Sid Meier's Civilization V

Sid Meier's Civilization V

97 ratings
Zigzagzigal's Guide to Persia (BNW)
By Zigzagzigal
With speed bonuses, a strength bonus that works on cities, fast-healing Spearmen and a happiness-giving Bank, Persia takes out a lot of the annoyances of war in a rather unique playstyle. This guide goes into plenty of detail about Persian strategies, uniques and how to play against them.
 
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Introduction
Note: This guide assumes you have all game-altering DLC and expansion packs (all Civ packs, Wonders of the Ancient World, Gods & Kings and Brave New World)



One of the oldest and most powerful civilizations in history, Persia (or Iran as it is commonly known today) keeps, as it always has done, a powerful degree of cultural independence even within times of weakness. But in times of strength, Persia excelled to an unrivalled degree. Under the Achaemenid Empire, the first of the great Persian empires, it stretched from what would now be from eastern Libya to western China; from Crimea to Oman, and encompassed over two fifth's of the world's people - a feat never equalled since. Like many early empires, the need to delegate management of this vast realm led to disunity and defeat - at the hands of Alexander of Macedon; Alexander the Great. Yet Persia would rise again; the Sassanid Empire lasting from the 3rd to 7th centuries of the common era would once again capture the lands the Achaemenid Empire once did. Nonetheless, this would be marred by constant wars with the Romans, before and after its partition, leaving both Persia and Byzantium vulnerable to the rising Arabian Empire. Arabia was successful in bringing Islam to Persia, but unsuccessful in changing Persia's unique culture. Over the centuries, Persia gradually re-asserted independence and self-rule, becoming one of the most advanced nations in the world during the Middle Ages. But in the early 13th century, an invasion by the Mongolians devastated the region, followed by more upheaval in the 14th.

Yet, once again, Persia rose from the ashes. Under the Safavid dynasty from the 16th to 18th centuries, they once again controlled a great empire, but into the 19th century, the great European colonial powers of Russia and Britain cost them much land and influence. This culminated in an invasion during Second World War in order to secure oil supplies. After the government of Persia - or Iran as it was known internationally by then - attempted to nationalise oil supplies in the early 1950s, and both Britain and America saw the government as increasingly siding with the Soviet Union in the Cold War, they disposed the Prime Minister and gave the monarch, or Shah, a significant amount of funding towards their army and secret police. With a common perception the Shah was growing increasingly autocratic, a revolution from 1977 to 1979 removed him from from power, leading to the Islamic Republic of Iran and leaders less sympathetic to America. Now, it is time for you to lead Iran - or Persia if you so prefer - into this brave new world. How are you to do so? Will you seek to mend broken relationships, to help contain the instability close to home, or would doing so undermine the cultural independence which Persia has enjoyed for so long? Can you build a civilization that stands the test of time?



Following is an explanation of some key terms which may be used throughout the guide, mainly for the sake of newer players.

Builder Nation/Empire - A generally peaceful nation seeking victories other than domination.
Finisher - The bonus for completing a Social Policy tree (e.g. Free Great Person for Liberty.)
GP - Refers to "Great People" in this guide, rather than "Great Prophet".
GWAM - Great Writers, Artists and Musicians. These are the three Great People who can make Great Works for tourism leading to a cultural victory. Brazil generates them 50% faster during Golden Ages.
Meatshield - Soaking up damage on behalf of something else. This can be on the small scale (like a Swordsman taking damage for an Archer) or on a large scale (protecting a capital city with less important cities.) This guide generally uses "meatshield" to refer to the small-scale version.
Melee unit - In this guide, "melee unit" refers to a military unit that attacks from melee, whether it be land or sea-based. "Standard melee unit" refers to Warriors, Swordsmen, Longswordsmen, Spearmen, Pikemen, Landsknetche, unique units replacing them and Spanish Tercios - in other words, what's typically referred to as "melee units" in-game.
Opener - The bonus for unlocking a Social Policy tree (e.g. +1 culture for every city for Liberty's opener)
Tall Empire - An empire with a low number of cities with a high population each.
Uniques - Collective name for Unique Abilities, Units, Buildings, Tile Improvements and Great People
UA - Unique Ability - The unique thing a Civilization has which doesn't need to be built.
UB - Unique Building - A replacement for a normal building that can only be built by one Civilization.
UU - Unique Unit - A replacement for a normal unit that can only be built by one Civilization or provided by Militaristic City-States when allied.
Wide Empire - An empire with a large number of cities with a low population each.
At a glance (Part 1/2)
Start Bias

Persia has no starting bias.

Unique Ability: Achaemenid Legacy

  • Golden Ages last 50% longer
    • This stacks additively with other bonuses, so with the Chichen Itza wonder and Universal Suffrage tenet, Golden Ages are 150% longer than their base length.
  • During a Golden Age, all units gain a 10% strength bonus and +1 Movement Point
    • The strength bonus applies to land, naval and air units alike, and works against cities.
    • The movement point bonus works on land, naval and civilian units, but not embarked units.

Unique Unit: Immortal (Replaces the Spearman)


A standard melee unit

Technology
Obsoletion
Upgrades from
Upgrades to
Production cost
Purchase cost
Resource needed

Bronze Working
Ancient era
2nd column
(3rd column overall)

Civil Service
Medieval era
1st column
(6th column overall)

Warrior
(Ancient Ruins upgrade only)

Pikeman
(75Gold)*
56Production*
260Gold*
None
*Assumes a normal speed game.

Strength
Ranged Strength
Moves
Range
Sight
Negative Attributes
Positive Attributes
12Strength
N/A
2Movement Points
N/A
2
None
  • 50% bonus vs. mounted units
  • Heals 10HP per turn more while healing

Positive one-off changes

  • 12 strength, up from 11 (+9%)

Positive keep-on-upgrade changes

  • While healing, heals 10HP per turn more. This promotion is labelled "double heal rate" but does not act as such.

Unique Building: Satrap's Court (Replaces the Bank)


Building of the Gold line

Technology
Building required
Required to build
Production cost
Purchase cost
City restriction
Maintenance

Banking
Renaissance era
1st column
(8th column overall)

Market

Stock Exchange
200Production*
780Gold*
None
None
*Assumes a normal speed game.

Base output
Output Multiplier
Specialist
Great Work slots
Other effects
3Gold
2Happiness*
+25%Gold

1 Merchant
None
  • Trade Routes made by other Civs to this city provide you with +1Gold, and them with +1Gold
*This is local city happiness; the total amount in a city is capped by the number of citizens.

Positive changes

  • 3 gold generated per turn, up from 2
  • Provides 2 local city happiness
At a glance (Part 2/2)
Victory Routes

Note these scores are a matter of personal opinion based on experiences with the Civilization. You may discover a way of utilising the Civ more effectively in unconventional ways.

Cultural: 7/10
Diplomatic: 8/10
Domination: 10/10
Scientific: 6/10

Persia's UA is amazing for warmongering, and both their UU and UB also really help there. Long Golden Ages can help at any other type of victory too. Diplomacy in particular is a very good backup route - build plenty of Trading Posts and rake in the cash with the +1 gold offered on each of them via Golden Ages.

Similar Civs and uniques

Overall

An early UU and a happiness bonus is something Persia has in common with both the Celts and Egypt, but while both of those Civs tend to switch course towards a cultural victory, Persia tends to carry on with conquests.

From a different angle, consider the mobility of even your slower units combined with a strong economy - that's something the Zulus also have. Zulu gameplay is built around their UU, while Persia might not have the same kind of power spike, but is more consistently effective.

Furthermore, Germany also has some similarities to Persia in production bonuses, (the Hanse vs. Golden Ages,) some early-game war potential (taking Barbarian encampments vs. Immortals) and gold (cheap army maintenance vs. Golden Ages, along with both Civs having a Bank UB encouraging them to build up a strong financial infrastructure)

Same start bias

Persia's lack of a start bias is shared with America, China, Ethiopia, France, Germany, Greece, the Maya, Rome and the Shoshone.

Similar to the UA

The other Civ with a bonus to Golden Ages is Brazil. Brazil's Carnivals are exceptionally strong for persuing cultural goals, but are otherwise not much better than normal Golden Ages, while Persia's longer Golden Ages and unit bonuses within them are flexible to all kinds of victories.

The improved mobility aspect of the UA is similar to the Buffalo Horns promotion that Zulu melee units can received if built in a unit with an Ikanda. The Persian bonus applies to far more units, but the Zulu bonus leads to a unique line of promotions.

Similar to Immortals

Other Spearman UUs include Greece's Hoplites, the Celtic Pictish Warrior and, in a sense, the Hunnic Battering Ram (although in practice it's nothing like a regular Spearman.)

Hoplites are the most alike units to Immortals. Although lacking the ability to heal faster, (unless they move next to the Fountain of Youth,) they have a bigger strength bonus making them even more capable at acting like a resourceless Swordsman.

Fast healing can also be seen on Indonesia's Kris Swordsmen if they get the Invulnerability promotion. This bonus is considerably more effective than that of Immortals, but the random nature of how Kris Swordsman promotions are picked makes it far less reliable.

Similar to the Satrap's Court

The only other Bank UB is Germany's Hanse, which offers production multipliers instead of happiness bonuses.

A few Civs have bonuses to happiness, but the two that work in the most alike manner are the Celtic Ceilidh Hall and Egypt's Burial Tomb. Like the Satrap's Court, both of these offer local city happiness on buildings that have prerequsites meaning you need to get production off the ground in new cities before you can make use of these.
Unique Ability: Achaemenid Legacy (Part 1/2)

Above: The Composite Bowman to the left of the selected Immortal's on a hill. If it wasn't for Persia's speed bonus in Golden Ages, the Immortal wouldn't be able to escape.

Persia's Unique Ability can make them into an unstoppable military machine. Golden Ages make your units more mobile and slightly stronger, while still offering plenty of cash, production and gold. In addition, they last 50% longer, so you can get even more of the cash/production/gold potential than any other Civ can.

Let's look at how to start Golden Ages. There's four ways:

  • Accumulating enough Golden Age Points from excess happiness
  • Using up Great Artists to generate them (these produce slightly shorter Golden Ages than other methods)
  • Taking certain Social Policies (Liberty's Representation and Aesthetics' Flourishing of the Arts)
  • Completing the Taj Mahal wonder

Great Artists will be your primary method of generating Golden Ages for most of the game. If you can generate them quickly enough (combined with other methods of starting Golden Ages and maybe the Chichen Itza and/or the Universal Suffrage tenet in the Freedom tree, which extends the length of new Golden Ages) you can maintain a constant Golden Age indefinitely. That's one of the most popular Civ-specific strategies, known as "Forever Golden".

One problem - your Unique Unit is in the ancient era, so that's before you can really get an endless Golden Age going. So, we'll need to put the Forever Golden strategy aside from the time being, and focus on how to make your UA work in the early-game.

The early game

It only takes two technologies to get to Immortals, which are excellent at fighting other units. If you really want to make good use of them, though, you're going to need something that acts well against cities. As such, you'll need either Composite Bowmen or Catapults - go for the former if your opponent's surrounded by rough terrain, or the latter otherwise. Research Bronze Working together with either Mathematics (for Catapults) or Construction (for Composite Bowmen) early on, and you should have a good chance of being able to defeat an unprepared Civ.

To give this Composite Bowman/Immortal rush more of an edge, head into the Liberty Social Policy tree, as it has the only reliable early-game Golden Age on offer via the Representation Social Policy. Time the policy right - pick up something else if you're not quite ready to launch the attack yet - and you should have enough time to complete your conquest of the target Civ in the time you have.

Note that the slower your game speed, the longer your Golden Age and hence the more you can make use of the speed and strength bonuses. After all, units don't move any faster or slower on different game speed settings. As such, timing Golden Ages is more important on faster speed settings.

Early Golden Ages, movement and strength


Above: The speed bonus for all your units doesn't apply until the turn after the Golden Age starts, if you manually initiated it. To compensate, units will still have the speed bonus the turn after the Golden Age ends, as shown below:


In Golden Ages, all of Persia's units gain additional movement and strength. While this is mostly useful in warfare, there's a few handy peacetime applications of the movement bonus:

  • Workers (and Work Boats) can more quickly get to new tiles to improve, cutting the time it takes to improve everything
  • Your units can outrun most Barbarian units - useful if you've left a Settler unescorted, for example.
  • Great People can get to their destination faster - particularly good for getting Great Merchants to a City-State sooner
  • Missionaries can cut across unfriendly lands in less time, losing less strength as a result.

Let's get back to focusing on war again. With +1 movement, your units will be more mobile than nearly everyone else's, meaning you can rapidly withdraw anything that gets injured, or easily chase down wounded enemy units. The 10% combat boost gives your units a slight edge against an equivalent army (and makes Immortals slightly stronger than Greece's Hoplites.) More interestingly, that bonus works against cities, meaning you may be able to cut a few turns on taking their defences down.

But those advantages are minor compared to what it means for ranged units - particularly siege. Siege units are now able to move from one tile outside a city's ranged attack radius to a range it can attack it, set up and fire all in one turn (assuming it's on open terrain.) This means even if a city has a strong ranged attack, you can still get strong Catapult attacks in. If you've got a lot of rough terrain to deal with, you can move in regular ranged units and fire in the same turn - something that can't normally be done.


Above: I can move the Composite Bowman to the hill where the Worker is and fire in the same turn.

Units with the Logistics or Blitz promotions are able to move after attacking. For ranged units, this normally means they can either to fire twice, fire once and withdraw or move in a tile and fire. For Persia, however, ranged units with Logistics can move forward a tile, fire and withdraw, (keeping them safe from city ranged attacks without needing the Range promotion,) move in and fire twice or fire twice before retreating. This allows you to both keep your units safe and still deal plenty of damage.

So, what you should know from this sub-section is that your units' extra mobility during Golden Ages makes it much easier to keep units safe from being damaged and makes it much easier to use siege units effectively. These strengths combined with Immortals gives you a really good shot at early conquests, which will give you an edge for the rest of the game.
Unique Ability: Achaemenid Legacy (Part 2/2)
Into the mid-game

Your initial Golden Age won't last forever. As such, after your first conquests it's a good idea to consolidate what you have and push towards the Civil Service technology to get a good shot at the Chichen Itza wonder. It'll make your Golden Ages even longer, making your UA even stronger than it is already. If you manage to finish the Liberty Social Policy tree before it's available, you can choose a free Great Engineer from its finisher to rush the wonder and ensure you take it before someone else does.

One slight problem - the Civil Service technology makes Immortals obsolete, so make sure you build as many as you need as their extra healing attribute carries over when you upgrade the unit.

After Civil Service, head to the Guilds technology. It'll let you build the Artists' Guild, which will be your main source of Golden Ages via Great Artists. Build it in a city beside a river or lake so you can build a Garden there and hence maximise its Great Artist generation. It may be a good idea to hang on to the first few Great Artists you produce to ensure when you first expend them, you have plenty of turns of Golden Age banked leaving there little risk of you coming out of Golden Age status at a crucial time. One possible strategy is to wait until you generate a Golden Age through excess happiness, and use the Great Artists to extend it.


Above: On turn 197 on a normal-speed game, I started a Golden Age via excess happiness and used three Great Artists to extend it. This resulting Golden Age was so long, it gave me enough time to get more Great Artists (as well as the Universal Suffrage tenet) to keep it going. On turn 347, I win the game still in the same Golden Age, with 51 further turns still banked.

Don't fall into the trap of thinking you need lots of excess happiness all the time. You can't extend a Golden Age through excess happiness, and the level of happiness your empire has doesn't affect the length of Golden Ages at all. So long as you have a positive level of happiness, it'll be fine.

Onwards to victory

Now that Persia's Forever Golden, you can get back to focusing on war. This time, however, you'll have the financial, productive and cultural bonuses of being in a Golden Age constantly, rather than for a brief bit, giving you quite an infrastructural as well as military edge.

Build a few trading posts and your Golden Age will make them produce even more gold, giving you quite a sizable sum of cash. Spend it on City-State alliances and the luxuries they offer (combined with your UB) will help ensure your empire doesn't become unhappy, while the World Congress delegates they'll offer in the late-game helps to protect you against votes going against you and push through what you want. Arts Funding in particular is good to keep the output of Great Artists high.

The production bonus is great for churning out new units quickly, as well as securing good wonders like the Taj Mahal, while the culture bonus is good for getting through the Aesthetics and Rationalism Social Policy trees, as well as the Freedom ideology. It may seem strange taking Aesthetics and Freedom for a warmongering Civ, but Aesthetics offers three useful bonuses (faster Great Artist generation, a free Great Artist and a free Golden Age) while Freedom offers Universal Suffrage's increase in Golden Age length as well as the Capitalism tenet (which goes well with your UB.)

Use the infrastructure, speed and strength bonuses you have to help secure you victory through military means, or use your strong gold output for a diplomatic backup. Certainly, with the advantage of a permanent Golden Age, Persia will have a strong late-game.

Additional tips and tricks

So, I've established a strategy to take with Persia: Use Immortals with either Catapults or Composite Bowmen as well as the Representation Social Policy in order to secure an early conquest. Consolidate over the next couple of eras, then secure a permanent Golden Age and use the advantages there for either a domination or diplomatic victory. There's a few additional things I need to point out which didn't fit in the previous sub-sections, however.

Firstly, the effect of your UA on naval units. The speed advantages aren't quite as good on the sea as they are on land (as naval units move faster and embarked units don't move any faster) but it still has its uses. Battleships for example can match the speed of enemy Destroyers, making it easier to take them out. Carriers are faster, allowing you to more rapidly manoeuvre air units around the seas, and more easily evade attacks.

Secondly, your UA's effect on air units. The speed bonus is meaningless on them as they don't have movement points, but the 10% combat bonus still applies - even if they're attacking cities. It's fairly unusual for such an advantage to apply in those circumstances, so you have a slight edge in the air over most Civs.


Above: It's not a lot, but it's still nice as a extra little bonus.

Summary

  • Use the Representation Social Policy in the Liberty tree together with Immortals and either Catapults or Composite Bowmen to launch a powerful early attack
  • The speed bonus your units get during a Golden Age helps to evade damage, and allows you to move a siege unit in range of a city, set up and fire all in one turn (so they're far less likely to get killed before they can fire.)
  • Once the attack's done, try to get Civil Service and the Chichen Itza wonder, followed by Guilds for the Artists' Guild.
  • Place the Artists' Guild in a riverside or lakeside city so you can build a Garden there to increase Great Artists' generation rate further, and ensure the Great Artist slots are always filled.
  • Hang on to the Great Artists you generate until you can be sure to produce a long enough Golden Age with them that you can indefinitely extend it
  • Make use of the Aesthetics Social Policy tree, Taj Mahal wonder and Freedom Ideology to keep the Golden Age going
  • Aim for a domination victory, or diplomacy as a backup.
Golden Age length reference
If you want more information on the length of Golden Ages, the following table exhaustively shows the exact length based on all factors.

  • The Golden Age length modifer is 100% if you have no bonuses to Golden Age length (and are not playing as Persia), 150% if you have one bonus (Persia's UA, Chichen Itza or the Universal Suffrage tenet,) 200% with two or 250% with all three.
  • The generation method is concerned with whether you initiated a Golden Age through a Great Artist or not. Great Artists make slightly shorter Golden Ages than generating them via other routes.
  • Turns is the number of turns of Golden Age you'll get taking into account the Golden Age length modifier, generation method and game speed.

Golden Age length modifier
Generation method
Turns, Quick-speed game
Turns, Normal-speed game
Turns, Epic-speed game
Turns, Marathon-speed game
100%
Great Artist
6
8
10
16
100%
Not Great Artist
8
10
12
20
150%
Great Artist
9
12
15
24
150%
Not Great Artist
12
15
18
30
200%
Great Artist
12
16
20
32
200%
Not Great Artist
16
20
24
40
250%
Great Artist
15
20
25
40
250%
Not Great Artist
20
25
30
50
Militaristic City-States (Part 1/2)
Your UA can give you plenty of gold for securing City-State alliances, as well as making units more mobile and stronger. You can powerfully combine the two by allying militaristic City-States for the unique units they can offer. Following is a selection of the best ones - prioritise allying with militaristic City-States offering these, though others are perfectly good too.

Ancient Era

Battering Ram (Higher priority)

If this thing wasn't nasty enough already for enemies to face, extra movement during a Golden Age allows it to move from outside a city's range to attacking it in a single turn - allowing you to deal lots of damage without the Battering Ram being hurt itself.

Horse Archer (Medium priority)

The Huns' other UU also goes well with Persia's UA. Unlike regular Chariots and Egypt's War Chariots, they don't lose all their movement points when entering rough terrain, making them the fastest units of the ancient era in such scenarios. Extra speed further increases such advantages.

Jaguar (Medium priority)

Jaguars can cut through forested land as fast as mounted units normally, but with extra movement they'll outrun enemy horses. Their health-on-kill ability makes them a good complement to the more defensive Immortals.

Pathfinder (Lower priority)

Pathfinders with extra movement make very good spotters with the Scouting promotions (particularly Scouting III, which gives you a unit which can travel through four tiles of rough terrain in a single turn thanks to Persia's UA.) Regular Scouts can do the same thing, but they're less likely to survive as long.

Slinger (Lower priority)

Slingers have a keep-on-upgrade promotion giving it a chance to retreat when attacked by melee. The chance of retreating is partially based on the speed of the attacking unit relative to the Slinger (or former-Slinger) so faster movement from your UA will make it more likely to evade being damaged, as well as more easily being able to flee to safety if it does get hit.

War Chariot (Lower priority)

In flat land, this unit's now even more mobile than it was before, enabling it to rush in or flee quickly.

War Elephant (Lower priority)

War Elephants attack equally well to Composite Bowmen, generally defend better (despite not receiving defensive bonuses) and are more mobile, making them decent units to complement your Immortals in early warfare.

Classical Era

Ballista (Higher priority)

The whole move/setup/fire thing in a single turn works well for Catapults and even better for Ballistae, which are simply stronger versions of Catapults.

Cataphract (Lower priority)

Slow speed is one of the main weaknesses of Cataphracts. Take it out, and you're left with a unit which is basically a faster (and slightly stronger) Swordsman. Aside from the penalty to city attack and vulnerability to Spearmen. Oh well, you can't have everything.

Companion Cavalry (Lower priority)

With a total of 6 moves thanks to your UA (or even 7 with the Mobility promotion,) this becomes the best unit to get the last hit on cities for quite some time.

Kris Swordsman (Higher priority)

Some outcomes here synergise really well with additional movement.
  • Ambition gives Kris Swordsmen a stronger attack but weaker defence. Extra mobility means it's easier to pull them out of combat before their defensive penalty becomes an issue.
  • Invulnerability is a bonus to healing and defence even better than the one your Immortals have. They can take a lot of punishment, and rapidly withdraw when needed.
  • Recruitment gives the Kris Swordsman health when they kill. Greater movement allows you to more easily move them to weak units so you can more easily score kills.
  • Restlessness and your movement bonus during Golden Ages gives a 4-move Swordsman which can attack twice (or three times with Blitz.)
  • Sneak Attack is easier to make use of with more movement, so you can really utilise that higher flanking bonus.

Legion (Lower priority)

Legions are extra-strong Swordmen, but the really useful synergy with Persia's UA is their ability to build roads - with extra movement, they can move to rough terrain and start building a road in the same turn. They're useful in riskier areas where there's likely to be plenty of Barbarians.

Siege Tower (Higher priority)

Like Battering Rams, you can quickly rush to attacking a city from outside its normal range. Its Sapper bonus (giving nearby units a 50% bonus against the city the Battering Ram's adjacent to) works even when the unit's embarked, making it handy even into the late-game if you can find a good naval unit to escort it.

Medieval Era

Berserker (Lower priority)

Now, you've got a unit as mobile as a standard Knight, but with more strength, defensive bonuses and even an Amphibious promotion.

Camel Archer (Medium priority)

Camel Archers are just really good units, so you might as well try and get some, regardless of whether or not you'll be in a Golden Age.

Chu-Ko-Nu (Higher priority)

One of the most fun UUs in the game for Persia to have. Chu-Ko-Nu have a promotion allowing them to attack twice in the same turn - functionally identical to the Logistics promotion, but not the same as it. Normally, having both is redundant as Chu-Ko-Nu have only two movement points, but for Persia during a Golden Age, it's possible to make use of both for three attacks in a single turn. Aside from the huge damage potential, it'll be great for gaining experience (and therefore generating Great Generals faster)

Conquistador (Lower priority)

Conquistadors make excellent scouts due to their massive sight range, and more movement makes that ability even stronger.
Militaristic City-States (Part 2/2)
Medieval Era (Continued)

Hwach'a (Medium priority)

All of a sudden this unit changes from something better-kept to defence to something rather special in offensive campaigns. The need to set up this unit is cancelled out by the extra movement from your UA, basically giving you a unit that's a large step up from regular Crossbowmen. Be sure to give them an escape route, however - they've got very low defence.

Keshik (Medium priority)

Like Camel Archers, Keshiks are good units anyway, so you might as well favour getting some.

Longbowman (Medium priority)

Mobility combined by range makes a unit that's excellent at dealing with regions full of rough terrain.

Naresuan's Elephant (Lower priority)

You can cancel out the movement speed penalty with your UA, giving you a unit which is better than a standard Lancer in every way, earlier.

Renaissance Era

Hakkapeliitta (Lower priority)

Seeing as you'll be going into the Freedom ideology (so you can't take Lightning Warfare) it'll be rather difficult for your 3-move Great Generals to keep up with your 5-move mounted units. Here's a way of helping to address that problem.

Janissary (Medium priority)

More movement allows you to more easily slip Janissaries in and score kills to keep them healed.

Minuteman (Medium priority)

Fast movement and ignoring rough terrain costs goes together nicely.

Tercio (Lower priority)

More movement makes it easier to catch up to mounted units. Essentially, your Tercio will be a Naresuan's Elephant with defensive bonuses and slightly more strength.

Winged Hussar (Medium priority)

Winged Hussars are already mobile and strong - your UA just builds upon that. More movement in particular lets you more easily position Winged Hussars to make use of knockback more effectively.

Industrial Era

Comanche Riders (Medium priority)

Your UA and the Full Moon Striker promotion together means you can have fast armoured units without needing Autocracy's Lightning Warfare.

Cossack (Lower priority)

It's a little easier to chase down wounded units.

Hussar (Lower priority)

It's a little easier to use the flanking bonus.

Norwegian Ski Infantry (Medium priority)

The ability to move faster in snow, tundra and hills is amplified with an additional movement point.

Atomic Era

Panzer (Lower priority)

While taking the Freedom ideology means you can't take Lightning Warfare and hence get the full potential out of Panzers, a unit moving 7 tiles a turn during Golden Ages ain't bad.
Unique Unit: Immortal


Immortals are surprisingly good early units, which are excellent for accompanying Composite Bowmen to conquer some cities early on. You only need Bronze Working in order to build them (and Warriors sent into Ancient Ruins can be upgraded into them before then) making it not difficult to make use of them.

The Strength

Before looking at the iconic feature of Immortals - the increased healing rate - let's consider the higher strength of Immortals. It's only 9% stronger than a regular Spearman, but any difference is enough to get an edge in evenly-matched combat. Against melee mounted units, it's essentially strength 18 rather than 16.5 (before taking into account promotions) making it very deadly against Horsemen. Ultimately, though, the higher strength is a minor feature of this unit, and isn't something you'll really need to think about.

Unless you take into account Golden Ages. The 10% strength bonus is enough to raise your units to slightly more strength than Greece's Hoplite, or less than one point of strength less than a default Swordsman. This essentially gives you a cheaper, earlier, faster, resource-free Swordsman with a faster healing rate.

The Healing


Above: Proof that the "double heal rate" isn't actually double, but rather +10 per turn. The Immortal that's healing has a Medic-promoted Immortal next to it.

Immortals can heal 10 health per turn more than other units. This is most significant when you're healing the unit in neutral or enemy territory, as it allows the unit to heal up to twice as fast as normal. A great application of this ability is to use those Immortals as meatshields for Composite Bowmen - the Immortals can soak up lots of damage and heal up quickly afterwards rather than your Composite Bowmen being killed rather quickly. If you've got a Great General, move it so it shares a tile with an Immortal to keep it safe.

To make life even harder for enemies, try getting an Immortal to the Medic line of promotions and putting them in the middle of your other Immortals so they all heal even more rapidly, or get as many as you can to the March promotion. If the enemy city's dealing less damage than your Immortal can heal up by, you might as well attack it with the Immortal to cut the time until you capture it (though leave it time to heal up afterwards.)

It's worth pointing out that this promotion is the same as the one the Fountain of Youth gives units which move adjacent to it, so moving Immortals near that Natural Wonder will have no effect.

Heal Rate

A time like this is as good as any to discuss the exact healing rate units have, to get an idea of what kind of attacks your units can withstand. Here's a table showing the health per turn normal land units heal. Add 10 to each value to get the healing rate for Immortals, or units which have received the promotion from the Fountain of Youth. Add 20 for a Kris Swordsman with the Invulnerability promotion.

Unit Location
HP/turn, no adjacent Medic
HP/turn, unit with Medic II*
HP/turn, adjacent Medic I*
HP/turn, adjacent Medic II*
HP/turn, adjacent Khan**
Neutral/Enemy Lands
10
15
15
20
25
Friendly Lands, outside city
20
20
25
30
35
Friendly Lands, in city
25
25
30
35
40
Next to Faith Healers city in friendly lands
50
50
55
60
65
In Faith Healers city
55
55
65
65
70
*The Medic promotions don't stack, so a unit with Medic II next to a unit with Medic I doesn't heal any faster than if just one of those outcomes applied.
**You can get Khans by allying City-States while having the Patronage Social Policy tree complete. The healing rate bonus of Khans doesn't stack with Medic promotions.

While some of the highest heal rates aren't really likely to occur, you can still make an Immortal in a city heal nearly half its health in a single turn with a Medic II unit next to it, which isn't that hard a thing to set up. This fast recovery from combat means you may be able to squeeze in another attack before early rushes stop being viable.

Summary

  • Immortals make excellent meatshields to take damage on behalf of ranged or siege units
  • Build lots early with Composite Bowmen or Catapults and you can pull off a strong early attack
  • During a Golden Age, Immortals are nearly as strong as Swordsmen

Special promotions kept on upgrade

  • +10 health per turn while healing

Pikemen promoted from Immortals basically have the same role as Immortals themselves - soaking up damage on behalf of other units. Beyond that point, however, the usage of them changes somewhat.

Lancers lack defensive bonuses and can't fortify, making them weak at defence, even with the extra healing rate. What they are good for is getting the last hit on a city after siege units have worn it down - the extra healing rate allows it to recover quickly afterwards so it can move towards the next city.

Anti-Tank Guns offer a brief moment where you can bring back the original role of Immortals, as their strength is equal to Great War Infantry and, unlike Lancers, they receive defensive bonuses again.

Finally, Helicopter Gunships have the major problem that they can't capture cities, so you can't even use them the same way you could for Lancers, never mind their lack of defensive bonuses not allowing you to use them the same way you could for Immortals. Still, they move quickly and combined with fast healing, you can withdraw them to your lands and recover them very rapidly if they get injured.
Unique Building: Satrap's Court


Introduction

The Satrap's Court is exactly what you need exactly when you need it. The mid-game is usually a difficult time for dealing with happiness, especially if you've been making early Immortal conquests. You don't really want to delay future attacks just because you've exhausted the potential for happiness buildings in your largest cities and are stuck with trying to build Zoos in low-production areas. A Satrap's Court offers two points of local city happiness - equal to a Colosseum, Zoo or Stadium, and will help you get through the mid-game without unhappiness or resorting to trade deals with Civs that hate you due to all the warmongering you've been doing.

Local City Happiness

It's worth pointing out that like most other happiness buildings and wonders (Notre Dame is an exception) the happiness offered by these courts of Satraps is local city happiness. Local city happiness is capped by the population of the city that produces it, so a size 3 city with both a Colosseum and Zoo will produce 3 points of happiness for the empire, rather than the 4 you'd expect. Usually, this cap won't be a problem, but it does mean that a city alone generally can't produce more happiness than unhappiness - it's up to things like luxuries to cover the difference.

Uses of the Courts

Aside from providing happiness at a useful time, the courts of Satraps also are maintenance-free, being Bank replacements. In fact, it's the only building in the game that offers happiness for no maintenance (including prerequisite buildings) and can be built in any city. Circuses are maintenance-free, but can only be built in cities which have horses or ivory nearby, and Egypt's Burial Tombs are maintenance-free in themselves, but they require Shrines, which have a small maintenance cost. The advantage of this is that you can maintain happiness for a lower cost than many other Civs, freeing up some cash for City-State bribing, or unit upgrading, or that kind of thing.

Aside from being maintenance-free, Satraps' Courts are also useful for their synergy with your UA. A Market and a Satrap's Court together gives a 50% bonus to gold output in a city, while your UA during Golden Ages increases the base amount of gold cities will produce. Combine the two together and you have a very strong output of cash - enough to support a diplomatic victory if conquest doesn't work out. Satraps' Courts even have a higher base gold output than Banks (3 rather than 2) just to help out that little bit more.

So, your Satraps' Courts offer you happiness to help support mid-game warfare and help to give you a huge gold output when combined with your long Golden Ages. You may consider "why not use the happiness from these buildings to generate Golden Ages?" but you can't generate a Golden Age through happiness when you're already in one, and other methods will be enough to keep you in a permanent Golden Age. Just use the happiness to offset unhappiness from conquests, and don't worry about gaining Golden Age points.
Social Policies
Persia takes an odd route for social policies and their ideology alike. Let's start by looking at the social policies. Taking Liberty first is a good idea as it provides the earliest Golden Age in the game, and will help you to consolidate conquests. Then, Aesthetics makes a good second tree. That may seem odd as a non-cultural Civ, but there are quite a few bonuses in there that really help to keep your permanent Golden Age going. In the renaissance era, head into Rationalism to keep your military up to date.

If you're going for a diplomatic victory, substitute Aesthetics with Patronage.

Liberty

Opener

All your cities can expand their borders without a Monument, and you can build the uncompetitive Pyramids wonder. Not really the most powerful of policies, but we've got to start somewhere.

Citizenship

A free Worker and faster Worker speed helps to get city development up-and-running ready for Immortals.

Representation

This offers the earliest Golden Age in the game. Combine it with Immortals and either Catapults or Composite Bowmen and you've got yourself a powerful early rushing force. If you're not ready to go to war when this policy is first available, take something else and come back to it later.

Republic

A production bonus will cut quite a few turns off producing units or developing freshly-captured cities.

Collective Rule

It's a good idea to either use the free Settler to pick up luxuries you don't have already (for a while that'll offset the unhappiness of settling a new city) or to settle a base near a rival city you intend to invade. Don't settle too close to early-game warmonger Civs unless you have a strong army to back yourself up.

Meritocracy

A decent source of happiness to support conquests.

Finisher

I'd recommend getting a free Great Engineer and rushing the Chichen Itza with it for even longer Golden Ages. If it's very unlikely you'll miss out on it (or have already prior to finishing the Liberty tree) then a Great Prophet to set up a religion or a Great Scientist to place an Academy are good options.

Aesthetics

It's a good idea to switch to Rationalism as soon as you're in the renaissance era - the policies in Aesthetics will still be useful later in the game, so there's no shame in putting them off.

Opener

This is where Persia's route really begins to get strange, but you should be able to see the reasoning - the Aesthetics Opener increases the generation of GWAMs, including your Golden Age-generating Great Artists, by 25%. Plus, it allows construction of a wonder which gives a free Great Artist.

Fine Arts

If you have high excess happiness, this can get you through Social Policies a little faster, but generally this policy's more of a stepping stone to better ones than anything else.

Artistic Genius

A free Great Artist, or in other words, a free Golden Age for at least 12 turns (in normal-speed games.)

Cultural Centres

While this is another "stepping stone policy" as a whole, faster cultural building construction is still handy to defend against rival cultural Civs' tourism generation.

Flourishing of the Arts

The Golden Age is worth at least 15 turns for Persia on normal-speed games, while the bonus to culture in cities with wonders is quite considerable if you've been taking a few enemy capitals with wonders in.

Cultural Exchange

Extra tourism generation can make conquests easier as the more influential you are on a Civ, the fewer turns of resistance you face when you capture their cities (then again, you keep more population which is bad if you intend to raze the cities.) Generally, though, this is yet another "stepping stone" policy on the way to Aesthetics' Finisher.

Finisher

The extra theming bonuses may make a little culture and tourism, but it's the ability to buy Great Artists with faith that's the really useful ability here. If your faith output is very low, there isn't much point in finishing the tree, so focus on some other place to put Social Policies in.

Rationalism

Opener

Satraps' Courts make it easier to keep your happiness positive, which in turn makes it easier to keep Rationalism's global 10% science multiplier up, and as a consequence makes it slightly easier to keep a scientific edge over other Civs.

Secularism

Those Artist (and other) specialists will now give you some science.

Humanism

Generating Great Artists won't increase the cost of any other Great Person, and any other Great Person won't increase the cost of Great Artists, so you might as well generate plenty of Great Scientists as well as Great Artists. Humanism helps you to generate them quicker.

Free Thought

All Universities are now better, but the really interesting advantage is the science bonus on trading posts. Thanks to your Golden Age and Satraps' Courts, you can get lots of gold out of them, but now you get a decent sum of science, too.

Sovereignity

Get some money back from science building maintenance, meaning you have even more for whatever purpose you feel like.

Scientific Revolution

Warmongering will put other Civs off signing Research Agreements with you, but Rationalism's finisher is worth taking a policy you may never use.

Finisher

A free technology means a handy little additional push towards late-game military units, or perhaps Globalisation if you've decided to switch focus to diplomacy instead.

Exploration (If you have spare policies)

Opener

Why take Exploration's Opener? For one thing, the faster naval movement combined with your UA gives you a speed advantage on a par with England's UA, but for another, it allows construction of the Louvre wonder, which gives a free Great Artist on completion.

Patronage (If you have spare policies or intend to switch to a diplomatic route)

Opener

Patronage's Opener is one of the most powerful. Combine it with your high gold output and it's not too difficult to hold onto City-State alliances.

Consulates

Raising the resting point of City-State influence lessens the gold needed to get an alliance. Combine with Papal Primacy for permanent friendships.

Philanthropy

And this makes your money go further, meaning those alliances will last even longer.
Ideology
Taking Aesthetics as a non-cultural Civ is strange, but things get even stranger for Persia now. Your best choice of ideology is Freedom, even if you're warmongering. Don't worry - just because warmongering with Freedom is not usually the intended use of the ideology doesn't mean you can't win or be effective that way.

As usual, I'll cover the best options from the first "inverted pyramid" of tenets (3 from level one, 2 from level 2, 1 from level 3.)

Level One Policies - Freedom

Avant Garde

Make more Great Artists (and other Great People) faster, helping slightly to keep a Golden Age going, or a productive/scientific/other kind of edge.

Capitalism

Satraps' Courts are now worth 3 points of local city happiness each. Mints and Stock Exchanges also gain a point of happiness, while Markets are unaffected. Still, this is a good way to ensure your happiness remains positive as you make your late-game conquests.

Covert Action

Even after using a counter-Spy in your capital and a Spy in a rival city you want a line of sight for, you're likely to have some spares in the later eras. Holding City-State alliances is a good use of them, and helps out your diplomatic fallback option if domination fails.

Level Two Policies - Freedom

Universal Suffrage

The obvious choice. Together with the Chichen Itza, Golden Ages are two-and-a-half times the default length. Additionally, specialists you have don't tax your empire's happiness so much, meaning you can let your cities safely grow a little more.

Arsenal of Democracy

Volunteer Army is a good alternative if you have plenty of units already. Otherwise, the 15% production bonus offered really helps build plenty of aircraft or other late-game stuff which you may be lacking. Additionally, if you decide to shift towards a diplomatic focus, this tenet increases the influence gain from gifting units to City-States.

Level Three Policies - Freedom

Treaty Organisation

There aren't any level three Freedom tenets focused on domination, so the best thing to do is look at Persia's other strengths. Golden Ages make plenty of money, and the encouragement to build lots of Satraps' Courts helps to amplify that cash further. Combine that with Treaty Organisation, and you can really keep a firm grip of City-State alliances, giving you more happiness to support conquests, World Congress delegates to prevent votes going against you and distractions for enemies to deal with in the event of war.
Religion
While Persia doesn't have much in the way of advantages to founding a religion, if you manage to get one, there's a few useful things you can pick out of it, as listed in this section. Highly-situational beliefs aren't listed, but a faith-giving Pantheon is a good idea to help increase the odds of you getting a full religion.

Pantheon

Faith Healers

For Immortals, this means 60 health per turn when next to one of your cities with your Pantheon/religion and 65 within the city - excellent for recovering rapidly after injury. It's still good for your other units, too - particularly air units in the late-game.

Messenger of the Gods

Focusing on an early rush may make you behind on building Libraries and the National College. Extra science from city connections helps in closing that gap.

God of Craftsmen

An early boost to production can help you churn out Immortals faster.

Founder

Tithe or Church Property

While Golden Ages will make you plenty of cash eventually, it'll take a while until you get a permanent one going. Until then, these Founder beliefs can help cover the costs of your former-Immortal army.

Papal Primacy

If you feel like having a strong diplomatic backup route to victory would be a good idea, here's a way to help. If you take Consulates in the Patronage Social Policy tree along with this belief, it's possible to maintain permanent friendships with City-States.

Follower

Pagodas

Just because you have a happiness-giving UB doesn't mean you won't have problems with unhappiness. Pagodas help to address those problems by offering two points of local city happiness each, as well as some faith and culture.

Mosques

Less happiness than Pagodas, but more faith making them an excellent complement or backup to them.

Asceticism

Shrines are cheap to build and getting to the minimum number of followers isn't hard either, making this an easy way to get a little extra happiness.

Cathedrals

A backup to Pagodas and Mosques. You won't need those Great Art slots, but at least the building offers a little happiness, culture and faith.

Enhancer

Religious Texts or Itinerant Preachers

Faith-free ways to keep your religion strong, so you can focus your faith output on things like religious buildings instead.

Reliquary

A nice side-bonus for using up all those Great Artists to make Golden Ages. Notably, this is the only Enhancer belief that offers faith (rather than saving it) so it's handy if you need a little more for religious buildings or suchlike.

Just War

If your faith output is very strong, this combined with a Golden Age gives you a 35% combat advantage against units near enemy cities of this religion. That makes it easy to sweep your way through enemy armies, ready for your quick-setting-up siege units.
World Congress
Golden Ages and having lots of Satraps' Courts will help make you rich, and with that money, you can bribe City-States to get plenty of World Congress delegates. Note "priority" in this section refers to how high you should prioritise your votes if it comes up, not how much you should prioritise putting them forward.

Arts Funding

Medium priority
Vote yes

While Great Scientists and Engineers are very useful, more Great Artists helps to keep your permanent Golden Age going. More Civs gain out of science funding than arts funding (though you wouldn't know it the way the AI act) so even if this comes with downsides, it'll be less of a problem to you than it is to other Civs.

Cultural Heritage Sites

Low priority
Vote no unless you're captured plenty of wonders

Together with the culture multiplier of Golden Ages, this could be quite an effective tool against cultural Civs but then again, more culture on wonders means they'll have a higher tourism output.

Embargo City-States

High priority
Vote no

Aside from shutting down the powerful Treaty Organisation tenet, an embargo of City-States gives you nowhere to trade with if everyone's at war with you. True, Golden Ages give you enough cash that you can safely use Trade Routes internally, but it's good to have the option.

Historical Landmarks

Medium priority
Vote no

International Games

Medium-High priority
Vote no

If it goes ahead, use your strong Golden Age production to seize the top prize so a cultural Civ doesn't benefit from doubled tourism.

International Space Station

Low-Medium priority
Vote no

It's still worth going for the top prize if this thing passes - stronger Great Scientists, scientist and engineer specialists are useful to everyone.

Natural Heritage Sites

Low priority
Vote no unless you have a Natural Wonder of your own

Nuclear Non-Proliferation

High priority
Vote no unless you have no uranium of your own, another Civ does and they're likely to use it

Scholars in Residence

Medium priority
Vote yes unless you're the leader technologically speaking

Sciences Funding

Medium priority
Vote no

Standing Army Tax

Medium priority
Vote no unless you feel potential rivals will be hurt more

Thanks to your long Golden Ages, you can probably handle the effect of increased army maintenance. Whether your potential rivals can is a different matter.

World's Fair

Medium priority
Vote yes

With your strong Golden Age-assisted production base, you should have a decent chance of seizing the cultural bonuses for yourself. The massive culture output on offer goes well with the Golden Age culture output bonus.
Wonders
Persia's early-game is best-spent on focusing on early warfare, but later in the game there's a few useful wonders to pick up or capture. Here's a list of the best, arranged alphabetically by era.

Ancient Era

Wonders listed in this era should probably be captured rather than built.

Mausoleum of Halicarnassus

All those Great Artists you use up for Golden Ages can now give you helpful one-off lump sums of cash.

Pyramids (Liberty Only)

Due to the lack of competitiveness of this wonder, you can leave it for quite some time. It's still useful later in the game (with Citizenship on normal-speed games you can repair pillaged improvements in a single turn, handy for cleaning up after conquests) so don't worry too much about missing out on its advantages early on.

Statue of Zeus (Honour Only)

Even if you haven't entered the Honour tree, you can still take the wonder off another Civ that has and make use of the 15% bonus against cities. With your Golden Age strength bonus, that's 25% even before taking account of their own promotions.

Classical Era

Terracotta Army

Got a diverse early army? The Terracotta Army will give you lots of extra units to make those early conquests even easier.

Medieval Era

Alhambra

A great wonder for building new land melee units with. Combined with an Armoury, you can get something starting with three promotions (or one away from March, in other words.) Combined with a Military Academy and the Brandenburg Gate in the same city, you can get straight to March.

Chichen Itza

The highest-priority wonder of all for Persia. Using a free Great Engineer from the Liberty finisher is a very good idea to ensure you're the one that has it. Fail and be prepared to make whichever Civ that took it your next target. Longer Golden Ages are incredibly important to Persia, so this is a wonder you'll really want to grab one way or another.

If the key advantage of even longer Golden Ages wasn't enough, there's a little happiness on here too, which should help support conquests just a little.

Hagia Sophia

A free Great Prophet! Useful for getting a religion going (or enhancing an existing one sooner.)

Machu Picchu

A good source of cash before (and even after) your permanent Golden Age has begun to help deal with all those unit maintenance costs.

Notre Dame

Unlike Satraps' Courts, Notre Dame offers global happiness - in other words, this wonder will always provide 10 extra happiness while it's in your hands and never any less.

Renaissance Era

Forbidden Palace (Patronage Only)

All the advantages of this wonder work if you capture it, so don't worry too much if you can't manage to build it for whatever reason (such as not opening Patronage because you've got Rationalism to focus on.)

Two extra delegates really helps in the World Congress, particularly in the early years prior to City-State alliances being counted. Lower unhappiness from population points helps support all those Golden Age-driven conquests.

Leaning Tower of Pisa

A nice trick with this wonder is to grab a free Great Engineer and use it to grab the Porcelain Tower for the free Great Scientist. If you think you can build both the normal way, it's probably best to choose a Great Scientist and build an Academy with it. Meanwhile, the 25% global Great Person Points bonus helps cut the time to get more Great Artists. It's not such a great idea to pick a Great Artist as the free Great Person as there's plenty of other sources of them around at this time.

Porcelain Tower (Rationalism Only)

Even if you can't get any Research Agreements going, a free Great Scientist is still good. Build an Academy and watch the science roll in.

Sistine Chapel

Golden Ages already add a multiplier to culture, so here's another to cut through Social Policies even more rapidly. And to laugh in the face of cultural Civs.

Taj Mahal

At least 15 turns of Golden Age (in normal-speed games) and some happiness, too. Certainly worthwhile.

Uffizi (Aesthetics Only)

Kind of a lesser Taj Mahal to Persia. Those Great Art slots are pretty much useless to you but the Great Artist is very much useful. The Golden Age it makes won't be as good as the Taj Mahal's one, but it'll still help ensure your Golden Age keeps going.

Industrial Era

Brandenburg Gate

Combine with a Military Academy to start new units with three promotions. Add the Alhambra for a fourth (for land melee units.)

Louvre (Exploration Only)

You're here for the free Great Artist, not the Great Art slots (though getting the theming bonus isn't too hard as a warmongering Civ so long as you build a few Archaeologists to get some artifacts.)

Modern Era

Cristo Redentor

Helps you eat up those last few Social Policies or tenets faster. It's particularly helpful if you want to shift your focus towards securing a diplomatic victory (by making it faster to push into the Patronage Social Policy tree.)

Statue of Liberty (Freedom Only)

A production boost on specialists is a bonus everyone can make use of, no matter their victory route. Combined with the production bonus from Golden Ages, you can really churn out units quickly.

Atomic Era

Great Firewall

While this can help free up a counter-Spy if you've got a city that's likely to be spied on, the ability of this wonder you can exploit more is the fact it prevents the Internet technology from increasing rival Civs' tourism output against you. With your high, Golden Age-assisted culture gain, that makes you a good block to their plans.

Pentagon

Seeing as you've got quite a few military units stretching back to nearly the start of the game, as well as ones you've built since, there's plenty of upgrading to do. The Pentagon comes unfortunately late to deal with some of the highest upgrade costs but the money it saves still makes it worth building.

Information Era

CN Tower

An extra point of unhappiness-free population in all your cities makes quite a difference. If you have ten cities for example, and use the extra point of population in all the cities to work a trading post, that'll be 30 extra gold a turn (assuming you're in a Golden Age and haven't completed the Commerce tree.) Additionally, all your cities get maintenance-free Broadcast Towers which helps push up your culture output to a level even harder for cultural Civs to deal with.
Pitfalls to Avoid
Persia has some fairly unconventional elements to their playstyle, and as such it's easy to not use them to their full potential. Here's a few things to avoid doing when playing as Persia.

Building wonders too early

Even if there are no near targets for early rushes, you'll want to build plenty of Immortals quickly anyway as they become obsolete on a technology that's a high priority for you. Spending lots of time on wonders instead of units may mean you end up throwing away a UU.

Immortal-only rushes

Immortals are excellent meatshield units and can take a lot of damage before they have to withdraw, but being melee units, they're not particularly great at fighting cities except for the last hit - they'll take a lot of damage and there's a good chance they'll be finished off the following turn. Be sure to bring Composite Bowmen or Catapults with them.

Trying to generate Golden Ages mostly through happiness

This method of generating Golden Ages only works when you're not already in them. Around the late-medieval or early-renaissance eras, you should be able to start a Golden Age you can make last indefinitely through use of Great Artists (as well as Social Policies and maybe the Taj Mahal wonder) so there's no real need to have lots of excess happiness.

Restarting or quitting if you can't secure the Chichen Itza

On higher difficulties in particular, you have to learn to live with the fact you can't entirely guarentee getting a wonder. It's still possible (but harder) to keep up a permanent Golden Age without the Chichen Itza, or at least be in one far more turns than you're out of one.

Building the Artists' Guild in a city that can't build a Garden

Once you've filled the two Artist specialist slots the Artists' Guild has, the only way to increase your generation of them is through boosts to Great Person Points. One of these is having a Garden in the city. Gardens can only be built on riverside or lakeside cities (unless you got a free one from the Hanging Gardens wonder) so make sure your Artists' Guild goes on a city that meets one of those criteria.

Not generating Great People aside from Great Artists

Generating Great Artists won't increase the cost of future other Great People, and vice versa. It's a good idea to dedicate a city (or even the same city as the one with the Artists' Guild, so the National Epic will go further there) to Great Scientist or Engineer production, as there's no real downside for doing so.

Assuming unlimited funds in a Golden Age

Making money gets a lot easier once you're in a Golden Age, but losing International Trade Routes to pillagers can still make quite a dent to your income. Additionally, you shouldn't be reckless with your spendng - you won't have the level of income which Venice has, for example, so don't just buy things without thinking - it may be better to build it the normal way.

Assuming the Freedom ideology blocks domination victories

It's a fairly common misconception that it's not possible (or very difficult) to win a domination victory using the Freedom ideology. For most warmongering Civs, it doesn't work as well as Autocracy or Order, but for Persia it has synergy with both their UA and UB making it often the strongest option.
Decimate Darius: The Counter-Strategies
While Persia can have a good stab at early attacks, they don't really get consistently powerful until the second half of the game. They have somewhat of a lull in the midgame, once Pikemen promoted from Immortals start to obsolete but before Satraps' Courts come available and before they can really start to chain Golden Ages together.

Playing against the Achaemenid Legacy

There's two approaches to facing Persia's UA - one is prevention (try to stop them getting Golden Ages) and the other is mitigation (try and limit their impact.)

Prevention

Let's start by looking at prevention. First, here's a reminder of how a Golden Age can be started.

  • Accumulating enough Golden Age Points from excess happiness
  • Taking certain Social Policies (Liberty's Representation and Aesthetics' Flourishing of the Arts)
  • Using up Great Artists to generate them (these produce slightly shorter Golden Ages than other methods)
  • Completing the Taj Mahal wonder

Let's look at dealing with the first method of generating Golden Ages. Warmongers can help ruin Persia's happiness by pillaging them, while diplomatic Civs may prefer to try and embargo of one of their luxuries. Anything that hurts their unhappiness even slightly will hurt their generation of Golden Ages unless they've managed to maintain a permanent one through other means.

If hurting their happiness doesn't seem practical, or you just want a different approach to take, there's three major wonders which is quite a loss for Persia not to have. Most significantly is the Chichen Itza, though the Leaning Tower of Pisa and Taj Mahal are very useful for them, too. If Persia doesn't get those wonders, their Golden Ages will be shorter and more infrequent than they could be.

Of course, there's an alternative method of prevention that doesn't require you thinking about how Persia generates Golden Ages - just invade them prior to the renaissance era, before they can really get a long-term Golden Age going. Just watch out for those Immortals (or upgraded counterparts.)

Mitigation

If you're not sure whether or not Persia is in a Golden Age, there's a simple way to check. Send a unit in or near their lands, and look at the yield of tiles in their land that produces gold. If they all produce a yield of at least 2 gold, they're almost certainly in a Golden Age.

The production and culture bonuses of a Golden Age aren't something you can really deal with, though you can send in fast units to try and pillage their gold tiles (and their Trade Routes) to help weaken their economy.

Persia's strength bonus isn't really something you can outmanoeuvre, but you can do that to their speed bonus. Building the Great Wall wonder cancels out their speed bonus while they're in your lands. Alternatively, try steering them towards forested hills - almost all of their units will move at the same speed through them as yours will. If you're attacking them, use fast units to pillage their routes so their speed advantage isn't even higher than it is already.

Playing against Immortals

Immortals, like regular Spearmen (despite their higher strength,) are vulnerable to Swordsmen and reasonably vulnerable to Composite Bowmen. Got neither? Try building plenty of Spearmen of your own - they're not that much weaker than Immortals so will stand up reasonably well.

Don't take on Immortals with single units at a time. Try to surround them - not only can you make use of flanking bonuses, but you can also deal far more damage than they can heal.

If you're up against a mix of Immortals and other units, it's often a good idea to target the other units first as they can't recover as well after an attack - you'll either kill them or they'll be forced to retreat.

Playing against Satraps' Courts

Like all UBs, it's hard to explicitly play against Satraps' Courts. You won't really be able to deal with the extra happiness they offer Persia, but you can weaken another function they have - acting as a gold multiplier. Sending in fast units to pillage their gold-giving tiles helps.

Satraps' Courts also, like Markets, increase the gold Persia gets from Trade Routes. As it's more likely Persia will have lots of these buildings than the average Civ has Banks, they'll probably get more out of Trade Routes you send to them than ones you send to other Civs. Keep that in mind if you intend to trade with Persia.

Strategy by Style

Early-game Aggressors - Try to fight around their Immortals; other units they have will be much easier to kill. If an Immortal's in your way, surround it, make use of flanking bonuses and kill it.

Mid-game Warmongers - Persia's probably at its weakest here. Send in fast units to check their status of Golden Age. If they're in one, attacking via really rough terrain (hills + forests) can work reasonably well.

Late-game Warmongers - It may be a good idea to invade Persia earlier, before they can get an endless Golden Age going. If you can't or won't invade them then for any reason, make good use of air and naval units - for the former, Persia's speed advantage is pretty much meaningless against them while for the latter, their speed bonus is far less significant than it is on land.

Cultural Players - Persia's high culture output thanks to their Golden Ages will make them a fairly difficult opponent to overcome. Taking wonders such as the Chichen Itza, Taj Mahal and Leaning Tower of Pisa will be useful to dent their chances at continuous Golden Ages and hence reduce their long-term culture generation.

Diplomatic Players - A good way to cause trouble for Persia is to pass a standing army tax in the World Congress. It'll narrow down their options, as either they'll keep their large army but have to forgo some City-State bribes, or they'll have to shrink down their armed forces. Bribing a Civ with an emphasis on fast or good pillaging units to declare war on them can seriously set back their economic efforts even if they don't lose any cities in the process.

Scientific Players - If you've got an early advantage to science, you've got a good opportunity to grab the Chichen Itza before Persia even gets that far. Aside from that, certain moves you'll make anyway will hurt Persia - if you manage to get the Leaning Tower of Pisa, you're denying Persia a bonus to Great Artist generation. Passing sciences funding will directly hurt their generation of Great Artists.
Other Guides
Meta-guides

These guides cover every Civ in the game and can be used as quick reference guides.

Civ-specific guides, in alphabetical order

All 43 Civs are covered in in-depth guides linked below. In brackets are the favoured victory routes of each Civ.
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31 Comments
spacepanda Jun 24, 2016 @ 8:03pm 
Wonderful guide. Thank you so much for taking the time to put it together.
Zigzagzigal  [author] Mar 30, 2016 @ 1:31pm 
Yep, I've often made similar mistakes to that. Thanks for pointing it out; it's fixed now.
[ДЅ] henceforth8 Mar 30, 2016 @ 12:42pm 
"This bonus is considerably more effective than that of Kris Swordsmen, but the random nature of how Kris Swordsman promotions are picked makes it far less reliable."

I believe you mean Immortals instead of Kris Swordsmen.
Zigzagzigal  [author] Feb 17, 2016 @ 11:19am 
I realised that my mention of Patronage for diplomatic victories wasn't very clear (and implied to wait until the late-game to pick it up), so I've drawn attention to it in the beginning of the Social Policies section.
OwlRaider Feb 17, 2016 @ 11:10am 
If going diplomatic than you want to maximize your gold output and of course city state relations, which makes dipping into Patronage nearly a must and dipping into Commerce extremely useful. Neither of which go well with Aesthetics. Also going diplomatic doesn't mean you should never go to war, doing a bunch of conquering and filling the gaps with some new cities of your own(with liberty's fast settler production) is generally the smartest way to go, taking advantage of your early UU than using your UB after you got a decently wide empire and during all of that taking advantage of your UA's extra gold from golden ages. Also if you're either terribly behind or significantly ahead in tech, going 3 into Rationalism(opener+right side) with a wide empire lets you either catch up quickly or rush towards atomic era to enable the diplomatic victory. More useful social policies that aren't part of Aesthetics.
OwlRaider Feb 17, 2016 @ 11:05am 
I agree, you should focus on all 3 of your uniques as they're all very good. I just think that the opportunity cost for using the forever golden strategy is too steep and goes against Persia's 2 preferred victory conditions: Domination and Diplomatic. If going for domination you generally want to start conquering with composites and Immortals to take advantage of them, than either end the game or at least your island(if a continents style map) with crossbows and pikemen(upgraded from Immortals). If the game isn't over yet than frigates/artilleries with lancers(promoted from pikemen)/Privateers to deal the killing blow. If the game goes longer than that than you've done something terribly wrong, but you still have all the usual late game options(bombers, paratroopers, nukes, etc).
Zigzagzigal  [author] Feb 17, 2016 @ 10:20am 
Still, Persia's not Egypt. There's no reason why you can't focus on all three uniques and make the most out of them all. This guide places a lot of emphasis on the UA, but you can get plenty of use out of the UU and UB on top.
Zigzagzigal  [author] Feb 17, 2016 @ 10:20am 
Part of the Forever Golden strategy is consistency. If you remain in a Golden Age indefinitely, you'll never have to worry about the deep hit to gold output from it running out. On top of this, cities that produce more gold from terrain and buildings receive more gold from international trade routes. There's also the production and culture bonuses to consider.

Persia's uniques aside from their UA are very good, but have time constraints. Immortals are only really useful until the renaissance era, where their upgrade path beyond Pikemen makes them ineffective meatshields and therefore rather niche in usage. Persia's UB, meanwhile, is one of the latest to arrive and is pretty expensive to set up in new cities in terms of production cost. As such, it tends to work better for supporting captured cities.
OwlRaider Feb 16, 2016 @ 7:18pm 
So if conquest is your goal than focus more on the Immortals being amazing meat shields, the Satrap's Courts keeping your economy afloat and each golden age giving you a mini Clausewitz's Legacy. Now, if conquest is not your goal, as Persia is so incredibly versatile it can easily win any other victory, than focusing more on the golden age aspect is warranted, but even than unless going culture I'd stay away from Aesthetics and freedom too. Even if going for a Scientific victory, which is arguably Persia's weakest victory condition, I'd still probably go wide with Persia, as the extra happiness from Satrap's Courts allows your cities to grow taller before generating unhappiness, which in turn means that you'll have more population by going wide than going tall. The extra science costs will be mitigated by hopefully Messenger of the Gods and trading post spamming+right side of Rationalism. I'll still go freedom if going Scientific, if only for Spaceship procurement.
OwlRaider Feb 16, 2016 @ 7:15pm 
From a military perspective, as long as you time your golden ages right the downtime in golden age should be the time you spend recovering and upgrading your units in between conquests, so the loss of the extra 10% strength and +1 movement shouldn't impact you all that much. Speaking of which, if you're going for a conquest victory unless you're playing on a huge map or a non standard(anything other than Pangaea/Continents basically) your game should be over pretty early(typically before Public Schools, at most soon after you research artillery after beelining hard for it), which means an ideology shouldn't even be selected unless a runaway AI managed to get significantly ahead of you in science to open up ideologies. It also means that you won't be generating that many GAs and definitely not get anywhere near forever golden even if you do pick up Aesthetics instead of Commerce and even if you pick a GA from finishing Liberty.