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).
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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.
The biggest strength of playing as Phoenicia, given by the civilization'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. Furthermore, 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. One interesting strategy is going for a Dark Age in Classical Era purposefully, since you do not care about loyalty at the very start. This lowers the Golden Age Era Score requirement for the rest of the game, opening up a possibility for a powerful Heroic Age in Medieval Era, where you can get both Free Inquiry and Monumentality Dedications, both of which are amazing with Phoenicia. However, remember that Hic Sunt Dracones and Reform the Coinage Dedications are also incredible with Phoenicia, but they are only available from Renaissance Era onward, but Free Inquiry is no longer a choice at this point, so you have to consider and choose your timing in terms of Era Scores in order to get the Dedications that you want.
Although you cannot cross deep oceans at an earlier technology like Norway or Māori, it should not matter too much since all land units (including your Settlers) can embark at Shipbuilding and that is all you need. Different from other civilizations, your route to Shipbuilding is quite smooth, as you will most likely have your Capital settled on the coast to boost Sailing and have at least 2 Biremes to boost Shipbuilding. Once you get there, the true game of colonization begins. Your Settlers pay no Movement to embark or disembark, can sail faster on water and have extra Sight, meaning they will most likely beat out anyone else to sail to bountiful land to mark it your own. Thanks to their cheap cost and extra Sight and Movement, Phoenicia is the only civilization who can afford to dedicate one Settler for naval exploration, since even if you lose one Settler as Phoenicia, it is not really the end of the world.
Starting the game with Eureka for Writing
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. Not exactly a strong bonus, but it can come in handy considering that Phoenicia is a naval civilization, who most likely will be picked on a naval map where civilizations are isolated from one another, so meeting a civilization early is not always possible.
Phoenicia and their Loyalty effects
In a recent update, the Loyalty flipping rule of cities got changed without any explicit documentation in the patch notes. A city used to flip when its Loyalty level reached 0, but now there are two rules in place dictating this:
- Necessary condition: Loyalty level of the city needs to reach 0 (same as before).
- Sufficient condition: The city's Loyalty per turn needs to be negative.
The new sufficient condition was introduced to counteract the active ability of the Cultist, a unit introduced in the Secret Societies game mode, but inadvertently makes Phoenicia a lot better at resisting foreign Loyalty pressure. If the Phoenician ability actually did what it says it does, all Phoenician cities founded on the coast on the same continent with their Capital would always have their Loyalty level at 100 and could never be changed; however, this is not the case. While these cities' Loyalty is immune to per-turn pressure from nearby foreign cities or abilities (e.g. Eleanor of Aquitaine's ability, Amani's Emissary Promotion), it is still vulnerable to abilities that reduce Loyalty by a set amount, like Lautaro's ability, Rock Bands with the Indie Promotion, the Foment Unrest espionage mission or Cultists in the Secret Societies mode. Despite not being able to prevent the necessary condition from happening, the Phoenician civilization ability does guarantee a pseudo-positive Loyalty pressure per turn for all coastal cities on the Capital's continent, so the sufficient condition can never take place and these cities can never flip. This is a huge improvement from before, when these Loyalty attacks could easily bring any civilization's cities to 0 Loyalty and cause them to flip next turn regardless of their per-turn Loyalty pressure.
Founder of Carthage
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. Note that in terms of the Wonder Casa de Contratación, which continents will be considered "home" or "foreign" will be decided and fixed upon completion or capture (will not change when the Capital is moved), so it will not be as flexible as the Policy Cards, take this into consideration.
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.
Move Capital special project
This project can be a lot of fun to play around with. In addition to how it can be used above, it can also guarantee (pretty much) that you will never be defeated in a Domination game. On a naval map, it is nigh impossible to attack Phoenicia, due to the ability to fully heal within a turn of naval units, plus the incredible speed you can crank these out. However, if you are challenging yourself by playing Phoenicia on a land map, and happen to spawn next to an aggressive civilization (that has strong military prowess on land, of course), here is what you can do:
- Run Move Capital project in multiple big cities. This project cannot be run simultaneously by more than one city, but you can "prep" it by switching Production to another thing once the project is 1 turn away from finished, and you can do this in multiple cities, preferably all of the major core cities of yours. If they are brave enough to play whack-a-mole with your Capital, let them, this tactic will delay them from getting what they want significantly and you will have enough time to wither their army down.
- If you do have access to the coast line, try to scout out another landmass (which is totally possible even on a land map) and put a city down there. This landmass is preferably small, maybe a few tiles only, so that other civilizations cannot gain a foothold by putting down their own cities here. Next, redirect and focus your Trade Route power to grow this city as fast as possible and do the same thing with the Move Capital project with this city. If this city is on a different continent, it is even better, you can just move the Capital here completely, satisfying both the economic purpose (outlined above) and the defense purpose (as outlined here). You technically successfully run away from your hostile militaristic neighbor, and since even the most frightening naval powerhouse like Norway has a hard time invading Phoenicia at sea, no one can play a Domination game against you.
- If you spawn in the middle of a landmass with no visible coast line in sight (and somehow brave enough to keep playing without reroll), your number one goal is to, as fast as possible, scout out the direction of the coast. If you really are challenging yourself and play on Pangaea and there is no way you can access the coast this game, find a prime location with at least one Lake tile. Your true power lies in the Cothon, you need to be able to construct this district in at least one of your city to run Move Capital project; otherwise, there will be no game to play with Phoenicia. Build the Cothon on the Lake tile you found, move your Capital there and surround that city with a legion of smaller cities. These cities will act like a wall shielding your Capital from invasion; the deeper your Capital is within your territory, the better, since you do not have the flexibility of moving your Capital back and forth like on a naval map.
The Cothon is an extremely powerful unique district, and nearly all of the game as Phoenicia revolves around this district. It should be the first district to be built 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). This means Celestial Navigation must be rushed, so try to scout for a Natural Wonder, settle a city on the coast and improve 2 sea resources in order to trigger the Eureka that lead to this technology, all of which are very simple for Phoenicians, considering their coastal starting bias.
The Loyalty bonus of the Phoenician civilization ability encourages coastal settlements, meaning every Cothon built most likely would benefit from the major adjacency bonus to its City Center. Taking into account the cheap price of unique Districts, the high adjacency bonuses of these Cothons and the number of Settlers Phoenicia can churn out in the first few eras, Phoenicia is the best civilization to benefit from a Free Inquiry Golden Age Dedication, when every other civilizations either cannot have enough infrastructure to make it impactful or do not have Districts with good adjacency.
The highlight of this District is that it provides 50% bonus Production towards Settlers. With the Ancestral Hall and the Colonization policy card, the Production bonus towards Settlers can reach 150%; however, this is only for the city with the Government Plaza, since the bonus of the Ancestral Hall is not empire-wide. Magnus should be promoted to reach Provision and assigned to the city with the Government Plaza, to turn this city to your main Settler factory. Other cities with good growth and Production can participate in training Settlers as well, 100% Production bonus from the Cothon and Colonization card should be impactful enough. These cities (without Magnus) should have decent growth to make up for constant the Population loss resulting from training Settlers en masse, but on the other hand, this is also a decent method to keep your Population in check and make the most out of your Food yields, since Phoenicia does not have any Housing to let their cities grow forever.
Besides the bonus towards building Settlers, any Phoenician cities with the Cothon can churn out a massive armada of ships. With the appropriate cards, Phoenician cities can have a permanent 150% Production bonus towards naval units of all type, at any moment in the game. Their fleet, although cannot be as vexatious as Norwegian fleet early on, will have a much more lasting impact than any other naval civilization in the game, just from the fact that no one can compete with the speed Phoenicia can crank out these units. Not to mention, naval units can heal in one turn in a city with a Cothon, rendering any attempt at naval domination against Phoenicia fruitless and generally, foolish. This district also poses a threat to the Phoenician neighbors as their ships can be built in quick order and can be sent home to heal extremely quickly. These newly conquered cities may come with their own Harbors on water-dominated maps, which will then turn into new Cothons, making them new bases for shipbuilding and quick healing. Therefore, as long as map generation is in Phoenician favor, their ships can all heal in just one turn in a conquered city with a Cothon, allowing them to roll from conquest to conquest in a hurry.
Since the Galley (or overall, any naval melee units in Civilization VI that are not under Harald Hardrada) has a really limited scope of usage in battle, the Bireme, which is a version of the Galley with improved stats, also serves mostly the same purpose: defending and scouting. If you are playing on a water-dominated map where there are several cities whose City Centers are adjacent to multiple Coast tiles (at least 2, ideally 3 or more), you can wage an all-out war just by using a group of Biremes themselves with little resistance thrown back at you, due to the Bireme's improved stats compared to the regular Galley. Otherwise, the only offensive purpose this unit can serve is occasionally plundering some Trade Routes, which does not happen often and you surely do not want to cause a ton of Grievances just for that.
Similarly to the Mandekalu Cavalry, the Bireme can protect Phoenician Traders on water, but it is unrealistic to be able to move this unit around to follow the Trade Routes, especially considering the "legion" of cities Phoenicia will have, their discounted unique Harbor, the Cothon, and even more Trade Routes from the Government Plaza. It is a mechanic that is just "there" without any practical implications.
On water-dominated maps, Phoenicia can be very effective at domination. You can think of them as Chandragupta of the sea, since Phoenicia can amass naval units very quickly 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 their 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. However, with the huge Gold generation from Trade Route plus the highest potential number of cities in the game, Phoenicia always has a leg up in all Scored Competitions.
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.
Remember that in order to win a Domination Victory against Phoenicia, you need to capture their current Capital, not their original one. This means if, during a conquest, Phoenicia manages to shift their Capital to another city, you should also switch target to that city. Once the current Capital is captured, that city be registered as the "original" Capital, meaning other civilizations who want to win a Domination Victory should vie for control of that city and Phoenicia should try to recapture it, regardless of where they move their new Capital to now. If military mobilization is too difficult, you should just settle on taking all of Phoenician big and important cities, since Move Capital is an expensive project and cannot be undertaken by small cities with low Production, and it cannot be run concurrently by multiple cities. When all the core cities are taken, it is borderline impossible for Phoenician Capital to evade capture. However, your army should be a lot bigger once it comes to invade Phoenicia, since this civilization is always deceptively defensive, and, most importantly, elusive.
Phoenicia's weakest point is in the Ancient and Classical Era, surprisingly, considering that both their unique unit and unique infrastructure are unlocked during this period. The key here is that Phoenicia is a snowball civilization, much like China, as their other bonuses require a lot of setup for success and they only have a small time window of opportunity, since the 150% extra Production towards Settlers does not come into play instantly, and these two eras are the prime time for settling; therefore, they can only be elusive with their special project starting from Medieval onward. Your job is to quickly rush Shipbuilding technology, so that your army can embark and invade Phoenicia, not at sea, but on land. Outside of their much expensive project, they do not have any defense capability on land in the early game, that is when you should strike down Phoenicia, or at least hamper their progress so the snowball would not roll over you.
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)
|Males||Females||Modern males||Modern females|
- The Phoenician civilization's symbol is the ʾālep (𐤀), the 1st letter of the Phoenician alphabet. This would later inspire the Greek letter Alpha, and the Latin letter A.
- 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.
- The Phoenicians starting with the Eureka for Writing is a reference to the Phoenician alphabet being the world's oldest known alphabet.
- Before the Phoenician civilization was released, the Phoenician city of Carthage was a city-state. After Phoenicia's release, Carthage became one of the Phoenician cities, and it was replaced by Ngazargamu.
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