While some of the player nations in Civilization VI have provided opportunities for the developers to delve into deeper historical cuts, such as Catherine de Medici of France or Tomyris of Scythia, certain constants must endure for series continuity. Mahatma Gandhi has led India since the series’ inception 25 years ago, and he returns once again to VI to promote his famous philosophy of nonviolence (until the nukes come out, of course).
Born to a merchant family in late 19th-century western India, Mahatma Gandhi studied law in London before returning to his homeland to lead the movement for Indian independence from the British empire. His ethos of nonviolent resistance would go on to deeply inform 20th-century political thought, influencing later civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. Gandhi was assassinated in 1948 by a Hindu nationalist, but his legacy has endured as one of the most iconic leaders in modern world history.
India’s unique ability, Dharma, reflects Gandhi’s vision of religious pluralism by allowing its cities to benefit from the follower beliefs of all present religions, not just the dominant one. These include perks like bonus faith from wonders, production from followers, or housing from shrines and temples, which are nice by themselves, but especially so when they can stack.
Gandhi’s leader ability, Satyagraha, similarly promotes religious tolerance. India receives a significant faith boost (+5 per turn it appears, though that of course may be subject to change before release) for each other civ they have met that has founded a religion and is not at war. Civs at war with India suffer a happiness penalty. The unique Indian tile improvement, the Stepwell, provides housing and food, with bonus food from adjacent farms and bonus faith from adjacent holy sites.
Adding a little stick to balance out all their carrot, India’s unique unit is the Varo elephant cavalry. Reflecting their intimidating presence on the battlefield, the Varo reduces the combat strength of all adjacent enemies.
While most of the civs and leaders revealed so far are geared toward dominating the other players in some particular arena, India is the first that mostly benefits from peaceful cohabitation. Quite the opposite of Philip II and Spain‘s inclination toward forcefully spreading their own faith, Gandhi gets the most out of his ability set when the world is full of other religions at peace.
Civilization VI arrives on PC on October 21.