Sid Meier's Civilization V

Sid Meier's Civilization V

105 ratings
Zigzagzigal's Guide to India (BNW)
By Zigzagzigal
While there are complex hidden details India has, they're nonetheless an easy-to-pick-up Civ which can play culturally or scientifically particularly effectively. This guide goes into plenty of detail about Indian 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) and aren't planning on spamming the comments section with jokes about nuclear weapons.

Southern Asia is greatly diverse and greatly complex, and if you are to rule these lands, that is something you must respect. With one of the earliest civilizations in the world - the Indus Valley civilization peaking around 4,000 years ago, the Indian subcontinent truly is an ancient land. The Indus Valley civilization led into the Vedic period, seeing the fall of old nations and the establishment of new; the rise of Hinduism but also the rise of the caste system. By 2,500 years ago, a variety of states had been established across the subcontinent, most of which would be unified in the Maurya Empire two centuries later. Despite initial strong leadership, this empire lasted less than 150 years until splintering, but it would inspire later great Indian empires, including the Gupta Dynasty, which would preside over a golden age for Indian technological advancements. This itself would last around 220 years, until the mid-6th century of the common era. The splintering of the empire would result in centuries of separate kingdoms, unable to match the heights achieved before.

From the 12th to 16th centuries of the common era, the northern reaches of the Indian subcontinent were successfully invaded by a series of Islamic empires until the eventual establishment of the Mughal Empire. While presiding over a time of economic development, religious conflict partly helped in tearing it apart, with the growing power of European East India Companies helping to do the rest. In the mid-19th century, the British took direct control of the British East India Company, and with it, direct rule of nearly the entire subcontinent. The British gave India railways, oppression and a common enemy. While independence struggles were at first difficult due to the religious differences between independence groups, Mohandas Gandhi was able to hold them together and end British rule in India by entirely peaceful means. Nonetheless, Gandhi was unable to prevent religious divison following independence, and India was torn apart into the Islamic-majority state of Pakistan (which further divided into Pakistan and Bangladesh,) and the Hindu-majority state comprising the rest. Both Pakistan and India now have nuclear arsenals, but there are signs of a thaw in relations between the states. Into this brave new world, can you balance the dangerous situation of the Indian subcontinent? Respect its history while facing the future? Build these many civilizations to stand the test of time?

Before I go into depth with this guide, here's an explanation of some terminology I'll be using throughout for the sake of newer players.

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.)
Forward Settling - Deliberately settling a city next to a rival's capital, usually in order to make invasions easier.
GWAM - Great Writers, Artists and Musicians. These are the three types of Great People who can make Great Works, a major source of tourism for cultural Civs.
Opener - The bonus for unlocking a Social Policy tree (e.g. +1 culture for every city for Liberty's opener)
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 (this only applies to land UUs that are of Civs not in your current game.)
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

India has a grassland start bias. This will help ensure the region around your capital has a good amount of food available to work with your UA.


India's unique ability will have a significant difference to the entire game. Their other uniques, somewhat less so. They've got an ancient-era UU and a medieval-era UB, both of which have defensive applications as well as varied other uses.

Unique Ability: Population Growth

  • Unhappiness from number of cities doubled
  • Unhappiness from number of citizens halved
  • Local city happiness in a city is capped at 67% of the population of the city, rounded down to the nearest unit, instead of the normal 100%.

Unique Unit: War Elephant (Replaces the Chariot Archer)

A mounted ranged unit

Upgrades from
Upgrades to
Production cost
Purchase cost
Resource needed

The Wheel
Ancient era
2nd column
(3th column overall)

Medieval era
2nd column
(7th column overall)

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

Ranged Strength
Negative Attributes
Positive Attributes
11Ranged Strength
4Movement Points
  • May not melee attack
  • No defensive terrain bonuses

Negative changes

  • Costs 70 production, up from 56 (+25%)
  • Costs 310 gold, up from 260 (+20%)
  • 3 moves, down from 4 (-25%)

Positive one-off changes

  • 9 strength, up from 6 (+50%)
  • 11 ranged strength, up from 10 (+10%)
  • Does not use up all movement points to enter rough terrain
    • The rough terrain penalty only applies to Chariot Archers anyway, so upgrading it will still have no penalty.
  • Does not require Horse resources
  • Costs 110 gold to upgrade in normal-speed games, down from 135 (-19%)

Unique Building: Mughal Fort (Replaces the Castle)

Building of the City Defence line

Building required
Required to build
Production cost
Purchase cost
City restriction

Medieval era
2nd column
(7th column overall)


*Assumes a normal speed game.

Base output
Output Multiplier
Great Work slots
Other effects
2 Culture
2 Tourism with Flight
  • +7 city Strength
  • +25 city HP

Positive changes

  • Costs 150 production, down from 160 (-6%)
  • Costs 680 gold, down from 720 (-6%)
  • 2 extra culture produced
  • 2 extra tourism produced with the Flight technology (Modern era, 1st column, 12th column overall)
At a glance (Part 2/2)
Victory Routes

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

Cultural: 8/10
Diplomatic: 4/10
Domination: 6/10
Scientific: 7/10

India works best at culture or science - their UA encourages tall building which helps with both. Careful conquests and good use of India's UU makes domination a possible, if not exceptional, route as well.

Similar Civs and uniques


There's no Civ that clearly plays like India, but there's a couple of close candidates. Ethiopia, like India, has no definite victory route but leans towards culture and science due to their uniques encouraging you to build tall. Ethiopia has religious bonuses unlike India and has better defence, but doesn't have as much potential happiness and lacks the culture/tourism bonus of Mughal Forts.

Egypt, like India, has an early-game Chariot Archer UU that can be used for rushing, tends to build tall and has happiness bonuses supporting wider expansion than normally would be possible with a tall empire.

Same start bias

India's grassland start bias is shared with the Netherlands.

Similar to the UA

India's UA makes well-developed cities contribute less unhappiness, allowing you to expand more easily once your cities meet that threshold. UBs offering happiness (Egypt's Burial Tombs, Celtic Ceilidh Halls and Persian Satrap's Courts) work in a somewhat similar way.

Having a downside as part of your UA is shared only with Venice. In both cases, the negative attribute discourages too much expansion in favour of building tall.

Similar to War Elephants

War Elephants are one of three Chariot Archer UUs, the other two being Hunnic Horse Archers and Egyptian War Chariots. All three do not require horses to be built unlike generic Chariot Archers, but otherwise they differ. War Chariots are the most mobile but have no strength advantage over the generic unit, War Elephants are the strongest but least mobile, and Horse Archers fall somewhere in the middle.

Similar to Mughal Forts

Mughal Forts are the only building in the game to directly add tourism, along with the Eiffel Tower wonder. The contribution, however, is small for a bonus that comes quite late in the game.

Instead, for something that compares better to Mughal Forts, look for other UBs that add culture to buildings that otherwise lack it - Songhai's Mud Pyramid Mosque and Siam's Wat. Wats are the only one of the three with a maintenance cost, but they replace a building likely to be built in every city anyway.
Unique Ability: Population Growth

Above: This is on a large-sized map - unhappiness from number of cities is lower than it would be on standard-sized maps and smaller.

India's Unique Ability makes a large difference to how to consider the key mechanic of happiness, and by extension strategies typically taken for granted such as early expansion or mid-game happiness management.

Explaining the UA

To get anywhere with India, it's important to know how all the UA's changes work. There's three things it modifies: unhappiness from the number of cities, unhappiness from population and the local city happiness cap. First, let's look at the unhappiness from the number of cities; the following table shows the penalty per city. Note how it varies considerably on different map sizes.

Standard map
or smaller
Large map
Huge map
Not India

Now, let's consider the unhappiness from the number of citizens. For Civs other than India, it's 1. For India, it's 0.5, assuming no modifiers (the Monarchy Social Policy from the Tradition tree, Meritocracy from Liberty and the Forbidden Palace wonder.) That's easy enough to remember.

So, a new city built by India will produce more unhappiness than those of other Civs, but once the city's grown enough, it will produce less. The size the city needs to be before your UA starts making you a happiness profit is 7 for maps of standard size or smaller, 5 for large-sized maps and 4 for huge-sized maps. That is, assuming no modifers and assuming you aren't hitting the local city happiness cap.

Things get more complicated once you bring the local city happiness cap into the equation. Normally, the amount of happiness that happiness-granting buildings (with the exception of certain wonders) can grant from a single city is capped by a number equal to the city's population. For India, this number is modifed to two-thirds the city's population, rounded to the nearest whole number.

Sounds confusing? Let's bring in a hypothetical example. Both India and another Civ have a size 10 city with absolutely every source of local city happiness they can find. Neither Civ has any modifer to unhappiness from population (aside from the Indian UA,) and it's on a standard-size map.

  • In the non-Indian city, the unhappiness from population and local city happiness would cancel each other out, leaving just the -3 from the number of cities.
  • In the Indian city, the number of citizens and cities together makes -11, while the modified local city happiness cap means only 7 happiness (rather than the normal 10) is added from the buildings. This makes a net happiness score of -4.

So, if your cities are hitting the local city happiness cap, they have to grow a lot taller before your UA starts making a happiness profit. Size 17 or higher will reliably create a happiness profit on any size of map, aside from huge where it's size 15.

Why does the modified happiness cap exist? To make building wide harder. If it was at the normal level, it'd be easy to "export" local city happiness by producing more of it than the city has citizens. That's still possible with India to an extent, but it's too limited to be a reliable way of supporting cities.

In summary:
  • New cities create more unhappiness than they do for other Civs
  • Cities of size 7 or higher create less unhappiness than they do for other Civs
  • This is a lot different if you're hitting the local city happiness cap - in that case it's size 17.

Using the UA - The early-game

So, now that you hopefully know how the UA works, let's go on to it in practice. The increased unhappiness from number of cities will impair your ability to expand rapidly in the early-game, but growing cities will cause you far less trouble than they do to anyone else. India's UA works best for building a tall empire, but wide-building is also viable if your cities are of a reasonable size each. Building tall at first, then capturing tall cities off other empires also produces much less unhappiness than it would for other Civs. This guide will stick to the conventional tall-building path, but be aware it's not the only way to play as India.

A problem comes in early expansion - no matter your playstyle, you'll want to take the best city spots quickly, but high unhappiness from settling new cities will weaken that potential.

The trick is to focus on working luxury tiles early on. Happiness from luxuries is the easiest early-game source of happiness and is global (so it isn't affected by your cities' smaller local happiness cap.)

Above: Plenty of spare happiness, though that's partially because I decided to stick to two cities for this game. Usually 3-5 cities are optimum for building tall.

Of course, you shouldn't neglect the other technologies you need for a good start. India's best at cultural and scientific victories, and scientific technologies such as Writing and Philosophy will be useful for them both. Then there's also your UU at The Wheel to complicate matters. Typically, getting your scientific infrastructure going takes priority over your UU, but if you're likely to be attacked (or you want to launch an early rush with them) then by all means take The Wheel earlier.

So, to summarise: Whether you're building tall or wide, going for a cultural or scientific victory, grab luxury resources quickly to support early expansion without your UA's downside getting in the way.

Using the UA - The maximum potential

India's UA is strongest in the mid-game. Unlike other Civs, you won't really suffer from a midgame happiness slump (assuming you're building tall) meaning you can free up production that would be used on happiness buildings. Rather than unhappiness, food will be your main restriction to city growth; picking up the Hanging Gardens or Temple of Artemis early on as well the Tradition Social Policy tree well really help out there.

As a more reliable alternative (or complement) to food wonders, you can also build Granaries in your cities early on and start sending food via internal Trade Routes between them. While sea-based Trade Routes will make higher yields, it's important to remember coastal cities tend to have worse production than inland ones - you'll find that production important whether you're playing culturally or scientifically.

Come the late-game, your happiness advantage won't be as pronounced as ideologies offer lots of happiness anyway, but good usage of your mid-game strength should prevent that being a problem.

Overall, despite the shakeup to the happiness mechanic, India's UA can boil down to a mildly harder early-game and an easier mid-game. India's other uniques are fairly minor in impact assuming a standard tall-building peaceful playstyle, so in practice India isn't a hard Civ to play as.
Unique Unit: War Elephant

War Elephants are a pretty good UU let down by their awkward placement on the technology tree. In the early-game, you'll need plenty of luxury resources to allow for the higher per-city unhappiness, as well as Libraries to keep your science competitive. Getting The Wheel early would mean a slower start which could have repercussions for the rest of the game, but not getting it early means you can't get the most out of your UU.

What do you do? Well, if you intend to play peacefully, the answer generally is to take The Wheel later, unless you're threatened with attack. But what if you don't want to play peacefully? After all, Composite Bowmen are good, and War Elephants are essentially faster versions of them avaliable earlier in the technology tree. Build a few, bring a decent melee unit such as a Spearman, and there's little reason why you can't rush another Civ's capital if you're fast enough.

Comparing War Elephants to Composite Bowmen is the best way of thinking about them in general; both types of unit are good both offensively and defensively against most kinds of threat. While you might consider the proverbial elephant in the room would be the bonus Spearmen get against mounted units, it doesn't actually work on ranged mounted units such as the War Elephant, making India's UU every bit as versatile as Composite Bowmen are.

In summary, War Elephants are the backbone of India's early-game armies, either offensively or defensively. Just think of them as Composite Bowmen with a speed bonus.

Special promotions kept on upgrade

None. Note that most ranged upgrades you gain on your War Elephants will not work on Knights, with the exceptions of Logistics and any promotions melee mounted units can earn anyway.
Unique Building: Mughal Fort

Mughal Forts would be excellent in the hands of many Civs, but India's tall-building playstyle limits their potential. After all, tall cities can get plenty of culture via wonder-building and Great Works already.

Nonetheless, reliable sources of culture can be fairly hard to come by in the mid-game, so what is essentially a maintenance-free second Monument is welcome no matter how you like to build your Civ up. Expanding borders faster, grabbing Social Policies faster and defending against cultural Civs more effectively is all good. And thankfully, the technology for Mughal Forts isn't too out of the way. Chivalry is close to the crucial Education technology on the tech tree (which allows Universities) and both eventually lead to Architecture (which has both cultural and scientific wonders.)

Aside from the culture bonus, building Mughal Forts offer you all the standard defensive bonuses of Castles (and their prerequisite Walls.) Focusing on building very tall and constructing wonders could lead you into neglecting your empire's defence; having a defensive building as a UB encourages you not to do that.


Above: The "2 tourism from buildings" is from the Mughal Fort.

With the Flight technology, Mughal Forts now directly add 2 points of tourism each. This is probably the game's most straightforward source of tourism, but there's a couple of problems here.

First of all, Flight is awkwardly placed on the technology tree. Cultural players may make the most out of the tourism bonus, but Refrigeration, Radio and Replaceable Parts are more useful to get sooner due to Hotels and wonders tied to those technologies.

Secondly, 2 points of tourism really isn't that much by the time your tourism infrastructure has got going. It's equal to an unboosted Great Work, but Hotels, Airports and the National Visitor Centre don't affect Mughal Fort tourism. Building wide would make more out of this tourism bonus, but India's UA greatly impairs that ability.

Still, an easy source of tourism is an easy source of tourism, maybe scraping off a couple of turns on the way to a cultural victory. For scientific players, the easy tourism might be enough to put some ideological pressure on other Civs when that might not otherwise be the case - which can slow them down via unhappiness.

On top of the tourism boost, you can also make Mughal Forts stronger by building the Neuschwanstein wonder. It adds 1 point of local city happiness as well as 2 culture and 3 gold per turn for every Castle (and therefore Mughal Fort) you own. While typically a wonder for wide-building Civs, synergy with Mughal Forts makes it nonetheless worthwhile.


  • Mughal Forts can be treated as a second Monument
  • The Chivalry technology is easy to get, but Flight shouldn't be prioritised - there's better technologies you should go to first.
  • Consider grabbing Neuschwanstein to make these buildings even better.
Social Policies
India's typical tall-building playstyle suits Tradition well as a starting tree. Follow that up with Aesthetics if you're playing culturally. If you're favouring a scientific route, make a start in Commerce instead. Either way, your third tree should be Rationalism.



Rapid border expansion ensures your tall cities can make full use of their surroundings early on.


You'll need this to get to Tradition's good stuff. A War Elephant-garrisoned city (or a Mughal Fort city) boosted with this policy will be tough for enemies to take out, so the policy itself isn't useless, it's just a little on the weak side.


Another mandatory policy to get further, although its effect is more consistently helpful than Oligarchy. Enjoy some free cultural buildings, saving you some production and gold in maintenance costs.

If you have some cities with both Walls and Amphitheatres and have researched Chivalry, this policy will provide you with some free Mughal Forts. The flaw with this approach is that it requires you to delay Tradition's strongest infrastructure policies until the mid-game, which will likely set you back far more than it benefits you.

Landed Elite

Your UA ensures you can handle your capital growing super-tall, making this policy rather effective.


The main advantage here is the wonder building (though if it doesn't seem viable at this point in the game, take this policy after Monarchy.) Building very tall cities will give a very strong wonder-building production base; a 15% bonus will bring that up to an even greater level.


This actually will reduce unhappiness from population in your capital to a quarter of its default level, rather than removing it entirely as the Civilopedia's description may suggest. It's still useful, though, due to its effective gold bonus.


Now you won't need to worry about building Aquaducts in your first four cities, and they'll grow faster.

Aesthetics (Cultural India favoured)

Consider carefully when you should put policies in Rationalism once the renaissance era comes around. Faster science increases the odds you can pick up good cultural wonders, after all. You should still finish the Aesthetics tree, but don't blindly fill in each policy without thinking if it's really the best option in that moment in time.


Faster GWAM generation means more Great Works and hence more tourism.

Fine Arts

High excess happiness can be turned into a considerable amount of culture for Social Policies. A tall-building India can build up excess happiness like no-one else, and hence get more culture out of this policy than others can.

Cultural Centres

This will save some time in building up a cultural infrastructure, although if you've got a very low number of cities, its impact is going to be limited.

Flourishing of the Arts

The 33% culture modifer won't affect the impressive Fine Arts culture, but the free Golden Age will. Even beyond the Golden Age, that culture modifer is quite a substantial boost. Make sure you can get it up and running throughout your empire - use Great Engineers to rush wonders in weaker cities if you have to.

Cultural Exchange

Shared religion, International Trade Routes and Open Borders are now considerably more effective at increasing your tourism output against specific Civs. Diplomats are not affected.

Artistic Genius

Not the most powerful option, although a well-timed Great Artist could mean meeting the criteria for a tricky theming bonus. Taking this policy is mostly for the sake of the Finisher.


Doubled theming bonuses means lots more culture and tourism.

Commerce (Scientific India favoured)


The main point of opening Commerce when playing scientifically is for a source of cash for Research Agreements. The Opener immediately increases your capital's gold output, so you can see its contribution right away.

Wagon Trains

Better land-based international trading and cheaper roads (or railroads) can mean quite a boost to per-turn gold.

Mercenary Army

Taking this policy is mostly for the sake of the following Mercantilism, but being able to buy cheap-but-effective units is nice for rapid midgame defence if needed


This is the furthest you'll usually go in Commerce as India, as it's rather unlikely you'll fit in more than four policies between finishing Tradition and the start of the renaissance era. Mercantilism offers cheaper item purchasing - great in conjunction with Freedom's Space Procurements, and also one of the only non-Rationalism science boosts.



If you're playing scientifically, start pouring policies into Rationalism as soon as possible. If playing culturally, it may be a good idea to first finish Aesthetics for the tourism bonuses. Either way, an easily-maintained science bonus is useful to have whether you want to launch the spaceship sooner or get a head start on good cultural wonders.


Tall cities can support many specialists. Secularism exploits that by adding two points of science onto every specialist, making them all very useful.


More Great Scientists is always nice. Use them to build Academies prior to the modern era, then any beyond that should be used to rush technologies starting a few turns after you have a Research Lab infrastructure up and running.

Free Thought

While you might not make much use of the science bonus on trading posts, the University science bonus is something that certainly will be handy.


More cash means it's easier to make Research Agreements.

Scientific Revolution

And now those Research Agreements are better. Grabbing the Porcelain Tower wonder as well guarentees you'll get more out Research Agreements than the Civ you're making the agreement with.


Time this right and you can save a considerable amount of science. Be sure to choose a technology you haven't already started researching for maximum effect.
A standard tall-building peaceful playstyle fits Freedom the best, for both cultural and scientific victories. This section suggests the best choices for the first "inverted pyramid" of both victory routes - that's three level one tenets, two from level two and one from level three.

Level One Tenets - Freedom

Avant Garde

Whether it's Great Scientists or GWAMs you're after, more of them is always good.

Civil Society

You should have little trouble handling your cities growing tall, so why not bring that even further? This freed-up food won't be affected by food bonuses (such as the Temple of Artemis) as they're applied before food is eaten, but growth bonuses (such as those offered in the Tradition tree) will be more effective than before - at least until that extra food is eaten by new citizens.

Creative Expression (Cultural India favoured)

You might as well chew through Social Policies even faster.

Economic Union (Scientific India favoured)

If you want to make use of Space Procurements, you'll need money and lots of it. Order tends to be the most common ideology used by your opponents in singleplayer, but you can usually find at least one other Civ which has taken Freedom.

Level Two Tenets - Freedom

New Deal

Any Academies you built earlier will be stronger now, and Landmarks you uncover will give more culture and hence more tourism.

Universal Suffrage

Considering your large happiness output, getting more may seem redundant - if it wasn't for the fact high excess happiness means lots of Golden Ages, which this tenet also has the effect of extending.

Level Three Tenet - Freedom

Media Culture (Cultural India favoured)

The most reliable boost to tourism out of all the ideologies.

Space Procurements (Scientific India favoured)

So long as you have plenty of gold saved up (several thousand per spaceship piece typically,) you can save yourself quite a bit of production and launch the spaceship sooner.
A good religion can mean a great boost to growth or production, in turn having quite a significant impact throughout the game. This section lists a selection of the best beliefs for India, arranged by belief type. Highly-situational beliefs, including most faith Pantheons, are not listed here, although getting a faith-giving Pantheon is a good idea in order to increase your chances of getting a full religion.


Goddess of Love

Building to size 6 or above is easier for India than other Civs, and that whole point of happiness is enough to support it to size 8 - pushing it above the threshold where it makes less unhappiness than cities of other Civs.

God of Craftsmen

If you want to make up for the fact your Workers will be favouring farms and luxury tiles in the early-game, this Pantheon helps.

Fertility Rites

A 10% growth bonus is pretty miniscule, but when you consider the fact it'll be in place for the entire length of the game, the bonus does add up.



Tithe is the best of the gold-giving beliefs for tall empires, and the gold will be great for Research Agreements. Cultural players get a less out of this, but it's still a viable option.

Church Property

A backup if you can't manage Tithe.

Interfaith Dialogue (Scientific India favoured)

Essentially a pre-industrial way to convert faith to science. Target larger cities for more science.


Divine Inspiration

Turn that wonder-building into lots of faith! Makes spreading your religion nice and easy.

Religious Community

Grow your cities tall and you'll be rewarded with a production bonus of up to 15% - as much as Tradition's Aristocracy, but for everything, not just wonders.

Feed the World

A reasonable way to get your cities to grow faster.

Swords into Plowshares

An extra growth bonus to help get your cities taller even sooner.

Cathedrals (Cultural India favoured)

A pre-industrial era source of Great Art slots, which are pretty uncommon.

Religious Art (Cultural India favoured)

While not a particularly strong belief compared to some of the others on the whole, this does provide a decent amount of pre-Hotel culture and tourism which will accumulate over time. It's a very hard Follower belief for other Civs to exploit, so it's a nice choice if you intend to spread your religion abroad.


Religious Texts or Itinerant Preachers

Both of these make it easier to spread your religion without having to spend faith, freeing it up for other things such as faith-buying Great People in the late-game.

Holy Order or Missionary Zeal

Get more religious spread for your faith.
World Congress
Here's a list of the decisions and brief notes on importance of some. Ones missing depend greatly on the situation you're in. Voting choices may vary depending on your game - if everyone's pushing for a policy you don't want, but your strategy doesn't rest on it, then it may be better just to abstain (or vote for it for possible diplomatic bonuses.)

Note "priority" refers to how high you should prioritise your votes if it comes up, not how much you should prioritise putting them forward.

Arts Funding

High priority
Vote no if you're playing scientifically
Vote yes if you're playing culturally

Cultural Heritage Sites

Low-Medium priority if you're playing scientifically
High priority if you're playing culturally
Vote yes if you're playing culturally, vote no otherwise (unless you have a huge number of wonders)

Embargo City-States

Low priority

Historical Landmarks

Low priority if you're playing scientifically
High priority if you're playing culturally
Vote no if you're playing scientifically
Vote yes if you're playing culturally

International Games

High priority
Vote no if you're playing scientifically
Vote yes if you're playing culturally

International Space Station

High priority
Vote yes if you're playing scientifically
Vote no if you're playing culturally

Natural Heritage Sites

Medium priority
Vote yes if you've got Natural Wonders of your own and a cultural rival doesn't have more than you

Nuclear Non-Proliferation

High priority
Vote yes

India has no advantages to nuclear warfare whatsoever, while opposing nuclear weapons will be devastating to your cities.

Scholars in Residence

Medium priority
Vote yes unless you're in the lead (or very close to it) technologically speaking

Sciences Funding

High priority
Vote yes if you're playing scientifically
Vote no if you're playing culturally

Standing Army Tax

High priority
Vote yes

World's Fair

Medium priority
Vote yes

Even when playing scientifically, the World's Fair is useful for getting through things like Social Policies faster.
Building tall makes wonder construction easy. Here's a selection of the best, arranged alphabetically in each era.

Ancient Era

Great Library
Theming bonus wonder - 2 Great Writing, different Civs and eras for theming bonus

This wonder's much too risky to build on the highest difficulties, but otherwise enjoy the game's earliest theming bonus wonder and a huge scientific advantage.


Tall-building Civs are typically at a disadvantage when founding a religion. Stonehenge helps account for that.

Temple of Artemis

Gives a 10% food bonus (not a growth bonus as the tooltip suggests - it's much better than that) and lets you build War Elephants faster (due to their classification as a ranged unit.) This wonder's notably less commonly sought-after by computer opponents than most, and it's cheap, too.

Classical Era

Hanging Gardens (Tradition Only)

Your UA can easily handle the rapid growth this wonder will provide, and the free early Garden means it doesn't matter if the city that builds this wonder is next to a freshwater source or not.


A free Social Policy is good for finishing the Tradition tree sooner, and hence getting the growth bonus offered on the finisher.

Parthenon (Cultural India favoured)

The earliest possible source of tourism. Not a lot, but it'll really accumulate through the game. Plus, the attached Great Work will probably be your only classical-era one, making it good for later theming bonuses.

Medieval Era

Chichen Itza

Your UA gives you particularly good mid-game happiness, helping you to start lots of Golden Ages. This wonder extends Golden Ages by 50%, so enjoy that extra gold, production and culture.

Renaissance Era

Globe Theatre (Cultural India favoured)
Theming bonus wonder - 2 Great Writing, same era and Civ for theming bonus

Great Writing slots get rather rare beyond this point, so it's a good idea to grab this wonder to lessen that problem. And for the theming bonus, of course.

Leaning Tower of Pisa

A very strong wonder - the free Great Person of choice is good in itself, but add the 25% Great Person Point bonus and it becomes very worthwhile. And rather competitive. Don't leave it too late if you want to build it.

Porcelain Tower (Rationalism Only)

With Rationalism's Scientific Revolution, Research Agreements will always make you more science than the other Civ. Plus, enjoy a free Great Scientist. Use them to plant an Academy near your National Epic city.

Sistine Chapel (Cultural India favoured)
Theming bonus wonder - 2 Great Art/Artifact, needs art of the same era and Civ for theming bonus

Any rival cultural Civs are going to have a hard time facing your high culture output, and you'll chew through Social Policies much faster. Plus, enjoy two uncommon pre-industrial Great Art slots.

Taj Mahal

Mostly a wonder for if you have some spare production. A free Golden Age and some happiness is nice, but hardly earth-shattering.

Uffizi (Aesthetics Only, Cultural India favoured)
Theming bonus wonder - 3 Great Art/Artifact, needs art of the same era and Civ for theming bonus

Similar to Broadway and the Globe Theatre, Uffizi is a straightforward theming-bonus-and-a-GWAM wonder which is useful if you're playing culturally and much less so otherwise.

Modern Era

Broadway (Cultural India favoured)
Theming bonus wonder - 3 Great Music, same era and Civ for theming bonus

Yep, another GWAM-and-their-theming-slots wonder. This theming bonus is particularly tricky - it's worth keeping a Great Musician around until the modern era to make the criteria easier to fulfill.

Cristo Redentor (Cultural India favoured)

The high culture value means a decent amount of tourism with a Hotel, Airport and/or National Visitor Centre, while cheaper Social Policies mean you can chew through them even faster.

Eiffel Tower (Cultural India favoured)

12 tourism is equal to 3 Great Works with a Hotel and Airport, or 2 with the National Visitor Centre as well, which isn't too bad. On top of that, there's also 5 points of global happiness on offer.

Statue of Liberty (Freedom Only)

A very mighty wonder, the production on every specialist offered by the Statue of Liberty is great for building the spaceship or wonders alike. You can also enjoy the free Social Policy, if the already-strong main effect wasn't enough.

Atomic Era

Great Firewall

For a scientific playstyle, this makes it much, much harder for other Civs to steal your technologies. For cultural players, it prevents other Civs from picking up the wonder and denying you the doubled tourism from the Internet technology.

Sydney Opera House (Cultural India favoured)
Theming bonus wonder - 2 Great Music, same Civ but different eras for theming bonus

The last of the theming bonus wonders. The theming bonus is easy, and so long as you have a half-decent coastal city, the rest shouldn't be too hard, either.

Information Era

Hubble Space Telescope (Scientific India favoured)

Build this before you start going into spaceship parts and building Spaceship Factories, and you'll make the last few turns that little bit faster.
Pitfalls to Avoid
Like any Civ, India has misconceptions surrounding them, and common mistakes made by players. Here's a list of some of them.

Taking The Wheel early when not needed

If you want a War Elephant rush or you really need the early defence, taking The Wheel early is fine. But otherwise, go for Writing for Libraries first - you'll want to get your science generation up and running.

Assuming you can easily "export" happiness

If you didn't know about India's modified local city happiness cap, it'd be easy to assume that cities could output much more local city happiness than their unhappiness from population. That isn't really the case. With the local city happiness cap modified to two-thirds of the population, and the unhappiness from population at a half, there's not much room for excess.

However, just because exporting happiness isn't possible doesn't mean building wide as India is impossible. While not covered in this guide, playing India with a high number of mid-sized cities can be rather effective, not draining your happiness as much as it would for other Civs.

Rushing Flight

The amount of tourism offered by Mughal Forts is dwarfed by the potential of nearby cultural or scientific technologies. Pick those up first.
Subcontinent's Fall: The Counter-Strategies
India generally plays as a very tall-building Civ, with a particularly strong midgame.

Playing against Population Growth

In the earliest parts of the game, India's UA is quite a disadvantage - new cities create more unhappiness for other Civs, slowing down their expansion potential. That gives you a great opportunity to settle good spots before they can.

As the game goes on, India's UA flips around to being a great advantage for them. If they're building tall, they pretty much will never have unhappiness problems. As such, trying to destroy their luxuries (through pillaging or World Congress embargoes) won't get you very far. Instead, if you're building tall yourself, try to take as many of the infrastructural wonders (e.g. Temple of Artemis, Hanging Gardens, Petra) as possible so India can't build on their UA's advantages as well.

In the midgame, India's happiness advantage means they're likely to pick up a large number of wonders. Of course, building tall with a high concentration of wonders makes them extremely lucrative targets for conquest. Take plenty of siege weapons to account for the defensive advantages of Mughal Forts, and you can reap the rewards of stealing lots of wonders.

Playing against War Elephants

War Elephants are essentially fast Composite Bowmen. They're stronger at defending on open ground, but only very slightly better on rough terrain. While the 50% bonus versus mounted units Spearmen have doesn't work on War Elephants, their affordable cost, relatively high strength and ability to get terrain-dependent promotions that work defensively makes them good against India's UU.

If India doesn't have horses, they won't be able to upgrade War Elephants, making their defences weak in the mid-game. If you want to deny India good city spots, also cut off their access to horses if possible.

Playing against Mughal Forts

The tourism is nothing to worry about, and the culture is alright but not that amazing. The real challenge when facing Mughal Forts is that India's likely to have a better defensive infrastructure later on in the game than many other Civs. Bring a couple more siege units when attacking India than you would for other Civs to account for that.

Strategy by Style

Early-game Aggressors

War Elephants are good early defenders, which can make taking India out early on difficult. It might be worth waiting until they've built a few wonders. Then, not only will their UU be obsolete, but you'll get a nice reward for conquering them.

Mid and Late-game Warmongers

Take a bit more siege than you would normally to account for Mughal Forts. India's cities will be tall, and will often cause you major unhappiness issues when you capture them. Consider razing them to a manageable size before deciding what you want to do to those cities next.

Cultural Players

If India is allowed to build lots of infrastructural wonders early on, expect a very tall, runaway India later on snatching all your cultural wonders. The Temple of Artemis is a good wonder to go for - it's cheap, often uncompetitive and by getting it you deny a powerful 10% national food bonus to India.

Diplomatic Players

India won't generally be a huge threat to your City-State alliances, but you won't want them running away with the game. Use your control of the World Congress against them. Things like Sciences Funding, maybe even an embargo.

Scientific Players

India can't run away with mid-game wonders if you get there first. Use your technological advantage to seize major wonders (e.g. Leaning Tower of Pisa) before India can. You won't be able to get them all - you don't have time for that - but the more you pick up, the fewer India can.
Other Guides

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] Feb 18 @ 1:37pm 
See the first paragraph of the introduction section :p
Rebmes Jan 15 @ 9:31am 
I main gandhi, and was looking to touch up on my strats a bit; thanks for a very nice guide!
Zigzagzigal  [author] Aug 17, 2016 @ 9:04pm 
End-game warfare can be pretty fun. Missile Cruisers are insanely effective in the seas while Rocket Artillery rapidly peels apart city defences on land. One problem is that loads of end-game units depend on aluminium, but thankfully the penultimate tier of units don't obsolete so you can still make a reasonable army to help capture more aluminium.
No Slack Jack Aug 17, 2016 @ 7:29pm 
Thanks man. I saw your guide to Denmark and it looked like a lot of fun with ski infantry and autocracy. With the atomic era coming around the corner of the ideologys I didn't know what to exactly expect because I don't play too much and only start in the ancient era. Now I'm starting to play more and looking ahead to the late game... Thouse mitary toys look shockingly destructive!
Zigzagzigal  [author] Aug 17, 2016 @ 6:12pm 
Gandhi's AI is very likely to construct and use nukes, but is unlikely to ever start a war. Typically, if you're going for a domination or aggressive cultural victory, you can usually win the game before nukes start becoming a problem - they come surprisingly late, after all.
No Slack Jack Aug 17, 2016 @ 5:21pm 
@Politic Revolutionnaire Ok thanks (I mean if the MAD doctrine worked so well in the real world whats stoping it from working in a virtual one). I was just wondering in the counter stratagies how to take advantage of an ai leader's personality, not just India. This whould by no means help agenst humans but it could be somthing to consider.
Politic Revolutionnaire Aug 17, 2016 @ 2:43am 
@No Slack Jack I am a player of higher difficulties usually diety and I have never been nuked by Gandhi despite an un holy amount of hours in the game. So basically don't worry about it. It might just be that its rare on higher difficulties or that its all an exaggeration, but I wouldn't worry. Plus if the AI has time to build nukes you will have time as well *evil smile*.
No Slack Jack Aug 16, 2016 @ 11:43am 
I heard that the Indian ai has the highest tendancy to aquire nukes. Although I vastly prefer to start in the ancient era and wrap up in the medieval era with a domination victory I have been also tryed to increase the map size to take longer. To avoid digressing I was wondering how to counter the ai's obsession with weapons of mass destruction before I even think about diping my toes into the late game with Ghandi judging my playstyle.
TheCornerMan Jun 21, 2016 @ 4:31am 
I managed to build it when I was playing for the achievements, but I can see what you mean. Granted, I was playing on Prince. Thank you, though.
Zigzagzigal  [author] Jun 21, 2016 @ 4:17am 
Because it requires opening the Exploration tree, which isn't particularly useful for India. Taking the Exploration Opener means you'll take longer to open Rationalism, and therefore you'll be set back for other wonders.