Civilization 5: The Rise of Germany

This fancy fellow at the top of the page is Otto von Bismarck, the first chancellor of Germany and her empire. Unified in 1871 under the rule of the Iron Fist, Germany has survived the test of time to become one of the strongest nations in the 21th century. If you want to be like Bismarck and replicate this success, you might want to try it out on Sid Meier’s Civilization V (hereby referred to as Civilization V), certainly one of the most popular historically-informed strategy games out there. To help you with this goal, we will look at the game mechanics and discuss the German Empire’s strengths and weaknesses. We will also talk about which of the four victories Germany is good at achieving and its special units and game-play.

Basic Game Mechanics:

This article is based on the assumption that the reader knows the basics of Civilization V. I will also be discussing the base game and the DLC A Brave New World. But, before we begin, I will give you a quick rundown of the basic victories and mechanics.

There are five ways to win the game…

Domination: Conquer every capital and dominate the board with your presence.
Cultural: Be the most influential civilization by dominating others with your tourism.
Scientific: Be the first civilization to construct and launch a spaceship to Alpha Centauri.
Diplomatic: Win the world leader vote in the United Nation.
Time: Be the civilization with the highest score by the end of a set time period.


Germany is an excellent civilization to pursue a domination victory, as its unique bonus, unit and building all give Germany an advantage when it comes to expansion and militarization. Let’s quickly go over these advantages.

Bonus: Furor Teutonicus

  • Upon defeating a Barbarian unit inside an encampment, there is a 67% chance that you earn 25 gold and the Barbarians join the Germans.
  • Pay 25% less for land unit maintenance.


  • Landsknecht: An early game special unit that replaces pikemen.
  • Panzer: A late game special unit that replaces tanks and grants an additional 10 combat strength


The Hunse: A late game special building which replaces the bank and provides

  • +5% Production per City-State trade route in the empire
  • +25% Gold
  • +2 Gold
  • +1 Gold per incoming trade route, +1 for the foreign owner.

Note: The Hunse requires a market.

The Beginning

First turn for Germany. Settle Berlin right away and do not spend any time moving your settler.

When you begin the game you will spawn with a settler and a warrior unit. The biggest mistake people make is moving their settlers to a “better” location. Although at first this seems like a good idea, it harms you in the long run with lost time. Instead, settle Berlin right away. If the tile is unfavorable, that is alright; you can expand later. Next order of business is production and technology. Begin with producing a monument as you want to get as much culture as you can during the early game so that we can begin expanding our borders and adopting policies. As for technology, you should research pottery followed by writing, which will grant you access to the Great Library and embassies.

Technology tree pathway to follow in the Ancient era. It is vital that we research Writing and build the Great Library.

The first policy you should adopt is autocracy, which will grant you a +15% production when building wonders and +1 happiness for every 10 citizens in the city. Once you’ve adopted autocracy, begin production on the Great Library. This boosts your science per turn, opens a slot for a great scientist, and allows you to establish embassies in other capitals. Once the Great Library is complete, you will be prompted to select a technology. I suggest you choose the calendar as it will help with happiness in the future. Meanwhile, the boost in science will allow you to discover military technology before other civilizations, giving you a massive attack advantage.  At this point it is also worth considering switching the city focus of Berlin from default focus to food. Food is crucial for Germany since a surplus will allow Germany to produce more citizens who can work tiles and increase production which is vital when it comes to building military units quickly.

Once you have built the Great Library, you can take the time to research mining and archery. You should also shift your production focus to creating workers and—once archery is complete—archers. It is also worth noting that if you have a few extra turns (for example, if you’re still in the process of researching the Great Library and you need something to produce), you might want to consider making another warrior unit as it will aid in the early Barbarian threat. The final thing on your agenda for the Ancient Era would be to start improving tiles by building farms and mines. Once you’ve begun improving tiles, gathering food, and increasing production and culture, it is time to take to the seas and settle new cities—in other words, expand.

Early Game to Mid Game

Germany during the Early game. Don’t forget to utilize Germany’s first ability. 3 of the 4 warrior units were gained by capturing barbarian encampments. This is an effective way to quickly expand your military during the early game. Notice how Berlin is inland while Hamburg is by the coast. At this point you should have at least 1 coastal city. Mumbai seems to be in the way but soon (after we have researched civil service) we can invade and capture the city then move into Delhi.

From the Classic Era until the Industrial Era, Germany should have one focus—expansion. Once you have enough happiness, food, and production, you should start looking for places to settle a second city. If your capital is by the coast, that would be a huge advantage, as later we can establish maritime trade routes and deploy battleships. However, if Berlin is inland, then your second city—Hamburg—should be on the coast and settling this city should be our number one priority.

It is at this point in the game where Germany’s ability comes handy. Begin with researching horseback riding and mathematics and make your way into the Renaissance Era by researching civil service. This will grant us access to catapults and our first special unit, the Landsknecht. Since Germany has a 25% reduction in the use of land units we can mass produce and expand our military. From my game-play experience, I have noticed that two catapults and anywhere from 4 to 6 Landsknecht are more than enough to capture other cities in the early game. If we have enough happiness (between 5 and 10), we can begin expanding our borders by force. Using your military units, advance into the territories of civilizations that are closest to Berlin. When possible, adopt the Honor tree followed by Warrior Code and Discipline to help improve your unit’s battle performance. Take advantage of pillaging and strategically place your catapults so they are at least 1-2 tiles away from the city you are attacking since they are the most vulnerable units. Once you’ve captured some cities, annex them to make them part of the great German empire. Be careful, though—don’t capture too many cities at once as this can affect your happiness. If your happiness is in the negatives, your units will not fight at full capacity and this can result in devastating losses.

Germany with an early game attack on Mumbai. Here we can see that our long range units are about 2 tiles away from the city. Landsknecht were not necessary in this situation as Mumbai was a really weak city. It was distant from Delhi and was not reinforced with any units henceforth, German warriors were more than enough to capture Mumbai. Once captured it would be wise to raise the city and settle Munich in its place. Then proceed to build roads between all three cities to allow for easy travel and trade.

While you expand your borders by force, it’s also important to go back to Berlin and Hamburg to make sure both cities are running smoothly. Continue to develop tiles, and make sure there is plenty of food to produce new citizens. At this point, if you are granted a great scientist, consider founding a university rather than discovering a technology for free. This will help you in the long run as we can get stronger military units faster, giving Germany the upper hand in war and domination.

Now that you’ve covered military expansion, you should also begin exploring the seas. First, after developing the civil service, move into optics followed by the compass and astronomy. This will give you the caravel which you can use to explore the seas and meet civilizations on other continents. This is CRITICAL, since you should meet every civilization under the name of Germany. Next, research the printing press as soon as possible before any other civilization does. This will grant you access to the United Nations, and it is vital that the first meeting be held in Berlin. As the hosting country, we will get 1 extra delegate during the Renaissance and Industrial Eras and 2 extra delegates from the Modern Era onwards.

On that note, you also need to maintain good relations with city-states. With the money that you’ve saved from military unit expenses, you can invest it into city-states and make them your allies. Not only will they give you benefits but they will also vote with you in the United Nations. Each city-state gives you an additional 2 delegates when allied with Germany. This way you can control what happens in the UN. We can pass actions that favor you, place embargoes on enemies, and control the events of the world. This will give you a huge militarist advantage, since you would be able to control how the world works and weaken other civilizations’ capitals, making them easier to conquer. 

Our last focus of the mid-game era should be upgrading and conquering, and army units should be your main focus between the Medieval and Industrial Eras. Once you have researched the compass, move towards education, physics, gunpowder, and most importantly the printing press. Once education is complete, proceed with building universities in Hamburg and Berlin. This will further boost your science per turn and help you advance into the industrial era faster. After you’ve developed physics and gunpowder, start producing musket men and upgrade any existing catapults to trebuchets. Keep your Landsknecht as they are your first line of defense against invading civilizations. It would also be wise to fortify a trebuchet in Hamburg and Berlin to protect the cities against threats. During your transition from the Medieval Era to the Renaissance Era, produce a settler and found your third and final city, Munich. This city can be inland or on the coast, but before you settle, keep in mind a few things. Make sure Munich can be connected to the other cities via roads and railroads. It should also act as a buffer for Berlin; lastly, it should contain at least two natural resources that Germany does not have. Once Munich is settled, it will begin to develop into a city just like Hamburg and Berlin.

On that note, once the three cities have been settled, use your new military units (musket men and trebuchet) along with any existing ones (Landsknecht) and proceed to capture neighboring cities. Always remember to keep a few units behind to protect Hamburg, Munich, and most importantly Berlin from other civilizations and barbarians. At this point in the game, you should be able to capture about 3 or 4 other cities and annex them into the German Empire; however, if the cities are negatively affecting your happiness, do not be afraid to burn them.

Finally, begin to enter the Industrial Era by researching Archeology, Scientific Theory, Rifling, or Fertilizer. In our next section we will talk about the most important unit in the game: the Battleship.

Tips on Attacking and Conquering

If the civilization you’ve declared war on is close to you, I would suggest playing the defensive for a few turns. Let the other civilization push into your territory. This will allow you to use your city defense and eliminate enemy units quickly. Once you have taken out a few of their units, you are good to play the offensive and attack.

Never go in one unit at a time. Instead, line up all your units along the border and push in simultaneously—this will give you a tremendous advantage. Once you have defeated the other civilization’s units, begin to attack the city, and don’t stop attacking even after you’ve captured the city. Continue pushing your way towards the capital—this is when the enemy civilization is the weakest. They would need a few turns to produce more units, leaving their cities vulnerable and giving you a window of opportunity to continue capturing. On average, you should be able to take over 3 or 4 cities, sometimes even the capital.

I would also suggest that when you’re attacking, have Munich, Berlin and Hamburg produce more units, preferably Landsknecht and long swordsmen, as they are strong, cheap, and can be quickly produced. When your units on the front lines eventually fall, your backups can quickly take their place, keeping the momentum going. If you don’t think you will have enough units, don’t be afraid to purchase more using gold or faith. This is where Germany’s ability comes in handy—you can have more land units than other civilizations since your land units have a 25% reduction to maintenance.


This concludes Part 1 of the quest towards world domination as Germany. Stay tuned for the next part as we move into the Industrial Era and discover new skills and units that will help you modernize and develop into a truly great power.

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