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How to Win Barbarian Clans Mode in Civ VI

You can embrace barbarians in Civ VI's Barbarian Clans Mode to help you win the game!
Civ VI Title Image
Civ VI Title Screen | Image from 2K/Firaxis

As someone who’s been wrecked by barbarians early game in many Civ VI games, it took a long time for me to embrace Barbarian Clans Mode in Civilization VI. However, once I discovered the advantages of Barbarian Clans Mode, I never wanted to do without them again.

How Does Barbarian Clans Mode Work in Civ VI?

Barbarian Clans Mode adds a different element to your game. In a regular game with barbarians enabled, barbarians will span their own encampments and harass you until you clear their encampments out. Once you clear one out, another one appears, so the game always has a certain number of barbarian encampments on the board to challenge you, any human co-players, and AI players.

In Barbarian Clans Mode, you have encampments, but each encampment has a counter on it. When the counter hits 0, the barbarian encampment turns into a city state and permanently claims territory (unless you remove the city state). Essentially, the clans become civilized and participate in the entire process of receiving envoys from you and the other players.

How to Win in Civ VI With Barbarian Clans Mode Active

Here’s why I won’t stop playing with this mode even though it provides more challenges: it’s totally there to give you an advantage in the game. Here’s how:

  • You earn era points, military unit promotions, and get gold for clearing barbarian encampments. As long as you build your early army around fending them off, you can totally use barbarians to your advantage!
  • If the barbarians aren’t in territory you want to claim, you can leave them there and they’ll become a city state. Just like with other city states, you can get bonuses, luxury resources, and even levy their military if you contribute 3+ envoys to them and become suzerain.
  • The AI players just aren’t great at taking out barbarian clans; they also don’t really play strategies as described above.
  • Barbarian Clans Mode makes cooperative play easier. You and your other player can use multi-pronged attacks to defeat barbarians and strategize.

Here’s the best part: if it’s early game and a barbarian encampment spawns near an AI opponent, you can just leave it there. They’re bad at barbarian management and they’ll get lots of barbarians at their gates!

Here’s a step-by-step strategy to managing barbarians in Barbarian Clans Mode:

  • Aggressively clear encampments near your cities. Use them for gold, experience, and those era points you get early game for clearing the encampments. More will respawn.
  • Watch your builders: barbarians love to steal them. Add an armed escort by linking them together.
  • Leave barbarian encampments near your enemies. They’ll become city states that you can become suzerain of, giving you an army to levy right at your competitors’ doorsteps. Until they become a city state, you can get XP by killing a few of the barbarians from the encampment without clearing it out, but it’s better to let them harass the AI players.
  • Play an aggressive suzerainship game. Make sure you’re using policies that maximize your envoy placement and points.

But Wait… There’s More Barbarian Interactions!

Before barbarians become civilized in this mode, you can have interactions with them that you could not have in a standard game. You can pay ransom to them to return your unit, bribe them to avoid attacking you for 20 turns, hire them to fight like mercenaries, or incite them to make problems with other civs and city states.

Barbarian clans mode is especially interesting because of the perspective switch when it comes to barbarians – if you’re managing them properly, you can really use barbarians as a tool for victory in Civ VI.

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