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Civilization V – Tips and Strategy for Newer Players

Civilization 5 Strategy

The post was written during the time of Gods and Kings, before the release of Brave New World. Not only that, but.. the tips were not all helpful and some are detrimental.


  • Try not to give anyone open borders. Having open borders gives the AI a 25% bonus to Tourism against you. This does work both ways, however. Buying open borders (usually costs ~50 gold) from the AI is an easy way to gain tourism on them.
  • It’s not a good idea to give the AI an embassy in your capital until you can sign research agreements with them. The only reason they want an embassy is so they can march their army and settlers to your doorstep.
  • If you have a great location for a city near an AI’s border, they will covet your lands. This is pretty much the place to mass units as they will generally invade here first and only. (Tip taken from NeoPlatonist, not my writing)
  • If the AI requests Gold, Luxuries, or other resources from you, it can improve your relation with them by quite a bit.
  • Being friends with players that other players dislike can decrease your relationship with them. For instance, if Montezuma hates Alexander, but I make a Declaration of Friendship with Alex, then Montezuma will take it as a slight. Making DoF’s with the same leaders as your friends can ensure you have friends backing you up, however.
  • If you make a promise to another civ, to stop spreading religion in their borders, to leave their city states alone or whatever, do not break that promise. They’ll hate you and denounce you forever. (Tip taken from NeoPlatonist, not my writing)
  • Don’t directly purchase influence from or pledge to protect a city state who is allied with an AI you want to maintain favor with. (Tip taken from NeoPlatonist, not my writing)
  • There’s no reason to go to war with an AI if they ask you to. If you want favor, you can always just declare war on their target for a few turns when it looks like the battle is decided to get the “We made war against a common enemy” bonus. (Tip taken from NeoPlatonist, not my writing)

  • If you and the AI are in a war and you take one of their cities, they will denounce you until the end of the game. If other AI liked the Civ that you took a city from, they may think of you as a warmonger, and will probably denounce you until the end of the game as well. Try razing the AI’s farms and mines, and capturing their workers, instead of capturing their city. This will ensure that their cities starve until the AI plummets to the bottom of the leaderboard.
  • Liberating an AI worker from a barbarian is a great way to get favor. (Tip taken from NeoPlatonist, not my writing)
  • Keep an eye on the social trees AIs take. If you match Order/Freedom/Autocracy to their favored tree, you’ll gain favor. (Tip taken from NeoPlatonist, not my writing)
  • If you start next to a warmongerer (Montezuma, Alexander, Shaka, Spain, etc…) be prepared to defend your boarders. It’s not a bad idea if you can cripple their start, by stealing workers or razing their tile improvements. Watch out though, you don’t want to get called a warmonger.
  • Sea trade routes get double the gold that a land trade route does. By the end of the game you should try to have all your trade going through sea.


  • Keeping a decent military is one of the most important things you should do. Check the demographics screen and make sure your army is at least the 3rd or 4th largest.
  • Don’t bother with Catapults and Trebuchets. They’re extremely useless. Wait until you can get Cannons or Artillery. Until then, keep 4-8 ranged units (like composite bowmen) and a couple melee units.
  • Naval and Air units are the best. The AI seldom succeeds with Naval invasions, so use that to your advantage. Aircraft stationed on Carriers can absolutely wreak havoc on enemy units and cities.


  • Your first policies should always go into Tradition or Liberty. You can start bothering with other stuff once you finish the policy tree you picked.
  • Know your Civ, and know whether they are best for playing Tall (Less cities, higher population) or Wide (More cities, lower population). Go Tradition if they’re best played tall, and Liberty if they’re for playing wide.
  • Regardless of whether you picked Liberty or Tradition, you should aim to have at least 4 cities settled by turn 75 or earlier.
  • The great person you earn with Liberty should always be used on a Great Engineer, which you can use to get a world wonder by hurrying production. The next best thing to a Great Engineer early on is a Great Scientist to build an academy.
  • Honor is easily the worst policy tree in the game. It’s a watered down version of Autocracy.
  • Rationalism is the best policy tree in the game. Always use it. If you do not use rationalism, you’re going to plummet behind in tech, and then the AI will steamroll you with a better army.

  • If you are going for a Diplomatic or Culture victory, also pick up Patronage or Aesthetics, respectively.
  • Piety can be useful for purchasing Great People near the end of the game, and the reformation belief can be very powerful. However, this does require you to invest quite a bit in your religion, so some civs like Byzantium and Ethiopia benefit more from Piety than other civs usually do.
  • If you’re going for a Science or Domination victory, you can (and probably should) ignore Patronage and Aesthetics.
  • Commerce and Exploration are decent. They aren’t great. Exploration is always okay for Wide empires that plan on settling overseas and on coasts, such as Spain, because it nullifies the disadvantage of having a city so far from your capital. Commerce can be useful for Diplomatic victories because it allows you generate more Gold to gift City-States.
  • Ideologies play a larger roll in BNW than they did before. Freedom is best for Tall empires because it boosts Specialists and Population growth. Order is best for Wide empires because it boosts production and science. Autocracy is, simply, not as good as Freedom or Order, but you can make it work if you’re gunning for a domination victory.


  • Before you reach the Industrial era, use your Great Scientists to build academies. After you reach the Industrial era, it’s best to just ‘bulb’ your scientists to discover techs instantly.
  • Often times it’s in your interest to beeline straight to the next science tech.
  • The bottom of the tech tree is usually military and production techs, the middle is food, culture, and gold, and the top is science and faith. This is more or less the case for every era except the Information and Future eras. So if you aren’t teching to certain military units, then focus on getting the next science tech.
  • Wide empires are simply better at generating science than tall empires. A Wide empire with 8 cities could achieve 1000 science per turn where a tall empire with 4 cities might be getting 700 science per turn. Don’t let this discourage you if you’re playing tall, just know that it’s not as easy to win a science victory than it is with a wide empire.
  • If you fall behind in science, people will beat you to other techs, and that means they get a head start on producing wonders that might be helpful to you. Whoever has the most techs researched probably also has the most wonders.


  • Religion gets gradually more useless as you advance towards the later eras. Eventually it costs more faith the buy religious buildings and units and the like, so a building that costs 200 faith during the Classical era could cost 400 in the Modern.
  • To secure yourself a religion, make sure to build shrines and temples. Your first 2 great prophets should be used to found and enhance your religion, and any others after that should be used for holy sites (usually).
  • Faith per turn pantheons, such as Desert Folklore and Stone Circles, can be very useful in securing yourself a religion.
  • When you reach the industrial era, you can purchase Great People with faith, depending on which social policy trees you completed.
  • Getting Religious Texts as your enhancer belief can ensure your religion becomes dominant, as it spreads faster.
  • If you keep an Inquisitor nearby a city, the AI’s Great Prophets and Missionaries will often not bother trying to convert your city.
  • Trade routes can spread religion to other cities, both inside and outside your empire. Be wary sending trade routes to cities if the incoming pressure of their religion is higher than the pressure of your religion.

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