Let’s talk about the civilizations and cultures that you can choose during the Ancient Era in Humankind.
The selections here will determine your early-game run, so make sure to pick the nation that suits your playstyle. Likewise, consider the emblematic units that are available. Some do require strategic resources which you might not have access to during this particular stage.
|Type||Culture||Trait||Emblematic District||Emblematic Unit|
|Aesthete||Olmecs||Natural Harmony |
+1 influence on territory
|Olmec Head |
+1 influence; +3 food; -10 stability; +1 influence per adjacent Farmers Quarter; +1 farmer slot; counts as a Farmers Quarter
|Javelin Thrower (ranged) |
Ambusher – Stronger on forest tiles.
|Zhou||Harmonious Thought |
+2 stability on district
|Confucian School |
+8 stability; +1 science; +5 science per adjacent mountain; +1 researcher slot; counts as a Research Quarter
|Zhanche (heavy cavalry) |
Mandate of Heaven – Bonus combat strength when stability is high; requires 1x horse and 1x copper.
|Agrarian||Harappans||Fertile Inundations |
+1 food on districts that produce food; +1 food on river tiles
|Canal Network |
-10 stability; +3 food; +3 food per adjacent Farmers Quarter; +1 farmer slot; tile is considered a river
|Runners (melee) |
Pathfinder – Ignores movement penalties from forests.
|Builder||Egyptians||Grand Planners |
+1 industry on tiles that produce industry; -10% industry costs for districts
|Egyptian Pyramid |
+1 influence; +3 industry; -10 stability; +3 industry per adjacent Makers Quarter; +1 worker slot; counts as a Makers Quarter
|Markabata (ranged cavalry) |
Move and Fire – Can move after attacking; requires 1x horse.
|Expansionist||Assyrians||Siege Masters |
+1 land movement on unit; +5 combat strength bonus when ransacking
+10 district fortification; +2 influence; +1 combat strength for adjacent units; fortified land unit spawn
|Assyrian Raiders (cavalry) |
Pillager – Generates additional money when destroying an outpost or camp; requires 1x horse.
|Merchant||Nubians||Golden Dreams |
+5 money on luxury resource and strategic resource deposits
|Meroe Pyramids |
+2 industry; +2 money; -10 stability; +3 money per adjacent Makers Quarter; +1 traders slot; counts as a Makers Quarter and Market Quarter
|Ta-Seti Archers (ranged) |
Exceptional Accuracy – 3-tile range; can shoot over obstacles without penalties.
|Phoenicians||Trading Pioneers |
+2 money per trader in cities/outposts
-10 stability; +2 money; +2 money per adjacent lake; +1 traders slot; replaces Harbor; is a naval unit spawn; allows units to embark without movement point costs; counts as a Farmers Quarter and Market Quarter
|Bireme (ship) |
Navigator – Damaged by consecutive turns spent in deep water.
|Militarist||Hittites||Lust For War |
+1 combat strength
Automatically upgrades regular outposts; fortified land unit spawn
|Gigir (heavy cavalry) |
Suppression – The targetted unit can either move or attack next turn, but not both; requires horses and copper.
|Mycenaeans||Brutal Upbringing |
-20% industry cost for units; +25 experience when creating units in cities or outposts
|Cyclopean Fortress |
+15 district fortification; +3 industry; +15 stability; +2 combat strength for adjacent units; fortified land unit spawn; counts as a Makers Quarter; increases movement cost for adjacent hostile armies
|Promachoi (melee) |
Champion – Stronger when attacking during the first round of battle.
|Scientist||Babylonians||Philosophers of the Wilds |
+2 science in the capital for every researched technology
|Astronomy House |
+1 food and +1 science per researcher; -10 stability; +1 food and +3 science per adjacent Farmers Quarter; +1 researchers slot; counts as a Farmers Quarter and Research Quarter
|Sabu Sa Qasti (anti-cav) |
Guardian – Stronger when standing on friendly districts; requires 1x copper.
I consider the Harappans to be the best culture in Humankind during the Ancient Era. It’s got a Legacy Trait that remains helpful throughout your campaign since food continues to help your empire grow. Moreover, all tribal units in the Neolithic Era automatically turn into the Runner, a stronger variant of the Scout. This allows you to do the Harappan Runner Rush as you can see in our Ancient Era guide.
If you’re unable to choose the Harappans, then there are decent alternatives in Egypt (+industry), Babylon (+science), the Olmecs (+culture), and the Zhou (+stability and science). The Nubians are also fairly strong thanks to their unique unit. Just try to avoid scenarios where you’re left with only Phoenicia or Assyria because those civs are underwhelming.
Anyway, the next part of our Humankind guide talks about the Classical Era civilizations and cultures.