The Persian people represent a civilization in Civilization VI. They are led by Cyrus, under whom their default colors are light purple and dark red. They are available with the Persia and Macedon Civilization & Scenario Pack, which was released on March 28, 2017.
The Persians' civilization ability is Satrapies, which provides +1 Trade Route capacity when they discover Political Philosophy, increases the Gold and Culture yield of their domestic Trade Routes, and gives them earlier access to advanced roads. Their unique unit is the Immortal (which replaces the Swordsman), and their unique tile improvement is the Pairidaeza.
Starting bias: None
Well-equipped for both a Domination and a Cultural Victory, Persians are the master of using roads, Trade Routes, and the element of surprise in war.
The Persians' special features point toward developing them as a military civilization first and a cultural civilization second. Their civilization ability makes it easy for them to develop a strong infrastructure and road network, so your first order of business when playing as Persia should be to expand your empire and start establishing Trade Routes between your cities. Research Iron Working and Craftsmanship (for the Agoge Policy Card) while founding your first 2-3 cities, then build Encampments around them (with Barracks, when possible) and start producing Immortals. They can fulfill the roles of both Warriors and Archers, and four or five of them accompanied by a more maneuverable Horseman or Heavy Chariot will be able to break through the defenses of any early city, so start looking for unsuspecting neighbors right away. You will have to decide how to use your Trade Routes, depending on which victory path you are prioritizing: send internal Trade Routes for extra Culture but send external Trade Routes to establish Trading Posts to gain Diplomatic Visibility, so that when you declare war, you gain an edge in Combat Strength. However, considering the snowballing nature of Domination Victory, as well as Persia's preferred opportunity window lies in the early game with their unique unit, the Immortals, early international Trade Routes are recommended. Later in the game, if you want to switch to a Cultural path, it is still possible, while it is so much harder to switch from Cultural to Domination when your unique unit is obsolete. Furthermore, an underrated aspect of this ability is that Persians can use Roads more effectively than anyone else, making the mobility of their army top-tiered.
Once you've dealt with your neighbors, or at least crippled them to a degree where they cannot pose any threats to your empire, you'll have to choose between going for a Domination Victory or a Culture Victory. More Trade Routes will help you along either path, so be sure to build Commercial Hubs or Harbors in every city of yours.
If you choose a Domination Victory, focus on sending your Traders to the cities most in need of better yields. Build Pairidaezas around your Commercial Hubs to bring in extra Gold and help you work your way up the civics tree, and keep producing and upgrading units as you research new technologies. Your Immortals will upgrade to Musketmen, which will be very useful the next time you want to add some cities to your empire. Cyrus's leader ability will make the warmongering penalties for Surprise Wars less severe, so don't hesitate to attack a civ with a weak army...but don't go to war with too many civs at once.
If you choose a Culture Victory, focus on building Theater Squares around your cities and surrounding them with Pairidaezas to increase your Culture output. If you founded a religion, you can build Holy Sites for even greater benefits. Save up Gold to patronize Great People, and try to leave coastal flatland tiles in your territory undeveloped - their value will become apparent once you research Radio.
If you're going for a Domination Victory, this leg of the game should be pretty straightforward. Continue building Encampments and Commercial Hubs to keep your military and economy strong (as well as the occasional Campus if you start to fall behind in Science output) and using domestic Trade Routes to generate Culture and Gold. Produce new units and upgrade old ones as often as necessary, and go to war with your opponents as soon as you're strong enough to capture their Capitals. Unfortunately, most of them will probably be denouncing you as a warmonger at every opportunity, so you'll either have to declare war on them within 5 turns of being denounced or wait for their denunciations to wear off - otherwise, your declaration will count as a Formal War rather than a Surprise War, and your troops won't receive a Movement bonus.
If you're going for a Culture Victory, research Flight and build Cristo Redentor as soon as you can. The former will make your Pairidaezas generate Tourism, and the latter will improve the yields of Seaside Resorts, which you should start building along your coastline as soon as you research Radio. Any adjacent Pairidaezas will further increase the Seaside Resorts' yields, providing you with vast sums of Gold and Tourism. If you have a city near a natural wonder or a cluster of undeveloped tiles with high Appeal, establish a National Park there and then build Pairidaezas around it to further increase its Tourism output. If you can put all of these improvements in place and maintain Trade Routes with other civilizations, the tourists will be flocking to your borders in no time flat.
Fall of Babylon
Up to Gathering Storm, there are four leaders with a similar trope of ability: declare a certain type of war for a bonus, with Cyrus having the undoubtedly the most powerful yet easiest to use one. You do not need to satisfy any condition to be able to declare a surprise war, not to mention there is no need for prior denouncement, which gives you the precious element of surprise. To get the Domination ball rolling, starting in the Ancient Era, scout out the surrounding area and try to look for easy targets, which include empires that do not have militaristic bonuses, do not prefer a large standing army or late-game oriented civilizations. While you are building up your army, try to do two things. One, send a Trade Route to them. When the Trade Route is finished, a Trading Post will be established in their empire, giving you some intel that you can use to give you an edge in the war. Two, try to send delegations. The success rate of this is the highest right after you meet the AI leader (as experienced human players will know what you try to do and turn your delegation down), as the AI behavior is erratic and they may dislike you for no reason, so try to send it ASAP. This further boosts your Diplomatic Visibility. Remember not to accept if they try to send a delegation to you; it will diminish the Diplomatic Visibility difference you have over them, which in turn makes your army slightly weaker when fighting. With advanced Road systems from Satrapies, extra Movement and Combat Strength from Surprise War declarations and Diplomatic Visibility, Persia has no difficulty winning the war. When released, in Cyrus' ability description, there is a line that says "Occupied cities receive no yield penalty"; however, following the release of Rise and Fall, this line is omitted despite its effect still being present in the game up to date. Therefore, you can wage your war beyond the time limit of the Movement and Combat Strength bonus (10 turns) if you feel you are winning so hard you can keep going, as your occupied cities will continue growing in the meantime. This practice is discouraged later in the game as long wars take a toll on your empire's Amenities.
It should be noted that any declaration of Surprise War will give the Movement bonus to your units. Thus, if your ten turns of increased Movement run out, it is a relatively safe strategy to declare a Surprise War on a far-off civilization to keep the Movement bonus in your war against your real target.
The Immortal is an anomaly: in spite of being a melee unit and following the appropriate promotion table, it is essentially an Archer with 20 extra Combat Strength and the ability to capture cities. Being able to pelt enemies with arrows from a distance while having the resilience to defend itself against attacks allows the Immortal to quickly and safely gain XP and levels, and groups of them can chip away at cities until they're ripe for the taking. Later on, when the Persians have researched Apprenticeship and stockpiled some Iron, they can upgrade their Immortals to Men-At-Arms and have a powerful force of melee units at their disposal.
Note that, by default, the Immortal attacks in melee. This matters because the right-click attack shortcut will trigger a melee attack instead of a ranged shot (as it does for ranged units). If you want your Immortal to shoot the target instead of approaching and attacking it in melee, you should explicitly give a ranged strike command, and not right-click!
The Pairidaeza provides the Persians with cultural and economic benefits that grow even more potent when it's placed next to a City Center or one of three Districts, thus encouraging close-packed city layouts. It also increases the Appeal of all surrounding tiles by 1, which can create ideal spots for Neighborhoods, Seaside Resorts, and National Parks. If the Persians choose the Earth Goddess pantheon, the Pairidaeza's Appeal bonus will translate into a meaningful Faith income and potentially allow them to simultaneously pursue Domination, Cultural, and Religious Victories. Pairidaezas are particularly useful when placed on Hills and inland tiles adjacent to coastal flatland, on which Seaside Resorts can then be placed for rich Gold and Tourism yields.
As detailed above, either a Domination Victory or a Cultural Victory is the best choice for the Persians. Their bonuses can also assist with a Religious Victory to some degree: the Movement bonus from Surprise Wars applies to religious units as well, the extra early Culture can help them unlock Theocracy sooner, Appeal from Pairidaezas can reliably generate a lot of Faith if they have the Earth Goddess pantheon. With Persia, these three Victory conditions go very well together, since you can pick up Crusade belief and use your military prowess to spread your good words, and a strong Faith income and high Appeal land tiles is great for Great People patronage and National Park establishment.
Persia can be an imposing neighbor to have during the early game. Their bonuses toward Surprise Wars combined with their potent Immortals can spell doom for any unprepared civilization in the Classical Era. But it is crucial to always remain wary of Persia, even when their era of dominance has passed. Even with evenly matched armies, your units can be easily toppled by Persia's quicker, stronger ones. No matter your advantage, a war with Persia will always be costly, expending time, attention, and Production. Thus, you should try to avoid a war with Persia by any means possible. Send a delegation, trade open borders, and make Cyrus happy by whatever means possible so you can declare friendship. Once you have done so, you can merely renew your friendship every time it ends to ensure you will be safe from Persia for the rest of the game.
Additionally, there is one civilization that completely denies the power of Persia's Surprise Wars by merely existing: Canada. Thanks to Four Faces of Peace, no civilization can declare Surprise Wars on them, leaving Cyrus's Fall of Babylon ability practically useless. While Canada lacks any early game bonuses to defend against Persia's Immortals, they are still an excellent option to survive against Persia. Merely separating Persian units from their Movement and Combat Strength bonuses makes their army substantially weaker, so as long as Canada builds walls and plenty of ranged units, they can defend against Persia with little effort.
In times of peace, Persia is truly threatening only to other players pursuing a Cultural Victory, thanks to the Appeal bonus of their Pairidaezas enabling National Parks. But any Tourism Persia could muster from their Pairidaezas is easily surpassed by any directly culturally-focused civilizations, such as America or Canada. And even if Persia's Tourism becomes too much of an issue, one should never feel afraid to give them a taste of their own medicine and utilize some Surprise Wars of your own.
At its height, the Persian Empire encompassed most of Mesopotamia, Asia Minor, the shores of the Black Sea, some of Central Asia (what would one day become Afghanistan), parts of the Caucasus mountains, Egypt, Thrace, and Macedon. For nearly two centuries, Persia had mastered the “cradle of civilization”—until a Macedone upstart named Alexander crushed the world's greatest power in less than four years.
Just as notable as its ignominious collapse was its improbable start. According to several accounts (all of them suspect), it all began when a young Cyrus II couldn’t get along with his grandfather Astyages. To be fair, the old king did try to have Cyrus killed at birth … so when Cyrus proclaimed himself king of Persia in 546 BCE, his grandfather’s lands were first on the list of conquest. By roughly 540 BCE he overran Lydia and a year later marched in triumph to capture Babylon. He now ruled an empire that reached from the borders of Egypt to the shores of the Black Sea, encompassing all of ancient Mesopotamia.
By all accounts, Cyrus II—now known as "Cyrus the Great," or the “King of Kings”—was, for his time, an relatively enlightened ruler. His Persian Empire was the first in history to govern a slew of distinct ethnic groups on the basis of equitable responsibilities and rights for each, so long as his subjects paid their taxes and kept the peace. Cyrus established a system of local nobles called "satraps" to administer each province autonomously, and pledged not to interfere in the local customs, religions, and economies of the conquered peoples. He built fortresses along the eastern border to limit the depredations of barbarians from the steppes, such as the Scythians, who may (or may not) have been the cause of his untimely death in 530 BCE.
Cyrus was succeeded by his son Cambyses II, who promptly murdered his own brother Bardiya to ensure his rule would not be challenged. As was the style at the time, he followed fratricide with an invasion. Cambyses marched his armies to Egypt in 525 BCE, winning victories at Pelusium and Memphis, but his attacks on neighboring Carthage and Nubia did not fare as well. Nonetheless, Egypt and its wealth was a nice addition to the empire. In the midst of all this campaigning, Cambyses received word of a revolt against him led by his brother, Bardiya—the same one he had previously murdered. On the way home to make sure his brother's death took this time, Cambyses himself died under mysterious circumstances.
Coincidentally, a distant relative of Cambyses named Darius—one of the Persian generals with access to his king around the time of his death—claimed that Cambyses took his own life out of despair. Darius marched his troops to Media and killed Bardiya, who he labeled an imposter. Without a clear line of succession to dissuade him, Darius claimed the throne, leading several provinces to immediately revolt at his presumption. After 19 battles in a single year, Darius had put paid to most of these uprisings.
Tranquility returned to the empire. Darius was in firm enough control by 521 BCE that he reorganized the administration, made Aramaic the official language of the sprawling empire, and created a uniform monetary system based around the “daric,” because naming a coin after one's self was one of the perks of (presumed) usurpation. Under Darius, the Persian Empire also standardized weights and measures, instituted a program of road construction, such as the rebuilding and completion of the 1677-mile “Royal Road” from Susa to Sardis, and began lots of public works in the cities of Susa, Babylon, Memphis, Pasargadae and new Persepolis.
By 516 BCE, he considered his rule stable enough to invade the distant Indus Valley, which he conquered within the year. After appointing the Greek Scylax to serve as his satrap from the city of Gandhara, Darius decided to reorganize the empire. He divided it into 20 provinces, each under a satrap he appointed (usually one of his relatives), and each paying a fixed rate of tribute. To prevent the satraps from building a power base to threaten rebellion, Darius appointed a separate military commander in each satrapy, answerable only to him. Imperial spies (known as “King’s ears”) kept tabs on both satrap and military commander, reporting back to Darius on a regular basis.
Having returned from India victorious, Darius (now known as “the Great”) turned his attention to the Scythians. The horse barbarians refused to engage in a pitched battle, but their constant withdrawals cost the Scythians their best pasture lands, scattered their herds, and lost them several allies. Still, the Persian infantry were suffering from fatigue and privation themselves after a month of marching into the wilderness. Darius, concerned that the fruitless campaign would only cost him more men, and convinced that Scythian fortunes had been damaged enough, halted his army on the banks of the Oarus. According to Herodotus he built “eight great forts, each some distance from each other." After declaring his stalemate a victory, he departed to seek far less mobile foes in Europe.
The expedition began with Darius crossing the Hellespont and getting involved in fractious Greek politics. This led to the invasion of Thrace, followed by the capture of several city-states in the northern Aegean. Macedon submitted voluntarily to Persia, becoming a vassal kingdom. Darius left his general Megabyzus to finish off Thrace while the king returned to relax at Sardis. But it wasn’t long until a number of Greek cities in Ionia revolted and, supported by Athens and Eretria, an Ionian force captured and burnt Sardis in 498 BCE—to the presumed irritation of Darius.
With the “Ionian Revolt” finally and utterly crushed, Darius sent his son-in-law to reconquer Thrace and Macedon in 492 BCE, then dispatched an expedition to Greece to force Eretria and Athens to submit to his will. After island hopping across the Aegean, overwhelming Naxos on the way, the Persians besieged, captured and burnt Eretria in 490 BCE. They then marched south along the coast of Attica, looking to do the same to Athens, but were thoroughly defeated by 30,000 allied Greek soldiers at Marathon. Darius immediately began preparations for another invasion, this time planning to personally take command, but died three years into the effort.
His successors—starting with his son Xerxes I—were left to deal with the upstart Greeks. And, despite ruling the greatest empire yet known to the world, they managed to bungle it.
Xerxes first quelled a revolt in Egypt, but unlike his predecessors, Xerxes dealt harshly with the rebellious province by removing the local leaders and imposing direct Persian control on the citizens. He did the same to the Babylonians when they revolted in 482 BCE. Finally, Xerxes led a great army into northern Greece, supported by a powerful Persian navy. The city-states in his path fell to the invaders fairly easily, and despite a heroic stand of Spartans and Boeotians at Thermopylae, the Greeks were unable to stop Xerxes’s army from marching to Athens and sacking the most important city-state in Greece.
However, the Athenians had evacuated their city before the Persians arrived, and their navy remained a potent force. Xerxes learned just how potent at the battle of Salamis in 480 BCE, when a Greek fleet of some 370 triremes soundly defeated 800 Persian galleys, destroying perhaps 300 Persian vessels at a cost of 40 Greek ships. This defeat delayed the planned Persian offensive further into Greece for a year, giving the Greeks time to strengthen their defenses against the invaders. Xerxes was forced to return to Persia, leaving his general Mardonius in command, and the Greeks promptly won several important naval and land battles against the new leader. With Mardonius's death in the battle of Plataea, the campaign was over and the surviving Persians withdrew from Greece in disorder.
Xerxes never mounted another invasion of Greece, though this was more due to his assassination than a lack of interest. In 465 BCE he fell victim to a plot engineered by the commander of his own royal bodyguard, who was in turn was killed by Xerxes's son Artaxerxes.
Ruling from 465 BCE to 404 BCE, the three Persian kings who followed Xerxes I—Artaxerxes I, Xerxes II, and Darius II—were weak and uninspiring. At the end of the 5th Century BCE the Persians regained some power in the Aegean, successfully playing the Greeks against one-another during the long Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta. However, an Egyptian revolt in 405 BCE wrested the wayward province out of Persian control for more than 50 years.
Darius II was succeeded by Artaxerxes II, who ruled for 45 years. During his long reign Artaxerxes II fought a war against Sparta, once again over the Greek colonies in Asia Minor. Persia allied with the Athenians (who were recovering from their disastrous defeat in the Peloponnesian War) and Sparta was forced to come to terms.
Despite these occasional successes, Persian weakness and disorganization grew as the 4th Century BCE progressed. In 373 BCE a group of satraps revolted. They were put down, but other revolts followed, and with growing frequency. The position of king was increasingly unstable. Artaxerxes III came to the throne as a result of treachery in 359 BCE, and in an attempt to secure his position he promptly murdered as many of his relatives as he could find. In 338 BCE Artaxerxes III was poisoned at the orders of the eunuch Bagoas, who placed Artaxerxes's youngest son Arses in power. Arses promptly tried to kill Bagoas, but his effort failed and he himself was killed. Bagoas then elevated Darius III to the throne.
A former satrap of Armenia, Darius III was only distantly related to the late king(s)—but nearly everybody else with a better claim was dead. It is difficult to tell if he was an effective leader, for the Persian Empire had been in decline for well over a century by the time he assumed the throne. Its many component parts were in near-constant revolt against the increasingly inept central government. Palace intrigue further crippled the monarchy, and leaders who wished to survive spent as much time watching their backs as they did looking out for the interests of the empire. Any leader who took power under those circumstances would be in trouble.
However bad things were at home, they paled into insignificance with the troubles headed Darius’s way from across the Hellespont. In 336 BCE a young Macedone king named Alexander, later labelled “the Great,” sought to topple the tottering Persian Empire. Darius repeatedly met him in battle, often with far superior numbers, and Alexander simply destroyed his armies one after another. The Persian capital Persepolis fell to Alexander’s armies in 330 BCE, and Darius was murdered the same year. The last Achaemenid “King of Kings” had fallen.
- Main article: Persian cities (Civ6)
|Males||Females||Modern males||Modern females|
- When the Persians were first added to the game, their colors were periwinkle and blood red. They were later changed to lavender and red, which now applies to all rulesets.
- The Persian civilization's symbol is an eagle with a sun above its head, based on a stylized variant of the "falcon standard" of the Achaemenid Empire.
- The Persian civilization ability references the provinces into which the Achaemenid Empire was divided.
King of the Four Corners of the World
Win a regular game as Cyrus
Some Wine For Your Soldiers?
Playing as Persia, conquer the original Scythian capital within 10 turns of declaring a surprise war on Scythia
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