Back to Civilization VI
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?
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.
A City-State cannot build new cities and does little of what full civilizations do: it builds units for defense purposes, it will explore the map with ships only, but apart of that it will mostly keep to itself. However, it interacts 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.
Gaining influence with city-states has changed significantly in respect to Civilization V. There is no longer an 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 Envoys to each one you want to befriend.
- Main article: 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 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 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
The main way to earn 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 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:
- Level 1 (Oligarchy, Autocracy, Classical Republic): 3 points per turn; 1 Envoy granted at 100 points.
- Level 2 (Monarchy, Theocracy, Merchant Republic): 5 points per turn; 2 Envoys at 150 points.
- Level 3 (Democracy, Fascism, Communism): 7 points per turn; 3 Envoys at 200 points.
- Level 4 (Corporate Libertarianism, Digital Democracy, Synthetic Technocracy): 9 points per turn, 4 Envoys at 250 points.
The initial Chiefdom government earns only 1 point per turn, and grants 1 Envoy at 100 points.
As mentioned above, certain abilities and Policy Cards may speed up the accumulation of Influence points.
- One Envoy: Confers a bonus yield to the player's Capital.
- Three 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 Envoys: Doubles the previous district-based bonus. In Rise and Fall this bonus is again based on the presence of a building in the district, this time a Tier 2 one.
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 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 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
City-States often become targets of bigger civilizations which want to expand; and unless they have a really strong military (or the attacker has dedicated laughable 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 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 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 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.
- 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 in Holy Sites for Religious ones, or bonus 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, however, 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 gains a number of other benefits (such as usage of its Resources), which you will find in the main article. 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 - plan accordingly!
Types of City-States
|Type||Color||1 Envoy||3 Envoys||6 Envoys|
|Trade||Yellow||+4 Gold in the Capital.||+4 Gold in every Commercial Hub district||Additional +4 Gold in every Commercial Hub district|
|Religious||White||+2 Faith in the Capital.||+2 Faith in every Holy Site district||Additional +2 Faith in every Holy Site district|
|Scientific||Blue||+2 Science in the Capital.||+2 Science in every Campus district||Additional +2 Science in every Campus district|
|Cultural||Purple||+2 Culture in the Capital.||+2 Culture in every Theater Square district||Additional +2 Culture in every Theater Square district|
|Industrial||Brown||+2 Production in the Capital when producing wonders, buildings, and districts.||+2 Production in every Industrial Zone district when producing wonders, buildings, and districts||Additional +2 Production in every Industrial Zone district when producing wonders, buildings, and districts|
|Militaristic||Red||+2 Production in the Capital when producing units.||+2 Production in every Encampment district when producing units||Additional +2 Production in every Encampment district when producing units|
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 and all cities with a particular district, received with 1, 3 and 6 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 Envoys than anyone else. Of course, both depend mostly on your sending out your Envoys.
Earning Envoys is comparatively easy, and it happens naturally as you progress through the game (especially if you're strong in Culture - many Civics grant free 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, so if you're the first player to meet a City-State and get a free Envoy for doing so, you'll immediately reap the benefits of the bonus. This can help immensely in the early game, when your Capital is your only city - every single City-State you meet first will already boost your 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) 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 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:
- Train a certain unit.
- Construct a certain district.
- Trigger a Eureka for a certain tech.
- Trigger an Inspiration for a certain civic.
- Recruit a certain type of Great Person.
- Convert the city-state to your religion.
- Send a Trade Route to the city-state.
- Destroy a Barbarian Outpost within 5 tiles of the city-state.
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.)
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 Civ 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 the Civ and leave your other front undefended, or you might find yourself losing a city!
List of City-States and their Suzerain bonuses
|Akkad||Melee and anti-cavalry units' attacks do full damage to the city's walls.|
|Amsterdam||Your Trade Routes to foreign cities earn +1 Gold for each Luxury resource at the destination.|
|Antananarivo†||Extra 2% Culture with every Great Person ever earned (up to 30%).|
|Antioch2||Your Trade Routes to foreign cities earn +1 Gold for each Luxury resource at the destination.|
|Armagh†||Builders can construct the Monastery improvement, which provides Faith and heals religious units.|
|Auckland†||Shallow water tiles worked by Citizens provide +1 Production. Additional +1 Production when you reach the Industrial Era.|
|Babylon3||+2 Science from each Great Work of Writing. +1 Science from each Relic and Artifact.|
|Bandar Brunei1||Your Trading Posts in foreign cities provide +1 Gold to your Trade Routes passing through or going to the city.|
|Bologna4||Your districts with a building provide +1 Great Person point of their type ( Great Writer, Great Artist, and Great Musician for Theater Square districts with a building).|
|Buenos Aires||Your Bonus resources behave like Luxury resources, providing 1 Amenity per type.|
|Brussels||Your cities get +15% Production towards wonders.|
|Cahokia||Your Builders can now make Cahokia Mounds improvements, which provide Gold and Housing.|
|Cardiff||Cities receive +2 Power for every Harbor building.|
|Carthage||Your Encampment districts provide +1 Trade Route capacity each.|
|Fez||When you use a unit to convert a city for the first time, gain 20 Science per Population of that city.|
|Geneva||Your cities earn +15% Science whenever you are not at war with any civilization.|
|Granada†||Builders can construct the Alcazar improvement, which protects military units and provides Culture.|
|Hattusa||Provides you with 1 of each Strategic resource you have revealed but do not own.
Provides you with 2 of each Strategic resource per turn you have revealed but do not own.
|Hong Kong||Your cities get +20% Production towards city projects.|
|Jakarta||Your trading posts at international destinations grant +1 additional Gold to all trade routes that pass through them.|
|Jerusalem||Automatically converts to the Religion you founded, and exerts pressure for that Religion as if it were a Holy City.|
|Kabul||Your units receive double experience from battles they initiate.|
|Kandy||Receive a Relic every time you discover a new natural wonder, and earn +50% Faith from all Relics.|
|Kumasi||Your Trade Routes to any city-state provide +2 Culture and +1 Gold for every specialty district in the origin city.|
|La Venta||Your Builders can now make Colossal Head improvements. (A tile improvement that produces +2 Faith)|
|Lisbon||Your Trader units are immune to being plundered on water tiles.|
|Mexico City5||Regional effects from your Industrial Zone and Entertainment districts reach 3 tiles farther.|
|Mohenjo Daro||Your cities have full Housing from water, as if they were all next to a River.|
|Muscat†||Bonus Amenities in cities with a Commercial Hub.|
|Nan Madol||Your districts on or next to Coast tiles provide +2 Culture.|
|Nazca||Your builders can now make Nazca Lines improvements, which provide Faith on flat Desert tiles.|
|Ngazargamu6||Land combat or support units are 20% cheaper to purchase with Gold for each Encampment district building in that city.|
|Palenque†||Improved City growth for cities with a Campus.|
|Preslav||Your light and heavy cavalry units have +5 Strength when fighting on hill tiles.|
|Rapa Nui||Your builders can now make Moai improvements, which provide Culture and Tourism.|
|Seoul||When you enter a new era, earn 1 random Eureka from that era.|
|Stockholm||Your districts provide +1 Great Person point of their type ( Great Writer, Great Artist, and Great Musician for Theater Square districts).|
|Toronto||Regional effects from your Industrial Zone and Entertainment Complex districts reach 3 tiles farther.|
|Valletta||City Center buildings and Encampment district buildings can be bought with Faith. Cost of purchasing Ancient, Medieval, and Renaissance Walls is reduced, but they can only be bought with Faith.|
|Vilnius||When you enter a new era, earn 1 random Inspiration from that era.|
|Yerevan||Your Apostle units can choose from any possible promotion instead of receiving a random promotion.|
|Zanzibar||Receive the Cinnamon and Cloves Luxury resources. These cannot be earned any other way in the game, and provide 6 Amenities each.|
† Available with the Vikings Scenario Pack DLC.
1 Replaced Jakarta in the Fall 2017 Update.
2 Replaced Amsterdam in the Rise and Fall expansion.
3 Replaced Seoul in the Rise and Fall expansion.
4 Replaced Stockholm in the Gathering Storm expansion.
5 Replaced Toronto in the Gathering Storm expansion.
6 Replaced Carthage in the Gathering Storm expansion.
Because the player cannot obtain Envoys in Conquests of Alexander, it is not possible to interact with city-states diplomatically. As such, city-states do not provide any envoy bonuses or Suzerain bonuses.
|Bahariya||Your Trading Posts at international destinations grant +1 additional Gold to all trade routes that pass through them.|
|Byblos||Your bonus resources behave like luxury resources, providing +1 Amenity per resource.|
|Dakhla||Your Trading Posts at international destinations grant +1 additional Gold to all trade routes that pass through them.|
|Irem||Your trade routes to foreign cities earn +1 Gold for each luxury resource.|
|Kharga||Your Trading Posts at international destinations grant +1 additional Gold to all trade routes that pass through them.|
|Punt||Receive the Cinnamon and Cloves luxury resources. They cannot be earned any other way in the game, and provide 6 Amenities each.|
|Serabit el-Khadim||Provides you with 1 copy of each strategic resource you have revealed but do not own.|
|Gdańsk||Trade Routes to any City-State provide +5 Gold for every specialty district in the origin city.|
|Prague||Your districts provide +1 Great Person point of their type (both Great Writer and Great Artist points for Theater Square districts).|
|Vienna||Pay half the usual cost to levy city-state units.|
|New South Wales||No Suzerain bonus.|
|Dali||Provides +1 Amenities in cities with a Commercial Hub district.|
|Delhi||Your Trade Routes to any city-state provide +2 Faith for every specialty district in the origin city.|
|Gaochang||Provides +1 Amenities in cities with a Commercial Hub district.|
|Goa||Your districts on or next to Coast tiles provide +2 Faith.|
|Heian||Your districts on or next to Coast tiles provide +2 Faith.|
|Kaesong||Your Trade Routes to any city-state provide +2 Faith for every specialty district in the origin city.|
|Kashgar||Your Trade Routes to foreign cities earn +1 Faith for each Luxury resource at the destination.|
|Khotan||Provides +1 Amenities in cities with a Commercial Hub district.|
|Kucha||Your Trading Posts in foreign cities provide +1 Culture to your Trade Routes passing through or going to the city.|
|Lamphun||Your Bonus resources behave like Luxury resources, providing 1 Amenity per type.|
|Lamuri||Your Trade Routes to any city-state provide +2 Faith for every specialty district in the origin city.|
|Palembang||Provides +1 Amenities in cities with a Commercial Hub district.|
|Samarkand||Provides +1 Amenities in cities with a Commercial Hub district.|
|Temasek||Your Bonus resources behave like Luxury resources, providing 1 Amenity per type.|
|Thăng Long||Your districts on or next to Coast tiles provide +2 Faith.|
|Tondo||Your districts on or next to Coast tiles provide +2 Faith.|
|Ujjain||Your Bonus resources behave like Luxury resources, providing 1 Amenity per type.|
|Xingqing||Your Bonus resources behave like Luxury resources, providing 1 Amenity per type.|
|Zhongjing||Your Trading Posts in foreign cities provide +1 Culture to your Trade Routes passing through or going to the city.|
When liberating a city state you previously conquered for yourself the city state might get "stuck" in war. While still being friendly or even suzerain of it you won't have shared visibility and unable to send any envoys to it as the arrows will be greyed out as if you'd be still at war. There is no fix to this currently.
|Civilization VI |
|Rise and Fall • Gathering Storm • New Frontier Pass|