Sid Meier's Civilization V

Sid Meier's Civilization V

213 ratings
Zigzagzigal's Guide to China (BNW)
By Zigzagzigal
China is a powerful and fun Civ focused on warfare, as well as being one of the game's most straightforward Civs to play. This guide goes into plenty of detail about Chinese 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)

It is time for the sleeping dragon to awake. China's size and potential is, as it has been almost constantly for thousands of years, immense. Starting with consecutive kingdoms conquering the predecessor and expanding to a larger size - the Xia, Shang and Zhou, a true unified Chinese Empire did not begin until the 3rd century prior to the common era, after First Emperor Qin Shi Huang unified the warring states which had emerged out of the collapse of the Zhou dynasty. His Qin dynasty lasted only a short time until displaced by the Han dynasty, which presided over a great expansion in Chinese lands to what is now the eastern half of the country, and led China into a golden age. In the third century of the common era, the Han dynasty would lose power, dividing the empire into three kingdoms. True reunification would take centuries, but eventually under the Tang and Song dynasties, China would enter another golden age. This was to come to an end when Mongolia successfully invaded in the 13th century, with Genghis Khan's grandson Kublai Khan taking control of China, starting the Yuan dynasty - which was otherthrown in the 14th century by a peasant, which in turn started the Ming dynasty, and yet another golden age for China. This would be followed by Shun dynasty (very briefly) and the Qing.

China was, as it had been for centuries, the dominant power in eastern Asia. But elsewhere in the world, other nations were gaining in strength and technology. European colonial empires had conquered vast regions of the world by the 19th century and needed somewhere left to buy the goods they produced. China's self-sufficency meant they had little need for foreign imports - until the British Empire brought them highly addictive and deadly opium. When Chinese officials attempted to seize this opium, the British retaliated in the Opium wars, which resulted in defeats for China. Russia seized an opportunity in this time of weakness and secured a significant amount of territory off them. Out of these humiliations came instability, and rebellions, and eventually the end of imperial rule in the 20th century. The Republic of China was formed, but most of its rule was characterised by a civil war with the Communists - with which they formed a truce during the Second World War to combat Japan's invasion. After the Second World War, the civil war resumed, with the Communists taking control of most of mainland China, forming the People's Republic of China, while the Republic of China retreated to the island of Taiwan. Now, both Chinas are gaining strength and influence. It is time for sleeping dragons to awake. You will lead a new unified China under your rule, and build a civilization which will stand the test of time.

Beelining - Focusing on obtaining a technology early by only researching technologies needed to research it and no others. For example, to beeline Bronze Working, you'd research Mining and Bronze Working and nothing else until Bronze Working was finished.
Finisher - The bonus for completing a Social Policy tree (e.g. Free Great Person for Liberty.)
Meatshield - A unit that can soak up damage on behalf of another. Standard melee units are often good at this job.
Melee Units - Throughout this guide, "melee units" typically refers to all non-ranged military units - whether on the land or sea. "Standard melee units" refer to Warriors, Swordsmen, Longswordsmen, Spearmen, Pikemen, Landsknechte, replacement units for them and Spanish Tercios.
Opener - The bonus for unlocking a Social Policy tree (e.g. +1 culture for every city for Liberty's opener)
Spotter - A unit which allows a ranged unit (usually a siege unit) a line of sight with its target. Typically, siege units have a higher maximum range than their sight radius, hence the need for spotters.
Tall empire - A low number of cities with a high population each. "Building tall" refers to making an empire a tall one.
UA - Unique Ability - the unique thing a Civilization has which doesn't need to be built.
UB - Unique Building - A replacement for a normal building that can only be built by one Civilization.
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. "Building wide" refers to making an empire a wide one.
At a glance (Part 1/2)
Start Bias

China has no starting bias.


China has a medieval-era Unique Unit which is supported effectively by their Unique Ability and ancient-era Unique Building.

Unique Ability: The Art of War

  • Great Generals contribute a 30% bonus to combat for land units within 2 tiles, up from 15%
  • Experience from land-based combat contributes 50% more towards the generation of Great Generals

Unique Unit: Chu-Ko-Nu (Replaces the Crossbowman)

A standard ranged unit

Upgrades from
Upgrades to
Production cost
Purchase cost
Resource needed

Medieval era
2nd column
(7th column overall)

Industrial era
1st column
(10th column overall)

Composite Bowman
Gatling Gun
Gatling Gun
*Assumes a normal speed game.

Ranged Strength
Negative Attributes
Positive Attributes
14Ranged Strength
2Movement Points
  • May not melee attack
  • May attack twice

Negative changes

  • 14 ranged strength, down from 18 (-22%)

Positive stay-on-upgrade changes

  • May attack twice
    • This also allows the unit to move after attacking.

Unique Building: Paper Maker (Replaces the Library)

Building of the Science line
Building required
Required to build
Production cost
Purchase cost
City restriction

Ancient era
2nd column
(3rd column overall)

*Assumes a normal speed game.

Base output
Output Multiplier
Great Work slots
Other effects
  • +1Science for every 2 citizens in the city

Positive changes

  • 0 maintenance cost, down from 1 (-100%)
  • 2 extra gold produced
At a glance (Part 2/2)
Victory Routes

Note that 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: 7/10
Domination: 10/10
Scientific: 5/10

Clearly war is China's strongest route thanks to their UA and UU. Still, the gold potential from your cheap UB does lend itself well to a diplomatic route.

Similar Civs and uniques


China is one of many mid-game domination Civs, but two that particularly stand out are England and Mongolia. Although neither have economic support comparable to that of Paper Makers, they both are strongest in the mid-game thanks to powerful ranged units - just like China. Mongolia also has improved Great Generals like China.

If you want a different Civ with similarities to China but with more economic support rather than less, look to Arabia. They also have a powerful mid-game ranged unit, but the rest of their uniques are mostly centred on peace-time trading.

If the idea of building heavily around a single mid-game UU is to your liking, try the Zulus.

Same start bias

China's lack of a start bias is shared with America, Ethiopia, France, Germany, Greece, the Maya, Persia, Rome and the Shoshone.

Similar to the UA

As already mentioned, China's Great General bonus is akin to Mongolia's Khans. Khans offer faster healing and are fast enough to keep up with mounted units, while China's Great Generals offer double the normal strength bonus.

Sweden's Hakkapeliitta have a 15% combat bonus if stacked with a Great General, which acts somewhat like China's UA (but only for a single unit.)

Finally, bonuses to Great General generation are, outside of China's UA, on the following UUs:

All of these bonuses are on promotions that are kept when the unit is upgraded.

Similar to Chu-Ko-Nu

In terms of function, Chu-Ko-Nu are used in a very similar way to the game's other Crossbowman UU, England's Longbowman. Chu-Ko-Nu have a higher per-turn damage output (at least, until Longbowmen can get Logistics) but are weaker at defending against ranged attacks and, until they can get the Range promotion, have to get within a city's attack range to be able to damage it.

A full comparison can be found later in this guide.

Similar to Paper Makers

The only other Library UB is Assyria's Royal Library but it functions rather differently to Paper Makers, taking quite some time for its advantages to be able to be put to use.

For buildings that are functionally similar, look for early-game buildings that offer more gold (Poland's Ducal Stables and Arabia's Bazaar) or those that have lower (or eliminated) maintenance costs (Aztec Floating Gardens, Egypt's Burial Tombs and Songhai Mud Pyramid Mosques.) By saving you gold, all these buildings can free up more cash for unit maintenance.
Unique Ability: The Art of War

Above: Note the 30% Great General bonus rather than 15%.

All of China's uniques aren't hard to understand. China's Unique Ability for example makes Great Generals twice as effective at boosting nearby land units' combat strength. As the Great General bonus works on cities, this increase in effectiveness will make you able to capture them faster than most other Civs.

The main method of generating Great Generals - experience from land-based combat - is also more effective, as experience gained from combat is increased by 50% before being added to the Great General counter.

So, China's land-based warfare will be more effective than that of most other Civs, encouraging you to focus on domination as a victory route. That's the crucial bit of your UA you need to know, all that follows in this section is just detail.

Experience gain

When your units fight units other than Barbarians, they'll gain XP both for themselves and contribute towards the generation of a Great General, much alike how Great Person Points are used to generate most "peaceful" Great People. For China, the experience earned by a unit in combat is increased by 50% before it's added to the Great General meter, meaning a unit that earns 2 XP from attacking an enemy unit will add 3 XP to the Great General meter.

If you want the simplified version for China, assuming you're not taking any policies from the Honour tree...

  • Attacking something with melee gains 5 XP and 7 Great General points
  • Defending from a melee attack gains 4 XP and 6 Great General points
  • Attacking a unit with range gives 2 XP and 3 Great General points
  • Attacking a city with range gives 3 XP and 4 Great General points
  • Defending from a ranged attack gives 2 XP and 3 Great General points

Note that you can't have fractional Great General points, so sometimes China's UA will give less than a 50% bonus. Generally, the preceeding list will be all the information you need, but if you want an idea of the XP gain assuming you've taken the entire left-hand-side of the Honour tree...

  • Attacking something with melee gains 7 XP and 10 Great General points
  • Defending from a melee attack gains 6 XP and 8 Great General points
  • Attacking a unit with range gives 3 XP and 6 Great General points
  • Attacking a city with range gives 4 XP and 9 Great General points
  • Defending from a ranged attack gives 3 XP and 6 Great General points

Now this gets interesting. Bonuses stack oddly, so fighting cities with ranged attacks suddenly becomes a great way to get Great General points. Couple that with your double-attacking Crossbow replacement and suddenly you'll be gaining Great Generals faster than you know what to do with them. (Yes, these numbers seem odd, but I've tested them three times.)

Finally, the Great Generals promotions (present on some Unique Units you can obtain through alliances with militaristic City-States) as well as the Quick Study promotion Keshiks have will stack with your UA and Honour's bonuses to XP and Great General gain to give you quite a considerable gain to Great General points.

Excess Great Generals

Having a Great General available for its 30% combat bonus as China isn't difficult - you generate them so fast. But what to do with the excess ones? After all, you can't stack the bonus.

The answer lies in Great Generals' other use - making Citadels. You can build one in any land tile in or adjacent to your borders, and in the process you'll take all the tiles adjacent to the new Citadel. This can be used to take land of neighbouring Civs and City-States, but watch out for the diplomatic penalties of doing so.

Above: I've just built a new Citadel west of Shanghai, giving me the tile with copper on in the process. Building Citadels is a decent way of securing land quickly without having to spend gold on tile purchases.

Aside from taking land, Citadels double the defensive strength of units on its tile and deals 30 damage a turn to adjacent enemy units. If you've got a particularly hard city to take, you can chain Citadels from your borders towards their city, ensuring your units in range of their city can't be killed easily.


China's UA simply tells you that you should focus on land-based warfare. You don't need to make any real adjustments to generic warmongering strategies to accomodate it, making China an easy Civ to pick up and play.
Unique Building: Paper Maker

China's UB makes an already good building even better. With any Civ, you should be aiming to get Writing reasonably early to build Libraries and boost your technology rate, so as is the case with China's UA, you don't need any great change in gameplay style to accomodate it.

Normally, Libraries cost a small amount in maintenance. Paper Makers cut out the maintenance cost and replace it with a gold bonus. The gold bonus is enough to cover the cost of a Water Mill - an effective, if expensive, early-game building which really helps develop riverside cities. More gold is also useful for unit maintenance - something you'll need to be able to manage when you launch your Chu-Ko-Nu army.

The gold Paper Makers create affects the base gold yield of a city, so gold multipliers (such as those offered on Markets, Banks and Stock Exchanges) can increase the gold output further. A Market and Bank together offers a 50% gold bonus, as an example, enough to squeeze another gold per turn out of Paper Makers. Additionally, the Rationalism Social Policy Sovereignity will add an extra point of gold to Paper Makers which can be affected by such multipliers (rather than the usual reduction of maintenance costs, which can't be.)

Essentially, the role of Paper Makers is to provide a little extra cash to support the extra-strong armies you'll have thanks to your UA and UU.
Unique Unit: Chu-Ko-Nu

The Chu-Ko-Nu is an excellent mid-game unit which can win you multiple conquests before they obsolete. Even if they can't win the game for you, they'll put you in a much stronger position to do so.

Like any Unique Unit, you'll want it early, so after taking the Writing technology for Paper Makers (and maybe Philosophy for the powerful National College and Bronze Working for Barracks) focus on getting Machinery as soon as possible. If your gold output's strong enough, consider building Composite Bowmen before you have Machinery so you can upgrade them as soon as you have the technology for an instant UU army.

Chu-Ko-Nus will be able to face most threats alone, though they won't be able to actually capture cities. Build a Knight or a Landsknecht or two to accompany them for that purpose, but otherwise, you won't need to bother with lots of siege weapons or things like that.

Into War

Once you've got a handful of Chu-Ko-Nus and the accompanying melee unit(s), it's time to go into war. Chu-Ko-Nu can attack twice in a turn, not only resulting in a high damage output, but also giving two lots of experience (and two lots of Great General points - it won't take long to get a Great General if you lack one already.)

The "can attack twice" promotion functions the exact same way the Logistics promotion does. Placing the Logistics promotion on a Chu-Ko-Nu won't give it three attacks per turn as it only has a maximum of two movement points, so instead, work towards the Range promotion - it'll let your Chu-Ko-Nu attack cities outside their attack radius while making them far more useful when upgraded to Gatling Guns.

As a downside, Chu-Ko-Nus have a lower ranged strength than regular Crossbowmen (14 rather than 18). If both you and the other Civ have a Great General, the difference is roughly halved, though a Crossbowman with Logistics will still have an edge over one of your units. It's worth pointing out that ranged land units will use their ranged strength when defending against other ranged units, so the lower ranged strength of Chu-Ko-Nus make them more vulnerable in that regard.

Generally, though, a single Chu-Ko-Nu will output much more damage than a single Crossbowman, and your UA and UB both help compensate for the low ranged strength by increasing their strength and allowing you to support more.

Above: The "can attack twice" ability also allows Chu-Ko-Nu to move after attacking, hence enabling this injured unit to deal a little damage before retreating. Firing then moving is also a good way of dealing with an enemy with the Great Wall wonder.

Special promotions kept on upgrade

  • May attack twice

Interestingly, the Chu-Ko-Nu is one of only two unique units (the other being the Incan Slinger) which keeps all its positive abilites when upgraded, and loses all the negative elements as well.

One problem is that Gatling Guns and units beyond that point only have a range of 1 by default, making them harder to use. If you manage to get the Ranged promotion, it becomes a lot easier. Still, unlike Chu-Ko-Nus, it's a little harder to just rely on Gatling Guns as a one-size-fits-all unit as warfare gets more complicated in the late-game. You might want to bring some Artillery with you, and later on some means of anti-air.
Chu-Ko-Nu vs. Longbowmen
Countless debates have raged between the merits of the two Crossbowmen UUs. They're both very effective, but which is better? Let's look through the differences.

Early usage

Longbowmen start with the Range promotion, which allows them to attack cities without receiving damage themselves (so long as they have a spotter.) Chu-Ko-Nu, however, have to get in range of cities to attack them, and having less ranged strength means they take more damage from them. On the other hand, Chu-Ko-Nu can deal significantly more damage per turn than Longbowmen due to having two attacks, and attacking twice means twice as much experience.

Once Great Generals start being generated, that gives another advantage over England - after all, China gets a 30% strength bonus while England only gets 15%. Unpromoted Crossbowmen and Longbowmen become strength 20.7, while unpromoted Chu-Ko-Nu become strength 18.2. The gap of 4 points of strength has fallen to just 2.5. Furthermore, the second Chu-Ko-Nu attack will do more damage than the first if used against the same unit as the defender will be already injured meaning you can potentially deal over double the damage with Chu-Ko-Nu compared to regular Crossbowmen.

Overall, Chu-Ko-Nu have the edge over Longbowmen when they both first arrive on the battlefields. Although the Chinese UU is more vulnerable to attack, the sheer damage output and XP gain makes up for it.

Later usage

Although Chu-Ko-Nu can gain promotions fast, they get less out of them. A 15% bonus in open terrain to a regular Crossbowman or Longbowman means 2.7 more points of strength, but to Chu-Ko-Nu it only means 2.1. To put it another way, with all Accuracy promotions, Longbowmen gain 8.1 strength while Chu-Ko-Nu gain 6.3. The advantage Chu-Ko-Nu got from Chinese Great Generals is now cancelled out (at least, when not attacking cities.) And, after all, Longbowmen will eventually pick up Logistics, meaning Chu-Ko-Nu will no longer have the advantage of attacking twice. A fully-promoted Chu-Ko-Nu is actually weaker than a fully-promoted generic Crossbowman - even taking into account China's UA.

Finally, all Crossbowmen upgrade to Gatling Guns. Keeping a +1 range promotion gives upgraded former-Longbowmen double the range and the ability to attack from behind the front lines, while keeping a double-attack promotion without having any bonuses to range still forces them to get right up to the enemy to deal any damage.


Chu-Ko-Nu are the superior UU earlier on, but their penalty to ranged strength combined with the low range of the unit they upgrade to makes Longbowmen better at later combat. Chu-Ko-Nu probably have more impact on the game than Longbowmen thanks in part to China's UA, but England has another powerful ranged UU in the form of the Ship of the Line.
Social Policies
China has a straightforward Social Policy route to complement their straightforward playstyle. Start with Liberty to help get going, then Commerce or the left-hand side of Honour until the renaissance for some extra cash (your UB's nice, but it alone won't provide all the money you need as the game goes on.) Once you're in the renaissance era, go into Rationalism.



This allows all your cities to start expanding their borders immediately, and slightly offsets the higher Social Policy costs of having more cities.


The small boost to production helps get new cities off the ground faster, and will help build your army in fewer turns.

Collective Rule

The free Settler offers an opportunity to expand without having to spend time building one. Planting a city reasonably near a rival peaceful Civ's capital provides a good base for launching an attack on them later.


Helps you develop your cities quickly, or more rapidly repair any pillaging you may have done once you capture a city.


This aids in reducing the unhappiness issues you may end up having from war.


The free Golden Age comes at a good time (likely no later than when you're ready to launch your attack) giving you a decent production boost to help get your army up and running.


Choosing a free Great Scientist and planting an Academy is a good way to get towards the Machinery technology sooner. Alternatively, take a Great Engineer and build a good wonder using it, or try a Great Prophet to launch a religion.



Capitals typically start near at least two luxury resources, and as such they'll have a fairly good gold output. A 25% bonus helps that go even further.

Mercenary Army

Landsknetche make good units to complement your Chu-Ko-Nus. Your UU can't capture cities, while Landsknetche can (and make double the gold when doing so.) They're also cheap, so if they get killed, there's not much of a problem replacing them.


Your Paper Maker cash can now stretch a little further, and conventional money buildings now give a little science. Take this later if you don't generally buy many items (and you lack conventional gold buildings.)

Wagon Trains

If you've got a lot of roads, this can free up a considerable amount of money, which can support an even larger army.


The weak link in the Commerce tree as generating Great Merchants (unless it's a puppet city generating it or it's bought through faith) raises the cost of the next Great Engineer and Scientist - two generally more useful Great People. Still, Commerce has a very strong policy to come...


Each type of luxury is now worth 6 happiness rather than 4, which really helps in greatly reducing the problems of unhappiness.


Better trading posts means you can work fewer of them than before and still have the same income, or work the same number (and use the extra money to purchase more items or suchlike.)


Honour makes an interesting choice of second Social Policy tree, as an alternative to Commerce. Its lack of infrastructure bonuses makes it a somewhat weak first tree, but there's still some useful things on offer.


Honour's Opener makes fighting Barbarians easier and gives you culture for it, which can be useful if most of your army is off fighting abroad but there's still plenty of encampments around.

Warrior Code

This stacks with your UA for even faster Great General gain.

Military Tradition

Faster XP gain also means more Great General points gained, but more importantly, it makes it more likely you'll be able to get Chu-Ko-Nus to the Range promotion before they obsolete.



Warmongering Civs may often have issues with happiness, but so long as you keep it positive, this opener will offer you its full 10% global science boost - excellent for ensuring your army stays competitive for the rest of the game.


A direct boost to science for any city making use of specialists.


Here's something interesting. Normally, the "+1 gold from science buildings" would mean that their maintenance cost is reduced by 1, meaning you'd gain exactly 1 gold for every science building in your empire. However, Paper Makers don't have a maintenance cost, so the +1 gold from this policy is added to the city's base gold output, which can be affected by modifers (such as Markets, Banks and Stock Exchanges.) As a result, this Social Policy makes slightly more money for China than it would for any other Civ.


Great Scientists are always nice to have more of. Use them for Academies prior to roughly the Plastics technology, then use them for rushing technologies with beyond that point.

Free Thought

Universities should be going in most cities you own, and making them more powerful just means lots of extra science. Trading posts producing science is useful if you want to boost your technology rate without having to grow your cities (and suffer the unhappiness as a consequence.)

Scientific Revolution

Warmongering makes it difficult to get Research Agreements going, but Rationalism's finisher makes this policy worthwhile.


Try to grab a useful but expensive technology (e.g. Dynamite) you haven't already started researching for maximum impact. It'll help ensure your army stays powerful.
It's best just to keep to focusing on a domination victory, and the Autocracy ideology is the one most focused on that route (Order's a good alternative if you desperately need more science or production.) I'll cover the best choices for the first "inverted pyramid" of tenets (three from level one, two from level two and one from level three, though some levels of tenets may have alternative choices shown as well.)

Level One Policies - Autocracy

Fortified Borders

This is a helpful maintenance-free way of getting happiness.

Elite Forces

While the bonus is actually fairly minor (it only closes the strength gap between wounded units and those on full health by 25%) it still makes a difference in warfare, such as helping units to survive if attacked by multiple enemy units, or dealing more damage if you don't have time to heal your units.


Take Industrial Espionage instead if you've got a severe technological disadvantage. Otherwise, this capitalises on your above-average gold output (particularly if you've got Commerce's Mercantilism and/or the Big Ben wonder as well) to produce units more rapidly.

Level Two Policies - Autocracy

Total War

As Chu-Ko-Nu don't have the world's greatest upgrade path, you'll need to build plenty of new units. That's where this tenet helps out. Plus, with a Military Academy, you can now get new units to their third promotion.

Lightning Warfare

If you've got problems with gold (such as through maintaining lots of Chu-Ko-Nu as well as new complementing units) then go for Nationalism instead. Otherwise, this allows your strong Great Generals to keep up with armoured units, offering them that powerful 30% bonus. Combined with armoured units (though not Great Generals) ignoring Zone of Control so they can slip past units, taking down cities becomes a fair bit easier.


Stretch your gold even further, allowing you to maintain even more units.

Level Three Policy - Autocracy

Clausewitz's Legacy

The 50 turns will often be enough to complete a world conquest. Your strong Great Generals combined with a 25% bonus to attack really helps tear through the remaining enemy Civs.
Religion is useful for China's game but is by no means a necessity. This section outlines the best religious beliefs for China by each type in decending priority order. Highly-situational beliefs are not listed, though taking a faith-based Pantheon isn't a bad idea if you want to improve your chances of grabbing a full religion.


Messenger of the Gods

This Pantheon helps you get to your UU sooner - the sooner your attack's launched, the more effective it'll be.

God of Craftsmen

This is useful for offering a small amount of production to cities fairly easily.


Tithe or Church Property

Tithe is usually the stronger of the two beliefs as it doesn't require your religion to be a majority in other cities, allowing you to still get something even if you're sandwiched between Ethiopia and the Celts. Both are still useful though, giving you gold for buying units or covering maintenance costs.

Initiation Rites

Converting newly-captured cities to your religion (or spreading your religion to Civs that don't have one) isn't too hard, giving you a quick rush of money with this belief. Because it only works once per city, this belief trails off in effectiveness later in the game, but if you're making good use of your UU, that won't be a problem.



Maintenance-free happiness, faith and culture. The only catch is you can't place these in puppet cities. Oh, and the fact this belief is highly competed-over due to its power.


More faith but less happiness than Pagodas, and makes a good backup or complement to them.


This is an affordable way to get happiness - Shrines are very cheap and have a low maintenance cost, and getting to 3 followers in a city isn't difficult.


Another backup if you can't get Pagodas or Mosques. The Great Art slot isn't particularly helpful as militaristic empires are typically better off using Great Artists to start Golden Ages than making Great Works, though then again, you may capture a few Great Works of Art and need somewhere to put them.


If you desperately need production, Guruship will help here. In new cities, you can get them started quickly by buying Workshops with gold, then filling the specialist slot for a strong production base, ready to get through other buildings quickly.


Religious Texts or Itinerant Preachers

Both of these allow you to maintain religious pressure more effectively without having to spend faith, freeing up more for Pagodas, Mosques and suchlike.

Just War

If you can manage to spread your religion to rival cities before declaring war, with this belief you'll make the war much more one-sided. This rests on you having a decent faith output to be able to afford plenty of Missionaries, however.
World Congress
The World Congress is always a challenge for warmongering Civs to deal with, as generally most Civs will vote against your own interests. At least you have a slight consolation through Paper Maker gold, making it slightly easier to bribe City-States into alliances.

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 someone wants to implement an army tax, you should prioritise to vote no, for example. If you could put forward a vote, then it'd be a bad idea to put Standing Army Tax on the table. Note also that voting choices can vary depending on your game.

Arts Funding

Low priority
Vote no

Great Writers, Musicians and Artists aren't as useful to you as Scientists, Merchants and Engineers.

Cultural Heritage Sites

Medium-High priority
Vote no

Embargo City-States

Medium-High priority
Vote no

It's easier to track trading units heading towards City-States than ones heading into the territory of other Civs, and hence it's easier to avoid them being pillaged by Civs you're at war with.

Historical Landmarks

Medium priority
Vote no

International Games

Medium-High priority
Vote no

International Space Station

Medium priority
Vote no

Natural Heritage Sites

Low priority
Vote no unless you have a Natural Wonder of your own

Nuclear Non-Proliferation

Medium-High priority
Vote no unless you have no uranium of your own, another Civ does and they're likely to use it

Your strong Great Generals give you an edge to conventional - but not nuclear - warfare. Nonetheless, nuclear weapons are an effective way to deal with lots of enemy units, or strong enemy cities.

Scholars in Residence

High priority
Vote yes unless you're the leader technologically speaking

Sciences Funding

Medium priority
Vote yes

Standing Army Tax

High priority
Vote no

World's Fair

Low priority
Vote no
While you shouldn't generally be risking wonder building prior to Chu-Ko-Nus (aside from National Wonders, but I'm only listing World Wonders here) there's a few that might be useful to build or capture over the course of the game. Here's a selection of the best, arranged alphabetically in each era.

Ancient Era

Great Library

On higher difficulties, this is too competitive to pick up, and the loss of production if you fail is a significant problem. Still, considering your UB comes at Writing, it's a strong incentive to try and pick it up on lower difficulties - it'll certainly cut down the amount of time it takes to get Chu-Ko-Nus.

Pyramids (Liberty Only)

The legendary uncompetitiveness of this wonder in singleplayer means you can put it off for a very long time. It'll still be useful later on in the game, letting you clean up pillaging quickly or set up new routes to connect newly-captured cities to the rest of your empire.

Statue of Zeus (Honour Only)

Relatively uncompetitive (though not as much so as the Pyramids) yet a wonder that's fine just to capture as it gives you its full bonus if you do. It makes your units 15% stronger versus cities. Add one of your Great Generals and that totals a 45% bonus.

Temple of Artemis

It's probably too risky to build this wonder early on, but it's a nice one to capture - it lets you build Chu-Ko-Nus faster and also offers a global 10% food bonus in all your cities (meaning you can work fewer food tiles for the same effect as before.)

Medieval Era


A good wonder for building up a new army with, as Chu-Ko-Nus won't be so much one-size-fits-all units once they're upgraded to Gatling Guns. With an Armoury, melee land units built in an Alhambra city will start with three promotions. With Total War or the Brandenburg Gate along with a Military Academy, four.

Hagia Sophia

A good wonder if you want a strong attempt at setting up a religion, whether that's founding one, enhancing one, spreading it or even building a Holy Site for more faith.

Machu Picchu

A good source of midgame cash if Paper Makers aren't enough.

Notre Dame

10 points of global happiness, excellent for supporting conquests.

Renaissance Era

Porcelain Tower (Rationalism Only)

Even if you can't manage to make Research Agreements, a free Great Scientist is still good.

Taj Mahal

Production, gold and culture, helping to get you through the stage of the game where Chu-Ko-Nus are waning in power.

Industrial Era

Big Ben (Commerce Only)

If you've got plenty excess gold from things such as Paper Makers, Big Ben helps stretch that further. Combine with Commerce's Mercantilism and Autocracy's Mobilisation for maximum impact.

Brandenburg Gate

Combine with a Military Academy to start new units with three promotions. Makes a good alternative to taking the Total War tenet in the Autocracy tree if you're mostly building units in one city.

Modern Era


This turns Castles into maintenance-free sources of happiness, as well as gold and culture. With this wonder in your empire, a city with a Paper Maker and Castle will have a base yield of 5 from buildings alone, meaning the gold modifier from buildings such as Markets and Banks will always make a difference. Combine this wonder with the Fortified Borders tenet from the Autocracy ideology to make castles produce two local city happiness each.

Prora (Autocracy Only)

A helpful source of happiness for supporting conquests or resisting ideological pressure, as well as a free Social Policy or ideological tenet, nudging you towards Rationalism's finisher or Clausewitz's Legacy sooner.

Atomic Era


You'll probably have a lot of units to upgrade, and this lets you do that more affordably.

Information Era

Hubble Space Telescope

It's not the spaceship-building advantages that are useful here, but the two free Great Scientists, which can help rush you through the very last military technologies.
Pitfalls to Avoid
China is a very straightforward Civ to play as, but like any Civ, there's a few slip-ups that could be made that are best-avoided.

Excessive early wonder building

It's probably best to play it safe and try not to build any wonders whatsoever prior to Chu-Ko-Nus, so you can focus on expansion and infrastructure to build a bigger army sooner.

Not bringing melee units with Chu-Ko-Nus

Knights, Landsknechte, even Triremes can capture cities, along with any other unit that attacks by melee (aside from Helicopter Gunships, though you won't have to worry about that.) Ranged units cannot. Knights make a good choice for a unit to finish of cities with as you can move them from out of range of their attack to attacking them in a single turn, (you can also do that with Triremes and Caravels on coastal cities,) while Landsknechte are slower but give you double the normal amount of cash for capturing a city.

Upgrading Chu-Ko-Nus with the Logisitics promotion

Unless you've managed to get a Scout to the Scouting III promotion, then upgraded them via ancient ruins to an Archer, then upgraded them twice to a Chu-Ko-Nu, giving Chu-Ko-Nus the Logistics promotion won't do anything useful and will be a waste of a promotion. Give them Range instead.
Wound Wu Zetian: The Counter-Strategies
China is strong at land-based warfare, particularly in the mid-game, though it's not too hard to work around that.

Playing against the UA: The Art of War

China's UA only really makes a difference if they have a Great General avaliable near their units. You could stop it being a problem before it starts by invading China early, but otherwise the best thing to do is target their units stacked with Great Generals and try to destroy it.

If China seems likely to try and steal some of your land with a Great General in peacetime, it might be best just to declare war on them and destroy the Great General before it can cause any trouble. True, that'll cause AI Civs to dislike you more, but it's better to suffer a little dislike than have your lands torn apart and then invaded.

Playing against Chu-Ko-Nus

While Chu-Ko-Nus are strong offensively, they're no better at defending than regular Crossbowmen and are hence vulnerable to Knights. Even Pikemen can do fairly well against them if you don't have Chivalry yet. As for regular Crossbowmen, Chu-Ko-Nus will beat them in a one-on-one fight at first, but once your Crossbowmen have the Logistics promotion, they'll be superior to Chu-Ko-Nus.

If you're defending against Chu-Ko-Nus, like any ranged UU, they'll need melee units with them in order to capture cities. Targeting those melee units means even if China wears down your city's defences to nothing, they won't be able to take it off you and hence won't really be able to win the war. Generally, this will encourage them to retreat as otherwise, they'd just have their units picked off one-by-one by city ranged attacks.

Compared to regular Crossbowmen, Chu-Ko-Nus aren't very good at performing a move-then-fire manoeuvre. If they move a tile and fire, they'll do less damage than if a regular Crossbowman does the same thing, making them slightly easier to chase down than the generic unit. On the other hand, they can move after attacking, making them slightly more dangerous if they can keep their distance. So, again, Knights work well here.

Playing against Paper Makers

Like most UBs, you can't really play to the weaknesses of Paper Makers as there aren't any. What you can do is stretch China's money by other means, such as by proposing World Congress decisions that are counter-productive to their aims (encouraging them to spend money on temporary alliances rather than on their army) or by pillaging their gold-giving improvements (or Trade Routes) when at war with them.

Strategy by Style

Early-game Aggressors - Before they've got a Great General and Chu-Ko-Nus up and running, China isn't a particularly high threat and hence isn't too hard to take out.

Mid-game Warmongers - Take units that attack well like Knights to help deal with China's Chu-Ko-Nus, or try attacking by the sea - their Great Generals will have little use there.

Late-game Warmongers - China has no advantages in the air or the sea (aside from the gold from their Paper Makers allowing them to maintain a few extra units) making those effective approaches to attack them from. Make good use of Carriers, Bombers and Battleships.

Cultural/Scientific Players - Be prepared to make a quick diversion to Chivalry for Knights to help repel Chu-Ko-Nus. China doesn't really have a strong way of stopping you aside from declaring war on you, so if your defences are fine, they won't pose too much of a threat.

Diplomatic Players - Landsknetche make a good cheap anti-Chu-Ko-Nu defence if you've dipped into the Commerce tree. Later on, using your influence in the World Congress to pass a standing army tax will be an effective way of lessening China's power.
Other Guides
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These guides cover every Civ in the game and can be used as quick reference guides.

Civ-specific guides, in alphabetical order

All 43 Civs are covered in in-depth guides linked below. In brackets are the favoured victory routes of each Civ.
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Zigzagzigal  [author] Jun 10, 2020 @ 9:06am 
I don't really know, but I still assume it's tied to the Forbidden Palace.
erobinso Jun 10, 2020 @ 7:47am 
Back to my issue of Wonders getting used by other Civs as points when voting in the World Congress. When I have a Wonder in a city's borders, and can see that I am getting its bonuses, I don't seem to get points for this Wonder when voting. But, other Civs get extra points when they have "Worked Wonders." Any reason for this desparity?
Zigzagzigal  [author] May 21, 2020 @ 7:33am 
Oh, if you're referring to the World Congress, then only the Forbidden Palace gives delegates for that.
erobinso May 21, 2020 @ 6:06am 
I frequently have multiple Wonders, or at least have earned them, but I don't get points in the World congress. They make it seem its only for "worked Wonders.". not just having them. If a Natural Wonder is within a city's area, is there a way to "work" it?
Zigzagzigal  [author] May 8, 2020 @ 2:31pm 
You gain score based on the number of wonders you own, so I assume that's what's meant by that.
erobinso May 6, 2020 @ 1:40pm 
Players are ranked by the number of City States they are Allied with and the number of Wonders they've worked. How do you "work" a World Wonder, as opposed to just locating it?? I've never seen an explanation for that and it bugs me.
Falchion Apr 10, 2017 @ 9:28am 
Ah gotcha thank you!
Zigzagzigal  [author] Apr 9, 2017 @ 12:01pm 
The ability is tied to the civ, not the Great General. China should always receive the 30% bonus from Great Generals and Khans alike, while other civs will only ever get 15% (except Sweden's Hakkapeliitta when stacked with a Great General)
Falchion Apr 9, 2017 @ 12:15am 
Hi Zig, I have some questions for china's unique ability
Does the 30% bonus apply if you receive a great general from a city state or another civ (gift form human player)?
If you gift your great general to another civ does he have the 30% bonus or 15%?
And finally if you receive a Khan (Mongol's UU) does he get the enhanced healing and a 30% bonus or just 15%?
Zigzagzigal  [author] Feb 18, 2017 @ 8:43am 
That should be fixed now, thanks.