Update 12/3/13: Site redesigned. I am back to working on guides and will publish new articles soon:
Wonders, City-States Guide, Religion, Civilizations, City Guide, and Victory Conditions
Carl's Civ 5 Strategy Guide
Guides for the Brave New World and Gods & Kings DLC
This Guide is Being Heavily Updated for G&K and Brave New World
At present, most Leader articles have inaccuracies and not nearly enough information, due in part to my experience as a player but largely thanks to the release of both the Gods and Kings and Brave New World DLC. I have a very long checklist of articles to renovate, many new Leaders and Civilizations to add to my lists, and new article ideas to pursue. This will take time and a lot of Civ for me, which I am sure to enjoy. The game has become the best strategy game that I've ever played. Firaxis did an incredible job tuning the game and adding new depth to what was already an immersive strategy experience.
About My Civ 5 Strategy Guide Project
Welcome to my Civilization 5 Strategy Guide. This site features articles covering gameplay in Vanilla Civ 5 and both the Gods and Kings (G&K) and Brave New World (BNW) DLC. Although I had written some Guides for Vanilla Civ 5 as a side project, I did not give this heavy attention until the release of Brave New World, which combined with the previous DLC made the game much better and inspired me to finish and polish it, to make it a huge resource for players.
The site is broken down into sections for major gameplay elements, so finding the information you need should be easy. Players who do not own either expansion pack (ie playing Vanilla Civ 5) will see information on features that may be different or not even present in their games, such as Religion without the G&K DLC or Trade Routes and Tourism without the BNW DLC. There would be no way for me to write without them in mind because many changes are so sweeping that I would have to play vanilla, then add information from each expansion and break things into far too many categories. For this I apologize, but to those of you who haven't, go buy Brave New World. Firaxis was awesome and included the features of Gods and Kings, so it's two in one - you would only lack the Civilizations that come with Gods and Kings. Any player will tell you that if you had to choose, BNW is the DLC to buy and if you already enjoy Civ 5, you will not regret the purchase.
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. Total newbies to Civ 5 should find many helpful hints that give them new ideas and strategies 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 Civ 5 combined with the depth offered by both DLC means no one can tell you one secret or infallible strategy to be successful.
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 them to your advantage. The knowledge you gain from reading strategy 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 Emperor Difficulty or above feels like a big Achievement.
List of Civilization V Strategy Guides, Sorted by Gameplay Concept
Here is a summary of the information found in each Strategy Guide I've authored for Civ 5. As stated above, the Guide's going to be around 100 pages total when all the Leader/Civilization pages are done. The descriptions here will help newbies learn of concepts to explore and serve as a sitemap of the Guide to help you locate information.
Civ 5 Leader List and Civilization Bonuses
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 DLCs, 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.
Wonders in Civ 5
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.
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.
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.
Religion - Faith for Pantheons and Founding/Enhancing a Religion
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.
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.
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, Output, & 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.
Civilization 5 Tips
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.
Space Race Victory
Not Yet Updated for BNW/G&K
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
Civilization 5 Cheats
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.
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.