“I will build a great wall — and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me –and I’ll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great wall on our northern border, and I will make Mongolia pay for that wall. Mark my words.”
— Qin Shi Huang (probably), 220 BCE
Qin Shi Huang, first emperor of China, will take the reins back from Wu Zeitan and lead China to glory in Civilization VI when it launches in October. Reigning from 220 to 210 BCE, the King of Qin unified the various warring states into the powerful Middle Kingdom that endures to this day as one of the largest and most important nations in the world. He also famously led the construction of not one, but two of Civilization’s wonders: the Great Wall and the Terracotta Army.
China’s unique ability is called Dynastic Cycles, which increases the boosts from Eureka and Inspiration events. One of Civilization VI‘s most interesting new features is tying technologies to related in-game achievements, such as founding a coastal city giving a boost to sailing research. These are called Eureka events for technology, and Inspiration for the parallel civics research tree, which has replaced the previous culture system with one much more analogous to how science works.
Qin’s leader ability reflects his legacy as a builder of wonders. Builders, which now have a finite number of uses before disappearing, have an extra charge when working for Emperor Qin. They can also be used to rush the construction of Ancient and Classical wonders, ensuring that China can stay ahead of the curve in the early game.
The Crouching Tiger Cannon is China’s unique unit — be sure to check for hidden dragons. These rudimentary cannons have a short range, but are very powerful. They also do not require any resources to make. Although the preview does not say what stock unit it replaces, presumably it’s one that needs iron.
Finally, the Great Wall has been a wonder available to all civs for the whole series, but in Civ VI it exists solely for China as a unique tile improvement. Builders can now construct each individual segment of the wall wherever you want. In the early game it provides a defensive bonus and additional gold, but as history goes on it will also net the player more culture and tourism.
China’s abilities generally seem to encourage turtling up in the early game, building the Great Wall to keep out invaders while they crank out wonders. Dynastic Cycles is more flexible, however, amplifying that early boost with however they choose to approach the tech tree. Like with the other civilizations previewed so far, Beach and his team have done a great job of designing civ abilities that incline toward certain general strategies without being overly prescriptive.
Civilization VI arrives on October 21 for PC. We will be getting more hands-on time with the game in the next few weeks, so stay tuned for our ongoing impressions.