Playing Civilization IV, Part 6


A key part to every Civilization game is Research. You need to invest some resources to researching new technologies, and these will in turn open up new possibilities for your Empire: new military units, new buildings, new improvements, new Wonders, and new Civics. Managing all of this is very important to success, and it can get complicated. There are 92 technologies in the Beyond the Sword expansion, and a summary can be found at This summary is great if you want to check on a specific technology, but in the game it presented differently as a Tech Tree. You can see the Tech Tree by either going to the Science Advisor (beaker icon on upper right), or by clicking on the Big Picture when you need to choose a new technology to research. I would always encourage new players in particular to go to the Big Picture because that let’s you see what lies ahead of you. For example, you have just started a game and have chosen a Military leader like Alexander. To get decent military units you need Bronze Working. But that is not one of the first techs available for you to research. You can figure it out if you look at the Tech Tree, find Bronze working, and realize it requires you to first research Mining. And while you are in the Tech Tree you can click on Bronze Working, and the game will immediately start researching Mining, and then automatically switch to researching Bronze Working as soon as Mining has been researched. And this can work for more than one level. You can click on a technology that has 4 levels of prerequisite, and the game will queue them up very neatly.

When you are in the Tech Tree, you will notice that each Technology has several icons under it, and if you mouse over the icons you will get a pop-up that explains something that the technology unlocks for you. For example, the Compass is a technology that allows you to build the Explorer unit and to build Harbors in your coastal cities. So if you spend some time getting familiar with the Tech Tree it will pay off, and you will progress through the game much more easily. The thing you want to really nail down are the Units, Buildings, Civics and Wonders that can be enabled by making Technology discoveries, because you want to align those with your strategy. We looked at one aspect of that previously when we discussed the Civics and how those should be aligned depending on whether you want a Military victory, a Science victory, or a Culture victory. And the same is true for Units, Buildings, and Wonders. Get to know how they work and incorporate them into your planning.


A detailed description of all of the World Wonders can be found at There are 41 World Wonders, which can only be built once per game, and whoever builds one first gets it. You may have been building one, and then get a message that your city can no longer build it. That means another player just finished it, and all you get is a consolation of some gold in exchange for all the production you poured into it. Then there are 14 National Wonders, which can be built once by each payer in the game, so you will never lose out on building one of those. These National Wonders mostly affect the city that builds them, and you cannot build more than two in any one city, so if you have the ability to construct one think about there you want to put it for best effect. You can see these at, and as an example the Forbidden Palace reduces maintenance in nearby cities so you would want to build it in a city that is surrounded by other cities. And if you are going for a Culture victory, make sure you put the Hermitage in one of the three cities you have targeted for getting to Legendary Culture. Finally, there are 4 Projects. These are similar to Wonders except they cannot be hurried in any way. Wonders can be hurried by forest chopping or by spending Gold if you have the Universal Suffrage Civic.

The point is that you want to identify the Wonders/National Wonders/Projects that are most important for your strategy and make sure you are progressing to them ahead of anyone else. For example, if you are going for a Military Victory, you might want to focus on getting The Great Wall, The Kremlin, and The Pentagon. But if you are going for a Culture Victory you might want to get Broadway, Hollywood, and Rock N Roll. Note that each of these has effects to increase Culture in the city in which it is built, and if you are going for a Culture Victory you should pick the three cities that you will target for getting Legendary Culture and make sure to build these wonders in these targeted cities. You may not get them all, but that is what you should aim for. As for Science, the aim here is the Space Race, so the Apollo project is very important. But among the Wonders you might want The Great Library, the Mausoleum of Maussolos, the Parthenon, and The Space Elevator. And don’t overlook how you can use Religion to boost your Science. If you have State Religion plus the University of Sankore, you get more science and more Great Scientists. People frequently overlook how Religion can boost both Science and Culture in this game.

Great Persons

Great Persons, or Great People, are special units that are born in the course of the game. They can do a lot, and you will want to gather as many of them as you can. They are Great Artist, Great Engineer, Great General, Great Merchant, Great Prophet, Great Scientist, and Great Spy. They will be born in one of your cities when you accumulate enough Great Person points of the appropriate type, and using them wisely is important. And how you use them depends, of course, one what strategy you are following. They can sometimes build specialty buildings, do a special operation in a city, or become a Super Specialist in that city.

  • Great Artist – Can build a Great Work, which immediately adds 4,000 Culture to the city (sometimes called a Culture Bomb). Or can become a Super Specialist in the city, producing 3 gold and 12 Culture per turn.
  • Great Engineer – Can be used to hurry production in a city by adding 500 production to whatever is in the queue. Mostly good for hurrying Wonders and Project. Alternatively, can become a Super Specialist, adding 3 Production and 3 Science per turn to the city.
  • Great General – Can build a Military Academy in the city, which adds 3 culture and plus 50% military unit production to the city. Or as a Super Specialist can provide plus 2 experience for new units.
  • Great Merchant – Can go to a foreign city and conduct a Trade Mission, giving you 2000 Gold immediately. Or as Super Specialist can add 1 Food and 6 Gold per turn to the city.
  • Great Prophet – Can build a Religious Shrine, or as a Super Specialist can add 2 Production and 5 Gold to the city each turn.
  • Great Scientist – Can build an Academy, which produces 4 Culture and plus 50% Science. Or as a Super Specialist can add 1 Production and 6 Science to the city each turn.
  • Great Spy – Can conduct an Infiltration in a foreign city, yielding 3000 Espionage points. Or can build the Scotland Yard, which doubles the espionage points produced by the city. Or as a Super Specialist adds 3 Science and 12 Espionage points to the city each turn.

You generate by Great People by accumulating Great People Points, or by researching certain techs. For instance, the first person to research Music gets a Great Artist. But getting points is the most common. And you can do that from Wonders and National Wonders, or by Specialists. Specialists are people who live in your city but are not assigned to working tiles. This is something that Civilization has had from the very first version, when they were called Scientists, Entertainers, and Tax Collectors. You can get free specialists in several ways through certain techs, Wonders, etc. But the majority will probably be citizens you have taken out of the production role and assigned to be Specialists. This means they are not producing food, working in your mines, and so on. The food is particularly important because even though they are not working your farms, they still need to eat. This puts a natural limit on how many specialists you can have in a city.

To reassign people, go into the City Screen, and in the middle you will see your City laid out. You have the usual 21 tiles of the BFC (Big Fat Cross), as it has been in Civ since the very first one. on those tiles you will see circles representing citizens working there, and you can see icons for what they are producing. You can reassign a worker by clicking on the tile, except that you cannot reassign the worker on the City Center, which is the middle tile. On the right of the City screen, you can see your Specialists, and you can take a Citizen that is not working and turn it into a Specialist by clicking the Plus button next the Specialist icon.

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