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Civilzation 5 : Guide To Cultural Victory And Beyond

Sid Meiers Civilization 5 allows you to start from a single settler and build a powerful empire from the ground up. There are five paths to victory including science, conquest, time, cultural, and diplomatic. Although this guide is focused on winning a Civ 5 cultural victory, many of these steps can also be taken for a game with any civilization and victory type.

The very first thing you must do is select a civilization, the one chosen for this guide to a cultural victory is the Aztecs. Read more below for a complete set of tips, tricks, and steps necessary for an easy victory.

Consider the Civilization’s Bonuses:


Sacrificial Captives – The Aztecs gain culture for every enemy unit killed, combine this with the social policy that also provides culture for each downed unit for an even better culture boost per kill.

Jaguar – A military unit that replaces the default Warrior. This unit is available from the beginning of the game and can heal some HP after killing an enemy unit, this survival bonus will help you to get the most out of the Sacrificial Captives bonus early on.

Floating Gardens – This is an improvement for any city built next to a River or Lake that provides food (2 + 15% of city’s total) and 1 production in addition to adding +2 food to each Lake tile that the city works. This one is not a huge bonus for a cultural victory, but the additional food to lake tiles and production this gives is helpful to any victory type.



Steps to Victory :

1. Choose a starting location near a river if possible. This will provide you with more gold per turn, faster population growth, and prepare your city for the future Floating Garden that will be built later. Building on a hill will provide more defense in case the city is becomes under attack.

2. What To Do During Turn 1 :

  • Build a monument before anything else. This goes for almost any future city too. The monument will provide 2 culture per turn, so it is better to prioritize them to maximize culture output.
  • Be bold with your initial jaguar. It heals whenever it kills so you can be daring with the early barbarians for an early culture rush. Do not forget there is an extra bonus for fighting on jungle and forest tiles as well as a speed bonus. Camping barbarian camps are efficient for culture farming. At the same time you should not let your jaguars die, having an army of upgraded jaguars will be a huge boost to the survivability of your army later in the game because of that same healing bonus.
  • Research Pottery, the research that leads to the Writing technology.
3. Continue to explore with your jaguar, looking for goodie huts and potential areas for future settlements. Make sure to stop and heal as needed to avoid losing your unit.
4. After the monument is complete, begin work on a worker. After Pottery is complete, switch to a research needed to improve a resource near your capital city, if no technology is needed get Mining. After that, go straight for Writing. When it is time to select the first Social Policy, get the first one in the Tradition tree.
5. After the worker is complete it’s about that time to start building a settler to expand your civilization. Hopefully by now your jaguar has stumbled upon an area on a river or coast, near multiple resources, a few hills for production, or maybe a natural wonder that provides culture. Bring it back closer to the city as barbarians will start to become a threat to your worker around this time. Your worker should be set to improve a food resource if possible and then the luxury resources near a city. Once the first improvement is completed by your worker a military unit should be near the city at all times to protect it.
6. Early Research : After Writing is finished researching, Sailing (Only important early on if near coast with fish), Animal Husbandry, Archery, Bronze Working, The Wheel and technologies necessary for luxury resource improvement should be chosen first in that general order before focusing on the more culturally beneficial technologies, starting with Drama and Poetry.
7. Once your empire has more than one of any luxury resource, start asking around to see who will pay the most gold per turn for it. Once your second city is up and running you may be able to build a wonder if there is enough production in either city.
8.  Build a third settler before Drama and Poetry is complete if possible, and after the technology is finished start building an Amphitheater in all cities and a National Epic at your capital. Fill all artist slots  as much as possible. From this point on, each move should be highly focused on maximizing culture output for each city.
The continuous strategy for a culture victory game is detailed below.
A cultural victory is won after 5 complete branches in the Social Tree page have been unlocked, and the Utopian Project is built.

Production in Cities:

Building the right city buildings as soon as a city is created will provide the right foundation for a prosperous and happy city, start with a monument. If the city is destined to make military units, create a barracks (and any other military buildings you can), otherwise build a library (then any culture buildings, followed by economy boosting buildings). Cities in danger of attack (from players and AIs, barbarians should not be attempting to take your city when the proper defense is present. Always add the available culture buildings as you research them.

Military :

A basic army should be built up from a military foundation composed of the following units :
  • A garrisoned military ranged unit for each city, as well as at least one pair of military units to defend the tile improvements and workers from barbarians.
  • At least two pairs military units actively seeking out and destroying and/or camping barbarian camps surrounding your empire (as more military units are built add to this army for added protection and coverage). This is the most important part of your military as it will be providing a good amount of culture if used properly.
  • A naval military unit for each city on the coast, and a pair of ships to serve as a mini navy sent out to explore the seas (as more naval ships are built add to this navy, especially if there are many coastal cities and/or marine resources in your empire. If there is a lot of water area on the map, killing barbarian ships can become an extremely helpful and easy bonus to culture.


After researching Drama and Poetry, technologies should be chosen along the more cultural focused branches. It is almost impossible to give an exact order in which technologies should be researched in, as it is subject to the situations that are different in every specific game. A general guideline for the culture research branch is : Drama and Poetry << Theology << Education << Acoustics << Architecture << Archaeology << Electricity << Radio << Plastics

Gaining Culture:

  • Send jaguars out with at least one military unit partner for barbarian hunting and camping, this will reduce the chance of your unit losing especially combined with the Discipline social policy which provides a 15% combat bonus to melee units with another military unit (does not have to be melee) adjacent to it. Ranged units like archers are recommended. Keep military units around your cities borders as well to pick off barbarians looking to pillage your improvements for some easy culture. Continue to upgrade military units to be as advanced as the current technology allows, starting with jaguars.
  • It is important to stay on top of building any new culture buildings that may have been researched in each city. Artist slots should be filled in cities if possible as Great Artists is the key to winning through a cultural victory. As soon as one is created, build it’s special building on a tile that will be worked constantly throughout the game, probably one in your capital city, or any city that is specialized to become a ‘super culture hotspot’.

Gaining More Culture : Social Policies

The Honor tree synergies well with an Aztec cultural victory because the Sacrificial Captives bonus makes a strong army that much more useful.  The Piety tree has useful culture bonuses for ANY civilization striving for a cultural victory as well, including the essential Mandate of Heaven , Reformation, and Religious Tolerance.

Essential Social Policies:

Legalism : The first four cities created get a free culture building. Getting the most out of this policy means holding off on it until you can get four more expensive buildings for free by making sure as many culture buildings as possible are built in the first four cities before obtaining this policy.
Mandate of Heaven : Half of all net positive happiness is added to the culture gained each turn.
Reformation : Cities that have built a wonder gain an increased 33% culture per turn
Religious Tolerance : All future policies have their culture cost reduced by 10%. This should be unlocked as soon as possible for maximum effect
The entire ‘Freedom’ branch : Not only are all the policies beneficial to a Great Artist producing empire, but the bonus for unlocking the whole tree doubles the yield of Great Tile Improvements, increases Golden Age length by 50%, and unlocks the ability to purchase Great Artists with Faith.

Recommended 5 branches to unlock for a cultural victory :

  1. Honor (army effectiveness bonuses)
  2. Tradition (food and population based bonuses)
  3. Piety (faith and culture bonuses)
  4. Freedom (Great Person and Specialist bonuses)
  5. Autocracy (more army and conquest bonuses)
  6. After unlocking all 5 branches, begin building the Utopian Project in one of your production heavy cities… once complete, victory is yours!
Written by Puff, a.k.a. Jean

A lifelong gamer, master healer, and freelance writer that’s currently making a home of Florida. Follow her on Twitter @PuffTheHealer for the occasional game related rant. Click here to find her articles on Zootgamer.

  • Vishy

    I thoroughly enjoy this franchise. I will follow your guide & hoepfully achieve Victory. Thank you greatly for supplying the guide.

  • cs lover

    I follow your guide and this really help me.please post some guides for old games also.I want that you should post some tips and tricks about counter strike.