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Civilization V: Brave New World - title

Continuing my series of strategy posts about Brave New World's modified civilizations, I'm going to take a look at strategies for George Washington's America. Since Brave New World's Fall patch (2013) America's ability was buffed and its unique unit now allows it to generate more late-game golden ages.

The lands of North America have been occupied by various native tribes for thousands of years, but these tribes lived in relative isolation from the rest of the world, except (possibly) for a brief period of interaction with the Danish Vikings. After Christopher Columbus landed in Haiti in the late 15th century, a flurry of explorers and colonists primarily from Britain, France, Spain, and the Netherlands began arriving in North America, rapidly exploring and settling the continent. These colonists gradually displaced the native inhabitants, including the Iroquois and the Shoshone. But conflict between the colonies and their European masters (primarily Britain) eventually culminated in a revolutionary war in which the colonists retreated to the countryside, and used guerrilla tactics to defeat the British and establish the United States of America.

Despite being founded on the principles of "equality" and "inalienable rights", the early history of the United States is dominated by tension between its slave-holding and free populations. These tensions eventually culminated in the outbreak of the American Civil War, which resulted in more American casualties than the Revolutionary War, both World Wars, and the Vietnam War. Combined. Union victory established America as a modern industrial nation with a singular identity, and Americans stopped referring to the country as "These United States", and began calling it "The United States". This war is also significant in world history because it is the first major war in which industrial technologies such as the machine gun, telegraph, railroad, steam-powered ironclad ships, and (probably most significantly) photography were used to large effect, which changed the way that future wars would be fought and the way that they would be perceived by the public. And it was one of the first major wars to employ new urban fighting tactics that would become the basis of combat for the wars of the 20th century. America would play a pivotal role in those 20th century wars as well, and would emerge from them as a dominant global super power.

George Washington was a colonial general who lead the British colonies in America in wars against the French and various Native American tribes. When the colonies declared independence, Washington became one of the premiere generals for the new colonial militia. Knowing that they could not defeat the British in conflict in the cities or open field, Washington and the other colonial leaders gave the cities to the British and retreated to the hills and forests of the countryside. Here, they successfully employed large-scale guerrilla tactics that weakened the British supply lines and culminated in American victory. Washington would then become the country's first President and set several precedents, such as the idea that the President would be a civilian position (as he refused to wear his military uniform while in office), and that the President should step down after two terms.

Civilization V - George Washington of America

American uniques in Civilization V: Brave New World (post-Fall patch)

Civilization V - American Civilization

America has always been a rather un-focused civilization in Civilization V and can be difficult for many players to play. In a patch, Manifest Destiny's tile discount was increased from 25% to 50%. Also, since the Fall patch for Brave New World, the American Minuteman now generates golden age points when it kills enemy units. These improvements give America more advantages in the late-game.

Manifest Destiny

"All land military units have +1 sight. 50% discount when purchasing tiles."
Civilization V - George Washington, leader of the American civilization

The ability to purchase tiles at a discount can allow America to rapidly expand its cultural borders, consolidate its borders, and more quickly claim tiles that contain resources or natural wonders (which are generally expensive tiles).

The tile discount is probably not as good as the Shoshone Great Expanse's free tiles, since the Shoshone can also buy third ring tiles at the price that most civs (including America) would have to spend on second-ring tiles. But America at least has more control over which tiles it gets to spend its discount towards, and is more free to perform manipulative tricks like buying tiles to trap rival units behind America's borders.

Probably the stronger part of Manifest Destiny is the extended sight for land units. This comes in the form of a free Sentry promotion for such units. Your troops can more quickly reveal the map, establish wider defensive perimeters with fewer units, keep more effective watch for barbarians, and more effectively conduct reconnaissance on your rivals, and siege weapons (particularly Artillery) don't necessarily require spotter units.

Civilization V - Manifest Destiny recon
American units can use their extended sight to keep tabs of its enemies throughout the game.
Watch out for those Immortals! Better upgrade to swordsmen soon!

Only military land units receive the extra sight. Your Workers, Settlers, Missionaries, and Great People (including generals) do not have extended sight; nor do any of your naval or air units. It's also worth pointing out that the extra sight does not apply while your military land units are embarked. So this bonus is going to be more useful on maps with more land mass or low sea levels, such as pangea. Lastly, you cannot take more than one Sentry promotion, so mounted units cannot extend their visibility to four tiles.


Civilization V - American Minuteman

Game Info: "One of the first gunpowder units of the game. Only the Americans may build it. Replaces the Musketman. This Unit may move through rough ground as though it were flat, receives a bonus when fighting in rough terrain, and earns points toward a golden age when it defeats an enemy."

Civilopedia Strategy: "The Minuteman is the American unique unit, replacing the Musketman. The Minuteman can move through difficult terrain as though it were clear (all tiles cost 1mp per hex), receives a bonus when fighting in rough terrain, and earns points toward a golden age when it defeats an enemy."

Replaces: Musketman.

Requirements: Gunpowder technology, and standard unit maintenance (same as Musketman).

Obsoleted: Rifling technology (same as Musketman).

Upgrades To: Rifleman (same as Musketman).

Cost: 150 Production / 300 Faith / 540 Gold (same as Musketman) [Standard speed].

Attack Type: Melee, Combat Class: Gunpowder, Combat Strength 24 (same as Musketman).

Movement Speed: 2 (same as Musketman).

Bonuses: Drill I (+15% Combat Strength on rough terrain),
Ignore Terrain Cost, Golden Age points for killing enemies

An obvious comparison to make is between the Minuteman and the Brazilian Pracinha. As of the Fall patch, both units have the same Golden Age from victory promotion. This promotion grants points towards a Golden Age whenever the unit kills an enemy unit. The points earned is equal to the greater of the killed unit's combat or ranged strength.

A few points to consider about this ability:

  1. You do not get Golden Age pts from capturing or killing civilians (including great people, even generals).
  2. You also do not get Golden Age points by capturing cities.
  3. You do earn Golden Age points if you kill an enemy naval unit by defending while embarked.
  4. You do earn Golden Age points if you shoot down an enemy aircraft that targets you with an Air Strike.
  5. You do get Golden Age pts from killing barbarians.

But the American Minuteman is probably a much more interesting unit than the Pracinha. The Pracinha doesn't have any other advantages over the default infantry unit other than the Golden Age promotion. The Minuteman has the extra advantage of starting with the Ignore Terrain Cost and Drill I (+15% combat in rough terrain) promotions. These two work well together, since it allows the Minuteman to move onto hills, jungles, or forests and attack without significant penalty. The Ignore Terrain Cost promo also allows the Minuteman to cross rivers without ending their movement, but you'll need the Amphibious promotion in order to avoid the combat penalty for attacking across a river.

In addition to having more benefits, all of the Minuteman's promotions carry over when promoted. So by the time they become Infantry, they have Ignore Terrain Cost, Drill I, and Golden Age From Victories, plus any promotions they acquired from earlier battles. This makes an Infantry upgraded from a stock Minuteman strictly superior to a stock Pracinha!

Minutemen gain Golden Age points equal to a killed unit's strength.

On top of that, the Minuteman comes into play at a time when you have to make much more interesting tactical decisions with it (as opposed to the Pracinha). This is because the unit only gets Golden Age points when it kills an enemy unit. So you want to try to use your Minutemen to deal the killing blow to a unit whenever possible. But, unlike the Pracinha, you won't have the advantage of air support and artillery to soften the enemy up first. Crossbows, Machine Guns, Trebuchets, and Cannons have limited range and deal less damage, so you have to be careful about over-reaching with your Minutemen and put your own Minuteman at risk of dying from counter-attack.

Lastly, the fact that the Minuteman is a renaissance unit means that it becomes available at a time in the game when there is still exploration left to do, and when there is enough unclaimed territories that barbarians are still relevant. With its ability to Ignore Terrain Cost, you can send your Minutemen overseas after discovering Astronomy in order to quickly explore other land masses. In addition, their promotions should make them moderately effective at killing any barbarians you may find, which will grant you Golden Age points!

B-17 "Flying Fortress" Bomber

Civilization V - American B-17

Game Info: "Air Unit that rains death from above onto enemy Units and Cities. Only the Americans may build it. This Unit has a chance of evading interception, and does additional damage to Cities compared to the Bomber, which it replaces."
Civilopedia Strategy: "The B17 Bomber is an American Unique Unit, replacing the bomber. It is similar to the bomber, but it is more difficult for enemy anti-aircraft and fighters to target. The B17 also receives a bonus when attacking enemy cities. Like the bomber, the B17's range is 10. See the rules on Aircraft for more details."

Replaces: Bomber.

Requirements: Radar technology, 1 Oil resource, and standard gold per turn unit maintenance (same as Bomber).

Obsoleted: Never (same as Bomber).

Upgrades To: Stealth Bomber (same as Bomber).

Cost: 375 Production / 1090 Gold (same as Bomber) [Standard speed].

Attack Type: Ranged, Combat Class: Bomber (air),
Range: 10, Ranged Strength 70 (+5 from Bomber).

Movement Points: 2 (same as Bomber).

Bonuses: Evasion (damage from interception reduced by 50%),
Siege I (+33% combat strength versus cities)

The B-17 is the only unique bomber replacement in the game, and is one of only two unique air units in the game (the other being the Japanese Zero). It's a resilient unit that specializes in bombing cities. In many ways, it is the modern era air equivalent of the Assyrian Siege Tower or Hunnic Battering Ram. It has higher strength and Siege I (+33% versus cities). Promoted with Logistics (extra attack), a couple B-17s can completely lay waste to almost any contemporary city's defense in a turn or two.

Evasion promotion Its Evasion promotion significantly reduces the amount of damage it takes when it is intercepted. If you don't have fighter support to clear out enemy interceptors, then the B-17 won't be immediately shot down. You still want to clear out all enemy interceptors if you can in advance of performing air strikes with the B-17. This will reduce the damage taken by the B-17 and allow it to deal more damage to the enemy. Combined with the Air Repair promotion (heals even after taking an action), Evasion can make the B-17 seem invulnerable!

But they aren't exclusively offensive units. The B-17 can also be readily adapted for defensive purposes. The Evasion promotion means that it will take less damage from enemy Anti-Aircraft Guns and Destroyers, which means that it can be effectively used to pick off enemy units within range. With appropriate anti-unit promotions, a single B-17 or two stationed in a city can often make the difference in repelling an enemy invasion.

B-17s require oil in order to build, but since they are so devastatingly effective, you won't need many of them, which frees up your oil reserves for escort Fighters, Tanks, or Battleships. Both promotions do carry over when the B-17 is upgraded to a Stealth Bomber, but since Stealth Bombers already have 100% evasion, the carried-over B-17 Evasion promotion won't have any effect. Stealth Bombers also cannot be based on Aircraft Carriers, so whether or not you want to upgrade to Stealth Bombers at all is dependent on your specific game needs and strategy. B-17s may be powerful enough on their own that you don't need to upgrade them.

Manifesting America's destiny

America is a rather unfocused civilization in Civ V, and this can make them rather difficult for some players to play. It's uniques have mostly military applications, and (much like Assyria) they work best if played aggressively. But America is still flexible enough to pursue any victory. Although America tends to peak late in the game, there are also subtle nuances of America's abilities and uniques that give them great situational powers throughout the entire game.

Much like the Shoshone, America has a strong benefit towards early game exploration. The +1 line of sight for your land units will immediately come into play, since you'll be able to reveal more of the map more quickly. The extra sight will allow you to spot ancient ruins sooner (although you'll still have to race other civs to actually get to the ruins), will allow you to meet city states from further away (which makes it more likely for you to meet them first, thus granting you extra gold), and allows you to more quickly spot resources and natural wonders. Walking your land units along the coast also allows you to see further across the sea, which can possibly help you identify the location of other continents or islands that are within three tiles from the coast.

Civilization V - Manifest Destiny recon
Turn 0: I've already revealed two ancient ruins thanks to the bonus sight!

Once your initial exploration is done, and you start producing military units, you can also use your extended visibility to create a large defensive perimeter around your borders and see up to 4 tiles from your borders in all directions. This can help you to spot incoming enemy armies, approaching rival settlers, incoming barbarians, nearby rival trade units, and so on. Keeping visibility around your borders will also prevent barbarians from spawning near your cities and harassing your Workers, Settlers, and trade routes.

Of course, if you've adopted honor, you may actually want to avoid keeping visibility over neutral territory, since you might actually want barbs to spawn near you so that you can kill them and get free culture. This might also be true if you want barb camps to spawn near city states so that you can get bonus influence.

As you expand, you can use your tile discount to more quickly annex valuable or hard to claim tiles. Natural Wonders are a great target for your discount, since they are usually low-priority for the automatic annex algorithm, and they are usually expensive. Sea resource tiles are also a worthwhile investment, since sea tiles are also generally low on the auto-annex priority list. Of course, you'll want a healthy gold income in order to be able to afford this, so you may want to put early emphasis on gold.

Civilization V - Angkor Wat wonder

You can also use the discount to claim strategically-valuable tiles, such as land or sea chokepoints. And you can also use it to solidify your borders in order to prevent rival civs from moving Settlers and other units between your cities and settling in areas that you want to control. Building the Angkor Wat will further reduce your tile gold cost by another 25% (75% total).

And if you're the kind of player who likes purchasing tiles anyway, then any money that you save from purchasing tiles at a discount can then be spent towards buying buildings or units in your cities, or purchasing resources from other civs.

Civilization V - blocking enemy movement
Buy tiles in order to block other civs from moving Settlers near, or through, your territory.

Better reconaissance

The increased visibility can also be used more offensively. It allows you to perform better reconnaissance of enemy land, since a unit placed along the border can generally see deeper into enemy territory (barring some kind of blocking terrain). Alternatively, you can keep your units one tile away from a potential enemy A.I.'s borders, and still be able to see one or two tiles into their borders. This prevents the A.I. from giving you the "Move your units away from our borders" ultimatum, and can save you from having to break a promise that hurts your standing with other civilizations.

Civilization V - Minuteman scout
With Scouting I & II, American Scouts
can have 5 visibility.

But even if you keep your fortified border units further away from the enemy's borders, you can still move the units up to the border every now and then to check up on your rival neighbor. The extra visibility will help give you a better idea of the enemy's military power. You're more likely to see what kind of units they have and how well improved their terrain is. You might even be able to see if they are building wonders in the cities that are visible from the border.

The information that you gather through this reconnaissance can then inform your own tech progress and build priorities. If you suspect conflict with the neighbor civ, then you can focus on techs that will counter the units that they have built. And if you notice that they are building a wonder that you want, then you can redistribute your citizens and send some production trade routes into your own city in order to hopefully beat them to it. Or you can scrap your plans on building that wonder, and spare yourself the wasted time and production.

Civilization V - Chichen Itza wonder

Lewis and Clark's Golden Age expedition

Civil Service is always a valuable technology for any civ, but America should pursue it even earlier than most. Building the Chichen Itza world wonder during the early medieval period will boost the length of your Golden Ages, which will come in handy later on, when you start producing Minutemen.

If you're playing on a continents map, or any other map that has multiple land masses separated by ocean, then you'll probably want to research Astronomy as soon as you can. Normally, I'd recommend using mounted units to explore other continents instead of investing in new Scouts. Mounted units are fast, can cover a lot of ground, and have greater combat potential in case they run up against barbarians.

In the case of America, mounted units are even more effective (since Manifest Destiny gives them Sentry by default). If you already researched Gunpowder, you can also send Minutemen overseas to explore other continents. Their ability to ignore terrain costs allows them to quickly traverse terrain, and the extra visibility from Manifest Destiny will uncover the map pretty quickly.

Civilization V - American tech priorities
America will likely want to unlock its Minuteman early. Then, if on a continents or archipelago map,
Astronomy should also be high priority so that your Minutemen can explore and hunt barbs for Golden Age pts.

Mounted units can be effective explorers, but barbarians usually have a large proportion of Pikemen, which are dangerous to your Knights or Horsemen. Minutemen will be equally strong regardless of what units the barbarians throw against you. Using Minutemen to explore other continents and kill barbarians also allows them to start earning Golden Age points. This is an especially useful tactic for Minutemen if you are playing a more peaceful game and want to avoid open warfare with other civs or city states, but you still want free Golden Age points.

Civilization V - Minuteman scout
Minutemen can be sent overseas to quickly explore and kill barbarians for Golden Age pts.

Using your Minutemen to kill barbarian or enemy units should help you initiate more frequent Golden Ages during the renaissance and industrial era, which can give you a boost towards late-game wonders, and can possibly give you a headstart towards adopting an ideology.

While already in a Golden Age, try to restrict your combat operations against enemies and barbarians, since you don't earn golden age points during Golden Ages. You can still attack and damage enemies, but avoid killing them if possible. Once the Golden Age ends, you can swoop in and finish those enemy units off in order to give you a head start on your next Golden Age.

If barbarians are in short supply, then you can always engage in a perpetual war against a city state or two in order to farm Golden Age points. As long as you don't capture their city, you won't get any warmonger hate from A.I.s. If you're lucky, other players might even give units to the city state, which will just provide you with more Golden Age fuel. But be wary of pledges of protection, since it might create hostility with other civs. Ideally, you should try to find a city state that is isolated.

The siege you didn't see coming

America is flexible enough to pursue any victory, and so your choice of ideology is up to your own needs and playstyle. But America's late-game uniques do favor a military approach, and America really blooms militarily in the late game. Since the "Golden Age from Victories" and Drill promotions are maintained when your Minutemen are upgraded, the bulk of your Riflemen and Infantry should have these abilities.

The extra line of sight also makes Artillery even stronger for America, since Artillery can attack from range three without needing a spotter unit to be placed in harm's way. You'll still need a spotter unit in order to attack from range 3, since the America's artillery still only get two visibility, but the spotter's increased range allows him to stand three tiles from the city being bombarded (assuming terrain doesn't block him). This allows America to siege cities without any danger to any of its units if you attack before the opponent has planes or its own artillery. The early industrial era is a perfect time to go on a conquest spree, and the power of this ability cannot be understated!

Against the A.I., this tactic will make you nigh invincible, as you can chip away at the A.I.'s cities with impunity as long as they don't have air units. A human opponent, on the other hand, will likely be smart enough to send some units after you. And it's a great way to counter the Great Wall if your opponent is being lazy about researching Dynamite.

Civilization V - American Artillery attacking at range 3
Manifest Destiny's extra line of sight allows American Artillery to attack at range 3 without endangering spotter units!

As if more potent Artillery didn't make America strong enough, the B-17 is also a powerful siege weapon that can be used to crush enemy cities. If you plan to pursue a military victory, then be sure to acquire a large supply of oil to fuel your B-17s and their escort fighters. Two B-17s with Air Repair (heal even after taking an action) and Logistics (extra attack) can usually be enough to reduce a city's defenses low enough for land units to capture it within a couple turns (assuming that you've already used fighters to clear out any interceptors).

Be sure that you keep an air base in range of the enemy cities as you advance. Consider keeping one or two captured cities in order to station your air units in them if Carriers don't give you enough coverage over the enemy's territory. If you're worried about the unhappiness from population, then you can start the process of razing the city, and then stop and annex the city when only 1 population is left, then build or buy a Courthouse ASAP in order to remove the extra unhappiness from occupation. If you adopted Order's Iron Curain tenet, then you'll get a free Courthouse when capturing the city. If you took Autocracy's Police State tenet, then Courthouses will be half the cost to build. You may also need to buy an Airport if you need to station more than six aircraft in the newly-captured city.

Assuming that you built a large number of Minutemen, you should end up with most of your Infantry having the Golden Age from Victories promotion. If so, use your air power to soften up defending enemy units, and then use your Minute-Infantry for the kill in order to acquire Golden Age points.

If you're having trouble maintaining happiness due to ideological pressure, then you can use your more frequent Golden Ages to help reduce the impact of that pressure while you build some Stadiums and Broadcast Towers.

But conquest isn't necessary. Even if you want to go for a victory path other than Domination, you can still use America's powerful military benefits. Just engage in small scale wars against weaker civs and / or a city state or two. Use your powerful Artillery and B-17s to soften up enemy defenders and then finish them off with your Minute-Infantry in order to earn Golden Age points. As long as you avoid capturing cities, you shouldn't suffer too much warmonger hate from other A.I.s.

Impeaching Washington - countering America

The powers of America are a lot more abstract than many other civilizations, which means that the A.I. isn't particularly good at using them, so defeating the Washington A.I. isn't very difficult. Much like Napoleon, Washington will attack you if he sees weakness, so you need to be maintain a decent defensive army if America is one of your neighbors. He is fairly forgiving though (from my experience), and it is possible to build friendly relations after a war, assuming that you haven't antagonized him, that you aren't so weak that he decides to attack again, and that he doesn't see you as a warmonger (he is intolerant of other civs being warmongers, despite America's strong military flavor).

From my experience, the Washington A.I. likes to play defensively. He favors defensive wonders like the Great Wall and Red Fort, but he usually is only able to build them if more defensive civs like India, Brazil, Iroquois, or Shoshone are not in the game.

It is possible that America might beat you to some ancient ruins early in the game, due to the extra sight from Manifest Destiny. They may also be the first to meet any city states in the region. So you may start the game with fewer benefits and money than you're used to, so you'll have to play catch-up a bit.

America becomes most dangerous in the second half of the game. Terrain isn't as much of an advantage against America since their Minutemen can ignore it and have a bonus fighting in it, and that ability is maintained after upgrades. So if you're playing as the Aztecs, Iroquois, Incas, Brazil, or any other civilization that has a rough terrain bias, you can't rely on that rough terrain to protect you.

Even more dangerous is their siege potential. You need to make sure that you can afford to move your units out of your cities to engage American artillery and spotters in the field, since they can camp outside of the range of your city's bombardment. Air units and your own Artillery are the best defenses against American sieges, and Battleships with the Range promotion can be good at defending coastal cities. If you are afraid of an industrial or modern-era attack from America, then Dynamite and / or Flight (and Biology to unlock oil) should become top priorities!

You'll also want to be sure to keep a hefty supply of defensive fighters and AA Guns in order to deter or defend against American B-17s. Fortunately, the A.I. isn't particularly good at air warfare, so you don't have to worry about it as much as if you're playing against a human. But since the B-17 takes less damage from interception, the Washington A.I. is considerably more dangerous when it comes to air warfare than other A.I.s., since B-17s aren't as suicidal in the hands of an A.I.

A human-controlled America can be a troll

The A.I. may be rather inept at handling America's special powers, but a human player will be more likely to leverage these strengths against you.

For one thing, if America uses it's bonus line of sight to lift the fog of war near its territory, then barbarians might be more likely to spawn near other civs (including you). So make sure to be extra vigilant in protecting your civilians and trade units.

America can use its discount to buy tiles and block other civs from passing between American cities,
or to trap units on the opposite side of American borders (or within) and cut them off from their homeland.

Beware of trollish behavior from an American player, as they might use their tile discount to buy tiles in order to trap your units behind their borders during the early exploration phases of the game. They can also use this ability to close off gaps in the borders between their cities, and block your units from passing between their cities or along the coast. Don't expect to be able to send a Settler through gaps in America's borders in order to beat them to a primo settlement location. An observant player will see this coming and quickly buy tiles to stop you.

They may even surround your settler with purchased tiles, making it impossible for your settler to escape or found a city, and forcing you to invest in a new one - or declare war. Of course, any player can do these things, but it's much cheaper for America.

In the late game, a human player will probably also be much better at taking advantage of the extra line of sight for Artillery attacks, the ability for its Infantry to ignore terrain movement costs, extra Golden Age points, and the durability of the B-17. If the game lasts into the modern era, a human-controlled America can become very dangerous militarily.

All this means that America is best dealt with early in the game, before most of its uniques come into play.


Discuss this strategy on Civfanatics:

Or on the official 2k Civilization V forum:

Listen to the discussion on PolyCast, Episode 225, 14m57s (Apr 11, 2015):

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)

Comments (1) -

04/08/2015 00:14:13 #

Hey megabearsfan just wanted to say that i appreciate these posts; i've read up on all your civ strat posts and find them really useful when duking it out with friends on MP as well as SP; hope you keep it up!

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