Civilization VI brings about a veritable clash of religions, and this is not just figurative speaking! Religious units in the game may engage in Theological Combat, calling with Scripture in hand upon the powers of God to destroy their opponents (meta)physically. Thus, the new Religious Victory acquires a new strategical depth, when different players seek to not only spread their religions in the normal way, but also defeat the religious agents of other Religions.
Theological Combat happens when two agents of two different Religions enter into a contest. For this to happen, they need to be in neighboring tiles (just like melee units), and the attacking unit be physically able to enter the defender's tile. Right-clicking on the enemy unit will initiate the combat, just like a normal attack.
Note that only Apostles and Inquisitors can initiate theological combat (attack, that is) against other religious units. Missionaries and Gurus may become the target of such an attack, but they may not initiate it themselves.
It is also interesting to note that since the Fall 2017 Update, a Religious unit staying in the same tile as a friendly military unit is not protected anymore - since Religious units now move in their own layer, a potential attacker may physically access this tile, regardless of the 'enemy' military unit there, and can thus initiate an attack. However, a unit may still hide in a City Center, or an Encampment - enemy Religious units may not enter such tiles, and a defending unit will be safe there.Terrain features, such as Rivers may also become means of defense, or at least impediment for enemies, just as they are in normal Military combat. For instance, a Religious unit which hasn't 3 remaining MPs with which to cross a river will be unable to attack a Religious unit which is on its other side. Note, however, that the normal defense bonuses physical terrain confers do not apply here - it won't matter if the defending unit stays on a Hill or beyond a River, for example.
Theological combat cannot happen between two Embarked units; however, it could happen between an Embarked unit and another one on the shore, if they are immediately adjacent to each other (and the attacker has enough MPs to enter the defender's tile). In this case, Amphibious attack penalty does not apply, if the attacking unit is the Embarked one (after all, this is no physical combat!).
All Religious units exercise Zone of Control, which further restricts movement, just as in a physical battle (another part of the Fall 2017 Update). Additionally, City Centers and Encampments also exercise ZOC if you're at war with the relevant nation, which makes maneuvering in enemy territory even more difficult. This will force commanders to plan battles with multiple religious units just as they would do a real physical battle; taking into account, of course, the fact that Religious units may only attack each other in Melee. In addition, flanking bonus still applies!
Finally, note that units of nations which have formed a Religious Alliance cannot attack each other. And of course, units of different nations which, however, belong to the same religion cannot attack each other!
These rules may sound a bit restrictive, but in fact the fast speed of all Religious units (they all have 4 MPs), and the fact that all of them (excluding the Inquisitor) may freely enter enemy territory, even without Open Borders, makes organizing theological contests quite easy.
Creating Religious Units Edit
Religious units (all of them) may only be purchased with Faith in a city with a Holy Site District, which has a Majority Religion. Note that all units purchased in a particular city will belong to the religion that the city is following at the moment of purchase.
Additionally, the Missionary requires a Shrine, the Apostle and the Guru requires a Temple, and the Inquisitor requires both a Temple and an Apostle of the same Religion as the current Majority Religion in the city to have previously Launched an Inquisition.
The Faith price of the units grows every time one is Purchased. In fact, the only time the price diminishes is when you adopt the Theocracy government, which provides a discount to all Purchases with Faith.
Whenever you Purchase an Apostle, he may select a special Promotion in the beginning of the next turn. He is given a choice between three of the special list of Religious Promotions. Note that the Apostle cannot earn XP towards more Promotions (despite the UI suggesting otherwise), so choose wisely which Promotion you want. Their effects are very interesting, and good for a wide range of activities in the game: some help him spread his Religion more effectively, others make him more effective in Theological Combat. For a full list of available Promotions, check the Apostle article.
If you are the Suzerain of the Yerevan City-State, you may choose from the entire list of Promotions, instead of from just three random ones. Additionally, if you have constructed the Mont St. Michel Wonder, every Apostle will receive the Martyr Promotion for free, and in addition to any other he chooses normally. Note, however, that this limits the list of choices for a second promotion to two. Finally, in Rise and Fall, Moksha the Cardinal allows any Apostle (and also Warrior Monk) Purchased in the city where he is Governor to get two Promotions, instead of just one!
All Religious units' qualities remain the same throughout the game. Unlike military units, they don't gain experience, and don't upgrade to more powerful units. There are other factors, however, which influence any particular theological contest, and make them distinct and interesting, so do not think that the strategic part has been swept under the rug.
The Battle Edit
A Theological contest is not like a regular battle, despite looking like one. All Theological battles result in the units' loss of HP, just like in a regular battle, and the loss is determined by the difference between the Religious strengths of the two contestants. However, unlike a regular battle, the Terrain bonuses that apply have nothing to do with the physical qualities of the tile where the battle is fought - instead, they are related to whose territory this tile belongs to. Furthermore, every "blow" directed against an enemy unit appears in the form of a thundercloud forming over the enemy unit, shooting down lightning to injure or kill the enemy unit.
Since the Fall 2017 Update, Formation bonuses apply in Theological combat, so if you use swarms of units in battle and manage to move them in place, you will gain a significant advantage. Note, however, that all Religious units exert Zone of Control, which makes maneuvering with large armies a nightmare (despite Religious units being among the most mobile in the game).
A theological contest follows the rules of engagement of melee combat: the attacking unit must be next to the target, and have enough MPs left to be able to move onto the target's tile. Note that before the Fall 2017 Update military units in the same tile acted as guardians for religious units (since enemy units couldn't enter this tile to attack). The update, however, moved all Religious units on their own 'layer', separated from the military layer, and this sort of protection is no longer possible.
Injured Religious units do not Heal in the normal way (that is, if they stay in one place, even inside your own territory, they will not regain lost HP). Instead, all Religious units will Heal when standing on or next to a Holy Site in their own territory (Holy Sites in other lands don't work, even if their parent city follows your religion). So, when organizing 'invasions' in foreign lands, know that your units won't be able to heal unless you have the new Guru unit, which is able to heal allied Religious units in the field.
There are multiple bonuses which may alter the Religious strength of the contestants. Many of them are available since the early game, but many others only become available later with Civic development. They may be organized into the following categories:
- Civic bonuses:
- Theocratic government confers a +5 bonus to all units in all situations.
- Religious Orders Policy confers a +5 bonus to all units in all situations.
- Wars of Religion also seems to confer bonuses in Theological combat, but only in certain circumstances. For example, it works when attacking with an Inquisitor, and the target is not in your territory (and, of course, their Religion is different than yours). More research is needed.
- Location bonuses (they are effective only when the unit is defending):
- Being in the territory of a city following this Religion confers a Holy Ground bonus of +5.
- Being on the territory of the Holy City of this Religion confers a bonus of +15.
- Formation bonuses (Flanking and Support) apply in the relevant situations.
- Diplomatic visibility bonuses (aka "Intel on enemy movements'): the units of the civ having superior visibility receive +3 for each level of difference
- Debater Promotion: confers a +20 bonus in all situations.
- If the player has a Religious Alliance of Level 2 or higher, its units gain +10 bonus (against all units but these of the allied player's Religion)
- Inquisitors excel at defending against enemy religions, receiving a +35 Religious Strength bonus when in your home territory. However, don't forget that their general Religious strength is much lower than the other unit's, so they don't fare well in combat outside your territory. Use them exclusively for defense.
- The World Congress' resolution World Religion (option A) confers a +10 bonus in all situations.
- General bonuses: some general bonuses and special abilities of the type "+X Combat strength vs Y" will also work in Religious combat; for example the Diplomatic visibility difference bonuses ('Intel on enemy movements').
- Damaged units will suffer a penalty to their theological strength, just like military units suffer a penalty to their CS.
An example of a non-religious bonus is the permanent movement boost that religious units can gain if they happen to pass by the Mount Everest natural wonder - this Altitude Training promotion allows them move on hills more quickly.
Battle Results Edit
As with military battles, each theological encounter will result in loss of Health. Because all such encounters are considered melee, both units will lose Health (although one typically loses more).
When a unit's HP reach 0 due to Theological contest, it dies. The winner enters its tile, just like in melee combat. What's more, the news of this duel of faith will sway the people in all cities within ten tiles: the influence of the victorious unit's Religion will increase there by the conversion strength of a fully healthy Apostle, while at the same time decreasing the losing religion's influence by the same amount.
When a Religious unit is destroyed by a hostile Military unit, the same effect is observed; however, only the losing side loses religious influence. The Religion of the Military unit does not gain influence.
A civilization whose Religion has the Monastic Isolation Belief doesn't suffer drops in religious pressure due to Theological combat losses.
If an Apostle with the Martyr promotion is defeated in theological combat, and if there is suitable free slot, a Relic will be created for his nation.