Secret Societies is the second game mode in Civilization VI, introduced in the Ethiopia Pack. It includes four different Secret Societies that players can join, but once a society is chosen, its membership will last the entire game and cannot be changed. Each society has its own perks for the members, including new resources, buildings, tile improvements, units and city projects. It requires either the Rise and Fall or the Gathering Storm expansion to play.
The Secret Societies Game Mode introduces four new "societies" - secret organizations with unique abilities which players may use to their benefit.
To join a Society, the player has to 'discover' it first. This is achieved via a specific gameplay action, which is different for each society:
- By sending an Envoy to a City-State (or earning one by meeting it first or fulfilling a quest), you discover the Owls of Minerva;
- By discovering a Natural wonder, you discover the Hermetic Order;
- By visiting a Tribal Village you discover the Voidsingers;
- By dispersing a Barbarian Camp, you discover the Sanguine Pact.
The chance for discovery is not always 100%, however - you may need to perform the necessary action several times in order to discover a society.
Once discovered, a Society will send you an invitation to join them. Note also that the first time you discover a Society (any Society), you will earn 1 Governor title. A new Governor will appear in your Governor screen - a representative for the respective Society, which will be your liaison with them. You 'join' the Society simply by choosing to promote this new Governor, using one of your Governor titles (hence the free title you gain when discovering the first Society!) Once you go through this 'initiation' process, competing Governors from other Societies will disappear - you may not join more than one Society. You can still discover new ones by performing the corresponding action listed above, but all you can do now is simply observe their secret signs and learn to recognize them in other Players (that is, learn which Society they are members of).
The new Governor has four unique titles, does not need to be assigned to a specific city, and has bonuses that apply to the entire empire. You can unlock these titles by earning Governor titles like normal, but tier 2, tier 3 and tier 4 titles can only be unlocked once the game has reached a certain era:
- The first title is unlocked since the beginning of the game.
- Medieval Era unlocks the second title;
- Industrial Era unlocks the third;
- Atomic Era unlocks the fourth.
Note that these are World Eras, not Individual Eras, so you can't rush it!
Below is the list of four Secret Societies that you can potentially choose from:
- The Owls of Minerva are puppeteers who mastermind plots behind the scenes and use espionage to achieve their goals. Joining their ranks grants access to an additional Economic Policy slot, as well as bonus Envoys from Trade Routes to City-States. Later on, members receive access to the Gilded Vault, a new building with all the benefits of a Bank, but also grants Gold adjacency bonus as a Culture adjacency bonus as well. It also grants an additional trade route for cities with a Harbor.
- The Hermetic Order values alchemy and occult science above all else. Their success comes from theories and inventions that other societies dismiss as mere fairy tales, such as Ley Lines. Ley Lines are a new map resource only Hermetic Order members can see, which gives major adjacency bonuses to all specialty districts. They also grant bonus yields whenever a Great Person is earned. Members of the society can eventually build the Alchemical Society, a University replacement building that has all of the base University effects, plus extra Great Merchant points, Great Engineer points, increased Production, and Gold.
- The Voidsingers follow a dark religion of ancient gods and sow chaos to control adversaries. Joining them unlocks the Old God Obelisk, which replaces the Monument. It has all of the Monument's base effects, and provides additional Faith and Great Works slots. The Voidsingers also have a unique unit, the Cultist. Purchased with Faith, Cultists can spend a charge to recruit followers in enemy cities, reducing the target city's Loyalty by calling its citizens to madness.
- The Sanguine Pact is a militaristic regime known for sapping enemies of their will to fight, shunning the sunlight. Joining the pact unlocks the unique Vampire unit, which gains Combat Strength when adjacent units perish. Instead of dying, Vampires retreat to safety with one HP and can be healed back to full by pillaging. Vampire Castles can be placed in any empty tile in your territory or in neutral territory and grant defensive bonuses and extra yields. In later eras, Vampire Castles allow you to teleport units between them.
The Secret Societies mode offers almost exclusively benefits (unlike some of the other modes, like Apocalypse): a set of bonuses for each different Society which are tailored to a particular gameplay style. The bonuses are well-suited for the particular moment of the game when they unlock, and subsequent bonuses often synergize with previous ones, or even enhance them. For example, the Ley Line resource is the first bonus of the Hermetic Society, and initially all it does is offer a Major Adjacency bonus to all Districts. Later, however, every Ley Line becomes a workable tile, and its yields increase with each Great Person you earn (or have earned in the past)! Thus, initially the player uses Ley lines only as good locations for Districts, but later may include them into its territory and reap great benefits by simply working them. The Vampire unit, on the other hand (the specialty of the Sanguine Pact) becomes stronger with each subsequent development, and even gains a Teleport ability!
Thus, joining a Society at the earliest opportunity is highly recommended. Of course, you shouldn't join the first society you discover - you need to decide which one will help you most in your chosen playstyle. Fortunately, discovering each Society shouldn't be much of a problem - the necessary actions are taken naturally in the first phase of the game. Still, if you plan to join the Hermetic Order or the Voidsingers you should concentrate on early scouting (so that you may find Tribal Villages and Natural wonders); this may also help when joining the Owls of Minerva, since it increases the chance of you being the first to meet a City-State (which nets you a free Envoy, and fulfills the requirement). If you want to join the Sanguine Pact, though, you should churn out units and attack aggressively the nearest Barbarians, before City-State warriors manage to disperse them.
Basically, we could equate the Secret Societies bonuses to Religious bonuses, and you should treat them as such. Of course, there is none of the added complexity of religious play, such as spreading religion, theological battles, victory - you only need to take a strategic decision in the beginning of the game. It is a very important decision, though, which Society you will join, because depending on your chosen playstyle you may reap great rewards, or simply waste away the opportunity. Non-aggressive players will find little benefit in possessing Vampires, while players which haven't developed their faith generation and religion won't be able to make good use of the Voidsingers' benefits.
Of course, not all is roses in this mode - you will receive a hefty diplomatic penalty with players which are members of a society different than your own. And of course, they will also reap the benefits of their respective societies, which will affect the overall balance in the game. Still, this negative is quite mild compared to having comets destroy your cities at the end of the game.
|Civilization VI Secret Societies |
|Hermetic Order||Neophyte • Adept • Magus • Aiwass||Alchemical Society • Ley Line • Occult Research|
|Owls of Minerva||Initiation • Ritual • Indoctrination • Master Plan||Gilded Vault|
|Sanguine Pact||Taste • Rising Hunger • Voivode • Endless Night||Vampire • Vampire Castle|
|Voidsingers||Melody • Chorus • Canticle • Symphony||Cultist • Dark Summoning • Old God Obelisk|
|Civilization VI Game modes |
|1 Requires a DLC|