Zigzagzigal’s Guides – China (GS) – Steam Solo (2024)


If you’re willing to put in the effort, China will reward you with rapid technology and civic gain – making them suited to both scientific and cultural victories. Here, I detail Chinese strategies and counter-strategies – for both Kublai Khan and Qin Shi Huang.


Following this guide requires the Gathering Storm expansion.

It also assumes you have all other Civ 6 content, listed below, though it is not necessary to have these to utilise the key strategies of each civ.

  • Pre-Rise and Fall content packs
    • Vikings, Poland, Australia, Persia/Macedon, Nubia, Khmer/Indonesia
  • Rise and Fall Expansion
  • New Frontier content packs
    • Maya/Grand Colombia, Ethiopia, Byzantium/Gauls, Babylon, Vietnam/Kublai Khan, Portugal

These content packs include exclusive civs, city-states, districts, buildings, wonders, natural wonders, resources, and a disaster, but not core game mechanics – all you need is the base game and the Gathering Storm expansion for those.

Peace, stability and unity. The three are inseparable. To achieve them, you must be willing to use any means necessary. Take the initiative when the enemy is weak. Ensure your subjects obey only the law. Standardise the empire’s workings to ensure efficiency. And never allow yourself to become idle. A complacent leader is always bested by those willing to act, whether they be external or internal enemies.

How to use this guide

This guide is divided into multiple sections explaining how best to use and play against this specific civ.

  • The Outline details the mechanics of how the civilization’s unique features work and what their start bias is if they have one.
  • The Victory Skew section describes to what extent the civ (and its individual leaders where applicable) is inclined towards particular victory routes. This is not a rating of its power, but an indicator of the most appropriate route to victory.
  • Multiple sections for Uniques explain in detail how to use each special bonus of the civilization.
  • Administration describes some of the most synergistic governments, government buildings, policy cards, age bonuses, pantheons, religious beliefs, wonders, city-states and Great People for the civ. Only the ones with the most synergy with the civ’s uniques are mentioned – these are not necessarily the “best” choices when playing as the civ for a given victory route.
  • Finally, the Counter-Strategies discusses how best to play against the civ, including a consideration of leader agendas if the civ is controlled by a computer.

Note that all costs (production, science, etc.) mentioned within the guide assume a game played on the normal speed settings. To modify these values for other game speeds:

  • Online: Divide by 2
  • Quick: Divide by 1.5
  • Epic: Multiply by 1.5
  • Marathon: Multiply by 3


Terminology used in this guide and not in-game is explained here.

AoE (Area of Effect) – Bonuses or penalties that affect multiple tiles in a set radius. Positive examples include Factories (which offer production to cities within a 6 tile radius unless they’re within range of another building of the same type) and a negative example is nuclear weapons, which cause devastation over a wide radius.

Beelining – Obtaining a technology or civic quickly by only researching it and its prerequisites. Some deviation is allowed in the event that taking a technology or civic off the main track provides some kind of advantage that makes up for that (either a source of extra science/culture or access to something necessary for a eureka or inspiration boost)

CA (Civ Ability) – The unique ability of a civilization, shared by all its leaders.

Compact empires – Civs with cities close together (typically 3-4 tile gaps between city centres). This is useful if you want to make use of districts that gain adjacency bonuses from other districts, or to maximise the potential of area-of-effect bonuses later in the game.

Dispersed empires – Civs with cities that are spread out (typically 5-6 tile gaps between city centres). Civs with unique tile improvements generally favour a more dispersed empire in order to make use of them, as do civs focused on wonder construction.

GWAM – Collective name for Great Writers, Artists and Musicians. All of them can produce Great Works that offer tourism and culture, making them important to anyone seeking a cultural victory.

LA (Leader Ability) – The unique ability of a specific leader. Usually but not always, they tend to be more specific in scope than civ abilities. Some leader abilities come with an associated unique unit or infrastucture.

Prebuilding – Training a unit with the intention of upgrading it to a desired unit later. An example is building Slingers and upgrading them once Archery is unlocked.

Sniping – Targeting a specific city for capture directly, ignoring other enemy cities along the way. Typically used in the context of “capital sniping” – taking a civ’s original capital as quickly as possible to contribute towards domination victory without leading to a drawn-out war.

Start bias – The kind of terrain, terrain feature or resource a civilization is more likely to start near. This is typically used for civilizations that have early bonuses dependent on a particular terrain type. There are five tiers of start bias; civs with a tier 1 start bias are placed before civs of tier 2 and so on, increasing their odds of receiving a favourable starting location.

Complete information on start biases within the game can be found in the Civilizations.xml file (find the Civ 6 folder in Steam’s program files, then go through the Base, Assets, Gameplay and Data folders to find the file). DLC and Expansion civs have a similarly-named file in their corresponding folders.

Super-uniques – Unique units that do not replace any others. Examples include India’s Varu and Mongolia’s Keshigs.

Tall empires – Empires that emphasise city development over expansion, usually resulting in fewer, but bigger, cities.

Uniques – Collective name for civ abilities, leader abilities, unique units, unique buildings, unique districts and unique improvements.

UA (Unique Ability) – A collective name for leader abilities and civ abilities.

UB (Unique Building) – A special building which may only be constructed in the cities of a single civilization, which replaces a normal building and offers a special advantage on top.

UD (Unique District) – A special district which may only be constructed in the cities of a single civilization, which replaces a normal district, costs half as much to build and offers some unique advantages on top.

UI (Unique Improvement) – A special improvement that can only be built by the Builders of a single civilization. “UI” always refers to unique improvements in my guides and not to “user interface” or “unique infrastructure”.

UU (Unique Unit) – A special unit that may only be trained by a single civilization, and in some cases only when that civilization is led by a specific leader.

Wide empires – Empires that emphasise expansion over city development, usually resulting in more, but smaller, cities.

Outline (Part 1/2)

Start Bias

China has no start bias.

Civilization Ability: Dynastic Cycle

  • All boosts (eurekas and inspirations) complete 50% of the base research cost for their respective technology or civic, up from 40%.
    • “Base research cost” refers to the cost of the technology if you are in the corresponding game era. The amount of research gained through a boost is fixed, but it will represent a higher percentage of research if you are in a later game era, or lower if you are in an earlier game era.
    • In other words, eurekas and inspirations offer 25% more science and culture respectively than normal.
  • When completing a world wonder, receive a random eureka and inspiration boost of its respective era.

Kublai Khan’s Leader Ability: Gerege

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  • All governments receive an extra economic policy card slot.
  • When first establishing a trading post in another full civ, gain a random eureka and inspiration boost.
    • You may only receive this bonus once per full civ you send a route to.
    • The random eureka and inspirations will favour technologies and civics you are able to research but lack the boosts for.

Qin Shi Huang’s Leader Ability: The First Emperor

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  • Builders have an additional charge (4 by default instead of 3).
    • This extra charge is kept if the Builder is captured by another civ.
  • Builders can use a charge to contribute 15% of the production cost of a wonder from the ancient or classical era.
    • This is affected by modifiers to general production and wonder production.
    • This is tied to the wonder’s era, not your current era.
    • You cannot add a charge to a wonder that is not currently being worked on.
    • If you contribute more production via a charge than is needed to complete the wonder, the excess is carried over to the next thing you build.
  • Canal districts are unlocked at the ancient-era Masonry technology rather than the industrial-era Steam Power technology.

Outline (Part 2/2)

Unique Unit: Crouching Tiger Cannon

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A medieval-era ranged land unit which does not replace anything



Upgrades from

Upgrades to




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Medieval era

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Industrial era


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Field Cannon
(350 Zigzagzigal’s Guides – China (GS) – Steam Solo (7))

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560 Zigzagzigal’s Guides – China (GS) – Steam Solo (9)
280 Zigzagzigal’s Guides – China (GS) – Steam Solo (10)*


3 Zigzagzigal’s Guides – China (GS) – Steam Solo (11)

*Purchasing units with faith requires the Grand Master’s Chapel government building, which requires either the medieval-era Divine Right or renaissance-era Exploration civics.


Ranged Strength




Negative Attributes

Positive Attributes

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  • Unable to capture cities
  • -17 Zigzagzigal’s Guides – China (GS) – Steam Solo (17) vs. city defences
  • -17 Zigzagzigal’s Guides – China (GS) – Steam Solo (18) vs. naval units
  • Deals -50% damage to city walls and urban defences
  • Does not exert zone of control


Notable features

  • Has 1 range; Crossbowmen, which are available at the same technology, have a range of 2.
  • Has 50 ranged strength; 10 more than a Crossbowman (40) but 10 less than a Field Cannon (60).
  • Costs 140 production/640 gold/320 faith, 22% cheaper than a Crossbowman (180 production/720 gold/360 faith)
  • Costs 390 gold to upgrade to a Field Cannon, 26% higher than the Crossbowman to Field Cannon upgrade cost (310 gold)

Unique Improvement: Great Wall

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Terrain requirement

Constructed by

Base pillage yield

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Ancient era

Featureless land tile on the border of your territory, not
adjacent to more than two Great Wall tiles, nor two Great
Wall tiles which are already adjacent to each other.

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Defensive bonus

Direct yield

Adjacency yields

Miscellaneous bonus

Maximum possible yield

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2 Zigzagzigal’s Guides – China (GS) – Steam Solo (25) per adjacent Great Wall

Can never be removed by natural hazards; only pillaged.

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Direct bonus

Adjacency bonus

Miscellaneous bonus

New maximum yield*

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Medieval era


2 Zigzagzigal’s Guides – China (GS) – Steam Solo (28) per adjacent Great Wall


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Modern era



Culture yield added to tourism

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4 Zigzagzigal’s Guides – China (GS) – Steam Solo (33)
4 Zigzagzigal’s Guides – China (GS) – Steam Solo (34)**

*This assumes you already have the enhancements of earlier eras.

**Note that the tourism yield does not require the improvement to be worked.

Victory Skew

In this section, the civ is subjectively graded based on how much it leans towards a specific victory type – not how powerful it is. Scores of 3 or more mean the civ has at least a minor advantage towards the victory route.

Kublai Khan






Qin Shi Huang






Cultural victories work very well as China with either leader. Qin Shi Huang allows easy construction of early wonders, which can help you accumulate a substantial amount of tourism. Similarly, the Great Wall can provide you with extra tourism late in the game. Faster civic accumulation helps you get to key cultural wonders, Rock Bands and the late-arriving tourism-boosting policy cards like Heritage Tourism sooner. Kublai Khan’s extra economic policy card slot makes it easier to fit in wonder-constructing and tourism-boosting bonuses.

China has a modest in the diplomatic game for either leader – the huge gold output of Great Wall improvements can really help you to compete in aid emergencies. However, it’s Qin Shi Huang who has the edge here. You can rush the Apadana wonder followed by others in the same city for bonus envoys, which then can be used to secure suzerain status over city-states helping you accumulate diplomatic favour. You can also rush the Mahabodhi Temple for two diplomatic victory points.

Domination victories are a less effective option. While Crouching Tiger Cannons are strong for their era, their short range makes them far better-suited to defence. Nonetheless, getting through technologies and civics faster can provide you with a military edge, and the gold from the Great Wall helps with unit maintenance, so China has some advantage at it. Qin Shi Huang gets an extra minor bonus with early Canals, which can have some strategic applications.

Both leaders have strengths in the religious game but take a different approach. Qin Shi Huang can try rushing Stonehenge and taking the Divine Inspiration belief. If you can then rush Mahabodhi Temple as well, you can get a mature religion early along with a nice faith output. The problem with this method is it heavily depends on factors outside your control. Kublai Khan, meanwhile, relies on his extra economic policy card to make it easier to stack bonuses in the religious game.

Aside from culture, science is the other strong route to take as China. Stronger eureka boosts means more for scientific victories than stronger Inspirations does for cultural victories, and bonus eurekas from finished wonders makes that go even further. Kublai Khan gets even more free eurekas on top, and a very helpful economic policy card for fitting in more science and production bonuses. Qin Shi Huang’s extra Builder charges goes nicely with the Royal Society building to rush space race projects. Careful positioning of Canals can even result in strong Industrial Zone adjacency bonuses ready for building up a power or Spaceport infrastructure.

Civilization Ability: Dynastic Cycle (Part 1/2)

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Won’t take long to research these!

Stronger Boosts – Mechanics

Almost every technology and civic has an associated action which causes you to instantly research a chunk of it. If you are in the same game era as the technology, its worth 40% of the progress – making boosts important to the cultural game and even more so for scientific victories. Careful use of boosts can put you ahead of other civs even if your science/culture outputs are somewhat lacking.

For China, chasing up boosts becomes even more important. As a good hypothetical example, imagine the game has just begun, and it takes 10 turns for both China and a competing civ to unlock Sailing. Both civs get the eureka. China needs only 5 turns to get the technology now, while the competing civ needs 6. China essentially gets a 17% reduction in the research cost, or to put it another way, a 20% science bonus!

Technologies and civics become 20% cheaper if you are in a later game era than their corresponding era (e.g. researching Sailing in the classical era or later). Researching technologies and civics from later eras than the current game era will cause them to cost 20% more, stacking multiplicatively per era. However, the amount of science or culture from eurekas and inspirations respectively is fixed. This means boosts for research of earlier eras will cover more than 50% of the progress for China, but ones for later eras will cover less than 50%.

Here is a table to show what the effective percentage of research is covered by boosts:

Era Difference

Technology Cost

Boost Value

Boost Value for China
or Free Inquiry (technologies)
or Pen, Brush and Voice (civics)

Boost Value for China
with Free Inquiry (technologies)
or Pen, Brush and Voice (civics)

-1 or more
























Though getting eurekas and inspirations ahead of time won’t generate more or less science, they (and by extension the Chinese civ ability) has a bigger relative effect if you avoid researching too far ahead of time. The nature of Qin Shi Huang‘s leader ability discourages researching too far ahead early on, though later on you may want to consider whether it’s better to spread out your research or beeline key technologies.

Civilization Ability: Dynastic Cycle (Part 2/2)

Stronger Boosts – Usage

China’s civ ability is particularly strong early in the game, when most eurekas and inspirations are relatively easy to unlock. Many are tied to Builder actions, and the fact you have an extra charge on every Builder helps get you these eureka/inspiration boosts even faster. It gets rather trickier into the middle of the game, where many boosts require use of specific units or unusual research orders. You can try researching technologies or civics to 50% completion and then switch to something else while you try to unlock their corresponding boosts, but this isn’t always the best option. If you come across an important technology or civic with a tricky boost (Mass Media is a good example), don’t feel you have to wait for the boost – just go ahead and research it.

What to get the boost for and what not to can be a tricky The situation can vary substantially depending on how your game’s going, but here are some general points to consider:

  • Boosts dependent on Builder actions are generally easy to obtain. Early in the game, if you lack an appropriate resource type for the boost, you can usually settle a new city in range of it. Later on, that’s not always possible, so getting the technology/civic without the boost is often a better option.
  • Boosts dependent on constructing districts or buildings should be given special attention. Try to ensure all your cities have a diverse range of districts between them, and getting these boosts won’t be too hard.
  • Boosts dependent on specific units are a problem if you lack access to their respective strategic resources, but otherwise the Great Wall improvement provides enough gold that you generally should be able to afford to purchase some copies after a few turns.
  • Eurekas dependent on the civic tree and inspirations dependent on the technology tree can vary considerably in difficulty, but on the whole if you keep your science and culture outputs reasonably balanced it should make the process much easier.
  • Boosts dependent on Great People can be tricky and pretty unpredictable. Don’t dedicate too much effort to picking them up unless they’re Great People you’d want to obtain anyway (e.g. a Great Artist to help with cultural victory) or have enough spare gold to afford patronage.
  • Boosts dependent on other civs like the ones for Writing and Defensive Tactics are highly unpredictable. Unless they’re on an important research path, it can be worth holding off researching them for a while to increase the odds you’ll get the boost.

Some boosts you can find sneaky ways around. The Mobilisation inspiration (have three corps/fleets) for example can be worked around by simply training Scout corps if you don’t have a sufficient military to achieve that by other means.

There’s alternative means of gaining boosts as well, but you typically don’t have so much control over them. Here’s a list of those methods:

  • Kublai Khan can use his leader ability – see that section for more details.
  • Randomly from ancient ruins
  • Various Great People (mostly Great Scientists); see the administration section of this guide for more information.
  • The classical-era Great Library wonder (available at the Recorded History civic) grants you all ancient and classical-era eurekas and grants you more every time another civ generates a Great Scientist. This is one of the wonders you can rush with Builders thanks to Qin Shi Huang’s leader ability.
  • Having a level 2 or higher research alliance with another civ (requiring the Civil Service civic) will grant a new eureka every 20 turns.
  • Spies can steal eurekas from other civs via the Steal Technology mission. You unlock Spies at the renaissance-era Diplomatic Service civic, and can build more with the industrial-era Nationalism civic, the modern-era Ideology civic, the atomic-era Cold War civic and the atomic-era Computers technology. You can train them faster with the Machiavellianism diplomatic civic card, unlocked at Diplomatic Service, and the Intelligence Agency building will both make them more effective and grant another one. Having enough tourism pressure over another civ will speed up their missions even more.
  • If Sweden is present in the game, there’s the opportunity of the Nobel Prize in Physics scored competition in the industrial era or later. It awards up to two random eureka boosts.
  • The modern-era Broadway wonder gives a random free atomic-era inspiration boost.
  • The information or future-era Sky and Stars Golden Age dedication grants a set of free eurekas, depending on the era.

Remember that scientific victories benefit from certain late-arriving civics like Space Race, and cultural victories benefit from some late-arriving technologies like Computers. Try to have a good output of both science and culture regardless of which victory route you’re going for.

Wonder Boosts

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Every time China finishes a wonder, they receive a random eureka and inspiration of its respective era.

On paper, this sounds like a powerful additional bonus allowing China to accelerate through technology, but in practice, it takes a long time to complete most wonders, limiting the potential. Qin Shi Huang can use this for faster early development, but remember that early expansion is often more important than early wonders.

All this, however, is not to say this ability is useless – something it is very useful for is filling out boosts on low-priority technologies and civics, so any other source of random boosts (e.g. Kublai Khan‘s leader ability) is more likely to boost something you want.

Here’s an example: Naval Tradition is a dead-end civic with an awkward inspiration requirement (kill a unit with a Quadrireme). If you lack Harbours, there may be little reason to research it even into the modern era and beyond. Trouble is, a source of random civic boosts may end up giving you Naval Tradition’s boost rather than something more useful like Mass Media. However, by building any medieval-era wonder, even if you have all the other medieval-era civics, you can grab the Naval Tradition boost and ensure that your boosts that aren’t era-restricted go somewhere more useful.

In a nutshell, this bonus is mostly useful for catching low-priority eurekas and inspirations.


  • Avoid beelining more than an era ahead early on to maximise this ability’s efficiency.
  • Look out for as many eureka and inspiration boosts as possible – Spies and research alliances will help.
  • Keep your science and culture reasonably balanced as eurekas and inspirations often require use of the other tree.

Kublai Khan’s Leader Ability: Gerege

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While Qin Shi Huang has a powerful, albeit risky, early game focused on building wonders, Kublai Khan has a more straightforward approach. You get the extremely reliable and ever-present bonus of an extra economic policy card slot, and some bonus eurekas and inspirations on top.

+1 economic policy card slot

Starting with a second economic policy card slot allows you to stack Urban Planning and Ilkum or Colonisation together to gain two lots of production bonuses towards key early civilian units. The Urban Planning/Colonisation combination in particular helps you settle plenty of cities early on – something that’s important regardless of your victory route.

Further into the game, more economic policy card slots makes it easier to hold cards that boost yields (e.g. Natural Philosophy, which doubles Campus adjacency bonuses) and those which help general development (e.g. Serfdom, which adds extra charges to Builders). This makes it easier for your cities’ development to keep up with your fast research.

While you can use the extra economic policy card slot to help with using governments that have few of them, this isn’t necessary. Autocracy’s wonder-construction bonus might go reasonably well with China’s civ ability, but Classical Republic’s Great Person Points bonus and amenities are also really useful to have around.

Ultimately, the economic policy card is a reliably useful bonus for China which doesn’t require particularly careful planning. For more ideas on what to put in the extra policy card slot, look at the Administration section of this guide.

Boosts from trading posts

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You can establish a trading post in a city by sending a trade route there, and ensuring it stays active until it expires. At a minimum, trade routes take 21 turns to complete.

For Kublai Khan, setting up your first trading post in another civ’s city will give you a free random eureka and inspiration. The more full civs there are in the game, the more potential boosts you can get from this ability, so it tends to be more powerful on larget map sizes.

The temptation is simply to send trade routes to other civs early on to get extra boosts, but consider that many early eurekas and inspirations are relatively easy to earn. There’s also the risk of international trade routes getting pillaged by Barbarians, which prevents them from being able to establish trading posts.

On the other hand, trade routes take longer to complete later in the game, depending on the current world era:

World era

Minimum time to complete trade route


21 turns


31 turns


41 turns


51 turns

So, while it’s possible to get future-era eureka boosts from this leader ability, the sheer time it takes to set up trading posts late in the game makes it fairly impractical.

A good compromise is to send out international trade routes around the medieval or renaissance eras. The time taken for trade routes to complete isn’t yet too slow, and there’s plenty of technologies and civics with awkward boost requirements (e.g. Castles, Siege Tactics, Square Rigging, Humanism).


Kublai Khan’s leader ability is one that’s easy to learn and reliable. It’s great for someone aiming to learn how to play as China – or even learn cultural or scientific games in general. So long as you remember to send international trade routes to every other major civ at some point, you can easily get most of the benefit of this.

Qin Shi Huang’s Leader Ability: The First Emperor (Part 1/4)

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Qin Shi Huang brings a unique early-game for China. While others would struggle, China can produce large quantities of early wonders. And long before anyone else can, China can connect the seas and lakes of the world with uniquely early access to the Canal district.

Builder Charges

Qin Shi Huang’s extra Builder charge is a very straightforward bonus – every Builder can do one more thing, making them more cost-effective. That can help save time with early city development – you can mix improving tiles with chopping down forests to help with both short-term and long-term city potential. Be sure to build on this with further boosts to Builder charges, such as Governor Liang (the Surveyor), the Pyramids wonder or the medieval-era Serfdom policy card, available at Feudalism.

Rushing Wonders – Mechanics

Early-game wonders are often quite a risk to pick up. Dedicating a lot of production early on to something there’s no guarantee you’ll win (especially on high difficulties) instead of developing your cities can easily backfire. For Qin Shi Huang, however, smart use of Builders can see you secure multiple wonders even on the highest difficulties, setting you up for the rest of the game.

At the start of the game, you should try and expand fairly quickly. 4 cities is a good number to have. With the Ilkum economic policy card (available at Craftsmanship) you can affordably get Builders trained even in small cities, allowing your entire empire to contribute towards wonder construction. Just one Builder can cover 60% of the production cost of an ancient or classical-era wonder.

A good trick to speed up construction is to use all but one of the charges on any Builders you have dedicated to constructing tile improvements. That way, when they contribute to wonder construction they will be depleted, freeing up the tile and letting you move another Builder in. This can allow you to contribute multiple charges in a single turn! If you get a one-charge Builder on a wonder surrounded by others (at least five surrounding them must have one charge remaining) you can rush an entire wonder in a single turn.

Another crucial trick you can use to maximise production efficiency is as follows:

  1. Set a city to build a Wonder
  2. Contribute a Builder charge
  3. Set the city’s production to something else
  4. End turn
  5. At the start of your next turn, switch production back to the wonder
  6. Contribute another Builder charge
  7. Set the city’s production back to the other thing
  8. End turn
  9. Repeat steps 5-8 until the wonder is complete.

Essentially, it will allow your city to build two things at once.

Zigzagzigal’s Guides – China (GS) – Steam Solo (45)
But why stop at just two items? By switching my city between working on two wonders and a building, I can develop the wonders with Builders while using the city’s production to help develop itself. I’m essentially building three things at once!

As Builder charges are almost always cheaper than 15% of the cost of a wonder, it’s not a bad idea to use this trick to train Builders in cities that also have wonders in progress.

You can go beyond the normal 15% of wonder costs by using bonuses that boost wonder production (or modifiers to general production, but they arrive too late to be relevant). Key ones include:

  • (Pantheon) Monument to the Gods: +15% production boost to ancient and classical-era wonders. This makes every Builder charge worth an extra 2.25% of ancient/classical wonder costs.
  • (Government) Autocracy: +10% bonus to wonder construction. This makes every Builder charge worth an extra 1.5% of ancient/classical wonder costs.
  • (Policy Card) Corvée: +15% production boost to ancient and classical-era wonders. This makes every Builder charge worth an extra 2.25% of ancient/classical wonder costs.
  • (City-State) Brussels: +15% production bonus to all wonders if you are suzerain. This makes every Builder charge worth an extra 2.25% of ancient/classical wonder costs.
  • (Natural Wonder) Ik-Kil: +50% wonder construction in adjacent tiles.

The bonuses from Monument of the Gods and Corvée are the most consistent. Brussels and Ik-Kil won’t appear in every game and the former’s suzerain bonus may be hard to secure.

Rushing Wonders – The List

Now that the mechanics are out of the way, let’s consider the wonders themselves. Here’s a list of all ancient and classical era wonders in a rough chronological order.

Great Bath

Requires the ancient-era Pottery technology.
Must be constructed on a floodplains tile.
+3 housing and +1 amenity in this city. Floodplains along the river this wonder is on are immune to flooding damage but produce 50% less food and production bonuses from floods. Floodplains belonging to this city gain +1 faith every time flood damage is mitigated.

The Great Bath’s extremely early arrival makes it extremely competitive, and more to the point it means you have to dedicate time on it rather than early expansion. It’s generally not worth it to build this wonder as the lost expansion time will cost you down the line.


Requires the ancient-era Astrology technology.
Must be constructed on flat land adjacent to stone.
+2 faith. Free Great Prophet and may found a religion on Stonehenge.

The temptation of an early free religion is great, but even with China’s ability to rush wonders it’s a hard one to pick up. Still, if you manage it, you can grab the Divine Inspiration belief and enjoy a strong early faith output.


Requires the ancient-era, Writing technology.
Must be constructed on floodplains or marsh.
+2 science. +1 science and +1 production to all floodplains in this city, +2 science and +1 production to all marsh tiles in your empire.

The boosted science output is powerful with China’s civ ability, and finding a city with a few floodplain tiles isn’t too hard. Writing is a high-priority technology for most civs, so act fast to maximise your chances of getting the wonder.

Hanging Gardens

Requires the ancient-era Irrigation technology.
Must be constructed adjacent to a river.
+15% growth in all cities, and +2 housing in this city.

Requiring two technologies rather than Stonehenge’s one, the Hanging Gardens is a little less competitive on higher difficulties – though it can still be a gamble. Larger cities are ideal for building post-classical era wonders.

Temple of Artemis

Requires the ancient-era Archery technology.
Must be constructed adjacent to a camp improvement.
+4 food and +3 housing in this city, in addition to +1 amenity per camp, pasture or plantation within four tiles of this wonder.

A great wonder for developing a strong early city. If you can manage to get it and Petra in a desert hills city, it’ll have both the size and production capable of building many post-classical wonders. The technology’s also useful for keeping your civ defended, so there’s no problem with picking it up early.

Great Pyramids

Requires the ancient-era Masonry technology.
Must be constructed on a desert or floodplains tile without hills.
+2 culture. Grants 1 free Builder, all Builders receive +1 charge.

One of the best early wonders for China, an extra Builder charge will help you build future wonders even faster. The free Builder from this wonder will be enough to help you get 75% of another wonder built, or 90% with Governor Liang (the Surveyor). There is the problem you need to track down desert land, but you’ll often be able to get at least one tile by your second or third city.

Qin Shi Huang’s Leader Ability: The First Emperor (Part 2/4)


Requires the ancient-era Mysticism civic.
Must be constructed on hills.
All districts in this city produce +2 Great Person Points of their corresponding type (Theatre Squares only produce Great Writer Points). Patronage of Great People via faith costs 25% less.

A reasonable wonder which is particularly good in large cities that can support a large variety of districts. China doesn’t get any direct bonuses to faith output, so the cheap patronage is a fairly niche bonus.

Great Lighthouse

Requires the classical-era Celestial Navigation technology.
Must be constructed on the coast (not a lake), adjacent to a Harbour district containing a Lighthouse.
+3 gold and +1 Great Admiral Point per turn. All naval units gain +1 movement.

Mainly useful for water-heavy maps, though in a region with high potential for canals it can be quite helpful for defending your lands as well. Its relatively high positioning requirements make it a pretty uncompetitive wonder which means you can pick it up some way into the game. That’s helpful if you want to plan around maximising Theatre Square adjacency.

Jebel Barkal

Requires the classical-era Iron Working technology.
Must be constructed on desert hills.
Awards +4 faith to all cities within six tiles, and +4 iron per turn.

Great in conjunction with the Oracle. China doesn’t have a great need for faith otherwise, so this isn’t the highest priority wonder out there. Petra is much more useful for a city with desert.


Requires the classical-era Games and Recreation civic.
Must be constructed on flat land adjacent to an Entertainment Complex with an Arena.
+2 culture, +2 amenities and +2 loyalty to all city centres within six tiles.

A good wonder to have in the hands of practically any civ, the Colosseum should eliminate any problems you have regarding amenities for a long time. The notable downside is the need to build an Entertainment Complex early in the game instead of something like a Campus or Theatre Square and dedicate further production to an Arena, but that’s a pretty manageable price to pay in the grand scheme of things.


Requires the classical-era Political Philosophy civic.
Must be constructed adjacent to your capital’s City Centre.
+2 Great Work slots of any type, +2 envoys, all future wonders built in this city provide +2 envoys.

An extremely powerful wonder if you can set it up right. By emphasising plenty of Monuments early on, you can rush to Political Philosophy fairly quickly. Then, you can use your Builders to rush other pre-medieval wonders in the same city and get an enormous amount of envoys. This can make you suzerain over a lot of city-states early in the game, and give you a huge advantage to diplomatic favour.

The main problems with this wonder are that it arrives at a civic most civs want to obtain quickly, and that it’s very limited in regards to where you can build it – just six tiles at the most are eligible.


Requires the classical-era Shipbuilding technology.
Must be constructed on the coast (not a lake), adjacent to a Harbour district.
+3 gold, +1 Great Admiral Point, +1 trade route capacity, gain a free Trader

The Colossus is a fairly uncompetitive wonder and has a rather useful benefit with its free trade route. That can help your smaller cities to grow faster via internal trading, getting you ready for the tougher technology/civic boosts in the middle of the game.


Requires the classical-era Mathematics technology.
Must be constructed on a desert or floodplains tile without hills.
All desert tiles (except floodplains) in range of the city gain +2 food, +2 gold and +1 production.

A very powerful wonder if constructed in a city with a lot of desert hills, though even flat desert can become pretty decent considering Great Walls can be constructed on desert. Bring a couple of Builders and even a new city can get this constructed in six turns at the most, or seven Builder charges. The main problems are finding an appropriate spot (you won’t always start near desert) and getting to Mathematics reasonably quickly.

Terracotta Army

Requires the classical-era Construction technology.
Must be constructed on grasslands or plains adjacent to an Encampment district with either a Barracks or Stable.
+1 Great General Points. All current land units gain a promotion. All Archaeologists can enter other civs’ territory without open borders.

Mostly useful if you intend to take China to a cultural victory, being able to send Archaeologists to foreign lands without open borders makes it easier to fill Archaeological Museums and get theming bonuses. You probably won’t get many free promotions out of this.

Machu Picchu

Note: This wonder cannot be rushed due to its inaccessible location for Builders!

Requires the classical-era Engineering technology.
Must be constructed on a non-volcanic mountain tile.
+4 gold. All Commercial Hubs, Theatre Squares and Industrial Zones gain +1 adjacency from mountains.

The effectiveness of this wonder heavily depends on how many mountains there are in your empire, and whether you can spare the production to build it in its entirety. Theatre Squares would have the most to gain normally as their adjacency bonuses are typically hardest to earn out of the three, but Qin Shi Huang’s ability to rush a lot of wonders means you can make even more lucrative spots for Theatre Squares. Commercial Hubs on river sources can get pretty decent yields, however, and Industrial Zones sandwiched between Aqueducts or Canals and mountains are moderately productive as well.

Statue of Zeus

Requires the classical-era Military Training civic.
Must be built on flat land adjacent to an Encampment with a Barracks.
+3 gold per turn. +50% production towards anti-cavalry units in all cities. Gain 3 Spearmen, 3 Archers and a Battering Ram when complete.

Focusing so much on wonders can lead you to neglect defence, but here’s a wonder that can help with just that. The prerequisite is a little bit tricky, and the civic requirement is also a detour from the more important Feudalism civic, but it can still be worth going for once you have the Serfdom policy card.

Mausoleum at Halicarnassus

Requires the classical-era Defensive Tactics civic.
Must be built adjacent to a Harbour.
+1 charge for Great Engineers. This city’s coast tiles gain +1 faith, science and culture.

The extra Great Engineer charge is very useful – particularly for ones that offer wonder construction boosts later in the game. A coastal city with this wonder and a lot of sea resources or potential for fishery improvements via Governor Liang (the Surveyor) can produce some pretty decent yields as well.

Qin Shi Huang’s Leader Ability: The First Emperor (Part 3/4)

Great Library

Requires the classical-era Recorded History civic.
Must be built on flat land adjacent to a Campus district with a Library.
+2 science, +1 Great Scientist Point, 2 Great Works of Writing slots, gain all pre-medieval eurekas, gain a eureka every time another civ gains a Great Scientist.

A very powerful wonder if timed right, but has the problem of arriving at a tricky point in the civics tree. Manage your research right and you could gain an enormous amount of science at once. Even if you’re doing well in science and can’t get many boosts out of it immediately, you can still get further boosts from other civs getting Great Scientists. Consider passing on some that don’t offer boosts so you can maximise the quantity you do get.

If those boosts weren’t enough, you also get a bit of science, a Great Scientist point and two slots for Great Works of Writing, helping you pursue both scientific and cultural aims.

Mahabodhi Temple

Requires the classical-era Theology civic.
Must be built on woods adjacent to a Holy Site with a Temple, and you must have founded a religion.
+2 diplomatic victory points, +4 faith and +2 Apostles

A tricky wonder to pick up which is pretty competitive in singleplayer, and not particularly synergistic with China’s other uniques. Still, if you managed to rush Stonehenge, this wonder lets you fill out all your religious beliefs without you having to spend any faith. It also denies diplomatic civs from taking the victory points this wonder offers.

Rushing Wonders – Side-effects

One useful side-effect of getting a lot of early wonders is the ability to maximise culture yields from Theatre Squares. If possible, position your wonders to allow space for future Theatre Squares in between as many as possible, and you’ll be rewarded with even faster civic accumulation (not to mention faster city border expansion).

Furthermore, wonders are a great source of era score, granting 4 a time if they correspond to the current (or a later) game era, and 3 if they’re of an earlier era than the current game era (e.g. completing the Temple of Artemis in the classical era). This allows China to reliably enter a medieval-era Golden Age, providing a choice of Free Inquiry (for stronger eurekas) or Pen, Brush and Voice (for stronger inspirations).

If you can secure the Apadana early on and then go back for other wonders, you can accumulate a huge number of envoys, allowing you to become suzerain over more city-states than most civs can manage.

Builders and Wonders – Beyond the classical era

You can still rush ancient and classical-era wonders later in the game, and combined with the Serfdom economic policy card (available at Feudalism) this becomes even easier; just one Builder can rush 90% of a wonder’s progress.

Otherwise, the main use of Qin Shi Huang’s Builder bonus by this point will be more productive Builders. Keep in mind that Builders become more expensive for every one you build or buy, and training many of them early in the game to rush wonders with could make them pretty costly by the medieval era. Again, the Serfdom economic policy card will really help.

Later in the game, you can use the Royal Society Government Plaza building to allow Builders to contribute all their charges towards a city project. This includes all space race projects, giving Qin Shi Huang a distinct edge here.

Building lots of wonders will reward you with a strong amount of tourism. Wonders produce two tourism each, plus one for every era since the era they first became available. An ancient-era wonder will be worth 10 tourism by the future era (not accounting for multipliers like the doubled tourism with the atomic-era Computers technology) and a classical-era wonder 9.

Qin Shi Huang’s Leader Ability: The First Emperor (Part 4/4)

Canals – Introduction

Zigzagzigal’s Guides – China (GS) – Steam Solo (46)

Qin Shi Huang brings another change to early gameplay in the form of early Canal districts. Rushing wonders is generally more of a priority early in the game than developing Canals, but you can still enjoy some strategic advantages you otherwise wouldn’t have.

Canals – Mechanics

Canals are a special non-speciality district which allows naval units to pass through land tiles. Normally, they require the industrial-era Steam Power technology, and can only be built on a tile:

  • Within 3 tiles of a city centre in owned land
  • On flat featureless terrain, unless the feature can be removed (woods, rainforest, marsh).
  • Not on a tile which already has a district or wonder
  • With a coast or lake on one side, and a city centre and/or another body of water on the other.
  • With land tiles on either side of the canal.
  • That would not result in a three-way canal.

That’s quite a list of requirements! To help visualise what might be valid canal spots or not, here’s a diagram:

Zigzagzigal’s Guides – China (GS) – Steam Solo (47)
This city is on a snaky island , but not all of these potential locations can host Canals…

  • Spot 1 cannot host a Canal as land tiles are only on one side of it (not both).
  • Spot 2 can host a Canal – there’s bodies of water on both ends and land on both sides – though not if Spot 3 already has a Canal.
  • Spot 3 can host a Canal (though not if Spot 2 or 4 have one present). The city centre is treated like a water tile rather than another Canal.
  • Spot 4 can host a Canal if Spot 3 or 5 doesn’t have one, and Spot 5 can host one if Spot 4 doesn’t have one and Spot 6 doesn’t have the Panama Canal.
  • Spot 6 cannot host a regular Canal, but the Panama Canal wonder could theoretically be built there to connect the city to the water in the south-east, assuming Spot 5 isn’t taken.
  • Spot 7 cannot host a Canal as it already has a district present.
  • Spot 8 cannot host a Canal as it isn’t flat terrain.
  • Spot 9 can host a Canal once you have the Bronze Working technology. Placing a Canal there would remove the rainforest.

Canals cost 50% more than speciality districts to build, but the expense can be partially mitigated by using Military Engineers to provide build charges to them, much like how Qin Shi Huang allows Builders to add charges to wonders under construction. Every charge contributes 20% of a Canal’s total cost.

In addition to allowing naval units to pass the tile, Canals have some additional effects:

  • International Traders gain +1 gold for each Canal tile they pass through, and treat Canal tiles like water for the purpose of transportation efficiency (adding extra gold to the trade route – see “Mechanics – Transportation Efficiency” in the Guide to the Inca for more information)
  • Industrial Zones gain +2 production for each adjacent Canal.
  • Governor Liang (the Surveyor) with the Water Works promotion grants +1 amenity for every Canal present in her city.

With the industrial-era Steam Power technology, there’s the opportunity to build the Panama Canal wonder. It functions like a Canal of two or three three tiles in length, potentially allowing you to connect two city centres together, or connect bodies of water three tiles apart without needing an intervening city.
Zigzagzigal’s Guides – China (GS) – Steam Solo (48)
There’s three possible valid Panama Canal spots in the image:

  • Option One creates the longest possible route, but requires City A and City B to already connect to the sea via Canal districts. The city able to build the wonder is whichever one owns the middle tile, but they don’t need to control all three.
  • Option Two could be built by City A. While not as long a route as Option One (therefore not quite as effective defensively as less ground can be covered by your navy), it doesn’t require as much setup.
  • Option Three could be built by City B but it’d make a pretty redundant canal.

Note, however, that both City A and City B had to be settled off the coast, and away from fresh water leaving them with a low housing base. This is a common problem that purpose-built Canal cities have – to circumvent it, use your Great Wall gold to purchase Granaries in the cities and bring Builders over to build farms.

Canals – Early Canals and Strategies

By unlocking Canals early in the game, China can use them in ways that other civs cannot. The most obvious benefit is being able to connect two seas, allowing one navy to serve the purpose of defending both seas, or allowing a naval ranged unit to retreat behind a city while still being able to fire on their targets. But it can also be helpful for boosting city production – Canals provide a +2 adjacency bonus to Industrial Zones, and together with an Aqueduct, a second Canal or a few mines or quarries, you can get an impressive adjacency bonus that doubles with a Coal Power Plant.

Still, be sure you can actually spare the production to build a Canal. Basic infrastructure and wonders will generally be more important early on – outside of the most important strategic uses, it might be best to wait until the medieval era so you can use them to accompany Industrial Zones.


  • Expand to a few cities so they can train Builders and contribute to wonder construction
  • Strong wonders to aim for include the the Pyramids, the Colosseum, Petra and the Great Library.
  • Builders may be quite expensive by the medieval era; use the Serfdom economic policy card to cut costs.
  • Early Canals can help you get more out of your navy defensively, provide a little more gold to international trade routes or boost the production of Industrial Zones.

Unique Improvement: Great Wall

Zigzagzigal’s Guides – China (GS) – Steam Solo (49)

As your cities grow you’ll be able to generate Builders faster, and you may have a few spare citizens available in your cities. That’s a great time to start making use of the Great Wall improvement, which can offer a huge amount of gold and eventually lots of culture too!

While the Great Wall improvement holds great potential, it also needs careful planning. Pieces of it can only be built on a tile on the border of your land, they can’t be built in a triangle, and they can’t be next to more than two other Great Wall tiles. For the maximum yield, you need a Great Wall tile adjacent to at least two others, so it takes three Builder charges to get your first optimum tile. Consider positioning Great Wall segments three tiles away from a city centre where possible so you don’t disrupt adjacency bonuses for other improvements or districts.

Initial Usage

Even before taking into account its yields, The Great Wall has a direct defensive use – providing a +4 strength bonus to units defending there. This is available a full three eras earlier than a fort and uses a more affordable Builder charge instead of a relatively expensive Military Engineer charge. Placing a segment of the Great Wall on a chokepoint can keep Barbarians out of your cities and enemy armies away. By having access to a fort early in the game, China can keep a smaller army than most civs allowing you to put more emphasis on boost accumulation and wonders.

The defensive application is useful immediately, but once you have more than the occasional spare Builder charge, it’s a good idea to start building chains of the improvement. With an impressive +6 gold yield, Great Wall tiles adjacent to at least two others can really help you in rushing units, buildings, or even districts via Governor Reyna (the Financier) with the Contractor promotion. It also helps with unit upgrading – combined with China’s strong research, you can constantly keep your military up to date.

Culture and Tourism

Zigzagzigal’s Guides – China (GS) – Steam Solo (50)

Once you’ve got the Castles technology, working Great Wall tiles becomes even more effective. Great Wall tiles adjacent to two others will yield +4 culture – twice as much as a Monument! That’s excellent for getting through civics faster as well as passive accumulation of tiles and resisting the tourism pressures of rival cultural civs.

With Flight, things get even better. Every segment of the Great Wall adjacent to two others now produces 4 tourism – as much as a Great Work Music, and more than a Great Work of Art or Writing. You don’t even need to work the tiles to receive the tourism, so consider filling unused border tiles with segments.

If you’re going for a scientific victory, you won’t get quite so much out of the Great Wall improvement, so don’t go overboard building them – or at least be prepared to replace some segments with power-granting improvements like wind farms later on.


The Great Wall has a niche defensive utility, but its key benefit is its strong gold, culture and eventually tourism yields. Ensure you build the improvement in a long line for the maximum possible output on as many tiles as possible, as well as on chokepoints to help keep your civ well-defended.

Unique Unit: Crouching Tiger Cannon

Zigzagzigal’s Guides – China (GS) – Steam Solo (51)

Crouching Tiger Cannons offer an alternative option to Crossbowmen in medieval and renaissance-era warfare. While they can’t be prebuilt, have a shorter range, and don’t count towards the Metal Casting eureka, they’re cheap to train and have a considerably higher damage output.

Defensive Usage

The main role of Crouching TIger Cannons is in defence. Positioned on a city centre or Encampment district, they can deal their full damage to adjacent attackers without having to risk being attacked directly. Alternatively, you can position them on Great Wall tiles to partially cover their defensive weaknesses – with the Garrison promotion, those spots are particularly effective in defence (especially if they’re also on hills).

If out in the open, Crouching Tiger Cannons shouldn’t be left vulnerable. Have a front line of units that defend more effectively, such as Knights – that way, the Knight can move out the way, the Crouching Tiger Cannon can move forward to fire, and the Knight can finish off the enemy unit, occupying the tile. To put it in other words, Crouching Tiger Cannons work best when getting the first hit on a unit to set up other units to get the last.

It’s also worth noting the attack strength of your cities with walls (or urban defences at the modern-era Steel technology) is tied to the highest ranged strength of any military unit you control. As such, your first Crouching Tiger Cannon will substantially boost your cities’ ranged attacks.

Offensive Usage

Against cities without walls, Crouching Tiger Cannons perform about on a par with Catapults, and defend considerably more effectively. While the units have a 50% damage penalty against city walls relative to Catapults, the ability to move and fire in the same turn provides some mobility that Catapults lack, only at the expense of range. And if any enemy units come into range, Crouching Tiger Cannons are considerably better at dealing with them than Catapults are.

However, this is a niche application with a small window of usage. Bombards defend better than Crouching Tiger Cannons, and deal considerably more damage against cities. And while Crossbowmen might not deal a lot of damage against cities per unit, their higher range means you can get a lot more attacks in per turn.


Crouching Tiger Cannons won’t perform very well against industrial-era cavalry units like Cavalry and Cuirassiers – they can be killed by them in just one turn! Thankfully, gold from Great Wall improvements will make the upgrade to Field Cannons affordable. They have both better strength and better range.


Crouching Tiger Cannons should be considered an alternative to, not a replacement to, Crossbowmen. They’re not vital to a game as China and there’s no great loss if you only ever train one for the +4 era score all unique units offer. If you do choose to train a few, they’re best-used in conjunction with the Great Wall, city centres or Encampments to defend your cities from would-be invaders.

Administration – Government and Policy Cards

Note that the Administration sections strictly cover the options that have particularly good synergy with the civ’s uniques. These are not necessarily the best choices, but rather options you should consider more than usual if playing this civ relative to others.


Tier One

Autocracy‘s wonder construction bonus, though small, is coupled with some strong capital bonuses to make it an excellent choice for Qin Shi Huang, and can perform reasonably well for Kublai Khan. Classical Republic also works well thanks to its higher number of economic policy cards and reliable passive bonuses..

Though Qin Shi Huang’s leader ability does make the Ancestral Hall stronger than it would otherwise be, consider carefully how many Settlers you intend to train after completing the building. The Audience Chamber may be a better alternative, helping your cities to grow and hence build further wonders beyond the first couple of eras. Kublai Khan similarly makes good use of either of them.

Tier Two

Merchant Republic is a reliable choice that serves both cultural and scientific victories well due to its good selection of policy cards. Kublai Khan may benefit from taking Monarchy instead if culture yields are limited and you need to get to later civics sooner, as Divine Right has a lower cost than Exploration.

Complement the government with the Intelligence Agency so you can steal eurekas from other civs more effectively.

Tier Three

Democracy is a safe choice for both cultural victories owing to its high quantity of economic policy cards. For a scientific game, go with Communism.

A cultural China will want to complement their government with the National History Museum, but a scientific-oriented China will prefer the Royal Society. Qin Shi Huang’s leader ability means that you’ll have more charges on Builders, and hence get more production out of every one sent to rush space projects.

Tier Four

Digital Democracy is generally your best choice in a cultural game, while Synthetic Technocracy is especially good for aiding in scientific victories.

Policy Cards

Ancient Era

Corvée (Economic, requires State Workforce) – It doesn’t just help you build wonders faster the normal way – it also makes rushing them via Builders faster!

Ilkum (Economic, requires Craftsmanship) – For Qin Shi Huang, faster Builder training means you should be able to squeeze in more wonders. For either leader, it’s useful for setting up segments of the Great Wall faster.

Inspiration (Wildcard, requires Mysticism) – Many Great Scientists offer eurekas, and some offer Inspirations. A bonus to Great Scientist Points should help you obtain more of them.

Urban Planning (Economic, requires Code of Laws) – For Qin Shi Huang, this policy card in conjunction with Ilkum can be better than Corvée for wonder production speed if your entire empire is producing Builders for your key wonder-building cities. For Kublai Khan, your extra economic policy card makes it easier to stack both Urban Planning and Ilkum or Colonisation simultaneously.

Medieval Era

Aesthetics (Economic, requires Medieval Faires) – For Qin Shi Huang, extensive building of early wonders should provide you with some powerful Theatre Square adjacency bonuses. Make them even stronger with this policy card.

Craftsmen (Military, requires Guilds) – Doubles Industrial Zone adjacency. Qin Shi Huang’s early-arriving Canals will provide +4 production to adjacent Industrial Zones instead of +2. You can end up with some rather productive cities this way!

Feudal Contract (Military, requires Feudalism) – If you’re really desperate for a quick defence, this policy card can help you get Crouching Tiger Cannon units trained faster.

Serfdom (Economic, requires Feudalism) – For Qin Shi Huang, if there’s any remaining pre-medieval wonders, just a single Builder can contribute 90% of their production with this policy card, or the full wonder with Governor Liang (the Surveyor). Even if there isn’t, Builders might be expensive by this point in the game with all the wonder-rushing you’ve done, so getting more out of them is a good idea. For either leader, it helps with Great Wall segments.

Renaissance Era

Machiavellianism (Diplomatic, requires Diplomatic Service) – Faster Spy training and operations means you can steal more eurekas from other civs.

Wisselbanken (Diplomatic, requires Diplomatic Service) – Scientific alliances are a great source of eureka boosts – once you reach level 2. This policy card will help you gain alliance points faster and get you there sooner.

Industrial Era

Colonial Taxes (Economic, requires Colonialism) – If you’ve been settling outside your own continent, Great Walls there can now provide even more gold.

Public Works (Economic, requires Civil Engineering) – Builders are now very affordable and come with six charges (seven if you own the Great Pyramids or are using Governor Liang, eight with both). That’s excellent for building more Great Wall segments or building up key power improvements like wind farms.

Modern Era

Nuclear Espionage (Diplomatic, requires Nuclear Program) – Stealing eureka boosts is doubly effective, giving you boosts for two technologies rather than one! Enjoy stealing vast amounts of science.

Science Foundations (Wildcard, requires Nuclear Programme) – More Great Scientists means more eurekas, or perhaps some production bonuses to spaceship parts.

Atomic Era

Cryptography (Diplomatic, requires Cold War) – Helps your Spies both offensively and defensively.

Sports Media (Economic, requires Professional Sports) – An improved version of Aesthetics.

Future Era

Non-State Actors (Wildcard, requires Cultural Hegemony) – By allowing you to pick any promotion for Spies, you can build one around stealing eurekas or protecting your own.

Administration – Age Bonuses and World Congress

Age Bonuses

Only bonuses with notable synergy with the civ’s uniques are covered here.

Free Inquiry (Golden Age, Classical to Medieval eras) – A very powerful bonus which makes your eureka boosts worth 60% of the progress to a technology! This is usually the best early Golden Age choice for China, but the others are great for Heroic Ages.

Monumentality (Golden Age, Classical to Renaissance eras) – Better for Qin Shi Huang. If you find yourself with a high early faith output and a classical-era Golden Age, this can be potentially even stronger than Free Inquiry, as you can use faith to acquire Builders cheaply, and then use them to rush wonders.

Pen, Brush and Voice (Golden Age, Classical to Medieval eras) – The culture equivalent to Free Inquiry. If you can generate a good diversity of Great People and get a couple of Markets built, you may be able to zoom through the middle of the civics tree, putting you well into the renaissance era before most other civs.

Sky and Stars (Golden Age, Information to Future eras) – Grants three eurekas for the game era. Some of those eurekas have no normal means of acquiring them, making this dedication a particularly effective way to save science. Also provides bonus aluminium, which helps with building Lagrange Laser Stations.

World Congress

How you should vote in the World Congress will often be specific to your game – if you have a strong rival, for example, it might be better to vote to hurt them than to help yourself. Furthermore, there may be general bonuses to your chosen victory route or gameplay which are more relevant than ones that have stronger synergy with civ-specific bonuses. Otherwise, here’s a list of key votes that have high relevance for this civ relative to other civs.

Espionage PactEffect A (Spies executing the chosen operation function 2 levels higher) on Steal Tech Boost

By making tech boost stealing more reliable, you’ll be able to secure more eurekas. Just beware of other civs stealing tech boosts from you!

International Space StationAlways vote in favour if you’re aiming for a scientific victory.

Combined with the Royal Society and Qin Shi Huang’s extra builder charges, the International Space Station’s bonus to space race project production means you can use Builders to very rapidly rush through them.

Nobel Prize in Physics (Sweden must be present in your game) – Always vote in favour.

The potential for two eurekas makes the Nobel Prize in Physics a very lucrative scored competition, though it’s only available if Sweden is in your game.

Trade PolicyAs Kublai Khan, vote for effect A (Trade routes sent to the chosen player provide +4 gold to the sender. The chosen player receives +1 trade route capacity.) for either yourself or a trade route target.

Kublai Khan doesn’t need many trade routes to make the most of his leader ability, but he does need to be able to trade with other civs. As such, you’ll want to avoid effect B (Cancels any international trade routes between other civilizations and the chosen player, and embargoes any new ones from starting.)

Administration – Pantheons, Religion and City-States


(Qin Shi Huang) Fertility Rites – Offers a free Builder – or perhaps 60% or more of an early wonder’s construction.

Lady of the Reeds and Marshes – This is a production bonus that can help you get Builders trained without having to use charges on improvements – handy if you’re focusing purely on wonders as Qin Shi Huang.

(Qin Shi Huang) Monument to the Gods – Get more out of rushing wonders, making your already considerable advantage at early wonder-building even better.

Religious Settlements – Balancing early expansion and wonder construction or even general development is tough, so a bonus Settler can really help save precious production.

Religious Beliefs

You can have one founder, one follower, one enhancer and one worship belief.

Divine Inspiration (Follower) – As Qin Shi Huang, by rushing Stonehenge along with other early wonders, you can get a surprisingly impressive early faith output. In combination with the Oracle, you could use this faith to cheaply acquire Great People via patronage.

Jesuit Education (Follower) – China should aim to balance science and culture output due to quite a few eurekas being dependent on similar-era civics, and quite a few Inspirations being dependent on similar-era technologies. Jesuit Education makes that a little easier by letting you buy Campus and Theatre Square buildings with faith.

Sacred Places (Founder) – Qin Shi Huang’s leader ability can ensure a wide range of cities have wonders present, allowing this belief to grant some very impressive early yields.


Auckland (Trade) – Trying to set up a good Canal city? It helps to have plenty of production, and Auckland should aid with that.

(Kublai Khan) Bandar Brunei (Trade) – Get some extra gold from establishing trading posts in other civs’ cities.

Bologna (Scientific) – Unlocking Great Scientists is one of the best ways of obtaining Eureka boosts. Increasing the Great Scientist Point output of Campuses will help with that.

Brussels (Industrial) – The bonus extends to Builder charges used to help rush wonders, so it’s a very worthwhile suzerain bonus to have.

(Kublai Khan) Mogadishu (Trade) – Your trade routes crossing water will be safe from pillagers, making it much easier to establish trading posts overseas.

Administration – Wonders and Great People


All pre-medieval era wonders are covered in the section on Qin Shi Huang’s leader ability. The most useful of those wonders for China typically are the Apadana, Etemenanki, the Great Pyramids, the Colosseum, Petra and the Great Library.

(Qin Shi Huang) Panama Canal (Industrial era, Steam Power technology) – Qin Shi Huang’s ability to build Canals early makes it a lot easier to prepare for this wonder, allowing you to ensure you build the Panama Canal in exactly the right spot.

(Cultural) Broadway (Modern era, Mass Media civic) – Broadway is slightly more useful for China than other civs as the free random atomic-era civic boost will be worth 50% of a civic rather than 40%.

Golden Gate Bridge (Modern era, Combustion technology) – The Golden Gate Bridge acts as a reverse Canal, connecting two land tiles together across water so land units can cross. But its key usage as far as China is concerned is boosting the tourism from Great Wall tiles by 100% – though make sure you have the modern-era Flight technology first.

Great People

Great Generals and Admirals are only mentioned if their retirement bonuses have specific synergy with the civ; not merely for providing a strength bonus to a unique unit. All GWAMs are important for cultural victory, but it would be redundant to list them all.

Classical Era

Aryabhata (Great Scientist) – Provides three random eurekas from the classical or medieval eras.

Euclid (Great Scientist) – Provides the eureka boost for Mathematics (handy if you want to build Petra) and a random eureka from the classical or medieval eras.

Zhang Heng (Great Scientist) – Three eureka boosts, two of which are for technologies with associated wonders that can be rushed via Builders as Qin Shi Huang.

Medieval Era

Abu Al-Qasim Al-Zahrawi (Great Scientist) – Offers one random eureka from the medieval or renaissance eras.

Bi Sheng (Great Engineer) – Provides the eureka boost for Printing.

Imhotep (Great Engineer) – Useful to obtain to deny other civs from getting an easy ancient/classical wonder instead of you.

Isidore of Miletus (Great Engineer) – Production towards wonders – useful for securing an extra eureka/inspiration in a reasonable amount of time.

Omar Khayyam (Great Scientist) – Offers two random eurekas and one random inspiration boost from the medieval or renaissance eras.

Renaissance Era

Emile du Chatelet (Great Scientist) – Offers three random eurekas from the renaissance or industrial eras.

Filippo Brunelleschi (Great Engineer) – Production towards wonders.

Leonardo da Vinci (Great Engineer) – Unlocks a random modern-era eureka.

Industrial Era

Ada Lovelace (Great Engineer) – Unlocks the eureka boost for Computers.

Dmitri Mendeleev (Great Scientist) – Offers the eureka boost for Chemistry as well as a random technology from the industrial era.

Gustave Eiffel (Great Engineer) – Production towards wonders.

James Young (Great Scientist) – Offers two random eurekas from the industrial or modern eras.

Modern Era

Alan Turing (Great Scientist) – Offers the eureka boost for Computers as well as for a random technology from the modern era.

Albert Einstein (Great Scientist) – Offers a random modern-era eureka boost.

Alfred Nobel (Great Scientist) – Offers one random eureka boost from the modern or atomic eras.

Robert Goddard (Great Engineer) – Unlocks the eureka for Rocketry. This is notable because Rocketry doesn’t have a standard eureka boost.

Shah Jahān (Great Engineer) – Save up some gold from the Great Wall improvement, and you can use it to essentially purchase two wonders (three if you have the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus) via Shah Jahān.

Atomic Era

Erwin Schrodinger (Great Scientist) – Offers three random eureka boosts for atomic or information-era technologies.

Information Era

Abdus Salam (Great Scientist) – Unlocks all information-era eurekas.

Jamseth Tata (Great Merchant) – Makes Campuses provide tourism, which neatly ties together China’s cultural and scientific strengths.

(Cultural) Masaru Ibuka (Great Merchant) – Been building plenty of Industrial Zones to make use of Canal adjacency? Now those districts will generate tourism on top!


China can research quickly, defend effectively and is one of the game’s wealthier civs, but there’s ways you can try to disrupt that.

Civilization Ability: Dynastic Cycle

It’s not easy to slow down eureka and inspiration gain, but that’s not to say it isn’t possible. If China is denied a classical or medieval-era Golden Age, they can’t get the extra bonuses from Free Inquiry or Brush, Pen and Voice. Clearing Barbarian encampments before China has a chance, and denying them early wonders are two good ways of doing that – for details on the latter, look at the sub-section on Qin Shi Huang’s leader ability below.

In general, eurekas and inspiration boosts reward civs that pay attention to a wide range of gameplay features; the more single-minded a civ is, the harder it is for them to obtain all the boosts. The easiest way to force a civ to push in a specific direction is to start a war, pushing them to emphasise war-time industry at the expense of other districts.

A more reliable method to set China back is to try and ensure they don’t get Great People who offer boosts. Keep an eye on the Great Person interface and look for opportunities for patronage so you can take them before China can.

The free eurekas and inspirations China gets from wonders will generally not make a huge difference, as usually wonders aren’t completed until some time after they first come available to research. Still, it helps to deny China any Great Engineers which provide production bonuses to wonders, so China can’t rush a wonder for a current era.

Kublai Khan’s Leader Ability: Gerege

Kublai Khan has a reliable and straightforward leader ability. While it holds less potential than Qin Shi Huang’s ability, it’s harder to counter.

Extra economic policy card slot

While you can’t really stop Kublai Khan from using extra economic policy cards, you can match Kublai Khan’s policy card advantage by building the Forbidden City or Big Ben wonders. Despite China’s fast research speed, they lack intrinsic production advantages (especially if they’re dedicating a lot of citizens to working Great Wall segments). As such, you have a reasonable chance of taking the wonders before they can.

Like all abilities that add extra policy cards, this bonus is most effective early on, and fades somewhat in effectiveness later.

Boosts from trading posts

Kublai Khan when leading Mongolia can get trading posts immediately when trading with foreign civs. Kublai Khan leading China, however, has to complete the trade route first. This means anything that disrupts the route – Barbarian pillagers, a declaration of war, a World Congress resolution and so forth – will set back Kublai Khan’s goals of setting up trading posts.

There’s two ways you can prevent this bonus from being used entirely – either by surrounding China with fast-moving units ready to pillage any Chinese traders you see, or by voting for option B on the Trade Policy World Congress resolution, and targeting Kublai Khan with it. The latter prevents Kublai Khan making international trade routes whatsoever.

Kublai Khan’s Agenda: Pax Mongolica

A computer-controlled Kublai Khan likes civs with a strong military and gold output, and dislikes those lacking in either.

While a few civs have strengths at both gold generation and building up a strong military (e.g. Spain), most civs do not. Still, any decent warmonger needs sufficient gold to maintain and upgrade their army, while any rich civ that doesn’t have a decent army could probably do with heeding Kublai Khan’s advice in this instance to prevent suffering in a war. It’s not the easiest agenda to meet, but it’s one that’s worth meeting for many civs just because having a decent economy and military is worth having anyway.

Qin Shi Huang’s Leader Ability: The First Emperor

There’s no warmonger penalties for declaring war in the ancient era, and pretty minor ones for doing so in the classical era. With this in mind, you can start a war with China and start picking off their high-charge Builders. Fast units like Heavy Chariots and Horsem*n are ideal for this role. Not only will you send China’s wonder production back, but you’ll also grab some Builders with plenty of charges for yourself.

For medieval-era or later warmongers like Mongolia, China offers a great opportunity – they’ll grab a lot of early wonders ready for you to conquer.

Qin Shi Huang’s leader ability also offers China early access to Canal districts. If China manages to build a Canal connecting two seas, they can use a single navy to defend two coasts – though the Canal will act as a bottleneck for units travelling through. Try luring China’s navy out by attacking with a small force from one sea, allowing you to attack with a larger force later from the other. Bring some of that larger force over to the Canal city so you can block China’s navy from returning.

Alternatively, if you don’t want to fight Qin Shi Huang, his early Canals can make trading with him more lucrative. That’s because Canals offer +1 gold for trade routes that pass through.

Qin Shi Huang’s Agenda: Wall of 10,000 Li

A computer-controlled Qin Shi Huang likes civs that have fewer wonders than him, and dislikes those with more wonders than him. He will never have the Wonder Advocate hidden agenda as his main agenda already serves the same purpose.

Early in the game, his bonus to wonder construction will usually give you a positive relations boost, but things may get difficult if you’re a wonder-builder like Egypt or France, or a wonder-capturing domination civ. If you’re one of those two, consider looking elsewhere for alliances. If you’re after a scientific or religious victory, however, this isn’t a particularly hard agenda to keep to. Diplomatic civs that stack a lot of diplomatic wonders (e.g. Statue of Liberty, Potala Palace) might struggle a little.

Unique Unit: Crouching Tiger Cannon

Crouching Tiger Cannons pack quite a punch but defend only as well as regular Crossbowmen. Regular Crossbowmen (or even Archers if you’re behind on technology) will out-range them, forcing them to either move into the open, retreat, or take damage without being able to react. Coursers and Knights can also do a lot of damage to them, and even swarms of Horsem*n can be okay so long as you can avoid being counter-attacked. Once you have access to industrial-era units, Crouching Tiger Cannons will be no threat.

Unique Improvement: Great Wall

China’s unique improvement comes with a powerful gold yield and pretty good culture as well, but must be built on their border. This makes them susceptible to culture bombs from a civ that borders them. Building a Preserve district, securing the renaissance-era Great Engineer Mimar Sinan or passing the Border Control Treaty resolution in the World Congress are three ways any civ can activate culture bombs, but some specific civs (most notably Poland) have their own alternative ways.

In warfare, the trickiest part of facing the Great Wall is the early defensive potential. If the Great Wall is well-defended with units, you have a few options. Look for another way around, try to use ranged units to pick off the defenders before using a cavalry unit to pillage the tiles, or just slip through their zone of control by using cavalry units.

Note that as with all unique improvements, Great Wall improvements will be removed if you capture the tiles, so you can’t keep them for yourself. You might as well pillage the tiles for the free money before you finish the conquest.

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Gathering Storm

Individual Civilization Guides

Rise and Fall

Guides listed here have no Gathering Storm counterpart. These guides are for those with the Rise and Fall expansion, but not Gathering Storm. If you want to see a pre-Gathering Storm version of any guide, click any of these links and scroll down to the “Other Guides” section.

Compilation Guides


The Vanilla guides are for those without the Rise and Fall or Gathering Storm expansions. These guides are no longer updated. To look at them, click here to open the Vanilla Civ Summaries guide. The “Other Guides” section of every Vanilla guide has links to every other Vanilla guide.

Zigzagzigal’s Guides – China (GS) – Steam Solo (2024)


How to win as China in civ6? ›

Trade Routes as possible. If he is attacked before he is ready to counter-attack, Great Wall tiles and Crouching Tigers can help him defend. Trade Route and Great Wall tiles can also help with funding Emergency Aid Requests. Being a well-rounded leader, China under Kublai should have no issues with overall scores.

How to win as Qin Shi Huang? ›

Strategy. As Qin Shi Huang, generally, you want to go for the earlier wonders, especially the Hanging Gardens and the Oracle, from there, you can start reaching any victory, as the Oracle will give the Great People points you need and the Hanging Gardens will allow you to get tons of citizens quickly.

What is the summary of Civ 6? ›

Civilization VI is a turn-based strategy video game in which one or more players compete alongside computer-controlled AI opponents to grow their individual civilization from a small tribe to control the entire planet across several periods of development.

What type of victory is Yongle in Civ 6? ›

Yongle was the third emperor of the Ming Dynasty, and oversaw the construction of both the Forbidden City and the Porcelain Tower of Nanjing. Yongle's unique bonus allow him to set up for any victory type in Civilization 6, but he's particularly suited to pursuing a Cultural or Religious Victory.

Is China a good civ in civ 6? ›

China is so much better at building Petra than other civilizations that if you want it, you most likely will get it without question. This Wonder turns one of your cities into a well-oiled machine all the way into the late game.

What is the fastest Civ 6 wins? ›

The fastest victory conditions bar none are Conquest and Religion. Both can be blitzed incredibly quickly with the correct civ on the correct map layout. (As in sub 100 turns fast).

Is Qin good in civ 6? ›

Qin can mobilize a more productive workforce than any other leader, and early in the game his Builders can use their charges directly on his beloved wonders. Once in possession of those wonders, their gunpowder weaponry and Great Wall should help them hang onto the land and wonders they have developed.

How did Qin become so powerful? ›

Qin Shi Huang standardized writing, a crucial factor in the overcoming of cultural barriers between provinces, and unifying the empire. He also standardized systems of currency, weights, and measures, and conducted a census of his people. He established elaborate postal and irrigation systems, and built great highways.

How powerful is Qin Shi Huang? ›

Abilities. Overall Abilities: Qin Shi Huang is probably the most powerful Emperor in mankind's history as he was able to defeat the Demon God Chiyou, hurl Ares with just one hand without any effort, as well as fight on par with the King of the Netherworld, Hades.

Is civ 7 coming out? ›

The Civilization 7 release date is expected sometime in late 2024. We're basing this date on a few factors. It's the earliest we've known about the release of a new game from Firaxis, and Civ games typically launch a few months after the announcement trailer.

Is Civ 6 still worth it? ›

Latest Critic Reviews

It's worth buying if you want more Civilization, but casual players may want to wait for a price drop or a meatier expansion. Add-on full of good, but unfinished ideas, spoiled by an artificial intelligence.

Does Civ 6 have an ending? ›

Notes. A game lasts until the year 2050, or 500 turns on a standard game. A Score victory merely means that a player's civilization survived to the end of the game, and perhaps outlasted other leaders.

How to avoid warmonger in civ 6? ›

If you conquer a city which your current adversary had previously wrested from a third party, and then choose the "Liberate" option, you will gain a positive score which will immediately reduce all warmongering penalties you currently have.

Who is Brazil in Civ 6? ›

The Brazilian people represent a civilization in Civilization VI. They are led by Pedro II, under whom their default colors are green and yellow. District is the Street Carnival (which replaces the Entertainment Complex). In Rise and Fall, they can also build the Copacabana (which replaces the Water Park).

How many spaceports do you need in civ6? ›

Any player aiming for a Science Victory will need at least one Spaceport to undertake the required projects.

What is the fastest way to get a cultural victory in Civ 6? ›

Encourage Tourism For Faster Culture Growth

A player who wants to win the game via a Cultural Victory will need to work with other nations on a diplomatic level to encourage more tourism. The simplest way to do this is to have an open borders agreement with every civilization the player meets.

What are the benefits of China in Civ 6? ›

Civilization Characteristics
  • Unique Ability - Dynastic Cycle: Eurekas and Inspirations provide 60% of civics and technologies instead of 50%.
  • Unique Unit - Crouching Tiger: Unique Medieval Era ranged unit. ...
  • Unique Improvement - The Great Wall: A unique tile improvement exclusive to the Chinese.
Dec 2, 2016

How do you use the China Great Wall in Civ 6? ›

Great Wall segments can't be built in neutral territory like Forts and other defensive improvements can, but building them at choke points can help China repel invaders with a smaller army than normal. The Chinese unique unit, the Crouching Tiger, complements the Great Wall quite nicely because of its defensive nature.

What are the 4 ways to win in Civ 6? ›

There are five different victory conditions in Civilization VI: Science, Culture, Domination, Religion, and Score (with a sixth, Diplomacy, added in Gathering Storm). In order to win, you must reach one of these victory conditions (apart from Score Victory) before any other player.

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