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I have not had a chance to play all the new civilizations in the Brave New World expansion. Each new civilization is pretty interesting though, as they all have very unique bonuses and utilize novel game mechanics. I am planning on writing a brief strategy post about each of the new civilizations as I play them, and I'm going to start with my favorite of the new civs (so far): Assyria.

Assyria is one of the most powerful and feared civilizations of the ancient world. Their prowess on the battlefield and brutal treatment of subjugated foes made their armies so feared by rivals, that most opponents would seal themselves behind walls rather than face Assyrian armies in the open field. That is, if they didn't just surrender in exchange for leniency. Because of this, Assyria became masters of siege warfare and developed many novel tactics and inventions to assist in the storming of walls and breaking of gates. This prowess in siege is represented in Civilization V: Brave New World with both the presence of the Siege Tower unique unit, and the military experience boost given by the Royal Library unique building, as well the strong incentive that Assyrian players are given for capturing cities.

Ashurbanipal was the last significant king of the Neo-Assyrian Empire. He ruled through most of the middle of the seventh century B.C.E. Although Ashurbanipal oversaw the beginning of the decline of the Assyrian Empire, he is best known for his legendary collection of cuneiform documents that were stored in his royal palace at Nineveh.

Civilization V Brave New World - Ashurbanipal of Assyria

Assyrian uniques in Civilization V: Brave New World

Civilization V Brave New World - Assyrian flag

All of Assyria's uniques relate to their ancient military prowess.

Treasures of Nineveh

"When a city is conquered, gain a free Technology already discovered by its owner. Gaining a city through a trade deal does not count, and it can only happen once per enemy city."

Ashurbanipal - portrait

Assyria's national power is exclusively based around warfare. Play a peaceful game, and you will never get to utilize this ability. In addition, there are three key points to remember:

  1. City-States do have technologies (based on the tech progress of the civs the City-State has met), and Assyria can steal City-State techs.
  2. When you capture another civilization's city, they must possess a technology that you do not have in order for you to receive a reward. If you've eclipsed your enemy in research, then you receive no benefit.
  3. The tech reward is only offered once per enemy city captured. However, if you raze the city, and the other player founds a new one in the same spot, it is technically a new city. So raze captured cities!

Since there is no tech trading and no overview screens that show relative tech progress, you may find it difficult to tell which civs have techs that you don't have. You can use era-advancement, wonder-completion notifications, and the "Literacy" metric of the Demographics panel to help track this, but another useful tool is the trade route list. Since trade routes generate +1 science for each tech that the other civ has which you do not have, this menu can tell you exactly how far ahead of you each other civ is. The only downside is that you can only use this to check civs that are within range of a trade route, or which you have an active trade route with.

Royal Library

Requirements: Writing technology, and 1 gold per turn maintenance.

Cost: 75 Production (same as Library)

Effects: +1 Science for every 2 Citizens in the city (same as Library).
1 Great Work of Writing slot.
Provides +10 XP to newly-trained units when the Great Writing slot is filled.

Civilization V: Brave New World - Assyrian Royal Library

Game Info: "Unique Assyrian Library replacement. +1 Science for every 2 Citizens in the City. Also has a slot for a Great Work of Writing which, when filled, gives extra XP to trained Units."
Civilopedia Strategy: "In addition to the Science output of the Library it replaces, the Royal Library also has a Great Work of Writing slot. Once filled with a Great Work, it provides 10 extra XP to Units trained in this city, so place a Great Work here as soon as possible for the maximum benefit. Only the Assyrians may build it."


Again, there are two important things to realize about the Assyrian Royal Library:

  1. It does not provide any bonus towards science output that is not part of the regular Library building.
  2. The 10 XP boost only applies when the Royal Library's Great Work slot is filled. No Great Works: no benefit to Assyria!

The Royal Library has the same tech requirement, maintenance cost, and production cost of the regular Library, so you don't have to make any additional investments in order to build it, beyond what you would do for a regular library. The bonus XP is fairly modest, so the real strength of the building is the bonus culture and tourism of the Great Work slot. But since bonus XP can't hurt, you should fill your Royal Libraries in unit-producing cities first, unless you can get a theming bonus otherwise.

If you're torn between a theming bonus and filling the Royal Library's Great Work slot in order to get bonus XP, remember that you can always move a Great Work into the Royal Library on the turn before a unit is completed in order to get the XP, then move the Work back to the themed building on the following turn and only lose 1 turn of the theme bonus. Alternatively, you can move the Great Work into the Royal Library, buy a unit for the extra XP, then move the Great Work back to the themed building, all in the same turn, and without losing any turn's worth of the theme bonus! You cheater ;)

Siege Tower

Civilization V: Brave New World - Assyrian Siege Tower

Requirements: Mathematics technology, and 1 gold per turn maintenance.

Obsoleted: Physics technology (same as Catapult)

Cost: 75 Production / 150 Faith / 390 Gold [Standard speed] (same as Catapult)

Attack Type: Melee, Combat Class: Melee, Strength: 12 (+5 from Catapult).

Movement Speed: 2 (same as Catapult).

Bonuses: 200% bonus versus cities (same as Catapult), Extra Sight, Cover I promotion (+33% defense against ranged attacks)
The unique promotion, "Sapper" (grants nearby units +50% combat bonus when attacking the city that the Siege Tower is adjacent to).

Penalties: No defensive terrain bonuses (same as Catapult). It can only attack cities.

Game Info: "Powerful melee siege unit which grants a city attack bonus to nearby units when next to an enemy city. May only be built by the Assyrians."
Civilopedia Strategy: "This melee siege unit must move next to an enemy city to be effective, but once it has, it is devastating. It not only has a powerful city attack of its own, but also confers a bonus to any of your nearby units also attacking the city. Complement a Siege Tower with melee or ranged units, and make sure it reaches its target before getting killed, and cities will fall much more quickly."

Six important things to realize about the Assyrian Siege Tower:

  1. Unlike the Catapult that it replaces, it is a melee siege weapon (similar to the Hunnic Battering Ram from Gods & Kings). This gives it the advantage of not having to set up in order to fire, but the disadvantage of needing to be adjacent to a city in order to attack (which means you have to spend an extra movement to bring it adjacent anyway).
  2. The fact that the Siege Tower is a melee unit also means that every Siege Tower that you bring is one fewer Swordsman, Spearman, or Warrior that you can place on the front lines of a city siege. But, since the Siege Tower is melee, it can capture cities on its own, meaning you don't necessarily need those other melee units!
  3. Civilization V: Brave New World - Sapper promotion
  4. The Sapper benefit does apply to both melee and ranged units, but it only grants the 50% bonus to other units when the Siege Tower, itself, is adjacent to the city. So don't think that you can park it out of range of the city's bombardment and still get the bonus on other units attacking the city.
  5. The Sapper promotion does not apply to the Siege Tower itself; however, if you build two Siege Towers, they can give each other the +50% bonus. They also benefit from the Discipline social policy in the Honor tree.
  6. The Sapper bonus does not stack.
  7. The Sapper promotion does not carry over when you upgrade to a Trebuchet. (Nor does the Extra Sight or City-Attack only.)

Like other Ancient and Classical unique units, the Siege Tower suffers from the problem of being an early-game unique unit. This makes it seem much more expensive and difficult to produce than later units because you simply don't have enough cities with high enough population in order to produce many of the unit. But, with Cover I, +200% versus cities, and the ability to capture cities by itself, two Siege Towers and a few Archers or Composite Bowmen is all you'll need in order to be a city-sacking machine early in the game. Also, since it's a very strong unit, it is still viable well into the following era, as long as you can protect it from enemy Knights, Pikemen, and Longswordsmen. The Honor Policy Tree's Warrior Code policy will speed up the training of Siege Towers and Discipline will give them +15% strength if they are adjacent to another friendly (melee) unit, since they are melee units. Add a Great General, and a pair of Siege Towers will each have +285% strength against cities!

A single stock Hunnic Battering Ram has slightly better combat potential than a single stock Siege Tower due to its higher city attack modifier (and is available earlier), but the Siege Tower has the benefit of granting a large bonus to other units involved in the siege. And if you have two Siege Towers, they will give each other the Sapper bonus, and will be equal to the Hunnic Battering Ram in terms of practical combat strength. Neither unit has a clear edge over the other, and they are both highly effective city-sacking weapons.

A surprisingly versatile civilization

At first glance, the Assyrians may seem like they are geared exclusively towards two victory types: domination and technology, but this is absolutely not the case! Assyria's uniques have many indirect properties that make them a viable contender for all victory types, and a very versatile civ overall - as long as you play aggressively.

Playing from behind

In fact, Assyria's unique ability means that you need to be playing from behind in order to take advantage of it. If you charge ahead in technology, then you won't get any benefit. Instead, Assyria is specifically geared towards attacking technologically superior foes. Just be careful that you don't bite off more than you can chew. If you're far behind, don't attack the science leader directly. Instead, focus on intermediate civs (and even city states) that have a smaller tech edge on you as you catch up. Be sure to raze captured cities unless the city contains wonders, has unique luxuries, or is particularly desirable for some other reason. Your UA only works once with each captured city, so you don't want your opponent capturing it back. Plus, if you raze the city, and the civ builds a new city in the same location, then you potentially have a shiny new technology to steal!

Remember that capitals, City-States, and Indonesia's "Spice Islander" cities cannot be razed, so think carefully before capturing such a city.

You can also focus on picking off the smaller, weaker border settlements in order to steal technologies if you are concerned that you are not strong enough for a direct assault on another civ's capital.

Civilization V: Brave new World - provoking Assyria's wrath
Jerks settled their cities in the exact places that I wanted to put my cities. Gave me an excuse to use Assyria's tech-stealing powers.

In addition, if you fall behind in specific areas of the game, you can use your military to catch up. If you focus on military technologies early, you can use your powerful armies to steal the cultural, scientific, and economic technologies from the foes who focused on those tech paths. Alternatively, you can divert a lot of early game research on getting a lead in the non-military branches. Since the Siege Tower remains a viable weapon well into the Medieval era (specially if promoted with Royal Library bonus XP and Honor social policies), you don't need to focus on military techs beyond Mathematics and Construction until much later. In fact, Construction becomes a very important tech for Assyria, since Composite Bows will be necessary for tougher sieges (since the Siege Tower is melee only). Just make sure that you don't let the window of opportunity close on the usefulness of the Siege Tower, because Assyria does not have any later-game unique units, and the Sapper promotion does not carry over when upgraded to the Trebuchet.

If you already have a handful of well-promoted Siege Towers, then you can consider teching up to Physics. Don't upgrade your Siege Towers to Trebuchets. Instead, build new Trebuchets from scratch and promote them properly with the XP from the Barracks, Armory, and Royal Library. You can then use those Trebuchets as ranged bombardment support for your melee Siege Towers. This tactic, however, has a very narrow window of opportunity, since cities will start to dramatically improve their defenses with the availability of Castles and medieval melee units.

Stolen culture

Assyria is also a very potent force for a cultural victory! Since the Royal Library provides a whole second line of buildings with Great Literature slots, you can generate a lot more culture and tourism than any other civ even has the potential to do! They can even compete with France and Brazil! Regardless of whether you plan on going for a cultural victory, you will want Writer specialists as early as possible. On easier difficulties, going straight to Writing, building the Great Library, and getting Drama for free is a great way to get early Writers. On harder difficulties, you'll most likely have to settle for researching Drama yourself. Drama should be a top priority once you have the key luxury improving techs. Put your first Great Literatures in your Royal Libraries so that you can get the XP bonus for units. By properly timing your wars and properly selecting your targets, you can steal Great Works from culture-driven civs and put them in your Royal Libraries and Amphitheaters. So check your tourism panel to find out who is generating tourism and target their cities right away. By capturing cities and stealing Great Works, you can easily meet the theming requirments of wonders like the Great Library.

And you'll want to build these Royal Libraries as early as possible, since you'll get to build highly-promoted units for the rest of the game by using the Royal Library's bonus XP when it is loaded with a Great Work. Remember, you can move Great Works around freely on your turn, so you can use this to buy units to get the bonus XP, then move the Great Work to other cities or buildings to get other theme bonuses or more important culture boosts.

Civilization V: Brave new World - Assyrian Royal Libraries generate extra tourism and culture potential
Royal Libraries make Assyria a potent cultural victory contender, since it gives Assyria more potential for culture and tourism than any other civ can possibly produce. And capturing cities in order to steal Great Works and fill your Royal Libraries and Amphitheaters provides additional incentive for mid-game warfare.

If you do plan on playing a more culture-oriented game, then be sure to carefully balance your early-game aggression. Capture one too many cities, and you'll earn yourself a debilitating "warmonger" status with AI leaders. This can cripple your economy and make it hard to support the population and infrastructure that you'll need to be dominant culturally and technologically. It will also lead to greater aggression from AIs which will force you to divert attention towards military infrastructure and units in order to prevent yourself from being overwhelmed.

Warmonger penalties do not accumulate with civilizations that you have not yet met, so you may want to consider avoiding extensive expansion until after your early wars are complete. On a continents map, you'll want to make sure that you have defeated all your foes before Astronomy, and on other map types, you may have to just avoid sending your settlers or exploring triremes out too far. By avoiding early contact with leaders that are further away, you can hopefully minimize the number of leaders who will be hostile towards you later in the game.

Two sets of spies

You can also, in a way, think of your army as a second set of spies. If you use your army to steal superior civs' technologies, then you can free up your spies to rig City-State elections instead. You'll also be receiving plenty of plunder from capturing cities and pillaging tiles, which will keep your coffers full of City-State bribe money (that is, if you're not demanding tribute from them). Both of these can make Assyria a viable diplomatic victory contender, but they still pale in comparison to Greece.

Playing against Assyria

Assyria can be a frightening civilization to face off against, especially early in the game. Be very wary of founding cities close to their borders, and if you do, make damned sure that you can defend them! You'll probably need to focus on military techs and defensive buildings early on if Assyria is one of your neighbors. They are much less dangerous later in the game, since their unique Siege Tower has long since faded into history, but expect to see a well-promoted military and some siege weapons with the Cover promotions.

Assyria's greatest weakness is their aggressive play style. You can use this to your advantage. They are very likely to receive some significant warmonger hate from A.I.s, and so if you find yourself being threatened by Assyria, you should probably be able to build a coalition against them.

Their fondness for early wars may give you an opportunity to sneak attack them while their army is focused on another target. In this case, you can pillage their lands or raze a few of their cities in order to debilitate them for the rest of the game (that is assuming you don't want their capital for your own military victory).

Civilization V: Brave new World - two Assyrian siege towers
Monaco is having a very bad day and is not going to last long.
Notice that each Siege Tower gains the Sapper bonus from the other Siege Tower.

If you do find yourself on the wrong side of an Assyrian Siege Tower early in the game, make sure you target them and focus-fire them to death as quickly as possible! They start with Cover I, so you want to keep strong melee units in your border cities in order to be most effective against Siege Towers. City bombardment and Archers / Composite Bows just won't cut it. If you can kill the towers before they get to your cities, you should be safe. If you can't stop their Siege Towers, or they have multiple towers moving against you, you may want to consider your city a lost cause. Move your units out, transfer any Great Works to other cities, sell all the buildings within the city, and (if possible) try to surrender the city to Assyria in a peace deal. They do not get the free technology if the city is traded to them.

Or rage quite. Whichever...

Playing against a player-controlled Ashurbanipal

Civilization V: Brave new World - Assyria has built Statue of Zeus
Not something you want to see...

A human-controlled Assyria will likely not be willing to accept a peace deal if they have military superiority. They will keep fighting as long as there are fresh cities to capture. Since their primary goal is probably the technology, you will likely find that they will raze the cities that they capture unless the city has luxuries, wonders, or a particularly valuable strategic location.

Once they have the city, they may not bother defending it, since they already got the technology and probably aren't planning on keeping the city anyway. In this case, you may be able to take it back if you have enough reserve forces. Once the city is recaptured, it is a much less appealing target for an Assyrian player, since the free technology is only awarded once per enemy city captured. Recapturing territory that was taken by Assyria may be one of your best defenses against future tech theft, as it creates a wall of unappealing targets.

If you're ever on the offensive against Assyria (whether human or A.I.) you may find yourself capturing an excessive amount of Great Literature. This can be a great way to get a sudden surge of culture and tourism if you have enough Amphitheaters to store it all; however, a human player will likely be smart enough to try to relocate Great Works to safer cities if he's being threatened.


Discuss this strategy on Civfanatics:

or on the official 2K Civilization V forums:

Listen to the discussion on PolyCast, Episode 190, 16m03s (Jan 11, 2014):


UPDATE January 6, 2014 (8:40 pm PST):

It was brought to my attention that I had erroneously reported that Assyria could not steal technologies from City-States. This impression was based on an early attempt that I had made to capture a city state, but for which I did not receive a technology. I had assumed that City-States did not qualify because they do not progress through the technology tree in the same manner as normal civs (although they do generate science, their tech level seems to be based on the tech level of the most advanced normal civs that they have met).

Upon further testing, I confirmed that Assyria can, in fact, steal techs from City-States. I have corrected the section about the Treasures of Nineveh ability, and have updated the strategy accordingly.

This was an honest mistake on my part. For future strategy posts, I will try to do better research to ensure that the article is as accurate as possible. However, as I am only human, I am prone to making mistakes. So if you catch any errors in any of my posts, please feel free to point them out in the comments section or linked discussion topics.

Thank you, and happy Civ-ing!

Other Civilization V Strategies

America (BNW)America (BNW)
Arabia (BNW)Arabia (BNW)
Carthage (BNW)Carthage (BNW)
France (BNW)France (BNW)
Germany (BNW)Germany (BNW)
India (BNW)India (BNW)
Iroquois (BNW)Iroquois (BNW)
Japan (BNW)Japan (BNW)
Ottomans (BNW)Ottomans (BNW)
Rome (BNW)Rome (BNW)

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