The Khmer people represent a civilization in Civilization VI. Their default colors are purple (#74009B) and orange (#FE8113), and they are led by Jayavarman VII. They are available with the Khmer and Indonesia Civilization & Scenario Pack, which was released on October 19, 2017.
The Khmers' civilization ability is Grand Barays, which allows their Aqueducts to provide extra Faith and Amenities to their cities and increase the Food production of adjacent Farms. Their unique unit is the Domrey, and their unique building is the Prasat (which replaces the Temple).
The Khmer, overall, is a very unique civilization, in the sense they are the only civilization where there is a huge rift between what their bonuses incentivize and what they need to do to achieve the easiest victory possible. At first glance, it may seem that the Khmer should build a tall empire; however, they may sprint towards an early Cultural Victory like no other if they manage to claim land and go wide.
Grand Barays and Monasteries of the KingEdit
Both the Khmers' civilization and leader abilities seem to favor a tall civilization, against the unwritten meta "the wider the better" of Civilization VI. However, these two bonuses together are not impactful enough to allow the Khmer to go against the current that favors a wide empire.
The Khmers' civilization ability incentivizes the construction of Aqueducts - a weak and largely underused district, even when it does not count towards Population limits, especially before the release of Gathering Storm. An Aqueduct, despite the misleading tooltip, gives you 4, 3, or 2 Housing if you settle away from water, on the coast without fresh water, or adjacent to fresh water, respectively. Because the total Housing from Aqueducts and water combined is unchanged, there is no reason to settle away from water to delay the Housing bonus just to spend Production later on an Aqueduct. Food to surrounding Farms is nice, but since the introduction of Housing in Civilization VI, Food is no longer as impactful. Khmer Aqueducts, unlike the Roman Baths, are not cheaper to build, do not provide more Housing than regular Aqueducts, and may cause the Khmer to run into Housing issues even faster than other civilizations.
The bonuses Holy Sites receive from Monasteries of the King are insignificant, not to mention inconsistent. River tiles are important since they are limited in number and do not always guarantee the highest adjacency bonus for the Holy Site, and the situational bonus of 1 Housing and 2 Food definitely does not justify a riverside construction either. The best use of this ability is the Culture Bomb. To maximize its effectiveness, place the Holy Site two tiles away from the City Center, since the Culture Bomb cannot claim tiles outside the third ring of tiles. The main purpose of Holy Sites for the Khmer after founding a religion is still to generate Faith to purchase Missionaries, so do prioritize spots with a high adjacency bonus.
Overall, these two bonuses are not good enough to warrant an against-the-current swim to go tall instead of wide. The amount of Science and Culture generated by Population is no longer big enough to win the game just based on high Population alone, unlike in Civilization V. These two bonuses should be treated as "back-up bonuses," meaning it is good to have them there, but do not try to go out of your way against your strategy to use them - they are, more often than not, not worth your time and effort.
The Domrey is strong, but not without a lot of issues which render it rather hard to use for the Khmer. To read in detail, please refer to this.
This is the game-winning vessel of the Khmer, a very strong yet utterly underrated piece of infrastructure which allows the Khmer to win the fastest Cultural Victory in the game. A detailed strategy guide for using the Prasat can be found here. To maximize the huge potential of this building, you want as many copies of it as possible in your empire, meaning, once again, wide is much better than tall. By comparison, a Relic in a Prasat can earn up to 40 Tourism per turn (with Rise and Fall and Gathering Storm) while a Great Work earns 3-4 Tourism per turn, and you can earn Relics far more quickly and reliably as the Khmer, so while other cultural civilizations bloom in the late game, the Khmer can easily boast at least 500-600 Tourism in the Renaissance Era, or even more depending on how wide you are able to go.
Cultural Victory with a Religious Victory backup is the most natural route for the Khmer. High Population may also allow Scientific Victory to a certain degree, but only if the Production of some core cities is not too bad.
Between the Ninth and Fifteenth Centuries, the god-warrior-kings of the Khmer Empire dominated Southeast Asia. Theirs was a formidable agricultural-martial kingdom whose wealth impressed even the mighty Chinese to the North. Unfortunately, all of that gold and rice would prove too attractive for their regional rivals, ultimately making the conquerors of the Suvarnabhumi the conquered.
Archaeology and Chinese historical records tell us the Khmer Empire can be traced back to the Mekong region in Southeast Asia during the First Century CE. The Chinese called this region and its disparate collection of peoples the Funan Kingdom (offhandedly putting a diverse, often warring group of principalities under one umbrella).
According to Khmer legend, these people were the product of the union of Cambodia's first king, Indian prince Preah Thong (Huntian, in the Chinese record) and Neang Neak, a divine serpent [naga] princess from a magical seas kingdom. The region is said to have been a wedding gift from the princess' father, who drained the waters around Nokor Kauk Thlork Island, making it habitable for the happy couple and their descendants.
The legend speaks to the tremendous influence of Hindu culture in the region. The Mekong-based people of Funan was the perfect waypoint for Indian travelers and traders headed west. The Indians would end up bringing Hinduism, their laws, commerce, and Sanskrit with them, ultimately blending with local animist traditions.
The people of Funan's Indian-influenced mini-principalities battled amongst themselves for centuries, and although they would briefly sustain centralized governments, it would take the firm hand of Jayavarman II in the Ninth Century to usher in the Angkor era of centralized rule.
The first conqueror king of the Khmer Empire got his start in the Ninth Century. Until that point, Jayavarman II was either a guest of the Javanese or their prisoner. Whichever the case, once he returned to his homeland, he seemed eager to get about the messy process of crushing the competition in the Mekong.
That messy business out of the way, the only thing left to do was to declare himself 'Cakravartin' or 'universal ruler' during a ceremony atop Mount Mahendra in the Kulen Mountains. And in 802 CE, that's precisely what Jayavarman II did, granting himself the backing of the gods in establishing his empire.
There's something to be said for his approach: at the height of their six century empire, the Khmer would dominate what is now modern most of Thailand and half of Vietnam, with over a million people living in the capital. By the Tenth Century, the empire would stretch from the South China Sea, with the Mongolian and Tang empires penning it in to the North. Not a bad spread if you wanted to maintain control of trade in the Mekong.
Between 1296 and 1297, Chinese official Zhou Daguan would visit the Khmer Empire. In his chronicle of that visit, 'A Record of Cambodia: A Land and Its People,' he would say: 'It has long been a trading country.' Zhou would describe a land of gold and stone towers, with cloth flowing from Siam and Champa and silk for locals' parasols from China.
The vast wealth of the Khmer would come from the constant flow of raw materials in and out of the Empire. The empire would feed Southeast Asia's need for rice, with some 80% of the Khmer population participating in either the production or trade of this staple food.
This would be the golden age of the Khmer Empire, when Suryavarman II would start construction on the temple complex at Angkor Wat (it would be completed 27 years after his death). Angkor Wat would mirror the shape of the mythical Mount Meru which was said to be the convergence of the physical, metaphysical, and spiritual worlds. In this way, the Khmer kings would try to mirror heaven on Earth.
This wasn't simple piety; these Hindu (and latest Buddhist under Jayavarman VII) royals were eager keeping the gods on their side. A king would do his best to maintain a bearing which would best reflect the gods, and build temples which would emulate the shape of the heavens. Under the Khmer's rule, the more powerful and attractive the king, the more followers and land he would have.
Of course, that would mean a weak king whose bearing wasn't sufficiently divine would no longer be worthy of his kingdom.
Ironically, the wealth and majesty of the Khmer Empire would prove its undoing. Between the Twelfth and Fourteenth Centuries, the Tai people in the North (now modern Thai, Laotian, and Shan) were contending with the ever-expanding Mongol Empire. So they pulled up stakes from their rugged, mountain lives and moved south, creating the smaller kingdoms of Sukhothai, Lanna, and Ayutthaya, which gnawed at the periphery of the Khmer Empire.
The Khmer were unable to contend with the Northern invaders as well as longstanding rivalries with Champa in the East. So by 1431, the Thai kingdom of Ayutthaya would take Angkor and the Khmer kings retreated to Phnom Penh, the current capital of Cambodia.
The empire may be gone, but their temples still stand. And to this day, the people of Cambodia still speak of coming from the sea, of their ancestors, a Brahmin and a Naga princess.
- Main article: Khmer cities (Civ6)
- The Khmer civilization's symbol is the spire of a wat.
- The Khmer civilization ability references the water reservoirs built throughout the Khmer Empire.
- The Khmers are also playable in the Path to Nirvana scenario.