Civilization Rankings and Suggested Victory Conditions

Foreword
This guide is not in depth by any means. Each civilization will have a paragraph covering the strengths and weaknesses of each civilization and thus can help out in deciding how to carry out a game with a civilization. Some things to keep in mind:

  • This guide is for Brave New World.
  • This guide is not for brand new players. Some understanding of how the game works (and a bit of terminology) is needed for this guide, and so it is written assuming you’re familiar with aspects of the game.
  • The tier list is against the AI and does not factor in map type or difficulty (meaning this list assumes Prince). Obviously certain map types will help or hinder certain civilizations. Use your common sense.
  • Some entries on the tier list may come down to opinion. I’m not making a definitive tier list, I’m just showing you the general area I feel they are in.
  • When I am providing my suggested victory conditions, a condition listed as “secondary” means that the civilization has some advantage pursuing that as an alternative over their main victory condition. A “balanced” civilization is one that is able to pursue all victory conditions equally well.
  • A few civilizations have a “potential to be higher” ranking. This doesn’t just mean they can leap up a single tier– they can easily skyrocket to the top under the right conditions.

Discussion is welcome and may bring about things I have overlooked. With all of that said, let the guide commence.

Changelog:
Nov 9, 2013: Bumped Egypt, Japan, and Songhai up a tier after some further examination.
Nov 12, 2013: It was pointed out to me that Berserkers are available earlier now. This may help Denmark out a bit if I ever get around to testing it out, but I’m weary if it would lift them out of bottom tier.
Nov 15, 2013: Expanded Spain’s entry a bit, added a few more clarifications to the foreword, and reworded the “luck based” Indonesia and Spain to accurately reflect that the map layout needs to assist you.
Nov. 24, 2013: Raised Denmark up a tier and made their write up less scathing. This eliminates the bottom tier, which doesn’t need to exist if just one civilization inhabits it unless it’s rubbish compared to every other. Denmark’s not that bad.
Dec. 8, 2013: Lowered Siam a tier (with potential to be higher) and redid their write up. I have fashioned this guide over time, and Siam’s entry was antiquated: shoddily patched up from Gods and Kings. It is now more accurate.
Jan. 11, 2014: Korea’s ability was changed and I never catched up on that. So now their writeup reflects that.
Feb. 1, 2014: Added an addendum to the Celts. They are more useful in higher difficulty games where getting faith is difficult because the AI begins with Pottery.
Mar 3, 2014: Lowered the Iroquois a tier due to terrain dependency, raised Russia a tier due to their ability being more useful than it seems.
Jun 6, 2014: Added an addendum to Egypt. They are less useful in higher difficulty games because of the technology headstart the AI has making it more difficult to obtain early game wonders.
Aug 21, 2014: Raised Korea a tier. I had them in high tier because of their drawbacks, but science from specialists is just too good.
Jan 11, 2015: Lowered Carthage a tier. Just a random realization one day that I’ve had civs in the low tier that have more going for them than Carthage.

If you wish to see more in-depth details about each civilization, I strongly recommend Zigzagzigal’s guides.

Civilizations Analysis: A-B
America:

America is really, really boring. Their ability isn’t really that great: the sight bonus is usually marginal at best and the cheaper tile purchasing is almost completely negligable. The sight is only really handy when it comes to siege weapons. So America has few advantages until the Renaissance era, where they are blessed with the Minuteman, which is a really good unit and the only reason you should play America. This is a unit that you will want to spam, as their terrain ignoring movement carries over on promotion. The B-17 is alright, but it comes very late in the game. America’s boringness really only lends them to be an expansive civilization. Their two units give them an edge on domination victories, but they can be played any way because of how plain they are.

  • Victory Condition: Balanced/Domination (leaning towards domination)
  • Low Tier
Arabia:

Arabia is a powerful civilization with a strong economic edge and incredible unique attributes. They have a desert start bias, making an early religion favorable because of Desert Folklore. Petra should be built to enhance both the terrain and their ability. Their ability promotes a wide empire, building many caravans for trade routes and spreading religion. The building also promotes a wide empire, as it provides a second copy of each improved luxury near the city. This encourages expanding to obtain many different luxuries to trade with other civilizations. All of the excess money and luxuries makes it easy to bribe city-states and civilziations, as well as the opportunity to fund research agreements. Since their religion spreads easier, there are a variety of founder and follower beliefs that would encourage spreading religion. Domination is a strong option with Arabia with the powerful Camel Knights, and double the oil from their ability can create a powerful late game army.

  • Victory Condition: Diplomatic/Domination/Scientific (domination secondary, scientific tertiary)
  • Top Tier
Assyria:

The sword to Babylon’s shield, Assyria is similar to the Aztecs in that it can gain an edge on a peaceful victory condition through war. Like how Babylon usually focuses on the top part of the tech tree first, Assyria goes for the bottom, becoming a strong military so they can seize the neglected technologies from other civilizations by force. The Siege Tower will greatly assist in this task, for just a few of them can reduce enemy cities to rubble. The Royal Library makes Assyria not entirely domination-focused, though it does provide experience to units. Assyria’s main shortcoming is their focus on early game war with the Siege Towers. Once they are obsolete, Assyria has lost most of its edge. Rapid conquest can be difficult on your treasury early in the game. Nevertheless, the ability will be a great asset throughout most of the game.

  • Victory Condition: Domination/Scientific (domination goal with scientific in hand)
  • Mid Tier
Austria:

Austria is a versatile civilization with a very useful ability. For a base amount of 500 gold (this increases depending on the units it has and the game speed) you can marry a city-state that you have been allied with for at least five turns. This makes it part of your territory and lets you retain all of its buildings, units, and improvements without any sort of diplomatic penalty. You could use it to deny an enemy civilization from becoming an ally with the city-state, create a military base near an enemy civilization, or purchase an army if it has several units. This removes a voter for the diplomatic victory, so Austria is not suited for that victory condition. The effectiveness of this ability depends on the locations of the city-states. The Hussar is a decent unit, but it’s nothing amazing. In addition to a useful ability, Austria has a very useful building: the Coffee House. The great person generation will stack with a garden, making Austria well suited for a culture or scientific game due to their reliance on great people. Their ability can give them a modern military while working on a science or culture game, which can be useful if you’re almost entirely focusing on infrastructure.

  • Victory Condition: Cultural/Scientific/Domination (not suited for diplomatic)
  • High Tier (potential to be higher– city-state locations)
Aztecs:

The Aztecs are a very fun civilization, combining culture and war in a strage manner. Their ability gives them culture for each unit killed, giving them a worthwhile reason to harrass their neighbors all game. Their unit, the Jaguar, is good for some early warring for culture. Their trait carries over on promotion, so it’s a good investment to have quite a few Jaguars. Their building is very good and promotes a tall empire with puppeted enemy cities. The only problem about the building is that lakes are the rarest terrain feature in the game, it seems, so it’s likely you’ll only get just one of the food bonuses. Honor’s opening should be taken to know the locations of barbarians. Park Jaguars next to the camps and farm them for a while for sweet, sweet culture. Wage war for culture. A cultural (or science since they have a jungle start bias) victory is a good alternate to invest in as you’re sacrificing all of your enemies, but it’s probably best to go for a domination goal to put your poor neighbors out of their misery.

  • Victory Condition: Domination/Cultural/(Scientific) (domination goal with cultural in hand; scientific goal secondary)
  • Mid Tier
Babylon:

Babylon’s goal is very simple: go for a scientific victory. Rush the great library to get ahead in the tech tree as soon as possible, using great scientists and academies to shoot ahead along the way. The Bowman and Walls of Babylon are there for a defensive early game, or they could be used to conquer some land early on in the game. Babylon is one of the easiest and strongest civilizations simply because you will always be far ahead of other civilizations technology-wise.

  • Victory Condition: Scientific/Domination (domination secondary)
  • Top Tier
Brazil:

Brazil has a powerful cultural focus due to golden age tourism bonuses and increased output of all types of great artists. Golden Ages and tourism do provide a variety of bonuses, making Brazil rather balanced if you want to go outside of a culture victory. Pracinhas, for one, seem to be a very powerful unit for domination, and will also help in gaining golden ages. The Brazilwood Camp can make jungles very resourceful tiles later on with a university giving them science. Brazil’s main problem is that they have barely anything going for them early game. Persevere, and their time will come.

  • Victory Condition: Cultural/Balanced (cultural preferred)
  • Mid Tier
Byzantium:

Byzantium has the potential to be a very powerful civilization, but it has some design problems that hinder this. Their ability gives them an additional belief from every belief type except reformation beliefs, which can be huge if you can craft your religion before anyone else. You’ll want to go piety and rush towards a prophet as soon as possible. Their units, the Dromon and Cataphract, are both powerful units, but the main problem is that all of these uniques are scattered apart on the tech tree, so you’ll only be able to utilize one of these units while you’re building faith (and you really should be doing that). Byzantium’s religion can be crafted to help any kind of victory condition, but having two strong unique units does promote a domination game.

  • Victory Condition: Balanced/Domination (leaning towards domination)
  • Low Tier (potential to be higher– beliefs available)
Civilizations Analysis: C-F
Carthage:

Carthage is an early game powerhouse and can especially dominate on maps with plenty of sea. All of your cities should be built on the coast to capitalize on the maintenance free harbors your ability gives you (you’ll need to research The Wheel before it kicks in). The mountain crossing ability is situational, but can definitely come in handy during war. Their unique units encourage an early domination game: Quinqueremes are powerful ships and the African Forest Elephant will crush enemy armies and make it easier to get great generals. After the early game, there’s little going for them other than some extra gold from the harbors. The gold can be used to continue the war front, or you can lay down your arms and pursue a diplomatic victory instead.

  • Victory Condition: Diplomatic/Domination (domination secondary)
  • Low Tier
Celts:

The ability of the Celts is there to assist in making you one of the first (if not the first) to get a religion. The faith bonus for keeping those forests unimproved throughout the whole game is negligible, making their ability pretty much null after the early game. The Pictish Warrior is a very strong unit, especially since they keep their foreign territory attack bonus upon promotion. They can be used to farm barbarians for faith, allowing the Celts to start with a social policy other than piety and still get a religion. The Picts are good for conquering others in the early game, but unfortunately early warring can be harmful to your treasury, and the Pictish Warriors become obsolete after the early game. This leaves the Celts with only the Ceilidh Hall, which can offest unhappiness from conquered cities. War is obviously the game of the Celts, but they don’t really have much assistance in that area past the early game. If you’re playing on King difficulty or above, where the AI starts with Pottery (making it difficult to find your own religion, let alone a pantheon), the Celts are more useful.

  • Victory Condition: Domination
  • Low Tier
China:

China is a very powerful in achieving a domination victory. Stronger great generals and more frequent ones make warring a must, and excess generals can be used to nab key land or set up a good offense/defense with citadels. Chu-ko-nus are one of the strongest units in the game with their double attack. This pretty much makes then siege weapons against cities and monsters against units. The best part is the double attack is retained upon promotion. The Paper Maker adds gold atop the science provided by a library, helping with the money toll that early war can bring. Since it provides gold, puppet cities will prioritize building it. Going wide with China, puppet empire or not, will grant quite a bit of extra gold that can further the domination game, or China can go scientific by using the science boost from the paper makers and using their funds for research agreements.

  • Victory Condition: Domination/Scientific (scientific secondary)
  • High Tier
Denmark:

Poor, poor Denmark. With the worst themes in the game (I’m not knocking the soundtrack, it’s phenomenal; Denmark’s are just the least compelling compared to every other civilization), you’d think the game gods would take pity on them and make them strong. Unfortunately, Denmark is, in my opinion, the worst civilization in the game. Their ability can be useful for amphibious strikes, and it can potentially give units more movement than they normally would, but both of these have situational uses that depend on the terrain. Having navies and armies on the opposite ends of the technology tree hinders defense during a naval raid. The free pillaging for all units is the best part, but pillaging can hurt the economy of a captured city. However, if you’re just planning to cripple an enemy, go nuts with burning all of their improvements. The Berserker is a fine unit, but it’s a longswordsman replacement, so it becomes obsolete very quickly. Fortunately they are available a tech earlier than the longswordsman, giving you a bit more time to have fun with them, but it will probably still feel too short. The Norwegian Ski Infantry suffers from the same obsoletion problem. At least both units carry over their promotions on upgrading, but most of the fun of Berserkers stay with that unit, only leaving you amphibious.

  • Victory Condition: Domination
  • Low Tier
Egypt:

Egypt can be played several ways. One obvious method is to play tall and go towards spamming wonders, maximizing your production to build them faster. Egypt can also go wide and aggressive, with the War Chariots assisting in some early game conquest and the Burial Tombs giving happiness to conquered cities. As they are maintenance free temple replacements, Egypt can build a strong religion. Wonders should be built that assist whatever victory type you are going for. Since most wonders have a cultural focus and provide tourism with hotels, that is the easiest goal to pursue with Egypt. Don’t spam wonders– work on one that will aid you the most and do not neglect your infrastructure! Egypt is less effective on higher difficulties since it will be rather difficult to snatch up early wonders before the AI.

  • Victory Condition: Balanced/Cultural (leaning towards cultural)
  • High Tier
England:

England is a very powerful civilization for conquest, especially on maps with plenty of sea. Their navy will be one of the best with their additional movement point, and it will undoubtedly be the best with the Great Lighthouse under your belt. The extra spy can be useful at the introduction of espionage, allowing, for example, a counter-spy and a spy in a city-state right off the bat, or a diplomat and a spy at the very start, giving them a bit of a diplomatic edge. The Ship-of-the-Line will make England a force to be reckoned with in naval warfare, and the Longbowman gives them a huge advantage in land wars, especially since the extra range is retained upon promotion.

  • Victory Condition: Domination/Diplomatic (diplomatic secondary)
  • High Tier
Ethiopia:

Ethiopia is a strong civilization and an easy candidate for a one city challenge. Their ability promotes keeping your empire small, and the Mehal Sefari are great at protecting your capital from attackers. The main strength of Ethiopia lies in their building, the Stele. Going piety and making steles and shrines will make you likely one of the first to found a religion. A peaceful cultural or scientific victory should be pursued. Ethiopia can be played tall to get the defensive bonus, or wide to get the bonus of many Steles. Ethiopia can also be a very powerful warmongering nation, so long as you manage your empire’s size and keep the number of cities below that of your enemies.

  • Victory Condition: Cultural/Scientific/(Domination) (scientific secondary, domination unorthodox)
  • High Tier
France:

France is a civilization suited for a cultural victory. Since they gain a powerful tourism bonus from theming, they should work towards building world wonders with great works slots and generating great artists, writers, and musicians to get all kinds of great works, as well as trading them to get the ones that would provide a theme. The Musketeer is just a decent unit, but it can help if you don’t want to play nice and seize great works other civilizations own by force. Chateaus are a very good improvement, assisting in culture for social policies, tourism once hotels can be built, and always-welcome gold. Unfortunately, France’s ability makes them too dependent on the cultural wonders, and getting beaten to a few can potentially shut you down.

  • Victory Condition: Cultural/Domination (cultural goal with domination in hand)
  • Low Tier
Civilizations Analysis: G-J
Germany:

Germany used to be one of the worst civilizations, but the fall patch really helped them out. Germany is a civilization focused on warfare, and their ability will help that throughout the game. Being able to recruit barbarians at a significant chance can help make a large and strong army early on if several barbarian camps are conquered. The reduced unit maintenance lasts throughout the game and will take away some of the sting of having a large standing army. The Panzer is a very powerful unit, but unfortunately it shows up late in the game. The Hanse assists the warfront further, allowing your trade routes to go to city-states for bonus production as you pick away at the enemies. Or you can go a more peaceful route with the Hanse, creating trade routes with many city-states and using that production for other purposes. The crux of Germany’s effectiveness lies on the location of city-states, as it is the Hanse that raised Germany out of the dark crevices of the bottom five.

  • Victory Condition: Domination/Diplomatic (diplomatic secondary)
  • Mid Tier (potential to be higher– city-state locations)
Greece:

Greece is a well balanced civilization. Their two units, the Hoplite and Companion Cavalry, can help in some early game conquest, but they go obsolete quickly. What makes Greece great is their fantastic ability, which makes it easy to hold onto city-states. With the benefits of long-term befriended and allied city-states, Greece can work towards any victory goal. Greece can also pass through city-state territory without penalty and heal as if it were owned. Of course, diplomatic is the best option, but there’s nothing holding you back from the other victory types.

  • Victory Condition: Balanced/Diplomatic (leaning towards diplomatic)
  • Mid Tier
Huns:

The Huns are strictly a domination civilization with a focus on early game rushing. Horse Archers will pick off enemy units easily, allowing you to move in your Battering Rams and demolish enemy cities. Conquering should be done soon and quick before the unique units become obsolete. Early game warfare can hurt your economy, but with the Huns you might as well take out an early neighbor. Their only advantages outside of the units aren’t that great: a bit of production boosts from pastures, razing cities a bit faster to reduce unhappiness from captured cities quicker, a small boost in the science race with a free technology researched at the start of the game (meaningless unless you keep going for science), and pulling city names from other civilizations currently in the game. If you’re knowledgeable about city names, you can plan against civilizations you haven’t met yet.

  • Victory Condition: Domination
  • Low Tier
Incans:

The Incans are a very powerful civilization not tailored towards any victory goal. No movement penalty on hills is huge, as hills are common features across all terrain types. The reduced maintenance is great, as you can potentially set up your cities properly and create a road entirely on hills to create a maintenace-free city connection. The Terrace Farm is a very useful improvement and can be built on any kind of hill and can potentially rack up lots of food. Slingers are just okay, but they retain their ability upon promotion. The Incans can go towards any victory type that they wish, as their uniques can have synergy with all four of the victory types.

  • Victory Condition: Balanced
  • Top Tier
India:

The effectiveness of India’s ability has flip-flopped throughout each iteration of Civilization V. In the vanilla game, it was quite useful. Gods and Kings made it quite useless. Brave New World has made it effective once more. However, the ability is the only one in the entire game that has a negative aspect, and this hurts early expansion. The obvious route is to make India a very tall empire and to go for a peaceful science or culture game. However, the ability is actually more useful for India to construct a wide empire with populous cities, meaning a domination victory is not out of the question. Population unhappiness will always outclass city unhappiness, so it is important to use internal food trade routes to build up new cities to overcome the double city unhappiness. The War Elephant and the Mughal Fort are just okay, though the Mughal Fort is the only unique building that grants tourism.

  • Victory Condition: Scientific/Cultural/(Domination) (cultural secondary, domination unorthodox)
  • Low Tier
Indonesia:

Indonesia is a rather balanced civilization, with all of their unique bonuses supporting different victory goals. The kris swordsman is an interesting luck-based combat unit that can potentially be very powerful with a roll of the die, though if you’re unlucky they could be severely weakened. The candi provides faith and assists in great people generation, and it does not require a fresh water source like the garden it replaces. This makes Indonesia a great producer of both faith and great people. The unique ability promotes expansion to other landmasses to gain the unique luxuries (nutmeg, cloves, and pepper) for additional happiness and gold from trade. This grab bag of abilities doesn’t really make Indonesia lean towards any victory type, so they can be played in any style. The only problem with Indonesia is they are very dependent on the map to be really effective.

  • Victory Condition: Balanced
  • Low Tier (potential to be higher– luck/map based)
Iroquois:

The Iroquous are rather balanced in victory types, but a start bias towards forests, a lack of movement penalties for forests, and their unique building promote a defensive scientific game in my opinion. Being able to move through forests in owned territory quickly can also be used offensively early in the game when forests are still around. The forests can slow enemy attackers while friendly units can quickly rush to enemy cities, and the Mohawk Warrior can be of great use in enemy lands with forests. Forests can also be used to establish city connections, and caravans aren’t limited by your territory for their extra movement, giving you an advantage in early game gold. The main problem of the Iroquois is that they are entirely dependent on forests and the Longhouse is a disadvantage compared to the Workshop if there is not enough forests nearby.

  • Victory Condition: Balanced/Scientific/Domination (leaning towards scientific or domination)
  • Low Tier
Japan:

The fall patch helped out Japan a bit, but not as much as Germany. They are obviously suited for war, but they are simple and not very exciting to play. Their ability lets them fight longer and harder than most, but it was more useful when units had 10 max HP instead of 100. I suppose it has its uses and can help out in a pinch. Added culture from fishing boats and atolls is okay (potentially providing quite a bit of culture early on if you’re lucky), giving them quicker border growth and policies in the early game, as well as a long-term effect of reducing the effectiveness of tourism from other civs. Funnily enough, hotels will give the fishing boats tourism, making a culture victory viable for Japan. The Samurai are pretty decent units, but they quickly become obsolete because they are longswordsman replacements, and you can’t upgrade them until much later. Being able to construct fishing boats can help build up captured coastal cities. The Zero is pretty terrible and really only benefits the AI, but I guess they’re okay if you just focus on the bottom part of the tech tree. Just go and beat up everyone, but there are a lot of better civilizations in that regard. At least Japan has some cultural strengths to fall back on.

  • Victory Condition: Domination/Cultural (cultural secondary)
  • Low Tier
Civilizations Analysis: K-O
Korea:

Korea is a strong scientific civilization, a tall empire focused on specialists. Hwach’a are not good at attacking cities, and Turtle Ships cannot sail the ocean. These disadvantages make Korea a defensive civilization, with both units there to protect their territory in land and on sea. Science is obviously Korea’s game, but they can play a strong cultural game as well, gaining science from writer, artist, and musicians specialists. Their downsides are not being able to sail the oceans at the time other civilizations can, meaning you’re likely not finding the first World Congress, and Brave New World making a finite number of art specialists and making landmarks harder to obtain, hindering their ability (which does effect landmarks). The “wonder” part of their ability might as well not even be there anymore, as it now only applies to three wonders, two of them being national wonders: the Great Library, the National College, and the Oxford University. However, effects that enhance research agreements will enhance their tech boosts. These downsides do not change the fact that science from specialists is an incredibly powerful asset, especially for the tall empire Korea should craft.

  • Victory Condition: Scientific/Cultural (cultural secondary)
  • Top Tier
Mayans:

The Mayans should rush to theology early on to maximize the use of their ability. Choosing a free great person gives the Mayans a lot of options early on, making them a balanced nation. Pyramids encourage a scientific game and can help out a lot towards gaining a religion if you go piety. Immediately being able to make atlatlists encourages a defensive or offensive game, but it makes the Archery tech provide no bonuses if you’re not planning on building the Temple of Artemis. The free great people open up a lot of options early on, such as choosing a great admiral to explore the world before everyone else, or obtaining early great works from a great writer or great artist. There is certainly a scientific tilt to the Mayans’ game by building a wide empire with many pyramids, but they can succeed in just about anything.

  • Victory Condition: Scientific/Balanced (scientific preferred)
  • High Tier
Mongolia:

Mongolia is strictly made for conquering the world. Having a plains start bias means that locating horses should not be a problem. You’ll be biding your time early on as you work your way to Chivalry. Once that tech is obtained, you have access to the best unique unit in the entire game. Keshiks make Mongolia a frightening force, as they can easily take down enemy armies and pick off their cities (you will need a melee unit to capture cities, though). Khans are very good, as they can keep up with your forces and heal adjacent units, making extended military campaigns a lot easier. A group of Keshiks led by a Khan are a nightmare for any of their victims. Most of Mongolia’s strength lies in the Keshik, so most of your thunder will fade once it becomes obsolete, although the Khans will be useful for the rest of the game. Their ability is just okay: the bonus mounted unit movement is nice, but the increased attack strength against city-states is mediocre. If you wanted to you could take city-states for their luxury resources, but it’s better to just ally with them to also gain the bonus from that.

  • Victory Condition: Domination
  • Mid Tier
Morocco:

Morocco is a great trade civilization, and the defensive bonuses of their unit and improvement give them a peaceful goal to strive for. Other civilizations will prioritize sending trade routes to you because your ability will benefit them slightly, but their trade routes benefit you more. Maintain good relations and trade routes with other civilizations to get the most bonuses from their ability. With a desert start bias, use Desert Folklore, Kasbahs, and the Petra to super charge your desert tiles. Morocco is well suited for any of the three passive victory goals.

  • Victory Condition: Diplomatic/Cultural/Scientific (not suited for domination)
  • Mid Tier
Netherlands:

The Netherlands is suited for a peaceful game because of their unique ability, which requires smart trading to maximize its effectiveness. You can trade away luxuries early in the game to get more gold per turn (or a lump of gold from friends) and still retain happiness, or you can trade away a last copy of a luxury for a different one, which will give a net gain in happiness. Polders are incredibly good improvements, and it may be worth exploring the map for marshes or flood plains to make them on if you don’t start near any. Sea Beggars make the Netherlands a powerful naval nation throughout the game, as they retain their promotion (though there’s a long period before Sea Beggars can be promoted to Destroyers). This gives them a slight naval domination edge if that is to be pursued, but the Sea Beggars are better used in retaliation to antagonistic neighbors. Since you’ll be making quite a bit of gold with the Netherlands, they are suited for a diplomatic victory, but being a tall empire can promote a cultural or scientific game, too.

  • Victory Condition: Diplomatic/Cultural/Scientific (cultural or scientific secondary)
  • Mid Tier
Ottomans:

The Ottomans are a mid-late game domination powerhouse. They are a powerful naval nation throughout the game, having reduced maintenance on their navy and having a chance to capture enemy ships with any melee ship, giving the opportunity to create a large self-replacing navy in times of war. The Sipahi are great shock troops, and having no movement cost to pillage makes them great for crippling an enemy economy or healing on the go. The Janissaries are very powerful, gaining a large heal when they kill a non-barbarian enemy. They retain this ability upon promotion, allowing the Ottomans to be a dominating force by both land and sea throughout the game. The only issue with the Ottomans is it takes a while for them to get rolling.

  • Victory Condition: Domination
  • Low Tier
Civilizations Analysis: P-R
Persia:

Persia should be built around obtaining golden ages, so their civilization should be a happy one. With the right social policies and wonders (gun for Chichen Itza as soon as possible), you can chain together golden ages and have one that lasts several turns. Persia is fitted for an early conquest due to the Immortals being able to heal much faster and the overall bonus to troop movement during a golden age. The Satrap’s Court helps out by working towards golden ages, giving Persia a slight edge towards diplomacy, as a wide empire with many Satrap’s Courts will have quite a bit of extra gold. Persia’s longer golden ages can also help out with cultural or scientific victory types, making Persia a well balanced civilization. Great Artists should be focused on, regardless of victory type, if you want to keep up a long golden age.

  • Victory Condition: Balanced/Domination/Diplomatic (leaning towards domination or diplomatic)
  • Mid Tier
Poland:

With a plains start bias, a strong unique unit, and a great unique building, Poland is a strong cavalry nation. Ducal Stables will enhance all pastures worked by the city, making them very good tiles. The Winged Hussar is a very strong unit, giving Poland an edge in mid-game warfare. The main feature of Poland is their ability, which is the best ability in the game. Seven free policies or tenets will be yours with the ability, and you can react to developments in the current game due to the free policies being spaced out by era. This makes Poland suitable for any victory type.

  • Victory Condition: Balanced/Domination (domination secondary)
  • Top Tier
Polynesia:

Being able to embark at the very beginning of the game is great for naval exploration, ruin salvaging, meeting civilizations and city-states, and colonizing distant lands early on. The Maori Warrior is okay, but their ability carries after promotion, making them good defensive or offensive units. The Moai improvement makes Polynesia a cultural powerhouse for social policies and tourism once hotels are made. Despite this, Polynesia has no real weaknesses towards any of the other victories, making them a balanced pick.

  • Victory Condition: Cultural/Balanced (cultural preferred)
  • Mid Tier
Portugal:

Portugal is a powerful economic civilization, giving them an edge when it comes to working towards a diplomatic victory. The nau rewards exploration with a nice gold boost, and the feitoria and their ability go hand in hand to get as much gold as possible from trading. Having a copy of every luxury resource in the game is not out of the question with proper trade and feitoria placement. Having tons of money and happiness helps with all victory types, making Portugal a rather balanced civilization.

  • Victory Condition: Diplomatic/Balanced (diplomatic preferred)
  • Mid Tier
Rome:

Rome’s ability makes it tailored for any kind of victory, so long as many buildings are built across the civilization that promote the chosen victory type. That said, Rome has powerful early game units that make it suited for a domination victory. The ability will also help a Rome bent on conquest, as it can help captured cities be brought up quicker if the capital contains the buildings the conquered cities are constructing.

  • Victory Condition: Domination/Balanced (domination preferred)
  • Mid Tier
Russia:

Russia should go for a domination victory, as double the iron and horses is very useful towards conquering the world. The production boost can be very helpful early game. The strategic resources can also be used to trade to other civilizations for gold or luxuries. Later on, having double the uranium is incredibly useful because of the rarity of that resource and the powerful units able to be made with it. The Krepost is a mediocre building, but you’ll be wanting to build barracks anyway since you’re a militaristic civilization. The Cossack is a great unit, especially because it’s bonus attack against wounded enemies carries upon promotion. Russia’s main problem is that they have a tundra start bias, which is the worst start bias in the game. Fortunately for Russia, iron is often found in tundras, eliminating most of the map-based luck of their ability.

  • Victory Condition: Domination
  • Mid Tier
Civilizations Analysis: S-Z
Shoshone:

The Shoshone have a very strong early game. The additional territory for their cities is huge, as you will gain fifteen tiles instead of the usual seven! This will not effect the cost for border expansion in any way, meaning Shoshone cities will gain lots of territory really fast. Also huge is the ability of the pathfinder (especially considering they start with one instead of a warrior). While that ability functions like the Mayan’s unique ability (it refreshes much sooner), it can easily be used to gain a strong lead early on. Ruins can provide a great boost to faith early on, but that reward will take around twenty turns before it can be selected. The Comanche Riders aren’t anything special, but they can come in handy during that time period. The Shoshone aren’t geared towards any particular victory type, making them a very balanced pick. The main problem with the Shoshone is that their main advantages are early game only, and their larger territory will inevitably make your neighbors mad.

  • Victory Condition: Balanced
  • High Tier
Siam:

Siam’s ability is useful and makes them suited for a diplomatic victory. Additional output from friendly maritime, cultural, and religious city-states makes holding onto these kinds of city-states key. The additional culture will open up policies quicker, allowing for the Aesthetics or Rationalism trees to be filled out sooner to help a cultural or scientific victory, respectively. The wat has all the greatness of the university but with more culture– always a helpful thing. Bonuses to faith output from city-states means Siam can have a powerful religion. The Papal Primacy belief and the Consulates policy in Patronage are an excellent combination for Siam, as city-states with your religion will become permanent friends. Siam can also be played in a more aggressive manner, using maritime city states to boost the population of a wide empire, with the Narusen’s Elephants being a powerful unit and militaristic city-state units starting with more XP. Siam’s disadvantages are having no direct advantage towards any victory type and being dependant on the location of city-states to gain their main advantage.

  • Victory Condition: Diplomatic/Balanced (diplomatic preferred)
  • Mid Tier (potential to be higher– city-state locations)
Songhai:

Songhai is good for domination games, as taking encampments and cities will provide lots of money, which is very useful early in the game when money is hard to come by. Land units receive bonuses that help with amphibious strikes. Mud Pyramid Mosques are a great building, providing extra culture and faith without maintenance, making Songhai one of the few civilizations with a bonus to religion that is mostly domination-focused. Mandekalu Cavalry are great units en masse, able to both pick off enemy units and whittle down enemy cities. The increased money gained from raiding encampments and cities will help with key buildings or military upgrades, but it could also be used to assist in a diplomatic victory. While they certainly won’t be popular with the civilizations they’ve been attacking, buying out city states is the way to go.

  • Victory Condition: Domination/Diplomatic (diplomatic secondary)
  • Mid Tier
Spain:

Spain is not suited towards any particular victory goal, although domination edges out simply because they have two powerful unique units that show up later in the game. Spain should focus on exploring and obtaining natural wonders, no matter the cost. Their ability makes the bonuses from natural wonders too good to pass up, and with the One With Nature pantheon belief, Spain could have a strong religion fueled by their natural wonders. Spain can also have a strong culture game with the Natural Heritage Sites resolution in the world congress coupled with hotels and airports. Spain’s main drawback is that they are a bit of a gamble: either you’ll get a hefty sum of cash and tiles with amazing outputs, or you’ll just get a bit of change for finding what other civs and city-states (especially city-states) are already using.

  • Victory Condition: Domination/Balanced (domination preferred)
  • Low Tier (potential to be higher– luck/map based)
Sweden:

Sweden is encouraged to play a peaceful game and obtain many declarations of friendship to enhance great person generation. Unlike other civilizations, Sweden really has to pay attention to world relations to prevent angering other civs with an ill-placed declaration of friendship. The great person generation gives them a balanced game with many options, but they excel in diplomatic games because of the huge relation boost in gifting great people to city states. A conquest-oriented game with Sweden can still give them diplomatic power– gift away excess great generals, admirals, and prophets (with one conversion charge left) to city-states for a quick and easy alliance, and band together with other civilizations against the hated warmongers. Caroleans are great, and Hakkapeliittas will help get you excess great generals for city-state alliances. Sweden may seem quite good, but they have some issues. Their ability helps other civilizations get great people, which can be bad. It takes a while for their unique units to arrive, so they have little advantages until then. The main problem is they have a tundra start bias, which is the worst start bias in the game. You can do wonders with Sweden, but you’ll really have to work at it to succeed.

  • Victory Condition: Diplomatic/Balanced (diplomatic preferred)
  • Low Tier
Venice:

Venice is quite the interesting civilization, capable of being a naval and trading powerhouse. Venice can be played tall, or they can go wide with a puppet empire, having the bonus of being able to buy buildings and units in their puppet cities. They are fairly suited towards all of the victory types, but diplomatic edges out simply because of having double the trade routes giving you an ocean of gold to spend. Only city-states in key locations or those allied with rivals should be bought out with the Merchant of Venice when pursuing such a goal. “Purchasing” a city-state requires no gold, despite the wording used. Venice can be immensely powerful with a massive treasury that can get them whatever they want, but it all depends on the location of city-states.

  • Victory Condition: Diplomatic/Balanced (diplomatic preferred)
  • High Tier (potential to be higher– city-state locations)
Zulus:

The Zulus are obviously built for a domination victory. The ikanda and their ability make it ideal to spam a large amount of units and overwhelm the enemy. The impi are incredible units, easily able to take down enemy troops. The ikanda will automatically give pre-gunpowder melee and mounted units the buffalo horn promotion, giving them +1 movement, +25% flank attack bonus, and +10% ranged defense. You can then get the buffalo chest and buffalo loins promotion, giving additional combat strength bonuses, flank attack bonuses, and ranged defense. The only problem with the Zulus is that once the Renaissance hits, all you’ll have left is your ability, which is not what makes the Zulus so good. But hopefully by then you have a gang of elite promoted troops to sweep up the rest of the competition.

  • Victory Condition: Domination
  • High Tier
The Tier List
The tiers from above all collected together. Be aware that tiers do not necessarily denote one civilization will be better than another. Instead, it denotes that a civilization in a lower tier will generally have a tougher time succeeding compared to a civilization in a higher tier, but the nature of this game and the different victory conditions can always have this vary.

Top Tier:
Arabia, Babylon, Incans, Korea, Poland

High Tier:
Austria (potential to be higher), China, Egypt, England, Ethiopia, Mayans, Shoshone, Venice (potential to be higher), Zulus

Mid Tier:
Assyria, Aztecs, Brazil, Germany (potential to be higher), Greece, Mongolia, Morocco, Netherlands, Persia, Polynesia, Portugal, Rome, Russia, Siam (potential to be higher), Songhai

Low Tier:
America, Byzantium (potential to be higher), Carthage, Celts, Denmark, France, Huns, India, Indonesia (potential to be higher), Iroquois, Japan, Ottomans, Spain (potential to be higher), Sweden

Austria, Venice, Germany, and Siam depend on city-state locations
Byzantium depends on what beliefs are available
Indonesia and Spain depend on the map being friendly with you.
Obviously map type helps and hurts various civilizations. Use your common sense.

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