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I am currently learning to play Civilization 5 and decided to experiment with the cultural victory strategy. I am going to play game after game with the same strategy, making minor adjustments to see what works and what does not.

While it is nice to see which approaches work better than others, I could use some kind of benchmark from experienced players to compare my results to. I am looking for things like

  • You should be able to win the game before the year X
  • You should have at least a growth of X cultural points each turn in the year Y
  • You should have built at least X cultural landmarks during the game
  • You should get at least wonder X, Y and Z
  • You should ...

Those are just examples, maybe there are much more important KPIs in this strategy I am not even aware of. What values can I measure my attempts against?

UPDATE: To avoid confusion what I am exactly looking for, I add a clarification from the comment section below.

I am looking for KPIs like "A experienced player can win a cultural victory before 1850 AD". If I cannot do it before 2000 AD, I know that there is a large gap I need to close. Or a KPI like "A experienced player can gain 200 culture points each round around 350 AD" tells me, that I am messing things up in the early game, if I can only gain 100 around 350 AD. I am not looking for instructions about what to do but how I can measure if what I am doing works.

  • I intend to answer this, but the question does lean into subjective/discussion territory. I don't think a (truly) objective answer is possible. I do think a useful answer is possible. – Amy B Mar 8 '12 at 14:18
  • You are kind of going the wrong way about this. Except for your first "You should...", you are asking for an existing guide for the optimal strategy, so you're not really trying to find it out for yourself. When you say you want to play many games, why don't you do exactly that, take your fastest victory, and present the strategy used in that game? Then we can compare it to other strategies, and analyze why this or that strategy is faster/slower. TL;DR: Give us data and a strategy of your own, then we can discuss specifics – Hackworth Mar 8 '12 at 15:22
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    Hackworth: Maybe my question was a bit misleading. I am looking for KPIs like "A experienced player can win a cultural victory before 1850 AD". If I cannot do it before 2000 AD, I know that there is a large gap I need to close. Or a KPI like "A experienced player can gain 200 culture points each round around 350 AD" tells me, that I am messing things up in the early game, if I can only gain 100 around 350 AD. I am not looking for instructions about what to do but how I can measure if what I am doing works. – Demento Mar 8 '12 at 16:02
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Here's a recounting of my France, Tiny, Pangaea, King game.

Turn 75

7, 2, 2 population.

2 spearmen 2 warriors 2 workers

Completed: Wheel, BronzeWorking, Calendar, Trapping. Civil Service is 8 turns away.

Stonehenge 7 turns away. 3 Monuments. No other buildings.

Social Policies: Tradition 5/6

Notable randomness: Fountain of Youth +10 happy, so ignoring happy science. Turn 2: +1 pop from ruins.

Turn 250 (1700 AD)

21, 11, 10 population

2 Pikemen 1 Musketeer 3 Crossbowmen 1 Cannon 2 Caravel 2 Workers

Science: Archaeology, Acoustics, Chemistry. Fertilizer is 2 turns away.

Wonders: Hermitage, Ironworks, National College, Sistine Chapel, Hagia Sophia, Kremlin, Louvre, Stonehenge, Colossus, NotreDame, National Treasury

Social Policies: Tradition 6/6, Piety 6/6, Freedom 6/6

Culture 272 + 75 + 42 = 399

7 landmarks.

At this point, Science is mainly for defense and production. I don't really need any more wonders to win. My next focus is to get a bunch of artillery, and build any helpful buildings (finish my museums, then happiness due to piety's conversion, then the rest). I hope to win before bombers become any kind of threat.

Notable randomness: My incredibly weak military score has caused all 3 AI's to declare war and send armies (even my ally :( ). Sorted them out, but situation is still risky. I lost a couple workers, and it's hard to build improvments with enemy units standing on those tiles. However, cities were never really at risk.

Turn 350

There are 15 enemy units on my lands, a mix of modern infantry and tanks. I have ~6 artillery trying to sort them out... (note from the future: I wind up losing all military that isn't in a city, but I do enough damage to push them back.)

1.5 policies to go. 14 landmarks.

Turn 370

City pop: 25, 19, 17

All policies done. Starting Utopia project. Currently researching Electronics. Did not research Radio.

Turn 390: 1970 AD

Cultural Victory. Whew.


Additional notes: King is much harder than I remember... by the end of the game, one of the AIs was able to field a ~40 military unit offense. Fortunately, he sent it to another AI. I feel the Fountain of Youth greatly influenced my game - I never hit unhappy and I was able to put off Theater science and buildings for a long long time. I feel I built too many wonders at the start of the game and should have instead built more units.

The AI's took all the city states as allies, I never sent any of them any gold. I never had much spare gold to send them either.


I ran a comparatively idyllic prince game (france, pangaea, tiny). Two city'd my way into a cultural victory on turn 317, 1894 AD.

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    +1: Great answer, thx! I died on King with this approach on huge map settings against Elizabeth backstabbing me. 3 cities on a huge map is a pain in the endgame, because you cannot keep up military production like a nation with 12+ cities can. If they really decide to go for it, you are lost IMHO. Before 1900 on prince is amazing! Seems like I really need to do some fine tuning. – Demento Mar 12 '12 at 15:04
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Because nobody came up with KPIs for cultural victory by now, I will document here what I have found out through experiments. Please keep in mind that I am a beginner and the values of an experienced player might differ a lot. I will keep this question open longer and hope that a stronger player can provide his data points.

Scenario:

Difficulty level "Prince". Playing as Gandhi on a small island map. I stayed an 3 cities and had little space to maneuver because of the small island I started on. Never initiated war but was under attack twice. Both attacks did cost me some units but no major harm has been done. I was able to stay safe, although I had only about 30% of military power compared to my opponents in the end. On harder difficulty levels this will most likely be more difficult and military investment will slow the strategy down. I was lucky to find 3 cultural oriented city states early, which also helped my strategy.

KPI's:

  • I won the game through the utopia project in the year 1970 AD.
  • In the end I got +740 culture per turn.
  • I reached the +500 culture per turn mark around 1850 AD.
  • I was able to produce 12 great artists before the 5th policy tree was completed.

Interesting learnings:

If everything works out, it does not make sense to rush towards "Cristo Redentor", which seems like an amazing wonder. I was able to research the necessary technology "Telegraph" before I won, but the game was over before I could have put "Cristo Redentor" to use. It might help to catch up if things go wrong, but if you can use this strategy without major interference the game can be won before Cristo Redentor even comes into play.

Other attempts with this strategy failed because I neglected how important science is. It seems better to wait a little before going all out culture heavy and invest in science initially. Otherwise it seems impossible to get the important wonders before your opponents. I consider the "Sistine Chapel", the "Louvre" and the "Sydney Opera House" the most important wonders. Failing to get them will slow you down significantly.

Having one city for Science, one city for wonder production and great people production and one city you can plaster with cultural landmarks seems like a solid approach, also it is likely that there are way better approaches possible.

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I tried a India Cultural Victory with just one City as my second game, second Difficulty (Chieftain?), obviously went for Tradition and Piety Trees, otherwise I believe, but don´t remember, Patronage (but didn´t really use it, just one far away cultural CS that got conquered by Russia fast), Commerce and Freedom.

Won on Turn 408, 1988 AD (Standard Game Speed)

According to the logs, I built the following wonders:

56: Great Library 85: Stonehenge (In Vanilla Civ 5, this Wonder gives huge 6 culture/turn) 98: Harlikanassos (probably not a good idea, as I have missed out on Oracle (completed 103) because of this) 125: Hagia Sophia 155: Notre Dame 193: Sistine Chapel 220: Taj Mahal 233: Big Ben 248: Kremlin 284: Louvre 349: Eiffel Tower 394: Christo Redentor (Which then gave me the last Policy I needed just about 3 Turns earlier, so it is not that useful, especially with just one City, as I unlocked it too late.) Then started Utopia Project with slightly above 100 Production/Turn. I didn´t even unlock Sydney Opera House^^

Basically, I tried to get as many Wonders that gave big amounts of culture, best of those are Stonehenge(+6), Louvre(2 Great Artists) and Sistine Chapel (Percentage Bonus), and free Social Policy Wonders, but I got none, because I missed out on the Oracle and had too few science for Sydney Opera House.

I managed to get over 200 culture around turn 280/1870 AD and had a record of 325 culture/turn, with just one city!

I did make some big messups however, first I uncarefully and unceremonously wasted my first Great Artist on a Tile outside of the 3-Tile Radius. Then I probably used my Great Scientists too early for instant Technologies instead of Academies, Turn 250 in a 400 Turn game seems too early for that in hindsight.

As a result, I took longer than necessary by wasting culture and Science, in the end Russia, who already eliminated 3 of 6 civs, became a scientific (450 vs mine 200) and military powerhouse, and decided to attack me around turn 350 with infantries against cavalries. Luckily I got saved by a (demanding) peace offer and managed to unlock Mechanized Infantry directly without even unlocking Infantry, which saved me when they again declared war around Turn 400.

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