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Civilization 6: Complete Portugal Guide

Sid Meier’s Civilization 6 (or Civ 6 for short) is a turn-based strategy game in the Civilization franchise, that was released in 2016. It improves on its predecessor Civilization 5 in every single way and even though the game was released 7 years ago, it still averages over 50.000 daily players. It features 50 unique historic civilizations and over 70 different leaders, which adds a whole another level of strategy.

The game is set on a randomly generated map, where you and 7 other civilizations start with a single settler, competing to expand and achieve world dominance. As you progress through historical eras, you will unlock new technologies and cultural advancements, which help your civilization on the path to becoming the world leader. But beware, as random barbarian encampments spawn around the map, who prey on every opportunity to take advantage of your misfortunes.

Every civilization has a unique approach to the game, so it is impossible to cover the whole game with one post. This guide will focus on the Portuguese empire, a maritime civ loaded with gold, that excels at exploration and scientific progression. Everything I will talk about in the guide will be made with the intention of playing the game on deity difficulty, but you can also use this information for lower difficulties. The guide also assumes that you have all the major expansions (Rise & Fall, Gathering Storm, New Frontier), though it’s not necessary to have them to utilize the base strategy.

Portugal Bonuses and Abilities

The Portuguese empire is led by João III and was added to the game in March of 2021. Playing this civ was the most fun I had in Civ 6 in ages, and it is by far my favourite civ in the game. Portugal focuses on maritime trade and naval exploration and its bonuses allow you to start snowballing after you build your first trade route and you become almost impossible to stop. The Portuguese fleet can cast a wide trading network to collect riches from every part of the world and easily use the capital to go for any type of victory.

Civilisation 6 Portugal guide

Civilization Ability: Casa da India

An amazing ability that makes Portugal one of the most feared civs on a naval map. It allows you to start gaining gold quicker than any other civ and starts the snowball that not many players can stop. As it prevents you from sending trade routes from inland cities you will want most, if not all your cities to be coastal.

  • International trade routes may only be sent to coastal cities or cities with a Harbour district. These routes may only be sent from coastal Portuguese cities or cities with the Harbour district.
  • International trade routes gain a 50% bonus to all yields
  • Trader units may cross water tiles without the usual technology requirement (Celestial Navigation technology)

Civilisation 6 Portugal guide

Leader Ability: Porta de Cerco

Porta de Cerco wonderfully compliments Casa da India. It encourages you to explore the wide and mysterious world and in return grants you more and more trading opportunities. +1 sight on all your units is one of the most underrated abilities any civ could have to offer. It makes finding other nations easier and prevent your units from putting themselves in dangerous situations.

  • All units receive +1 sight
  • Every time you meet a new civ, you get +1 trade route
  • Always have open borders with all city-states

Civilisation 6 Portugal guide

Unique Unit: Nau

Nau is a renaissance-era naval melee unit unique to Portugal which replaces the Caravel. It is unlocked with the Cartography technology just like the Caravel would be. It can be upgraded from a Galley and upgrades to the Ironclad when it becomes obsolete.

This is the unit that allows you to completely take over the game completely once you unlock it. If you use them properly, they will ensure your maritime supremacy and boost your trade route yields like no other.

  • 2 gold per turn maintenance, down from 4 gold that would take to maintain a Caravel
  • Starts with a free promotion. You get a free promotion even if you upgrade a Galley to a Nau
  • Has 2 build charges to build a Feitora improvement. As long as it has at least one charge, it can repair improvements and remove nuclear fallout.

Civilisation 6 Portugal guide

Unique Improvement: Feitora

Feitora is a tile improvement unique to Portugal, which can only be built by a Portuguese Nau. It is unlocked with the same technology as the Nau and it may only be placed on a featureless coastal or lake tile in a foreign territory, which has open borders with Portugal. Feitora must be adjacent to a tile containing a bonus or a luxury resource.

When Feitora is built, it acts as a 4 gold 1 production tile to the tile owner, and it can not be removed or pillaged. Trade routes from Portugal to a city with a Feitora receive extra 4 gold and 1 production. You must use this improvement smart though, as it gives yields to opponents too. We will talk about Feitora placement a bit later in the guide.

Unique Building: Navigation School

Navigation school is a medieval-era building in the Campus district that replaces the University. It is unlocked with the Education technology and requires a Library to be built on that Campus. It synergizes perfectly with the coastal preferences of Portugal and hugely boosts your scientific output.

  • Provides 1 extra science for every two coastal or lake tyles in the city
  • Provides +1 Great Admiral Point per turn
  • +25% production towards naval units in the city
  • Rock Bands performing here grant +500 tourism

Which Victory Type is the Best for Portugal?

Portugal is one of the most diverse civs in the game, as it can go for pretty much any victory type in the game. Civs that gain gold usually tend to do better than others exactly for that reason, as gold can be easily used to boost your science, culture, production, or faith. Even though Portugal can do a cultural or even a religious victory, their conditions for any other victory type are just too strong.

Science victory is definitely the ideal choice for Portugal. The navigation school can provide some nice science yields in every one of your cities, and the insane gold generation allows you to just buy it immediately. Extra production from Feitoras you’ve got around the map also helps with the space race, making sure no other civ (except maybe Germany) can catch up with you.

The second-best option tends to be a diplomatic victory. Tons of gold you get through trading can help you purchase diplomatic favor from other civs. Production boosts from your Feitoras can help you out with the building of essential diplomatic world wonders and spam carbon recapture projects late in the game. If you are playing with the secret societies game mode, the Owls of Minerva society gives you so many city-state envoys, you can pretty much be a suzerain of every state out there.

The most fun option for Portugal is a domination victory, where Portugal performs surprisingly well. Even though the Nau does not provide extra combat strength, your gold output allows you to buy powerful naval units every turn. You can even buy extra units in the recently captured cities to keep up the pressure and ensure victory. But going to war can have its downsides, as you can’t trade with a civ you’re at war with. That is why your Feitora placement is of crucial importance.

Which Game Modes Work Well with Portugal?

Civ 6 has multiple game modes, that add some new aspects to the game to make it more interesting. They don’t change the game too much; they just add another layer of strategy to the mix.

Secret Societies

Secret Societies is the single game mode I use in all my Civ 6 playthroughs, it’s just so much fun. Portugal. It adds 4 societies to the game, which are secret organizations with unique abilities. They act as an extra governor in your game and provide insane boosts to your civ. But make your choice carefully, as once you join the society you can’t leave for a different one.

The best secret society for Portugal is without doubt the Owls of Minerva society. The society can be discovered by sending an envoy to a city-state. That is why you should get to exploring as soon as possible, as being the first civ to meet a city-state grants you an envoy.

Owls of Minerva provides you with:

  • +1 economic policy slot. Each trade route sent to a city-state grants 1 envoy there
  • Allows you to construct the Guilded vault, a powerful replacement for the bank
  • +1 Wildcard policy. +2 spy capacity. Your cities gain +4 loyalty per turn and +1 amenity when your spy is in their territory
  • Whenever an offensive spy mission is successful, you also gain half of the gold, faith, culture, and science that the targeted city earned that turn. Earn 3% of your gold treasury as gold per turn

Monopolies & Corporations

This game mode focuses on economy and resource control, something Portugal excels at. It allows you to build powerful improvements on your luxury resources provided you have enough copies of the resource. Each luxury gives your city a unique and powerful buff and some insane yields. As Portugal, you should have endless coastlines under your control, so building a corporation around turtles will be super helpful, as they give your city a 15% science buff.

Barbarian Clans

Imagine, you’re playing Portugal, setting up your maritime trading network. Suddenly, a wild barbarian Galley appears that keeps plundering your trade routes. The Barbarian clans game mode adds new ways to deal with clans. As Portugal, you have access to a lot more gold than other civs, so you get to make use of this game mode the best. It allows you to bribe an encampment to leave your units alone, or you may hire units from them.

Which Map is the Best for Portugal?

As you can probably tell so far, Portugal is a naval civ, so it stands to reason that maps with a huge amount of water bodies are the best for it. Archipelago and Small continents maps are usually the best choices for Portugal.

Which Pantheon is the Best for Portugal?

Pantheons are simple religious structures in Civ 6 that give some extra bonuses to your civ. Pantheons are bound to the founding civilization, so you will follow it no matter which religion your cities convert to. There are some beliefs that are good in every single game no matter what civ you play, such as Religious Settlements, Fertility Rites, Divine Spark, or even Monument to the Gods.

But in my personal experience, Portugal does best with the God of the Sea Pantheon. It grants your fishing boats improvements extra 1 production. It may take a bit more time to get full value out of it than you would get from Religious Settlements, but over the course of a full game, it provides Portugal with so much value no other pantheon can beat it.

Which Religion is Best for Portugal?

Okay, let’s get religion out of the way. I personally wouldn’t even think about building a Holy Site district in my Portugal games, let alone go for a religion. But if you do decide to go down the religious path, then I recommend you chose the Jesuit Education belief. It will allow you to buy Navigation Schools with faith.

Again, I really do not recommend you prioritize getting a religion when playing Portugal, as you can use your insane amount of gold to buy Navigation Schools anyway. No other belief can give you better benefits than your economic and scientific districts give you.

Which World Wonders Should Portugal Prioritize?

Mausoleum at Halicarnassus – One of the best wonders in the game. It gives +1 science, faith, and culture on all coastal tiles in the parent city, perfectly suited for Portugal. Build it in a city with a lot of coastal resources to really maximize the value.

Colossus – It increases your trade route capacity and grants you a free trader on top of that, what is there not to love? Diety AI also does not prioritize this wonder that much, so it isn’t too hard to get even if you don’t rush it.

Kilwa Kisiwani – Kilwa is my favourite wonder when I play Portugal. It gives you 3 city-state envoys, but that isn’t even the best bonus it offers. When you are a suzerain of a city-state, the city with Kilwa receives a 15% boost to the yield that the city-state provides. If you are suzerain of at least 2 city-states of the same type, an additional 15% boost is applied to ALL your cities.

Great Zimbabwe – Another wonder that works perfectly with Portugal’s playstyle. It grants you an extra trade route, some gold, great merchant points, and boosts all your trade routes from the parent city. Build it in a city with a lot of resources to maximize its potential.

Venetian Arsenal – Every time you build a naval unit you get one extra copy. Do I need to say anything else?

Torre de Belem – It gives you an extra Great Admiral Point per turn. But the most important bonus gives your international trade routes +2 gold for every luxury resource at the destination. If that is not enough, when Torre de Belem is constructed, all your cities that are not on your capital’s continent, instantly receive the lowest production cost building they can currently build.

Ruhr Valley – Production is essential for both the space race and producing military units. Ruhr Valley gives its parent city a 20% production boost and increases the production of its mines and quarries. It is always a good choice.

How to Play Portugal?

As I’ve already mentioned, every game of Civ 6 is different, as the map is randomly generated and random civs start at random locations. It is hard to give an exact step-by-step guide on how to play out the game, but a general guide on what to look for, what to research, and how to plan out your empire can be of enormous help. Now I will show you an example of a Portugal game I had recently, so you have a rough idea on how to plan your game.

Ancient Era Strategy

Civilisation 6 Portugal guide

Settling your First City

The first thing you need to do is settle your first city. The main thing you should look for is access to fresh water (adjacent to a river or lake), a decent spot to build your Harbour and Campus districts, and most importantly make sure your city is coastal. As you can see in the image below, I followed these guidelines and managed to settle a nice city with both Harbour and Campus having +4 adjacency bonus.

Your goal as Portugal is to have as many cities as possible with the Harbour, Campus, and Commercial Hub districts. I recommend you help yourself out with the map tack feature when planning before you place down the district, as they can’t be removed. Think about the placement of your Government plaza, as it can give huge adjacency bonuses to other districts.

Which Technologies and Civics to Focus on?

In 90% of my Portugal games, I start researching the Sailing tech, to make sure I get access to the Galley as soon as possible. But it really depends on the map you are dealt with. If there are a lot of wood and resources that can be mined start with mining. If you find yourself surrounded by sheep tiles get Animal Husbandry to improve them. Maybe there is an aggressive civ nearby and you need to defend yourself with archers.

When it comes to civics it’s straightforward. After the first civic plugin Discipline to protect yourself from possible barbarians, and God King to ensure your pantheon. Then go straight for Foreign Trade, which will give you a production boost towards naval units and the ability to build a trader. After that, you research the civics that lead to Political Philosophy. You can use the governor points for Pingala or Magnus, but I usually save one point until I’m able to join Owls of Minerva.

Ultimately, your goal is to research Celestial Navigation in this era. The sooner you get your Harbours set up, the more your snowball advances.

What to Build in the Early Game

I know a lot of civ players tend to start building buildings and districts as soon as they can and I get it, I was like that as well. But if you are playing on deity that is rarely the right choice. Barbarians and other civs tend to be way more aggressive and if you are not careful, they will fight you. My usual production queue playing any other civ at the start is scout-scout-slinger-settler-warrior, which allows me to explore the continent, settle a second city, and keep safe from possible enemies.

With Portugal, my opening production queue is a bit different. Scouts do not give me full value as I’m playing on a map without large continents. My production queue tends to be slinger-warrior-settler-galley-trader. Again, it allows me to stay safe from possible barbarians or aggressive civs, I can settle my second city, and I can start exploring with my first galley. Sometimes I build a builder instead of a warrior if I feel there are no threats to my cities and there are tiles to be improved.

General Tips

Keep an eye on your era score. If you manage to secure a Golden age for the next era and you have a Harbour or two, you will get a powerful bonus that can allow you to take a commanding lead. You can gain era score from various sources, such as clearing barbarian camps, meeting other civs, and discovering natural wonders. It’s not the end of the world if you don’t get a Golden Age, but it really does help Portugal take off.

When you build your second city you don’t have to build the same 5 things you did in your first. You can use it to build builders, traders, galleys, or even pump out a Campur or a Harbour. Now that you have 2 cities producing you can build a monument to get a small culture boost if you feel you are too far behind on it. I usually buy city center buildings with gold, as you can generally earn enough for a monument in a couple of turns.

If you are playing with the barbarian clans enabled, you can buy a galley from the camp for way cheaper than you normally could. I recommend you take advantage of that mechanic before you clear the camp.

Start planning your empire as soon as you get vision of your surroundings. Look for decent Harbour and Campus locations to know where your cities will be. Fresh water is not as important for your future cities, but it is preferred to at least have the option to build an aqueduct.

Classical Era Strategy

At the start of this era, you can make a declaration for your people. In 99% of games, you will want to pick Free Inquiry no matter if you earned a golden age or not. Its Golden Age bonus boosts your Harbours, as they give science equal to their gold output, that is why I prioritize Harbours over Campuses in the early game.

Which Technologies and Civics to Focus on?

In the Classical era, you will want to research Shipbuilding first. Overall, the goal is to unlock your unique unit as soon as possible, so you will mostly be researching technologies that lead to Cartography. A lot of times I try to research Machinery just to start building Kilwa Kisiwani as soon as possible, as it is one of the best world wonders in the game.

Regarding civics, if you built at least one Campus with high adjacency you can go for Recorded History to double its science output. If you have more Harbours, go for Naval Tradition to double your Harbour output.

Civilisation 6 Portugal guide

General Tips

Now that I have a sense of my surrounding on the map, it is easier to think about the course of mid-game. I tried to forge positive relations with as many civs as possible while trying to maintain enough army so I could prevent an invasion by an aggressive Simon Bolivar. I also noticed a relatively weak Teddy Roosevelt not too far from my empire, who could be a potential target for a Renaissance war.

In this era, you should build your districts in newly settled cities, again focusing on Harbours and Campuses. You will also want a Government Plaza with a building of your choice inside of it. You can also start spamming some settlers in this era by using Magnus. And don’t forget to keep exploring for potential era score to secure another golden age.

Your job is to work on your gold and science output in this era while trying to expand and explore as much as possible. Try to have good relations with other civs, especially the ones you will be trading with. Keep on working towards Cartography or Machinery, either one is a decent option.

Medieval Era Strategy

Again, it’s time to pick your declaration when you start the next era. If you earned yourself another golden era, you could pick either Free Inquiry for extra science, or Monumentality for cheaper settlers and builders with gold purchases.

In the previous era, I’ve decided what I want to work on. I did have a lot of land to settle around me, but I wanted more. So, I made it my goal to try and go through with a Renaissance Era war against America. I will decide after the war if I want to go for a domination victory or a science victory.

Which Technologies and Civics to Focus on?

Overall, the medieval era serves for expansion and finally getting the opportunity to research Cartography. If you are planning to start a war in the next era, it’s time you prepare for it by exploring the right technologies and civics.

I did so by researching Cartography first, so I can boost my trade routes with Naus. But for a war we also need Frigates, which require niter to build. My next plan was to research Military Engineering which reveals niter on the map, and then immediately research Square Rigging. Don’t worry if you don’t manage to research everything in this era, but you should if you had two golden eras with Free Inquiry.

Civic-wise, you should head towards Exploration, so you can unlock the Merchant Republic government. Feudalism is great to pick up, as it will allow you to have more charges on builders.

Civilisation 6 Portugal guide

General tips

For me, this era was full of war preparation and sending out settlers. I’ve already explored most of the world, so my explorers all returned home to be upgraded to Naus. I’ve decided to bribe Simon Bolivar to be my friend with some favorable trade offers and sent out my Naus to him to flood him with Feitoras. His cities will be my main trade route destinations throughout the rest of this game. Each Nau can build 2 Feitoras, so make sure you have enough of them.

A general Feitora placement tip is to find cities that can fit multiple of them inside of its borders. Those cities should be within the borders of a civilization you do not plan on going to war with, it is even ideal that you have an economic alliance with that civ.

Another important thing to keep in mind is niter. If you plan on going down the war path you need niter for your frigates. If you don’t have it, it’s best to choose a peaceful route for your game.

Your goal is to upgrade all your units to Naus and Frigates and ensure your supremacy on the sea. If you do this in the medieval era awesome, if not you can do this in the next era too. Don’t forget about your settlers if you still want to have more cities, now is the perfect time to send them out.

Civilisation 6 Portugal guide

Renaissance Era Strategy

As you can see, Teddy quickly realized what I was up to, so things got a little bit heated. But as all his units were severely underdeveloped, this war was a piece of cake. Most of my resources were focused on the war effort so I didn’t get too much done during that time, except build some districts and Kilwa. I had about 7-8 units for this whole war, comprised of both Naus and Frigates. It took me almost the full Renaissance Era to take down Teddy, and in the end, all his cities belonged to me.

One thing I should mention: before I started the war, I made sure to befriend as many civs as possible. If not, they will start denouncing you and perhaps even declaring war on you. That can prove catastrophic as your trade routes are no longer active and you can’t fund your war.

Civilisation 6 Portugal guide

What Technologies and Civics to Focus on?

Now that the war is over and my empire is huge, I decided to take it easy and go for a scientific victory. You should start with researching Industrialization if you haven’t yet, then go straight for Rocketry. Progress with your civics as fast as you can and plug in the cards that allow you to have more builder charges and the cards that boost your trade routes, Harbours, and Campuses.

General Tips

Since the plan is to get a science victory, we must focus on science. Try to get suzerainty of science-type city-states and build as many Campuses as possible. Use builders to improve as many tiles as possible, and make sure your traders are going to cities with multiple Feitoras.

Head for the Rocketry technology and in the meantime focus on production development of your cities that will have Spaceports. I usually build 2 Spaceports, one in my capital city and another in a city with high production.

If you feel like you need more cities in your empire, send out your settlers now, as developing new cities in the late game is dull and usually not worth it.

Late Game Strategy

By this point, all your cities should be settled and all you have to do is micromanage your empire. You’re done with the hard and challenging part, now you just have to bring the game to finish. Make sure to have enough units around your borders so no other civ even thinks about going to war with you. As you can see in the image below, my science output was so much higher than anyone else’s, so I really did not have to fear anybody.

You should be earning a ton of money, so you should only be producing districts and city projects. You can buy your units and buildings with gold without problems. After your cities get Campuses, Harbours, and Commercial Hubs, you can start adding other districts. I usually go for Entertainment Complexes to raise amenities, but I also put some industrial Zones around to provide electricity.

You should be miles ahead in terms of science at this point, so it kind of doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you set up your Spaceports and do the projects required for the science victory. Keep some spies in your home territory to prevent others from sabotaging your districts such as Spaceports and Harbours and you’re good to go.

Civilisation 6 Portugal guide

Civic-wise, push for the civics that give you extra production towards the space race and city project overall. The next government can be either Communism or Democracy. I usually prefer Democracy, as it makes purchasing with gold cheaper, and because your wide trading network provides a ton of food and production to your cities. For your final government, Synthetic Technocracy is usually the best choice as it boosts your city project production.

One thing to keep in mind: BUILD FLOOD BARRIERS! Global warming is quite severe in this game, and since you’re playing a naval civ A LOT of your tiles are floodable. All you have to do is research Computers and build Flood barriers to keep your civilization safe.

Final Thoughts

Portugal is a civ that snowballs incredibly hard and never lets your opponents breathe. As is apparent in this guide, as soon as your Naus get to take over the world, the hard part is done, and you can finish the game on autopilot. But this is just one way of playing Portugal on deity. You can easily take the complete domination route or even a diplomatic route. I definitely recommend giving it a try in your next Civ 6 game but beware, as it will quickly become your favourite.


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