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How to Use a Naturalist and Make a National Park in Civ VI

You can buy the Naturalist unit... but how the heck do you use it?!
Civ VI | Image Via Firaxis Games

The Naturalist is one of the most intriguing units in Civ VI, and also one of the most confusing to use. Using a Naturalist, you can make a National Park in Civ VI. Unlike most units, you can’t just buy a Naturalist and send it on its way — using a Naturalist in Civ VI requires a lot of specific planning, and it’s only worth buying one if you have a place for them to set up a National Park.

Why Have a National Park in Civ VI?

National Parks are Civ VI tile improvements. They come with Conservation (civic) and are supposed to demonstrate the devotion a Modern Era society can have to protect the environment. Unfortunately, National Parks can’t just go anywhere, and they’re hard to find the right site for. It’s kind of like real life… people might intend to save the environment, but when it comes down to it, the effort sometimes feels insurmountable. And with this unit, you can’t just “do something small” to improve the environment like you can as a real-life person that chooses to recycle instead of tossing a can into the garbage… a National Park plan is something you have to commit to when you’re choosing where to place your cities.

Here’s the thing about National Parks: they’re great for those pursuing Cultural Victories. They produce adjusting Tourism levels as they are dependent upon the Appeal ratings of the four tiles that make up the National Park. (Make sure you do not surround the park with anything that could lower its appeal! Do consider adding buildings or World Wonders that increase the Appeal!)

The Very Strict Rules for Building National Parks

Here’s why National Parks are hard.

  • You have to build them on four contiguous tiles, but:
  • Every tile must together form a “vertical diamond shape.”
  • The tiles can’t have any existing stuff on them, except for a road.
  • Your city and civ must own all four of the tiles.
  • Every tile in the diamond must have a Charming or better appeal.
  • No water tiles — those don’t get Appeal ratings. (Guess no one at Civ has heard about houseboats before.) Water-based Wonders are an exception to this rule, though, so feel free to make a National Park by including tiles such as the Great Barrier Reef, which still have Appeal ratings.
  • The Naturalist (or Mountie unit, if you’re playing as Canada) has to be able to pass onto at least one of them. So, they can’t be mountains or certain Natural Wonders which are impassible.

The number of rules and restrictions are such a drag, and like many Civ players, I’ve created expensive Naturalist units only to retire them later because I had nowhere to use them.

The Eye of the Sahara is a passable Natural Wonder in Civ VI. | Image by Firaxis Games

How to Get and Use a Naturalist Unit in Civ VI

Naturalists appear in your Faith menu after you get Conservation. They cost 1,000 faith. Buy one and walk it to your intended National Park destination. Canada can buy Naturalists, but they don’t need to — Mounties can also found National Parks for them.

Your Naturalist has a sight of 3 tiles and is available in the Modern Era. Once you use the Naturalist to select a National Park site, it goes away.

While the area is complicated to find, nurture, and select for a National Park, making one is as simple as sending the Naturalist civilian unit there once you find an eligible spot.

National Park Strategy

Consider bolstering your planned National Park zone with surrounding Preserves. There are a few Great Engineers who can boost the appeal of a tile, too, so keep a lookout for them. The Eiffel Tower is a great adjacent wonder for this reason as well.

Scout for possible National Park zones early and carefully, and invest in buying tiles if they are in danger of going to another civ.

And, if you like achievements…

Consider building a National Park as America. Because Civ VI’s game release date coincides with the National Park Service’s 100th anniversary, this will get you a special achievement called “100th Anniversary.”


We hope you enjoyed our guide to using Naturalists and Natural Wonders in Civ VI. Please check out Gamer Journalist on Facebook to join the discussion and keep up to date with our content. You may also want to check out our guide to the best Civ VI map seeds.

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