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The Kingdom of Kongo was a small, but prosperous kingdom located on the west coast of sub-Saharan Africa. It can trace its origins back to the late 14th century, when Lukeni lua Nimi conquered the city of Mwene Kabunga and renamed it M'banza-Kongo. The city grew rapidly in an otherwise sparsely-populated region, and by the 17th century, it contained about one-fifth of the entire Kongo population (around 100,000 people). It's large population made it a prosperous and wealthy trading hub that eventually attracted the attention of European powers. The Portuguese set up colonies in Kongo territory, where they would set up a Roman Catholic church that would become one of the strongest churches in all of Africa. In 2017, the entire city of M'banza-Kongo was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

In the first half of the 16th century, Kongo was ruled by Mvemba a Nzinga. His father converted to Christianity following the arrival of the Portuguese, and Mvemba a Nzinga added "Afonso" to his name, later becoming known as King Afonso I of Kongo. Afonso played a leading role in Kongo's conversion to Christianity and helped to establish and promote the Roman Catholic Church in the region. The reasoning for his conversion is unclear. Some scholars believe that he was motivated by genuine faith; while others believe that he was only complicit in the conversion in order to facilitate trade with European powers, and possibly to try to spare his population from becoming subject to the Atlantic slave trade. While Kongo had a slave economy of its own, and the kingdom willingly sold slaves to the Europeans, Afonso still denounced the Portuguese as exploiting Kongo's cooperation by kidnapping free Kongo citizens in violation of Kongolese law. The King of Portugal responded by dispatching officers to oversee the slave trade and ensure that only lawful slaves were sold to Europeans, and he demanded additional tribute from Kongo, such as wines and grains.

Civilization VI is still very early in its life-cycle. 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 DLC or expansion packs, or as the Civ community discovers new strategies. 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 Summer 2017 patch (ver. (Nubia DLC)

Kongo is a civilization that thrives in jungles and forest, growing massive (and productive) cities. Mvemba a Nzinga adds a unique religious flavor to the civilization by preventing it from being able to found its own religion, while simultaneously wanting other players to send their religion to you.

Civilization VI - Mvemba a Nzinga

Mvemba a Nzinga's uniques in Civilization VI

Kongo's capital start bias: rainforest and woods.

Civilization VI - Kongolese flag

Kongolese civilization unique: Nkisi

"+2 Food, +2 Production, and +4 Gold from each Relic, Artifact, and Sculpture Great Work of Art in addition to the usual Culture. Receive 50% more Great Writer, Great Artist, Great Musician, and Great Merchant points. Palace has slots for 5 Great Works."

Kongo benefits greatly from the presence of relics, artifacts, and sculptures, as each generates food, production, and gold for its containing city. Obtaining early relics can provide a huge head start in Kongo's capital. Later in the game, you can also move your relics, artifacts, and sculptures between cities in order to effectively "trade" food, production, and gold. This would have to be done in an already-developed city, however, since it would require that the city already have the storage slots for the respective great work.

Civilization VI - Kongo martyr
Being lucky enough to get an early Apostle with martyr promotion is a sure-fire way to get an early relic.

Kongo also receives 50% more (down from 100% via Summer 2017 patch) Great Writer, Artist, Musician, and Merchant points, which can allow for the creation of a lot of great works if you have the space to store them. The effects of Great Merchants are varied, so the benefits you'll receive from this will vary. You should probably pass on any Great Merchants that have faith or religious powers.

Mvemba a Nzinga's leader unique: Religious Convert

"Kongolese cities can't build Holy Sites, but they do receive the benefits of the founder beliefs of any religion that has established itself as the majority religion in that city. Receives a free Apostle whenever a Mbanza or Theater Square is built."

Civilization VI - Mvemba a Nzinga portrait

Mvemba a Nzinga is a devout religious leader; however, he is incapable of founding a religion of his own. He cannot construct Holy Sites, and any captured Holy Sites will be burned to the ground. He is also, therefore, locked out of building any wonders that require a Holy Site (such as the Mahabodhi Temple). He can construct religious wonders that do not require the presence of a Holy Site, such as Mont St. Michel, but doing so is typically not recommended unless you really need to deny that wonder to another player. He also cannot recruit Great Prophets, and the Great Prophet patronage section of the Great Person screen will simply say "Not available". The Stonehenge wonder, thus, has no effect if Mvemba a Nzinga builds it.

Despite not being able to found his own religion, Mvemba a Nzinga does receive the full benefit of all of any other player's religious beliefs in his converted cities. Of course, since he cannot build Holy Sites, this does not include the faith buildings. He can spread his religion by using free apostles received by constructing the unique Mbanza district or a Theater Square.

Mvemba a Nzinga can also still generate faith and can still found a pantheon. Faith can still be spent on great people, or on anything else that can be bought through possessing a religious belief or a city state suzerain bonus (except for Holy Site buildings).

Perhaps the biggest impact that this trait will have on your games is that Mvemba a Nzinga is completely locked out of the religious victory, since the religious victory requires that you found your own religion. Your ability to use this trait is also contingent on whether or not other players decide to proselytize in your cities, since you have no direct way to bring a religion to your city.

Unique improvement: Mbanza

Civilization VI - Kongolese Mbanza

Game Info:
"A unique district in your city that provides Housing in forest tiles."

Requirements: Guilds civic. Must be build on woods or rainforest.

Effects: +5 Housing. +2 Food. +4 Gold.
Yield is not influenced by tile's appeal.

The Mbanza is a variant of the Neighborhood that is available much earlier in the game. It can only be built in forests and jungles, so your ability to construct it may be limited. Kongo has a jungle/forest start bias, but there's still no guarantee that a Kongo player will have easy access to lots of jungles and forests (especially if a civ like Brazil is also in the game).

The Mbanza provides a flat +5 Housing that is not influenced by the tile's appeal (which is good, since jungles usually have terrible appeal). More importantly, the tile also provides food and gold to the city (without needing a citizen to work it). A city with multiple Mbanza can grow very large, and the early housing can allow cities to skip Aqueducts. The Mbanza also does not destroy the underlying rainforest or woods. So you can build Mbanza districts adjacent to Campuses to provide the minor bonus from adjacent districts without losing the adjacency bonus.

When playing as Mvemba a Nzinga, building a Mbanza will also grant your city a free Apostle if the city has been converted to a religion.

Civilization VI - Ngao Mbeba icon

Unique unit: Ngao Mbeba

Game Info: "Kongo unique Classical era unit that replaces the Swordsman. +10 Combat Strength when defending against ranged attacks. Can move and see through Woods and Rainforest."

Civilization VI - Ngao Mbeba unit portrait

Requirements: Iron Working technology.
Replaces: Swordsman.
Obsoleted: Gunpowder technology,
Upgrades to: Musketman.

Cost: 90 Production / 90 Gold [Standard speed].
Maintenance Cost: 2 Gold per turn.

Attack Type: Melee, Promotion Class: Melee,
Melee Strength: 35 (-1 from Swordsman),
Movement Speed: 2.

Bonuses: No movement penalties in woods or rainforest.
Can see through woods and rainforest.
+10 Combat Strength when defending against ranged attacks.

Kongo's unique Ngao Mbeba is a swordsman replacement that does not require iron, and which excels when fighting in woods and rainforests. They do not suffer movement or visibility penalties from woods and rainforests, which can make them great for scouting out any unrevealed tiles (especially if your poor Scouts got killed by barbarians).

The lack of an iron prerequisite and the quick movement through woods and rainforest allows Kongo to field these units slightly earlier (especially if you have an iron mine in your empire to get the Iron Working eureka), and you can quickly deploy them against enemies that would otherwise be shielded by woods and rainforest. You don't get any bonuses for fighting in woods or rainforest, so it can still be difficult to kill a fortified defender. But you do get a bonus when defending against ranged attacks, which means that city centers and Encampments are less of a threat.

Since Kongo will likely be surrounded by woods and rainforests, the Ngao Mbeba is also a great defensive unit. It can more easily spot approaching armies and its extra mobility in woods and rainforest means it can easily flank enemies and crush them.

Strategy for Mvemba a Nzinga: Now that you mention it, I would like to let [insert prophet name] into my heart!

Even though Mvemba a Nzinga cannot found a religion, he can still found a pantheon. You won't have much to buy with faith other than patronage of great people and Naturalists, so you probably shouldn't bother with faith-generating pantheons unless they seem very good for your map situation. Other pantheons such as Goddess of Festivals, Oral Tradition, Divine Spark, Religious Settlements, or Fertility Rites can all be worthwhile pantheons for Kongo to adopt, depending on your nearby resources and terrain. If you really want an early pantheon (or some extra gold), you can consider adopting the God King policy, but you're probably much better off with the extra production from Urban Planning.

Civilization VI - Kongo campus
Being unable to build Holy Sites allows Campuses, Encampments, and Commercial Hubs to be established earlier.

Not being able to construct Holy Sites also means that you don't have to worry about the religion rat race and can focus on building Campuses, Commercial Hubs, and Encampments earlier. You'll likely start out within or next to some rainforest, which means you should have plenty of opportunity to accumulate some hefty adjacency bonuses for your Campuses (especially if you have a mountain range conveniently located in your jungles). Rainforest also provide decent food and production in this iteration of the game, so a jungle start isn't as much of an uphill climb as in previous Civ games. Your city should grow relatively quickly and be fairly productive.

Kongo can receive a substantial boost if you can find an early-game relic. Relics may come from tribal villages, or by the death of Apostles with the Martyr promotion. Relics can also be taken from other civilizations either by capturing a city that contains a relic, or by trade (or a peace deal). Don't shy out on training some Ngao Mbeba, even if you're playing for a culture game!

Civilization VI - Kongo relics
Finding one or two early relics can get Kongo off to a flying start in faith, tourism, and growth.

Kandy city state

The city state Kandy grants free relics to its suzerain whenever you discover Natural Wonders. If you meet this city state early, then consider freezing your exploration temporarily in order to adopt the Diplomatic League policy and complete a quest to grant you a bonus envoy. Then switch to Charismatic Leader to more quickly generate the influence needed to become Kandy's suzerain. Once you are their suzerain, go out hunting for natural wonders!

Civilization VI - Mont St. Michel wonder

If you get an early religion from another civ, then the city state Yerevan allows all apostles to take any promotion. Being their suzerain will allow you to take the Martyr promotion for any Apostles that you earn, then send them out into foreign lands, use all but one of their spreads, and then let them get killed in theologic combat. Alternatively, you can build the Mont St. Michel wonder to get the Martyr promotion for free (and two more relic slots). If you don't get a religion, then this paragraph is moot.

I've found that the A.I.s always seem annoyingly reluctant to proselytize in my cities whenever I play as Kongo. Unfortunately, there's no way [currently] to ask (or demand) that an A.I. civ send missionaries to you. It also does not appear that trade routes bring a destination city's religion back to the source city, so you can't even use your own trade routes to passively spread someone else's religion into your cities.

Relics can be obtained from tribal villages, martyred apostles, conquests, or from being suzerain of Kandy.

If you do get religion, you might want to allow multiple religions to set up shop in your cities. This way, if one of those religions or the other starts to dominate, you can use apostles generated in the others to try to fight against another civ's potential religious win. You don't want a single civ to convert your entire civilization, as you might end up being stuck as an observer watching your brother or sister in the faith coast to a religious victory that you can neither compete for, nor prevent. At that point, your only recourse would be to declare war and take their capital. And if one of those religions happens to have the Monastic Isolation enhancer belief, then you won't lose religious pressure when your apostles or missionaries die. You can use that power to suicide your Martyr Apostles in order to try to farm relics.

Patron of the arts

As the game goes on, Kongo benefits from faster generation of great writers, artists, musicians, and merchants. Build theater districts and commercial hubs in most (if not all) of your cities in order to make the most of this ability, and don't forget to build Amphitheaters and Museums to ensure that you always have room to store any new great works. Your Palace has slots for five great works or relics, but be sure to keep at least one or two slots vacant in case you have an opportunity to earn a sudden, unexpected relic (such as from discovering a natural wonder while suzerain of Kandy or having a martyred apostle).

Civilization VI - sculpture artist
Claim sculpture-creating artists if possible.

You may be tempted to delay building theater districts until you have a foreign religion established in your city, but I would recommend against this. You'll be missing out on valuable great person points, and the cost of those districts will just increase over time. Unless you see a swarm of missionaries approaching your cities, don't bother waiting, as you may be waiting for a very long time. You'll have plenty of opportunity later in the game to build your Mbenza housing districts to acquire apostles.

There's only four artists in the game who create sculptures, so if you see one become available, try to ensure that you get him. Save up your patronage points and/or adopt policies to increase your artist points. If you suspect that another such artist is next in the queue, then consider passing on the current artist and waiting for the sculptures. Alternatively, you could always keep notes on who's getting all the sculptures, and then trade for them or take them by force!

Kongo also gets extra merchant points. Many merchants will grant free trade routes, which can allow you to support more domestic trade routes to help grow your cities. Adam Smith is also a particularly strong merchant who grants a free economic policy slot. This free slot can let you adopt extra policies to further improve the growth or productivity of your cities, or to increase housing or amenities to support your large cities, or to boost your tourism if you decide to go for the culture victory.

Civilization VI - Hermitage wonder

If you are playing for a culture victory, then your late-game strategy should definitely include National Parks if possible (another thing to save up some faith for), and on recovering artifacts from Archaeological Digs. Kongo gets bonuses from sculptures and artifacts, so you should focus on these two items. Only build enough Art Museums to hold any sculptures you acquire (and try to theme them, if possible). The rest should be Archaeology Museums. You Palace provides some extra storage if you get non-sculpture art, and The Hermitage world wonder can also give you some extra buffer space for any other art works you acquire.

Civilization VI - Hanging Gardens

Manage your growth

Kongo specializes in growing very large cities. Granaries and Water Mills should be fairly high priority in the early game, and a wonder like Hanging Gardens can help as well. Use internal trade routes to keep feeding extra food back into your cities. If Egypt is in the game, then consider becoming a trade partner with Cleopatra in order to get free food from any international trade routes you send to her.

One of the things you have to watch out for as the game progresses is your housing and amenity. Production can suffer greatly from lack of housing, and lack of amenity can potentially lead to revolt within your empire. Be sure to get a couple Entertainment Complexes out during the mid-game, and wonders like The Coloseum can help keep your amenities in check. Trading luxuries with other civs can be another way of maintaining your amenities. And watch out for war wariness if you decide to go for conquest!

Civilization VI - revolting city
Lack of amenities and war wariness can be problems in your larger cities.

Managing housing will likely be a lot easier. The Mbanza district is available much earlier than the regular neighborhood. It's placement rules are a bit restrictive, as you can only build them on woods and rainforest. However, Mbanza can be built on replanted forest, so once you unlock the ability to plant forests with your builders, you can effectively place Mbanza anywhere. Placing early Mbanza around your theater districts and campuses can also be a great way of boosting those districts' adjacency bonuses in order to grant some extra culture or science.

Civilization VI - Chichen Itza wonder

Because of your rainforest start bias and the priority you should put on the Guilds civic, you should consider building the Chichen Itza, as it will improve all the rainforest tiles in your terrain with extra production and culture. If you get this wonder built, then you should focus your early Mbanza districts on woods tiles and rainforests that you are not working, since you won't get any rainforest yield if you build a Mbanza on top of it.

Playing against Mvemba a Nzinga

Mvemba a Nzinga's A.I. agenda: Enthusiastic Disciple

"Likes civilizations who spread their Religion to Kongolese cities."

Mvemba a Nzinga is one leader who won't get angry at you for spreading your religion and converting his cities. Though an annoying quirk of his agenda is that he'll also get mad at you if you fail to spread a newly-founded religion into his cities. This can sometimes happen within a few turns of founding the religion -- before it was even possible to generate a missionary and send it to Kongolese cities. However, this penalty can be nullified once you do establish your religion in his cities.

Even if he already has a religion established, he always seems to be open to converting to a new one. He's no threat at all to any religious victory plans you might have (except possibly by acting as a proxy for one of your other religious rivals). In fact, he can actually prove to be a valuable asset in those plans if you can convert his cities early. He'll get free apostles from building theater districts, which he'll use to proselytize your religion to other cities. Just be a little careful about handing him religious bonuses that will grant him lots of faith, as he might use that faith on patronage towards great people that you might want for yourself.

Civilization VI - Mvemba a Nzinga demanding religion
Hold your horses! I literally just founded that religion three turns ago!

Kongo will likely claim a lot of great people, particularly in the artsy variety. If you see a sculpture-generating artist on the horizon, try to snap him or her up before Mvemba a Nzinga does, as those sculptures will be more potent in his hands than in yours. Don't forget that he also gets a bonus towards merchant generation. He might snap up particularly valuable merchants like Adam Smith. He also likes to build wonders, and can be particularly threatening regarding culture victory if he can acquire valuable tourism wonders such as the Great Library, Bolshoi Theater, Broadway, and so forth, as these will allow him to stockpile lots of great works.

Kongo generally does not have a potent military. If conquest is your style, then you really don't have to worry too much about the Ngao Mbeba. They aren't any stronger than regular swordsmen -- in fact, they're a point weaker. The only thing you have to be careful for is letting them surround and ambush you in the jungle. The Ngao Mbeba does not require iron to build, so it is possible that you may see an early swordsman rush from Mbemba if he decides he's in a conquering mood. Their bonus against ranged combat makes them a little tough to deal with if you don't have strong melee units. But they'll be no match for you if you already have swordsmen, pikemen, or horsemen of your own.

Discussions & Change Log

Thanks for reading. I hope this guide helps you to build a Kongolese civilization that will stand the test of time!
Feel free to comment and share, or discuss this strategy in the CivFanatics forums at:

or on the official 2K forums:

[Show Change Log] [Hide Change Log]

23 August, 2017

Added links to Civfanatics and 2k discussion topics.

30 August, 2017

Noted that Mbanza districts do not destroy underlying rainforest or woods.

6 September, 2017

Added note about using Monastic Isolation to farm relics from Martyr Apostles.

7 September, 2017

Added note about prioritizing Hanging Gardens wander, granaries, and trade with Egypt.

8 August, 2018

Added start bias.

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