5 Best Civilization 5 Leaders to Choose for Victory

Choosing the “correct” civilization and leader in Civilization 5 depends more on one’s personal style of play rather than this list, but if you need any help, you will certainly find it here: the 5 best Civilization V leaders and civilizations to choose in order to gain some advantages early on in the game and win like a pro are listed below.

1. Japan – Oda Nobunaga
This civilization (leader) has some incredible military stats and could be considered one of the strongest in the game. I have tried playing with them already and they simply rule: each fight will be at full strength for Japanese military units, which is a huge bonus in this game!

2. China – Wu Zetian
This civilization (leader) has a very strong unit, the Cho-ko-nue, which can fire twice in the same turn – this is a huge advantage and makes conquering cities early on a breeze. They also have the trait to get Generals at an extended rate, which will also prove very helpful when defending your cities!

3. Russia – Catherine
For some reason, I find Russia and their leader a top choice in Civilization 5 because of their trait which gives them extra resources, which means that you can create more special troops that other civilizations. It’s not always a win-win situation, though, because if you lack the resources, you basically lose the bonuses!

4. Germany – Otto von Bismarck
If you’d like to go for a big push early one, Germany is probably the best choice as they will get free troops from the Barbarians, therefore getting a huge bonus to start with. However, as the game will progress this trait will mean nothing, so you’d better be prepared already with a solid, huge civilization!

5. Greece – Alexander
And yet another great leader to start with and gain immense advantages early on. With an impressive trait that helps expanding your civilization, Greece and Alexander the Great might be the best choice for players who want to create a solid Civilization 5 nation without necessary going to war that often.

Which are your favorite Civilization 5 leaders and why?

33 Comments

  1. Rome and England are both outstanding in their own right.

    I played Rome and won a cultural victory with only a handful of cities. By focusing on building things in Rome first and going after wonders, I quickly amassed a huge population with an unbelievable economy and used that to befriend the world’s city states (which provided me food and culture as well as my entire military).

    England is a clear choice if you like powerful navies and exploration. The longbowman is an incredible unit with its larger range and fairly cheap cost. Focus on technology, economy, and expansion, then dominate the middle ages with strong bombardment support from the ship of the lines and longbowmen.

  2. I agree with the top three in the exact order. Japan have great military advantage. China does too but with a general & cho-ku-nue. Russia’s an economic power.

  3. Where is my sweet +2 culture/city? Its also great advantage!

  4. Played as Persia and went for happiness. Felt like i played with constant Golden Age.

    • That’s what I’m playing right now, persia is awesome. Have to wait 3-4 turns between golden ages making 2 grand per turn.

  5. Any archer can achieve the 2 shot and +1 range improvements so choosing a nation based on that isn’t recommended. I share your love for japan though. Full str fighting is awesome. Even if you lose a fight the npcs will think twice before attacking you again as it may cause them to lose their unit.

  6. Also i really like songhai. If you got raging barbarians set you can rack in a LOT of gold. When i play songhai my cities are dedicated solely to wonder building as i have enough gold to buy any buildings/units i need

  7. I like greece cuz it has great power and i can pass a city state even if they where at war

  8. The Incans are pretty interesting and fit my strategy of focusing on infrastructure for a mid to late game technology or economic advantage. They also get a nice ranged unit to replace the archer. They are DLC though and their colors aren’t quite to my liking.

    Not the best, but I like the niche they scratch.

  9. My favorite civ so far is the Incas because of their terraces farms which are amazing allowing a desert wasteland to become a lush food producing powerhouse, maintenace costs cut in half, colors look awesome and slingers are very evasive.

  10. I have to disagree with Germany’s trait of getting free units from barbarians meaning nothing later on in the game. You do know you can upgrade them, right? So just work hard on tech level and just modernize your free units. All you need is gold and iron.

    If you do this you will also not need that many units since you’ll be ahead in tech level and have access to more powerful ones.

    Upgrading your unit goes in steps, or if you aquire a “Warrior” later on in the game and you’ve already researched “Rifle man” you’ll jump right to “Rifle man”. I *think* that if you don’t have enough gold the unit gets upgraded to whatever level you can afford. Don’t quote me on that one though.

  11. aksai (shopping spree)/alexander (travelling companion)

    adopt honour (barbarians = fast money)

    beeline horseback (screw resources, expect horses of course)

    horsies

    settle and conquer

    so many cities, I cannot count!!!

  12. i agree .japan and china is the best leader but for domination victory.
    for cultural victory gandhi and shiam is the best

  13. This games leader balancing is pathetic. Some are very over powered and several are completely useless. I dont know why this article has germany at 4, they are useless, you grab a few warriors and a few archers and by 1500 bc your civ has no advantage, unique units are nothing notable either. The ottomans are completely utterly useless, 50% chance of getting a barbarian naval unit to join your side, at no point is that useful and again the UU’s are nothing special. Ghandi is useless, a small happiness bonus does not do enough to go for that culture victory.

    Alexander the great is one of the very over powered ones. Just put all you policies into patronage, buy city states as allies, direct all your research towards globalization build the UN and you have a diplo victory, just beat it today on immortal, only built 2 cities never had to fight anyone. Mongolia’s UU is crazy overpowered, get chivilry as fast as you can andthere is no stopping them if you build a little army of them, jsut keep on hitting and running they will never even take a hit. England has pretty useless bonus;s but the longbowman is very overpowered. China is probalby the bset overall, rome and france are in the middle and everyone else you are doing nothing else but making things more challenging for yourself.

    Tips for greatness (or cheapness): Build a few catapults early, protect them and have them bombard something every turn, upgrade whenever possible, once you get the logistics (two attacks a turn) your pretty unstoppable, with 3 you can take a city in two turns.

    If going for a culture victory, use no more than 2, stockpile the rest until you get freedom and get -25% cost, then load it all into piety for the 2 bonus.

    Have one city build wonders that get you great engineers, stonehendge and the pyramids the ai never seems to build very quick so you can develop a bit before building them. more GEs you get the more instant wonders you get.

    If you capture a city and it doesnt have a colloseum burn it and get your own setler there, everytime you capture a city they pretty much go down to 2 pop anyways so there is no use daeling with the extra unhappiness.

  14. The French are my favorite. With the early culture bonus, you can get the best policies quickly, and by the time you research Steam Power and lose the bonus, you already have all the policies you need to get an easy domination victory, especially if you expand quickly. The Foreign Legion helps later on too, since most of my battles took place in enemy territory.

  15. Babylon is EPIC with technology. I just go strait for writing, take my free great scientist and build an academy. This doubles your science completely( 5-10 )!! This provides an amazing advantage early on. You can start building libraries and the amazing great library! You’ll have 35 science, in the medevil era while have the civs have just entered the clasical era!

    Right after writing, of course, i go onto archery for the bowman unique unit, then mining < masonry, taking the walls of babylon and securing the safety of my science-rich capitol and i'm good to go. And continuing the whole game I'll receive great scientists in half the normal time!

  16. Persia + Piety + Forbidden Palace + Chichen Itza + Taj
    Ultimate Golden Age strategy. The golden age is longer than 50 turns.

  17. Persia

    Take those Immortals, make sure the can all heal their allies so even if you attack, you heal every turn.

    With their Golden ages and a Great General, the Immortals are unstoppable, you can win a world domination before upgrading them if your map isn’t too big. (by killing so much people, you will get lots of Great Generals to make sure you get a Golden Age when it’s time to fight)

    Tips: Never build a Settler, you can’t burn down ennemy Capitals, they have plenty of ressources and at some point you’ll have too much cities anyways.

    I agree with Darius, Piety + Forbidden Palace + Chichen Itza + Taj

  18. City states and vodka..

    Russia is great for a very strong capital. If you have horses and iron (try settling in plains) You can build just abt all the wonders only will be missing one maximum two. Assist this with adding one point in %33 while building wonders in “Tradition”. your settlers will also assist with cutting forests down.

    Try allying your nearest city states early in the game, when you dont have enough gold to buy them. If you encounter a barbarian settlement, wait until a city state asks from you to get rid of it. You will be collecting some gold. Use your free tech after the great library to find a tech from medieval era. So you will skip classical era rightaway – medieval era will change city state bonuses. use your other policy points for patronage and you will have nice food bonuses from merchant city states. Your cities will perish and get stronger while you will get a good support for science, happiness, great people etc.. from the city states. By 500-1000 Ad, things will be in order, after that point, head for any development victory you please.

    this tactic also works great with Greece due to advantages with city states, but Russia is very strong about building early wonders. (I hate when another player builds them)

  19. I personally enjoy playing with the koreans, especially if there is a lot of water, the turtle ships are very nice.
    They also get plenty of science, so you are always ahead of everyone else, so if you are going for the scientific victory you will have a huge advantage.

    I don’t know about Spanish, Incas, Babylons and Polynesians because I don’t have those expansion packs.

  20. Rome

    Take advantage of all the wonders that grant you free base buildings (Great Library, Great Lighthouse, Great Wall) in Rome while focusing on other wonders in ancillary cities until your ready to focus in on more bread and butter buildings. Due to the city states prioritization of buildings (most economic to build first), Rome allows you some semblance of control over build order in city states by artificially making them cheaper than ones you haven’t built in Rome.

    Rome also has a fantastic early game pop from their special units which can give you a ton of city states early. Building a road straight to the city you are going to conquer with legions gets you quick reinforcements and a near immediate trade route to the new city allowing your conquering force to keep momentum and hold gains. Yes this can be expensive, but with careful building selection in Rome and a sizeable warchest you can accumulate a great deal of wealth that can be spent on more legions/ballista and soaking up short term loses from road infrastructure.

    My problem with Japan is their bonus dictates you are constantly attacking to get return from it and their early game unit, Samurai, require a commitment to acquire (steel is just not convenient). Their specials are also split awkwardly, which is not abnormal, just lack luster.

    Russia has a bonus that is very hit or miss early (do I really need 12 iron instead of 6?) and only shines later. Cossacks are fine, but not great, and Kreposts are fine, but not great.

    Germany on the other hand has a HUGE early boost from its bonus, a super rushable decent tier special (rushing civil service with a great library is a breeze) and a really nice end game special.

    China is enough said really. If you don’t think there bonus is good enough with their ridiculous special unit/build then you’re not doing it right.

    As far as my experiances:

    1) Rome
    2) China
    3) Songhai – Impact of that gold early on is huge, Mud pyramids are phenomenal and Mandekalu are fantastic as horses are far more frequent than iron.
    4) Germany
    5) Can’t disagree with Greece as city states are fantastic and you get both specials in the same period, but America could slip in here with Manifest Destiny and B17s as well. Babylon would take this spot if we considered xpacs.

  21. I really enjoyed playing for the Egyptians. They might seem not very attractive military, but speedy wonder construction and the burial tombs (free culture!) are excellent for development if you’re aiming for domination or cultural victory.

    The English are great too. Navy! Fast and strong. But if you’re playing for them on an archipelago-type map you might as well consider that a cheat ;)

  22. GERMANY (good for large continents):
    double up your units as you explore by killing all barbarian camps, by the second age you will already be giving free units to city states, and may be able to wipe out one or two other leaders (prince diff. lvl).

    At that point, everything goes up insanely fast, i achieved scientific victory in 1930, millitary (was holding back) in 1945 and completemap domination in 1950, future tech 7 or more. science was over 4k, 2k+ gold per turn and social 3k+. 200k+ in bank, over 20 killer giant robots, nukes, air and sea fleets, the works.

    I was reading this because germany is too easy to play with and i noticed people dont share, the trick is too keep on hunting barbarians the whole game. never stop. first it settles income issues even at deficit, and will allow u to give extra units to city states already befriended (and ideally those providing a defense between you and ennemies, that way they defend you when you are at war)

    Some city states might even expand to a second city using those units so reinforce strategically.

    That was my 5 cents on germany, ill try china right now but the lack of free units means relearning the game.

    Cheers conquistadors!

  23. Oh good cues on rome by the way alex

  24. *jbasc sorry lol

  25. Only Aztec (Montezoma)
    It is great to gain culture for your battle, so you can easily win the game; but you should be brave and be at war with others.

  26. I’m totally new to Civ 5. I alter the game in the options to have no city states and only 3 civilizations (mine Included) chosen at random until I get used to playing the game better. I select a high sea level and large continents and I usually select the Americans. Maybe its the AI but I seem to be able to build up rapidly versus any other civilization in the games. My current opponents are Siam and the Ottomans. The Ottomans are beginning to explore the sea and Siam is the worst at everything. Meanwhile I am building the stealth fighter, have atomic bombs and I have the whole ocean covered with nuclear submarines and battle ships.

  27. india is really one of the best for small empires because unhappiness from no. of cities is doubled and no. from no. of citizens halved
    INDIA IS ONE BEST NATIONS IN THE GAME.

  28. Hmm, interesting! I haven’t chosen any of these civs yet. I liked the Iroquois as they get a decent early unit that has a 33% bonus in woods and jungles (and keeps this bonus for all upgraded units right up to mech infantry). Plus if you keep your forests (and jungles) you get excellent movement within your borders (moving trebs/cannons and workers! around becomes a breeze), reduced road maintenance and excellent production with the longhouse +1 product per forest can be huge – can literally spout wonders out all game (much like Egypt). Starting location is also biased towards forest/jungle. It is a shame as most people think this is a ‘meh’ civ, but they really do own the forests!

    I have played around with the civics a bit but find liberalism (free worker/ settler ones) and build pyramids for huge amount of early tile improvement, then to piety (free bonus religious belief – there is one which allows purchase of any great person with faith).

    P.S. try internal caravans for food – I think the bonuses early on to grow your cities are better than a small amount of gold and risking barbarian pillaging. Sea routes bonuses are great if you have two coastal towns.

    • I like the Vikings. Their Ski Infantry and Beserkers have enemy units dropping like flies early in the game.

  29. though it pains me to say this I think that India is the best civ. Because everything comes back to population, and Ghandi is perfect for building a large population with its Population Growth ability (unhappiness from population decreased by 50 percent, unhappiness from number of cities doubled)
    Get four giant cities in one game you won’t loose

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