This page offers additional documentation for the strategy game Sid Meier’s Civilization V by Firaxis Games, supplementing the extensive documentation that ships with the game.
The Civ5 manual does a great job of explaining most of the game mechanics, and I strongly recommend that new players read it. Civilization Fanatics has an extensive list of errata but they are mostly typos and similar nitpicks. Here I wanted to list the few major omissions that people should know about, as well as known technical issues with the game, and non-obvious features that are either new or radically changed from Civilization IV.
The information provided here was collected by me and other contributors on the Quarter to Three forum where the first versions of these Manual Addenda had been posted. Thanks to everyone involved!
- Addenda & Errata to the Civ5 manual
- Notable Changes compared to Civ4
- Modding & Mods for the game rules
- AI Cheating on various difficulty levels
Note: This page does not discuss minimum hardware requirements or obvious gameplay changes – hexagons instead of squares, one unit per tile instead of unit stacks, city states, etc. Please consult the numerous previews and reviews, or the official Civ5 website, for details on these matters.
Consolidated Patch Notes
There’s a Patch Notes thread on the official forums, but it has not always been consistently updated. Change logs may appear elsewhere first or exclusively. So I consolidated all patch notes I found into one text file, Civ5PatchNotes.txt. I’ll keep it updated as new patches are released. If any game mechanics don’t work as expected you might want to search for changes in this file – Civ5 was extensively reworked and rebalanced in its various patches.
Giant Multiplayer Robot
Civ5 does not currently support play-by-email (PBEM), only simultaneous play via Internet or “hotseat.” Patch version 18.104.22.168 finally added Pitboss to Civ5, but it requires a dedicated machine that cannot simultaneously play Civ5. So for now, most player groups who don’t have a fixed chunk of time where everyone is available (online or offline) will have to send their hotseat save games around.
Fortunately, two friendly developers built Giant Multiplayer Robot to ease this process. GMR uses Steam’s official third-party API to identify participating players. You can set up new public or private games and join existing ones. When your turn arrives you get a notification (optionally per e-mail), and the new save game is automatically placed in the Civ5 hotseat folder. Once you’ve played your turn you just save the game again, and GMR automatically picks it up and sends it along.
Gods & Kings Expansion
Gods & Kings is the first full expansion for Civilization V and features some significant rules changes and two entire new subsystems (Religion and Espionage), as well as the expected new civilizations, units, buildings, etc. Individual items have new entries in the in-game Civilopedia, but you can find an overview in the new combined PDF manual that covers both the base game and the expansion.
Unfortunately, that manual is not automatically installed with the expansion download. You can find it under Manual on your Steam product page, or directly download various language versions via Civilization Fanatics. When you open the new PDF manual, simply click on the Gods & Kings cover to jump to the expansion section on page 236. Also on CivFanatics, a thread entitled Gods & Kings: Introductory Guide describes the new expansion features in great depth.
In the following sections, any changes in Gods & Kings as compared to the basic game are annotated with G&K. I strongly recommend that anyone who enjoys Civ5 get the expansion – it dramatically improves the game in every way!
Brave New World Expansion
Brave New World is the second full expansion for Civilization V, comprising all the features of Gods & Kings plus an extensive reworking of the trade, culture, and diplomacy systems. Despite the magnitude of these changes, Firaxis did not bother to produce a full manual. You can find a 34-page overview pamphlet on the expansion’s Steam Store page, or download various language versions via CivFanatics.
Since Brave New World has no manual I cannot offer any addenda! Please see my articles on the expansion and its big balance patch for various trivia and first impressions. The rest of this page covers only the basic game and Gods & Kings. Most G&K notes should equally apply to Brave New World, but I did not thoroughly check and revise them. I did update section AI Cheating for the second expansion, as the AI unfortunately cheats more and is still weaker than in Gods & Kings. Note that “trade routes” always refers to what Brave New World calls “city connections,” not to its new trade route system.
Addenda & Errata
When you start the game, a launch dialog appears offering three versions of the game that are designed for different hardware: DirectX 9, DirectX 10 & 11, and “Windows 8 – Touch Enabled.”
- If you missed the note at the top of the dialog: Simply right-click on the launch dialog to create desktop shortcuts that directly start either the desired version of the game, bypassing the launch dialog entirely.
- The DirectX choice is misleading. Civ5 has dedicated executables only for DX9 and DX11, not for DX10. Choosing “DirectX 10 & 11” will start the DX11 version which runs poorly on older DX10 graphics cards. Start the DX9 version if you don’t have a card with full DX11 support.
“Windows 8 – Touch Enabled” adds new input functions for touch screens. The following list is an edited version of the one found at the bottom of the patch notes for version 22.214.171.124.
- New gesture button in Main menu, new zoom & momentum sliders in Options menu.
- Three-finger tap escapes from menus, or brings up the Main menu.
- Scrolling: Single-finger drag for scroll bars, two-finger swipe for menus.
- Tool Tips: Single-finger touch & drag, both on the map and in the UI.
- Map Control: Two-finger pinch for zoom, two-finger drag for scrolling.
- Unit Movement: Single-finger tap on unit, then drag to destination. Alternatively, double-tap to enter movement mode, then single-tap on destination or touch & drag to preview path.
“Windows 8 – Touch Enabled” is always marked as “Recommended” when running Windows 8, even if you don’t actually have a touch screen. Since the touch-enabled UI disables some mouse functions, you should ignore this recommendation and choose one of the other options when using a mouse.
Note: Civ5 is a traditional Windows desktop program and requires an Intel-based Windows 8 tablet such as the Microsoft Surface Pro. Even though Civ5 is touch-enabled as of version 126.96.36.199, it will not run on an ARM-based Windows RT tablet such as the Surface RT.
Mouse over everything – there’s loads of information and functionality. For example, the icons on the “status bar” in the upper left corner show detailed breakdowns of your income, expenses, happiness, etc.; clicking on the small round icon just below the status bar lets you choose between research progress and various lists; and clicking on the production icon on the right end of a city’s name banner will open the production menu right on the main screen, without having to go to the city screen.
Newly built roads or improvements don’t appear on the map? Zoom in close and out again, that should trigger the loading of the required graphics.
Looking for the real-time clock? Remember this is a Steam game – if you have the misleadingly named “Steam Community In-Game” enabled in your Steam settings, you can simply hit Shift+Tab and get a clock in the top-left corner, along with other Steam UI.
Hotkeys — The manual once mentions that hotkeys are documented in the ReadMe file, but they are actually listed in the manual itself on page 207 (G&K: pp. 208, 277). You should still have a look at the ReadMe file (
Read Me <Language>.pdf in your Civ5 installation folder) as it has some other useful information, such as the location of the editable Civ5 initialization file.
You can skip the intro movie by hitting Escape; however, the game loads data in the background while the movie is playing, and therefore the movie won’t actually stop until background loading is complete. As of version 188.8.131.524, there’s also an in-game option to disable the intro movie entirely and show a static load screen instead. (G&K and Brave New World come with new intro movies, by the way.)
Menus — To access predefined maps and scenarios, choose Single Player and then Scenarios. You can now select among all installed maps by clicking on the map button.
Some notable menu options that were added in patches: toggle unit animations during a game (Menu: Options: Gameplay); retire from the game (Menu: Retire); and see a map replay after the game has ended (choose Replay and change Messages to Map).
Speaking of animations: if you find late-game turns unbearably slow, make sure to turn off movement and combat animations! These are performed for other players even when you can’t see them, and they are the major speed bumps during AI turns.
Units — To show the movement range of a selected unit and its hypothetical movement path, either press the M key or hold down the right mouse button while moving the mouse cursor over the map.
Moving one unit onto an adjacent unit causes both units to swap positions if they cannot stack on the same hexagon, and if both units still have at least one movement point left. This is indicated by a white circle marker when you trace a path from one unit over the other.
Lastly, you can rename your units whenever they receive a promotion, with a button located next to the various promotion options.
Declarations of Friendship make the AI friendlier and more receptive to other deals, but require you to accede to your partner’s demands or incur a diplomatic penalty. Denouncing AI players merely annoys them, but will give you a diplomatic bonus with their enemies.
G&K: Stationing an Inquisitor inside a city will prevent its conversion to another religion by Missionaries or Great Prophets, although not by the religious influence of nearby cities. This is documented in the Civilopedia but not in the manual.
City Radius — The maximum radius within which a city can allocate its citizens to work tiles is three hexagons in any direction. This is also the maximum radius in which you can buy tiles, although tiles beyond that radius may be acquired by cultural expansion.
The minimum distance between any two cities is likewise three hexagons, but that applies only if both locations are connected by land. Cities that are separated by a body of water can be founded with just a single intervening water hexagon.
Culture — A Great Artist’s culture bomb ability requires that the artist is either within your borders, or directly next to a land hexagon within your borders. A water hexagon is not sufficient. (G&K moves the culture bomb effect to Great General citadels.)
The cost of social policies rises with the number of cities you own, excluding puppet states and depending on the map size. For example, the added cost is 30% of your city count on standard maps and 20% on large maps. This cost never goes down, even if you trade away cities, and excludes only those cities that you immediately raze upon conquest.
Being allied with a city state grants you an automatic view of all tiles they can see. There is no other form of map trading; the only way to explore a major civilization’s territory is to obtain an Open Borders agreement and scout the territory with your units. Moreover, researching Satellites reveals the entire map. (G&K: Embassies reveal foreign capitals, and Spies reveal the territory around any foreign city.)
You can always move your units through a city state’s territory without diplomatic penalty while you and the city state are at war with the same enemy. Greece has the special ability that moving units through the territory of city states never degrades influence with them.
Conquered city states and (as of version 184.108.40.206) cities founded by a player who does not currently own them can be “liberated,” i.e. returned to their former owner for a diplomatic bonus. The AI will liberate player-founded cities if it has a Defensive Pact with the former owner and both fight the current owner; or if it attempts a diplomatic victory and has a Declaration of Friendship with the former owner.
Puppet states act as regular cities in in terms of gold output, but contribute 25% less science & culture. You can build road or harbor connections for trade routes, and a puppet’s net output of gold (positive or negative!) is added to your empire. If a puppet state constructs expensive buildings you will have to pay for their maintenance! However, puppets do not increase the cultural cost of new social policies.
Razing a city takes one turn per population point, and begins only after you end your turn. So if you choose to raze a conquered city, you can still enter the city screen and cancel the razing. The city will then be annexed – you cannot turn it into a puppet state anymore. You can raze annexed cities at any time, with the exception of original player capitals and city states. You cannot raze cities you have founded yourself.
Units have a maintenance cost (a.k.a. upkeep) in gold which depends on your total number of units, and is summarized in the Economic Overview. Units also count towards a supply limit defined by your cities and population, shown on the Military Overview. Going over the supply limit imposes a 10% production penalty per excess unit on all your cities.
Unit maintenance for each unit rises over time, a mechanism traditionally called “inflation” in Civilization. Units may be forcibly disbanded if you’re running a deficit over 5 GP per turn on empty coffers, although the exact conditions are unknown.
Percentage modifiers in Civ5 may be additive or multiplicative. Additive means two 50% bonuses equal (1+0.5+0.5) n = 2 n whereas multiplicative means two 50% bonuses equal (1×1.5×1.5) n = 2.25 n relative to their base value n. Most modifiers are additive; however, bonuses to unit upgrade costs are multiplicative, i.e. you can never upgrade for free.
There are no city governors, only a “city focus” (on the city screen) that is controlled manually. The default focus often produces too much food and too few hammers. I recommend changing cities to production focus when you need something built quickly, especially Wonders. Moreover, switching a city to build science or gold converts only 25% of hammers; for a better output, you need to change city focus accordingly.
Forts do not allow water units to enter land tiles, and therefore can no longer act as channels. You must place a city for that purpose.
Great Persons can still construct unique buildings but you must move them out of the city onto one of the tiles in your territory to do so, and the city must then assign a citizen to work the new building in order to reap its benefits (except for citadels).
There is no announcement when another player begins building a Wonder, but if the building site is visible on your map you will see its graphical representation. That’s the only way to know what Wonders other players are building. (G&K: Spies reveal projects under construction in foreign cities, including Wonders.)
Workers can build farms and trading posts even on desert tiles; farms on snow near fresh water; and trading posts on tundra. All of these terrain types can also receive Great Person improvements. Only ice and mountains are completely useless.
Civilians and embarked units are surprisingly resilient to ranged attacks. To defeat them quickly with ranged units, do not attempt an attack; instead, simply move your unit onto the same hexagon. This immediately captures or destroys the target and counts as your unit’s attack for the turn. (G&K gives all land units Defensive Embarkation, and also allows stacking of naval units with embarked units.)
Roads & Trade
Trade routes equal road or harbor connections between your own cities and your capital, and that’s it. There are no other trade routes of any kind – in particular, no foreign trade routes whatsoever. Trade routes whose connecting tiles all have railroads also give a 25% production bonus to the connected city, but railroads give no tile production bonuses at all.
Trade routes provide a gold income equal to 125% of the connected city’s population, with bonus income depending on the population of your capital city. Harbors act as railroad connections as soon as the technology is available. The exact movement bonuses for roads & railroads are unknown.
Roads are not required to hook up resources to your cities. All resource inside your borders that have the required tile improvement are automatically available. The only benefits of roads are faster unit movement and the trade route bonus, plus the production bonus for railroads. Roads cost a gold maintenance fee per turn, but they are the only tile improvement with such a fee.
All happiness effects are “global,” meaning they affect the entire empire. Bonuses and penalties apply to all cities equally; individual cities will not revolt or defect. Each city contributes three points of unhappiness by default, and each citizen contributes one additional point. These numbers are double for annexed cities, until you build a courthouse there. Luxury goods, social policies, Wonders, and certain other buildings contribute happiness to offset the unhappiness.
Local Happiness — Although all effects are global, some happiness contributions are capped to the local city population and are therefore called “local happiness.” This change was made to combat a popular exploit. As of version 220.127.116.11 all city buildings, excluding Wonders, provide local happiness. (G&K: As of version 18.104.22.168 Follower and Pantheon beliefs also provide local happiness.)
Finding out a city’s local happiness is somewhat cumbersome. Using the Additional Information menu in the top right corner, bring up the Economic Overview and switch to the Resources & Happiness tab. Now click +Local City Happiness in the Happiness column to show each city’s current local happiness contribution (which is capped to its population). You can also click +City Breakdown in the Unhappiness column to show each city’s current unhappiness contribution.
Open Borders are not a universal token of friendliness, and they do not create foreign trade routes. Their only purpose is to spy on another nation’s territory, move through it, or trace your own trade routes through it. That’s why this treaty may be unilateral instead of bilateral, and why it’s frequently offered or demanded by the AI as a gesture of submission. The diplomatic attitude boost that Open Borders gave in Civ4 is now provided by Declarations of Friendship and other mutual agreements.
The AI does not seem to get the same “informational cheat” as in Civ4 where it knew the locations of all your cities and units. Now it has to actually scout enemy territory for that knowledge, and it tends to be very timid if it has no good intelligence. This means you should never offer Open Borders to an AI unless you are confident in the strength of your military. Otherwise, signing Open Borders will get you attacked, just as soon as as the AI has finished scouting your territory and seen how weak you are!
Nuclear Weapons — Nuclear Bombs & Missiles cannot be intercepted, their effects cannot be mitigated, and there is no global diplomatic penalty for using them. While more realistic than Civ4’s artificial limitations, nuclear weapons are now an “instant win” button for whichever civilization gets them first. Unless you are already about to win, you might as well quit the game when a nearby hostile nation beats you to nuclear weapons. (G&K adds Bomb Shelters which reduce city population loss from nuclear attacks.)
Modding & Mods
Civilization V features an improved modding system. To change data in the game’s XML files, you no longer have to provide a modified copy of the entire file. Instead, you create a new XML file containing only the changed data, and the game will automatically merge your changes with the default data.
Aside from the changed game data itself, the new system requires additional metadata to properly recognize a mod. This metadata is created automatically by ModBuddy, an IDE based on Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 that is part of Sid Meier’s Civilization V SDK. Go to the Tools page of the Library section in Steam to install the SDK.
Although the deployment of mods is much easier than in Civ4, creating them using ModBuddy is a somewhat convoluted process. I recommend Kael’s Modders Guide to Civilization V as a tutorial, and Dale’s blog for a brief overview of the file structure.
All mods and ModBuddy projects are provided as ZIP archives containing all required files and folders. To add a mod to your Civ5 installation, simply unpack the archive to the following directory:
(My) Documents\My Games\Sid Meier's Civilization 5\MODS. Each mod resides in its own subdirectory below
To use a mod that was added in this way, choose Mods from the Civ5 main menu, enable any desired mods, and choose Next to start or load a single-player game using all enabled mods. Using mods disables Steam achievements. There is currently no mod support in multiplayer.
The Mods screen also lets you enable mods that came with purchased DLC (Options: Show DLC Mods) and download mods made by other users from the Steam Workshop (Get Mods). Close the Steam Workshop overlay with Shift+Tab to return to the game.
The ModBuddy project archives contain the source code for the corresponding mods. Once you have run ModBuddy, the new directory tree
(My) Documents\Firaxis ModBuddy contains all your ModBuddy projects, each in its own subdirectory. Unpack project archives to that location.
I made a few small mods to tweak the original release’s game rules, but subsequent patches have obsoleted them. Now I’ve stopped using mods, but I’m offering this one as a sample for the modding system.
Cheap Worker Unit reduces the cost of Worker & Work Boat units from 70 to 30 hammers, the same as a Work Boat before patch version 22.214.171.124. This seems more realistic and enables faster expansion in the early game. CheapWorker.zip contains the mod, and CheapWorkerSource.zip contains the ModBuddy project.
The computer players in Civilization V are considerably weaker than their (fully patched) counterparts in Civilization IV: Beyond the Sword. Even the default level of Prince, which comes closest to an equal contest, allows the AI quite a bit of cheating to keep up with human players.
The bonuses and penalties for the various difficulty levels are stored in the XML file
Assets\Gameplay\XML\GameInfo\CIV5HandicapInfos.xml within the Civ5 installation folder. According to this file, the following AI bonuses apply on Prince:
- Barbarians — Computer players receive a 60% combat bonus against Barbarians on and above Prince, as opposed to 33% for human players (which eventually drops to zero on Deity).
- Unit Maintenance — While most cost modifiers are at the expected 100% for Prince, computer players only pay 85% of human players’ unit maintenance costs.
- Unit Upgrade — Computer players always pay only 50% of unit upgrade costs compared to human players, on all difficulty levels.
Another source of inequality is not immediately obvious. As the poster Buckets has described on Civilization Fanatics, the AI always receives certain bonuses intended for the human player on Chieftain (rather than Prince), on all difficulty levels. This includes the following:
- Happiness — Computer players receive 12 starting happy faces, 1 extra happy face per luxury good, and only 60% of normal city and population unhappiness. For comparison, human players on Prince receive 9 starting happy faces and no other bonuses.
- Maintenance — Computer players’ maintenance costs are reduced to 50% for roads and to 67% for units and buildings, as compared to 100% for human players on Prince. Presumably, the above-mentioned 85% reduction in unit maintenance combines with this bonus, for an actual 57% of standard costs.
- Research & Policy — Computer players pay 95% of research costs for new technologies and 67% of culture costs for new policies, as compared to 100% for human players on Prince.
All AI bonuses gradually increase on difficulty levels above Prince, as you would expect, but the AI also receives free units and technologies. King gives Pottery, Emperor also Animal Husbandry, Immortal also Mining, and Deity also the Wheel. Free units include extra Warriors (1 on King/Emperor, 2 on Immortal/Deity), Explorers (1 on Emperor and above), and Workers (1 on Immortal, 2 on Deity). The “AI Equalizer” mod removes all free units and technologies.
Changes in Gods & Kings
The expansion does not change the original file
Assets\Gameplay\XML\GameInfo\CIV5HandicapInfos.xml but rather installs its own handicap file,
Assets\DLC\Expansion\Gameplay\XML\GameInfo\CIV5HandicapInfos.xml. Changes are minor:
- All players receive somewhat higher bonuses against Barbarians on various levels up to King.
- Computer players receive somewhat lower happiness bonuses between King and Deity.
I don’t know whether the hidden Chieftain-like bonuses that Bucket uncovered are still active in Gods & Kings. Whatever the reasons, the AI seems noticeably smarter than before in every respect. Patch version 126.96.36.199 improved the AI again, finally delivering a Prince level that’s subjectively equivalent to Civilization IV: Beyond the Sword – although objectively it still needs cheats that weren’t necessary in the older game.
Changes in Brave New World
The second expansion once again installs its own handicap file, now in
Assets\DLC\Expansion2\Gameplay\XML\GameInfo\CIV5HandicapInfos.xml. This file contains all the changes from the first expansion, plus regrettably some extra help for the AI between King and Deity:
- Computer players pay progressively less for unit upgrades (45–30%), where previously the discount had leveled out at 50%.
- Computer players receive a new unit experience bonus, including both extra XP (10–30) and an extra percentage on XP gains (0–100%).
- Starting with Emperor, percentage bonuses for city growth and construction are increased by another 5% as compared to Gods & Kings.
As one might infer from these changes, the AI in Brave New World has noticeably regressed from the strength it had finally reached in Gods & Kings. It tends to play a more peaceful game now, but without making good use of the new subsystems designed to support such a playing style. Compared to G&K you might have to revert to a higher level for the same subjective challenge.