Sid Meier's Civilization V

Sid Meier's Civilization V

87 ratings
How to Win by a Domination Victory
By Eamos and 1 collaborators
This guide will give you guidelines on how to win by a domination victory as any Civ.
The Domination Victory is the fastest, but hardest way to win in Civ 5 because keeping your economy and happiness stable is very difficult. This guide will give basic tips and tricks to conquer the other civ's capitals while continuing the development of your core cities.
Info to Know
This is just one of many ways to win by a Domination Victory. Where and when you start will depend if this strategy will work or not. This guide is mainly designed for maps with only a few landmasses. An islands map or small continents map won't work very well with this strategy. To gain a better understanding of how to win by Domination, look at multiple guides.

Note: This guide is designed for all DLCs, but may work without some of the DLCs if you modify it.
Words to Know
Building Tall: Building only a few cities with a lot of population in each city
Building Wide: Building a lot of cities with smaller populations
Beelining: Rushing a certain tech
UA: Unique Ability
UB: Unique Building
UI: Unique Improvement
Setting Up
To be able to win by a Domination Victory you're going to need a high production rate. In order to get that you need to expand early on in the game while still growing in your cities. Having 3 cites by turn 50 (Standard Speed) and then 5 cities, conquered or built, by turn 100 (Standard Speed) is what you should aim for. (Except for the Huns as you will go to war as early as possible). In order to get that many cities I advise doing something similar the following:

What to Build in Capital

1. Monument
2. Scout/Unique Warrior
3. Worker or Shrine if you are getting a religion
4. Worker if not already built
5. Settler
6. Granary
7. Settler if no civ near you otherwise, military unit
8. Watermill/Libary
9. Caravan or Cargo Ship
10. Settler if no civ near you otherwise military unit
11. Military Unit (Which military unit varies from civ to civ)

What you build is very dependent on a lot of factors, so this is just a guideline.

Priorities for where to settle
1. Near different luxury resources
2. Same luxury resources
3. River or lake
4. By Iron/Horses

What policy to get

1. Liberty
2. Republic
3. Collective rule
4. Citizenship
5. Representation
6. Meritocracy

What Tech to get

1. Pottery if you are getting a religion
2. Worker techs (Including Sailing for a work boat)
3. Wheel (If on river)/ Writing (If not on river)
4. Writing (If not already done)
5. Bronze working
6. If you have a unique unit of this era, then go for that tech
7. Mathematics

What to purchase

1. Work boat if you have a luxury resource in the sea
2. Unit to escort your settler or protect your land from barbarians
What to purchase after that is up to starting location, but keep some cash on hand just in case you start losing money from having a large military.
Going to War
After you have a good amount of cities and a high production rate, you can build a large military.

Building a Military

Which units you have in your military is very dependent on what civ you are and where you are. If you're playing on an islands map then you'll need some ships, but if you're playing on pangea then you'll need more of a land army. On average though you'll want a military that looks something like the following:

4 catapults (unless there is a unit that can do similar damage to cities)
4 composite bowmen/chariot archers
2 horsemen
2 spearmen/swordsmen

If you're playing on the harder difficulties you might need a bigger military. Additionally, this is just a starting army, you'll need to continue to build troops as you progress in the war.

Choosing who to go to war with

One thing I advise is not going to war with city-states unless they have a resource or location you absolutely need. Everyone will immediately hate you if you declare war on a city-state and later on you'll want to be allied with city states for their resources (mainly luxury resources). Instead of attacking a city-state, attack a fellow civ. Most people would pick the closest civ that is next to them; however, that may not be the best option. If other Civs are at war with a certain Civ, it would be a good idea to join them. That way you don't get quite as high of warmongering penalty. If there is no Civ like that, then it's best to declare war on the nearest Civ. Of course, only if you can beat that Civ (remember the AI is terrible with their military).
While at War

Remember to watch your happiness. If your people are unhappy then your units will fight worst. Also, production and growth will be a 1/4 of what it normally is. To keep your people happy build circuses and colosseums. If that doesn't work try becoming allies with a city state, specifically a mercantile city-state.

When Conquering Cities

Don't worry if u have to raze cities or puppet them to keep your happiness up. Happiness is more important than having another city to build things in. If it's a really good city then I recommend gaining enough money to buy a courthouse so your happiness isn't affected drastically. Also, if a city isn't really that useful, just raze it. This may seem cruel, but it's how you keep your happiness up.


To keep up your economy make sure to build markets, mints and later on banks. Additionally, send caravans and cargo ships to city-states to make more money. If your gold per turn is negative and you have no money in your treasury, then your tech rate will decrease by how much gpt you're losing.


First of all, research currency so you can build those markets and mints. After you have researched currency, you'll need to research solely military technologies because the more cities you have, the more time it takes to research a technology. If you research something other than a military technology, you won't have as advanced units as the other Civs around you.

Social Policies

If struggling in combat then go down the Honor tree
I recommend going down the Commerce tree. The Commerce policy tree increases your gold, but more importantly, the last policy in the tree it gives you +2 happiness for each luxury resource. That can be a lifesaver. I've gone from having a little unhappiness to booming in happiness from it.

The next social policy I recommend is rationalism. Rationalism will help you catch up in technology if needed or it can get you ahead of your fellow Civs.


The likelihood is that once you get an ideology you've already won; however, if you haven't won yet, choose autocracy. Autocary will save you money, happiness and help you conquer the remaining Civs.

War Strategies
War strategies vary too much from civ to civ and map to map to really be able to explain in just an overview.
Promoting Units
One common mistake that players make is not caring about promoting units. You should have a few units that you prioritize their life so they can become highly promoted. At first it'll seem like a pain; however, later on in the game when you have frigates that can shoot 3 hexes away or artillery that can shoot twice per turn, you'll be so happy you did it.
Using your Great Generals
Citadels are not as useful in my opinion as the +15% combat bonus to land units. When you get more than one Great General don't just keep him sitting around in your cites. Instead, have him lead the next battle front you plan on executing. That new battle front could be against the same Civ you're already attacking or the next civ you plan on attacking. Once you have an excessive amount of great generals, then you should build citadels in troublesome areas.
Remember you only have to take the Capital
Once you conquer a civ's capital, the AI usually has no units left and you'll be able to finish them off easily; however, if the AI still has a lot of troops left and it would be costly to finish them off, just make peace. No point in prolonging wars that aren't needed. Also, sometimes when you conquer the AI's capital they are willing to give you all but one city for peace. Yes, it really does happen. You're not going to want to accept that deal because there will be a huge increase in your unhappiness. I've accepted these deals before and have gone from having 10 happiness to 50 unhappiness.
Nuclear Warfare
Nukes should only be used against cities that would postpone your expansion by a far amount or if the city has no strategic value or if you plan on razing the city anyways. Nukes will reduce the city by half the amount of health it has at that time, so you can never completely reduce a cities health to 0, and units will be damaged from 50% to 75% of the explosion. Something to note is that nuclear bombs will effect anything, including cities, within two hexes. Therefore, you could damage two cities with one nuke if they're close together. To get the full effect of the nuke I recommend only one or two. After two the damage isn't worth the production cost of the nuke. Also, if someone is about to win by a scientific victory, u can postpone their victory by nuking your cities.

If you are getting nuked at by someone else there's some things that you should know. First of all, nukes can only be fired 10 to 12 hexes from the city it is in. If you have someone that is near your capital, you should attack them. Additionally, make sure to build bomb shelters to reduce population loss. Also, attacking the civ is your best defense. Yes they will nuke your army and you'll have to replace them; however, they'll also be nuking on their own lands, which will reduce their amount of production and consequently will reduce the amount of nukes they can build.

Nuclear submarines are very important to pay attention to. With nuclear submarines you can put 2 missles on them. If you're attacking a civ overseas it might be a good ideal to keep a nuclear submarine with missles so you can create a landing area for your units or use them to help aid in the capturing of cities. To prevent nuclear submarines from attacking you, build some nuclear submarines of you own. Keep them a few tiles out from the coast, so you can see them before it's too late.
Religion is not a priority you should make unless you start out in desert, tundra or have a lot of salt, copper and iron. Why? Because most of the time you won't be able to build faith type buildings so you'll need some other type of way to get faith. Now if you do create a religion i recommend doing the following beliefs:

Pantheon: Desert folklore, Dance of the Aurora, Earth Mother or God of Craftsmen
Founder Belief: Ceremonail Burial, Church Property or Tithe
Follower Belief: Pagodas, Mosques, Cathedrals, Religious community, Holy warriors
Second Follower Belief: Pagodas, Mosques Cathedrals, Religious community
Enhancer Belief: Itinerant Preachers if you have a strong religion or Holy Order if you have a weak faith

The most likely way that you'll get religion is by conquering another civ that founded one. Remember to spread that religion, but don't prioritize it.
Wonders are not that important when going for a Domination Victory as the risk is too high. Furthermore, on higher difficulty levels, the likelihood of you building a wonder is small. There are only a few wonders I recommend building:

Great Lighthouse
Only build this if you're playing islands or are a naval based empire.

If you started in the desert you're going to need the extra food and production petra gives you.

Notre Dame
The faith doesn't matter, but the extra happiness will allow you to expand quicker than your normal pace.

Himeji Castle
The Great Wall is a nuisance, but is managable to deal with. On the other hand, the HImeji Castle is built later in the game meaning that the Civ that built it is most likely already pretty strong. With the bonuses of the Himeji Castle will make you waste your time on just one Civ, instead of a few and time is something you don't have that much of.

I really don't see much of a point of building any other wonder, as most wonders will take time away from producing more units. Additionally, remember that when you take a city, you also take any wonders it has.

Easiest Civs to Win by a Domination Victory Part 1
Any civ can win by a Domination victory; however, some civs have an easier time with it than others. Civs that I suggest using are the Zulu, Mongols, Huns, Assyria, Arabia, China, England, Songhai, Germany and Japan.

Zulu's Traits

Iklwa(UA): Melee unis cost 50% less and all units gain promotions with 25% less experience
Impi(UU): Replaces Pikeman. They have thie first strike promotion which allows them to do a ranged attack before engaging in melee combat.
Ikanda(UB): This building replaces the barracks. Provides a free Buffalo Horns promotion to pre-gunpowder units.

With Impi's first strike bonus they can easily take down any unit of the same time period and beuseful even in the renaissance era. When the Impi have the Buffalo Horns promotion they become quick moving machines, slaughtering anyone that comes in their way. When all of this is topped off with Iklwa, you will be able to have highly promoted units and still have an economy to buy more.

Mongol's Traits

Mongol Terror(UA):+30% Combat Strength when fighting city-states or their units and all mounted units gain +1 movement.
Khan(UU): Replaces the Great General. Can move up to 5 tiles as the Great General is on horseback. Can create a citadel and gives land units +15% when fighting. Also, gives units +15HP to any adjacent unit healing.
Keshik(UU): Replaces the Knight. A ranged unit that gains great generals faster and gains 50% more experience from combat. Also the Keshik can move shoot and retreat with it's 5 total moves.

Although Mongol Terror isn't that useful usually for a Domination victory, their unique units make up for it. Keshiks can skirmish anything in open terrain and even in some areas of rough terrain and will become highly promoted units that will be able to shoot from 3 range (Range promotion) and shoot twice in one turn (Logistics promotion). Partnered up with their fast moving great general they can move from one civ to the next in the blink of an eye.

The Hun's Traits

Scourge of God (UA): Can raze cities in twice the speed. Gains +1 production per pasture. Starts out with Animal husbandry. Can steal names of other Civs' Cities when founding your own.
Battering ram (UU): Replaces spearmen. A siege unit that gains 300% bonus against cites and starts out with the Cover I promotion (33% less damage from ranged attacks). This unit may not melee attack any normal unit.
Horse Archer (UU): Replaces the Chariot Archer. Does not require horses and ignores terrain penalties. They have 4 movement, 10 ranged strength and 7 defense and start out with the Accuracy I promotion (+15% Ranged combat in Open terrain).

The fastest Domination Victories come by the Huns. With two early on unique units you will attack right away. The battering ram will take capitals with 2 or 3 hits. With the combination of horse archers shooting any units that get in the way they are the hardest Domination Civ to defeat during their prime time.

Assyria's Traits

Treasures of Ninevah (UA): Gain a free tech when you conquer another civ's city. It only happens once per City and does not occur when you gain a city through trading.
Siege Tower (UA): Replaces Catapults. Starts with the Cover I promotion, +1 sight and a 200% bonus against Cities. Units within two tiles away from your Siege towers gain +50% bonus against cities. Also has +5 combat strength over the catapult.
Royal Library (UB): Replaces the Library. Comes with a Great Work of Writing Slot. When filled with a great writer, new units trained will gain +10% experience.

Assyria is one fo the best Civs to play on higher difficutly levels for the Domination Victory. You'll be able to catch up to other Civs in technology with their UA and Siege Towers are how you're going to conquer those cities. The Royal libary filled with a great work partnered with barracks will gain 25 experience, helping units become highly promoted.

Arabia's Traits
Ships of the Desert (UA): Caravans have +50% extended range and trade routes double the Religous Pressure of the home cities. WIll also gain double quantity for Oil resources they control later on in the game.
Camel Archer (UU): Replaces the Knight. SImilar to the Keshik it's a ranged unit. It has 3 less defensive strength than the knight, but 21 ranged strength. Has no penalty for attacking cites and can move after attacking.
Bazaar: Replaces the Market. Gives 1 more GPT. OIl and Oasis tiles will gaive +2 Gold and will gain a copy of any luxury resource within 3 tiles of the City.

Arabia is one of the most versatile civs in the game in which victory to go by. WIth the money Arabia gains from trade routes and the bazaar, they can create huge militaries. Leading their militaries will be the Camel Archer which like the Keshik will be able to attack a city and then retreat, causing few casualties during war. With the bazaar you'll have so many luxury resources that you can do outrageously bad deals with civs to keep your happiness up. The double oil later on will help you be able to build more oil required units than normal usually making you win in the late game.

China's Traits

Art of War (UA):Great General combat bonus doubled and spawn rate is 50% faster
Chu-ko-nu (UU): Replaces Crossbowmen. Can shoot twice per turn.
Paper Maker (UB): Replaces the library. Requires no maintinence and gives +2 gold. With Sovereignty Social policy it gains +1 additional gold.

The Chu-ko-nu is one if not the best unit in the game. The abiltiy to shoot twice will carry on after upgraded so it's not uncommon to see chines gattling guns that shoot twice. Paper Makers will help you create a large economy that will allow you to create a large military. Finally, with their UA Units will fight more effectively and you can create a lot of battle fronts.

England's Traits
Sun Never Sets (UA): All Naval units gain +2 extra movement. Start with an additional spy once someone reaches the Renaissance era.
Longbowman (UU): Replaces Crossbowman. Has +1 range over the normal crossbowman.
Ship of the LIne (UU): Replaces Frigate. Gain +7 Ranged Strength, +5 Defense and +1 sight over the regular frigate.

England is the best Civ for Naval Domination. With the extra movement of naval units and if you get the Great Lighthouse, England can go to city to city by sea faster than even Keshiks can conquer. For any cities on the land you can use longbowman to take them out and with the extra spy you can steal more tech than you normally would.

Songhai's Traits
River Warlord (UA):All units gain the Amphibious and War Canoes promotion. Also, Askia receives triple gold from pillaging barbarian encampments and Cities.
Mandekalu Cavalry (UU): Replaces the Knight. No penalty for attacking cites.
Mud Pyramid Mosque (UB): Gains +2 culture along with +2 faith.

The Songhai gains a lot of money when they conquer cities and take down barbarian encampments which is your most important asset. Mandekalu Cavalry is some of the best units of that time period for taking down cities with and Mud Pyramid Mosques will let your borders expand filling in any spots that another civ might try to build a city in.

Easiest Civs to Win by a Domination Victory Part 2
Germany's Traits

Furor Teutonicus (UA): 67% chance that any barbarian encampment will give your a copy of whatever unit is stationed on the camp. Also 25% less maintinence
Panzer (UU): Replaces the tank. Has +1 movement and +10 extra combat strength compared to the normal tank
Hanse (UB): Along with the normal effects of the bank, the Hanse will give +5% production bonus for every trade route you have with an unique city-state.

Germany is one of the best Civs to win from a late game domination victory. The panzer will allow you to quickly conquer your enemies while the Hanse will increase your production. At the beginning you'll be able to gain units from barbarian encampments so you don't have to build units later on. Lastly, units will cost 25% less money which will allow you to build 25% more units without losing too much money.

Japan's Traits

Bushido (UA): Units always fight at full strength even when damaged and +1 Culture from each Fishing Boat and +2 Culture from each Atoll.
Samurai (UU): Replaces Longswordsman. Starts with Shock I promotion, Great Generals II promotion and may build Fishing boats while embarked
Zero (UU): Replaces Fighter. Along with normal fighter traits it has a 33% bonus against other fighters and doesn't require oil.

Japan's UA is one of the best for a Domination Victory. It's great to have a unit with one health still be able to destroy another unit. The Samurai are a good front unit that will help you create great generals and can help you create fishing boats for your cities if there's any times you need to be peaceful. The Japanese Zero is a great unit to defend and attack with as you can create as many of them as you like. To top it off the culture you gain from the sea will allow you to create cities on island tiles to be able to set up for your next war.
Although these videos are long, they show you another way to win by a Domination Victory. This is not the full game yet, I will continue to upload them as the game continues. Thank you Toxic Penguin for doing the videos.

Other Guide(s)
Ending Remarks
Thanks for reading this guide. I hope that it will help you in your next Domination Victory. This is my first guide so if you have any ideas of how to make this guide better or what guide I should create next please post them in the comments.
< >
Androsida Jan 6, 2017 @ 12:41am 
Thank you. I'll try again
Eamos  [author] Jan 5, 2017 @ 5:08pm 
To Spolveratore:

Well it's been awhile since I played vanilla Civ 5, but I'll do my best. If I remember correctly, the strategy for domination isn't any different in vanilla vs dlc civ 5. The main thing for winning by a domination victory is finding a civ that has a good unique unit such as the roman legion. Before you get that unit you should build up your infrastructure. Focus on becoming number one on manufacturing in the demographics chart. Rush the technology for that unit, and just spam that unit. You should built a couple of the other units as well, mostly ranged. Catapults and other siege technology is useful, but archers or other range units are nearly as effective since they are faster. If you build a good infrastructure and know how to fight reasonably well then you should be fine. The main problem you need to avoid is only focusing on building units and not keeping up in technology.
Androsida Jan 5, 2017 @ 1:40am 
Hello, I dont have dlcs and Im having difficulties to conquer all the capitals
Eamos  [author] Nov 1, 2016 @ 7:33am 
To Lord Norjam:

I'd change a lot of things that I wrote for this guide. This guide has some good tips, but there's a lot I left out and a lot of things I focused on too much.
Lord Norjam Oct 31, 2016 @ 5:18pm 
I'm surprised you didn't say that Poland is the most versatile.
Eamos  [author] May 22, 2016 @ 1:30pm 
To Draekus:

Lol I can't believe people are still reading these guides. I've gotten a lot better since I've wrote this guide and use much different builds than I have on here. The war strategies on this guide are pretty decent, but I would completely redo how I talk about builds in here. The build I have on here can work for emperor, but is impractical for immortal and impossible on diety. This guide was really only meant for people that are playing prince and king.
Draekus May 21, 2016 @ 6:38am 
Pizzaman, What difficulty have you made it up to with this build?
Bagel Bringer May 15, 2016 @ 11:19am 
you should just say kill everyone in the guide :steamhappy:
[W+M1] DirtyHarry07 May 10, 2016 @ 6:42am 
Great guide! just gave me some extra information to take down!
Dew the Do! Sep 9, 2015 @ 7:28pm 
Don't forget to ask other civs to pay you to declare war on someone you were already going to war with anyway.