms as “an autonomous political unit comprising a number of villages … under the permanent control of a paramount chief.” Departing from more egalitarian groupings, chiefdoms could range from rule by a council of elders to an individual of a noble lineage to a shifting sort of political organization depending on what the society was doing at the moment (e.g. waging war or remaining peaceful). Because of the sheer variety of small-scale political forms, the term has outlived some of its usefulness, but still might be used to describe groups such as the 19th-century Nuer (in East Africa), who had certain elite lineages of princely chiefs, or the 17th-century Powhatan confederacy (in Virginia).

The advantage of chiefdoms was the ability to deal with populations in the abstract. One did not need to personally know each individual if one had a system of hierarchy - you might describe yourself as a noble, warrior or commoner, rather than simply as yourself. This, then, allows for larger-scale organizations to form, like cities or "civilizations." Of course, as James C. Scott notes, early societies were largely unfree, as large-scale agriculture demanded particular kinds of labor - namely, serfdom or, in its worst form, slavery. As populations expanded and this need for increased abstraction did as well, chiefdoms grew along particular lines: princely lineages became monarchies, charismatic personalities became autocrats, and councils of elders became oligarchies.

Civilization VI Governments [edit]
AutocracyCatholic Monarchy1ChiefdomClassical RepublicColonial Government1CommunismCorporate Libertarianism GS-Only.pngDemocracyDigital Democracy GS-Only.pngFascismKandake1Merchant RepublicMonarchyOligarchyPenal Settlement1Pharaoh1State Government1Synthetic Technocracy GS-Only.pngThalassocracy1Theocracy
1 Specific scenarios only

GS-Only.png Added in the Gathering Storm expansion pack.