Civ 5 - Explain it to a n00b

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...


I prefix this by say that in my entire Civ career I have pulled off a cultural victory precisely once so am hardly an expert... I plan on attempting my second one this weekend and have a vague plan to pull it off.

1) Play the right Civ - The Egyptians look like a fairly good bet here. They're bonus is 25% prod bonus building wonders (which normally have a cultural boon) and their special building (burial tomb) generates happiness and culture.

2) Curb your enthusiasm - A larger civ is requires more cultural resource per social policy. So you're gonna need to keep it compact from the off. Enough troops to hold the line and that's it.

I suspect the Japanese special shiznit is better suited to expansion (therefore military/science vics) and there is something intuative about a traditional landgrab. In Civ 4 it was the same, if you wanted to do culture you needed to be doing it from turn 1.

I'm assuming you're playing on an easier difficulty setting atm, which will be aiding your expansion through bonuses to citizen happiness and the like which makes expansion much, much easier. That said I suspect it will always be the default win setting for Civ.

Nibbles's picture

I must admit to being skeptical that Cultural wins are would take 1 aggressive act to take you out, and unless you are devoting resources and development to new techs your "just enough to hold the line" troops are soon going to be outclassed by big tanks and guns. You'd need an awesome starting position to get the resources you need to trade opponents happy.

babychaos's picture

There's an achievement for beating the game with one city... Now that I *am* skeptical about.

Don't get me wrong here, I'm not saying it's easy! My current game was ment to be a compact science victory and looks like it will end up as a not very compact science victory. All was going along nicely and the Napoleon more of less insisted that I go and kick the cr@p out of him. Now I own half the map and get a new social tech once in a blue moon.

I still reckon through trading with the city states for alliances/resource and other smaller civs for tech and defensive pacts it will be possible to do the cultral win with a 4-5 city civ. Other useful things maybe a smaller map size so territory isn't quite as key.

Nibbles's picture

I need to get my head around culture a bit more (after all, I spent ages wondering why it took ages to build stuff, when I had pretty much exclusively farms).

So, various things "earn" culture points (mainly buildings) for a city, as well as monuments (from Artists), and be-friending cultural city-states. Culture seems to be "used" in 2 ways;
1) Expanding the city
2) Social policies

How does the number of cities you have impact this? I'd have thought that more cities = more culture? I can't find anything in the manual (all I have to hand right now) about loss of culture for more cities...

babychaos's picture

I had a moment yesterday where the importance of luxery resources that are *demanded* by your cities became apparent.

You are correct on the main uses of culture, in previous games it was linked more with happiness as well, although that seems to be less prevelant in this version. Anyhow in order to get the diplomatic victory it's 2 we're concerned with.

Assume that with 1 city you'd need 100 culture points to get a new social policy, if you've got 2 cities then it's 210, 3 then it's 350 etc.... I think this is meant to reflect the idea that it's harder to implement a single social policy over a wider area... Like the US trying to implement democracy in the Middle East.

Nibbles's picture

I've been using the trade of luxury goods to increase happiness, but most people tell me to get lost, mainly as none of them have duplicates to trade (while I'm sitting on a pile of pearls as high as your horse, as well as the traditional excess of japanese whale-meat).

OK, so a small (say 2-3 city) civ _should_ have fairly big zones (without having to buy too much land) so long as you focus on cultural developments and research. You should be OK to keep maintainence costs down, so hopefully can spend money on be-friending city-states (for food, cultural and production bonuses).

I reckon you'll have to mainly build production enchancements in your land...only 3 build queues leaves you strugging to get stuff out of the door...

babychaos's picture

I've found a 3:1 ratio normally does the trick, as I've expanded so hellishly I can afford that to keep the populous in whale meat and wine.

That's the general idea. I suspect the effective management of the city states will be key as they can provide you with strategic/luxury resources and units. You only need gold at the start to get them to give you a 'mission' (create great scientist, build road, wipe out whoever). Then if you couple the loyalty bonus with Patronage you can keep them onside for an age.

Nibbles's picture

Can you trade Luxury Items with City States? I thought it was limited to buying favour, and doing the occasional mission for them (take out the barbarian camp, build a road, kill another city state etc etc)? I've only seen Luxury Item trades with other Civs.

babychaos's picture

You can't trade with them, but you can get them to give you stuff as part of an alliance. I've not really got to grips with it in the current game but I had Rio providing me with stuff in the last one.

In order to get the resources I think you need a trade network (or road as we call it) in situ.

Nibbles's picture

OK, I now understand the terrible, terrible danger of Civ. Got to bed at 2am last night.

Started new Civ, with the express goal of having a low number of cities. Put difficulty level up by 1, and using France (for the Culture bonus in early game). Had a very good start position, with Paris being created in the middle of a small continent with just me and 2 small City States on it, as well as a Natural Wonder or 2. I've had one unit of spears (upgraded from Ruins very early) running round killing barbarians, and now have 2 big cities (Paris and Orleans), and one coastal City (Lyon). A single naval unit has met and Allied with 4 other City States, and the relationships there are now providing most of my food, as I've maxxed out the "Patronage" culture tree, so they hardly ever hate me, and give me tonnes of stuff (one gave me a Great Merchant, which you can immeidately cash in for 1,000 gold...another gave me a Free Unit which I immediately gifted to their next door neighbour, who was looking for help).

I have no military to speak of, and will build a naval defense at some point. The cultural stuff is steaming about halfway to a cultural victory so far, and Paris and Orleans look like a random assortment of the Wonders Greatest Hits, as well as being huge (Paris is 3 hexes in every direction, with Orleans nearly there as well). There is one other Civ who is going all rampant (not sure I've met them yet, but they killed Russia, and have also Annexed 1 City State somewhere), but hopefully I can produce a decent enough navy to keep them off my continent for long enough to finish the Utopia Project.

I reckon Great People are _very_ good...the ability to turn the Scientist into a new Tech is fantastic. I picked up one that would have taken 50 turns to research. Other than that if I'm not bumping up Culture, I'm improving Gold sources and Commerce, to hopefully be able to buy my way out of any future problems.

babychaos's picture

I went to bed at 01:00... Completely failed to get to sleep though and so overslept for the first time in the new job. Handily all the managers in the department are in India atm.

Sounds like it's going rather well! I am attempting a similar feat atm and appear to be in a similar position with some small, yet key differences. My Island has some well armed Greeks on it, which isn't ideal for a cultural effort. Commerce is an issue presently as well, although the first naval unit is about to take to the seas so that'll hopefully lead to things easing off a bit. I suspect I will have to build my 4th city as well, wanted to avoid going that high but there are 2 iron deposits right there and I need something pointier than clubs. It will give me some decent consolodated territory which should be easy enough to hold until modern units turn up, by which time I aim to have finished.

Great people are very handy, I used 3 last night to keep my Empire in a 20 turn Golden Age whilst I built a nice big Spaceship... It was the only thing that prevented financhal collapse!

Now how to get those Greeks into a defensive pact.....

Nibbles's picture

I had to offer some money with an Open Borders agreement to get my little naval boat past one guy...but then again I'm loaded, as my Commerce is rocking along nicely.

The diplomacy options are not very well explained. I have no idea what a "Pact of Co-operation" and "Pact of Secrecy" actually do, for example, and can't find anything that explains them.

babychaos's picture

I've always been shite at diplomacy, as you say the pact of secrecy is so secret that not even Civ Leaders know what it does. The only way I've got the diplomatic vic is to conquer most of the world nice and early and spend the rest of the game foisting gold on my vanquished foes. Not sure if a permenant alliance is available in this version, but I can tell you I've never once pulled one off.

Nibbles's picture

I am getting the vibe that you chaps really like civ 5. Different yet welcome?

brainwipe's picture

I'm just downloading Civ, it cost me 1.2B ISK which is eve currency.

Dwain's picture

I've not played any previous versions of Civ, so can't really give a comparative between them. I've enjoyed the 2 play-through's I've done so far, the game has done a decent enough job of prodding me in the right direction (whereas when I've previously tried earlier versions I've basically been staring at a green screen, with 1 city and no idea what to do).

As a new player it's fairly simple to get stuff done, though my first time through I really didn't have a plan as such, so ended up with a sprawling empire and a selection of random tech, though I suspect that would have been the same no matter what version I'd played. My next game I'll play for a tech victory, so lots of science and production.

The AI seems a little passive (though this may be as I'm on the lower difficulty settings for now). For example, with the game I've just finished if I'd seen another Civ building every Wonder in the world, and with massive cities I might be tempted to send over a few troops to disrupt their plans, however none of them did that to me.

Combat is pretty good, though foot movement is very slow for much of the game due to terrain impacts, and the inability to stack (first time through I spent about 10 years getting my troops through a narrow gap between 2 mountain ranges where a single hex was hilly, slowing everyone to 1 hex a turn). There is a lot of fun to be had thumping units with artillery/navy, then walking your troops in to mop up the remainders. not really got to play with Air units yet (or Cultural Win has the tech, but no Uranium).

The Cultural stuff does seem a little bolted basically gives you benefits for your Civ, but has no impact on dealings with anyone else (so as a Pious, Liberty-loving bunch of non-violent hippies I was quite happily able to ally with Military City-States, who kept sending me guns). Given that in the real world cultural/religious clashes are the main causes of war, I'm a litle surprised that there is not some kind of interaction... Of course, the entire Diplomacy thing between Civ's is completely un-explained, apart from Trade agreements and Research Agreements (oh yeah, and trying to kill them).

The latter years, when everyone is active, kills my PC...very slow and chundery as I have loads of texture loading going on. My PC sits somewhere between minimum spec and recommended.

babychaos's picture

I've been playing since Civ 2 and this version is a good 'un imo. Not sure if I'd say it's better than Civ 4 - BtS, but it's running it close at the very least.

In my view the new combat system is the biggest and best change. The ranged combat works nicely (although why archers can fire further than mech inf is beyond me) and appropriate use of siege engines is more important than ever. An inability to stack is a good thing as well, it should be a proper bastard to get a large army over a narrow mountain pass!

City growth/production feels much more restricted and happiness is managed at Civ level as opposed to city level. Overall there is less need to mico-manage with things like happiness controllable through the aquisition of luxury resources in the early game. Not so sure about the near total seperation of happiness and culture, although there are some social policy options to build the link.

I really, really like the introduction of social policies (previously those type of management options were available through the normal tech tree). Especially when you're playing a more expantionist role timing of your wars/settler rush is key. Handily the maths is much more visible so you're able to do this with the minimum of fuss.

As Pete says the diplomacy with other civs still feels a bit random, although when getting a Peace Treaty out of someone you can now realistically demand cities and get them if you're pressing a big advantage. The interaction with city states is done better for the simple reason that it's eye bleedingly obvious why they love/hate you. On the subject of diplomacy...

"Given that in the real world cultural/religious clashes are the main causes of war" - A bold claim from Pete there. It could be argued that territory and resource aquisition are at least as important if not more so. In civ the only person I fight because of who they are is Ghandi, everyone else gets it so I can nick their shit!

Nibbles's picture

Dwain - Glad to hear you've finally got Eve working for you for a change.

Nibbles's picture

"Given that in the real world cultural/religious clashes are the main causes of war" - A bold claim from Pete there. It could be argued that territory and resource aquisition are at least as important if not more so.

Fair point...lets put it another way. One of the biggest hurdles to diplomatic solutions to war is religious/cultural differences. It still feels to me that Cultural choices should impact the Diplomatic options (though as we both say, given the Diplomatic stuff is vague, for all we know they do...). As it stands cultural policy choices are completely invisible to other nations.

Going the Cultural route was tricky, and did need to be planned from day 1. I made a slight mistake not expanding the Commerce policy tree, so towards the end Building Maintainence costs were going sky-high, and I was removing units to save money (I was down to 2 naval units sitting outside my port by the end). It's certainly not a Win you can adapt to mid-game.

babychaos's picture

I agree with you there. It's one of the big downsides comparing this version with Civ 4, where religion and choice of civic (what social policy once was) directly impacted on other Civ's attitudes towards you. I'm not sure why religion has been completely removed from this version... Perhaps it will be reintroduced with an expansion?

Late game management does seem to be more of a bastard in general these days. My science victory had similar issues. Quite literally my Civ was about to collapse through lack of funds and it was only a supply of great golden age causing generals that saved me. On Warlord as well so not exactly the hardest difficulty setting.

Nibbles's picture

Yeah, I was burning up various Artists (the scientists are used for free tech still) for Golden Ages too. I did have one City State that generated a few Great People for me (one benefit of maxxing out Patronage), but they were miles away, so I had to ship them home before I could ignite them.

One handy thing I did manage was using a Great Artist to pinch some Luxury Resources too far from my Cities to be picked up...drove him out, Culture Bombed him, and managed to squeeze them into my realm, then slapped a mine on them. That triggered a fair few "We Love the Kings", and some more trade options.

babychaos's picture

I should also point out I had built stock exchanges in all my cities that were generating even half decent gold and was still have money probs... There may well be a trick I have missed in this one. Trading posts don't seem anywhere near as effective as the old villiage/town combo... Actually, I bet it's all in the commerce policy track now I think of it.

Ah culture bombing, the staple of any successful Civ 4 blitzkrieg. I've not actually produced a Great Artist yet in 5. Mainly scientists with the odd engineer and general in the mix.

Nibbles's picture

From looking at cost breakdowns I was taking the biggest hit on Building Maintainence. I suppose having pretty much every Wonder of the World in your back garden _may_ need a bit of a cleaning budget.

A bit of fiddling with the job allocation within cities could boost my earnings a lot, however I was (obviously) focused on Cultural Development, so lots of people working Landmarks, and specialists in various building (hence lots of Artists). My capital could sort of get away with it (population of 30), but the other 2 cities were pretty much stangant on money and food generation. I also had Stock Exchanges etc etc.., but hadn't done any Commerce Policy (which I think was a mistake...I should have skipped the "Honor" tree, as it mainly links to combat, which I did virtually none of...)

babychaos's picture

Hmmmm.... Well I got the living shit beaten out of me last night by a horde of angry greeks who clearly had nothing better to do. Given that my *army* was made up of warriors and archers only a token resistance was offered. I reloaded from the last save to see if there was anything I could do and alas not. It was all about a lack of Iron.

I've restarted with a few lessons have been learnt. The map is no longer tiny, the second city isn't being built until a viable mining site is loacted. The first thing that's getting built is a proper army/navy. I'm still playing on 'Prince' which I believe is the new par difficulty setting, not learnt all that much after all.

If this one fails I'll go back to hurting people for a game or 2.

Nibbles's picture

I was in a similar situation with a lack of Iron, however some money to a local City-State with available Iron quickly resolved that. I'm quickly coming to learn that keeping City-States sweet is pretty useful.

This is my first game with early competition, and it may have ruined my plans for a Science Victory, as I've had to bolster my borders, and build up a section of the continent for myself. Tricks I've learnt;

1) Befriend Military City-States that border someone, then declare War on that someone...the City States will cause a war on multiple fronts. These boys have also supplied half my army!

2) Spare Luxury resources can be traded with AI players for 5-10 gold a turn. I had a massive excess of gold (5 deposits in my area), and I was pulling in about 35 gold off the spare 4.

3) Forts and Citadels are very handy defensive items. I had one chokepoint on one flank of my Civ where I built a fort, and garrisoned it with a single unit of longswords with the Heal upgrade (and on the Fortify stance). They beat off 3 other units, including 2 other Longsword units.

4) Capturing and selling workers is hilarious. I attacked one guy who was getting lairy, then razed his city before backing off (I was having trouble keeping happiness balanced). He came back and rebuilt, then put tonnes of workers to rebuilding the land. I ran back in, captured 5-6 of them, then ran them to my land to sell them.

babychaos's picture

I quite like a large civ for science vics as you can really start to stack the improvements in a few cities (especially in the late game). Couple that with one or 2 troop builders and war is fun.

1) I need to get head around city states properly, I got a couple working nicely in one game but that was more luck than judgement.

2) That I like, effective gold management has been an ongoing issue for me.

3) Cannons/Artillery on hills is entertaining on that front too. The French couldn't get near Paris let alone attempt a recapture.

4) By selling do you mean gifting to the city states? Or actually selling? If so how did you do that?

Nibbles's picture

I'm struggling to keep Happiness high at the moment...I've not really had a chance to develop happiness buildings, combined with my current trend of murdering populations and burning their city to the ground (apart from one Capital City I couldn't Raze, and had to Annex, which also made people unhappy). This also means I'm getting very few Golden Ages... Money is a complete lack of issue for me...I'm rolling in it, to the point where I speed-bought some units when I was initially on the back foot.

4) Move them into your territory, then select the "Destroy Unit" option (advanced actions). You get 20 gold for a worker when you destroy it on your realm.

1) City States are pretty simple. You can buy influence points, or complete requests for them (typically stuff like removing a barbarian settlement, helping in a war, building a road, getting a certain luxury resource etc etc). You can be Neutral (no benefits), Friend (some benefits and Open Borders) or Ally (really good benefits).

If you are Allied, they will goto war with the same people as you.

Benefits - differ by different type of City State
Cultural - you earn Culture points off them every turn...more for Ally than Friend
Maritime - you get Food off them every turn, again more for Ally
Military - They give you a Troop unit every so often, more frequently with Allies

If you are Allied, you also get some of their Luxury and Strategic Resources, which is really useful if you're missing something key (like Iron for example).

As you go through the Ages the benefits improve in quality, and the Patronage Culture tree has some other boosts (half degradation of Influence points, boost rewards, and a fairly nice one that lets Military States give you Great People).

Typically it costs about 500 gold to get a State Allied, so having your finances sorted helps a lot, but the Maritime ones take some pressure off Food generation needs, so you can be a bit more liberal with Trading Posts near your cities (and trade your resources off, obviously)

babychaos's picture

4) Bonus! You got a gold bonus for decomissioning in friendly territory in 2 as well but had failed to notice it's return.

1) Ahhh, I'd sussed all of that apart from the benefits differ by type bit. Which seems really obvious now you've mentioned it. Dublin did go from allied with me, to at war when the Greeks kicked off... I suspect as a result of being more allied with the Greeks.

I've found effective happiness management lies in listening when your people demand a certain resource. Granted a few circuses and such are needed along the way (I normally purchase when funds are in good times) else it's been smooth sailing on that front.

Nibbles's picture

Yeah...they can only Ally with one person at a time. I had someone try to buy a State off before now as well, but I had a bit more purchasing power than them :-)

babychaos's picture

I completed my first game on "normal" Prince difficulty at the attempted Diplomacy, but pretty quickly turned Conquest. It's pretty hard to be peaceful when you have aggressive neighbours...I ended up saving money by wiping him out, and taking the continent I was on for myself. I then went to liberate a City-State, but ended up Annexing it so I could use it as a defensive base to form a landing point on the second continent....after that I simply went full-scale, and did a rolling "conquer and raze" roll with Tanks and Bombers vs rocks and spears (the one guy who was pretty advanced burnt himself out against the annexed City-State and my immense British navy battering the crap out of him every turn)

I did the chance to experiment with Nukes (bombs, not missiles, and the end result was a bit weak...I think missiles are the "hole in the earth" weapon I'm looking for).

babychaos's picture