Civilization 5 Cultural Victory
Maximizing Culture and Building the Utopia Project
In this Guide, we'll talk about the Cultural Victory requirements in Civilization 5 and learn of Wonders and Social Policies that are must-haves. We'll maximize culture gain while maintaining a safe society and ultimately construct the Utopia project to win the game.
Cultural Victory Conditions
In order to comple a Civ 5 game with a Cultural win, you'll need to max out five of the social policy trees. Around the 2nd tree complete, you'll start seeing progress on the Utopia Project in the bottom-right. When you've filled it up, one of your cities can start construction of the Utopia Project. It cannot be rushed by great engineers or purchased. When it's done, you'll win the game and be taken to the Score screen.
General Pointers for a Cultural Win
Playing a cultural Civ is playing a peaceful Civ. Your goal is to amass culture whilst maintaining a scientific and protected society. Since it costs more culture for policies as you add more cities to your empire, you should keep it to a max of about three cities. This is also a good victory condition for the One City Challenge.
When you're first starting, spend some time developing your city before you go heavy on the Culture. You need a strong foundation to bring you science, gold, and production to build the various improvements and Wonders you'll need. Stonehenge is a very helpful building to grab. It has the highest culture for any single building in the game, and later will be boosted by various improvements. Do go for Great Artists and build a Monument or two. These will produce culture for the lifetime of the city working them, and as with Stonehenge can be boosted dramatically.
Expand to the number of cities you'll have through the game early to give you a science lead. Look for spots that will provide happiness through luxury resources. Going into Unhappiness will hamper your growth. You need that growth, and libraries, to fuel an early science machine. If you're the first to research a technology, you have a head start on producting a great Wonder. The earlier you get Currency and Philosophy the better off you'll be. Build some Trading Posts to help you afford to buy buildings directly. Your science will be moving faster than your buildings can produce.
Build just enough Military. Station a unit in each city and have a few to be mobile against Barbarians. A stronger military grows in importance the more time passes. A nightmare is to build a cultural powerhouse just to lose in a war because you were seen as weak. Avoid that at all costs.
Befriend both Maritime and Cultural City-States. Keeping their Bonuses around will allow you to grow much larger, provide key luxury resources, and increase culture output of the empire. Militaristic gifts of units could be helpful to keeping your Military sharp throughout the ages. I would still place Militaristic in third, despite that.
Key National and Great Wonders for Cultural Societies
Stonehenge is great. The Himeji Castle from Chivalry is even better. It gives +4 Culture and 2 Great Engineer points, which will ultimately help you to control more Wonders. At Currency, build a National Treasury in the city that will be your biggest gold producer. Save a slot in your biggest culture-producing city to place the Herimage later with Archaeology (cities can only have 2 national wonders). The Hagia Sophia and Sistine Chapel are real winners, too. Cristo Redentor will see you to the finish line, lowering the cost of all future social policies by 33%. Broadcast towers, if you make it that far, will double the culture output of all your cities. Toward this point you'll want to shift your cities' production focus to Culture.
Social Policies for Culture
Tradition strikes me as the most useful pick of the three available in the early game. You can get the boost to Wonder production, simply unlocking it will give you +3 culture per turn, and the boost to growth helps forever. Don't bother building monuments if you go this route, as you'll get one free. Later, Piety is vital. Everything in there helps you. Choose between Commerce and Patronage based on your situation. Did you manage to scout plenty of city states? Go with Patronage. If you aren't using city-states at all, skip it and go with Commerce which will result in more gold and better use of your money.
Of the last social policies, be sure to pick Freedom for Constitution and Free Speech. They're no brainers and will dramatically impact your ability to Win. Use Great Engineers to help each city have its own Wonder to receive the double culture output.