Barbarians encompass various hostile groups unaffiliated with either civilizations or city-states. They are based in outposts found within unclaimed territory, and their colors are dark red and black.
Barbarians come from outposts, which have chance of appearing randomly in any tile that is not in a unit's field of vision. Each outpost starts with a fortified anti-cavalry unit (Spearman, Pikeman, etc.), which stays there as a permanent guardian; and a Scout, which will roam far and wide in search of places to raid.
Each barbarian unit belongs to its own home outpost, and won't stray too far from it (unless it's the Scout). There are three types of barbarian outposts: Naval, Cavalry, and Melee.
A civilization will earn a Gold reward for dispersing a barbarian outpost, in addition to the benefit of stopping it from spawning more barbarian units. The method for this is simple: any land unit must enter the tile of the outpost. You'll have to defeat the guardian unit first, of course (or force it off the tile with a Winged Hussar).
Unlike in earlier games, barbarians have a more devious play-style. Like other civilizations, barbarian outposts will send Scouts to survey the land. If the scouts find a city, they will attempt to "report" back to their home outpost; if successful, the outpost will launch a wave of barbarian raiders that will attack the city. This wave usually consists of three units, which spawn in three successive turns after the return of the Scout. The flip side is that if the Scout doesn't manage to report, the outpost won't spawn any additional units, even if attacked.
Barbarian units will target the nearest city their Scout has spotted. They will maraud around it, pillaging improvements, plundering Trade Routes, trying to capture civilians, and attacking your military units. They usually won't attack the city itself. Barbarian Scouts behave differently - they never attack, and will only plunder Trade Routes. Generally, they prefer to head back to their home outpost as soon as they spot a target for a raid.
Outposts are further affected by location and strategic resources. Melee outposts spawn on most inland tiles and will produce run-of-the-mill land units. Cavalry outposts spawn near Horses and will employ mounted units in their assaults. Naval outposts spawn on coastal tiles and will create naval units (equal to those available to the civilization with the most advanced tech). Barbarian naval units will menace your coastline, destroying naval improvements and attacking hapless land units which stray too close to the coast. It's important to maintain a navy to keep them off your back, but the best way to stop these attacks is to destroy the coastal outposts nearby.
In Civilization VI speed is paramount when dealing with Barbarians. If you don't move fast, you'll soon see a party of Barbarians at your borders, ready to destroy your improvements or conquer your city. This is why it's important to periodically survey the land around your civilization, destroying outposts before they become a threat. Always try to kill any Barbarian Scouts as soon as you see them, and if you don't manage to keep the Scout from reporting, prepare for a heated battle immediately.
Cavalry outposts are usually the most annoying kinds to deal with. Their units are fast, tough, and ignore Zone of Control, which makes them very difficult to counter in the early game. If you notice such an outpost, train some Spearmen ASAP, because they will be of immense help. Then make it a priority to destroy the outpost.
Historically, barbarians came in two types: those who wandered about and those that settled down. The latter became "civilized" and built cities, empires and such. The former plagued the latter, raiding the borders and upsetting the empire's citizens. Generally organized along tribal lines, these barbarians – far from the "noble savage" stereotype, most of them really were brutal, cruel and warlike – were nomads, establishing temporary outposts from which to attack civilization and each other as well. When the fun of all that rampaging wore off, or when an organized army showed up and thrashed them, the surviving barbarians would pack up and move on, to establish another outpost sometime later somewhere else. Since it was generally a good idea – if one were a barbarian – not to be easily found by the civilized, the outposts over time were located in more inaccessible (and defensible) places ... until, of course, there were no such places left.
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