Civ 6: Complete Barbarians Guide, How to Manage, Use Clans, and Switch Off

Find out everything that you need to know to deal with the Barbarians of Civilization VI.


Civilization VI is a turn-based strategy game that largely focuses on your interactions with other Civilizations or co-ordination with varying City-States, but you can’t ignore the presence of those pesky Barbarians. 

A classic staple of the series, Barbarians in Civ 6 can be a major threat at any time during a game, and knowing how to handle them can be the difference between victory and defeat. 


Whether you’re trying to figure out how to manage regular Barbarians in Civ 6, making use of and trying to understand Barbarian Clans, or just want to shut Barbarians off for good and never have to worry about them, we’ve got all of the information that you need. 

How do Barbarians work in Civ 6? 

Barbarians are a non-Civilization and non-City-State type of unit in Civ 6. They spawn mostly through Barbarian Camps, which can spawn throughout a game and around the map in most locations that are outside of a Civilization’s field of view. 

Melee outposts with normal Barbarians tend to spawn on inland tiles, Cavalry outposts usually spawn near Horses resources, and Naval outposts spawn exclusively on coastal tiles. This works a bit differently with Barbarian Clans, which we detail below. 

Barbarians can attack your Combat Units, damage your cities, pillage your improvements, and even capture your Civilian Units. Choosing to ignore Barbarians entirely can be a major risk, but there is a way to get rid of them – either before or during the game. 


How to turn Barbarians off in Civ 6

Sometimes, players want a mostly peaceful game without having to worry too much about Combat Units and maintaining a military. Fortunately, there is a way to remove Barbarians entirely from the game. 

In the game creation screen, click on ‘Advanced Setup,’ and then scroll down on the right until you locate a check box for ‘No Barbarians.’ Check this, and you’ll turn off Barbarians entirely for the duration of that game. 

How to get the Barbarian Clans update in Civ 6

For anyone who has heard about the Barbarian Clans game mode that came in a recent Civ 6 update, the good news is that it’s absolutely free. Players aren’t required to have any of the DLC content for Civ 6 and just need to make sure that their game has the latest update. 


This can vary based on which platform you use for Civ 6, but look through the menus in your launch platform to locate details on updates. Keep in mind that the update may already be applied, as the game will often automatically update before launching. 

How to turn Barbarian Clans on or off in Civ 6

Barbarian Clans is a game mode in Civ 6, and as such, it has to be enabled for a new game in order to be enjoyed. The main game creation screen allows you to tick the box for Barbarian Clans, but you can also find it on the Advanced Setup screen. 

If you are in Advanced Setup and turn on Barbarian Clans, you will not be able to turn off Barbarians by clicking the ‘No Barbarians’ box. Once on, Barbarian Clans opens up a whole new world of challenges in Civ 6 when it comes to handling and co-operating with Barbarian Clans. 

What kinds of Barbarian Clans are there? 

There are seven types of Barbarian Clans in total, each of which tends to place their outposts or Barbarian Camps in different locations. Different Clans will also create different kinds of units, making them vary quite a bit in how they will challenge you. 

The seven clans are as follows: 

  • Flatland Clan: Usually in open terrain, away from woods and hills. Prefers a balance of melee and ranged units. 
  • Woodland Clan: Usually in or adjacent to woods or rainforests. Prefers more ranged units than melee units. 
  • Hills Clan: Usually on open terrain with hills. Strongly prefers melee units. 
  • Rover Clan: Always nearby a Horses resource. Usually in open terrain and away from woods. Prefers light and heavy cavalry units. 
  • Chariot Clan: Always nearby a Horses resource. Usually in the desert. Prefers mounted vehicles and light cavalry units. 
  • Jungle Clan: Always nearby an Ivory resource. Usually inside rainforests. Prefers light and heavy cavalry units. 
  • Seafaring Clan: Always on coastal plots. Prefers anti-cavalry units and naval units. 

How do you buy units from a Barbarian Clan in Civ 6? 

One of the new interactions that you can have with a Barbarian Clan is actually the ability to purchase units trained by the Clan itself. This can sometimes be cheaper than training the units yourself, or you can even gain access to units that you can’t currently train. 

To buy Barbarian Clan units, simply click on the Barbarian Clan itself and choose the ‘Hire’ option, which will tell you the unit that you’ll be receiving and how much it will cost before you click it. This can only be done once every 15 turns.

Buying units from a Barbarian Clan will give it progress towards becoming a City-State, and the unit that you purchase will not be upgradeable. 

Keep in mind that the Barbarian Horseman and Barbarian Horse Archer are not the same as their non-Barbarian counterpart units. You can find more specific stats for those units below. 

How do you make a Barbarian Clan attack another Civilization or City-State?

On top of being able to purchase units, you can also spend your gold getting a Barbarian Clan to attack a nearby City-State or Civilization. If you select the Barbarian Clan, you’ll have the option to spend a significant amount of gold in order to ‘Incite’ them into attacking a nearby Civilization or City-State of your choosing. 

This can only be performed once every 15 turns, and it will reduce the Barbarian Clan’s progress towards becoming a City-State. Your relationship with the target will be unaffected because you’ve used the Barbarian Clan to carry out the attack. 

How do you get a Barbarian Clan to leave your city alone? 

While we’ll cover more ways to deal with Barbarians below, there is a quick fix if you’re playing in Barbarian Clans. If a particular Barbarian Clan is giving you trouble, you can simply pay them to stop. 

Selecting the Barbarian Clan will give you the option to click the ‘Bribe’ interaction, which will keep them from attacking your cities for a full 20 turns. This action adds to their progress towards becoming a City-State. 

How does a Barbarian Clan become a City-State?

As mentioned above, there are multiple actions that affect the ability of a Barbarian Clan to become civilized and form their own City-State. When this is done, they will take on the name and characteristics of any City-State not already present in that game. 

If you’re wondering if a City-State was previously a Barbarian Camp, you can spot a difference in their dotted white border, which is not the same as the colored one used for most other City-States. You can also see that their colors are white when shown on the in-game mini-map. 

Choosing to Bribe or Hire a Barbarian Clan will increase their progress towards becoming a City-State, but choosing to Incite, Raid, or Ransom from them will cause them to lose progress. When progress is complete, they will automatically change into a City-State that you can now interact with or declare war upon like any other through the duration of Civilization VI. 

How do you deal with Barbarians in Civ 6? 

Barbarians can be a major nuisance in Civ 6, and exactly how you deal with them can vary. The most direct way to deal with Barbarians is to train or purchase more Combat Units of your own that can be used to kill the Barbarian units. 

There are a few other ways to help this along, the earliest of which you’ll have access being the Discipline policy card. This is unlocked when you finish the Code of Laws Civic, which is an Ancient Era Civic and the first that you’ll research when beginning a game in the Ancient Era. Apply the Discipline policy card to a Military or Wildcard slot to get a +5 Combat Strength boost against Barbarians.

An alternative method to dealing with Barbarians in Civ 6 is through the use of an Apostle. Once you’ve purchased a new Apostle, one of the Promotions they may have access to is Heathen Conversion. An Apostle with this promotion can convert all adjacent Barbarians to your side by using a religious charge, which can mitigate Barbarians while also boosting your own military in an instant. 

What to do when Barbarians keep spawning

The exact spawn rate of Barbarians is not known for Civ 6, but it is believed to be higher if you’re playing in the Barbarian Clans game mode. The most important thing to do in order to stop Barbarians from spawning is to destroy their camp. 

If you’re not playing in Barbarian Clans, this is simply done by defeating any unit in the Barbarian Camp tile and moving your own Combat Unit into that tile. The Barbarian Camp will be destroyed immediately, and you’ll earn some gold in the process. 

It’s a good idea to watch for newly spawned Barbarian Camps across the map and take a proactive approach, rather than waiting for Barbarians to end up on your borders. If you spot a Barbarian Scout in your territory, try to kill it immediately, before it can report back to the Barbarian Camp, or prepare for it to come back later with reinforcements. 

What makes spawning different in Barbarian Clans? 

Getting rid of Barbarian Camps is a bit more complicated if you’re playing in Barbarian Clans, as you’ll have the option to Raid the camp or Disperse it. If you want to get rid of the Barbarian Camp and stop them from continuing to spawn units, choose to Disperse when your Combat Unit is in the Barbarian Camp tile. This will destroy it and award your unit some experience. 

The alternative approach is to instead Raid a camp, which will offer you some gold and you’ll have the option to Raid it again in ten turns for more gold. However, be aware that the turn after you raid it, at least one new Barbarian Combat Unit will spawn in the camp and eject your unit from it. 

How to stop Barbarians spawning in my city in Civ 6

Barbarians spawning in your city can be one of the most confusing and frustrating moments in Civ 6 if you’re not aware of how it can happen. You might even have all of the nearby Barbarian Camps under control, but Barbarians still spontaneously appear in your city. 

If that happens, there’s one primary culprit: Spies. If other Civilizations use the Recruit Partisans operation on your Civilization, they can make Barbarian Units spontaneously spawn right inside your city, even in the late game with units like Tanks. 

If you’re dealing with this issue, the best thing to do is train a Spy of your own and put it in the City Center where the Barbarians have been appearing. Use your own Spy to Counterspy, and it should help protect you from this continuing to happen. 

What happens if Barbarians take a city in Civ 6? 

One of the most drastic consequences of dealing with Barbarians can be their actual capture and destruction of your cities. If Barbarians are able to deplete your city’s health to zero, they can capture the city and will raze it to the ground to make the city disappear. 

However, Barbarians cannot capture your original Capital city because of the way those are linked to the Domination Victory. They can continue to attack your Capital and leave it at zero health, though, which would make it easy for another Civilization to capture. 

The most effective way to prevent this is to build Ancient Walls for all of your cities, and upgrading those further as you unlock better versions of Walls. While Barbarians can still attack, even Ancient Walls make a huge difference in fending them off. 

Barbarian Combat Units in Civ 6

Most of the time, when you’re facing Barbarians in Civ 6, you’ll be up against the same kinds of Combat Units that are found elsewhere in the game. Barbarians can spawn all of the same unit types that Civilizations and City-States can spawn. 

If you’re playing in Barbarian Clans Mode, they can even spawn units normally unique to a particular Civilization, such as the Mamluk from Arabia or the Okihtcitaw from the Cree. However, Barbarian Clans can only spawn unique units belonging to Civilizations that are not actively competing in that particular game. 

There are only two Combat Units that are unique to Barbarians and different from their counterparts elsewhere in Civ 6. Their details are below, including the Barbarian Horse Archer, which has different stats if you’re playing under the rules of the Rise and Fall expansion. 

Barbarian Horseman Stats in Civ 6

  • Light Cavalry Unit
  • Combat Strength: 20
  • Movement: 3

Barbarian Horse Archer Stats in Civ 6

  • Civ 6: Poland Civilization & Scenario Pack Stats
    • Ranged Unit
    • Combat Strength: 25
    • Ranged Strength: 35
    • Movement: 3
    • Range: 1
    • Sight: 2
  • Civ 6: Rise and Fall Stats
    • Ranged Cavalry Unit
    • Combat Strength: 10
    • Ranged Strength: 15
    • Movement: 3
    • Range: 1
    • Sight: 2

Capturing a Barbarian Settler or Barbarian Builder in Civ 6

Aside from Combat Units, you could also encounter a Barbarian Settler or Barbarian Builder. These operate in the same way that regular Settler and Builder units do, but the Barbarians can’t actually use them. 

In order to capture the unit, you need to move a Combat Unit of your own into the same tile as the Barbarian Settler or Barbarian Builder, at which point it will switch over to being a unit belonging to you. 

This can be a particularly easy way to acquire new Settlers and Builders, which can be hard to come by or expensive early in the game. So, always try to take them from Barbarians if you can. 

How do you get your Builder or Settler back from a Barbarian Clan? 

The method mentioned above works for taking your Settler or Builder back from a Barbarian Clan, but there is also an alternative way to retrieve them without having to bother with combat. If a Barbarian Clan captures one of your Civilization units, you can click on the clan’s outpost and see the ‘Ransom’ option. 

Ransom allows you to spend a large amount of gold in order to take back your Civilization unit. Upon payment, the Barbarian Clan will give back your unit and they will lose some progress towards becoming a City-State. 

There you have it: just about everything that you need to know to deal with Barbarians and Barbarian Clans. Hopefully this helps you to vanquish the pesky threat of the Barbarians in Civilization VI.


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Patches Chance

Hey yo, I'm Patches Chance. Everything started with my red Game Boy Pocket and a copy of Pokémon Red. A few decades, two BioShock tattoos, and one Pokémon tattoo later, I ended up here. I've also been an editor with RealSport and Daily DDT covering professional wrestling, and I've written for App Trigger and Dork Side Of The Force. You can find me basically everywhere @patcheschance.

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