Sid Meier's Civilization VI

Sid Meier's Civilization VI

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Zigzagzigal's Guides - Spain (Vanilla)
By Zigzagzigal
Spain carries great power during the Age of Discovery, combining both religious and military strengths. Here, I detail Spanish 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This guide is no longer updated, but will remain for the sake of those without the Rise and Fall expansion.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.

At home, some still resist against the Inquisition and the one true Catholic faith. Across Europe, heresy has been spreading. And in the New World, our Conquistadors and Missions have a difficult challenge in converting the vast number of heathens present. The world as it stands shall be the ultimate test of Spain's piety, but if we can persevere, the world shall be under one true faith and one true king.

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.
Start Bias

Spain has a tier 3 start bias towards coastal tiles. This makes it easier to make use of your early-arriving armadas and to explore the map for new continents.

Civilization Ability: Treasure Fleets

  • Trade routes between cities on different continents create additional yields:
    • International trade routes provide +6 gold
    • Domestic trade routes provide +1 food and +1 production
  • Can form fleets and armadas with the renaissance-era Mercantilism civic instead of needing the industrial-era Nationalism or modern-era Mobilisation civics.

Philip II's Leader Ability: El Escorial

  • All military and religious units gain +4 strength against units and cities of civilizations which have a different majority religion to you
    • You receive no bonus against civs with no majority religion.
    • Attacks made by your cities are not affected.
  • Inquisitors receive an additional charge for their Remove Heresy ability (4 instead of 3)

Unique Unit: Conquistador

A renaissance-era melee infantry unit which replaces the Musketman

Upgrades from
Upgrades to
Resource needed

Renaissance era

Replaceable Parts
Modern era

(250 Gold)

(??? Gold)
250 Production
1000 Gold
500 Faith*
4 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.

Ranged Strength
Negative Attributes
Positive Attributes
55 Strength
2 Movement Points
  • +10 Strength vs. anti-mounted units
  • +10 Strength if a Missionary, Inquisitor, Apostle or Guru occupies the same tile
  • Converts captured cities to the majority religion in your empire if this unit either gets the last hit on the city or is adjacent to the city when it is captured.

Negative changes

  • Costs 250 production, 1000 gold or 500 faith, up from 240, 960 and 480 respectively (+4%)
  • More expensive to upgrade to from a Swordsman

Positive changes

  • No resource requirement
  • +10 strength if a Missionary, Inquisitor, Apostle or Guru occupies the same tile
  • Converts captured cities to the majority religion in your empire if this unit either gets the last hit on the city or is adjacent to the city when it is captured.
  • Less expensive to upgrade

Unique Improvement: Mission

Terrain requirement
Constructed by
Pillage yield

Renaissance era
Land tile within your own territory without marsh, forest, jungle or floodplains

25 Faith

Defensive bonus
Direct yield
Adjacency yields
Miscellanious bonus
Maximum possible yield
2 Faith
2 Science if adjacent to a Campus
2 Faith if located on a continent not containing your capital
4 Faith
2 Science


Direct bonus
Adjacency bonus
Miscellanious bonus
New maximum yield

Cultural Heritage
Atomic era
2 Science
4 Faith
4 Science
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.





Philip II

Culture is Spain's weakest path but isn't an impossible method for victory. Bonuses from intercontinental internal trade can help grow cities more effectively, ready for building wonders, while the strong faith output of Missions can help in purchasing Naturalists for National Parks.

Domination is very effective for Spain, and should be their primary method in multiplayer games. Conquistadors together with Philip II's ability gives you a +14 strength advantage, which is one of the highest any combination of uniques offers. If your science is strong, Conquistadors will be even more powerful. If it isn't, the atomic-era boost to Mission science should help you to catch up in military technology late in the game.

Religion is Spain's most effective route, but comes with a notable catch - their faith output doesn't really take off until the renaissance era, and there's no bonuses to Great Prophet generation. Thankfully, the bonuses in the renaissance era really help to make up for lost time. International intercontinental trade can help spread your religion while also granting you a lot of money. Conquistadors convert the cities they capture - handing them back in a peace deal allows the conversion of empires without spending a single point of faith. Meanwhile, Missions produce huge amounts of faith when placed on continents outside the one containing your capital.

Finally, Spain is surprisingly effective at science, making it a decent backup victory route. Missions can create a decent chunk of science, but that becomes much stronger in the atomic era. Meanwhile, stronger internal trading across continents helps Spain to develop bigger, more productive cities for building spaceship parts with. The high faith output of Missions can be converted into science with the Jesuit Education belief.
Civ Ability: Treasure Fleets

The +1 production from "other bonuses", as well as 1 point of the food from "other bonuses" is the trade route portion of this unique ability taking effect.


Spain's civ ability comes with bonuses that can really aid the colonial game, like Spain's other uniques. Together, this makes the civ particularly powerful in the renaissance era, but there's a major catch - all of the uniques take quite a while to arrive. As such, you need to play carefully early in the game.

The first key early objective for Spain is to found a religion. Getting a couple of Holy Sites and Shrines up quickly as well as the Divine Spark pantheon will usually suffice. Don't go overboard with Holy Site construction - Spain doesn't get any faith bonuses until the renaissance era so you'll struggle to win a religious victory at this stage.

The second key early objective for Spain is ensuring science and culture is up to speed. Building Holy Sites early on can mean you'll be a little later to Campuses than some civs, but if you can expand reasonably quickly and build plenty, you should be able to make up for lost time. For culture, simply ensure you don't put off building Monuments for too long and you should be fine.

The third key early objective for Spain is to maximise trade route capacity. Spain should generally favour Harbours over Commercial Hubs due to the naval advantages they offer, which is helpful when you're trying to colonise new continents.

With these three objectives met, you should be ready to put Spain's uniques to good use.

Trade Route Bonuses

Trade routes form a key part of any strategy; internally, they provide crucial food and production while external trade routes are a powerful source of gold and can help you spread your religion to other civs. For Spain, these bonuses are even stronger once you cross continents - especially useful when you're setting up new colonies.

Look out for this message which tells you when a new continent is discovered. Pangaea maps have multiple continents on the same landmass (as long as the map is at least Tiny-sized, as Duel maps only have one continent) while Continents maps of at least Standard size usually have a second continent on your starting landmass.

With the new continent discovered, I later set up a colony. Using the Continents lens, I can see where I need to trade between to receive the unique bonus.

Setting up colonies on other continents is necessary to make the most of the Mission improvement, and also allows you to make use of the Colonial Offices (+15% growth for cities outside your home continent) and Colonial Taxes (+25% gold for cities outside your home continent) policy cards at Exploration and Colonialism respectively. Together, all these bonuses can make Spain's colonial cities more important than their core cities, making it useful to settle cities even into and beyond the renaissance era. Be aware of your amenities, however - settling too extensively can be quite punishing to your empire. Thankfully, every continent has four luxuries unique to it, so if you don't settle too extensively on a single continent, it should be manageable.

Generally, you should use the trade route bonus to trade from your colonies to a core city with lots of districts. Strong food and production together as well as the spread of your religion can help a new city to quickly catch up with the rest of the empire, ready to start outputting faith or units. The reverse route (trading from your core cities to your colonies) is mainly useful if you want to build wonders or get your religion spread there even faster.

Of course, you don't have to settle cities on other continents - you can also take them by force. On water-heavy maps, Spain's early armadas can help here, but it'll be mostly up to your Conquistadors and siege support (Siege Towers and/or Bombards typically).

So, trading between continents will grant you great yields, but there's a catch - your trade routes will typically be leaving your territory for long periods of time, usually over water where it can be vulnerable to Barbarian pillaging. Being suzerain over Lisbon makes your water-based trade routes immune to pillaging, but in a typical game you'll probably need to spare a couple of naval units to stop incoming Barbarians.

Internal trading will become less important once cities have established themselves. A +6 gold bonus per international intercontinental trade route can become very tempting, especially if you need to fund a few wars, and makes external trade for the purpose of spreading your religion more worthwhile as well.

Ultimately, this part of Spain's ability is great for enhancing what is already an important part of the game and can support any victory route.

Fleets and Armadas at Mercantilism

Fleets are 10 points of strength stronger than single units. In a fight between a regular unit and a fleet, the fleet will on average deal 45 damage and take 20 (in an even fight, the damage dealt and taken averages at 30). Armadas have a strength advantage of 17, and will deal 59 damage while taking 15 on average against single units of the same type.

Getting armadas one and a half eras early sounds good, but in practice it's a hard bonus to make use of. For a start, Mercantilism falls on a different branch of the civic tree to Exploration, which you'll need for Missions. Except in exceptionally water-heavy maps, Missions are usually more important to go for first. Secondly, fleets require you to build two copies of a unit and armadas three; production that's hard to spare while you might be trying to bolster your Conquistador forces. Finally, Spain lacks bonuses to culture generation and the typical early-game (grab a religion, catch up on science, get trade routes) leaves little time for maximising culture accumulation.

So, what use is this bonus? Well, it allows you to put off Nationalism and Mobilisation in favour of grabbing both Exploration and Reformed Church, thus allowing you to have a strong set of religious bonuses while still having a competitive navy. Missing out on corps and armies for a while is manageable thanks to the high strength of Conquistadors.

If you're particularly lucky and manage to have good science and decent production in one city, consider going for the Venetian Arsenal wonder. It allows its city to churn out double as many naval units - perfect for forming into fleets and armadas. Very few civs will be able to stand up to that sort of naval might, letting your Conquistadors safely cross between continents.

In summary, this part of Spain's civ ability is a very niche bonus which may not even see much use at all in a typical game, but considering the broad utility of the trade route bonus, that's fair enough.
Philip II's Leader Ability: El Escorial (Part 1/2)

It's not just military units that get the strength bonus...


Philip II's leader ability helps to tie together the military and religious elements of Spain. If you're a bit behind on faith, don't worry - stronger Inquisitors (both in terms of charges and strength) help you to defend against religious pressure, while a good strength bonus helps you go on the offensive and take down civs with rival religions.

Military Combat Bonus

Like all the best combat bonuses, it works against cities.

Philip II offers a +4 combat bonus to all military units (land, sea and air alike) so long as your opponent follows a different religion than you. This might sound an easy bonus to make use of, but remember that "following a religion" is defined as a majority of a civ's cities following one. If it's the case that either you or your opponent have no majority religion, you won't get the strength bonus!

An example here - Catholicism (the religion I founded) ceased to be the majority faith, so I no longer got the +4 strength bonus.

Not having a majority faith will make it harder to use the strength bonus, and will also really mess things up when you're conquering cities with Conquistadors. As such, you'll need to ensure your empire is clearly following the one true faith! Inquisitors are great at that role - use all but one charge on making sure your own cities follow your religion, then keep them for use with Conquistadors.

It is possible to have a target which is already following your religion. If this is the case, the Crusade belief is very powerful, offering a +10 strength bonus near cities of your religion in another civ. This more than makes up for the loss of the +4 strength bonus.

If you didn't manage to found a religion, try to ensure your empire largely follows one faith, but have a couple of Missionaries of a rival religion ready in case the civ that converted you is in danger of winning a religious victory. One again, try to use all but one charge so they can still offer Conquistadors the +10 strength bonus.

With all that out of the way, let's have a look at what a +4 strength bonus can do. A unit with a strength advantage of 4 will on average deal 35 damage while taking 26 (for reference, a unit with no strength advantage will on average deal and take 30). While not a massive difference in itself, this stacks with the strength bonus of Conquistadors or the strength advantage of forming early fleets/armadas. Be sure to take the Wars of Religion policy card (available at Reformed Church) as well, for another +4 bonus.

The strength bonus can be pretty amazing offensively once stacked with other advantages, but it's also not bad as a defensive bonus, particularly in the stage after you've founded a religion but before Conquistadors arrive. +4 strength cancels out the bonus other civs get with Oligarchy.

Ultimately, so long as you can ensure that a faith is dominant in your empire, the strength bonus is an easy one to use. It can be helpful for Conquistador conquests, or even towards a domination victory.

Inquisitor Charges and +4 Strength for Religious Units

Inquisitors usually have two functions: using up charges to keep rival religions out of your own lands, and fighting rival religious units. Spain adds a third - providing a strength bonus to stacked Conquistadors - and strengthens the other two.

Remember, to obtain Inquisitors you need to found a religion, have a Holy Site with a Temple, purchase an Apostle with faith and use it to launch an inquisition. After that point, you can purchase Inquisitors with faith in any owned city that follows your religion and has a Temple.

First of all, the extra charge. Squeezing one extra charge out of Inquisitors helps make up for the fact you'll usually want to leave the units with one charge left so you can stack them with Conquistadors. The first three charges can be used to ensure that your empire consistently backs the one true faith, so your strength bonus and Conquistadors can still be effective.

Secondly, the strength bonus. As your religious units will only be fighting against units of rival religions, you can almost always use the +4 strength bonus. As strength differences in theological combat work much the same way as they do in regular combat, this bonus is just as useful. It's not just Inquisitors that gain from this - Missionaries, Apostles and Gurus do as well.
Philip II's Leader Ability: El Escorial (Part 2/2)
Explaining Theological Combat

The four religious units in the game (Missionaries, Apostles, Inquisitors and Gurus) all can engage in theological combat with those of rival religions. This works like regular combat, but does not require a declaration of war.

  • Apostles have 110 religious strength, making them the most powerful of the three and ideal for use offensively.
    • With the Debater promotion, Apostles gain an additional +20 religious strength, which will often be enough to destroy Missionaries in just one hit.
  • Missionaries have 100 religious strength, but cannot initiate theological combat.
  • Inquisitors only have 75 religious strength, but gain a +35 bonus within their civ's lands - regardless of which religion the nearest city follows. This makes them practically useless offensively, but great defensively thanks to them being almost as strong as Apostles for a lower cost.
  • Gurus have only 90 religious strength and cannot initiate theological combat, but have three charges that may be used to fully heal itself and adjacent religious units. Be sure to keep them protected as they won't last long in theological combat alone.

There's a variety of modifiers to religious unit strength. Basic ones include:

  • The less health a religious unit has, the bigger a strength penalty. This starts at -1 strength between 90 and 99 health, and down to -10 strength between 1 and 9 health. You can heal a religious unit the same way as a military unit if you bring them to a Holy Site.
  • Religious units defending near a city of their own faith receive a +5 strength bonus
  • Religious units can fortify, adding a defensive bonus of 3 if the unit has not moved nor performed an action this turn, or +6 for two turns.
  • Religious units receive flanking bonuses, adding +2 strength per other owned religious unit adjacent to the target.
  • Religious units receive support bonuses. This only applies when a unit is defending, and adds +2 strength per other owned religious unit adjacent to them.

You can boost religious strength further through these means:

  • The Theocracy government (available at the renaissance-era Reformed Church civic) adds a +5 strength bonus to all religious units.
  • The Religious Orders economic policy card (also available at Reformed Church) also adds a +5 strength bonus to all religious units.

Playing as Spain, you'll also get Philip II's +4 strength bonus to all religious units if you have a different majority religion to their opponent.

Religious units can also impose zone of control on other religious units, slowing their movement if they try to move directly past your religious units.

When a religious unit is defeated, all cities within 10 tiles will gain pressure of the victorious religion and lose pressure of the defeated one, at a level comparable to using an Apostle's spread religion charge. If the defeated unit is of a religion with the Monastic Isolation belief, it prevents their religion losing pressure (though the victorious unit will still add pressure for their faith).

Generally, Inquisitors should be used defensively, while Apostles and Gurus should be used offensively in theological combat. Missionaries should usually seek to avoid it in favour of spreading religion via their spread-religion charges.


Use Inquisitors to ensure your religion stays the majority faith in your own land, and you'll have a highly versatile strength bonus.
Unique Unit: Conquistador

The tricky start Spain has is compensated for with the immense firepower of the Conquistador. With a stacked religious unit and Philip II's leader ability, you can have a unit that's nearly as strong as Infantry two eras early!


Like all unique units, the sooner you unlock Conquistadors, the more powerful they'll be. For that reason, once a religion is secured, Spain should prioritise science output. Take a detour to Iron Working on your way to Gunpowder, so you can start building Swordsmen ready for upgrading later. Construction unlocks Siege Towers, which will be very useful for allowing your Conquistadors to take on cities - though beware that they're useless against civs with the Steel technology.

On the civics tree, Mercenaries is on the way to Exploration (required for Missions) and offers the Professional Army policy card for half-price unit upgrades, making it much easier to upgrade a lot of Swordsmen into Conquistadors.

Although Spain lacks faith bonuses until Missions, you should still be able to get enough faith for a small number of religious units. Use up all but one of the charges of any Missionaries, Inquisitors or Gurus you create so they can be stacked with Conquistadors later. Ensure your empire is clearly following your faith before you start capturing cities with Conquistadors, or strange things can start happening.

Whoops! We accidentally converted the heathens to Taoism.

Finally, it's a good idea to know where other continents are before you reach Gunpowder. Although you can just fight heathen neighbours, capturing cities on other continents has better synergy with Spain's civ ability and Missions.

In Combat

A strength advantage of 30 or higher is usually an instant kill. Against less advanced foes, situations like this will come up pretty often.

Conquistadors stacked with religious units and Philip II's civ ability have a +14 strength advantage, which is the second-largest unique strength bonus in the game (Brazil's Minas Geraes technically has a bigger bonus due to arriving an era earlier than the generic unit while also having a strength bonus). A 14-point strength advantage means Conquistadors will on average deal 53 damage while taking 17 from Musketeers. Add on the Wars of Religion policy card and it's a +18 advantage; they'll deal 62 damage while taking 15 on average when fighting generic Musketeers without the policy card.

The high strength of conquistadors means they can handle pretty much anything prior to the modern era, so you don't need to worry about having lots of complexity in your army. Just bring some Conquistadors, religious units and siege support (Siege Towers are typically the best to bring at first, but Bombards are reasonable as well).

It's important to make sure as many Conquistadors as possible have attached religious units. If you don't have enough to go around, here's the steps you can take to help them go further:

  1. Make sure the religious unit is not attached to a Conquistador. Units attached to a military unit which fights will have all their movement points depleted. Instead, just make sure it shares the same tile as the unit you're fighting with
  2. After your first Conquistador has fought, move the religious unit to the second Conquistador before fighting.
  3. Repeat until the religious unit has no movement points left. Be careful about killing units or capturing cities with Conquistadors if the stacked religious unit has no movement points left, as it could leave the unit vulnerable to capture by the enemy.

Converting Cities

If you capture a city either directly with a Conquistador or with the unit adjacent to it when it is captured, you will convert the city to your religion.

The most immediate use of this is to expand your religious bonuses, especially ones like Tithe, Church Property and Cross Cultural Dialogue. Conquistadors are fairly expensive to maintain in large numbers, so being able to gain more money for every city you capture will be very useful, while extra science from Cross Cultural Dialogue combined with Mission faith helps keep your military competitive.

For cities which have a Shrine already, converting them to your faith allows them to immediately start purchasing Missionaries of your religion. That's helpful if you've gained a bit of faith since the start of the war and need more religious units to support your Conquistadors.

Finally, converting a city can aid religious victory without you having to dedicate any faith to the conversion, if you hand back some of the cities at the end of the war. Handing back a city halves the warmonger penalties you received from taking it in the first place, which can be a good way to ensure you don't attract a huge number of denouncements from the rest of the world, and also means you have fewer cities draining your amenities. This strategy is most effective when used against civs that share your starting continent, seeing as you'll want to keep cities overseas for the maximum amount of Mission faith.

Beyond the Renaissance

With the industrial-era Nationalism civic, Conquistadors can be formed into corps for a +10 strength bonus, which keeps them relevant for quite a while longer. The modern-era Mobilisation civic allows forming them to armies for a +17 strength boost. Conquistador armies with a stacked religious unit and Philip II's leader ability have 86 strength; add the Wars of Religion policy card on top and they're up to the standard of Mechanised Infantry.

That sounds good, but remember that both Philip II's leader ability and Wars of Religion aren't just restricted to Conquistadors. Later Spanish infantry units with the same bonuses will be stronger than Conqusitadors, and it will be necessary to bring some stronger units if you intend to continue on the warpath.

Still, that's not to say you should get rid of your Conquistadors. They still have the unique ability to convert cities to your religion, and they don't need to get the last hit on a city to do that. Bringing Conquistador armies alongside your more advanced units is a good idea for that reason. Try to keep them safe from enemy fire, and ensure they're adjacent to a city when you're capturing it.

Finally, upgrading Conquistadors or forming armies with them will free up a few religious units. This can be quite helpful for cleaning up any heresy which might have popped up in your empire while you were conquering cities abroad.


  • Emphasise science after founding a religion so you can get to Gunpowder reasonably fast
  • Take a detour to Iron Working to build some Swordsmen ready for upgrading
  • Ensure your empire clearly follows your religion before you start taking cities
  • Bring Missionaries or Apostles with one charge left with your Conquistadors, as well as Siege Towers or Bombards
  • Handing back non-capital cities on your own continent after the war can help with religious victory.
  • When Conquistadors obsolete, form some into armies and keep them next to enemy cities so you can still convert them through conquest.
Unique Improvement: Mission
Note: All screenshots in this section were taken before the 27 July 2017 patch which made Missions offer +2 science for Campus adjacency instead of +1.

Missions arrive later than other unique improvements and do not offer food nor production, but they compensate with an enormous faith yield and eventually a surprisingly good science output. To construct Missions, you need the renaissance-era Exploration civic, which helpfully also unlocks the Merchant Republic government.

Their base yield of 2 faith is not particularly strong by itself, but on any continent not containing your capital, that amount rises to 4. Because the yield is so substantially better outside your home continent, it's important to settle and conquer plenty of colonies. Spain's civ ability will be of great use when you're trying to grow these cities, and the bigger your colony cities are, the more Missions you can work.

Aside from a strong faith output, Missions also offer 2 science each when adjacent to a Campus. If you intend to work a lot of Missions, it can often be worthwhile to position Campuses somewhere out in the open rather than near mountains or rainforests; the bonus science from Missions will more than make up for the loss of adjacency bonuses. Missions have very few terrain restrictions compared to many other unique improvements, making it easy to make lots of science.

With all the faith Missions offer, you can spam out Apostles to help with a religious victory, or other religious units to provide the +10 strength bonus to Conquistadors. Alternatively, the Theocracy government allows you to purchase military units with faith for half the cost it would be via gold (reduced even further thanks to Theocracy's discount for faith purchases). You can also use faith to purchase cultural or scientific buildings with the Jesuit Education belief - more on that later.


With the atomic-era Cultural Heritage civic, the science from Missions increases by two. Missions next to Campuses on a continent not containing your capital therefore produce 4 faith and 4 science, one of the highest yields of any improvement in the game! While this is a very late-arriving bonus, Cultural Heritage is a fairly easy civic to beeline and the science should still be greatly useful if you still plan to fight more wars at this stage of the game.

Spanish Scientific Victory

Although this guide primarily covers religious or domination victories, a unique improvement that can offer up to 4 science is very tempting for use towards science victories. But that's not all - other Spanish uniques can be surprisingly good for supporting scientific aims as well.

So, here's an overview of what a Spanish scientific victory path looks like:

  1. Take the Divine Spark pantheon; it helps Great Scientist as well as Great Prophet generation.
  2. As usual, build a couple of Holy Sites and try to secure a religion
  3. Take the Jesuit Education belief, allowing you to purchase science buildings with faith
  4. Try to get lots of Campuses built, and try to maximise trade route capacity
  5. Use Conquistadors to take cities on another continent. These cities should build Campuses if they haven't already.
  6. Surround the Campuses on cities not on your home continent with Missions, and force the city to work some (though be sure not to overdo that at the cost of city growth).
  7. Try to get the Cultural Heritage civic quickly for the strong science boost
  8. Once you reach Rocketry, redirect your trade routes so they're only being sent from your strongest cities, ensuring they have high production for building spaceship parts with.


  • Capture or found lots of cities on continents not containing your capital
  • Surround Campus districts not on your home continent with Missions
  • Missions are generally useful for religious victory, but can help with science as well.
Administration - Government
The administration section covers the policy cards, pantheons, religious beliefs, wonders, city-states and Great People which have particularly good synergy with Spanish uniques. Be aware that these are not necessarily the best choices, but rather options that you should consider more than usual if playing as Spain relative to other Civs.


Classical Era Governments

Starting with Classical Republic is a very good idea. Spain's military bonuses won't come into play for a while, so you don't need the military policy cards just yet. More to the point, the bonus to Great Prophet points will help you in securing your own religion.

If your culture output is very poor and you can't reach a better government by the time Conquistadors arrive, switch to Oligarchy for the +4 strength bonus.

Medieval/Renaissance Era Governments

You have a bit of choice here. Theocracy helps you get a lot out of your high faith output for religious and domination victories alike, and also has a good balance between military and economic policy cards. It also boosts the strength of your religious units, which stacks with Philip II's bonus.

On the other hand, Merchant Republic's bonus trade routes works very well with the Spanish civ ability, but doesn't as directly help with Spain's favoured victory routes. It might make a useful stopgap if you research Exploration before Reformed Church. Alternatively, it might be good if neither domination nor religious victories seem likely to succeed, or you're aiming to fight extensively but don't have much faith.

Modern Era Governments

If you want to continue down the warpath, Fascism will be effective for its strength bonus.

If instead you're after a more conventional religious victory late in the game, you might want to take advantage of Democracy; the bonus yields for district projects will help you generate more faith from Holy Sites.

Those who are after a scientific victory will do well out of Communism and its production bonus.

Policy Cards

Ancient Era

God King (Economic, requires Code of Laws) - The sooner you can get a pantheon going, the better a shot you have at Divine Spark and hence a religion. It's a shame to miss out on Urban Planning's production bonus, but at least you get a little gold to compensate.

Revelation (Wildcard, requires Mysticism) - Getting as many Great Prophet points as quickly as possible is essential for successfully founding a religion as Spain.

Medieval Era

Feudal Contract (Military, requires Feudalism) - Although generally it's a better idea to upgrade Swordsmen to Conquistadors where possible to save time building them from scratch, you may need to build some more over time.

Meritocracy (Economic, requires Civil Service) - One of the most powerful social policies for culture, this will be highly useful for getting to armadas sooner, as well as Cultural Heritage in the atomic era and its lovely science boost to Missions.

Professional Army (Military, requires Mercenaries) - Reducing the cost of unit upgrades will make turning a Swordsman army into a Conquistador one much more affordable.

Serfdom (Economic, requires Feudalism) - You'll want a lot of Missions if you want to catch up with other religious civs' faith bonuses. This policy gives you more charges out of your Builders which should mean more faith.

Renaissance Era

Colonial Offices (Economic, requires Exploration) - You'll want your Mission colonies to grow quickly, and this policy card is ideal for that, especially stacked with the intercontinental trade route bonus.

Triangular Trade (Economic, requires Mercantilism) - Internal trading across continents can produce plenty of food and production, but won't grant you much in the way of gold. This policy helps to rectify that, and also offers a little faith.

Religious Orders (Economic, requires Reformed Church) - Together with Philip II's ability, you can have a +9 bonus in theological combat; add the Theocracy government on top and you have +14. That's enough to keep your Missionaries safe from enemy Apostles.

Wars of Religion (Military, requires Reformed Church) - Stacked with Philip II's ability, you'll have a +8 advantage over enemy armies which aren't supported by the policy card.

Industrial Era

Colonial Taxes (Economic, requires Colonialism) - Cash in on all of those Mission colonies on other continents with a 25% boost to gold output in all of them.

Modern Era

Arsenal of Democracy (Diplomatic, requires Suffrage) - Intercontinental trade becomes even more lucrative when you can trade with an ally and get decent food and production as well as lots of gold.

Collectivisation (Economic, requires Class Struggle) - Internal intercontinental trade now produces masses of food - more than any other civ can manage. This allows you to dedicate more tiles and citizens to Missions instead of farms.

Market Economy (Economic, requires Capitalism) - A great boost to science, culture and gold which makes intercontinental international trading very lucrative. Although you'll lose out on the food and production of internal trade, the huge food boost Replaceable Parts offers should help cover that problem up.

Martial Law (Military, requires Totalitarianism) - Same effect as the earlier-arriving Propaganda and stacks with it.

Propaganda (Military, requires Mass Media) - Keeping your war weariness low is important as it prevents you receiving a penalty to faith output.

Information Era

Ecommerce (Economic, requires Globalization) - Intercontinental international trading can be a spectacular source of gold and production. That's great if you need to fund a war (so long as your trade routes don't get pillaged!)
Administration - Religion

Divine Spark - A high-priority pantheon considering Spain has no bonuses to Great Prophet generation of their own. It'll also be helpful for generating Great Scientists, and the more science you can get early on, the sooner you can obtain Conquistadors and the more effective they'll be.

God of the Sea - Spain's start bias and intercontinental emphasis means you can get a lot out of a pantheon that boosts maritime yields.

Religious Beliefs

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

Choral Music (Follower) - More culture will help you get to Cultural Heritage sooner, and its powerful science boost to Missions.

(Domination) Church Property (Founder) or Tithe (Founder) - Keep the warpath going with a boost to gold output every time you take a city with Conquistadors.

Cross Cultural Dialogue (Founder) - A good way to combine your religious and scientific strengths.

(Domination) Crusade (Enhancer) - An excellent choice for war. Philip's unique strength bonus doesn't work against civs that follow your religion, but this belief certainly does. Keep in mind that the strength bonus is tied to the city and the surrounding area, not the civ. You won't be able to use Crusade or Philip's ability in cities that don't follow your religion belonging to civs that do, although you'll be able to use both in cities that follow your religion belonging to civs that don't.

Defender of the Faith (Enhancer) - This belief is powerful in Spain's hands. If you capture a city with a Conquistador, or if a Conquistador is adjacent to the city when you do so, you'll immediately convert the city to your religion. With this belief, it'll also grant your nearby units a +10 strength bonus making it hard for your enemy to take it back.

Holy Order (Enhancer) - Although it doesn't make Inquisitors cheaper, it's still good for spamming affordable Missionaries with, which can support your Conquistadors.

Jesuit Education (Follower) - You'll want lots of Campus districts both for their direct science output and the bonus they offer Missions. Filling the districts can be expensive, but this belief lets you put your high faith output to good use there. This intersection between faith and science can rival that of Arabia.

Religious Colonisation (Enhancer) - Settling colonies on new continents in order to get strong Missions? This belief will ensure those new cities follow your religion, saving you precious faith you can use on other things.
Administration - Wonders, City-States and Great People

Great Pyramids (Ancient era, Masonry technology) - A wonder to capture rather than to build. Builders with extra charges will be really helpful when the Exploration civic arrives and suddenly there's a lot of Missions to construct.

Oracle (Ancient era, Mysticism civic) - In the event you don't manage to found a religion, this is a useful wonder to capture as it allows you to dedicate Mission faith to Great Person patronage effectively.

Stonehenge (Ancient era, Astrology technology) - Although a competitive wonder, Stonehenge is a great wonder for Spain to have if you can afford the risk. Guaranteeing a religion means you don't need to worry about building Holy Sites until the renaissance era.

Colossus (Classical era, Shipbuilding technology) - Extra trade route capacity means a fair bit of extra food and production, or gold.

Great Lighthouse (Classical era, Celestial Navigation technology) - Early Armadas can deal a lot of damage, but they won't do much good if they can't reach your opponents. The bonus movement speed from the Great Lighthouse will help there.

Jebel Barkal (Classical era, Iron Working technology) - A strong early source of faith to get your religion off the ground ready for Missions. Also offers +2 iron, which guarantees you can build Swordsmen ready for upgrading into Conquistadors later. Requires the Nubia Civilization Pack.

Mahabodhi Temple (Classical era, Theology civic) - Two Apostles for free means you needn't let low faith generation at this stage in the game stop you from having a developed religion.

Hagia Sophia (Medieval era, Education technology) - Extra Missionary and Apostle charges means you can get just as much out of them as other civs, and still have a charge left over allowing the units to provide the combat bonus to Conquistadors.

Great Zimbabwe (Renaissance era, Banking technology) - Offers +1 trade route capacity, and makes trade routes from the city exceptionally powerful.

Venetian Arsenal (Renaissance era, Mass Production technology) - Early fleets and armadas are much easier to make use of when you have access to a wonder that makes you produce double as many ships from one city.

Oxford University (Industrial era, Scientific Theory technology) - The science multiplier is the important thing here. If you can capture a reasonably large city on another continent, make sure lots of Campuses are within range (not just the one of the city itself), build this wonder and construct plenty of Missions, you can end up with a massive amount of science. It gets considerably better after the Cultural Heritage civic.


Amsterdam (Trade) - International intercontinental trade can now make massive amounts of money.

Bandar Brunei (Trade) - Intercontinental trade within the same continent often requires trade routes to pass through multiple foreign cities. Getting some extra gold out of the arrangement is rather nice.

Carthage (Militaristic) - If you've been building Encampments to help construct Conquistadors, or you've captured a few, you can now enjoy lots of extra trade routes. This is a very powerful city-state bonus so make sure you don't lose it!

Kumasi (Cultural) - Considering Spain lacks advantages to culture despite being encouraged to go in three different directions on the civics tree (Exploration, Mercantilism and Reformed Church), getting culture bonuses out of trade routes is a reasonably good way to go.

Lisbon (Trade) - Intercontinental trade often requires crossing seas, which can leave your traders vulnerable to Barbarians and other pillagers. Being suzerain over Lisbon stops this being a problem. No longer will your treasure fleets be left to the mercy of privateers!

Nan Madol (Cultural) - For a civ with a bit of a maritime focus and a moderate need for culture, this is a good city-state to be suzerain over.

Stockholm (Scientific) - Helps to improve your chances of founding a religion, much like the Divine Spark pantheon.

Valletta (Militaristic) - If you're after a domination victory, this is a great city-state to have under your control. Your high faith output can rapidly secure your newly-captured cities by purchasing walls, and you can also develop cities quickly by buying buildings such as Granaries.

Yerevan (Religious) - You can constantly pick the Debater promotion for Apostles, and enjoy winning practically every round of Theological Combat considering Philip II's leader ability adds strength as well.

Great People

Remember that these are only the ones that have particular synergy with Spanish uniques, not necessarily the most effective options. Obviously, all Great Generals and Admirals can be useful for a domination victory, but it would be redundant to list them all.

Classical Era

Zhang Qian (Great Merchant) - Increases your trade route capacity.

Medieval Era

Irene of Athens (Great Merchant) - An extra trade route.

Marco Polo (Great Merchant) - Also offers an extra trade route.

Renaissance Era

Raja Todar Mal (Great Merchant) - Makes internal trading also offer gold. This is useful as it allows you to grow your colonies while also having a bit of cash to maintain Conquistador armies with.

Industrial Era

Napoleon Bonaparte (Great General) - A Conquistador army has enough strength to kill a regular Musketman in a single hit.

Modern Era

John Rockefeller (Great Merchant) - Makes trading more lucrative by offering extra gold based on strategic resources in the destination city.

Atomic Era

Melitta Bentz (Great Merchant) - An extra trade route.
Although Spain can be a religious powerhouse with a strong military, their uniques take a while to really come into play. There's a few ways in which you can take advantage of that.

Treasure Fleets

Trade bonuses

Trade between different continents requires there to be Spanish cities on different continents in the first place. If other civs can settle enough land, setting up decent colonies on other continents will be very difficult, leaving Spain with lacklustre cities.

Often, intercontinental trade will require Spain to send trade routes across seas. These trade routes are the most vulnerable to pillaging. Try using Privateers or Submarines as they can pillage without being detected - useful if Spain has a particularly strong navy.

Early fleets and armadas

Early fleets and armadas gives Spain a naval combat advantage for a while, assuming they have the production and/or gold to produce naval units quickly enough. Denying them the Venetian Arsenal wonder might be a good idea to prevent them getting a huge advantage. Once you have the Mobilisation civic, Spain's early armada-building ability is no longer helpful.

If you have to fight Spanish armadas, it may be a good idea to focus fire on one unit at a time. A lost armada represents a huge amount of lost production or gold for Spain. Try to use ranged units like Privateers or Frigates as melee units will typically take too much damage from combat.

Philip II - El Escorial

Military combat bonus

If Spain's religion is present in a majority of your cities, or you control a large empire with a huge range of different religions keeping each other in check, there's nothing to worry about here. If it isn't, you can make use of the Wars of Religion military policy card, made available at the renaissance-era Reformed Church civic. The bonus there will cancel out Spain's unique bonus unless they are using the policy card themselves. If you're a bit behind the times in regards to civics, you can instead make use of Oligarchy's +4 strength bonus for melee units as a stopgap measure.

If Spain is using Wars of Religion themselves, make good use of defensive terrain to prevent the strength bonus being too powerful. Promoted units can overcome their strength advantage pretty easily as well, so the bonus usually won't be too much of a problem by itself.

All this trouble, however, can be completely avoided if you attack Spain before religions start spreading. Spain has practically no advantages in the very earliest parts of the game, making a great opportunity for an attack.

Religious bonuses

Philip's strength bonus also applies to religious units, and on top, all his Inquisitors gain an extra charge to remove heresy with. This makes him particularly effective at defending against enemy religions. To overcome this, consider using Apostles rather than Missionaries so you can get an edge in theological combat, or bring a Guru or two to help heal them up. This will cost you a lot more faith than it does for Spain, so trying to limit how many Missions they can build away from their home continent will be a good move.

Philip II - AI Agenda (Counter Reformer)

Philip II actively will try to stamp out heathen religions in his own lands more than most leaders, and hates those trying to spread heathen faiths into Spain. He likes those that share his religion. You'll typically get on fine with Philip if you start close by and lack your own religion, as soon enough Spanish Missionaries and Apostles will arrive to convert your cities.

If you have a religion of your own, however, you can expect Philip to usually be hostile towards you. Be careful how you use your Missionaries and Apostles against Spain - it's more likely to provoke a war than it would be against most civs, and Spain has stronger military advantages than most religious civs. A war while you have religious units near Spain's cities could mean a lot of lost units and hence lost faith. To avoid this problem, try to use religious units against Spain at times where it's unlikely to start a war, such as when they're already fighting one against someone else, or if they've just ended a war against you.


Conquistadors stacked with religious units are scary to face, especially considering Philip's strength bonus on top, and the possibility you're behind in technology. If your situation ticks all these boxes, consider investing in some Knights and Crossbowmen. The strength difference might be strongly in Spain's favour, but remember that medieval units are cheaper to build. Use terrain and promotions carefully to prevent the strength difference being too harsh.

If there's only one or two religious units mixed in with Spain's army, it might be a good idea to see if you can quickly destroy the military unit stacked with the religious unit and move in with a cavalry unit to pillage it. Although a Conquistador stacked with a religious unit is harder to kill, eliminating the religious unit as quickly as possible will cause you fewer problems later.


Missions are the latest-arriving of the game's religious uniques, and as such Spain has a disadvantage to faith generation relative to other religious civs for quite some time. While this is good news for civs like Russia which aim for an early religious victory, it also can be an opportunity for other religious civs in general. If Spain's early-game faith generation is poor, it means they can't easily use patronage to acquire a Great Prophet. Coupled with their lack of bonuses to Great Prophet generation, Spain can have a hard time founding a religion.

To make the early-game tougher for Spain, one possibility is starting an early war. This doesn't necessarily mean putting together a huge force to take over Madrid (though it's a good time to do so if you think you can), but rather a couple of fast units to pillage their tiles, annoy their civilians and generally be a pest. If you can provoke Spain into building Encampments instead of Holy Sites, you will have successfully set back their religious game even further.

Let's assume Spain will definitely found a decent religion. What now? Well, like Spain's civ ability, Missions depend on Spain being able to settle foreign continents for the best yields. The more land taken on other continents by other civs, the less effective Missions and therefore Spain will be. Even if you can't shut down the entire continent, small coastal colonies which cannot obtain many tiles won't have much space for Missions and hence will have a limited faith output.

Because they'll generally be situated far from Spain's core, Missions are very vulnerable to pillaging. Each one you pillage is worth 25 faith, so you can bring some light cavalry with the depredation promotion and have a lot of fun.
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Zigzagzigal  [author] Oct 20, 2017 @ 10:26am 
Changes made to this guide from the 20 October Autumn Patch:

- Theological combat now features flanking, support, zone of control and the new Guru unit

- Trade routes can now spread religious pressure

- There are a few new beliefs; Cross Cultural Dialogue is particularly good for Spain.

- Religious units are now on their own layer and may slip through military units. Military units have to pillage them rather than instantly destroying them.

- Mercantilism is now much harder to beeline
Zigzagzigal  [author] Jul 27, 2017 @ 11:22am 
Changes made to this guide from the 27 July Summer Patch:

- Jebel Barkal is a new wonder in the DLC which can be a good source of early faith for Spain.

- Siege Towers no longer function against urban defences, but urban defences are now unlocked at Steel instead of Civil Engineering, so it generally shouldn't be too much of a problem for Spain.

- Spain's intercontinental international trade now offers +6 gold, up from +4

- Missions now provide 2 science if adjacent to a Campus, up from 1. I've upped their skew towards scientific victory accordingly (they're good, but the bonus arrives relatively late so I'd still favour religion or domination).
lukesarmistead Jul 10, 2017 @ 1:57pm 
Thanks for the Guide; I at least understand why I've never pulled off a Religious victory now. Granted the Island Plates map with Pedro, a Great Person Advocate Catherine, and Darwinist Cyrus didn’t help.
ale.castellanos Jul 9, 2017 @ 4:37am 
I'm Spanish, so I was looking forward to this guide. As usual, it is superb and offers details I could never have guessed. Thank you for all your fantastic work.
settle Jun 30, 2017 @ 1:08am 
thanks for your help
Zigzagzigal  [author] Jun 29, 2017 @ 3:00am 
Thanks for the correction; that's fixed now.
Xetrov Jun 29, 2017 @ 2:31am 
I noticed a small mistake. While explaining the armadas, you say that merchantilism is on a different branch of the civic tree compared to the mission-unlocking merchantilism. The latter should be exploration
Zigzagzigal  [author] Jun 26, 2017 @ 5:32am 
The guide to Scythia is now complete. Enjoy vast swarms of units and going on pillaging sprees.
J.Will Jun 23, 2017 @ 8:55pm 
Excellent guide