The Mayan people (or Maya) represent a civilization in Civilization VI. They are led by Lady Six Sky, under whom their default colors are light blue and teal. They are available with the Maya & Gran Colombia Pack, which was released on May 21, 2020.
The Mayans' civilization ability is Mayab, which prevents their cities from gaining extra Housing from being adjacent to fresh water or coast, but grants their Farms additional Housing and Gold, and additional Production if adjacent to an Observatory. Their cities also gain Amenities from Luxury Resources adjacent to the City Center. Their unique unit is the Hul'che (which replaces the Archer), and their unique District is the Observatory (which replaces the Campus).
Starting bias: Tier 1 towards Grassland, Grassland (Hills), Plains and Plains (Hills); tier 2 towards Citrus, Coffee, Cotton, Cocoa, Dyes, Incense, Olives, Silk, Spices, Sugar, Tea, Tobacco, and Wine; tier 3 towards Desert, Desert (Hills), Tundra, Tundra (Hills), Snow, Snow (Hills), and Mountains on Desert, Tundra, and Snow
Masters at building a clustered empire surrounding the Capital using their outstanding technological advancements, the Maya returns to Civilization VI in a dominant fashion. Led by Lady Six Sky, the Maya presents an interesting new challenge on how to build a tall empire in a game that favors going wide.
For the Maya, rivers are not exactly your best friend. They do not receive any Housing from water, so settling next to a River only brings you destruction from Floods. Of course, you do not have to run from it either, but settle just one tile away from rivers, far enough to avoid Floods but close enough to benefit from the extra Flood yields. This is incredibly helpful on Disaster setting 4. Settling one tile away from rivers also creates a perfect spot for your Aqueduct, a district that you will want to build in every single city as the Maya, as it will always provide the maximum number of Housing and a major adjacency bonus for your future Industrial Zone. When putting down a city, it is important to keep this in mind and always look for a spot where it is possible to construct your Aqueduct. An extra note, the city-state Mohenjo-Daro doesn't benefit the Maya at all, since they don't receive any Housing from water.
When putting down cities, you would like to avoid Coast, Tundra or Desert, and try to look for an area with a lot of flat Grassland or Plains tiles, ideally with Plantation resources as well. These flat land tiles will be improved with Farms later, which are the source engine for the Maya to build up their tall empire, since each Mayan Farm provides 1.5 Housing, triple the Housing amount provided by a regular Farm. Plantation resources are just a cherry on top, since Plantations give major adjacency bonuses to the Observatory, which will translate into a huge amount of Science boost.
The two specialty districts you should absolutely build in every single city of yours are the Observatory and the Industrial Zone, together with the Aqueduct, which is a non-specialty district. You can slide a Dam in as well, if you can create a spot for your Industrial Zone to be adjacent to both the Aqueduct and the Dam, but overall, the Aqueduct is more important, since it provides more Housing, is cheaper, and gives your Industrial Zone the same amount of bonus Production. All of this leads to the next point: Military Engineers. In Gathering Storm, this unit is strong but often forgotten by players, but you should not forget about it when playing as the Maya. Since the Maya don't have a lot of incentives to build Encampments, you should still have at least one, so that when you unlock Armory, you can train Military Engineers to hasten the Production of engineering districts. A fully developed Encampment gives you +4 Era Score and raises your Resource Stockpile cap by 30, which is valuable for every Science-focused empire, since you will have to burn resources to power up your buildings later in the game. For the non-domination-focused Mayans, one Encampment is enough. The Encampment should be built in the Capital; since it is in the middle of your compact empire, Engineers trained there will have an easier and faster travelling time, not to mention your Capital is most likely your biggest city with the most available district slots. As with every other civilizations, Commercial Hubs and Harbors are also crucial to sustain your Gold income, so getting them in every city after the Observatories and Industrial Zones is recommended.
Extra Amenities from luxury resources adjacent to the City Center
A bonus that is often forgotten about is the bonus Amenity when settling next to a Luxury Resource. This bonus also applies if you settle directly on top of a Luxury Resource. However, if the spot is adjacent to multiple Plantation Resources, it is better to settle nearby and save that spot for your Observatory.
At first, this may sound like an important bonus to couple with the tendency with grow tall cities of the Maya, but in practice, settling cities next to luxury resources is always less of a priority than trying to pack as many cities as possible around the Capital. This is one of those bonuses that is nice to have, but very rarely will it be at the forefront of your mind.
Extra Gold and Production from Farms
Every Mayan Farm grants 1 Gold by default, and if it is next to an Observatory, each Farm will grant 1 Production as well. Since Farms are the source engine of the Mayan empire, these yields may sound little on paper, but they can quickly add up considering how many Farms you will be constructing, and the fact that you are already incentivized to put Farms next to Observatories to boost their Science adjacency bonus. Of course, since these yields do not scale, they will quickly taper off later into the game, but in the first two eras, these extra sources of income can help you upgrade Slingers into Hul'che and maintain an army of Hul'che to conquer neighbors or city-states who are a little bit too close for comfort, or purchase and train Builders to quickly get your cities off to a good start.
Ix Mutal Ajaw
City planning around the Capital
This is the most complicated aspect of the Maya to master, considering it heavily relies on map generation. The maximum number of cities that can settle within the radius of six tiles around the Capital is 12; however, this number should be treated as a guideline, since any of these cities can be in Tundra, Snow or Desert tiles where you cannot build Farms, or one of the cities in the inner ring is already too close to the Coast to settle another city in the outer ring in that direction. The minimum number of additional settlements you should have is 6, shaped like an equilateral hexagon whose side is 6 tiles each, surrounding your Capital. In the beginning of the game, after settling your Capital, you should send your Warrior and Scout to survey the 6-tile radius around your Capital (ideally 8-9 tile radius since you want to see the land you can grab for the cities in the outer ring as well), and immediately put down 6 map pins marking the City Center placement for the 6 cities in the outer ring. This will establish clearly for you the area you have to work with and where the bonus/malus boundary is. Despite going tall instead of wide, your first Government Plaza building should still be the Ancestral Hall, as your goal is not to train many Settlers, but you have to pump them out quickly to claim land. Land and location are of the utmost importance and the crux of Maya gameplay; losing out on this may force you to go into unwanted conquest, which eventually will cost more than just a few Settlers.
When beginning the settling process, always remember to put down the six cities in the outer ring first, as this will allow you to claim all the land that can benefit from your leader ability. If you want to cram more cities into the inner ring later, that is up to you, but in the early game, claiming all the land within six tiles of your Capital is of utmost importance. If you stumble upon a City-state or an unwanted neighbor that block a potential location for one of your cities in the outer ring, you may want to consider a war. Early wars are often expensive but you are aided with your Combat Strength bonus around your Capital, your strong Hul'che and your Observatory as a catch-up mechanic just in case things do not go as planned. Things are a little bit more complicated when that city does not directly block your spot, but is settled just outside the 6-tile ring so that when you capture that city, you still have to raze it and build another Settler to put down a new city just to avoid the 15% yield penalty. Obviously, it is still up to you to make the call, even if you are down with a city with 15% yield penalty in order to save the Production on a Settler, but more often that not, it is preferable to go to war if it is a city of another civilization and let it go if it is a City-state. Nearby City-states are easier to be the Suzerain of, and they start with Ancient Walls on higher difficulties, which make it incredibly tough to take down with just Hul'che and Warriors. Therefore, instead of putting a city in the outer ring, in the land area next to that particular City-state, move into the inner ring and put down your city there instead. Of course, now you will have a city that is a bit too close to your Capital, but since you do not have a city in the outer ring in that direction anymore and the City-state is outside of the six tile radius, this city still has plenty of room to grow. If the city is from another civilization, go hamper their process, your Observatory will be more than enough to make up for lost time in infrastructure thanks to its Science output. The only other civilization in the game with as much Science potential as you is Korea, and if they are in your game as your next door neighbor, you should definitely take them down, as they have next to none in terms of early game defense.
The biggest downfall of any empire with little land area comes in the Industrial Era, when you suddenly realize you lack plenty of important late game Strategic Resources; the two most important ones for Maya are Coal and Aluminum. This is why the Ancestral Hall is definitely the tier 1 Government building you should go for, and not the Audience Chamber just because you are building a tall empire. You need to build a few extra Settlers to claim land to secure these Strategic resources, the two most important are Coal, for the huge Production power spike in the Industrial Era, and to move Magnus with Vertical Integration to the Capital as soon as possible, and Aluminum for the Lagrange Laser Station later. Oil and Uranium are good, too, obviously, but if you have to choose, consider the other two Resources with a little bit higher in priority. Your new settlements are most likely in subprime positions where you cannot build Farms to gain Housing and with the 15% yield penalty, but it should not matter. The only point of these cities is to provide you with a steady source of Strategic resources, they do not need to produce anything, and they will come with a free Builder from your Ancestral Hall to improve these resources, which is very handy, since you do not have to spend Gold on buying one.
The Industrial Era should be a major spike in Production for every empire who wants to be viable from this point onward, as this is the time when Coal, Factory and Coal Power Plant are unlocked. You should build the Factory in every single city of yours, cities within the 6 tile radius of your Capital are a must, other cities are optional, depending on whether or not these cities are required to be major players in your empire, but most of the time, they are not necessary. At this point of the game, you should grab Magnus and his Vertical Integration title and put him in the Capital, turning it into a massive Production hub that will guarantee building everything in just a few turns. However, remember, Coal Power Plants give you the most Production out of the 3 types of Power Plants, but its Production is localized; therefore, if you build Coal Power Plants in every city, Magnus' Vertical Integration will not do anything, since there is no area-of-effect Production to be had. It is suggested that the city where Magnus is assigned should have a Coal Power Plant but everywhere else should either get an Oil or a Nuclear Power Plant to truly benefit from his titles. For this reason, you should build 2 Spaceports, 1 in your Capital and 1 in the city with the highest Production outside the Capital, to benefit from both Magnus and Pingala's Space Initiative. For a detailed guide on city planning surrounding the Industrial Zone, head here.
A Wonder that will make a strong combo with this ability is the Colosseum. This is one of the best Wonders in the game, and it is even better if built in the Capital of the Maya due to the compact nature of their empire. The Jebel Barkal works in the same fashion as the Colosseum, but provides Faith instead. Faith is not exactly the most useful yield for the Maya, and this Wonder should only be considered if you decide to go on a Religious path.
Free Builders for cities within 6 tiles of the Capital
The April 2021 Update introduced an incredible buff to the Maya: every city within 6 tile radius of the Capital now starts with a free Builder. If you build the Ancestral Hall, that will be 2 Builders granted to such cities! Considering how reliant the Maya is on Builders, since their cities start with a pathetic amount of Housing and growth, this buff instantly eliminates a lot of their issues when before you would need to spend Gold or many turns languishing with low Production to train one. The free Builder should build at least one Farm to raise the Housing limit of the city, allowing growth to be at normal level, and then improve luxury resources, with Plantation resources having the highest priority.
Considering how important Science and the Campus are in Civilization VI, just having a permanent 50% discount on building Campuses alone is really impactful. The Mayan Observatory, instead of gaining adjacency bonuses from Mountains, Reefs, and Geothermal Fissures, gains a major bonus from each adjacent Plantation and a minor bonus from each adjacent Farm or District. This is the true winning condition of the Maya, since they will race towards a Scientific Victory in a pace that can be matched only by a few other civilizations. Since the Maya have a Tier 2 starting bias towards Plantation Resources and Tier 1 bias towards Grassland and Plains, it is quite simple to get an Observatory with at least +4 Science adjacency in every city, since just 1 Plantation and 5 Farms surrounding an Observatory will give it +4 already. This district is also a good reason why the Maya are not afraid of waging early wars to claim land around their Capital, since its Science potential will help you tremendously in catching up in scientific advancement. The raw potential of this district even eclipses the Seowon, since it is easy to get it up to the starting adjacency bonus of the Seowon, and it scales upward dramatically with each adjacent Plantation.
With higher Ranged Strength than the Archer and a bonus against wounded units, the Hul'che is similar to the Pítati Archer with part of Tomyris's leader ability. However, its use case generally differs from that of the Pítati Archer or the Scythians' ranged units in that it is best used for fending off early aggression and capturing cities of enemies who settle within the Maya homeland, rather than as a tool for early aggression itself. To this end, the Hul'che also receives Lady Six Sky's bonus of +5 Combat Strength within 6 tiles of the Mayan Capital, which can result in the Hul'che rivaling the Crossbowman when firing on injured enemies close to the Capital! Generally speaking, Hul'che are best used in pairs or trios, with one Hul'che delivering the initial blow and the rest killing or severely wounding the target with their enhanced Ranged Strength.
Despite the in-game description stating that the Hul'che receives +5 Combat Strength when fighting wounded units, the bonus only applies in the form of Ranged Strength on offense without extra Combat Strength on defense when it gets attacked by a wounded unit.
Obviously the Maya are heavily skewed towards a Scientific Victory with their unique Campus and its absurd Science output, along with their high Production from their clustered cities. The Maya can technically compete for other victory conditions as well, but each has its own drawback. The Hul'che can be an effective domination vessel for snowballing, but conquered cities most likely will receive a 15% penalty to all yields if they are not close to the Capital. High Production allows the Maya to construct Wonders quickly for a Cultural Victory, but a compact empire means there will be less space for cultural improvements. A Diplomatic Victory is not out of the question either: high Production means they can complete World Congress projects faster to compete for Diplomatic Victory points. This is especially easily in Apocalypse mode. Religious Victory often demands a wide empire with a lot of Holy Sites, since the cost of Faith purchasing scales rather quickly, so it is more reasonable to go on this path if the map is not too large, and the Jebel Barkal is highly recommended in this case.
The Maya are a solid civilization with very few exploitable weaknesses, since during the time they need to reinforce their infrastructure (Ancient and Classical), they basically have a unique Archer which is almost as strong as a Crossbowman (and the Hul'che is not even more expensive than the regular Archer!) when defending close to the Capital, so trying to invade them is almost impossible. The key to unravel a Mayan empire is to harass them with fast-moving Light Cavalry units, most likely your Horsemen at this point of the game. The amount of Housing each Mayan city starts with is pathetic, and they have to build up a lot of Farms and Plantations, meaning they will rely on (and will train a lot of) Builders. Use your Horsemen to quickly steal their Builders and immediately retreat before they get blown up by just a team of Hul'che. If it can be safely done, they can pillage their Farms and Plantations just to add extra pain. Remember, in order for the Observatory to gain adjacency bonuses, Plantations and Farms have to be built, with those two improvements pillaged, this district is so much worse than the regular Campus since they cannot gain adjacency bonuses from anything else other than a minor bonus from adjacent districts.
The Maya are very reliant on good map generation, due to Lady Six Sky's ability being a strength just as much as a liability. Since every city founded outside a limited boundary of six tiles will receive 15% reduction in all yields, they would like to found as many cities within this radius as possible. By settling cities 7-8 tiles away from the Mayan Capital, you deny the Maya from good city locations yet preventing them from easily retaliating with Lady Six Sky's Combat Strength bonus.
The early Mayas rose in the Yucatán Peninsula and established city-states between 2000 BC and 250 AD. These city-states were governed and ruled by divinely-blessed rulers, and ranged from both small settlements to metropolises, such as the city-state known today as El Mirador. The city-states were never united politically in the same way as other Mesoamerican cultures, but they still shared a common language and culture. They competed with as much as they relied on each other for growth and the projection of power.
The Mayas chose a unique (and rather brave) place to settle. The Yucatán Peninsula wasn’t good for the kind of agriculture that most other civilizations practiced. Rather than settling around river valleys, the Maya built in tropical rainforests, with thin soil atop limestone foundations. A lack of a river meant that transportation was difficult, and finding drinking water problematic. But adversity can often lead to innovation. Where the water was too saline, the early Maya learned how to filter water through the limestone to make it drinkable, and where the jungle was too dense, they created raised earthen mounds on which to grow crops. One of the most important developments the Maya made was the creation of their written language, which consisted of glyphs.
Maya glyphs were designed to fit within individual blocks and read almost like comic panels, going left, right, then down below the first left one, and so on. These glyphs were a mixture of pictographic and phonetic characters, rather like modern-day Japanese. The Maya were avid record keepers, and their script remained in use up until the arrival of the Europeans in Mesoamerica.
While most of their books (codices made of tree-bark) were burned during the Spanish conquest, their monuments, or “stelae,” survive. As the Maya dated their stelae with their Long Count calendar, we can use them to identify historical dates from quite far back.
By 250 AD, the Maya began strengthening their power in major cities such as Calakmul, Palenque, Tikal, Bonampak, Kaminaljuyu, and Copán. In this era, there were over 40 Maya cities, with populations between 5,000 and 50,000 people. As these cities grew, the Maya thrived. They built ball courts for popular games, constructed massive pyramids (which grew ever more massive thanks to the Maya’s layered building methods), and educated a scholarly elite.
Maya pyramids were created differently from Egyptian ones. Rather than using only bricks, they started with a base foundation of limestone and mortar. They then covered this with plaster, which was then painted. Any time they wanted to make improvements, they simply had to throw on some more limestone, cover it again, and paint it. There was no need for lengthy, complicated renovations, and they didn’t have to worry about structural issues. These pyramids were usually places of worship. These temples, known as “k’uh nah’, had multiple rooms, each dedicated to a deity.
Maya cities were sprawling and made up of these temples, palaces, and ball courts, all of which were set around central plazas. The cities could have multiple plazas and then the other structures grew outward from them. Art frescos and sculptures adorned the wealthier areas. Art was created for the royal court, or at least, created to be about them. Art was also used to commemorate important moments in their history. Recent advances in radar technology has revealed the extent of these cities; whereas before archaeologists assumed that the Maya were a largely dispersed people, coming together only at temple complexes, new studies have revealed strikingly large settlements, sprawled out over the jungle.
Maya life wasn’t all monuments, math, sports, and science. Military campaigns were frequent, whether it be to establish rule, to take control over trade routes, or to send a message to an enemy city-state. Combat and the subsequent battles were important enough to be memorialized and glorified in art and hieroglyphic engravings. To be a good ruler, a Maya also had to be a good warrior. They were expected to lead battles and be good tacticians. The kings and societal elites who were defeated were captured and subsequently sacrificed. Such sacrifices were rare, though, and for the most part, the Maya focused on other kinds of sacrifices: drops of blood on paper burned as an offering, for instance.
By the 900s, the Maya declined in both power and population, and some cities were entirely abandoned. But this decline turned out to be just another revolution in the cycle of rise and fall, and, by the 1100s, new cities were forming, particularly along the Caribbean and Gulf coast.
One of the most powerful of these cities, Mayapan, was, when the Spanish arrived by accident (literally – they were shipwrecked) in 1511, in yet another state of collapse. Following the first contact, the Spanish sent three more expeditions to the Yucatán and took over the Aztec capital in Tenochtitlan in 1521. From there, they turned south to modern-day Guatemala and began their conquest of Central America. By 1697, the Spanish defeated the last Maya city, Nojpeté.
Although the Maya cities were gone and the Spanish tried to erase elements of the Maya culture, the Maya continued to persist in small villages, where they maintained their traditional life. Even after the conquest, some of these practices continued, especially food culture and crafts. Today, the Maya are still around, and the language, tzolk’in ritual calendar, and other elements of Maya society thrive.
- Main article: Mayan cities (Civ6)
|Males||Females||Modern males||Modern females|
|Bound-stone Jaguar||Twelve Baby Macaws||Spearthrower Owl||Batzek|
|Smoking Squirrel||Star House||Stokes-the-Sky||Great Flower|
|Scroll Serpent||Lady White Quetzal||Eighteen Rabbit||Lady Green Quetzal|
|Moon Jaguar||Baby Jaguar||Cauac Head||Lady Shield|
|Shield Skull||Lady Skull||Jaguar Smoke||Earth Shark|
|Turtle Tooth||Scroll-in-hand||Tree Branch Rain God||Binding-K’inich|
|Lord Chocolate||Waterlily Hand||Moon Centipede||Heart of Wind Place|
|Bird Claw||Eveningstar||Smoking Frog||Yohl Ik'nal|
|Storm Sky||Shell Star||Moon Zero Bird||Bird Jaguar|
|White Hilly Gopher||Lady Crocodile||Monkey Star||Full Flower|
- The Maya civilization's symbol is the head of the Feathered Serpent, a prominent supernatural entity found in many Mesoamerican myths.
- The Mayan civilization ability is the Mayan name for the Yucatán Peninsula, the central area of Mayan civilization.
- Before the Mayan civilization was released, the Mayan city of Palenque was a city-state. After the Maya's release, Palenque became one of the Mayan cities, and it was replaced by Mitla.
Court of Itzamna
As the Maya found a settlement adjacent to 4 luxury resources.
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