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Civilization V Hints and Tips

Updated on May 8, 2011

Civilization 5 Review, Hints and Tips

Civilization 5 Hints and Tips

Here are some general tips - check out the links on the right for more detailed tips

  • Scouts- I find these more useful than in any other Civ game, especially the smaller worlds. As there are ruins that give bonuses etc it's important to get a scout out quickly finding them! Occasionally you'll also get a 'ancient weapon' bonus - thus you end up with a very quick ranged unit that is useful once you've completed exploration!
  • Strategy– this is perhaps the most changed and most important element of Civilization 5. Placement of your units is very important, especially in defense – having archers and artillery in strategic positions such as in forests or on hills gives you a great advantage as you can defend your frontlines and often make it hard for an opponent to break through! Understanding the strategy of your opponent becomes important and a greater understanding of the effects of terrain really make a difference.

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Empire building– so far I’ve found that all out expansion isn’t the way to go with this game – it’s my tried and tested method from other games, but with the new strategy elements it becomes harder to maintain a large empire that isn’t defended well – I can’t simply take my two or three super-stacks around to defend hot-spots, I have to be more conservative and defensive as I expand.

  • City States– while I am not able to expand as quickly as I used to, I find myself using the city states far more than I expected – they are almost like having extra cities, but I don’t have to worry about defending them or maintaining them. It does take time to build up a friendship, and often you need to perform tasks to stay in favor though!
  • Quite often a city will ask or demand a spice, sugar or some other commodity - if you supply the city with this it will have a 'happy' day - trade therefore plays a larger role than before.
  • As you go along you will unlock 'achievements' that you would expect to normally get in research - things like Monarchy and other social effects are no longer researched. It is important to get used to this aspect very quickly and delve into all the effects each achievement can have on your towns.

Quick Review

Civilization 5, the latest in the classic Sid Meier series is perhaps the most intuitive game so far. Many are comparing it directly to the console game, and there are similarities, but if you’re a hardened Civ player and you’ve started to delve into the wonderful world of Civilization 5 then you realize that beyond the new look and feel the core game is still there, but a lot of the things you have always complained about have been tweaked and improved.

The first thing I noticed was the lack of information on the screen and this was a little daunting at first – but as I started playing and enjoying the game, this became secondary and the true strategic element started to emerge and for once I was excited that the strategy actually was more important than the macro-management that the game really brought in with Civ 3 and 4.

With the introduction of the hex system, and the idea of not being able to stack units the game reminds me more of those games I used to play in the 80s where strategy, use of terrain and proper use of units became more important than simply having overpowering ‘stacks’. You really have to re-think the way you plan your war with this version, and it does become a lot harder to simply over-run opponents – however it is vastly more satisfying to do so!

Civ 5 Demo

You can play Civ 5 for 100 turns before playing it by downloading on steam. It's a free download!

The new elements make the combat more open and give you the chance to actually understand the chances of winning a battle thus allowing you to really plan in a far more detailed and somewhat more realistic way.

This isn’t the only major improvement in my book – while I used to love to find villages and then see them disappear as they gave me food, warriors etc, it simply wasn’t realistic – the introduction of city states that are not under your control, but can become friends and continue to give you help as you expand – the aspect of having to perform a task for them is strange for Civilization fans and feels like a ‘quest’ oriented part of the game, but as the ‘tasks’ are generally aligned with what you would do anyway, and aren’t really a huge part of the game, they do add an interesting part to the game.

The one are that is still slightly gray for me is the change in the way technology and unit prerequisites works – it’s completely different and removes the need for items like cargo ships etc – it does require a whole new thought process though as you end up having to protect units that have ‘embarked’ on shore tiles with naval vessels – again adding more to the strategy elements and removing some of the tedious macro-management.

Civlization 5 really has moved the strategy and diplomacy elements to the front; decision making becomes far more important rather than a knowledge of macro-management techniques – for me this is great as I simply don’t want to get bogged down in every element of my empire!

Overall, and with only a few hours gameplay under my belt, I would say that this is the best version of Civilization since Civ 1. It relies more on strategy than any of the games and for me this is great. The hex game board is better allowing for more concise and accurate strategy. As usual the game is very customizable and you can delve in as deeply as you want or let some of your advisors run a lot for you. Also, the graphics are by far the best I’ve seen in a Civilization game and give you a real feel for a real land! There are modes where you can overview the whole land in 2D, and this is good to get an overall sense of your strategy too!

So whether you’re playing this for the first time or you’ve got thousands of hours of gameplay under your belt then you’ll find this game to be very intuitive and fun.


Civilization 5: a new beginning!

These were my thoughts and expectatins prior to the release!

In a few months the latest installment in Sid Meier’s Civilization series will be released. I have been playing Civilization games for almost fifteen years and over this time have seen many improvements to the graphics, sound but most importantly the game play. For me Civilization III was a wasted game, but Civilization IV has become one of my favorite strategy games of all time although there are still many things that can (and hopefully will) be improved.

I’ve been playing Civilization IV for the last few weeks to set myself up for the release of Civilization V in September; I have also been reading about some of the changes that are being made to the game and must admit that some of them are very exciting. While the core game really hasn’t changed (in fact it really hasn’t changed since the release of the original Civilization) there are a lot of tweaks to the game and a few major changes that hopefully will move it closer to perfection.

Once the game is released I will fully review it and start writing some hints and tips for the game – however, here are my thoughts on some of the changes that are promised for the game.

Hexagonal tiles – this is a long awaited move for the Civilization series, and some would argue that it doesn’t go far enough – unit movement becomes completely different with this change, and one major change is defense, with the possibility of being attacked from more directions! The other side effect is to make the land look more natural and real. Personally I would have loved to see a Civilization that had no tiles, but allowed for 360 degrees of movement, however in this type of game I do see the practicality of having tiles.

User Interface – this has always been a major problem with Civilization games as there simply is so much you can do that there is no way to really organize a UI without losing some functionality – this game looks like it has a cleaner UI and there are more icons to remind you of important events, but I still think there will be a lot of hidden ‘menus’ that you will have to use to get the best out of the game.

World Leaders – it remains to be seen how much the World Leaders will be changed in the latest Civilization Game – I always felt that aside from cut graphics, there really was no ‘character’ to the leaders – with changes to the language they speak and the settings they are in, there will be more on screen character – in terms of game-play there will be more allowance for mutual research etc and the AI is supposed to be bumped up to allow for a deeper understanding of each character and how they work – I’m not holding my breath for major changes though.

City States – this is a new concept for Civilization – these aren’t Barbarian nations that have to be conquered as in Civ IV, but separate NPC City States that are autonomous; you can help them with financial aid, or by defending them against barbarians and every so often they will help you with units or research – it’s a bit like the villages you find and ‘conquer’ that give benefits, but these don’t disappear as you play – this should be an interesting addition to the game.

Combat – this is where things really are changing and the good old ‘pile units into one stack’ has gone changing the strategic elements entirely! Here are the major changes:

  • One unit per tile – this has several connotations. This totally changes the strategy of attack and defense and placement of units becomes very important. City defense is probably the most impacted and the building of forts becomes really important.
  • Terrain – in my view this is the biggest improvement – you really have to think about the terrain and use it to your advantage. Hacing archers and ranged attacks behind your front line, on hills etc becomes important.
  • Realistic – battles are far more realistic – you don’t simply go in and kill a unit any more. Tactics are very important, and like in a real battle, use of archers to soften a front line and then having cavalry to charge in or spearmen to take advantage of any weakness becomes very important.

If this lives up to my expectations, it really is a vast improvement. It becomes a lot harder to win a game by sheer force of armies (assuming AI is good) – you can now become really defensive and hold off a much larger force by clever use of terrain and strategy – if this is implemented well it will really enhance the game for me.

Graphics – while they don’t add anything to the actual game play, the graphics simply look stunning – this will add atmosphere to the game and really enhance my enjoyment.


This game perhaps has made the biggest change to the Civilization series since the introduction of ‘borders’ and religion – with a more dynamic and strategic combat element, that relies more on clever strategy and use of resources and terrain, it’s likely to make the game more compelling and a lot harder.

I haven’t actually been excited about any of the new releases in the series, but have ended up buying them anyway – but as this seems to change the game in such a huge way then I am eagerly anticipating the release of the game!


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    • cfin profile image


      8 years ago from The World we live in

      Love this game. Well done. Good article.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      jman, I'm not to sure civ5 but in civ4 if you found a city on a resource title and have the appropriate technology, you gain that said resource. ie a hill with gold you would need mining tech.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Nice hub! i got the game and it seems as good as you noted.

      Question: on city placement. When a city is placed on a certain tile. I assume that the possible production and or luxury items on that title are Lost? ..I am not refering to nearby tiles, but the actual tile a city is founded on ... so for example, founding a city on a hill with gold would be a Bad move... is that your understanding?

    • hardinflash profile image


      10 years ago from Montana

      I was thinking about picking this game up, after reading this I think I'm going to have to for sure.

    • SimeyC profile imageAUTHOR

      Simon Cook 

      10 years ago from NJ, USA

      Shade Sigms: Faraxis often release a 'tweek' to their games - so you may find a future patch may change this a little.

    • profile image

      Shade Sigms 

      10 years ago

      I wish the happiness to unhappiness ratio was adjusted a bit.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Just got and love it little hard at first but like u said u have to think a little more overall best game in series by far

    • SimeyC profile imageAUTHOR

      Simon Cook 

      10 years ago from NJ, USA


      -The ai has always been a pushover in Civ games if you are even a half decent player - playing on the top levels is challenging, more from the perspective that the civs really grow a lot quicker than you though!

      -I suspect there will be plenty of 'fixes' to update the ai and also fix the bugs.

      -I've always found the turns to be slow, I have a decent computer too and find a 3-4 second lag - it's always been the case though.

      I don't have the steam version so I've found it runs generally very well - I tend to get a 'slowdown' the first time I meet an opponent but after that it's OK.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      too much hype, i was really looking forward to this civ, but it feels dumbed down a bit. All i seem to do in this new version is click end turn and watch things happen...

      There are heaps of graphics bugs,

      the ai is a pushover and doesn't know how to play maps with water, i've had it declare war on me, just surround my citys and not attack, letting my citys use their built in "attack" to take out their whole army one by one. Then it gives me all its gold so that we can make peace. The attack helecopters have a trait that says they cannot capture citys - but they can anyway... and this is only after 2 games. Also its running on steam which is horrible, and refused to even install on one of my computers. the graphics requirements are insane. and i have a 6 core cpu with 8gb of ddr3 and it still takes about 5 seconds between turns.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Hi there,

      thanks to SimeyC for the review. I've played the game since last saturday and i agree with your blog: this game is really the best Civ they've ever made. I can't remember a Civ game, in which one i was so busy to build an "useful" army my empire was able to keep up. By that way, i feel "free" not to manage my cities in such Micro-Management as in the last parts. And there're so many cool things in the game i can't list in this comment.

      So: very good game.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      definitely the best of all series from Sid!

      I enjoy the game. too bad that religion is not exist...

    • SimeyC profile imageAUTHOR

      Simon Cook 

      10 years ago from NJ, USA

      My SciFi Life - I hear you! I don't plan on sleeping for at least two weeks - all for the sake of updating this page of course!!!

    • My SciFi Life profile image

      My SciFi Life 

      10 years ago from London, UK

      sounds really interesting and exciting. big fan of the whole series too and you're right, this could definitely cause a whole bunch of late nights! :)


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