Civilization IV - Beyond the Sword
Civilization IV: Beyond the Sword
Complete Civilization and Leader Guide
This FAQ is my guide to all 34 civilizations and 52 leaders in Civilization IV:
Beyond the Sword. It began as a small project on the Civ IV message board one
day when I had some free time, and over the course of a couple months it
eventually turned into the 13,000-word monstrosity you see below. The guide is
based on my expertise from nearly four years of playing Civ IV, during which
time I'm sure I've played every leader at least twice (most of them a lot
more), plus way too much time spent discussing this game on message boards.
This guide is not intended to cover all aspects of the game or every possible
strategy with every leader. Rather, it is intended to give the reader a basic
overview of the strengths and possibly the weaknesses of each civilization and
leader, hopefully to inform and entertain those who are looking to improve
their game. Keep in mind that every game will play out differently depending
on the map and the behavior of your neighbors, so the information here is
largely general suggestions on how to play to the strengths of different
leaders and not by any means hard and fast rules. This FAQ is also written
from the perspective of an Emperor/Immortal-level player, and while most of the
infomation here is equally true at any level, some things may be more or less
effective at lower difficulties (Incan Quechuas being the most notable
example). I won't even mention Deity, because that's almost a completely
different game, and the 1% of civ players who can actually compete on that
level certainly aren't going to learn anything from this guide.
A table of contents would be kind of pointless, so instead I'll just tell you
that the list is arranged with the civilizations in alphabetical order, so if
you're looking for a specific leader just find their civ. Ctrl + F also works.
Hope you enjoy the guide, and if you have any questions or comments, feel free
to e-mail me at email@example.com.
The original topic, where most of this guide can be found:
Starting techs: Agriculture, Fishing
Mall- A Supermarket with +20% gold and +1 happiness from Hit
Musicals, Hit Singles, & Hit Movies. This a very good UB held back by the fact
that it comes so late in the game. Still, for a late-game war, the gold bonus
can be a significant help if you're rush-buying units with Universal Suffrage,
and more happiness is always welcome when dealing with war weariness.
Navy SEAL- A Marine with 1-2 first strikes plus the March promotion. Marines
are somewhat of a niche unit, but if you find yourself in a situation where you
want to launch amphibious strikes in the modern era, SEALs are a noticeable
upgrade. The March promotion means they can start healing right after they've
attacked instead of waiting a turn like most units, so stick a medic in the
transports with them and you'll be ready to attack again earlier than usual.
Good in some situations, but not a game-changing UU by any means.
Lincoln (Philosophical, Charismatic)- Two strong traits make Lincoln one of the
best leaders for running a specialist economy. Stonehenge is a particularly
attractive wonder for Charismatic happiness and early gpp. If you have stone or
marble you might choose to build wonders to help take advantage of
Philosophical's bonus (obviously go for the Pyramids if you have stone to help
your SE), or you can build units instead and take advantage of Charismatic's
warmongering benefits. Or both. Unfortunately a specialist economy doesn't have
good synergy with America's UB, but like I said, it comes too late to make much
of a difference anyway.
Roosevelt (Industrious, Organized)- Having an economic trait to go along with
Industrious is nice, because a large factor in building wonders is getting to
their required tech first. Roosevelt is well suited for archipelago-type maps
where all or most of your cities are coastal, as starting with Fishing puts him
closer to the Great Lighthouse, which combined with the Organized trait will
allow for lot of expansion without the need for many cottages. He may also be
a good candidate for a specialist economy even though heís not Philosophical,
since he can build the Pyramids more easily and the gold saved by Organized is
really useful when you donít have cottages. Whatever your strategy, these are
two good long-term traits that will help you out.
Washington (Expansive, Charismatic)- I really love this trait combination. The
extra happiness from Charismatic means larger cities, and the benefit from
Expansive is not so much the extra health, but the cheaper granaries and
workers. You'll end up with bigger cities earlier, plus more workers to build
enough improvements for those bigger cities. That strong early game should set
you up well to do some always-fun Charismatic warmongering.
Starting techs: Mysticism, The Wheel
Madrassa- A Library with 4 culture instead of 2 plus two slots for priest
specialists in addition to the normal two for scientists. A very underrated
UB, especially considering that buildings double their cultural output after
1000 years, so Madrassas built in the BCs will quickly be producing 8 culture
per turn. The extra specialist slots also mean you can set up a decent gp farm
before Code of Laws, and it's easy to get great prophets for shrines or to bulb
religions if youíre pursuing a religious strategy.
Camel Archer- A Knight that doesn't require horses or iron. It also has an
inherent 15% withdrawal chance (like a cuirassier), which paired with Flanking
I & II gives a 45% withdrawal chance. That can be useful for both attacking
cities or as active defense against enemy stacks entering your territory, as
flanking damage from retreating Camel Archers will damage and eventually kill
enemy catapults and trebuchets. Not a great UU, but sometimes you may be glad
to have it.
Saladin (Spiritual, Protective)- Saladin is generally considered one of the
weaker leaders, mostly because Protective is such a weak trait. Going for
Buddhism or Hinduism isn't generally recommended on higher levels, especially
because his second starting tech isn't a food tech, but his UB does support a
religious strategy, so it may be worth the risk and the slower start. Saladin
is a good candidate for a cultural victory due the Madrassa and the Spiritual
trait for cheap temples (meaning faster cathedrals), plus the fact that he
doesn't offer any particular advantage for any other type of victory. If you
do go the religious/cultural path, strongly consider the Apostolic Palace,
University of Sankore, and Spiral Minaret to make your religious buildings
better. An interesting leader who may encourage you to try a strategy you
wouldn't normally use, but not one to choose when you've just moved up in
difficulty level, and not very likely to appear near the top in your hall of
Starting techs: Mysticism, Hunting
Sacrificial Altar- Courthouse replacement that reduces anger duration from
sacrificing population by 50%, plus it only takes 3/4 the number of hammers to
build. Easily one of the best UBs in the game, as more frequent whipping in
the Slavery civic is a big hammer advantage. Get high food sites and
sacrifice your population like mad to take full advantage of it.
Jaguar- A 5-strength Swordsman with free Woodsman I (and Combat I, but
technically that's from Monty's trait) that doesn't require Iron and is the
cost of an axeman. They can strike quickly through jungles and forests with
Woodsman II from a barracks, but on the higher difficulties at least, your
target is going to have a pretty robust defense which probably includes walls
and Axemen by the time you get Iron Working, so don't count on a Jaguar rush to
wipe out a rival or even capture his capital. A better use for them may be to
just capture a couple of the more vulnerable border cities then run around in
the enemy's forests, cutting roads, plundering, and basically choking him into
irrelevance so you can wipe him out later. Even if you don't really use
Jaguars, save at least one for a great general super-medic, as it's the easiest
unit in the game to get to Woodsman III + Medic III for 40% healing per turn.
Montezuma (Spiritual, Aggressive)- Even though you start with Mysticism, don't
found a religion. You'll most likely be conquering a few holy cities
eventually anyway, and with Hunting as your other starting tech, you really
need food techs asap to get off to a decent start. Always consider the
possibility of an axe rush with an Aggressive leader (actually with any leader,
but Aggressive leaders are particularly good at it), but if that's not an
option, I recommend going for the Oracle to get Code of Laws pretty early and
get Sacrificial Altars built. Monty's Spiritual trait has great synergy with
his UB, as it lets you jump in and out of Slavery as much as you want over the
course of the game to keep those altars soaked in the blood of your loyal
subjects. Anyway, with all those extra hammers from whipping twice as often
plus Monty's Aggressive trait, your path to victory should be fairly obvious.
Starting techs: The Wheel, Agriculture (the two most expensive starting techs,
and Pottery is only one turn away)
Garden- A Colosseum that gives +2 health. Not terrible, but not nearly as
helpful as many other UBs. If you actually build it around the time you get
Construction, youíre more likely to be doing it for the normal +1 happiness
than the extra health. You probably won't bother building it in most cities
until later in the game when health starts becoming an issue.
Bowman- An Archer with +50% against melee units. Incredibly useful if you
start next to Shaka or Monty, but not likely to affect your game much
otherwise. Maybe you'll get better odds in a fight or two with barbarian
axemen or something. Not a very highly-regarded UU overall.
Hammurabi (Aggressive, Organized)- Hammurabi is a pretty decent warmonger.
Aggressive helps you win a large empire and Organized helps you afford it.
What else is there to say? This is a very forgettable civilization and leader.
Starting techs: Mysticism, The Wheel
Hippodrome- Replaces the Theatre and gives +1 happiness for horses instead of
dye, plus an extra +1 happiness for good measure. Even better, it also gives
+1 happiness per 5% culture rate instead of the usual 10%, so every notch you
bump the culture slider will give you +2 happiness instead of 1. Thatís quite
useful for dealing with war weariness. Also, while the normal Theatre has two
slots for artist specialists, the Hippodrome has none, though I can't imagine
when this would ever matter. If you're going cultural, then you'll use Caste
System to farm artists, and if you're not, then artists are the last thing in
the world you want (well, maybe except for spies).
Cataphract- A Knight replacement with 12 strength instead of 10. The only
difference between these and cuirassiers is that cuirassiers have an innate 15%
withdrawal chance and can flank attack cannons, and Cataphracts are 10% cheaper
to build. Considering that a cuirassier attack can be effective even though
they come significantly later, obviously Cataphracts have great offensive
potential. Just send in spies beforehand to be ready to start revolts and
youíre good to go. The only downside is that Guilds is inconveniently located
on the tech tree at a time when youíre normally gunning for Liberalism, but as
long as you plan to use them, in my opinion Cataphracts are good enough to
justify the detour and possible loss of a free tech.
Justinian I (Spiritual, Imperialistic)- Yet another civilization with no
starting food tech, so you should avoid the temptation of an early religion and
just research what you need to get your food resources hooked up and your
empire off to a fast start. Imperialistic is nice for cheap settlers, but
those fast great generals also call for some warmongering, donít they? Unless
you have a good opportunity earlier, like an obvious axe rush or a dogpile
situation, I recommend peacefully building and teching until your
aforementioned Cataphracts are ready to do their thing, then using those to put
yourself into a winning position.
Starting techs: Fishing, Mining
Cothon- A Harbor with one extra trade route that is also 25% more expensive to
build. Obviously this UB is highly map-dependent, but just as obviously it can
be pretty great on some maps. I really love how you can run State Property and
still get most of the benefit of Free Market (besides corporations), or you can
just have Free Market on steroids. And itís not like Hannibal needs any help
Numidian Cavalry- A Horse Archer replacement with 5 strength instead of 6, but
+50% against melee units and a free Flanking I promotion. The usefulness of
this UU has been debated over and over, but in my opinion itís just not that
great. Yes, theyíre better against melee units, including spears, which would
normally be a strong counter unit, but theyíre worse than standard horse
archers against archers and longbows, the primary defensive units of their time
period. If theyíre worse at attacking cities, then why would I want them?
Well, I suppose since theyíre strong in the field theyíre good if someone is
likely to attack with mostly melee units and catapults, but that doesnít seem
like anything worth prioritizing Horseback Riding for in most games.
Hannibal (Financial, Charismatic)- Pretty straightforward: just use his
awesome traits to go for any type of victory you want. As with any Financial
leader, build riverside cottages for instant 3-commerce tiles, and with
Hannibalís larger cities from Charismatic, you can work even more cottages
earlier. At some point, youíll probably want to build up an army and go beat
up some of your inferiors, and my favorite time for that is the renaissance and
early industrial eras, when you can really turn a tech lead into a serious
military advantage, like cavalry against muskets or mass cannons against, well,
anything. Hannibal is simply one of the best leaders in the game, and heís
easy to play since youíll probably want a cottage economy with him. A good
choice for both new players and anyone moving up in difficulty.
Starting techs: Mysticism, Hunting
Dun- Replaces Walls and gives a free Guerilla I promotion to eligible units.
That only includes archery units and gunpowder units before Rifling, because
the Dun becomes obsolete with Rifling just like normal walls. If youíre likely
to be attacked and your border cities are on hills, then this UB provides a
little extra protection. Offensively, Guerilla-promoted troops can give you
extra stack protection when moving through enemy territory if you can stick to
hills, and any unit you get to Guerilla III gets +25% hill attack and more
importantly, a +50% withdrawal chance, making them pretty nice attackers. I
donít usually research Military Science for grenadiers, but doing that along
with Steel (theyíre close to each other on the tech tree) before getting
Rifling could be worth it to build some Guerilla III grenadiers with Theocracy
or Vassalage to go with your cannons. Still, I consider the Dun a UB thatís
just kind of fun to play around with, not one that gives me a really
significant advantage like some others. It certainly belongs in any discussion
of worst unique buildings.
Gallic Warrior- A Swordsman that can be built with just copper and comes with a
free Guerilla I promotion, plus access to the other Guerilla promotions, which
is something no other melee unit has. If you want to attack some cities on
hills then it might be good to go for Guerilla III with them, but otherwise
youíll probably just use them like normal swordsmen. Like the Celtic UB, the
Gallic Warrior is an interesting but not particularly powerful UU.
Boudica (Aggressive, Charismatic)- Both Celtic leaders have nice trait combos
to somewhat make up for below average uniques and bad starting techs.
Obviously Boudicaís advantage is highly promoted units, and youíre not using
that advantage unless youíre at war. Once again, skip early religion in favor
of food techs for a faster start, since you should be conquering holy cities
later. Theocracy and/or Vassalage make sense to strengthen your units even
further, and as your wars go on, settled great generals will really start to
give you some powerful armies. At just 8 exp, Boudicaís melee and gunpowder
units get four promotions, something that takes 17 exp for most leaders.
Brennus (Spiritual, Charismatic)- A more well-rounded leader than Boudica, but
his traits still push him towards war. Spiritual is often overlooked as a good
trait for warmongering, but being able to change civics at will is a useful
ability when building up an army. For example, build infrastructure for a
while in Organized Religion, then switch over to Theocracy to build units, and
back and forth as much as you like. Switching into Nationhood to do some
drafting is another powerful option that becomes much more attractive when you
donít have wasted turns of anarchy. Honestly, I think Boudicaís traits are
kind of overkill and Iíd usually rather take Brennus to war.
Starting techs: Agriculture, Mining (the only civ with this very good
Pavilion- Exactly like a normal Theatre but with a +25% culture multiplier.
May push you in the direction of a cultural victory if you were leaning that
way. Otherwise itís just a little extra border push.
Chu-Ko-Nu- A Crossbowman that does collateral damage, plus it has
an extra first strike. A very good unit, so some people like to go for them
early by getting Metal Casting from the Oracle and running an engineer
specialist from a Forge to get a great engineer to bulb Machinery. Personally
Iím not so convinced that theyíre powerful enough to warrant a beeline like
that, since catapults plus swordsmen/axemen can do virtually the same thing
plus take down city defenses first, but itís something to consider. They
certainly make any medieval stack much better, though, and itís worth building
a lot more of them than you would normally build if they were ordinary
Mao Zedong (Expansive, Protective)- A crappy Protective leader. Iím generally
a fan of the Expansive trait for cheap workers and granaries, but itís not
enough to keep Mao from being one of the weakest leaders in the game. As
mentioned above, Chinaís UB can be helpful for a cultural victory, but thereís
really no specific strategy that Maoís trait combination lends itself to. Just
play the map and do the best you can, and if you win maybe you can take some
pride from the fact that it was due entirely to your own skill. Once you can
win with Mao, youíre ready to move up in difficulty.
Qin Shi Huang (Industrious, Protective)- Qin is well suited to pull off the
early Machinery gambit described above with the cheap Oracle and cheap Forge
from Industrious if you want to give that strategy a try and see if you
disagree with me about its effectiveness. Beyond that, discounted wonders and
a culture-multiplying UB are definitely helpful for a cultural victory. For
any other type of victory his traits arenít as much help.
Starting techs: Fishing, Agriculture
Dike- A Levee that gives +1 hammer to water tiles in addition to river tiles
and can be built in any coastal city without having to be on a river. Somewhat
map-dependent, but itís good enough that it alone arguably makes the Dutch the
best civ to use on water-heavy maps likes archipelago and medium & small where
good production can be hard to come by. It comes fairly late with Steam Power,
but thatís only fair, because itís the only UB thatís like having a national
wonder (Moai Statues) in every city (and your Moai city will be really
amazing). Consider buying them with Universal Suffrage in low-hammer coastal
cities that are working a lot of ocean tiles, because theyíre fairly expensive
to build and the sooner you can get that extra production the better.
East Indiaman- Replaces the Galleon and has 6 strength instead of 4, capacity
for 4 units instead of 3, and the ability to travel in rival territory without
the need for open borders (like a caravel). May save you a few hammers on
galleons if youíre transporting units overseas, and difficult to take down if
your opponent doesnít have Chemistry yet, but really not that big a deal.
Willem van Oranje (Financial, Creative)- Cheap Libraries from the Creative
trait work well with Financial to make Willem an excellent techer. He doesnít
have a military trait, but if you go to war with a tech lead then that doesnít
matter so much. Or you can just do what Willem does best and tech all the way
to space. As mentioned before, the Dike makes him a beast on water-heavy maps,
but Willem is still an excellent leader even without his monster UB. When you
play him (or maybe when you play the next game after using him) youíll
understand why the Financial trait is a crutch for so many players.
Starting techs: Agriculture, The Wheel
Obelisk- A Monument with 2 priest slots. This isnít a very great UB, but it is
an interesting one as it allows for an earlier great person than is possible
any other way. Great prophets are nice when settled early in the game, or
alternatively, you can use them to bulb religions to help with a cultural
victory, which should be a serious consideration with both Egyptian leaders.
One downside to the Obelisk is that Hatshepsut is Creative and thus doesnít
need them for culture, but itís still worth building at least one to start
generating some great people. With Industrious Ramesses, building Stonehenge
might be a good way to get them.
War Chariot- A Chariot with 5 strength instead of 4 plus immunity to first
strikes. Regular chariots are already sometimes more desirable than axemen for
rushing due to their speed, so a chariot with the base strength of an axemen
that ignores archersí first strikes? Yes, please. Assuming you have horses
nearby, the odds of pulling off a successful rush go way up with this UU, and
that makes the entire rest of the game easier. Theyíre also nice barb
protection except for the occasional barbarian spearman.
Ramesses II (Spiritual, Industrious)- Everything about Ramesses (except maybe
his War Chariots) screams for a peaceful builder game and eventual cultural
victory. Build wonders in your three culture cities, found religions with the
great prophets from your UB, and build cheap temples from those religions to
get cathedrals earlier. Also, as I mentioned with Roosevelt, Industrious
leaders are good candidates for specialist economies thanks to their discount
on the Pyramids. It seems particularly appropriate to build them as Egypt.
Hatshepsut (Spiritual, Creative)- Not so bad at cultural victories herself for
some of the same reasons as above, but instead of cheap wonders she gets two
culture per turn plus cheap libraries and theatres. Personally, Iím a little
less likely to play the peaceful builder game with Hatty, opting instead to
leverage the Creative trait and good UU to try to claim a lot of land early,
and settling my great prophets to help fund expansion rather than bulbing
religions. Her strong early game can really set you up for success, and the
flexibility of the Spiritual trait helps you out down the road.
Starting techs: Fishing, Mining
Stock Exchange- A Bank with an extra 15% gold multiplier, for a total of 65%.
This UB is great with Englandís two Financial leaders, as youíll have
potentially more gold to multiply. It will help you keep your research higher,
and it particularly shines when you shut off research and go 100% gold to
upgrade units or rush production.
Redcoat- A Rifleman with +25% against gunpowder units. Essentially a free
Pinch promotion, except that you can still put Pinch on top of it for even more
strength against other gunpowder units. That makes Redcoats less vulnerable to
grenadiers than normal riflemen, but itís still probably best to bring along
something else for stack protection if your target has Military Science. For
the most part, youíll just use these like normal riflemen and enjoy better odds
in some of your battles, or theyíll allow you to bring slightly fewer siege
units and get the same odds.
Elizabeth (Financial, Philosophical)- Philosophical is already a great trait
for research thanks to earlier great people and cheap Universities; combine it
with the Financial trait and you have the strongest techer in the game. That
makes Elizabeth one of the best (some would say the best) leaders overall, and
the fact that she has the Stock Exchange on top of that is just absurd. Just
set up a great person farm early and try to get great scientists for Academies
in your best cottage cities, and watch your tech rate take off. Elizabethís
fast research can lead you to a space victory, but as we know, a tech advantage
can easily be turned into a military advantage, so more violent victory options
are also a possibility. Her UU comes at a great time for a cottage economy,
when most of your cottages have grown into towns and you can really start
taking advantage of them with civics like Universal Suffrage and Free Speech.
Victoria (Financial, Imperialistic)- Though somewhat overshadowed by the
awesomeness that is Elizabeth, Victoria is still a strong leader. The
Financial trait works well with Imperialisticís cheap settlers to fund rapid
early expansion, so you can claim a large empire and actually be able to afford
it. Of course, Imperialistic offers discounted great generals as well, so it
makes sense to leverage the greater production from those extra cities into an
offensive force to ensure that the sun will never set on your empire.
Churchill (Charismatic, Protective)- A good trait and a crappy one. People who
love the Drill promotions like Churchill, though, as itís pretty easy to get
Drill IV units with him. Drill IV Redcoats are quite nice, and itís not that
big a deal for them that Churchill wonít get a tech lead as easily as the other
two English leaders, because redcoats donít get a bonus against outdated units
(besides muskets) anyway. Charismaticís higher happiness cap does provide an
economic benefit, so Churchill isnít completely one-dimensional, but war is
still the recommended way to go with him.
Starting techs: Hunting, Mining
Stele- A Monument with a +25% culture bonus. Itís the same bonus as Chinaís
UB, except it comes earlier and obsoletes with Astronomy. A skilled player
could probably leverage the Stele into an early culture victory, but I donít
tend to go that route with Ethiopia. The fact that Zara Yaqob is already
Creative makes this UB a little redundant, but it can provide some extra
insurance against losing tiles to rival culture, and sometimes it can let you
settle right up in someoneís face and end up claiming tiles that you really
have no business controlling. Iíd still take most other UBs over this one,
Oromo Warrior- Now weíre talking. Oromos are Musketmen with
immunity to first strikes, a free first strike, and free Drill I and Drill II.
That means with just a barracks and Theocracy/Vassalage or a settled great
general you can produce Drill IV Oromos, giving you units with 4 to 7 first
strikes that suffer 60% less collateral damage and have +10% strength against
mounted units (youíll probably still want pikemen or elephants in your stack
for protection from knights or cuirassiers). Regular musketmen kind of suck,
but Oromos are amazing, and even more so because their promotions carry over
when you upgrade them, so your Drill IV Oromos become an army of Drill IV
riflemen. I recommend going for Steel first, though, as cannons and Oromos are
a potent combination, and delaying Rifling for a bit will give you a chance to
build more of them before they become obsolete. The extra first strikes will
keep you from taking much damage against units damaged by your cannons, so you
need less time to heal and can keep your attack on the move.
Zara Yaqob (Creative, Organized)- A strong trait combination. Creative is
always nice for getting off to a strong start, and while Organized isnít quite
as good as Financial for financing early expansion, itís still a strong
economic trait, and later in the game it can sometimes actually save you more
gold per turn than Financial would gain you. The most notable thing about
Zaraís traits, though, is that they give him the largest number of discounted
buildings of any leader: Libraries, Theatres, Colosseums, Courthouses,
Lighthouses, and Factories are all half price. Thatís a lot of saved hammers
that can potentially go into other things, like Oromos, for instance. After
all, it would be a shame to waste a strong UU and a trait that can finance a
large empire, wouldnít it?
Starting techs: Agriculture, The Wheel
Salon- An Observatory that gives one free artist. This is
another UB thatís mostly just useful for cultural victories. Fortunately, two
of the French leaders are Industrious, so thereís a chance that you may be
going for a cultural victory (especially with Louis), and thereís also a decent
chance that you built the Pyramids to run a specialist economy with
Representation, in which case the artists will provide some extra research.
In other cases you may not even notice it, unless you build it in your National
Epic city and end up with unwanted great artists.
Musketeer- Identical to Musketmen in every respect except that they get two
movement points. So they can get to the front quicker, but the problem with
Musketeers is that when it comes to combat, theyíre no better than the unit
they replace, which unfortunately isnít especially strong. Youíre not going to
capture any cities with these guys without siege units, and bringing those
along pretty much negates the double movement. The best use Iíve found for
Musketeers is to send them along with knights to do some plundering, as they
can keep up with your mounted units and protect them from pikemen. If that
doesnít sound like a terribly useful UU to you, well, youíre right.
Louis XIV (Industrious, Creative)- A strong contender for best leader in the
game for a cultural victory (itís between him and Ramesses) due to his traits
and UB. As always, that doesnít mean you necessarily have to go that route,
and sometimes you canít depending on how the game is playing out, but thereís
really nothing about Louis himself that pushes you in any other direction.
De Gaulle (Industrious, Charismatic)- For starters, Stonehenge is a huge
no-brainer with a Charismatic leader who can build it for half price. You can
play the peaceful builder game with De Gaulle just like with Louis, but
Charismatic is also there to help you out should you feel the need to
ďliberateĒ some rival territory. Thatís the way I usually like to go, so I
just use De Gaulleís Industrious trait to grab a few of the more helpful
wonders when Iím not preparing for war. I havenít mentioned it before, but
the Industrious discount on national wonders is nice as well to save you some
turns and hammers that can be used on other things.
Napoleon (Organized, Charismatic)- Napoleon has excellent traits for playing
like Napoleon. Organized is great for funding a large empire, and Charismatic
is great for getting you one. In my opinion the strongest warmongers arenít
the leaders with all-out war traits like Boudica or Tokugawa, but leaders like
Napoleon with a war trait and a good support trait. If you like playing the
peaceful builder game for a space or culture victory, choose one of the other
French leaders. Napoleon is meant to conquer the world.
Starting techs: Hunting, Mining
Assembly Plant- A Factory with four engineer slots instead of
two, and you can build it 50% faster if you have coal. That second bonus is
particularly nice with Frederick, who already gets double production on
Factories from his Organized trait. This isnít a great UB by any means, and
itís one of the latest in the game, but Factories are still powerful buildings,
and getting them up slightly earlier is nothing to complain about. If youíre
at war theyíre particularly good, because you can build them quickly after
getting Assembly Line and start cranking out infantry sooner.
Panzer- A Tank with +50% vs. armored units. This unit looks great on paper, as
it destroys regular tanks and even gets winning odds against modern armor. In
practice, though, how many tank vs. tank battles do you usually get in a
typical game? Unless your games are a lot different than mine, probably not
too many. Itís worth it to build a lot of Panzers, but mostly just because
tanks are so good, not because their bonus is likely to be decisive. Just use
these like normal tanks and be pleasantly surprised when you actually get
another tank to fight.
Frederick (Philosophical, Organized)- Two good traits make Frederick a solid
leader. Philosophical may encourage you to go with a specialist economy, and
as mentioned before, the discount you get from Organized is helpful if you do,
since commerce is less abundant with specialist economies. Frederick is pretty
versatile, but personally I like to go for a military victory unless Iím pushed
in a different direction, and heís not bad at all for that. One nice thing
about specialist economies is that war weariness isnít a problem because moving
the culture slider doesnít affect your research nearly as much as in a cottage
Bismarck (Expansive, Industrious)- Another leader with solid but not
spectacular traits. As with any Industrious leader, Bismarck can build wonders
and go for a cultural victory, though heís not as well-suited to that kind of
game as some other leaders. A better strategy may be to use his Industrious
trait to grab the Pyramids or Great Lighthouse (depending on the map) as well
as other useful wonders like the Great Library, and just leveraging the bonuses
you get from those help get yourself into a winning position. His Expansive
trait is particularly nice with the Great Lighthouse for cheap harbors to take
advantage of your extra trade routes. Also, since cheap granaries and workers
are useful for getting your cities up and running earlier, you may have a
better shot at some early wonders than you would otherwise.
Starting techs: Fishing, Hunting
Odeon- A normal Colosseum gives +1 happiness and +1 happiness per 20% culture
rate. The Odeon adds another +1 happiness, +3 culture, 2 artist slots, and +1
happiness from Hit Singles. Any UB that gives extra culture is useful for a
cultural victory, but extra happiness and stronger borders are helpful in any
game. If you do go cultural, the Odeon along with a Theatre will let you
generate great artists pretty easily even if youíre not in Caste System. Also,
while culture-producing buildings like Libraries and Theatres are always
destroyed when you capture a city, Colosseums can survive and automatically
turn into Odeons, giving you instant culture in conquered cities just as if you
were Creative (Pericles already is, but itís a nice little bonus for
Phalanx- An Axeman with +100% defense against chariots, which cancels out the
+100% attack that chariots get against axemen. While itís kind of nice to have
axemen that arenít ridiculously vulnerable to chariots, especially when
rushing, itís not like itís so difficult to just build one or two spears for
protection, especially since Greece already starts with Hunting. So basically,
Phalanxes gain you 1 strength on a unit or two when axe rushing, but only when
your target has horses. Not the worst UU out there, but pretty weak.
Alexander (Aggressive, Philosophical)- A good specialist economy warmonger.
The main weakness of a specialist economy is that itís not as good as a cottage
economy by later in the game when cottages have all grown into towns with Free
Speech and Universal Suffrage, but itís stronger earlier in the game before
those cottages grow. So let your neighbors grow some cottages for you while
you use your strong early game to build up an Aggressive army to go and claim
Pericles (Creative, Philosophical)- Possibly the strongest non-Financial techer
due to both cheap libraries and universities, and of course Philosophicalís
earlier great people. The half-price libraries are fantastic with
Philosophical to let you generate some really early great scientists to speed
your research along. You can use your strong early game to play like Alexander
if you want, but going cultural should also be a consideration with these
traits and Greeceís UB. Pericles is a very strong leader and probably the one
I would recommend for anyone trying out a specialist economy for the first time
(him or Gandhi).
Holy Roman Empire
Starting techs: Hunting, Mysticism
Rathaus- A Courthouse that reduces maintenance by 75% instead of 50%. This is
many peopleís choice for best UB in the game, and itís easy to see why. The
Rathaus will save you a ton of money over the course of the game, allowing you
to fund a large empire while keeping your research going.
Landsknecht- A Pikeman with +100% against melee units in addition
to the normal +100% vs. mounted. This is another UU that looks a lot more
powerful on paper than it actually is in practice. The problem is that if you
want to use them on offense, theyíre going to run into longbowmen, in which
case youíre better off with mostly macemen to go with your siege units. As
stack defense, theyíre decent but not quite as good as crossbowmen against
macemen, and you still need knights or crossbows/longbows to protect your stack
from enemy crossbowmen. Your primary use for the Landsknecht will still just
be for defense against mounted units.
Charlemagne (Imperialistic, Protective)- A strong contender for weakest leader
in the game based on his traits. One thing that he can do well, however, is
claim a large amount of land with his cheap settlers from Imperialistic, which
works well with his UB that can pay for it all. The danger, though, is
over-expanding and crippling your research before you get to Code of Laws, so
to prevent that, I strongly suggest grabbing the Oracle to get CoL early.
Mysticism is a useful starting tech in this case since it starts you closer to
Priesthood for the Oracle, but as I usually recommend, get your necessary food
techs first instead of going for Buddhism or Hinduism. Charlemagne does not
have a very strong early game, and the Rathaus is a fairly expensive building
(Courthouses without the Organized trait are 80% of the cost of the Oracle!),
but once youíve got them built theyíll help you come back, and theyíll keep
helping you for the rest of the game. Your best path to victory is probably
war since Charlie isnít much good at anything else, and happily, Courthouses
are among the most likely buildings to survive the capture of a city, in which
case they of course turn into your UB and help fund your conquest.
Starting techs: Agriculture, Mysticism (unique)
Terrace- A Granary with +2 culture. A Granary is almost always the first
building you want in a new city unless you need a Monument for culture, and
with the Terrace you obviously donít. That saves early hammers and helps you
get off to a faster start. Also, like the Greek Odeon, a Terrace can provide
instant culture in a captured city if its Granary survives, which it usually
does. It's almost like having a mini Creative trait.
Quechua- A Warrior with a free Combat I promotion and +100% vs. archery units.
This unit alone can virtually win the game for you in the early BCs if you find
a rival capital close by (slower game speeds make longer distances possible),
though it should be noted that itís only effective on Monarch and above when
the AI civs start with archers. You can either work a hammer tile and start
producing Quechuas from the first turn of the game, or get a worker first and
give your initial Quechua more time to make sure thereís an available target,
though youíre going to need more Quechuas that way because youíll be attacking
later. Donít mess with Protective leaders or anyone with their capital on a
hill, and make sure to capture their worker or workers before you wipe out
their civilization. If you can pull it off, a Quechua rush can net you a
second capital before anyone else has even built a settler, and thatís a huge
advantage that will make the rest of the game easy and can potentially lead to
a really high score. Even if you canít rush, Quechuas are still excellent
barbarian protection, and unlike normal warriors, you can still build them
after getting Bronze Working and Hunting, giving you a cheap option for
garrisoning cities and increasing your happiness cap in Hereditary Rule.
Huayna Capac (Financial, Industrious)- You might think that with such a
potentially game-breaking UU the Inca should have a fairly weak leader, but
instead they have one of the best in the game. In fact, when you also consider
his uniques, more experienced players rate Huayna as the best leader in the
game than any other leader. For starters, itís easy to grab the wonders you
want with Industrious when you also have the Financial trait to get you to
their appropriate techs faster. So Huayna can easily play the peaceful builder
game for a culture or space victory, but with strong teching and help from
wonders, you wonít have any problems taking him to war either. You can even
potentially go for an early religion without slowing yourself down too much if
you have corn, wheat, or rice in your capital, since your other starting tech
is Agriculture. The only problem with Huayna is that if you use him too often
youíll probably develop bad habits, since playing with him is almost like
playing at a difficulty or two lower.
Starting techs: Mysticism, Mining
Mausoleum- A Jail with +2 happiness. Usually you wonít build Jails unless
youíre dealing with war weariness or trying to increase espionage, but the
extra happiness from Mausoleums makes them well worth building regardless of
your situation. And of course, if you are dealing with war weariness, the
Mausoleum is excellent at dealing with it.
Fast Worker- A Worker with 3 movement points instead of two. Fast Workers
donít actually work any faster, but the extra movement point lets them do
things like move into a forest and start chopping or building a road on the
same turn in addition to being able to quickly get wherever you need them. The
turns that they save you are especially significant in the early game and will
help you get off to a faster start, and all those saved turns really add up
over time as well. So this is a very good UU, but one thing to note if you
like to play on marathon speed is that itís far better on normal speed, because
while they move the same on any speed, that one turn of movement saved on
normal is equal to three on marathon.
Asoka (Spiritual, Organized)- You may not suspect it, but Asoka is actually a
very good warmongeróperhaps one of the best in the game. Organized is a great
economic trait for warmongering not just because it can help pay for a large
empire, but because unlike Financial you still get its full effect even when in
full production mode, i.e. working hammer tiles instead of cottages. Iíve also
mentioned before with Brennus how the Spiritual trait is very useful for
seamlessly switching in and out of war mode. Combine Asokaís traits with a UB
that eats war weariness for breakfast and you have a leader whoís more than
capable of taking you to domination. Quicker chops from your UU make both
Indian leaders good at pulling off an early rush as well.
Gandhi (Spiritual, Philosophical)- Gandhi can run an excellent specialist
economy with the Philosophical trait and the ability to change civics as often
as you need without penalty. Donít let the fact that heís a 98-pound weakling
fool you into thinking that he canít smack some people around almost as well as
Asoka, though heís perfectly well suited for a peaceful victory as well. If
you want to role-play a bit and go diplomatic, Spiritual is unquestionably the
best trait for it, as it lets you easily manage diplomacy by switching
religions or civics whenever you need to (donít underestimate favorite civic
bonuses). Whenever another leader asks you to change religion or civic, you
can just agree and switch back a few turns later, and still keep the diplo
bonus for having agreed. Gandhi is a well-balanced leader whose traits can
help you with whatever type of victory you choose.
Starting techs: Fishing, The Wheel (unique)
Shale Plant- Replaces the Coal Plant and gives a +10% hammer
bonus, plus it doesnít require coal. A production bonus is never something to
complain about, but like the German UB, the main problem with the Shale Plant
is that it comes so late in the game. Itís really nice in the rare event that
you donít have coal, though, and you can build it in your National Park city
where normally a Coal Plant would be useless, so overall itís not a terrible
Samurai- A Maceman with 2 first strikes and a free Drill I promotion, plus
access to the Drill promotion line. Considering that these guys also get
Combat I from Tokugawaís Aggressive trait and can easily get two more
promotions from a barracks and Theology/Vassalage, this is obviously a powerful
UU. Warring in the medieval era is usually pretty difficult because longbowmen
are such good defenders, but Samurai can really level the playing field or even
tilt it in your favor. Plus, theyíre easily the coolest-looking unit in the
Tokugawa (Aggressive, Protective)- Thereís certainly nothing subtle about
Tokugawaís trait combination, but unfortunately thereís nothing too good about
it either. His only real strength is promotions on his units, so war is the
only thing he can do remotely well, and whenever youíre not at war itís
basically like playing without traits. Toku gets much better once you reach
Gunpowder, as his gunpowder units will get three free promotions, but the
challenge is reaching that point and still being in a competitive position
since he gives you zero economic help (other than the tiny bonus of cheap
Castles once you get Engineering). You should definitely go to war before the
gunpowder era, though, especially since you have samurai, because basically
your only hope is to conquer enough good land to overcome your weak traits. If
you can win peacefully with Tokugawa, youíre playing at a level below your
ability. Actually, if you can win at all with him, it may be a sign that
youíre ready to move up in difficulty.
Starting techs: Hunting, Mining
Baray- An Aqueduct that gives +1 food. This UB is a little boring, but not
terrible, considering that food is the basis for everything in a city. The
most obvious benefit is faster growth, but that one food is also half a
specialist, or maybe a watermill instead of a farm. Itís far from the best UB
out there, but itís still probably worth building earlier than you would
usually build aqueducts, at least in cities with decent production.
Ballista Elephant- A War Elephant that targets mounted units first when
attacking, but only outside of cities. This is almost universally acknowledged
as the worst unique unit in the game. First of all, ivory is one of the rarest
strategic resources, so thereís a good chance that you wonít even be able to
build it. Second, since you only get the ballista elephantís bonus outside of
cities, itís really only useful in your own territory, unless you get lucky
with a stupid AI who parks a stack of units right next to you while youíre
invading. So if you have an enemy stack in your territory with horse archers
or knights, but not other elephants, then and only then is the special ability
of the Ballista Elephant actually useful. Itís just an incredibly niche
ability, and the result is a UU thatís barely different from the unit it
replaces (war elephants are still good, though).
Suryavarman II (Expansive, Creative)- Sury comes flying out of the gate with
perhaps the strongest early game around. With Creativeís free border pop and
Expansiveís half-price, easily whipped or chopped granaries, every new city you
settle will be up and running in record time. Besides giving quick access to
your fat cross and being good for blocking off other civs, Creativeís cheap
Libraries are also nice for running scientist specialists and keeping your
research going during the early expansion phase. True, Suryís traits kind of
fade by later in the game, though he does get four other cheap buildings, but
making the most of them for a strong start will have long-term effects.
Starting techs: Mysticism, Mining
Seowon- A University with an extra 10% research multiplier for
a total of 35%. It probably wonít be in any conversation about best unique
buildings, but itís still a nice little bonus. Another nice thing is that you
donít have to change your typical strategy or build order at all to take
advantage of it, since Education is a priority tech on the way to Liberalism
and Universities are buildings that you always want as early as possible
Hwacha- A Catapult with +50% against melee units. Since archers and longbows
are typically the best defenders in their era, you probably wonít get to take
advantage of the Hwachaís bonus much on offense. By the time you weaken the
non-melee units in a city enough with your Hwachas to actually get to the melee
units, theyíll likely be weakened enough by the collateral damage that regular
catapults could do just as well against them. In the field, unless you get a
lone melee unit or a stack of nothing but melee units, all the Hwachaís bonus
means is that theyíll attack the non-melee units first. There are some
situations where that could be at least a little bit useful in getting you
slightly better odds, but itís far from spectacular. I donít really like
medieval warfare with Financial leaders anyway, since Iíd prefer to be growing
cottages, so Iím not a big fan of this unit.
Wang Kon (Financial, Protective)- The best trait and the worst trait.
Obviously the key is to just to take advantage of the Financial trait for
strong teching, which as always can open up a lot of options for victory. Wang
Kon is particularly well suited to just turtle up and go for space, as his UB
works best with a high research slider (usually meaning a smaller empire), and
his Protective units can fend off attacks. That doesnít mean thatís always
the best way to go, but if thatís the way you tend to play then Wang will work
fine for you. Kind of a boring leader, but still a Financial leader.
Starting techs: Mining, The Wheel (unique)
Mint- A Forge with a +10% gold multiplier. Though thatís less of a bonus than
Englandís UB, the fact that the Mint comes earlier makes up for it. Forges are
also buildings that you want basically as soon as reasonably possible in every
city anyway, and they come at a time when your economy may be struggling from
early expansion, so that +10% gold bonus is particularly helpful.
Skirmisher- An Archer with 4 strength and an extra first strike
chance. Skirmishers make you virtually invulnerable to barbarians and much
less vulnerable to an early attack from an aggressive neighbor. In some
circumstances, they can even be used for an early rush. Theyíre weaker than
axemen and slower than chariots, but theyíre available earlier and without the
need for a resource, and theyíre cheaper to build, so you can strike earlier.
Something to consider if you find a vulnerable target nearby.
Mansa Musa (Financial, Spiritual)- A very strong techer with the Financial
trait, a gold-multiplying UB, and no lost turns of anarchy. Thereís not a
whole lot I can say about him that I havenít said about the other Financial
leaders; your strategy should be to grow cottages and use your strong economic
base to propel you to victory. As usual, the Spiritual trait makes for a
versatile leader, as itís helpful both for maintaining the peace with good
diplomacy and helping you prepare for war when the situation calls for it.
Starting techs: Mysticism, Mining
Ball Court- A Colosseum with +3 happiness instead of +1, and
the normal +1 happiness per 20% culture rate. This UB comes right at the time
in the game when your cities are usually bumping up against their happiness cap
and youíre looking to increase it, so a single building for +3 happiness is the
perfect answer. Bigger cities are better cities, so this is an excellent UB.
Holkan- A Spearman that doesnít require copper and has immunity to first
strikes. I havenít really found a good use for this unit. Despite the fact
that theyíre resourceless and slightly better than normal spears against
archers, in my opinion theyíre just not strong enough or fast enough for a
good rush. If you have copper or horses, youíll be better off building axes or
chariots to rush. Holkans are good barbarian protection for a while, but
if/when barb axemen start showing up youíre going to need something else. I
suppose if you donít have metal theyíre nice to have, but this unit doesnít
gain you much over ordinary spearmen.
Pacal II (Financial, Expansive)- Another strong Financial leader, so most of
the things Iíve said about other Financial leaders apply here as well. Pacalís
cheaper workers and faster growth due to cheap granaries will let you start
growing more cottages earlier, which is a nice economic benefit, and with more
happiness from your UB you should have even more cottages to work. As usual
with Financial leaders, ride your strong economy to victory.
Starting techs: Hunting, The Wheel (unique)
Ger- Replaces the Stable and gives +4 experience instead of
+2. While a normal stable is already enough to give your mounted units a
second promotion, the Ger does put them closer to a third promotion either
through combat or with civics and settled great generals. Itís not a great UB,
but itís purposeful, as it has direct synergy with the Mongolian UU.
Keshik- A Horse Archer that ignores terrain movement costs and
gets one first strike, though it loses immunity to first strikes. If youíve
never done a Keshik romp, youíve really been missing out. Theyíre better
against melee units than normal horse archers thanks to the first strikes, and
about the same against archers since their first strikes cancel out. Further,
the fact that they ignore terrain means you can get them wherever you need them
in a hurry, either to strike at cities or plunder the enemyís metal to keep
them from building any more spears than they already have. Give about half
Combat I & II, and the other half Flanking I & II, plus one medic. For battles
with low odds, send the flanking Keshiks in first and thereís a good chance
theyíll survive, then send the combat Keshiks to finish them off. When playing
as Mongolia, itís worth it after getting the basic worker techs to make almost
a direct beeline to Horseback Riding to get these guys and conquer a neighbor
or two. You will definitely crash your economy with them, but once you recover
youíll usually be in a great position.
Genghis Khan (Aggressive, Imperialistic)- A completely one-dimensional leader.
Imperialisticís cheap settlers arenít such a big deal because you should only
build one or two settlers before you start claiming your cities with Keshiks,
but the earlier and more abundant great generals are nice, especially for
attaching the first one as a Medic III keshik or chariot. Speed is your
greatest ally in a Keshik war, and faster healing means less time for the enemy
to build more defensive units before you can recover and continue your attack.
Like Tokugawa, youíd better conquer some good land, because you wonít get any
economic help from your traits.
Kublai Khan (Aggressive, Creative)- I usually play Kublai just like Genghis,
and I find the Creative trait more useful than Imperialistic when doing so.
The main advantage is cheap libraries so you can more easily run scientist
specialists and keep your research going after your keshiks have crashed your
economy, and free border pops in conquered cities is also nice. Annoyingly,
the Khansí Aggressive trait has no synergy with their UU, but it can be useful
to you later in the gunpowder era.
Starting techs: Fishing, Agriculture
Totem Pole- A Monument that gives +3 exp to archery units.
This UB is more like three additional UUs than a building, as your archers,
crossbowmen, and longbowmen will all be stronger. Since Native American
archery units already get two free promotions from Sitting Bullís Protective
trait, with the Totem pole youíll easily get City Guardian III or Drill III
units, making Sitting Bull the ultimate protective leader.
Dog Soldier- An Axeman with 4 strength, but +100% against melee
units, and it doesnít require a resource to build. This unit is nice for
defending against barbarians and enemy melee units, and itís great to have when
you donít have copper or iron, but its big downside is that it can ruin the
opportunity a perfectly good axe rush, since its lower strength means it sucks
against archers. Iím not a big fan of this UU as a result, but maybe Iím
biased because I love to axe rush.
Sitting Bull (Philosophical, Protective)- The Protective traitís synergy with
Sitting Bullís UB still doesnít keep it from being the worst trait in the game,
but Philosophical is good. As with any Philosophical leader, the key to Sitting
Bullís strength is generating great people early and often, so if you donít go
with a specialist economy, you at least need a good great person farm.
Stonehenge might make sense to get your UB everywhere and get some gpp going
early, since itís not like you need the hammers for an axe rush. If you want
to take advantage of his strong archery units for a medieval offensive war,
Drill III longbows and crossbows along with catapults/trebuchets make for a
pretty strong stack, as long as you bring along something to protect against
mounted units. A below-average leader overall.
Starting techs: Agriculture, The Wheel
Hammam- An Aqueduct that gives +2 happiness. Like the Mayan Ball Court, this
UB comes at a very convenient time in the game, when youíre usually looking for
any extra source of happiness you can get to grow your cities. The Hammam can
really save you in games when youíre hurting for happiness resources, or it can
turn a strong position into an even better one. An excellent UB.
Janissary- A Musketman with +25% against archery, melee, and mounted units.
This is a strong UU that can hold its own pretty well until grenadiers and
rifles start showing up, and the fact that itís draftable means that you can
build up significant numbers of Janissaries pretty easily. In my opinion, the
best way to use them is to go straight for Chemistry and Steel after Gunpowder
and use them along with cannons. Janissaries may be better in their time than
Oromos, the other good musket UU, but unlike Oromos their bonus doesnít carry
over when you upgrade them, so you have to make the most of it while it lasts.
Mehmed II (Expansive, Organized)- Mehmedís traits give him almost as many
half-price buildings as Zara Yaqob, and probably more useful ones, since cheap
Granaries are better than cheap Theatres or Colosseums. All those saved
hammers are a major source of Mehmedís strength, but the quicker start from
Expansive plus the economic benefit of Organized would make for a good trait
combination anyway. Add very good uniques on top of that and you have one of
the best non-Financial leaders in the game.
Suleiman (Philosophical, Imperialistic)- Both faster great people and great
generals make Suleiman a pretty good specialist economy warmonger. Cheaper
settlers from Imperialistic make it slightly easier to build the Pyramids
without crippling early expansion too much, because itís a really expensive
wonder without stone or the Industrious trait. Not the strongest leader
around, and the weaker of the two Ottoman leaders, but Suleiman can hold his
Starting techs: Agriculture, Hunting
Apothecary- A Grocer that gives +2 health in addition to the
normal health bonuses from resources. Far from a game-changing UB, but youíll
rarely play a game where health doesnít start to become an issue, so itís
helpful. Itís particularly nice to have all those health bonuses on a single
building, rather than the +2 health on a separate building, like the Babylonian
Immortal- A Chariot with +50% against archery units that also gets defensive
bonuses. This is an absolutely frightening early unit, and my personal
favorite UU in the game. As long as you have horses, Immortals are easily the
best unit for an early rush due to their speed and strength against archers,
and the fact that they get defensive bonuses on top of that is just crazy.
Iíve even had spearmen lose to my Immortals when they tried to attack them on
a forested hill. If you get unlucky and donít have a rush target, Immortals
are still useful for taking out barbarian cities.
Darius I (Financial, Organized)- As if Immortals werenít enough, Persia also
gets one of the best leaders in the game. The commerce bonus from Financial
combined with the gold discount from Organized gives Darius an amazingly strong
economy that will keep your research going almost no matter what. As a result,
heís almost as strong a techer as Elizabeth--usually even better by the late
game--and heís an excellent choice for anyone moving up in difficulty. Another
leader whoís easy to form bad habits with and who will make you think youíre
more skilled than you actually are.
Cyrus (Charismatic, Imperialistic)- I would use Cyrus more if Darius wasnít so
good. His traits definitely call for a lot of warring, and Immortals are a
great way to start that off. The combination of more great generals plus
Charismaticís faster promotions can also give you some highly-promoted armies
down the road. Iíll still take Dariusí economy any day, but Cyrus can be a
Starting techs: Fishing, Mining
Feitoria- A Customs House that gives +1 commerce on water tiles.
Unfortunately, the commerce boost you get from this UB isnít very noticeable by
the time you get to Economics, and (non-seafood) water tiles are still the last
tiles you want to work in most cities anyway. Plus, itís a fairly expensive
building, and depending on your relations with other leaders and whether
theyíre in Mercantilism, you may not even have foreign trade routes in all of
your coastal cities. Of course, every little bit is helpful, but other UBs are
way more helpful than the Feitoria.
Carrack- A Caravel that can carry 2 units, but more importantly, any kind of
unit, like settlers, workers, and military. Obviously having Carracks is a
huge advantage on maps where thereís overseas land to claim, as you can get
your settlers there long before the AI gets Astronomy. The only potential
problem is that even though you can settle overseas cities with just Optics,
you wonít get overseas trade routes until Astronomy, which means that the
cities you settle will be a huge drain on your economy and you can really
cripple yourself if youíre not careful. What I recommend is sending a settler
and military unit for protection to each spot you want to claim, then just
camping there until you either get Astronomy or an AI galleon shows up with a
settler of their own.
Joao II (Imperialistic, Expansive)- With both discounted settlers and workers,
Joao is great at rapid early expansion. Itís really easy to over-expand with
the Imperialistic trait, but cheaper workers for faster tile improvements and
faster-growing cities from cheap granaries help you handle it somewhat. Joaoís
main strength is his ability to easily claim and improve land, so I recommend
peacefully settling as much as possible and developing it before you start to
think about war. Land is power, after all, so when you do finally go to war
you should have an advantage.
Starting Techs: Fishing, Mining
Forum- A Market with +25% great person birth rate. Getting
more frequent great people is never something to complain about, but itís
really not such a huge bonus. Itís also the only UB that may only be useful in
a single city, assuming you have a decent National Epic city. You never know,
though. You may be in a tight Liberalism race one game and a slightly earlier
great scientist is exactly what you need.
Praetorian- A Swordsman with 8 strength instead of 6, though it
loses the +10% city attack. Praetorians are so powerful that itís actually
kind of surprising they havenít been nerfed since the original game like
Redcoats and Cossacks were. On any difficulty below Deity, they make classical
and medieval-era warfare childís play, and they have a very long window of
usefulness, as their first serious counter unit (crossbowmen) comes pretty far
down the tech tree at Machinery (shock axemen also work, but the AI usually
isnít smart enough to build many of them). Just get Iron Working early and
build up a stack of these to smash through a neighbor, and later get catapults
to go with them if you want to keep going. The biggest danger with Praetorians
is crashing your economy with a huge early empire, but thatís a nice problem to
have. Though I really love Immortals, I have to admit that Praetorians are the
best UU in the game.
Julius Caesar (Organized, Imperialistic)- Use your Praetorians early and often
and youíll be rewarded with more great generals and a larger empire than you
could normally afford. Itís wise to go for Code of Laws before you conquer too
much and your research suffers, so you can build half-priced Courthouses and
recover quicker. Julius has an excellent trait combination for warmongering
even without Praetorians, but since you have them, just use them to put
yourself into a winning position early in the game and never look back.
Augustus Caesar (Industrious, Imperialistic)- Both Caesars are equally good at
beating people up with Praetorians, but with the Industrious trait instead of
Organized, it may be better to show a little more restraint with Augustus than
with Julius. You still shouldnít pass on an early war with a close neighbor to
strengthen your position, but instead of pressing on like you might do with
Julius, you can slow down and build a few wonders if you want. A strong
Bureaucracy capital full of wonders has nice synergy with Romeís UB.
Praetorians are still the key to Romeís strength, though, and honestly your
path to victory is about the same with them regardless of what your traits are.
Starting techs: Hunting, Mining
Research Institute- A Laboratory that gives two free scientists. Thatís a nice
bonus, especially considering all the cities you could have and all the science
multipliers you should have by then, but wow does it come late. If youíre
going for a space race victory and you beeline Superconductors, then this UB
may shave a couple of turns off your launch by getting you to the last techs
you need a littler earlier. For other victory types you may not even reach
Superconductors, and even if you do it wonít make much difference.
Cossack- A Cavalry replacement with +50% against mounted units. While Cossacks
dominate all other mounted units in the game, the problem is finding situations
where you can actually use that bonus. Before the enemy gets Rifling, normal
cavalry dominate everything anyway, and once they have rifles you need cannons
for their collateral damage, in which case theyíll damage any mounted units in
the enemy stack, and normal cavalry could again take everything out. In both
cases, Cossacksí main advantage is getting you higher odds in battles where
youíd already have good odds, hopefully so you take little or no damage.
Thatís not nothing, but like the British Redcoats, for the most part youíll end
up using these exactly like the unit they replace.
Catherine (Creative, Imperialistic)- With cheap settlers and fast border pops,
Catherine can claim territory faster than any other leader. As Iíve mentioned
before, the Creative trait is good for rapid early expansion not just for the
border pops, but also for cheap libraries to run scientist specialists and keep
your research going when you crash your economy from settling all those new
cities. With the larger empire you should be able to claim, youíll be well
set up to do some Imperialistic warmongering later after your economy recovers.
Peter (Expansive, Philosophical)- Faster great people, cheap workers, and a
handful of cheap buildings make Peter a solid leader. As with any
Philosophical leader, you might want to go with a specialist economy, though as
Iíve said before, thatís not always necessary as long as you set up a good
great person farm. Honestly, even though he arguably has the best traits of
any of the Russian leaders, I find Peter a little boring. His traits are
helpful, but they donít really push you in any specific direction, so just play
the map and let it the way the game is playing out determine your strategy.
Stalin (Aggressive, Industrious)- Is he a builder or a warmonger? Even though
Stalinís traits donít seem to go together that well, itís completely normal to
switch between peaceful building and unit production several times during a
warmongering game, so go ahead and build a few wonders to help yourself out
whenever youíre not at war. Curiously, Stalin is the only Aggressive leader to
start with Mining, making him an excellent axe rusher. And with a successful
axe rush youíll usually get a strong second capital, which will allow you to
build a few wonders while still expanding in the early game.
Starting techs: Fishing, Mysticism (unique)
Citadel- A Castle that gives +5 exp to siege units. Though
Castles are among the least useful buildings in the game and become obsolete
fairly quickly at Economics, the Citadel is well worth building in your
unit-producing cities and good enough to warrant avoiding Economics for a
while, even if you could have grabbed the free great merchant. That exp bonus
is really huge, and it means that with just a settled great general or
Theocracy/Vassalage you can build City Raider III and Barrage III siege units.
Definitely go for Steel before Economics to build some Citadel-strengthened
cannons, since even regular cannons can dominate the battlefield in their era.
The unusual tech path that this UB encourages makes Spain an interesting civ to
Conquistador- A Cuirassier replacement with +50% against melee units and the
ability to get defensive bonuses. Before you go for those super-cannons, make
a quick detour to Military Tradition so you can start building Conquistadors
first. A large percentage of enemy armies before Rifling will still be melee
units like pikemen and macemen, and Conquistadors eat them for breakfast. Add
their defensive abilities on top of that and you have a UU that really excels
at the standard cuirassier/spy blitzkrieg.
Isabella (Spiritual, Expansive)- As the only leader with the Mysticism/Fishing
starting combination, working a two-commerce lake or coast tile and going for
an early religion is a possibility here. Isabellaís traits are solid, but her
real strengths are her UU and UB, as they both help you out in that renaissance
to early industrial period thatís already so good for warfare. I like to take
Nationalism with Liberalism then get Military Tradition straight after that for
Conquistadors (you can almost always trade someone for Gunpowder) and go on a
romp with them. In the meantime I research towards Steel, and by the time
riflemen start appearing, my CR III cannons are usually ready to go and the
romp continues. I tend to do pretty well with Isabella as a result.
Starting techs: Agriculture, The Wheel
Ziggurat- A Courthouse replacement thatís available at
Priesthood and only 75% the normal cost. Obviously you can fund some pretty
aggressive expansion with cheap courthouses available so early, and if
anything, you have to avoid the temptation to build Ziggurats too early, when
your greater needs are still settlers, workers, and military. Also, an extra
benefit that some people might overlook is that during all those turns with
your Ziggurats before the AI gets Code of Laws and builds their own
Courthouses, youíll be building up a substantial lead in espionage points and
likely seeing everyone elseís research, which is a big advantage in planning
your own research paths. Like the other two Courthouse UBs, the Ziggurat is
Vulture- An Axeman with 6 strength instead of 5, but only +25% against melee
units instead of +50%. No other unit in the game has this much base strength
this early, and while theyíre weaker than normal axemen against other axemen,
their higher strength makes them better against archers and thus a great
rushing unit. Games as Sumeria with no copper or no close neighbors are a
Gilgamesh (Creative, Protective)- The Creative trait combined with Sumeriaís
UU and UB give Gilgamesh one of the strongest early games around. Definitely
Vulture rush someone if possible, and in any case, grab as much land as you
can, because with your Ziggurats you should be able to avoid a crash.
Gilgamesh doesnít have much to offer later in the game, but as Iíve mentioned
before, a strong start has long-term effects. If he only had a better second
trait than Protective, he could be one of the best leaders in the game.
Starting techs: Fishing, Hunting
Trading Post- A Lighthouse that gives a free Navigation I promotion to naval
units. The Trading Post is another map-dependent UB that ranges from
completely useless to kind of nice. Itís at its best on archipelago maps in
the first half of the game when youíre constantly shuttling units around on
galleys, as that extra movement point is a 50% bonus when you only have two
movement points. If you manage to win the circumnavigation race as well (and
the Trading Post gives you a boost toward it), youíll really have some fast
naval units. This UB really isnít a big deal, but at least it has some synergy
with a UU built for amphibious strikes.
Beserker- A Maceman with +10% city attack and a free Amphibious promotion.
Besides looking pretty badass, Beserkers make great city attackers with that
extra bonus plus a free Combat I from Ragnarís Aggressive trait. They also
allow you to role play as the Vikings by putting a bunch of Beserkers on your
fast galleys and attacking enemy cities directly from the sea, or you can just
enjoy their strength in more traditional warfare. Even if youíre not in a good
position for a medieval war, itís still worth it to build a lot of Beserkers
(in Theocracy/Vassalage so you can get City Raider II) so you can upgrade them
to riflemen later, as theyíll keep the Amphibious promotion and give you
riflemen with the City Raider promotions, which you otherwise canít get on
gunpowder units. Samurai may still be the better maceman UU, but Iíve had a
lot of fun with these guys in the past.
Ragnar (Financial, Aggressive)- Highly-promoted armies due to the Aggressive
trait are even better when you have a strong economy to back them up. The
Financial trait is great for funding early expansion, particularly if you axe
rush a neighbor and thus have lots of extra land to fill, but a potential
downside is that the cottage spam it encourages means you may not have enough
production in the medieval era to fully take advantage of the Viking UU. If
you want to truly play like the Vikings, then fight the urge to build too many
Financial cottages and sacrifice some of your tech rate for more production and
bigger armies. Or you can just play like most Financial leaders and wait until
later in the game when more of your cottages have grown into towns and you have
civics like Universal Suffrage and Free Speech to really start taking advantage
of them. Ragnar is a solid leader, and thanks to his uniques he can be a fun
one to play.
Starting techs: Agriculture, Hunting
Ikhanda- A Barracks that gives -20% maintenance and is also 20% more expensive
to build. In practice, though, itís actually less expensive than a normal
Barracks due to the discount from Shakaís Aggressive trait. Other UBs have
their fans, but the Ikhanda is my pick for best unique building in the game.
Combined with a Courthouse, the 70% maintenance reduction youíll be getting is
almost as good as the 75% from the Holy Roman Rathaus, and in my opinion the
fact that the Ikhanda is available from the very first turn of the game more
than makes up for that 5% difference. Before Code of Laws and for only the
cost of one chariot or work boat per city, youíll be getting five cities for
the cost of four, ten cities for the cost of eight, etc. The Ikhanda allows
Shaka to expand like mad and is a big part of his strong early game, and just
like with the Rathaus, the amount of gold this UB will save you over the course
of the game is quite significant.
Impi- A Spearman with 2 movement points plus the Mobility promotion. Impis are
the ultimate early game harassment unit, as they can move around in enemy
territory with ease, plundering resources and roads and generally choking your
unfortunate target right out of competition. While theyíre not the greatest
units for attacking cities, due to their speed you can usually catch at least a
couple of AI cities under-defended and raze or capture them. Rather than
commit the hammers to finish off the enemy like I usually would with an axe
rush, I like to just keep a few woodsman-promoted impis running around in their
forests to keep them bottled up in their cities while I do some Ikhanda-fueled
expansion into the land that they would have otherwise claimed. A civ you
cripple like that will be easy to finish off later anyway.
Shaka (Aggressive, Expansive)- While not such great trait combo on its face,
Shaka is loaded with synergy. As Iíve already mentioned, heís one of the few
leaders who gets a discount on his UB from his traits, and the free Combat I
from Aggressive also makes his already-good UU even better. In addition, as if
he needed any more help in the early game, he also gets cheap workers and cheap
granaries from his Expansive trait to get him off to an even faster start. Due
to all this (mostly his UB), I almost always have more cities by 1 AD with
Shaka than I usually would with other leaders, which is a great setup for
success. Also, as any veteran player can attest, one of the best things about
playing as Shaka is that thereís no chance of having to play against him.
And that's it. Thanks to the people on the Civ IV board who read my topic and
encouraged me to keep going. I know this game is probably past its prime and
Civ V is coming out soon, but this was a fun little project, and it was nice to
see that some other people enjoyed it too.
I guess I'm supposed to have a section like this. If you want to use this FAQ
for another website or anything other than personal use, please e-mail me at
firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll probably say yes, because it's not like I wrote all
of this just to keep it to myself. Just give credit to gmims44 from GameFAQs
and don't try to claim it as your own work and I'll be happy.