This guide is for singleplayer. I have the firm belief Liberty and wide play is currently both undervalued and misunderstood/underplayed. So here is my personal guide of how I play it these days. Here is for example a recent result (mid-game) using it on a deity map, for culture victory, with the celts with a 7 cities liberty game: Spoiler : This game will lead to a culture victory on turn 211. A few words first: -Liberty wide is just harder to play to achieve competitive results. There is no way around it. Things can go awfully wrong more easily with that play style than with the good old tradition game we all know through and through. This will be exposed in the "Possible problems" section. -There is no strong evidence, afaik, that it is 100% competitive for the fastest times. Maybe HoF players have pursued the experience a lot further to have a different opinion. But either way, if there is any difference you may become surprised as to how small the gap actually is ! It may just come down to single digit differences. Why you should play this and read the guide: The two previous point may indeed make you ask the question. The main reason is to simply explore a different play style many say they would enjoy more. I cannot stop counting the number of posts about how much people hate playing with 4 cities only. Good news then, you actually can play with more (6 to 8 on standard size) and here is my personal take on it with my guarantee that if you overcome the possible difficulties, will be competitive or almost competitive. When to do this: The main condition is room. You need the room to put down 6+ cities around your capital at 3 to 5 tile distance from each others. It is perfectly fine to have some cities only 3 tiles appart from another with this strategy. We will talk in more details about it on how to recognize good Liberty spots. As a side condition you will also need the luxuries to make it work. This however, depending on the mapscript should come with the first condition. I find that usually, if I have the room I have the luxuries. => A first potential problem you'll face is having to chose to open Liberty BEFORE having an idea of how the map looks like and whether or not it's a safe bet. The last condition is that it must fit your path to victory. Wide games is a synonym of long-term gain. This style will lock you down on 120-130 turns of pure economic growth. So it is not adapted if you wish to make an early war (you should look into Liberty domination guides for that) or have a quick path to victory. It will however give you good results for Scientific victories, Culture victories (with Internet) and late game domination (artilleries, bombers). Finally the following will make things easier for you: easy contact with multiple civs (Pangaea), larger maps (large and/or low seas). More contact will allow an easier time with trading while more terrain will simply make it more likely for you to have the necessary room. Having access to a decent religion will also make your life a lot easier. This will depend on the terrain or the civilization. Civilizations with a good access to happiness will in general do fairly well like the Celts or Egypt. Of course a civ like Poland will still reign supreme but if you want to play with the Celts it might be a good occasion to test this. The strategy: => The most important thing right now is that you'll have to discard some of your assumed ideas resulting from too many tradition games. Growth is not as important here, stacking national wonders and guilds in the capital is not the best, etc. Opening and initial policies: As in all games of civ5, your first goal is to get ruins, find city states for the gold and meet neighbours. This is done with scouts (and the initial warrior). If you decide to steal workers from the AI (something that really helps this strategy considering the high number of cities), scout will also help you there and I wouldn't hesitate to add 1 compared to what you are used to. The exact number of scouts you make therefore will vary depending on your style and your needs. As a rule of thumb I'd suggest one to two on continents, two to three on Pangaea and none to one on isolated water maps. These numbers are before considering worker steals, if you plan to worker steal, add 1 so that is 3 to 4 on a Pangaea. At the start, before settlers, you'll need to acquire the following: -Scouts -A monument -A worker (either through stealing or self made) -A shrine (if there is a good pantheon to grab) These are what is mandatory and the exact order depends to you. I still suggest to at least start with a scout and make the monument before worker or shrine. You'll quickly see that Liberty has in the early game, on top of more hammers, a bit more time than tradition before producing your first settler. Something like 5 to 8 turns. This should be used to make either a military unit like a spearman/archer or a caravan. Sometimes you'll have time for both. => Make a unit if barbs are a problem, and that you've found multiple camps around you. => A caravan makes sense only if you plan to settle close to someone, otherwise there is too much risk of losing the caravan to barbs. And of course you must not have use of cargos. A caravan also makes sense mostly on Immortal and Deity, below I'd suggest units or an additional self made worker. I suggest finishing the caravan after planting the first city but you can start putting hammers in it while waiting for the policy. => Once your initial stuff is made you will produce settlers with very little interruption. Possible interruption: Making a military units Finishing the caravan Making the pyramids or 1 to 2 workers (only if you do not worker steal) A possible initial build order in that Celt game would for example be with worker steals: Scout, Scout, Monument, Scout, Skip shrine because Celts, Archer, Caravan (7 turns out of 8), Settler, Finish Caravan, Settlers A game without worker steals on a continent map with a shrine could be for example: Scout Monument Scout Shrine Worker Archer Settlers x2 Pyramids Settlers x3 => This guide will not describe how worker stealing works. If you want to do it and need advice please ask for help on the forum or look around in the forum. Your warrior should be coming back in the late 20ies to help defend and escort against barbarian. Do not send your warrior in some remote jungle on the other side of the map. At higher difficulty the likelihood of it finding a ruin is almost null and he would do a way better job at keeping your workers/settlers safe than getting one or two extra city state gold (that someone has already discovered). Or use him for worker farming. Scouts should not explore in a straight line during the first 30 turns. You want to explore AROUND your capital. This is the most important area to explore early. Bust that fog around your capital and try to organize scouts so that this is done efficiently. The number one reason is that this is the area most likely containing ruins you can grab, the second reason is that you want to know all of the possible expansions surrounding you. If you wish to steal workers this will also show you the ones closest to you rather than trying to steal from an AI on the other side of the map. You should not have a huge piece of land unexplored just next to your cap when your first settler is out. So what policy should we take early on ? There are two schools of thoughts. What I do nowadays is to directly open Liberty. This allows me to get into another tree faster and doesn't slow down Republic and Collective Rule. But it has one major drawback. If Liberty is a poor choice on the map, the policy is totally useless if you need to switch to a tradition game. The other solution is to open tradition first so that if you have to scrap the Liberty plan at the second policy you can do so without consequence. In other words: Efficient but risky: Liberty (6) Safer but slower: Tradition Opener, Liberty (6) The tradition opener also has direct benefits to your game. It will save you some gold in acquiring tiles and allow you to grab Aristocracy if you absolutely need the happiness boost. The main issue is that it will cost you policies to do so and as a result you cannot benefit as soon from another tree. A science or domination game can afford to dip into tradition more easily than a culture game. For that victory, acquiring cultural centers in aesthetics really early is a great boon to Liberty but dipping into tradition may make this unlikely before rationalism. So remember your victory goal when choosing. Finally if your scouting has been going very well you can look at how many city spots you want where most things are in ring 3. Picking the tradition opener will make these easier to grab. Settler timing: If you open Liberty first you should wait for collective rule before making your first settler. If you open tradition first however I strongly suggest to start on a settler a bit after Republic rather than wait for CR. The main reason is that otherwise you increase the likelihood of losing valuable expansions and making the whole plan fall apart. Basically you should simply remember the early infrastructure you need for the map, build that and then start making settler. When you open liberty it should synchronize to when you get CR while if you opened tradition it will shortly after Republic. Expansion phase: So now you are 30ish turns into the game, you have your scouts running around, one or more worker, possibly your warrior and archer dealing with barbs and you just got a settler or soon will. So what to do with that settler ? First you need to recognize which spots will be settled. I suggest you make the entire list somewhere around that time. This will help you to recognize which should be settled first. A common mistake I see is that people often settle without a plan. You should make a list of priorities and this requires that you know how many cities you will settle and where each individual city should be. So what to look for in priority: 1. Your empire must make sense. There shouldn't be huge gaps between two cities. During the expansion phase you will create gaps because of priorities but your plan must therefore include a city in the gap. In other words you want an empire where you can link each city with a road no more than 6 tiles long between two nodes. As said in the intro, it is perfectly fine to have cities overlapping with each others. Your cities will be smaller than with tradition and therefore don't need as many good tiles. => It is okay to have a weird shape empire as long as it is continuous. A non round empire is not ideal (longer distance for settlers, harder to defend) but acceptable. What is not acceptable is to settle unreachable cities. 2. Look for unique luxuries and extras. Especially at higher levels, extra luxuries are good because they allow you to grab extras from the AI. Uniques are priority but do not discard extras. Try to see if you can grab N-1 or N-2 uniques at least. So for 7 cities try to grab 6 uniques. With the 2 in capital it usually mean your 6 other cities must try to hook 4 more. 3. Look for horses. Because of circuses Liberty loves those spots with at least one horse in the borders. Circuses are cheap and cost no maintenance. This makes the Ivory luxury extra special by the way as it gives access to a Circus on top of the luxury. 4. Look for fresh water areas or areas with good bonus food like multiple fish areas, or high number of granary resources. Coastal cities that you can link with a cargo are also good candidates. This may sound counterintuitive for a wide game but you need the growth ! You'll grow slower but you need to have sufficiently good tiles to sustain a decent enough growth while working specialist slots. This needs good food tiles. River spots are also good for liberty because of the watermill which will help to have decent growth 5. Look for special resources and hills for the bonus. Try to chose spots where you will be able to get high number of pastures or quarries. With the special buildings associated it will get you the production Liberty needs. Point 5 also suggest that you should probably avoid areas with very little production or at least have no more than one or two of those. The main reason is that gold is not easy in that type of game. You'll feel the harsh maintenance of a Liberty game and you cannot afford too many cities that cannot pull their own weight in production. => Points 4 and 5 reflect one very important concept of wide play. Wide play needs high quality tiles rather than a high number of decent tiles. What it means is that a city will be better with a handful of exceptional tiles like fishes, wheat and cows than it would be with a resourceless river area ! => Your cities have less population working the tiles so make the few tiles they work count ! 6. Mountains. If this was a tradition guide, mountains would be ranked way higher. But for Liberty mountains are not as big a priority if the area is not good enough. Like I suggested you want a few quality tiles above all else. This is where your growth and production will come from. Skipping bonus resources and a river for a mountain is not worth it. But if you can chose a good spot that also has a mountain, take it. 7. When choosing the exact location try to have things in the second ring rather than many in the third. This is especially true if you have not the tradition opener. Let's look at the following screenshot with possible expansion spots: Spoiler : My settler is out and it is time to pick the spots. The map has a good number of rivers so it is definitely a great boon to Liberty. We also have the required room and as you can see there are a few unique luxuries here and there surrounding the capital. The spots and why they were picked: Purple: Sinai and it has access to a horse and multiple resource bonuses. The starting area was not good at giving a religion so despite being the Celts Sinai is by far our best shot at a religion and dedicating a city to that is perfectly fine. The fact that Sinai does not yield food or production suggest however the area will have to be helped with a rushed granary and/or food caravan. The flat ground was picked because of having access to a wheat and because Sinai is in the first ring cutting down costs. It will also have access to the water mill. Blue: Salt in the first ring, mountain, hill and multiple resources. The tile directly NW of this one is better (river) but cannot be settled because of the city states being too close !! Green: Both on the horse or banana are good position but settling on bananas gives less bonus iirc. This city gives access to Truffles. Other positions are not possible because of surrounding cities. Pink: Access to Cotton, hill and mountain. Red: River, hill, Marble, horses and many bonus resources. Yellow: More luxs, horses and other pastures These spots also benefit from the celts UA. Two additional spots are suggested in teal areas. The pearl spot would be a strong option if I had one additional coastal city. As it is I prefer the red one. The other teal area would later reveal to also have sugar. This would make the area okayish but finally decided that 7 were enough and I already had a ton of sugar. Now that you have identified where you want to settle you have to have a priority. There are basically two rules: => The first important rule is that you should settle risky expansions first. The ones you're likely to lose to the AI. You see a nice spot next to an AI ? This is the highest priority. The two concerned areas here are the Purple and Pink areas. Purple can be picked by Korea and Pink by Siam. I'd chose Purple first because it would mean a faster religion. If you chose to pre-build a caravan in your initial build that kind of spot will usually be the one to receive the caravan to generate gold and science with an AI early on. => The second important rule is to settle the furthest spots first. It is likely the risky spots are also the furthest, as is the case for pink and purple in our case here. But once those two have received the first two settlers you will need to prioritize based on distance. In our case here you should settle things in that order: Purple, Pink, Green, Yellow, Blue, Red. Use some of your scouts for escort purposes. How many cities should you settle ? I suggest 6 to 8 if you really follow my playstyle. The exact number depends on luxuries and room. Note that we will do all these before the NC and simply get the NC with a Great Engineer. Post expansion strategies So you now expanded but what should these cities be doing. What to build ? First make a monument. That's the easy part: new city makes a monument. This will allow your cities to expand borders and accelerate your culture. Your expansion will then need the following basic infrastructure: Granary Library Aqueduct Workshop University These 5 buildings will also be accompanied by bonus buildings depending on the location which mostly will boost production: Stable Stone Works Forge Water Mill Not every city is made equal. Expansion #1, though settled the furthest will have a lot more time than Expansion #6. That is why it is strongly suggested to use your first cities to make the extra stuff you need. What exactly depend from game to game. These are the following: 1. Extra trade routes. I strongly suggest expansion 1 or 2 makes your 2nd caravan just after its monument. 2. Extra Workers. If you don't worker steal or don't steal enough workers you'll need to manually build extras. Expansions #1, #2 and #3 are ideal for that task just after their respective monuments. => I suggest to get 1 worker for every city. 7 cities, 7 workers. You'll get one from the policies and if you don't plan to worker steal I strongly suggest to buy one. Add 1 at the start, 2 from Pyramids or self made, and 2 more from expansions. This makes 7 without stealing. Also in general you can add 5 to 10 turns to my timings if you do not worker steal. 3. Units. This play style can lead to some very angry neighbours (see problem section) in which case starting to make archers is very important. At least this strategy should give you construction easily without it being a detour. Based on your needs you'll also have to get Circuses and Coliseums. Apply the same logic, cities that are the furthest ahead build the extra stuff. => Whether or not the city can make a water mill is also important. The less stuff a city has to make the more extras it can make. As to what is a priority it gets a bit more tricky. As a rule of thumb with this strategy you should always have time to get a food building before the Library. The exception can be cities #7 and above. Earlier cities or better cities will be able to get more stuff. => Make a Granary in cities that have access to at least one granary resource. If not then make a Water Mill first (if available). Once the Granary or Watermill is made you will have to judge whether or not you have time for the other one before Libraries. As a rule of thumb your latest libraries should come online around turn 80 to 85 (for me ) so plan accordingly. Finally, rush Buying a granary or watermill in a city having trouble growing is a good idea. The purple spot in our example will have trouble growing while working Sinai which strongly suggest rush buying a granary there (or a watermill). Once your cities got their Food buildings and their Libraries it is time for them to make an Aqueduct. As you will see in the technology section I strongly suggest teching straight to Engineering. This will allow you to build up your aqueducts right after the libraries and then starting to have some in the late 70s early 80s. If things go well you will now be able to make early production boosters like workshops stables forges and stone works. Build them in the following priority order (top = highest): Stone works 2+ Quarries Stable 4 pastures Stone Works 1 Quarry Stable 3 pastures Workshop Stable 2 pastures Forge 2 mines Whether or not you should make a stable or forge with only 1 tile benefitting is debatable. I would say yes if you really have nothing else to do. Otherwise a market is likely to be better. Forges can boost archaeologists and unit production so you can also take that into account. Then you'll get universities and from there you'll get into the second half of the game. Differences for the rest of the game: Guilds: Due to lower food overall, I suggest to spread your guilds. Choose cities with good food and make a guild in each of them. Try to make your guilds early ! National wonders: Most likely you'll have to skip the national epic. The lack of specialist stacking is going to make it hard to justify the 300+ investment at an early stage and when this starts to be affordable it will feel too late. Either way you should also spread your national wonders. While the NC is very likely to go in the capital, you can make the Ironworks and Oxford elsewhere. A secondary city with Ironworks will be able to make Wonders. Same as national wonders, spread world wonders too ! Playing wide is not making wonder building very easy so make it easier on yourself by not overloading the capital with it. Another substantial difference is that while it's very easy to rush buy all schools and labs with a tradition 4 cities game, it is really difficult to do so with a wide Liberty game. This usually mean that you are likely to build the schools manually as well as the labs or at least some of them. What tile should you be working ? At the start you'll want a balanced output between food and production. I usually aim for +4/+5 food while waiting for aqueducts. Once those are online I try to get up to +10/+12 after civil service. The rest can happily work gold and hammer tiles to get all the necessary infrastructure. The capital is the exception where I suggest trying to go up to +20. Also cities likely to have guilds should spend a bit more time on growth to be able to sustain displacing 2 citizens in the guild. What about trade routes ? As suggested your early trade routes can easily be used for science. Later on your trade routes should be used to meet the food minimums previously suggested. Most likely this means the capital will receive two and every city with a guild will receive one. Some of your routes can be used for gold. If you have only one costal city it's most likely better to get gold out of it than food in this strategy. As you will see maintenance will wreck your economy in the mid game. Investing into a caravansary in the capital is also a decent option. The National College There are multiple approach to Liberty for the National College. The one I suggest here is to rush it with the Great Engineer obtained at when completing the Liberty tree. This mean that you are not in a hurry to get your libraries up and as suggested try to aim for having Libraries online around T85 then rush the NC at that time with the engineer. Another popular approach is to manually build the NC and pick a Great Scientist. It works best with a very good capital with great tiles like Salt or stones. Technologies and extra policies Early: Early techs should be fairly simple. Basically you want the following: Pottery for a shrine Animal Husbandry and bronze working for extra resources (AH and BW) Sailing for route #2 Luxury techs and Masonry The wheel Archery Writing Like initial build order there is room for variation here. There is no 100% set path but only guidelines: 1. Your first choice will be whether or not you want a shrine. If you don't then skip Pottery for now and go directly for #2 2. You then have to reach AH and/or BW. The default approach is to pick AH first but you may chose not to if your capital is lacking possible horses. Getting AH will also unlock Caravans if you plan on doing that. 3. Archery can be picked before Bronze Working if you plan an archer in your initial build order. BW also allows you to get a spearman which is an efficient anti-barb unit but slightly more costly than an archer. 4. It is then time to pick one or two luxury tech. Try to pick one immediately improvable. 5. I suggest expansion #1 or #2 to build your second trade route after its monument so Sailing should be timed to synchronize when that city will finish its monument. 6. Masonry and Luxury techs. If you have Pyramids planed around T45 you should get Masonry early. Same if you have a lot of quarries to improve. Then grab luxury techs that you need. 7. The wheel is an important tech that you can try to get fairly early. Try to fit it somewhere depending on the urgency of other techs. 8. Writing should be timed for when your first cities will be ready to make a library. It's usually after most of these early techs so don't feel an urgency to grab writing. For example with the following build (Scout, Scout, Monument, Scout, Skip shrine because Celts, Archer, Caravan (7 turns out of 8), Settler, Finish Caravan, Settlers) a good idea would be: AH, Mining, BW, Archery, Pottery, Calendar BW and archery would be swapped if the need for an archer comes earlier. Archery would be skipped if we decide on a spearman. It is not important to dip into negative happiness while expanding that fast (really hard to avoid without some lucky CS quests) but you still need to be above -10 during your expansion phase. It is however important to grab luxuries fairly quickly to get away from this period of unhappiness as quickly as possible. Basically you want to get out of unhappiness once your capital is done making settlers. Post expansion: As suggested in the previous section you have a few key techs to get: Philosophy to get your NC Engineering to get your aqueducts Metal Working to get workshops Civil Service and Education If you are following this guide to the letter you now have a good amount of cities and 2 routes. I personally strongly suggest going Engineering first in that case. The trade routes should make this faster and it will transition nicely for all cities finishing their Libraries and food buildings early. You will often be able to make an aqueduct in the capital as soon as you get the tech and the new trade route will be used to start feeding this capital. Philosophy can be taken after Engineering which should coincide with the completion of your libraries. Production booster make a nice candidate after Aqueducts. This usually mean Workshops and Stables (if good) so pick Horseback riding and metalworking in the most logical order (see previous section). It is then time to finally get CS and Education. => From that point on there isn't that many differences with the normal tradition game. It will depend on what is your chosen victory mostly. You have however access to the Ironworks very quickly with this strategy (since all cities make workshops early) so getting Machinery right after Education is usually very good (as long as you get a nice renaissance timing for rationalism). Due to the need to make a lot of stuff manually rather than rush buying. Picking an early chemistry and/or an early Industrialization can really help getting those hammers running. Your first spy can often help you get through the bottom part of the tech tree making chemistry an easy early pick which will really help winning some turns on those schools. Extra policies: Like for late game techs, extra policies usually depend on the victory you choose. If you plan for a science victory, then Commerce is a strong option because of mercantilism. Pick Aesthetics for a culture victory. Patronage is good if you swim in CS alliances. For a late game domination you can start to invest in Honor or Commerce. I think Commerce is the better option with more immediate benefits in gold and happiness. Mercantilism combined with the cost reduction of an ideology will also make wonders. Liberty has extra possible picks: Tradition aristocracy which is interesting if you already opened tradition and face harsh happiness issues. Organized religion in Piety. This one is a niche choice that I suggest only if you really have a need for a stronger faith output (view it as 70hammer per city and +2 faith per city). This choice strongly suggest that you should pick Feed The World.