I'm a newbie in the Civ universe (although i played Civ4 for a short while). I enjoy the new addition to the series and I am able to win games on easy difficulties, but there is no real strategy behind my play. I just build things that seem useful and then go to war and slowly beat everyone. Although this works now, I can imagine it won't on higher difficulties.

So my question is - what are good strategies or build orders for a newbie player? What should I build in my cities and why?

3 Answers 3


The answer is: it depends. :)

The best strategy is to have a strategy, i.e. decide how you want to win the game in advance. Are you going for a domination victory? Scientific victory? Cultural victory?
Pair this with your chosen civilization and the surroundings of your city(ies) to decide what to build and research.

Are you going for a cultural victory and are playing Ramesses? You should try to build as many wonders as possible and any improvements that'll help you do so.
If you're going for a domination victory with the Chinese though, you should go for military buildings, anything that'll enhance production of great generals and happiness-boosting buildings (since your sprawling empire needs to be kept happy).

For any civilization though you need to balance these decisions with the given situation. Is your city in the mountains but has very little access to food? Then you can safely skip the production-boosting buildings but should concentrate on granaries and water mills. Or are you situated on a tiny island? Then harbors and marine buildings should probably be your preference.

You need to play to your civilization's strengths and balance out your situation's weaknesses. Playing "evenly all over the map" usually works in easier difficulty settings, but you'll need to specialize and focus on higher difficulties. If you set yourself a goal, the question of what to build or research next usually answers itself.

Try to shoot for a cultural victory for instance, and begin by choosing an appropriate civilization. This should be a good experience to show you how playing a focused game can turn out. Playing "all random" is usually more challenging, since it may take quite a few turns until you have formulated a strategy (or you may never get around to formulating one at all).

Anecdote: I just won a cultural victory with the Egyptians, and it was an enormously fun game. I had all of two cities with no military power to speak of (two Infantry units rather late in the game). My empire was tweaked to perfection though and was oozing culture (obviously) and money, which I used to keep good relations to my neighbor Wu (China), who apparently went for a domination victory. I was declared war upon twice by other civilizations (once by two civilizations teaming up against me), and both times used my good relations to have my enemies wiped out by China for me. I had to bribe my way through the last 20 or so turns, since Wu and I were the only civilizations left (~40+ cities vs. 2), and I was the only thing standing in the way of Chinese world domination.

in b4 cultural win

Lots of interesting gameplay to be had in this game. :)

  • 2
    I like your answer quite a bit, but I want to disagree/clarify one point: Having a plan is 100% better than not having one... as long as your plan can work. If you start surrounded by desert, or next to an overly aggressive neighbor, or miss an important wonder, etc, you'll either have to fight uphill or adapt to your situation with a new plan. Ask yourself frequently if the plan is still a good one, and adapt if it isn't. Commented Oct 11, 2010 at 17:27
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    @Willfil Of course, having an unrealistic plan won't work. I tried to incorporate that into the answer, but it was getting quite long already. It's the overall idea of having a plan that's important… :)
    – deceze
    Commented Oct 11, 2010 at 22:26

I think this question is a bit on the broad side. One of the nicest things in the game - in my opinion - is that many different build choices and strategies are viable. In addition, a lot of buildings do not require other buildings as prerequisites, so you don't usually have to plan far in advance, with the exception of some wonders. I have a buildings-requirements chart at home which I consult when I plan on having a specific building; otherwise I just build what I need most at that minute.

In addition, keep in mind beating everyone else to submission is not the only way to win the game. It's certainly fun, though, I'll admit :)

As a fellow newbie player - my last civ was civ2 - my main (and slightly off-topic) recommendation is to gradually increase the difficulty level in which you play. I started with 1 and am now in 5, and it already pushes me to the limit just to survive past turn 300 or so.

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    What I NEED MOST AT THAT MINUTE I needed to start working on about 10-15 turns ago.
    – Strategem
    Commented Nov 9, 2010 at 6:47
  • @John well maybe it's no good for longer pacing games, but in regular pacing I find that I can handle things for the 10-15 turns I need to recover. I have a gold deficiency? I divert city focus to gold and start building gold-producing buildings, and I can keep my head over water until they complete. Being attacked unprepared? Staying on the defensive I can usually manage 10-15 turns while losing little ground and at most one city; then, once my units are complete, I turn to the attack. But I guess your mileage can vary... I usually play on King, this might not work for harder difficulties.
    – Oak
    Commented Nov 9, 2010 at 7:15

I suggest going for Science Victory because you can get a lot of the wonders which give you scientist points and a lot of Great Scientists means you have a good chance of getting quickly through the tech tree to get to the space ship parts.

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