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Old Sep 22, 2010, 08:49 AM   #1
Skafsgaard
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Cultural Victory strategy - best civ for the job and which Social Policy trees

Hi fellas,

I'd like to start up a debate about the best strategy for achieving a Cultural Victory in ciV.
I'm starting off by bringing two issues to the table:

1) Which civ/leader is best for the job.
2) Which Social Policy trees to go for.

Here's what I think.

1)
In my opinion there are three civ/leaders that are fairly well suited, when aiming for a cultural victory; namely (a)the Greek Alexander, (b)the Egyptian Ramesses II and (c)the Babylonian Nebuchadnezzar II.
a)
Alexander of Greece. I believe this to be the overall best option, when going for a Cultural Victory, as the UA, Hellenic League, will really help you maintain those city-state relations. All city-states are beneficial when you befriend or ally them, but for this purpose the cultural city-states are extremely important. If you manage to find a few cultural city-states, and you keep good relations with them, they can help you immensely raking up those cultural points.
b)
Ramesses II of Egypt is a a very viable option as well, in my book, simply because he can spit out wonders like there is no tomorrow (okay, a bit of an overstatement, but his UA does help), and everyone knows that if there's one thing that helps boost that culture, it's wonders. I'd say he is second only to Alexander, but it's a close one, so you might disagree.
c)
Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, is not as well suited for the Cultural Victory as the other two, but his UA will allow him to pump up that research, especially early game, which in turn gives him technologies before others, and thus allows him to build the wonders before others have access to them, so I'd say he is a viable option as well.

2)
So, what Social Policies to go for? We need to explore at least 5 fully, and I would say that the ideal is to explore no more than 5 at all, since that would just be wasting good culture points.
I say that the ideal policy trees to go for are the follow; Tradition, Liberty, Piety, Patronage and Freedom. I will explain the reasoning for each.
Tradition)
This is the one to start out with. Among the three trees available from the get-go, this is no doubt the best, with a Cultural Victory in mind. Extra food is nice, because you need more population to get more specialists/people to work the land, which in turn gives hammers that can be used for wonders and other nice things that will help, something that two policies in this tree will help you with. Another important policy in this tree is Aristocracy, which will help you pump out more wonders.
Liberty)
This is probably the least important policy tree of all the five that I recommend, so if you need to swap something for another policy tree, this should be it - for example if you find yourself in the middle of a war, and you need some extra oomph, to make sure that you won't get off'ed, before you actually manage to win culturally, then you could take the Honor tree instead. Though many of the individual policies will help you a little, such as the +1 culture per city, +1 hammer in each city, as well as the extra happiness and food.
Piety)
This is surely one of the most important policy trees for a Cultural Victory. The most important aspect of this policy tree is the 2 free policies at the end of it, and second most important aspect 50% boost to culture points or buying policies (if I understand this correctly). On top of that, the extra golden age affecting policies are minor, but also nice, as well as the unhappiness combating policy in this tree. The only down side of this tree, is that it excludes the Rationalism tree, which also adds 2 free policies, as well as some research boosting policies. In the end, it's a toss-up between whether to pick Piety or Rationalism, but I say Piety is the preferred one due to the 50% extra culture points towards buying policies, as well as that you can get Piety earlier, and so it will benefit you for a longer time. The only reason to pick Rationalism, in my opinion, is if you find yourself lagging behind in research compared to the other players in the game - but that's a situation you should avoid in the first place.
Patronage)
This is an important policy tree to get as well, since you will rely on those cultural city-states to provide you with culture in exchange for services. Getting this will ensure that there is a slower decay of positive IP, as well as it never going below 20, and your bribes netting you more IPs. That effectively translates into you having to waste less time and fewer valuable resources to keep the city-states happy, and providing you with more culture, among other goodies, as well as you being able to stretch your limited resources across more city-states, in turn getting more culture points. This policy tree works extremely well with Alexander, as it reinforces his already grand UA. The other policies in this tree can also be helpful, providing you with more resources, happiness and great people (great artists anyone?).
Freedom)
Last, but not least, Freedom. There's a bunch of nice policies here, giving you +50% higher great person production rates, reducing cost of buying new policies, and most importantly a 100% boost to culture production in each city with a world wonder (so make sure that you actually have a world wonder in each of your cities)! The other benefits can be nice as well.

That pretty much sums it up. While a lot has been said, even more remains to be said. A few tips though, would be to of course use artist specialists, make sure you stay ahead in the tech race to be able to build those wonders, especially before anyone else has a chance to, as well as unlocking Social Policies.
What could also be discussed is in what order to get the different policies. Generally, the 3 later Policy Trees (Piety, Patronage and Freedom) are by far the most beneficial, so start there as soon as they are unlocked by reaching the right era (another reason to get ahead in the tech race real fast). And this might obvious, but don't think that you have to finish a Policy Tree, before you start on a new one. Pick and choose the most beneficial individual polices in each tech tree first (such as the 2 free policies in the Piety tree, the 100% boost to culture in each city with a world wonder, etc.), and take the least beneficial ones last (a bunch of the Tradition and Liberty policies).
A lot of other stuff could also be added - tile vs. specialist economy, etc.

That's pretty much what I've got to say. And take note, that this is just what I believe to be the ideal strategy for a Cultural Victory. Feel free to bring forth criticism, as well as your own suggestions and additions as to what might be the optimal strategy. I'd be delighted to hear both. (:
Also, take note that I'm european, so I've only had the chance to play the demo so far, as well as read up on the game as much as I could - so my strategy is likely prone to flaws.

Cheers!

Last edited by Skafsgaard; Sep 22, 2010 at 08:54 AM.
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Old Sep 22, 2010, 09:12 AM   #2
Mannu
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I think

you forgot the French.

I'm much more concerned about how many cities I should have for a cultural strategy. If I expand too much it'll take forever to unlock 5 policies.

Going to try for a cultural victory tonight though...
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Old Sep 22, 2010, 09:16 AM   #3
King Jason
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skafsgaard View Post
Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, is not as well suited for the Cultural Victory as the other two, but his UA will allow him to pump up that research, especially early game, which in turn gives him technologies before others, and thus allows him to build the wonders before others have access to them, so I'd say he is a viable option as well.
This is precisely what I'm doing right now and it's working brilliantly. I'm completely pulling off wonder-spam in Babylon. About to build the one that gives +33% culture in my cities.

Oh and at the moment I have 3 cities, but I'm about to bump it up to 5 for no real reason other than I want to. I could probably maintain the 3 though because I'm surrounded by 2-tile choke-points on all sides.
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Old Sep 22, 2010, 09:52 AM   #4
Skafsgaard
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mannu View Post
you forgot the French.

I'm much more concerned about how many cities I should have for a cultural strategy. If I expand too much it'll take forever to unlock 5 policies.

Going to try for a cultural victory tonight though...
Huh, you're right, I did forget the French. Quite silly of me.
I'd still say that the Greek would be better for a Cultural Victory, though, even if the French is designed to be the cultural civ of ciV.
But then again, I'm a guy who rarely expands, and I often take on OCCs, so I guess that while the French UA isn't that great for me, it could work out as a great UA for more expansive players.

Quote:
Originally Posted by King Jason View Post
This is precisely what I'm doing right now and it's working brilliantly. I'm completely pulling off wonder-spam in Babylon. About to build the one that gives +33% culture in my cities.

Oh and at the moment I have 3 cities, but I'm about to bump it up to 5 for no real reason other than I want to. I could probably maintain the 3 though because I'm surrounded by 2-tile choke-points on all sides.
Ooh, I'm glad to hear that's working out for you!
Cultural Victory is definitely the one I'm going for first as well, when I get access to the game (blasted belated european release dates!). I really like how they revamped it, as not only is it useful for something else than getting an obscenely large territory, in that it also provides you with bonuses, through social policies, as you get more culture, but more importantly, for me, this victory is now achievable for a guy like me, who's usually doing the OCCs.

Also guys, thank you for your replies! I also posted this on the Steam forums, but eh, it seems no one over there actually cares for strategy.
I like you guys that way.
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Old Sep 22, 2010, 10:43 AM   #5
Frank327
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Haven't got the game yet (europe), but it seems to me one of the key policies is oligarchy. Cultural wins usually require holding back on military power, and being able to fight defensive wars should be very important. This also makes the french very strong, because you can rex and claim a lot of land early on, while not getting behind on SP's. After you've established the cities, you've got plenty of time to build on culture. Also, the french get their UU's late in the game when you need them, because that should be roughly when your opponents start to keep you from winning.

Also, maybe switching liberty for commerce is a good idea. Lots of culture requires lots of buildings requiring lots of maintenance. Besides, liberty is mainly useful for large empires, which is probably not a great idea for cultural wins. It's only really useful early on for producing fast settlers and workers. The culture bonus for representation seems rather small.
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Old Sep 22, 2010, 11:06 AM   #6
lemmy101
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I would say French and India would definitely be best for cultural victory.

France have 2 culture per turn from each of their cities, making them instantly one of the best civs.
Ghandi thrives with a small empire, due to getting only 50% of the unhappiness from city size, meaning 3-4 cities can grow massively.

So even with France's 2 culture bonus, I'd definitely say Ghandi is top dog for the culture victory.
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Old Sep 22, 2010, 11:16 AM   #7
Ahriman
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Agreed. India is a cultural victory monster.
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Old Sep 22, 2010, 01:53 PM   #8
ibtd
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First things first: Hi all, I'm new to the boards

Also, before I post, I haven't finished a Civ 5 game yet, but I'm well into an Egypt culture game.

Now on topic.

Seeing the difference in the requirement between a cultural victory in cIV and ciV, I wonder if it is really that bad to build a somewhat larger empire in ciV.

While Civ IV requires 3 legendary culture cities, Civ V requires to fully develop 5 policy trees followed by the Utopia Project. In other words, in Civ 4 you need to boost the culture points of your 3 best cities and in Civ 5 you just need to boost culture points in general, which is a huge and defining difference.

More cities means more culture generating buildings like monuments and temples and every wonder or policy that generates empirewide culture points automatically gets a lot better by default. On top of that, with the remodelled research system, more population means more science output. There are no sliders for it anymore and research is not related to your gold income. Instead, each citizen equals one research point and the rest comes from buildings and great scientists (either in the form of instant tech or by building academies on tiles). So more high population cities with tech buildings advances you so you can grab the important culture wonders and get to the key policies from later eras quicker. The real question is, if your economy holds up. But with established trade routes, commerce buildings and some trading posts it should be possible.

Some other things:

Getting Stonehenge asap gives a you a jumpstart in the culture race. That 8 culture per turn from it is huge, especially in combination with Napoleons UA. Not only lets it grab you policy advantages very early in the game, it also is one of the biggest culture producing buildings in the game.

Finding cultural city states and allying them is also insanely important since they give you a good amount of culture per turn. That means you have to dump quite a fair amount of gold into these. Helping them out as often as you can keeps them allied to you as well.

The timing on the policy that gives you two free policies is a tricky one. Either you want it as fast as possible to just get more policy bonusses, or you want it in the late game and unlock the two highest cost policies right before Utopia Project.

As for the leaders:

I think that Napoleon is an obvious good pick. The UA helps you with culture spam, especially if you expand somewhat aggressively. And if you manage to put wonders in every or most of your cities, then you can get a huge cultural output just from the freedom policy. This goes for every civilization, but with the UA of the French, it is even better.
The egypt are also quite nice with their wonder production and the burial tombs UB (no maintenance, 2 and 2 culture), which helps a lot with a larger empire. In my game I managed to gain a lot of influence for a city state by building the Great Wall for them.
I am not so sure about the greek yet. They heavily rely on finding a lot of cultural city states.
Nebuchadnezzar is definitely workable with science advantage and wonder spam.
Gandhi is another one I'm not too sure about. Yes, you can grow large cities, but will the (possible) higher number of artist specialists outweigh culture from more cities and cultural buildings ? This is just something that needs to be thoroughly tested I think.

These are just some thoughts. If I'm wrong anywhere, feel free to bash me ^^
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Old Sep 22, 2010, 02:07 PM   #9
King Jason
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Well I just conquered Greece and am regretting it for my culture game.. I'll probably go with diplo victory instead since I control all but 2 of the city states...

Unrelated to the thread so I put it in spoilers:
Spoiler:
This particular map is great, it's continents, but there were two main continents with the civs on them, but only a couple city-states each... then there was this third "continent" broken up into 3 islands that contained the 6 of them... so they were entirely separate until ocean-fairing came along. Since I had the tech lead and felt like discovering the other continents, I ended up getting the discovery bonus for all 6 city-states.

It's like my world's version of the spice-islands/new world. Even cooler, none of the states really like eachother, most of them want another one on the islands dead. But I'm not fulfilling the request, I've allied them all using gold instead. Patronage tree is maxed.
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Old Sep 22, 2010, 02:17 PM   #10
Alphaetus_Prime
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A few notes on this topic. France seems to be good for getting the first few out earlier, but not good for overall victory. Greece I hadn't considered, but now I realize: that is very powerful! Also. Egypt = not good for cultural victories in my book. Most wonders give only one culture. Finally, I agree with OP's assesment of which trees to go for but really don't understand why on Earth you would grab the +2 policies early.
1) Policies get more expensive as you go on
2) If the AI really does "play to win," then by leaving one policy in 3 trees (one being Piety) you would disguise how close you are to victory.
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Old Sep 22, 2010, 03:14 PM   #11
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I think it's interesting that no one has mentioned Siam.

I got Siam randomly as my first civ and his UA and UB are very well suited for cultural victories. 50% bonus to culture and food from city states was a HUGE bonus in my game, enhanced by the bonuses from the patronage policy line.

The food bonus is great to help my cities grow faster, and the culture bonus is a no brainer.

The wat is nice because it provides a much needed science boost to help me get new techs to build the important culture buildings in addition to providing culture itself.

I won with a cultural victory in my first game as Siam, and I think that's the best way to win with that civilization unless you want to leverage their UU for a medieval domination victory. I used my elephants to make Babylon and its other city puppets (so they wouldn't increase my cost of social policies) and deter other civs from attacking me, who would have had to cross the ocean to reach me anyway.

Overall, I really like Siam, and is a pretty well balanced civilization that can be leveraged for any type of victory, but I believe it's best suited for culture victories.

Important great people are of course artists and great engineers. You need them to get a wonder in each of your cities to take advantage of the trait that doubles culture in cities with wonders. Also Christo Redentor is a must to push through your victory and has a long build time. Finally Utopia project takes forever, so a GE would be awesome there.

Last edited by Civafl; Sep 22, 2010 at 03:18 PM.
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Old Sep 22, 2010, 06:23 PM   #12
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India seems like an obvious choice, but I'm not sure. With lots of SPs, a few happiness buildings, and every city-state you can lay your hands on for happiness resources, it's possible to run +50 happiness per turn for most of the game, so getting a bit extra isn't that great.

Also, everyone here seems to have missed the most important thing: puppet states give you their culture, but don't add to SP cost. So, what you want is a warmonger that can go out and puppet-ize the world, giving you the culture per turn of a large empire with the SP costs of a small empire.

As such, any Civ can do a cultural victory, but some good choices are:
Aztecs (kill your enemies for culture, then let their puppet govts be the gift that keeps giving)
Babylon (use the Great Scientists to either push you into a new era for city-state bonuses, push towards a tech needed for a wonder, or burn them for Golden Ages while building wonders)
China (you won't need many Great Generals, honestly, so burn the extra ones on Golden Ages whenever you're building a wonder)
Germany (fewer cities = barbarians stick around, plus cheap UU = more time to build cultural infrastructure)
Persia (another way to get at the Golden Ages)
Russia (UT helps ensure you aren't resource starved if the AI puts cities in dumb places and UB helps cover territory without needing so many cities)
Siam (extra culture from UT good for an early lead in SP)

--------------
Regarding SPs, note that you don't have to spend them right away, so it may be more advantageous to store them up until after you get the reductions in cost later on. Go for Tradition->Oligarchy, Piety->Mandate of Heaven, Freedom->Constitution early, and for the salient parts of the Patronage branch if you can ally with at least 3 cultural city-states. Other than that, you might consider delaying the rest until after you get Free Speech and build Cristo Redentor (unless you plan on winning before you get to Telegraph).
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Old Sep 22, 2010, 07:21 PM   #13
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The above poster is right. Puppets are huge. That's another reason Greece can be incredible at this. With their early units they can get a few puppets really early.
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Old Sep 22, 2010, 10:51 PM   #14
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Quote:
I'm much more concerned about how many cities I should have for a cultural strategy. If I expand too much it'll take forever to unlock 5 policies.
I'm also puzzling over this. In other thread, a poster indicated that the cost for each policy increases with each new city you own. Is that right? If so, might one do best with just 3-4 cities?
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Old Sep 22, 2010, 10:59 PM   #15
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I'm also puzzling over this. In other thread, a poster indicated that the cost for each policy increases with each new city you own. Is that right? If so, might one do best with just 3-4 cities?
Yes exactly. Though puppets do not count. Hence I'd put money on the fact that Ghandi is far and away the best culture victory leader.
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Old Sep 23, 2010, 05:04 AM   #16
Alphaetus_Prime
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It's interesting that nobody has thought about city spam and, say, the French + Liberty first (with the policy that gives +1 culture per city). Yes, each city increases the cost of policies by 30%, but increases culture too!

edit: In case this post didn't make it totally clear, I am suggesting this as a viable strategy.

Last edited by Alphaetus_Prime; Sep 23, 2010 at 05:06 AM. Reason: forgot some stuff
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Old Sep 23, 2010, 05:36 AM   #17
Drew the Great
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On my first game I was playing as the japs and by accident I discovered the might of the puppet city. I was trying for a medieval dominance push because samurai are just beasts if you can get them out against lesser units. I had 1 samurai unit take out like 3 cities himself before going down but that's beside the point. I pushed full honor first, as per the whole dominance thing, so I wasn't even set up for a cultural victory, and by the industrial period with as many puppets as I had I was already 3/5 for a cultural victory.

Granted I was playing on warlord to reacquaint myself with Civ so your mileage may vary. Moral of my story is I think that if you play on a larger map as Alexander while only having a few cities yourself and allying with cultural city states while pumping patronage and puppeting what you conquer would make for the best cultural win. The major downsides are puppets can become population problems so you'll have to spend money on happiness buildings which can leave you dry for bribes, but if you can maintain a high level of commerce you'll be fine.
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Old Sep 23, 2010, 02:40 PM   #18
GoodRevrnd
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I played a game as Ghandi, half assedly going for a cultural victory, and let me tell you 7 cities seems far too many to make it doable in short order. It looks like I might catch up after having built Cristo Redentor and Broadcast Towers everywhere, but for most of the game I really didn't have too many policies.

Pro Tip: If you are building or will be building Cristo Redentor soon, NEVER adopt a policy before it is completed. For instance, if you're culture is at 3500/3000 the turn before it is done, once it is completed your culture will be at 3500/2000, meaning you are now 1000 culture closer to your next policy than if you hadn't waited.

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Old Sep 23, 2010, 02:40 PM   #19
DalekDavros
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Originally Posted by Alphaetus_Prime View Post
It's interesting that nobody has thought about city spam and, say, the French + Liberty first (with the policy that gives +1 culture per city). Yes, each city increases the cost of policies by 30%, but increases culture too!

edit: In case this post didn't make it totally clear, I am suggesting this as a viable strategy.
It isn't. The increase in policy cost overwhelms the extra culture after just a few cities, plus early game culture mainly comes from city states and from Stonehenge (which can't be built in every city).
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Old Sep 23, 2010, 02:48 PM   #20
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I'm going to suggest Siam as a potential for a good cultural victory civ. Cultural city state alliances can give a large benefit, which with Siam become vast.

Greece isn't bad either.
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