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Civilization V Tips

April 26th, 2011

Seeing as how I’m staying in for the evening I’m updating my blog, and probably will apply to yet more jobs, but I also will probably end up playing Civilization V.  I’ve stayed up too late, too often recently playing this game.  I’ve also been reading CivFanatics even after I go to bed on my iPhone. So here are some more thoughts on how to do better in the game if you want to be a peaceful builder, if you want to be a warmonger a lot of these tips will help too.

Build Priority

You only have a few options at the beginning of the game, generally people either build a warrior, a scout, or a monument. Some people, many of them warmongers, play exclusively Pangaea maps, I play random maps. They likely favour a scout or warrior start. The second warrior can help if you’re surrounded by barbarians, but I’ve found I like starting with a monument for the glory of my civilization. Increasing culture in your empire is always good, because it expands your borders and earns you social policies.

My initial warrior can scout pretty well and I try not to fight barbarians with warriors if I can. I don’t want to start the Honor social policy track, however if you’re troubled by barbarians that is the first thing you should do. I trust in my ability research to develop better weapons quickly.  My most recent two games I’ve built a granary after the monument to help my capital grow faster, this is an old school strategy, since now all the ruins yield positive results upon exploration, exploring and finding them and natural wonders can be very profitable, again I rely on one carefully moved warrior initially.

NC Start

If you go to CivFanatics you’ll see a lot of acronyms that the hardcore or the wannabe hardcore have taken to using, one you need to decipher is NC Start as it is pretty clever and easy to do. I’ve already written how valuable it is to research Writing and how I do it quickly, I now always research it first.  Sometimes I get lucky with a ruin and find another tech, but I am unlikely to have a worker so soon so I delay researching the techs that let you improve your land (Animal Husbandry, Mining, Masonry, and Calendar) until I’m ready to build my first worker. After you research writing you immediately build a library in your capital. Then if you have only one city, you can build the National College, this is the NC in the NC start. There are proponents of building a second or even more cities before you build you National College, but every new city you found, is one more library you have to build.

I often use my second city to deny land to rival Civs or to claim more luxury resources. This is valid, but I’ve found my second city often doesn’t grow nearly as quickly as my capital thus further delaying the construction of the National College. The reason you build the National College is it gives a big bonus to research, even warmongers need to learn how to write.

Research Priorities

This is one area of Civilization games that a lot of people experiment with or at least want to read the ultimate solution online rather than spending 100s of hours experimenting with themselves. I’ve put in the hours. As I said above I like Writing so I can build Libraries and eventually a National College, then I’ll be able to gain additional techs more easily. If you don’t find them or learn them from research agreements you will need the techs which allow your workers to improve your territory. This includes Trapping and Bronze Working too, plus Wheel to build roads.  You can often pick up these early techs on your way to something higher priority.

Optics Early

Since I play random maps I often end up on an island or a small continent. So depending on if you have a worker and tiles to improve you ultimately want to research Optics early. This has two big advantages, one it allows your units to embark and sail around to nearby islands and secondly it advances your civilization into the Classic Era. I never understood this early on, but advancing eras has a variety of bonuses affecting relations with City States or the effectiveness of  some tile improvements. Consequently I needed to make another blog post that reflected this additional insight into choosing which technologies to research.

Get Medieval

Getting to the Classic Era quickly isn’t hard, but getting to the higher eras quickly takes more planing. Consequently I looked at the tech tree and now have often taken to researching easy techs to advance eras. My last game after a brief pit stop at Calendar I prioritized Engineering which allows you to build bridges and advances you to the Medieval Era. Once there I was short on military techs, but like I said I get a lot of island starts or if you have reasonable neighbors or just no Iron or Horses you have to make a deal, even at King difficulty it is possible to survive, I know because I have. You have to be careful with the units you do build, and make use of ranged attacks and of course terrain.

Pikemen Don’t Need Iron

Once in the Medieval Era you can build more powerful units, even units that don’t need iron such as Pikemen. They aren’t great, but they are better than warriors and archers. So I recommend Civil Service highly if you have no or little Iron. Then to extend your tech lead (if you have one), research Education so you can build universities. Finally since you likely have some archers you can upgrade them to crossbowmen by researching Machinery. Now it is time to enter the Renaissance Era by researching Astronomy. This allows you to sail over oceans and build a better navy. Finally I backfill in some older techs before prioritizing Scientific Theory which allows you to build Public Schools and to enter the Industrial Era, both are very important things to accomplish as early as possible.

Social Policies

The reason for the monument, the libraries, the National College and improving your culture even if you have no interest in winning via Culture, is to make use of Social Policies. Advancing Eras opens up new Social Policy tracks. After the Mac finally got an update and a sale on DLC (Downloadable  Content) I was drawn into playing a lot more Civilization than I planned and thinking on how to win at King or higher difficulty. I also decide to make one more blog post about the game. So after yet more testing, here are my preferred first four social policies. After that it depends on how you plan to try to win plus whether you’ve successfully advanced eras. I’m a big fan of the Patronage social policy track as I’ve found the easiest way to win is diplomatically. I also like Piety but recently have been trying others.

  1. Tradition for the easy bonus culture.
  2. Liberty is my favourite of the initial three social policy tracks.
  3. Citizenship this gives you a free worker now, and it makes them more efficient which is convenient.
  4. Meritocracy gives you a free great person, anyone you want and this gives you lots of options.

Now it is time to edit and focus on watching hockey and eating some frozen pizza. If you have thoughts or tips on Civilization V you can leave them below. Although I still haven’t played it Civilization VI is not only out there have been expansions including one that finally adds Canada and Hockey to Civ. I wonder who has been reading my blog?


  • Sophontteks says:

    good stuff muskie.

    Do you have a favorite civilization?

    I perfer the greeks myself. I’m trying to find a way to balance the key research paths with an early military rush strategy. I first used honor, but I didn’t notice that honor got gimped while the other two paths got a huge boost.I think getting a free worker/settler and a free engineer beats the honor advantages even if your gonna rush.

    Anyway thanks for the information, good luck with that frozen pie

    • Muskie says:

      I don’t know if I have a favourite Civilization, that is something I did a lot of testing of in previous additions especially third. The Greeks are indeed one of the best, but my most recent game I’m the Roman’s and I’m doing well, but real life has gotten in the way and I haven’t played in a couple weeks now. I like fun Civilizations and I generally am a peaceful builder type. My highest score is with Japan but it was on a low level. The first time I beat King level was with Siam. My top five favourite Civs are:

      Some of the bonuses have changed making China a bit worse for instance. Denmark just came out, not sure if it is available for the Mac yet. I will probably buy it. And as I mentioned I’ve recently tried Rome again it is working, using Liberty heavily early on. Thanks for commenting and remember to have fun.

      • Muskie says:

        The first official expansion is coming out next month and there has possibly been some more DLC Civs so I need to rediscover my favourite Civ and get back into the game. A lot of balancing has been done, so strategies that worked well when the game first came out don’t necessarily work as well today. I still have yet to play Multi-player so I think I will try that next month for the first time. I started my first game in six months, but I really should be studying…

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