Humankind is Civilization’s first strong competition, and it managed to get a lot of attention from the 4x community due to its many similarities and differences to Sid Meier’s Games.
With that being said, it is also a game that is as complex as Civilization games. Perhaps even more.
Humankind has six eras, and every Era has different Cultures, each with its own Legacy Traits, unique units, and unique Districts.
With so many options, valid strategies, and combinations of passive abilities to make your Empire thrive, it is natural to sense this game as a bit daunting.
However, a little time invested in it is more than enough to get the hang of how the game works and how those characteristics come into play.
And for everyone else, we have this guide to the best Cultures in Humankind for every era.
“During this period, humankind began its transition from a hunter-gatherer lifestyle to a more sedentary, less nomadic way of life.“
The Neolithic Era does not count to the six Eras of the game. This is the stage in which your Civilization is before adopting any Culture.
There are no options of Cultures to be adopted here. Your only goal is to gather food and claim territories.
Once you get your first Era Star, you can advance to the Ancient Era and build your first city.
Best Ancient Era Cultures
“Marked by the large-scale smelting of bronze, as well as the beginnings of urbanization and widespread use of the wheel and plow.”
This is the first Era of the game, and it will be the basis for the rest of your Empire, making this possibly the most important Culture that you pick. Picking the best Ancient Era culture in Humankind could give you a massive head start on your opponents.
The Ancient Era has plenty of good options, but there are two that are seriously noticeable for some really easy-to-use benefits that hardly go to waste.
The Zhou are a powerful Culture for any Ancient Era Empire. Their Legacy Trait provides +2 Stability on Districts. They receive a lot of stability bonuses, which allows players to expand and settle a whole lot of structures throughout the map.
The Zhou’s Emblematic Quarter — the Confucian School — gives you +3 Stability, +1 Science, and +1 Researchers Slot on City or Outpost. More important than all that, this Emblematic Quarter also grants +5 Science per adjacent Mountain.
“With loyalty to authority a central strand of the teachings of Confucius, inspired thought inspires exemplary conduct.”
This can be quite amazing if your Empire is close enough to mountains, eliminating the worries of having enough Science and Stability for your City or Outpost.
Besides all that, the Zhou also have a very powerful Emblematic Unit — the Zhànche.
“Zhànche are horse towed vehicles carrying a crew of two and help commanders observe and control the battlefield.”
They are a strong mounted Unit that can charge their targets. Due to its special trait — Heavy Cavalry — Zànche units also receive a +3 Combat Strength bonus if attacking non-adjacent enemies but cannot climb Fortifications.
The Zhànche also count with another trait, Mandate of Heaven, which grants a bonus of +3 Combat Strength when the Zhou Stability is high and, due to the Legacy trait you have by choosing this Culture, chances are your Stability will be pretty high.
This is a culture that focuses on production instead of Science. If the Zhou is the Culture you play when you don’t ever want to run out of Stability, the Egyptians are the one to pick if you don’t ever want to run out of Industry.
The Egyptians also have an emblematic unit that can move after attacking, which has a lot of value in early battles for more tactical players.
On top of all that, their Emblematic District is the Egyptian Pyramid. “The pyramids are the pharaohs eternal homes for life after death, and their district shapes help them ascend to the afterlife.”
The Egyptian Pyramid adds +1 Influence, +3 Industry, +3 Industry per adjacent Makers Quarter, but it reduces Stability by 10. It also provides +1 Workers Slot on a City or Outpost. On top of all that, the District acts as a Makers Quarters for bonuses and exploits Industry from below an adjacent tile.
Best Classical Era Cultures
The Classical Era introduces a new Strategic Resource to the Empires — Iron. Its use and its mining are unlocked once the related technologies are researched.
“Marked by the large-scale smelting of iron, as well as the rapid growth of trade along with advances in mathematics and science.”
Although this Culture is outstanding, it is not easy to make perfect use of its features. Their Legacy Trait gives them a +2 City Cap, which is good on its own already.
Things get really interesting when you go to their Emblematic Quarter, the Satrap Palace.
This is a building that provides Money like a Market Quarter, and it gives you a little bit of Influence too. However, that comes with -10 Stability.
If you were playing as the Zhou during the previous Era, you should have enough Stability to make it the least of your worries.
The Satrap Palace also provides +3 Money per Trade Routes and +1 Traders Slot on City or Outpost, making the Achaemenian Persians the perfect Culture to make Money.
Best Medieval Era Cultures
“Marked by stunning architectural achievements, chivalry, large-scale migrations, the growth of state religions, feudalism, and an acceleration in military technology.“
The Khmer’s Legacy Trait is called Servants of Magnificence, which gives your Empire +3 Industry on Makers Quarters. Their Emblematic Quarter is the Baray. It provides +5 food, +1 Industry per Population, +2 Industry per adjacent River, and +1 Workers Slot on a City or Outpost. They lose 10 Stability for it, though.
The Khmer might be a bit redundant for those who started as Egyptians. However, it can be a valid strategy that allows you to use your nearby tiles for everything else since Industry will be an abundant resource.
Their Affinity Action — Land Raiser — makes all Money and Science output of a City to be converted into Industry, and they also gain 10 Stability when they complete a District’s construction.
The Khmer Culture can assure Industry and Stability for expansionists, which is what makes this Culture so good. Never worrying about producing Industry is a great way to make sure your Empire is prosperous, and Land Raiser ensures you will always have Industry when you need it.
If your problem is food and military power, the English is most likely the best choice for you. Their Legacy Trait — Serfs’ Labor — adds +7 food per number of attached Territories on an Outpost or City.
Their Emblematic unit is a powerful ranged unit — the Longbowmen. This unit can attack even without a clear Line of Sight, which gives your Empire a tremendous advantage in combat.
Their Emblematic Quarter — the Stronghold — Adds +5 Stability, +20 District Fortification, and +3 Combat Strength in combat for Units that are either in or adjacent to the District. It can make very powerful borders that give a lot of problems to invading Empires.
Best Early Modern Era Cultures
The early modern Era presents players with a new Strategic Resource — Saltpeter — that is available once the corresponding technology is researched.
“Marked by renewed interest in science and technology, increased exploration and international commerce, growth in the fine arts, and the large-scale adoption of gunpowder.“
The Joseon has an impressive Legacy Trait, the Hall of Worthies. It diminishes your Empire’s Stability by 10, but it gives you +2 Influence, +2 Science, +1 Science per Researcher on the City or Outpost, and +1 Researcher Slot. On top of all that, it grants +3 Science per adjacent Research Quarter.
It is an excellent Culture to rush Science achievements, especially when you started as the Zhou. This Science potential can also make up for your lack of it due to past Cultures.
Their Emblematic Unit, the Geobukseon, is a naval unit that moves faster during battle and has +5 Combat Strength against adjacent targets.
They also have Foresight as an Affinity Bonus — Foresight — which allows them to research technology from the next Era.
On top of all that, they also have the Collective Minds Affinity Action, which turns a City’s Industry and Money output into Science, so you can rush all scientific developments without worrying about resources.
Best Industrial Era Cultures
At this point, we’re approaching the end game, and the Empires already have a lot of baggage and collected passive abilities from past cultures they adopted.
The Industrial Era introduces two new resources — Oil and Coal — that are available after certain technologies are researched.
“Marked by the shift from an agrarian to an urban lifestyle, mass production, and the widespread use of coal, steel, and the steam engine.“
Mexicans’ Legacy Trait is the Fields of Gold, which gives them +10% food to all Cities. That alone can solve a whole lot of issues for Empires that are too focused on Industry, Science, or Money.
Their Emblematic Quarter is the Hacienda. It grants +1 Food, +3 Food per adjacent Farmer’s Quarter, +1 Food on Tile Producing Food, and +1 Farmers Slot on the City or Outpost. It does cost 10 Stability, but separating a section of a Territory with a few Haciendas can end the food problem of any Empire.
The Mexican’s Affinity Bonus — Community — also works great for growing Empires since it adds 5 Stability when you are gaining Population. However, this bonus only lasts one turn.
Their Emblematic Unit — Soldaderas — is a Stealth Ranged Unit that remains hidden even when attacking. A combination of English and Mexican can make it very difficult for the enemy to invade your Empire.
The Germans have a Militarist culture focus. Their Legacy Trait — Iron Ordnance — adds +3 Combat Strength on Naval Units, +3 Combat Strength on Air Units, and -20% Industry Cost on Unit Production.
This is a culture that can be quite useful if you intend to mass-produce powerful units and invade nearby Territories. That is a feature that can be especially terrifying if you could anticipate some of the needed research to produce the newest Units.
The Germans’ Affinity Bonus — Vigilance — adds +30 War Support equilibrium value on Relations. That means Militarist Empires can declare Formal War without Grievances or Demands. It also means that forcing a Militarist culture to surrender is much harder.
Their Emblematic Quarter — Coking Works — adds +1 Industry per Population, +3 Industry per adjacent Makers Quarter, +10 Pollution, and +1 Workers Slot on the City or Outpost for the cost of 10 Stability.
The Germans’ Emblematic Unit is the Uboat. It cannot be seen by other units unless they’re adjacent to it. It can also ignore zones of control, and it can shoot without a clear Line of Sight. In naval combat, the Uboat is a scary unit.
The French are another good culture to rush Science if that is your goal. They have the Collective Minds affinity and Foresight like the Joseon.
Their Legacy Trait, Enlightened Thinking, adds +10% Science on all Cities. This is a culture that can be used to compensate for your lack of Science at this point of the game.
Their Emblematic Quarter — Exhibition Hall — helps a lot with Influence. It reduces Stability by 10, but it adds +1 Influence per adjacent District, +3 Influence on the Territory, and +1 Science per Population.
Best Contemporary Era Cultures
This is the late game. Empires have access to Aluminum and Uranium as Strategic Resources once they research the corresponding technologies.
“Marked by sharp growth in the discovery and exploitation of technologies in every facet of life–transportation, communication, agriculture, politics, finance and economics.“
The Australians are perfect for those who are Lacking in Industry during the late game. It adds +20% Industry on all Cities, making you able to compensate for any lack of that Strategic Resource.
That same idea can also be seen in their Emblematic Quarter, the Strip Mining Complex. This District gives you +10 Industry, +15 Pollution, -10 Stability, +50 Industry per Adjacent Strategic Resource deposit, and +1 Workers Slot on City or Outpost.
If using this Culture doesn’t make you catch up in Industry, nothing will.
The Americans are a powerful late-game expansionist culture. It can forcibly annex Territories that are occupied by other Empires’ Outposts with their Under One Banner Affinity Action.
Their Legacy Trait — American Exceptionalism — adds +10 Influence on Resources being sold, so you can’t just go to war with everybody. However, playing your cards correctly might give you a significant amount of Influence.
The Americans also have an impressive Emblematic Unit in the Contemporary Era — the Lightning. “The ultimate expression of military technology in an aircraft, this fighter has no equal in the skies.”
It is a versatile Aircraft Unit that can both perform patrol and air-strike other Empires. It can also perform anonymous airstrikes due to its Aerial Stealth ability.