Civilization 5 Victory Conditions Explained

Civilization 5 Victory Conditions Explained
Page content

Civilization 5 Victory Types

As the concluding part to our guide to Civilization V for new players, we’re going to take a look at the various victory conditions that are available in this latest version, and how they might be achieved.

Since the original game was released in 1991, fans have seen an increase in the available victory conditions, from the basic conquest and winning the space race to the addition of the cultural victory, which sees an interesting new development in the latest game. While you can still win by having the highest score when the game ends (the so-called Time Victory) the other conditions could be described as more satisfying.

While there might be a wide selection of ways to win, remember one thing – the most important strategy in Civilization V is flexibility. Even if you plan to win one way, the NPC’s AI might have picked up on this and adjusted their strategies accordingly. As such, you will need to be familiar with all victory conditions…

Science Victory

Achieving the Science Victory means focussing on the development of technological advances, with ultimate victory achieved once all of the components of your spaceship are constructed and assembled in your capital city, the rocket launched and Alpha Centauri reached.

This is the default win situation for the game - if no one can establish peaceful Diplomatic Victory and there are two powerful blocs that are antagonistic towards each other, a technology and space race is likely to ensue. In order to take advantage of this, you must focus your efforts wherever possible on increased trade and add as many suitable city improvements as possible, such as library, university, etc., that will stimulate scientific growth.

Diplomatic Victory

This is arguably the hardest victory of all, requiring great effort to even get to the stage where Diplomatic Victory might even be possible. With the discovery of the Globalization technology advance you have the opportunity to build the United Nations. This allows the building of the United Nations, where votes will be cast every few turns to choose a World Leader. To be voted into this position means a win by Diplomatic Victory but some negotiation might be required.

It is possible to have the United Nations built for many years and still not achieve a diplomatic win, simply because another civilization might be more popular that your own - as such your conduct on the international stage throughout the game and your related reputation need to be carefully considered.

Cultural Victory

Civilization 5 Victory Conditions Explained - Cultural Victory

To win by Cultural Victory means generating a constant supply of culture points throughout the game in order to complete at least 5 complete social policies. Each social policy has several branches within it which must also be unlocked - once this has been done, the Utopia Project can be started, the construction of which provides a Cultural Victory.

The generation of culture is necessary for this condition (as well as suitable culture-generating civilization advances) so choose your city improvements wisely. If you intend to target this victory type early on, focus on building monuments, castles and similar improvements.

Domination Victory

Civilization 5 Victory Conditions Explained - Domination Victory

The “total win” condition, Domination Victory is achieved largely by war. However you don’t have to take every other civilization down in order to win by this means - all you need is a successful conquest of their capital cities.

Domination Victory requires that you are the only civilization still in control of his own original capital city. In a game full of conflict this might prove difficult, and even if you capture all of your opponents other cities, without possession of their capital city a Domination Victory will be difficult.

Naturally this win condition requires a focus on military units; also pay particular attention to your civilization’s particular special units and abilities and if possible and appropriate concentrate warmongering efforts when you are likely to be at your strongest.

High Score

And of course, there is the Time Victory. This happens when the game reaches 2050 AD and you have the most points. This is perhaps, my least favorite way of winning the game, just because I happened to find the other methods more interesting and challenging. For more on winning the game this way, see this article.


All references and screenshots: Civilization V

This post is part of the series: Civilization 5 for Beginners

Tutorials for new players to Civilization 5

  1. Civilization 5 Strategy Guide: New Players
  2. Diplomacy, War and Government in Civilization 5
  3. Civilization V Tutorial: Victory Conditions