submit to reddit
Pin it

Civilization VI - title

Now that I've covered all the civilizations which are new to the Civ franchise in the Gathering Storm expansion, I'm going to cover the other civs that my Patrons voted on. I'm going to start with Montezuma of the Aztecs. The Aztecs were included as DLC for the vanilla release of Civilization VI.

The Aztec Empire consisted of a "Triple Alliance" between the city states of Tenochtitlan, Texcoco, and Tlacopan in the Central Mexican Valley basin around Lake Texcoco, based largely around the cultivation of maize. They would subjugate other city states through military conquest, trade, or marriage, and then install governors to administer those client states without necessarily needing to maintain a military garrison. Client states would pay tribute directly to the Aztec emperor, who would limit their ability to communicate and trade directly with other client cities; thus, making each of the clients dependent on the empire for resources and luxury goods and reduce the likelihood of an uprising.

In the early 1500's, Spanish Conquistadors (lead by Hernán Cortéz) arrived in central Mexico and occupied the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan, keeping Aztec Emperor Moctezuma Xocoyotzin a prisoner in his own palace. Since most of his history is depicted through the lens of the Spanish conquerors, information about Moctezuma's life and rule are limited and contradictory. He ruled the Aztec Empire at its territorial height after several successful military campaigns, and he imposed regressive policies that increased the rigidity of the Aztec caste system and severely limited the ability of commoners to work in royal palaces or ascend to nobility. Contrary to his typical depictions in the Civilization games as a blood-thirsty warmonger, contemporary Spanish writings suggest that Moctezuma may have been rather meek and was accommodating of the Spanish conquistadors, whom he invited to live in the palace as guests. Moctezuma would die during the Spanish occupation of Tenochtitlan, possibly having been stoned to death by his own citizens who were frustrated with his inability (or unwillingness) to repel the Spanish invaders.

Civilization VI is still a "living game". Strategies for the game (and for specific leaders and civs) may change as Firaxis applies balance patches, introduces new features, or expands the game through further DLC or expansion packs, or as the Civ community discovers new strategies or exploits. As such, the following strategy guide may change from time to time. I will try to keep it up-to-date, and will make notations whenever changes are made. I'll also post links in the official 2K forums and CivFanatics, where I'll also report any changes made. If possible and practical, I will try to retain the original content of the strategy for posterity.

I welcome any feedback or suggestions that readers wish to offer. Feel free to post on the linked forums, or by posting a comment at the bottom of the page.

This guide is up to date as of the release of the Gathering Storm expansion's "Red Death" update (ver.

The Aztecs in Civilization VI are built to be highly aggressive, using the procurement of luxury resources to strengthen their armies and support their vast conquests.

Civilization VI - Montezuma of Aztec

Montezuma of Aztec's uniques in Civilization VI

Civilization VI - Aztec flag

Aztec capital start bias: None
But I (anecdotally) frequently see the Aztecs start near one or more lakes.

Aztec civilization unique: Legend of the Five Suns

"Spend Builder charges to complete 20% of the original district cost."

Aztecs can use their Builders (including captured slave labor) to rush the construction of city districts. Since the cost of districts scale up over the course of the game, and the Builders complete a percentage of the district's build cost, this ability effectively gets stronger as the games goes on. Each Builder charge will be worth more production as you progress through the game.

You can use multiple Builder charges to rush the production of a district even further. It will cost you 5 total charges to completely finish a new district from scratch. You can potentially add a new district to your build queue, spend 5 charges from Builders, and have that district complete and functioning -- all within the same turn! Since using a Builder charge ends the Builder's turn, you would need 5 different Builders, each with 1 charge, if you wanted to complete a district in a single turn. With a sixth Builder, you can maybe even start on the next district before the turn is over.

As far as I can tell, the amount of production that you receive from a Builder charge is not modified by any policies that increase the production speed of districts (such as Veterancy). If you have such a policy active, then you will get more bang for your buck by using the Builder charge to chop or harvest (especially if governor Magnus is in the city).

Montezuma's leader unique: Gifts for the Tlatoani

"Luxury resources in his territory provide an Amenity to 2 extra cities. Military units receive +1 Combat Strength when attacking for each different Luxury resource improved in Aztec lands."

Civilization VI - Montezuma portrait

Montezuma has a relatively simple (in Civ VI terms), but very powerful leader ability. Accumulating a lot of distinct luxury resources within your territory will be a huge boon to the Aztec empire. Luxuries generate amenity for more cities than normal, and each distinct luxury in your empire will increase the offensive attack power of all of your military units by 1 point. This includes land, sea, and air units, but it does not count towards theologic combat of religious units. Because Civ VI's combat uses the difference in strength to calculate the outcome (rather than the percentage of the unit's total HP, as in Civ V), each and every point of combat strength matters. With many luxuries in your empire, this bonus can stack and make all Aztec units very potent.

The combat bonus only applies on offense, so you have to be aggressive with your units in order to receive the bonus. You can't just fortify a unit on a forested hill in a chokepoint and let the enemy throw its armies at you. You'll have to actively attack or counter-attack in order to gain your luxury combat boost. This bonus also only applies to units, and so your walled cities and encampments will not gain additional combat strength when bombarding.

Also remember that the combat bonus is only from luxuries improved within Aztec lands. You get no combat bonus for trading for luxuries from other players. You will have to take the luxuries for yourself. However, you will lose the combat bonus if you trade the last copy of a luxury resource.

Unique building: Tlachtli

Game Info:

"Provides 1 Tourism after advancing to the Conservation civis."

Civilization VI - tlachtli

Requirements: Games and Recreation civic,
must be built within an Entertainment Complex.

Replaces: Arena.

Cost: 135 Production (-15 from Arena).
Maintenance Cost: 1 gold per turn (standard game speed).

+2 Faith, +1 Culture,
+1 Amenity from entertainment,
+1 Great General point per turn,
+1 Tourism after Conservation civic.


The Tlachtli is a somewhat underpowered building that might not be worth focusing on building. Montezuma already gets extra amenities from the luxuries he owns, and the military focus means that you'll likely already have Encampments producing Great General points (though an extra point certainly doesn't hurt). This building can be useful if you're going for a religion-heavy strategy, using Missionaries and Apostles to spread religion, or using Warrior Monks for medieval combat. Otherwise, building it should be relatively low priority compared to other science, cultural, or economic infrastructure.

Unique unit: Eagle Warrior

Civilization VI - eagle warrior icon

Game Info: "Aztec unique Ancient era unit that replaces the Warrior. Has a chance to capture other civilization's military units by turning them into Builders."

Civilization VI - Eagle Warrior unit portrait




Requirements: none
Replaces: Warrior.
Obsoleted: Iron Working technology.
Upgrades to: Swordsman.

Cost: 65 Production (+25 from Warrior)
/ 260 Gold (+100 from Warrior) [Standard speed].
Maintenance Cost: none.

Promotion Class: melee,
Attack Type: melee,
Melee Strength: 28 (+8 from Warrior),
Movement Speed: 2.

Variable chance to capture enemy civilizations' units and turn it into a Builder,
+10 combat strength versus anti-cavalry.




Being a replacement for the Warrior, the Aztecs will start the game with an Eagle Warrior already in play (as well as immediately earning the era score for training your unique unit). Training subsequent Eagle Warriors will be a little bit more expensive than training regular Warriors (they cost the same as a Spearman).

Like with all unique units in Civilization VI, the Eagle Warrior's ability to capture enemy units and convert them to Builders is lost when the unit upgrades to a Swordsman. You'll have to try to get as much use out of your Eagle Warriors as you possibly can early in the game. You cannot enslave defeated barbarian units! The ability does, however, work against units belonging to Free Cities which have revolted from their original owner.

The odds of capturing an enemy unit are displayed in the combat odds widget.

If an attack is likely to result in the opposing unit's death, then the odds of capturing the enemy unit and converting it into a Builder is listed in the combat odds when you highlight over the opponent. The odds are based on the relative base combat strength of the units. The odds of capture will start out very high versus other ancient units (being 69% versus other Warriors), and will fall to 0% against renaissance units like Musketmen.


As an editorial note, I personally dislike when abilities like this are left up to random chance. I would much prefer if this ability granted an alternative reward if you failed to capture the unit (such as gold or extra experience or Great General points). That way, you'd always be getting something extra from killing an enemy unit. Or just grant the Builder after every two enemy units are defeated. Another option would be for the ability to always grant the enslaved Builder, but the number of chargers the captured Builder starts with could be variable. Something for Firaxis to keep in mind for Civ VII...

Enslaving the world with Montezuma of the Aztecs

Montezuma should focus on training as many military units as possible early in the game, with a special emphasis on Eagle Warriors. Eagle Warriors are more expensive than regular Warriors, so you may want to start out by training Scouts and Slingers, and wait till you can enact the Agoge policy (and maybe adopt the God of the Forge pantheon) to start pumping out an army of Eagle Warriors. Since those Eagle Warriors are ancient units, they cost no maintenance, so you should spam as many of them as you possibly can.

Because the ability to enslave defeated enemy units is lost when the Eagle Warrior upgrades, you'll want to try to get as much use out of your Eagle Warriors as you possibly can, as early as you possibly can. This may involve being much more aggressive with your immediate neighbors than you might otherwise be with another civ. You'll want to try to get an Encampment or two up and running as early as possible in order to pop an early Great General. The combat bonus from a General will lengthen the period of time for which the Eagle Warriors will be effective. If you haven't spawned a General by the time you finish Political Philosophy and adopt your first government (which should probably be Oligarchy for the +5 combat bonus), then I recommend adopting the Strategos policy as a wild card, and possibly producing the Encampment Training city project, in order to get that General sooner.

Spam Eagle Warriors and play very aggressive early in order to get free Builders.

You might even want to avoid upgrading some Eagle Warriors as you advance through mid-game eras. If you are able to widdle down an advanced enemy unit's health using ranged attacks or melee strikes from other units, you can potentially try to finish the damaged medieval or renaissance unit off with an Eagle Warrior and possibly receive a Builder as your reward. This is in addition to any Builders or Settlers that you are able to capture from the enemy because they are too stupid to escort them, or because you killed their escorts. You will eventually hit a point where the odds of capturing a unit are zero, or the enemy ranged units can one-hit kill your Eagle Warriors. At this point, the window of usefulness has pretty much closed, and you should start upgrading them all to Swords or Muskets.

Grouping Eagle Warriors into corps will extend
their window of usefulness.

You can extend the window of usefulness of Eagle Warriors by beating your opponent(s) to the Nationalism civic. This will allow you to group Eagle Warriors into corps (and later into armies via the Mobilization civic). Grouping two units into a corps does not double the strength. Instead, a corps increases the strength of the unit by 10, and an army increases the strength by an additional 7. Being in a corps will increase the strength of a stock Eagle Warrior to 38 (before adding in bonuses from promotions or luxuries).

An Eagle Warrior corps will once again be viable against Musketmen, Field Cannons, and other renaissance units, and will have a small chance of capturing a Builder by killing those units. However, the Eagle Corps will be very vulnerable to counter attack and ranged bombardment. Keep them away from walled cities and encampments, and only use them to mop up damaged enemy units.

In the meantime, you should declare surprise wars on one or more of your immediate neighbors and use your Eagle Warriors to destroy as many of their units as possible before they hole those units up in cities or encampments. You don't get a free Builder when you capture a city, nor do you get credit for killing a unit that is garrisoned within a city. If the enemy does retreat their units into a city, you can try using a weak unit (such as a Scout) to bait the unit out of the city, then quickly surround and kill it before it retreats back into the city. Make sure to check the combat odds in the lower right corner of the screen so that you can ensure that you deal the killing blow with your Eagle Warrior; otherwise, you will not get a free Builder. Remember: every enemy unit that you kill with a unit other than an Eagle Warrior is giving up an opportunity for a free Builder!

Militaristic city states will train a lot of units and are a great way to farm free Builders.

If you don't want to antagonize a powerful civilization, you should feel free to pick on city states in the beginning of the game. Militaristic city states are good targets, since they usually train a lot of units early in the game. Either way, you don't necessarily have to capture their city. Just kill units (and capture Builders) and make peace if you are not strong enough to actually siege and capture their city(ies). But if you can capture the city, then that's a nice bonus! In any case, be sure to use your Eagle Warriors to aggressively hunt down each and every enemy unit that you can. Once all their units are dead and you've captured their capital, you can consider several courses of action:

  1. Capture or raze the rest of their cities (for possible grievances) as normal.
  2. Leave them with a few cities and do not make peace. Farm any units they produce for free Builders (at the cost of war weariness and possible grievances).
  3. Leave them with a few cities and make peace (taking all their gold and resources in the peace deal). The cities may eventually flip due to loyalty pressure and become Free Cities, which will generate units that you can farm without having to maintain a state of war with any civ or city state.
  4. Capture all their cities, then trade them to another, distant player. Then wait for them to flip from loyalty for the same result as above.

Annoyingly, the ability to capture and enslave enemy units is dependent on a random chance. RNJesus will have to smile on you in order for you to get use out of this ability. This is similar to Germany's ability in Civilization V. It is hypothetically possible for you to never receive the free Builder, even if you defeat a lot of enemy units in a game. Also, based on my testing, the number of chargers that an enslaved Builder receives is not increased by the Serfdom policy.

If you're not careful, you may put your Eagle Warrior in a vulnerable position that allows it to be defeated,
and your captured Builder to be re-captured by your enemy.

It is also important to remember that enslaved Builders do not start with any movement. Remember, your units do not receive the combat bonus from your "Gifts for the Tlatoani" ability when they are defending, which means they are vulnerable to counter-attack. If the Eagle Warrior defeats and enslaves an enemy unit, and moves onto the tile with low health, the enemy will be able to surround and kill your Eagle Warrior and capture the Builder you had just enslaved, before that Builder has an opportunity to move away. This isn't the same as the enemy simply re-capturing their own Builder (that they had already invested production into training) back from you. Instead, you are basically giving them a free extra Builder that they did not spend any time or production towards creating. Thus, make sure that you can protect any enslaved Builders for two or three turns while you move the Builder away from the front lines. Keep your Eagle Warriors in groups, so that they can provide flanking and support bonuses to each other, and support them with Archers and a General.

If you adopt the Monumentality era dedication, you can use your enslaved Builders to rush the completion of districts, trigger a Golden Age, and use the bonus loyalty to go on a conquest spree or aggressive expansion in the classical or medieval era.

Use captured Builders to rush districts while the Monumentality dedication is active, in order to trigger a Golden Age.

Happy slaves are productive slaves

As you explore and expand, you should look for new luxury resources. Every distinct luxury resource that you improve within your territory will boost the combat strength of all of your military units by 1 whenever that unit attacks. Try to settle your cities such that you claim new luxuries that you don't already have, and put much lower priority on settling in locations that will only give you luxuries that you already own. You don't get any bonuses from trading for luxuries from other players. If you want any luxuries that another player (or city state) owns, but which you do not, then you are best served to capture the city in order to gain additional amenities and further buff all of your combat units. City states will usually be easy pickings.

Be careful about spreading your cities too thin. You don't want to leave them vulnerable to attack or to loyalty-flipping. The aggressive early play-style of the Aztecs means you are also very likely to be able to capture some enemy Settlers early in the game (especially against the A.I., who often leaves them un-escorted). Use these to back-fill your domain with cities in order to shore up your loyalty.

Civilization VI - Pyramids wonder

You'll want lots of Builders with lots of charges so that you can rush your districts. The Ilkum, Serfdom, and Public Works policies, and Liang the Surveyor governor's Guildmaster ability (+1 charge for Builders trained in her city) will all be valuable. The Pyramids world wonder will also grant additional charges to all your Builders, and should be a high-priority wonder for Aztecs if you have any accessible desert tiles.

Being able to spend Builder charges to rush the production of districts effectively allows you to bank production and then move that production around your empire. While running Ilkum, Serfdom, or Public Works, you can spam Builders in your established, high-production cities quickly, then send them off to your less-developed cities or new colonies to rush districts like Commercial Hubs (or Encampments if the city is bordering a belligerent neighbor).

This will make mid and late-game cities much more viable to found, especially if you built the Ancestral Hall government building (free Builder when settling a city). You can further speed up the development of cities on other continents with the Hic Sunt Dracones Golden Age effect (cities settled on continent different than your capital's gain +3 population and +2 loyalty), the Colonial Offices policy (faster growth in cities not on your capital's continent), and Colonial Taxes policy (bonus gold and production in cities not on your capital's continent). You can also send your trade routes to foreign cities for gold, instead of having to use them to get those new cities up and running.

Keep enough Diplomatic Favor to vote against emergencies targeting you,
or use your military to win such emergencies for the bonuses and Diplomatic Victory points.

Even though it is tempting to spend all your Builder charges to rush districts, you should keep some Builders with 1 charge around in order to repair any tiles damaged by disasters in the Gathering Storm expansion. Station some such Builders in cities near active volcanoes, along flood plains, or near coasts that are prone to hurricanes. If an improved luxury is damaged by a disaster, you'll want to repair it ASAP in order to maintain you combat bonus.

Montezuma and the Aztecs have strong military bonuses, which makes Montezuma a great contender for a Domination Victory. However, the ability to use Builders to rush districts also means Montezuma can be very successful playing an expansive playstyle and building the Campuses, Theater Squares, or Holy Sites necessary for a Science, Culture, or Religious victory. He can also use his strong military to win emergencies and possibly compete for a Diplomatic Victory. Thus, Montezuma is a surprisingly versatile leader.

Montezuma is particularly good at a Science Victory. His Builders will be able to spend charges to rush the production of Spaceports, which are usually very expensive districts. He can also gain a lot of science throughout the game by employing pillaging economy buffed by policies like Raid. The Science Victory is usually the most time-consuming victory to finish, so you can use your strong and sizable army to attack any other civilizations that get too close to a victory while you're finishing up your spaceship.

Playing against Montezuma's Aztecs

Montezuma's A.I. agenda: Tlatoani

"Likes civilizations who have the same Luxury resources as he does, and will try to collect every Luxury resource available. Dislikes civilizations who have a new Luxury resource he has not yet collected."

The Montezuma A.I. will likely be hostile to you if you possess luxury resources that he does not have improved within his lands. This will often lead to him declaring war to try to take your luxuries by force. Trading luxuries with him does not grant his units any additional combat bonus, so there is little risk in offering him a luxury in an attempt to appease him (at least temporarily).

Expect Montezuma to forward-settle and Eagle Warrior rush you. Be sure you have enough early units to defend.

Montezuma also has a tendency to forward-settle towards a player as a preamble to war, but this behavior seems to have been dramatically toned-down by the addition of the loyalty mechanics from the Rise & Fall expansion. In my experience, the Montezuma A.I. will either succeed in overwhelming and conquering another civilization early in the game (hopefully it isn't you), or he will get himself killed in the attempt. I rarely see much in between, but your experiences may vary. He will also tend to be very aggressive towards city states, so expect to see at least one or two city states fall to the Aztec within the first 50-100 turns (especially on the higher difficulty settings).

Montezuma's units can be deadly when they are able to go on the offensive, due to the combat bonus from "Gifts for the Tlatoani". You'll especially want to avoid letting Montezuma's Eagle Warriors kill your units, as this may give him free Builders. Use ranged attacks and support / flanking bonuses to weaken his Eagle Warriors in the open field, or retreat your units into cities and encampments where they can't get to you. Hit-and-run tactics with mounted units can also be useful, since Montezuma's units do not receive a combat bonus from "Gifts for the Tlatoani" ability when they are defending. The Eagle Warrior will be quickly outclassed by medieval and later units, but might still be a threat to pick off any of your wounded units, or wandering Scouts / Skirmishers.

Montezuma will seek to take your luxuries from you by force.

If you're feeling bold, you can try baiting Montezuma into killing your weaker / cheaper units in order to enslave a Builder, then counter-attack with your own unit and killing his Eagle Warrior in order to steal the enslaved Builder. The base cost of a Builder is more expensive than a Scout, Warrior, or Slinger, so losing such a unit and acquiring a free Builder can be an equitable exchange, assuming you still have enough military units left over to adequately defend yourself.

While it seems tempting to suggest that you not provoke or engage Montezuma early in the game (in order to wait for Eagle Warriors to become obsolete and unable to capture Builders), this may not be the best idea. Waiting till later in the game may give Montezuma more opportunity to acquire new luxuries, which will boost the combat strength of all of his units, and make defeating him much harder. In any case, you should have some quick mounted units (or some cannon fodder Scouts) ready to run into Montezuma's territory and pillage his luxury resources if you end up in a war with him. Even if your unit is killed in the attempt, it may still be worth it if you manage to weaken all of his other units. Later in the game, you might even be able to use Spies to pillage Dams and possibly flood and damage some improved resources along rivers. This will only have an effect if that is the only copy of that luxury within Montezuma's territory.

Discussions & Change Log

Thanks for reading. I hope this guide helps you to build an Aztec civilization that will stand the test of time!


These strategy guides for Civilization VI have been taking longer to research and write than I would like. Part of this is due to the fact that I'm not as familiar and experienced with Civ VI as I was with Civ V when I started writing strategy guides for that game, so I have to spend more time trying to learn the different mechanics and rules associated with each new civ that I play. I also have a lot more things competing for my time.

If you enjoy this strategy guide, and would like to see more like it, please consider making a contribution and become a Patron on Patreon. As a Patron, you'll have the ability to vote on which civilization(s) you'd like to see a strategy guide for next, will receive early previews of certain content, and will have an opportunity to discuss or contribute to its development. With some additional funding, I could dedicate more time to writing guides like this one, and can maybe even branch out into more video content on Youtube.

In any case, feel free to comment and share, or discuss you Aztec strategies in the CivFanatics forums at:

or on Steam:

[Show Change Log] [Hide Change Log]

13 February 2020:
Based on feedback from Victoria on the CivFanatics forums, added a note about Aztec Builders being able to rush Spaceports.

15 February 2020:
Based on further feedback from Victoria on the CivFanatics forums, added a couple paragraphs about using corps and armies to extend the period in which Eagle Warriors can be effective at defeating enemy units and capturing Builders.

Contribute Comment


We'll incarnate your avatar from the services below.
PlayStation Network Steam Xbox LIVE Facebook MySpace Pinterest Twitter YouTube deviantART LiveJournal

  • Comment
  • Preview

Grid Clock Widget
12      60
11      55
10      50
09      45
08      40
07      35
06      30
05      25
04      20
03      15
02      10
01      05
Grid Clock provided by trowaSoft.

A gamer's thoughts

Welcome to Mega Bears Fan's blog, and thanks for visiting! This blog is mostly dedicated to game reviews, strategies, and analysis of my favorite games. I also talk about my other interests, like football, science and technology, movies, and so on. Feel free to read more about the blog.

Check out my YouTube content at

Follow me on Twitter at:


If you enjoy my content, please consider Supporting me on Patreon:

FTC guidelines require me to disclose that as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases made by clicking on Amazon product links on this site. All Amazon Associate links are for products relevant to the given blog post, and are usually posted because I recommend the product.

Without Gravity

And check out my colleague, David Pax's novel Without Gravity on his website!

Featured Post

The Humanity of NCAA Football's In-Season RecruitingThe Humanity of NCAA Football's In-Season Recruiting08/01/2022 If you're a fan of college football video games, then I'm sure you're excited by the news from early 2021 that EA will be reviving its college football series. They will be doing so without the NCAA license, and under the new title, EA Sports College Football. I guess Bill Walsh wasn't available for licensing either? Expectations...

Random Post

Don't let the cute, cuddly cartoon foxes fool you, Endling is a bleak gameDon't let the cute, cuddly cartoon foxes fool you, Endling is a bleak game07/16/2023 Hey! I finally actually downloaded and played one of the PSN free monthly games for a change! Endling: Extinction Is Forever has been on my Steam wishlist for a while, but I passed on buying it during this summer sale because I instead spent most of my summer sale money on vintage Star Trek games as research for an upcoming...

Month List

Recent Comments

Comment RSS