Civilization 5: Brave New World - The Basics

The second major expansion pack to Civilization 5, Brave New World, is out now, and it brings with it a bunch of changes to the core gameplay as well as a host of new Civilizations to play as and scenarios to enjoy.

I've played a few games so far and it took me a little while to get used to the new core mechanics. The tutorials don't really cover all the nuances, unfortunately. In this article I'm going to cover the big changes and new additions in Brave New World, and help you figure out adjusted strategies to handle them.

Brave New World: Culture & Tourism Summary

If you've played a lot of Civ 5 already, here's the highlights of how cultural victory has changed. In later sections, we'll go into this in depth, so hang on if you don't quite get it yet!

  1. Culture production is now defensive against an enemy cultural win - if you produce massive amounts of culture, you're making it harder for others to win culturally, but not getting closer to a cultural win yourself.
  2. Tourism production is the offensive element for a cultural win. You must produce a lot of tourism, enough to overwhelm your opponents' culture, in order to win a cultural victory.
  3. Culture and Tourism are primarily produced through Great Works. Previous cultural buildings (eg, the Museum) are merely vessels for these works, and they do not produce significant culture on their own.
  4. Great Works are produced by Great Writers, Artists, and Musicians who replace the previous Great Artist unit and have significant changes to their use.

The key from a strategic point of view is that raw culture production, and therefore social policies, have very little to do with cultural victory anymore. Instead, a combination of tourism and culture are required. Since generating these requires great works, a cultural victory is strongly tied to your rate of great person production.

Brave New World: Cultural Victory via Tourism

Tourism is one of the major new mechanics of Brave New World. As you build certain culture buildings and wonders, you'll unlock slots where you can place "great works." Filling these slots generates tourism points, which is the key to the revamped cultural victory. Note that most of the culture production of your cultural buildings is now tied to the great works - if your Museum is empty, it's only going to produce a measly +1 culture per turn!

The point of tourism is to produce more tourism in your civilization than other civilizations produce culture. This is the way you achieve cultural victory. There's also side benefits such as causing unhappiness and unrest in other civilization's cities due to the ideological differences between you, and the pressure of your tourism.

The game hints that it's possible to get cities to flip alliances through this pressure, but so far I've not seen it happen, even when I completely surrounded and my tourism eclipsed the city of another civilization with a different ideology. It's certainly not as easy as flipping a city through culture in previous Civilization iterations.

Brave New World: Tourism via Great Works

Great works are created by Great Artists, Great Writers, and Great Musicians. These replace the Great Artist from pre-Brave New World. These great people also can't "culture bomb" like the Great Artist could. In lieu of creating a great work, they can each provide one-time benefits to your culture or tourism instead. Note also that they can't establish Landmark improvements.

Some buildings and wonders have more than one slot for great works, and these buildings can get "theming bonuses" if certain combinations of great works are placed within them. The theming bonuses vary depending on the type of building. Most of the themes involve the type of item, the civ that produced it, and the era it comes from.

You can move the works between different buildings in your empire freely through the new Brave New World tourism menu. In order to get works from different civilizations and eras, you can swap great works with other civs in the tourism menu as well.

In addition to creating great works with great people, you can also extract artifacts from "historical sites" around the map. These historical sites represent areas where conflict occurred or ruins were discovered in previous eras. Archaeologist units can be built that can build "excavation" improvements on tiles that have historical significance.

Once the archaeologist is finished, you can choose to create a Landmark (like the Great Artist used to do) or you can choose to recover the artifact for display in a great work of art slot.

Also note that you can excavate areas that aren't part of your territory - for instance, you can raid city-state or other major civ ruins and steal their tourism in this fashion!

Brave New World: Social Policies & Ideologies

This new focus on tourism for cultural victories has some interesting side effects, though. For one, social policies now have very little to do with cultural victory. Effectively, producing culture for yourself is simply defensive against enemy tourism. You don't need to max out your social policy trees anymore in order to win. You can cherry pick policies if that suits you, although they have added more to the bonuses for policy completion to try to offset this.

Also, there have been some changes to social policies. The "final three" policy trees - Freedom, Order, and Autocracy, are now called ideologies and are managed differently. Once you've unlocked ideologies (by building 3 Factories or getting to the Modern Era), you can access the ideology menu from the social policy screen. You can only pick one at a time. When you have enough culture to unlock a new policy, you can instead opt to add another tenet to your ideology.

There are three tenet levels, and it takes two of the previous level to unlock the ability to add one to the next level. For instance, you need 4 tier 1 tenets to be able to unlock 2 tier 2 tenets. Once you have those 2 at tier 2, you can then unlock one at tier 3. Again, there is no direct relation between these ideological tenets and cultural victory. There are some things in here that will help, but you could completely ignore this and focus on the "standard" policy trees if you wish.

Since the Freedom, Order, and Autocracy policy trees are gone, many of the remaining policies have been rebalanced and some new trees were added.

Brave New World: Caravans & Trade

Trade routes used to be managed by the player in early Civ games, but Civilization 5 brought the concept of establishing a "trade route" via an unbroken chain of roads that served a similar purpose. Brave New World returns to an earlier era and reintroduces the concept of manually established trade routes.

Caravans and Cargo Ships are the backbone of your trade empire. They can't be moved manually around the map like normal units. They are tied to the city in which they are based, which defaults to the city where they are built. The only other interaction you have with these units is telling them what city you wish to establish trade with. They will automatically move themselves around the map until they reach their home city again.

Establishing trade outside your empire, either with a city state or another major civ brings three benefits:

Both parties benefit to varying degrees from each trade route.

Sadly, you have to re-pick the trade route each time your Caravan or Cargo Ship arrives in its home city. This does give you a chance to edit your routes, though, should a more profitable route arise.

You can also establish trade within your own empire. Doing this can bring extra food (with a Granary) or production (with a Workshop) to another city, without causing any ill effects on the origin city. This can be extremely powerful for establishing new cities and growing them quickly to the point of self sufficiency.

There is a limit to the number of trade routes you can have at any given time, and when this limit is reached you won't be able to build more Caravan or Cargo Ship units. As technology improves, so will your maximum trade route allowance, as does the range of your trade units. The cap is also effected by certain wonders.

Brave New World: World Congress & Diplomacy

In "vanilla" Civilization 5, a Diplomatic Victory is won when you build the United Nations and win a vote for world leader. This has been expanded significantly in Brave New World.

Once you've moved into the medieval era and discovered all the other civilizations, the World Congress will be established. The host is decided periodically by a vote, and the host and the runner-up for host get to propose resolutions for the World Congress to vote on. There are several World Congress resolutions, ranging from subtle game mechanic changes to projects that everyone can contribute to for a significant leap towards victory.

Eventually the city states will get a vote, and then the civ they are allied with will get the benefit of those votes to do with as they please. In a later era, once the World Congress becomes the United Nations, periodic votes will be held for a world leader. Win this vote and you'll win a Diplomatic Victory. Note that there aren't any buildings for these - there's no need to "build" the United Nations, for instance.

By sending spies to other civs' capitals as "diplomats" you can gain knowledge about how other civs plan to vote. Additionally, this allows you to trade votes with other civilizations in return for luxuries, gold, or anything else you care to trade. In this way, you can turn a powerful economy or luxury empire into a diplomacy win.

Brave New World: Analysis & Conclusion

Brave New World adds and edits Civilization 5 pretty significantly. Some of the changes are interesting:

However, there are a number of rough edges:

I will say that I think overall there is a lot to like about this new expansion, and it's certainly more of a positive game-changer than the first one was. I don't think it's perfect, and there are elements that the tutorial pop ups gloss over or just don't cover. However, on the whole, it's worth getting and playing for any serious Civilization 5 player.