Babylon led by Hammurabi is one interesting Civilization!
Babylon and Hammurabi made a glorious return in Civilization VI’s November 2020 New Frontier Pass update. They brought a new hard-focused style of gameplay to the popular strategy title. What’s so special about them? We’ll break it down for you in our Babylon and Hammurabi overview.
Babylon Skill, Unique Building, and Unique Unit
Babylon isn’t as congested as other Civilizations with its special units and buildings. Having only one version of each and no special district. However, that doesn’t make them any less effective than the competition.
Enuma Anu Enlil (Babylon’s Skill)
Enuma Anu Enlil, Babylon’s Civ Skill, changes the way Eurekas work. Instead of their standard 40% Science Boost, Eurekas now completely unlock a tech. Making it one powerful skill to pull ahead of the Science race. However, such an advantage has an equally heavy cost. Babylon receives a staggering -50% Science per turn. Effectively cutting the Civ’s science output by half.
This makes it especially hard to study the first three basic techs (Pottery, Mining, and Animal Husbandry) if starting in the Ancient Era. Since those do not have any Eurekas. Quite frankly, you’ll only ever decide between Mining or Animal Husbandry as Pottery has little to no benefits for Babylon. Enuma Anu Enlil truly shines in team-based or co-op multiplayer. Since any tech your allies study becomes yours as well.
On the other hand, playing solo makes it a bit more challenging as you have to do everything yourself. Although you have a lot more control with your research trajectory. If there’s one weakness of Enuma, apart from the half science debuff, is that some techs require Civics. This may prove as a hindrance in the latter parts of the game if your Civic tree can’t catch up with the required Eurekas. With the reduced science per turn, you may find hard researching these too sluggish. Hence, it’s recommended to increase or even prioritize your culture output. Making Theater Squares a necessity for Babylon in almost all of their cities more than a campus.
It’s also important to time your Eurekas when playing solo as researching too much has consequences. Namely district construction, as costs scale depending on completed techs and civics. So, there may be instances where your new cities take more than 10 turns completing their districts. Another is unit production and upgrade costs. Flying too far in the tech tree, especially in the Medieval and Renaissance Era, can be fatal for Babylon. Not only will you be almost unable to keep up with the production costs of these units but upgrading your existing ones will be a burden too. For example, Slingers no longer upgrade to just Archers but straight to the more expensive Crossbowmen.
Make sure to also reserve your Great Scientists for timed Eurekas, which can be combined with the “Free Inquiry” Golden Age dedication for bursts of Science. That is if you’re lucky enough to grab them in the early game. Of course, during team-based multiplayer or co-op you won’t have much control over your Eurekas due to your allies. So, coordination is key or prioritize your districts during the early stages of the game. Thankfully though that’s precisely what Babylon’s unique building specializes at, early game production boost, but we’ll talk more about that later.
Sabum Kibittum (Babylon’s Unique Unit)
The Sabum Kibittum is an Ancient Era special melee unit for Babylon that is immediately available from the start. It has lower production costs (35 vs 40) and base combat strength than a Warrior, (17 vs 20) but with additional movement and sight. Other than that it comes with a whopping +17 combat strength against light and heavy cavalry units. Think of the Sabum Kibittum as a fusion of the Warrior, Scout, and Spearman. It’s an effective tool against anti-cavalry and cavalry and has enough movement and sight for exploration.
Making it the ideal replacement for the scout as an early game explorer. Not only is it as fast as a scout, it can also hold its own against early game barbarians such as spearmen and horsemen. Not to mention it can go toe to toe with non-barbarian horsemen, the premier classical military unit. Plus, as a melee unit it’s a worthwhile investment if you plan on doing conquests. Since it upgrades into the Swordsman, Musketman, and beyond. However, it’s not recommended to produce them en masse over Warriors as they are weaker against fellow melee and not too useful in sieges.
Palgum (Babylon’s Unique Building)
Babylon’s unique building is the Palgum, a replacement for the Water Mill with +2 production and +1 housing. It also adds +1 food to fresh water tiles, those adjacent to rivers, lakes, and oases. Unlike the Water Mill though, it’s unlocked via Irrigation and not Wheel. However, since Irrigation is easily boosted by improving Wheat, Maize, or Rice, you’ll have access to the Palgum rather quickly. This pushes Babylon to settle their capital near a river with a farmable resource to immediately unlock this unique building.
The Palgum is one mighty powerful early and even late game building as it boosts not only production but city growth. This means that Babylonian cities won’t have any problems with population. Regardless of where they happen to settle, even Tundras and Deserts can be viable spots, though not recommended. Higher population also means higher yields and opportunities to produce settlers for expansion.
Ninu Ilu Sirum (Hammurabi’s Skill)
Hammurabi’s leader ability is somewhat similar to Rome’s Trajan. However, instead of city center buildings what Ninu Ilu Sirum affects are districts. When constructing a district for the first time, its lowest cost production building is built along with it. Meaning the first Campus comes with a Library, the first Commercial Hub with a Market, and so on. This affects all but the Government Plaza. In addition a free envoy is given when constructing a district for the first time.
This allows Hammurabi to effectively boost a city or Babylon’s needs quickly. Trade routes are easily increased and production boosted thanks to the first buildings of their respective districts. It also allows Babylon to generate Great People points quicker thanks to that additional building. Making it possible to grab one of the first Great Scientists, which is a huge early game boost. Be wary though as the game defaults to choosing the Barracks as your building for your first Encampment. So, keep that in mind when choosing which city to construct it in.
You might think that Babylon is perfectly set up to pursue a Scientific Victory even with the low science output. However, you’ll come to realize that by the late game, their Eureka advantage will no longer work as Information and Future era techs are unlocked via Great Scientists or Spies. The former is something they have a hard time grabbing unless you dedicate campuses to each of your cities. Which is a bit of a waste due to their low inherent science output.
Spies, on the other hand, might seem to be a viable route. Although, remember, there is a strong chance that they’re the ones leading in the Science race. Meaning stealing techs will not be available until other competitors catch-up. By the time they do, that means they have a high enough science output to outpace Babylon with late game research. So, unless you are playing multiplayer teams or co-op, it will be hard to achieve a Scientific Victory.
Perhaps the most viable victory for Babylon is Domination, due to the fact that they unlock military units quicker than any other Civilization. With proper management and timed unit upgrades and creation, Babylon can rain fire upon the ancient cities of enemies. This is especially the case during the Medieval and Renaissance era. Both of which require some form of combat to unlock some of their tech. So, might as well wage war to benefit from triggering their Eurekas.
However, the truly frightening side of Babylon is how quickly they can gain access to Bombards. The route to usually take here is to prioritize 3 Slingers in the early game, to prep them to trigger Machinery. Have one of these Slingers kill an enemy to unlock Archery, then upgrade each one of them to unlock said tech. At the same time, do your best to increase your gold output and prepare high production cities for troop training.
The next step is to unlock Engineering to gain access to the Aqueduct, which will then unlock Niter. Once all is set up, upgrade two Archers to Crossbowmen to gain access to Bombards. All of this can ideally be done in under 60 turns or less if you truly focus. No AI, even Deity, or player can prepare city defences against Bombards this early. Ancient walls become paper and you can easily conquer neighboring Civs.
While having no inherent bonuses to Culture output or Great People acquisition, Babylon actually has an incentive to pursue a Cultural route. After all, without the need to produce campuses you can focus more on Theater Squares and other districts. Plus, unlocking Civics and Techs quickly opens opportunities to construct Wonders before anyone else.
Other Victory Types
The remaining two Victory types aren’t all too appealing to Babylon. They have no real incentive in pursuing a Religious route. Although, establishing a religion to reap some benefits is still viable. Diplomatic is out of the question, since at one point or another, you will have to wage war to avoid hard researching some techs.
During our multiple games with Babylon, we realized that they have a start bias to rivers. Making it easier to set up a capital to make use of the Palgum. However, not all rivers will have a farmable resource such as Wheat, Maize, or Rice. Hence, it’s recommended to wander around until you find an optimal spot. Preferably one with at least a farmable resource, a Mine spot, and/or a Quarry spot. To quickly boost other techs easily and efficiently. Your best start is a spot with all those three, though that rarely occurs.
Take your time with your first settlement. Since you won’t be relying on science output per turn, you won’t need to rush settling your capital. Although, the downside is the delay in Civics, which may or may not have some consequences during your pursuit of certain early game wonders. Notably the Great Library, which we’ll talk more about later.
Possible Expansion Spots
Due to the nature of the Palgum, Babylonian cities are hard pressed to settle almost exclusively near rivers. However, coastal cities are not out of the equation as they open the doors for the top half of the tech tree. Although, it’s best to search for a spot with a river and coast to still reap the benefits of the Palgum. At best, Babylon only needs two coastal cities to unlock certain naval techs. After which, the focus should entirely be on settling near rivers. Except, of course, in the late game where strategic resource settlements come into play.
Recommended Special Districts
Babylon has no real incentive to build Campuses. They are perhaps the only civilization to not benefit from the said district. Even for the purpose of generating Great Scientist points. It’ll be a waste of district spots to try and counteract your low science output by creating campuses in all your cities.
However, the district is not entirely useless as it is needed to trigger the inspiration for Recorded History. The required civic for the Great Library. Hence, Babylon will only ever need to construct two of them, preferably in a good production city with a spot for the Wonder.
With Campuses out of the equation due to how Babylon’s skill work there is one district that takes its spot: Theater Squares. You’ll quickly find that Babylon can speed through the tech tree without the need of a high science output. Yet there is a point in the mid to late game where this could grind to a screeching halt. Mainly due to some techs requiring civics to trigger their Eurekas.
Hence, the importance of Theater Squares to bolster the civ’s culture output to keep up with their tech tree. Apart from that, having the incentive to build this district means faster access to powerful policy cards and governments. Not to mention, you can then easily transition to a cultural victory, if needed.
A crucial district for Babylon to counteract the speed they acquire techs. Plus, Apprenticeship isn’t too hard to grab early on as it needs a mere 3 mines to boost. As explained earlier, the quicker you progress through the tech tree the more expensive districts and units become. Hence the importance of the Industrial Zone to help bolster your cities production. Pair this with the Palgum and your production woes can be put to rest. Plus, there are some Great Engineers that grant Eurekas and useful bonuses. These include:
- Bi Sheng — Triggers Eureka for Printing.
- Leonardo da Vinci — Triggers a random Eureka of a Modern Era tech. Workshops gain +1 culture.
- Ada Lovelace — Triggers Eureka for Computers.
- Robert Goddard — Triggers Eureka for Rocketry.
- Sergei Korolev — Grants 1,500 production towards a Space Race Project.
- Wernher von Braun — +100% Production towards Space Race Projects.
Yet another district that will see the most use with Babylon. If production becomes too much of a problem, then money may be the answer. Commercial Hubs not only increase gold output per turn but also trade route capacity. Allowing your empire to purchase tiles, units, and even districts, should the need arise. Plus, your first Commercial Hub comes with a Market, meaning an additional trade route right off the bat.
As mentioned earlier, Babylon is strongest near rivers. Although, in order to unlock the top half of the tech tree quicker, there will be a need to construct Harbors. Just like with Campuses, Babylon only ever needs two Harbors, with the goal of building Shipyards later on for Steam Power. The only other benefit of this is more gold and an additional trade route if the city is without a Market. Of course, if playing on a map with mainly islands though, Harbors become more important than Encampments for Domination.
As stated earlier, Domination is one of the best routes for Babylon. Hence, the importance of Encampments to not only increase unit production and experience but also for getting Great Generals. Be wary though, your first Encampment will always default to having the Barracks as their first building. Plus, the Armory unlocks Musketmen, which you can pair alongside Bombards for that early game rush.
The remaining districts are all situational. Entertainment Complexes are purely for Theater Square district stacking or in building the Colosseum and Estádio do Maracanã for additional culture. The Diplomatic Quarter can solely be built for the free Envoy from Hammurabi’s skill. Unless you’re dead set on an unorthodox victory path, one to three Holy Sites are enough to increase your faith output, if playing with Heroes & Legends. If not, then unless you wish to make use of the Golden Age Monumentality dedication or found a Natural Wonder early, it’s best to reserve your district spots for money, production, or troops.
Pingala is a useful Governor for Babylon primarily for increasing their Culture output. In most cases he should be your first governor in order to quickly progress through the early game Civics. So, focus on getting Connoisseur as fast as possible, on both R&F (Rise and Fall) and GS (Gathering Storm).
Rise and Fall
Connoisseur in R&F is a bit weaker for Babylon compared to its GS counterpart. Especially when your first Theater Square already comes with an Ampitheater. However, the added 15% Culture generation of Librarian is still a good effect to pair with that city. Grants too is a useful promotion, especially for the pursuit of a Cultural Victory. Other than that, it greatly assists in grabbing other Great People types such as Generals, Engineers, and Merchants. The rest of Pingala’s promotions though can be left behind until the late game.
Connoisseur in GS is particularly powerful as Babylonian cities are quick to grow. A higher population means more culture bonus from the said promotion. Then, if you’re aiming for a Cultural victory strive to grab Curator. You can forgo Researcher but still grab Space Initiative if you see a window for a Scientific Victory later on.
The main use of Liang for Babylon is her Zoning Commissioner skill. Any additional production towards district construction is a welcome sight. Especially, when you were unable to control your Eurekas.
Rise and Fall
In Rise and Fall Zoning Commissioner is a bit more costly compared to its GS counterpart. Since it’s a third promotion for Liang. However, it’s still one to pursue as the added 30% bonus production is crucial for district construction. You can then safely acquire Parks and Recreation for a Cultural bump should you so wish, since it’s just a single promotion away.
In Gathering Storm, unless you’re hard pursing a Cultural victory you can leave Liang at just Zoning Commissioner. Since the other two prerequisites (Waterworks, Reinforced Materials) of Parks and Recreation have little to no use to Babylon. You can also grab Aquaculture for your coastal cities should they need it.
Reyna is forever a useful Governor in any Civilization, Babylon included. Even more so in Gathering Storm due to her changes. The particularly powerful promotion of Reyna for Babylon is Tax Collector. Due to the growth potential of their Cities. Hence, she is best assigned in a fast growing city.
Rise and Fall
In R&F, Reyna is best assigned to a city with an established Commercial Hub with high adjacency bonus. Since you’ll have to pass through either Foreign Exchange or Harbormaster first before reaching Tax Collector. Trade Routes are hard to come by during the early game, unless surrounded by City States or trade focused Civilizations. So, you’ll more likely get Harbormaster over Foreign Exchange. The next best promotion is Contractor, which is a huge counter to the District scaling problem of Babylon. You can pass on Curator unless you are aiming for a Cultural Victory.
Reyna is completely different and a lot more powerful in Gathering Storm. Both of her secondary promotions are now debatable and situational. If you happen to settle a city in a spot with lots of features, Forestry Management is a huge early game gold boost. Especially in areas with a lot of Rainforests, Marches, and Floodplains. Go for Harbormaster if you have no explotable features to squeeze out those extra 2 gold. In most cases, your go to promotion route for Reyna in GS is Forestry Management to Tax Collector then Harbormaster or Contractor.
The four remaining Governors are all situational. Perhaps the least you’ll have use for are Amani and Moksha.
Due to Hammurabi’s skill, you will easily amass Envoys, making Amani less useful. Her other promotions too are of little benefit to Babylon. Unless you truly require a certain strategic resource that’s out of your reach in GS. Although, that’s two wasted Governor Titles as Foreign Investor is a Tier II promotion.
Moksha, on the other hand, will only ever be useful if you are pursuing a Religious Victory. However, that’s one that Babylon has the least incentive in.
Victor, despite being a strong candidate due to Babylon’s strength in Domination, is still debatable. At best, his quick establishment is the only big advantage during conquests. Unless you have extra promotions, leaving him at his Default Tier is the best choice. Even more so in R&F as his next tier promotions aren’t all that useful. In GS though, if you truly want to make use of him then strive to unlock Embrasure as fast as possible. An extra promotion right off the bat for units is a great bonus.
Magnus, may look like the ideal Governor to counter the production needs of Babylon. Yet you can only truly benefit from one or two of his promotions, some of which are a little too costly to pursue in exchange for the recommended ones above. You won’t need the extra food from trade routes since Babylonian cities already grow pretty fast with the Palgum. You also won’t need to conserve your population for the very same reason. Hence, Magnus’ Tier 1 promotions aren’t too beneficial.
If you truly wish to go hard in constructing the Great Library though, Groundbreaker is an amazing promotion. This will all but ensure you’ll grab the said wonder, or any other you wish to construct. In R&F though, Industrialist is another useful promotion to get but you’ll have to waste a promotion to get Surplus Logistics. In GS, he’ll only be useful in the late game if you have the extra promotions as Industrialist no longer provides +1 production.
Babylon is one of those civilizations with a crucial needed wonder and that’s the Great Library. It is imperative to grab this wonder for the mere fact that every Great Scientist that comes under another player’s control is a free tech for you. However, this is a much contested wonder among AI and players will definitely aim to snipe this away when playing against Babylon. Hence, the importance in unlocking and building it as fast as possible.
The other late game Wonder you can strive to get is the Oxford University. For those extra two free technologies. The Hanging Gardens is also a nice early game wonder to have as housing can quickly become a problem with the might of the Palgum. Not to mention, it becomes available to Babylon easily since Irrigation is a must. This will also trigger the inspiration for Drama and Poetry, which opens the Theater Square and is a prerequisite of Recorded History.
It goes without question that the main city-state you should pour your envoys to as Babylon are Industrialistic ones. For the main purpose that it helps in construction of districts and wonders. There are a few though that you can strive to become suzerains of, if they are present. Namely, Brussels, Singapore, and Johannesburg as they have useful suzerainty bonuses. Other city-states you can place envoys to will then depend on your desired victory type.
Final Notes and Impression
That’s about it for our overview/guide to Babylon and Hammurabi. We had a wonderful time checking this civilization out as it has quite a unique play style. There are even instances where we miss having instant tech from Eurekas when we play other civs. So, take care not to get too attached to Enuma Anu Enlil. Babylon can be considered as kind of overpowered but the secret to defeating it lies in the early game.
The civ requires some form of set-up. Since they unlock tech rather quickly they need high gold and production for maintenance and such. Not to mention they take a mighty amount of turns to reseearch Mining and Animal Husbandry, both of which are crucial tech. Hence, eliminating them before they can get their empire up and running is a possible feat. We hope you found the guide helpful, if we missed or got any info wrong do hit us up in the comments section below.