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The Stepwell is a unique tile improvement of the Indian civilization in Civilization VI. It must be built on a flat, featureless land tile.


The Stepwell is an underwhelming tile improvement, as it directly competes for space with Farms and can usually be replaced with Farms for better Food Food yields.

Players are incentivized to build Stepwells next to a Farm and a Holy Site. A yield of +2 Food Food, +1 Faith Faith, and +1 Housing Housing is a strong yield in the Ancient Era, when they first become available. Even with just Farm adjacency, +2 Food Food and +1 Housing Housing is better than a Farm until Feudalism is researched. The key words in the previous sentence are "until Feudalism is researched." Feudalism marks a crucial milestone in every civilization's civic development, since it unlocks the powerful Serfdom policy card. Building Stepwells in the early game means you will have to train more Builders to build Farms elsewhere to trigger the Inspiration Inspiration for Feudalism. Feudalism only unlocks two eras after the Stepwell, making any investment into Stepwells inefficient. Additionally, the bonuses for building Stepwells adjacent to multiple Farms and Holy Sites aren't cumulative, so the Stepwell will often interfere with triangular placement of Farms. And since Stepwells cannot be placed next to one another, the total Food Food and Housing Housing can get from Stepwells building Stepwells in one city are always less than just focusing on building Farms.

There are three other unique improvements that grant 1 Housing Housing right from the get-go: the Kampung, Terrace Farm, and Mekewap. These, however, are among the most powerful improvements in the game because they either have a unique placement restriction that allows the civilization to take advantage of certain terrains before other civilizations can, or provide huge yields that scale well (Gold Gold for the Mekewap, Production Production and Food Food for the Terrace Farm and Kampung). Stepwells provide Faith Faith, but in an amount so small it doesn't make a difference: +1 with Feudalism and an additional +1 if placed next to a Holy Site. All in all, what the Stepwell critically lacks is an identity, as it's very hard to answer the question of why you should build Stepwells instead of Farms. A Stepwell may require less space and provide more Housing Housing than a Farm, but extra Housing Housing without enough Food Food to grow your cities is meaningless.

Despite their shortcomings, there are a few situations in which Stepwells should be considered. Since they can be built on terrain that Farms cannot, they make expansion into Desert, Tundra, and Snow biomes more feasible, which is especially important if you plan on building Petra, St. Basil's Cathedral, or the Amundsen-Scott Research Station. As unique improvements, Stepwells built outside a city's 3-hex workable area still provide extra Housing Housing when Farms do not. Lastly, in the expansions, an early Stepwell and Varu can help India reach a Golden Age Golden Age in the Classical Era. Gandhi can pick Exodus of the Evangelists to found and spread his religion, while Chandragupta can make good use of the extra Loyalty pressure when he begins his conquest with the Varu.

Civilopedia entry[]

A “stepwell” is a well or pool that can be reached by a set of steps. Although found in other regions, stepwells (known by a variety of names) are prevalent in India and Southeast Asia. The first rock-cut stepwells in India date from around 200 BC, and by 600 AD they were common throughout the Gujarat region; scholars believe that “cylindrical brick-lined wells” were a product of the early Bronze Age Indus Valley civilization. Many of the ancient Indian settlements had stepwells, and the elaborate ornamentation – some as detailed as those of any Hindu temple – show they were highly thought of by the citizenry. Not surprising, given the scarcity of clean water in the area. Alas, the British overseers of the Raj found the hygiene of the wells less than desirable, and so installed pumps and pipes to replace the stepwells in their holdings. Far less picturesque, but certainly more efficient.


Civilization VI Improvements [edit]
Standard AirstripCampFarmFishing BoatsFortGeothermal Plant GS-OnlyLumber MillMineMissile SiloMountain Tunnel GS-OnlyNational ParkOffshore Oil RigOffshore Wind Farm GS-OnlyOil WellPasturePlantationQuarryRailroad GS-OnlySeaside ResortSeastead GS-OnlySki Resort GS-OnlySolar Farm GS-OnlyWind Farm GS-Only
Unique ChâteauChemamull R&F-OnlyFeitoria1Golf Course R&F-OnlyGreat WallHacienda1Ice Hockey Rink GS-OnlyKampung1KurganMekewap R&F-OnlyMissionNubian Pyramid1Open-Air Museum GS-OnlyOutback Station1 GS-OnlyPairidaeza1Polder R&F-OnlyQhapaq Ñan GS-OnlyRock-Hewn Church1Roman FortSphinxStepwellTerrace Farm GS-OnlyZiggurat
City-state Alcázar1Batey1Cahokia Mounds GS-OnlyColossal HeadsMahavihara1Moai GS-OnlyMonastery1Nazca Line GS-OnlyTrading Dome1
Governor R&F-Only City Park R&F-OnlyFishery R&F-Only
Modes only Barricade4Corporation3Industry3Modernized Trap4Reinforced Barricade4Trap4Vampire Castle2
1 Requires DLC2 Secret Societies mode only • 3 Monopolies and Corporations mode only • 4 Zombie Defense mode only

R&F-Only Added in the Rise and Fall expansion pack.
GS-Only Added in the Gathering Storm expansion pack.