I spent far too long this weekend not really understanding Civ 5. While it downloaded I attempted to read the manual (all 230+ pages of it), and got a basic idea of combat, play mechanics etc etc. Did the basic tutorial, and won it in about 10 minutes.
I've now started a full game (on easy, obviously) with Japan. Initially I wanted to build up a base of operations, and ended up with 3 cities, all with a moderate amount of food and production capabilities. Took a while to get a handle on generating production (over-farmed for a while). I had a small army for duffing up barbarians (a couple of archer units, a couple of warriors and a chariot for scouting).
From there I have progressed to some kind of military super-power, without really meaning to. It just seems to be the only way to play. If you look at the win criteria;
1) Cultural - max out 5 policies, then build Utopia project. Thats 30 cultural advances, and so far I have done 7.
2) Diplomatic - I'm on god terms with the City States (apart from Cape Town, who were allied to the Siamese), so would probably win this way, but thats certainly not how I played...I just didn't kill them, and occasionally build a road to their capital. I have a monster pile of money I can use to bribe them whenever I need to go through them. Basically if it comes to a UN vote I can buy victory.
3) Scientific - again, I could probably do this through owning half the map, and having millions of build queues. I can buy vicotry here too...
4) Military - which seems to be the default way of winning, as it gets you more land and therefore resources. More space = more cities = more build queues = more production = win
So is there any reason to do anything other than military? It opens up Diplomatic and Scientific, as owning more land ultimately gives you more resources and production, which help those.
As it stands I have one of 2 big continents to myself, a fairly significant navy (which was helping blow the living crap out of Chinese and Siamese cities, along with some artillery), loads of upgraded troops which will soon be heading across the seas to "meet" the neighbours, and my cities are busy building courtrooms (where I have annexed) and Circuses and Colluseums (to keep the indigenous population happy), while my general production, gold and food generation is frankly excessive, and I am fully on top of researching everything in the tech tree.
Was there any other way I could have gone? I can't see how a Diplomatic victory would be possible unless you have the resources to trade, or gold to buy favour, which needs land, which needs a military. Ditto for Science, and frankly I can't see how anyone can do cultural...