Carl's Civ 5 Strategy Guide
for Brave New World and Gods & Kings DLC
10/24/2014: 10 Leader Guides are undone, but the rest of the guide is 95%+ complete. I will work on this eventually but have my hands full playing Civilization: Beyond Earth and writing for The Sims 4. There is a possibiliy I will try to cover at least some of the gameplay elements from Beyond Earth, but can't make any promises. If you'd like to say thanks, you can use the donate button or use EA Origin, Gamestop, or Walmart to make a game purchase.
About My Civ 5 Site
My goal in writing this Guide is to help players new to Civ 5's turn-based strategy and those playing on lower difficulties to improve their game and get more enjoyment out of it. The Guide is broken down into sections based on game mechanics, so information you seek should be easy to find. Total newbies to the game should find many helpful hints that will give them new ideas for playing such an open-ended game. The random maps, leader personalities you'll encounter, variety of valid strategies and fact that there's no one right way to play the game offer near-infinite replayability. This, combined with the depth offered by the Gods and Kings (G&K) and Brave New World (BNW) Expansions, means that there is no infallible secret strategy to be shared.
Conditions in the game are always changing. You must learn to plan, adapt to those changing conditions, and adjust your strategy accordingly. What Guides can do is help you by giving example strategies and introducing you to Civ 5's gameplay concepts, how they work, and how to use these mechanics to your advantage. The knowledge you gain from reading these guides, your own time playing Civ 5, experimentation with new strategies and practice with Civs that suit your playstyle will see you to more satisfying conquests on higher difficulties. Winning a game is great and good fun, but winning a game of Civ on a Difficulty you have never conquered feels like a big Achievement. Here is a list of the Guides I have to offer. Check back for new additions, as there are always new pages being published and players may leave comments to help others to formulate a new strategy.
List of Strategy Guides, Sorted by Gameplay Concept
Here is a summary of the information found in each Strategy Guide I've authored for Civ 5. The descriptions here will help newbies learn of gameplay concepts to explore, provide helpful information on them, and serve as a sitemap of the Guide to aid you in locating information.
Civilizations: Leader and Bonus List
A full list of Civilizations and their Leaders with the specials buildings, units and Civ-specific powers they receive. Links to in-depth articles about Civs with strategies and the improvements and differences between the Unique Units and Unique Buildings and the regular units/structures they replace.
There are a total of 43 Civilizations to choose from in Civ 5 with all the DLC, Gods and Kings, and Brave New World. The Civ selection screen doesn't give nearly enough information and this page will help you choose and highlight strengths of Civilizations that may not be obvious at first glance. Some Civilizations and Leaders are fit for one or two types of Victory, while others offer much more open bonuses that are suitable for any victory type - although you CAN take any Civ to any kind of Victory - use Babylon's scientific bonuses to outclass the enemy's military, for example. These Guides can help you make a decision and find the perfect Civ for you, new Civs you'd like to try, and give you ideas for utilizing the strengths of the Civ.
Civ 5 Difficulty and Game Settings
Differences in AI Bonuses on Prince, King, Emperor, Immortal, and Deity Difficulty are detailed here. Also, I provide explanations for the game's Advanced Setup options which allow you to customize your gameplay experience. Check this Guide to see just how big a bonus the AI gets on the next Difficulty you're moving up to. In general, when you're winning almost every game, you should try a harder difficulty!
Civ 5 Military Unit Types, XP, and Promotions
A 7-page feature on the Unit Types in Civ 5 Brave New World. See here for Unit stats, special Promotions, production/purchase and Upgrade Costs to help you plan ahead. Covers everything from Scouts and Warriors to Stealth Bombers, Nukes, and Missile Cruisers.
Civ 5 Unique Units
A list of every Unique Unit in Civilization 5 with all DLC installed. Features what makes each unit Unique and what Promotions are kept when Upgrading each Unit to a more modern version.
Science: Maximizing Research Output
Learn all about the factors that influence your Civilization's Science per Turn and how you can improve your Research pace to out-Tech other Civs. This Guide is comprehensive and should teach newcomers a lot about how to make a truly advanced Civ for its time.
War Guide: Warmongering and Peace Treaties
A four-page Guide to War in Civilization 5. Includes information on Peace Treaties, Resurrecting Civs, Taking Capital Cities and Battle Strategies. A companion Guide to the Military Units piece that provides a lot of information on using the game's Military Units.
Diplomacy: Playing Civ Politics, Diplomatic Modifiers - Boosts and Penalties
Learn all about interacting with other Civilizations in this Guide. It covers the various options you'll get when talking to another Civ - Trades, Discuss and Demands you may make, while also focusing on what will influence your standing with them. It features a large list of things that cause a hit to relations or help your Civ to grow more friendly with others.
World Congress: Resolutions & Projects
Learn all about Delegates, Voting for Resolutions and how to manipulate the World Congress and United Nations for your own gain. Includes a full list of Resolutions and how to use them to benefit your Civ.
Trade Routes: Caravans and Cargo Ships
A full Guide to Trade Routes and how they work. Learn how Gold per Turn is factored, the maximum ranges and techs to increase them, religious pressure and Science earned from Land/Sea Trade Routes with other Civs.
A full list of all 47 Wonders in Civilization 5 and its DLC. Features stats for each Wonder on a single page, with all constructs sorted by Era to help players plan ahead. Here you will find links to in-depth articles on each Wonder in the game where players can share strategies through the site's comments system.
A Guide to Social Policies in Civilization 5. Includes a full-page Guide on each type, from Tradition to Rationalism and each individual Policy. You will find much more than basic descriptions here, rather plenty of information on what Policy Trees I personally choose and why I find they're helpful. You can share your own information, Policy/Civ combinations, and openings with other players here.
Ideologies and Public Opinion
Learn all about Civilization 5 Brave New World's 3 Ideologies (Autocracy, Freedom, and Order) and their individual Tenets. Information on Public Opinion and the various levels of Unrest Civs of Differing Ideologies will face is covered, along with how that works to produce Unhappiness and even Culture Flip Cities.
City Management: Founding New Cities, City Connections, Population, and Working Tiles
A Strategy Guide for all details of Cities in Civilization 5, covering pretty much every concept related to them from the land a City can claim to the scientific output it can produce. You'll learn all you need to know to effectively manage your Cities.
This page is the first of five sequential strategy guides that teach you all you'll need to know to manage your Cities. This first covers the concept of Citizens, population, and keeping the Empire happy and productive. City connections are also explained in detail, so that you can use little tricks like harbors and roads combined to connect distant cities without long, expensive roads or railroads connecting them. Follow the link at the end of the page to go on to the next section and learn about expanding your borders, using Citizen Management and manually working tiles, along with locking them. There's also a brief introduction to Specialists and how they fit into your Civilization. You can find a full guide to Specialists further down this page.
City Management: Food for Growth & Production for Building
Part of the City Guide; Learn the technologies and means of maximizing your Food output to achieve fast Population Growth. This Guide also talks about Production and hammers, so that you can construct Buildings and Wonders faster.
This page deserved a spot on the front page of the Guide because growing your Cities and their production capacity is so important in Civilization 5, whether you are building your Empire Tall (few cities with high population) or Wide (more Cities with lower population). You'll also learn a bit about the build queue and how you can purchase buildings with gold and faith.
City Management: Raising Science, Gold Income, Faith, Culture, and Tourism
Learn about the various types of City output that contribute to your Civilization as a whole. Learn about how you can maximize Cities' Science and Gold output along with other stats.
These Civ stats are produced by Cities and contribute to your Empire's totals. This page was separated from Food and Production because those are City-specific, while Science, Gold, Faith, Culture, and Tourism stats are accumulated Empire-wide to produce your totals. Understanding the concepts on this page, like the others in City Management, are critical to new players learning the game's features and how to get the most out of every City they control.
Food and City Growth: Making High-Population Cities
This Guide is focused on how you can use Food Focus in Citizen Management, Workers, and internal Food Trade Routes to help your Cities climb to Populations 40+ and even much, much higher depending how well you do. Overall, this is a key Guide to read if you are struggling with Science and Production in your Cities.
Defending your Cities: Combat Strength and Ranged Garrisons
As you raise the difficulty, Barbarian attacks and War both become more likely. Learn the basic information needed to defend your Cities from attack and keep your City's Workers productive. This introduces some War concepts, but doesn't go in-depth on Conquest - it's more about stopping Barbarians and invading enemy Civilizations from taking your lands.
Tall vs Wide Empires in Brave New World
Learn about the differences between Tall and Wide play, as well as the definition. This Guide features a list of Civs that are suited to each playstyle, and provides tips to playing the game with each layout.
A seven-page guide to Religion in Civilization 5 Gods and Kings and Brave New World. Introduces you to Faith generation and getting enough for a Pantheon, birthing Great Prophets to found your Religion, and an explanation of Religious Pressure and how you can use this gameplay feature to convert other Cities to follow yours. Includes detailed lists of all Beliefs, separated by category and providing tips on the best to choose depending on your goals.
Religion - Converting Cities with Missionaries/Great Prophets and Religous Pressure
This page is focused on helping you understand the Religious Pressure game mechanic and how you can use it to spread your Religion passively over the years by utilizing Trade Routes, Beliefs, Missionaries, Great Prophets, and Inquisitors.
Happiness Guide: Golden Ages & Countering Unhappines
By knowing sources of Happiness and where Unhappiness comes from, you can better manage your Empire and plan ahead. Get tips on managing Cities and learn the best ways to increase Happiness. Also covers Golden Ages.
City States - the Minor Civilizations of Civ 5
Learn about City States, a new addition to the franchise in Civilization 5 and how they've been expanded with the Gods and Kings and Brave New World DLC. This guide will teach you about the various types (Religious, Militaristic, Mercantile, Maritime, and Cultured) and how they will help your Civ to grow and become more powerful. Alliances with City States are critical for Diplomatic Victories for the votes they provide toward World Leader, while also helping you pass other World Congress proposals that can benefit your Civilization or cripple others. City States are helpful in every Victory type because of the bonuses they provide to your Civilization - from Culture, occasional military units, to Happiness and even Food to help your Cities grow faster. Friendships provide small bonuses, and Alliances typically provide double that. City-State bonuses become more powerful when your Civilization reaches the Medieval and Industrial Eras.
This Guide will teach you all about Barbarians in the game. Learn about preventing Barbarians from spawning new camps near your territory and dealing with them when they do.
Early-Game Beginner's Guide & Gameplay Concepts
This Guide seeks to inform newcomers to Civilization 5 or those looking to raise the Game Difficulty about the various things one has to think about when starting a new game and progressing through the first 100 or so turns. Utilizing all the tools at your disposal is key to winning higher-difficulty games, and this gives a rundown of those concepts with gameplay strategies to help you out. Use this page to share situational build orders and aid your fellow players.
Not Yet Updated for BNW/G&K
A list of resources in Civilization 5. Learn about tile improvements, luxury and strategic resources. This guide will help you to see what resources are really worth going to war for, and how much production, happiness, gold, and food each will bring to your cities.
Specialists and List of Buildings with Specialist Slots
Learn about the six types of Specialist in Civilization 5 Gods and Kings & Brave New World. These are used to generate resources for your Civ and create Great People, powerful additions to your society that carry with them a variety of special abilities.
Great People, Increasing GPP, Great Person Tile Improvements, & Special Abilities
Learn about the nine varieties of Great People in Civilization 5 and how they can help your Civ to flourish. Learning how best to use their specials can go a long way when attempting to play on higher difficulties. Mastery of these along with the Specialists that generate the GPP to birth them is vital information if you're going to master this deep strategy game.
Spies - Espionage Guide
Learn all about Civ 5 G&K's Spy gameplay feature. Upon entering the Renaissance and each Era after, your Civ will be granted a Spy. They may be used to Steal Technology, Stage Coups in City-States, or simply Rig Elections to help your Civ's standing with a CS. Spies are also used as Diplomats, which can get you votes for World Congress Proposals. Learn all about this feature in my Guide.
You can catch some of the most important advice without reading all the in-depth strategy articles listed here. You'll find a long list of Tips for Civ 5, broken down by category. This is very broad, and new players will likely learn all kinds of game mechanics and bits of info that they did not know before that should help them improve at playing Civ. Add your own tips by using the form at the bottom of the page to help your fellow gamers.
Ways to Win: Victory Types in Civ 5
Here you'll find information that will show you options for how to win a game of Civ 5. Each guide contains the requirements you'll need to meet in order to score a victory and tips on doing so efficiently. Provide your own victory strategies to Civ newbies by sharing tips through the form at the bottom of each page.
Brave New World updated Civ 5's Cultural Victory requirements and relies on a Tourism system to overcome Culture of other Nations, granting the victory. Learn all about Boosting Tourism, Great Works of Art and Artifacts, along with Wonders you should build to make Victory arrive earlier in a game. I also have a guide to Theming Bonuses to help you boost your Tourism even further.
Diplomatic Victory is available fairly late in the game, requiring the formation of the U.N. from the World Congress. Learn about Delegates, the importance of City-State Allies, and how you can be elected World Leader and win the game through Diplomacy.
The Domination Victory has been updated with Brave New World. You must now control all original Capital Cities to be declared the winner. This is a big improvement on the old system. Read this Strategy Guide to learn more and see tips on what Wonders to build and how best to pick your targets, and when to stop and declare peace before moving on to your next war.
Learn about the Space Race victory condition. Your goal is to be the first to leave the planet, which implies technological superiority. To do that, you'll need a load of science to be the first to get the tech, and production cities to make your space ship parts.
Cheats and Mods
Firaxis did not release Cheats with Civilization 5, but the powerful Ingame Editor mod can be installed easily and provides far more power than many games' traditional cheats. This Cheats page details your options for tinkering most any detail of a game in progress. Many thanks to the creators of this powerful tool for cheating, testing and exploring the game. The Cheats page also shows how to enable debug mode and where to get the Civilization 5 SDK which includes the World Builder.
Civ 5 Gameplay Walkthroughs
The following Walkthroughs show my gameplay on Immortal+ and may help players who are struggling, as I provide tips and highlight my mistakes.
Babylon Scientific Win on Immortal (Turn 377)
A game in which I was cornered and limited to 2 Cities with Babylon. Mongolia ate up most of my Continent and prevented expansion. A third City would have made all the difference in the world. The close proximity of this warlike neighbor resulted in defensive play that slowed my Civilization's Scientific progress.
Siam Scientific Win on Immortal (Turn 379)
A late Victory with Siam. You generally want to complete a Scientific Victory faster than I did here. We'll learn the mistakes I made that resulted in slow growth, but also some solid Diplomacy tips for dealing with a potentially nasty neighbor.
Well written & comprehensive, good job Carl! Thank you.
If you're running out of money, you probably aren't making enough use of Trading Posts and keeping all your trade routes active. With Wide play, you don't plan on having super tall Cities so don't need as much food. If all those Cities grew huge, you'd just have Happiness problems. More gold can solve that dilemma by letting you trade for more luxuries, buy city-state allies (focus on Mercantile), etc. Also, don't build everything in every city because it's unlikely you need barracks etc. everywhere unless you specifically need a National Wonder.
You may also consider specializing some Cities in Gold production, giving them just enough food and the basic buildings they need (Culture for border expansion and any +Happiness buildings), along with your banks, markets, etc. Set that to focus on Gold and it'll help, especially when you can produce wealth through the build queue.
Stop growth on some Cities so your others with more science output can grow larger, since population is so important to Scientific output.
For now, some of those tips might help until I am able to get out a full Guide.
I think Firaxis have their hooks in us, and aren't letting go... it'll be hard to play any other games with all that to conquer! I hope to at least be able to start the next game right on "prince" or its equivalent thanks to all this experience with turn-based strategy.
Myself, I am still nowhere near done with Civ V. After writing all these guides, I now seek to improve my play. Focusing one one topic at a time kind of kept me from working on my grand strategies, so I'll publish more playthroughs as time goes on to demonstrate the improvement in my play :)
Off to start a game right now!
I am not very experienced at Epic game speeds. In a way, I have been forced to stick with standard speed games to complete them at an acceptable pace to be able to write these Guides in a timely manner. I know that costs and such are multiplied based on how long the game is, but am not really sure how to answer this question. There may be things I would not do on Epic that I can get by with on Standard, like hoping for a +20 culture hut and skipping a monument as an early build in my Capital, because you'd go so much longer without that first Policy. I myself might be tempted to more often steal a worker from a City-State on Epic, given the relative time it would save.
I think a lot of the information here is valuable no matter the game speed, as I don't often say specifically you must do X then Y to be successful. I think mistakes (like the monument, or waiting a few turns on a Library to do something else) would take much longer to correct.
I've been playing civ since civ3, but due to lack of time I forgot a lot of the mechanics and especially the new mechanics in the civ5 dlc's. Reading your guides is like rediscovering the whole game and seeing things I never knew were in the game. I've been reading your guides the last two days and they are brilliant. Thanks a lot for putting so much effort in them!
I recentrly bought BNW expansion and was wondering if you could write something regarding the new social policies (I'm not sure if thats how they are called, i'm talking about the ones you get to pick when you hit industrial era and have 4 factories built), when i had to pick one for the first time, it turned out the people didn't like my choices and ended up having tons of unhappines, ruining my empire growth.
Look at the Guide to Cultural Victory to better understand how tourism overcomes culture.