Skip to main content

Civilization 6 Religious Victory - how to win with Religion, gain Followers and convert cities

Explaining the new Civ 6 Religious Victory and best ways to win with it.

Dark blue icons of video game controllers on a light blue background
Image credit: Eurogamer

Civilization 6's Religious Victory is an all-new win condition in the Civ series, but thanks to some smart, simple implementation, feels like it's been here the whole time.

Religion functions in largely the same way as previous Civ games - cities and units can exert pressure to convert others nearby, and many Beliefs are shared by all who follow that Religion, rather than just the founding Civ. However, the Religious Victory condition is of course completely novel, and as such we'll be explaining how to spread the holy word far and wide, below.

Before doing so however, a quick reminder of our Scientific Victory and Military Domination Victory guides, too - because there's no point in mastering Religion only to be pipped by a Space Race or suprise nuke that you could have seen coming!

A quick note: we've refreshed out Civ 6 guides for the game's launch on Nintendo Switch, but just be aware that they contain information regarding the Rise and Fall DLC as well as the base game, which means some things only apply if you have that DLC! Otherwise... crack on!

Civilization 6 Interview - 18 minutes with lead designer, Ed Beach (plus some new gameplay)Watch on YouTube

Religious Victory conditions

To achieve a Religious Victory, your Religion must be the 'predominant' religion in every other civilization in the game. A Religion is the predominant one for a civ when it is followed by more than 50% of the cities in that civilization.

A city is officially following a Religion if:

  • More than half the citizens in a city are Followers of a particular Religion; and
  • That Religion has the majority of Followers in the city.

So for example, if my city of Washington has 7 citizens, and 3 citizens follow Hinduism, 1 follows Judaism, and no others follow a Religion, that city won't be following Hinduism yet. If the Hinduism followers in that city increased to 4 out of it's 7 citizens, then it will be officially following Hinduism - it needs to cross that 50% of citizens threshold as well as being the Religion with the most followers in that city, in order for the city to follow that Religion.

Religious Victory strategies

As with all Civilization playthroughs, it's not going to be possible to assemble a complete, step-by-step guide to Religious Victory, simply by virtue of Civilization's ever-changing elements in every game. Instead, we've put together our best tips and advice for a Religious playthrough, covering various aspects of the game:

  • The Theology, Divine Right, Theocracy, Kandy combo - Arguably the most crucial point of your Religious campaign is the moment you unlock Theocracy. As a Civic, you'll want to focus on Culture, rather than Science, and head down the path which also grants you Theology and the Mahabodhi Temple Wonder, before you get access to Mont St. Michael from Divine Right, and Theocracy next. Couple this with the successful Suzerain partnership with the city-state Kandy (which grants 50% bonus to Relic Faith yields, and couples brilliantly with Mont St. Michael's extra Relic slots) and you should have a huge, long-term advantage in the Religious game.
  • The Historic Religions have no inherent bonuses - An obvious one to Civ veterans, but for beginners it's worth noting that regardless of the Religion you choose, you'll see no in-game difference other than the symbol and name which is shown. All in-game Religious effects are from your choices of various Beliefs as you progress.
  • Always choose the God King Policy - +1 Faith in the Capital might not seem like a great deal, but at the start of a game this can be crucial in getting you to your first Pantheon Belief, which is in itself a crucial factor for accelerating your Religious growth further down the line.
  • The best and worst Pantheon Beliefs - Pantheons, like all things in Civ, depend on your situation. However, there are some stand-out choices. Initiation Rites will give you a fantastic kick-start to your Religion if you make that extra effort to explore and wipe out as many Barbarian's as possible. At 50 Faith a pop, you can quickly rush some Missionaries or other religious units in the early game. Lady of the Reeds and Marshes is an excellent choice for kick-starting your cities' Production, if situated correctly, whilst Religious Idols can seriously add-up if you're fortuitously positioned for mining. Fertility Rites is another strong kick-starter, this time for city growth, as that's a 10% bonus not to your surplus Food, but to actual growth rates themselves. Finally, we're big fans of Divine Spark, thanks to the added Great Person focus of Civ 6. Advanced players will know to place great emphasis on these, and so any help you can get could be game-winning.

If your lust for Civilization 6 knowledge is still going strong, expansion owners should take a look at our Civ 6 Rise and Fall guide hub which takes you through the basics of everything new, whilst we have dedicated pages on Governors and Loyalty, along with how to earn Golden Ages, Era Points and Era Score through Historic Moments, and a full list of new Civs in Civ 6 Rise and Fall and other DLC. Otherwise, our Civilization 6 guide, tips and tricks covers the essentials before you master early game, mid-game and late-game strategies. We also have tips on the new Districts feature, a Leaders list with their Traits and Agendas, plus the best ways to get Gold, Science, and Faith, how to win by Religious Victory, and how to earn the elusive Science Victory and Military domination victory. Finally, here's the Culture Victory, Foreign Tourism, and Domestic Tourism explained in depth.

  • How to deal with Religious rivals like Spain - Spain the pain, as nobody calls it. The Spanish are hugely aggressive with their Religious spread in Civ 6 and, if you can't choose them yourself, will automatically be your greatest Religious Victory rivals. There are two main ways to counter religious spread, we found. First, you can bolster your own religion, particularly through building Holy Sites in multiple cities. Generating enough Faith to purchase new Missionaries is one of the only ways to reclaim a lost Holy City, so you'll need multiple backup options. Second, and the most effective method, is war. Killing enemy Apostles and Missionaries will reduce that Religion's influence by up to a whopping 250 in that area, and also means that with simple cavalry unit you can patrol your borders, picking off any heathens trying to enter. We waged a roughly 2,000-year war against the Spanish in our Science playthrough recently, simply to stop them sweeping an early Religious Victory. Everyone hated us, but it paid off.
  • Do you rush Stonehenge? - You can, but it's not going to win you the game. In fact, the Civic Tree's Oracle is actually better in the long run, thanks to the excellent reduction in Great Person purchasing cost. You're likely to only get one in a multiplayer game, and we actually suggest focusing on cultural, rather than scientific growth early on, so as to rush the Oracle and grant you a more sustained advantage into the late game (where Great People can cost upwards of 5,000 Faith at a time to purchase). If you can sneak Stonehenge, of course, then take that too!
  • Time your Policy changes and new Beliefs for the right moment - Policy changes are free when you unlock a new Civic, but can also be purchased for a relatively meagre amount of Gold. At times, especially if you can't wait for that next Civic, that cost can be worth it. For example on a militaristic playthrough we found that waiting for the chance to implement the Wars of Religion Policy gave us a huge bonus when fighting against Civs that didn't follow our Religion. At the same time, waiting until we could add a new Enhancer Belief - specifically Crusade - meant that we gained a huge +10 Combat Strength bonus for fighting near same-Religion cities, which works fantastically with a mass-conversion from stockpiled Missionaries.

Read this next