Sid Meier's Civilization V

Sid Meier's Civilization V

114 ratings
Zigzagzigal's Guide to Carthage (BNW)
By Zigzagzigal
Carthage excels at surrounding opponents from all angles, and has a good economy to back up such conquests or push a diplomatic victory. This guide goes into plenty of detail about Carthaginian strategies, uniques and how to play against them.
Note: This guide assumes you have all game-altering DLC and expansion packs (all Civ packs, Wonders of the Ancient World, Gods & Kings and Brave New World)

In this brave new world, cultures both new and old will face each other. The one you lead is an example of one that, while eventually defeated and cast aside into the mists of legend and myth, leaves a legacy as the nation which took on the might of Greece and Rome despite often unfavourable odds. Starting as a Phoenician trading colony, the city of Carthage's important position on multiple trade routes allowed it to prosper where many other such colonies failed. By the late 6th century before the common era, Carthage had expanded to the islands of Sicily and Sardinia. In the following century, they controlled practically all of the North African coast.

Eventually, though, the rising power of Rome in the north would lead to conflict between Carthage and it. In the Punic Wars, Carthage would fight powerfully and effectively, but was defeated by Rome in all three. In the aftermath of the Third Punic War, Carthaginian independence would be lost forever. But now, Carthage has a new chance to prosper in a fairer fight. Show the intelligence of Dido and the persistence of Hannibal. Build a civilization that will stand the test of time.

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.

Finisher - The bonus for completing a Social Policy tree (e.g. Free Great Person for Liberty.)
Meatshield - Soaking up damage on behalf of something else. This can be on the small scale (like a Swordsman taking damage for an Archer) or on a large scale (protecting a capital city with less important cities)
Opener - The bonus for unlocking a Social Policy tree (e.g. +1 culture for every city for Liberty's opener)
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, Improvements and Great People
Wide Empire - A high number of cities with a low population each. Seeing as you get cash from sea trade routes and you get free Harbours to form them, there's little reason not to do this as Carthage.
At a glance (Part 1/2)
Start Bias

Carthage is biased towards coastal tiles. Having a capital next to the sea means pretty much every coastal city you build will immediately have a city connection bringing you gold, and it lets you easily produce Quinqueremes.


Aside from its Unique Ability, Carthage has two unique units - an ancient era sea unit and a classical era mounted one.

Unique Ability: Phoenician Heritage

  • All coastal cities get a maintenance-free Harbour building immediately when founded.
    • You do not need to research Compass to gain these Harbours
    • You still need the Wheel technology to form city connections with those Harbours
  • After gaining your first Great General, all land units can walk on mountain tiles, as if they were open terrain. Units take 50HP damage if they end their turn on a mountain. Natural wonders are still impassable.

Unique Unit 1: Quinquereme (Replaces the Trireme)

A naval melee unit

Upgrades from
Upgrades to
Production cost
Purchase cost
Resource needed

Ancient era
1st column
(3rd column overall)

Renaissance era
1st column
(8th column overall)


*Assumes a normal speed game.
**You can only acquire Gallies by capturing one while using the Prize Ships promotion. The upgrade cost shown assumes a normal speed game.

Ranged Strength
Negative Attributes
Positive Attributes
4Movement Points
  • Cannot enter ocean tiles

Positive one-off changes

  • 13 strength, up from 10 (+30%)

Unique Unit 2: African Forest Elephant (Replaces the Horseman)

A mounted melee unit

Upgrades from
Upgrades to
Production cost
Purchase cost
Resource needed

Horseback Riding
Classical era
1st column
(4th column overall)

Medieval era
2nd column
(7th column overall)

*Assumes a normal speed game.
**Upgrading requires 1 Horse resource.

Ranged Strength
Negative Attributes
Positive Attributes
3Movement Points
  • No defensive terrain bonuses
  • 33% penalty vs cities
  • Can move after attacking
  • 10% penalty for adjacent enemy units
  • 100% increased contribution to Great General generation (Great Generals II)

Negative changes

  • Costs 100 production, up from 75 (+33%)
  • Costs 480 gold, up from 390 (+23%)
  • 3 moves, down from 4 (-25%)

Positive one-off changes
  • 14 strength, up from 12 (+17%)
  • 10% combat penalty for adjacent enemy land units (Feared Elephant)
  • Does not require Horse resources
  • Upgrade cost of 50 rather than 100 in normal speed games (-50%)

Positive stay-on-upgrade changes

  • 100% increased contribution to Great General generation (Great Generals II)
At a glance (Part 2/2)
Victory Routes

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

Cultural: 5/10
Diplomatic: 8/10
Domination: 8/10
Scientific: 4/10

Diplomacy and domination are both viable. Free Harbours are great for getting easy city connections and International Trade Route gold, or you can exploit your UUs and mountain-crossing ability to a domination win.

Similar Civs and uniques


Carthage's double-UU combo is very similar to that of Byzantium, although the UAs diverge somewhat. Still, both encourage building wide - Byzantium to gather faith and Carthage to maximise gold output.

For maritime Civs other than Carthage which can make decent stabs at both diplomatic and domination victories, look to Indonesia and the Netherlands.

Same start bias

The coastal start bias is the most common in the game. Aside from Carthage, it's also the start bias of Byzantium, Denmark, England, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, the Ottomans, Polynesia, Portugal, Spain and Venice.

Similar to the UA

Being able to make cheap (or free) trade routes is a feature of the UAs of both the Inca and the Iroquois; the former has free roads and railroads on hills, the latter can use forests and jungles in their own territory to substitute for roads.

Similar to Quinqueremes

The only other Trireme UU is Byzantium's Dromon. Quinqueremes defend better than Dromons and can capture cities, but Dromons have a ranged attack allowing them to deal damage without receiving any in return and have a 50% bonus when attacking other naval units.

For a unit thematically similar to the Quinquereme, Korea's Turtle Ship is a good example. It's a melee naval unit with a humongous strength bonus compared to the Caravel it replaces, but lacks the generic Caravel's ability to withdraw before being attacked, its sight bonus and its ability to cross oceans - essentially making it a Quinquereme with almost triple the strength.

Similar to African Forest Elephants

Being also a slow-but-strong Horseman replacement, Byzantium's Cataphract is very similar to African Forest Elephants. They don't make adjacent enemy units weaker or generate Great Generals faster, and they need horses to be built, but they're a bit stronger in combat and have defensive bonuses - something no other mounted unit has.

The other Horseman UU is Greece's Companion Cavalry. They have a strength of 14 and a bonus to Great General generation just like African Forest Elephants, but are faster than generic Horsemen instead of slower. Like Cataphracts and unlike African Forest Elephants, they cannot make adjacent enemy units weaker and require horses to be built.
Unique Ability: Phoenician Heritage
There are two sides to this UA. The more significant aspect is the free Harbours you receive in every coastal city and complements a mercantile, diplomatic approach to the game. The smaller aspect - crossing mountains once you have your first Great General - directs you towards war seeing as that's where you can make the most use of it.

Free Harbours

Above: Right from turn 0. You don't even need Compass.

Carthage gets free Harbours in every city - maintenance-free, production-free and technology-free. Think of it almost like a Unique Building - and a good one at that. Free Harbours will bring you the cash you need to maintain an early army (or whatever else you feel like using the cash for) in more ways than one.

Above: You still need The Wheel to form City Connections.

Any city you own on the same body of water as your capital (or a city connected by road to your capital if you start inland) will instantly have a City Connection, bringing in money immediately. On top of the fact you'll start getting cash sooner than other coastal empires, you'll also get more thanks to the lack of maintenance. It's only you, the Iroquois and the Inca who can have City Connections for free.

Above: Beware of Barbarians getting too near your cities. If one gets near your capital, it can shut off your entire trade network. If it's likely to be a problem, connect your capital to another city by road. It's unlikely they'll both be barricaded similtaniously.

Besides forming City Connections, Harbours also boost the range and yield of coastal International Trade Routes. If you're going for early warfare, you should be getting Sailing early for Quinqueremes and Animal Husbandry on the way to African Forest Elephants anyway, so you can easily take advantage of lots of gold covering the costs of a large early army.

Above: Early International Trade Routes are a great way to get science, seeing as it's quite likely other Civs will have techs you don't (after all, there's a lot to choose from) and the fact even a small amount is significant early. True, I'll be giving some to Austria which I'll be invading later, but I have early UUs and they don't.

As another useful point, free Harbours means one less building on the way to Seaports later in the game. This prepares new cities for building naval units considerably faster (so you can get lots of Privateers before anyone else for example.)

Finally, once you gain the Railroad technology, all your sea cities will instantly get the 25% production bonus. Unlike most other nations, you won't need to dedicate much Worker time to rebuilding routes to that standard.

Crossing Mountains

Above: You still can't move over Natural Wonders, even the mountainous ones.

Once you have a Great General (by any means, you don't have to generate it) your units can now move on mountains, for one movement point (as if it's open terrain.) It's quite safe to move slow units over 1-tile-thick mountain ranges, so long as you don't end your turn there.

Above: 50 HP damage is half your unit's maximum health, so don't leave your units on mountains! Yes, these screenshots are out of chronological order.

The main use of this ability is to attack an enemy at multiple angles - mountain crossing African Forest Elephants on one side, Quinqueremes taking the coast. Both these routes tend to be less well defended than traditional land routes. You'll do exceptionally well at surprising scientific nations (who favour mountains for Observatory buildings.)

Above: A secondary use of this ability is to help your units escape dangerous situations.

Above: A considerable problem with crossing mountains - as unit pathing favours faster routes, they may get themselves killed en-route due to the 50HP damage. Be sure to check which path your units are taking before you assign them a long route. In this case, it's best to manually move to the hill before attacking the following turn.

All in all, this ability is very situational, but helps you against some otherwise tricky targets as well as allowing you to take more inland areas as well as just threatening coasts.

Above: Moving units onto mountains and back again gives you a good view of the area while keeping that unit safe. In the late-game, you can use this to provide a line of sight for your Artillery or Rocket Artillery.

Right. The conventional out of the way, there's a strange additional utility of mountains. The Great Carthaginian Road. Surprisingly, you can actually build roads on mountains which cuts route lengths to inland cities and keeps units safe. Move in a worker to a mountain, start building a road, then move out the following turn to heal. Repeat this until the road is up. Just don't leave a Worker in mountains two turns running.
Unique Unit I: Quinquereme

Don't let the fact it's a naval unit put you off. Quinqueremes are incredibly strong for their era and very cheap to build (plus, cash from free Harbours means maintenance costs are less of a problem.) Just two technologies will unlock the ability to build them, giving you the ability to build a strength 13 unit before most people can build a strength 11 one (Spearmen). If you spot a rival capital very exposed to the sea, you can effectively rush it.

If you feel like rushing with Quinqueremes, consider the benefits and costs of getting a Barracks. Coastal Raider I gives you a 20% bonus vs cities, which essentially puts them at 15.6 strength against them. On the other hand, Quinqueremes are cheap to build at 45 production vs a Barracks' 75. Not to mention you should probably get the Sailing technology first.

Early rushes aside, Quinqueremes are also good at defending your naval International Trade Routes from Barbarians as well as escorting embarked units. Unless you're up against Byzantium or the Ottomans, your navy should dominate until Galleasses become common.

Above: Probably the most consistently effective move with Quinqueremes is to use them together with African Forest Elephants and other units to surround cities and take them.

Special promotions kept on upgrade

None. Use your Quinqueremes early and often!
Unique Unit II: African Forest Elephant

The African Forest Elephant has attributes in common with the other elephant UUs: High cost, slower movement, higher strength and no horse requirement. Unlike India or Siam, however, African Forest Elephants are for offensive campaigns.

Before you even start building these Forest Elephants, consider that you don't need horses to build them unlike normal Horsemen. This means you don't need to build cities inland just to reach horse resources, and makes city placement easier as a result. Just focus on keeping production and happiness high - your UA should help handle any gold concerns you may have for maintaining all your units.

With the same strength (14) as a Swordsman, your African Forest Elephants make excellent meatshields to defend your Composite Bowmen (and/or Catapults) behind them. It may seem odd using units without defensive bonuses as meatshields, but it's the fact they have higher mobility than Swordsmen as well as the Feared Elephant bonus that's the trick.

Above: Think of War Elephants as mobile Swordsmen rather than slow Horsemen. Extra movement compared to Swordsmen is effective in dense mountain ranges as it makes withdrawal to a safe location to heal far easier.

Feared Elephant bonuses (the one that gives a 10% penalty to adjacent enemy units) makes enemy Warriors and Swordsmen easy prey and helps even up things a bit against Spearmen. Three movement points is still enough to pull back Elephants even on rough terrain if they get two injured. A gap in the front lines isn't too bad due to Zone of Control stopping enemies slipping into that space easily.

Above: While you can stand up reasonably to Spearmen, Pikemen are a massive threat. The technology of City-States tend to reflect nearby Civs (and I know Austria's just hit the Medieval era) so this shows I need to strike quickly before they build lots of them.
Below: The 10% penalty will make archery units more effective as well as melee ones.

A good formation of units is to have Elephants on the front lines (with possibly some Spearmen or Swordsmen to deal with rogue enemy Spearmen) and Composite Bowmen backing them up. Surround your opponents to take full advantage of the Feared Elephant bonus and pepper them with arrows.

Above: Carthage excels at this kind of thing.

The Great General bonus triples your Forest Elephants' contribution to the Great Generals counter. This works best when you're attacking units rather than cities (and attacking cities is something that Forest Elephants are bad at anyway.) What can you use lots of Great Generals for? Splitting up your army, for one. Two forces with their own Great General can come together from different angles to surround a city in a pincer movement. Otherwise, just spam Citadels or whatever you like with the Great Generals. You'll have plenty seeing as the promotion keeps on upgrade.

And speaking of upgrading, because the Forest Elephant costs more than the standard Horseman, its upgrade cost is much lower. Together with Professional Army from the Honour tree, you can rapidly upgrade the lot to keep up with technological progress when Chivalry comes along.

So, to summarise, Forest Elephants are support units - higher strength makes them last longer, the Feared Elephant bonus makes other units do more damage and the Great Generals II promotion can also help strengthen your army. Forest Elephants are not so effective alone.

Special promotions kept on upgrade

  • Great Generals II (100% increased contribution to Great General generation)

Remember: Though it may appear like a promotion, the Feared Elephant bonus isn't retained when you upgrade the unit.
Militaristic City-States
Carthage is one of quite a few Civilizations with a unique ability affecting units' abilities. This still applies to UUs, including those gifted from Militaristic City-States. The ones present in your game are randomly picked from Civs not in your game, but here's a pick of some of the best units you could have (and you should definitely prioritise such City-States)

Classical Era

Companion Cavalry (Medium priority)

Basically your War Elephants but faster and with weaker support options. A movement speed of 5 lets you speed across mountains and take enemies very much by surprise.

Medieval Era

Berserker (Medium priority)

You can cross a mountain and pillage an improvement on the other side all in one turn, with a unit that's relatively hard to kill (and can just cross the mountain again the following turn.) If you're extremely lucky and get this in a game where the Inca are present, well... Smashy smashy.

Camel Archer or Keshik (Higher priority)

These are probably the best units to go with crossing mountains. Because they can move after attacking, you can move them onto a mountain, fire and move off to safety again in the same turn (and this still works with Logistics!) This makes them near untouchable by opponents due to the fact mountains tend to form in ranges and the enemy would have to go all around the range to reach your safe point.

Renaissance Era

Hakkapeliitta (Lower priority)

You'll have plenty of Great Generals from African Forest Elephants, so you can take full effect of these units.

Sipahi (Medium priority)

Now you've made them the bane of farmers everywhere. With high movement, free pillaging and the ability to cross mountains into safety, you can really pillage like no tomorrow with this thing.

Winged Hussar (Higher priority)

Works exceptionally well in open terrain, but in mountains you can really take advantage of Heavy Charge - if a unit's pinned against a mountain, they'll take extra damage instead of being knocked back. Being able to hit and run lets you position enemy units to do just that.

Industrial Era

Comanche Riders (Higher priority)

Extra movement carrying on upgrade works nicely for hit-and-run attacks - if you're on one side of a mountain and an enemy's on the other, go on the mountain, attack them and pull back. 5 movement lets you do this over a two-tile thick mountain range rather than just a one-tile thick one (providing the enemy you're attacking is in open terrain) while 6 from a tank promoted from this can hit and run any unit over a two-tile thick mountain range.

Hussar (Medium priority)

Plays well to the Carthaginian strategy of surrounding enemies, particularly with its high movement.

Norwegian Ski Infantry (Medium priority)

Mountains are usually surrounded by hills, so a significant bonus in them will make your efforts all the more effective.

Atomic Era

Panzer (Medium priority)

With the most movement of any land unit, you'll sweep across even thick mountain ranges with ease or position yourself well.
Social Policies: Early-game choices
For Carthaginian players looking for conquest, try Honour, Exploration and Rationalism, dipping into Liberty if there's culture to spare in between trees. Starting with Liberty is fine too - it'll weaken your war potential a little, but you'll have a stronger infrastructure.

If instead you'd rather take your strong economy to a diplomatic win, go into Liberty to start before Patronage and Exploration.

Honour (Warmongering Carthage favoured)


You can even more easily kill lots of Barbarians for experience. Getting Forest Elephants promoted on Barbarians while you build the rest of your army isn't a bad idea to help them last longer.

Culture's handy too. You don't really have time to be building lots of Monuments and suchlike, so killing Barbarians will be your main source of Social Policies going down this route.

Warrior Code

This is incredibly useful to get early. Besides from unlocking mountain-crossing quickly, (which speeds up your army travel times and aids exploration,) it's the only way to get an early Great General before a war, which will be of great use.

Military Tradition

More XP in combat gets to good promotions faster, and also generates Great Generals even faster from Forest Elephants. Forest Elephants should go towards March or Charge, while Quinqueremes do well to fill out the Coastal Raider line.


A very good choice as it stacks nicely with the Feared Elephant bonus for Forest Elephants. It also works on Quinqueremes, making them an even more dominant force on the seas if you keep them together.

Military Caste

This one's probably best picked after the previous three unless you're having trouble with happiness. It's more useful as a support for having a wide empire than going to war, but seeing as you'll be building wide to take advantage of free Harbours, this will still be a good policy to take. Culture for garrisons allows you to ignore building Monuments in smaller cities and still enjoy expanding borders, so you can focus on more important buildings.

Professional Army

You'll be doing plenty of unit upgrading with a strong economy and the fact Forest Elephants' Great Generals bonus keeps on upgrade. Therefore, this policy helps your cash to go further.


Gold for units killed. Not the greatest of bonuses, but hey - even more cash for a strong economy.



If you want to forgo early war and use your UUs defensively, then it's not a bad idea to build wide and open Liberty to support that. This opener lets your new cities expand their borders right away.


Coastal cities often suffer from poor production, so this'll help out.

Collective Rule

Faster Settlers means it's easier to spam out lots of cities and take advantage of all those city connections. Wide empires tend to have a higher total number of population points (as it's easier to grow smaller cities) hence more city connection gold.


There's stuff on land to improve as well as in the seas. Faster Workers can more develop your empire faster. Or more efficently by reducing the number of Workers needed to cover everything.


Less unhappiness means more expansion potential.


It's fairly open what you can do with this policy. A Great Scientist will help cover a major downside of building wide (the increased technology costs) while a Great Prophet can get a religion up and running if you don't have one already or a Great Engineer can rush a relevant wonder such as Machu Picchu.
Social Policies: Mid-game choices
Patronage (Diplomatic Carthage favoured)


Gold gifts to City-States last longer when influence doesn't decay so fast. For warmongering Carthage players with excess culture, this may be a good choice as well for the sake of militaristic City-States.


And now it's easier to get into alliances. Go money victory!


Building wide may hurt your science rate as every new city raises the cost of technologies. Scholasticism helps to address that problem.

Cultural Diplomacy

More happiness lets you build wider and hence get more gold.


The higher resting point makes it a bit easier to make City-States you friends. In fact, most of the stuff I'm saying for Patronage you probably know already. It's just I have to give information on all the good Social Policies, so I will! And nothing can stop me! Mwahahaha!

Merchant Confederacy

If all the major Civs hate you, you'll probably have to resort to City-State trading. Now it's just that little bit more effective.


Building wide, you'll probably lack Great Person generation, so getting some GPs for free is a helpful bonus.



Carthage has a rather dull Medieval era - after all, their UUs' days are over. But come the Renaissance, a new opportunity for conquest arrives - by sea. The Navigation technology gives you powerful Privateers as well as the ability to build Seaports to boost production for them, which you can start building immediately thanks to those free Harbours.

Exploration's opener will make that more effective with higher naval speed and sight. Even if you want to go into diplomacy, speed and sight will deal with Barbarians trying to pillage your trade routes better.

Maritime Infrastructure

Coastal areas usually suffer from below-average production, so a boost is rather welcome - particularly as you should be settling all or nearly all your cities on the coast.

Naval Tradition

Practically 1 free happiness per city. You'll probably have Lighthouses in most of your cities, too, and if not, it's a cheap way to get a point of happiness. Then, if you build plenty of Seaports for producing Privateers, you'll get happiness there too. Good whether you're in the business of building a wide empire or conquering one.

Navigation School

Don't bother with this one if you're going for a diplomatic win - the finisher isn't great either. For the domination players amongst us, though, get this just before you launch a naval attack. Chances are, you haven't generated a Great Admiral yet and neither has anyone else, putting you on a starting advantage (similar to that free Great General from Honour.)

Merchant Navy

Practically 1 extra gold per city. Lighthouses are now maintenance-free, and the +1 gold for both Harbours and Seaports makes the latter essentially free to maintain.

Treasure Fleets

You should be doing pretty much all your international trading through sea routes, seeing as Harbours grant bonuses to them. +4 gold per route could make you 36 gold a turn or more by the end of the game.


Unfortunately, this bonus isn't greatly useful except to prevent cultural rivals from getting artifacts and thus weakening their efforts. Buying Great Admirals with faith will probably not see much use, but there's the odd situation it may be helpful such as if you need to use one up to heal lots of damaged naval units.



Particularly for warmongering Carthage, good science generation is needed to keep up with the rest of the world, especially when having lots of cities drives up technology costs. Founding cities next to both the sea and a mountain is good for an Observatory and takes full advantage of both Carthage's uniques, but there's only so often that opportunity comes up.


Not a lot of good to you, but on the way to the powerful Free Thought.

Free Thought

Essentially another universal science boost (like the opener) as you should be building Universities in all of your cities no matter the Civ. Beyond this point, the choices aren't spectacular by any means, and if Ideologies come along, you should certainly focus on them instead.


Again, not very helpful (though eventually you'll probably have the odd Engineer specialist who'll gain from this.)


Together with Exploration's Merchant Navy, your building maintenance costs will be pretty low, leaving you more cash to buy units or bribe City-States.

Scientific Revolution

Though many won't like you from early aggressiveness, you may be able to fight a common foe to win a Civ's trust and be able to make Research Agreements with all the cash you have.


A well-timed free technology can push you to a militaristic advantage in the late-game, or get you to Globalisation faster for diplomacy.
Due to your build-wide keep-cities-you-conquer nature, militaristic Carthage players are best off going for Order. Diplomatic players should take Autocracy as Freedom's more for tall empires.

This guide shows the best choices for the first "inverted pyramid" of tenets (3 from level 1, 2 from level 2, 1 from level 3)

Level One Policies - Order

Socialist Realism

You may have neglected Monuments up to now thanks to Military Caste. Now, you have a good reason to build them - they're up fast and worth 2 happiness! Such a bonus will make late-game expansion or wars easier.


Put all this cash to good use - getting your smaller cities up to a good standard faster.

Young Pioneers

Again, a happiness boost that makes further expansion easier.

Level Two Policies - Order

Five-Year Plan

Combined with Maritime Infrastructure, you now have a great production base in all your cities which makes raising a late-game army much easier.

Workers' Faculties

Together with Maritime Infrastructure and Five-Year Plan, getting Factories up and hence even better production for all your cities is even easier. More science also compensates for higher tech cost, etc, etc.

Level Three Policy - Order

Iron Curtain

Unless it's a weak inland city lacking resources, Carthage should be in the business of keeping cities it conquers. Free Courthouses makes this so much easier by slashing the unhappiness conquests will bring. No-one wants to trade with you? It also makes internal trade routes 50% more effective, great for growing cities or boosting production.

Level One Policies - Autocracy


An Autocratic diplomatic victory relies on having a large army to intimidate City-States into giving you influence. Buying units with your strong economy is a good direction to go in.

Fortified Borders

A gold-maintenance-free to get lots of happiness to stop your wide empire going unhappy.

United Front

Like Mobilisation, it helps you get more units to intimidate City-States with later.

Level Two Policies - Autocracy


All those units in the face of City-States may cost your economy a fair bit. Reducing that cost helps you bribe as well as intimidate them.

Total War

Like United Front and Mobilisation. Just more units to intimidate more City-States.

Level Three Policy - Autocracy

Gunboat Diplomacy

Most of the other Autocracy tenets it's good to get lead to this point. With faster unit production from Total War, you can really get your whole empire involved in the effort for more influence.
Carthage can live without religion, but there are some very handy bonuses out there for a player who wishes to go down that road.


Note: As usual, highly-situational Pantheons (e.g. resource dependent ones) aren't listed here. Some kind of faith-giving Pantheon is a good idea for giving you a better shot at getting a religion.

Messenger of the Gods

An excellent choice seeing as pretty much all your cities have City Connections immediately.

God of the Sea

With so many coastal cities, you'll be working a lot of coastal resources. God of the Sea adds tremendously to an otherwise poor production base.

God of Craftsmen

If you can't manage God of the Sea, God of Craftsmen offers a weaker substitute to help support coastal cities and their generally poor production. Nearly always God of the Sea is a better option, so choose it over this one if you can.


Tithe or Church Property

Building upon strengths even more, these founder beliefs can offer a strong amount of gold if you can spread your religion enough.

Ceremonial Burial

Supports wide expansion. Preferable to Peace-Loving for Carthage as the latter favours tall empires.


Pagodas and/or Mosques and/or Cathedrals

Faith goes in, happiness comes out. Not to mention more faith, that allows more of these buildings. Pagodas are best, but if you can't manage them, Mosques or Cathedrals are still good.


Shrines are cheap to build and it's not hard to reach three followers in a city. Hence, this is useful when you need just a little happiness really quickly (as all the conquests and wide-building is likely to require)


Religious Texts or Itinerant Preachers

If you want to focus faith purely on faith buildings, making it spread faster will help compensate a little for the lack of missionaries.

Just War

An seemingly obvious choice, but as Carthage doesn't excel at religion, it may be difficult to convert enemy cities to your religion to take advantage of the bonus.

Holy Order

Alternatively, cheaper Missionaries will be more efficent with what little faith you have.
World Congress
Here's a list of the decisions and brief notes on importance of some. Ones missing depend greatly on the situation you're in. Voting choices may vary depending on your game.

Note "priority" refers to how high you should prioritise your votes if it comes up, not how much you should prioritise putting them forward. If Polynesia wants the International Games, you should prioritise to vote no, for example. If you could put forward a vote, then it'd be a bad idea putting International Games on the table.

Arts Funding

Low priority
Vote no

You probably won't generate many GPs, but GWAMs are less useful to you than the other kinds generally.

Cultural Heritage Sites

Medium priority
Vote no

Embargo City-States

Medium priority
Abstain unless you're taking the Freedom ideology to diplomatic victory or every other Civ hates you, in which case vote no

Historical Landmarks

Low priority
Vote no

International Games

High priority
Vote no

You don't want cultural players to walk away with double tourism. If the vote passes, dedicate some production to it so you can deny other players rewards or get the pernament +3 happiness.

International Space Station

High priority
Vote no

Natural Heritage Sites

Low-Medium priority
Vote no unless you have plenty of Natural Wonders

Nuclear Non-Proliferation

Medium priority
Vote no unless you're playing diplomatically

Scholars in Residence

High priority
Vote yes unless you're in the lead technologically speaking

Sciences Funding

Low priority
Vote yes

Standing Army Tax

High priority
Vote no

Even diplomatic Carthage should vote no seeing as Gunboat Diplomacy relies on having plenty of units.

World's Fair

Medium priority
Vote no
Carthage has trouble building wonders due to the nature of building wide around low-production areas. Still, some are particularly useful.

Ancient Era

Pyramids (Liberty only)

Greater Worker efficency saves you time and production in having to build more. Liberty exclusivity makes it a famously uncompetitive wonder.

Statue of Zeus (Honour only, Warmongering Carthage favoured)

Remember that your Composite Bowmen and Quinqueremes will also gain from the city attack bonus as well as everything else, making city attacks particularly effective (and cutting Forest Elephants' penalty to 18%, which is low enough to make attacking cities with them viable.) As it applies for the rest of the game, if someone else builds it, why not target that city to take the bonus for yourself?

Classical Era


The Colossus gives you an extra International Trade Route, plus a Cargo Ship to use it. With free Harbours, you get the range increase and +2 gold immediately letting you use that particularly well.

Great Lighthouse

A naval empire like Carthage's will gain from this wonder, but you've probably got better things to build at this stage of the game than risking a wonder. You're probably better off trying to capture the city which built it.

Terracotta Army

A risky move, but a diverse army of Forest Elephants, Composite Bowmen, Spearmen and Catapults can receive a huge increase in size early on which your free Harbours helps to cover the cost on. It won't give you an extra Quinquereme if you have one already, but still, you can make decent use of this.

Medieval Era


A free promotion! Useful for getting to those top tiers sooner.

Angkor Wat

When you have a large number of cities with a low amount of culture output, it helps to have some kind of boost to obtaining tiles before anyone else.

Machu Picchu

Defensively speaking, founding cities near mountains is a good idea as you can easily attack invaders from multiple angles (while they move around a mountain range, you can move units over it to attack them from behind.) Alternatively, you may have cities near mountains from conquests (as they're easier for Carthage to take.)

Either way, you'll be more prepared than most to build this wonder, and with pretty much every one of your many cities connected to the trade network, you'll get more out of it than most. And besides, if you fail to get it, that means someone somewhere has mountains you can take advantage of to take that city and win that bonus!

Notre Dame

Happiness lets you build wide or support captured cities. Simple.

Renaissance Era

Forbidden Palace (Patronage only, Diplomatic Carthage only)

Most of your unhappiness will be from citizens, so cutting that is nice. More importantly, this gives you two extra delegates that in the early days of the World Congress makes it much easier to swing into your control.

Industrial Era

Brandenburg Gate

The XP bonus together with other XP-boosting buildings puts new units in the respective city straight to three promotions as soon as they're out the door. Particularly useful for Privateers as you can take them straight to Logistics with all three City Attack promotions, or if you manage to get it in the same city as the Alhambra.

Modern Era

Kremlin (Order only, Warmongering Carthage favoured)

A huge tank-building bonus helps to make your land armies strong. Hit-and-run fighting over mountain ranges is a great use of Landships, Tanks and so on as it is for earlier mounted units.

Neuschwanstein (Diplomatic Carthage favoured)

This may seem an odd choice as a wonder, but consider this. One, you'll probably have the Fortified Borders tenet in the Autocracy Ideology (if you're going down the diplomatic line) which adds happiness to Castles and other defensive buildings. Two, this adds even more happiness helping to sustain a wide empire. Three, it adds gold which goes well with all your other money-based bonuses. Four, you need a mountain to build it which you probably have by that point due to either conquests or settling there for science.

Prora (Autocracy only, Diplomatic Carthage favoured)

While best for cultural players, you can still take advantage of Autocracy exclusivity (making it easier to build) and the good amount of happiness you recieve.

Atomic Era


You'll probably have Professional Army from the Honour tree. Together, these stack to make late-game upgrading very cheap. Remember that the penultimate tier of units doesn't go obselete, so you can save production by building them and then cheaply upgrading them to the top tier.

Information Era

CN Tower

This will boost your science (with all the extra people) and your culture (with all those free Broadcast Towers) crucially without costing you any maintenance or happiness, helping you stay on top in the late-game.
Pitfalls to Avoid
Carthage is a pretty strong nation but that doesn't mean you should cut corners in strategy. Here are some easy mistakes to make.

Neglecting Quinqueremes

How many UUs have a 30% strength bonus with no strings attached? Only the Babylonian Bowman has that kind of a boost, and that's only because Archers have such a low strength that any boost is significant. That aside, Quinqueremes are the joint-strongest unit of the Ancient Era along with Greek Hoplites with a strength of 13, and they're both cheaper than Hoplites and can move faster than them, making early sea conquests closer to reality.

Ending units' turns on mountains

Above: Deja Vu all over again. I have to use this image again just to drive the point.

50 damage is signficant. It's there to say "you're not supposed to stay on mountains" without being too evil (as an instant kill would be.) As mentioned earlier, when you send units on a long route, they take the fastest path possible even if it includes ending a turn on a mountain so watch out! Plan the route carefully and make sure your units aren't walking to their deaths!

The exception to this rule is if you're building a road over mountains with Workers, but you shouldn't leave them in mountains two turns running.

Focusing solely on attacking mountainous areas

Linking to the previous point, you can't stay on mountains. Hence, you have to move your units into normal ground some time sooner or later where they're vulnerable to enemies. While moving on mountains allows surprise attacks and easy retreating, a more open area is probably easier to invade.

Relying on African Forest Elephants against cities

They may have 14 strength rather than 12, but against cities it's strength 9.33 rather than 8. Spearmen would have more luck, never mind Swordsmen. Just use them to act as meatshields for your Composite Bowmen or Catapults instead.

If you have the Temple of Zeus, it's up to a more respectable 11.48, but then again, your Spearmen will be up to 12.65 and your Swordsmen 16.1.

Neglecting coastal defence

If you don't neglect Quinqueremes, this shouldn't be too much of a problem (unless you expand much faster than your navy can cope with.) Remember that a Barbarian ship passing by can cut a city off from a City Connection, and woe betide you if you let one pass your capital. To avoid the latter problem, link your capital to a nearby coastal city by road if need be. It'll cost a little cash in maintenance but just one turn with a troublesome Barbarian could make that all back.

Barbarians will also rip up your International Trade Routes if you leave them unattended, so get a decent navy to line the routes your Cargo Ships take.

Completely ignoring roads

Roads aren't just about City Connections - they're about faster movement, too, and if you don't have any roads, land armies will take forever to get anywhere. Those turns could be the difference between an enemy having a better defending unit and not. Additionally, lacking roads makes it harder to defend your own lands as you can't outrun enemies, as may otherwise be the case.
Death to Dido: The Counter-Strategies
Carthage loves the sea but can fight decently on land too.

Playing against the UA: Phoenician Heritage

Carthage tends to neglect roads. "Why need them when all your cities are connected by Harbours?" they might ask. Well, for one, it slows down their defending forces. This is even more significant by the fact they'll likely have a long and thin empire (meaning each end is a long way apart so it takes a very long time to get an army across.) If you want to really get them worrying, attack one end of their empire while they're waging a war in the opposite direction.

Besides this weakness, lack of roads also means it's very easy to turn off Carthage's trade network. Build a decent navy, blockade their capital and watch their economy fall to pieces. While you're at it, you can easily pillage their coastal Trade Routes.

Now for the mountain part. It's useful to know that crossing mountains is less of an advantage as the game goes along. In the Industrial era, Artillery can fire over them, meaning Carthage can no longer use them as cover. In the Modern era, air units can bombard their units without even taking mountains into account.

Until then, a good move is to force Carthage to end a turn with one of its units on a mountain to deal it damage. Placing a unit adjacent to a mountain ridge may encourage them to climb the mountain, attack your unit and suffer a 50HP penalty. If a unit's already on a mountain, try surrounding it to stop it coming off, thus killing it. If there's not many units, (such as a group just out for pillaging,) try ambushing them on their side of the mountain range. They'll have nowhere to run to.

Overall, Carthage in bad hands pretty much hands you the tools to its own destruction due to easier blockading and forcing their units onto deadly deadly mountains.

Playing against Quinqueremes

Quinqueremes are the difficult ones to face. Galleasses will smash them to bits, but until then your options are limited. Your best option is probably to use ranged units to pick them off without risk of retaliation.

If you're the Ottomans, focus your Triremes on taking some down and stealing them. Strength 13 sea units with Prize Ships is a great way to build up a navy easily.

Playing against African Forest Elephants

African Forest Elephants are still weak to Spearmen despite their strength bonus. And thanks to lower speed, you can more easily catch them out. Being weak against cities, a good tactic is to target other units such as Swordsmen first to buy yourself time. Once you reach Pikemen, with both higher strength than Forest Elephants and a bonus against mounted units on top of that, this UU is powerless.

Archers and Composite Bowmen are unthreatened by Feared Elephant penalties so long as they keep their distance making them also effective at taking Forest Elephants out.

Strategy by Style

Early-game Aggressors - Carthage's defence is likely to be weak. Give them a surprise attack while they're off invading someone (even you - it'd certainly mess up their plans.)

Mid to Late-game Aggressors - Build Spearmen to repel Forest Elephants and Archers/Composite Bowmen to deal with Quinqueremes. Later on, build a strong navy and keep it hidden. Attack at first by land, then blockade their capital with sea units to choke their economy. This assault on two fronts will be hard for them to stop.

Scientific or Cultural Nations - Defend against the first attack with Archers/Composite Bowmen and maybe Spearmen if you can manage it. After that, there's no real difference between them and any other warmonger/gold-based diplomatic player.

Diplomatic Nations - Give Influence a rest for a moment. Instead, focus some attention on bribing other Civilizations to declare war on Carthage. Early warmongering will make them unpopular, and lots of civs declaring war on them will put their economy's attention on defence rather than City-State influence. That gives you the space to quietly ally all their favourite City-States.
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Zigzagzigal  [author] Jul 12, 2020 @ 10:54am 
Fixed; thanks.
Catface (Stalvern)/ Jul 12, 2020 @ 8:55am 
Hey man, you left the Liberty section in Social Policies: Early-Game Choices in Title Text.
Zigzagzigal  [author] Dec 23, 2018 @ 8:16am 
Yes! That's true with any unit in Civ 5 with the ability to attack more than once.
tecla128 Dec 22, 2018 @ 9:07am 
I have a question about quinquereme. If they have logístics can move after attacking ? Thanks for the guide
ShinigamiKenji Sep 7, 2016 @ 1:32pm 
I never had interest in Indonesia, but seeing how their UB works, makes me want to try the religion trick later. I imagine the Kris-Swordsmen-zerg-rush might be more suitable too.

In my game with Carthage, the faith was only kicking in mid-Renaissance, when I had more cities and buildings (conquering the religious, wonder-whoring Celts did make an impact too, though).
Zigzagzigal  [author] Sep 5, 2016 @ 9:18am 
Settlers can't found cities on mountains, or else Carthage could become impossible to attack under certain conditions.

The free Harbours are certainly Carthage's strongest feature. City connections for free are nothing to complain about, and better trade routes sooner is nice as well (especially on higher difficulties where international trading helps you to keep up with science).

Juggling religions for buildings is tricky as Carthage as you may have to spend quite a bit of faith to be able to spread the religion properly and build all the buildings, but it could work reasonably well for Indonesia thanks to the way their UB works.
ShinigamiKenji Sep 4, 2016 @ 9:47pm 
I would also like to point out a handy religious building trick I managed to use this game.

Don't worry if you don't found a religion at all, let the AI spread theirs to your cities. Every founder will try to convert you, and thus you might be able to purchase buildings and units from more than one religion. Buy and use your own Inquisitors and Missionaries carefully to spread one religion at a time.

I managed to get all four buildings in some cities doing that. Enjoy +8 faith, +7 culture and +4 happiness, maintenance-free, per city. Worked for Carthage since each end had one religion, while in the middle I juggled with Inquisitors.
ShinigamiKenji Sep 4, 2016 @ 9:46pm 
I wonder if Settlers can actually found cities in mountains, since they can cross them. If possible, Carthage might be impossible to be wiped out until Nuclear Missiles / Helicopter Gunships come along.

About the Civ itself, in my game I found that the real bonus is the UA. Quinqueremes and Elephants are handy if you see an underdeveloped neighbour (in my case, America settled in flat coastal land, pretty open for both uniques, and few units as well), but if all of them have significant defences, then you might build only a couple of each, for exploration and defence.

Zigzagzigal  [author] May 28, 2016 @ 8:18am 
1. I now have it clarified.
2. Seems when I added that "similar uniques" section I made the old mistake I'd spent a while stamping out in the past.
3. Most likely because this guide pre-dates an era-sorted list of wonders I'd copy and paste into guides.

Thanks for pointing out these errors.
Wabba May 26, 2016 @ 5:15pm 
Oh nevermind about number 1. You meant spearman?