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The term territory refers to the land and water tiles owned by a given civilization or city-state in Civilization VI. As in all other games from the series, a civilization's territory is its most cherished possession.
There is a slight, but important, difference between the territory a leader claims to own and what his or her empire actually owns. The first are the imaginary boundaries that they aim to control eventually, but don't yet - if someone else settles inside these boundaries, they will grow angry, but otherwise will be unable to prevent it. But as a certain civilization spreads its influence around its cities, the neutral tribes living in the land will start acknowledging this civilization's rule and considering themselves as part of it. Thus, these tiles will be joined to the relevant civilization's actual territory, and no other civilization will be able to claim control of them, save by right of conquest (or political treaties, see below).
For visual convenience all different civilizations' territories are painted in different color. Each civilization and city-state in the game has a specific color assigned to it, so that you can always tell at a glance which land belongs to whom.
Gathering Storm introduced the "Jersey System," which includes secondary colors assigned to each civilization. If there happen to be two civs in the same game with similar primary colors, then the game assigns a secondary color to one of them in order to facilitate the distinction.
Types of territory
In the beginning of the game all land is unclaimed - that is, neutral. There are some wild tribes living there, but they have their own lords and serve no higher entity.
As civilizations and city-states become established, little by little neutral land swears allegiance to one political entity or another, ceases to be neutral, and joins the relevant civilization. Once a tile becomes part of someone's territory, it can only return to being neutral if the city controlling the territory is wiped out (razed). In all other cases this land will continue belonging to one or another state until the end of the game.
Neutral tiles are subject to claim at all times - any state which founds a city nearby or whose cities manage to extend their cultural influence will be able to conquer it.
Movement through neutral territory is always free for all entities. Roads and other infrastructure built there are also usable by everyone.
This is territory belonging to entities friendly to your civilization. Of course, this always includes your own territory; but besides that, it will include:
- The territory of any city-state of which you are currently the Suzerain.
- The territory of any civilization with which you have an Alliance (of any type).
Your units are able to enter freely into Friendly territory; they may also Heal there at an accelerated rate, and they may Upgrade there.
Note that territory belonging to a civilization with which you have an Open Borders agreement is not considered Friendly (despite what Civilopedia claims). You may enter this territory freely and use their Road network, but you cannot Upgrade your units or Heal quickly. Instead, you will Heal as if you were in Rival territory.
Rival (enemy) territory
This is the territory belonging to any other civilization you have no Open Borders agreement with, or any City-state you're not the Suzerain of. Note that usually you have no right at all to enter such territory, except with religious units (which are a special case anyway). However, if you enter hostilities with this civilization or city-state, you may enter freely their territory; but you will be unable to use their infrastructure (Roads and such), and your land units will Heal at a rate even lower than in neutral territory.
- Main article: Lens (Civ6)
In the very beginning of the game no civilization (either major or minor) has any territory - they all start with a Settler (one or more, depending on game difficulty), and only after settling their first city will they start claiming territory. However, note that the game engine separates some land for each civilization, taking into account eventual starting biases (for example, England, Indonesia and others start near coast, Mali starts near a desert, and Brazil starts near a rainforest) - this means that their initial Settlers won't be too close to each other, and will have some space for expansion. This space is viewed by the AI as "their" land, and often other civs settling cities there will be met with a diplomatic outrage.
Another effect of this spacing is that minor civilizations (i.e. city-states) often end up clumped together in areas not allocated to the major civs. So, if while exploring initially, you keep not meeting any city-states, be prepared to soon bump into a major civilization.
Of course, as the game progresses these starting territories have less and less meaning. One expansionist civilization which keeps settling new cities and taking new lands may start viewing areas close to the new settlements as theirs, while a militaristic civilization won't care one bit about who considers what theirs - they will simply enter and take possession. Also, city-states are considered always and by all to be fair game, and a conquest goal.
Importance of territory
Simply put, states (and their cities) can only benefit from tiles they control. Cities can only construct Districts and wonders in tiles belonging to them; Citizens from cities can only work tiles that are part of your empire's territory; Builders may only construct economical improvements on land inside your territory; consequently, your empire may only use resources if they are inside its territory. But there's more:
Once the Early Empire civic has been developed, a civilization's border patrols start turning back intruders, and other civs' military units may only enter if you have granted them Open Borders, or if they declare war on you. Several key civilian units, including Settlers and Builders, are also barred from passing. This means that you are able to effectively block enemy economic development and military undertakings if you're in a crucial geographical spot on the map.
Of course, this means other civilizations' and city-states' territory is also off-limits to you. In order to enter a particular civ's territory, you need to gain an Open Borders treaty from them; in order to enter a city-state's territory, you need to become their Suzerain.
Note that all Traders may pass freely through others' territory; the same is valid for all religious units.
Given the importance of territorial expansion, it's no wonder that leaders in the game are sensitive to others settling near their cities, or Purchasing tiles near their borders! Also, having a common border with another civilization is usually an automatic cause of disputes and worsening of relations.
At the start of the game your civilization has no territory whatsoever. In order to claim territory, you (and all your rivals) need to settle cities. There are several ways to expand your territory:
By city foundation
Each city you settle will immediately claim all surrounding neutral tiles. This is the fastest and surest way to claim land in the game, so you should always look to Found cities near tiles you absolutely want. Know that if you dawdle and depend on other gameplay elements to claim certain tile, a competitor may well beat you to it!
Of course, there is the rule that you cannot Found cities up to three tiles away from other cities.
By cultural influence
Of course, you cannot found so many cities as to claim directly all tiles you want as your territory! The second means of extending your borders is slower, but far easier and natural: cultural influence.
Once a city is founded in the wilderness, the example of its comforts and opportunities will start slowly spreading your empire's influence in the countryside. This process is the faster the bigger the city's Culture generation is. Thus, one by one, the city will continue extending its borders into neighbor neutral tiles (but not into tiles belonging to other entities). Each time, a certain amount of Culture needs to accumulate, which will result in claiming a new tile. This tile will be adjacent to a tile the city currently owns (territorial growth is always gradual). Note that the more territory the city claims, the higher the accumulated Culture needed to claim new tiles.
You can visualize the next tile the city's territory will grow to by activating either the Citizen assignment, or the Tile Purchase option of the city command tab. The tile will be displayed in purple, and the number in it will show in how many turns the growth will occur.
As usual, tiles with resources or those bordering resources will be claimed first, then tiles with important terrain features, and finally tiles without anything special. Tiles which are relatively closer to the City Center, however, always have priority, sometimes even over more distant tiles with resources.
Note that cultural border extension will only claim tiles within a 5-hex radius of the City Center. Besides, the Culture cost of claiming new tiles eventually becomes so great that a city is unlikely to claim them before the game ends.
You may spend Gold to Purchase any tile bordering the current boundaries of a city. The tile will be added to your territory immediately, the wild men there dazzled by the riches you have so suddenly showered upon them. Note that you can only Purchase tiles up to 3 hexes away from the City Center.
There is a base price which rises the farther the tile is from the City Center. It starts at 50 Gold for a tile 2 hexes away, and 75 Gold for one 3 hexes away. Furthermore, the price rises when you discover more civics and research more technologies, so you are actually advised to buy tiles you want as early as possible. Unlike in Civilization V, resources don't seem to affect the price of tiles.
By building wonders
Building a World Wonder is now another way to extend the borders of your empire (although this is hardly the main purpose of building wonders). Every time a city of yours finishes a wonder, it expands its territory by 2 tiles automatically, and without losing its normal Culture progress.
Force has been a way to claim territory since time immemorial, and it still is, apparently. When one civilization wages war on another and manages to conquer one of their cities, all territory controlled by this city switches hands immediately even before the actual fate of the city is decided. This is the way one civ can claim the most tiles at once, because usually the city controls much more territory than a newly established one. Note that this territory may later switch hands back to its original owner at the peace negotiations.
Speaking of negotiations, diplomacy is also a way to claim another civilization's city. However, depending on the set difficulty, this may be an uncommon occurrence, as cities are an empire's most cherished possessions (as mentioned above) - a leader will only surrender a city they own if their army is defeated and they face utter annihilation, or if they are the one to offer a peace deal.
By Culture Bombing
- Main article: Culture Bomb (Civ6)
Poland, Australia, Jayavarman VII, the Netherlands, and the Māori can trigger Culture Bombs to add tiles to their territory - Poland's are triggered by building Forts or Encampments, Australia's are triggered by building Pastures, Jayavarman VII's are triggered by building Holy Sites, the Netherlands' are triggered by building Harbors, and the Māori's are triggered by building Fishing Boats. Triggering a Culture Bomb gives the civilization control of all adjacent tiles, even if they had already been claimed by another civilization.
Russia has a more benign ability that provides additional territory upon founding a city. However, this additional territory comes only from neutral tiles, never from already owned ones.
One of the religious beliefs, Burial Grounds (Warrior Monks in Gathering Storm), causes Holy Sites built in a cities that follow the appropriate religion to trigger a Culture Bomb. Also, in Gathering Storm the World Congress' Border Treaty Resolution allows a civilization to Culture Bomb nearby tiles by building any district.
You may have observed that we referred several times to territory possessed by a specific city, and not by a civilization. In fact, a civ's territory is only formed by the combination of territories controlled by all cities belonging to that civ. This becomes important in cases when there are two or more cities close to each other where their 3-tile rings are overlapping. On these overlapping tiles, each of them can be worked by only one city at a time. This city will benefit from the tile's yields, and its tile modifiers, if any, will apply to this tile, while the other cities within range won't benefit or affect the tile. At the same time, when it comes to building Districts or wonders on such a tile, only the city possessing the tile will be able to do that there.
In other words, even though all tiles in your territory appear a continuous part of your civilization, one tile will only belong to one city! Let's demonstrate this with a common gameplay example: let's have City A and City B, whose centers are found 4 hexes away from each other; and a Tile Z, found right in the middle between both cities (that is, standing less than three tiles from each center), but has been claimed by City B. In this case, when City A attempts to build a District in Tile Z you will notice that the tile chooser won't let you select Tile Z, even though it appears to be well within your territory and close enough to City A! In order to circumvent this, you will have to click the Manage Citizens button to swap tiles between cities. A tile with a Wonder, a District, Ice Hockey Rink, Open-Air Museum or Golf Course cannot be swapped; therefore, when you play as a civilization with one of these tile improvements, or want to build a district or a Wonder, you should be extra careful which tiles you want to belong to which cities.
It is also worth nothing that a tile adjacent to the City Center of one city cannot be swapped to another city, even if that tile is within 3 tiles of another City Center.