Playing Civilization IV, Part 7

Strategy for a Cultural Victory

A Cultural Victory is something new in Civilization IV, and it is a very interesting approach. If you want to see where you stand with all of the victory conditions, go to the icon of a raised fist in the upper right. On that screen you will see where you you rank. So I set out to win a Cultural Victory, and the condition for that is to have three cities with Legendary Culture, which is defined as 50,000 Culture if you are at normal speed, but does vary by speed. Here are the totals by game speed:

  • Quick: 25000:culture:
  • Normal: 50000:culture:
  • Epic: 75000:culture:
  • Marathon: 150000:culture:

The idea is that at faster speeds you have more turns to gain culture so the amount needed goes up correspondingly. Also the costs of researching and of building improvements increase as well with game speed. You can see a breakdown of this at

For my game I decided to do a game at Epic speed,l so I will have 750 turns to get three cities to 75,000 Culture each. Then I had to choose the game map. I went for Archipelago as my map, which means I am less likely to encounter early opposition. As it happened, I ended up with a fairly large island all to myself. Archipelago maps are maps with lots of islands as compared with Continents, or Pangaea which is one large continent. If I were going for a Conquest victory I would choose Pangaea instead because I could start in on the conquest as soon as possible. Of course, if you want to challenge yourself, you could reverse these. But if you are just getting started, there is nothing wrong with giving yourself a small edge.

My next decision was to choose the Leader. I chose Catherine. My reasoning was that I didn’t need the Protective trait since I chose Archipelago for most of my protection. I went with Catherine for the Imperialistic trait as a gamble to get the increased production of Settlers. This paid off handsomely when I got a large island all to myself. I cranked out the Settlers and settled the whole island. If I was on a smaller island, I would have focused my research to get Sailing (Fishing–>Sailing) and then build Galleys so I could try to settle nearby islands. And if there were no nearby islands within reach of my galleys I would probably just start a new game. This is supposed to be fun, after all. There is no sense in playing when the deck is stacked against you. My first 100 or so turns were devoted to getting my Empire settled and my cities built up. Obviously the cities I founded first were the ones most built up, but many of the early choices were the same. I tried to get Granary as my first City Improvement to help build up my population, then City Walls to help with defense. Libraries and Monasteries help with early Culture gains, and of course Libraries also help with Science. Remember, you need to have a balanced development strategy to some degree, and keeping up your research is important for any Victory condition. Also, I went for Monotheism to get the Religion Judaism. In Civ IV no particular religion is better than another, but I wanted to have one to get my Holy City and to have a State Religion. A Holy City gets additional culture, and State Religion gives you Culture and Happiness bonuses, and if combined with Sistine Chapel even more Culture bonuses.

And while the early development was pretty similar for all of my cities, as I passed the turn 100 mark I started to think about specializing my cities. Obviously I would need to choose 3 cities to promote for Culture, but that implies other cities will need to push Military and Science. Once I had settled my island I no longer needed to think about settling more cities. I had 15, which is quite enough to win with. But to think about specializing, I needed to see what options I had. Military production cities should be ones with a high level of production, and so you might look for cities that have a lot of mines. Part of your early development strategy should be to: 1. crank out Settlers to found new cities; and 2. crank our Workers to build terrain improvements. For Terrain improvements, I generally build Farms on any tile that is suitable for it so that I can increase my population and get some Specialists working in my cities. On hills, I generally build Mines, or when I get the tech, Windmills. On tiles that are flat but not suitable for Farms, I will build either Workshops or Cottages. Workshops add to Production, and Cottages will develop into important money makers over time as they grow to Hamlets, then Villages, and then finally Towns. You can see how this works at I try to always get at least one or two Cottages within every city in the early game because a good cash flow is very important.

You can see how your cities are doing if you go to the icon of a House on the upper right. You will get a concise summary of the statistics for each of your cities. I started by looking at the Culture production to select my top three Culture producers. My Capital was within the top three, not surprisingly, and was also the top Production city and the top Science city. This is not unusual since it is the oldest city and therefore is the most developed. But once I chose my top three Culture cities, I intended to start specializing, which means that the city improvements, Specialists, Wonders, etc. will start to diverge. I set my Capital to produce the Sistine Chapel, and another city to produce Notre Dame. That does not mean I won’t be generating culture in other cities, but the emphasis will be different. I then picked out three cities other than the Culture cities that had high Production and designated them as Military cities. Finally I picked three more to be my Science cities. To help keep track of these, I went to rename my cities. Just open the City screen, click on the City name, and you can rename it. I added (C) at the end of my Culture cities, (M) for my Military cities, and (S) for my Science cities. You ill probably start by what you see in the Cities screen, but as you get more familiar you can start to analyze the map and see how cities can develop over time. Meanwhile, you can can change these assignments at any time if the situation changes.

Military cities will produce units to defend your Empire. You will want defensive units in all of your cities, particularly ones on the border or coast, but I try to have city walls and two good defensive units in each city. As your research progresses you will want to upgrade your units to the latest military technology. You can sometimes do this with cash upgrades if you have a strong treasury, but some units don’t have an upgrade path that way, and you will need to produce new units. When that happens, the Military cities should be the ones producing them and sending them to the other cities. You don’t want to divert the attention of your Culture or Science cities unless sorely pressed by an enemy. And you will make sure that the Military cities get all of the Production enhancements and Military buildings as soon as they become available. And if you get a Great General you should use it in one of your Military cities, and put make any of your specialists in the Military city Engineers to boost productions. For example, I got a Great Engineer in my Capital city, but I had already designated it as a Culture city, so I moved the Great Engineer to one my Military cities and created a Super Specialist to increase my production there.

Science cities should of course focus on Science and build city improvements that add to the Science output. And they should look to building wonders that add Science as well. Any Great Scientists should be used in the Science cities, and any Specialists you create there should be Scientists. And of course in your Cultures cities you should focus on building the city improvements that add Culture, any Great Artists should be used in the Culture cities, and specialists they create should be Artists. Specializing your cities this way will produce much better results than just building things willy-nilly wherever you happen to be at the moment.

Ordinary Specialists can be reassigned, of course. If I am building a Wonder, for instance, I might want to reassign a Specialist to become an ordinary citizen and assign them to a tile that produces some hammers (production) until the wonder is built, and then reassign them back to being an Artist, Scientist, or whatever. And speaking of Wonders, at this point in the game I had each of my three Culture cities working on Wonders that are Cultural: Sistine Chapel, Notre Dame, and Chichen Itza. There is no guarantee that I will get all of them, but maybe I will get one or two of them. Nothing ventured, nothing gained after all. And right now they are the only Wonders available to me. And to increase my chances I went into each city screen and moved some citizens around. The default programming tends to assign them to producing Food as the first priority, and that is usually a good idea to build up your population. But since I was building Wonders I elected to move some them to tiles that added more production, and that cut down the number of turns needed to complete the Wonders.

 Save as PDF

Comments are closed.