The Phoenicians' civilization ability is Mediterranean Colonies, which makes coastal cities founded by them and located on the same continent as their Capital always have maximum Loyalty. It also makes embarked Settlers move faster, see farther and ignore additional Movement costs to embark and disembark, and grants them the Eureka for Writing from the start of the game. Their unique unit is the Bireme (which replaces the Galley), and their unique district is the Cothon (which replaces the Harbor).
With their 4 bonuses being highly synergistic with each other, the Phoenicians are well-equipped to spread their colonies across the globe, while at the same time, wrest control of the sea. Supported by a "legion" of cities, they can aim for whatever victory path they feel suited.
Mediterranean Colonies and Founder of Carthage Edit
The biggest strength of playing as Phoenicia, given by the civilization's and Dido's ability, is their unparalleled ability to go wide. Using the combination of the Cothon, Colonization policy card and Ancestral Hall, together with Magnus' Provision title, you can turn one of your cities into a Settler factory with a massive 150% Production bonus towards Settlers without losing Population every time you finish one. With Dido's leader ability, as long as you settle along the coast of your Capital's continent, Loyalty is the least of your concerns, so enjoy your constant forward settling without worrying your new settlements may revolt.
During the mid-game (Medieval Era onward), after settling your core territories, run your Move Capital special project to designate a different continent as your new home continent and start populating your cities there. By this time, your starting settlements should be large enough to reinforce each other's Loyalty so you no longer need to have your special ability focusing there. After having your Capital on a different continent than your starting one, aim for the Casa de Contratación Wonder, and run the Colonial Taxes and Colonial Offices policy cards and enjoy a huge bonus of total 15% Faith, 25% Production, 40% Gold, 15% Population Growth and 3 Loyalty per turn for every city that is not on the same continent as your Capital - after moving it, this will include your starting cities, which will have already had a chance to grow. Phoenicia can exploit this combination of Wonders and policy cards much more effectively than other colonialist civilizations like England or Spain, since they can freely designate which cities they want those massive boosts to apply to, most likely the cities in their core territories which already have very high Population, Production, Gold and Faith income.
While other civilizations may not prioritize the Government Plaza and its buildings right after their unlock, Phoenicia definitely should. The district itself with its three tiered buildings is the source of 4 extra Trade Routes and 50% Production bonus towards building districts in that city, not to mention the mighty Ancestral Hall, a key piece in Phoenician toolkit. Hence, the Plaza should be built in your biggest city where it is most likely to have enough resources to grow tall. A safe bet for this is your original Capital.
Getting the free Eureka for Writing means that the second district (or third, if the city has a Government Plaza) you prioritize after the Cothon should be the Campus. And it is generally a great advantage because you can rush many maritime technologies, like Shipbuilding and Celestial Navigation, and set yourself up for a Science Victory later in the game.
When you are playing against the Phoenicians, if they forward settle right next to you, try to take down any such settlements as soon as possible. Since they do not have to worry about Loyalty issues for the most part, it is only possible to flip those cities if they are not settled on the coast of the Capital's continent; the problem is exacerbated when they have their Cothon up and move their Capital right next to you. The main weakness of playing as Phoenicia is that their empire tends to be stretched out across multiple continents and landmasses, so military mobilization to protect new settlements is difficult. Therefore, either try to take down their new cities before they get a strong production foothold on your continent, or see your homeland next to you overrun by Phoenician cities in a nigh unstoppable snowballing fashion.
An extremely powerful unique district, nearly all of Phoenician might revolves around this district. It should be the absolute first district to be erected whenever a new city is founded (maybe except for your original Capital, where you can go Government Plaza and then Cothon, in order to build the Cothon much faster). Besides the bonus towards building Settlers, any Phoenician cities with the Cothon can churn out a massive armada of immortal boats and ships, who can all heal in only a turn, rendering any attempt at naval domination against Phoenicia fruitless and generally, foolish. City Patron Goddess pantheon, or to a lesser extent Reyna's Contractor title (since it is rather clunky to keep moving her around), is a fantastic pickup for the Phoenicians to, as quickly as possible, erect this almighty district.
Unlike the Cothon, this unit is underwhelming. It is a replacement for the Galley, a unit that sees a very limited use in combat, so the Bireme's extra Combat Strength and Moves are well-meaning but the scope of use is still narrow. The ability to protect Traders on water is nice but the idea of having a Bireme escorting each Trader is unrealistic, especially when we consider how quickly this unit gets obsolete and how many Trade Routes Phoenicia will have.
Victory Types Edit
On water-dominated maps, Phoenicia can be very effective at domination. You can think of it as Chandragupta of the sea, since Phoenician expertise lies within conquering its neighbors: can amass naval units in short time and can send them back to heal very quickly. The newly conquered cities are likely to come with their own Harbors, which will turn into Cothons, becoming new bases for shipbuilding and healing.
Due to its unparalleled ability to spread cities all over the globe, a Scientific, Cultural, or even a Religious Victory is not out of the question, since all of these Victory conditions are strongly supported by a wide empire. Only a Diplomatic Victory is rather hard to achieve for Phoenicia, because a wide empire does not generate any more Diplomatic Favor than a small one.
The Phoenicians were not a nation-state in the usual sense, as much as a loose affiliation of independent maritime cities, typically ruled by kings and sharing a common cultural history. The Phoenicians were master traders and seafarers, and their system of writing forms the basis of most Western written systems. The term “Phoenician” is a Greek word. In the Bible they are referred to as the Caananites, from the Akkadian “Kinahna.” Modern archaeologists believe they referred to themselves as Kena'ani.
Their four major cities—Tyre, Sidon, Arwad, and Byblos—were all in the Levant, in the area today of Lebanon and Syria. The area around Byblos has been occupied for almost 10,000 years, according to the archaeological evidence, with many archaeologists tracing the start of the Phoenician presence in the region to about 3000 BCE. For much of their early period, they were subject to the Pharaohs of Egypt, with a distinctively Phoenician identity by about 1500 BCE. Records of trade between Egypt and the Phoenicians help provide some of the earliest records of their culture.
The Phoenicians came through the worst of the Late Bronze Age Collapse surprisingly well. The defeat of the Egyptians opened more of the Levant for expansion, as far south as Israel today, and the Phoenicians seem to have moved easily into the political vacuum. Their trade networks expanded, and they appear to have begun a program of exploration and colonization across the Mediterranean, potentially as far as the British Isles in search of tin. Herodotus records Phoenician sailors circumnavigating Africa during this time.
Alexander the Great conquered their cities, but allowed them to maintain their role as traders. The Romans incorporated their Eastern cities into the province of Syria, but allowed them to operate as quasi-independent entities. The Phoenician colony of Carthage occupies a special place in history as the foil of the implacable early Romans during their period of expansion. The Punic Wars between Carthage and Rome mark the start of Rome as the preeminent Mediterranean power and the final decline of Phoenicia as the same.
Phoenician shipwrights seem to have been the first to add a second, staggered bank of rowers on the galley designs common to the era, creating the bireme (see that entry for more detail). They also provided shipbuilding services for numerous kingdoms, empires, and peoples around the Mediterranean, with Herodotus describing Phoenician contractors building vessels for the Persian invasion of Greece. It is often difficult to determine what constitutes a “Greek” or “Persian” ship in the historical record, as opposed to a Phoenician-built ship sold to a client. They build extensive harbors and lighthouses to aid navigation, with the Cothon of Carthage being a particularly splendid example of the form.
The Phoenicians come down to us in the historical record as master traders, capable of moving precious commodities (like tin, Lebanon cedar, and ivory) across the region. They were associated most closely with the purple dye created from murex shells, having the monopoly on this luxury dye production. Sources as diverse as the Iliad and the Bible attest to the skills of their metalworkers, and archaeologists have found gilded bronze statues of great value, apparently sacrificed in their rituals. Hiram, the master craftsman of Tyre, is the legendary builder of the Temple of Solomon. Phoenician artists may have invented glassblowing as an art form in the 1st Century.
Contemporaneous records of the Phoenicians do not speak well of them in many cases, mixing awe at their fabulous wealth and access to luxuries with disdain for the business of the import-export trade. The individual Phoenician cities had a fractious relationship with each other, and Phoenician expansion and settlement of cities frequently brought them into dispute with their neighbors for land and prestige. Indeed, the Punic Wars with Rome were caused by these tensions.
The Phoenicians worshipped a pantheon of gods, usually connected to local pantheons and often known by many names. Most scholars agree that the pantheon was headed by the great god El and that Astarte (or Ashtart) was the principal female deity, and a major cultic figure throughout the Phoenician territories in the Mediterranean. The authors of the Levant's great work of monotheism, the Bible, had a special and intense dislike of the Semitic polytheism of Phoenicia, which they do not bother to mask.
But the Phoenicians' longest-lasting contribution to history may have been the basis for their system of writing. This system used individual glyphs to represent different sound components of a word, and required the scribe to memorize fewer glyphs than any other logographic system (such as Egyptian hieroglyphics) meaning that literacy could be taught more easily. The wide circulation of Phoenician traders spread the system to the Phoenician's trading partners in a relatively short time. The earliest known traces of the written language are no younger than the mid-16th Century BCE, and may be centuries older than that. Greek (and its descendants), Hebrew, and Aramaic (and by extension Arabic) scripts are all derived from Phoenician. Consider that the first two letters of the Phoenician script are “alep” and “bet,” and reflect that the “alphabet” is one of the first educational experiences of a small child, and then ponder the great chain of human history that connects you to Phoenicia.
- Main article: Phoenician cities (Civ6)
- Yapachemou Abi
- The Phoenician civilization's symbol is the ʾālep (𐤀), the 1st letter of the Phoenician alphabet.
- The Phoenician colours reference their lucrative trade in purple dyes from the murex shellfish.
- The Phoenician civilization ability references their expansion throughout the Mediterranean Sea.
Queen of the Byrsa
Win a game as Dido