I really like this game, but after playing my 10th game now (on noble and prince) I am starting to wonder if some of the (non performance related) dissatisfaction with Civ4 that we see sometimes in these forums has a lot to do with victory conditions. I certainly think that they all leave something to be desired. Although I realize there are threads in this forum that address each and every victory condition in detail, I am writing this as a general strategic overview for those who, like me, often find themselves in the middle of a game wondering what path to victory is best to pursue. I am also hoping to get some comments on my understanding of the various victory scenarios. Finally, I am subjectively rating each victory condition; please feel free to do the same. 1- The Space Race victory: ==================== This one seems to me to be the easiest victory, and is certainly how I won most of my games. I have recently taken to switching it off after a few games where I increasingly felt that the pressure to join the race was robbing my games of variety and hijacking my game. Strategy description: You seem to need 10 or so good industrial cities. Have to focus on science and wealth production. Seems well suited to the defensive player who will have enough military techs to fend off harassing Civs while making a beeline to the needed spacerace techs. If you are not in touch with and trading techs with AI Civs from the get go you will probably end up way behind in tech and spend too much time trying to catch up. Wonders do not seem too important. Space elevator, as was mentioned elsewhere on these forums, seems irrelevant as by the time you build it youre probably well on your way to completion. Questions regarding Space Race: I read somewhere that the 1.09 patch has made this victory more expensive; I hope thats the case. Do most people find this victory to be completely boring or is it just me? Satisfaction rating 1-5 (in my opinion): 2 2-Cultural victory: ============= Seems like you have to plan this one way in advance. I always get two, sometimes three wonders in the early game through chopping down forests and/or plopping my second or third settler straight onto a stone resource if I can find it. Have to focus on Great People generation, getting the defensive techs you need, and otherwise more or less switching off all science production in the late game to generate culture instead. All well and good, except I really dislike having all the other cultures get so far ahead of me technologically and militarily in the late game while I wait for my 3 cities to amass culture and for my great artists to emerge. I also find this victory condition extremely difficult to achieve for the following reasons: a) Cultural victories are risky, in my opinion. Not only do they have to be planned in advance, but culture is only useful for creating your legendary cities and extending your borders (perhaps landing you a defecting city and a subsequent war in the process) i.e. unlike gold or techs, it cannot be traded in a pinch. Also, significantly, culture in itself is a minor factor a time based victory score, except indirectly through making your boundaries a bit bigger and your citizens happier. b) I am somehow always pre-empted by other Civs forcing me to join a Space Race Questions regarding Cultural Victory: - Are early religions good or bad for a cultural victory? Religious buildings generate a decent amount of culture, but in a recent game when I developed both Hinduism and Judaism in my biggest culture city I ended up with 5-6 great prophets when what I really needed were great artists (this despite forcing artist specialists). Satisfaction rating 1-5 (in my opinion): 4 3-Diplomatic Victory: ================ This one I just plain dont get. It just seems too risky to pursue willingly the only time I tried for this was to salvage some 30+ man hours of gameplay in a game where it was obvious that I was not going to win any other way. I suppose you can plan this one in advance by somehow becoming really good friends with the 2nd and 3rd or so biggest cultures who have most of the votes after #1 (who will be a candidate for the election himself), but somehow I think that thats not really a viable strategy. I did not win despite a handful of elections because others civs were not very enthusiastic about handing me or my opponent a diplomatic victory (he eventually won on Space Race). In fact my biggest problem with this victory is that it doesnt make any sense to me; I always abstain unless voting for myself, and I dont understand why any culture would choose to give the game away no matter how much they like you. I noticed that after several elections other civs were more likely to become partisan and less likely to abstain (again, why?) and it was obvious to me that my victory hinged on getting Julius Caesars vote. He had been annoyed (and annoying) for the entire game and suddenly I was giving him free techs and resources in a feeble, futile attempt to bribe him for his vote. It wasnt very fun I mean all those many hours of thoughtful (and, ahem, intelligent) gameplay had come to this?? Next time around I think I will just switch this victory condition off. Satisfaction rating 1-5 (in my opinion): 2. It just seems so arbitrary. 4-Time Victory: ============ To me this one makes the most sense. Engage in wars just enough to make your Civ land area significantly large (not necessarily as large as the biggest Civ around), then develop your cities to get high population, commerce, and science growth. Race to get techs and build wonders in order to boost your score, and use culture to expand your borders and grab border resources that will help make your population healthier and happier. This is not to say this is an easy win, esp. when Tokugawa or another warmongering Civ start expanding like nobodys business. The problems with pursuing this victory condition are (a) you will be preempted by other CIVs landing their own victory some other way. I dont really mind this except in the case of Space Race, which I think is easier than the others. (b) I really think the amount of culture your Civ generates should logically factor directly into the score (c) It seems from what Ive read that the leadership rating you get after you win hinges on the time it took to do so, which means that this victory guarantees you an ego-boosting Dan Quale rating. (Is this correct?) Satisfaction rating 1-5 (in my opinion): 3.5 5-Conquest and 6-Domination: ====================== I dont usually aim for these so I cant really say too much about them. Both of these are the warmongerers path to victory, and seem to involve the following. - Make a beeline to the war techs when everyone else (probably) isnt, OR start pumping out UUs as soon as you can for their (time-limited) comparative combat advantage AND cheap production cost - Concentrate your production on military units - Overwhelm your neighbors when they havent yet had the chance to build up militarily and/or have not yet invested/have fallen behind in military techs - Do all of the above while keeping your economy afloat and your citizens happy. Ok I admit again I am not an expert on these and dont have much to say about the subject. What I do not find appealing in the warmongering victories is that I personally like to build up my civilization and snap up certain wonders before others do, and it seems that it is very difficult to land a conquest victory unless you start really really early (is that true?). Satisfaction rating 1-5, Conquest (in my opinion): Dont know Satisfaction rating 1-5 Domination (in my opinion): 3, although I havent achieved it yet. Last thing I want to say is: I wish there were more options for victory conditions, as all of them seem a tad lacking in one way or another.