Do you want to dominate your rivals not by the sheer force of your arms, but of your cultural accomplishments? Do you want the rest of the world to listen to YOUR music, to read the books of YOUR writers and watch YOUR movies? Then you can select the path of the cultural victory!
In Vanilla and the Gods & Kings expansion, this victory involves gaining culture points and spending them on Social Policies, and then constructing a special project, the Utopia Project. In Brave New World, however, the path is very much different, and involves the new Tourism system.
Vanilla and Gods & Kings
- Complete five trees of social policies.
- Build the Utopia Project in a city.
As each tree requires unlocking the tree itself and then acquiring all its 5 policies, the player will, at least, have to earn enough culture to be able to acquire 30 policies. The first policy needs 25 culture points to be unlocked (with one city and standard options), but the amount of culture points needed for the next one increases with each policy unlocked. The number of cities the civilization owns also increases the culture cost of new policies, however it only counts cities founded by the player and annexed ones, not puppet ones. The exact percentage that applies to each game is shown on a tooltip, as it depends on the map size. However, this (somewhat outdated) chart can give some ideas on how different you can be in acquiring the last policy by having 2 cities (8,900 culture points, before bonuses) or having 15 cities (35,605 culture points, before bonuses).
Brave New World
- Achieve the Influential cultural status with all remaining civilizations.
This basically means that the accumulated Tourism stat of your empire is higher than the accumulated Culture stat of all empires still in the game. Depending on each game, and the civilizations still in-game (as well as the victory paths they've decided to follow), the exact numbers required may vary enormously.
To monitor progress towards a Cultural victory in the late game as tourism takes off, click the Culture Overview icon. This is found in the upper right of the game screen, just to the left of the Diplomacy icon which looks like a globe. Once the Culture Overview screen opens, two clickable buttons of particular interest are found on the right side of the second row from the top: Culture Victory, and Influence by Player.
- Culture Victory gives an overview of each civilization's Tourism score and displays the number of other civilizations each one is Influential over.
- Influence by Player displays data about Influence of the displayed civilization over each other civilization. (If you suspect an opponent may be playing for a cultural victory, change the civilization you want to check on at the top of this screen.) When a civilization's symbol on the left fills with color or when the Tourism bar extends longer than the Culture bar (two ways of displaying the same data), the civilization displayed at the top of the screen is scored Influential over the civilization on the left. The Trend column on the right also gives useful information about how Influence has been changing in the recent past.
Buildings and Wonders that Provide Benefits to Achieve a Cultural Victory
The player who aims for a cultural victory should consider constructing these:
- All the buildings that give Culture (see Culture for a list). In Brave New World, all the buildings that provide Great Work slots of any kind.
- Every World and National wonder gives at least +1 Culture, but some of them give more. In Brave New World, many wonders have multiple Great Work slots, with the ensuing Theming bonus, which is vital for increasing your Tourism output, but the most important are The Louvre, Uffizzi and Broadway. Check the Great work article for a complete list.
- The Oracle wonder. It gives one free social policy.
- Sistine Chapel wonder.
- Cristo Redentor wonder. It makes social policies cost 33% fewer culture points (10% in the expansions).
- Sydney Opera House wonder. It gives 1 free social policy and 50% more Culture in the city where it's built.
- Also, the Hermitage national wonder gives +50% Culture in the city where it's built.
Social Policies that Provide Benefits to Achieve a Cultural Victory
Although there are many ways to play for a cultural victory, the Piety tree influences culture the most. Also, the Freedom tree Valid only in the Gods & Kings expansion pack. has two policies (Constitution and Free Speech) that add 100% culture in cities with a Wonder and decrease the cost of new policies by 25%, respectively.
In Brave New World, the new Aesthetics tree is entirely focused on Culture instead of Piety, which is now oriented on Religion. The new Ideological system doesn't affect the road to a cultural victory - there are ways of achieving it via each one of the three ideologies.
The Road to a Cultural Victory before Brave New World
Winning a game the cultural way is not easy, and it involves playing carefully through the whole game. There aren't many options of building up culture massively, so missing some key points can make the player fail completely. Obviously there are many ways of playing and it depends on the set up options of the game, so these are some general guidelines. First of all, a cultural civilization is a civilization with few cities. The increase on required cultural points for every city founded or annexed, when the number of cities is small, is affordable; from 3 or 4 cities upwards, the amount of points required for the last policies becomes so high that even with a large amount of culture points per turn it's not going to be possible to finish before 500 turns (maximum turns in a game).
There is also another benefit of keeping number of cities low: each Wonder gives at least +1 culture, and culture-related wonders and social policies give bonuses to the net amount of culture points that is being generated by the city, so the more culture the player generates in that city, the better. As there is a Tradition policy that gives a 33% bonus on Wonder construction in the Capital, it's of great interest to build the majority of the Wonders there.
Attempting a cultural victory also relies on the opponents not winning. As it takes a very long time to win by cultural means, it could be possible that other players will be already finishing their own path for victory, especially paths that take a long time to complete, like the Science path or the Diplomatic one.
Puppet cities don't count towards the increase on the culture points required, so one could think it could be better to conquer cities to have more culture per turn. However, puppet cities grow without control and construct every building possible. So, as winning by cultural ways takes a lot of turns, it's very easy that with time, maintenance costs from buildings, armies and roads can put the empire into bankruptcy, not to mention that cities should be focused on building wonders and culture-related buildings. It's a lot less complicated if it's played the peaceful way, focusing on building up city population, improvements and buildings, and at some point switching to maximize culture gain (without stopping researching).
Happiness starts to matter for culture as soon as the social policy Mandate of Heaven from the Piety branch is acquired. It makes 50% of total happiness to be added as culture points per turn. Luxury resources, building wonders that reduce unhappiness, and acquiring some happiness-related social policies are the best way to take advantages of this. Be aware that buildings that produce happiness also have high maintenance costs per turn.
Great People become more and more important as the game progresses, but only three are directly useful for achieving a cultural victory. Great Engineers give the ability to be able to hurry up wonders, and that ability can be used to hurry up wonders that are considered of vital importance for a cultural winning (see above). Great Scientists can help research technologies or build Academies to speed up research, in order to get advanced technology that allows the construction of wonders like Cristo Redentor or Sydney Opera House. Great Artists can be used to build Landmarks so citizens work on culture.
Considerations on Single Player and Multiplayer Games
Not founding cities and not having military units wandering around other civilizations' borders, plus avoiding all agreements with other civilizations, can be very useful to avoid conflicts during the whole game when attempting a cultural victory. However, this only applies to single player games as human players may act differently.
In fact, it could be very obvious to other human players that the player is attempting a cultural victory. There are 5 wonders that are very important (almost necessary) to achieve a cultural victory, so it's very significant that the same civilization builds all of them.
Also, in the victory progress window, any player can see how many social policy trees have been completed by any of the other civilizations; one way to work around this is to avoid one policy in some trees so it seems that there are only one or two trees completed, and then complete every tree needed at a later stage to reach victory.
However, there are very many chances for the player's opponents to avoid a cultural defeat. Cultural players tend to have weak armies and few cities. Also, the Utopia Project takes a long time to complete and can't be "hurried up" with a Great Engineer's special ability.
Cultural Victory in Brave New World
Brave New World adds a new game concept, Tourism, and it is amassing Tourism, not Culture, that is required to achieve Cultural victory. While Culture output per turn is still important, spreading your Tourism to other civilizations is now your primary concern.
As with all paths to victory, there are several technologies that you need to rush to acquire. Select early and middle game Wonders have many Great Work slots, such as the Great Library, Uffizi, and Louvre (note that the last two of these require adopting the Aesthetics and Exploration social policy trees, respectively).
In the late game, Refrigeration and Radar provide the Hotel and Airport buildings, which are essential. Build them in your cultural centers first to maximize Tourism output as early as possible. Total accumulated tourism is what matters, so boosting your Tourism early in your best producing cities is crucial.
Archaeology is extremely important, as it allows you to extract Artifacts from the terrain, and each Artifact has the same effect and use as a Great Work of Art. Train Archaeologists (only possible in cities with a University), and rush to Archaeological sites before your opponents. You can dig in an Archaeological site in another nation's territory, though this will result in a diplomatic incident.
However, there is also a quirky twist you must notice. Normal buildings with slots for Great Works of Art appear after those with Great Works of Music slots (respectively Museums and Opera Houses), and much later than the Guild producing Great Artists. This means that you can easily produce far more Great Artists than you have slots for Great Works of Art. Founding or obtaining a religion with Cathedrals can provide art slots to offset this problem.
Social Policies and Wonders
The Aesthetics social policy tree is mandatory, because it will increase the generation of Great Writers, Artists and Musicians, and allows you to build The Uffizi. Completing Aesthetics doubles Theming Bonuses in Museums and World Wonders, and allows you to purchase Great Writers, Artists and Musicians with Faith.
The Exploration social policy tree can also be useful. It unlocks building The Louvre, and completing it will allow you to excavate the Hidden Antiquity Sites for more Artifacts. Tradition is also good for the Population boost in your Capital, which you can then turn into a cultural center by building all the Guilds there and manning their Specialist slots at all times.
The following World Wonders are best for providing Great Work slots and the Theming Bonuses:
The following National Wonders are also essential:
The Palace includes one slot for Great Work of Art, so try to get your first Great Artist to fill it.
Cultural victory is the only victory condition fully supported by all three Ideologies, allowing you to choose ideology based on other considerations such as diplomacy or taste. Differing Ideologies imposes a -33% penalty on cultural influence with a nation. However, as a nation pursuing a cultural victory, your Tourism is often enough to impose your own Ideology on other nations.
The following tenets will help you achieve Cultural victory:
- Creative Expression (Freedom) - Doesn't help you directly, but extra Culture from each Great Work means it will become a bit more difficult for others to win the game.
- Media Culture (Freedom) - Broadcast Towers become even more effective with this tenet, thanks to the bonus Tourism from each of these buildings.
- Cultural Revolution (Order) - Increases Tourism to other civilizations sharing the Ideology, but this only works if there is at least one civilization following the Order ideology.
- Dictatorship of the Proletariat (Order) - Since this tenet is based on the overall Happiness, it also allows you to impose your Ideology on others much faster, thus you can force them to switch their Ideology more easily.
- Futurism (Autocracy) - Grants a one-time Tourism boost to all other civilizations whenever a Great Writer, Artist or Musician appears at any of your cities.
- Cult of Personality (Autocracy) - Whenever you engage in a war, everyone fighting on your side becomes more imposed to your cultural influence, so to make use of this, ask someone to join you in a war you're about to initiate.
Religion could help you greatly in achieving a Cultural victory (in both the expansion packs). There are quite a few Beliefs aimed at increasing Culture production, and while that's not central anymore, it's always nice to have more Social Policies. Some Beliefs are more important:
- Various Pantheon Beliefs which produce Culture from terrain or improvements, such as Oral Tradition and Sacred Path. Since you can only choose one of these, please choose wisely! Try to gauge which one will have greater effect potentially, based on the lands you plan to take and their resources. All of the tiles with Culture on them will add to your Tourism output once you build Hotels and Airports in the respective cities.
- World Church - This Founder Belief is good for those who are able to spread their religion far and wide, not only in their own empire. With this Belief, you can generate Culture based on the number of followers of your religion in foreign cities.
- Cathedrals - Each of these buildings has a Great Work of Art/Artifact slot, allowing you to start producing these earlier than usual.
- Choral Music - Temples become more useful with this Belief thanks to the added Culture bonus from such building, although it requires at least 5 followers of the religion in the city to enable the effect.
- Monasteries - If you're lucky enough to have Incense or Wine resources nearby, a Monastery will make these tiles produce extra Culture. Try combining this with Goddess of Festivals.
- Religious Art - This Belief makes the Hermitage National Wonder even more effective - try building it ASAP!
- Sacred Sites - This is a Reformation Belief, so to get it you'll need to finish the Piety policy tree; also, you need a Belief that allows you to purchase a religious building to make use of it. And once you manage to get both of these, you will get +2 Tourism for each religious building! Needless to say, this is awesome!
Maximizing Your Tourism Output
Tourism accumulates only very slowly during the early game, but can accelerate enormously as the game progresses. Even as late as the industrial era, it is not unusual to have an "unknown" influence level with other civs and still succeed in cultural victory. Consider these critical factors:
- Base Tourism output comes almost entirely from Great Works, which are either created (by Great Writers, Artists, and Musicians) or found (using archaeology). Great Works must be placed in appropriate slots, which are provided by buildings and wonders.
- Great Artists, Musicians, and Writers are produced only by their respective national wonders: Artists's Guild, Musicians's Guild, and Writers's Guild,.
- Buildings with more than one Great Work slots have the possibility of activating Theming Bonuses, which provide additional Tourism. These buildings include many World and National Wonders, as well as the Industrial Era cultural building - the Museum. Given the fact that your sources of Great Works are very limited, Theming Bonuses become vital for maximizing Tourism.
Research the necessary technologies and build the Guilds early: Drama and Poetry (for Writers' Guild), Guilds (for Artists' Guild), and Acoustics (for Musicians' Guild). Naturally, you have to put Specialists in them to boost production speed (although the Guilds also contribute points on their own). Next, look for all possible ways to boost Great People production in the cities with the guilds.
It's usually a good idea to put them all in a single city with a large population, but other options are also viable, as long as you manage to boost production speed. Keep in mind that a Garden gives you +25% Great People points (but can only be built in a city that borders a river or lake), as does the National Epic. Ideological tenets can also give a boost, as well as the World Congress resolution Arts Funding.
Then, as soon as you get buildings with multiple Great Work slots, look for ways to activate their theming bonuses right away. You will need all sorts of Great Work and Artifact combinations, so you'll need to Swap Great Works with other civilizations. Fortunately, this doesn't depend on diplomacy and trading, and is pretty easy (kudos to the developers for this). Always prefer to put your Great Works first in buildings with Theming Bonus, instead of in single-slot buildings like the Amphitheater or the Opera House.
Diplomacy and Other Strategies
You need to consider carefully the way you behave towards the other nations. It is quite logical that a warmongering conqueror is unlikely to have much success at influencing others culturally, so leave world domination ambitions for when you pursue other types of victory and try to maintain good relations with everyone. Only attack other nations for strategic purposes, such as occupying a vital piece of land or resource you really need.
You need to consider that these effects benefit your Tourism stats with other nations:
- An Open Borders treaty nets you a 25% bonus to Tourism with the nation, as long as it's active. You'll be able to sign these with most, if not all, nations, if you maintain good relations with them.
- A Trade Route with a nation also grants a 25% bonus to Tourism, as long as it's active. See which nations you need to influence more, and try to set up a route with them. One route per nation is enough to activate this Tourism bonus!
- Try converting your Spies to Diplomats in the Capitals of the nations that resist your influence for another 25% bonus to Tourism (only applicable after that nation has adopted an Ideology). What's more, you'll be able to trade with these nations for votes in the World Congress to pass key resolutions to boost your cultural influence!
- Apart from those, religious influence could also help you. When a nation shares your religion (more than 50% of its cities have it as the majority religion), you get a 25% bonus to Tourism.
- Last but not least, all above bonuses (save the Diplomat bonus) are increased to 40% after you adopt Cultural Exchange from the Aesthetics social policy tree.
In the last stages of the game you will have to both race towards achieving the necessary cultural supremacy over the others, and keep your rivals from achieving their victories. Of these maybe the most dangerous are those pursuing a Scientific victory - you can hardly do anything to stop them unless they're close to you and don't have a very strong military, in which case you may attempt an invasion. You should also try your hardest to pass an Arts Funding resolution in the World Congress as early as possible - this will both help you and hinder scientific progress in other nations.
The other big problem would be a Domination victory pursuer planning an invasion against you. In this case you should focus on heroic defense, building Forts extensively to defend your lands. Try to establish a Defensive Pact with a strong nation or a neighbor. And if you're lucky, your cultural influence will cause the invader Ideological problems which may stem his progress; sometimes, however, he happens to have the same Ideology as yours, in which case there's nothing you can do. Still, these are rare cases since Domination players usually adopt Autocracy, while Cultural ones tend to adopt other Ideologies.
If one or two AI civs resist the lure of your tourist attractions and block your cultural victory, you may find it profitable to visit their cities with your military instead. You may have played a high-minded, peaceful game for centuries. But if time is running short, either with the approach of 2050 or possibly being on the losing end of a space race, and you're not gaining enough tourism on a civilization or two to win in time, or if you're just getting bored watching their national symbol slowly fill on the Influence by Player scoreboard, eliminating the stay-at-home civilization(s) from the game can make the difference. This can be relatively easy, if you've had a long-standing alliance with a militaristic city-state that has been sending you military units or have lots of cash, or if that civilization's military is not as strong as yours per your Military Advisor. You have to eliminate the recalcitrant civilization(s)—simply conquering their original capitol city is not enough. But as soon as the last civilization with more culture than your tourism is eliminated from the game, you will win your cultural victory.