Civ 6: Free February Update Introduces New Barbarian Clans Game Mode

Civilization VI has launched another free update and with it, a brand new game mode to play.

We’ve seen lots of developments in recent months: Civ 6 has dropped new DLC for the New Frontier Pass and through individual packs like the Babylon or Vietnam & Kublai Khan packs. Yet, the 2021 February Update is actually free and available to all players. In addition to various game balancing changes and improvements, there’s a brand new Barbarian Clans game mode. 

New game modes have been a staple of recent Civ 6 DLC, with favorites like Heroes & Legends, Dramatic Ages, and Monopolies & Corporations continuing to improve on the core game. Each has taken an existing mechanic or piece of the game and upgraded it to something particularly special. 

When you create a new game, you can choose which of these unique game modes to enable, so you will have the option to leave Barbarian Clans off or try it out with a new game. There’s also a new Leader Selection Pool, which helps to keep things a bit random while narrowing down the actual options. 

So, here’s what you can look forward to from the free Civilization VI February update.

New Barbarian Clans game mode expands enemy options

Image Source: Sid Meier’s Civilization, via YouTube

The biggest change coming in the Civ 6 February Update is the addition of the Barbarian Clans game mode. Many players have been frustrated in the past with the simplistic and relatively inconsistent ways that Barbarians operate in the game. 

Fortunately, the developers of Civ 6 have listened and introduced this new mode to deal with that exact issue. Instead of just wiping out enemy Barbarians, they’re now representative of one of seven Barbarian Clans in the game. 

Each of the unique Barbarian Clans can make progress towards converting from a simple camp into a brand new City-State.

Here are each of the new clans, as well as the ways that they operate and the locations that tend to be found in: 

Flatland Clan: Usually found in open terrain away from woods and hills, prefers a balance of melee units for attack and ranged units for defense.

Woodland Clan: Usually found in or adjacent to woods and rainforests, prefers more ranged units than melee and uses them for both attack and defense.

Hills Clan: Usually found on open terrain with hills, strongly prefers melee units and may exclude ranged units entirely.

Rover Clan: Usually found near a Horse resource in open terrain away from woods, prefers as many mounted light and heavy cavalry units as possible for attack and defense.

Chariot Clan: Usually found near a Horse resource in the desert, prefers mounted vehicles and light cavalry, rarely using ranged units.

Jungle Clan: Usually found near an Ivory resource inside rainforests, prefers a mixture of light and heavy cavalry supported by foot and ranged units.

Seafaring Clan: Always found on coastal plots, defends with land-based anti-cavalry units but otherwise exclusively uses naval melee and naval ranged units for scouting and attacking.

New unit commands for Barbarian Outposts

When combat units enter a Barbarian Outpost following the defeat of a unit, or if it’s currently unoccupied, there are now two different options for interaction. In the past, the Barbarian Outpost was instead automatically destroyed and wiped off of the map. 

Disperse Clan: This works similarly to how it did before and will destroy the clan completely, earning experience points for doing so.

Raid Clan: This will instead reward you with Gold and reduce the clan’s progress towards becoming a City-State, but the Barbarian Outpost will not be destroyed, will gain immunity to raids for a short time, and spawn a defender unit.

New player commands to interact with Barbarian Clans

Image Source: Sid Meier’s Civilization, via YouTube

With new options to interact with Barbarian Clans also come new commands that change based on how you wish to go about that relationship. Four new commands are available and will all ultimately affect the ability of the Barbarian Clan to become a City-State. 

Hire Clan: You can spend Gold to permanently purchase the best military unit that the clan can currently train, which gives them progress towards becoming a City-State.

Ransom Unit from Clan: You can spend Gold to recover a civilian unit (such as a Builder or Settler) that has been captured by the Barbarian Clan, which will lower their progress towards becoming a City-State.

Bribe Clan: You can spend Gold to expel units from your territory and keep them from targeting your cities for a number of turns, which gives them progress towards becoming a City-State.

Incite Clan: You can spend Gold to hire the Barbarian Clan to raid and attack the cities of a rival Civilization, which will lower their progress towards becoming a City-State.

New Leader Selection Pool

Image Source: Sid Meier’s Civilization, via YouTube

In previous Civ 6 updates, the ability to manually select features of newly created games, such as the World Wonders that will be found on the map, have been added. They’ve continued this trend of being able to more carefully control a still random game with the new Leader Selection Pool. 

With this new feature, you can create two different custom Leader Selection Pools with a manually selected array of Leaders to be used in either single or multiplayer games. This means that you can select a handful of Leaders that you want to try, but still let it be random amongst that group as to who you get in your game. 

This also allows you to exclude certain Leaders. If particularly military-focused Leaders are becoming a pain in your games, you can remove them from the new Leader Selection Pool while still making sure that your opposing AI is still random. 

2021 Civ 6 February Update balance changes

Image Source: Sid Meier’s Civilization, via YouTube

There are always little balance changes that come over time, and Civilization VI takes special care to keep the game as fair as they possibly can, despite the mass complexities within. The following balance changes have been made via the Civ 6 February Update, and will be active for all players, per the game update posted to the Civilization VI Steam page. 

Some note an expansion pack at the end of the change (Rise and Fall, Gathering Storm, Babylon Pack, etc.), which means that the pieces that are balanced are only available if you have the applicable DLC. 

General updates and fixes

  • Fixed an issue where the Basilikoi Paides Barracks replacement was not properly applying the combat strength increase for Lahore’s Nihang unit (Maya & Gran Colombia Pack).
  • The Llanero (Maya & Grand Colombia Pack) and Oromo Cavalry (Ethiopia Pack) don’t require a strategic resource in order to train now.
  • Earth Goddess now gives 1 Faith for Breathtaking tiles (Gathering Storm).
  • Fixed an issue where the Coastal Raid unit action was not properly raiding coastal plots with support units on them.
  • Fixed an issue where games with 20 Civs and 24 City-States would start without a Free Cities player, making rebellions from loyalty impossible.

Natural Wonder updates

  • Cliffs of Dover gives 3 Gold, 3 Culture, 2 Food.
  • Crater Lake now gives 5 Faith instead of 4.
  • Lysefjord gives +1 Production to adjacent tiles.
  • Giant’s Causeway provides +1 Culture to adjacent tiles.
  • Campus District now receives a major adjacency bonus for the Great Barrier Reef.
  • Removed the major adjacency bonus for the Theater Square and Commercial Hub from Paititi (Maya & Gran Colombia Pack).

Governments update

  • Autocracy Policy Slots are now 1 Military, 1 Economic, 1 Diplomatic, 1 Wildcard (Previously 2, 1, 0, 1).
  • Oligarchy Policy Slots are now 2 Military, 1 Economic, 0 Diplomatic, 1 Wildcard (Previously 1, 1, 1, 1).
  • Monarchy Policy Slots are now 2 Military, 1 Economic, 1 Diplomatic, 2 Wildcard (Previously 3, 1, 1, 1).
  • Merchant Republic Policy Slots are now 1 Military, 2 Economic, 2 Diplomatic, 1 Wildcard (Previously 1, 2, 1, 2).
  • Monarchy now gives +2 Favor from each Renaissance Walls in addition to housing (Gathering Storm).

Buildings update

  • Arena and Tlachtli buildings provide +2 Amenities.
  • Ferris Wheel now provides +2 Amenities (Rise and Fall, Gathering Storm).
  • Audience Chamber now provides +2 Amenities and +4 Housing.
  • Add the Water Park building to Toronto (Rise and Fall) and Mexico City (Gathering Storm).

Red Death scenario update

  • Removed non-functional map options such as resources, start positions, and temperature from Game Setup menu because they don’t apply to Red Death.

Ethiopia Pack fix

  • Fixed an issue where extra Great Work slots on a building would disappear when a bank created by a Great Merchant would be replaced by the Gilded Vault during Secret Societies mode gameplay.

Byzantium and Gaul Pack fix

  • Fixed an issue where the Culture Industry Golden Policy card would provide +25 percent Production to specialty districts when it should only apply to non-specialty districts.

Pirates Scenario fix

  • Fixed an issue where players could spam tavern visits in the same turn.
  • Fixed an issue where the City Banner tooltips would display incorrect text when viewing the “Sack City” and “Visit Tavern” tooltips.

Vietnam and Kublai Khan Pack fixes

  • Hero ability Maui’s Inventions will now only spawn a random resource that already exists in the world to prevent players from being granted a Monopoly on a single resource.
  • Fixed an issue causing redundant failure messages for Corporation creation.
  • Fixed an issue causing Kublai Khan’s agenda not to count negative modifiers towards military power.
  • Fixed a crash that would occur when a player tried to steal a Corporation from another player.

Undocumented changes

  • Craftsmen is now a Military policy card.
  • Colonial Taxes and Colonial Offices are now Diplomatic policy cards.

Multiplayer updates

  • “No and stop asking” responses are disabled when human opponents engage in diplomatic options with the player during Multiplayer gameplay.
  • Improved matchmaking.

AI updates

  • AI has a greater bias towards building air units.
  • AI will use better formations for air units.
  • AI will have more aircrafts ready.
  • AI will more efficiently use anti-air against aircrafts.
  • AI will place a larger value on trades that include strategic resources related to air units.
  • Increase AI’s desire to engage in the Culture race.
  • Strengthened bias against building too many Spaceports.
  • AI will not build units that require an ongoing resource that they don’t have.
  • Fixed an issue where the AI would offer more Gold per turn than intended for low-value items.

UI updates

  • Fixed an issue where a Civilization’s data would be erased from the CO2 Levels Global Contribution graph after they were removed from the game.
  • Fixed an issue where Sleep icons were missing from the Unit List in the World Tracker.
  • Various text updates.

Console updates for all consoles

  • Fixed an issue where the Defeat screen buttons would not function if the player was defeated before another player settles a city in multiplayer.
  • Fixed a wooden border that was present in the Global Resource Report screen.
  • Fixed an issue that would cause the Great People menu to be overlapped by the Notifications menu.
  • Fixed an issue with an extra symbol being present in the Purchase with Gold tooltip.
  • Fixed an icon for Taoism being displayed as the Mongolia icon for China in the Path to Nirvana game creation menu.
  • Fixed a crash that would occur after a desync in multiplayer.
  • Fixed a crash that would occur when progressing through gameplay during the late game.
  • Fixed an issue where a message prompt does not appear when setting the number of City-States in the Single Player game creation menu.
  • Fixed an issue where Great People tooltips display on the Heroes tab of the Heroes & Great People menu.
  • Fixed a temporary hang that could occur when starting a game after launch.

Console update for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One

  • Fixed a redundant banner that could appear during a Rise & Fall ruleset game.

Console update for Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4

  • Fixed an overlapping issue in the Create Game menu with the Game Random Seed and Map Random Seed text.

Console updates for Nintendo Switch

  • Fixed an issue that would cause the right tray expand button not to be present when Joy-Cons are not attached.
  • Fixed a City Recommendation tooltip that would not display when toggling tooltips.

Console Update for Xbox One

  • Fixed a crash that would occur when loading into a multiplayer game after joining a friend’s game.

Of course, the highlight of the free 2021 Civ 6 February Update is the Barbarian Clans game mode, but there are also loads of other more subtle updates that will improve the game for everyone.

Patches Chance

Hey yo, Patches Chance here bringing nearly a decade as a writer and editor to the table which included Paste Magazine, Heavy, Daily DDT, App Trigger, Dork Side of the Force, RealSport101, and of course OutsiderGaming.


Please don't flip the table, we just had it replaced.


Scarlet/Violet is the only thing I'm really actively playing at the moment. My favorite game is BioShock, and the hardware I have right now is PC, Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series S, and PS4.

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