Civilization VI: Naval Warfare Guide

Our comprehensive naval warfare guide for Civilization VI will bring your might to any marine conflict! Includes tips and tricks for submarines, warships, and coastal sieges. Get to know your maritime forces and their action economy! No matter how you choose to play the game, naval warfare will suit you well!

Civilization VI Naval Warfare Guide

Civilization VI has many ways to win over others; be it through dominance, or diplomacy. Victory via naval warfare can be a fun way of winning the game. However, if you’re not ready for the nature of all-out war it can seem overwhelming. It’s easier to break up how you want to succeed via your national strengths. 

If land warfare is your tactical strategy, then you’ll have access to a much larger amount of options from besiegement to long-drawn-out border wars. Using a combined force approach is the easiest means of winning a war in Civilization VI short of nuclear options! When it comes to naval you have a few fewer options with the boon of added movement and coastal sieges!

Naval Considerations

The essential to remember when using a naval doctrine is that there will be countless amounts of time and resources invested into these military campaigns. Naval warfare can easily become some of the most costly gameplay in Civilization VI, however, it can also become some of the most rewarding. 

Unlike ground warfare, naval warfare cannot naturally heal outside of friendly waters; something which can prove costly in circumstances far from allies. Whenever possible, it is very wise to establish small port cities along your trade routes that can act as ‘naval bases’ for operations abroad. 

Civ 6 Naval Strategy (Civ 6 Naval Guide)

-Source: Gamer Grampz

Well-balanced naval forces can be more effective in more circumstances than specialized forces. For this reason, it’s great to keep a wide variety of assets at your disposal; from aircraft carriers and destroyers to nuclear submarines and great admirals. There is an essential need for variance, however, in naval warfare, each vessel’s limitations make these choices especially evident. 

Basic Naval Vessel types

Civilization VI has four basic naval unit types. These units include the standard melee and ranged varieties typical of basic combat formats. Other naval units included in the naval pantheon are classified as raiders, submarines, and carriers, which makes naval warfare more appealing. These units will act as the main fighting forces of your maritime fleets. They have a variety of options available to you if you are qualified for them. 

Naval Melee Units

Melee units are essential for fighting other naval units you come across. They are incapable of destroying land assets unless they are on the water. This lack of land-based action makes them extremely effective at defending your besieging forces and pillaging enemy assets. These forces often have a large amount of health and can be devastating if you harass land armies attempting to embark on the water against them. 

Naval warfare units designated for melee purposes are generally fast-moving and can act as great defensive units for your military. Independently they can be one of the earliest available forces and make superior scouts over traditional land scouts. Their lack of land potential is also offset by their sheer health points and damage output. They are ideally suited to direct naval actions, or defend against them, and complement any embarking forces quite well as a shield. 

Naval Vessel- Galley

Galleys are an effective early-game melee ship!

Naval Ranged Units

Ranged units are extremely effective for navy complements, being versatile and acting very similar to their land counterparts. Acting as the main support force for land armies in combined arms operations. Using ranged naval units will allow you to attack your enemies from a distance using powerful assaults that can’t be easily countered. In essence, naval ranged weapons deal as much if not more damage than basic cannons and bombards making them effective at taking cities. 

A navy’s ranged units deployed defensively are a wonderful deterrent for raiders and enemy forces alike as other nations will have to contend with potentially three ranged attacks in one turn. The fact that ranged units are designed to defeat nations quickly also makes them especially dangerous to deal with at sea. When fighting other naval vessels. It’s better to use these ranged units as support rather than head-on units. The necessity for close-range naval units when using ranged assets becomes more apparent when you realize that other naval vessels will defend against ranged units!

The Battleship

The Battleship is a great naval ranged unit late game!

Naval Raiding Units

Raiding vessels in naval combat are often fast-moving, and accustomed to attacking another nation’s assets, or harassing land units. These ships are specifically useful in coastal sieges, and against cities you wish to take over. Commonly reserved for looting and pillaging enemy forces, however, they can serve a wide variety of other uses. They can also be seen as a fine compliment to any scouting party trying to cross the seven seas.

Defensively, raiding units are an excellent way of keeping other naval sieges off your back. When paired with melee units they can act as fast attackers, and protect your ranged units from additional damage. When you aren’t taking others’ assets, raiding vessels act as key guards for merchants who have to cross the seven seas, or your land units trying to embark across the ocean. Most importantly, raiding ships are often cheaper and easier to build for durability, making them an excellent secondary land unit for any naval armada!

Naval Raiding Vessels

Naval Raiding Vessels are great for taking out enemy defenses and units!

Submarine units

Submarines are a specialized class of unit for Civilization VI which allows nations to gain an edge in scouting and nuclear power. They are ideally suited to naval-on-naval conflict, however, they excel at covert operations, and moving them from place to place. With the advent of the nuclear submarine, your nation can move nuclear devices toward your enemy’s waters undetected. These offensive strategies alone give you an edge over other opponents, making you a threat in naval conflict! 

Submarines can act as an excellent support unit for your nation as well. They are essential for linking troops to them while embarking or trading similar to raiding ships. These units can move with surprising speed making them ideal as a defensive complement for your allies, as well as your cities; and their nuclear capacity cannot be undermined. 


Submarines are powerful naval units that can hold nuclear devices

Naval Carrier Units

Naval or aircraft carriers as they’re commonly known are essentially those units capable of storing aircraft on them. They’re incredibly potent for any form of warfare because they allow you to utilize your air units outside of airstrips and cities. Outside of greatly increasing the range of your assets, they also provide your military with the truest sense of combined arms warfare as aircraft allow your nation to excel where others often cannot. 

While carriers often cost more resources than they can be justified in most cases, they are a potent means of upgrading your Civilization VI experience. Nations with aircraft carriers can transport long-distance nuclear arms fastest and easier. In cases of world dominance, aircraft carriers can quickly change a military’s place in the game. These powerful units are unique, and important for any nation!

Aircraft Carriers

Aircraft Carriers are powerful units capable of hosting air units!

Naval Assets (Support)

When running a naval playthrough there is more to consider than simply the amount of offensive firepower you’ll be able to bring to the table. There are support ships to remember such as the grand admirals, and the land units you’ll be embarking on into the waters. Naval travel proves to be a faster way of moving through a map and can make your invasions a lot faster than traversing a forest or desert. 

The right great people like Admirals will allow your nation to progress faster through the ocean. In addition, they will gain essential bonuses in combat that’ll put your forces above the rest. It’s imperative to remember that these magnificent admirals can be purchased through religion or gold, or earned through prestigious people’s points. Some support units like medics, drones, and supply trucks can allow your nation’s naval units to bypass some healing restrictions, as well as cause additional damage to their numbers.

Great Admirals

When it comes to Civilization VI, Great Admirals like most other Great People are a major game changer. Like generals, they can expand your naval forces in such a way that you overcome basic military forces. They offer extra movement speed, attack power, and unique bonuses when they retire. They cannot be destroyed by the enemy, and even if your naval forces are decimated you can begin anew with these admirals. 

It’s imperative to note that each admiral can greatly improve gameplay in one aspect or another. However, he cannot interact with land forces. In essence, they are locked to being installed only on naval assets. Using them when traversing the ocean is a great way to utilize their potential. If you deploy these units in tandem with your ranged and raiding forces you’ll have a powerful navy for warfare. You can easily take over cities early on, making them suitable for coastal engagements!

Great Admirals

Great Admirals increase naval performance dramatically!

Naval Action Economy

Understanding the action economy in Civilization VI is essential to any basic strategy. When understanding what you’re capable of doing, there’s a better consensus of how you’ll achieve your ultimate goal. As most games thrive in knowledge-based environments! Some of the easiest mechanics you can use are some of the most fundamentally effective tactics you can bring to the table when playing a war game.

Not all situations will call for these actions. However, a solid understanding of what you’re doing makes it easier to take the game into your own hands! Game strategy is often seen as a complex system of resources and government politics that bottlenecks the experience. Common sense can rejuvenate the experience, if not make it more fun!

Embarking/ Invading

Civilization VI allows the player to choose when and how to invade their fellow nations, making it ideal for any play style. With naval invasions, your forces can enter waterways at the cost of attack power and health. In this state they are far weaker than they would be on land, resulting in them being best avoided in combat at all times. In the case of embarked forces, you can move them faster, and to a greater distance than you would on land. This makes this tactic ideal for avoiding land-based fortifications. 

While your naval units attack a nation, you should use that opportunity to move your embarked forces onto their coastlines, enacting coastal invasions. If your enemies have left these coasts undefended, you can quickly surround the enemy and engage in a combined arms exercise; besieging cities and enemy forces quickly! If you are worried about losing an invasion, you can use your naval forces as offensive cover to retreat into the waters and embark away! 

Embarked Units

Embarked units give up combat power for the ability to move in the water!

Defensively, you can utilize embarked forces to protect yourself from coastal raiders. Though it’s preferable to simply swell up your coastline with defenses like floodgates, walls, and fortresses, you can also rely on your ground forces to repel the enemy in numbers. It’s wise to swell your coastline with as many forces as possible to restrict how the enemy enters the conflict. This makes them ideal for defending against invasions. The use of ranged weapons is especially potent in these engagements, so consider them during these engagements!  

Pillaging/ Looting

Civilization VI’s pillaging mechanics allow you to use pirate/barbarian tactics to gain resources at an expanded rate. During naval conflicts, if you are at war with another nation it is often wise to sack their civilian units like builders, traders, and great people. This naval warfare can further disrupt their assets. Additionally, pillaging their physical structures and wonders allows you to hit them at their heart; the wallet! 

Since Civilization VI is a resource management game at its core, you can disrupt the enemy, as well as enrich yourself! Pillaging and looting can buff your troops, and should be familiar to siege lovers and cavalry enthusiasts alike! When a military unit cannot attack something during a war, raid and pillage them instead!

Pillaging and Looting

Pillaging and Looting are effective methods of taking resources for yourself!

Combined Arms

Combined Arms are the most effective strategy in any modern military game. Supplement your forces with a variety of units in addition to a few selected types to achieve success. For instance, naval units and carriers allow air support which can prove potent for sieges or offensive engagements. From there adding embarked troops for an invasion gives you the option to attack from all three fronts. These defenses add a variety of these land units allowing you to utilize more pieces of the chessboard. This can capture fluid cities. 

It’s imperative to remember that there is no limit to a combined arms approach. Some parts might prove more potent than others for some operations. The most effective way to handle any situation that surfaces is to scout it out first. From there, you’re able to designate the forces you think will handle the situation best. Here’s an example of how to strategically apply common sense. Never make only one military unit at a time. Focus on a variety of assets that will better your advantage over others, and can fulfill specialized roles! 

Combined Arms Tactics

Combined Arms Tactics allow you to utilize your entire military in a conflict!

Coastal Raiding

Coastal raiding is an essential alternative in naval warfare to invasions for your forces. If you aren’t looking to invade, or can’t, these raiding tactics can be a fun alternative to taking over. Working similarly to looting and pillaging, coastal raiding is the destruction of assets of enemies protected by coastlines. These are harassing attacks that keep the enemy constantly rebuilding. Raider class ships are best equipped to do this but ranged units have effective measures as well. 

Effective coastal raiding acts as a disruption, and usually nothing more. Although you may gain resources from looting, you are more intent on causing destruction and mayhem. For this reason, it’s also effective against coastal defenses and armies seeking to cross into the ocean. Trade routes, embarked forces, and specialty units are all key targets for coastal raiders! 

Coastal Raiding

Coastal raiding allows you to exploit your enemies and harass them!

Naval combat

Naval warfare in Civilization VI is considerably more potent than land-based warfare in terms of damage dealt. Where it lacks variety, it makes up for it in sheer scale! Navys prove potent as the open seas can host large outstanding naval battles. While you take over the land around you with your ground armies, your fleets, and armadas can dominate the seas. This will provide you with a wide range of influences. 

Your forces can be upgraded for these conflicts by being turned into fleets, and finally armadas by combining them. This makes your forces even more powerful whilst lowering fleet costs in the long run. Larger fleets and armadas decimate singular units, and can be chained together for more potent combat power!

Naval Combat

Naval Combat can be heavy hitting and spectacularly placed!

Nautical Empires

Civilization VI offers naval conflicts in-game. Your navy uses ships to defend or attack open waters in naval warfare. No matter which empire you choose, war or science you’re bound to need ships to get you through the narrows. Naval vessels make it easier to navigate on a large map, so explore the world! Additionally, these powerful naval units will help you conquer the world, so happy sailing friends!

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