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Civilizations & Leaders
A guide to all of the leaders and their civilizations including an analysis of their best strategies and their unique units and buildings.
This guide will give you a quick look at each of the leaders going over each ability, unique unit and building and looking at some of the strategies associated with that leader. I also recommend any relevent Wonders and Policies to go along with playing that particular leader.
Hellenic League: City-State Influence degrades at half and recovers twice the normal rate.
This ability will let your alliances with City-States last twice as long and investments into improving your relations with them will pay dividends. Early on, you can focus on Mercantile City-States to keep your happiness high will expanding. Later, Maritime City-States can push the upper limits of your population growth and you'll have the economy to support the constant reinforcements from Militaristic City-States.
Companion Cavalry replaces the Horseman and has +2 , +1 , and an increased chance (?) of Great General spawning from combat.
Hoplite replaces the Spearman and has +2 .
The Companion Cavalry and the Hoplite form a powerful Classical army and really give Alexander good power in the early game. Bronze Working becomes a high priority technology to take early.
Early on, build up your economy and production. Then, research Bronze Working and build an army of Hoplites to attack neighbours and fulfill any quests of City-States to improve your relations with them. Once you've run out of steam, regroup and use the advantage you've gained in the early game for a Domination Victory.
Gold buildings and Wonders serve to both maintain your powerful army and build up enough coffers to gift to City-States. Always keep an eye on the quests that City-States provide, and try to chain those quests; providing Gold to Sidon who seeks investors might yield Jewelry which Rio de Janeiro desires, netting two friends or allies for the price of one. Keep in mind that the quest where your Gold gifts are more effective for a period of time is not as good as the quest where they ask for a Gold gift directly; the latter quest is a one-time boost that will be effective even if you gift the minimum 250 Gold, while with the former quest you have many turns to decide whether to invest or not and the quest won't go away even after you've invested.
AI Alexander is very aggressive and will always pick on any civilizations that are weaker and nearby with his Hoplite army. Be careful if you're immediately next to him.
Recommended Victory: Domination Recommended Policy Tree: Patronage Recommended Wonders: The Colossus, Machu Picchu National Treasury, Heroic Epic Recommended Beliefs: Papal Primacy, Holy Warriors, Religious Unity
River Warlord: Receive triple Gold from Barbarian encampments and pillaging Cities. Land units gain the War Canoe and Amphibious promotions, strengthening them while embarked.
Amphibious is often underrated since people forget it ignores river penalties too. Cities are very difficult to attack over rivers and by sea; adding an additional one to three attacks on a coastal city is a big deal. The extra Gold is also a significant bonus in the early game so you should focus on some early units to exploit that.
Mud Pyramid Mosque replaces the Shrine and provides +2 , +2 and has no maintainence cost.
The Shrine is a difficult building to commit to because the additional will only provide a pantheon as its immediate benefit. However, having faster policies makes this building a great option early on.
Mandekalu Cavalry replaces the Knight, removing the normal mounted unit penalty of attacking cities and is 10 Production cheaper.
Since this unit can attack cities, you can build more of them than you usually would when thinking about taking over your neighbours' cities.
You should invest in some early units after building infrastructure to clear out Barbarian Encampments to get that Gold bonus. You can use that Gold bonus to boost your economy or buy settlers. The Mud Pyramid Mosque should definitely be built early alongside the Monument to take policies faster. Optics becomes a high priority technology if there are enough islands and coastal cities to conquer.
Recommended Victory: Domination Recommended First Policy: Liberty Recommended Wonders: Heroic Epic, Circus Maximus, Notre Dame Recommended Beliefs: Papal Primacy
Attila (The Huns)
Scourge of God: Raze Cities at double speed. Start with Animal Husbandry technology. +1 Production per Pasture.
A free technology is quite unique and being able to develop pastures earlier and have them have even more production means that an early Worker will benefit you greatly. A poor starting location with few animals is discouraging but you should know where to expand to next.
Horse Archer replaces Chariot Archer and has +1 .
Battering Ram replaces Spearman. It is a very different unit with 10 , +300% versus cities, can only attack cities, has Cover I promotion, can't have defensive bonuses and suffer -33% penalty on defense.
The Battering Ram makes the Huns frightening from the very beginning. Compare to the Catapult which has 8 and +200% versus cities and you can see that the Battering Ram is extremely deadly. Keep in mind that this replaces the Spearman, not the Catapult. This means you need a substantial Archer army or quick Swordsman to protect your Battering Rams. With this unit the Huns can threaten any civilization from the very start of the game making for an interesting style and obviously a very powerful unique unit.
The Horse Archer is a solid unit who's role is it to defend the Battering Ram and reinforce the front lines quickly.
Scourge of God goes hand-in-hand with the Battering Ram and you should build lots of them early to take down your enemies' cities. Build a Worker first to improve pastures and clear forests which will accelerate army development, while taking Mining and Bronze Working to unlock Battering Rams. Though Iron Working is tempting to research, missing on iron would be very unfortunate. Archers and Horse Archers can support your Battering Rams.
AI Attila is probably the most aggressive AI ever as it will declare you weak, denounce you and turn hostile on you the turn he meets you, especially at higher difficulties. Start building units and defenses early if you're right next to him.
Recommended First Policy: Honor Recommended Wonders: Heroic Epic, Circus Maximus, Notre Dame Recommended Beliefs: Initiation Rites, Holy Warriors, Just War.
Augustus Caesar (Rome)
The Glory of Rome: +25% Production toward any buildings that already exist in the Capital.
A great ability that encourages wide empires and you to build lots of buildings in your Capital.
Ballista replaces the Catapult and has +1 and +2 .
Legion replaces the Swordsman and has +3 and can build roads (!).
The Legion is very powerful in the early game and your opponents will have difficulty fighting it. It takes a lot of research to reach technologies like Steel, so the Legion remains relevant for a long time. Ballista come in the same era as the Legion so Rome's might is concentrated in this part of the game.
There is no need to rush for Iron Working although that is certainly a viable strategy and obviously very good. Establishing three or four cities and then developing a good number of Legion and Ballista leads to an easy victory. Even if the enemy reaches higher tech quickly, the Legion can stay competitive beyond its era. Caesar's ability becomes stronger the more cities you have, encouraging a wide empire. All of those buildings and cities that you might have means you should shore up your finances so you can support your sprawling empire.
Recommended Victory: Domination Recommended Policy Tree: Order Recommended Wonders: Forbidden Palace, Machu Picchu, National Treasury, Heroic Epic Recommended Beliefs: Church Property, Holy Warriors
Furor Teutonicus: Upon defeating Barbarian unit inside an encampment, there is a 50% chance you earn 25 Gold and they join your side. Pay 25% less for land unit maintenance.
Bismarck rewards early units with extra units and Gold and his discount on maintenance means you'll suffer less for fielding these early units. Since you'll garner favor with City-States when clearing encampments, if the unit maintenance is too much and you don't need that army early, you can gift some of those free units for further Influence gain.
Landsknecht replaces the Pikeman. It's special because it costs half that of a Pikeman.
Panzer replaces the Tank and has +1 .
Being half price means you'll have twice the number of Pikeman as your opponents, making Civil Service a fantastic technology for Bismarck to research early. Being able to overrun your enemies with such a big army is one of this leader's strengths.
Germany supports a large army and getting a strong economy and production up before going all out with Landsknecht is a plan. Keep in mind that Spearman can upgrade to Landsknecht at an absurdly low cost. Clear out as many Barbarian camps early as you can and be sure to keep all the Spearman that you get.
Recommended Victory: Domination Recommended First Policy: Liberty Recommended Wonders: Forbidden Palace, Notre Dame, Heroic Epic Recommended Beliefs: Initiation Rites, Holy Warriors, Religious Unity
Boudicca (The Celts)
Druidic Lore:+1 Faith per city with an adjacent unimproved Forest. Bonus increases to +2 Faith in Cities with 3 or more adjacent unimproved Forest tiles.[/i]
No doubt when a Pantheon is founded in the first few turns of your game by an unknown civilization, Boudicca is in the game. Religion is a great and major addition to Gods & Kings and is a factor in your success. You'll find that playing the Celts, you can quickly become the dominant religion in the game. Relocate your Settler a short distance to get the +2 Faith bonus if you're not already beside 3 forests.
Pictish Warrior replaces the Spearman and has +20% Combat Strength in foreign lands, can pilalge enemy improvements with no movement cost and earns 50% of opponents' strength as Faith for kills.
Inspired by Montezuma's bloodthirst, Pictish Warriors are a useful tool for pursuing a Faith-based strategy and an all-around great unit. You'll want to fight as much as possible with your god-loving warriors, killing barbarians and other civilizations alike.
Ceilidh Hall replaces the Opera House and has +3 Happiness.
The Ceilidh Hall's +3 Happiness is equivalent to that of a Theatre, a significant boost and will be natural building to build in a Cultural Victory.
Religion is Boudicca's forté and you must try your best to align your religious beliefs with your Victory condition. Interfaith Dialogue alongside the Messenger of the Gods pantheon can score you lots of free technologies early when pursuing a Scientific Victory. Religious Art and Pagodas will give you the necessary boosts you need for Cultural Victories. For a Domination Victory, you'll want to have the Holy Warriors belief, as you can convert your Faith into free units to have a massive army. Church Property will help pay for your army's upkeep while scaling with the number of cities you convert. Just War will convince faithful enemy cities to welcome your crusade with open arms.
In any scenario you should produce early Pictish Warriors to accelerate your Faith production and expanding early into canopies will further improve your Faith production without having to build any Shrines at all. Faith later in the game lets you purchase Great People depending on your choice of Policies.
Recommended Victory: Scientific or Cultural or Domination Recommended Policy Trees: Rationalism (Scientific) or Freedom (Cultural) or Order (Domination) Recommended Wonders: Great Mosque of Djenne, The Hagia Sophia, Stonehenge Recommended Beliefs: Interfaith Dialogue or Religious Art or Just War
Siberian Riches: Strategic Resources provide +1 Production and Horse, Iron and Uranium Resources provide double quantity.
Catherine makes great use of strategic resources early on and can build more Swordsman and Knights than normal. You can also consider trading away your free excess strategic resources for more income. To exploit her ability fully, you'll need Iron Working to see where all those nice Iron resources are hiding. At the end of the game, Catherine can become a force, as Uranium is essential for all your powerhouse units.
Krepost replaces the Barracks. Culture and Gold costs of acquiring new tiles reduced by 25% in this city.
The Krepost lets Russia's borders quickly expand and eat up the space of your neighbours territory and take those strategic resources before your opponents can.
Cossack replaces the Cavalry. It gains a +33% bonus against units that have already taken damage.
The Cossack comes at a time when only enemy Cavalry are a match and Catherine can build twice as many. The bonus strength lets you pick on wounded units easily and makes your opponents pay for attacking at all.
Prioritize strategic resources to exploit Catherine's specialty, and aim for horses early so that you can build up a force of Knights. Those Knights with promotions will be deadly when upgraded to Cossacks later on and you can mount a strong offense at this critical time. In the late game, access to Uranium is crucial for all sorts of high technology units and of course everybody's favorite weapon: Nukes.
Recommended Victory: Domination Recommended First Policy: Liberty Recommended Wonders: Angkor Wat, Alhambra, Hanging Gardens Recommended Beliefs: Initiation Rites, Religious Community, Just War
Darius I (Persia)
Achaemenid Legacy: Golden Ages last 50% longer. During a Golden Age, units recieve +1 Movement and a +10% Combat Strength bonus.
Golden Ages will vastly improve your empire's Gold, Production, and Culture. As Persia, you should complement Darius' ability with the relevant Wonders, like Chichen Itza and the Taj Mahal, and ensure your Happiness is always booming. A true tall empire with only a few cities will easily let you accomplish this.
Immortal replaces the Spearman has +1 Combat Strength and heals at double the normal rate.
The Immortal heals 30HP per turn in friendly territory and 50HP when fortified in cities which makes them one of the best defensive units; great synergy with the defensive playstyle of Persia. You should definitely build as many of them as you can since their promotion will carry forward and Immortal Pikeman with Archer support is as stable of a defense as you can have.
Satrap's Court replaces the Bank. +2 and +2 in addition to being a regular bank.
Banks are all upside and you'll always find yourself building them. The +2 Happiness bonus is equivalent to that of a Colosseum and having that attached to your Bank is fantastic. It also works very well with Persia's desire to have a happy empire for more and faster Golden Ages.
Persia is well suited for a Cultural Victory playstyle because all three unique sets that Persia provides work towards a tall empire with few cities, that is extremely happy and benefits from the +20% Culture boost during Darius' long Golden Ages. Immortals will fend off Montezuma and Alexander with ease early on, as they jealously comment on your Wonders and population. Great Arists should be expended early to create Landmarks for your Cities while later on they will give you 12, 16-turn Golden Ages, ensuring you are never not in one. Faith will let you purchase Great Artists when they've not yet spawned and will let you boost your Culture with the relevant buildings. When you have a well-oiled Cultural machine, you shouldn't be afraid to attack with your army, especially Wonder-happy neighbors and large empires. Puppeted cities don't add to your Culture requirements and you'll find if you leave the leader alone for too long, he'll be happy to outresearch you and be building all your Wonders faster than you can.
Recommended Victory: Cultural Recommended First Policy: Tradition Recommended Wonders: Taj Mahal, Chichen Itza, Sistine Chapel Recommended Beliefs: Ceremonial Burial, Pagodas, Defender of the Faith
Sun Never Sets: +2 Movement for all naval units. Receives 1 extra Spy.
Elizabeth's mastery of the seas means you'll be able to pre-emptively strike with your navy. With the advent of the Privateer, ship warefare is all about momentum as the bigger navy can capture and become even bigger. The extra Spy is useful when behind in the science race or when trying to keep a firm grasp on a City-State that you really want the support of.
Longbowman replaces the Crossbowman and has an additional 1 range.
One measly additional range changes everything in any strategy game. The Longbowman's range lets you torture units and strike against enemy archers and cities without retaliation. When upgraded to Gatling Guns, they retain the additional range and Gatling Guns with archer range is a force in the Industrial Age.
Ship of the Line replaces the Frigate, has +5 , +7 , and is 15 cheaper.
The Ship of the Line is the dominant unit in the Renaissance Era as it controls both the high seas and the coast. While it is obviously useful alongside Privateers for England's attacks on coastal cities, it is also a great support unit when defending a coastal city or alongside your land units on a peninsula. Against other ships, it is not merely a stronger unit; while other unique land units are a force on the land, they can still be countered with good positioning and fortification. On the other hand, navies have no chance against the Ship of the Line because there is no equalizer like terrain on water.
On maps with enough coastal cities and are primarily sea-based, Elizabeth can utilize her ability to quickly reinforce and engage on the high seas. Early on, she can be a rowdy pirate and harass her enemies while later, there is no match for the almighty Ship of the Line. Even landlocked, the Queen has the Longbowman. You should build as many as you can as not only are they a good unit, in later eras, your Gatling Guns get that fantastic +1 range. Spies can be employed to not only steal technologies if you're behind, but influence City-States if you're ahead.
Recommended Victory: Domination Recommended First Policy: Commerce Recommended Wonders: The Great Lighthouse, The Colossus Recommended Beliefs: Papal Primacy, Holy Warriors
Population Growth: Unhappiness from number of Cities doubled, Unhappiness from number of Citizens halved.
This ability seems to discourage wide empires but let's do the math. On default difficulty, each city normally costs 3 Unhappiness and each citizen normally costs 1 Unhappiness. For Gandhi, those values are doubled and halved, respectively. That means at 9 population, both a Gandhi city and a normal city will have equal happiness. Anything higher means that Gandhi has net positive Happiness. Later on in the game when city populations are high, Gandhi will end up having higher happiness than other civilizations and can support more cities than other leaders. However, keep in mind that this might take a while and you definitely can't expand very freely early on.
War Elephant replaces the Chariot Archer and has +1 , -1 and loses the Chariot Archer's Rough Terrain penalty.
The War Elephant might be slower but it is stronger and will help protect India's tall empire early on. It also doesn't require Horses, which means you can build them as fast as you have the Wheel and as many as you require.
Muhgal Fort replaces the Castle and gives +2 Culture and +3 Gold after Flight is researched.
The Fort works well with Neuschwanstein Castle and the bonus Gold is a nice kicker. The Culture boost is welcome in a Cultural Victory strategy and synergizes neatly with the Castle which helps protect your tall cities from invasion.
Gandhi should focus on growth to squeeze out his happiness advantage. Although Gandhi can support a wide empire later on, he works more naturally and easily with a tall empire. Gandhi can easily support a specialist society with that high population and combined with the excess happiness which will make Golden Ages more frequent, Gandhi ends up being well suited for a Cultural Victory. Later on when Happiness is high, you can be aggressive and attack other civilizations, as puppeted cities won't add to your Culture requirements but will improve your Science; something that all tall empries struggle to keep on pace with.
Recommended Victory: Culture Recommended First Policy: Tradition Recommended Wonders: Hanging Gardens, Statue of Liberty, National Epic Recommended Beliefs: Tithe, Swords to Plowshares, Itinerant Preachers
Genghis Khan (Mongolia)
Mongol Terror: Combat Strength +30% when fighting City-State units or attacking a City-State itself. All mounted units have +1 Movement.
A great ability to go with the Khan's famous Keshiks, this will also benefit your early Chariots and Horsemen and later units like the Cavalry. Having a significant advantage against City-States means that you should take any City-States with prime real estate and be less afraid of a civilization that has forged alliances with many.
Keshik replaces the Knight and has 5 Movement, -5 , gains a 16 Ranged Attack, gains promotions twice as fast and combat generates Khans at twice the normal rate.
Khan replaces the Great General and heals 15HP to nearby units each turn.
What a unit! The Keshik can hit and run units and cities all day, making it very powerful especially with such great movement. The Khan is a free triple medic that doesn't occupy a unit space, which makes it very good. Together, they form a menacing army in the Medieval Era.
You can quickly overrun City-States in the classical era and establish a good economy and production before turning to Keshiks to dominate the rest of the world. Though Keshiks will only rule the Medieval Era, Khans will remain relevant throughout the game. You should focus on keeping your Keshiks alive for a long time as they promote faster and those promotions will be advanced as you upgrade those Keshiks to Cavalry.
Recommended Victory: Domination Recommended First Policy: Honor Recommended Wonders: Brandenburg Gate, The Great Wall, Heroic Epic Recommended Beliefs: Ceremonial Burial, Holy Warriors
Gustavus Adolphus (Sweden)
Nobel Prize: Gain 90 Influence with a Great Person gift to a City-State. When declaring friendship, Sweden and their friend gain a +10% boost to Great Person generation.
Sweden is benefits from good relations with other civilizations and you should have no trouble forming alliances with City-States. Great Generals and Admirals that normally have a lower impact than other Great People can be gifted for a high amount of Influence. Keeping other civilizations happy will be tougher but the rewards for doing so are Great.
Hakkapeliitta replaces the Lancer and has +15% when stacked with a Great General and gives the Great General the same movement as itself when stacked.
Carolean replaces the Rifleman and has the March promotion, allowing it to heal even after actions.
Rifleman is one of those units that far surpasses the units of the previous era and is a unit you can quickly tech to and just win with. The Carolean's March promotion makes this strategy even more powerful. Healing while attacking is just one of the best abilities you can have, period.
The Hakkapeliitta is Sweden's Renaissance unique unit that comes before you can build the Carolean.
You should exploit Adolphus' strength of spawning Great People which is more easily done when starting with a taller, high population empire. You have the flexibility of going to war or being peaceful depending on your neighboring civilizations. Against aggressive civilizations who will likely war against you, you can befriend far away civilizations and quickly outresearch your enemies with more academies or bulb your way to Rifling and Metallurgy which will let you access your unique units. Hopefully, you'll be able to use those units to leverage cities and Great Generals which you can then convert to alliances with City-States. With peaceful civilizations, you can quickly research your way to the U.N. while being highly religious, letting you spawn Great Prophets and buy Great People with Faith that you can gift away to quickly alliance with all the City-States and win diplomatically. Alternatively, Adolphus can use his abilities to befriend Cultural and Maritime City-States alongside his Great Artist or Scientist production to pursue a Cultural Victory. Great Scientist production is more flexible as you can pursue a Diplomatic, Cultural or Domination Victory. A free General from the Honor tree can be gifted for an alliance and you can chain that into a free early Prophet which can be gifted too.
Recommended Victory: Diplomatic Recommended Policy Tree: Freedom Recommended Wonders: Leaning Tower of Pisa, Statue of Liberty, National Epic Recommended Beliefs: Peace Loving, Guruship, Reliquary
Seven Cities of Gold: Gold bonus for discovering a Natural Wonder (bonus enhanced if first to discover it). Culture, Happiness, and tile yields from Natural Wonders doubled.
Isabella's ability means you'll play the part of Christopher Columbus; build Scouts and Triremes early and try to stumble upon Natural Wonders as soon as you possibly can! The amount of Gold you get from discovering them before other civilizations is staggering; on Standard speed, 500 Gold; enough for a full Settler. There are a lot of amazing Wonders in the world, and finding a close one to settle by should be your primary objective early on.
Conquistador replaces the Knight and is 15 Production more expensive. It has +2 vision, can found a city on foreign landmasses, defends when embarked at twice the strength, and suffers no penalty attacking cities.
The Conquistador is a perfect unit when Spain is seeking to establish itself on a new continent. You no longer need a clunky Settler to join your navy. It's great vision means you can quickly assess the new world and find a place to expand. It's no slouch either when taking over enemy cities since it can do so without penalty.
Tercio replaces the Musketman. It is 10 Production more expensive. It has +2 Combat Strength and +50% Combat Strength versus Mounted units.
After the Conquistadors have paved the foundations for Spanish expansionism, the Tercios provide the punch. While Lancers normally prove to joust well with the cheaper, more generic Musketmen, Spain's Tercios dominate the Renaissance with their bonus against horses and overall superior firepower against everything else. They carry their bonuses as Riflemen into the Industrial Age and continue to overpower the normally more powerful Cavalry.
Unlike many other civilizations, building a Scout first is very important. Ideally, Madrid is settled on the coast, as you'll want to circumnavigate the globe, or at least your continent, to find all the Wonders you possibly can. If you do find those Wonders before your enemies can, your coffers will fill up and you can purchase units or buildings; perhaps the most impactful will be expanding as soon as you can. Because the Happiness gain is doubled with Isabella's ability, it facilitates early expansion. Hopefully the Wonder you find is close and easily accessible; that is a natural and obviously great location for that free Settler. Later on in the game, Spain can expand easily with Conquistadores and start to mass produce Tercios, which are fantastic combat unit in the Renaissance Era and carry a great upgrade into the Industrial Age. Although Spain is well suited for a Domination Victory in general, the Natural Wonders you can quickly expand to can and should influence your direction.
Recommended Victory: Domination Recommended Policy Tree: Liberty Recommended Wonders: The Great Lighthouse, The Pyramids, Angkor Wat Recommended Beliefs: Initiation Rites, Holy Warriors, Holy Order
Haile Selassie (Ethiopia)
Spirit of Adwa: Combat bonus (+20%) when fighting units from a Civilization with more Cities than Ethiopia.
This a good, solid ability that is a little bit restrictive.
Stele is a Monument with +2 Faith.
Getting two Shrines tacked onto your Monument means that you can be one of the early civilizations to spread religion.
Mehal Sefari replaces the Rifleman and has the Drill I promotion, and has a bonus near the capital.
This unique unit overlaps well with Selassie's ability and makes the area around your capital a death wish for your enemies.
Ethiopia definitely works well as a tall empire and has powerful defensive bonuses to protect yourself when pursuing a Cultural Victory. The Stele pushes you quickly towards religious bonuses as well, letting you gain bonuses beneficial to Culture.
Recommended Victory: Cultural Recommended First Policy: Tradition Recommended Wonders: Sistine Chapel, The Louvre, Hermitage Recommended Beliefs: World Church, Hermitage, Messiah
Harun al-Rashid (Arabia)
Trade Caravans: +1 Gold from each Trade Route and Oil Resources provide double quantity.
Although the Trade Route bonus seems small, over the course of the game, the bonus can add up and scales well with the number of cities you have. Later on in the game, Oil becomes an important resource for air supremacy and Arabia can field a dominating airforce.
Camel Archer is replaces the Knight and has -4 , gains a 21 Ranged Attack.
Camel Archers can avoid Pikeman in direct battle and has a ranged attack that is even more powerful than a normal knight.
Bazaar replaces the Market and provides an extra copy of each luxury resource near the city and each source of Oil and Oasis provide +2 Gold.
You can really fill your coffers by trading away all those luxury resources and oases become great tiles to work.
There is no particular strategy to pursue with Arabia although you will find yourself near desert more often than not due to start bias, making Petra a priority wonder. Remember your city needs to be right next to a desert tile to build it. Pursue as many one-of luxury resources as you can since you can exploit the Bazaar. With a lot of excess Gold, Arabia can field a rather large army and gain bonuses when expanding and taking over new cities.
The Great Warpath: Units move through Forest and Jungle in friendly territory as if it is Road. These tiles can be used to establish Trade Routes upon researching The Wheel.
Gaining instant and free roads means Hiawatha loves forests and jungles and you should try your best to not cut down the ones in high traffic areas.
Mohawk Warrior replaces the Swordsman, gains a +33% bonus in forests and hills and does not require iron to build.
Swordsmen that don't rely on Iron are great and makes Hiawatha a force in the early game. With the amount of unimproved land so early, the Mohawk Warriors can just tear through defensive positions and quickly reinforce through canopies.
Longhouse replaces the Workshop and loses it's building-a-building bonus but +1 for each forest tile worked.
Longhouses provide a nice cozy bonus for Trapping-improved tiles and makes the idea of not clearing forests and jungles early on a palatable one.
Hiawatha peaks in the early game with Mohawk Warriors so use that to your advantage and build as many as you can. Even as the game progresses their promotion can be carried on by upgrading and the promotion is a fantastic one that mitigates enemy defensive terrain. You should definitely prioritize researching Iron Working early as you can't miss on the Mohawk Warrior and is Hiawatha's definitive strength.
Recommended Victory: Domination Recommended First Policy: Liberty Recommended Wonders: Notre Dame, Machu Picchu, Heroic Epic Recommended Beliefs: Church Property, Asceticism, Holy Warriors
Montezuma (The Aztecs)
Sacrificial Captives: Gains Culture for the empire from each enemy unit killed.
Montezuma's ability works well with his unique unit and is underrated. Accelerating your early social policies is very powerful and is worth it to declare war against a neighbour early just to continue social progress.
Jaguar replaces the Warrior, has +33% in terrain, moves effortlessly in it, and heals 25HP when killing a unit.
The Jaguar is a solid unit that can strike without much fear of retaliation because of its vampire ability and is immediately available. Montezuma's aggressiveness early on hinges on the strengths of the Jaguar.
Floating Gardens replaces the Water Mill and has +15% Food. Each worked Lake tile provides +2 Food.
This building makes Lake tiles, already a good tile, fantastic. Cities on the lake can balloon in population fast and works well with the Cultural nature of the Aztecs.
Montezuma should establish Cultural based policies early and fast with constant killing with his Jaguars and keep those Jaguars alive and promoted, allowing them to be a force in later eras. Fighting constantly will help Montezuma's Culture gain but also will result in puppeted cities which won't affect Cultural requirements. Cities that are fortunate enough with Floating Gardens and beside large bodies of lakes make for an excellent core of Cultural cities that can employ many artists.
Recommended Victory: Cultural Recommended First Policy: Honor (Piety) Recommended Wonders: Sistine Chapel, Cristo Redentor, Hermitage Recommended Beliefs: Church Property, Hermitage, Holy Warriors
Napoleon Bonaparte (France)
Ancien Régime: +2 Culture per turn from Cities before discovering Steam Power.
Napoleon's early cultural boost is a very flexible power as any Victory or style will appreciate faster policy progress. With lots of cities, France will still be able to fill up a Policy Tree, which means you can expand quickly without as much penalty to social progress as normal.
Musketeer replaces the Musketman and has +4 .
Foreign Legion replaces the Great War Infantry and has a +20% in foreign lands.
Musketeers are a reason for you to research Gunpowder quickly and amass a lot of them as they are unit with no weaknesses and all-around great strength rating.
Napoleon's ability does not restrict you to a certain strategy but instead accelerates your early game so that you can reach your destination quicker. Expand quickly by having those early advantages from Liberty come even earlier and build up an empire with strong fundamentals that can pursue any Victory condition of choice.
Recommended Victory: None Recommended First Policy: Liberty Recommended Wonders: Sistine Chapel, The Oracle Recommended Beliefs: Church Property, Pagodas, Holy Warriors, Defender of the Faith
Nebuchadnezzar II (Babylon)
Ingenuity: Receive free Great Scientist when you discover Writing. Earn Great Scientists 50% faster.
You should prioritize Writing right away for that super fast Great Scientist and focus on all the Great Scientist Wonders and buldings. Without a doubt, Babylon is a civilization dedicated solely to science.
Bowman replaces the Archer and has +2 and +2
Walls of Babylon replaces the Wall has +1 and +50HP.
You can build the Bowman right away to fight off pesky Barbarians and repel jealous neighbours. Combined with some very sturdy walls, your cities will have no trouble early on defending themselves, though you might find you'll quickly research higher technology units as Babylon.
Science and Great Scientists let you fill out the tech tree faster than anyone else but plopping down an early academy and warmongering is not out of the question either. An early Academy can't be the wrong choice, though saving enough Great Scientists to bulb your way to a specific technology is something you can plan around. Babylon is obviously well suited for a Scientific Victory although science is useful and necessary when pursuing any type of strategy.
Recommended Victory: Scientific Recommended First Policy: Rationalism Recommended Wonders: Porcelain Tower, The Oracle, Great Library, National College Recommended Beliefs: Interfaith Dialogue, Guruship, Reliquary
Oda Nobunaga (Japan)
Bushido: Units fight as though they were at full strength even when damaged.
The reason to choose Oda, Bushido is very straightforward and powerful. Japan is well suited
Samurai is replaces the Longswordsman and has the Shock I promotion and creates Great Generals very quickly.
Zero replaces the Fighter and has +33% versus other fighters.
Samurai immediately start with a promotion and with enough Barracks-like buildings, you can quickly have highly disciplined and trained units on top of your Bushido ability, making you a force to be reckoned with.
Zero will only come late, but when it does it will allow you to have air supremacy against other air forces.
Japan is well suited for a Domination Victory with Nobunaga's impressive ability. Although suicidal attacks will work, it's more effective to keep your units alive and well promoted. Steel is an important technology for you to pursue as Japan, since Samurai are powerful and lets you generate Great Generals quickly. Don't forget your Bushido ability will apply on the high seas and with air units, so the longer the game goes, the more widely influential the ability will be.
Recommended Victory: Domination Recommended First Policy: Honor Recommended Wonders: Brandenburg Gate, Heroic Epic Recommended Beliefs: Church Property, Holy Warriors, Just War
Pacal (The Maya)
The Long Count: After researching Theology, receive a bonus Great Person at the end of every Maya Long Count calendar cycle (every 394 years). Each bonus person can only be chosen once.
Keep in mind that after choosing each Great Person once, it cycles and you end up with a choice of all the Great People again. This is a very powerful ability that encourages you to tech up directly to Theology. The longer you wait, the less the bonus, and years at the beginning of the game pass by much faster than years later on (where it will eventually be 1 year = 1 turn).
Atlatlist replaces the Archer and is 4 Production cheaper. You can build this unit without Archery.
You'll be able to build this unit right away meaning you can skimp on researching Archery early to fight off pesky barbarians.
Pyramid replaces the Shrine and has +1 and +2 .
The Shrine is a tough building to commit to early but double its effect and add science to make it a great building and definitely something that you should build in lieu of a Worker. The bonus science is really good so early and will help you reach Writing and then Theology that much faster.
Prioritize Theology and then the world is your oyster. If you can get away with it, The Great Library makes this process go that much faster. You have to be careful not to lose after you research Theology. However tempting it is to compound your advantage with the best Wonders, you need to shore up your defenses, especially with neighbours like Alexander who will come get you. You can really create a worldy capital with Tradition, improving all your tiles with Great People and then maxing Freedom to double all those tile improvements.
Recommended Victory: None Recommended First Policy: Tradition (Freedom) Recommended Wonders: The Great Library, The Great Wall, National College Recommended Beliefs: Papal Primacy, Holy Warriors, Religious Unity
Manifest Destiny: All land military units have +1 sight. 50% discount when purchasing tiles.
In the early game, improved sight lines let you see and meet ancient ruins, natural wonders and City-States much faster and more accurately. It also lets your units see barbarians through the fog of war faster. Moving to protect your workers a turn earlier is pretty convenient especially if you find your worker moving back and forth through hills and forests slowly. Washington's purchasing ability lets you take tiles at a discount, which is a nice effect and encourages you to horde far off resources and cut off trespassers by sealing holes in your borders.
Minutemen replaces the Rifleman and has Drill I and moves through terrain quickly.
B-17 Bomber replaces the Bomber and has the Siege and Evasion promotions.
The Minutemen's mobility and promotion makes the Rifleman rush strategy more powerful and is just a great unique unit to build a late push around.
The B-17 Bomber may come late but having two of its best promotions already in place means your airforce can quickly devastate enemy units and fortifcations.
Keep units on American borders so that you can see enemies moving towards you a turn earlier so that you can prepare in advance. Early on, you should build a Scout as you will be able to find things so much faster in conjunction with the Manifest Destiny ability. With your sight, you should also be able to determine if an enemy is weak and that information will help you decide if and when you build your armies.
Recommended Victory: None Recommended First Policy: Liberty Recommended Wonders: Statue of Liberty, Pentagon Recommended Beliefs: None
Wu Zetian (China)
Art of War: The Great General combat bonus is increased by 15%, and their spawn rate is increased by 50%.
Having Great Generals be even stronger is a great boon and excess Great Generals can be turned into Citadels, fortifying your weakest points and capturing neighboring territory.
Chu-Ko-Nu replaces the Crossbowman and has -4 Ranged Combat but gains the ability to attack twice each turn.
Useful defensively or offensively, two attacks is just amazing. Since each space can only have one unit, Chu-Ko-Nus increase the amount of offense against a city by a lot and makes China's offense very good. A lot of little subtleties make this unit even more dangerous than you might think; the Great General bonus will apply to both attacks, two attacks generates Generals faster and generates promotions faster, and the promotion carries forward to Gatling Guns, making the Cho-Ko-Nu a great unit to mass produce.
Paper Maker replaces the Library and gives +2 Gold.
Early Gold production is useful because it will take a little bit of time to get to Markets and you will always build a Library early, making this building very good.
How fast can you research Machinery? Chu-Ko-Nus dominate the mid-game and are surprisingly powerful on offense. Early on, build lots of Composite Bowman so that you can upgrade them as soon as you have Machinery and focus yourself scientifically. Citadels can push back the cultural boundaries of neighbors and provoke them into attacking your highly fortified lines of archers. In many ways, you want to pick a fight with your neighbors without striking first but the unit in enough numbers can work in a frontal assault. Eliminate their entire army before pushing in with siege and lines of Chu-Ko-Nus. China is also strong defensively which can help when pursuing other avenues of Victory.
Recommended Victory: Domination Recommended First Policy: Liberty Recommended Wonders: The Great Wall, Heroic Epic Recommended Beliefs: Initiation Rites, Holy Warriors, Reliquary
The formatting and some thoughts were taken from the Handbook for Despots and Dictators [forums.2kgames.com] by zephyrtr at the 2Kgames forums. Check that out if you want an even more in-depth look and (in my opinion) an expert opinion.
Thanks to Silverdawn for his excellent analysis and contributions to this guide.
All the information found in this guide was taken from Civilopedia. I will be updating the rest of the leaders in time.