xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Civilization IV: Beyond the Sword Complete Civilization and Leader Guide by gmims44 xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx This FAQ is my guide to all 34 civilizations and 52 leaders in Civilization IV: Beyond the Sword. It began as a small project on the Civ IV message board one day when I had some free time, and over the course of a couple months it eventually turned into the 13,000-word monstrosity you see below. The guide is based on my expertise from nearly four years of playing Civ IV, during which time I'm sure I've played every leader at least twice (most of them a lot more), plus way too much time spent discussing this game on message boards. This guide is not intended to cover all aspects of the game or every possible strategy with every leader. Rather, it is intended to give the reader a basic overview of the strengths and possibly the weaknesses of each civilization and leader, hopefully to inform and entertain those who are looking to improve their game. Keep in mind that every game will play out differently depending on the map and the behavior of your neighbors, so the information here is largely general suggestions on how to play to the strengths of different leaders and not by any means hard and fast rules. This FAQ is also written from the perspective of an Emperor/Immortal-level player, and while most of the infomation here is equally true at any level, some things may be more or less effective at lower difficulties (Incan Quechuas being the most notable example). I won't even mention Deity, because that's almost a completely different game, and the 1% of civ players who can actually compete on that level certainly aren't going to learn anything from this guide. A table of contents would be kind of pointless, so instead I'll just tell you that the list is arranged with the civilizations in alphabetical order, so if you're looking for a specific leader just find their civ. Ctrl + F also works. Hope you enjoy the guide, and if you have any questions or comments, feel free to e-mail me at email@example.com. The original topic, where most of this guide can be found: http://www.gamefaqs.com/boards/919352-civilization-iv/53865709 xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx America Starting techs: Agriculture, Fishing Unique Building: Mall- A Supermarket with +20% gold and +1 happiness from Hit Musicals, Hit Singles, & Hit Movies. This a very good UB held back by the fact that it comes so late in the game. Still, for a late-game war, the gold bonus can be a significant help if you're rush-buying units with Universal Suffrage, and more happiness is always welcome when dealing with war weariness. Unique Unit: Navy SEAL- A Marine with 1-2 first strikes plus the March promotion. Marines are somewhat of a niche unit, but if you find yourself in a situation where you want to launch amphibious strikes in the modern era, SEALs are a noticeable upgrade. The March promotion means they can start healing right after they've attacked instead of waiting a turn like most units, so stick a medic in the transports with them and you'll be ready to attack again earlier than usual. Good in some situations, but not a game-changing UU by any means. Leaders: Lincoln (Philosophical, Charismatic)- Two strong traits make Lincoln one of the best leaders for running a specialist economy. Stonehenge is a particularly attractive wonder for Charismatic happiness and early gpp. If you have stone or marble you might choose to build wonders to help take advantage of Philosophical's bonus (obviously go for the Pyramids if you have stone to help your SE), or you can build units instead and take advantage of Charismatic's warmongering benefits. Or both. Unfortunately a specialist economy doesn't have good synergy with America's UB, but like I said, it comes too late to make much of a difference anyway. Roosevelt (Industrious, Organized)- Having an economic trait to go along with Industrious is nice, because a large factor in building wonders is getting to their required tech first. Roosevelt is well suited for archipelago-type maps where all or most of your cities are coastal, as starting with Fishing puts him closer to the Great Lighthouse, which combined with the Organized trait will allow for lot of expansion without the need for many cottages. He may also be a good candidate for a specialist economy even though heís not Philosophical, since he can build the Pyramids more easily and the gold saved by Organized is really useful when you donít have cottages. Whatever your strategy, these are two good long-term traits that will help you out. Washington (Expansive, Charismatic)- I really love this trait combination. The extra happiness from Charismatic means larger cities, and the benefit from Expansive is not so much the extra health, but the cheaper granaries and workers. You'll end up with bigger cities earlier, plus more workers to build enough improvements for those bigger cities. That strong early game should set you up well to do some always-fun Charismatic warmongering. --- Arabia Starting techs: Mysticism, The Wheel Unique Building: Madrassa- A Library with 4 culture instead of 2 plus two slots for priest specialists in addition to the normal two for scientists. A very underrated UB, especially considering that buildings double their cultural output after 1000 years, so Madrassas built in the BCs will quickly be producing 8 culture per turn. The extra specialist slots also mean you can set up a decent gp farm before Code of Laws, and it's easy to get great prophets for shrines or to bulb religions if youíre pursuing a religious strategy. Unique Unit: Camel Archer- A Knight that doesn't require horses or iron. It also has an inherent 15% withdrawal chance (like a cuirassier), which paired with Flanking I & II gives a 45% withdrawal chance. That can be useful for both attacking cities or as active defense against enemy stacks entering your territory, as flanking damage from retreating Camel Archers will damage and eventually kill enemy catapults and trebuchets. Not a great UU, but sometimes you may be glad to have it. Leader: Saladin (Spiritual, Protective)- Saladin is generally considered one of the weaker leaders, mostly because Protective is such a weak trait. Going for Buddhism or Hinduism isn't generally recommended on higher levels, especially because his second starting tech isn't a food tech, but his UB does support a religious strategy, so it may be worth the risk and the slower start. Saladin is a good candidate for a cultural victory due the Madrassa and the Spiritual trait for cheap temples (meaning faster cathedrals), plus the fact that he doesn't offer any particular advantage for any other type of victory. If you do go the religious/cultural path, strongly consider the Apostolic Palace, University of Sankore, and Spiral Minaret to make your religious buildings better. An interesting leader who may encourage you to try a strategy you wouldn't normally use, but not one to choose when you've just moved up in difficulty level, and not very likely to appear near the top in your hall of fame. --- Aztecs Starting techs: Mysticism, Hunting Unique Building: Sacrificial Altar- Courthouse replacement that reduces anger duration from sacrificing population by 50%, plus it only takes 3/4 the number of hammers to build. Easily one of the best UBs in the game, as more frequent whipping in the Slavery civic is a big hammer advantage. Get high food sites and sacrifice your population like mad to take full advantage of it. Unique Unit: Jaguar- A 5-strength Swordsman with free Woodsman I (and Combat I, but technically that's from Monty's trait) that doesn't require Iron and is the cost of an axeman. They can strike quickly through jungles and forests with Woodsman II from a barracks, but on the higher difficulties at least, your target is going to have a pretty robust defense which probably includes walls and Axemen by the time you get Iron Working, so don't count on a Jaguar rush to wipe out a rival or even capture his capital. A better use for them may be to just capture a couple of the more vulnerable border cities then run around in the enemy's forests, cutting roads, plundering, and basically choking him into irrelevance so you can wipe him out later. Even if you don't really use Jaguars, save at least one for a great general super-medic, as it's the easiest unit in the game to get to Woodsman III + Medic III for 40% healing per turn. Leader: Montezuma (Spiritual, Aggressive)- Even though you start with Mysticism, don't found a religion. You'll most likely be conquering a few holy cities eventually anyway, and with Hunting as your other starting tech, you really need food techs asap to get off to a decent start. Always consider the possibility of an axe rush with an Aggressive leader (actually with any leader, but Aggressive leaders are particularly good at it), but if that's not an option, I recommend going for the Oracle to get Code of Laws pretty early and get Sacrificial Altars built. Monty's Spiritual trait has great synergy with his UB, as it lets you jump in and out of Slavery as much as you want over the course of the game to keep those altars soaked in the blood of your loyal subjects. Anyway, with all those extra hammers from whipping twice as often plus Monty's Aggressive trait, your path to victory should be fairly obvious. --- Babylon Starting techs: The Wheel, Agriculture (the two most expensive starting techs, and Pottery is only one turn away) Unique Building: Garden- A Colosseum that gives +2 health. Not terrible, but not nearly as helpful as many other UBs. If you actually build it around the time you get Construction, youíre more likely to be doing it for the normal +1 happiness than the extra health. You probably won't bother building it in most cities until later in the game when health starts becoming an issue. Unique Unit: Bowman- An Archer with +50% against melee units. Incredibly useful if you start next to Shaka or Monty, but not likely to affect your game much otherwise. Maybe you'll get better odds in a fight or two with barbarian axemen or something. Not a very highly-regarded UU overall. Leader: Hammurabi (Aggressive, Organized)- Hammurabi is a pretty decent warmonger. Aggressive helps you win a large empire and Organized helps you afford it. What else is there to say? This is a very forgettable civilization and leader. --- Byzantium Starting techs: Mysticism, The Wheel Unique Building: Hippodrome- Replaces the Theatre and gives +1 happiness for horses instead of dye, plus an extra +1 happiness for good measure. Even better, it also gives +1 happiness per 5% culture rate instead of the usual 10%, so every notch you bump the culture slider will give you +2 happiness instead of 1. Thatís quite useful for dealing with war weariness. Also, while the normal Theatre has two slots for artist specialists, the Hippodrome has none, though I can't imagine when this would ever matter. If you're going cultural, then you'll use Caste System to farm artists, and if you're not, then artists are the last thing in the world you want (well, maybe except for spies). Unique Unit: Cataphract- A Knight replacement with 12 strength instead of 10. The only difference between these and cuirassiers is that cuirassiers have an innate 15% withdrawal chance and can flank attack cannons, and Cataphracts are 10% cheaper to build. Considering that a cuirassier attack can be effective even though they come significantly later, obviously Cataphracts have great offensive potential. Just send in spies beforehand to be ready to start revolts and youíre good to go. The only downside is that Guilds is inconveniently located on the tech tree at a time when youíre normally gunning for Liberalism, but as long as you plan to use them, in my opinion Cataphracts are good enough to justify the detour and possible loss of a free tech. Leader: Justinian I (Spiritual, Imperialistic)- Yet another civilization with no starting food tech, so you should avoid the temptation of an early religion and just research what you need to get your food resources hooked up and your empire off to a fast start. Imperialistic is nice for cheap settlers, but those fast great generals also call for some warmongering, donít they? Unless you have a good opportunity earlier, like an obvious axe rush or a dogpile situation, I recommend peacefully building and teching until your aforementioned Cataphracts are ready to do their thing, then using those to put yourself into a winning position. --- Carthage Starting techs: Fishing, Mining Unique Building: Cothon- A Harbor with one extra trade route that is also 25% more expensive to build. Obviously this UB is highly map-dependent, but just as obviously it can be pretty great on some maps. I really love how you can run State Property and still get most of the benefit of Free Market (besides corporations), or you can just have Free Market on steroids. And itís not like Hannibal needs any help teching anyway. Unique Unit: Numidian Cavalry- A Horse Archer replacement with 5 strength instead of 6, but +50% against melee units and a free Flanking I promotion. The usefulness of this UU has been debated over and over, but in my opinion itís just not that great. Yes, theyíre better against melee units, including spears, which would normally be a strong counter unit, but theyíre worse than standard horse archers against archers and longbows, the primary defensive units of their time period. If theyíre worse at attacking cities, then why would I want them? Well, I suppose since theyíre strong in the field theyíre good if someone is likely to attack with mostly melee units and catapults, but that doesnít seem like anything worth prioritizing Horseback Riding for in most games. Leader: Hannibal (Financial, Charismatic)- Pretty straightforward: just use his awesome traits to go for any type of victory you want. As with any Financial leader, build riverside cottages for instant 3-commerce tiles, and with Hannibalís larger cities from Charismatic, you can work even more cottages earlier. At some point, youíll probably want to build up an army and go beat up some of your inferiors, and my favorite time for that is the renaissance and early industrial eras, when you can really turn a tech lead into a serious military advantage, like cavalry against muskets or mass cannons against, well, anything. Hannibal is simply one of the best leaders in the game, and heís easy to play since youíll probably want a cottage economy with him. A good choice for both new players and anyone moving up in difficulty. --- Celts Starting techs: Mysticism, Hunting Unique Building: Dun- Replaces Walls and gives a free Guerilla I promotion to eligible units. That only includes archery units and gunpowder units before Rifling, because the Dun becomes obsolete with Rifling just like normal walls. If youíre likely to be attacked and your border cities are on hills, then this UB provides a little extra protection. Offensively, Guerilla-promoted troops can give you extra stack protection when moving through enemy territory if you can stick to hills, and any unit you get to Guerilla III gets +25% hill attack and more importantly, a +50% withdrawal chance, making them pretty nice attackers. I donít usually research Military Science for grenadiers, but doing that along with Steel (theyíre close to each other on the tech tree) before getting Rifling could be worth it to build some Guerilla III grenadiers with Theocracy or Vassalage to go with your cannons. Still, I consider the Dun a UB thatís just kind of fun to play around with, not one that gives me a really significant advantage like some others. It certainly belongs in any discussion of worst unique buildings. Unique Unit: Gallic Warrior- A Swordsman that can be built with just copper and comes with a free Guerilla I promotion, plus access to the other Guerilla promotions, which is something no other melee unit has. If you want to attack some cities on hills then it might be good to go for Guerilla III with them, but otherwise youíll probably just use them like normal swordsmen. Like the Celtic UB, the Gallic Warrior is an interesting but not particularly powerful UU. Leaders: Boudica (Aggressive, Charismatic)- Both Celtic leaders have nice trait combos to somewhat make up for below average uniques and bad starting techs. Obviously Boudicaís advantage is highly promoted units, and youíre not using that advantage unless youíre at war. Once again, skip early religion in favor of food techs for a faster start, since you should be conquering holy cities later. Theocracy and/or Vassalage make sense to strengthen your units even further, and as your wars go on, settled great generals will really start to give you some powerful armies. At just 8 exp, Boudicaís melee and gunpowder units get four promotions, something that takes 17 exp for most leaders. Brennus (Spiritual, Charismatic)- A more well-rounded leader than Boudica, but his traits still push him towards war. Spiritual is often overlooked as a good trait for warmongering, but being able to change civics at will is a useful ability when building up an army. For example, build infrastructure for a while in Organized Religion, then switch over to Theocracy to build units, and back and forth as much as you like. Switching into Nationhood to do some drafting is another powerful option that becomes much more attractive when you donít have wasted turns of anarchy. Honestly, I think Boudicaís traits are kind of overkill and Iíd usually rather take Brennus to war. --- China Starting techs: Agriculture, Mining (the only civ with this very good combination) Unique Building: Pavilion- Exactly like a normal Theatre but with a +25% culture multiplier. May push you in the direction of a cultural victory if you were leaning that way. Otherwise itís just a little extra border push. Unique Unit: Chu-Ko-Nu- A Crossbowman that does collateral damage, plus it has an extra first strike. A very good unit, so some people like to go for them early by getting Metal Casting from the Oracle and running an engineer specialist from a Forge to get a great engineer to bulb Machinery. Personally Iím not so convinced that theyíre powerful enough to warrant a beeline like that, since catapults plus swordsmen/axemen can do virtually the same thing plus take down city defenses first, but itís something to consider. They certainly make any medieval stack much better, though, and itís worth building a lot more of them than you would normally build if they were ordinary crossbowmen. Leaders: Mao Zedong (Expansive, Protective)- A crappy Protective leader. Iím generally a fan of the Expansive trait for cheap workers and granaries, but itís not enough to keep Mao from being one of the weakest leaders in the game. As mentioned above, Chinaís UB can be helpful for a cultural victory, but thereís really no specific strategy that Maoís trait combination lends itself to. Just play the map and do the best you can, and if you win maybe you can take some pride from the fact that it was due entirely to your own skill. Once you can win with Mao, youíre ready to move up in difficulty. Qin Shi Huang (Industrious, Protective)- Qin is well suited to pull off the early Machinery gambit described above with the cheap Oracle and cheap Forge from Industrious if you want to give that strategy a try and see if you disagree with me about its effectiveness. Beyond that, discounted wonders and a culture-multiplying UB are definitely helpful for a cultural victory. For any other type of victory his traits arenít as much help. --- Dutch Starting techs: Fishing, Agriculture Unique Building: Dike- A Levee that gives +1 hammer to water tiles in addition to river tiles and can be built in any coastal city without having to be on a river. Somewhat map-dependent, but itís good enough that it alone arguably makes the Dutch the best civ to use on water-heavy maps likes archipelago and medium & small where good production can be hard to come by. It comes fairly late with Steam Power, but thatís only fair, because itís the only UB thatís like having a national wonder (Moai Statues) in every city (and your Moai city will be really amazing). Consider buying them with Universal Suffrage in low-hammer coastal cities that are working a lot of ocean tiles, because theyíre fairly expensive to build and the sooner you can get that extra production the better. Unique Unit: East Indiaman- Replaces the Galleon and has 6 strength instead of 4, capacity for 4 units instead of 3, and the ability to travel in rival territory without the need for open borders (like a caravel). May save you a few hammers on galleons if youíre transporting units overseas, and difficult to take down if your opponent doesnít have Chemistry yet, but really not that big a deal. Leader: Willem van Oranje (Financial, Creative)- Cheap Libraries from the Creative trait work well with Financial to make Willem an excellent techer. He doesnít have a military trait, but if you go to war with a tech lead then that doesnít matter so much. Or you can just do what Willem does best and tech all the way to space. As mentioned before, the Dike makes him a beast on water-heavy maps, but Willem is still an excellent leader even without his monster UB. When you play him (or maybe when you play the next game after using him) youíll understand why the Financial trait is a crutch for so many players. --- Egypt Starting techs: Agriculture, The Wheel Unique Building: Obelisk- A Monument with 2 priest slots. This isnít a very great UB, but it is an interesting one as it allows for an earlier great person than is possible any other way. Great prophets are nice when settled early in the game, or alternatively, you can use them to bulb religions to help with a cultural victory, which should be a serious consideration with both Egyptian leaders. One downside to the Obelisk is that Hatshepsut is Creative and thus doesnít need them for culture, but itís still worth building at least one to start generating some great people. With Industrious Ramesses, building Stonehenge might be a good way to get them. Unique Unit: War Chariot- A Chariot with 5 strength instead of 4 plus immunity to first strikes. Regular chariots are already sometimes more desirable than axemen for rushing due to their speed, so a chariot with the base strength of an axemen that ignores archersí first strikes? Yes, please. Assuming you have horses nearby, the odds of pulling off a successful rush go way up with this UU, and that makes the entire rest of the game easier. Theyíre also nice barb protection except for the occasional barbarian spearman. Leaders: Ramesses II (Spiritual, Industrious)- Everything about Ramesses (except maybe his War Chariots) screams for a peaceful builder game and eventual cultural victory. Build wonders in your three culture cities, found religions with the great prophets from your UB, and build cheap temples from those religions to get cathedrals earlier. Also, as I mentioned with Roosevelt, Industrious leaders are good candidates for specialist economies thanks to their discount on the Pyramids. It seems particularly appropriate to build them as Egypt. Hatshepsut (Spiritual, Creative)- Not so bad at cultural victories herself for some of the same reasons as above, but instead of cheap wonders she gets two culture per turn plus cheap libraries and theatres. Personally, Iím a little less likely to play the peaceful builder game with Hatty, opting instead to leverage the Creative trait and good UU to try to claim a lot of land early, and settling my great prophets to help fund expansion rather than bulbing religions. Her strong early game can really set you up for success, and the flexibility of the Spiritual trait helps you out down the road. --- England Starting techs: Fishing, Mining Unique Building: Stock Exchange- A Bank with an extra 15% gold multiplier, for a total of 65%. This UB is great with Englandís two Financial leaders, as youíll have potentially more gold to multiply. It will help you keep your research higher, and it particularly shines when you shut off research and go 100% gold to upgrade units or rush production. Unique Unit: Redcoat- A Rifleman with +25% against gunpowder units. Essentially a free Pinch promotion, except that you can still put Pinch on top of it for even more strength against other gunpowder units. That makes Redcoats less vulnerable to grenadiers than normal riflemen, but itís still probably best to bring along something else for stack protection if your target has Military Science. For the most part, youíll just use these like normal riflemen and enjoy better odds in some of your battles, or theyíll allow you to bring slightly fewer siege units and get the same odds. Leaders: Elizabeth (Financial, Philosophical)- Philosophical is already a great trait for research thanks to earlier great people and cheap Universities; combine it with the Financial trait and you have the strongest techer in the game. That makes Elizabeth one of the best (some would say the best) leaders overall, and the fact that she has the Stock Exchange on top of that is just absurd. Just set up a great person farm early and try to get great scientists for Academies in your best cottage cities, and watch your tech rate take off. Elizabethís fast research can lead you to a space victory, but as we know, a tech advantage can easily be turned into a military advantage, so more violent victory options are also a possibility. Her UU comes at a great time for a cottage economy, when most of your cottages have grown into towns and you can really start taking advantage of them with civics like Universal Suffrage and Free Speech. Victoria (Financial, Imperialistic)- Though somewhat overshadowed by the awesomeness that is Elizabeth, Victoria is still a strong leader. The Financial trait works well with Imperialisticís cheap settlers to fund rapid early expansion, so you can claim a large empire and actually be able to afford it. Of course, Imperialistic offers discounted great generals as well, so it makes sense to leverage the greater production from those extra cities into an offensive force to ensure that the sun will never set on your empire. Churchill (Charismatic, Protective)- A good trait and a crappy one. People who love the Drill promotions like Churchill, though, as itís pretty easy to get Drill IV units with him. Drill IV Redcoats are quite nice, and itís not that big a deal for them that Churchill wonít get a tech lead as easily as the other two English leaders, because redcoats donít get a bonus against outdated units (besides muskets) anyway. Charismaticís higher happiness cap does provide an economic benefit, so Churchill isnít completely one-dimensional, but war is still the recommended way to go with him. --- Ethiopia Starting techs: Hunting, Mining Unique Building: Stele- A Monument with a +25% culture bonus. Itís the same bonus as Chinaís UB, except it comes earlier and obsoletes with Astronomy. A skilled player could probably leverage the Stele into an early culture victory, but I donít tend to go that route with Ethiopia. The fact that Zara Yaqob is already Creative makes this UB a little redundant, but it can provide some extra insurance against losing tiles to rival culture, and sometimes it can let you settle right up in someoneís face and end up claiming tiles that you really have no business controlling. Iíd still take most other UBs over this one, though. Unique Unit: Oromo Warrior- Now weíre talking. Oromos are Musketmen with immunity to first strikes, a free first strike, and free Drill I and Drill II. That means with just a barracks and Theocracy/Vassalage or a settled great general you can produce Drill IV Oromos, giving you units with 4 to 7 first strikes that suffer 60% less collateral damage and have +10% strength against mounted units (youíll probably still want pikemen or elephants in your stack for protection from knights or cuirassiers). Regular musketmen kind of suck, but Oromos are amazing, and even more so because their promotions carry over when you upgrade them, so your Drill IV Oromos become an army of Drill IV riflemen. I recommend going for Steel first, though, as cannons and Oromos are a potent combination, and delaying Rifling for a bit will give you a chance to build more of them before they become obsolete. The extra first strikes will keep you from taking much damage against units damaged by your cannons, so you need less time to heal and can keep your attack on the move. Leader: Zara Yaqob (Creative, Organized)- A strong trait combination. Creative is always nice for getting off to a strong start, and while Organized isnít quite as good as Financial for financing early expansion, itís still a strong economic trait, and later in the game it can sometimes actually save you more gold per turn than Financial would gain you. The most notable thing about Zaraís traits, though, is that they give him the largest number of discounted buildings of any leader: Libraries, Theatres, Colosseums, Courthouses, Lighthouses, and Factories are all half price. Thatís a lot of saved hammers that can potentially go into other things, like Oromos, for instance. After all, it would be a shame to waste a strong UU and a trait that can finance a large empire, wouldnít it? --- France Starting techs: Agriculture, The Wheel Unique Building: Salon- An Observatory that gives one free artist. This is another UB thatís mostly just useful for cultural victories. Fortunately, two of the French leaders are Industrious, so thereís a chance that you may be going for a cultural victory (especially with Louis), and thereís also a decent chance that you built the Pyramids to run a specialist economy with Representation, in which case the artists will provide some extra research. In other cases you may not even notice it, unless you build it in your National Epic city and end up with unwanted great artists. Unique Unit: Musketeer- Identical to Musketmen in every respect except that they get two movement points. So they can get to the front quicker, but the problem with Musketeers is that when it comes to combat, theyíre no better than the unit they replace, which unfortunately isnít especially strong. Youíre not going to capture any cities with these guys without siege units, and bringing those along pretty much negates the double movement. The best use Iíve found for Musketeers is to send them along with knights to do some plundering, as they can keep up with your mounted units and protect them from pikemen. If that doesnít sound like a terribly useful UU to you, well, youíre right. Leaders: Louis XIV (Industrious, Creative)- A strong contender for best leader in the game for a cultural victory (itís between him and Ramesses) due to his traits and UB. As always, that doesnít mean you necessarily have to go that route, and sometimes you canít depending on how the game is playing out, but thereís really nothing about Louis himself that pushes you in any other direction. De Gaulle (Industrious, Charismatic)- For starters, Stonehenge is a huge no-brainer with a Charismatic leader who can build it for half price. You can play the peaceful builder game with De Gaulle just like with Louis, but Charismatic is also there to help you out should you feel the need to ďliberateĒ some rival territory. Thatís the way I usually like to go, so I just use De Gaulleís Industrious trait to grab a few of the more helpful wonders when Iím not preparing for war. I havenít mentioned it before, but the Industrious discount on national wonders is nice as well to save you some turns and hammers that can be used on other things. Napoleon (Organized, Charismatic)- Napoleon has excellent traits for playing like Napoleon. Organized is great for funding a large empire, and Charismatic is great for getting you one. In my opinion the strongest warmongers arenít the leaders with all-out war traits like Boudica or Tokugawa, but leaders like Napoleon with a war trait and a good support trait. If you like playing the peaceful builder game for a space or culture victory, choose one of the other French leaders. Napoleon is meant to conquer the world. --- Germany Starting techs: Hunting, Mining Unique Building: Assembly Plant- A Factory with four engineer slots instead of two, and you can build it 50% faster if you have coal. That second bonus is particularly nice with Frederick, who already gets double production on Factories from his Organized trait. This isnít a great UB by any means, and itís one of the latest in the game, but Factories are still powerful buildings, and getting them up slightly earlier is nothing to complain about. If youíre at war theyíre particularly good, because you can build them quickly after getting Assembly Line and start cranking out infantry sooner. Unique Unit: Panzer- A Tank with +50% vs. armored units. This unit looks great on paper, as it destroys regular tanks and even gets winning odds against modern armor. In practice, though, how many tank vs. tank battles do you usually get in a typical game? Unless your games are a lot different than mine, probably not too many. Itís worth it to build a lot of Panzers, but mostly just because tanks are so good, not because their bonus is likely to be decisive. Just use these like normal tanks and be pleasantly surprised when you actually get another tank to fight. Leaders: Frederick (Philosophical, Organized)- Two good traits make Frederick a solid leader. Philosophical may encourage you to go with a specialist economy, and as mentioned before, the discount you get from Organized is helpful if you do, since commerce is less abundant with specialist economies. Frederick is pretty versatile, but personally I like to go for a military victory unless Iím pushed in a different direction, and heís not bad at all for that. One nice thing about specialist economies is that war weariness isnít a problem because moving the culture slider doesnít affect your research nearly as much as in a cottage economy. Bismarck (Expansive, Industrious)- Another leader with solid but not spectacular traits. As with any Industrious leader, Bismarck can build wonders and go for a cultural victory, though heís not as well-suited to that kind of game as some other leaders. A better strategy may be to use his Industrious trait to grab the Pyramids or Great Lighthouse (depending on the map) as well as other useful wonders like the Great Library, and just leveraging the bonuses you get from those help get yourself into a winning position. His Expansive trait is particularly nice with the Great Lighthouse for cheap harbors to take advantage of your extra trade routes. Also, since cheap granaries and workers are useful for getting your cities up and running earlier, you may have a better shot at some early wonders than you would otherwise. --- Greece Starting techs: Fishing, Hunting Unique Building: Odeon- A normal Colosseum gives +1 happiness and +1 happiness per 20% culture rate. The Odeon adds another +1 happiness, +3 culture, 2 artist slots, and +1 happiness from Hit Singles. Any UB that gives extra culture is useful for a cultural victory, but extra happiness and stronger borders are helpful in any game. If you do go cultural, the Odeon along with a Theatre will let you generate great artists pretty easily even if youíre not in Caste System. Also, while culture-producing buildings like Libraries and Theatres are always destroyed when you capture a city, Colosseums can survive and automatically turn into Odeons, giving you instant culture in conquered cities just as if you were Creative (Pericles already is, but itís a nice little bonus for Alexander). Unique Unit: Phalanx- An Axeman with +100% defense against chariots, which cancels out the +100% attack that chariots get against axemen. While itís kind of nice to have axemen that arenít ridiculously vulnerable to chariots, especially when rushing, itís not like itís so difficult to just build one or two spears for protection, especially since Greece already starts with Hunting. So basically, Phalanxes gain you 1 strength on a unit or two when axe rushing, but only when your target has horses. Not the worst UU out there, but pretty weak. Leaders: Alexander (Aggressive, Philosophical)- A good specialist economy warmonger. The main weakness of a specialist economy is that itís not as good as a cottage economy by later in the game when cottages have all grown into towns with Free Speech and Universal Suffrage, but itís stronger earlier in the game before those cottages grow. So let your neighbors grow some cottages for you while you use your strong early game to build up an Aggressive army to go and claim them. Pericles (Creative, Philosophical)- Possibly the strongest non-Financial techer due to both cheap libraries and universities, and of course Philosophicalís earlier great people. The half-price libraries are fantastic with Philosophical to let you generate some really early great scientists to speed your research along. You can use your strong early game to play like Alexander if you want, but going cultural should also be a consideration with these traits and Greeceís UB. Pericles is a very strong leader and probably the one I would recommend for anyone trying out a specialist economy for the first time (him or Gandhi). --- Holy Roman Empire Starting techs: Hunting, Mysticism Unique Building: Rathaus- A Courthouse that reduces maintenance by 75% instead of 50%. This is many peopleís choice for best UB in the game, and itís easy to see why. The Rathaus will save you a ton of money over the course of the game, allowing you to fund a large empire while keeping your research going. Unique Unit: Landsknecht- A Pikeman with +100% against melee units in addition to the normal +100% vs. mounted. This is another UU that looks a lot more powerful on paper than it actually is in practice. The problem is that if you want to use them on offense, theyíre going to run into longbowmen, in which case youíre better off with mostly macemen to go with your siege units. As stack defense, theyíre decent but not quite as good as crossbowmen against macemen, and you still need knights or crossbows/longbows to protect your stack from enemy crossbowmen. Your primary use for the Landsknecht will still just be for defense against mounted units. Leader: Charlemagne (Imperialistic, Protective)- A strong contender for weakest leader in the game based on his traits. One thing that he can do well, however, is claim a large amount of land with his cheap settlers from Imperialistic, which works well with his UB that can pay for it all. The danger, though, is over-expanding and crippling your research before you get to Code of Laws, so to prevent that, I strongly suggest grabbing the Oracle to get CoL early. Mysticism is a useful starting tech in this case since it starts you closer to Priesthood for the Oracle, but as I usually recommend, get your necessary food techs first instead of going for Buddhism or Hinduism. Charlemagne does not have a very strong early game, and the Rathaus is a fairly expensive building (Courthouses without the Organized trait are 80% of the cost of the Oracle!), but once youíve got them built theyíll help you come back, and theyíll keep helping you for the rest of the game. Your best path to victory is probably war since Charlie isnít much good at anything else, and happily, Courthouses are among the most likely buildings to survive the capture of a city, in which case they of course turn into your UB and help fund your conquest. --- Inca Starting techs: Agriculture, Mysticism (unique) Unique Building: Terrace- A Granary with +2 culture. A Granary is almost always the first building you want in a new city unless you need a Monument for culture, and with the Terrace you obviously donít. That saves early hammers and helps you get off to a faster start. Also, like the Greek Odeon, a Terrace can provide instant culture in a captured city if its Granary survives, which it usually does. It's almost like having a mini Creative trait. Unique Unit: Quechua- A Warrior with a free Combat I promotion and +100% vs. archery units. This unit alone can virtually win the game for you in the early BCs if you find a rival capital close by (slower game speeds make longer distances possible), though it should be noted that itís only effective on Monarch and above when the AI civs start with archers. You can either work a hammer tile and start producing Quechuas from the first turn of the game, or get a worker first and give your initial Quechua more time to make sure thereís an available target, though youíre going to need more Quechuas that way because youíll be attacking later. Donít mess with Protective leaders or anyone with their capital on a hill, and make sure to capture their worker or workers before you wipe out their civilization. If you can pull it off, a Quechua rush can net you a second capital before anyone else has even built a settler, and thatís a huge advantage that will make the rest of the game easy and can potentially lead to a really high score. Even if you canít rush, Quechuas are still excellent barbarian protection, and unlike normal warriors, you can still build them after getting Bronze Working and Hunting, giving you a cheap option for garrisoning cities and increasing your happiness cap in Hereditary Rule. Leader: Huayna Capac (Financial, Industrious)- You might think that with such a potentially game-breaking UU the Inca should have a fairly weak leader, but instead they have one of the best in the game. In fact, when you also consider his uniques, more experienced players rate Huayna as the best leader in the game than any other leader. For starters, itís easy to grab the wonders you want with Industrious when you also have the Financial trait to get you to their appropriate techs faster. So Huayna can easily play the peaceful builder game for a culture or space victory, but with strong teching and help from wonders, you wonít have any problems taking him to war either. You can even potentially go for an early religion without slowing yourself down too much if you have corn, wheat, or rice in your capital, since your other starting tech is Agriculture. The only problem with Huayna is that if you use him too often youíll probably develop bad habits, since playing with him is almost like playing at a difficulty or two lower. --- India Starting techs: Mysticism, Mining Unique Building: Mausoleum- A Jail with +2 happiness. Usually you wonít build Jails unless youíre dealing with war weariness or trying to increase espionage, but the extra happiness from Mausoleums makes them well worth building regardless of your situation. And of course, if you are dealing with war weariness, the Mausoleum is excellent at dealing with it. Unique Unit: Fast Worker- A Worker with 3 movement points instead of two. Fast Workers donít actually work any faster, but the extra movement point lets them do things like move into a forest and start chopping or building a road on the same turn in addition to being able to quickly get wherever you need them. The turns that they save you are especially significant in the early game and will help you get off to a faster start, and all those saved turns really add up over time as well. So this is a very good UU, but one thing to note if you like to play on marathon speed is that itís far better on normal speed, because while they move the same on any speed, that one turn of movement saved on normal is equal to three on marathon. Leaders: Asoka (Spiritual, Organized)- You may not suspect it, but Asoka is actually a very good warmongeróperhaps one of the best in the game. Organized is a great economic trait for warmongering not just because it can help pay for a large empire, but because unlike Financial you still get its full effect even when in full production mode, i.e. working hammer tiles instead of cottages. Iíve also mentioned before with Brennus how the Spiritual trait is very useful for seamlessly switching in and out of war mode. Combine Asokaís traits with a UB that eats war weariness for breakfast and you have a leader whoís more than capable of taking you to domination. Quicker chops from your UU make both Indian leaders good at pulling off an early rush as well. Gandhi (Spiritual, Philosophical)- Gandhi can run an excellent specialist economy with the Philosophical trait and the ability to change civics as often as you need without penalty. Donít let the fact that heís a 98-pound weakling fool you into thinking that he canít smack some people around almost as well as Asoka, though heís perfectly well suited for a peaceful victory as well. If you want to role-play a bit and go diplomatic, Spiritual is unquestionably the best trait for it, as it lets you easily manage diplomacy by switching religions or civics whenever you need to (donít underestimate favorite civic bonuses). Whenever another leader asks you to change religion or civic, you can just agree and switch back a few turns later, and still keep the diplo bonus for having agreed. Gandhi is a well-balanced leader whose traits can help you with whatever type of victory you choose. --- Japan Starting techs: Fishing, The Wheel (unique) Unique Building: Shale Plant- Replaces the Coal Plant and gives a +10% hammer bonus, plus it doesnít require coal. A production bonus is never something to complain about, but like the German UB, the main problem with the Shale Plant is that it comes so late in the game. Itís really nice in the rare event that you donít have coal, though, and you can build it in your National Park city where normally a Coal Plant would be useless, so overall itís not a terrible UB. Unique Unit: Samurai- A Maceman with 2 first strikes and a free Drill I promotion, plus access to the Drill promotion line. Considering that these guys also get Combat I from Tokugawaís Aggressive trait and can easily get two more promotions from a barracks and Theology/Vassalage, this is obviously a powerful UU. Warring in the medieval era is usually pretty difficult because longbowmen are such good defenders, but Samurai can really level the playing field or even tilt it in your favor. Plus, theyíre easily the coolest-looking unit in the game. Leader: Tokugawa (Aggressive, Protective)- Thereís certainly nothing subtle about Tokugawaís trait combination, but unfortunately thereís nothing too good about it either. His only real strength is promotions on his units, so war is the only thing he can do remotely well, and whenever youíre not at war itís basically like playing without traits. Toku gets much better once you reach Gunpowder, as his gunpowder units will get three free promotions, but the challenge is reaching that point and still being in a competitive position since he gives you zero economic help (other than the tiny bonus of cheap Castles once you get Engineering). You should definitely go to war before the gunpowder era, though, especially since you have samurai, because basically your only hope is to conquer enough good land to overcome your weak traits. If you can win peacefully with Tokugawa, youíre playing at a level below your ability. Actually, if you can win at all with him, it may be a sign that youíre ready to move up in difficulty. --- Khmer Starting techs: Hunting, Mining Unique Building: Baray- An Aqueduct that gives +1 food. This UB is a little boring, but not terrible, considering that food is the basis for everything in a city. The most obvious benefit is faster growth, but that one food is also half a specialist, or maybe a watermill instead of a farm. Itís far from the best UB out there, but itís still probably worth building earlier than you would usually build aqueducts, at least in cities with decent production. Unique Unit: Ballista Elephant- A War Elephant that targets mounted units first when attacking, but only outside of cities. This is almost universally acknowledged as the worst unique unit in the game. First of all, ivory is one of the rarest strategic resources, so thereís a good chance that you wonít even be able to build it. Second, since you only get the ballista elephantís bonus outside of cities, itís really only useful in your own territory, unless you get lucky with a stupid AI who parks a stack of units right next to you while youíre invading. So if you have an enemy stack in your territory with horse archers or knights, but not other elephants, then and only then is the special ability of the Ballista Elephant actually useful. Itís just an incredibly niche ability, and the result is a UU thatís barely different from the unit it replaces (war elephants are still good, though). Leader: Suryavarman II (Expansive, Creative)- Sury comes flying out of the gate with perhaps the strongest early game around. With Creativeís free border pop and Expansiveís half-price, easily whipped or chopped granaries, every new city you settle will be up and running in record time. Besides giving quick access to your fat cross and being good for blocking off other civs, Creativeís cheap Libraries are also nice for running scientist specialists and keeping your research going during the early expansion phase. True, Suryís traits kind of fade by later in the game, though he does get four other cheap buildings, but making the most of them for a strong start will have long-term effects. --- Korea Starting techs: Mysticism, Mining Unique Building: Seowon- A University with an extra 10% research multiplier for a total of 35%. It probably wonít be in any conversation about best unique buildings, but itís still a nice little bonus. Another nice thing is that you donít have to change your typical strategy or build order at all to take advantage of it, since Education is a priority tech on the way to Liberalism and Universities are buildings that you always want as early as possible anyway. Unique Unit: Hwacha- A Catapult with +50% against melee units. Since archers and longbows are typically the best defenders in their era, you probably wonít get to take advantage of the Hwachaís bonus much on offense. By the time you weaken the non-melee units in a city enough with your Hwachas to actually get to the melee units, theyíll likely be weakened enough by the collateral damage that regular catapults could do just as well against them. In the field, unless you get a lone melee unit or a stack of nothing but melee units, all the Hwachaís bonus means is that theyíll attack the non-melee units first. There are some situations where that could be at least a little bit useful in getting you slightly better odds, but itís far from spectacular. I donít really like medieval warfare with Financial leaders anyway, since Iíd prefer to be growing cottages, so Iím not a big fan of this unit. Leader: Wang Kon (Financial, Protective)- The best trait and the worst trait. Obviously the key is to just to take advantage of the Financial trait for strong teching, which as always can open up a lot of options for victory. Wang Kon is particularly well suited to just turtle up and go for space, as his UB works best with a high research slider (usually meaning a smaller empire), and his Protective units can fend off attacks. That doesnít mean thatís always the best way to go, but if thatís the way you tend to play then Wang will work fine for you. Kind of a boring leader, but still a Financial leader. --- Mali Starting techs: Mining, The Wheel (unique) Unique Building: Mint- A Forge with a +10% gold multiplier. Though thatís less of a bonus than Englandís UB, the fact that the Mint comes earlier makes up for it. Forges are also buildings that you want basically as soon as reasonably possible in every city anyway, and they come at a time when your economy may be struggling from early expansion, so that +10% gold bonus is particularly helpful. Unique Unit: Skirmisher- An Archer with 4 strength and an extra first strike chance. Skirmishers make you virtually invulnerable to barbarians and much less vulnerable to an early attack from an aggressive neighbor. In some circumstances, they can even be used for an early rush. Theyíre weaker than axemen and slower than chariots, but theyíre available earlier and without the need for a resource, and theyíre cheaper to build, so you can strike earlier. Something to consider if you find a vulnerable target nearby. Leader: Mansa Musa (Financial, Spiritual)- A very strong techer with the Financial trait, a gold-multiplying UB, and no lost turns of anarchy. Thereís not a whole lot I can say about him that I havenít said about the other Financial leaders; your strategy should be to grow cottages and use your strong economic base to propel you to victory. As usual, the Spiritual trait makes for a versatile leader, as itís helpful both for maintaining the peace with good diplomacy and helping you prepare for war when the situation calls for it. --- Maya Starting techs: Mysticism, Mining Unique Building: Ball Court- A Colosseum with +3 happiness instead of +1, and the normal +1 happiness per 20% culture rate. This UB comes right at the time in the game when your cities are usually bumping up against their happiness cap and youíre looking to increase it, so a single building for +3 happiness is the perfect answer. Bigger cities are better cities, so this is an excellent UB. Unique Unit: Holkan- A Spearman that doesnít require copper and has immunity to first strikes. I havenít really found a good use for this unit. Despite the fact that theyíre resourceless and slightly better than normal spears against archers, in my opinion theyíre just not strong enough or fast enough for a good rush. If you have copper or horses, youíll be better off building axes or chariots to rush. Holkans are good barbarian protection for a while, but if/when barb axemen start showing up youíre going to need something else. I suppose if you donít have metal theyíre nice to have, but this unit doesnít gain you much over ordinary spearmen. Leader: Pacal II (Financial, Expansive)- Another strong Financial leader, so most of the things Iíve said about other Financial leaders apply here as well. Pacalís cheaper workers and faster growth due to cheap granaries will let you start growing more cottages earlier, which is a nice economic benefit, and with more happiness from your UB you should have even more cottages to work. As usual with Financial leaders, ride your strong economy to victory. --- Mongolia Starting techs: Hunting, The Wheel (unique) Unique Building: Ger- Replaces the Stable and gives +4 experience instead of +2. While a normal stable is already enough to give your mounted units a second promotion, the Ger does put them closer to a third promotion either through combat or with civics and settled great generals. Itís not a great UB, but itís purposeful, as it has direct synergy with the Mongolian UU. Unique Unit: Keshik- A Horse Archer that ignores terrain movement costs and gets one first strike, though it loses immunity to first strikes. If youíve never done a Keshik romp, youíve really been missing out. Theyíre better against melee units than normal horse archers thanks to the first strikes, and about the same against archers since their first strikes cancel out. Further, the fact that they ignore terrain means you can get them wherever you need them in a hurry, either to strike at cities or plunder the enemyís metal to keep them from building any more spears than they already have. Give about half Combat I & II, and the other half Flanking I & II, plus one medic. For battles with low odds, send the flanking Keshiks in first and thereís a good chance theyíll survive, then send the combat Keshiks to finish them off. When playing as Mongolia, itís worth it after getting the basic worker techs to make almost a direct beeline to Horseback Riding to get these guys and conquer a neighbor or two. You will definitely crash your economy with them, but once you recover youíll usually be in a great position. Leaders: Genghis Khan (Aggressive, Imperialistic)- A completely one-dimensional leader. Imperialisticís cheap settlers arenít such a big deal because you should only build one or two settlers before you start claiming your cities with Keshiks, but the earlier and more abundant great generals are nice, especially for attaching the first one as a Medic III keshik or chariot. Speed is your greatest ally in a Keshik war, and faster healing means less time for the enemy to build more defensive units before you can recover and continue your attack. Like Tokugawa, youíd better conquer some good land, because you wonít get any economic help from your traits. Kublai Khan (Aggressive, Creative)- I usually play Kublai just like Genghis, and I find the Creative trait more useful than Imperialistic when doing so. The main advantage is cheap libraries so you can more easily run scientist specialists and keep your research going after your keshiks have crashed your economy, and free border pops in conquered cities is also nice. Annoyingly, the Khansí Aggressive trait has no synergy with their UU, but it can be useful to you later in the gunpowder era. --- Native America Starting techs: Fishing, Agriculture Unique Building: Totem Pole- A Monument that gives +3 exp to archery units. This UB is more like three additional UUs than a building, as your archers, crossbowmen, and longbowmen will all be stronger. Since Native American archery units already get two free promotions from Sitting Bullís Protective trait, with the Totem pole youíll easily get City Guardian III or Drill III units, making Sitting Bull the ultimate protective leader. Unique Unit: Dog Soldier- An Axeman with 4 strength, but +100% against melee units, and it doesnít require a resource to build. This unit is nice for defending against barbarians and enemy melee units, and itís great to have when you donít have copper or iron, but its big downside is that it can ruin the opportunity a perfectly good axe rush, since its lower strength means it sucks against archers. Iím not a big fan of this UU as a result, but maybe Iím biased because I love to axe rush. Leader: Sitting Bull (Philosophical, Protective)- The Protective traitís synergy with Sitting Bullís UB still doesnít keep it from being the worst trait in the game, but Philosophical is good. As with any Philosophical leader, the key to Sitting Bullís strength is generating great people early and often, so if you donít go with a specialist economy, you at least need a good great person farm. Stonehenge might make sense to get your UB everywhere and get some gpp going early, since itís not like you need the hammers for an axe rush. If you want to take advantage of his strong archery units for a medieval offensive war, Drill III longbows and crossbows along with catapults/trebuchets make for a pretty strong stack, as long as you bring along something to protect against mounted units. A below-average leader overall. --- Ottomans Starting techs: Agriculture, The Wheel Unique Building: Hammam- An Aqueduct that gives +2 happiness. Like the Mayan Ball Court, this UB comes at a very convenient time in the game, when youíre usually looking for any extra source of happiness you can get to grow your cities. The Hammam can really save you in games when youíre hurting for happiness resources, or it can turn a strong position into an even better one. An excellent UB. Unique Unit: Janissary- A Musketman with +25% against archery, melee, and mounted units. This is a strong UU that can hold its own pretty well until grenadiers and rifles start showing up, and the fact that itís draftable means that you can build up significant numbers of Janissaries pretty easily. In my opinion, the best way to use them is to go straight for Chemistry and Steel after Gunpowder and use them along with cannons. Janissaries may be better in their time than Oromos, the other good musket UU, but unlike Oromos their bonus doesnít carry over when you upgrade them, so you have to make the most of it while it lasts. Leaders: Mehmed II (Expansive, Organized)- Mehmedís traits give him almost as many half-price buildings as Zara Yaqob, and probably more useful ones, since cheap Granaries are better than cheap Theatres or Colosseums. All those saved hammers are a major source of Mehmedís strength, but the quicker start from Expansive plus the economic benefit of Organized would make for a good trait combination anyway. Add very good uniques on top of that and you have one of the best non-Financial leaders in the game. Suleiman (Philosophical, Imperialistic)- Both faster great people and great generals make Suleiman a pretty good specialist economy warmonger. Cheaper settlers from Imperialistic make it slightly easier to build the Pyramids without crippling early expansion too much, because itís a really expensive wonder without stone or the Industrious trait. Not the strongest leader around, and the weaker of the two Ottoman leaders, but Suleiman can hold his own. --- Persia Starting techs: Agriculture, Hunting Unique Building: Apothecary- A Grocer that gives +2 health in addition to the normal health bonuses from resources. Far from a game-changing UB, but youíll rarely play a game where health doesnít start to become an issue, so itís helpful. Itís particularly nice to have all those health bonuses on a single building, rather than the +2 health on a separate building, like the Babylonian Garden. Unique Unit: Immortal- A Chariot with +50% against archery units that also gets defensive bonuses. This is an absolutely frightening early unit, and my personal favorite UU in the game. As long as you have horses, Immortals are easily the best unit for an early rush due to their speed and strength against archers, and the fact that they get defensive bonuses on top of that is just crazy. Iíve even had spearmen lose to my Immortals when they tried to attack them on a forested hill. If you get unlucky and donít have a rush target, Immortals are still useful for taking out barbarian cities. Leaders: Darius I (Financial, Organized)- As if Immortals werenít enough, Persia also gets one of the best leaders in the game. The commerce bonus from Financial combined with the gold discount from Organized gives Darius an amazingly strong economy that will keep your research going almost no matter what. As a result, heís almost as strong a techer as Elizabeth--usually even better by the late game--and heís an excellent choice for anyone moving up in difficulty. Another leader whoís easy to form bad habits with and who will make you think youíre more skilled than you actually are. Cyrus (Charismatic, Imperialistic)- I would use Cyrus more if Darius wasnít so good. His traits definitely call for a lot of warring, and Immortals are a great way to start that off. The combination of more great generals plus Charismaticís faster promotions can also give you some highly-promoted armies down the road. Iíll still take Dariusí economy any day, but Cyrus can be a fun leader. --- Portugal Starting techs: Fishing, Mining Unique Building: Feitoria- A Customs House that gives +1 commerce on water tiles. Unfortunately, the commerce boost you get from this UB isnít very noticeable by the time you get to Economics, and (non-seafood) water tiles are still the last tiles you want to work in most cities anyway. Plus, itís a fairly expensive building, and depending on your relations with other leaders and whether theyíre in Mercantilism, you may not even have foreign trade routes in all of your coastal cities. Of course, every little bit is helpful, but other UBs are way more helpful than the Feitoria. Unique Unit: Carrack- A Caravel that can carry 2 units, but more importantly, any kind of unit, like settlers, workers, and military. Obviously having Carracks is a huge advantage on maps where thereís overseas land to claim, as you can get your settlers there long before the AI gets Astronomy. The only potential problem is that even though you can settle overseas cities with just Optics, you wonít get overseas trade routes until Astronomy, which means that the cities you settle will be a huge drain on your economy and you can really cripple yourself if youíre not careful. What I recommend is sending a settler and military unit for protection to each spot you want to claim, then just camping there until you either get Astronomy or an AI galleon shows up with a settler of their own. Leader: Joao II (Imperialistic, Expansive)- With both discounted settlers and workers, Joao is great at rapid early expansion. Itís really easy to over-expand with the Imperialistic trait, but cheaper workers for faster tile improvements and faster-growing cities from cheap granaries help you handle it somewhat. Joaoís main strength is his ability to easily claim and improve land, so I recommend peacefully settling as much as possible and developing it before you start to think about war. Land is power, after all, so when you do finally go to war you should have an advantage. --- Rome Starting Techs: Fishing, Mining Unique Building: Forum- A Market with +25% great person birth rate. Getting more frequent great people is never something to complain about, but itís really not such a huge bonus. Itís also the only UB that may only be useful in a single city, assuming you have a decent National Epic city. You never know, though. You may be in a tight Liberalism race one game and a slightly earlier great scientist is exactly what you need. Unique Unit: Praetorian- A Swordsman with 8 strength instead of 6, though it loses the +10% city attack. Praetorians are so powerful that itís actually kind of surprising they havenít been nerfed since the original game like Redcoats and Cossacks were. On any difficulty below Deity, they make classical and medieval-era warfare childís play, and they have a very long window of usefulness, as their first serious counter unit (crossbowmen) comes pretty far down the tech tree at Machinery (shock axemen also work, but the AI usually isnít smart enough to build many of them). Just get Iron Working early and build up a stack of these to smash through a neighbor, and later get catapults to go with them if you want to keep going. The biggest danger with Praetorians is crashing your economy with a huge early empire, but thatís a nice problem to have. Though I really love Immortals, I have to admit that Praetorians are the best UU in the game. Leaders: Julius Caesar (Organized, Imperialistic)- Use your Praetorians early and often and youíll be rewarded with more great generals and a larger empire than you could normally afford. Itís wise to go for Code of Laws before you conquer too much and your research suffers, so you can build half-priced Courthouses and recover quicker. Julius has an excellent trait combination for warmongering even without Praetorians, but since you have them, just use them to put yourself into a winning position early in the game and never look back. Augustus Caesar (Industrious, Imperialistic)- Both Caesars are equally good at beating people up with Praetorians, but with the Industrious trait instead of Organized, it may be better to show a little more restraint with Augustus than with Julius. You still shouldnít pass on an early war with a close neighbor to strengthen your position, but instead of pressing on like you might do with Julius, you can slow down and build a few wonders if you want. A strong Bureaucracy capital full of wonders has nice synergy with Romeís UB. Praetorians are still the key to Romeís strength, though, and honestly your path to victory is about the same with them regardless of what your traits are. --- Russia Starting techs: Hunting, Mining Unique Building: Research Institute- A Laboratory that gives two free scientists. Thatís a nice bonus, especially considering all the cities you could have and all the science multipliers you should have by then, but wow does it come late. If youíre going for a space race victory and you beeline Superconductors, then this UB may shave a couple of turns off your launch by getting you to the last techs you need a littler earlier. For other victory types you may not even reach Superconductors, and even if you do it wonít make much difference. Unique Unit: Cossack- A Cavalry replacement with +50% against mounted units. While Cossacks dominate all other mounted units in the game, the problem is finding situations where you can actually use that bonus. Before the enemy gets Rifling, normal cavalry dominate everything anyway, and once they have rifles you need cannons for their collateral damage, in which case theyíll damage any mounted units in the enemy stack, and normal cavalry could again take everything out. In both cases, Cossacksí main advantage is getting you higher odds in battles where youíd already have good odds, hopefully so you take little or no damage. Thatís not nothing, but like the British Redcoats, for the most part youíll end up using these exactly like the unit they replace. Leaders: Catherine (Creative, Imperialistic)- With cheap settlers and fast border pops, Catherine can claim territory faster than any other leader. As Iíve mentioned before, the Creative trait is good for rapid early expansion not just for the border pops, but also for cheap libraries to run scientist specialists and keep your research going when you crash your economy from settling all those new cities. With the larger empire you should be able to claim, youíll be well set up to do some Imperialistic warmongering later after your economy recovers. Peter (Expansive, Philosophical)- Faster great people, cheap workers, and a handful of cheap buildings make Peter a solid leader. As with any Philosophical leader, you might want to go with a specialist economy, though as Iíve said before, thatís not always necessary as long as you set up a good great person farm. Honestly, even though he arguably has the best traits of any of the Russian leaders, I find Peter a little boring. His traits are helpful, but they donít really push you in any specific direction, so just play the map and let it the way the game is playing out determine your strategy. Stalin (Aggressive, Industrious)- Is he a builder or a warmonger? Even though Stalinís traits donít seem to go together that well, itís completely normal to switch between peaceful building and unit production several times during a warmongering game, so go ahead and build a few wonders to help yourself out whenever youíre not at war. Curiously, Stalin is the only Aggressive leader to start with Mining, making him an excellent axe rusher. And with a successful axe rush youíll usually get a strong second capital, which will allow you to build a few wonders while still expanding in the early game. --- Spain Starting techs: Fishing, Mysticism (unique) Unique Building: Citadel- A Castle that gives +5 exp to siege units. Though Castles are among the least useful buildings in the game and become obsolete fairly quickly at Economics, the Citadel is well worth building in your unit-producing cities and good enough to warrant avoiding Economics for a while, even if you could have grabbed the free great merchant. That exp bonus is really huge, and it means that with just a settled great general or Theocracy/Vassalage you can build City Raider III and Barrage III siege units. Definitely go for Steel before Economics to build some Citadel-strengthened cannons, since even regular cannons can dominate the battlefield in their era. The unusual tech path that this UB encourages makes Spain an interesting civ to play. Unique Unit: Conquistador- A Cuirassier replacement with +50% against melee units and the ability to get defensive bonuses. Before you go for those super-cannons, make a quick detour to Military Tradition so you can start building Conquistadors first. A large percentage of enemy armies before Rifling will still be melee units like pikemen and macemen, and Conquistadors eat them for breakfast. Add their defensive abilities on top of that and you have a UU that really excels at the standard cuirassier/spy blitzkrieg. Leader: Isabella (Spiritual, Expansive)- As the only leader with the Mysticism/Fishing starting combination, working a two-commerce lake or coast tile and going for an early religion is a possibility here. Isabellaís traits are solid, but her real strengths are her UU and UB, as they both help you out in that renaissance to early industrial period thatís already so good for warfare. I like to take Nationalism with Liberalism then get Military Tradition straight after that for Conquistadors (you can almost always trade someone for Gunpowder) and go on a romp with them. In the meantime I research towards Steel, and by the time riflemen start appearing, my CR III cannons are usually ready to go and the romp continues. I tend to do pretty well with Isabella as a result. --- Sumeria Starting techs: Agriculture, The Wheel Unique Building: Ziggurat- A Courthouse replacement thatís available at Priesthood and only 75% the normal cost. Obviously you can fund some pretty aggressive expansion with cheap courthouses available so early, and if anything, you have to avoid the temptation to build Ziggurats too early, when your greater needs are still settlers, workers, and military. Also, an extra benefit that some people might overlook is that during all those turns with your Ziggurats before the AI gets Code of Laws and builds their own Courthouses, youíll be building up a substantial lead in espionage points and likely seeing everyone elseís research, which is a big advantage in planning your own research paths. Like the other two Courthouse UBs, the Ziggurat is excellent. Unique Unit: Vulture- An Axeman with 6 strength instead of 5, but only +25% against melee units instead of +50%. No other unit in the game has this much base strength this early, and while theyíre weaker than normal axemen against other axemen, their higher strength makes them better against archers and thus a great rushing unit. Games as Sumeria with no copper or no close neighbors are a real shame. Leader: Gilgamesh (Creative, Protective)- The Creative trait combined with Sumeriaís UU and UB give Gilgamesh one of the strongest early games around. Definitely Vulture rush someone if possible, and in any case, grab as much land as you can, because with your Ziggurats you should be able to avoid a crash. Gilgamesh doesnít have much to offer later in the game, but as Iíve mentioned before, a strong start has long-term effects. If he only had a better second trait than Protective, he could be one of the best leaders in the game. --- Vikings Starting techs: Fishing, Hunting Unique Building: Trading Post- A Lighthouse that gives a free Navigation I promotion to naval units. The Trading Post is another map-dependent UB that ranges from completely useless to kind of nice. Itís at its best on archipelago maps in the first half of the game when youíre constantly shuttling units around on galleys, as that extra movement point is a 50% bonus when you only have two movement points. If you manage to win the circumnavigation race as well (and the Trading Post gives you a boost toward it), youíll really have some fast naval units. This UB really isnít a big deal, but at least it has some synergy with a UU built for amphibious strikes. Unique Unit: Beserker- A Maceman with +10% city attack and a free Amphibious promotion. Besides looking pretty badass, Beserkers make great city attackers with that extra bonus plus a free Combat I from Ragnarís Aggressive trait. They also allow you to role play as the Vikings by putting a bunch of Beserkers on your fast galleys and attacking enemy cities directly from the sea, or you can just enjoy their strength in more traditional warfare. Even if youíre not in a good position for a medieval war, itís still worth it to build a lot of Beserkers (in Theocracy/Vassalage so you can get City Raider II) so you can upgrade them to riflemen later, as theyíll keep the Amphibious promotion and give you riflemen with the City Raider promotions, which you otherwise canít get on gunpowder units. Samurai may still be the better maceman UU, but Iíve had a lot of fun with these guys in the past. Leader: Ragnar (Financial, Aggressive)- Highly-promoted armies due to the Aggressive trait are even better when you have a strong economy to back them up. The Financial trait is great for funding early expansion, particularly if you axe rush a neighbor and thus have lots of extra land to fill, but a potential downside is that the cottage spam it encourages means you may not have enough production in the medieval era to fully take advantage of the Viking UU. If you want to truly play like the Vikings, then fight the urge to build too many Financial cottages and sacrifice some of your tech rate for more production and bigger armies. Or you can just play like most Financial leaders and wait until later in the game when more of your cottages have grown into towns and you have civics like Universal Suffrage and Free Speech to really start taking advantage of them. Ragnar is a solid leader, and thanks to his uniques he can be a fun one to play. --- Zulu Starting techs: Agriculture, Hunting Unique Building: Ikhanda- A Barracks that gives -20% maintenance and is also 20% more expensive to build. In practice, though, itís actually less expensive than a normal Barracks due to the discount from Shakaís Aggressive trait. Other UBs have their fans, but the Ikhanda is my pick for best unique building in the game. Combined with a Courthouse, the 70% maintenance reduction youíll be getting is almost as good as the 75% from the Holy Roman Rathaus, and in my opinion the fact that the Ikhanda is available from the very first turn of the game more than makes up for that 5% difference. Before Code of Laws and for only the cost of one chariot or work boat per city, youíll be getting five cities for the cost of four, ten cities for the cost of eight, etc. The Ikhanda allows Shaka to expand like mad and is a big part of his strong early game, and just like with the Rathaus, the amount of gold this UB will save you over the course of the game is quite significant. Unique Unit: Impi- A Spearman with 2 movement points plus the Mobility promotion. Impis are the ultimate early game harassment unit, as they can move around in enemy territory with ease, plundering resources and roads and generally choking your unfortunate target right out of competition. While theyíre not the greatest units for attacking cities, due to their speed you can usually catch at least a couple of AI cities under-defended and raze or capture them. Rather than commit the hammers to finish off the enemy like I usually would with an axe rush, I like to just keep a few woodsman-promoted impis running around in their forests to keep them bottled up in their cities while I do some Ikhanda-fueled expansion into the land that they would have otherwise claimed. A civ you cripple like that will be easy to finish off later anyway. Leader: Shaka (Aggressive, Expansive)- While not such great trait combo on its face, Shaka is loaded with synergy. As Iíve already mentioned, heís one of the few leaders who gets a discount on his UB from his traits, and the free Combat I from Aggressive also makes his already-good UU even better. In addition, as if he needed any more help in the early game, he also gets cheap workers and cheap granaries from his Expansive trait to get him off to an even faster start. Due to all this (mostly his UB), I almost always have more cities by 1 AD with Shaka than I usually would with other leaders, which is a great setup for success. Also, as any veteran player can attest, one of the best things about playing as Shaka is that thereís no chance of having to play against him. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx And that's it. Thanks to the people on the Civ IV board who read my topic and encouraged me to keep going. I know this game is probably past its prime and Civ V is coming out soon, but this was a fun little project, and it was nice to see that some other people enjoyed it too. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Legal stuff I guess I'm supposed to have a section like this. If you want to use this FAQ for another website or anything other than personal use, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll probably say yes, because it's not like I wrote all of this just to keep it to myself. Just give credit to gmims44 from GameFAQs and don't try to claim it as your own work and I'll be happy. Happy Civving!