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Trade Routes Trade Routes represent the trade activities of civilizations, either between their own cities or with foreign civilizations. They are an essential activity which provides multiple benefits: they boost Gold Gold, Food Food and Production Production, among other yields, create roads when running on land, and provide increased Visibility Diplomatic Visibility with other civilizations.

Trading routes and capacity are always displayed in the stats ribbon in the upper left part of the screen.

Route Mechanics[]

Requirements[]

In order to establish a Trade Routes Trade Route you need free Trading Capacity of at least 1 (that is, the number of currently active Trade Routes Trade Routes must be less than your total Trading Capacity), a Trader unit and at least 1 valid destination city.

Traders may establish routes over land and sea, but embarkation requires Celestial Navigation.

Trading Capacity[]

Trading Capacity is the maximum number of Trade Routes Trade Routes you can have at the same time. The Foreign Trade Civic (one of the earliest of the Ancient Era) grants a Trading Capacity of one, meaning that your empire can have one Trade Routes Trade Route at a time. Each city with a Commercial Hub or a Harbor (or, from Rise and Fall onwards, a Market or a Lighthouse) increases a civilization's Trading Capacity by one. These bonuses are not cumulative: a city with both a Commercial Hub/Market and a Harbor/Lighthouse adds only one Trading Capacity, not two.

Other sources of Trading Capacity include the following:

Each Trader services one Trade Routes Trade Route. For this reason, when the number of Traders equals the Trading Capacity you cannot build more Traders. Still, there are exceptional situations in which the number of Traders (and active Trade Routes Trade Routes) can exceed the Trading Capacity. This happens when your Trading Capacity suddenly decreases below the number of Traders/routes you have. Trading Capacity may decrease, for example, in vanilla Civilization VI when you change governments from Merchant Republic to something else (which reduces your Trading Capacity by 2); when your commercial infrastructure is pillaged by enemy units or disasters, or when you lose cities with commercial infrastructure. All the Trade Routes Trade Routes that were active when the decrease in Trading Capacity happened remain active. This means that the number of Trade Routes Trade Routes can actually exceed the Trading Capacity for a few turns. However, the next Trader(s) to finish a Trade Routes Trade Route will be unable to start a new route and will be forced to stay inactive. They will recover their ability to create Trade Routes Trade Routes once you increase your Trading Capacity again.

Establishing Trade Routes[]

You create Trade Routes Trade Routes by selecting a Trader which is currently 'free' (isn't servicing a Trade Routes Trade Route), an origin city and a destination city.

Choosing an origin city[]

To start, you need an origin city: this can be any city in your civilization which is physically able to connect to your intended destination city. If you have a particular destination city in mind, make sure the origin city is in range of it, and there is a viable route between the two. Note that the Trader will automatically start the new route from the city he's currently in - if the current city the Trader is in doesn't suit you, move the Trader using the Transfer to another city button in its Command tab. (This will take one turn.).

Bear in mind that all the Trade route's benefits will apply directly to the origin city! So, if you wish to boost a particular city's basic yields, move the Trader unit to this city first, before establishing the new Trade route. This is often the case when establishing domestic Trade routes (whose main yields are Food Food and Production Production and fit nicely the purpose of aiding the basic development of any city). In the case of International trade routes, whose benefits concentrate on the more 'sophisticated' yields, your main concern should be the potential destinations, and the trajectory the future route will have (if, for example, there happen to be Barbarians in the middle of the route!). Of course, yields like Gold Gold and Science Science benefit your entire empire, but you must be aware still that they will apply to the city first, and any modifiers this city applies will also affect the trade route's effectiveness.

Choosing destination city[]

Next, choose a destination city from the list in the left part of the screen. Valid destinations can be foreign cities, city-states, or your own cities, but must meet the following requirements:

  • You have discovered it already.
  • You're not at war with the civilization to which it belongs.
  • It is within trading range of the origin city. Note that default trading ranges can be extended via Trading Post Trading Posts!
  • A route that connects the origin and the destination cities is available. A route is available if you have explored enough tiles to create a path between the two cities, and none of those tiles is impassable. Note that this doesn't necessarily mean that the chosen path will be the most direct possible - sometimes you'll find out you haven't revealed the tiles which will make this possible.

In order for your Trader to be able to embark, you need additional technology and infrastructure requirements:

  • The Celestial Navigation technology is required to move on Coast tiles.
  • The Cartography technology is required to move on Ocean tiles.
  • Both the origin and the destination cities must have maritime access. Cities with maritime access are those that are adjacent to a body of water connected to the sea, or that have a Harbor on such a body of water.
  • In Gathering Storm, Canals (including Panama Canal) may allow additional cities to use sea routes if they connect in the proper manner.

For each potential destination, you will see projected income and benefits, as well as the number of turns the route will run. While the menu with the available destinations is open, each potential route trajectory is shown as a white line on the map. Trade Routes Trade Routes may traverse hostile territory, although they run a great risk of being plundered if they do.

Finally, you may choose to Repeat the last route (if there was any). This will automatically select the destination city of the last route this Trader performed and activate the route.

Each Trade Routes Trade Route runs for a set number of turns, after which it is considered finished. Traders move to the destination city and then return to its city of origin. When they complete this round journey Trading Post Trading Posts for your civilization are created both in the destination and in the origin city, if they didn't exist already.

Traders move at a speed of one tile per turn, both on land and at sea. This is the rate at which they create roads. Even though it takes quite a few turns for a Trader to reach its destination and return, the route itself provides its benefits (Gold Gold, Production Production, etc.) from the turn you establish it, and continues to do so until its duration runs out.

Duration[]

How long Trade Routes Trade Routes run is dependent on game speed. On Standard game speed, a route runs for a minimum of 21 turns and ends only when the Trader returns to its origin city, completing a round trip. For short Trade Routes Trade Routes, this means a Trader will have to complete multiple round trips. (Note that the in-game UI shows only the absolute distance between the cities, not the real Trade Routes Trade Route duration.)

In Gathering Storm, the current World Era retroactively adds additional turns to the Trade Routes Trade Route's minimum duration (TradeRouteMinimumEndTurnChange parameter), as shown in the table below. This makes it much harder to establish Trading Post Trading Posts in the mid- to end game.

There is nothing you can do to choose a specific path for your Traders to travel on when establishing Trade Routes Trade Routes. If there are multiple possible paths between two cities, the game will automatically pick out one. When establishing internal Trade Routes Trade Routes, the game will choose the shortest path. Regarding international Trade Routes Trade Routes, it will try to maximize the Gold Gold output by making the Trader travel through as many Trading Post Trading Posts, Mountain Tunnels, Canals, and Railroads as possible. In all cases the game engine will attempt to use already existing infrastructure (Roads, Canals, etc.), which makes it a bit difficult to shape the Road network of your empire exactly as you want it, especially in the middle and late game. Fortunately, at this point you are already able to use a Military Engineer to build Roads exactly where you need them.

World Era Turns added Good choices for distance travelled
Ancient, Classical 0 4, 6, 7, 11, 12, 13, 14
Medieval, Renaissance 10 (50% longer) 4, 8, 9, 16, 17, 18
Industrial, Modern, Atomic 20 (100% longer) 4, 6, 7, 8, 11, 12, 21, 22, 23, 24
Information, Future 30 (150% longer) 4, 7, 9, 13, 14, 26, 27, 28, 29

The following table gives examples of different route lengths (on Standard speed) for the Ancient and Classical Era. Breakpoints are bolded.

Distance travelled (tiles) Roundtrip time (turns) Number of trips Duration (turns)
4 8 3 24
5 10 3 30
6 12 2 24
7 14 2 28
8 16 2 32
9 18 2 36
10 20 2 40
11 22 1 22
12 24 1 24
13 26 1 26
14 28 1 28
15 30 1 30

Trading Range and Trading Posts[]

Trading range is the measure of how many tiles from its current base a Trader is able to reach, so as to establish routes. Note that, unlike Civilization V, Trade Routes Trade Route range cannot be enhanced via technology! The only way to do it is via infrastructure - more specifically, the new Trading Post Trading Posts (see below). This makes it imperative to think strategically when establishing Trade Routes Trade Routes - sometimes it is worth it to establish a route which won't benefit you much, but when finished, will allow you to reach other parts of the world!

The base range for land trade routes is 15 tiles. A Trader unit sent over land will automatically construct a road (or upgrade an existing road, if your technology is more advanced) between the cities along the route trajectory.

The base range for sea trade routes is 30 tiles. Remember that you need the Celestial Navigation tech in order to be able to establish sea trade routes. Also note that routes may switch between movement modes - the route may start in an inland city, then go to a coastal city (or to a city with a Harbor), move over sea to another city with a Harbor, then continue on land to its destination. As long as the destination is within the overall range of the route, switching back and forth between modalities is possible. Also, remember that both the origin city and the destination city require maritime access (either being a coastal city, or a Harbor, or, in Gathering Storm, a Canal or the Panama Canal) in order to establish sea Trade Routes Trade Routes or have Traders switching between land and sea. Portugal gains +50% range for sea trade routes and does not require Celestial Navigation to establish them.

Trading Post Trading Posts are a new type of infrastructure, specifically designed to ensure logistical support of your Traders in faraway lands. As mentioned above, Trading Post Trading Posts are automatically constructed in the destination and source city of every finished Trade Routes Trade Route (or of every started Trade Routes Trade Route as Mongolia, and in every founded or conquered city as Rome). Future routes (both land and sea) that pass through these cities will have extended reach - they will effectively reset their range at the Trading Post Trading Post. You can make use of this to reach farther and farther in the world with your Traders! When you are aiming to establish trading relations with a faraway city, or a city on a new continent, look for a route which will reach the closest possible city to your goal, then establish a Trade Routes Trade Route to it (even though the yields won't be as beneficial as other choices you have). After the route duration expires, a Trading Post Trading Post will be established and you will eventually be able to reach your destination goal!

Trading Post Trading Posts add 1 Gold Gold each to the route's yield. Thus, with passing of time, your routes become ever more effective!

Potential Destinations for Trade[]

There are two types of Trade Routes Trade Routes you can establish: domestic (or internal) routes, which run between two of your own cities; and international routes, which run between one of your cities and either another civilization's city or a city-state. The results are slightly different, although trading with foreign cities or city-states is largely the same. Domestic routes mainly provide Food Food and Production Production, while international routes mainly provide Gold Gold, along with other yield types which depend heavily on the types of District District and resources the target city has. This separation is also important when considering certain policy card effects (see below).

You cannot trade with cities of a civilization with which you're at war. When war is declared, any existing Trade Routes Trade Routes between the two civilizations are cancelled, and the Traders servicing them are immediately recalled to their origin cities. The same happens when a destination (or an origin city) becomes a Free City due to Loyalty problems. Note that Trade Routes Trade Routes are not cancelled if they run through a hostile civilization's territory to a city or city-state with which you can still trade, and become viable targets for war plundering!

Also, opening a Trade Routes Trade Route to the city is often requested by city-states as a Quest.

Trading Benefits[]

Trade Routes Trade Routes are always sent from the City Center of their origin to that one of their destination, but they benefit from all districts that exist in the destination city's territory. Thus, a route to a specific city may start with a very negligible yield, but as that city develops over time, the yields of future routes sent there will also increase.

Note that at all times there may exist only one route between Cities A and B. You can establish a new route to City A starting from City B, but you won't be able to establish another route from A to B until the first one's duration runs out.

Domestic Trade[]

Domestic Trade Routes Trade Routes can be established between your own cities, as long as they are in range of each other.

When you start a domestic Trade Routes Trade Route, the city of origin will receive Food Food and Production Production, depending on the districts at the place the route is going. Use domestic routes to boost the basic performance of any city within your empire, especially newly established ones. Cities constructing Wonders also benefit greatly - try to connect them to your most advanced industrial city.

International Trade[]

International Trade Routes Trade Routes can be established with rival civilizations whose cities are within range. The yields they provide are much more varied: all such routes will provide Gold Gold, but depending on the districts at their destination, they will also provide Science Science, Culture Culture, Faith Faith, and also Production Production and Food Food on occasion.

Aside from providing Gold Gold income, international Trade Routes Trade Routes also serve as a sort of social connection. First, trading provides the most basic form of espionage, as rumors will trickle down the routes enabling you to learn of developments in rival civilizations. Second, traders will talk freely about the wonders of your civilization, which boosts your Tourism Tourism output to the other civilization!

You can also establish Trade Routes Trade Routes with city-states. They work much the same as routes with other civilizations (without the extra social effects, of course).

Trade Yields Based on Districts[]

Below is a table of all effects the various districts add to a Trade Routes Trade Route's total yield. The civilization-specific versions of the districts have the same yield as the respective generic district they replace.

District Domestic Destination International Destination
City Center City Center 1 Food Food, 1 Production Production 3 Gold Gold
Campus Campus 1 Food Food 1 Science Science
Holy Site Holy Site 1 Food Food 1 Faith Faith
Encampment Encampment 1 Production Production 1 Production Production
Commercial Hub Commercial Hub 1 Production Production 3 Gold Gold
Theater Square Theater Square 1 Food Food 1 Culture Culture
Entertainment Complex Entertainment Complex 1 Food Food 1 Food Food
Water Park Water Park 1 Food Food 1 Food Food
Harbor Harbor 1 Production Production 3 Gold Gold
Industrial Zone Industrial Zone 1 Production Production 1 Production Production
Government Plaza Government Plaza 1 Food Food, 1 Production Production 2 Gold Gold
Diplomatic Quarter Diplomatic Quarter 1 Food Food, 1 Production Production 1 Culture Culture

Trade Yields Boosters[]

There are several ways to boost performance of your Trade Routes Trade Routes:

  • Every Trading Post Trading Post for your civilization through which a route passes along its course adds +1 Gold Gold to its total yield. Thus, the farther the route goes (and the more cities with Trading Post Trading Posts it passes along the way), the greater its final Gold Gold yield.
  • In Gathering Storm all Trade Routes Trade Routes passing through water tiles gain bonus Gold Gold. Also, routes passing through advanced engineering features (such as a Railroad, Canal or Mountain Tunnel) gain additional Gold Gold bonuses. It is calculated as follows (remember that this percentage-based bonus only applies to basic Gold Gold yields from Trade Routes Trade Routes a.k.a. the Gold Gold yield based on the District District present at the destination, it will not enhance unique Trade Routes Trade Route bonuses or bonuses from policy cards):
    • Water tiles (Lake, Coast or Ocean), Canal tiles, and Railroad tiles grant 2 "efficiency" points when a Trader passes through.
    • Mountain Tunnel tiles or Qhapaq Ñan tiles grant 15 "efficiency" points when a Trader passes through.
    • The exact bonus depends on the ratio of "efficiency" points versus the distance traversed by the Trader from the origin to the destination. For example, a Trade Routes Trade Route that earns 8 efficiency points on a 16-tile distance will earn 50% bonus toward its base Gold Gold yield. This bonus caps at 100%.
  • Magnus' Surplus Logistics title will give +2 Food Food to the city in which a domestic Trade Routes Trade Route starts if it ends in the city in which he is established. Reyna's Foreign Exchange title (Land Acquisition in Gathering Storm) gives 3 Gold Gold for every foreign Trade Routes Trade Route that ends or passes through the city in which she is established.
  • Constructing the University of Sankore in a city will grant +1 Science Science and +1 Gold Gold to foreign Trade Routes Trade Routes, and +1 Faith Faith to domestic Trade Routes Trade Routes, headed to that city.
  • Constructing the Torre de Belém in a city will grant +2 Gold Gold to all international Trade Routes Trade Routes sent from that city for each improved Luxury Resource at the destination.
  • Constructing the Great Zimbabwe will grant 2 Gold Gold to every international Trade Routes Trade Route starting from its parent city per bonus resource in the city.
  • The follower belief Religious Community grants international Trade Routes Trade Routes 2 Gold Gold for every Holy Site and Holy Site building in the destination city.
  • Suzerainty of Kumasi grants 2 Culture Culture and 1 Gold Gold to every Trade Routes Trade Route sent to city-states.
  • Suzerainty of Amsterdam/Antioch/Venice grants 1 Gold Gold to every outgoing international Trade Routes Trade Route for each luxury resource improved at the destination.
  • The unique building of Poland, the Sukiennice, grants +4 Gold Gold to domestic Trade Routes Trade Routes and +2 Production Production to international Trade Routes Trade Routes sent from cities that have it.
  • Cleopatra's leader ability, Mediterranean's Bride, grants +4 Gold Gold to outgoing international Trade Routes Trade Routes, and +2 Food Food in the home city and +2 Gold Gold in the target city to incoming international Trade Routes Trade Routes.
  • Peter's leader ability, The Grand Embassy, grants +1 Science Science to outgoing international Trade Routes Trade Routes for every three technologies that civilization is ahead of him, and +1 Culture Culture for every three civics that civilization is ahead of him.
  • Poundmaker's leader ability, Favorable Terms, grants +1 Food Food to the home city and +1 Gold Gold to the target city for each Camp or Pasture in the target city to all Cree Trade Routes Trade Routes.
  • Wilhelmina's leader ability, Radio Oranje, grants +2 Culture Culture to all international Trade Routes Trade Routes.
  • Pachacuti's leader ability, Qhapaq Ñan, grants +1 Food Food to domestic Trade Routes Trade Routes for every Mountain tile in the home city.
  • Mansa Musa's leader ability, Sahel Merchants, grants +1 Gold Gold to outgoing international Trade Routes Trade Routes for each flat Desert tile in the home city.
  • Ethiopia's civilization ability, Aksumite Legacy, grants 0.5 Faith Faith to outgoing international Trade Routes Trade Routes for each resource improved in the home city.
  • Portugal's civilization ability, Casa da Índia, increases all yields from international Trade Routes Trade Routes by 50%. However, they cannot establish these routes unless they terminate in a coastal city or a city with a Harbor.
  • Persia's civilization ability, Satrapies, grants +2 Gold Gold and +1 Culture Culture to all domestic Trade Routes Trade Routes.
  • Rome's civilization ability, All Roads Lead to Rome, grants +1 Gold Gold to all Trade Routes Trade Routes for each Roman Trading Post Trading Post they pass through.
  • Spain's civilization ability, Treasure Fleet, grants +3 Gold Gold, +2 Faith Faith and +1 Production Production to all Trade Routes Trade Routes, which is tripled if they travel between continents.

Finally, a number of policy cards enhance your routes in various ways. The following increase the yields of all routes (domestic and international):

The following policies work for domestic routes only:

The following policies work for international routes only:

In Gathering Storm, the effects of Arsenal of Democracy are transferred to Democracy, and Collectivization is available only after adopting Communism.

Other Effects of Trade Routes[]

Besides yield boosts for your cities, Trade Routes Trade Routes also have other important effects:

  • As mentioned before, they create Roads along their trajectory on land. Also, if it so happens that your civilization has unlocked a higher level road than the existing one along the route's trajectory, the Trader will upgrade it during its first passage.
  • They exert a bit of Religious pressure: 0.5 for the origin city's Majority religion (if any) to the destination city, and vice-versa. This is valid for all routes (International and Domestic). If playing as India, this is doubled against other civilizations.
  • They increase the Visibility Diplomatic Visibility with the destination city's owner by 1 level. This is valid only for International routes to other civilizations.
  • They boost Tourism Tourism output to this civilization by 25%. Again, only valid for International routes to other civilizations.
  • In Rise and Fall, routes existing between Allied civilizations will boost the accumulation of Alliance points and speed up the Upgrade of their Alliance levels.
  • The civilization ability of the Cree, Nîhithaw, allows their Trade Routes Trade Routes to claim land nearby their cities.
  • The leader ability of Wilhelmina, Radio Oranje, grants cities +1 Loyalty per turn as long as they have an outgoing domestic Trade Routes Trade Route.
  • The leader ability of Rough Rider Teddy Roosevelt, Roosevelt Corollary, grants double Envoy Envoys with any city-state he has a Trade Routes Trade Route with.

Plundering Trade Routes[]

Trade Routes Trade Routes are vulnerable to attack, and unguarded ones may be plundered by Barbarians and units belonging to civilizations with which you are at war. If an enemy unit enters a tile that one of your Traders currently occupies, it can plunder the route, which destroys the Trader and rewards the enemy unit's owner with Gold Gold. This action costs all of the unit's remaining Movement Movement points, meaning the unit can move and plunder in the same turn. A fast unit (with at least 4 MP) might be able to pillage a district or improvement (3 MP) and plunder a Trade Routes Trade Route in the same turn. Try to protect your water based Trade Routes Trade Routes with some strong Naval units.

Note that when you go to war with a civilization, all Trade Routes Trade Routes with them are cancelled, but you do not lose the Traders - instead, you get to reassign them.

Comparison with Other Games[]

Trade Routes Trade Routes in Civilization VI are similar to their counterparts in Civilization V: Brave New World and Beyond Earth. However, the role of Trade Routes Trade Routes in Civilization VI is greatly expanded.

The Trader is similar to the Trade Convoy in Beyond Earth: Rising Tide.

Related achievements[]

Hajj
Hajj
As Mansa Musa, send a Trade Route to Mecca that gives the sending player at least 30 gold.
The Hajj, a mandatory pilgrimage to Mecca, is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. Mansa Musa did this during his reign, and almost crashed the economy of Egypt during a rest in Cairo.
Trans-Siberian Railroad
Trans-Siberian Railroad
Playing as Russia, have a city that is at least 60 tiles away from your capital, connected by a Trade Route and road at the start of the turn.
The Trans-Siberian Railway is a network of railways connecting Moscow with the Russian Far East, and the longest railway line in the world.
Civilization VI [edit]
Rise and FallGathering StormNew Frontier Pass

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