Sid Meier's Civilization V

Sid Meier's Civilization V

366 ratings
Civilization 5 Achievement Guide (Base Game)
By agent86
Think Deity difficulty is just impossible? Tired of playing game after game to get 1,000 of ALL the things? No idea what units you're missing for Model of a Modern Major General? Look no further. In this guide, I go over the more complex achievements in the base game, and explain the fastest route to getting the achievements you most desire.
This is a reprint of a guide I wrote for my gaming blog, Without the Sarcasm.[] This is part one of three, covering the achievements in the base game. You can find the other two parts here:

If you're looking for more achievement-related info, check out ragan651's guide on CivFanatics[] as well.

Civilization 5 is easily my most-played game on the PC. Steam claims I've played over 300 hours, although there was a considerable stretch of time there where I was playing in offline mode, so I doubt those stats are 100% accurate.

Still, in over two and a half years of play I've yet to get even half of the achievements for this game. Given my love for both achievements and Civilization, this cannot stand! Over the Steam Holiday Sale I snagged all the expansions and DLC for a song. I have been working towards some of the thornier achievements in the game, and I'm here to share my secrets and strategies.

In this round, I'll be covering mostly achievements available in the base game. In future installments, I'll go over thorny achievements from scenario packs and the expansion pack.

Do note that there are many achievements that are much easier with the expansion pack - Gods and Kings (G&K) - installed. I'll try to note when I'm speaking about G&K specific stuff, and offer alternate strategies if possible.

Also note that I'm not going to cover every achievement - there are a large chunk of these that you can get pretty easily through normal play - things like winning the game a certain way, or taking specific policy tracks or building specific buildings. These are all pretty basic and quick to unlock. If you're having issues, remember that you can set the difficulty as low as you need to. You can also play versus just one AI, if you so choose. That way, you can spend more time working towards the achievement, and less time fending off the computer.

If you're stuck on an achievement I didn't cover, feel free to comment and I'll give you a quick strategy for it.
General Achievement Tricks
Here are a few tricks you can use across most achievements to make the whole process go a bit easier.

The Achievement Debug Log

The achievement debug log was supposed to be a developer-only option, but word of it spread, as it is useful for determining where you are with respect to certain achievements. There's a lot of useful info in there. For a while it was turned off, but then Firaxis turned access to it back on in a later patch.

You can turn it on by:

  • From your My Documents folder, open "My Games" and then "Sid Meier's Civilization 5"
  • Open the file "config.ini" in a text editor
  • Find the line called "LoggingEnabled" and change the 0 at the end to a 1
  • Save the modified file

This will cause the game to create a file called "achievements_debug.log" in a folder called "Logs." This Logs folder is in the same folder as config.ini above. This file is rewritten when you exit the game, and when you launch it and get to the main menu.

Do note that a lot of the entries in this log only update when the game is first launched. If you want to see your changes, make sure you quit the game completely and restart it. Once the game gets back to the main menu again, you can Alt-Tab out and refresh the log to see the changes.

The "Hotseat Trick"

One trick here is that you can actually play without the AI, if you so choose. If you start a Hotseat game from the Multiplayer menu, you can choose to have all human players. However, now you've got to manage the game from multiple perspectives, and on a large map or a slow computer, the game really lags.

I haven't tested this with all the counting achievements, so I'd suggest starting up a hotseat game, testing the achievement you're working towards, and then saving and quitting. Reload the game, and see if the achievement debug log registers the changes. It takes a couple of minutes, but that's better than wasting hours with nothing to show for it.

Do note that winning a game in Hotseat mode counts for Last Man Standing.
Achievement-Specific Strategies - Counting Achievements
There are a set of achievements that rely on you to get a crazy number of a bunch of things:

  • Paul Bunyan - chop 1,000 forests. If you have G&K, you can speed this up by playing the Skirmish map, setting the terrain to Forests, turning off Barbarians, and starting in the Information Age. You'll spawn with a couple of workers, and they chop forests in one turn. Send them out to obliterate the entire world's supply of trees.
  • Forty-Niner - create 1,000 mines. You can only mine on hills in your own territory, so remember this when choosing your world generation settings. Some maps are more predisposed to having hills than others.
  • Land Baron - buy 1,000 tiles. Tiles get more expensive the more you buy, and you can only buy so far away from your cities. Found new cities in unsettled areas late in the game, and then buy up land like crazy. The Americans can buy tiles at half price, which makes this go twice as fast.
  • The Appian Way - build 1,000 roads. You can build and remove a road from a tile repeatedly, so build a bunch of workers and have them stand on useless tiles, building roads to nowhere over and over again.
  • Merchant King - trade 100 resources. One trick to note here is that if you have 2 of a resource, you can trade one of them for lump-sum gold and then destroy the resource improvement. The 30-turn timer will cancel, and you'll keep the money. Rebuild the improvement, and then you can resell it for another lump sum. It's cheap, but it works!
  • The Explorer - discover 100 natural wonders. There's only so many to find per-game, and you're guaranteed to find them if you explore enough.
  • God Is Great - build 1,000 temples. This sounds terrible, but remember that you can sell buildings in the city screen. Just sell and rebuild your temple over and over again when your city would otherwise be idle. It is possible to get credit for several hundred temple buildings in a single game this way.

  • Ruler of the Seas - as Elizabeth, sink and destroy 357 enemy naval units. Technically this is civ-specific, even though it's also a counting achievement. For this, you're probably going to want to play on a waterlogged map, and have Raging Barbarians turned on. Go dominate the oceans for fun and profit!

Panzer "Shafernator" General is the monster of them all. You have to win 100 times, build an army of over 100 units (simultaneously), and spawn 100 great generals.

  • Winning 100 times is just going to take a while. Do note that it counts victories after the first, so if you've got the enemy's army on the ropes and you're about to win culturally, win one way and continue playing, and then you can win your second (or third) victory in peace.
  • Great generals spawn when you win military engagements, and you get a free one on the Honor track. There are other wonders and social policies that can spawn great people, just keep your eyes peeled and always pick a general.
  • 100 units in a standing army. Yikes. This is going to destroy your production - past a certain point, unit upkeep will impact your production civilization-wide. The easiest thing to do is build missiles. Save your gold the entire game, and then mass-buy missiles as fast as you can. They're cheap, and they stack, so you don't have to find 100 tiles to store your units on.

Also note that all of these achievements count across games and across loads. Therefore, you can save a game right before you do something, do that something, and then reload and do it again. Bonus points if you do multiple somethings on the same load. This can get kind of boring, but it's likely easier to do than to get the game into the perfect state over and over again.

Many of these are also tracked during scenarios, so if you're going for 100% of all the achievements, it may make sense to not go out of your way to farm these until you've done all of the scenario achievements.
Achievement-Specific Strategies - Model of a Modern Major General
For this achievement, you've got to build at least one of every unit in the base game. The only difficulty here is that you also must build all the unique units for every civilization. This means you've got to play a different game as each of the civilizations. That's all well and good if you do this at the same time as Master of the Universe, but mopping up what you missed can be a serious pain.

The unique units are generally most of the problem. The easiest way to view the units they replace is in the Civilopedia. I set the game to a low-resolution windowed mode, and opened the Civilopedia. In another window, I had the achievement log and an empty text editor, where I made notes on the ones I was missing, which civ they belonged to, and what era they came from.

Once you know what units you're missing, I strongly suggest the "hotseat trick." I actually finished this achievement in a hotseat game and the achievement notification popped up then and there. I would suggest trying to limit yourself to 2-4 civilizations per game if your system starts to slow down. Pick civilizations that have unique units from the same era to group together. Then, set the start age to that era plus one - that way, you don't have to wait around to research technologies. Build the units you need, and then end the game.
Achievement-Specific Strategies - Deity Difficulty
I don't usually play Civilization games at the higher difficulty levels. I find them to be frustrating that way, and I'd rather just steamroll the AI for the laughs. If you're like me, and/or you're just terrible at Civ at the higher levels, you can still win pretty easily at Deity under the right conditions.

At Deity, the AI gets significant bonuses to almost all areas - its research speed, economy, happiness, production, and military might are all boosted by comparison to yours. Thus, the easiest way to win is where all of those bonuses mean as little as possible.

It's my opinion that the easiest way to win is to start in the Information Age, on a very small map. Pick an AI opponent who gets bonuses in the early game, and pick one for yourself that has atomic or information age bonuses. I typically match up the Americans with the Egyptians. A Duel-sized Pangea or Skirmish map works well. I did this in a "Quick" game, although that's more personal preference than anything else.

Once the game starts, send your initial units out to find the enemy capital, and try to establish cities to monopolize the uranium. If you think you've got all that you can, try to found cities that will help you push your assault. Pick policies and techs that give you military bonuses - go for nuclear missiles, mechanized infantry, and stealth bombers.

From here, the keys to winning are:

  • Siege units. Build a ton of artillery and rocket artillery, and these units are going to be your primary damage dealers. Build front line infantry (and mechanized infantry) to protect them as needed.
  • Air defense. The AI is terrible at air combat, and often won't attack if there's any chance of interception. Build fighters and set them for Interception, and make sure you've got at least one anti-air unit travelling with your army.
  • Air offense. Bombers also do massive damage, and they can strike most of the map if it is small enough. Don't forget to do an Air Sweep with a fighter to clear any intercepting units the AI may be fielding.
  • Nukes. Rush nuclear weapons (especially nuclear missiles!) and control the sources of uranium. Before you declare war, make sure that you know where the uranium is and you can either control it or deny access to it. Nukes are the key here, since they can take out entire armies, pillage enemy uranium stores, or significantly weaken a city's defenses.

The nuclear option. Literally.

From here, it's just a matter of establishing your cities, cranking out units, and then declaring war as soon as possible. Plan to lose units, but keep your production focused and you'll eventually come out on top. I was able to do this with about 4 or 5 nuclear missiles, a good dozen bombers, and a land army of about 5 rocket artillery and 5-10 mechanized infantry, which required reinforcements periodically.

Depending on the map layout, it might make sense to found a city strategically to station bombers and other units at for healing. I personally wouldn't call off the assault if the AI is begging for mercy, since they'll just have time to rearm, and you're just going to make it harder to destroy them.

Sadly, winning on Deity doesn't unlock the lower level difficulty versions of this achievement. Plan to play a set of games if you want all the difficulty level achievements.
Mod-Related Achevements
The game originally had it's own in-game mod workshop, which was removed in a patch in favor of Steamworks-based tools. For a while, the mod related achievements were broken. I've had several reports that they are now working via Steam Workshop though.

One report stated that you have to go into the Community Contributions panel from the in-game Steam overlay to get these. I can't confirm, since I already have these achievements.

The mod-related achievements are:

Expansionist - Download a mod
Experimenter - Play a game with a Mod
Connoisseur - Rate a mod - This appears to have been removed from the game.
There's a number of achievements here that require a bit of grinding, but there's nothing too terribly difficult. If you're a major Civilization 5 fan, no doubt you're well on your way to some of these already. Hopefully my strategies will minimize your grinding time and keep you playing the game the way you want to long into the future.

Did I miss an achievement you're having trouble with? Is there a better route that worked for you? If you've got feedback, come visit at my blog and leave a comment! []
< >
Sam Middleton Jul 23 @ 1:24am 
I can't figure out how to enable the acievement debug log on linux, help?
Also, "Win game on pangea/archipelago map" seem to be broken for me...
Jenkins Mar 18 @ 11:05pm 
So, this guide is old, but super helpful. At least for me. One thing I noticed though is for the Model of a Modern Major General Achievement, the only unit I was missing was the Foreign Legion. You HAVE to turn off all the DLC and play the base game only. After the DLC, that unit is only available when doing the Freedom Idiology track and cannot be produced. Turn off the DLC and play as the French.
Caralantha Jun 30, 2017 @ 8:41pm 
Alright, stupid question - which is Venice and which is Shoshone?
Nimta Jan 11, 2017 @ 6:02pm 
I have an easy way to get Deity victory... It may seem a little cheap, but for those of you who are desparate enough, this is too easy to pass up.

So what you do is:
Set up a quick duel world to start in the ancient era, and add a turn limit of 3 (no barbarians may make this easier on you).
Choose the Shoshone, and set the AI to Venice.
Enter the game now.
When it FINALLY loads, immediatly settle your city and use your pathfinder to find some ruins.
Once you find the ruins, select Add Population.

If you have no achievements, you will get four by doing this:
One for Deity victory,
One for time victory,
One for winning with the Shoshone,
One for winning on a Duel size map.
11 Apr 19, 2015 @ 2:58am 
hahaha - three hundred measly hours? Try over 2200 hours logged - but then, I leave my games running while I do chores/run to the supermarket/sleep occassionally... (and I still can't get that Immortal/Huge map/Marathon game victory)
Ranger Apr 18, 2015 @ 6:49pm 
Need russian languge
mrmike_49 Feb 12, 2015 @ 9:54am 
Panzer "Shafernator" General : do you need to "EARN" the generals by fighting, or do free Great Persons count?? verified?
warp.ligia.obscura Aug 2, 2014 @ 9:44am 
Do you have a detailed build order for the Deity one? I just can't seem to crank out enough units before the enemy bulldozes me.
Desolate_Archer Mar 22, 2014 @ 3:58pm 
right on!
Mithrandir Mar 20, 2014 @ 12:31am 
An easier way to win on deity is to set your opposing civ as venice, you could even play without city states (venices bonus is useless now), play russia (for double uranium) colonise all uranium then use missile cruisers, nukes and destroyers and Venice can fall in a turn (with a couple nukes and reasonable fleet)