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City-states make a comeback in Civilization VI, after their introduction in Civilization V. However, the mechanics of interactions with them have been changed considerably, and their importance is somewhat diminished, as Diplomatic Victories (available only in Gathering Storm) now stem from major civilizations voting for you instead. Nevertheless, city-states are an important part of the gameplay and everyone needs to know how to relate to them.

What is a city-state?[edit | edit source]

A city-state is an AI-controlled entity that represents a small independent nation which does not compete for victory but instead complements the world and presents various opportunities for interactions. A set of city-states (or rather their Settler units) is present at the beginning of the game along with the standard AI- and player-controlled civilizations; the size of the set depends on the map size (see number of city-states).

A city-state cannot build new cities and does little of what full civilizations do: it builds units for defense purposes, and explore the map with some of the units. The city-states are also able to gather resources in their territories, build tile improvement for the resources, as well as districts corresponding to their type. Apart from these actions, it will mostly keep to itself.

However, a city-state will interact with all civilizations in the game and confers special benefits to those with which it has friendly relations. It may also develop special relationship with a single civilization (called here a Suzerain), on whose behalf it will do almost everything, even go to war when its patron does. A city-state may conquer other cities as part of warfare, but it doesn't have any desire to keep them (since this would go against their policy of non-expansionism). So, if possible, the city-state will Raze every conquered city.

As before, you can choose to court city-states and use their benefits, you can ignore them and concentrate on your rivals, or you can conquer them for their territory. All of these paths will offer different opportunities and consequences.

City-state relations[edit | edit source]

Gaining influence with city-states has changed significantly in respect to Civilization V. There is no longer an Influence (Civ5).png Influence meter for each city-state, and your influence with them does not decay over time. Instead, you can improve your relations with city-states by assigning special units known as Envoy Envoys to each one you want to befriend.

Envoys[edit | edit source]

Main article: Envoy

Envoy Envoys are diplomats which specialize in city-state relations. They are the vehicle through which you will exercise your influence over these minor civilizations, and get to use their considerable benefits. There are many ways to manipulate and enhance the Envoy system, as you will read in the parent article.

Note that when the Suzerain of a city-state sends a new Envoy Envoy to it (or an Envoy that will allow him or her to attain Suzerain status), this city-state's borders will, if possible, expand by 1 tile. In fact, it seems that this is the only way city-states expand their borders, by reflecting the attention major nations give them via their Envoys! Also, sending Envoy #2 to a city-state while no other nation has more than 1 Envoy Envoy there will also expand its borders. Borders will not expand for the first Envoy you send to a city-state, even if no other nation has any Envoys there

Influence points[edit | edit source]

The main way to earn Envoy Envoys is through accumulation of Influence. However, the Influence meter in Civilization VI is a global one, measuring the general diplomatic power of your civilization, rather than an individual one with each separate city-state. Its main function is to generate (or train) Envoys, which you can then distribute as you wish. Each government type grants a certain number of Influence points per turn, and a different Influence meter maximum; upon reaching that maximum you gain a set number of Envoy Envoys. Look at the upper right corner of the government to check the exact details. There are three different levels of influence gain (four in Gathering Storm), depending on how advanced your government is:

The initial Chiefdom government earns only 1 point per turn, and grants 1 Envoy Envoy at 100 points.

As mentioned above, certain abilities and Policy Cards may speed up the accumulation of Influence points.

Relations degrees[edit | edit source]

Relations bonuses now depend both on the number of Envoy Envoys a civilization has with the particular city-state, and whether or not other civilizations have more Envoys than the player.

Special benefits are conferred to any player that has a particular number of Envoy Envoys:

  • One Envoy Envoy: Confers a bonus yield to the player's Capital Capital.
  • Three Envoy Envoys: Confers additional bonus yields to cities with a particular kind of district (in Rise and Fall this involves the presence of a tier 1 building in the district, not just the district). Also enables Suzerain status if the player has more Envoys than any other civilization.
  • Six Envoy Envoys: Doubles the previous district-based bonus (in Rise and Fall this bonus is based on the presence of the tier 2 building in the district).

With the release of the Ethiopia Pack:, a new district called the Diplomatic Quarter was introduced. Envoy Envoy bonuses were then rebalanced to tie into the Diplomatic Quarter and its Tier 1 and Tier 2 buildings.

  • One Envoy Envoy: Grants +1 yield (+2 Gold Gold for Trade city-states) in the first building of the respective district and Capital Capital.
  • Three Envoy Envoys: Grants +2 yield (+4 Gold Gold for Trade city-states) in the second building of the respective district and Consulate building.
  • Six Envoy Envoys: Grants +3 yield (+6 Gold Gold for Trade city-states) in the third building of the respective district and Chancery building.

The types of the yields conferred depend on the type of the city-state. Check the table below for more information on that.

As for diplomatic relations, the only possible statuses a city-state may have with a particular civilization are Neutral, Suzerain and At war. A player becomes the Suzerain of a city-state when he or she has a minimum of three Envoy Envoys with it, and more Envoys with it than any other civilization. On the other hand, a city-state cannot declare war on its own, unless you provide it with a Casus Belli, such as consciously violating its borders, or attacking its units. Also, a city-state will automatically declare war on any party its Suzerain is at war with. At this point it will stop providing any benefits to you (meaning that you will lose the additional yields it confers), but you will retain your Envoys with it.

In the beginning of the game all city-states are Neutral toward all players, since no one has sent any Envoy Envoys yet. As the game develops and civilizations start their diplomatic activity, each city-state will acquire a Suzerain. That Suzerain may change numerous times, as other civilizations also court the city-state. However, if two civilizations have the same number of Envoys with a city-state, it won't choose either for Suzerain and prefer to become Neutral again.

Note that the Loyalty system introduced in Rise and Fall will not majorly influence a city-state. While it is possible to turn a city-state into your empire peacefully via exerting Loyalty, to do so is extremely difficult, as the city-state has a large counter against foreign pressure.

Conquering and liberating city-states[edit | edit source]

City-states often become targets of bigger civilizations which want to expand; and unless they have a really strong military (or the attacker has laughable dedicated resources), the city-state may get conquered. When this happens, it becomes part of the conqueror's empire, losing all its special effects and becoming just another city. The usual effects of Conquered cities apply, such as loss of some Citizen Population, damaged buildings in the City Center, etc. However, the city will not pass through the 'Occupied' state, since its national leaders have been effectively wiped out and its population doesn't have any hope for liberation. Also, all other civilizations which have had any Envoys assigned in this city-state will lose them, and won't be able to enjoy its effects anymore.

After the Protectorate War Casus Belli has been unlocked, a Suzerain of a city-state which gets attacked or conquered will be able to declare such a war to the aggressor civilization. This is considered one of the most noble causes for war and will cost no Warmonger points, unless you don't limit yourself with just liberating the city-state in question. Also, in Gathering Storm attacking a city-state will earn Grievances Grievances with all nations which have Envoys there, and double Grievances with its Suzerain.

Finally, conquering a city-state is a reason for Emergency! It is in fact one of the most frequent Emergency causes activated, since every single nation which had Envoys in this city-state would be able to call for the Emergency.

Conquered city-states, unlike in V, can be Razed, and thus if a rival conquers a city-state which has suzerain bonuses you deem useful be wary that you are at risk of permanently losing said bonus! That being said, AI will very rarely raze them. If any civilization which wrestles this city from their conqueror in the future chooses to Liberate it, it will regain its Independence and all its former qualities. Its Territory will also expand (due to the liberator receiving free Envoys with it). City-states which have been Liberated will choose their liberator for Suzerain, automatically assigning a number of Envoy Envoys to it: 3 if the liberation occurred up to the Medieval Era, 6 if it occurred during the Renaissance or Industrial Eras, and 9 during later Eras.

Of course, from this point on, the city-state will start developing normally again; although it will take it some time to rebuild its economy, etc. Also, other nations will be able again to send Envoys there and change its loyalties.

City-state benefits[edit | edit source]

Envoy bonus and Suzerainty[edit | edit source]

Main article: Suzerain (Civ6)

The benefits of befriending city-states have changed substantially since Civilization V. City-states still have types, such as Religious and Cultural, and confer bonuses related to them. Most come in the form of yields of some kind, according to the type of the city-state - for example, bonus Faith Faith in Holy Sites for Religious ones, or bonus Culture Culture in Theater Squares from Cultural ones. Despite being quite simple, these bonuses add up considerably with the development of an empire, and may aid substantially the development of an otherwise weak nation.

Rise and Fall brings additional changes to this system, making it more difficult to use the bonuses - you will now need specific Buildings in the respective districts, in order to enjoy the bonuses (Tier 1 Building for the 3-Envoy bonus and Tier 2 for the 6-Envoy bonus).

In addition to the simple yield bonuses, each city-state now also provides a powerful unique bonus to its Suzerain. Players who desire these specific bonuses will have to compete with other players to get them instead of searching for another city-state that offers the same bonus. Additionally, the Suzerain of a city-state will gain access to its Luxury Resources and Strategic Resources.

Levying[edit | edit source]

One of the more interesting of those is the opportunity to levy the city-state's army, instantly boosting your own! Since Gathering Storm this option has become far more attractive, especially for surprise rushes against an unsuspecting enemy, or quick defense against a surprise aggression. Note that levied units will only remain around for 30 turns, after which they will return under the control of their city, so plan accordingly. If you lose Suzerainty over the city-state during the 30 turns, the levied army will also return to the original city-state's control.

The cost of levying a city-state's army is equivalent to the total Production Production cost of the army in Gold Gold. For example, the cost of levying an army consisting of 5 Warriors and 1 Swordsman is (40*5 + 90) or 290 Gold Gold. This Gold Gold cost scales according to the game speed.

A few extra notes about levying and levied units:

  • You will pay for units' maintenance costs, both in Gold Gold and resources.
  • You can levy units you have not discovered - the unit will not be downgraded.
  • Levied units function just like your own units for 30 turns. You can even upgrade levied units into unique units of your civilization like normal. However, you cannot delete levied units.
  • Levying a Galley will not give you Era Score for the first naval unit, but levying a land unit that requires a Strategic Resource can give you Era Score for the first unit that uses that Strategic Resource.
  • Levied units do not count towards the total military strength of a civilization.
  • Any promotions earned by a levied unit during those 30 turns will be kept when it reverts back to the city-state's control.
  • Levied units that are upgraded into unique units will still stay "unique" when they revert back to the city-state's control. For example, Suleiman can levy some Swordsmen and upgrade them into Janissaries. These units will stay as Janissaries when they come back under the control of their city-state. They will also be available for another civilization to levy if the Suzerain changes.
  • You can encourage a city-state to make more units by sending them Trade Route Trade Routes (for extra Gold Gold) and improving their land with your Builders (especially helpful when you discover a new Strategic Resource that the city-state hasn't revealed). Sending more Envoy Envoys also increases the size of their territory, increasing their Production Production potential.
  • You will gain 1 Era Score for levying units, 2 Era Score for levying units of a city-state within 6 tiles of an enemy city and 2 Era Score for making enemy's levied army stand down by using your Envoy Envoy power. These are all repeatable (i.e. will earn more Era Score if done more than once).

A few tips and tricks you can use with levying mechanics and levied units:[1]

  • You can levy units to get Era Score, complete city-states' quests, trigger Eureka Eurekas and Inspiration Inspirations, and possibly acquire a Galley or some other naval unit to explore with.
  • You can levy units on the other side of the world. Upgrading them and attacking with them is a very fast way of colonizing distant shores as well as exploring their interior.
  • When a friend or ally declares war on a city-state that you are the Suzerain of, since you cannot declare a Protectorate War or denounce them, you can levy that city-state's army and use those units to form a blockade around the City Center to stop your friend's troops from dealing the final blow. Since your friend cannot attack your units, their conquest will be put to an end for at least 30 turns.
  • Allied city-state units will sometimes attack and destroy an enemy's city or a hostile city-state. If you do not want this to happen, levy their units. If you do not have enough Gold Gold, wait and see if your city-state loses some units in the process, which will make its military cheaper to levy.

Strategy[edit | edit source]

As in Civilization V, city-states are a very important part of the game, which could become the difference between winning and losing. Compared to the previous game, however, the competition for influencing city-states is both more targeted and more broad. It is more targeted because of the unique Suzerain bonuses of each individual city-state (which may suit one player's goals better than these of another player); it is more broad because the Diplomatic Victory in Gathering Storm no longer depends on city-states. Influencing these cities is more a question of gameplay aid than a crucial element of victory.

In order to make the best use of the city-state bonus system, you must first understand how exactly it works. The first kind of bonuses (i.e. the yield bonuses to the Capital Capital and all cities with a particular district, received with 1, 3 and 6 Envoy Envoys respectively), which we will call "general" bonuses, stay with you throughout the game (unless the city-state is conquered by another civilization, of course). However, you will have to fight for the Suzerain bonuses by competing constantly with other nations to earn more Envoy Envoys than anyone else. Of course, both depend mostly on your sending out your Envoys.

Earning Envoy Envoys is comparatively easy, and it happens naturally as you progress through the game (especially if you're strong in Culture Culture - many Civics grant free Envoy Envoys). How you choose to use them is another, more vital matter. Sometimes it will be more beneficial to spread them around different city-states so that you earn their general bonuses, instead of concentrating them in 1-2 specific city-states in an attempt to earn their Suzerainty.

The first general bonus of each city-state activates with a single Envoy Envoy, so if you're the first player to meet a city-state and get a free Envoy Envoy for doing so, you'll immediately reap the benefits of the bonus. This can help immensely in the early game, when your Capital Capital is your only city - every single city-state you meet first will already boost your Capital Capital's yields! This is one of the reasons exploration is so important in the beginning.

The other general bonuses, however, only work in cities with a particular district (or district building in Rise and Fall). This means that if you don't have this district anywhere, there is simply no use to rush and get 3 (much less 6) Envoy Envoys with a city-state. Instead, send them to other city-states and earn their first general bonuses. Only later, when your districts are up and running, should you go for the higher general bonuses - each of them will work on every city with a particular district, even without Suzerainty.

However, if you can make use of a particular city-state's Suzerain bonus early in the game, then you should go for it! Carefully analyse the bonuses of the city-states you've found, and see if you have use for them. Some bonuses, such as Toronto's, will only become useful much later in the game; others, like Brussels' or Geneva's, can be useful right away.

In any case, you should be ready to adjust your strategy on the fly. Do you lack Gold Gold income? Look to influence a Trade city-state! Are you going to war, or in need of units? Go for a Militaristic city-state! Or, you could adjust from the opposite side: have you befriended many Cultural city-states? Then go ahead and construct Theater Squares to enjoy their bonuses! If you are influencing many Trade city-states, construct Commercial Hubs, and so on.

Another way to influence city-states is by completing their quests. These are a tad more prosaic than in Civilization V, but they are still very diverse and will make you adjust strategy to complete them. You will have to decide whether this adjustment is worth it - sometimes spending time and resources just won't be worth the reward.

The quests city-states can offer include the following:

While conquering a city-state in Civilization V is almost universally regarded as not a good idea due to the severe diplomatic penalty it has, in VI there's less of a discouragement to doing so. If a city-state is in a prime location where you want a city, its bonuses are not important to you and you think you can take them on, don't hesitate to do so - really don't, since not only does the diplomatic penalty for conquest increase as time goes on, by that time the city-state might have built Walls that will take more effort to siege down, so you should do it ASAP. (In Gathering Storm, city-states begin the game with Ancient Walls on Immortal Difficulty and above.)

Another thing to note about city-states is that if you are at war with them, they will make more of an effort to send units to take out your cities compared to V. This becomes most important to keep in mind if you are fighting a war with another civilization on one side of your empire who has suzerainty over a city-state on the other side of your empire; don't send all of your troops to fight away from home and leave your other front undefended, or you might find yourself losing a city!

Types of city-states[edit | edit source]

There are 6 types of city-states in the Civilization VI, as well as 1 scenario-specific type:

Icon Type 1 Envoy 3 Envoys 6 Envoys
Cultural City-State (Civ6).png Cultural +2 Culture Culture in the Capital Capital.

Ethiopia Pack: +1 Culture Culture in the Capital Capital and every Amphitheater.

+2 Culture Culture in every Theater Square district

R&F-Only.png +2 Culture Culture in every Amphitheater building.

Ethiopia Pack: +2 Culture Culture in the Consulate and every Art Museum and Archaeological Museum building.

Additional +2 Culture Culture in every Theater Square district

R&F-Only.png +2 Culture Culture in every Art Museum and Archaeological Museum building.

Ethiopia Pack: +3 Culture Culture in the Chancery and every Broadcast Center building.

Industrial City-State (Civ6).png Industrial +2 Production Production in the Capital Capital when producing wonders, buildings, and districts.

Ethiopia Pack: +1 Production Production in the Capital Capital and every Workshop building when producing wonders, buildings, and districts.

+2 Production Production in every Industrial Zone district when producing wonders, buildings, and districts

R&F-Only.png +2 Production Production in every city with a Workshop building when producing wonders, buildings, and districts.

Ethiopia Pack: +2 Production Production in the Consulate and every Factory building when producing wonders, buildings, and districts.

Additional +2 Production Production in every Industrial Zone district when producing wonders, buildings, and districts

R&F-Only.png +2 Production Production in every city with a Factory building when producing wonders, buildings, and districts.

Ethiopia Pack: +3 Production Production in the Chancery and every Coal Power Plant, Oil Power Plant, and Nuclear Power Plant building when producing wonders, buildings, and districts.

Militaristic City-State (Civ6).png Militaristic +2 Production Production in the Capital Capital when producing units.

Ethiopia Pack: +1 Production Production in the Capital Capital and every Barracks and Stable building when producing units.

+2 Production Production in every Encampment district when producing units

R&F-Only.png +2 Production Production in every city with a Barracks or Stable building when producing units.

Ethiopia Pack: +2 Production Production in the Consulate and every Armory building when producing units.

Additional +2 Production Production in every Encampment district when producing units

R&F-Only.png +2 Production Production in every city with an Armory building when producing units.

Ethiopia Pack: +3 Production Production in the Chancery and every Military Academy building when producing units.

Religious City-State (Civ6).png Religious +2 Faith Faith in the Capital Capital.

Ethiopia Pack: +1 Faith Faith in the Capital Capital and every Shrine building.

+2 Faith Faith in every Holy Site district

R&F-Only.png +2 Faith Faith in every Shrine building.

Ethiopia Pack: +2 Faith Faith in the Consulate and every Temple building.

Additional +2 Faith Faith in every Holy Site district

R&F-Only.png +2 Faith Faith in every Temple building.

Ethiopia Pack: +3 Faith Faith in the Chancery and every worship building.

Scientific City-State (Civ6).png Scientific +2 Science Science in the Capital Capital.

Ethiopia Pack: +1 Science Science in the Capital Capital and every Library building.

+2 Science Science in every Campus district

R&F-Only.png +2 Science Science in every Library building.

Ethiopia Pack: +2 Science Science in the Consulate and every University building.

Additional +2 Science Science in every Campus district

R&F-Only.png +2 Science Science in every University building.

Ethiopia Pack: +3 Science Science in the Chancery and every Research Lab building.

Trade City-State (Civ6).png Trade +4 Gold Gold in the Capital Capital.

Ethiopia Pack: +2 Gold Gold in the Capital Capital and every Market and Lighthouse building.

+4 Gold Gold in every Commercial Hub district

R&F-Only.png +4 Gold Gold in every Market building.

GS-Only.png +2 Gold Gold in every Market and Lighthouse building.

Ethiopia Pack: +4 Gold Gold in the Consulate and every Bank and Shipyard building.

Additional +4 Gold Gold in every Commercial Hub district

R&F-Only.png +4 Gold Gold in every Bank building.

GS-Only.png +2 Gold Gold in every Bank and Shipyard building.

Ethiopia Pack: +6 Gold Gold in the Chancery and every Stock Exchange and Seaport building.

Maritime City-State (Civ6).png Maritime1 +2 Food Food in the Capital Capital. +2 Food Food in every Harbor district. Additional +2 Food Food in every Harbor district.

1Path to Nirvana scenario only.

Different types of city-states have different base bonuses. Moreover, a city-state will build a district within its territory that corresponds to its type:

Number of city-states and replacement[edit | edit source]

Currently (as of the release of the Babylon Pack DLC), there are a total of 48 different city-states available in Civilization VI (Scenario-specific city-states not included). Among the 42, there are 8 Cultural City-States, 8 Industrial City-States, 8 Militaristic City-States, 8 Religious City-States, 8 Scientific City-States, and 8 Trade City-States.

In some cases, when a new civ is added into the game, and one of the existing city-states is a city historically belong to that civ, then the city-state will be placed by another city-state, in order to avoid a city name duplication, and maintain the total number of city-states the same. For instance, when the Korean civilization was added in the Rise and Fall expansion, the city-state of Seoul was then replaced by Babylon; Seoul became one of the Korean founded cities. Then, when the Babylonian civilization was released, Babylon became the Babylonian capital, and the city-state was replaced by Anshan. The new city-state usually has the same suzerain bonus as the replaced city-state.

The number of city-states in a game are customizable, although dependent on map sizes:

Map Size Default City-States Maximum City-States
Duel 3 6
Tiny 6 10
Small 9 14
Standard 12 18
Large 15 22
Huge 18 24

List of city-states[edit | edit source]

Main article: List of city-states in Civ6

References[edit | edit source]

Related achievements[edit | edit source]

Gift From the Storm God
Gift From the Storm God
Receive a Strategic Resource from Hattusa
Storm gods were major figures in Hittite mythology.
Army of Cthulhu
Army of Cthulhu
Levy the military of Nan Madol
The excavations of Nan Madol are said to have influenced H. P. Lovecraft on his creation of the fictional city of R'lyeh, which was home of Cthulhu, a cosmic deity.
Holy Righteous Queen Tamar
Holy Righteous Queen Tamar
As Tamar, have every city-state in the game following the religion you founded.
The title given to Tamar by the Georgian Orthodox Church.
New Orleans Style Spanish Rice
New Orleans Style Spanish Rice
Become Suzerain of a City-State.
Refers to the New Orleans Style Spanish Rice product from the company Zatarain's.
Third Crusade
Third Crusade
Playing as Frederick Barbarossa, conquer the city-state of Jerusalem
The main goal of the Third Crusade was to capture Jerusalem, which it failed to do, and was largely commanded by Frederick Barbarossa, who died during the Crusade.
We Are The Champions
We Are The Champions
Win a regular game with a Religious victory with your dominant religion being Zoroastrianism and at the time of victory you are the Suzerain of Zanzibar
A reference to Freddie Mercury from the band Queen, who was born and raised in the Sultanate of Zanzibar and practised the Zoroastrian religion.
Civilization VI [edit]
Rise and FallGathering StormNew Frontier Pass

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