Ancient Era Best Culture Tier List in Humankind (Humankind/ Max Difficulty)

In this guide I’ll first discuss some general information about how the Humankind difficulty plays in Humankind, then we’ll discuss a couple of scenarios and what the best cultures are for those scenarios. To research this guide, I have played around 80 hours of Humankind and won 1 full game on Humankind and have played a number of times through the Ancient Era picking a range of cultures and play styles.

Starting off with a general overview of the Humankind difficulty, it is the hardest in the game. If you understand the basic mechanics of the game around earning FIMS and situationally are able to pick good cultures, you will easily win against the AI in the long run. The main challenge is getting out of the Ancient Era with enough of an advantage over the AI to be able to survive long enough to our economise the AI. The AI is strongest around the middle of the Ancient Era. You will need to approximately match territory count with the AI with the most territories, as a rule of thumb. The game setup plays a big part in both how hard the humankind difficulty is and what strategies and play styles will be the best. One of the hardest ways to play os on a Pangea Map with 80% or more land mass with the recommended number of competitors for that map size. The reason is that you will have to deal with all the AIs and you will meet your first enemy Empire around the time the AI is strongest. The easiest way to play is to dedicate one continent per player with a decent size land mass because you won’t have to worry about the enemy Empires until your empire is far superior to theirs. Somewhere in the middle is a good challenge. A Pangea map with 60% land mass and the recommended number of players is a good challenge. Alternatively, 3 or fewer players per continent is also a good challenge, the fewer competitors per continent the easier the game.

Next, we’ll discuss which cultures are best for 2 scenarios. The first scenario is where you pick a medium difficulty game setup, such as Pangea with 60% land mass and the recommended number of competitors. The second scenario is where you pick an easy game setup where you are on a continent on your own or enemy empires are far enough away from you.

Let’s dive into the first scenario of a Pangea map with 60% land mass and the recommended number of competitors. Here you will need to harass and defeat at least one of your neighbours. Otherwise you will be overpowered by the AI in the Classical Era where their advantages are still relevant. So the challenge is building enough military early enough to be able to win against the AI. There are a number of types of cultures in the Ancient Era when it comes to special units, which will be key to winning. There is basically a culture for each kind of unit. We’ll exclude ships from this discussion because they can’t help with land locked cities or outposts. Any ranged unit can be good for defence but for offence you will need melee units to protect it reducing the impact of the slight combat strength advantage they have. The Babylonians have the Sabu Sa Qasti special spear unit which is good if you are defending against mounted units, but won’t help you very far offensively. There are a number of cultures that have upgraded chariots. I tried using chariots a number of times but they were always too late. By the time I had a reasonable number of them, the closest AIs had usually managed to get into the Classical Era with special spear units, which put an end to any mounted offence against that empire. The required research, strategic resources and production make it difficult to use chariots offensively.

Let’s discuss Assyrians. They have Assyrian Raiders which are a stronger mounted unit. They also require a strategic resource plus research. They also cost industry, although not as much as chariots. There are 2 problems the Assyrians have. Spearmen and Walls. If enemy empires have either of those, you won’t be able to take cities and may not even win fights. Assyrians are good for raiding, but that doesn’t give you enough of an advantage. The additional disadvantage is that you will have to spend industry on building units and you lack any economic benefits that other cultures get. So the Assyrians are situational and don’t give you a big advantage to stay strong even in the Classical Era. If you follow them up with the Huns you will have a lot of fun, but you will still have problems with taking cities and against spear units.

Now let’s discuss the Mycenaeans. Their unit does not need any strategic resource and only requires one technology. Your special quarter is also both an economic and offensive quarter, giving you additional production. I have been able to take over some enemy cities but then I struggle with science as well as money because the Promachoi cost upkeep and you will be bleeding population which is necessary for science in the Ancient Era. You won’t lose in the Ancient Era, but you will not be able to keep up with the AI in the Classical Era.

So, if you have been keeping count, that leaves the Harappans. What are you saying, David? They are the strongest military culture in the Ancient Era? Well, not quite, but they are the best culture to get you out of the Ancient Era with enough of an advantage to also win the Classical Era and power past the AI through the following Eras. The Runners are an upgraded Scout unit to make up for the AI combat strength buff on the Humankind difficulty. Plus, you get your army for free in the Neolithic Era without spending industry on building it. The more units you manage to get in the Neolithic Era the better. I have been able to get away with 6 but 7 or 8 are much better. The AI likes to pick the Harappans as well, so don’t delay advancing to the Ancient Era for too long. You will need to find enemies fast and attack cities when they have zero or 1 population, otherwise you will struggle taking cities. You will also want to keep killing enemy scout units. The AI tends to have them running around in singles or twos, attacking those with a 4 stack is a good way to build your war support to be able to declare war multiple times and take 2 cities from one of your neighbours. The other bonus is that the Harappans are an economic civ giving you additional food on tiles producing food and additional food on rivers. You will want to place your outposts on rivers to take advantage of this. The additional food will ensure that you have enough population to generate science and money which means, together with getting from cities from your neighbour, you will likely be the first to advance to the Classical Era.

So, to summarise, the Harappans are the culture that will power you through the Ancient Era the easiest on the Humankind difficulty. Their Runners buff your Scouts for free which will mean that you can easily take out enemy cities on zero or 1 population and their food bonus gives you population ensuring that you will have good science and other yields you will need to power through the Ancient Era with a good advantage to keep up with the AI in the Classical Era and easily grow past them in later Eras.

Let’s discuss the second scenario, which is where you essentially setup the game so you don’t have any AIs to compete with by putting every competitor on their own continent. In this case you will want to pick the best economic culture. The Harappans are still a strong contender because of their ability to grow population through the food bonus. The Zhou are also excellent, not only for their ability to generate science, assuming you have mountains in your territories, but also their stability buff letting you build more quarters without stability issues throughout the entire game. The Egyptians are also a strong pick for their buffs to industry as well as the Egyptian pyramid which is a good makers quarter.

In summary, if you setup the game to have nearby neighbours, the Harappans are the culture that will bet you through the Ancient Era most reliably. If you don’t have any nearby competitors in your game, the Harappans are still good and the Zhou and Egyptians are a good way to get your economy going very early on.

Next: Classical Era Best Culture

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