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.
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
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
The best two cultural strategies
Other strategies I have heard of
Brief cultural game description
Some ideas about specialists
When to revolt to FS
In case of war
Thanks for reading. I’ll appreciate your comments, favourable or not.
Now, go and play a cultural game, my friend!
If you happen to get a sub-1000AD Deity victory, don’t forget to tell me all your tricks. 😉