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Civilization 5: Brave New World Guide: Japan
For a keen Domination-minded player, Japan offers you armies that will keep on going no matter how bruised and bloodied they get. But it is not a one trick pony: it still has a few other tricks sheathed away...
This guide is not meant to be definitive, as every game is different and thus the player must be prepared to make appropriate changes to adapt to the conditions. That said, this guide, written from the point of view of one person’s gameplay experiences, is merely here to point new and inexperienced players in the right direction. Eager readers should look to other guides as well to come to a more informed gameplay strategy.
NOTE: This guide assumes you have the Gods and Kings, Brave New World, Wonders of the Ancient World and updated Civ packs.
Although geographically fairly small, the Japanese archipelago is home to one of Asia’s most sophisticated and proud civilisations, and has influenced recent world history, trade and culture to a previously unthinkable extent. It is also one of the most densely populated countries in the world, home to over 126 million with an estimated 337 people per square kilometre. It is also a mountainous land of great geological violence, prone to devastating earthquakes and volcanic activity.
Japanese antiquity is somewhat murky at best, with the first written mention of Japan coming from China circa 50AD, and no one is sure when a centralised government first established itself on the islands. Although heavily influenced by classical Chinese culture at first, Japan would go on its own path to create a highly original culture of its own. Centralised government collapsed during the 15th Century, resulting in the Warring States Period, where Japan was carved up into hundreds of tiny warring mini-states ruled by military strongmen. Japan would remain war-torn for over 150 years, but the Tokugawa Shogunate eventually rose up to bring the conflict to an end in 1600, ushering in a long period of peace, prosperity and flourishing of the arts not seen in centuries.
But the arrival of the colonialist Europeans and Americans shattered the tranquil Japanese isolation in the 19th Century, and lead to the overthrow of the Shogunate in favour of creating a new, modern state, whose rapid industrialisation in the late 19th Century, humiliation of Russia in war in 1905 and quick conquest of Korea, Taiwan and much of northern China in the early 20th Century astounded and terrified the world. Seeking to prove itself the equal of the great European powers, Japan went on to conquer most of China, Southeast Asia and the South Pacific: most of these territories having previously been under occupation by the Europeans.
Japanese imperial ambitions finally ended with the American dropping of two atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the only nuclear weapons used in war. Despite extensive war damage and being forced to renounce its right to declare war, Japan recovered and is now one of the world’s leading economic powerhouses, its technological sophistication second to none.
Unique Ability: Bushido
Units fight as though they were at full strength even when damaged. +1 Culture from each Fishing Boat and +2 Culture from each Atoll.
As the Japanese, you’ll have a huge advantage in war, as damaged units would normally be less effective and more vulnerable. Bushido allows any of your units, army, navy or air force, to keep fighting at full strength no matter how battered and bruised they are. This will also serve the Japanese player well defending your home territory. The new updated version of Bushido now also grants you a steady source of Culture from Fishing Boats and Atolls, so this should make you focus on the coast and to colonise islands and continents across the sea.
Unique Unit: Samurai
Replaces Longswordsman. Starts with the Shock I promotion and helps produce Great Generals faster. Requires Iron.
This is the most important unit you will ever build as Japan. The Samurai should make up the bulk of your armies during the Medieval and Renaissance eras; you are going to have fun with this unit for quite a while longer than most unique units. If you’ve already built Barracks and Armouries in your main military unit producing cities, then you’ll have high-grade killing machines; since new Samurai start out with Shock I at the start, you’ll have two more promotions to give it, allowing you to customise each one for any situation. With each time a Samurai fights in battle with another rival you also get that much closer to generating a Great General, who will make your Samurai even more dangerous. On top of the Bushido ability, allowing them to fight at full strength no matter how damaged they are, the Samurai are an enemy army’s worst nightmare.
The latest patch has increased their versatility further by allowing them to build Fishing Boats when they are embarked. This is a very useful adaptation because not only will the Samurai not get consumed, you'll be able to create Fishing Boats without wasting time and money to develop any from your newly founded or conquered coastal cities. Sadly, the Samurai will not be around forever, so upgrade them into Riflemen in the Industrial Era as their Great General ability will carry over; keep them around to create a formidable veteran infantry force for the late game! Also remember this: upgrading your Swordsmen into Samurai will not automatically give them the Shock I promotion. It’s often better to create Samurai from scratch in your cities.
Unique Unit: Zero
Replaces Fighter. 33% combat bonus against other Fighters.
The Zero is designed to be an anti-Fighter Fighter, but is otherwise identical to a regular Fighter. In the late game maintaining air superiority is crucial to success as those who don’t will get bombed into oblivion. Usually, not having access to oil would be a severe handicap to building an airforce, but the Zero is unique in not needing any, so you can make as many as you like without running out of strategic resources. Zeroes are especially good at wresting control of the skies because their bonus, on top of the Bushido ability, allows them to dish out the pain more than any other Fighter out there. This is good for stopping enemy air strikes in their tracks, whittling down your enemy’s air defences and also gives your Bombers a much better chance of making their bombing runs unmolested. Be sure to upgrade them into Jet Fighters when you have the chance, seeing as they’ll be keeping the anti-Fighter bonus. In fact, you can continue building Zeroes from the Modern Era onwards, and then upgrade them into aircraft-shredding Jet Fighters that will ensure your dominance of the skies.
Japan is heavily focused on the military, so you should play for a Domination Victory, while a Cultural Victory is also a viable Plan B. Stick to the coast, expand across the sea and claim all the Fish, Pearls, Crabs, Whales and Atolls that you can to get the most out of your Unique Ability; this may often mean colonising small islands to generate Culture. Starting a Religion isn’t essential, and you can play effectively without founding one, but it helps.
In war, the best time to start your conquests is the Medieval Era, when you get the Samurai, and build them as early and as often as you can, then get them into as many battles as you can to get them experience points and promotions. Be sure you have a plentiful supply of Iron to build them, and keep them around to be upgraded into more powerful infantry units!
In the late game, if your rivals have survived this long, start cranking out Zeroes. Use them to clear the skies, then build up some Bombers and start raining hellfire on their cities and units. It’s a good time to build Carriers as well to project your airpower across the globe; just make sure you have Destroyers and Submarines backing them up!
I find it advantageous to start Japan off small with Tradition to create a focused, well developed core territory before you start conquering with your Samurai in the Medieval Era, although starting a war early is also a viable strategy. Honour is clearly compulsory to increase the already potent potential of your armies, and Aesthetics will serve to boost your Culture. With your empire expanding across the oceans, you could delve into Exploration to improve your navy as well. For Ideology, Autocracy serves Japan best, as it will make your armies near unstoppable.
High Priority Wonders
Statue of Zeus:All units gain +15% combat strength when attacking cities. Requires Honour.
Cities are tough to take down even on a good day, so if there’s an opportunity to make it easier, why not take it?
Great Lighthouse: All military naval units gain +1 sight and +1 movement, and a free Lighthouse is built in the same city. Must be built on the coast.
You’ll be spreading across the seas eventually, and this Wonder will help your navy go faster and see further away. The free Lighthouse is a nice bonus.
Great Wall:Enemy land units must spend one extra movement point when inside your territory. Provides a free Walls in the city where it is built. Becomes obsolete with Dynamite.
A good idea to build this when your empire is still growing to discourage anyone thinking of picking a fight a little too early with you. It’s also good to build this so no-one else can resist your Samurai later.
Terracotta Army:Creates a copy of each military land unit you control and spawns them near the Capital.
An option for those of you who want to start attacking early, this Wonder will double the size of your current army.
Alhambra:Provides all units built in the city the Drill I promotion. Provides a free Castle and a 20% boost to the culture output of the city it is built in.
A Wonder that’s great for offense, defence and cultural output. Military units coming out of this city will be especially hardy.
RENAISSANCE ERA Sistine Chapel:+25% Culture in all cities, and provides two slots for Great Works of Art.
A major Culture booster.
Himeji Castle: +15% combat boost to units fighting in friendly territory. Provides a free Castle in the city where it is built.
Your enemies may think twice about attacking you with this Wonder in play, as your units fight even stronger on home ground.
Uffizi:A Great Artist appears near the city where this is built, provides three slots for Great Works of Art. Requires Aesthetics.
A Wonder designed to boost your Culture, and gives you a Great Artist to either create a Great Work or start a Golden Age.
Brandenburg Gate:A Great General appears near the Capital, and +15 experience points for all new units built in this city.
Try stacking this on top of the Alhambra to make a city for creating elite units.
Louvre:A Great Artist appears near the city this Wonder was built in, and provides four slots for Great Works of Art. Requires Exploration.
A superior version of the Uffizi, so if you missed out on the former, build this instead.
Neuschwanstein:+3 Gold, +2 Culture and +1 Happiness per Castle. Must have a nearby Mountain within two tiles of the city it is built in.
Odds are you’ll be fortifying your holdings, so make the most of them with this powerful Wonder bonus.
Prora:Gives +2 Happiness and +1 Happiness for every two Social Policies. 1 free Social Policy. Must be built on coast. Requires Autocracy.
The Happiness will help stave off thoughts of revolution in your empire, and the free Social Policy is a prize worth striving for.
Great Firewall:Prevents technology theft in the city it is built in and all other cities are 25% more resistant to technology theft. Negates the Tourism bonus from other player’s Internet technology.
You’ve come this far, don’t get caught out culturally or technologically by spies and the Tourist power of other rivals.
Pentagon:Gold cost of upgrading military units reduced by 33%.
At this late stage of the game upgrading military units is often quite cost-prohibitive, but the Pentagon will help lessen the burden so you can get back to slaughtering your enemies. On top of the Professional Army Social Policy, upgrading your units will cost only 34% of what it normally would. Now that’s a steal!
Sydney Opera House:Gives a free Social Policy and boosts the host city’s Culture by 50%. Also provides two slots for Great Works of Music. Must be built on the coast.
Another free policy is always welcome, as is the Culture boost and Great Work slots.
Ancestor Worship:+1 Culture from Shrines.
Good for squeezing out a little more Culture in the early game.
God of the Sea:+1 Production from Fishing Boats.
The Pantheon I usually gravitate to playing as Japan as it builds on Bushido’s Cultural bonus on Fishing Boats, gets more out of them and takes further advantage of your coastal start bias.
Tears of the Gods:+2 Faith from each Gems or Pearls Resource.
Again, this takes advantage of your coastal start bias if you have some Pearls nearby. If you have Gems nearby as well, that’s a welcome bonus.
RECOMMENDED FOUNDER BELIEFS
Church Property:+2 Gold from each city following this Religion.
You’re spreading your Religion, might as well cash-in on it. A good, steady source of income that will be vital during your wars of conquest and for infrastructure maintenance.
Interfaith Dialogue:Gain Science when a Missionary spreads your Religion to cities following other Religions.
This Science boost should be a great help, especially if you’re playing catch-up with more sophisticated rivals.
Tithe:+1 Gold for every 4 followers of your Religion.
An alternative to Church Property, and the option I’m personally fonder of as it potentially gives you more money if you are sporting a big population base.
RECOMMENDED FOLLOWER BELIEFS
Cathedrals:Allows spending Faith to build Cathedrals (+1 Happiness, +1 Culture, +1 Faith, 1 slot for Great Work of Art).
A cultural player should pick the Cathedral over the other religious buildings as it provides a slot for a Great Work of Art.
Holy Warriors:Allows you to purchase pre-Industrial Era units with Faith.
Not an option to be dismissed lightly for a conqueror, as it provides a quick, cheap method of raising a few extra troops, namely Samurai.
Choral Music:Temples Provide +2 Culture in cities with 5 Followers.
Another good choice for strengthening your Culture and progressing toward more Social Policies.
Religious Art:Hermitage provides +5 Culture and +5 Tourism.
Hits two birds with one stone, granting you more Culture and giving you a big boost in Tourism at a time when getting that much requires using up three Great People.
RECOMMENDED ENHANCER BELIEFS
Defender of the Faith: 20% combat strength near friendly cities following your Religion.
Not so much to help defend your borders (although that is a plausible strategy if the need arises), but a means of taking away a possible defence your rivals could potentially use to repel your armies.
Just War:+20% combat strength near enemy cities following your Religion.
Try to spread you Religion as far and wide as you can, so that when the time comes to overthrow your rivals, you’ll have this ace in the hole. The irony of having your enemies’ own cities assist you in their capture is just deliciously devious.
Social Policies: Tradition and Honour
Available from the Ancient Era. Adopting Tradition gives the player +3 Culture in the Capital and boosts border expansion. It also unlocks building the Hanging Gardens Wonder. With all Tradition policies adopted, you get +15% growth and a free Aqueduct in your first four cities, and you can get Great Engineers by spending Faith from the Industrial Era onwards.
In the early game Japan needs to prepare for future wars, so your focus must be to found your cities (around four) and develop them as much as you can. Tradition is well suited for this, and will serve Japan well up until the Medieval Era, when things start getting interesting. Don’t concern yourself with the Hanging Gardens.
Aristocracy:+15% Production when building Wonders and +1 Happiness for every 10 citizens in a city.
Not the first policy I would pick, but can be useful in squeezing out a Wonder like the Statue of Zeus. Otherwise avoid it for the time being.
Oligarchy:Garrisoned units cost no maintenance and cities with a garrison gain +50% ranged combat strength.
If you find yourself facing barbarians at the gates, this policy will be a lifesaver. A garrisoned units becoming maintenance free, plus added firepower for your city? Your cities will become near impregnable. Using Archers and other ranged units are the best for making the most of this policy, so that your unit will not be harmed while attacking.
Legalism:Provides a free Culture building in your first four cities.
My favourite Tradition policy, this will automatically give you a free culture building in each of your first four cities, usually Monuments, to start spreading your borders and get you to your next Social Policy that much quicker.
Monarchy:+1 Gold and -1 Unhappiness for every 2 Citizens in the Capital. Requires Legalism.
Good for early revenue collecting and for alleviating any grumbles of discontent.
Landed Elite:+10% growth and +2 Food in the Capital. Requires Legalism.
A little something to help your Capital get on its feet if it’s struggling to grow.
Available from the Ancient Era. Adopting Honour gives a +33% combat bonus against barbarians, and notifications will be given when new barbarian encampments spawn in revealed territory. Gain Culture for every barbarian unit killed. Unlocks building the Statue of Zeus Wonder. With all Honour policies adopted, you gain Gold for every unit killed, and Great Generals can be purchased with Faith from the Industrial Era onwards.
Adopting Honour is a must for Japan. It will strengthen your fledgling army in the early game and help you get more Culture through killing dirty, smelly barbarians! The stronger the barbarian unit, the more Culture you gain from killing it. Same is true for gaining Gold when you’ve adopted all the Honour policies, except you also gain Gold from killing the units of your rivals! It is also highly recommended that you build the Statue of Zeus, as its ability will help you capture enemy cities later on.
Warrior Code:+15% Production when training melee units and a Great General appears outside the Capital. Great Generals are earned 50% faster.
A great way to get started on building your army and producing Great Generals. Once Samurai enter the picture, you’ll be producing them faster and pumping out Great Generals like there’s no tomorrow.
Discipline:+15% combat bonus for military units with another military unit on an adjacent tile.
As we all know, discipline is compulsory for a well-oiled army, especially an army in formation.
Military Caste:Each city with a garrison increases empire Happiness by +1 and Culture by +2. Requires Discipline.
Stacks well with Oligarchy from the Tradition policy tree. The added Happiness and Culture is also welcome. But don’t use Samurai to garrison your cities; they are needed on the front lines.
Military Tradition:Military units gain +50% more experience from combat. Requires Warrior Code.
You’ll want your army to get promotions as often as possible to make them more effective and adaptable.
Professional Army:Gold cost of upgrading military units reduced by 33% and construct Barracks, Armouries and Military Academies 50% faster. Requires Military Caste.
This will save you a lot of time and money in the long run building military training buildings and upgrading obsolete units.
Social Policies: Aesthetics and Exploration
Available from the Classical Era. Adopting Aesthetics allows you to earn Great Writers, Artists and Musicians 25% faster. Unlocks building the Uffizi Wonder. Adopting all Aesthetics policies doubles the theming bonus you receive from Museums and Wonders. It also allows for purchasing Great Writers, Artists and Musicians from the Industrial Era onwards.
A Cultural Victory should only be a back-up plan for Japan, but it pays to make sure this back-up has substance. Luckily, Aesthetics is here to help you out. If you are serious about winning through Culture, and if you’re not confident that you can beat everyone, then by all means build the Uffizi. Otherwise don’t worry too much about it.
Cultural Centres:Construct Monuments, Amphitheatres, Opera Houses, Museums and Broadcast Towers 50% faster.
The faster you build these, the faster your Culture can grow and the faster you can get more Social Policies.
Fine Arts:50% of excess Happiness added each turn to the amount of Culture that may be spent on Social Policies.
It pays to keep your people happy. It rewards you by giving you more Culture, but be aware that should you run out of Happiness, this Culture bonus goes with it.
Flourishing of the Arts:Culture increased by 33% in cities which have built a World Wonder and the empire immediately enters a Golden Age. Requires Cultural Centres and Fine Arts.
Even if you haven’t built a Wonder, the free Golden Age is worth adopting this policy for the boost in Culture, Gold and Production it brings.
Artistic Genius:Gain a free Great Artist. Requires Fines Arts.
Not much else needs to be said; it’s up to you whether you want a Golden Age or a Great Work made out of it.
Cultural Exchange:Increases the Tourism modifier for Shared Religion, Trade Routes and Open Borders by 15% each. Requires Flourishing of the Arts.
This helps boost your Tourism with allied Civilisations. In larger maps and higher difficulties it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to conquer everyone, so this is a sneaky way of attacking them culturally without firing a shot.
Available from the Medieval Era. Adopting Exploration gives +1 movement for naval units and +1 sight for naval combat units. Unlocks building the Louvre. Adopting all Exploration policies allows you to see Hidden Antiquity Sites. It also allows you to purchase Great Admirals with Faith from the Industrial Era onwards.
If Aesthetics isn’t your thing, you can try Exploration instead. It's actually preferable if you do take this route. A Japanese player is going to end up turning their attention to the seas because of the coastal start bias and the Bushido bonus with Fishing Boats. Exploration will assist you in taking control of the vast ocean and colonising seafood-rich islands and coasts. As a bonus, there’s also some Cultural opportunity too with Hidden Antiquity Sites and the Louvre, which is superior to the Uffizi.
Maritime Infrastructure:+3 Production in all coastal cities.
Turn your coastal cities into built-up powerhouses with this policy. It’ll help build up your navy and other seaside assets.
Naval Tradition:+1 Happiness from each Harbour, Seaport or Lighthouse.
More Happiness can’t get you anywhere other than away from riots and closer to a Golden Age.
Navigation School:A Great Admiral appears. +2 movement for all Great Admirals. Great Admirals earned 50% faster. Requires Naval Tradition.
The Great Admiral is the Great General of the seas, so the more of them you have, the more your navy’s power will grow.
Merchant Navy: +1 Gold for each Harbour, Seaport or Lighthouse. Requires Maritime Infrastructure and Naval Tradition.
Do you need more incentive to make these buildings yet? They will help you get the most out of your Fishing Boats, after all.
Treasure Fleets:+4 Gold from all your Sea Trade Routes. Requires Merchant Navy.
You can’t build a fine army or navy without cash, and there’s plenty of cash to be made across the seas. Just make sure your Cargo Ships are well-defended, or your rivals or barbarians will ransack the living daylights out of them.
Fortified Borders:+1 Local Happiness per Castle, Arsenal and Military Base.
A better option than Universal Healthcare, and good for quelling overall dissent in your empire. Odds are, you and any puppet cities you may have will probably be building plenty of defensive buildings.
Mobilisation:Gold cost of purchasing units reduced by 33%.
You may find yourself falling short of troops at a critical moment, whether invading another Civilisation or finding a rival banging on your front door. Mobilisation will make purchasing units cheaper and will get them out much quicker than training them in most instances.
Futurism:+250 Tourism to all Civilisations when a Great Writer, Artist or Musician is born.
If you’re going for a Cultural Victory, Futurism will help you get there that much quicker by providing a momentary boost in Tourism with every Great Writer, Artist and Musician you produce.
Industrial Espionage:Spies steal technology twice as fast.
Domination-focused Civilisations tend to focus mainly on military technologies, and so may miss out on other technologies that more scientific Civilisations will more easily obtain. Target such Civs with your spy network to catch up.
Militarism:+2 local Happiness from each Barracks, Armoury and Military Academy.
I find this more useful than Police State (+3 Happiness from Courthouses) as this gives you up to +6 Happiness per city. Also added incentive for you to build these structures and thus to train highly promoted units.
Lightning Warfare:Great Generals receive +3 Movement. Armoured Units receive +1 Movement and +15% attack bonus, and ignore enemy Zone of Control (ZOC).
An excellent option if you have plenty of tanks and wish to invade deeper inland. Your Great General will be as fast as your armoured units, and your Tanks will not only be stronger, but will be able to more easily bypass pesky enemy units and broaden your options for tactical manoeuvres.
Nationalism:Unit Maintenance costs reduced by 33%.
A Japanese player can expect to field a large army and navy, and these do not come cheap. Adopt this tenet to cut costs without having to start dismissing valuable veterans.
Third Alternative:Strategic Resources provide double quantity. +5 Food and Science in Capital.
While the added Food and Science is welcome, it’s the doubled reserve of Strategic Resources that’s the big deal here. Oil, Uranium and Aluminium are especially crucial in the late game for Bombers, Nukes and advanced weapons, so getting more of them is key to success.
Total War:+25% Production towards military units. New units receive +15 XP.
Autocracy and the Japanese really likes themselves some aggression, and this tenet rewards players who want to make the world burn under their iron heels.
Cult of Personality:+50% Tourism to Civilisations fighting a common enemy.
Making allies isn’t out of the question, and this tenet rewards those that do go to the trouble of making war-buddies. Your allies will be more susceptible to your culture, and bring you closer to that Cultural Victory backup plan should your plans of world domination get scuppered.
Clausewitz’s Legacy: Receive a +25% attack bonus to all military units for the first 50 turns after this tenet is added.
What? Your army still not lethal enough for you? This will harden them up some more for the final push. By the time you get to this, you should be in the final 50 or so turns of the game, so no worries about the time limit. The future is yours.