A Guide to Playing “Small” on Deity (feat. Piety)


Dec 8, 2012
New York City, USA
tl;dr. This is a guide for Non-Deity players looking to break into the difficulty and Deity players who want to try something new. Intimidated by the rough Deity tech curve? No problem! This strategy allows, nay, encourages, you to fall behind early and stay there to your content. Narrowly, it is about how to win a diplomatic victory with the really bad Piety start on Deity difficulty. More broadly, it is about an under-appreciated playstyle of going "small" (as opposed to tall or wide) and playing from behind, on purpose. Even more broadly, it is about how to effectively spread religion, control the AI, and manipulate the ideological landscape. Ultimately, I hope this convinces some people that good starts are generally overrated in BNW and going “small” is a totally viable playstyle. This strategy was tested under Deity difficulty conditions, but should work on lower difficulties as well, with longer turn times. Readers beware. This will be long.

A Guide to Playing “Small” with Piety

Table of Contents
- Overview
- Screenshots
- Stats
- Basics
- Strategy
- Tips
- Troubleshooting
- Build Orders
- Theorycrafting
- Conclusion

“One believes things because one has been conditioned to believe them.” - Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

First, a bit of background. I have always wanted to write a guide to AI diplomacy in Civ V, because I feel that this is usually the most important and underestimated part of the game. If you can control the AI, there's not much else you need to do to win. But, things keep changing significantly with AI behavior each patch, so it didn't seem worthwhile to write a guide. Now that it seems we're not getting any more major patches for Civ V, I thought I would share my experience playing as the great AI puppetmaster. I'm going to use one of my recent games as an illustration of the playstyle, so the discussion won't all be abstract. This has been tested through a half dozen successful games on deity difficulty post-fall patch BNW, with various bad starts and non-top tier civilizations. Anyway, in this particular game, my goal was to test the limits of the BNW AI diplomacy and how much religion I could spread from a 3-city Piety start. I've been playing around with a theory that there is a 4th way to play Deity: not tall, not wide, not semi-wide semi-tall, but... small. "Small" is where you don't grow, and you don't spread. You just hang out, not die, and then when the time comes... you win. The goal is to win a diplomatic victory, but science is also possible (see theorycrafting section for how to alter this strategy to win with a spaceship). To illustrate this “small” playstyle, I picked an average civ (Greece), avoided using its special abilities until late game, and focused only on faith output plus missionary spam, with no wonders. I sacrificed food, hammers, and science for gold and faith. For the first 100 turns, my international trade routes were providing more science than my cities. Then, turns 150-200, the Patronage policy (with only a handful of CS allies) was providing more beakers than my cities. Recipe for failure, right?

Surprisingly... no. I started with only one rule, which is that I needed a start where my land would give me a real faith pantheon (so, not sun-god). Without this dirt, or a faith UA/UB, I would not recommend this strategy. This particular game was my first roll. My faith pantheon was wine, but this strategy would work with any faith pantheon. I was exceedingly lucky to have the opportunity to be Zulu's only neighbor (fun!) and have 4 of the 7 other civs also start Piety (fun! fun!). As a bonus, I was fortunate enough to have no rivers, mountains, or lakes near my starting location. Eventually, I will also find that there is not a single faith CS in the game. This would be a challenge. This would be a perfect test game. Make no mistake, for a peaceful game, there's not much you could do to make a worse start without also starting in the tundra. To top this off, besides AI diplomacy, I did exactly the opposite of what Deity players would tell you to do on these forums. Heck, I even worked Great Merchant slots exclusively until turn ~200, when I started working great scientist slots in my capital as well (while working Great Merchants).

This is all to prove a point, that going “small” is viable, regardless of any dirt-related conditions besides the pantheon. My Greece run was not a good game. This is actually one of the worst games I've played. I picked this particular game specifically because it was so bad, to illustrate the power of going "small". Science wins with Babs are rather meaningless in my opinion. Yes, games are easier when you have an academy before turn 20. On the other hand, I think it's pretty impressive to hit Globalization in under 50 turns from the Industrial era from a ~300 beaker, turn 220, 3-city benchmark. Playing "small" will not get you the fastest turn time, but it will get you more delegates when the first vote arrives. If turn times is your thing (instead of diversity), then this strategy will endlessly frustrate you. The goal is a good victory%, not speed. I have recorded sub-250 turn times with this strategy (modify to hit satellites first, don't finish patronage, start rationalism 2 policies early). But, that's besides the point. The goal of this strategy is to win reliably, with bad-awful starts. As opposed to most other strategies, which are rather start-dependent, where your first 100 turns determines how good of a game it'll be... going “small” let's you match your wits against the AI, regardless of your starting situation. The only requirement is a faith pantheon-capable starting location.

Ultimately, I won by a comfortable margin in my game, with belts and suspenders, 46 votes on the first World Leader vote. I did not have Forbidden Palace, for obvious reasons, and Russia destroyed a CS in mid-game. Other than that, there was nothing I could have done to make the victory more secure. I ended the game #1 in literacy, despite having chosen to not go Satellites first and bulb the spacestation (despite having a ready GE).

Screenshots, statistics, strategy and discussion are below.


Game Settings:
Spoiler :

Spoiler :

Final World Congress:
Spoiler :

Final Maps:
Spoiler :

What “Small” Means (Turn 155):
Spoiler :

What “Behind” Means (Turn 219):
Spoiler :

275 turns to win, China was the only civ who finished Apollo (with two boosters) at this point.
63 total population by endgame.
1015 max beakers per turn for the end-game tech push to Globalization.
0 total world wonders built.
On turn 250, I was 6th in literacy.
On turn 220, I had not yet opened Rationalism. I was 8th in literacy and every other demographic statistic, besides approval.
On turn 160, I finished the NC.
On turn 160, I had influence (any type of non-base influence) with exactly 5 CSs (only 1 ally). I purposefully did not attempt to leverage Greece's UA, to show that any civ can do this.

On the first WC vote, world fair was proposed and passed. I spent all my hammers on the project and only ended up with ~250, which is ~100 short of silver. This happens occasionally.
My WC proposals: World Fair, Arts Funding, Scholars in Residence, International Games (failed, by me), World Ideology (mine).
AI WC proposals: Ban Whales, Standing Army Tax, Cultural Heritage Sites, Embargo Portugal (failed), World Religion (mine).

Total DoWs: 0. Not a single DoW from Zulu.
Total Denouncements: 1. Russia denounced me in retaliation for me denouncing her.
Total DoFs at endgame: 6. This includes my Zulu neighbor who has coveted my lands since turn 5 and the two civs who caught my spies, China and Russia. (screenshot of France, the only holdout civ, above, in the Maps section).
Total # of times AI attempted to convert my cities: 0. Yay, diplo.
Total # of bribes to AI for DoW: Zulu 4 (to occupy his army), Portugal 1 (to keep Russia in check, after she threatened me with the largest game army), France 1 (to keep China in check, after she finished the apollo project; not necessary, but I had the extra gold).
Total units built/bought: 1 scout, 3 triremes, 1 worker (1 stolen from CS, so 2 total; you don't need workers when you don't have early population/cities). Greece's UUs were not used.
Total great scientists used: 1 generated, 1 gifted by CS, 1 faith-bought. Along with oxford and rationalism finisher, bulbed for: Industrialization, Plastics, Atomic Theory, Ecology, Telecommunication.
Religion used: Taoism. Goddess of Festivals, Papal Primacy, Monasteries, Choral Music, Religious Unity, Evangelism (heavily under-appreciated). Papal primacy was my concession to getting a rather good faith-mid-game with wine. I could have gotten even more faith mid-game with Pilgrimage instead, but I wanted the achievement and challenge tied to Papal Primacy for this game. You should never make this religion.

Basics: A New Diplomatic Victory
“The Savage nodded, frowning. You got rid of them. Yes, that's just like you. Getting rid of everything unpleasant instead of learning to put up with it... What you need, the Savage went on, is something with tears for a change. Nothing costs enough here.” - Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

The new BNW post-fall patch Diplomatic Victory raised the bar for a Diplomatic Victory. You now cannot win a diplomatic victory in the first round even if you control all 16 City States and host the United Nations (that will give you 38 delegates out of 40 required). You will need at least one source of delegates from: Forbidden Palace, World Religion, World Ideology, or Globalization. In addition to this hurdle, the AI has been programmed to attack and conquer City States at a higher rate, making it a rare Deity game where all City States survive to the end without your intervention, and losing City States no longer lowers the delegates required to win threshold. This has led many Deity players to rank a peaceful Diplomatic Victory as one of the most difficult victory condition on Deity difficulty (http://forums.civfanatics.com/showthread.php?t=514129).

This is the challenge that we will tackle. We will start Piety, stay small in our God-awful starting location, with our friendly Zulu neighbors, surrounded by 4 other civilizations opening Piety, without a single faith City State in the game. In other words: Fun!

This is not the fastest way to play to a diplomatic victory. Going hard for science and triggering a faster vote w/ Globalization will of course be faster. But, who cares about all that turn speed nonsense. This is far more stylish, uses skills mostly unrelated to your typical fare 4-city tradition science victory, and ultimately more secure because you will end the game actually still friendly with almost everyone, instead of in a DoW, abusing the AI's inept military game (where they can't even move and attack with ranged units on the same turn! talk about game exploits).

So, the ideal conditions for starting small and picking Piety are:
1) You have a faith pantheon capable start, but otherwise poor dirt in your capital and/or starting area.
2) You either have no room to expand, or are afraid expanding will trigger bad diplomacy (because you started next to aggressive/expansionist civilizations who covet your land).
3) You have at least one neighbor that did not open Piety.

Note: For those who have no respect for a peaceful Diplomatic Victory, I am not sure why you are reading this guide. But, just in case you're out there, I did not want to leave you out. So, I have ensured that this strategy, with some tweaks, is also viable for a secure Science Victory on Deity difficulty. It's in the theorycrafting section in the back, but it's actually been tested with good results.

Basics: Why... "Small"?
“The author's mathematical treatment of the conception of purpose is novel and highly ingenious, but heretical and, so far as the present social order is concerned, dangerous and potentially subversive. Not to be published.” - Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

Small is to Piety what Tall is to Tradition and Wide is to Liberty and Honor. It is the natural way. Given the bonuses to infrastructure vs expansion, you can chart the path of each opener. Piety has none, so its natural path is to stay small. Those that try to start Piety tall or wide run into obvious problems on higher difficulty levels like Deity. That's because you have no advantages. Both Liberty AND Tradition hard build settlers better (with liberty getting an extra one). You can't go wide with any speed or ease. Both Liberty AND Tradition have basic infrastructure bonuses for the early game (faster worker, free buildings, hammers, food). You get slightly faster shrines and temples, but it does not compare. Both Liberty AND Tradition get indirect science bonuses (great scientist and growth). You don't, unless you pick one specific (and rather mediocre) founder's belief. Both Liberty AND Honor get production bonus to troops early to expand via warfare, while Tradition gives you enough gold to support your early army while continuing to grow. You don't have any of these things.

So, you can't go wide, and you can't go tall. What else is left? What else can you do? You can only go small. It is the natural way. Well, you may well say, you've convinced me that Piety sucks as an opener, and that it has relative disadvantages to going tall or wide or aggressive... but why would I pick Piety and go “small” at all? What are the... dare we say, advantages, of going “small”?

Well, I'm glad you asked.

Small is friendly. Going small shares the same diplomatic advantages as going tall. You're not in anyone's way. Usually, only one civ would covet your lands, instead of everyone around you. In addition, religion further appeases your non-religious neighbors (if any) with quick shared religion, and creates early game allies. This may or may not happen if you do not found a religion and rely on your aggressive neighbor to spread to you before they attack you. In fact, the very fact of you getting an early religion will change the AI's course of action so your neighbors are disproportionately unlikely to have religions that compete with you (besides the ones that open Piety). Note that a derivation of “small” is “semi-wide” small, which seeks to spread to up to 5/6 cities instead of 3, but remain unintrusive, due to the small distances between your cities, and your early spread of religion. Only do the 5/6 city alternative if you can do it early. As will be explained later, the science penalty works in your favor between Temples and Renaissance. Expand asap once temples are available, and then just sit back and give the AI its space. Do not go semi-wide small if there are any aggressive neighbors around.

Small is suitable for religion. Ever have to burn your first missionary just to spread your own damn religion to your own damn cities? Why can't they be like pantheons? It's awful. Well, this is not a concern for small civilizations. If your city is 4 pop or less, it'll only be a dozen turns or so before they're automatically converted. You've just saved an early missionary, who can begin doing God's work in places that actually matter: other civilizations. Additionally, just about the only things not tied to growth are faith, culture, and gold. Faith is a passive generation, which works in the background at a steady clip regardless of how well your cities are doing. This is good, because your cities are not going to be doing very well. So, it's a good synergy that you're still competitive there. Speaking of gold...

Small is gold-efficient. Extra cities are not quite what they used to be. Trade routes greatly increased the viability of creating a huge gold reserve without a huge empire. This is great, since the underlying resource for a diplomatic victory is gold. Your planted prophets are also limited in quantity, so extra cities, even set on full gold production, will not make a terribly large difference in the game, and more cities means more buildings you'll need to cash buy and upkeep (because remember, your cities are small, they are awful awful little cities).

Static bonuses have no per-city culture/science penalties. Another BNW gift to being small, is that certain bonuses, third-party or belief or social policy bonuses, have absolutely no consideration for your city size. While 100 science might not be great for a wide civ, for a 3-city civ? It's a difference-maker. Same with culture. This is perfect, because all CS bonuses and all Patronage tree bonuses are static. Besides food, none of them ramp up with number of cities. Some other great policies are Fine Arts in the Aesthetics tree, Scientific Revolution and Finisher in the Rationalism tree, and anything that affects trade routes. Tradition and Honor openers should also get consideration (especially because there is an inefficiency in a typical culture-ramp for the Piety tree, so that you should take another policy in the middle of Piety if you have almost any source of culture at all).

These are the only advantages to playing small, and they are the ones we will leverage into a secure, peaceful victory.

Basics: Why... Piety?
“But I don't want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness, I want sin.” - Aldous Hexley, Brave New World

In the current state of the game, Piety is somewhere between bad and awful. But, it is not completely unplayable. Humble though its capabilities may be, it does have them, and they do have certain undeniable synergies with playing small. To understand the dilemma of Piety as an opening tree, let's start with a couple of myths about Piety.

Piety starts must go wide. This is simply not true. Piety has exactly 2.5 policies that benefit from going wide, the opener, Organized Religion, and half of Theocracy (and a possible choice for reformation belief, but you don't have to choose a wide-one). Compare this to Tradition, which also has 2.5 wide-friendly policies (Oligarchy, part of the opener, part of the finisher, and part of Aristocracy). Compare this to Liberty, which has all 6 of its policies favoring wide (arguable the free worker and settler parts of their respective policies are not wide-friendly, but that's still 5 total policies). Compare this to Honor, which has only 1 (Military Caste). Religion itself doesn't have to go wide either. A faith pantheon, a faith CS, or a faith natural wonder will all support tall/small play. Piety is more flexible than Tradition/Liberty in that you can go tall or wide or small and still reap the benefits.

Piety has a happiness problem. This is also not true. Liberty needs happiness (and doesn't get enough of it) because you have a lot of cities at -3 per and an overall larger population. Tradition needs happiness (and arguably gets too much of it) because it's going to make your cities, especially your capital, grow a lot faster. Honor needs happiness because you need to absorb unhappiness from conquest (the happiness bonus, which is your total # of cities, roughly keeps up with half of the AI city's population if you continuously war and acquire more cities; it's rather elegant). On the other hand, Piety has no growth bonus, no settling extra city bonus, and no conquest bonus. So, it's not doing anything that would require the happiness! But of course, if you don't ever grow, spread, or conquer, you're probably going to lose. So, you'll have to do something at some point. The idea only is that you can't do any of those things right off the bat, so you can wait to eventually get your happiness from other sources (like, your next SP tree, or a CS, or trade). Piety is designed to start very slow, even slower than Liberty, and to build up that game-long religion bonus.

Piety has no culture. This is only partly true. Piety has delayed culture. If you are not using a culture civ, then you must construct your religion very carefully. You do not need culture in the beginning of the tree, because if anything, Mandate of Heaven, Theocracy, and Religious Tolerance come too early to even be useful at that point. You only start needing culture after getting temples and a religion, to speed through the rest of the tree. So, make sure you have a source of culture then. For most civs, this means that at least one of your pantheon, founder or first follower belief must generate culture. You'll likely still finish slower than other trees that get their culture in the opener, but Piety doesn't need to be finished quickly. It's built to be slow. Ultimately, when going small, you want your religion to have a healthy faith/culture balance to address this problem (and a heavy focus on culture/faith CSs).

Now, that being said...

Piety is not necessary for going “small”. Piety's only advantage is a reverse relative advantage, in that going “small” minimizes the negative impact a Piety start necessarily creates. If you have a faith pantheon, you don't need Piety to play this way. In fact, by not going Piety, you can get access to other things, like wonders, or more cities. However, as explained in the Tips section, Piety is the most secure way to get that faith-pantheon for most civs, and the faith savings provides a game-long bonus in the long and drawn out missionary/prophet battles on Deity difficulty. Piety's first three policies give you two-three additional faith items (and the finisher another one), so that's at least one extra religious front you can fight, possibly two. Generally, you'll only be fighting on one/two fronts and Piety allows this to happen quite easily, whereas without Piety, your religion, if you get one at all, would have to be very faith/spread focused to even be able to spread it to a neighbor.

This faith spreading is the entire Piety bonus. The Piety bonus, for its first three policies, although couched in terms of hammer savings and faith and faith savings... really all boils down to a diplo bonus with the AI via early faith spread and upkeep. If you are not planning to use this bonus, then you are essentially using up three social policies just to secure a religion, and maybe get one more great person for endgame. That's generally not a great deal. Heck, if that's your only goal, you might want to stop after the first two policies just to secure the religion, without wasting four more social policies on frankly rather sub-par bonuses.

Thus, a Piety start is useful to going small because it 1) gives us something constructive to do in the first 150 turns of the game while we're not worried about silly things like growing or spreading, and 2) has bonuses to religious spread will add both early-game and late-game security to our peaceful Diplomatic Victory.
  • Like
Reactions: bcl
Strategy: The Art of Falling Behind (Ancient/Classical)
“It is natural to believe in God when you're alone – quite alone, in the night, thinking about death.” - Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

A Piety opener starts off easy. And by that, I mean that there's really not much you can do to mess it up, because the entire point is to fall behind, and the game doesn't let you fall behind without giving you something else in return whether it be hammers or gold, and we're not too picky about which. Remember, since you don't care that much about growing at this point, you can hard build settlers early, secure your trade routes with archers, create a couple of ships for exploring, and generally be merry. The only thing that matters at this point is not letting any resource sit idle. Set up your trade routes and protect them asap for science and gold; be faith focused (work applicable tiles; build shrine/temple first; get to Philosophy early) and spread religion (see tips section for more details). Growth is not important. Libraries are not important (I only start to actively worry about them if I hit 7 pop and still don't have one) and although you will get Philosophy quite early, there's no pressure to get the NC up. Stealing a worker is always a nice bonus, but it's really not a difference-maker for us. One of the nice perks of being small is that you don't have enough population to require so many workers to improve tiles. If you're building roads, I recommend one per city. If you're waiting for Harbors (and this is entirely viable because city connection gold is based on population, and you won't have much until Medieval anyway), having two workers per three cities, like I did in my Greece game, is totally fine.

When founding your second and third cities, prioritize good tiles that will allow you to produce faith. Try to spread away from the AI instead of towards the AI. And, if you start with a mountain, make sure your second city has a river; and vice versa. Ultimately, you want a culture city for GWAM guilds and Hermitage and a science city for NC and Oxford (they can be the same one). Be sure to quickly trade the neighboring AI your luxuries, so he doesn't covet your lands even more.

Be sure to explore as much of the map as possible, as quickly as possible. A trireme should be one of your first gold-buys in a coastal city. Another trireme should follow soon after. Meeting all civs and city states are vital to our diplomatic strategy, and meeting them early lets you propose crowd-pleasing resolutions in the first World Congress to quickly establish rapport with civs who are far away and couldn't care less about us otherwise (the first player in player order to meet all civilizations is given the non-host proposal power in the first session of the World Congress; in single player, that player is always you, you just have to meet all the other civs first).

Being small and slow and backwards during this time is okay. You won't die because of religion spread, trade routes, and you can even pay a tribute if your aggressive neighbor also started Piety (you'll want to be on his good side anyway so he doesn't missionary/prophet spam your cities). You won't screw up because you have no other goals. This is the most difficult part of the game for Tradition, and it makes/breaks games (generally reliant on good starts with good dirt, which is only somewhat in your control). But, you won't even have to worry for a second. Isn't going small great?

Strategy: A Path to Enlightenment (Medieval/Renaissance)
“Science is dangerous, we have to keep it most carefully chained and muzzled... God isn't compatible with machinery and scientific medicine... You must make a choice.” - Aldous Hexley, Brave New World

Remember when you were carefree in the Ancient/Classical eras and worried little about growth and science? Well, all of that is about to change. Once your aqueducts come up, you need to start thinking about growth, and you need to start thinking about science.

To clarify, you will need MORE growth, and you will need LESS science.

Let's start with growth. Growth leads to science, but more importantly, it gives you more people, which translates to hammers and/or gold, and in one city, it translates to culture with guilds. This is all very important for all strategies because there's no other way to do things in this game without hammers/gold. Now that we have aqueducts up, growth is 60%+ more efficient than pre-aquaducts (after one growth cycle)! Whoa! Makes it almost not worth it to focus so hard on growth over hammers per-aquaducts eh? Fortunately for us, we didn't. Make no mistake, you will never ever outgrow a Tradition opener. But, you're going to make an effort to grow anyway, because really, what else are you doing? Growing involves favoring food tiles over other tiles (of equal value), and running two food routes (one to your science city, one alternating between the other two cities once each before starting to support your science city). Normally, this is where a Tradition strategy starts to have problems with hammers, gold, and making key buildings, falling behind on key infrastructure items like markets or cultural buildings. But, because we're going to hang around Medieval Era for so long, you'll have absolutely no problems building everything to your heart's content, even while running predominantly farms. Feel free to work a 2 food 3 gold tile over a 4 food tile, but if it's the choice between 2 food 2 hammers and 4 food, take 4 food. Your tile preference should go Food > Hammers > Gold, but in no case is food worth more than multiple golds, so just count up the total tile yields, and then shift to food preference if there are tiles of equal yield you need to work. Note that this is only true for Piety because of Theocracy, and that for any other opener, 1 post-aqueduct food is actually worth more than 1.5 tiled gold.

Now, let's move on to science. Avoid it like the devil it is. You want to marinade in the dark ages of the Medieval Era because your faith purchase costs go up by 50%(!!!) as soon as you pick up a single Renaissance Era technology. That's a ridiculous price markup and we won't have any of it until we are comfortable that we will be making no more (or at least only very few more) missionary/building purchases. How long this takes depends on how many religious fronts you are fighting, and how strong your faith production is, but the key is to slow down your science until you are ready to leave and save faith for Great Prophets. Sometimes, if you have few fronts and no Piety civs to contest with, this will happen fairly quickly, and you should make a beeline for Education and get Universities up asap, but most of the time, you'll feel comfortable staying in the Medieval Era for quite some time (often past turn 150). This should happen naturally, as your main source of science was trade routes, and you are now diverting your trade routes for food (your trade route from Compass should go to food immediately). You will see a natural uptick in your science once you build Universities, NC, and get Scholasticism.

Once you hit Renaissance (preferably through a spy-stolen technology), everything changes. All of your Medieval faith advantages are gone, and it's time to beeline toward Industrialization to rush three factories for ideology. Do not waste any time. Now that the entire world is well ahead of you in science for every tech, you get an effective ~+17% bonus to each beaker (multiplied AFTER all other bonuses for extra effect, including offsetting a portion of the per city science penalty), for free, no matter where you beeline. Yay! Work scientist slots if you want (not necessary, but nice in the NC city). Besides the two food routes to your science city, use all international trade routes. Build Oxford. Go go go!

Side note: be sure to have enough city states under your control to “king-make” a civilization you've spread your faith to. Once you make them host, they will have a vote, and within a couple of proposals, they'll propose your world religion for you, so that you don't take the diplo hit (having the world be at war with you for 100 turns when you are small and have no army is not fun). This happens by the 3rd resolution 100% of the time in my experience (and usually by the 2nd). See tips for how to make this happen in the tips section. Also, once City States get a vote, you should be sure to have the power to pass a resolution and/or buy votes to do so to pass Scholars in Residence (this should be your second resolution proposed, and if the world is moving particularly slow, you might have to buy votes to get this passed). As you can see from my Greece game, I did not do this until the third resolution, and it did not matter that much. But, this is a +20% bonus on top of all your other bonuses (additive with the +17% from being the last to research a tech). It's very powerful.

I think now you should be starting to piece together the reason this strategy works, despite the slow start. Going small is an efficiency-based strategy, where we always get the most out of what we have. This lets us produce a rather pathetic amount of resources, but to ultimately have the benefit of a ~+33-50% bonus to almost every single resource we produce, over the entire course of mid to late game. This is why we can be much smaller, focus on world diplomacy, and still catch up to the rest of the world by the first world leader vote.

Strategy: End-game Nirvana (Industrial/Modern/Atomic/Information*)
“Did you ever feel, as though you had something inside you that was only waiting for you to give it a chance to come out? Some sort of extra power that you aren't using – you know, like all the water that goes down the falls instead of through the turbines?” - Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

Ah, end-game. Where games and won and lost. At this point, once you have some experience, you'll get the feel of exactly which turn the first World Leader vote will happen, and how much science you need to hit Globalization before then. Generally, you'll want to hit the food producing technologies first, followed by Plastics and rush labs. You'll want to rush buy almost everything by this point, because you have plenty of gold, but not enough hammers. You'll want to time your science output to finish a tech on the turn before you are about to finish stealing a tech. You'll want efficiency. You'll want to build espionage buildings and the national wonder at some point for an extra spy, just in case.

Remember, you get absolutely no advantage (not even to turn time) for hitting Globalization early. Around 10 turns before the vote (or earlier), you want to set all of your cities to starve and produce science. 1K science is always a nice number to aim to hit, but you only realistically need 800. You will want to bulb your scientists 2 turns before the vote (there may be some excess science from great scientists that require 1 turn to clear between techs). 5 turns before the vote, you want to send all of your spies to the appropriate capitals as diplomats to set up Globalization.

For safety, you should be switching ideologies to engineer and then join the “winner” of the ideological war by switching to their ideology (see tips section). This will allow you to propose world ideology and do late game espionage to steal atomic era techs without much diplomatic repercussion.

To get city states, you should try to complete their quests. Trade for luxuries (including trading away luxuries you own, so the city states begin to desire those luxuries again, you have way more happiness than you need anyway). Starting at around 80 turns before the vote, each failed coup will cost you up to 1k gold just to get back to the balance point in influence, so only go for high-probability targets and make sure you have the gold to back up your coups. This is still the only way to remove an AI's influence and discourage them from continued pursuit of the CS, so you should still coup with your higher level spies at 75%+. And of course, use your gold to buy security for your city states.

You need 40 votes to win. You should have 42 without Globalization, and 48 with Globalization. This means four city states can be wiped out from the game and you should still be able to win on the first vote. In fact, you do not even need to hit Globalization if no more than one city state gets captured. In games where City State security is high, settling down and focusing on gold instead of science will lead to a more secure win (see tips section on City States for how to keep them alive). Once the first vote for the World Leader is tallied...

Congratulations! You have just been crowned the World Leader. The entire world loves you, showering you with DoFs, united under one World Ideology. Your people are ridiculously happy, following the true religion, the World Religion. And, as a bonus, your civilization has even achieved #1 in Literacy, because why the heck not. :) This is, of course, all very well deserved. After all, you just peacefully won the game on Deity difficulty, in style.

NOTE: That's it! The main guide ends here. Everything past this point is support for (or musing on) the main strategy above. They include tips about how to execute the strategy and theorycrafting about the many intricacies of Civilization V.
Tips: Controlling AI Aggression
“No wonder those poor pre-moderns were mad and wicked and miserable. Their world didn't allow them to take things easily, didn't allow them to be sane, virtuous, happy... what with the temptations and the lonely remorses, what with all the diseases and the endless isolating pain, what with the uncertainties and the poverty – they were forced to feel strongly. And, feeling strongly... how could they be stable?” - Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

One of the few things that stops a game cold is getting wiped out by early aggression. Although the AI is generally peaceful in BNW, there are several exceptions to the rule, and starting next to certain early game warmongers (especially Zulu or Aztec) should sound alarm bells. In any case, because you will have no army, any civs with military intentions will likely choose you unless you convince them otherwise. Below is a description of our diplomatic tools we can use to avoid war, and death.

Spread Your Religion. Unfortunately, there are very few diplomatic options in early game, so most players resort to building an army (many hammers, and if you are attacked, resource loss due to unworkable and pillaged tiles during war), or bribing all their neighbors (a significant amount of gold, but usually less than the hammers/gold upkeep of an army capable of discouraging the AI). These are sub-efficient strategies that use many resources. Fortunately, one of Piety's only early game advantages is the faster spread of religion, due to having 2 more faith per city and 20% off missionaries. These should be used. As quickly as possible, you should convert your neighboring civs, starting with the ones with no pantheons. This lowers your ranking on their aggression table, and makes a powerful military ally that can act as your protector and be bribe-able for cheap. If this is any civ besides Zulu or Aztec, spreading your religion should make the AI automatically pick another neighbor if they have one. If this is the Zulu or Aztec, or if the AI has no other natural neighbors, you should follow this up with a bribe (described in the next subsection), and the religion will save you some valuable early game gold in the bribe.

You may have noticed that we have not spread our religion to our own cities. That's because we're small! Our cities will quickly and naturally get our religion from the holy city. The worst mistake you can make in the early game is to not spread your religion to your neighbors first. Besides getting a religion and picking beliefs earlier, this is the only early game advantage you have for going Piety. If you are not going to be able to use this effectively (e.g., if all your neighbors go Piety), then it is probably wise to not go Piety at all.

Alliances and Rivalries. Throughout the game, it is important to monitor the diplomatic relations, and the assumed diplomatic relations between each civilization and its neighbors. The actual diplomatic relations will be displayed in the Diplomacy tab, where you can see who is friends with who, who has denounced who, and who is at war with who. Generally, all non-strict warmongers will hate each other more than they hate you, because they are competing for the same wonders and will beat each other out. So, in the early game, you should be most kind toward your neighbors who have the most wonders. Because they won the wonders race, they will not have negative diplo toward other AIs; they will also be the ones more likely to go culture victory, will makes them prioritize world religion. Another early negative diplo factor that AIs have against each other is that they covet the lands of their neighbors. A Deity AI who is expansionist will covet the land of every single neighbor, and one who is not expansionist will covet the land of their neighbors with unique resources, until they obtain that resource. So, a preliminary thing to do is to let your neighboring AI (assuming non-expansionist) plant a city near one of your resources. Once they have this resource, they will be far less aggressive. A more advanced tactic is to use all of this knowledge to observe which lands each AI still covets, where the religious wars are being fought, and who has stolen which wonders from whom. This will give a better picture of the AI diplomatic relationships than what their current DoF and Denunciation status show. I cannot stress enough the importance of knowing what each AI wants to do, because that's how you can identify problems in world diplomacy early so that you can ensure your own security, and so that you can know where the friction you generate will be long lasting (push the AI over the edge with red diplo markers), and where it will only be temporary and not worth the gold. It will also let you know if you are in a position to start a chain denounce of a particular civ, in order to get good diplo with others. This takes some practice to predict, and a good way to learn is to play normally, make educated guesses based on evidence, and then checking later in the game using bribe proposals (no need to go through with it) to see if you are correct, hatred as measure by relative price discounted by army size differential.

When Ideologies come into the game, there will be a major shift of alliances. As explained in the ideology section below, this is also manipulable. But, even aside from manipulating the world into a single ideology, we can better grasp which civilizations of opposing ideologies we can still hold as friends, and which relationships with civilizations of the same ideology who we had friction with before we can salvage. Remember that ideology is only a diplo modifier like any other diplo modifiers, and that it is not special. It is entirely possible that two civs of the same ideology do not like each other, and it is entirely possible to ally with civs of opposing ideologies.

A final word about DoFs. While RAs are very important for a diplomatic game (especially when we are small, so that we can always take full advantage of the RA output), there are sensitive times in a game where it would not be wise to DoF everyone who wants to be friends with you. Make sure you know the world diplomatic situation and you don't get yourself into a poor diplomatic situation with a neighboring civ just for an RA. The “You are friends with our enemies” diplomatic modifier is very strong, and gets stronger with each additional DoF you have with their enemies (note that DoWs are not interpreted as denunciations during the time of war, although for the most part, the two civs will denounce each other after the war ends). Particularly in the early days of Ideologies, you want to be very picky about who you have DoFs with (if your neighbor is of another ideology, you may want to think twice before DoFing a civ which is of a third ideology, or your own ideology, and which you suspect your neighbor has negative diplo modifiers with).

Bribes, Tributes, and Trades. Ah, the bread and butter of diplomacy. These help you control international diplomacy. Getting civs to fight each other destroys their prophets/missionaries, creates alliances and rivalries, slows down the AI science, and destroys AI's units. It is the best way to slow down the game. Once you want the AI to actually slow down (after you hit Renaissance), this is a great diplomatic tool. Remember when bribing to try both sides and see which is cheaper, and to also take into consideration the warmonger penalty for declaring war and which civ you want that pinned on. Expensive bribes should only be used as a last resort, and civs you are actually friendly with (like the ones who share your religion) will charge you significantly less.

Tributes are where you pay x gold per turn to create a positive diplomatic modifier called “You've Traded Recently”. At any time, 500 gold tops off the AI's diplo bucket for this factor from zero. It takes 100 turns for this to completely dissipate. So, remember to continue to topping the AI off, 50 gold every 10 turns will ensure the diplo benefit never drops. Only pay tributes to civilizations you absolutely need to appease. These include civilizations on the border between friends and enemies and civs in a position to attack and destroy you whom you do not have DoFs with. Note that you do not have to pay the full tribute to have some diplomatic benefit. The diplomatic benefit scales linearly with gold gifted, so even a little gold is effective in the beginning, when there are less red diplo factors to offset. The AI will also sometimes ask you for a tribute. These are always a % of your gpt or gold, so saving up gold or keeping a lot of gpt around is not a great idea. Only hoard gold/gpt if you have a goal in mind of where to spend them. Otherwise, these pleas for assistance are a wonderful way to get additional diplo with your friends, and I encourage you to pay almost any price the AI demands.

Side note: One particular form of a tribute is to use an archeologist to build a landmark in the AI's lands. Because we're getting to Archeology so late, the AI will most likely have already excavated everything in its own lands. However, the expansionist AIs will expand post-ideology into random islands that have landmarks. Having open borders and keeping one of your troops on the spot will ensure that when the AI expands there, you can pick up the diplo bonus. This bonus runs on a separate counter to the regular tributes, and is slightly more than half as powerful (no degrading).

Finally, trading is a less obvious, but equally important (and cheap) way to deter aggression. The AI is always on the lookout for fresh new luxuries. If you have one, they want it. So, it is to your security benefit to trade as many luxury goods with your neighbors as possible, so that they covet your lands less (and someone else's more). If you need the happiness, swap your luxuries with their luxuries. Remember, hoarding is bad. Share everything. On top of this, sending the AI trade routes will also increase the AI's gold from the trade routes, and this is calculated in the AI's sanity check for going to war. If you send enough trade routes to the AI, and the AI builds a large army, they will become reliant on your gold to not go into negative gpt and will not DoW you. If you are getting really desperate, you can trade for their gpt (this is an awful deal for you economically, so only do this as a last resort) to keep them peaceful.

Tips: Spreading Your Religion
“We are not our own any more than what we possess is our own. We did not make ourselves, we cannot be supreme over ourselves. We are not our own masters. We are God's property.” - Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

Some players believe that spreading religion on Deity difficulty is a lost cause, as they cannot possibly compete with the AI. This could not be further from the truth. Below is a mini-guide on how to effectively spread your religion on Deity.

Fighting on Fronts. For purposes of this discussion, I'm going to categorize each civ or city state cluster as a “front”, where you will have to compete with the AI to hold. My rule of thumb is that for every two faith/pressure generating items you have (whether it be a UA/UB or a belief, Pagodas do not count because for the early/mid game they are more or less faith neutral), you can fight an additional religious front. If you only have two, then you can only keep a religion to yourself, and perhaps bordering CSs which don't border another religion. If you only have one, then your religion will likely be difficult to sustain. If you have none, then you cannot even get a religion on Deity. The free prophet and each faith CS you ally counts as one faith item. Piety's first three policies gives you two-three additional faith items (and the finisher another one), so that's at least one extra front, possibly two. In my game, I had three religious fronts, with 7 “faith” items, and as you can see, I ended up barely losing one of them. I was overextended in a way that I did not have enough faith generators to compensate for. I needed a ridiculous 8 “faith” items to properly do what I wanted to do. Fortunately, you'll only be fighting on a much more manageable one/two fronts. Also, when starting out with this strategy, I would build myself one faith item extra buffer zone for my ambitions.

Tempo vs Resource Advantage. This is a concept trading card games players will be familiar with, and it is generally applicable to civ (I have my theories about this with infrastructure and warfare as well, but let's stick to religion for now). The core idea is a simple one: As a player, the decisions you make always trade off one of these two items for the other. If you push tempo, you lose resource advantage. If you push resource advantage, you lose tempo. Both are important, but in different ways. There is no “right” way to play this every time, and what you need to do is to observe the map and your “hand” (meaning the religion you've managed to get and the dirt you settled).

Tempo is what happens when you use faith to spread your religion. This is the key/only way to effectively spread your religion on deity. Relying on passive spread is folly. An aggressive tempo push means no faith buildings, no prophet generation (use finisher to enhance religion). The benefit is that you can only spread with missionaries effectively on Deity in the very early game without some type of additional spread. With no converts already in the city, your missionary will not be able to convert a 11 pop city in one spread. So, early is the time to get the most use out of your missionaries and create good trades (explained later). Setting up also gives a “defender's advantage” in that enemy missionaries will have a much harder time re-converting your people. Setting up also lets passive spread generate. This should be the go-to move. The absolute best thing for tempo is Pilgrimage, which leverages each conversion into even more faith, for even faster tempo. If you have multiple fronts to fight and the option for pilgrimage, then it's a must pick.

Resource Advantage is what happens when you trade faith for more faith, but in the future. The ever-popular mosques are a great example. At 160 faith, it takes 54 turns for the mosque to pay for itself. That's pretty awful for tempo, but it does give an ultimate resource advantage for late-end game. In 100 turns, a mosque would have generated an additional 140 faith (more than Liturgical Drama). In 150 turns, 290 faith. In 200 turns, 340 faith. So, mosques are okay for mid-game prophet conversions, great for late game great person purchases, but awful for early spread. The AI's reliance on faith buildings is what slows it down in the early game, and what allows you to establish your religion. Note that a Pagoda would pretty much not pay for itself until late-mid game, and not have an actual advantage until end game. The same goes with generating and then planting a great prophet. If a prophet is worth three missionaries in value, then you will not recoup your costs for 100 turns. Now, there are times when you would want a resource advantage (which usually come with other benefits, like happiness, culture, or gold) over immediate faith. These times are when you've already accomplished your conversion goals and are only playing defense, or when you've run out of steam and can no longer single-spread convert because cities are too large, or when you start out with no non-religious neighbors and need to cross great chasms (maybe involving water) to reach your target civ. At that point, making a faith investment for late game prophet-spam becomes the best route. Mosques are great, enhancing your religion earlier is great, etc.

The key to a successful religion start is to find the right balance between the two based on your goals. Are you surrounded by only civs with religions? Are you already too late to spread to unconverted civs/city states? Are they far away and require 10 turns to reach? If so, you want to slow the tempo down, and build for a mid-game resource advantage to push your prophets and convert a civ in one fell swoop. Do you have an nonreligious neighbor (no Piety, no pantheon, or the slowest to get to a pantheon) that covets your land? Then, you want to push tempo immediately to achieve peace and to do it before anyone else gets there first. The Piety AI plays a balance of Tempo and Resource Advantage, and has the advantage of wonders, so its early-mid game religious push is very strong, but it has a weak early game and a weak late game. These are your best times to strike.

Trading Units. This is an easy concept. If both sides have the same number of equal units, any 1 for 2 trade will be favorable for you. If enough of this happens, you will win. This applies to war as well as religious units. In war, it is easy to know how to “trade” a unit (at least in theory; in reality, you'll lose very few military units to the incompetent AI). In religion, it is less obvious but equally true. A prophet is usually the cost and payoff of 3 missionaries. If the AI has the mosque of djenne wonder, missionaries become the payoff of 1.5 missionaries. A favorable trade is where the AI spams 3 missionaries to convert one city, and you convert it back with one prophet spread. Keep all of these things in mind. What you are looking to do in an active religion war with the AI, is to repeatedly favorably trade your religious units to theirs. Because they have an inherent advantage, you need to have favorable trades just to keep up.

Also, be sure you are constantly evaluating the AI's faith output, wonders, and the number of religious “fronts” the AI is fighting. Due to AI inefficiency, if you are fighting an AI with the same faith output as you and the same number of fronts, you will always win. Remember, wonders count as a faith “item” for our calculations, so it is likely that a Piety civ has more faith items than you, and can thus fight more fronts. Luckily, they will almost always be involved in more fronts than you in the first place. Remember, our goal is not to convert the world, just 1-2 civs.

Reformation Beliefs. The best way to trade units (besides getting the mosque of djenne) is with the two reformation beliefs: Evangelism and Unity of the Prophets. The AI avoids both of these.

Evangelism is the offensive version, and only has an effect on cities where there is already AI pressure, so it is best taken late, when you have at least somewhat favored resource advantage over tempo. With these, your missionaries can do the work of prophets on small cities with a single spread, or two spreads for medium cities. Since when it comes to pressure points, the population of a city does not matter, this is an incredible game changer. This is best combo-ed with Holy Order or Missionary Zeal.

Unity of the Prophets is the defensive version, and is best used when you've already set up your fronts early, pushing tempo hard. It is also best taken a little earlier, as opposing prophets need to attempt to convert your cities (and unlike Evangelism, its effect occurs at time of conversion instead of a later time at your choosing). The best use of Unity of the Prophets is with influence-enhancers, such as Itinerant Preachers, Religious Texts, or Religious Unity.

Charitable Missions deserves a mention here as well. Since you are not short on gold, this is really not a terribly good bonus. But, if you will be relying on Prophets mid game to do your key conversion (take two prophets to wreck havoc in an established area), taking Charitable Missions can save you social policy points (no need to go down right side of Patronage at all) and gold. I would only take this if you find that you would not be able to leverage Evangelism or Unity of the Prophets.

Setting Efficient Pressure Points. Your general goal early is to convert cities closest to 10 pop, but not 10 pop, and ones that already have pressure from your religion. Remember, a missionary converts 50% of citizens without a current religion, and then something like 20% of citizens with a religion. So, if you already have a convert or two in the city, you may be able to convert cities of 10+ pop. Early spread means more pressure, which lets your missionaries stay relevant for a longer period of the game. Allow less populous cities to automatically convert, once you've surrounded it with pressure (pressure extends 10 tiles; trade routes to civs more than 10 tiles away counts as pressure; holy city with grand temple is double pressure). Your initial cities are all pressure points that do not require you to spread to (except maybe your capital), because they have such low population, and the AI will not convert them (watch out for passive pressure though, you may need to convert your cities early if there is AI pressure). This requires experience, and the difference of each wasted spread is a loss of 80 faith and 4-5 turns of travel time.

War, War Never Changes. A quick note here about the AI and war/aggression. Converting cities is an aggressive action if the city owner has a religion (even if the religion is dead). The AI will only do this if it is aggressive towards you. In a small diplo game, this should never ever happen. You can feel free to sell your open borders. If it does, then that's a bad sign about your diplo. Similarly, you can observe international relations by looking at who is sending their prophets/missionaries where. A fight for a non-religious civ or any city state (regardless of alliance) is fair game. If a religious civ is actually converted, then you can be sure that that's a good area to goad the AI into a war at low cost to you, if you wish.

Similarly, one of the most effective ways to stop an AI from spreading its religion to a non-religious civ is to have one of them DoW the other. All missionaries/prophets will be captured/killed, and yours can roam free. Another good way to add an extra front to the AI's religious wars is to have two religious civs DoW each other. Besides the cost in captured religious units, they will hopefully then hate each other, and that opens up a whole new front of warfare.

On the flip side of things, YOU can convert and stamp out another religion. I would not advise that you attempt this, unless it is with a non-neighbor that is bridging two of your religious strong points that would help you secure the entire area. Doing so will guarantee that you lose a friend, and make an enemy, and you will need to bribe others into going to war with this civ if they can reach you in any way (so, they can't have the biggest army, and people actually have to dislike them). This qualifies as two fronts, and not one, so a very very strong religion is needed for this, likely backed up by a faith UA/UB. It is a rare day when this is a good idea for a diplo game, but never say never. Note that you can still preserve relations with this civ once ideologies come into play and religion fades in importance. But, you'll spend mid-game as enemies. Note that converting cities which have already been converted to a religion that is not founded by the owner of the city incurs no diplomatic penalties! Converting cities that have no religion at all also only incurs only a very minor diplomatic penalty (although you will be asked to stop, and refusing to do so or breaking the promise is very very bad).
Tips: Science from Research Agreements, Trade Routes, Espionage, and City States
“Science? The Savage frowned. He knew the word, but what it exactly signified he could not say.” - Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

Research Agreements, Trade Routes, Espionage, and City States are your main tools for science. They are the only three resources in the game that are independent of your own civilization's progress, so their efficacy will not suffer as a result of playing from behind. In fact, their efficiency is actually greatly enhanced by our backwardness, creating good synergy. As you'll see, the theme of “getting efficient science” will be belabored throughout this section. Staying small has a natural science disadvantage, but a natural science efficiency advantage, so we want to be sure we're getting the benefit, because we have already paid the cost!

Research Agreements. Research agreements post-fall patch are capped by the amount of science the weaker of the two civilizations generates. They're still good, but this means that besides the gold savings, there's an additional efficiency benefit of generating less science than the AI. Since they take 30 turns to finish, adds to the AI's incentive to stay peaceful in relation to you, and you have a ton of gold anyway, you should be sure to have RAs in place with every civ that you are have a declaration of friendship with as soon as your Universities come up (which will be fairly late by design). Quite simply, they are well worth the gold. This means that the first round of RAs should bulb somewhere in the Renaissance, between you finishing the Medieval Era and hitting Industrialization. The next one or two rounds of RAs should bulb on your way to Plastics. The final round should bulb on your way to Globalization (or, if you're fast, soon after; this is your security blanket).

Trade Routes. Trade routes give one science for each tech that you are behind in. So, the difference between being on tech parity (usually only have 2 techs that are different) and being behind in tech (usually having 13-14 techs that you don't have) is 6 science per trade route. 6 science per trade route is equal to 4 population in a non National College city. So, starting in the Renaissance Era, where a good Tradition science strategy would get tech parity, and when you have 5 trade routes, you should be getting the equivalent science as 20 additional pop! That's very significant, for mid-game. So, once you move into your science focus in the Renaissance, you should be running all international routes, except for up to 2 food routes to the National College city. Remember, food loses value the higher the total population, and each additional pop in the National College city will only be worth 12 total science in the endgame (unless you are unable to fill all the specialist slots, in which case they are worth 16 science per turn). Do a little math as to how many extra pop each food route for 20 turns is offering, and what the opportunity cost is in trade route science. As a rule of thumb, in mid-game any food extra to a 5-turn per additional pop rate is worth more in raw science as a trade route, not to mention the very significant amount of extra gold.

Espionage. Ah, spies. You will get these probably before you even hit the Medieval Era. Send them immediately to steal tech from anyone except the tech leader (but keep checking the demographics screen and the spy screen every few turns to make sure that civ doesn't become the tech leader). The AI protects its tech when it is ahead, and steals tech otherwise. In any case, it should take you less than 10 turns to steal each tech. This means you can level up the spy to level 3 before the earliest time you might need the Spy to help pass Scholars in Residence. Leveling up the spy is important for couping city states later in the game. As a general rule, each additional spy (including replacement spies) should be sent to steal technology from unsuspecting civs (remember, everyone is ahead of you in tech, so you can steal from any of them) until they reach at least level 2. If your spy is about to finish stealing a tech before you could finish it, you should have not researched that tech and waited to steal it (Banking, Printing Press, Economics and Industrialization are good targets). Whenever you are caught spying, promise not to spy again, and pick a new civ to spy on. You'll take a diplomatic hit, but unfortunately this is the only way to level up your spies. Be sure to build espionage buildings after the national wonder becomes available at Radio so you can upgrade all of your spies to be more effective (time to finish with Penicillin). In the end game, remember which city states are contested by coups, and see which ones do not offer easily fulfilled CS quests to place your spies. In the final few turns before victory, if you are relying on Globalization, remember that your diplomats need 5 turns to move and then set up before the vote.

City States. These are the bread and butter of our mid-game science, and international political power. In the early game, focus on faith and culture city states close to your religious spread zone. Food is secondary. Military and happiness are mostly useless. For science: We want to have as many as possible after we get Scholasticism in the Patronage tree. Remember, the larger the city state, the more science they are likely to generate. On Deity, city states will be doing better than any of your non-national college cities, and they do not incur a per-city science benefit. Thus, each 3 city states is probably equal to another city's worth of science. This is an incredible benefit to staying small. When Scholasticism first triggers, don't be surprised to see City States accounting for more than half of your total science output. For diplomacy: before half of the civs reach the Industrial Era, we must absolutely need to be able to king-make a civilization of our choice. This usually involves either a ton of gold (so don't waste your gold on infrastructure buildings not needed for national wonders), or strategic couping of city states owned by competitors of your religious ally. Usually, you will use a mix of these two strategies. When couping City States in mid-game, if there are six turns or less to rigging the vote, you'll want to wait until the turn before the rigging takes place to coup, so that the additional influence prevents a counter-coup. Remember to check your diplomacy after each coup. The AI gets increasingly mad at you for couping more of its city states, so either focus them on an enemy, or spread them out so no one gets very mad at you. Finally, culture and faith city states up their bonus provided to you when you enter the Medieval Era, and when you enter the Industrial Era. Our technology path enters both of their eras relatively quickly partially for that reason.

One more note about City States. Keep them alive! If a city state is at war with a major civ, and in the way of the major civ's conquest, coup it or buy it out. Do your best to not let City States die. You can lose 4 city states and still win the game on the first vote without Forbidden Palace. Do not lose more than this!

Tips: World Congress Diplomacy
“The gods are just. No doubt. But their code of law is dictated in the last resort, by the people who organize society; Providence takes its cue from men.” - Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

The World Congress is our greatest and most powerful tool, initially for diplomacy, then for science. Ultimately, it will be our victory. You will only be able to pass 5 resolutions in the world congress before the first vote though, so make them count!

Hosting the Summit. Although you will not found the World Congress, you will be able to propose a vote if you have scouted the world. So, this should be a priority. If you are unable to be the first host, don't worry! You will only lose 2 resolutions, and your strategy is still in tact. Just be sure to start bribing the AI to your friend before you propose Scholars in Residence. When you are asked to vote for a host, be sure to vote for a host of your religion (if you have two, pick the one more likely to go culture or diplomatic victory). The only time you should vote for yourself is when entering the third and final vote for Host (when one civ reaches the Information Era, or half of the civs reach the Atomic Era).

World Fair / Arts Funding. These two resolutions do not help us in any way. In fact, we would prefer to not have either pass. However, they are the top crowd-pleasers for when the World Congress first opens, and you'll want to propose one of these two to start. This allows you to make friends from distant civs and to start building up a relationship which will last until ideologies. For an extra bonus, Arts Funding makes more civilizations more likely to go for a culture-victory grand strategy, which makes the world more peaceful, slows down the tech pace, and sets you up for World Religion (see below).

Scholars in Residence. This provides a 20% discount on discovered technology, which is stacked additively to the discount you naturally get for each civ that has discovered a particular technology. Together, the discount is somewhere around 20%-40% cheaper (depending on how many civs have discovered the technology in question). This is applied after the per city tech penalty is applied. This also affects science you get from trade routes and city states, which Rationalism does not affect. By not being tech leader, each of your beakers, from any source of science, effectively gets a +20%-40% bonus! That's the equivalent of 3-4 additional social policies in Rationalism. This is a HUGE bonus, and is one of the main reasons why we were unconcerned with our science for most of the game. As soon as half of the world moves into the Industrial Era, and City States get a vote, this should be proposed. This will likely make a couple of civilizations mad, but by this point, you have already set up DoFs, which the AI will not break, and have general green diplomacy markers. If any of these civs are your neighbor, start bribing immediately. In any case, be sure to follow it up with a crowd-pleaser.

World Religion. This is the only resolution that you can reliably force the AI to propose. And, it is vital that the AI proposes this, because we do not want the massive diplomatic hit this proposal will cause to five civilizations. Instead, by selecting as host a civilization that we converted, and keeping good relations, we can ensure that that civilization will have a proposal. It may take a proposal or two before the AI gets around to this, so be sure to start this process immediately. Making proposals that your buddy wants to make (and ones that his allies like as well) will pre-empt that civ from making those proposals, and thus push World Religion to the front of the queue. This is also a great time to burn a prophet to convert a civilization your new WC host is friendly with. If you have converted two civilizations, at some point, you should bribe them to go to war with the same civilization so that they become friends. Because this is a top priority for civs executing a culture OR diplomatic grand strategy, be sure not to coup city states from civilizations to whom you have spread your faith, if you leave your buddy with more City States, he'll be more likely to think he has a shot at a diplomatic victory.

International Games. Much like the World Fair and Arts Funding, this should be a huge crowd-pleaser. Except, by the time we get Radio, we have enough CSs on our side to effectively downvote our own proposal. Do it. We do not want other civs competing with our CSs and have no need for more happiness. We will also not get a diplomatic hit for downvoting our own resolution, whereas if left up to the AI, we will incur a diplomatic hit with the proposer.

World Ideology. This is it! This should be the last vote of the game, right before you are voted World Leader. There are ways to induce the AI to attempt this vote, but because this is the last vote (and assuming you don't want to reload a turn if it fails), you don't want to take the chance. See the Ideology section below for how to minimize the impact this vote will have on your diplomatic relations with major civs.

Tips: Ideology as Diplomacy
“If one's different, one's bound to be lonely.” - Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

Normally, players use Ideology for its powerful tenants, and only give passing thought to the diplomatic side of things beyond keeping happy. This is flipped on its head when playing diplomatically. The end goal here is to get every civ to go one ideology. What!!?!?!?, you say. Yes, almost every AI civ can be manipulated into going down the same path. The key is to block off other ideological choices and flip with unhappiness if necessary.

Pre-game. Throughout the game, you should have very little tourism going for you. You should be behind in tech, # of social policies, wonders, land, population, and pretty much everything. Your score should be god-awful. Your civ should suck. On top of that, be sure to sell your open borders consistently to the AI throughout the game, especially the ones that are culture/tourism focused. When ideological battles begin, you want to be unknown to everyone, and to have as many people be exotic/familiar to you as possible. Be diligent about this. Also, don't hold all the CSs, just make sure you're #1. Be sure to hold at most only one mercantile CS, let the AI have the rest. It's not like you're short on happy anyway. Remember, you have no cities and no pop. =D

Get an Ideology. You need to get ideology quickly. Luckily for you, Industrialization is easily beelined (only one pre-req). Use Oxford on it. Always. You don't need to be the first one there, although you likely will, because the AI sucks at building 3 factories, while you can CS-ally + cash-buy. This is your first great leap forward, and the key strategy here is to be one of the first three civs to reach ideology. Normally, you do it for the two free tenants. But, we don't care about that here. For now, pick two tenants you'll use immediately (Freedom's usually the best choice here for a small civ, due to the Civil Society allowing you to work specialists you otherwise wouldn't be able to; Order has Skyscrapers, which is also very nice; Autocracy has Industrial Espionage). If given a choice, pick Freedom, then Autocracy, and pick Order only when you absolutely have to (I've never had to do this, so I cannot promise the rest of this strategy works if you go Order after the AI goes Autocracy and Freedom).

Wait for Board to Settle. Wait patiently. Amazingly enough, no one will want to be your ideological buddy, despite the fact that you were so nice to them all game! It's crazy how that works. (In reality, it's because you're an awful ideological ally to have, as you will not provide any ideological happiness help; bonus points for picking Freedom/Autocracy and controlling CSs, so the AI has even less reason to pick those ideologies. You will, at most, get one follower. 80%+ of the time, the AIs will all pick the other two ideologies, oftentimes even leaving that one free tenant on the table. That's how little respect they have for you! Stay patient... you'll show them who's boss in the end. For now, figure out how far behind the stragglers are. Once all of the "contenders" have picked their ideologies, you can move on to the next step. When this is happening, bribe and tribute the heck out of everyone. You need to never be the target of a DoW. This period will probably last for ~20-40 turns. You will slowly lose all your friends. Don't die. Use your WC proposals to propose crowd-pleasers (and then vote against them if necessary). If things still look dicey, then bail on the plan and join the more popular ideology. You'll still be fine, just no style points for you (and more upkeep in bribes, and less gold from AI trade routes because the world is at war).

Flip the Board. Now that the board has settled to two clear sides, likely Order and Autocracy/Freedom, you'll need to do some manipulation First, hover over the ideology tab to figure out which ideology your people want (this is the only ideology you can flip to). This will be your future ideology, so lets help these guys out. Freedom civs generally have some CSs, coup them, buy them up, throw all your resources at it. Autocracy civs usually run low happiness anyway and are hated, king-make their enemy AI (either through host, or by being host yourself and couping everyone else's CS-es), and that AI will embargo your target. In either case, stop trading happiness to your target AI, bribe it to go to war with someone nearby (so they actually lose units and have to replenish), and pay handsomely for their luxuries (you'll also complete several CS quests this way, so not a total loss). All of this seems like it's going to cost an arm and a leg! Yes, it will. But, lucky for you, gold is the one thing you do have, right?

Flip Yourself. Sell all your luxuries until you are unhappy. Use the money to buy out the city states that are affiliated with the other ideologies. Then, flip yourself. You'll lose the two free tenants, all of your culture (so, time this well), and your cities will be completely unproductive for 2 turns. On the bright side, you'll have gained what should be at least 4 new super-powerful allies, ones that will act as a buffer against the one or two civs left that is not your ideology. Also, any civs who haven't picked an ideology now will join your side, because you've picked the side with more ideological pressure, and then converted yourself and another civ (hopefully) to add even more power.

Reach Across the Aisle. Now that, you have more than half of the AI as your forever buddy allies, it's time to totally ignore them. Your security and diplo with those civs are fine now. Continue to pay bribes to civs you've spied on or denounced, but stop all other bribes. Instead, it's time to make proposals that the remaining civs of other ideologies love. Until your "final blow" of proposing World Ideology right before World Leader, you should be the favorite civ in your ideology to those who are not in that ideology.

World Ideology. Once any civ enters the Atomic Era, keep track of how close you are (or another civ is) to entering the Information Era and triggering the World Leader vote. Make sure you propose this before that. And, make sure you have the most CSs before that too to be the final host. Then, propose the World Ideology of your Ideology. You should have built up enough diplo at this point that those of other ideologies won't DoW you, although, to the extent you were friends before, they probably won't continue to be your friend.

Troubleshooting: They Killed My CS!
Relax. On a 16-CS board, if you are host, and have world religion and world ideology, you can lose a CS and still win in round 1 (or lose 2 and win in round 2, which is still earlier than any AI wins). If you have Globalization, you can lose 4, or 5 for round 2. Even after the fall patch, the game is pretty generous. The AI will almost never take out more than 1-2 CSs, because the warmonger penalty is so insanely high that everyone will gang up on that AI and it will die. You can also use your gold to buy city states that are involved in a war where they might be captured, to save them for such fate.

But, what if you do lose too many CS? I have never lost 4 CS in a game, but if you do, then it's time to re-think your plan. Instead of trying to trigger the vote early with Satellites, or going Labs --> Globalization, you need to militarize. Lucky for you, you have a ton of gold. Focus on creating a navy/air force (battleships and/or bombers). It doesn't have to be great, it just has to selectively liberate a couple of CSes while that AI is fighting another war. At this point, you're all in on this army being able to take back the CSs. Lucky for you, the AI is crap at military, so anything targeted that you want to do militarily should be a piece of cake. You might also want to prioritize Autocracy over Freedom if too many CS went off the board early. Remember, you don't HAVE to trigger the World Leader vote, you just have to win it. Oh, and while your at it, if the civ with Forbidden Palace isn't too popular... well, you already have an army.

Troubleshooting: I See Greece, Sweden, Siam, Austria, Venice!
Run! Or, use spies. If Greece is in the game, and is running away (because of course you set a couple AI after him, right?), you'll be in for a fight for CS control. Globalization is no longer a nice backup now, but a necessary backup. Run even more gold than you normally would. Greece is as vulnerable to coups as anyone else, but take care to not lose too many CS to coups (they each cost 1k to bring back to neutral, so late-game failed spies are very costly). The normal process is to coup then immediately buy influence. The biggest benefit to using Greece is that Greece can't be an AI enemy if you're Greece! (sad, but true). Greece is hardly an insurmountable obstacle, but attempting a diplo victory in a game where the AI Greece is thriving is another difficulty level. So, prepare your treasury well. Sweden and Siam are slightly less vigilant about their city state desires, but still a force to be reckoned with.

If Austria is in the game, you can prevent her from taking any (or many) city states by coup-ing or just making sure she never has 5 consecutive turns of alliance with a city state or continually trading for her gold. Austria's AI is a bit wonky right now, and they won't actually end up purchasing that many city states, because they're programmed to go for a diplomatic victory themselves. If Venice is in the game, you should be prepared to lose some city states (their diplomatic victory preference is moderate, not strong). However, as with Austria, by removing the city states from the game (instead of conquering them as other civs would do), the total number of votes required actually DOES drop. So, instead of being able to lose 4 city states and win on the first vote, our strategy can now withstand 8 Austria/Venice city state conquests (that's a lot). If Venice starts getting out of hand, he should be a natural target for the other AI civs, but if not, then a small bribe is advisable. Note that once Venice or Austria takes a city state, that city state loses its city state characteristic, so can never be liberated.

In case you were wondering, Carthage, America, and Japan can also all be as bad as an average Greece game in terms of the AI behavior, although this is less frequent (20% of the time).

Troubleshooting: Lost the Religion War
You should be able to stand toe to toe on a single religious front 100% of the time, even facing a Piety civ. But, let's say you overextended and lost everything. Well, that's a blow. But, you still have good faith generation, so put the focus on great scientists instead! Religion is always a nice to have, but even in this case, it is not central to the win. The win is about CSs, religion just a diplomatic tool, like any other. Losing the religion war is far less damaging than losing a real war early, compared with failed military strategies. You are now at the same point security-wise as a peaceful Tradition/Liberty opener that misses Forbidden Palace. I would not recommend proposing World Religion yourself, as it instantly makes five enemies.

Build Order
Please note that the below build order is just a suggested guide to give you some idea of what to do. The whole point of going small is to not worry about the start. So, if you're stressing about this part, relax. None of this is set in stone, not even wood, not even sand.

Social Policies (in order):
Piety - opener, organized religion;
Other Policy; (sometimes, it is necessary to take a policy here if you are running high culture, and are very far away from temples and/or having enough faith to purchase your first missionary. Tradition, Honor, and Patronage openers are all fine here as filler.)
Piety - mandate of heaven, theocracy, religious tolerance, reformation;
Patronage - opener, consulates, philanthropy, scholasticism, (for fast win, skip the next two) cultural diplomacy, merchant confederacy;
Rationalism - opener, secularism, sovereignty, humanism, free thought, scientific revolution;
No ideology tenants

Technologies (in order):
Animal Husbandry (and Sailing, timing depends on if you need cargo ships or just extra trade route)
Luxury Tech(s)
Civil Service (if necessary for open borders)
Metal Casting
Education (then, Chivalry/Physics/Machinery in any order)
Astronomy (if needed for Observatory; if only need to cross oceans, save for post-Acoustics)
Industrialization (for ideology)
(for secure win: )
(for fast win: )

Capital Build Order:
Monument (pause)
Monument (finish)
Granary (if bonus resource; otherwise, don't build until post-aqueducts)
Archer/Trireme (if needed)
Temple (whenever available)
Aqueducts (assuming culture / science city)

Gold Buy Order:
Caravan/Worker/Buildings/Units (as needed)

Expansion City Build Order:
Temple (if available)
Workshop (if available)
Granary (if bonus resource; otherwise, don't build until post-aqueducts)
Theorycrafting: Synergy Between Piety and Small
“The Savage nodded, I ate civilization.” - Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

Well, it certainly seems like we broke the game, doesn't it? On the surface, winning by going “small” looks like the equivalent of marching a group of warriors from the ancient era around and winning a domination victory. In reality, this playstyle is the missing link among the policy trees. A grand theory of policy trees goes like this: There are four opening policy trees for four victory conditions. Or rather, each policy tree is suitable for three of the four victory conditions, and soft locks one out. Tradition can build wonders and win culture, has gold and small size to win diplo, and has the population growth for science. It is suitable for going tall. However, it has zero offensive military abilities or bonuses for managing a large conquered empire. Liberty can spread far for more space for archeological digs and more space in museums, its large area and early academy allows for higher total science output, and while it has no military bonuses, its bonuses are all per-city, so each conquered city will get the infrastructure benefit. It is suitable for going semi-wide and semi-tall. However, it is the only tree with no gold bonuses for city states and going wide will increase the chance of an angry AI. Honor has warfare bonuses, which allow it to remove competitors for CS and Culture, while taking their wonders and artifacts, and the military bonus is obviously good for conquest. It is suitable for going wide. However, the per city science penalty and lack of infrastructure bonus make it a poor science tree.

This balances out the four victory conditions along the same lines as the ideology trees. So, where does Piety fit in?

Piety (in all non-deity iterations, meaning actually getting the religion is not an issue), allows for further spread of religion, faster. It also has a gold bonus, and a reformation belief which does.... something. But, at it's basic level, Piety (when divorced from religion) is about spreading religion. What does farther faster religious spread get you for each victory condition? Well, for diplo it seems obvious. Charitable Missions directly helps acquire CS, the gold bonus is better than even Tradition's, especially in the end-game, when CS is actually tied to victory condition, and there are no less than 3 founder's beliefs related to gold as calculated by religion spread. And, religion naturally reduces CS influence loss (all trees have their things for CS quests so that part is not really a bonus). For tourism, sacred sites is the only starting tree policy which directly boost tourism, and planted prophets with the finisher is the only tile based culture which turns into tourism from any policy tree. For conquest, spread is necessary to take advantage of Just War, and, in theory, Religious Fervor would provide extra units (it doesn't in practice because the math is calculated incorrectly, along with Holy Warriors; this really needs a fix). For science... there's absolutely nothing. In fact, a wide spread is dynamically opposed to advancing eras, because faith costs rise. If you remember, this tree used to lock out Rationalism in G&K! Jesuit Education saves gold/hammers, and has nothing to do with science. Reformation beliefs have zero science bonuses, zero growth bonuses. In terms of spread, Founder and Enhancer beliefs have combined a single science/growth related bonus: Interfaith Dialogue, which does not scale with era while costs of missionaries scale in the opposite direction, so it's a good tool for early/mid game science, but a poor tool for a spaceship.

So, here we have what looks a lot like another Honor tree. The only difference is that it allows for peaceful play, benefits kick in at a later period (so not suitable for early aggression), and it swaps physical aggression with the religious unit's shadow aggression. Unlike Honor (which also has no infrastructure bonuses to go tall or semi-tall), Piety does not even have the ability expand without a specific (currently broken) combo. This means Piety should play small, or semi-wide and small (more difficult on Deity difficulty) in the first part of the game.

Because of its design, this is the role Piety must play. It takes the worst of all of the policy trees, and gives you only one thing back: Religion. Religion, at it's base state without beliefs, is a natural CS-tool, an AI diplo tool, and a founder's belief bonus multiplier tool. This means that Piety's optimal use is to play small, play the CS game (at a minimum the ones close to you that you convert), and manipulate the AI into achieving your goals for you. You can then select a founder's belief, which will be multiplied, and would you look at that? 6 of the 9 founder's beliefs are about gold, CS influence, or a set faith/culture bonus from foreign followers. The only outliers are Ceremonial Burial (for going wide), Peace Loving (for going tall), and Interfaith Dialogue (only good for early/mid game science).

Playing small is not so much a design flaw, as the design itself. It's just been unfavored up to this point by Deity players, because going small was not a viable option in G&K Deity (requirement to build UN, much more aggressive neighbors, no Piety tree to start, significantly less “catch-up” science bonuses). However, with the World Congress and the redesigned Piety tree. Going small is now a real option, and the entire design behind opening Piety over the other three Ancient Era social policy trees.

Theorycrafting: A Science Victory Alternative
“A pity, he thought, as he signed his name. It was a masterly piece of work. But once you began admitting explanations in terms of purpose – well, you didn't know what the result might be. It was the sort of idea that might easily decondition the more unsettled minds among the higher castes – make them lose their faith... and take to believing, instead... that the purpose of life was not the maintenance of well-being, but some intensification and refining of consciousness, some enlargement of knowledge. Which was, the Controller reflected, quite possibly true. But not, in the present circumstance, admissible.” - Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

The World Congress is really a very powerful tool, and it is so powerful (and our 40% tech discount and 100% RA science is so efficient) that you can also fairly easily win a science victory using a twist on the strategy described in this guide. The goal is to be like a marathon runner, racehorse or race car driver, to let the AI fight the headwinds while you snipe the victory from their clutches at the last second. This is under theorycrafting, but I have done it a couple of times before, so I know it works. It feels even more scary than the diplo victory, because it's even slower to finish, but it's actually very safe. There are only 4 tweaks necessary to change the gameplan from diplo to science:

1) Stay in Freedom. Completely ignore the ideology section and flip it on its head. Instead of picking Freedom to make sure no one picks it, do not pick an ideology until 2 people (or at least one strong civ) ALREADY pick freedom. Remember, no one hates you if you don't have an ideology, so staying ideology-less never hurts. You need to finish up Rationalism before you do anything with ideologies anyway. You'll need some allies when you pick Freedom, and you have to pick Freedom to snipe the spaceship. (Note: It is possible to go Order, but only if you manage to snatch up Glory of God Reformation Belief. Order is much better, for every single reason. But, whether it's worth the loss of a reformation belief is up to you. I think it is, and if I'm going for science and have the option, I would always pick Glory to God. Without Glory of God, make sure you have 3 great engineers ready, including the one given by the tenant. One for Hubble, and two for parts.).

2) Religion is a mere Diplo tool. Getting world religion is nice, and you should still try for it, but its benefits go from being an extra city state, to providing tourism to counteract happiness problems (as well as a nice +25% religious pressure boost). This is still very important, but it is no longer vital. This means that once you secure your early game situation with your neighbors, you will want to go for resource advantage over tempo, and it means that your beliefs can be more geared toward science and less geared toward more spread (feed the world is always a good one, and it will ensure your city state allies produce more science for you). Be sure to have at least one happiness belief somewhere and one culture belief.

3) Social Policy and Tech tree beelines are different. Because we no longer want ideology early, you should be beelining for Schools instead (as with any science game), and try to pick up Porcelain Tower on the way. Fertilizer and Hospital and Radio and Labs come after. This is the standard science beeline. For social policies, you'll also want to bail on the Patronage tree before the last two policies to do Rationalism. You'll also want to be running full scientists, and one engineer to pop late game for Hubble. Once you get to the very end game, be sure to follow the AI's tech pattern (it will suck, but that's why Freedom is so nice, you can cash buy instantly), and pop scientists as needed when the AI is 1 tech away from victory (it'll actually take them a while to win even after getting the tech). If you went Order, make sure you have the production buildings ready in four cities before Advanced Ballistics (AI usually gets this first, because they're bad at winning), remembering that the capital doesn't get the 25% railroad bonus, so preference to non-capitals, although you probably don't have a choice. The AI will likely hit Advanced Ballistics or Satellites first, and that's all very good for you.

4) Have a “second wave” of cities. When you settle initially, carve out some space for future cities. Your capital needs to work 2.5 rings on each side, your other cities only need 1.5 rings on each side. So, make sure you end up with enough space to plant extra cities. One of your first target CSs should be a mercantile CS. Immediately after your NC and Circus Max comes up (and this should be given priority so they all come up before turn 120), settle two-three more cities. In these new cities, prioritize religion (so you can build grand temple asap), then monument, food buildings, and markets (for East India Company). Remember, this is the point when international trade routes get switched to food routes, besides the food routes to your NC city, running hammer routes to your new cities is a good idea once you have workshops up. These new cities are extra sources of pop/science for late game science push, and in the short term will allow you to get the extra policy in world fair. Feel free to leave Medieval once your religious goals are met to chase Porcelain Tower.

Theorycrafting: Civilization Choice
“O wonder! He was saying; and his eyes shone... How many goodly creatures are there here! How beauteous mankind is! … O brave new world! O brave new world that has such people in it!” - Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

I used Greece, but as you can probably tell, any civ would do fine for this strategy, because the crux of the victory is how you manage diplo with the AI. It is the skill of the player vs the AI. Resources, UUs, rule-altering UAs... none of those matter all that much. More than any other strategy, what matters is YOU: the player. How well you react to the board determines your fate.

Now, that doesn't mean certain civs won't be more secure than others. Civs particularly suitable for playing "small" are broken down into three groups.

Gold: Gold benefits are always useful, and if they come on tiles, they even synergize with Piety. Portugal, France, Morocco (bonus: desert bias), Russia (bonus, tundra bias), Brazil.
CS: City States are the endgame, so anything that synergizes with CS play is good. Greece (bonus: AI can't be Greece), Sweden (bonus: tundra bias), Siam.
Faith/Religion: Anything that provides more faith/religious pressure is good. Arabia (bonus: desert bias and gold), Byzantine, Indonesia (bonus: gold too), Ethiopia, Celts

Notes. Also, any of the top civs, like Poland, Mayan, Korea or Babylon, would obviously be good, because they're good at everything.

Theorycrafting: Suggestions for Balancing Piety
“All right then, said the Savage defiantly, I'm claiming the right to be unhappy.” Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

What's a Piety guide without some suggestions for making Piety work better? Here are some basic tweaks I would recommend be made to the tree to smooth out Piety as an opening tree:

Opener - Something like adding "+8 faith", the equivalent of meeting one faith CS, would fix the problem with the opener not actually being useful for getting a pantheon without a culture hut; or, and I've been pushing this change since G&K, shrine should be available from the start, not tied to Pottery. Heck, it's hammer cost already the same as Monument, instead of other buildings in its era, so at some point in the design, Shrines were available in the very beginning. I don't know why they moved it, but especially on Deity, where the AI already gets double city bonus in the beginning, forcibly moving all religion strategies back 8 turns has many unintended consequences on balance, and overall makes the game less fun and diverse.

Theocracy - This needs to NOT be tied to the temple. Or, at least split up. Shrines increase by 1 gpt, Temples by 20% instead of 25%. In a normal culture-ramp, Mandate of Heaven and Theocracy both do nothing for 20+ turns, even if you beeline religion, faith, and temples. Temples are almost Medieval Era. This is the third policy in the tree. Come on, Fraxis. Use your heads. Unless you don't build monuments, you're basically forced to open another tree. It's madness. Awful design.

Religious Tolerance - One pantheon may be as valuable as a social policy, but not being able to pick which one? Especially because pantheons are so unsuited for different terrain, this is an awful awful social policy. This should instead be: Provide a 2 global happiness for each religion in the empire (10 total happiness, at most 4 early game, is hardly comparable to the happiness bonus of the other 3 trees, but it's something). Or, provides 3 culture per religion in the empire (for a whopping 6 culture early game and 15 culture max). These are not great policies, but they address issues Piety suffers. Piety has a lack of happiness and a lack of culture. One lack is a deficiency, lacking both is just unbalanced. Also, the benefits will scale to help balance out the inherent difficulty Piety faces when difficulty in starting next to other early religions by providing more early bonuses the more trouble the Piety start is in.

The following reformation beliefs also need tweaks, because they are broken/useless as is:

Religious Fervor - Along with Holy Warriors, the math used to calculate units treats faith as gold, instead of the more valuable resource that it is. It's inconsistent with buildings, which treat faith as hammers (a much more apt comparison). This actually broken in the sense that it is not intended to work this way. Sloppy work for Fraxis.

Underground Sect - This wouldn't be as bad if it exerted religious pressure akin Spies are like trade routes (but even less, and they come even later in the game), if you're repurposing them for faith spread, they need to be better than a trade route from the holy city. This means the spread needs to be at least triple the base pressure (or 50% more than holy city pressure) to be considered balanced. Even then, it will be a marginal use, because at the point of the game where you have multiple spies, the main benefits of religion outside of CS quests / influence, are long past. This will become effectively a different take on Charitable Missions that is more flexible and less powerful.

Sacred Sites - Controversial, due to the sacred sites strategy. But, this, and actually all base tourism benefits that are attached to the city, are not modified by hotels/airports. However, they are valued as if they were... which is wrong. Should probably split the difference and be +50% their current values. This includes the Hermitage belief and India's Mughal Forts also. It's the same sloppy balance-work on Fraxis's part. Otherwise not a big deal, just bothers me on an intellectual OCD level.

These are small tweaks (except the overhaul of Religious Tolerance), but they'll completely change the feel of the tree and make it viable for making a small or semi-wide small empire that's focused on religion and potentially gold, potentially tourism, potentially military. You know, like the tree was intended to do.

“Of course it does. Actual happiness always looks pretty squalid in comparison with the over-compensations for misery. And, of course, stability isn't nearly so spectacular as instability. And being contended has none of the glamor of a good fight against misfortune, none of the picturesqueness of a struggle with temptation, or a fatal overthrow by passion or doubt. Happiness is never grand.” - Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

Nothing here is set in stone in terms of the tech tree or social policies, or anything really, besides the diplomacy and religion aspects. Feel free to experiment and post your results! I think it's a fun way to play if you enjoy mastering AI, and an absolutely awful way to play if you don't. It also lets you effectively leverage certain civs that are otherwise underwhelming due to the underpowered Piety tree (e.g., Byzantine and Indonesia). Overall, the security level of win is fairly high, and it is not dependent on what almost every other strategy is dependent on: a good start. In fact, you are explicitly guaranteed a very bad start. ;) I love the powerful feeling of playing world puppetmaster and winning comfortably when by all standard metrics of how Civ V is usually played, you should be crushed like an insect. Why grow and expand and worry about tech, and happiness, and upkeep, when you can just ignore all of that and go at your own pace?
Do you have any screenshots of what things look like at certain turns? Also, I may have missed in the writeup but is this effective for immortal and emperor as well?
Screenshots are up now!

I only saved intermittently, so I don't have every turn, but I saved:
- Turn 155 "entering Renaissance" (to show just how bad your start can be; you can see me still in Medieval, researching Banking, building NC)
- Turn 219 "right before Scholars in Residence" (basically the last point in which Scholasticism accounts for 50%+ of my science; you can see me hard-building the schools and that I am researching Electricity).

Not sure how much more behind you can fall than this, and still hit Globalization in time, but you're welcomed to try in games (like this) where it likely won't make a difference ultimately if you hit it or not. :D

This strategy is effective on all difficulties, because all mechanisms used are relative (from CS science output, to trade routes, to scholars in residence). You will have significantly slower turn speeds on lower difficulties because you are basically riding the AI's coattails, and the AI will be slower on lower difficulties. But, the strategy works just as well in terms of hitting Globalization pre-vote with World Religion and World Ideology, and will be easier on lower difficulties for CS-control, AI aggression control, religion spread, and forcing the AI to switch ideologies.
Great! I love this :)

I haven't won a diplo victory yet, or really tried to, but I have enough experience by now with BNW current-patch diplomacy to see how you could win even while being an underdog. I've been doing a lot of war bribing in my recent games and building a team of friends out of the other AI's, typically by focusing their hate on a common enemy (Zulus, Huns, Mongols... warmongers make my game a lot easier).

A note on Greece: though Alexander can settle for a peaceful route to victory, just building up CS alliances and going for culture and wonders, he's a warmonger at heart. So he can be bribed, apparently any time, against anyone regardless of whether he's already at war. You just need the right amount of money. In one of my current games I'm playing as Venice, and was worried by the fact that Greece was running away in both tech and culture. So first I bribed him on some weak AI's. Then I realized that with my 180 or so gpt I could bribe him on every other AI on the map... so I took a few turns to systematically take over the 2-3 CS's he had allied (yes rather few because he was facing stiff competition by both me and Polynesia already). Then I signed a defensive pact with one of my neighbours. Then I bribed him to declare on every remaining AI, including my neighbour with the DP, for some insane amount of gpt. Because of the DP I was automatically at war with him too (apparently without a warmonger penalty), so oops all the gpt I was supposed to pay wasn't going to happen after all.... yes kind of an exploit, but hey I was playing Venice, it was roleplaying basically!

Regarding Piety being crap.... an explanation comes to my mind. One thing that's annoyed me about Civ5 is that it's basically one big glorification of Western science and progress. So Rationalism (the policy tree) is of course awesome because, truly, how would mankind have fared if not for Western geniuses like Newton and Einstein? And Piety has to suck because religion is the enemy of human progress according to the same world view.
Oh and one detail I forgot about my dirty tricks with Venice vs the Greeks... 4-5 turns into this great war, Alexander came and offered me 33 gpt for peace, without me having done much at all except harass him with a few ships! I could literally have landed the top AI in a war with the whole world with no immediate cost and then profited from the whole thing right after. I chose not to take his offer because I wanted to hurt him and take over his ships with my privateers, plus I knew I could make more money by capturing his cities and selling them to the other AI's.

Granted that's an unusual case - you don't always have triple digit gpt lying around to pull off this kind of war bribe, and a lot of AI's can hardly be bribed at all. But the same trick can be used to a lesser degree - sign a DP with civ A, then offer civ B lots of gpt to declare war on civ A and possibly C and D as well. By landing yourself at war with the civ you bribe you effectively pay nothing. If you have even more gpt available you could buy some of his single luxuries the turn before, in case that helps you with a CS quest or to get your cities to love the king.
So I take it this guide is for diplomatic victory only...?

Nope. Try ctrl-f and type: "science victory". It's a surprisingly good strategy for peaceful science if you couldn't care less about turn times. If you care about turn times, it is the absolute worst of Deity strategies that actually work (since it basically waits for the AI to almost win before you snipe the last spaceship part).

The idea behind going small, besides the novelty and fun factor, is that players with different skill-types can play on Deity. Every other guide is "science, growth, early game, GODLY LEGENDARY START!!!!". So, if you're not at Deity level on that, then none of those strategies will work for you. Since going small is an entirely different skillset... and explicitly requires you to have a bad science start... it should be easier to implement for non-Deity players.

Actually, considering many of the posts and complaints from regular Deity players on this forum, I doubt many Deity players would have thought this was possible, much less fairly painless. ;)

Listed below are some things most Deity players will tell you either can't be done, or would lead to a loss without attacking the AI and abusing their awful combat programming. I know this because I keep arguing with them on these forums that these things works fine, and they keep arguing against me.
1) Zulu neighbor didn't DoW me, and I was 100% confident that he wouldn't, despite not building a single land military unit.
2) I finished NC on turn 160, with sub 100 beakers per turn. City States were providing me most of my beakers through turn 220.
3) I ended the game with 6 DoFs. The one civ who wasn't DoF was friendly toward me.
4) I manipulated the AI to all (except one) be in one ideology.
5) I won peacefully, after opening full Piety.
6) I did not beeline Acoustics for Rationalism. In fact, I avoided it for as long as I possibly could. Even after entering Renaissance, I did not open Rationalism until well past turn 220, after finishing two full social policy trees. And, I wasn't Poland, and did not have a culture UA/UB/UI.

I did all that, and can repeat the results at any time, with any faith pantheon start. And, with this guide, so can you. I'm not an amazing Deity player or anything (I average turn 250-260 science wins on Deity). And, my test game was a "worst of all cases" situation. I gave myself a horrible starting position/location/neighbor/CS combo, avoided using my UA as much as possible, etc, etc. So, typical results are actually better, but less dramatic, than what's shown here.
Great write up and guide to a playstyle that never crossed my mind.

Do you think Polynesia would be a good choice with their ability to sail the oceans and convert distant city states while faith costs are still low going with a high tempo style of faith generation?
Thanks! I just might. It
would be a much simpler guide than this.

Poly would work well. Early culture (and we have no tile shortages) means you can pick all non-culture beliefs and you'll never need optics if you don't have fish. ocean travel on water-land balanced maps mean less travel time. Its also one of the only civs where we'd actually use the UU, because we start with one ;).

Sent from my Nexus 5 using Tapatalk
Actually, considering many of the posts and complaints from regular Deity players on this forum, I doubt many Deity players would have thought this was possible, much less fairly painless. ;)

Actually, I've been a proponent of "staying small for the sake of peace" myself :lol: Most people would be surprised how much this simplifies your win, at the cost of a bit of turn time

(although small in my case means few cities, admittedly rather tall, but small borders and minimum amount of neighbors to deal with: if you have an open spot to expand and it does not net you any new neighbors, then go ahead and expand for example)

I see no reason why your guide would not work with tradition as well, using a similar mindset, if you have a good faith-based pantheon, or using a tradition-piety hybrid where you simply take some SP in piety to get that faith rolling while you complete tradition afterwards for the aqueducts (probably would not work with liberty though)
I see no reason why your guide would not work with tradition as well, using a similar mindset, if you have a good faith-based pantheon, or using a tradition-piety hybrid where you simply take some SP in piety to get that faith rolling while you complete tradition afterwards for the aqueducts (probably would not work with liberty though)

This is exactly what I'm going to try to do in a start I just had with the Netherlands. I need to actually build out five cities (well, four and take a CS for the awesome science potential it has). The start has about 10 different quarry potentials, so +20 fpt early on.

Staying small in pop will allow me to expand without as many happiness issues and later when happiness is rolling in, the Tradition bonuses will help me grow really quickly.

I haven't figured out how to get that CS efficiently yet though... :)
Is there any chance of a concise(tl;dr =/= concise) version? I was going to respond to this but there is simply no clean way to respond to almost 18,000 words(something like 17,900) without a smiliarly long dissertation that I don't want to write and almost certainly no one wants to read.
The concise version is the strategy section. Everything else is explanation to answer "how do I do that?" or "why would I do that?". Its not necessary if you know what you're doing already. I've basically just collected everything I heard a Deity or Immortal player say is impossible or really hard or inconsistent that I rely on in this strategy, and in my experience works consistently.

Sent from my Nexus 5 using Tapatalk
for me the whole guide goes around this one fact that u can still win even when behind on everything.
Mainly because ais dont play to win and because diplomacy vicotry is brokken and way too easy

So u tell people to
1. play bad
2. still win cause devs want u to win

I really dont see why one need 18.000 words for this
thats both diplomacy vicotry is brokken and ais dont play to win (espacially in bnw) has been discused 1000 times before.

With ais hardly ever winning pre turn 3xx cruising out games is easy and really no guide needed for.
Espacially when there are other even more easy (and obvious) ways to do (simple 2cc Tradition does the trick)
Top Bottom