Sid Meier's Civilization V

Sid Meier's Civilization V

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Songhai 5 Scouts Multiplayer Strategy
By Corsair Mr Knifey
An advanced multiplayer strategy for the Songhai civilisation aimed at players of the No Quitters (NQ) mod. This strategy favours aggressive early and mid game expansion, with a focus on rapid population and border growth. The victory aimed for should be a domination victory, however others are still possible.
I made this guide in response to the persistent criticism about how weak a seeming majority of people believe the Songhai faction to be in Civ V, while I in fact believe them to be at the very least a strong mid tier civilisation.

The strategy in it's basics involves creating 5 scouts and 4-5 settlers in the very early game, and purchasing (with gold) granaries on the first turn in as many of your newly settled cities as is possible, assisted by Songhai's Unique Ability. In the mid tier of the game (medieval era), the strategy then focuses on medieval military expansion, and massive natural border growth.

This guide assumes you have a working understanding of the more advanced aspects of Civ 5, therefore I use a lot of nomenclature, and assume that you know what various technologies/abilities do. I do not think it should be too difficult to follow if you are a beginner; however you may have to look some things up.

I have listed all of the used nomenclature below,
  • CS, City State
  • UA, Unique Ability
  • UU, Unique Unit (For Songhai this is Mameluke Cavalry, a replacement for the Knight)
  • UB, Unique Building (For Songhai this is Mud Pyramid Mosque, a replacement for the Temple)
  • Civ, Civilisation
The Strategy
Early Game

Gold is your primary objective in the early game of this strategy.

The early game stage of this strategy is only efficient because of the extra early game gold you get from destroying barbarian camps as Songhai (34 extra per camp). This gold is used to purchase granaries in your expansion cities.

When you kill a barbarian camp it respawns in roughly 3-5 turns (quick game speed). Scouts can move very quickly to go towards a newly spawned camp; even through rough terrain, and in significant enough numbers, kill it. If the camp has a unit inside it when you kill it, you gain 58 gold per camp. You gain around half of your necessary early game gold as Songhai from clearing camps in this manner.

On average by the time your 4th or 5th city is up, you should have killed around 4-8 barbarian camps, which if you include killing roaming barb units with your scouts (usually 1-2 per camp), gets you a total from killing camps of roughly 250-550, or 1-2 granaries.

Regarding the levelling up of your early game units, your scouts firstly want to level the 25% Defence and then +1 Sight Increase after, and your warriors want Rough Terrain, and then Medic 1 after that (this will come in useful later as is explained later on in the guide).

Demanding Tribute

You get the rest of your money from demanding Tribute from CS. It takes 11 turns after Tributing to be able to re-Tribute. Therefore your 3 warriors (1 from start, 2 from honour bonus) keep together and at high hp at all times (your ability to Tribute a CS is dependent upon your units (not cities) having a higher combat strength than that of the CS, including the strength of it's city).

You should only be able to tribute each hill CS with these starting units a max of 1-2 times (because of it's combat strength); and flatlands CS 2-4 times depending on the situation (hill CS have higher combat strength and more production than flatland CS, and thus more units). A unit only needs to be within 6 tiles of a CS to contribute towards tribute strength. By the time your 6th city is placed, depending on how many CS in the area you should have anywhere from 200-1000+ gold from this, or 1-4 granaries.

Each new city needs a granary purchased in it, so the more gold you can get means the more cities you can get! You're on average talking about 4 or 5 however.

Once you are confident you will no longer be able to get any more tribute from a CS with just these starting units, use one of your scouts or warriors to worker farm it. You want in total 1.5-2 workers for each of your cities. It's likely you will have to purchase extra scouts for the worker farming/roaming stage to garrison your cities, however they are the cheapest thing in the game so it shouldn't be an issue :).

Placing Cities

As you are expanding rapidly you more than likely want to place cities on top of luxury resources to save on happiness and builder working time, and to gain more early game gold; however this is of course completely situational. If you manage to steal a lot of workers from CS early game you can think about placing your cities on hills :). Settling for horses is priority if you're wanting to attack someone, as Songhai's UU requires horses (and you can build circuses); and optimally you want as many of your cities near iron as possible, so that they are able to build forges. If you place a city next to a river, it receives a 25% bonus to gold income from external trade caravans, this can come in very useful later.


Before attacking an opponent, you should have workshops and forges built in as many of your cities as is possible. You should hope to overwhelm an opponent with superior military production; therefore when you begin building your army as many citizens as possible should be placed on hammers without your cities starving.


As you will be getting one point in the Social Policy Piety, all of your Shrines and Mud Pyramid Mosques will build at double speed. You should therefore build these in as many of your cities as possible, as quickly as possible, in order to maximise on the faith, culture, science and gold you can get from these. Mid game religion choices are completely flexible, however pantheons should be chosen as listed below. As this is a temple spam and snowball strategy, +food from temples and shrines religion is a good suggestion.

Specifics of Build Order, Policy, Tech, Religion, Wonders
Your main goals here are fast population growth, fast culture and religion, and extremely fast natural border expansion

Initial Build order

You go firstly monument, 5 scouts, , 3-5 settlers (with a shrine as soon as you have the piety tech), then purchase granaries in all of your newly founded cities ASAP (this is the core of the early game strategy). You should then in all cities focus generic economy buildings; shrines and mud pyramid mosques specifically should be finished ASAP, the specific wonders listed below, followed by workshops and forges. You should hopefully not have to build any workers, as you should be stealing them from the nearby CS. You want a National College, several caravans and a caravansary in your capitol as early as possible. This is easily achievable by turn 50-55.


You go,
  • Tradition opener (border expansion and fast early culture), then Honour opener into Honour warriors (for tribute),
  • Piety opener (half price shrines/temples),
  • then finally you complete the Honour (if you want to attack someone) or Piety (if your neighbours are too strong) trees depending on the situation; preferably both.
Because you were focussing on killing large numbers of barbarians early game, and have spammed culture buildings, you should have had significant amounts of culture income from the Honour bonus, and thus should be able to finish this quite rapidly.


You get all of the base strategic resource/lux techs (animal husbandry mining calendar etc), then you rush Songhai's UB temple tech, and spam these up in your cities ASAP using the 50% boost from piety 1. Follow up this with workshops , then go either universities, workshops or knights depending on the situation.


You should get the
  • +1 food and 25% border expansion per city pantheon.

Alternatively, if you prefer to tech rush and aren't as bothered about the border expansion, you can get the +2 science from city connections to help you be able to attack your opponents faster (IMO border expansion is much better however).

As said earlier, mid game religion choices are completely flexible based upon your situation.


You get,
  • National College,
  • Stonehenge,
  • Statue of Zeus,
  • and Temple of Artemis.
The whole point of this strategy in the mid game is for your faction to have enormous naturally expanding borders (making war and economy so much easier), which when you stack the border expansion buffs from Tradition, Stonehenge and your Pantheon with the Songhai +2 culture UB, the +1 from Honour barracks, the +2 from Honour garrison, and the +2 from piety shrines and temples, you should have insanely large borders incredibly quickly, hopefully going right up to those of your neighbours. Your huge prod and strong religion should allow you to rapidly build universities as well.

Military and War
Surprise is key.

In terms of your army build, you get crossbows, Statue of Zeus and around 12 of Songhai's unique knights before attacking anyone. The knights should be used to slam into an enemy city in a surprise attack, and afterwards flank around to pillage enemy luxury and strategic resources. Once the initial cavalry assault has been completed, the main fighting should be continued with crossbows, with the knights acting in a supporting role; knights are vastly inferior as main line fighters than crossbows. Once injured, knights should retreat to friendly territory, and heal; it is inadvisable to use them when not at full strength.

Unless you have overwhelming numerical superiority or surprise, you should not get within range of your enemy's city with knights until it is weak enough to be captured, as the combination of the city's attack and a crossbow placed in it is often enough to kill a knight in 2 turns.

The cavalry can move after attacking the city, so if you play it correctly with surprise and roads you should be able to have all 12 knights attack a city on the 1st turn of a surprise attack.

Because of your huge borders you should have a variety of options for whom to attack, and hopefully a border shared with the person you are attacking. It goes without saying that often it is the best idea to attack the weakest player in terms of production/military, however terrain should also be thoroughly scouted before attacking. It is vastly preferable to attack someone on flat lands than someone with plenty of hills/jungles to slow your army down and provide defensive bonuses for your opponent. One of your early game warriors should be waiting within your own territory with medic 1 levelled up to rapidly heal your cavalry when they are injured.

It is vital that you have ample scouting and information about your opponent prior to attacking. Personally, I recommend having at least 6-10 scouts with sight 1 or 2 per opponent, spread out around their borders. Information is exceedingly important, especially when using cavalry, and if managed correctly the scouts can be useful at keeping more expensive units away from the front line, and harassing and destroying enemy luxury resources, roads and workers.

Infrastructure is also extremely important. From your early game stealing of workers from CS, you should have enough workers to build a vast network of roads to the borders of your enemy's territory. This is hugely important; being able to retreat your cavalry/crossbows and heal rather than losing the unit can easily decide the outcome of an attack. Remember, your units cannot use roads in enemy territory, and whenever you come across a road in enemy territory you should take the opportunity to pillage it.

General Information
Once you have finished Tributing CS, and have all of the workers you need from them, you should attack them and conquer them, building courthouses, workshops, libraries, colloseums etc in them. You receive triple gold from their capture, so it is often a good idea to buy more units with this money in preparation for your big attack.

The population of cities should grow extremely quickly at first due to the granaries, ample workers and quickly expanding borders, but the number of citizens should not be allowed to grow too far beyond how many hills are close to the city; the whole point of the strategy is extremely high mid game production. If you grow your flatlands cities too large, you may not have enough mid game happiness to conquer an opponent.

Regarding caravans, mid and late game you should of course send them to your own cities for either food or hammers; however early game it is often useful to build a caravansary in your national college city, and send one to each of your neighbouring factions. By the mid game, you will have gained enough gold from this to buy one or two more units for your big attack, and provided you have 3 caravans you should have reaped a sizeable amount of science. As stated however, once the caravan has completed it's first cycle, it should be put onto hammers/food again; it is inefficient to use caravans for gold/science after the early game. Advantageously, a potential enemy is less likely to expect an attack if you have sent them a caravan (as if you were to begin a war you would lose this caravan), and thus they may build less defences than they otherwise would.

I know this has been a huge wall of text but it really is an overpowered as hell strategy if you can pull it off, and is a hell of a lot of fun. Hope this was entertaining at least :)

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Corsair Mr Knifey  [author] Jul 6, 2017 @ 11:45am 
4 of 2 (because I always think of things too late) - Songhai's unique abilities with not being slowed by rivers and being able to fight over them also synergise with the cavalry spam; cavalry is usually destroyed by river defences as it's only real advantage is the mobility, the ability to cross rivers really helps to nullify this defence.
Corsair Mr Knifey  [author] Jul 6, 2017 @ 11:43am 
3 of 2, the other advantage is Songhai's unique unit, which whilst it won't always take down a main city on it's own, can be great if used in packs of 8 or so to take down a player's outlying weaker flank cities.
Corsair Mr Knifey  [author] Jul 6, 2017 @ 11:41am 
2 of 2 - The advantage to it as Songhai is it makes a midgame rush easy, by allowing you to snowball the early game using faster growth than anyone else from purchasing so many granaries (no other faction can do this as effectively), leading to higher midgame production, meaning higher midgame army. The large territory from the culture spam gives you access to more hills, which you use your high mid game population to spam production, largely into knights.
Corsair Mr Knifey  [author] Jul 6, 2017 @ 11:41am 
Hmm, it depends what you mean by worked; I've won more games with this strategy than I have with other factions using more traditional strategies. If you check my profile I have a few screenshots where I've beaten known players as Songhai using this quite a few times. You definitely can get a lot of gold tributing city states, however on immortal difficulty (which NQ plays), it's just not cost efficient to do; the amount of resources you have to maintain to keep up with a CS's output is just crazy. If you conquer a couple using this strategy, you can keep the knights on the move and spam tribute if you need a delay in attacking (conquering a CS as Songhai allows you to buy 3-4 knights, more if you're able to tribute it first, pillage everything and get gold for killing the units).
A Pleb Among Noobs Jul 2, 2017 @ 1:04pm 
This seems like it would be extremely situation. What percentage of the time has this worked for you in legitimate NQ games? You can get a lot of gold in general just from tributing city-states, which u can do just by going honor. The only advantages that I see belonging to Songhai are that you get more gold from killing barb camps (which is not that significant anyways and depends on you finding lots of camps) and having a good temple replacement that complements Piety.
hargyhlh Aug 6, 2016 @ 8:55am 
Thanks for the tips keep up the good work
Corsair Mr Knifey  [author] Jul 29, 2016 @ 7:11am 
Just folliw this link, and then click the hellblazers map on the right, there are easy instructions there :)
Panda Jul 29, 2016 @ 12:16am 
how to download the map?
Corsair Mr Knifey  [author] Jul 27, 2016 @ 11:01pm 
I don't play the base game :). This strategy can also work more or less the same in the base game if you wish to try it :)
bosh Jul 26, 2016 @ 7:15pm 
why dont you make a guide about the base game with dlc