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Civilization 5: Victory Conditions


  • Civilization 5: Victory Conditions


    Domination Victory
    Science Victory
    Cultural Victory
    Diplomatic Victory
    Points Victory

    There are five ways to win a game of Civilization 5. It's best to pick a goal from the outset of the game and start working for it from the first turn.

    Domination Victory

    Domination is the easiest of the five Victories to achieve. In a Domination game, play continues until there is only one original Capital City left...hopefully yours.

    More so than any of its predecessors, Civilization 5 is a wargame. Domination is sort of the “default Victory.” Any Leader is helpful in a Domination Victory.

    There are four priorities to Domination Victory:

    1. Build Lots of Units

    There is a finite cap on how big your Military can get dictated by your treasury. Trying to field more than four Units per healthy City can put a damper on your ready cash, especially in the early to mid-game. You'll need Gold reserves to promote Units, so don't build more Units than you can maintain.

    To get the Gold you need to grow your military, create a lot of Trading Posts and Trade Routes. Build Markets and Banks in every City.

    Build Barracks, Forges, Military Academies to train your Units, but prioritize Gold-generating Buildings over these.

    Conquest also rewards you with Gold. Since you don't know exactly how much a particular conquest will net, it's difficult to budget future Gold gains from war. Such income is best used as windfall money for extra projects, bribes, Unit Upgrades or to pad your reserves for a rainy day.

    2. Keep Those Units Alive and Gaining Experience

    Through a combination of Promotion and Upgrades it's possible to create super-Units that can outperform stock Units.

    Units retain all their special powers after Upgrade to a new Unit type. A Swordsman created from a upgraded Jaguar retains the Jaguar's special healing power, and a Longswordsman born from the same Swordsman still has that characteristic.

    Powers gained via Promotion likewise carry between generations.

    Because of this, it's important to keep your most powerful Units alive through the course of Civilization 5.

    Learn the Military Tradition Policy as soon as you can. It doubles the XP bonuses from battles, rapidly accelerating development of elite Units.

    As you discover Technology, check whether your Units are eligible for Upgrades.

    Remember that you must be in friendly or allied territory to Upgrade. If your troops are engaged in a far-away land, use the borders of a captured City to Upgrade them, or use a “war city,” a Settler-created haven near the battle frontier.

    3. Keep Ahead Technologically

    Perhaps more important than the number or quality of your Units is their equipment. Cold steel reigns supreme over bronze spears, and hot lead lays low cold steel. Your soldiers should always be ahead in the Tech curve.

    As long as you succeed in war and manage your Happiness well, your rate of conquest will fuel your Research points. The more Cities you capture and pacify, the more Technology your Civilization will develop.

    Learn Mathematics after you secure Mining, Animal Husbandry, Pottery, Calendar, Masonry, Bronze Working, Trapping, Archery, Horseback Riding and the Wheel. You'll need the Courthouses to get your conquered Cities in line.

    Most Technologies are helpful to war, but a few are especially important. Archery gives you your first artillery and should be researched early. Iron Working unlocks Swordsmen, the first infantry Unit with real offensive punch. Rifling creates the incomparable Rifleman. Dynamite increases the range of your salvos with the Artillery Unit. Combustion gives you Tanks, which are game changers. Flight opens up Fighters, which you want to have before any other player produces Bombers.

    Happiness affects Research, so keep the Golden Rule of Happiness in mind. If your Happiness is dropping but you don't want to slow conquest, create Puppets from your newly conquered lands, and annex them later when you're better prepared to deal with the Unhappiness hit.

    Policies are sort of a second Technology tree, and as such should also be used to your advantage. Develop the Honor Policy tree first. Learn Warrior Code and Military Tradition, then develop the remainder of the tree. Your rate of conquest will make it hard to develop Policies after the early game, so you'll want to secure these as soon as possible.

    Just because Policies will be difficult to develop doesn't mean you should give up on them. Build Stonehenge as early as you can. The extra 8 Culture a turn can translate to almost 3000 Culture points by endgame, enough to get you at least one more Policy than you would have had otherwise.

    4. Be Aggressive and Conquer

    Attack a weak nearby City as soon as you have three or four Units available. Subdue it, make it a Puppet if you don't have Courthouses yet, and then move on to the next City in the same civilization. Wipe the enemy out.

    After the war, get your new lands in order with Workers, heal and possible Upgrade your Units, and look for your next-most-vulnerable neighbor.

    Divide and conquer. Conspire with other civilizations against your enemies. Don't be above bribing them into declarations of war against a mutual rival.

    Obey the forms, formally declaring war and honoring treaties whenever possible. It keeps the AI players a little more pacified.

    Try not to end up in a two front war against multiple enemies. If you find yourself in such a situation, concentrate your offense against one and weaken him until he sues for peace. Sign a treaty, turn your wrath on the second conspirator, and then come back and finish the first guy off.

    It's not necessary to wipe out entire civilizations to win a Domination victory. You only have to be the last nation to hold its original Capital. That said, it is usually best to wipe out any rival you hold an advantage over, as his captured resources will be of great benefit to you.

    The section on Military Strategy has many useful tips for how to handle conquest.

    Science Victory

    The Science Victory is won by creating the Apollo Program and then building a Spaceship.

    Most Civilizations are well suited to a Science Victory, but China is especially effective due to the ability to more quickly generate Great Scientists using the Paper Factory.

    The Science Victory is won by three factors.

    1. Growth

    Research is built on raw numbers. The more Citizens you have, the more Research you generate. Buildings and Wonders add important multipliers to this, but it's the population of your empire that greases the wheels of Science.

    Never stop growing. Settlement is a priority for the Science victory. Each City founded should itself found a new City as soon as feasible.

    Since you'll be expanding so much, be sure to keep a defensive army of at least one Unit per City at all times to guard against Barbarian invasion and foreign incursion, as well as a small but modern field army for conquest or to respond to threats.

    After each City Produces a Worker and a Settler, get up to speed with the Granary and any available food improvements, and then prioritize Science. Keep your Science buildings staffed with specialists.

    2. Technical Supremacy

    Build Libraries, Paper Makers, Universities, Wats, Observatories, Public Schools and Research Labs in all Cities.

    Since you're building Libraries and Universities in every City, the National College and Oxford University are natural choices for Wonders. The Great Library is likewise a no-brainer.

    The Rationalism tree is a natural Policy compliment to Science. Adopt it and develop it in full.

    Forge Research Agreements with friendly empires as often as you can afford to do so.

    Generate Great Scientists quickly by staffing Research buildings. Use them to make new instantaneous discoveries or to build Academies.

    3. Late-Game Planning

    The ninth Tier of the Tech tree contains a bottleneck of only two Technologies: Biology and Steam Power. Up until the development of these items, all Scientific focus is uniform. Every path eventually leads to these two, and there is no need to speed forward toward Rocketry until reaching them.

    Once these have been developed, focus on getting to Rocketry so you can start the Apollo Program. You'll need Electricity, Replaceable Parts, Radio, Flight and Radar.

    While Apollo is underway, start on the Cockpit. In Research, backtrack and discover Telegraph, Electronics, Computers and Robotics. Then get working on the three Boosters you'll need. A Spaceship Factory or two is also a good idea. Remember you have to have a regular Factory in the same City to build one of these.

    You can ignore the Railroad, Dynamite and Combustion branches of the Tech Tree, focusing instead on Refrigeration, Plastics, Penicillin, Ecology and Globalization. These will unlock Particle Physics and in turn Nanotechnology, which you will need to build the Engine and Stasis Chamber.

    Because you've neglected parts of the Tech Tree, you won't have access to Tanks, Jet Fighters, Modern Armor, Stealth or Nuclear Weapons. Counter by building AT Guns, Mechanized Infantry, Fighters, Bombers, AA Guns, SAMS, Rocket Artillery and Helicopter Gunships.

    As soon as you finish the Spaceship parts, move them to your Capital under a heavy AA umbrella and military escort. Game over.

    Cultural Victory

    You win a Cultural Victory by developing enough Policies to unlock the Utopia Project and then building it.

    Cultural Victory is the most difficult Victory to achieve. Every City you build or conquer makes the cost of new Policies increase, so you're limited in the number of Cities you can directly control. This limits Unit creation, Wonder creation and micromanagement.

    Alexander and Napoleon are best suited to Cultural Victory. Alexander's City-State Influence can generate a lot of Culture from allies, and Napoleon's 2 Culture per City bonus before the steam age adds up to quite a bit.

    Montezuma's Culture bonus from destroying Units adds up to a small amount of Culture even over a long game, making him a bit less suitable than Alexander and Napoleon.

    There are five main strategies to winning a Cultural Victory:

    1. Start Early

    The Cultural Victory begins at Turn 1. In your Capital, build a Worker, then a Settler, and then a Monument. Use the Settler to found a second City, and build a Worker, a Military Unit and a Monument there.

    Research Pottery and Calendar to unlock Stonehenge, and build it in your Capital. If you need a Military Unit in the meantime, buy it with Gold. Then fill out your early Improvements by learning Mining, Masonry, Trapping, Animal Husbandry, the Wheel, and Horseback Riding.

    After this, click the “Culture” focus tab in all your Cities, and check in on their Citizen Allocations every now and then. Build a Granary and then beef up your military to around six Units.

    Settling more than three Cities really makes a Policy victory difficult, so curb your Settlement after the third City and concentrate on creating 3 super-Cities. Pour Food into your settlements with Farms and Buildings.

    2. Fight Wars

    It's hard to create the Units necessary to defend a Civilization from rivals with only three Cities, and harder still to generate the Research you'll need to keep your Technology competitive.

    The answer to this dilemma is creating Puppet Cities. Puppets generate Gold and Research but don't count against your Culture costs.

    The moment you have the men to take a City, go pick a fight with a weak neighbor. Subjugate his City, make it a Puppet, and use a Worker to Improve the land surrounding it. You won't have any control over what it builds, but the addition of Farms, Trading Posts, Resource Improvements and Trade Routes will still benefit your empire.

    You're going to need a lot of Puppets to survive into the late-game, especially if your world includes a powerful, Domination-minded rival. When playing for Cultural Victory, if you're at peace you should be looking for the next weak neighbor to subdue.

    3. Retain Units

    Your Puppets can't build Units, so the onus for creating them lies with your core Cities. Units in a Cultured Society will be irreplaceable. You cannot get into an arms race with rival states and win, so you must stingily retain, upgrade and promote old Units.

    You should also build Units with great frequency, sometimes as often as every second project in a City, especially mid-game. You'll need them for conquest, and perhaps more importantly for defense against a large, aggressive civilization that threatens to weigh you down with the force of sheer numbers.

    4. Make Friends

    Your large number of retained Units will also be an important factor in City-State relations. City-States trade Missions for influence, and a large number of these Missions are military in nature. The more good soldiers you have, the more City-States you can impress. Cultured City-States are a wonderful source of Culture points, especially under Alexander and after developing Patronage.

    Don't be afraid to use Gold to buy City-State Influence as well, but try to do it in 1000 Gold's much more cost-efficient.

    5. Manage Policies

    You'll be generating a lot of your civilization's power via the Policies you choose. Unlock Tradition first, then Honor, then Piety, and don't work down their trees until all of them are unlocked. Then start to develop Piety. When Patronage opens, begin cultivating its advantages. Redeem Freedom the moment you can and make a beeline to Constitution and Free Speech, which cut Culture costs.

    You'll then have five trees unlocked. Fill them out, build the Utopia project, and win.

    Diplomatic Victory

    The Diplomatic Victory plays much like the Research Victory. You advance your scientific knowledge toward Globalization instead of Spaceship technology, and you grow as fast as you can to keep up with aggressive neighbors.

    Alexander is the best Leader for a Diplomatic Victory.

    Beyond focusing on Research and growth, there are three key strategies for winning a Diplomatic Victory:

    1. Aggression

    Build an army and use it. Diplomacy in Civilization 5 is decidedly carrot and stick with a focus on the stick. Keep a large, modern military and don't be afraid to expand. Knocking a couple of rival players out of Civilization 5 before the modern Era can make winning the UN vote a little easier.

    2. Appeasement

    Throughout Civilization 5, you should focus your efforts on earning Influence with as many City-States as possible. Patronage is your key Policy tree and should be developed in full. Follow up on all offered missions. Use 1000 Gold chunks to buy Influence. A firmly Allied City-State will vote for you.

    3. Artifice

    City-States can be bribed for Influence, but competing civilizations will not vote for you unless they are liberated. Therefore, you may wish to arrange for them to need liberation.

    Rival Civilizations can sometimes be bribed into declarations of war. Early to mid-game, it may behoove you to covertly entice your fellow Leaders into attacking other weak Civilizations or City-States without getting your own hands dirty.

    Once that Capital or City-State is conquered by an enemy, you are then in a position to liberate them. Declare war on the nation you hired to conquer them and take back their City. Then choose to liberate it and you will remain that civilization or City-State's favored nation until the end of time, so long as no one else liberates it. Even if your diplomatic relationship subsequently deteriorates, they'll still vote for you.

    Don't try capturing a City on your own, trading it away to a third civilization and then taking it back to liberate it. The designers have anticipated this and it doesn't work.

    If you play your cards right, you should have votes to win ready by the time you actually build the UN. Enjoy your status as world leader.

    Points Victory

    If you find yourself near 2050 and you aren't likely to fulfill one of the four prescribed Victory Conditions, you should aim for for Victory by Points. There are two things you have to do to win this way:

    1. Keep anybody else from fulfilling a Victory Condition.

    The first is best arranged by making a pain of yourself for anybody who appears to be doing well. Snatch Cities, start brush-fire wars, and do anything that interferes with peaceful things like building a Spaceship. You may want to start bribing City-States to alter the voting equation.

    2. Have the most points in 2050.

    The second factor is acquiring as many points as you can as fast as you can and holding on to them until 2050. You get points for the number of Cities you possess, the number of people in your empire, the amount of land you control, the Wonders you possess, the degree of Technology you have and bonus points for every Future Tech you build.

    With these factors in mind, attack enemies and take their Cities and land. Build any available Wonders. Shift the balance of power away from your strongest rival to yourself. In the last turns, purchase Cities at ridiculous prices from anyone who might sell them to you. Rush and push and remember that scoring ends before 2051. You don't have to hold on to your conquests forever, just until the timer runs out.


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    • Nikolai
      Nikolai commented
      Editing a comment
      One nitpick: Regarding science, wide is not necessarily better than tall under the current patch. A smaller but taller empire can produce a LOT of science if you do things right. My last empire, where I focused on culture, not science, still had 700-800 science by the time I got to the middle of the industrial age. I had 5 cities, each 20+ pop in size. I had no academy. Imagine how well I could have done had I gone for science.
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