The Best Civ 6 Leaders

If you’re looking for the most comprehensive Civ 6 tier list, look no further! We’ve analyzed the entire lineup available in Sid Meier’s Civilization 6 and compiled the worthiest rulers in the game, fully up-to-date with the entire roster of every expansion, including the Leader Pass.


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RELATED: Civilization 6: Best Government Policies, Ranked

This was a tough list to make, as there are a lot of leaders in Civ 6 now and most of them are quite good! Whether you’re playing solo or with friends, on Settler Difficulty or Deity, this list will help you decide who will lead you to victory in the Test of Time!

Updated May 1, 2023 by Matt Arnold: Unless there are any more surprise DLC packs, it’s safe to say that Civilization 6’s leader lineup won’t be getting any more changes. We’ve completely overhauled our ranking to include every single one of Civ 6’s seventy-six leaders, including alternate personas. It’s the most complete tier list you’ll find!


S-Tier: Top Five

Amanitore, Yongle, Jayavarman, Victoria, and Abraham Lincoln in Civilization 6

The S-Tier is reserved for only the five best Leaders in the game. Whatever their specialties, these historical personalities are the best at what they do, and then some! In alphabetical order, they are:

Abraham Lincoln – America

Honest Abe turns America into a fearsome military machine. With Industrial Zones that churn out state-of-the-art melee units every time they get a new building, Lincoln has the ability to fight and win nearly any war he chooses. If you’re going for a Domination Victory, you can’t do better than the man in the stovepipe hat!

Amanitore – Nubia

The Queen of Nubia is the best pick for players who like to carefully plan out their cities. Nubian Pyramids can rack up incredible tile bonuses if the surrounding area is correctly developed, so its no wonder that Nubia is a common pick.

Amanitore also has built-in defenses against early Barbarians, thanks to the incredible Pitati Archer. Keeping the peace and building large cities lets Amanitore easily pursue any Victory Condition she likes, further solidifying her place among the top five.

Jayavarman – Khmer

There’s no leader better at feeding their people than Jayavarman. His ability to build enormous, populous cities bolstered by his Religion makes him much more versatile than the game’s other Faith-focused Leaders.

The Khmer Domrey is a fantastic mid-game unit, letting Jayavarman conquer or protect territory as he wishes. If you’re playing on Deity and Khmer is on the map, always expect them to be one of the top contenders thanks to their amazing confluence of bonuses!

Victoria (Age of Steam) – England

Production is the single most important thing in the game, and the new version of Victoria released in the Rulers of England pack excels at making it. Without Production, you can’t do much else, but as Victoria proves, if you have an overabundance of Production, you don’t need much else!

As long as she can keep her population growing, Victoria can quickly build anything and everything that she might need. When in doubt, go with the Queen.

Yongle – China

Food is vital, and Production more so. Why not get bonuses for both? Yongle’s Lijia ability lets him build a juggernaut of an economy on the backs of large cities. He takes a little while longer to get going than the other S-Tier Leaders, but once he does, watch out!

Civ 6’s China spent most of the game’s life cycle waiting for a Leader that could make better use of the Great Wall and their other unique abilities. In Yongle, they got more than anybody bargained for.

A-Tier: Great

Saladin, Seondeok, Basil, Eleanor, and Tokugawa in Civilization 6

These Leaders are still among the game’s most powerful, but didn’t quite make the cut for top five. Each is still perfectly capable of reliably winning games, either through a flexible approach or by focusing on a single Victory Condition

Basil

This Byzantine Emperor plays similarly to Lincoln, but with a much heavier focus on Religion. He mass-produces cavalry instead of infantry, making him more suited to decisive battles than city sieges, but that suits him just fine thanks to the Byzantine Taxis ability.

Basil requires an aggressive play style that steers toward a Domination or Religious Victory, but his Tagma and Tanks are more than capable of getting the job done.

Eleanor Of Aquitaine – England and France

One of only three Leaders that can take the reins for two different Civilizations, Eleanor is surprisingly able to make full use of two distinct play styles. Whether you’re amassing Luxuries as France or building large, happy cities as England, Eleanor uses Loyalty Pressure to convince enemy cities to switch sides without firing a shot.

Eleanor gives a unique spin on normal Civilization gameplay, and does a great job of it to boot. If you want to use her to her fullest effect, play with Secret Societies enabled – the Voidsingers’ Cultist unit lets her steal cities with almost comedic ease.

Elizabeth – England

Elizabeth is a fantastic all-round Leader thanks to her exceptional economy. If she’s lucky enough to be on a naval map, she also ensures that her lands are unassailable with a powerful navy.

Gold is the ultimate problem-solver in Civilization 6, and Elizabeth’s Royal Navy Dockyards ensure that she’ll always have plenty of it.

Hammurabi – Babylon

If you’re tired of waiting for that critical, game-changing Technology to finish, give Hammurabi a try. In exchange for a large Science penalty, Hammurabi can finish any Technology just by completing the Eureka for it. With enough planning and forethought, you can zip down the Tech tree faster than any other Leader!

In the late game, Hammurabi has to rely on Spies to stay ahead of the curve, stealing Tech Boosts from other Civilizations to automatically unlock the associated research. It’s a very different – and very effective – way of playing Civ.

Hojo Tokimune and Tokugawa – Japan

Japan is one of the most beginner-friendly Civilizations in the game, thanks primarily to their Meiji Restoration ability. It encourages smart gameplay by rewarding players for grouping their Districts together for adjacency bonuses. The Samurai and Electronics Factory are also excellent reasons to play Japan at any skill level.

As the default leader for Japan, Hojo is a great pick for your first game of Civ 6 or your hundredth. His Divine Wind ability won’t always come into play, but when it does it can be just what you need to win naval battles. Alternately, if you’d prefer to be left alone, Tokugawa lets you build a flourishing internal economy without interference from the other Civilizations.

Saladin (Vizier) – Arabia

Arabia’s standout feature is The Last Prophet, which guarantees that they’ll found a Religion. This is especially useful while you’re adjusting to higher difficulty settings, as the AI is usually ruthless about beating you to a Great Prophet.

Of Saladin’s two personae, his original version, the Vizier, makes the best use of Arabia’s incredible Faith output. His ability to pair Faith and Science is unique in Civ 6, giving him a play style that can’t be matched by anyone else.

Sejong and Seondeok – Korea

If you’re planning to go for a Science Victory, Korea is THE Civilization to pick. Their Seowon and Three Kingdoms abilities let them set up an enormous Science output quickly, which only snowballs as the game goes on.

Whether you’re playing as Sejong for his large Culture bonuses or as Seondeok to maximize a few cities with high-level Governors, you’ll always be at the front of the Space Race as Korea.

Sundiata Keita – Mali

Sundiata’s unique gameplay turns books into a resource! Great Works of Writing produce Gold and Production in Sundiata’s empire, and he has a much easier time hiring Great Writers with Gold.

Mali is already one of the game’s most impressive Gold producers, but Sundiata lets them build and grow with jaw-dropping efficiency.

Wilhelmina

The Dutch are often considered just a Gold faction, but they have nearly as much city-building prowess as Nubia or Japan. Wilhelmina excels at extracting value from international trade routes, but the Dutch really win games in their cities.

Rivers provide huge adjacency bonuses for Dutch Specialty Districts, and they get cheaper Dams. This in turn leads to more electricity from hydroelectric power, and if the world climate deteriorates in the late game, the Netherlands can quickly erect Flood Barriers to make sure that rising sea levels won’t trouble them in the slightest.

Related: Civilization 6: Tips For Playing As Sejong

B-Tier: Good

Nzinga Mbande, Kublai Khan, Dido, Menelik, and Gitarja in Civilization 6

The bulk of Civilization 6’s leaders fall into this category. They’re good, they win games, they just don’t have the same wow-factor as the S- and A-Tier Leaders.

Leader

Civilization

Ambiorix

Gauls

Ba Trieu

Vietnam

Dido

Phoenicia

Frederick Barbarossa

Germany

Gitarja

Indonesia

Gorgo

Greece

John Curtin

Australia

Kristina

Sweden

Kublai Khan

China and Mongolia

Lady Six Sky

Maya

Ludwig

Germany

Mansa Musa

Mali

Menelik

Ethiopia

Nader Shah

Persia

Nzinga Mbande

Kongo

Pachacuti

Inca

Pericles

Greece

Peter

Russia

Saladin (Sultan

Arabia

Shaka

Zulu

Simon Bolivar

Gran Colombia

Suleiman (Lawgiver)

Ottoman Empire

Suleiman (Magnificent)

Ottoman Empire

Teddy Roosevelt (Bull Moose)

America

Theodora

Byzantium

Victoria (Age of Empire)

England

Wilfrid Laurier

Canada

C Tier: Mediocre

Trajan, Cleopatra, Chandragupta, Jadwiga, and Qin Shi Huang in Civilization 6

If you’re going to play these Leaders, it’s best to have a plan. They’re in the bottom half in terms of power, so you’ll have an uphill battle – albeit one that you can win with skilled play.

Leader

Civilization

Alexander

Macedon

Catherine de Medici (Magnificence)

France

Chandragupta

India

Cleopatra (Egyptian)

Egypt

Cleopatra (Ptolemaic)

Egypt

Cyrus

Persia

Genghis Khan

Mongolia

Jadwiga

Poland

Joao

Portugal

Kupe

Maori

Lautaro

Mapuche

Matthias Corvinus

Hungary

Pedro

Brazil

Poundmaker

Cree

Qin Shi Huang (Mandate Of Heaven)

China

Ramses

Egypt

Teddy Roosevelt (Rough Rider)

America

Trajan

Rome

Wu Zetian

China

D-Tier: Not So Good

Gilgamesh, Montezuma, Robert the Bruce, Philip, and Gandhi in Civilization 6

These leaders aren’t recommended unless you’re trying for a specific Achievement, or just want a challenge with a Leader who isn’t played much.

Gandhi – India

Gandhi has a lot of great tools at his disposal, but his Leader Ability relies on maintaining world peace – a lofty goal, but not a particularly realistic one. It’s nigh-impossible to keep the other Civs from fighting if they’re set on doing so. Focus on using Stepwells to your advantage if you want to win as the Mahatma.

Gilgamesh – Sumeria

It’s much better to have Gilgamesh as an AI ally than to play as him yourself. His focus is on helping out other Civilizations, which unfortunately doesn’t go far enough to make sure he’s the winner at the end.

Harald Hardrada (Last Viking King) – Norway

Raiding coastlines with your Longships is fun, and can be very profitable, but Norway’s abilities are all over the place. This makes it tought for Harald to develop a strategy that can compete with more specialized Civilizations.

Julius Caesar – Rome

Caesar can build up an impressive treasury, but only if he is consistently conquering cities… which likely costs more money than it earns. He can exploit Barbarian Clans mode to great effect, but is otherwise best left on the other side of the Rubicon.

Montezuma – Aztec

The Aztecs can have a great early game, but on higher difficulties an Eagle Warrior isn’t going to cut it against the multiple Warriors that your neighbors will start with. Montezuma requires control of Luxuries to enhance his troops, but by the time you reach the maximum bonus you’re probably close to a world conquest anyway.

Philip – Spain

Philip could have a stronger Religion game than he does – Missions are quite good, provided you can quickly settle outside your home continent. However, Philip’s Leader Ability focuses on eliminating competitor Religions rather than spreading his own, which doesn’t help him win games.

Qin Shi Huang (Unifier) – China

Warlord Qin falls into the same boat as Caesar. He has a neat ability that can be exploited in alternate game modes – namely Barbarian Clans and Zombies – but in a standard match you’re better off using the original version.

Robert The Bruce – Scotland

Robert can produce worthy cities thanks to Scotland’s Civilization Abilities, but his Leader Ability may as well not be there at all. There may be some situations where you’ll want to get away with declaring a war without Grievances, but they’re rare enough that you can’t rely on Flower Of Scotland in any given game.

F-Tier: Bottom Five

Catherine de Medici, Mvemba a Nzinga, Tamar, Harald, and Tomyris in Civilization 6

From good ideas that didn’t work to all-around bad picks, these are the Leaders best avoided.

Catherine de Medici (Black Queen) – France

Spies are great, but the Black Queen doesn’t enhance them enough to make them worth building a strategy around. Play her alternate version – or better yet, Eleanor – for a much better experience playing as France.

Harald Hardrada (Varangian) – Norway

Levying your City-State vassals can turn a war around, and the new version of Harald introduced in Rulers of England can do so very cheaply. It’s a fun trick, but relying on an emergency measure as your main strategy isn’t the best play.

Mvemba a Nzinga – Kongo

While Kongo can build some of the biggest cities in the game, Mvemba a Nzinga’s inability to found a Religion is a major weakness. The addition of Nzinga Mbande to the game renders the game’s original Kongolese Leader obsolete.

Tamar – Georgia

Routinely derided as the worst Leader in Civ 6, Tamar’s benefits are limited to slightly better Walls and Men-at-Arms. She could theoretically leverage her Religion in City-States to win votes for a Diplomatic Victory, but she’ll be quickly overshadowed by better Faith Civs.

Tomyris – Scythia

Players were so excited about Tomyris and her Scythian hordes when Civilization 6 launched, due to her ability to get two cavalry units for the price of one. That didn’t turn out to be a powerful enough ability to conquer the world, however, and the feared Scythian Queen ended up riding a one-trick pony.

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