Tips For Playing Civilization V

Now that its second expansion is out, Civilization V isn't just one of the best strategy games out there, it's also a lot more complex than it was when it first launched in 2010. To help out newcomers to the game, then, or just those who are upgrading with the expansions, I thought I'd put this guide together, letting you know some of the best tips to keep on top of jerks like Gandhi.

This isn't a complete and thorough guide to the entire game; we don't have the space or time for that. Think of these as some golden rules, to help guide you in the right direction. Note also they'll be covering tips for the entire game, not just the latest expansion.


While it can be tempting to start on a large map, you're better off starting on "small", or even "tiny". The advantage of these sizes is that they not only cut down on the amount of "grinding" you need to do in terms of expanding and building, but they can also be more interesting games, especially if you cram 6-8 civs into them.


The very first thing you're going to want to do is expand. The most precious thing on a Civilization map is real estate. The more cities you have the more gold and research you'll generate, the bigger your territory the more likely you'll be to own necessary strategic resources. So build settlers early (with the odd worker to build roads between your cities), and when adopting social policies, start with Tradition, which grants expansive bonuses. Don't stop expanding until you start losing money and/or creating unhappiness.


Religion might seem like a bit of fluff, but it can be a powerful diplomatic and cultural weapon. So as soon as you're done expanding, focus on building shrines and temples so that you can found a religion and start spreading it. If another religion overruns your Civ before you've had a chance to found your own, you'll be at a disadvantage for the rest of the game.


It's tough to pick one dominant research path, since it really varies depending on your play style, but related to my expansion point above, I've found the most beneficial to your long-term success is to be the first to get navigation. Whoever can venture across the seas first, potentially finding whole new and empty continents where you can double the size of your empire, has an enormous advantage over those civs stuck in the old country.


Don't ignore the new trade route system in Brave New World. If you've got four available trade routes, build four caravans or cargo ships. If you've twelve, build twelve. You'll not only make buckets of money from this, but it's also a good way to spread your religion. If you can keep trade gold flowing for the majority of the game, by the industrial and modern eras you'll have thousands in gold.


Previously, city-states were something to be tolerated, or even ignored. No longer. Now that they count as voters in the World Congress, the player who can ally themselves with the most city-states has a massive advantage, whether they're actively pursuing a diplomatic victory or just want to screw other players over. The easiest way to do this is ignore their quests and requests, and simply stockpile your trade gold. By the time the World Congress starts getting important later in the game, you can just buy their votes.


Don't just build roads between your cities. Build them densely around areas you muster your armies. Build them on coastal areas between continents you might need to launch an invasion from. Build them to nearby city-states. If you've got open borders treaties with your neighbours, build them to their cities. Why? Because eventually you're going to go to war with them, and conquer them, and having roads in the middle of a war (and everywhere your units are kept, letting them deploy faster) is a huge help.


While Civilization V offers you a vast variety of military units, for most of the game, you only need a handful. Whenever and wherever you're fighting, a mobile "turtle" mix of infantry (warriors, swordsmen, riflemen, etc) and siege weapons (catapaults, cannons, etc) provide the best mix. Ditto for naval combat. For much of the game you can get by with brute force, amassing an armada of frigates and battleships, which are not only dominant at sea but can also be a huge advantage for coastal warfare. You only need to really diversify (with air support, anti-air weapons and fancy airdrop infantry) once you hit the modern era.


There's always an urge to use your espionage units to spy on other Civs, but just because they're called spies doesn't mean they need to spy. Stealing techs can be slow, and dangerous, and only really useful if there's one Civ way ahead of you. In most other cases, it's better to split your spies between rigging the elections of nearby city-states, helping cement your hold over them, and employing them as diplomats, because buying votes for the World Congress is a lot more important than the odd free tech.


There's always the temptation to be a conqueror, constantly invading your neighbours. It's understandable, because it's fun. But if you're playing on a bigger map, with lots of Civs, it's just not worth it. You'll develop a reputation as a bit of a monster, and that's not a reputation you want to have when the modern eras roll around and you need to regularly count on other Civ's votes.


There's so much variety to be had in the game's civilisations, so many perks designed to cater to an individual's play style, that saying a single one is better than others would be foolish. My favourite, though, is the English. The +1 naval movement bonus you get is a big help when you're exploring (especially if it's stacked on top of other +1 movement perks like the Great Lighthouse), and the Ships of the Line unit is just a beast.

That about does it for the groundwork! The beauty of the game, especially since the addition of spies, religion and the World Congress in expansions, is that as complex as it is, there's fun to be had in experimenting and getting your head around the finer details.

Until then, hopefully these broader points will serve you well!


    just looking at this on steam. Would gold edition have all the DLC, or is there a version with more stuff?

      Gold Edition has all DLC's except the new Expansion Brave New World. It does come with Gods & Kings though.

      Gold Edition has everything except the most recent expansion "Brave New World", which only came out within the week.

    I was at first hesitant to get this game. Seemed dull and boring. But I bought the gold edition on special on steam andhave never looked back. Truely addicting, the perfect example of a game that you play late at night and think "oh just a few more turns and I'll call it a night". And bam, it's 2 hours later. .

      this is the classic Civ-syndrome, and hails back to the original, where its about 10pm and say, one more tur-oh my god its 4am...

      I still suffer from it when I play Civ, and I've played all of them.

    You gotta have faith...

    Last edited 13/07/13 4:15 pm

    I will give this game another shot after reading this and hopefully others will be able to give me handy tips on how to play. Might pick up brave new world
    If I can find it at a good price.

    This article is so full of crap that I find myself wondering if the Author has ever done more than play a couple of games of civ at the lowest difficulties.

    Most of the advice is complete nonsense.

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