Update 12/11/13: I am back to working on Strategy Guides for the DLCs. Here are the latest::
Zulu, England, Assyria, The Maya, Wonders, Religion, Civilizations, and a City Strategy Guide
Civilization 5: List of Civs and their Leaders
Civ Bonuses, Unique Unit and Building Differences
This list of all Civilizations in Civ 5, Gods and Kings and the Brave New World DLC showcases the various Perks to playing each Civ - from their Leader Bonus, to the Unique Units (UU), Unique Buildings (UB), and Terrain Improvements available to them. What is unique about this list is that it shows the difference between each UU and UB and the original structure or unit it replaces. This should help you come up with ideas for how you might like to play a certain Civilization, the Victory Condition you'll pursue, how you'll set up your Cities and when you may decide to press for War.
In investigating the Unique Units and Buildings, I tried to be very thorough in highlighting differences, but will appreciate any additional information experienced players want to throw my way. Use the Comments system below to add a tip to the page.
There are several DLC available on Steam for Civ 5 that add Scenarios and Civilizations to the game - these are labeled DLC (Steam). Those that come from Gods and Kings are labeled G&K, and those from Brave New World, BNW. Players who own the lastest DLC, Brave New World, get all features of Gods and Kings, except for the Civilizations - so if you want to buy one of the DLC, this is the one to get - it also makes Civ 5 one of the best strategy games ever made. Go back and grab Gods and Kings when it's on sale if you wish to also own the Civilizations.
Disclaimer on In-Depth Leader Guides - Many Need Updating for G&K and BNW
I've left many Leader Guides unlinked from this page, for most of the information is outdated or not up to the new standard of quality I have set for this Guide. I feel that only those Civs linked on this list are worthy of their spot. If you go to any of those pages, you can find the navigation to the other, older pages, and will likely see what I mean. I will link new leaders to the list regularly as I get more experience playing them and understand the common strategies employed for success.
For now, this list will help in the way it's intended - to give a rundown on the UUs and UBs available to all 43 Civs and show the differences so you can see if the Unit appeals to you before you pick a Civilization. I hope it's helpful - I certainly learned a lot and know of some new things I'll be trying now that I've done the work to create this list.
Few of the in-depth Civ Guides are of good quality, so of course I intend to finish the others. Eventually, I will want all 43 Civs' individual pages linked from this list with information on AI tendencies and deeper information on the UUs and UBs. I'll also write out common strategies and ideas I come up with for how to play the various Civilizations. This project, along with the rest, will probably take me several months at the minimum given I want to play well with a Civ before I write about strategies.
vs Original Unit
Difference vs Original
|Gateway to Africa - +3 Gold and +1 Culture for each trade route with a different Civ/CS. Other Civs get +2 gold for each route sent to Morocco||Berber Cavalry (Cavalry) - +25% Combat Bonus in your territory, +50% Combat Strength fighting in Desert||Kasbah (Tile Improvement) - Food, Gold, Production +1 and +50% Defense for units stationed there. May only be built on Desert tiles, after Chivalry.||BNW|
|Hellenic League - City-State Influence degrades at half and recovers at twice the normal rate, also eliminates Trespassing penalties.||Companion Cavalry (Horseman) - Combat is more likely to produce Great Generals, +1 moves (5), +2 Strength (14).||Hoplite (Spearman) - +2 Combat Strength (13)||Vanilla|
|Treasures of Nineveh - Gain a free Tech discovered by the owner of the city when Conquering it through War. (Trade doesn't count, and only once per city).||Siege Tower (Catapult) - Strength +5 (12), No set-up, Cover I Promotion (ranged defense), +1 sight, +200% bonus vs Cities itself and Units within 2 hexes get +50% attack bonus on Cities.||Royal Library (Library) - Great Work of Writing slot that, when filled, will give +10XP to newly trained units in addition to benefits provided by Barracks, etc.||BNW|
|River Warlord - Triple gold from pillaging Barb encampments and Cities. Land units gain Water Canoe and Amphibious promotions - attack better from water with better sight and Combat Strength while embarked.||Mandekalu Cavalry (Knight) - 10 less Cost in Production, -33% Penalty to Attacking Cities Removed||Mud Pyramid Mosque (Temple) - Culture +2 in addition to usual +2 Faith. 0 Gold Maintenance.||Vanilla|
|Scourge of God - Double Raze speed. Uses City Names from other Civs. Starts with Animal Husbandry and earns +1 Production per Pasture||Horse Archer (Chariot Archer) - +1 Melee Strength (7), Rough Terrain Penalty Removed. Starts with Accuracy I upgrade - +15% against units in Open Terrain||Battering Ram (Spearman) - City Attack Only so no Bonus vs Mounted. -1 Strength over normal, yet gets a +300% Bonus vs Cities. -33% Defense against attackers, so keep it safe.||G&K|
|The Glory of Rome - +25% Production in other Cities toward any Building that exists in the Capital.||Ballista (Catapult) - +2 Ranged Strength (10), +1 Melee Defense (8). Simply a stronger Catapult that still has to set up.||Legion (Swordsman) - +3 Combat Strength (17). Capable of building Roads and Forts, the only Non-Worker that can do this. Use them to connect new Cities and help your workers in times of peace.||Vanilla|
|Furor Teutonicus - Defeating a Barbarian in an Encampment gives you a 50% chance they join your side. Land unit maintenance costs 25% less.||Landsknecht (Pikeman) - Same stats as a Pikeman, but cost only 45 Production as opposed to 90.||Panzer (Tank) - Gains +10 Combat Strength (80) and +1 Move (6).||Vanilla|
|Druidic Lore - +1 Faith per city with adjacent unimproved Forest tiles. Increases to +3 when 3 or more Forest are present.||Pictish Warrior (Spearman) - Removed bonus to Mounted, but gain +20% Combat Bonus when outside Friendly territory. Also, no Movement Cost to Pillage Tile Improvements and earns 50% of a slain enemy's strength as Faith.||Ceilidh Hall (Opera House) - Gives +3 Happiness, vs 0 on a regular Opera House||G&K|
|Solidarity - Free Social Policy each time you advance an Era||Winged Hussar (Lancer) - Heavy Charge forces defenders to retreat if it deals more damage than the Lancer. When they can't flee, they take more damage. Comes with Shock I (+15% Combat in Open Terrain).||Ducal Stable (Stable) - Gives +15XP to mounted units in addition to the usual production bonus. Pastures provide +1 Gold in addition to the usual +1 Production, also requires no Gold maintenance.||BNW|
|Siberian Riches - Strategic Resources give +1 Production. Horse, Iron, and Uranium give double quantity for larger armies or more trading.||Cossack (Cavalry) - +33% Combat Bonus when fighting damaged enemies, so have your ranged tap them first!||Krepost (Barracks) - Usual +15XP of Barracks but reduces Culture and Gold Costs of acquiring new tiles by 25%, expanding your lands.||Vanilla|
|Achaemenid Legacy - Golden Ages last 50% longer. Units get +1 Movement and +10% Combat Strength during Golden Ages.||Immortal (Spearman) - +1 Combat Strength (12), Heals at Double Rate - 20 outside friendly territory to 50 in a City.||Satrap's Court (Bank) - Gives +2 Happiness unlike a Bank (0), along with an additional +1 Gold, bringing it to +3||Vanilla|
|Phoenician Heritage - Coastal Cities get a free Harbor. Units may cross mountain after the first Great General is born, but will take 50 damage if ending a turn on a Mountain.||African Forest Elephant (Horseman) - Doesn't require Horses, but costs 100 instead of 75 like a Horseman. Enemies nearby take a -10% Combat penalty. Loses 1 Move (3) but gains 2 Strength (14). Comes with Great Generals II Upgrade, making them spawn more quickly from using this unit in combat.||Quinquereme (Trireme) - +3 Combat Strength over usual Trireme, bringing it to 13.||G&K|
|Sun Never Sets - +2 Naval unit Movement and +1 Extra Spy when introduced in the Renaissance||Longbowman (Crossbowman) - Range +1, which is a huge advantage||Ship of the Line (Frigate) - +7 Ranged Strength (35), +5 Defense (30), +1 Sight - a big bonus with the native Movement of English Ships.||Vanilla|
|Serenissima - No Building of Settlers nor Annexing of Cities - you can only fully control one City, but get double the Trade Routes your tech level would normally provide. Your only method of taking control over other cities is to Puppet them with the Merchant of Venice UU. Venice gets the ability to purchase in Puppeted Cities.||Merchant of Venice - May buy City-States for Gold. Has Trade Missions like a regular Great Merchant, but they are 100% more effective. These are spawned instead of Great Merchants, and you'll get a free one when you research Optics.||Great Galleass (Galleass) - Costs 10 more than a regular Galleass at 110 Production, but has +3 Ranged Strength (20 total) and +2 Defense (18 total).||BNW|
|Spice Islanders - First 3 Cities founded on continents other than where Indonesia started each provide 2 unique Luxury Resources and can never be Razed.||Kris Swordsman (Swordsman) - Gets a random upgrade after Combat. Most of these are incredible bonuses, like fully healing after a non-barbarian kill or 1 extra attack+move per turn. Unfortunately, some Units may get cursed blades that reduce their effectiveness in Combat but in general, the Mystic Blades rock and you'll want to be careful not to lose Units with certain upgrades.||Candi (Garden) - The usual great person generation of a Garden, but with +2 Faith for each World Religion with at least 1 follower in the City.||BNW|
|Population Growth - Unhappiness from number of Citizens halved, while unhappiness from number of Cities doubled.||War Elephant (Chariot Archer) - Loses 1 move (down to 3) but also ditches the Rough Terrain Penalty that costs a Chariot's moves should it move into rocky terrain. Its Ranged Strength is +1 (11 total) with a hefty boost to melee defense, up to 9 from the Chariot's 6.||Mughal Fort (Castle) - Gives +2 Culture where a Castle gives none. After Flight is researched, it'll give +2 Tourism as well. The cost is about 8% cheaper, from 160 to 150 Production.||Vanilla|
|Mongol Terror - +30% Combat Strength when fighting City-State units or City-States themselves. All mounted units get +1 movement.||Keshik (Knight) - Like a Knight, but with +1 moves (5) and ranged, being unable to Melee but able to fire from 2 tiles away. Combat with these will generate Great Generals faster, while the unit simultaneously gets a 50% boost to XP earned from combat. The Knight's penalty to attacking Cities is gone, while they retain the ability to move after attacking - a very potent City raiding unit of the early-mid game.||Khan (Great General) - Gets the usual Great General uses, but also comes with Enhanced Medic, healing adjacent units by 15 hp per turn. They can also move 5 hexes as opposed to the usual 2. Note the unit beneath the Khan will not be healed, so it's best to position them with units around to maximize the effect. Khans along with other mounted can retreat, wait a few turns outside combat range, and return fully healed.||DLC (Steam)|
|Nobel Prize - Gain 90 Influence gifting Great People to City-States. Declarations of Friendship give Sweden and the friendly Civ a +10% GPP boost toward Great People.||Hakkapeliitta (Lancer) - Great Generals give +30% combat bonus if in the same tile. This is easy to accomplish, as a GG stacked with the Hakkapeliitta will inherit the same moves (4).||Carolean (Rifleman) - Starts with March, which will heal it every turn, even if it performs an action. Keep a Medic nearby for maximum effect, so that it can get larger heals every turn, helping it last longer in combat and when attacking Cities.||G&K|
|Spirit of Adwa - +20% Combat Bonus to all Units when fighting a Civ with more Cities than Ethiopia.||Mehal Sefari (Rifleman) - Costs 200 vs 225 for a Rifleman. Starts with Drill I, giving a bonus in Rough Terrain and good opportunity for upgrades straight out of a Military Academy. Gets a +30% Combat Bonus while fighting from inside the Capital, which diminishes in power as it gets a few hexes away.||Stele (Monument) - Gives +2 Faith in addition to the regular +2 Culture of a Monument.||G&K|
|Viking Fury - Embarked units gain 1 movement and pay only 1 movement to move from sea to land. Melee units do not lose movement to Pillage, providing them ample healing near enemy Cities.||Berserker (Longswordsman) - Gets +1 Movement (3 total) and begins with the Amphibious promotion, eliminating combat penalties for attacking from sea or across a river.||Norweigan Ski Infantry (Rifleman) - 25% combat bonus in unforested Hills, Snow, and Tundra tiles. Also moves double through those tiles.||DLC (Steam)|
|Ships of the Desert - Caravans gain +50% extended range. Land/sea trade routes spread the home city's religion at double effectiveness. Get double Oil Strategic Resources.||Camel Archer (Knight) - Ranged unit replacing the Knight. Gets -3 defensive strength (17) but has a ranged combat strength of 21. Removes the penalty for attacking Cities while retaining the ability to move after attacking.||Bazaar (Market) - Gives 1 extra copy of each Luxury Resource near the city. Oil and Oasis provide +2 Gold. Bazaars give +1 base gold as well.||Vanilla|
|The Great Warpath - Units and Caravans move through forest/jungle in your territory as if they were roads and these tiles can be used to establish City Connections (build roads in between).||Mohawk Warrior (Swordsman) - Gains +33% Combat Bonus in Forest/Jungle (even if on hill) and doesn't require iron unlike the Swordsman it replaces.||Longhouse (Workshop) - Gives the regular bonuses of a Workshop but also provides +1 production to each worked Forest Tile. Even better with Lumber Mills.||Vanilla|
|Seven Cities of Gold - Gold Bonus from discovering Natural Wonders. All tile yields from Natural Wonders doubled if you can get one within workable range.||Tercio (Musketman) - +50% Bonus vs Mounted Units. Has +2 higher Combat Strength than Musketmen, at 26 vs 24 but costs 10 more Production (160).||Conquistador (Knight) - City attack penalty removed. Double defense when Embarked, +2 sight range and can settle Cities on other Continents.||G&K|
|Wayfinding - Units can Embark over Oceans immediately. +1 sight when Embarked. +10% Combat Strength if within 2 tiles of a Moai.||Maori Warrior (Warrior) - Haka War Dance Upgrade makes all enemies in adjacent tiles suffer -10% Combat Strength penalty.||Moai (Tile Improvement) - Build on land along coast. Gives +1 culture, up to +3 if adjacent to other Moai. When Flight is researched, Moai receive +1 gold each.||DLC (Steam)|
|Mare Clausum - Resource diversity grants double gold for Portugal in each trade route, which can amount to a lot of extra Gold.||Nau (Caravel) - +1 sight. Can use Exotic Cargo ability to generate gold and XP, more the further it is from the Capital. You may only use this ability once per unit.||Feitoria (Tile Improvement) - Build along a City-State's coast in a spot without a resource. This will give you a copy of each Luxury resource the CS has connected, but can't be traded. Units defending in the Feitoria will get a +50% defensive bonus as though using a Fort.||BNW|
|Diplomatic Marriage - Allows you to spend gold to Annex or Puppet a City-State that has been an ally for 5 turns. This will cost you about 1500 gold or less.||Hussar (Cavalry) - +1 Movement, Flank Attack bonuses increased +50% and gets +1 Extra Sight.||Coffee House (Windmill) - Loses the flat terrain requirement and the +10% production toward buildings, but gets 5% flat production and provides +25% Great People generation in the city||G&K|
|(Sacrificial Captives) - Gains culture for the empire for each enemy unit killed||Jaguar (Warrior) - A great UU. Heals 25 damage when it kills a unit, gets a +33% combat bonus in forest/jungle giving it freedom to choose the open terrain upgrades for versatility, and moves through forest and jungle at double the usual rate.||Floating Gardens (Water Mill) - Allows construction in cities near lakes in addition to rivers. Provides a whopping +15% growth to the city, reduces gold maintenance from 2 to 1. A great UB all-around that you will want to try to slip in early for maximum effect.||Vanilla|
|City of Light - Museum and World Wonder theming bonuses are doubled in their Capital||Musketeer (Musketman) - +28 instead of +24 Combat Strength. Perhaps the most straightforward UU bonus out there.||Chateau (Tile Improvement) - May be built adjacent to luxury improvement, but not another Chateau. Acts as a fort, but must be built in French Territory. Starts with +1 Gold/+2 Culture to the tile when worked, rises to +3 Culture/+3 Gold with Flight.||Vanilla|
|Ingenuity - Free Great Scientist at the invention of Writing. Even better, earn Great Scientists 50% faster.||Bowman (Archer) - Bowmen have better stats over the Archer they replace. 9 Ranged Strength vs 7 and 7 Defensive Strength vs 5 - nearly the defense of a Warrior. They're great for clearing Barbarians and even waging early war thanks to their cheap cost.||Walls of Babylon (Walls) - Gives a City +6 Defense (Combat Strength) as opposed to 5, 100 HP instead of 50.||DLC (Steam)|
|Bushido - Units fight at full strength, even when damaged, a very powerful Military bonus.||Samurai (Longswordsman) - Starts with Shock I (open terrain bonus) and the Great Generals II upgrade meaning using them will raise the GG spawn rate.||Zero (Fighter) - Gets a +33% bonus vs other Fighters||Vanilla|
|The Long Count - After researching Theology, get a free Great Person of your choice every 394 years. You may choose only one of each type throughout the ages.||Atlatlist (Archer) - Costs 10% less than a regular Archer at 36 Production and does not require Archery, meaning you can start the game with Archers.||Pyramid (Shrine) - Gives +2 Faith as opposed to 1 and a nifty +2 Science!||G&K|
|Great Andean Road - Units ignore terrain costs when moving into any tile with Hills. There are no maintenance costs for improvements in hills, meaning roads, and half cost elsewhere.||Slinger (Archer) - Has 4 Defensive Strength as opposed to 5, but may Withdraw Before Melee if there is room to escape and the enemy is not fast (horseback)||Terrace Farm (Terrain Improvement) - Build farms of hills without fresh water. All other Civs can do this so long as the Hill is next to a River or Lake. What's unique about this is that it also gives +1 Food for each adjacent Mountain tile.||DLC (Steam)|
|Carnival - Double Tourism output during Golden Ages. Earns Great Artists, Musicians, and Writers 50% faster during Golden Ages.||Pracinha (Infantry) - Kills grant points toward Golden Ages, allowing Brazil to boom Tourism late-game if they choose to go to War||Brazilwood Camp - Can be built on Jungle tiles only. Gives +2 Gold, +2 Culture. Brazil can use these Jungle tiles for Science as well, with Universities. All other Civs must either chop them down or go for Science/Trading Post. This is much, much better.||BNW|
|Great Expanse - Founded Cities start with additional territory. Units receive a combat bonus when fighting within friendly territory.||Pathfinder (Scout) - Native Tongue lets you choose among benefits when discovering Ancient Ruins, also has 8 strength making it as strong as a Warrior - however they also cost nearly double at 45 vs 25. Still, worth it.||Comanche Riders (Cavalry) - Costs 200 vs 225 for Cavalry. They gain +1 Movement, also. Just a little cheaper, just a little faster .||BNW|
|Monument Builders - +20% Production towards Wonder Construction||War Chariot (Chariot Archer) - Gets 5 moves instead of 4 and doesn't require Horses to be built, leaving you free to trade them away or save them for Horsemen later.||Burial Tomb (Temple) - Gives +2 Happiness in addition to the +2 Faith, while eliminating the Gold maintenance of a Temple. Additionally, any enemy that conquers a City with a Burial Tomb will get double pillage Gold.||Vanilla|
|Father Governs Children - 50% more Food, Culture, and Faith from friendly or Allied City-States||Naresuan's Elephant (Knight) - +50% bonus vs Mounted units, killing its own kind. They lose 1 move, falling to 3, but get 25 strength, up from 20 - a 25% increase.||Wat (University) - Gives +3 Culture in addition to the usual University Building benefits.||Vanilla|
|Scholars of the Jade Hall - Each Specialist produces +2 Science, as do all Great Person Tile Improvements. Each time a scientific building/Wonder is built, Korea gets some free research points.||Turtle Ship (Caravel) - Gets 36 strength, up from 20 but with some drawbacks. They can't enter deep ocean, meant to be coastal defenders. They also lose 1 sight and cannot withdrawal from melee like a Caravel.||Hwach'a (Trebuchet) - Gets 26 ranged strength as opposed to 14 and gains 1 sight, but loses the 200% bonus against Cities. This makes it a Unit killer, though not entirely useless against Cities compared to a Trebuchet, it's about 33% weaker (roughly).||DLC (Steam)|
|Iklwa - Melee units cost 50% less maintenance and all units require 25% less experience to earn promotions.||Impi (Pikeman) - Gets a spear throw attack before engaging in melee combat, which weakens the enemy before the real combat begins.||Ikanda (Barracks) - Gives the usual experience of a Barracks, but also a unique Promotion line for pre-Renaissance Melee units. All units coming from an Ikanda start with Buffalo Horns, which give +1 Movement, +25% flank attack bonus and +10% ranged attack defense. You can then immediately choose to upgrade these when promoted, giving further flank attack bonuses and more Combat Strength.||BNW|
|Barbary Corsairs - All melee naval ships have the Prize Ships promotion, allowing them to capture defeated ships. Naval unit maintenance only 1/3 the usual cost.||Janissary (Musketman) - +25% Combat Bonus when attacking, gets 50 healing if it kills a non-barbarian Unit.||Sipahi (Lancer) - Gets +1 Sight, +1 Movement and no movement cost to Pillage.||Vanilla|
|Patriarchate of Constantinople - Choose one more Belief than normal when you found a Religion.||Cataphract (Horseman) - Penalty to attacking Cities reduced from 33% to 25% and these units can get terrain bonuses unlike Horsemen. They lose 1 movement but gain +3 strength, putting them at 15 vs the Horseman's 12.||Dromon (Trireme) - Costs 56 instead of 45, but is a ranged attacker that may not melee. Their 10 melee defense is reduced to 8, and gain 10 Ranged strength with a range of 2.||G&K|
|Manifest Destiny - All land military units have +1 sight. 50% discount when purchasing tiles.||Minuteman (Musketman) - This is a better Unique Unit than first meets the eye thanks to its mobility. Gets Drill I, giving them a bonus in rough terrain and starting them out with great promotion opportunities. They also ignore terrain cost - literally nothing can slow them down except Mountains.||B17 (Bomber) - Gets +70 Ranged Strength instead of 65, but more importantly starts with the Evasion promotion, which gives it 50% less damage from air interceptors. They also start with Siege I, giving them a bonus vs Cities and enabling some great instant promotions for newly produced units.||Vanilla|
|Dutch East India Company - Keep 50% of the Happiness benefits (+2 out of 4) from a Luxury Resource if your last copy is traded away.||Sea Beggar (Privateer) - Comes with Coastal Raider II, giving it another +20% strength vs Cities. Their Supply upgrade allows them to heal outside friendly territory unlike other Ships (+15/turn).||Polder (Tile Improvement) - Gives +3 Food on Flood Plains or Marsh, something not possible with Farms until Civil Service. This nifty improvement also picks up +2 Gold and +1 Production for the tile when Economics is Researched.||G&K|
|Art of War - Great Generals give +30% instead of +15% Combat Bonuses and their spawn rate is 50% faster.||Chu-Ko-Nu - Loses 4 Ranged Strength, down to 14 from 18, but that hardly matters for their ability to attack twice in a single turn so long as they have not consumed a move. The Chu-Ko-Nu is easily one of the best Unique Units in the game and its double attack upgrade is kept when you later promote the unit.||Paper Maker (Library) - This is a pretty great Unique Building. Gives +2 Gold in addition to the usual benefits of a Library, as opposed to costing 1 per turn in Maintenance.||Vanilla|
I used to prefer pangaea but I've got a growing love for continents, so have been playing standard size map with continents to get better at settling and establishing a presence overseas. I have yet to play a Huge map but will very soon now that my CPU is not hitting 92C and overheating...