Each leader in Civilization 6 comes with their own set of abilities, strengths, and weaknesses that can determine what should be focused on during the game. To win a game of Civilization 6, players must achieve certain victory conditions for either domination, culture, science, or religion. Depending on what victory conditions players strive for, the best leaders in Civ 6 can vary. Note: This guide only includes leaders from the base game.
Best Leaders for Domination Victory
Domination victories are typically the easiest to achieve due to the simple victory conditions. To win via domination, the player must conquer the original capital of each civilization. Many of the leaders have military abilities, but some have more of an advantage when pursuing domination victories.
Tomyris of Scythia
Tomyris can be very powerful early game, and her abilities give her an extreme advantage in combat. Her leader bonus "Killer of Cyrus" grants +5 combat strength to all units when attacking a wounded enemy unit, and heal up to 30 hit points when killing an enemy unit. Tomyris' "People of the Steppe" grants a free copy of any light cavalry unit or Saka Horse Archer. Tomyris' unique troop, the Saka Horse Archer is an amazing early game unit. It can cover lots of ground, ignores zone of control, and received a +5 melee combat strength in the April balance update.
Gilgamesh of Sumeria
Gilgamesh is capable of getting out to a very quick domination start with his unique troop, the War-Cart, and his abilities, which grant various bonuses that can be very helpful in early game and during war. The War-Cart is the strongest starting unit and has three-movement, and receives a +1 movement bonus if starting on flat open terrain. The Sumerian ability "Epic Quest" also grants a Tribal Village Reward when capturing a Barbarian Outpost. His leader bonus "Adventures of Enkido" allows him to declare war on any civilization at war with an ally with no warmonger penalty and grants shared pillaging rewards.
Best Leaders for Religious Victory
Religious Victories can be achieved by having every civilization predominately following one religion. For a civilization to predominately follow one religion, 50% of the population must follow that religion. Religious Victories can be the hardest victory types to win with, but some civilizations thrive on religion.
Saladin of Arabia
Saladin is a great leader for pursuing a religious victory because he is guaranteed a Great Prophet and is capable of using science and faith to build a large kingdom. Saladin's "Last Prophet" Civ ability grants him the last remaining Great Prophet if he has not earned one yet. The ability also grants +1 science for every foreign city following Saladin's religion. His leader bonus "Righteousness of Faith" makes Worship buildings 90% cheaper to purchase with faith, and any city with that building receives a +10% bonus to culture, faith, and science. Saladin can also build the Madrasa in the Campus district, which provides faith bonuses based on the district adjacency bonus.
Peter of Russia
Peter can be a jack-of-all-trades leader, but if pursuing a religious victory, his unique district and tundra tile bonuses can be extremely useful. Peter can build the Lavra district, replacing the Holy Site district. The Lavra is one of the most useful unique districts because it costs half of the usual production, grants double Great Prophet points, and provides Great Writer, Great Artist, and Great Musician points as buildings are built in the district. Russia also receives a +1 faith and production bonus for every tundra tile, which can be very helpful with the "Mother Russia" Civ ability. The ability grants Peter five additional tiles in founded cities, which means Peter can gain a lot of land quickly, all while earning a variety of bonuses.
Best Leaders for Science Victory
Science Victories require several steps to achieve, but many civilizations are capable of earning this victory type. To get a Science Victory, a player must finish the Earth Satellite, Moon Landing, and Mars Habitation projects at the end of the tech tree.
Fredrick Barbarossa of Germany
Many of the base leaders have similar bonuses and abilities that can be helpful for a science victory, but Fredrick stands apart with his ability to construct extra districts and receive production bonuses. Germany's "Free Imperial Cities" ability allows one more district than the population normally allows to be built, meaning Germany can build Campus districts along with another district early on. Germany can also construct the Hansa district, replacing the Industrial district. It can be built with half the usual production, and can substantially boost production, which is important for Science Victories.
Gilgamesh of Sumeria
Gilgamesh makes the list once again, this time due to his unique building and the Tribal Village rewards. Gilgamesh can be a military-focused leader, but he is also capable of dominating the science area of the game. Sumeria's unique builder improvement, the Ziggurat, provides +2 science, which can be extremely helpful early on. Since it is a builder improvement, many can be built very quickly. Gilgamesh also receives Tribal Village rewards from capturing Barbarian Outposts, which can trigger Eurekas on occasion.
Related: How to get Amenities in Civ 6
Best Leaders for Culture Victory
Culture Victories require players to attract more tourists from every single civilization than they have at home. This is achieved by having high culture and tourism, which can be earned in a variety of ways. Many civilizations earn culture bonuses, but some have unique ways of earning both culture and tourism.
Pericles of Greece
Pericles can rack up a ton of culture throughout the game and become nearly unstoppable using his leader bonus and Civ ability effectively. His leader bonus "Surrounded by Glory" grants Greece +5% culture per city-state Pericles is the Suzerain of. If Pericles can keep Suzerain status over a few city-states, the culture yield will skyrocket. Maintaining Suzerain status can be difficult, but with the Greek Civ ability "Plato's Republic", it can be much easier. Plato's Republic adds a Wildcard policy slot to every government, which can be filled with envoy bonuses. Pericles can also build the unique district, the Acropolis, which provides culture bonuses and awards an envoy when completed.
Catherine De Medici of France
The base game version of Catherine is the Black Queen, which does not receive the same cultural bonuses as her Magnificence persona, the Black Queen version can still be a great leader for a Culture Victory. France's Civ ability "Grand Tour" grants +20% production towards Medieval, Renaissance, and Industrial era wonders. It also doubles tourism from every wonder, which can be extremely helpful to end the game. The Chateau is a unique builder improvement for France and grants culture and gold bonuses and has a wonder adjacency bonus.
For more Civilization 6 guides, check out How to Make a National Park in Civilization 6 on Pro Game Guides.