Resources are special commodities found in limited quantities on the map. As in all Civilization games, they are essential to your empire's development and are an important reason to seize and hold territory. Different resources may be found virtually anywhere except Ocean tiles. There is a limit of 1 resource per tile.
In order to gain access to and make use of a resource, you will first need to expand your territory onto its tile. Then, in order to make use of its tile yields, you have to assign a Citizen from a nearby city work it. To gain access to strategic and luxury resources' special functions, a Builder must spend one charge to improve them with the appropriate tile improvement. Accessing resources provides many benefits, including increased tile yields ( Production, Food, etc.), the ability to produce new military units, and extra Amenities for your civilization.
All resources are placed at the very start of the game, when the map is first generated - unlike in Civilization: Beyond Earth, resources cannot be created by player actions. The only exception to this rule comes when the Heroes and Legends game mode is activated - Maui has the ability to create bonus and luxury resources when standing on a neutral tile, which means that the player controlling him can literally litter the area around his or her starting cities with resources! The player, however, has no control over what resource is created - it may be either bonus or luxury, but it will always be one that can appear on the tile on which Maui stands (for example, Copper will never appear on flat land).
Most strategic resources are not visible in the beginning of the game, but they are nevertheless there. Antiquity Sites and Shipwrecks are also invisible in the beginning; however, it is unclear if they are actually placed at map creation, or the game uses a system similar to Civilization V where significant playing events (a battle, the destruction of a Barbarian Outpost, etc.) later become Antiquity Sites. It is known that Antiquity Sites may appear underneath districts; they won't, however, appear in a tile with any other resource.
Some resources spawn only on land tiles, some spawn on sea tiles, and some of them can spawn both on land and sea tiles ( Oil and Amber). Each resource has a specific spawn probability. For land resources the most frequent are Horses, Stone and Wheat, while for sea resources the most frequent are Fish and Crabs.
Each resource has a specific type of terrain or terrain feature that it is tied to, and it will not appear on any others. Some resources can be found on more than one type. There are certain terrains and features that may never hold a resource: Oceans (being too deep for effective exploration), Ice (being too cold and unstable), Mountains (being too tall), and Oases (being in themselves valuable). Rivers also can't hold resources, because they don't actually occupy tiles. Natural wonders are also too valuable in themselves to hold any additional resources. If you're familiar with the prevalent resources around your starting terrain, you will be able to guess what you will find nearby even without exploring.
Types of resources
There are a total of 4 different types of resources: Artifacts, Bonus Resources, Luxury Resources, and Strategic Resources.
Artifact spots are special "resources" on the map, since they do not have any extra yields and they cannot be developed. They can, however, be excavated by an Archaeologist to yield an Artifact, which can then be displayed if there is an appropriate slot in your empire. There are two types of artifact spots: Antiquity Sites and Shipwrecks.
Bonus resources are the most frequently found type of resource, and they are the most versatile in a strategic sense. They provide bonus Food, Production, or Gold to the tile's yield, benefiting a nearby city, and they can be improved further for even greater benefits. But that's not all:
- Bonus resources may be Harvested by a Builder - a new gameplay action which gives a significant, one-time boost benefiting the city owning the tile. The boost is comprised of a large quantity of the same bonus yield which the resource inherently provides to the tile (+20 Food, +20 Production, or +40 Gold, scaling by era). However, harvesting a bonus resource permanently removes it from the map. Harvesting of resources is unlocked with certain early technologies (e.g. Pottery allows the harvesting of Wheat and Rice).
- Bonus resources may also be Removed so city Districts or Wonders can be placed on their tiles. This happens automatically in the District or Wonder placement dialogue, and is almost, but not completely, the same as Harvesting: while it is unlocked by the same technology (e.g. a Wheat resource can be removed only after discovering Pottery), and it results in the resource vanishing from the tile, it is different from "Harvesting" for purposes of resources gained. When you Harvest the resource, you gain the bonus mentioned above, but when you remove it, you don't gain anything. This may be explained by the fact that Removing is done instantly without you needing a Builder to expend an action. Therefore, the Resource is basically wasted. To avoid this, have a Builder Harvest it beforehand, giving you access to lump sums of Food, Production or even Gold.
- Before Harvesting or Removing resources, it's important to remember that some bonus resources may be required for certain Wonders. For example, Stonehenge must be built next to Stone.
Finally, in Gathering Storm, Bonus resources may be destroyed outright by the eruption of a nearby Volcano. So, when you see such a resource in the blast radius, be sure to make use of it right away, before it gets destroyed. If its yields are useful to your civ in the long term, improve it; otherwise feel free to Harvest it.
Luxury resources are commodities highly prized by Citizens, and their availability helps increase Citizen happiness by granting Amenities. Most Luxury Resources are provided by the land, and you can access them by improving a tile that contains the resource or even founding a city on it (provided you've discovered the technology necessary to improve it). Some, however, are exclusive products of specific city-states and may only be obtained via achieving Suzerainty with them. Yet others are the lifework of Great Merchants, who you will need to attract to your civilization in order to access the resource.
You cannot place Districts or Wonders on tiles with Luxury Resources. Most luxury resources provide +1 Amenity for the 4 cities that need it the most, though a few special ones will provide for up to 6 cities. Duplicates of the same luxury resource will not supply additional cities; however, these extra resources may always be traded to other civilizations. Luxury resource tiles provide more varied tile yield bonuses than Bonus and Strategic resources. These include Gold, Science, Faith, and Culture, which aren't normally found on any terrain making these resources quite valuable.
The number of different water luxury resources is determined by the map size:
- 2 for Duel and Tiny maps
- 3 for Small and Standard maps
- 4 for Large and Huge maps
Note that in the Heroes and Legends mode the hero Anansi is able to consume Bonus and Luxury resources, removing them from the map altogether!
Strategic resources are those that are important from a military standpoint. They also provide some bonuses to tile yields, but more importantly, when the relevant tile improvement is built on them, they provide access to vital materials which allow you to build important military units (e.g. Horses are needed to produce Horsemen and Iron is needed to produce Swordsmen). All strategic resources, provided you start in the Ancient Era, are hidden at the beginning of the game - they do not appear on the map until you develop technologies to reveal each resource. Horses can be seen right from the start in the base game and Rise and Fall, but in Gathering Storm they are also hidden at the start and revealed with Animal Husbandry.
You can place districts, Wonders, and even cities on tiles which contain unrevealed strategic resources - in this case, upon discovering the relevant technology, you will gain use of the resource as if it were already improved. However, if there is a tile improvement on top of a strategic resource that doesn't match it (e.g. you have a Farm on a Niter resource), you will need to remove it and build the right improvement to access the resource.
Strategic resources cannot be harvested. Districts and wonders cannot be built on tiles with revealed strategic resources.
Vanilla Civilization VI and Rise and Fall
In order to produce some units like Knights or Tanks, you need access to improved tiles with a Strategic resource or you need to obtain it by trading with other civilizations. Two counts of a resource enable you to build a unit in each city, but only 1 count enables you to build a land unit in a military district and a naval unit in a port district. For example, if you only have 1 improved tile with Iron across your empire, all land units that require it may only be produced in cities that have an Encampment district, but if you have two improved tiles with Iron across your empire, you can produce those units even without the district, and in whatever city you want, provided it has the applicable production capabilities. This also means that having 3 improved tiles of the same strategic resource is of no further use to your civilization, and is a good trading commodity for deals with other leaders.
Gathering Storm alters the way Strategic resources are handled. Instead of each source producing 1 of that resource (3 sources meaning your empire would have 3 of the resource), now each source produces a certain number of the resource per turn, which is then added to your stockpile. Thus, if you have 2 sources of Iron (each producing 2 per turn), you will be gaining 4 of the resource per turn, until you reach your stockpile limit. The maximum stockpile amount is initially 50 for each resource, but constructing military buildings in your empire (Barracks, Armory, etc.) will increase your maximum stockpile by 10 per building for each resource. Everything using the resource (units, buildings, projects, etc.) will draw from this stockpile.
For example, you will need to gather and spend 20 Iron for each Swordsman you want to train or purchase. Or, if you want to turn all your Warriors into Swordsmen, but you have only stockpiled 30 Iron, you will be able to convert only 1, and wait to obtain more Iron for the rest. This means that Production or Gold are no longer the only things determining how quickly you can create units: how much of a resource you have stockpiled and how many sources you have are also important.
Additionally, Strategic resources are used in three distinct ways: for unit production, as fuel for unit upkeep, and for Power production for your cities. The second and third only enter into play from the Industrial Era on.
- Resources Used for Unit Production ( Horses, Iron, Niter, Aluminum). When producing or buying a unit requiring one of these resources, you will need to pay a set amount of the resource at the moment you start production (or the moment you purchase it). This puts a practical ceiling on the number of units you may purchase or start producing at the same time (i.e. within the same turn). When you exhaust your stockpiled resource, you will need to either wait for it to accumulate or trade for it with another player.
- Resources Used as Fuel for Units ( Coal, Oil, Uranium, Aluminum). When producing or buying a unit that requires one of these resources, its upfront cost will be greatly reduced. However, each turn, the unit will consume a certain amount of that resource as fuel. This puts other restrictions on you - rather than having a hard limit on how many units you may start producing at the same time (or you can purchase together), you now have to think of how production will affect your resource stockpile flow. The more units you have that consume a particular resource, the slower the resource will accumulate. Therefore, if you only have 1 source of a certain resource, you will only be able to safely maintain 3 units consuming that resource; if you have 2 sources, 6 units; and so on. Anything else and you risk depleting your resource stockpile, and then running into the consequences of having a negative resource flow (see below). You will then be forced to constantly trade with other players in order to replenish your stockpiles.
- Resources Used for Power Production ( Coal, Oil, Uranium). In addition to using these resources for fuel, they will also be needed for your Power Plants, which will consume them each turn and convert them into Power for your cities. This process is completely automatic and varies according to the number of buildings in your cities and how many Renewable energy sources you have used to replace Power Plants. Thus, in the late game, you will need to juggle powering up your cities and producing/maintaining units, and this is not an easy decision.
Note that the (un)availability of Strategic resources will also affect the units after you produce them. For example, if you had acquired Iron to produce Swordsmen, but have no continuous access to Iron Mines, those Swordsmen won't be able to Heal. For later units, lack of their respective Strategic resource will also mean a Combat Strength penalty during combat (which is proportional to the amount you're short).
Of course, Strategic resources may still be traded with other players. Arguably, the new system makes trading them even more important than before. Note, however, that unlike Gold trading, you can only trade lump quantities of Consumable resources, as opposed to trading a set number per turn.