How to Win Civ2 Before 1750 AD

How to Win Civ2 Before 1750 AD

Written by Lars Palsberg and Jens Palsberg (, August 2006

We will explain how to win Civ2 before 1750 AD by conquering the world. We assume that Civ2 is played at the Deity level on a large random map with seven civilizations, standard rules, and Barbarians as Raging Hordes. Our intended audience are players who have won Civ2 at the Emperor level.


Our objective is to win Civ2 as early as possible by conquering the world. Winning before 1750 AD is difficult; we have done it six times over the past two weeks: twice in 1650 AD, once in 1720 AD, once in 1740 AD, and twice in 1750 AD. In Civ2, the number of years per round is given by the following table:

4000 BC 1000 BC: 50 year/round: 60 rounds : 1-60
1000 BC 1 AD: 25 year/round: 40 rounds : 61-100
1 AD 1500 AD: 20 year/round: 75 rounds : 101-175
1500 AD 1750 AD: 10 year/round: 25 rounds : 176-200
1750 AD 1850 AD: 2 year/round: 50 rounds : 201-250
1850 AD 2020 AD: 1 year/round: 170 rounds : 251-420

From the table we can see that winning before 1750 AD means winning before round 200. A total of 200 rounds is a short time, particularly because at least 100 rounds of a game is spent researching key civilization advances and building key Wonders. Winning before 1750 AD requires that we carry out every aspect of the game at high speed. We will explain an approach that almost always leads to a win before 1800 AD and some times before 1750 AD. We emphasize the vast difference between winning in 1750 AD and 1800 AD: the extra 25 rounds take place at a time when the war is in full swing and several cities can be conquered each round. For us, winning before 1800 AD is routine; winning before 1750 AD is a significant achievement.

We call our approach the Crusader Approach in recognition of the key role that Crusaders play. The Crusader Approach leads to a war in which the attacking units are Crusaders and Diplomats, transported by Caravels. The idea of the Crusader Approach is to conquer the opponents before (or soon after) they develop Gunpowder. The Crusader Approach has two phases: preparing for war and then the war itself. We will explain in detail how to prepare for war, while we will give just a few highlights of how we run the war itself.

Preparing for War

We prepare for war in two steps. The first step is to develop Monarchy; we switch to Monarchy as soon as we can and we stay with Monarchy for the rest of the game. When we switch to Monarchy we set the tax rate to 30% and the science rate to 70%, and when the preparation for war is done we set the tax rate to 70% and the science rate to 30%. The second step is to research the civilization advances required to get the units and Wonders that we need for the war.

Founding and Managing Cities

Found the first two cities close to each other such that the waste and corruption will be minimized. If possible, make the distance between the two cities at most four squares (that is, city, square, square, square, square, city) because there then will be no waste once we change to Monarchy. Also, try to place at least one city such that it has good potential for production. Most important, make sure that there are squares around the cities that contributes Trade such that that each city has a total Trade of at least 3 when the size of the city is at most 2. There are two ways to do that. First, preferably, build the city on a river with at least one good river square around, or build the city in sight of a whale or some other special square that gives 2 in Trade. Second, if no good trade square is in sight, build roads on two squares around the city, before the city is built. This will let the city get an extra science when it has size two. The reasoning behind this is that in the beginning, under Despotism, the science rate cannot be set higher than 60%, and with a science rate of 60%, 1 Trade gives 1 science, 2 Trade gives 1 coin and 1 science, and 3 Trade gives 1 coin and 2 science.

In each city, one person is content and every person after that is unhappy. Under Despotism this is true for the first five cities, but if a sixth city is founded then there will be more unrest in one of the cities. So, do not build more than five cities before changing to Monarchy. Under Monarchy it is possible to have nine cities before more unrest will happen in one of the cities. So once a Monarchy, found nine cities and then make sure that each city has a Temple or that Oracle or Michelangelo’s Chapel is in effect before founding new cities.

In the beginning of the game each city should produce and build the following: first a Warrior, then a Settler that goes out and founds a new city, then another Settler to make irrigation and roads around the city, then a Temple, and finally Caravans. Later in the game when the Wonders are built and the war begins, first produce a defense unit (Pikemen), then build a Temple, and finally produce attack units (Crusaders).

Units, City Improvements, Wonders

We will build these units: Settler, Warrior, Pikemen, Caravan, Crusader, Diplomat, Caravel. We wait with building ships until we have Navigation, unless we have a neighbor so close that a war using Triremes can be swift.

We will build just one type of city improvement: Temple.

We will build four Wonders:

  • Oracle (300 shields)
  • Sun Tzu’s War Academy (300 shields)
  • Michelangelo’s Chapel (400 shields)
  • Magellan’s Expedition (400 shields)

The total of 300+300+400+400=1400 shields corresponds to 28 caravans (1400/50 = 28).

When a computer player builds a Wonder, we get to know the position of the city in which the Wonder was built. Knowing the location of the opponents is immensely helpful; the best for us is that each of the opponents builds one Wonder. So, resist the temptation to build any other Wonders than the four Wonders listed above; we need the cities to build Crusaders instead and we want the opponents to build Wonders. We will conquer the other Wonders as the game progresses.

Happiness and Proximity of Cities

A Temple has the effect that up to two discontented citizens are made content. The Oracle doubles the effect of all our Temples. Michelangelo’s Chapel counts as a Cathedral in all our cities; a Cathedral makes four unhappy citizens content. So, with Temples, Oracle, and Michelangelo’s Chapel, we can keep eight citizens content. When a city reaches size eight, we stop the size increase and instead use the extra citizens to generate research or tax, depending on the phase of the game. The science and tax generated by Scientists and Taxmen cannot be corrupted.

Given that each of our cities has a maximum size of eight, we can found them fairly close to each other. When a city reaches size eight and we stop the size increase, the city can maintain its size with just 5-7 squares plus the city square itself. We have good results with allotting seven good squares per city, including the city square itself.


We will develop the following 23 technologies in order:

  • Alphabet
  • Ceremonial Burial (build Temples)
  • Writing (produce Diplomats)
  • Code of Laws
  • Monarchy
  • Literacy
  • Mysticism (build Oracle)
  • Philosophy
  • Bronze Working
  • Currency
  • Trade (produce Caravans for building Wonders)
  • Horseback Riding
  • Warrior Code
  • Polytheism
  • Monotheism (build Michelangelo’s Chapel, produce Crusaders)
  • Feudalism (build Sun Tzu’s War Academy)
  • Map Making
  • Pottery
  • Masonry
  • Mathematics
  • Astronomy
  • Seafaring
  • Navigation (build Magellan’s Expedition, produce Caravels).

We refer to the first 16 of those technologies as “the 16 core technologies”; once we have them, we can start a war without ships. Once we have Navigation, we will in any further research develop the following three technologies in order:

  • Physics
  • Iron Working
  • Magnetism (build Galleons)

Galleons move one square more than Caravels per round. Our experience is that we should start the war and set the tax rate to 70% the moment we have Navigation. Most of our games are over before we develop Magnetism. If we have Magnetism and we trade to get Invention or find Invention in a village, then we might consider building Leonardo’s Workshop to get our Caravels upgraded to Galleons. However, our experience is that we should not commit a city to produce another Wonder.

It is important to develop the technologies in the order given above. Every possible technology that we should be able to research will not be offered to us every time we have developed a new technology. The individual technologies will be offered following in this sequence: Yes, Yes, No, Yes, Yes, No, and so on. This should be perceived in the way that every tech will be offered twice in a row and then it will not be offered, then it will again be offered twice in a row and then it will not be offered and so on. The sequence will be moved one forward everytime a technology is found, achieved and traded. The sequence of technology offerings implies that it is dangerous to have Great Library because we will lose control over when technologies are achieved.

The speed of developing new technologies can be approximated with the linear formula y = 15x, where x is the number of previously developed technologies. The important consequence of the formula is that it takes longer and longer to develop new technologies. The long development time is of particular significance in the beginning while the first 9 cities are being founded and the total amount of science does not increase much over many rounds. So, it is essential not to find, get, or trade any other technologies than the 23 listed above. We may be able to trade technology with an opponent and thereby get the 23 technologies faster.

The six computer opponents will trade technologies like crazy when they have seen each other and so each opponent will likely have technologies that we don’t want. We usually prefer to start the war after we have all the technologies that we want.

The War

When attacking a city, make sure to win in the first try. Don’t keep pounding with just 1 or 2 units every round. Make sure to have sufficient units in place to win right away. If the city is bigger, then use more units. If the city has City Walls, then use more units. If the opponent has strong defense units, then use more units. Just make sure to win in the first try even if it means waiting a few more rounds before a sufficient attack force is built up.

When the war starts and we set the tax rate to 70%, money will come in at a steady or even increasing pace. Use the available money to buy defense units and Temples in the conquered cities so the attack units can move on quickly. If at all possible, then wait one round before buying a unit or a Temple since the purchases can be made at around half price after at least one shield is made.

Use Diplomats to incite revolts in cities, particularly noncapital cities with City Walls, and destroy City Walls in capitals defended by Musketeers.

We must avoid conquering a nation before 1500 AD because such a nation will reemerge as a new tribe who will found a civilization using the color originally assigned to the vanquished culture. When we have conquered a nation except one city before 1500 AD, we surround the city by Crusaders such that the nation will not found any other cities. When we reach 1500 AD, we conquer the city and thereby conquer the nation. Before 1500 AD and before we conquer Marco Polo’s Embassy, we use a Diplomat to establish an embassy such that we know for sure that the next city we conquer is not the last city of a nation.

When we attack the nation that has Great Wall, we first attack the city that built Great Wall. While conquering the city that built Great Wall may take more Crusaders than a city without City Walls, the other cities of that nation are often poorly defended once the City Walls are gone.


Example 1

Some key events in a game that we won in 1650 AD (on July 31, 2006):

2700 BC: Switched to Monarchy
800 BC: We have Mapmaking
625 BC: We have Trade
275 BC: Built Oracle
75 BC: We have the 16 core technologies
60 AD: Built Michelangelo’s Chapel
200 AD: Built Sun Tzu’s War Academy
400 AD: First nation conquered except one known city (if before 1500 AD)
880 AD: We have Navigation
880 AD: Tax rate set to 70%
940 AD: Built Magellan’s Expedition
1360 AD: Second nation conquered except one known city (if before 1500 AD)
1440 AD: Third nation conquered except one known city (if before 1500 AD)
1510 AD: First nation conquered (Indians)
1510 AD: Second nation conquered (Chinese)
1550 AD: Third nation conquered (Vikings)
1560 AD: Fourth nation conquered (English)
1600 AD: Fifth nation conquered (Romans)
1650 AD: Sixth nation conquered (Spanish)

We conquered Marco Polo’s Embassy in 1120 AD. We recorded the number of cities in the other civilizations in three different years:

A.D. 1120 1400 1560
Romans 10 7 1
Vikings 1 1
Spanish 14 17 12
Chinese 8 2
English 10 8
Indians 5 1
Total 48 36 13

No civilization developed Magnetism or Gunpowder.

Example 2

Some key events in a second game that we won in 1650 AD (on Aug 7, 2006):

3050 BC: Switched to Monarchy
425 BC: We have Trade
25 BC: Built Oracle
180 AD: Built Michelangelo’s Chapel
320 AD: We have the 16 core technologies
340 AD: Built Sun Tzu’s War Academy
360 AD: We have Mapmaking
640 AD: First nation conquered except one known city (if before 1500 AD)
880 AD: Second nation conquered except one known city (if before 1500 AD)
1220 AD: We have Navigation
1260 AD: Tax rate set to 70%
1260 AD: Built Magellan’s Expedition
1500 AD: First nation conquered (Carthaginians)
1500 AD: Second nation conquered (Chinese)
1580 AD: Third nation conquered (Vikings)
1620 AD: Fourth nation conquered (Egyptians)
1630 AD: Fifth nation conquered (Sioux)
1650 AD: Sixth nation conquered (Romans)

We conquered Marco Polo’s Embassy in 600 AD. We recorded the number of cities in the other civilizations in eight different years:

A.D. 600 900 1200 1500 1570 1600 1620 1630
Romans 5 5 5 5 2 2 1 1
Vikings 4 4 4 5 2
Egyptians 8 9 9 5 5 2
Chinese 3 1 1
Carthaginians 8 1 1
Sioux 10 10 5 4 2 2 2
Total 38 30 25 19 11 6 3 1

No civilization developed Magnetism or Gunpowder.

Additional Thoughts

The Warrior in each city will help controlling the unrest while new settlers are built but is a weak defender against a barbarian attack. We can improve the defense, once we have at least five cities and Bronze Working, by letting one or two cities build Barracks and start producing Phalanx’s to home and fortify in all the cities. In this way every city will have one Warrior and one veteran Phalanx. The production of a Phalanx for each city will slow the game down a bit but also make it more likely that we can win from almost any starting position.

Will the computer players discover Industrialization? The answer is No; Industrialization requires Railroad and Banking. Railroad requires some of our 23 technologies and The Wheel, Construction, Engineering, Iron Working, Bridge Building, Invention, Physics, and Steam Engine. Banking requires some of our 23 technologies and The Republic. When the game ends earlier than 1800 AD, the computer players will not have developed even Steam Engine.

Grand challenge: win Civ2 strictly before 1500 AD.

Discuss this article on the forum