Sid Meier's Civilization V

Sid Meier's Civilization V

89 ratings
Civ V Basics
By Smug Devil
This guide will help those who are completely lost on the first turn and don't know what they're doing, hopefully pushing them in the right direction and learning the game and possibly coming close to a victory in a few games. I will assume you have all DLC including Gods and Kings and Brave New World as they're the best way to play Civ V. If you don't have them yet (first of all hurry up, you're missing out) you can still use most of this guide. I will also assume you know the symbolism such as beakers mean science, apples mean food, hammers mean building materials, books mean culture and doves mean faith.
1. What Civilization Do You Like?
It's not so simple as picking whoever and just going with it. You need to know who your Civ leader is, what bonuses you have and what signature units/buildings you have. These bonuses will determine what you can do, what you do better and the best way for you to win. Honestly you can pick any Civ and learn to like them but it's best to know what you get and when you get it before picking that Civ.

Example Civilization

Unique Ability: 20% Production towards Wonders
- Wonders includes the Pyramids, The Statue of Liberty or Notre Dame. Knowing you build these important structures faster is helpful to know as other civs don't have this and there can only be one Wonder per game.

Unique Unit: War Chariot - Replaces Chariot Archers with more speed and wont require Horses
- Normally you would need horses for this unit but instead you get a faster one. Just not needing horses makes this a valuable perk.

Unique Building: Burial Tomb - Replaces Temples giving happiness along with faith, however if the city is captured the enemy gets double the gold reward.
- Temples are a useful part of building a religion and happiness means you can build more cities and support more people but don't put this too far out if you can't defend it.

Egypt has early advantages, Philosophy leading to temples and the Wheel leading to chariots aren't too far down the line so you can go for these items very early when you have freedom in what you research. The chariot even gives insurance incase horses aren't in the neighborhood. Not many Civilizations will have massive production strength early on so Egypt getting a bonus in building some of the most important structures sooner can greatly effect the game (even faster with help from Tradition Social Policy). Now you have an idea what to go for.
2. How to Win!
There are a few ways to win in Civilization. Some of them passive and peacful, one aggresive and forceful, and others where you persuade everyone to let you win. Depending on what Civ you picked ^ some victories will be less likely to get so make sure you're working towards the one that matches you best or atleast sets everyone else back.

Domination - The classic kill everyone in your way. After capturing all the original capitals in the world (each civ gets 1), you demoralize all resistance and rule mankind with an iron fist. Most Civs aimed at this victory have two unique units based on combat and will be tough to fight when their age comes.

Science - Well known as the victory used on our own world. To get this victory you need to start the Apollo Program and build the needed tech and parts to launch a Space Shuttle to the Moon or Alpha Centauri. Let it be known picking America as your Civ doesn't garantee this victory but some like Korea and Babylon have a few advantages.

Culture (old) - If you're playing a game without Brave New World, you get this as a victory by music. To get this, you need to fill out 5 culture trees for a total of 30 points. After that, you need to build a Utopia in your country. This is why I reccomend getting all the DLC, no ones going to want to go through all that culture and then build a peace mound in their capital.

Culture (new) - The BNW culture system is a bit different. Culture still gives you policies and is fun to collect but if you want it to help you win, you need to build up Tourism, offensive culture from writers, artists and musicians. If you have more tourism than another Civs native culture you will be forever known as more interesting than they ever were. Aztecs can make a lot of defensive culture but unless they're writing poetry and storing it in Ampitheaters they're left with a Domination victory.

Diplomatic - After the United Nations has been built, people will start voting on who should win. This is where City States come into play, if you do a lot of favors for them, use Patronage and ask your losing friends nicely to give you their votes and get a majority, you win. Greece does this well with their ability keeping influence high and calming already upset States down quicker.

Time's Up - in 2050 AD, the game stops and counts score. If no one has dominated the world, man hasn't launched into space, the UN is still a waste of time and no one can agree what the best music is, this breaks the stalemate and counts your score. Score is based on the amount of gold in the treasury, the number of resources owned, the amount of land controled, how many technologies have been researched, the number of wonders in cities, total city population, the number of cities, and how many military units are controled. If you don't watch the clock and standard victories aren't coming soon you'll have to deal with these results.
3. Lets Play Already, The First Turns
Now you know your Civ, peaked at some others and know how to win. Now we can set up a game and see how it goes. Some would reccomend making the map smaller, play on Pangaea or setting the speed to quick. Personally, I like standard size and speed with Continents but you can play on any map you want.

Turn 1-2: You start with a Settler and a Warrior. Use the Settler to make your first city, they usually set you somewhere with a lot of resources to trade or grow on but if you would rather be right against the sea or closer to some more resources you can move over a bit. Don't wait until turn 3 to set up. Once you get a city you will be asked to pick Technology to research, pick stuff that matches the resources you can gather. Also keep in mind what you get early on depending on your Civ when you're done with these and can start learning to write and ride horses.

Turn 2-7: Send your Warrior to scout the area for ruins. These will give you small boosts of culture, faith, a person to add to your city or technology you might want. Your city will be fine as it builds a real Scout, Barbarians have nothing to pillage and other Civs don't have the military force at this point and should be looking for their own ruins so don't worry about your city being attacked but don't throw your warrior away.

Turn 7-21: Once you have a Scout to survey the neighborhood and get rewards, start making a Worker. Don't worry about the Monument just yet, what really maters is improving your resources like salt, gems and sheep. It would be smart to move your Warrior back to your city when the Worker finishes so he can protect him from Barbarians. If you lose your first Worker and have to get him back this early your game is going to be hell.

After all this your Worker should be improving the land and you can choose from different buildings:

Monument - Gives culture, skip if you want Traditions as a Policy. Shortly later turns into the ampitheater.

Granery - Gives your people food so the city can grow faster. Build these if you have wheat, bananas or deer to turn into bread. Otherwise it can be skiped or saved for when the city is starving

Library - Increases research speed. Useful but not required.

Water Wheel - If you managed to get the Wheel and your city is next to a river this will help build more things and provide food. Keep this in mind when placing your cities when rivers are in sight.

Settler #2 - When you have enough happiness from luxury resources or colosseums, start branching out to more resources or locations to build your population. Take a note, settling too close to another civ or on resources they wanted will make them angry but it's easier than taking the land by force.

Colosseum / Circus - Increase happiness without needing a bunch of resources. Circus can only be built if you can find horses or elephants but if you start next to some you're a step ahead in keeping your people content with population size.

Caravans / Cargo Ships - In the DLC expansions gold from the land and rivers is nerfed and will require you to build these units for international trade. This system means you either need a surplus of luxury resources, a smaller army to upkeep or not be a d♥ck to everyone so you can trade. You wont be able to build markets and banks for a while and if you run out of gold your science slows down which means you wont get them any sooner.
3 1/2: Improving the Land
So your Worker is out and has some protection. You *could* just automate him but he'll just ruin your forests and jungles. Here are the improvements you can build around your cities and when you should build them.

Farm - Used on wheat fields and gives more food. Build these on flat land whenever you're done with the other things.

Mine - Used for gem stones, salt and precious metals. Can only be built on hills and gives more production so build these where ever you see elevated land.

Camp, Pasture, Plantation and Quarry - Can only be built on resources to collect them so don't worry about puting them in the wrong place.

Lumber mill - This is why you don't want to immediately destroy your forests. Gives more production and lasts much longer than 20 turns. Get Construction fast if you have a lot of forests.

Trading post - Good for preserving jungles until a university can study them and can be built in other useless lands. Problem is this is unlocked with Currency far down the line.

Great Unit Building - Scientists, Merchants, Prophets and Engineers will sometimes spawn before you're ready for them. These structures let you use those meaningless farm lands for a better purpose. Just move the specialist to the location and they can use an ability that consumes them but gives a good ammount of a resource.

Citadel - Who needs a Fort when you can push your enemies border back and provide a +100% defense bonus? If you have too many (or one) generals you don't care about just turn them into a fortress on the battlefield.
4. Know Your Neighbors
Knowing who you're up against is also important. Take notes on what different Civs like to do and when they get strong units. Do they prefer the Renaissance and have better muskets or do they have better catapults and will try to siege you when they get mathematics? Don't f♥ck with someone who has unique spearmen when the game is just starting out and your best units aren't for another thousand years. And again, know who will try to rush your city early game and prepare as soon as you see them. Here are some tips to keep the upper hand from falling into the wrong hands.

First Blood
It's best not to declare war or cause trouble until you're set up but when you get 2 units and a scout together, this could be a helpful strategy. Steal an unprotected worker from someone, anyone, early in the game. Back up the run away with equal or better units or just fortify your scout on a hill as they struggle around it. After they give up and cry home, declare peace but keep your guard up. You esensially stole their entire work force and crippled them for a while. They'll denounce you whenever they can and if they do recover they'll probably declare war. In the case of human players in multiplayer, always assume someone is trying to pull this on you. To counter it, keep an Archer or Warrior on your Worker as they improve your tiles to keep Scouts off or keep rough terrain between military units and them so you can run if they tresspass. If someone walks up asking for handouts just show them you don't want any of it and hopefully they wont be stupid. If all they do is invade and wreck up an improvement, big deal that's just 2 or 3 turns lost and they lost a unit. If they steal your Worker, you are screwed for the next 12+ turns.

I Know Where You Live
If you can get Writing early, offer the AI an embassy. This will reveal their capital and give you an idea where their army is building and where they're expanding off of. If you have more important things to do, just keep track where their first units came from or scout the area more for their territory. You don't need to explore past them, once you see their border and met them move on for more ruins. If you don't feel right living a distance from Attila the Hun, set a unit in their direction to get a heads up if 3+ units are coming to you and it looks like war. This will give you time to spend the 200 gold you stored to quickly buy an Archer and call another unit from your second city. Remember, you get a defense bonus from rough terrain, your city is a power house at this point in the game and

Fight Fire With Fire
If you'd like, pick another Civ with strong early units. No one will mess with Greek Hoplites or Babylonian Bowmen letting them stay alive for the early game. You don't have to go on a killing spree but having an early defense for a passive strategy is actually a good idea. If you really don't like Civs with early bonuses, just build a few extra units and keep them in reserve and put up a better fight if someone decides to attack.
5. Policy
So you set up your city, checked for ruins and found some friends and foes. What do you do now? You manage your Social Policies. Whether you like them or not, policies are an important part of defining your Civ. From the start you get 4 trees to choose from (3 if you don't have BNW). Each gives culture and bonuses in different ways so you want to choose the one that fits where you want to go and how you build your cities. Here are what some trees when completed will offer:

Starting Policies (available from the start)

Traditions - Helpful for early game and smaller countries. Your capital provides 3 culture and the first 5 cities you build will get their own Monuments, Wonders build faster and your capital gets some free food and happiness.

Liberty - Great for late game or moving outward fast. You get 1 culture from all cities you own and all small buildings get made faster. You can improve tiles quicker, get happiness from roads connecting cities and you can get a Worker and Settler free.

Honor - Combat bonuses and supports military Civs. Killing barbarians grants culture and you will be alerted to where their camps spawn. Melee units build faster, happiness and culture from garrisoning units in cities and upgrating units to the next stage with gold will cost less.

Piety - For those who want to build their religion to its fullest and care nothing for Rationalism (before BNW but you can always pretend that restriction still exists). Shrines and temples will give +1 faith and can be built faster, could produce gold, it will allow minority religions pantheon bonus to take effect but the main reason to finish this tree is for the Reformation belief. Religions normally only go up to Enchanced level but with Piety you can get some very interesting bonuses most Civs will have no access to.

Classic Age (unlocked after specific tech has been researched)

Patronage - Great for Diplomatic victory, helps City States like you more and you can get more rewards from them.

Aesthetics (BNW only) - Definatly get this if you want a culture victory. Culture buildings are easier to build and you can get some tourism from it.

Medieval Era (much later but unlocks similar to Classic age)

Commerce - Money helps with everything, pay off City States, buy and support units or buildings or trade with allies. If you really have nothing better to do or just want all the money you'll like the stuff in here. It also offers Germanys old unique unit to be bought.

Exploration (BNW only) - You like boats? Want to get paid for being next to the sea? That's mostly what you get from here. Coasts build stuff faster, rewards from harbors, sea trade and a Great Admiral. I normally don't get this but if you're like Carthage and have been building across the shore for years you might like this.

Renaissance Era (aka just Rationalism)

Rationalism - If you want a Science victory or just want to catch up with tech, now you can get more beakers. I'm not sure if you can get it if you already have Piety but I think BNW fixes that anyways. Basically you get more science from cities with nothing better to do, a Great Scientist spawns more often and Research Agreements work better.

Ideologies (Unlocked when you get three factories or reach the Modern Age)
* These Policies are very different from the others you were able to choose. You unlock them the same way but the tree is much larger (up to 16 tenets) and which ever you choose will affect who your friends are, how your people think of you and it can be changed by the World Council.
(oh, and if you don't have BNW they're mostly just another set of policies)

Freedom - The way of the Capitalist, this ideology supports banks, Great People and specialists, and for the Science victory you can buy ship parts with gold.

Order - For the people by the people, this ideology supports lots of cities, production buildings, and the Science victory parts can be sped up with Great Engineers.

Autocracy - Loyalty and strength, supports everything military from unit strength, militarty and defensive buildings, building Courthouses faster, City States are intimidated easier and instead of a Science victory bonus this Ideology offers +25% attack bonus to all units for the next 50 turns. If you get this it's either because you're a small nation that needs the military bonuses or a power hungry dictator planning to dominate the world.
That should help you get yourself together for the first few ages. There's still more things to consider later in the game like archeology, air combat and spies but hopefully you won't be stumbling trying to learn what you should be doing and have more time to read new mechanics as they come. Keep playing games, try out more civs, don't get too upset if you fall behind or it doesn't look like you can win and just have fun leading a nation to victory or slowing a larger ones progress in history.

< >
Molay Apr 23, 2016 @ 2:47am 
Hey I got a group of civ players (and other games) that want some more active daily players because we got around 8-9 actives and 5 or so inactives, so if your interested give me an add. :D
GhettoDog420 Jan 22, 2016 @ 4:11pm 
this was made 2 years ago there has probally been a few updates since then YUM :)
[CELL] oyster professor Jan 22, 2016 @ 2:51pm 
there is a few incorrect pieces of data in here - for both DLC and non - DLC versions. just throwing that out there.
Redd Jan 16, 2016 @ 11:02am 
How do I get IRON?
Eonex Apr 1, 2015 @ 5:26pm 
Thanks for your guide, was amazing! I will try to appy your advices!
Smug Devil  [author] Dec 11, 2014 @ 2:36am 
After some searching I'm still not sure about Piety+Rationalism, I thought it would lock up the other, some people are saying it causes anarchy, BNW might have fixed it anyways, idk. Just roleplay and not get the other, thats what I usually do.
Smug Devil  [author] Dec 11, 2014 @ 2:23am 
Fixed most of it
I probably remembered the ideology condition wrong, looked it up now
Nexus-Prista Dec 9, 2014 @ 10:07pm 
"Rationalism - If you want a Science victory or just want to catch up with tech, now you can get more beakers. You can't get it if you already have Piety so choose wisely."
Also you forgot to say that that is for vanilla & Gods and Kings. The Brave new world can have both Piety and Rationalism.

Exploration and Aesthetic are also exclusive to Brave new world too. (You should say it since you mention about culture victory differences so I think you should tell which one is exclusive to anything and stuffs...Am I right? :) )
Nexus-Prista Dec 9, 2014 @ 10:03pm 
"Ideologies (Unlocked when you get enough Factories or everyone else has chosen sides)"
Wait, I think "or everyone else has chosen sides" is completely wrong. I think it's "or when you reach Modern era." .

I always ends up reaching Modern era to be able to choose an Ideology. I ever see a civ that does not have any ideology and it also stuck at Medieval era while other civs got an ideology already.

Unless it has been changed by patch.
Smug Devil  [author] Dec 6, 2014 @ 11:14am 
There should be an option if you're in multiplayer (I don't think its working at the moment) but single player is always just you vs the AI.