Here are two of the best things about PC gaming: the Civilization series, and the ability to change your games by adding in user-created content. Modding Civ 6, then, is an expression of the very apex of PC gaming. It's peak PC.
Since the Civ 6 modding toolkit came out in February 2017, the number of mods on offer has been steadily expanding. Civ 6’s modding community isn’t yet at the level of its timeless predecessors, but modders have now created enough new leaders, gameplay tweaks and AI improvements for you to swing your caveman club at. There are over 1,400 Steam Workshop,in fact, so plenty of options for every budding ruthless/benevolent leader.
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So we’ve congregated the best efforts of Civ 6 modders from both Steam Workshop and Civfanatics.com, into a long unravelling papyrus of a list. All of the mods here are compatible with the Rise & Fall expansion pack, so no matter how invested you are in Civ, all of these mods will work just right.
Steel & Thunder Unique Units/Units Expansion
Deliverator’s comprehensive mod (formerly known as MOAR units) diversifies and brightens up the game with plenty of new units. The mod adds one unique unit to every civilisation in the game (including DLC and Rise & Fall civs), as well as 11 new global units that slot into existing upgrade paths.
New global units include, among others, Gatling Gun, Longswordsman, RIfleman, Naval Cog and Galleass. Listed below, meanwhile, are some of our favourite unique Civ units:
- America - AH-64 Apache
- Germany - Landsknecht
- England - Ironside
- Poland - Uhlan
- Kongo - Medicine Man
- Khmer - War Canoe
Civ 6 leader mods
The biggest collection of Civ 6 leaders belongs to long-time modder JFD, who’s created and crafted over 30 of the great leaders from history such as Philip II of Macedon, Elizabeth I and Louis XIV. For those wanting some villains to rally against (or play as), there are a few bad eggs in there too, including Hitler, Mussolini, Ivan the Terrible, and Mr. Omelettes-and-Eggs himself, Stalin.
Each new leader has a portrait that blends seamlessly with the bold, vibrant Civ 6 art style, and comes with their own unique units, traits and agendas. As you can guess, old Adolf’s ‘Liebensraum’ agenda makes things pretty feisty.
Head over to JFD’s Steam Workshop page to see his full leader collection.
Civ 6 conversion mods
Quo’s Combined Tweaks
Anyone who has spent some time on Civ 4 and Civ 5 forums will have heard of the great conversion projects like Rise of Mankind and Realism Invictus for Civ 6, or Vox Populi for Civ 5. These community-created mods spend years revamping the game rules, eventually creating a much deeper experience that borrows the best bits from across the series. Quo’s Combined Tweaks takes inspiration from those, revamping hundreds of rules to make for an interesting alternative to Firaxis’ vision.
There are way too many changes to list, but they include faster unit movement, more impactful governments and policies so you can really feel the difference between, say, Fascism and Democracy, and more powerful Wonders (which now steal tiles around them when built, and can be woo City States). Each civ now has several new unique traits too, making games a little more interesting and asymmetrical.
In a nutshell, it’s the most sweeping set of rule changes to Civ 6 available. Mod creator isau recommends using it with AI+, and says that it should be compatible with most unit, UI and map mods. You’ll need the Rise & Fall expansion for Quo’s Combined Tweaks to work.
If you’ve always found Civ to be at its most compelling in the earlier eras, when mankind worshipped trees and thought the Earth was just a spinning plate on a giant celestial stick, then you’ll quickly settle into Anno Domini. Building on his experience of creating a similar mod for Civ 5, creator rob8xft mod sweeps us back to an old world of Germanic tribes, druidism, even way back to Minoan civilisations, and keeps us there with a bespoke tech tree that never goes beyond the classical era.
Anno Domini currently has 24 unique civilisations (though you can use some from the main game and JFD’s collection), as well as its own roster of policies and eras that zoom in on the ancient-classical period. It’s the most polished Civ 6 conversion mod to date.
R8XFT himself plays Anno Domini with Religion Expanded, which you’ll find further down this list.
Civ 6 map mods
Yet (not) Another Maps Pack
Gedemon’s YnAMP is the most feature-rich map pack for Civ 6. It contains a couple of variations on maps of Europe and Earth, as well as a script that generates Terra, a map split up into the historical Old and New Worlds.
Like in Civs of yore, you can create a game on Terra where all civs start in the Old World, then race to colonise the New World once they can build ships. This setup provides a welcome shift of pace just as a game can start to lull towards the middle stages, and really thrives in multiplayer when you know that all your rivals have their avaricious eyes on the land and plunder of the New World.
This modpack adds a wealth of options for tweaking maps before a new game, as well as Giant, Enormous and Ludicrous map sizes (the latter of which doubles as a stern benchmark tool for your PC’s RAM and CPU).
YnAMP also allocates civs with starting positions based on the kind of environments they were associated with in real life (coastal areas for naval civs, more arid climes for middle-eastern civs, and so on). This feature not only adds a touch of realism, but means that each civ’s starting location is likely to be better suited to their unique traits and buildings.
Civ 6 Religion mods
There have been quite a few attempts to improve upon the flawed religion system in Civ 6, not least of all when Firaxis figured that adding Warrior Monks into the game would spice things up a bit - which it didn’t. Instead, the best changes to religion in Civ 6 come from the community.
A good place to start is pokiehl’s Religion Expanded, which adds 43 new religious beliefs, seven new fully-modelled religious buildings, and raises the cap for number of religions in a game from 7 to 16 (on a Huge map). The increased cap means that there will not just be a few faiths battling it out for supremacy, but also smaller ones doing their own thing in far corners of the world.
Tomatekh’s Historical Religions
You can combine Religion Expanded with Tomatekh’s Historical Religions, which adds tens of new religions and icons to the game - from strange sub-sects of Protestantism to Aboriginal Dreamtime beliefs. Every Civ in the game now has their preferred religions too, so AI will be drawn to the religions their civs are historically associated with.
Rule with Faith
Rule with Faith (RwF) is the work of JFD, who sees it as a continuation of his Rise to Power mod for Civ 5. That mod aimed to bring greater political and religious depth to the game, and RwF does the same, adding a new religious policy slot, 16 new policies and three new governments. It’s compatible with both Religion Expanded and Tomatekh’s Historical Religions.
Civ 6 tweaks
Making a challenging AI is tricky in strategy games, perhaps more so than in any other genre. Designers usually have to resort to giving the AI artificial bumps to resource production, and even free units, to give a savvy player a run for their money. Unfortunately, the way Civ 6 does this can mean certain death for the player before there's anything they can physically do to stop it, as the AI swamps you with its five free Warriors (we’re not kidding - to see how much cheese drips from the AI on Deity difficulty, see our article on Civ 6 difficulties).
Fortunately, here’s RushSecond smoother difficulty with a solution. This mod removes most of the AI’s extra starting units, and instead dials up its resource generation bonuses. The result should be a smoother challenge on higher difficulties, with the AI keeping pace with you throughout the game despite its technical ineptitude, yet unable to stuff you in the first two dozen turns through an unfair unit advantage.
The biggest criticism players have of Civilization 6 is the AI, which has unfortunately taken a few steps back towards the stone age since Civ V (which wasn’t exactly space-age itself).
With Firaxis doing little to fix things on this front, modders have taken the AI burden on themselves. AI+ is the best of the lot, making the AI better at balancing their empire’s development with military size, as well as an improving their ability in wartime, as they’ll now send troops to the front lines more aggressively and be bolder in invading your cities in the late game.
Along with the more sweeping changes, there are small bits of fine-tuning like improved settler behaviour, increased reluctance to agree unfavourable peace terms, and tougher city-states that won’t so readily fall into the hands of expansionist civs.
For those of you who didn’t take to Civ 6’s vibrant aesthetic, here’s [email protected]!n with a reshade mod. Inspired by the Game of Thrones opening sequence, it mutes Civ 6’s colours to give a cooler, more mature washed-out look, as you see above.
You can download PhotoKinetik Westeros here. Note that it has some more complicated installation instructions than most other mods on this list as it relies on ReShade, a separate post-processing application, to achieve its effects.
And so, like intrepid explorers circumnavigating the globe, we’re going to end our journey at the start. The start of the game, that is. If you’re tired of Civ 6’s multiple boot screens perennially reminding you who made the game and which GPU manufacturer it’s in bed with, you can skip it all with Quick Start. Now, if we could just find a way replicate this mod for every game in existence...
These are just a few of the thousands of Civ 6 mods available, which you can peruse yourself at Civ Fanatics, Steam Workshop and Nexus Mods. There are more outlandish ones out there - Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings spring to mind - but they missed the cut because they felt feature-thin and unfinished at the time of writing. The fact is that for now, the modding community is limited by not having access to the DLL source code. When that came out for Civ 4 and 5 (some two years after each game’s launch), the modding scenes really took off, as did big overhaul projects like A New Dawn and Vox Populi.
If that’s anything to go by, we should expect to see the DLL code for Civ 6 released soon-ish, and only then will we see the game’s modding potential unleashed. The best, we hope, is yet to come.