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In Civilization V I've noticed that pretty much whatever you do in game, the main way to win is always by having more science / technology than the AI. I'm really interested however in trying a game where I don't focus as much on science and focus mostly on either being diplomatic or religious towards other countries.

Is it possible to win without focusing the majority of your civilization into science? That and without waging any wars against any civilizations while still outgrowing them?

EDIT: Forgot to mention I don't have the Brave New World expansion pack, I only have what's in the Gold version of Civilization V.

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Science, Military, and Economy could be thought of as the "triumvirate" in Civilization 5. Without a balance of all three, you're unlikely to be able to win. Most of the other systems in the game adjust this balance in some way. Not to say the others aren't important, and Culture, Happiness, and Growth could be considered next in line.

However, the point I'm trying to make is that without making Science a priority, you're unlikely to win. You'll find that many of the benefits of these other systems tend to feed back into Science, Military, and Economy.

Without Science, you can't build a strong enough fighting force to repel invaders. You can't build high-end economic buildings to increase your gold reserves and therefore have meaningful trade with other Civs. You can't unlock buildings to increase your growth, happiness, or production either. You also miss out on World Wonders, as by the time you can build them the other Civs have a major lead over you.

Science is central to the core mechanics of Civ5 (and all the Civ games, for that matter) and can't really be neglected without wrecking your entire Civ.

That said, you can also win by having more Military or Economic growth than your neighbors - although your question seems to indicate you'd rather not win via Military might alone.

You can win via Economy - a strong Economy and a Diplomatic Victory go hand-in-hand. Amass major amounts of gold and then buy out city states, and you'll quickly be able to win diplomatically. However, you've still got to keep your Science and Military balanced, lest you find yourself technologically outpaced or militarily overrun.

You don't mention Culture in your question, but Cultural victories are tailored towards smaller empires in Civ5 - if you wish to spend less time growing a massive Civ, you might consider a Cultural victory. With the Brave New World expansion, Cultural Victories are tied to Tourism, which is impacted by Diplomacy and Trade.

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    In previous games you could occasionally get around it by sending waves of low-quality (but cheap) attackers and hope to overwhelm your opponent (or to pillage everything and starve them out), or else to steal technologies from them to make up for your own low science output. Those strategies are harder to succeed with in Civ 5. – Adam V Oct 22 '13 at 16:35
  • @AdamV, yes, Espionage is sometimes a viable alternative in Civ5, but it's much more limited in scope than it was in, say, Civ1 where you could crank out Diplomats like crazy. The AI is freaking terrible at war, so you could probably do a protracted war with them, assuming you're not too far behind. It's still "waging war" as the question puts it, though. – agent86 Oct 22 '13 at 16:37
  • Civ V has seemed like a much more balanced game. You can just focus on one type at the expense of everything else. – Brian Green Oct 23 '13 at 14:46
  • Although skimping on science tends to be harder to make up for than skimping on the others -- in a pinch, you can rush build units if you have the money, but you can't rush science... – Shadur Oct 23 '13 at 19:57

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