Sid Meier's Civilization VI

Sid Meier's Civilization VI

68 ratings
Zigzagzigal's Guides - America (Vanilla)
By Zigzagzigal
Strong at war and strong at culture, America is a civ with a fair amount of complexity which develops throughout the game. Here, I detail American strategies and counter-strategies.
Legacy Guide
If you have the Rise and Fall expansion, click here for the updated guide.

This guide is no longer updated, but will remain for the sake of those without the Rise and Fall expansion.
Note: This guide only covers content released prior to the Rise and Fall expansion. Content from any DLC pack released between the base game and Rise and Fall is marked as such.

Many nations steadily emerged to a position of prominence, but America grew exponentially in power. Relatively quickly did the Founding Fathers compose a constitution which, with some amendments, remains in effect 230 years later. When other nations across the Americas attained independence, America would pledge to protect them from European invasion, eventually leading to a more interventionist role in the Americas by the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. 1898 would see the Spanish-American war, notably involving the First United States Volunteer Cavalry Regiment - nicknamed Rough Riders - with the second in command being Theodore Roosevelt. Becoming President just three years later, Roosevelt would push for the conservation of America's natural resources, but also sought to project America's power globally. In the coming decades, that would only intensify with growth in America's soft power (through their dominance of the global film industry among other things) and hard power (through the emergence of a powerful American military during the Second World War, with such innovations as the P-51 Mustang). It is now time for you to see what you can make out of this young and powerful nation.

How to use this guide

This guide is divided into multiple sections explaining how best to use and play against this specific civ.

  • The Outline details the mechanics of how the civilization's unique features work and what their start bias is (assuming they have one at all).
  • The Victory Skew section describes to what extent the civ (and its individual leaders where applicable) are inclined towards particular victory routes.
  • Multiple sections for Uniques explain in detail how to use each special bonus of the civilization.
  • Administration describes some of the most synergistic governments, civic cards, pantheons, religious beliefs, wonders, city-states and Great People for the civ. Only the ones with the most synergy with the civ's uniques are mentioned - these should be given more consideration than they would be for other civs but are not necessarily the "best" choices when playing as the civ for a given victory route.
  • Finally, the Counter-Strategies discusses how best to play against the civ, including a consideration of leader agendas if the civ is controlled by a computer.

Note that all costs (production, science, culture, gold, etc.) mentioned within the guide assume a game played on the normal speed settings. To modify these values for other game speeds:

  • Online: Divide by 2
  • Quick: Divide by 1.5
  • Epic: Multiply by 1.5
  • Marathon: Multiply by 3


Terminology used in this guide and not in-game is explained here.

AoE (Area of Effect) - Describes bonuses or penalties that affect multiple tiles in a set radius. Positive examples include Factories and Stadiums (which by default offer production and happiness respectively to cities within a 6 tile radius unless they're within range of another building of the same type) and a negative example is nuclear weapons, which cause devastation over a wide radius.

Beelining - The strategy of obtaining a technology or civic quickly by only researching it and its prerequisites. Some deviation is allowed in the event that taking a technology or civic off the main track provides some kind of advantage that makes up for that deviation (either a source of extra science/culture or access to something necessary for a eureka or inspiration boost.

CA (Civ Ability) - The unique ability of a civilization, shared by all its leaders. Unlike unique units, buildings, districts and improvements, civ abilites do not have to be built.

Civic cards - Another name for policy cards; you fill up your government with these for additional bonuses and can switch them for free every time you unlock a civic.

Compact empires - Civs with cities close together. This is useful if you want to make use of districts that gain adjacency bonuses from other districts, maximise the number of copies of the same district in the same area, or to maximise the potential of area-of-effect bonuses later in the game.

Dispersed empires - Civs with cities that are spread out. This is useful if you want to ensure cities have plenty of room for both districts and tile improvements. Civs with unique tile improvements generally favour a more dispersed empire in order to make use of them, as do civs focused on wonder construction.

GWAM - Collective name for Great Writers, Artists and Musicians. All of them can produce Great Works that offer tourism and culture, making them important to anyone seeking a cultural victory.

LA (Leader Ability) - The unique ability of a specific leader, which like civ abilities do not have to be built. Usually but not always, they tend to be more specific in scope than civ abilities. Some leader abilities come with an associated unique unit on top of the standard one every civ has.

Start bias - The kind of terrain, terrain feature or resource a civilization is more likely to start near. This is typically used for civilizations that have early bonuses dependent on a particular terrain type. There are five tiers of start bias; civs with a tier 1 start bias are placed before civs of tier 2 and so on, increasing their odds of receiving a favourable starting location.

Complete information on start biases within the game can be found in the Civilizations.xml file (find the Civ 6 folder in Steam's program files, then go through the Base, Assets, Gameplay and Data folders to find the file). If a civilization is not listed as having a start bias there, it does not have one, even if you feel like you keep spawning in the same terrain when playing as that civ.

Tall empires - Empires that emphasise city development over expansion, usually resulting in fewer, but bigger, cities.

Uniques - Collective name for civ abilities, leader abilities, unique units, unique buildings, unique districts and unique improvements.

UA (Unique Ability) - A collective name for leader abilities and civ abilities.

UB (Unique Building) - A special building which may only be constructed in the cities of a single civilization, which replaces a normal building and offers a special advantage on top.

UD (Unique District) - A special district which may only be constructed in the cities of a single civilization, which replaces a normal district and offers some unique advantages on top. In some cases, there may be minor disadvantages as well, but these are always outweighed by the positive features. All unique districts cost half as much to construct relative to the regular districts they replace.

UI (Unique Improvement) - A special improvement that can only be built by the Builders of a single civilization. Unlike unique buildings or districts, these do not replace a regular improvement. Some require a technology to unlock, and many have their yields improved with later technologies. "UI" always refers to unique improvements in my guides and not to "user interface" or "unique infrastructure".

UU (Unique Unit) - A special unit that may only be built by a single civilization, and in some cases only when that civilization is led by a specific leader. These usually replace an existing unit and offer extra advantages (and occasionally minor disadvantages as well in exchange for bigger advantages).

Wide empires - Empires that emphasise expansion over city development, usually resulting in more, but smaller, cities.
Outline (Part 1/2)
Start Bias

America has no start bias.

Civilization Ability: Founding Fathers

  • Government legacy bonuses accumulate in half the usual number of turns.

Theodore Roosevelt's Leader Ability: Roosevelt Corollary

  • All military and religious units gain +5 strength when on your capital's continent.
    • This is determined based on the tile where combat is taking place, so naval and air units can make use of it.
    • This does not apply to your cities' ranged attacks.
  • All cities with at least one National Park gain +1 appeal for all their tiles.

Theodore Roosevelt's Unique Unit: Rough Rider

An industrial-era heavy cavalry unit which doesn't replace anything

Upgrades from
Upgrades to
Resource needed

Industrial era

Information era

Modern Armour
(450 Gold)
385 Production
1540 Gold
770 Faith*
2 Gold
*Purchasing units with faith requires the Theocracy government, which in turn requires the renaissance-era Reformed Church civic. This number does not take into account Theocracy's 15% discount on faith purchases.

**If you have no access to uranium, you may continue to build Rough Riders even after researching Composites.

Ranged Strength
Negative Attributes
Positive Attributes
67 Strength
5 Movement Points
  • Ignores Zone of Control
  • +10 Strength when fighting in hill tiles
  • Gains culture equal to 50% of the defeated unit's strength, rounded down, when fighting on the same continent as your capital

Notable features

  • Does not require horse resources
  • Has 67 strength (Cavalry have a strength of 62, but come at a slightly earlier technology and are light cavalry)
  • +10 strength when fighting in hill tiles
  • Has a maintenance cost of 2 (Cavalry have a maintenance cost of 5)
  • Gains culture equal to 50% of the defeated unit's melee strength, rounded down, when fighting on the same continent as your capital
    • The same rules apply as for Theodore Roosevelt's strength bonus.
Outline (Part 2/2)
Unique Unit: P-51 Mustang

An atomic-era fighter-class air unit which replaces the Fighter

Upgrades from
Upgrades to
Resource needed

Advanced Flight
Atomic era

Information era

(??? Gold)

Jet Fighter
(??? Gold)
520 Production
2040 Gold
7 Gold
*If you have no access to aluminium, you may continue to build P-51 Mustangs even after researching Lasers.

Ranged Strength
Negative Attributes
Positive Attributes
85 Strength
85 Ranged Strength
6 Movement Points
4 Attack Range
  • Must be based in a city, Airstrip or Aerodome district, and may only be deployed within range of the tile they're based in.
  • May deploy to defend a tile and adjacent tiles against attacking aircraft
  • +5 attack vs. fighter-class aircraft
  • +50% experience from combat

Positive changes

  • Does not require aluminium resources
  • 85 strength, up from 80
  • 85 ranged strength, up from 80
  • +5 attack vs. fighter-class aircraft
  • 6 flight range, up from 4
  • +50% experience from combat

Unique Building: Film Studio

A modern-era Theatre Square building which replaces the Broadcast Centre

Required to build
Pillage Yield

Modern era

Theatre Square


Art Museum OR Archaeological Museum
2320 Gold
1160 Faith*
3 Gold
25 Culture
*Purchasing this building with faith requires the city to follow a religion with the Jesuit Education follower belief.

Fixed yields
Other yields
Citizen slots
Great Person points
Miscellaneous effects
4 Culture
+100% Tourism impact of this city on other civilizations which have reached at least the modern era.
1 Artist
(2 Culture if filled)
2 Great Musician Points
1 Great Artist Point
1 Great Work of Music slot

Positive changes

  • +100% Tourism impact of this city on other civilizations which have reached at least the modern era.
Victory Skew
In this section, the civ is graded based on how much it leans towards a specific victory type - not how powerful it is. Any score of 3 or above means the civ or leader has some kind of advantage to the victory route above a hypothetical civ with no unique features. A score of less than 2 means some kind of aspect of the civ actively discourages a particular victory route. All values are subjective and may be edited in future.





Theodore Roosevelt

Culture is the best route for America, mainly due to the Film Studio's enormous 100% bonus to tourism output. Increased appeal with cities with a National Park also increases their tourism yield (as well as any Seaside Resorts you might have in the area). Rough Riders getting culture from kills helps you get through the civics tree faster. The main problem is that all of these bonuses arrive fairly late, and there's the additional consideration that you need a good faith output to get Naturalists for National Parks - something America lacks an advantage to.

Domination is a reasonable path. Roosevelt's home-continent strength bonus makes him surprisingly good at early rushes, and Rough Riders have low maintenance and decent strength allowing you to raise a strong industrial-era army. P-51 Mustangs arrive late but help ensure you retain air superiority.

Religion is a possible route thanks both to Theocracy's legacy bonus arriving faster and Roosevelt's +5 same-continent strength bonus working in theological combat, but culture and domination clearly overshadow it as a victory method.

Finally, America has little to help them at scientific victories, except for the minor advantage of faster government legacy bonuses (but that helps all victory routes).
Civ Ability: Founding Fathers

By the time I switched away from Oligarchy, I had accumulated a 20% experience-boosting legacy bonus - as much as the intrinsic bonus from the government itself!

The American civ ability is hardly the most powerful one around, but it comes with a considerable amount of flexibility which can be handy for any victory path.

Every government except the default Chiefdom will give you a small bonus every few turns, which it retained even if you switch to a different government. This is the government legacy bonus. For America, the time is halved. Here's a table of all government types and what their legacy bonuses are (note that as usual, this is for normal-speed games).

Intrinsic bonuses
Policy card slots
Legacy bonus
American legacy bonus

Political Philosophy
Classical era
Capital gains +1 bonus to all yields

+10% wonder production
2 military
1 economic
1 wildcard
+1% wonder production per 20 turns
+1% wonder production per 10 turns
Classical Republic

Political Philosophy
Classical era
All cities with a district gain +1 amenity

+15% Great Person Points
2 economic
1 diplomatic
1 wildcard
+1% bonus to Great Person Points per 15 turns
+1% bonus to Great Person Points per 7-8 turns

Political Philosophy
Classical era
+4 strength to melee and anti-mounted units

+20% bonus to unit experience
1 military
1 economic
1 diplomatic
1 wildcard
+1% bonus to unit experience gain per 5 turns
+1% bonus to unit experience gain per 2-3 turns

Divine Right
Medieval era
+50% production towards defensive buildings.

Gain +1 housing per level of wall.

+20% influence points generation
3 military
1 economic
1 diplomatic
1 wildcard
+1% influence points generation per 10 turns
+1% influence points generation per 5 turns
Merchant Republic

Renaissance era
+2 trade route capacity

-15% cost of gold purchases
1 military
2 economic
1 diplomatic
2 wildcard
-1% cost of gold purchases per 15 turns
-1% cost of gold purchases per 7-8 turns

Reformed Church
Renaissance era
Can buy land combat units with faith

Religious units have +5 religious strength

-15% cost of faith purchases
2 military
2 economic
1 diplomatic
1 wildcard
-1% cost of faith purchases per 15 turns
-1% cost of faith purchases per 7-8 turns

Class Struggle
Modern era
+4 strength to all combat units while defending

+10% production in all cities
3 military
3 economic
1 diplomatic
1 wildcard
+1% production in all cities per 20 turns
+1% production in all cities per 10 turns

Modern era
Patronage of Great People via gold costs 50% less

+30% bonus to district project yields
1 military
3 economic
2 diplomatic
2 wildcard
+1% yield from district projects per 10 turns
+1% yield from district projects per 5 turns

Modern era
+4 strength to all combat units

+20% unit production in all cities
4 military
1 economic
1 diplomatic
2 wildcard
+1% unit production in all cities per 10 turns
+1% unit production in all cities per 5 turns

Let's look at each of those governments in turn.

Classical era governments

Autocracy - Wonders are great for cultural victory, but two military policy cards aren't particularly. Autocracy is better-suited to Egypt (which has a powerful early UU that doesn't benefit from Oligarchy's strength bonus, while also having advantages to wonder construction) than America.

Classical Republic - Great Person Points are great for everyone except religious civs that have a religion founded. An early amenity boost can help support expansion

Oligarchy - The ideal choice as the bonus to melee units goes nicely with Theodore Roosevelt's strength bonus on this own continent. The experience legacy bonus will eventually have synergy with the P-51 Mustang, but mostly the intrinsic bonus of the government itself is more important than the legacy bonus.

Medieval/Renaissance era governments

Monarchy - The legacy bonus is useful if you want to chase city-states, especially on larger maps where you can get lots of six-envoy bonuses. More to the point, you can build all kinds of walls faster - useful as they'll gain tourism at the Conservation civic - and they'll also offer housing. The catch is Monarchy's relatively poor selection of policy card slots.

Merchant Republic - A reliable choice with good economic advantages. A discount on gold purchases needs a strong economy to back it up - the low maintenance cost of Rough Riders helps here.

Theocracy - Despite America lacking advantages to religious victory, this is still a decent choice to cut the purchase cost of Naturalists (so you can make more National Parks). The selection of policy card slots is also well-balanced.

Modern era governments

Communism - Not a bad choice if you want to use your UUs defensively and push towards a cultural victory; the production bonus will help you get Film Studios built sooner in smaller National Park cities and will also help with late-game wonders like the Eiffel Tower.

Democracy - Great if you have a strong Great Person emphasis with a decent gold-generating economy, but the intrinsic bonuses are rather weak otherwise. Still, there's a good array of policy card slots which should help cultural victories.

Fascism - Unit production and combat strength makes this a great choice for a domination-minded player.


America's civ ability shouldn't really have a great impact on how you play the game, but instead grants you stronger bonuses for following the course you take. It's certainly stronger later in the game as government legacy bonuses accumulate, but it's never really strong enough to build a strategy around.
Theodore Roosevelt's Leader Ability: Roosevelt Corollary (Part 1/2)

Teddy Roosevelt brings two rather distinct bonuses (and a unique unit, but they get their own section) to the table: a continent-spanning strength bonus and extra appeal in cities with a National Park. As these abilities varies greatly, it makes sense to discuss them separately.

Own-continent strength bonus

Getting a +5 strength bonus on all your units is like getting the Oligarchy boost from the start of the game - only it applies to all your land units. In the earliest turns, it's a great help against Barbarians. Through the middle of the game, it helps you stay defended until you can get your other uniques going. Once Rough Riders come along, you can enjoy having 72-strength units which gain culture on kills. And at the end of the game, a strength bonus on your own ground makes it hard for someone to try and invade you to deny you your cultural victory.

But what this bonus is really useful for is early rushes. A unit with a +5 strength advantage will on average deal 22% more damage and take 18% less compared to if the two units were at equal strength. Add Oligarchy and you can get a +9 bonus for melee and anti-mounted units; a +9 strength advantage means you deal 44% more damage and take 30% less on average. Get some Warriors, upgrade them to Swordsmen, bring along a Battering Ram or Siege Tower and you've got a good combination for taking out a nearby civ.

Archers are mostly useful against enemy units as they have a -17 strength penalty against cities. With Roosevelt, it becomes a somewhat more manageable -12. Archers are still mostly effective against enemy units, but attacking cities won't be quite as bad.

Early warfare gives you more cities, which means more science, culture, and other good stuff. It also can help you eliminate a civ that might generate a lot of domestic tourists like Kongo or Greece, making cultural victory easier. So, even if you only really have that one advantage early in the game, you can still get a considerable boost out of it.

The bonus also applies in theological combat; great if you manage to found a religion of your own and need to defend it.

Bonus appeal from National Parks


...and after.

National Parks are a surprisingly powerful way to generate tourism, and because their yields are dependent on tile appeal, getting more tile appeal in cities with a National Park pushes up the tourism yields even further.

The complete mechanics of National Parks are a bit complicated, so it's worth explaining how it all works.

Getting to National Parks

In order to create National Parks, you need the modern-era Conservation civic. Its prerequisites include the crucial Natural History civic (required to build Archaeologists and extract Artefacts), and it also makes all kinds of walls provide tourism, so it's something that isn't too hard to aim for reasonably early.

Once you have Conservation, you can buy Naturalists with faith. The cost is rather expensive (starting at 1,600 faith and rising every time you purchase one, much like Settlers or Builders) so it's important to build plenty of Holy Sites so you can produce them at a reasonable rate. It's not a bad idea to start building lots Holy Sites once you have Neighbourhoods built in your cities, as the increased housing cap will allow your cities to grow quickly so the district cap from population will be less of an issue. Having the Theocracy government will reduce the cost of Naturalists, but you might want to take Merchant Republic instead to reduce the cost of purchasing Film Studios and your UUs.

National Parks can only be built by Naturalists under the following conditions:

  • There is a vertical diamond shape consisting of four tiles where the west-east axis is shorter than the north-south axis (see the screenshot at the start of this sub-section)
  • The four tiles must be unimproved land tiles (including mountains and second-growth woods) or natural wonder tiles, or a mixture of the two. Regular lakes or coastal tiles without natural wonders are not permitted!
  • All four tiles must be owned by the same city (you may need to go into the city screen, click to assign citizens and click "swap" on a few tiles to switch their ownership to the city you want to build a National Park in)
  • All four tiles must have an appeal of 2 (Charming) or better, and the average appeal of all four tiles must be at least 4 (Breathtaking) or higher.

When all these conditions are met, you can construct a National Park. The sum total of all appeal within the four tiles of the National Park will be added to tourism, and on top, the park will provide 2 amenities to its city and 1 to the four closest other cities in your empire (which means you don't need to worry too much about constructing Entertainment Complexes, and can instead push for more Holy Sites).
Theodore Roosevelt's Leader Ability: Roosevelt Corollary (Part 2/2)
How appeal works

Understanding tile appeal is crucial to getting the most out of National Parks, as well as Neighbourhoods and Seaside Resorts. The appeal of a tile is primarily determined by the tiles adjacent to it (although there are some exceptions that provide boosts to every tile in a city's range or even your entire empire). Here's all the possible modifiers not tied to a specific civ (so Roosevelt's +1 appeal to all tiles in a National Park city is missing):


(old-growth, with
Conservation civic)

Natural Wonders
(Urulu provides +4)

Eiffel Tower*
Modern era
Steel technology

(affects all tiles
you control)

Charles Correa*
Great Engineer
Information era

(affects all tiles
in the city)

(shallow water)

At least one adjacent
river or lake (does not

(second-growth or
without Conservation



Holy Site


Any wonder

Alvar Aalto*
Great Engineer
Modern era

(affects all tiles
in the city)






Oil Well

Offshore Oil Rig





*These bonuses are applied to the tile directly rather than via adjacency bonuses.

Using appeal to maximise National Park yields

You may have noticed the Eiffel Tower in the top-right corner of the table, and its glorious empire-wide +2 appeal bonus. That adds 8 tourism to every National Park you have, even before taking into account modifiers like the Film Studio, international trade routes with other civs and the Computers technology. If you're worried the wonder might be too tricky to pick up, don't be - Steel is relatively easy to beeline and Rough Riders are unlocked along the way. Furthermore, getting the Eiffel Tower will trigger the Eureka for Flight, a prerequisite for Radio (and hence the Film Studio), so it's well worth going for!

Carefully plan the placement of your cities, improvements and districts and you'll be rewarded with a strong tourism output. Builders can plant second-growth woods to boost the appeal of adjacent tiles by 1, and unlike mines, lumber mills don't create negative appeal - making them a great choice for your late-game production needs.

The easiest way of boosting tile appeal is to get Builders to plant woods. With the Eiffel Tower, just a simple vertical diamond of new-growth woods will be enough to support a National Park, not even taking into account extra appeal bonuses from tiles adjacent to the park. Still, your faith for purchasing Naturalists will be limited, so you'll probably want to search for areas with higher appeal than that.

Mountain-heavy areas are good if you want to construct National Parks without having to give up tiles that your citizens would be working. They provide positive appeal, so getting to the Breathtaking threshold isn't difficult.

Teddy's Appeal Bonus

A +1 Appeal bonus to cities with a National Park means each one essentially gets +4 tourism each, but the advantage isn't just limited to National Parks.

Neighbourhoods provide housing scaling to their tile's appeal, as follows:

Appeal level
4 or better
6 Housing
2 or 3
5 Housing
-1, 0 or 1
4 Housing
-2 or -3
3 Housing
-4 or worse
2 Housing

The +1 appeal bump from a National Park makes it that little bit easier to get the best housing bonuses, meaning you have a slightly reduced need to build more Neighbourhoods or Sewers in future.

Meanwhile, Seaside Resorts can be constructed by Builders and provide double their tile's appeal as tourism. Having a National Park in a city therefore provides a +2 tourism bonus to all its Seaside Resorts. Get hold of the Cristo Redentor wonder (available at the Mass Media civic) and Seaside Resorts offer double tourism - making the bonus appeal from National Parks provide as much tourism to each Seaside Resort as a Great Work of Writing or Music!


  • Use Roosevelt's strength bonus to rush a nearby civ to give yourself an early advantage
  • Work towards the Conservation civic and build Holy Sites to get plenty of faith for National Parks
  • Work towards the Steel technology - Rifling (for Rough Riders) is on the way, and getting it early gives you a good chance of grabbing the Eiffel Tower wonder for an empire-wide appeal (and hence tourism) bonus.
  • Plant plenty of woods to maximise appeal near National Parks, and avoid building mines and quarries there.
Theodore Roosevelt's Unique Unit: Rough Rider

Rough Riders are units with many different uses, but perhaps the most reliably useful application is to help keep you defended while you focus on technologies like Steel, Flight, Radio, Advanced Flight and Computers, which offer relatively little in the way of land combat units. At 67 strength, they can handle industrial-era threats but against anything from the modern era or later, they're going to need some kind of strength boost to stay competitive. On your home continent, they'll have 72 strength, putting them ahead of Infantry but still 8 points of strength behind AT Guns and Tanks.

Bring hills into the equation, however, and Rough Riders can hold their own for a very long time. +10 strength is more than enough to cancel out the defensive advantage of a fortified hill, making the unit excel somewhere other mounted units struggle to deal with. Remember that Rough Riders can defend on hills as well, making them tough targets to take out. On a hill on your home continent, they'll be defending at 82 strength, which is good enough to handle most pre-information era threats (and even some from that era).

Rough Riders are very cheap to maintain and with the Chivalry policy card (available at Monarchy) they can be built at a reasonable pace, providing you with a large, affordable army. With the Levee en Masse policy card available with the modern-era Mobilisation civic, they're completely free to maintain - freeing up gold for other purposes such as purchasing Film Studios in weaker cities.

Speaking of civics, a line of important cultural civics (Conservation, Cultural Heritage) branches off from the main civic path, including the modern-era governments. Both paths are important for America, but prioritising one would typically mean you're late for the other. Rough Riders help acccount for this by granting culture when they kill units, much like Gorgo's leader ability. The catch is that it only applies on your home continent, but considering you get Roosevelt's +5 strength boost there, it's not as bad a restriction as it may at first appear.

Of course, to make the most of this, you'll need to go to war. Careful use of casus belli can help you to minimise warmonger penalties, and you don't have any great need to capture any cities in the war, so this won't necessarily ruin your relationships with other civs. Try to fight against someone on your own continent with plenty of outdated units if possible, and end the war once the supply of units dries up. Alternatively, you can just use them as part of a standard invasion force (along with some siege units like Artillery) until you run out of places on your home continent to capture.

Ultimately, Rough Riders are multipurpose units that will help you get through the industrial and modern eras without too much trouble. They're decent defenders and reasonable on the offensive, but the only thing they especially excel at is providing you with an army without being a financial burden.
Unique Building: Film Studio

In a world where the race for tourism is as competitive as the battlefield, one civ will rise up to best them all with the aid of the silver screen. This holiday season, prepare for excitement, thrills, nuclear weapons, Barbarians and comedy in the movie event critics are calling "alright", "three stars" and "slightly above average": FILM STUDIO. In 3-D. This film is not yet rated.

Welcome to the Dream Factory. The Film Studio is an incredibly powerful unique building which turns America from being decent at cultural victories to being one of the best.

Despite its immense potential, you're often better off getting to Steel first before heading towards Radio. That way, you've got better odds of securing the Eiffel Tower (which will make Roosevelt's National Parks much stronger as well as providing you with the Eureka for Flight) and can also get hold of the Rough Rider unit sooner. Furthermore, the bonus of Film Studios only works when other civs are in the modern era, so trying to get them early is redundant.

The technology tree around Radio offers many useful other things - Flight makes culture on terrain add to tourism as well as providing the Aerodrome district (you'll need at least one to build P-51 Mustangs), Radio itself also offers Seaside Resorts, Electricity offers the strong production bonus of Power Plants, Computers doubles your tourism output and Advanced Flight lets you build P-51 Mustangs.

Any city that is likely to produce more than a little tourism definitely should have a Film Studio built as soon as you can. For this reason, build plenty of Theatre Squares, Amphitheatres and Museums in advance (generally Archaeological Museums are to be preferred in most cities as America lacks advantages to Great Artist generation until Film Studios are built in large numbers). Cities with strong production should manage to build Film Studios reasonably quickly, but keep some gold ready for production-poor National Park cities. Send your trade routes to other civs to earn money - you'll also get a 25% tourism bonus against them for doing so.

As for what the Film Studio actually offers you, it doesn't need much explanation: no matter your preferred way to generate tourism, it'll double it. Thanks to Roosevelt's leader ability, you should emphasise National Parks and Seaside Resorts - but don't forget Archaeologists, GWAMs and perhaps the odd wonder.

The tourism bonus is applied at the source, so the Film Studio's bonus stacks multiplicatively with other tourism multipliers.

Like regular Broadcast Centres, Film Studios offer a slot for Great Music, two Great Musician points and one Great Artist Point. Great Musicians create two Great Works , worth 4 culture and 4 tourism each. Thanks to the Film Studio, that doubles making Great Musicians worth 8 tourism each. Add Space Race's Satellite Broadcasts civic as well and it's up to 24. 48 tourism from a single Great Person really isn't bad. It's true that because Film Studios arrive late, you probably won't get many Great Musicians out of them, but every little bit helps.
Unique Unit: P-51 Mustang

Let's get the obvious out of the way first: The P-51 Mustang arrives late; it's the only unique in the game past the modern era. That means it lacks the impact of earlier-arriving UUs, but that's not to say it's a bad UU to have. To explain why, let's explain how Fighter-class aircraft work...

The Mechanics of Fighters

Once you have an Aerodrome district, you can start building aircraft. The amount you can build is limited based on your aircraft capacity. Every city can support one aircraft, every Airstrip three and every Aerodrome four (six with a Hangar, eight with an airport).

From the site your figher-class aircraft are based, you can deploy them on land or coast (shallow water) within a certain number of tiles. Regular Fighters can go up to four tiles away, but P-51 Mustangs have a flight range of six. Once deployed, they'll intercept any aircraft that attempt to attack their tile or an adjacent one, and can be set to perform a ranged attack; Fighters and P-51 Mustangs have a range of four when doing so. Like regular ranged units, they can deal damage without receiving any when performing a ranged attack - unless there's anti-air (Battleships, Missile Cruisers, other fighter-class aircraft, Anti-Air Guns or Mobile SAMs) in that tile or an adjacent one.

The main role of Fighters is to intercept enemy aircraft, but they can be great attacking units as well. Where they struggle is against cities - like ranged units, they have a -17 strength penalty against them.

Enter the P-51 Mustang

P-51 Mustangs arrive at Advanced Flight, which is thankfully not far off the important technologies of Radio and Computers. Computers doubles your tourism output, so it's a good idea to go for it first. The Eureka for Advanced Flight requires three Biplanes - something worth building anyway so you can immediately upgrade them to P-51 Mustangs.

With Roosevelt's ability on top, P-51 Mustangs are as strong as the Jet Fighters of other civs for a lower cost, slightly less maintenance and no resource requirement - although they have slightly inferior range. This makes them effective right to the end of the game!

The high flight range of P-51 Mustangs means you don't need to build many Aerodromes for planes to be able to cover your entire empire. Considering you'll want to build Holy Sites (for faith for National Parks) and Theatre Squares (for Film Studios) in most cities, being able to minimise your use of Aerodromes is rather useful.

Because the anti-fighter bonus of P-51 Mustangs only applies when you're attacking - not intercepting - them, the unit is generally more effective in offensive rather than defensive wars (though the bonus can still be useful in both cases). You can clear the way for your bombers to bring down city defences, and then use fast units to pick off the last bit of health and capture it.

On top of all this, P-51 Mustangs also get 50% more experience from combat. It's probably a good idea to focus on the anti-ground unit promotions on the right-hand side of the promotion tree first as Mustangs already have an edge in air-to-air combat.

Here's all the Fighter promotions. Note how powerful those strength bonuses are against land units.

Because they get so many useful bonuses, there's little need to upgrade P51-Mustangs - in fact, it can be detrimental in some cases to do so (you'll lose the fast XP gain, for a start). So long as you lack access to Aluminium, you can still build them even with the Lasers technology - you might want to deliberately remove any Aluminium mines you might own for a few turns if you want to build or buy more.


  • P-51 Mustangs can basically be used like super-long-range Archers, but watch out for anti-air units.
  • They're great against land units and other figher-class aircraft but struggle against cities; if you're using them offensively, bring some siege support such as Bombers.
Administration - Government and Religion
The administration section covers the policy cards, pantheons, religious beliefs, wonders, city-states and Great People which have particularly good synergy with American uniques. Be aware that these are not necessarily the best choices, but rather options that you should consider more than usual if playing as America relative to other Civs.


See the Civ Ability section for an analysis of all government types for America.

Policy Cards

Ancient Era

Agoge (Military, requires Craftsmanship) - If you intend to carry out an early rush of an enemy civ with the support of Roosevelt's Leader Ability, this is one of the best policy cards to help you at that task; Archers and Swordsmen alike can be built faster thanks to it.

Classical Era

Scripture (Economic, requires Theology) - Faith output is important for generating as many Naturalists as you can. You generally won't need this policy in the classical era, but it can be a great help in the modern era.

Medieval Era

Chivalry (Military, requires Divine Right) - Although this is available in the medieval era, you won't necessarily need it until the industrial era. It lets you build Rough Rangers faster, which is important considering you can't upgrade any units into them.

Renaissance Era

Simultaneum (Economic, requires Reformed Church) - Another handy boost to faith for generating Naturalists with, but again, one you probably won't need until the modern era. This policy card usually provides more faith than Scripture so favour it in the event you need to choose between the two.

Industrial Era

Skyscrapers (Economic, requires Civil Engineering) - Aside from the general advantages surrounding building wonders faster (wonders are a great source of tourism), this policy card is especially useful to America to help secure the Eiffel Tower wonder and the boost to tile appeal it offers.

Modern Era

Levee en Masse (Military, requires Mobilization) - Makes Rough Riders completely free to maintain, meaning the only limits are how fast you can build them and how much space you have in your land to hold them. In the case of P-51 Mustangs, it lowers their considerable maintenance cost (7 gold per turn ain't cheap) to a somewhat more reasonable 5. All this cash saving helps you to purchase Film Studios in cities that don't have the production to build them quickly.

Their Finest Hour (Military, requires Suffrage) - This lets you build P-51 Mustangs faster. Unfortunately it obsoletes once you have Globalisation, which is a useful civic to get for E-Commerce's huge boost to international trade route yields. Domination-minded players can hold off on getting Globalisation as international trading is risky at war, but cultural players need international trading to maximise their tourism yields.

Atomic Era

Satellite Broadcasts (Economic, requires Space Race) - All boosts to tourism are useful (including the ones not listed here), but this policy card gets a slight boost for America compared to the typical cultural civ as your incentive to build a lot of Film Studios will give you a lot of Great Musician points.


Many faith bonuses are tempting, but remember that it won't be directly useful to America's unique advantages until the modern era. It's better to take something with a more immediate benefit instead unless you're determined to found a religion.

Earth Goddess - Although it won't really take off until you can start assigning National Parks, this pantheon will still be useful before then for accumulating faith in high-appeal regions ready for their arrival.

God of the Forge - Speed and power are crucial in an early rush - Roosevelt's leader ability offers a strength boost that offers the power; this pantheon can help to hasten the attack by making early units faster to build.

(Domination) God of Healing - P-51 Mustangs and other such aircraft can stack in an Aerodrome if not deployed, and until they're promoted enough, cannot heal when deployed. That means most of your aircraft will be healing in the same spot. America is unusual in that you'll tend to build Holy Sites very late, meaning you can deliberately place them next to where future Aerodromes will be so this Pantheon can allow all those aircraft to heal rapidly. The downside is that earlier in the game, this Pantheon will mostly be restricted in use to helping your units heal up faster after capturing religious enemy cities.

Religious Beliefs

You can have one founder, one follower, one enhancer and one worship belief.

Burial Grounds (Enhancer) - Found a good spot for a National Park, but some mean rival civ has taken some of the tiles you need? Use this belief to right that wrong.

(Cultural) Divine Inspiration (Follower) - Playing as America under Theodore Roosevelt, your faith generation will primarily be to further your tourism output via National Parks. Wonder construction in general also helps out at this. Make wonders generate faith, and you can essentially get more tourism out of every one you build.

Jesuit Education (Follower) - Spending faith on Film Studios instead of National Parks is a tricky trade-off, but one that allows you to save production or gold. For players who like to push both tourism and domination at the same time, this is a good option. For purely domination-minded players, this is still good for getting scientific buildings, but purely cultural-minded players will generally be better off looking for more faith bonuses.

Synagogue (Worship) - Offering more faith than any other religious building, Synagogues will be very useful for maximising your Naturalist output.
Administration - Wonders, City-States and Great People

(Cultural) Jebel Barkal (Classical era, Iron Working technology) - A nice wonder to capture or even to build yourself, this offers a huge amount of faith for your National Parks without you having to worry about Holy Sites. Requires the Nubia civilization pack.

(Cultural) Bolshoi Theatre (Industrial era, Opera and Ballet civic) - America's incentive to construct lots of copies of a building boosting Great Musician points makes it worthwhile to look for wonders that offer more points.

(Cultural) Broadway (Modern era, Mass Media civic) - Another wonder helping you generate Great Musicians.

(Cultural) Cristo Redentor (Modern era, Mass Media civic) - An excellent choice of wonder and certainly should take priority over Broadway, which arrives at the same civic. Roosevelt's Leader Ability makes cities with a National Park have higher-appeal tiles, which boosts the tourism yields of Seaside Resorts. With this wonder and a Film Studio, having a National Park in a city provides +8 tourism to all Seaside Resorts in the city's limits.

Eiffel Tower (Modern era, Steel technology) - Probably the most important wonder for Roosevelt's America to go for, and neatly arrives just one technology after Rough Rangers. +2 appeal for all tiles means at least +8 tourism per National Park and +4 per Seaside Resort, but it also allows you to build them in areas you may have previously not been able to. The limit on how many National Parks you can support becomes about faith, not whether or not you have enough breathtaking-level land.

(Cultural) Sydney Opera House (Atomic era, Cultural Heritage civic) - There's two reasons why America has an incentive to get this wonder. One: Film Studios produce two Great Musician points each, and combined with this wonder you'll have quite an advantage to producing them (well, the last few anyway). Two: Cultural Heritage is only one civic away from Conservation, which you need for National parks, so it's not much of a detour.


It's a good idea to put a few envoys into religious city-states later in the game, even if it won't make you suzerain. The bonuses for having 3 or 6 envoys can be considerable if you have a lot of cities with Holy Sites.

Armagh (Religious) - By allowing you to build Monasteries, Armargh can help you generate faith (to help generate Naturalists with) without you having to have founded a religion. Requires the Vikings Scenario Pack.

Kabul (Militaristic) - Considering how quickly P-51 Mustangs gain experience anyway, bumping up that level even further will make rushing through the promotion tree effortless. This will make them effective against land units and air units alike.

La Venta (Religious) - Much like Armargh, lets you build a special improvement that offers faith, without you having to found a religion first.

Preslav (Militaristic) - The +5 strength bonus for cavalry on hill tiles has synergy with the +10 strength bonus Rough Riders already have. On your home continent on a hill, Rough Riders have 87 strength, which should be enough to help you defend against most things.

Great People

Any Great General or Admiral can be useful for domination victory, and any GWAM can be useful for cultural victory, but I'll only note the Great People with particular synergy with American uniques here.

Classical Era

Sun Tzu (Great General) - Helps you get through early-game warfare, and when that's done, you can retire him for an early Great Work.

Industrial Era

Gustave Eiffel (Great Engineer) - Make him rush the production of his own wonder.

Napoleon Bonaparte (Great General) - Allows you to make an army slightly earlier than most. A Rough Rider army will be able to see off the more powerful enemy units for quite some time, having more strength than a Tank.

Modern Era

Alvar Aalto (Great Engineer) - +1 appeal to all tiles in a city means at least 4 tourism from a National park and 2 tourism from Seaside Resorts. Be sure to use this Great Person carefully - you'll generally make the most in a city with extensive high-appeal coastlines which can still support a National Park.

Marina Raskova (Great General) - Two extra aircraft slots without needing to construct additional buildings or Airstrips isn't huge, but if you're trying to get as many P-51 Mustangs as possible, extra capacity is always welcome.

Sarah Breedlove (Great Merchant) - A tourism bonus is always welcome, especially on top of the huge Film Studio boost.

Atomic Era

Melitta Bentz (Great Merchant) - Another boost to tourism from trade routes.

Information Era

Charles Correa (Great Engineer) - Like Alvar Aalto, but provides double the effect. Again, be careful which city you use him in to maximise your tourism output.

Jamseth Tata (Great Merchant) - All Campuses provide +10 tourism, or +20 with Film Studios.

Masaru Ibuka (Great Merchant) - All Industrial Zones provide +10 Tourism, or +20 with Film Studios.
America has a very powerful late-game presence but has relatively little in the earlier stages of the game.

Founding Fathers

America's civ ability is much like the design of America as a whole - its advantages build up as the game goes on. Prior to the Political Philosophy civic, America's civ ability won't offer anything at all, and it'll take some time until the bonuses become prominent at all.

Probably the advantages you most need to watch out for are the wonder construction speed from Autocracy, the Great Person Points from Classical Republic, Communism's bonus to general production and Fascism's bonus to unit production. These are the boosts most likely to cause problems if you're up against America - the first two make it a little harder to compete with them in peacetime, the latter two in wartime.

As is the case with playing against any civs oriented towards the latter eras of the game, the most effective way to deal with America (and this ability) is to weaken them early on. However, you'll then need to consider...

Theodore Roosevelt - Roosevelt Corollary

Roosevelt's strength bonus on his starting continent gives America a defensive edge which helps them get to the point where all their powerful late-arriving bonuses take effect. America's still at its weakest early in the game, but you'll need either strength or numbers advantages (or rely on naval warfare) if you want to fight America on their home continent. Thankfully, you have plenty of time to prepare - most of America's other advantages don't kick in until the late industrial era.

If you're a religious player and Roosevelt has a religion of his own, be aware that he'll perform particularly well in theological combat on his own continent. Try to use trade routes or the spread-religion function of Missionaries and Apostles instead to get around this.

As for the appeal bonus, remember that you can lower America's tile appeal by going on a pillaging spree. Light cavalry units are particularly well-suited to this goal. If America secures the Eiffel Tower, it's worth trying to take over the city to limit America's tourism output. However, you'll then need to face...

Theodore Roosevelt - Rough Rider

Despite all the special little bonuses Rough Riders have, they're only strong for a short time until modern-era units become commonplace (well, except on hill tiles). AT Crews arrive at Chemistry and perform very effectively against Rough Riders for only a slightly higher production cost. Before that point, Cavalry corps are a reasonable option as well.

Theodore Roosevelt - AI Agenda (Big Stick Policy)

If you share a continent with Teddy Roosevelt and avoid warfare, he'll get along with you fine. Forming a defensive pact later in the game can be useful so you'll have units with a +5 strength bonus on your side, in addition to the two UUs.

Carry out warfare against those on his own continent, however, and Roosevelt will turn against you - and you might have to face his relatively strong armies. If you want to attack his continent for the first time, it might be worth targeting him first; partially because it can help in denying him his late-game bonuses, and partially because you'll anger him anyway so you might as well declare war on him before he declares war on you.

In addition to this agenda, Roosevelt has a very high chance of having the Environmentalist agenda. This agenda makes him more likely to create National Parks and plant woods and less likely to cut down woods and rainforests. He will favour civs that preserve the natural landscape while disliking those that cut it all down. Take that last point into consideration if you're starting near Roosevelt and don't want to provoke a war early on. Because Roosevelt favours using faith to create Naturalists and hence National Parks, he will tend to be less competitive in the religious game if he even founds a religion at all.

P-51 Mustang

If you're fighting America late in the game, avoid using unpromoted Fighters as a anti-air method in favour of surface-based anti-air, such as Anti-Air Guns, Mobile SAM, Battleships and Missile Cruisers. You may want to use siege units such as Rocket Artillery in place of Bombers as well. America's edge at air combat is relatively short-lived - P-51 Mustangs are only around for an era before they obsolete - but avoiding engaging a UU where it's strongest is always a good idea.

Film Studio

Although in theory you can weaken Film Studios by delaying entering the modern era, this isn't feasible for most civs. Pillaging Film Studios also helps, but not everyone can afford a war. So, for the civs that are left, the key is denying America access to their sources of tourism. Because America lacks bonuses to GWAM generation (aside from the incentive to build lots of Film Studios giving them a late edge to Great Musician Points, and a minor one to Great Artist Points), they'll often be using Archaeologists to bump up their tourism. Targeting antiquity sites near America can help set them back.
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Doomer Jan 4, 2022 @ 9:12pm 
When you wanna build Jebel Barkal but the game keeps spawning you on tundra
Zigzagzigal  [author] Jul 28, 2018 @ 4:13am 
Yensil Jul 26, 2018 @ 1:22pm 
So the Eiffel tower provides +2 to all tiles in the empire...does it also apply an additional +1 appeal to adjacent tiles like any other wonder?
Yensil Jul 26, 2018 @ 1:20pm 
This guide is very....appealing.
Starkman Jones Dec 8, 2017 @ 1:49pm 
Just helping however I can. Make these great guides better.
Zigzagzigal  [author] Dec 8, 2017 @ 10:36am 
Thanks for the correction; I'll go correct the thing that needs correcting.
Starkman Jones Dec 8, 2017 @ 8:35am 
In the Corollary Section talking about the costs of Naturalists; you put 'Theology' instead of 'Theocracy' for governments that reduce the cost of faith purchases
ferretbacon Oct 29, 2017 @ 9:39pm 
Founding Fathers is not working properly in my current game either. Up to date, all DLC, no mods running.
MisterShine Oct 24, 2017 @ 4:07pm 
Hmm i'll see if its calculating it correctly and just displaying wrong in my next game.
Zigzagzigal  [author] Oct 24, 2017 @ 4:04pm 
In my screenshot game, the tooltip was wrong but I still got double the legacy bonus if I can recall correctly.