Sid Meier's Civilization V

Sid Meier's Civilization V

31 ratings
Zigzagzigal's Guide to Spain (G&K)
By Zigzagzigal
Spain offers a strange course of gameplay which may be confusing to newer players. This guide goes in a fair level of detail about uniques, tips and tricks and how to play against them.
Brave New World
WARNING: This guide is no longer updated. Beware factual inaccuracies and proposed strategies which may not be optimum. For something more up-to-date, look at the Brave New World guide.
Zigzagzigal's Guide to Spain (BNW)
Note: Spain requires either the Gods and Kings expansion or a separate DLC. This guide is based around Gods and Kings mechanics and some elements will be outdated in Brave New World expansion.

Spain offers unpredictability and mid-game strength to the Civ 5 player. Reaching its peak in the Renaissance era, Spain dominated the Americas out of colonial powers in the 16th and 17th centuries and has a legacy of hundreds of millions of Spanish speakers today.

Before I go into depth with this guide, here's an explanation of some terminology I'll be using throughout for the sake of newer players.

Infinite City Sprawl - ICS for short. A strategy where you just keep building more and more cities - as many as possible. In other words, rapid expansion for the entire game.
Finisher - The bonus for completing a Social Policy tree (e.g. Free Great Person for Liberty.)
OP - Short for "Overpowered". Where something's much more powerful than it should be. A common complaint against the Fountain of Youth Natural Wonder, described later in the guide.
Opener - The bonus for unlocking a Social Policy tree (e.g. +1 culture for every city for Liberty's opener)
Rapid Expansion - REX for short. A focus on building lots of cities quickly, which Spain is strong at in the mid-game.
Sniping - The act of taking out an enemy Civilization's capital when ignoring other cities. As you only need to be the last Civ left with your original capital to win, this is an effective strategy in the late-game to take out Civs with particularly large numbers of cities.
Spotter - A unit which allows a ranged unit (usually a siege unit) a line of sight with its target. Typically, siege units have a higher maximum range than their sight radius, hence the need for spotters.
Turtle - As in to "turtle up". Refers to a highly defensive state where expansion is limited. An effective strategy in Multiplayer is to get other players to do this.
UA - Unique Ability - the unique thing a Civilization has which doesn't need to be built.
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.
Uniques - Collective name for Unique Abilities, Units, Buildings, Tile Improvements and Great People
Wide Empire - A high number of cities with a low population each. To make the most of dispersed Natural Wonders, Spain works best when building wide.

I'm a newbie at guides and I'm by no means the best Civ 5 player around (I can put together Civ-specific strategies well, but I'm poor at more generic strategy). Corrections or better strategies would be useful.
Start Bias

Spain is biased towards coastal tiles. This means you can more effectively make use of sea-based exploration in the early game.


Spain has two unique units, one in the Medieval era and one in the Renaissance in addition to the usual Unique Ability.

Unique Ability: Seven Cities of Gold

  • Discovering Natural Wonders gives a gold bonus
  • The gold bonus is higher if you're the first to discover the Natural Wonder
  • Happiness from discovering Natural Wonders is doubled
  • Happiness from certain Natural Wonders within your land is doubled
  • TIle yields from Natural Wonders are doubled

Unique Unit 1: Conquistador (Replaces the Knight)
  • Requires the Chivalry technology (Medieval era, 2nd column, 7th column overall)
  • Costs 135 Production in normal speed games, up from 120 (+13%)
  • More expensive to upgrade to
  • Double embarkment defence
  • Sight of 4, up from 2 (+100%)
  • No penalty when attacking cities
  • Can found cities on landmasses not containing your capital. This uses up the unit.
  • Upgrade cost of 190 rather than 220 in normal speed games (-14%)

Unique Unit 2: Tercio (Replaces the Musketeer)
  • Requires the Gunpowder technology (Renaissance era, 1st column, 8th column overall)
  • Costs 160 Production in normal speed games, up from 150 (+7%)
  • More expensive to upgrade to
  • 26 strength, up from 24 (+8%)
  • 50% bonus vs. Mounted units
  • Upgrade cost of 140 rather than 160 in normal speed games (-12.5%)

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: 5/10
Diplomatic: 6/10
Domination: 7/10
Scientific: 6/10

Spain doesn't excel at any single type, but Conquistadors and Tercios together can help gain you a Domination victory.
Unique Ability: Seven Cities of Gold
It's all about Natural Wonders. And if you want them, you're going to have to know where they are pretty fast.

Gold on Discovery

Above: Right next to Mongolia and yet our old pal Genghis Khan missed it.

This aspect of Spain's UA is often accused of being luck-driven. As you have no idea where Natural Wonders are, there's no guarentee you'll be the first to discover any of them. But just because it's luck driven doesn't mean you can't influence that luck...

You need Scouts fast. Faster than most. Early discovery of Natural Wonders will more than cover the cost of a Scout, likely enough for a Worker and possibly a Settler! The gold is best used supporting your expansion to the Natural Wonder(s) you've discovered to take full advantage of double tile yields.

In some maps, you may have continents or islands unvisited by any other player. These are great opportunities for mid-game cash and colonisation, and are less luck-based (except the luck of having Polynesia or not in the game, who'll probably discover the entire world before you leave your starting continent.)

Extra Discovery Happiness

Out of UAs affecting happiness, this aspect of the Spanish UA is probably the most consistently useful (as the Dutch UA relies on trading and the Indian one doesn't work for very wide empires.) It's pretty much certain you're going to discover all the game's Natural Wonders at some point, and the happiness bonus lasts the rest of the game. The total bonus will probably support an extra city in your empire compared to otherwise, and help get you through the happiness-strained midgame without needing to build so many happiness buildings.

Double Tile Yields

This bit is awesome but unpredictable. Unless you're playing a scenario or true location Earth map, (or something of the like,) the Natural Wonders in play will be different every time.

Typically, they'll either make the city founded in the area get off to a strong start (Food, Happiness or Production bonuses) or make the city contribute a lot in the long run (Gold, Faith or Culture bonuses.) Individual Natural Wonders will be covered in their own section, as there's a lot to cover.

An interesting feature of double Natural Wonder tile yields is that it also applies to the One With Nature Pantheon belief. +4 faith to Natural Wonders becomes +8. This is actually a significantly useful bonus as not only does it apply to all Natural Wonders (taking some luck out the equation) but it may also be enough faith to get you first pick of religion.

If you really want a powerful Spain, get the Holy Warriors belief. It lets you buy pre-Industrial units with Faith. This includes both your unique units. Stack other Faith bonuses on top and watch the Conquistadors and Tercios pour out your cities come the Medieval and Renaissance eras. Because it's a Follower belief, even if you don't pick it in time, just having a city of the religion that does will be enough to get you flooding the world with your units.
The Spanish Guide to Natural Wonders
Double yields for Natural Wonders makes those tiles some of the best in the game. This section covers each in turn, outlining how you can use each one. "Heathen" in this guide refers to all other Civs.

Barringer Crater

Heathen yield: 2 gold, 3 science
Spanish yield: 4 gold, 6 science

Master of none, the Barringer Crater is usually found in deserts and hence is difficult to make much out of. Still, 4 gold will help cover the city working it in its infancy while the science, while not up to Academy standards, still merits working the tile.

In true-start Earth maps, you'll often find this near the Grand Mesa.

Cerro de Potosi (Potosi for short)

Heathen yield: 10 gold
Spanish yield: 20 gold

Yep, that's right. 20 gold per turn. If you get a hold of that Natural Wonder, the city working it will always be profitable to the empire. This is significant enough to be worth going for even if all surrounding tiles are weak. Prioritise buildings such as Markets and Banks in the city and build lots of Trading Posts to make the most of it.

As a nice but generally useless note, a Spanish desert Potosi during a Golden Age with One With Nature and Petra has the highest single tile yield in the game at 32. (22 gold, 8 faith, 1 production, 1 food)

El Dorado (aka: Skilldorado)

Heathen yield: 5 culture. One-off 500 gold if first to discover.
Spanish yield: 10 culture. One-off 500 gold if first to discover in addition to other gold.

Urgh. A fictional "Natural" Wonder. How do El Dorados naturally form exactly?

If you found such a tile early in the game, the culture may actually be significant enough to go for a cultural victory. Otherwise, take advantage of fast-expanding borders and faster Social Policy gain. It may not be the best tile for Spain, but it's not the worst, either.

Fountain of Youth (aka: Fountain of OP)

Heathen yield: 10 happiness when in cultural borders. Units that stand next to it get a special promotion allowing them to heal at double rate, which carries over on upgrade.
Spanish yield: 20 happiness when in cultural borders. Units that stand next to it get a special promotion allowing them to heal at double rate, which carries over on upgrade.

Consider your happiness problems over. With One With Nature, it's two Notre Dames in one tile for no production cost.

As for the promotion, it's no different for Spain (no triple or quadruple heal rates here) but it's still worth mentioning that it greatly helps military efforts. Together with the March promotion, it makes units very hard to take out (March + Fountain of Youth + Tercios = Headache for enemies)

Grand Mesa

Heathen yield: 2 production, 3 gold
Spanish yield: 4 production, 6 gold

Somewhere in the middle of Natural Wonders. Think of it as a gold mine without the gold - cash and production together which helps both to build units and buildings and maitain them. Remember the lack of needing to improve it makes your city better faster.

In true-start Earth maps, this is typically near the Barringer Crater.

Great Barrier Reef

Heathen yield: 2x (2 food, 1 gold, 1 production, 2 science)
Spanish yield: 2x (4 food, 2 gold, 2 production, 4 science)

The Great Barrier Reef always comes in two tiles, meaning two lots of discovery happiness (and 16 faith a turn with One With Nature.) 4 food lets the city grow fast while the production makes up for the city being coastal. It's certainly one of the best Natural Wonders you can find by pure face value, but remember that it's offshore and hence fairly hard to "catch" in cultural borders.


Heathen yield: 5 science
Spanish yield: 10 science

Because you need three technologies around the same time at different branches in the tech tree (Chivalry, Gunpowder and Astronomy) to take full advantage of your uniques, a good science boost is always welcome - this bonus is greater than that of an Academy until the Industrial era. The only problem is that Krakatoa's a notoriously hard wonder to get into cultural borders, due to it tending to be a fair bit out to sea.

Above: Why you'll hate Krakatoa in a nutshell

Mt. Fuji

Heathen yield: 2 gold, 3 culture, 3 faith
Spanish yield: 4 gold, 6 culture, 6 faith

Mt. Fuji will be a great help whether you find it early on or in the mid-game. Early on, it'll help you get beliefs early and unlock social policies much faster as well as help support building or unit maitainance. In the mid-game, the gold and faith will be a great help on your way to buying an army. The only downside is the lack of food or production to get the city that will work it up and running immediately.

Mt. Kailash

Heathen yield: 2 happiness when in cultural borders. 6 faith.
Spanish yield: 4 happiness when in cultural borders. 12 faith

Partially cover the happiness cost of building a city and gain lots of faith. Hooray! That means the Holy Warriors strategy works very well.

Mt. Sinai

Heathen yield: 8 faith
Spanish yield: 16 faith

The Potosi of faith. With One With Nature, you hit 24 faith which is the most of any single resource on a single tile. It's going to be hard to stop your religion. (How did anyone cope as Spain before Gods and Kings?)

Old Faithful

Heathen yield: 3 happiness when in cultural borders. 2 science.
Spanish yield: 6 happiness when in cultural borders. 4 science.

The science yield is poor even when doubled. One With Nature will make the tile more worthwhile. (That line rhymes! That wasn't on purpose. Oh well, you'll probably remember that strategy now.) If Old Faithful is in a Desert tile, (as can sometimes happen,) it will be affected by Petra like all other desert Natural Wonders (but the +1 food, gold and production will not be doubled)

Rock of Gibraltar

Heathen yield: 2 food, 5 gold
Spanish yield: 4 food, 10 gold

This is one of the better wonders, and it's particularly good in true-start Earth or Europe maps where Spain begins right next to this handy thing. It'll give you as much food as a tech-boosted farm on grassland, with the gold of a non-Spanish Potosi.

Like all food-giving Natural Wonders, this is particularly good because your city will start working it right away, giving you all the benefits, and it allows the city to grow faster as you've immediately got a good food tile rather than having to watch it grow slowly while you build a farm.

Sri Pada

Heathen yield: 2 happiness when in cultural borders. 2 food, 4 faith.
Spanish yield: 4 happiness when in cultural borders. 4 food, 8 faith.

Basically a self-sustaining source of faith. The happiness covers the cost of building the city to work it, while the food covers the citizen cost of working it. Thus, there's little reason not to build a city to work it.


Heathen yield: 2 food, 6 faith
Spanish yield: 4 food, 12 faith

Very much alike Mt. Kailash, but encourages building tall rather than wide in the respective city. A tendency to be around lots of Desert tiles makes working it harder, but then again, Flood Plains can help. Like all food-giving Natural Wonders, your city will likely work the tile as soon as it's within its limits, so you get your faith sooner rather than later.
Unique Unit I: The Conquistador

The Conquistador is an incredible and versatile unique unit. It finds cities, takes cities and even makes cities. It's a super version of Songhai's Mandekalu Cavalry (even with double embarkment defence, like the Songhai unit!) with a powerful set of abilities.

Higher cost

Conquistadors are 13% more expensive than a normal Knight. Considering against other units they're no more powerful than normal, this can be a disadvantage of Conquistadors. Hence, to make the most of them, keep them back out of the reach of Pikemen, unless you're attacking a city.

Double embarkment defence

Let's start with the smallest advantage.Double embarkment defence reduces the need for escort naval units. Your Conquistadors will actually have higher strength at sea than Triremes do (which makes them safe against Barbarians for the most part).

Caravels may be a little more of a problem. They outrun you, and the extra sight Conquistadors have doesn't work while embarked.

+2 sight

This bonus makes Conquistadors one of the only mounted units capable of seeing as far as it can move, which is great in a military situation where you want to be able to plan ahead. Stacked with the Sentry promotion, you have a sight of 5 on your Conquistadors.

Above: The world's best eyesight in action

Sight bonuses are great when scouting - when you come across a new continent, you can use high speed and sight to very rapidly scan it for Natural Wonders and Ancient Ruins.

As a defensive measure, sight keeps Barbarians away seeing as they only spawn in revealed territory. Spacing Conquistadors well throughout your lands keeps your workers safe (and gives you good warning of incoming armies from other Civilizations)

Above: I can see what the Mongolians are up to without Spies or even touching their borders.

If you're taking Conquistadors to war, high sight works brilliantly with siege units to make the most out of their range (as siege units have only 1 sight but 2 range.)

Keep in mind that the sight bonus doesn't stay when you upgrade the unit. Luckily, they don't obselete until the Industrial era so there's a wide window of opportunity. Even then, you can keep one as a spotter for Artillery - just place it on a hill relatively near the city and surround it by stronger units as a bodyguard.

No city attack penalty

So, you've found a lovely new continent. Look, there's even Natural Wonders! But there happens to be some annoying natives which won't give up their sacred lands without a fight. A fight it's going to have to be...

Conquistadors lose the normal 33% city attack penalty Knights have. This makes them 50% better against cities than a standard Knight to put it another way, but lack of defensive bonuses coupled with Pikeman vulnerability means it's a bad idea to rush them all in without backup. A good move could be to take less defended cities. When Tercios come around, it's going to be very difficult for anyone else to take them back.

You can't use Conquistadors the same way as Mandekalu Cavalry for the Songhai. The Spanish knight is 23% more expensive than the Songhai one, hence the best move is probably just to bring one along as both a spotter and to take the last hit on a city, capturing it.

Can found cities

Above: Ignore the description of a "Settler".

Conquistadors are the only units besides Settlers that can found cities. It cannot be on the same landmass as your Capital, but otherwise the city can be built as normal, using up the Conquistador in the process. This is no small matter.

The crucial difference between Conquistador settling and settling the conventional way is how the units are built. Settlers halt city growth while being built. Conquistadors do not. Settlers cannot be bought by faith through Holy Warriors. Conquistadors can. This means that wide expansion in the mid-game does not need to slow down the development of your other cities, and the cash saved from not buying Settlers with gold can be placed in reserve to support other units, spent on buying tiles for new cities or buying Workers.

Besides this difference, as Conquistadors are military units, they don't need escorts. Double embarkment defence means they don't even need sea escorts most of the time. This lets you even more rapidly expand in the mid-game, especially as having twice as much movement and sight as a Settler means finding and reaching a prime city location is easy.

Over land, you could use your Conquistador to escort a Missionary. They both move at the same speed meaning one won't slow the other down, and it means you can immediately place your religion in the new city. You can escort a worker with a slower defensive unit over later, meaning maximum efficency for setting up a city.

Because of their speed and lack of instant-capture, it may be worth keeping some Conquistadors around even beyond their obseletion to found cities with, if there's still room in the late-game.

As a final note, Conquistadors can still build cities while damaged. This can be a decent way of not letting your unit go to waste if it otherwise wouldn't last a fight.

Special promotions kept on upgrade

  • Double embarkment defence
Unique Unit II: The Tercio

Conquistadors offer a range of special utilities. Tercios are for fighting. They'll beat pretty much any other Renaissance-era land unit (besides some uniques) making them an ultimate defender for your Conquistador colonies but also great for going on the offensive.

Higher production cost

Tercios are 7% more expensive than your standard, run-of-the-mill Musketman. This is hardly noticable in most situations and will likely cause no problems.

Higher strength

Your Tercios will be 8% stronger than the average Musketman, which is half-way between the standard Musketman and the French Musketeer. The difference may be small but in an even fight with another Musketman, it ever-so-slightly gives you the upper hand. Higher strength also helps your units defend better against ranged attacks, useful if you're fighting cities.

50% bonus vs. Mounted units

This is your main advantage and a significant one at that. Front-line units (Warriors, Swordsmen, etc) are typically prone to Mounted units due to their high speed and (with later Mounted units,) ability to move after attacking thus making counter-attacks difficult. Tercios turn the tables - even Cavalry will lose to them. In defence, this discourages mounted assaults. When attacking, this discourages the defenders from rushing reinforcements.

Because the bonus doesn't keep when you upgrade the unit, it may be worth keeping some Tercios around into the Industrial era, as they have 1 point more strength than Lancers and a higher bonus against Mounted units.

Special promotions kept on upgrade

None. Use your Tercios while you can!
Culture: Generic Options
The Liberty tree is a great starting point for Spain, but after gaining the free Settler, Honour can be a good route to support mid-game conquests.

The late-game depends on Natural Wonders in play. Krakatoa, the Grand Mesa, the Barringer Crater? Favour Rationalism for a Science victory. Potosi, Gibraltar, that sort of thing? Favour Patronage for a Diplomatic victory. Unless you found an early cultural wonder and are staying small, Order is usually a good late-game choice.

Due to text limitations, the Culture section's been split in two. This first section concerns all Spain players no matter the Natural Wonders in play. The second section focuses on more specific victory methods.

Liberty - Opener

All your cities can now expand borders on their own accord, and expansion won't slow down Social Policy gain as much. Unfortunately, cities don't tend to favour expanding to Natural Wonders so have some cash at the ready anyway.

Liberty - Republic

A small Production boost makes new cities mature faster, thus allowing them to make the most of Natural Wonders sooner. For example, your Gibraltar city may have a Market sooner.

Liberty - Collective Rule

This is the one you want. You'll probably have discovered a Natural Wonder around the time you unlock this policy. The free Settler allows you to reach it fast. Be careful if it's particularly close to enemy lands - you'll need to keep the city well-defended. Hopefully the huge tile yields should compensate for that.

Liberty - Citizenship

Faster tile improvement means cities mature faster, but keep in mind that Natural Wonders don't need improving and cities will usually work them sooner or later. If you're expanding very rapidly, by all means take it, but otherwise such a policy may not be particularly effective.

Liberty - Representation

You'll probably be using excess happiness to found more cities rather than have lots of Golden Ages, so a free one is quite welcome. More frequent Social Policies as well will come in handy. The best time to have a Golden Age as Spain is the mid-game, allowing you to build an army faster both via purchasing units and through production.

Liberty - Meritocracy

An excellent choice. Cities around food-based Natural Wonders may grow quite large, hence lower unhappiness from population helps. Building wide is a strain on happiness; +1 happiness per city helps to relieve that issue.

Liberty - Finisher

A Great Person of your choice is a flexible bonus, but typically Great Engineers and Scientists are safe choices no matter what victory method you're playing for.

Piety - Opener

If you're playing the faith game of purchasing Tercios and Conquistadors, having faith buildings up faster is useful, but then consider the maitainance costs of the respective buildings. It's good if you want to prioritise faith gain, but not so great if your economy is poor.

Piety - Organised Religion

Scraping up a little more faith helps compensate for maitainance costs of buildings that produce it. The rest of the Piety tree is very dependent on the natural wonders in play.

Order - Opener

Happiness! Lots of it! More expansion! MORE!

Order - United Front

By this point in the game, you probably want to avoid wars and instead focus on culture or science. Hence, this isn't the most useful policy around.

Order - Nationalism

A little defensive bonus. As your cities may be scattered all over the world, defensive bonuses are particularly useful for making up for having only a limited force in any one place.

Order - Planned Economy

Factories are usually costly to build - making them half price brings your newer cities to par much faster. The science bonus is considerable and makes up for ignoring Rationalism (or, if you're going down the Science route, amplify it)

Order - Socialism

For the Diplomatic-focused player particularly, this policy frees up a lot of money for City-State bribing. This is probably as far as they need to go to make the most efficent benefit out of Order. Other policies aren't so useful for them.

Order - Communism

Let's make those cities strong! Scientific players will gain considerably from the production boost making Spaceship building easier.

Order - Finisher

An all-round bonus that makes all your cities contribute more. When you have a lot of cities, this is considerable.
Culture: Specific Victories
Mid-game Domination

Honour - Opener

By revealing Barbarian locations, the opener for Honour helps to prevent Zone of Control slowing down your army (and the Culture for killing Barbarians is useful too.) A bonus against Barbarians means if your Conquistadors are exploring new continents, they have nothing to fear.

Honour - Warrior Code

Any conflict before the mid-game is likely to have been too brief to generate a Great General. Hence, having one for free is a useful bonus to have.

Honour - Military Tradition

A Tercio with the Siege promotion is unstoppable for anyone who falls behind in technology. Get there faster with Military Tradition. This'll also help Conquistadors get Sentry sooner and just generally make your whole army better.

Honour - Discipline

Bonuses for having units in adjacent tiles makes taking cities easier, and goes well on defence with Medic promotions (keep together for health and a combat bonus.) If you want to swarm a city with Conquistadors for the last few hits, take them each to a tile away from the city, then attack one-by-one to ensure they take advantage of the bonus.

Honour - Military Caste

Because you'll probably have a unit garrisoned in most if not all cities, you can think of this as +1 happiness and +2 culture per city. Culture means faster border expansion hence faster city development, while happiness covers the cost of your crazy mid-game expansion.

Honour - Professional Army

Defensive buildings are maitainance-free, so this is a good option during the cleanup after a war, where lots of units are draining your economy dry and lots of captured cities are draining your happiness bucket. If you're staying relatively peaceful, this would still be useful if it wasn't for the fact you need to unlock three other policies to get to this point, which could be better used on something more appropriate.

Cheaper gold upgrading lends itself nicely to faith purchasing - Purchase a weak unit with faith earlier in the game and then cheaply upgrade it with gold. It's a good move if you have a decent amount of both gold and faith but not masses of either.

Honour - Finisher

It's very easy to build a very large army as Spain. You're going to need cash to make sure you don't run into a budget deficit (where units get disbanded and your tech rate suffers.) Hence, gold on kills is a handy bonus. Just be sure you actually are making kills and not just scratching the walls of a few cities.


Patronage - Opener, Philantropy and Aesthetics

If you've got lots of cash and want a late-game victory, Patronage will help you get there. The opener and the policies in the first row all help to maitain relations better, thus making them a Diplomatic player's best friend.

Patronage - Scholasticism

So you didn't get Krakatoa. Who cares? You've got some science now. It's not the most impressive science boost in the game but it helps to make up for prioritising Patronage over Rationalism.

Patronage - Cultural Diplomacy

Just because you're devoting cash to City-States doesn't mean you can't expand. More happiness helps wide expansion. You can focus these new cities on getting more cash to bribe City-States with.

Patronage - Educated Elite

Great People will help make your Natural Wonder cities even better. It doesn't help so much in the way of wide expansion, but it's needed on the way to the finisher anyway, which'll help you to win.

Patronage - Finisher

Speeding up enemy influence loss will help set you on course for a decent Diplomatic Victory.

Commerce - Opener

Your best city for money is quite likely to not be your capital thanks to Potosi and Gibraltar. More money there is useful, but not as good as it could be.

Commerce - Naval Tradition

As your nation is probably divided across more than one continent, getting around faster will be fairly useful. However, +1 movement and +1 sight doesn't make your navy any stronger. The main reason for this policy really is for Merchant Navy.

Commerce - Merchant Navy

Many Natural Wonders are found around the coast (and the first city you build on a new continent is likely to be a coastal city.) Hence, extra production will go a long way. Especially as such areas tend to be lacking in it.

Commerce - Trade Unions

Wide expansion often carries high transport costs (and a large mid-game army may bleed your coffers dry.) Hence, more money can only be a good thing.

Commerce - Protectionism

The infinite city sprawler's friend. Lots of happiness means lots of cities, which should nicely fill the gap between remote Natural Wonder cities.

Commerce - Finisher

Extra cash from Great Merchants and Trading Posts is only really useful if you're focusing on them already. It's a kind of "amplify strengths" rather than "cover weaknesses" bonus. If you're going for Diplomatic victory, going for it may be a decent choice (but don't forget about Order, Rationalism and Patronage's bonuses!)


Rationalism - Opener

An all-round Science boost. Good for everyone generally, but the Piety/Rationalism clash may cause problems for Spain players (as Piety allows even more faith to be squeezed in for buying units.) Hence its inclusion in the Specific Victory section.

Rationalism - Secularism

The problem with Specialists is that you're likely not to have very many building wide. However, Free Thought is more useful to the Spanish player and it's the next policy in the line.

Rationalism - Free Thought

Here's where the Science pours in. Some of your cities in less desirable locations can dedicate themselves to gold through Trading Posts. Now, they make lots of Science too. Be sure to take some Jungle areas for maximum bonuses.

Rationalism - Scientific Revolution

Aggressive expansion and conquests may not win many friends, though lots of cities can bring in plenty of gold to afford such agreements. It may be worth holding off on this policy until you know another Civ actually will sign a research agreement with you.

Rationalism - Humanism

More happiness = more expansion = more science. Simple, really.

Rationalism - Sovereignty

The cash recovered from maitainance costs here helps to afford research agreements. The money won't be amazing but it's still useful.

Rationalism - Finisher

Free technologies mean less time until the Spaceship's up.
To play Spain to its maximum potential, a religious focus is very important. An early faith-giving Natural Wonder will give you one of the first if not the first religion.

Pantheon - One With Nature

Above: 1 tile, 16 faith. This is why you want One With Nature.

I've mentioned this belief a few times before. You may know by now the +4 faith is doubled for Spain. But you may not realise what this all means. Mt. Sinai now gives 24 faith per turn. Even the weaker wonders are now worth working. And most importantly, this bonus is the same no matter the wonders in the game, bringing more consistency to what could be a fustratingly luck-based Civ.

Spain with One With Nature will probably beat Arabia with Desert Folklore to a religion. Being the first to enhance is very likely. You just need to seize one Natural Wonder and it'll work its magic. Be careful, however - in the screenshot above, I had to settle right in Genghis Khan's face. Be sure to settle the Natural Wonder before anyone else steals it.

Pantheon - God of Craftsmen

If you fail to get One With Nature, God of Craftsmen will help you in wide-building efforts as well as to make Conquistadors and Tercios slightly faster.

Pantheon - God of War

If you still want to faith-purchase without One With Nature, getting faith on kills is a possible route to it. It's not spectacular, but it's probably your best alternative Pantheon belief for generating faith.

Pantheon - Messenger of the Gods

A good option for building wide. Science is good for all strategies. This belief is stronger the more cities you have, so rapidly expanding into new continents will get you lots of those mysterious blue orbs.

Founder - Pilgrimage

Stacking faith bonuses is a good idea to take full advantage of Holy Warriors. In addition, if you convert cities to it which you intend to take later, you can use the Holy War enhancer belief to make your armies even better.

Founder - Tithe/Church Property

Tithe and Church Property both give you cash to support raising armies, though it comes at the opportunity cost of having more faith gain for faith purchasing. If many cities worldwide are over size 8, Tithe is more effective. Otherwise, Church Property will raise more money. If you have trouble converting cities that aren't your own, Church Property is probably a better choice.

Follower - Holy Warriors

Above: When you're gaining lots of faith per turn, why not raise a world-conquering army?

Holy Warriors lets you buy any pre-Industrial era unit. Both your unique units are pre-Industrial. Together with high faith from One With Nature, you've got yourself a huge fighting force. You can't buy Settlers with faith, but you can buy Conquistadors. Unlike gold, you can't lose faith, (only spend it) hence why faith-purchasing is a particularly good and reliable course of action to take.

With a range of faith boosts like Pilgrimage, you may generate faith so fast your economy cannot keep up with the maitainance of all the units you may be buying. If you don't spend faith, you'll end up with a Great Prophet whether you want one or not, so make sure your economy is strong enough to support all these faith-purchases.

An important point is that faith purchase costs rise every era, like with Missionaries and Inquisitors. As such, try to purchase plenty of Conquistadors while you're still in the Medieval era if you want to stretch the faith further.

Follower - Mosques/Pagodas

These buildings will provide you with happiness, culture and faith. Faith is useful as it allows the building to go towards making more of itself (or providing more faith for Holy Warriors) while the happiness will support your wide empire.

If you fail to get Holy Warriors, these buildings are still useful for supporting a wide empire.

Follower - Divine Inspiration

If you manage to get a few wonders, Divine Insipiration pays well in providing you a huge amount of faith. The higher the difficulty you play at, the harder wonders are to get, so in that case Mosques or Pagodas are probably better options.

Enhancer - Just War

An early religion due to One With Nature's faith gives you plenty of time to spread it into the cities of potential enemies.
Generally, any World Wonder that's good for a wide Civ is good for Spain.

Ancient Era - Stonehenge

A strong boost to faith which will get you a religion much faster.

Ancient Era - Statue of Zeus

City-taking becomes easier, but arguably it's more useful to focus on culture for Honour policies which have similar levels of boosts.

Classical Era - Petra

Some Natural Wonders are commonly located in deserts, such as Mt. Sinai. Petra turns an average or below-average desert city into a powerhouse. It's often worth keeping a Great Engineer to rush it in a new desert city.

Medieval Era - Alhambra

If you can grab this before you start churning out Conquistadors and Tercios, with a Barracks and Armoury they'll have three upgrades as soon as they're built. Faith-purchased units benefit from this too.

Medieval Era - Machu Picchu

Lots of cities means lots of trading. Machu Pichu will make more out of it.

Renaissance Era - Forbidden Palace

Having a large number of cities may add up to a considerable total population. A 10% reduction in population unhappiness will probably save you enough happiness to make at least one more city.

Renaissance Era - Taj Mahal and Industrial Era - Louvre

Golden Ages are rare in wide empires, but the cash potential is enormous.

Renaissance Era - Kremlin

Dispersed Natural Wonder cities are hard to defend. The Kremlin makes that a little easier. Together with the Honour tree's happiness bonus to defensive buildings, you've got plenty of strong, worthwhile cities that are hard to take.

Information Era - CN Tower

The main point here is that it affects all cities - the more cities, the bigger the bonus. With modifiers reducing unhappiness from population, this actually makes you some happiness on top of the population boost (rather than just covering it.)
Pitfalls to Avoid
Spain's fairly unusual setup makes it easy to make mistakes. Here are a few I've identified as possible mistakes to avoid.

Don't leave an area unexplored!

Natural Wonders like to hide sometimes. Many are located just off coasts, hence exploring them is a good idea. Triremes are excellent at finding Natural Wonders.

Don't play too defensively!

You're wasting Conquistadors' and Tercios' potentials if you turtle up around your Natural Wonders. Conquistadors have no city attack penalty. Tercios have no major weakness. Use that to your advantage.

Don't ignore faith!

One With Nature and Holy Warriors together lets you raise an army pretty much faster than anyone else in the mid-game. Even one Natural Wonder will produce plenty of faith towards making units.

The Gold bonus from discovery isn't the most important bonus!

True, a strong start makes the rest of the game easier. But double Natural Wonder yields is the bonus that will make the biggest impact over the course of the game, and double discovery happiness is handy too.

It's not all luck-based!

Spain was really intended for maps with more than one continent separated by oceans. In those maps, tech to Astronomy fast and there's little reason you can't be the first to discover Natural Wonders there (well, unless Polynesia's in the game.) That's what I believe the UA was intended for - first discovery due to preparation, not chance. Early-game discovery is a little luck-based, but isn't it anyway? After all, Ancient Ruins can get you a religion before anyone else has a pantheon.

Conquistadors don't keep sight bonuses on promotion!

The only special promotion Conquistadors keep is the double embarkment defence. As mentioned before, not upgrading them to act as a spotter for Artillery is a viable strategy (so long as you keep them well defended)
Incarcerating Isabella: The Counter Strategies
Spain's focus is the mid-game, and can excel at religious aims. You can use that against them.

Playing against the UA: Seven Cities of Gold

Spain is all about Natural Wonders. In the early game, they're trying to discover all they can. If you share a continent with Spain but there's a bottleneck between them and part of the continent, try to block it. You can then patrol the rest of that blocked-off area to find Natural Wonders before they do.

If you're playing a wide empire, settle next to Natural Wonders yourself if you can. Prioritise defensive buildings in those cities. Alternatively, take good city spots near the wonder so if they found a city there, it'll be worse than otherwise.

You can turn their religious strategy against them. One With Nature relies on a very small number of tiles to generate a lot of faith - take the cities working those tiles and you've deprived Spain of a lot of it. Holy Warriors allows you to faith-purchase units too, being a Follower belief. If all else fails, you could always buy cheap units to slow their attacks down.

Overall, the best course of action is to take Spain out before the mid-game, where rapid expansion strategies makes them much harder to beat.

Playing against Conquistadors

Bonus sight is no good when it's blocked by hills or mountains. Rough terrain is a weak point of Conquistadors like all mounted units. If they climb up on a hill to look over other hills and forests, they will be just as vulnerable as in open terrain.

Pikemen are just as effective against them as always. In fact, arguably more effective due to the higher cost of Conquistadors meaning it's likely they'll have fewer of them.

If Conquistadors are building cities in your lands, remember they're likely not to be very well defended. Normally, you can escort a Settler with another unit on the same tile. Conquistadors are their own escorts, and a poor (or particularly expansion-mad) Spain player is likely to overlook city defences.

Double embarkment defence may stand up to Triremes, but embarked Conquistadors are still weak to Galleasses and Caravels. It's possible that a rival Spain player may overlook escorts for Conquistadors making them quite vulnerable to being picked off.

Playing against Tercios

While Tercios do have higher strength than Musketmen, it's a very small difference as a whole. Even just one promotion's difference between the Musketman and the Tercio will determine who has the upper hand. Hence, probably the best way of taking out those things is through their generic counterparts.

Strategy by Style

Early-game Aggressors - Take out Spain before they can cause any trouble.
Mid-game Aggressors - Use Musketmen in defence (or even Crossbowmen) while the rest of your army's out on raids. Unless Spain is vulnerable, leave them be in the mid-game. Defeat them later when you've gained the upper hand through one of your other conquests. Alternatively, pick off lightly-defended Natural Wonder cities of theirs. It'll frighten them and probably make them turtle up around them.
Late-game Aggressors - Attack some of the more remote Natural Wonder cities to divert their armies towards them. Then, move in for the kill and attack Madrid.
Diplomatic Nations - If Spain's trying to win favour with a lot of City-States, they probably have a high-gold Natural Wonder. Take that city out, and if needed, burn it down. Ought to set them back somewhat.
Scientific Nations - You have something Spain probably hasn't after all that warmongering - friends. Get those research agreements going.
Cultural Nations - Spain won't be too much of a problem aside from if they try attacking you. Just build a few Musketeers for Tercios and maybe a couple of Pikemen or Lancers to take on Conquistadors. If you want to be particularly mean to them, use faith bonuses you have to grab their favourite beliefs (By now, you know the ones: One With Nature and Holy Warriors)
Other G&K Guides
There are four other guides based on Gods and Kings mechanics available. After Brave New World comes out, these guides will be kept in their current form for the sake of players without, but updated versions will be made to account for changes.

The Huns
The Incans
The Mayans
Zigzagzigal  [author] Jul 20, 2013 @ 7:56am 
It may be a while until I have this redone for BNW mechanics, but here's a taster: The Natural Heritage Sites resolution in the World Congress give +5 Culture for every Natural Wonder. This is doubled for Spain. Together with the One With Nature pantheon, enjoy 8 faith and 10 culture on every Natural Wonder, in addition to normal yields!
Amom Jul 18, 2013 @ 6:56am 

Muy buena guía. Fiel, útil y completa.:CapitalDome:
pompALÝ Jul 17, 2013 @ 3:23pm 
Thank you, it is quite helpful for a newbie
Tianka Jul 14, 2013 @ 2:50am 
Thank you, that was very helpful