This is a compendium of all I know about cultural victories. It is general enough to be valid for all Vanilla, Warlords and BTS. Most of it is probably valid for intermediate and low levels of difficulty too. I hope you enjoy. I would appreciate any comments or disagreements. IMO the cultural victory is the most complex and complete one. It requires great skills in research, building, diplomacy and planning ahead. It requires balancing a lot of factors: the 3 cities among them, the research versus the culture, the commerce versus the GA, the army versus the maintenance... I hope you find cultural games as entertaining and enjoyable as I do. Disclaimer This is a compendium of all I know about cultural victories. Well, and who am I? I am a simple player who has spent the last 2 years trying to get the best possible cultural strategy (accomplished) and to play the best possible cultural game ever (yet to be done). At the time of writing this, I am the player with the most GOTM cultural Awards and I hold many of the second best Vanilla HOF Deity cultural slots (so if @WastinTime does ever write a guide like this, please go and read his' instead ). Most of my experience comes from games played in this settings: Vanilla, Deity, Quick Speed, Lizzy or Saladin, Standard or Small map, no barbs, Inland Sea, peaceful chosen opponents. Most of my ideas come from other people. I must mention here at least @WastinTime, @Lexad, @Xin Yu, @bostich, @klarius and of course @Godotnut. Please, if you haven't read it yet, read his guide here http://forums.civfanatics.com/showthread.php?t=171130 I am probably forgetting many valuable people, since I have had dozens of interesting discussions about cultural games with other civfanatics. Why I am writing this? Now and then new people come asking for information on cultural victories. Lots of new threads are opened asking for cultural advice. I don't agree with most of what the available information says. So I thought it would be better to write my own guide. The goal is to show how I approach a cultural game. Maybe it is not the best possible approach, but I hope it will teach how to think for oneself. The goal of my cultural games is winning asap. I am not interested in points. Points in Civ4 come mainly from population. So if you are interested in winning a cultural game and getting a lot of points, please play a domination game, reduce all your rivals to OCC, stop getting more cities when you are at 50% land domination, research biology and other fat-full techs and wait patiently for your cities to get to Legendary. From now on, I will only talk about winning as fast as possible. NOTE1: This guide tries to be useful for every game. I won't be discussing the advantages or disadvantages of different setting (Speed, map, number of opponents); the idea is, given a particular game, how do I get the earliest cultural victory possible from here? I will usually be talking about Normal Speed, unless stated otherwise, because it is the standard one. Info will come as chapters in spoilers. Skip the first one if you already know what is a Legendary city. The final chapter covers the meaning of the abbreviations I will be using. NOTE2: I am an analytical person and I love numbers. I will use mathematical operations often. If you hate Maths, just skip the numbers and directly read the conclusions. You don't need to do all the calculations I do in my games to get a very similar result. NOTE3: Why posting this now? I should have publised this guide before BTS was out in the stores, but I never found the time to finish it properly. In fact, it is not properly finished yet and I doubt I'll ever finish it. Anyway, keeping it to myself would be of no use, so here it is. ______________________________________________________________________________ Basics about cultural victories Spoiler : To win a cultural victory all you need is to get 3 cities to Legendary status. In other words, you need to get 50000 culture points (50000) or more in three of your cities. The amount of culture needed only depends on game Speed: - Quick: 25000 - Normal: 50000 - Epic: 75000 - Marathon: 150000 If you go into a city, you will see in the lower left the total amount of culture your city has accumulated. In the upper left you will see the culture per turn (cpt) the city is producing. Culture can come from a number of sources: - Buildings: every building can have a fixed cpt, for example theaters get 3cpt. This number is doubled 1000 years after the building has been built (except for Academies). WW are the buildings that add the most culture. - Specialists: If you hire an artist (clicking the + sign in the right of the city screen) he will produce 1bpt and 4cpt. And even more important, he will start to accumulate GPP for your GAs. - GA: When you reach a certain number of accumulated GPP you get a GL. The GPP numbers for Normal speed are 100,200,300,400,500,600,00,800,900,1000, 1200,1400,1600,1800,2000,2200,2400,2600,2800,3000, 3300,3600... For other speeds just multiply by 0.67, 1.5 and 3.0. Depending on the sources of GPP, the GL will or won't be a GA. A GA can be used to bulb a tech or to trigger a Golden Age, but in cultural games he will be used either as a superspecialist (adding 3gpt and 12cpt to the city it is settled on) or as a culture bomb or greatworks (adding 4000 to the bombed city, 2680 if Quick, 6000 if Epic, 12000 if Marathon). - Cultural slider: In the upper left in the main screen there are the science and culture sliders. If you assign some percentage to the culture slider, part of your commerce will be transformed into culture in all your cities. Appart from that, you will get free happiness. - Building culture: Once you know Music, you can transform your hammers into culture. In Warlords and BTS it is a 1:1 conversion. In Vanilla it works in a different way. All the sources of culture added together (except the last one in BTS/Warlords) are your raw cpt. The raw cpt is multiplied by the culture multipliers in order to get the final cpt of the city (then, in BTS/Warlords, the building culture is added). The existing multipliers are: - FS civic: +100% in every city. Requires Liberalism. - Cathedrals: I call cathedrals the +50% religious buildings that come with Music, although the game calls some of them cathedrals, some of them pagodas, etc. You can't build a cathedral of a given religion until you have built 3 temples of that religion (less temples per cathedral are needed in small maps, more in bigger maps). You can't have 2 cathedrals of the same religion in the same city. If you want to build 2 cathedrals of the same religion in two different cities, you will need 2 * 3 = 6 temples of that religion in your empire. - Hermitage: this NW gives 100% to the city it is built. - Broadcast Towers - Late WW like Eiffel Tower So if you are doing 100 raw cpt in a city that has Hermitage and 1 cathedral and you are running FS, you will be doing 350cpt: 100*( 1original+1Hermitage+0.5cathedral+1FS) = 100*3.5 = 350 The best two cultural strategies Spoiler : ***The main source Ok, so you want to get a lot of raw culture and a lot of multipliers in three cities in a high difficulty game (Emperor, Immortal or Deity). Where will the raw culture come from? Buildings? No. How many WW do you think you are going to build, being realistic. 1 early and 2 medieval, maybe? And smaller buildings add simply too little culture. There is a long way to 50000. It would take too long. (Note: BTS has many more interesting buildings and Sistine's add a great benefit to building temples and monasteries). Specialists? No. Only 4 culture per artist. 6 if you build the Sistine's. Too slow. GA? No. You are not going to get more than 20 GL in any game. At least if it doesn't go so late that Deity AI launches their Spaceship. 20*4000=80000, not bad, but you need another 70000 out of somewhere. Cultural slider? Yes. Here is where culture lies. A city that has built his cottages around 1000BC and worked them will enjoy towns around 1000AD. Since the obvious civic to run is FS, every town is worth at least 7 commerce per turn, which will convert into 7 raw culture if the cultural slider is at 100%. A city can easily get 10 cottages, so we are talking about 70cpt in all three cities. That's superior to any other source. Ok, so the most important contributor will be the commerce transformed into culture, the second more important contributor will be GAs generated by artists and buildings will add another bit. (In BTS there are many new WW and Sistine's has changed a lot, so the balance has changed a bit). ***Research If you are planning to use 100% culture, you are forced to use 0% research. But you can't do that at the beginning of the game or you won't know how to build cottages. Another important thing to build is cathedrals, so you must research as far as Music. Liberalism brings +100% culture to all cities and +2 commerce for towns and a free tech, which can be Nationalism for the Hermitage. PP is interesting only in some games. Radio, Biology etc are interesting but come too late, it is better not to research so far. So my advice is: stop research after Liberalism, Music and Drama. So a cultural game has 2 phases, - Phase1, research as fast as possible towards Liberalism. - Phase2, set the research slider at 0% and the cultural slider as high as you can afford. ***Efficiency The goal is 50000 in 3 of your cities. Getting culture in other cities different than the 3 soon-to-be-Legendary ones is useless. You want to get your 3 cities to Legendary status in the same turn. Not doing so is inefficient. For example, getting a city to Legendary long after the other two results in 110000-90000-50000 culture in the end of the game. There are 100000 useless culture between the three cities. What's the point in accumulating all that culture? You have made your goal much more difficult than it was needed. ***The multipliers In principle, you want as many religions as possible in your empire. If you have 9 or more cities, you will be able to build 9 temples of each religion and, accordingly, 3 cathedrals of every religion, one for each of your soon-to-be-Legendary cities. FS affects all of your cities just the same. But there is a single Hermitage. Where should you build it? Let's make it clear with 2 examples: Example1: 9 cities, FS, 2 religions, 6 cathedrals built, your 3 cities are doing 150, 100 and 50 raw cpt, they have accumulated already 5000 each, you expect to get zero GAs in the course of the game. Solution1: This is the worst possible situation. The Hermitage should go in the worst city. The Hermitage will contribute only 50cpt to your victory. If we don't build the Hermitage, the cities will reach Legendary in 100, 150 and 300 turns respectively. If you built the Hermitage in the first or the second city, you will reach victory in 300 turns. If you build the Hermitage in the third city, you will reach victory in 225 turns ( (50000-5000)/(50*4) ). Example2: 9 cities, FS, 2 religions, 6 cathedrals built, your 3 cities are doing 150, 100 and 50 raw cpt, they have accumulated already 5000 each, you expect to get 7 GAs in the course of the game. Solution2: You must build the Hermitage in the second city. The Hermitage will contribute only 100cpt to your victory. If you build the Hermitage in the first city, the best you can do with your GA is to bomb them 0-1-6, for your cities to reach Legendary in 75-137-140 turns. You win in 140 turns. If you build the Hermitage in the third city, with the idea of helping the worst one as in example1, the best you can do with your GA is to bomb them 0-2-5, for your cities to reach Legendary in 100-124-125 turns. You win in 125 turns. If you build the Hermitage in the second city, the best you can do with your GA is to bomb them 0-0-7, for your cities to reach Legendary in 100-113-114 turns. You win in 114 turns. Are you wondering how I can calculate the best use of the GA so fast (1minute for all 3 examples and all possible GA distributions). Then don't miss the chapter on planning ahead. Example3: 9 cities, FS, 2 religions, 6 cathedrals built, your 3 cities are doing 150, 100 and 50 raw cpt, they have accumulated already 5000 each, you expect to get 16 GAs in the course of the game. Solution3: You must build the Hermitage in the first city. You are glad to do so, because that way the Hermitage will contribute the maximum, 150cpt to your victory. By building the Hermitage in the first city and by bombing the GA 1-6-9, your cities to reach Legendary in 69-70-60 turns. There is not better solution to the problem. Try it out. What can one conclude from the study of the examples? You want to build the multipliers in the cities with the most raw culture, in order for them to be more useful. If you have enough GAs to bomb the worst cities and balance the finish dates, everything is perfect. If you are short of GA, you are forced to put the multipliers in non-optimal cities, cause you have not other way to balance the finish dates. Another way of looking at it is this: the more GA you get, the most useful your culture multipliers will be. Of course a real game is not as simple as this examples. The total number of GA you are going to get is not independent of the finish date, so iterative calculations are needed. *** The best two strategies The strategy I like the best involves building 6 (or 7) cities, cottaging 2 of them (the capital and another one), getting 3 or 4 religions, building the Hermitage in the best cottage city and cathedrals in the 2 cottage cities, using the main GPFarm as the third Legendary city, not building any cathedral there, bombing 9 or 10 GA into the GPFarm in order to get it to Legendary, using some more GA in the second city to balance its finish date with that of the first city, using any remaining GA into the city that will finish the latest. Advantages: you don't need a lot of land. The culture from the GPFarm artists is not wasted. The other great strategy involves building 9 (or 10) cities, cottaging 3 of them (the capital and another two), getting 3 or 4 religions, building the Hermitage in the best cottage city and cathedrals in the 3 cottage cities, bombing GAs in order to balance all three cities, using any remaining GA into the city that will finish the latest. Advantages: you build as many cathedrals as you can. The raw culture of your worst city is better than the raw culture of the GPFarm. Both strategies require a good main GPFarm and additional cities working as secondary GPFarms. Other strategies I have heard of Spoiler : INCOMPLETE I won't be writing this chapter at the moment. Just a few words: - Pyramids: they can help your research in food rich maps. They are very expensive, so they will hamper your developpement and you will find you have no land to settle all the cities you need. Also they keep you weak and small, calling for an early dow. Getting a GE is not a great thing, you prefer a GA. Use it on Parthenon or Sistine's. Don't use it on GLib! - Early rush. Great for initial landgrabbing in crowdy maps. Handle with care, you could be on the loosing side, you could overextend, damaging your economy... After the rush on 1 single AI, that you should kill completely, go back to any of the other strategies. - WW hoarding. "Look at all those base culture points". In vanilla it is clearly an inferior strategy, even if you were able to build a lot of WW in the higher levels. In BTS and the lower levels of difficulty it could be good. - Only food. Not a single cottage. A couple of dozens of GA. It can be bad to research. It is an inferior strategy because of the step GPP cost increase beyond the first 20. - Sushi Corporation (BTS only). They say it's good. I have no experience. - "Let's buy all those temples and cathedrals". The game has 3 phases, not 2. Research - accumulate gold and buying hammers - culture. A judicious city-settling or a judicious period of slavery early on are clearly superior to this strategy. - GS bulbing your way up to Liberalism. A GS for Academy is a good idea if most of your research comes from a single city, as generally happens. A GS for bulbing Philo can be a good idea, specially if you need another religion and Taoism is available. A GS for bulbing Education is bad, but is better than losing the Liberalism race. More GS bulbs do not pay off. One turn saved in the research phase is not equal to 1 turn saved at the end of the game (in fact, it is worth 2.5 to 3 times less). Why? Because the culture you can produce in the first turns after revolting to FS is less than the culture you can produce at the end of the game. As a rule of thumb, a GS saving 6 turns of research is equivalent to a GA saving 2 turns at the end of the game (mind you, 2 turns civ-wide, not 2 turns for that city). Brief cultural game description Spoiler : A cultural game has two clear phases, research and culture accumulation. *** Before the game starts You think about you leader strengths and weaknesses. If you are Philosophical, Financial or Spiritual you smile. Otherwise you frown. You consider the map. The questions you ask yourself are the same as in any other game. Will beelining to Alphabet be advantageous? Can I take a close neighbour with my early unit? Do I need an early exploring Workboat? Is the map crowded? *** 4000BC-1000BC It is not very different to any other game. You want to have 4 cities and 5-7 workers at 1000BC. Generally speaking (there are exceptions, but they are just that, exceptions): Your first build will be a Worker. Then one or several Warriors and a Settler. Your first tech will be a worker tech to improve the best tile available in your FC. Your first units will explore the surroundings in search of places to settle. Your Settlers will travel scorted to their settling places. You will protect your cities and maybe you will fogbust from protected tiles. You will maybe try for an early WW, but only if it fits with your strategy and you can afford to delay your expansion. The library in the capital is a priority. You will have a clear idea of the use you will give to each of your cities. You will use the city with the most available food as a GPFarm. It will build a granary, a library, the NE and probably nothing else at all, since you will stop working the mines to hire specialists. You will probably use slavery to get a faster development. *** 1000BC-1AD It is not very different from any other game. You'll have 6 cities and 8-10 workers by 1AD. Your focus will be on research. Your capital is probably generating more than half of your beakers and it will probably already have had an Academy for a long time. You will be more or less beelining to Liberalism. Techs like IW, MC, Machinery, etc you will probably get from trades. CS (and Bureaucracy) are a priority. You will be building some missionaries to spread your religions from a city to another. The cities without any religion you will leave alone, in order to try to catch a new one or at least to save a missionary if an existing religion spreads. At the end of this period you should be finishing the NE in your GPFarm. *** 500AD Around this date (maybe 200AD, maybe 1000AD) you will get Liberalism. If you are first to it, you will get Nationalism as a free tech. Or maybe PP if you have the opportunity to trade it for Nationalism. As soon as you get Liberalism, revolt to FS. It will be hard to decide if slavery+OR or CS+Pacifism are the civics you need the most. You will be building lots of temples and missionaries. Maybe you even have a couple of cathedrals up and running. You won't go 0% research until you have Liberalism, Music and Drama. *** 1500AD All your cathedrals are already built, you are running HR or Repre, FS, CS, Merch or FM, Pacifism. You have a bunch of GA waiting to be used. The game is almost over. You carefully consider how you can get another GA. You carefully consider if there is a way to save 1 turn. You make loads and loads of micromanagement in your cities. *** 1700AD Congratulations. You have won. Maybe I am wrong and it is 1600AD. Or 1800AD. Or maybe it is one of my many 1355AD HOF games. Or you might even be the one to get the first sub-1000AD Deity cultural victory! The AI have just built their Apollo programs. If this is BTS, maybe Gandhi has got one of his cities to Legendary. City descriptions Spoiler : *** The capital The capital main mission is research. It will also be one of the three Legendary cities and it is very likely that, if not for the GA helping other cities, it will be the first city to reach Legendary, mostly due to being the most mature city and being heavily cottaged. The capital has at least 1 food resource, 10 green tiles cottaged and 3 hills mined. In the BC the capital will be pumping Settlers and Workers. It will probably build an early library and immediately hire 2 scientists for an Academy. A capital with Bureaucracy, Library and Academy accounts for half of the research your civ has to do all game long. From 500BC to 500AD the capital will be helped by the Bureaucracy hammer bonus to build missionaries, temples and maybe even some cathedral. If there are more hammers available, monasteries can help your research pace. This period, cottages must be worked non-stop. From 1000AD on it will lose the Bureaucracy bonus and will build mainly cathedrals, Hermitage, etc. In the endgame it will build small buildings providing culture and will build culture only the very last turns. The trees in the capital will be all chopped. The best time to chop them is in the early game on Workers and Settlers or in the Bureacracy period. Improvements in the capital will be: the appropriate on resource tiles, cottages in green tiles, mines in hills, late cottages in plains. *** The cottage city/ies A cottage city mission is take care of itself and reach Legendary status. It will be one of the four first cities settled. It must have at least 10 green cottageable tiles and 3 mines. In the early game it will build a granary, it will help with Settlers and Workers and it might even try to build a WW. Later, it will take care of the missionaries of one of the religions. Later on, it will build its cathedrals. In the endgame it will build small buildings providing culture and will build culture only the very last turns. It will at all times work all available cottages. Most of its trees will be chopped. Any time is good to chop its trees. Improvements in a cottage city will be: the appropriate on resource tiles, cottages in green tiles, mines in hills, late cottages in plains. *** The GPFarm The GPFarm is the single most important city in your empire. Its mission is to produce GA. It will be one of your first 3 cities. It must have at least 2 great food resources (5 ot 6 fpt each), 2 3-4 fpt tiles and 2 mines. If it is your second city, it will be able to contribute one single worker or one single Settler. Then it will build a granary and a library. It might pop a GS in the early game, specially if you have built the Oracle and want to avoid the birth of a GPro. As soon as Literature is researched, it will start building the NE, probably using some hammer overflow from the whipping of the previous building. Very few trees will be chopped in the GPFarm, and all their lumber will go into the NE. Once the NE is built, no citizen will work the mines again. It will build a monastery at 1hpt till the end of the game. The GPFarm will grow as big as possible. Once the NE is built, preferably in the BC, it will work as much artists as possible without damaging growth. This means that the first priority of a citizen is work 4+ fpt tiles. Some GPFarms work every available 3fpt tile, while others don't. Follow this simple rule to know how much you should grow your GPFarm: When the GPFarm has reached its maximum size and its not growing nor starving, it will either - be unhealthy and not work any 3fpt tiles - work some 3fpt tiles and be on the brink of being unhealthy If in this maximum size situation you are not doing +0fpt but +1fpt, alternate the last citizen as an artist sometimes and at the empty tile with the most food sometimes, so that the city never starves nor grows. In the end game you will hire absolutely every single citizen as an artist, allowing the city to starve and losing 1 pop a turn, in order to get some additional GPP which will provide you another unexpected GA. Improvements in the GPFarm will be: the appropriate on resource tiles, farms in green tiles, mines in a couple of hills. Most forest will stay all game long. *** The auxiliary cities The mission of the rest of the cities in your empire is more varied: building Workers, building units, building temples, serve as secondary GPFarms to get more GA, build missionaries. Auxiliary cities built in the BC will provide some Workers and Settlers. I once built an auxiliary city with my first settler, it never grew past pop2, but from very early it worked a plains horses and a grass hill, providing 8hpt for the whole game. It was one of my best games, due to my early REXing. All auxiliary cities will build temples and granaries. The farthest auxiliary cities will build a Courthouse. An auxiliary city can take charge of all missionaries of a given religion. The most productive auxiliary city should build a barracks and build units most of the time. Once an auxiliary city has finished its buildings, it can build units or hire specialists. If it is completely impossible that an auxiliary city may pop a GA, it should hire merchants. Otherwise it should hire artists. It is true that it is more efficient to concentrate your GPP on a single city instead of dividing them between cities. But it is also true that, once you have maxed out your GPFarm, it is better to have other cities generating GA than not. In the endgame auxiliary cities will build units or gold. Improvements in all auxiliary cities will be: the appropriate on resource tiles, farms in green tiles, mines in hills.