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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. This guide will be for Viking King Harald Hardrada of Norway. Norway was included in the vanilla release of Civilization VI, but the strategies for playing as them (and all militaristic civs) changed considerably due to the loyalty mechanics introduced in the first expansion, Rise & Fall. The leader, Harald Hardrada, also had his Thunderbolt of the North ability enhanced by the Gathering Storm expansion.

After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, migration out of the former Roman territories lead to a growth in population of the Scandinavian regions as the Medieval Warm Period made the frigid northern lands more amenable to agriculture. As populations grew, resources became scarce and piracy grew. The clans of Scandinavia began creating local or regional assemblies called "things", with the purpose of making laws, settling disputes, and directing the activity of pirates to territories outside of Scandinavia, eventually leading to a seasonal, sea-faring raiding culture. In 793 A.D., Norse raiders pillaged the English Catholic monastery at Lindisfarne, and kick-started the "Age of Vikings". Viking seafarers developed remarkably sea-worthy boats that allowed them to explore and colonize parts of the English isles, Iceland, Greenland, the Mediterranean, and they are even believed to have founded a short-lived colony in modern Canada.

The death of Harald Sigurdsson at the Battle of Stamford Bridge in England is often cited as marking the end of the Viking Age. Harald accumulated great wealth during his youth as a Byzantine Varangian Guard (a group of elite soldiers recruited from Northern Europe to protect the Eastern Roman Emperor). Upon returning to Norway, Harald inherited the throne from his nephew Magnus, and went on to unite Norway and institute a singular coinage economy that allowed Norway to enter into international trade. He earned the nickname "Hardrada" ("the hard ruler") for his stern rule, and propensity for using violence to put down internal opposition. He spent much of his life trying (unsuccessfully) to conquer Denmark before finally turning his attention to his fateful invasion of England.

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" (September 2019) (ver.

Norway is an aggressive ocean-faring civilization that gets strong bonuses for raiding and pillaging. Their naval units can enter ocean tiles earlier in the game, allowing them to partially explore and settle other continents and meet distant civilizations sooner in the game.

Civilization VI - Harald Hardrada of Norway

Harald Hardrada of Norway's uniques in Civilization VI

Civilization VI - Norway flag

Norwegian capital start bias: coast, forest.

Norwegian civilization unique: Knarr

"Units gain the ability to enter Ocean tiles after researches the Shipbuilding technology. Naval melee units heal in neutral territory. Units ignore additional Movement cost from embarking and disembarking."

Norway gets a lot of bonuses to its navy and amphibious assaults. All units (naval and embarked land units) can enter the ocean after Norway researches Shipbuilding. Shipbuilding is very early in the game, and this will give Norway a significant advantage towards finding and settling on any isolated islands or landmasses before other civs can possibly get there. Norway will be able to claim isolated strategic or luxury resources, meet isolated island city states, and develop a base of loyalty and religious pressure that can potentially be used against civilizations on nearby continents. The only leader who can possibly beat Norway to these parts of the map is Kupe of Māori, who starts the game with the ability to enter oceans.

Norway also receives two potentially powerful naval military advantages. Unlike other civs, the Norwegian naval units can all heal in neutral territory, making them much more viable in long-distance exploratory and military roles. They can take some damage, move away and heal, then return to battle without having to sail all the way back to Norwegian (or friendly) territory. This is especially advantageous early in the game, when Norway's naval units can flee onto the ocean to heal or escape danger, and their opponents' naval units cannot follow them. You can even park a Quadrireme on an ocean tile and bombard any enemy Galleys that pass by with impunity.

Norwegian land units also have the ability to embark and disembark without ending their turn. They can make landfall, attack or pillage, then flee back onto the sea faster than their opponent may be able to react or mobilize against them.

Harald Hardrada's leader unique: Thunderbolt of the North

"Allows coastal raiding for all naval melee units, and +50% Production toward all naval melee units. Receive Science from pillaging and coastal raiding Mines in addition to Gold. Pillaging or coastal raiding Quarries, Pastures, Plantations, and Camps provide Culture in addition to Faith. Gain the Viking Longship unique unit with Sailing."

Civilization VI - Harald Hardrada portrait

Harald "Hardrada" Sigurdsson further boosts the prowess of Norway's naval units by granting all melee naval units the ability to perform a coastal raid (usually relegated to the "raider"-class naval units such as Privateers and Submarines). This ability allows the naval unit to pillage an adjacent land tile or capture an adjacent civilian unit on land. This, combined with the ability to heal in neutral territory, makes Viking Longships and Caravels useful for hunting down coastal barbarians. You'll either need land support or a naval ranged unit to bombard and kill the barbarian units on land, but once that is done, the Viking Longship or Caraval can clear the barbarian Outpost for gold and possible era score. They can also capture any Builders or Settlers that the barbarians had captured.

Harald also gets a 50% boost to the production of all naval melee units. Combined with the Maritime Industries policy, a moderately-productive city can produce Viking Longships in just 2 or 3 turns.

Lastly, Harald gains extra yields from pillaging in general. Pillaging mines will grant gold and science. Pillaging quarries, pastures, plantations, and camps grants culture and faith. Both land units and your coastal raid-equipped naval melee units can take advantage of this ability. This will substantially boost Norway's wartime economy by providing large lump sums of science, culture, faith, and gold without having to damage districts and spend the extra time repairing them after the city is captured.

Unique building: Stave Church

Game Info:

"A building unique to Norway. Required to purchase Apostles and Inquisitiors with Faith. Holy Site district gets an additional standard adjacency bonus from Woods. +1 Production to each coastal resource worked by the city."

Civilization VI - stave church

Requirements: Theology civic,
must be built within a Holy Site with a Shrine.

Replaces: Temple.

Cost: 120 Production.
Maintenance Cost: 2 gold per turn (standard game speed).

+4 Faith, +1 citizen slot, +1 Relic slot,
+1 Great Prophet point per turn,
+1 Production for every coastal resource worked by this city,
Holy Site gets an additional standard adjacency bonus from woods.

The Stave Church boosts Norwegian cities that are near the ocean, by granting extra production to coastal resources (no fishing boats necessary). This will provide an immediate head start to any city that has coastal resources, since you won't have to work land tiles in order to get production.

Normally, the Holy Site gets a minor adjacency bonus from woods tiles, which grants 1 extra faith for every two woods. You don't get a half faith from having a single woods tile. Having a Stave Church, however, grants an additional standard adjacency to each woods tile, which grants +1 faith from each and every adjacent woods tile. If you have an even number of adjacent woods, the Stave Church will triple the adjacency bonus! This effect will stack with the Scripture policy, which will double the bonus faith granted by the Stave Church.

For example, if your Holy Site has 2 adjacent woods, it would normally have 1 faith bonus. Even with Scripture, you'd only be getting 2 faith from this Holy Site. With a Stave Church, however, the same Holy Site will get 3 faith, which will go up to 6 with Scripture.

Civilization VI - berserker icon

Unique unit: Berserker

Game Info: "Norwegian unique Medieval era melee unit. 4 Movement if this unit starts in enemy territory. +10 Combat Strength when attacking, and -5 Combat Strength when defending."

Civilization VI - Berserker unit portrait


Requirements: Military Tactics technology, 20 Iron
Replaces: none.
Obsoleted: Gunpowder technology.
Upgrades to: Musketman.

Cost: 160 Production / 640 Gold [Standard speed].
Maintenance Cost: 3 Gold per turn [Standard speed].

Promotion Class: melee,
Attack Type: melee,
Melee Strength: 40,
Movement Speed: 2.


+10 combat strength when attacking, -5 combat strength when defending,
+10 combat strength versus anti-cavalry units,
Costs 1 less movement point to pillage,
4 movement if starting turn in enemy territory.

The Berskerker does not replace any default unit. This means that it cannot be upgraded into, and all your Berserkers will have to be built from scratch. You can use the Feudal Contract policy to boost the production of the Berserker.

The Berserker has combat strength 4 points higher than the Swordsman. It is technically 1-point weaker than the Pikeman, but it has a +10 combat strength modifier against anti-cavalry units, so a stock Berserker is effectively +9 strength ahead of a Pikeman.

The Berserker is intended for highly-aggressive play, as it receives a sizeable bonus when attacking, and a moderate penalty when defending. It will actually be 1 point weaker than a Swordsman, if the Swordsman attacks it first.

The Berserker gets a significant bonus when attacking, but suffers a moderate penalty when defending.

It also starts with 4 movement if it started its turn in enemy territory, allowing it to easily out-flank or surround most enemy units. It can also run away to just outside of the range of an enemy unit, then run back in for an attack on a later turn. Lastly, the Berserker can pillage with only a single movement point, allowing it to sweep across enemy lands, pillaging tiles (the yields of which will be boosted by Harald's leader ability) and wrecking the enemy's economy.

Civilization VI - viking longship icon

Unique unit: Viking Longship

Game Info: "Norwegian unique Ancient era naval unit that replaces the Galley. Can pillage enemy coastal lands and capture civilians if adjacent using its coastal raid ability. 4 Movement while in coastal waters."

Civilization VI - viking longship unit portrait

Requirements: Sailing technology
Replaces: Galley.
Obsoleted: Cartography technology.
Upgrades to: Caravel.

Cost: 65 Production / 260 Gold [Standard speed].
Maintenance Cost: 1 Gold per turn [Standard speed].

Promotion Class: naval melee,
Attack Type: melee,
Melee Strength: 30 (+5 from Galley),
Movement Speed: 3.

Has Coastal Raid ability (can pillage adjacent land tiles and capture civilian units),
4 movement while in coastal waters.

On its own, Harald's Viking Longship is a rather pedestrian unique unit. It has higher combat strength than the Galley it replaces, moves faster in coastal waters, and grants early access to the coastal raid action. However, when combined with Norway's Knarr ability and Harald's Lightning Bolt of the North ability, the Longship becomes a highly flexible and useful early game unit. It might even arguably be the best naval unit in the game. While most civs don't have much use for early naval units beyond defending their own fishing boats from barbarian ships, the Viking Longship is a highly effective offensive military unit and barbarian-hunter.

The Longship can wreck havoc on an enemy civilization's coastal infrastructure by pillaging sea resources, plundering embarked Traders, and raiding any improvements or districts that lie on the coast. This will disrupt your opponent's economy, while also providing you with decent pillage yields (which will be boosted by Harald's leader ability). Note that you cannot perform a coastal raid on a tile that contains an enemy land unit. Since the Longship lacks a ranged attack, you'll either want to bring a Quadrireme to bombard the land unit from the sea, or embark your own land units to clear out the defenders.

Longships don't have a ranged attack, so you'll need a Quadrireme or land support
to clear out barb land units before raiding the outpost.

You'll probably also want to bring a Quadrireme with you if you intend to go barbarian hunting. The coastal raid ability allows you to destroy barbarian outposts, but only if you can first kill the unit inside (or trick it into moving out of the outpost). The coastal raid ability also allows the Longship to capture un-escorted civilian units that are wandering on adjacent land tiles.

If the Longship moves along shallow coastal waters, its total movement speed will also increase to 4. If you travel between coast and ocean, the unit's movement will change. As long as the Longship uses its third point of movement to enter a coastal tile, it'll have access to the fourth movement point. That fourth movement point can be used to enter an ocean tile from a coastal tile, which can be very helpful if you need to retreat from combat and heal. If you enter ocean with your third movement, the Longship's turn will end.

Since there aren't any upgrades to the Galley until the renaissance Caravel, the Viking Longship enjoys a relatively long window of usefulness. Since Knarr allows the unit to enter ocean and heal in neutral territory, the Longship is also much more viable in city sieges. If you are able to rotate multiple Longships such that one can attack, then pull back and heal, while another attacks, Norway can capture coastal cities without necessarily needing supporting land units at all -- especially if the city does not yet have walls.

Being able to heal in neutral territory and pillage farms for HP, Longships are formidable against cities without walls.

Since Harald's Thunderbolt of the North ability grants coastal raid to all naval melee units, the Longship will retain this ability when upgraded to a Caravel. The same is true of the ability to heal in neutral territory (which comes from Norway's Knarr ability).

Pillaging and Plundering the Seas as Harald Hardrada of Norway

Norway, as with any naval-oriented civ, plays best on certain map types. Norway will be much more likely to utilize its tightly-themed collection of abilities on archipelago, continents and islands, and fractal maps, since they will have a lot of coastal tiles. Having the early ability to cross oceans will give them a slight edge on continents maps compared to most other naval-oriented civs (except the Māori), but Norway will still be limited depending on starting position and the shape of the landmasses.

Even without adjacent forests, a Stave Church might be worthwhile for the production benefit to a coastal city.

Norway should put special priority on exploring along the coast to find good places for settlements. Locations with access to lots of workable coastal resources and lots of woods tiles are ideal, but failure to find such locations should not be considered a deal-breaker. Build Holy Sites in these cities so that you can benefit from the production bonus and adjacency bonus granted by the Stave Church. Since you're looking for coastal resources, your obvious go-to pantheon should be God of the Sea (+1 Production from fishing boats), as its effects will stack with the Stave Church.

If you don't have access to sea resources, then it might not even be worthwhile going for Holy Sites and Stave Churches, since the principle advantage of the Stave Church (the bonus production on sea resources) will be nullified. Pick a different pantheon instead.

Even if you're not playing a religious game, the Stave Church might still be worthwhile in coastal cities with multiple sea resources. Having the extra faith income will also allow you to patronize great people, purchase Warrior Monks with the associated religious belief, or use the Grand Master's Cathedral Government Plaza building to allow you to buy military units with faith.

Use Maritime Industries to mass-produce Longships.

Whether you find sea resources or not, you'll still likely want to settle along the ocean so that you can train Viking Longships. Adopt the Maritime Industries policy (double production towards naval units) in order to pump out a handful of Longships quickly. Use those longships to sail along the coasts looking for barbarian outposts. You can take an Archer and/or Quadrireme with the Longship along the shore in order to attack any nearby barbarian outposts. Bombard the barbarian in the outpost with the Archer or Quadrireme from a safe distance, then use the Longship's coastal raid to pillage the outpost. Also try to capture any errant Settlers or Builders that you find along the coast. Focus your land units on hunting barbarians and clearing outposts further inland.

If you find any coastal cities or city states, then you should consider declaring war on them and using your Longship to raid their coasts before they put up walls or build Archers. On higher difficulties the CPU civs and city states will be more likely to have more developed cities this early in the game, since they'll start with free Builders and population. Capturing these cities early in the game will give you a huge head start.

If you do decide to capture cities with your navy, remember to retreat your Longships onto the ocean if they take damage, and let them heal safely beyond the range of your opponent's Archers and Quadriremes. If you're able to keep the city under siege with a few land units, then it won't be able to heal. You can also use the Longship's coastal raid to pillage farms, which will heal the unit 50 HP.

In the meantime, focus on training units and Settlers to expand your empire and start mobilizing forces for a lot of Medieval warfare. Aim for getting Machinery and Military Tactics technologies, along with the Military Training and Feudalism civics, then use the Feudal Contract policy to train Berserkers and Crossbowmen. Berserkers do require iron resources (in Gathering Storm), so you will need to research Iron Working and settle near an iron mine. That is, unless you can buy your iron from another civ, in which case, you can temporarily skip Iron Working altogether.

Berserkers are unlocked by Military Tactics, and must be trained from scratch.

Now it's time to start up your pillage and plunder economy! Declare war on one or more nearby civ(s), adopt the Raid policy (bonus yield for pillaging improvements), and use your Berserkers, Longships, and any mounted units to pillage their land. Berserkers also make excellent support for naval invasions, since they can disembark and still move to surround a coastal city and put it under siege for your Longships or Caravels to attack.

The Berserkers are much better as raiders and probably shouldn't serve as the backbone of your army. Berserkers are weak on defense and can be easily killed while defending against other contemporary units. You'll definitely want to support your Berserkers with Crossbows and Knights. Avoid exposing your Berserkers to counter-attack whenever possible. It may be better to perform the melee attack with the Berserker first in order to use the +10 combat bonus and damage the enemy unit, then finish that unit off with a ranged strike from a Crossbowman (or a melee attack from another unit such as a Swordsman, Courser, or Knight). This will prevent your Berserkers from pushing too far into the enemy lines and exposing themselves to multiple counter attacks.

Berserkers can quickly disembark and pillage multiple tiles.

If you plan to capture (and keep) a city, pillage its improvements, but do not pillage the districts. Districts are expensive to repair, but improvements can be trivially repaired by Builders without even having to spend a charge. It would be wise to bring a Builder along with your army if you plan on capturing cities. If you're not planning on capturing (and keeping) the city, then by all means pillage its districts before capturing and razing it!

The abilities to heal naval units in neutral territory and gain extra yield from pillaging will remain in play for the entire game, even after the window of usefullness of Norway's unique units has closed. Caravels and Destroyers will still have the coastal raid ability. This eliminates the need to spend production and time training Privateers. You'll also be able to embark and disembark without penalty for the entire game, which will make those late-game inter-continental conquests a little bit faster and easier.

You'll get a lot of faith from pillaged improvements. If you aren't playing religiously, then this excess faith can be used to patronize great people such as Generals and Admirals to help keep your military machine running.

You should expect to have to defend yourself from military emergencies that are declared against you by the World Congress in Gathering Storm. If you don't have enough Diplomatic Favor to vote against such resolutions (of feel confident that you can defend against the ensuing attacks), then you'll need to maintain a respectable defensive force to protect your conquests. If you fend off emergencies, you'll gain additional combat bonuses and potential Diplomatic Victory Points.

Aggressive play will likely make you the target of multiple military emergencies.

Peaceful exploration and colonization

Even though Harald specializes in aggressive military and naval play, his abilities can also be beneficial to more peaceful playstyles. The ability to cross oceans early (via researching Shipbuilding) allows Harald to explore and settle other continents. This give Harald priority access to any isolated landmasses (unless the Māori are also in the game).

You'll need to be mindful of loyalty if you settle on other continents. In vanilla Civ VI, Norway could settle on other continents with impunity, but since the introduction of the loyalty mechanic in Rise & Fall, you have to be much more careful about settling or capturing cities that will be vulnerable to loyalty-flipping. The earlier you cross the oceans and settle, the fewer cities and population the other civs will have, and the less loyalty pressure your colonis will face.

Civilization VI - Valletta flag

If the Settler lens shows that cities founded on that new continent will have loyalty penalties, then you should consider settling multiple cities at the same time (or in very quick succession), buy a Granary and Monument with gold (or Faith if you are the suzerain of the Valletta city state), and send trade routes back to your core cities to rapidly grow the new cities' population and production base. Their populations will stabilize each others' loyalty, and you can use governors and policies like Limitanei (loyalty from garrisoned unit) and Praetorium (loyalty from governor) to further stabilize your loyalty.

If you are going to be settling new cities during the renaissance, then you should strongly consider adopting the Hic Sunt Dracones Golden Age dedication. This will grant additional population and loyalty to all cities founded on another continent. It will also grant additional movement to naval units and embarked land units, further boosting Norway's dominance of the seas. Combine this with the Colonial Offices policy (faster growth and loyalty in cities on another continent) and Colonial Taxes (bonus gold and production in cities on another continent) to further boost those new colonies.

Check the Settler lens for loyalty penalties before settling overseas.

If you aim for a classical, medieval, or renaissance golden age, then the additional loyalty from the golden age will make settling on other continents much easier. You may also want to consider putting a spy in your colony to protect it from foreign spies attempting to forment unrest.

The faithful can survive on land

Norway and Harald will be considerably nerfed on maps that lack large bodies of water and lots of coastline. Norway's ocean-crossing, embarkation, and naval bonuses will likely be rendered moot on such maps, but Harald's pillage abilities and the Berserker unique unit can still be useful. Even without the benefit of Longships, you can still use land units (including Berserkers) to pillage and plunder your rivals for lots of extra gold, science, culture, and faith.

A land-locked Norway can pivot towards religious play.

In fact, a lot of improvements in Civ VI reward the attacker with faith when pillaged. This means that a land-based Norway can shift its focus away from naval warfare and raiding, and more towards religious play. The Stave Church won't provide extra production on sea resources if you don't have any water to settle near, but you can still utilize its extra woods adjacency bonus to generate large amounts of faith and play towards a Religious Victory. With the extra faith from Stave Churches built in Holy Sites in the middle of large forests, combined with the extra faith from pillaging enemy tiles, you can spam Missionaries and Apostles to convert your rivals. Just be careful about sending your religious units in the direction of the enemies who you are pillaging, since you don't want your Missionaries and Apostles to be condemned and killed by enemy military units.

Civilization VI - Mont St. Michel wonder

You can also pivot your religious play towards a Tourism Victory by building the Mont St. Michel world wonder to grant the Martyr ability to all Apostles. If you adopt the Reliquaries belief (triple faith and tourism from relics), then you can use all but the last charge to convert cities with your Apostles, then suicide them against rival Missionaries, Apostles, or Inquisitors for the free relic. In the meantime, build Theater Squares and run Theater Square Performance projects to rapidly produce Writers, Artists, and Musicians.

Being a Lightning Rod Against the Thunderbolt of the North

Harald Hardrada's A.I. agenda: Last Viking King

"Builds a large navy and respects civilizations who follow their lead. Does not like civilizations with a weak navy."

You'll want to take extra care to protect your infrastructure from Norwegian raiders. Do not leave your coasts undefended and unfortified. Tiles cannot be pillaged or raided if there is a military unit standing on them. Protect your high-value improvements and districts (especially those on the coast) by stationing a military unit on them -- even if it's just a Scout. Norway can't pillage or plunder you at all unless you are in an active state of war, so keeping at peace with Harald will effectively neutralize all of his abilities except for his potential to settle lands across an ocean.

Viking King Harald is kind enough to warn you that your coasts are easy for him to raid.

Do not be surprised to see Norwegian colonies suddenly appear on your coasts. You can even turn this to your advantage if you can easily conquer the city or flip the city via loyalty pressure.

Harald is often willing and eager to go to war, so he can be a great partner for joint wars. Fighting together can strengthen your relationship and establish Harald as a loyal trade partner who will look past all the grievances that you are inflicting on other civs. He's also one of the easiest leaders in the game to please, since all you have to do to earn his favor is build a lot of naval units. Of course, if you are completely land-locked, then you will be unable to build any naval units at all. In that case, you should expect Harald to be irreconcilably hostile towards you, and you should expect a war sooner or later.

Discussions & Change Log

Thanks for reading. I hope this guide helps you to build a Norwegian 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 Norway strategies in the CivFanatics forums at:

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