- Complete five complete branches of social policies.
- Build the Utopia Project on a city.
As each branch consists on the branch itself and 5 policies, the player will, at least, have to earn enough culture to be able to acquire 30 policies. The first policy needs 25 culture points to be unlocked (with one city and standard options), but the amount of culture points needed for the next one increases with each policy unlocked. The number of cities the civilization owns also increases the culture cost of new policies, however it only counts cities founded by the player and annexed ones, not puppet ones. The exact percentage that applies to each game is shown on a tooltip, as it depends on the map size. However, the chart in Mathematics of Civilization V (although not updated) can give some ideas on how different can be acquiring the last policy having 2 cities (8900 culture points, before bonuses) or having 15 cities (35605 culture points, before bonuses).
Buildings and wonders that provide benefits to achieve a cultural victoryEdit
The player that aims for a cultural victory should consider constructing these:
- All the buildings that give culture points (see culture for a list).
- Every wonder gives at least +1 culture, but some of them give more (for instance, Stonehenge gives 6 culture points).
- The Oracle wonder. It gives one free social policy.
- Sistine Chapel wonder. It gives +25% culture in all cities.
- Cristo Redentor wonder. It makes social policies cost 33% less culture points.
- Sydney Opera House wonder. It gives 1 free social policy and 50% more culture in the city where it's built.
- Also, the Hermitage national wonder gives +50% culture in the city where it's built.
Social Policies that provide benefits to achieve a cultural victoryEdit
Although there are many ways to play for a cultural victory, the Piety branch influences culture the most. Also, Freedom has two policies (Constitution and Free Speech) that add 100% culture in cities with a Wonder and decrease the cost of new policies by 25%, respectively.
The road to a cultural victoryEdit
Winning a game the cultural way is not easy, and it involves playing carefully through the whole game. There aren't many options of building up culture massively, so missing some key points can make the player fail completely. Obviously there are many ways of playing and it depends on the set up options of the game, so these are some general guidelines. First of all, a cultural civilization is a civilization with few cities. The increase on required cultural points for every city founded or annexed, when the number of cities is small, is affordable; from 3 or 4 cities upwards, the amount of points required for the last policies becomes so high that even with a large amount of culture points per turn it's not going to be possible to finish before 500 turns (maximum turns in a game).
There is also another benefit of keeping number of cities low: each Wonder gives at least +1 culture, and culture-related wonders and social policies give bonuses to the net amount of culture points that is being generated by the city, so the more culture the player generates in that city, the better. As there is a Tradition policy that gives a 33% bonus on Wonders construction in the capital, it's very interesting to build the majority of the Wonders there.
Attempting a cultural victory also relies on the opponents not winning, As it takes a very long time to win by cultural means, it could be possible that other players will be already finishing their own path for victory, specially paths that take a long time to complete, like the Science path or the Diplomatic one.
Puppet cities don't count towards the increase on the culture points required, so one could think it could be better to conquer cities to have more culture per turn. However, puppet cities grow without control and construct every building possible. So, as winning by cultural ways takes a lot of turns, it's very easy that with time, maintenance costs from buildings, armies and roads can put the empire into bankruptcy, not to mention that cities should be focused on building wonders and culture-related buildings. It's a lot less complicated if it's played the peaceful way, focusing on building up city population, improvements and buildings, and at some point switching to maximize culture gain (without stopping researching).
Happiness starts to matter for culture as soon as the social policy Mandate of Heaven from the Piety branch is acquired. It makes 50% of total happiness to be added as culture points per turn. Luxury resources, building wonders that reduce unhappiness, and acquiring some happiness-related social policies are the best way to take advantages of this. Be aware that buildings that produce happiness also have high maintenance costs per turn.
Great people become more and more important as the game progresses, but specially three are directly useful for achieving a cultural victory. Great Engineers give the ability to be able to hurry up wonders, and that ability can be used to hurry up wonders that are considered of vital importance for a cultural winning (see above). Great Scientists can help research technologies or build Academies to speed up research, in order to get advanced technology that allows the construction of wonders like Cristo Redentor or Sydney Opera House. Great Artists can be used to build Landmarks so citizens work on culture.
Considerations on single player and multiplayer gamesEdit
Not founding cities and not having military units wandering around other civilizations' borders, plus avoiding all agreements with other civilizations, can be very useful to avoid conflicts during the whole game when attempting a cultural victory. However, this only applies to single player games as human players may act differently.
In fact, it could be very obvious to other human players that the player is attempting a cultural victory. There are 5 wonders that are very important (almost necessary) to achieve a cultural victory, so it's very significant that the same civilization builds all of them.
Also, in the victory progress window, any player can see how many social policy branches have been completed by any of the other civilizations; one way to work around this is to avoid one policy in some branches so it seems that there are only one or two branches completed, and then complete every branch needed at a later stage to reach victory.
However there are very many chances for the player's opponents to avoid a cultural defeat. Cultural players tend to have weak armies and few cities. Also, the Utopia Project takes a long time to complete and can't be "hurried up" with a Great Engineer's special ability.