Civ 5 Tier List (Best Civilizations)

Civ 5 Tier List
Which civilization can annihilate the rest?

Civ 5 is a complicated game with hundreds of different variables, but that doesn't mean you need to pick your nation blindly when setting up a game. Some civs are better than others, and understanding the ins and outs of each can swing any game in your favor.

In this tiered list, we break down the unique leader abilities (ULA), unique units (UU), unique buildings (UB), and unique improvements (UI) from each one to help you determine the best world leader for your style and strategy.


S-Tier civs provide a clear advantage to the player who is not situationally dependent, providing multiple avenues to victory with several extraordinary uniques. These can be great for players who aren’t sure which route to victory they want to take when starting out.

  • Poland - 98/100
  • Austria - 95/100
  • Babylon - 94/100


These civs are more situational but still provide a clear route to victory with at least one highly differentiating and unique feature. In the hands of a skilled player, these civs can easily compete with S-Tier.

  • Shoshone - 88/100
  • Egypt - 88/100
  • Aztec - 85/100
  • China - 84/100
  • Siam - 84/100
  • Arabia - 83/100
  • Brazil - 80/100


These civs lack the heavy-hitting unique features of the S- & A-Tier civs but can pose a serious threat given the right situation. Even highly skilled players would have trouble defeating an S-Tier civ in any game difficulty setting over warlord.

  • Greece - 79/100
  • Rome - 79/100
  • Japan - 78/100
  • Zulu - 78/100
  • Iroquois - 77/100
  • France - 77/100
  • Polynesia - 76/100
  • Ottoman Empire - 74/100
  • Inca - 74/100
  • Indonesia - 73/100
  • Sweden - 70/100
  • Portugal - 69/100
  • Assyria - 67/100
  • Russia - 65/100
  • Venice - 62/100


C-Tier civs are limited in ability and flexibility. They are, best suited to specific situations and victory paths.

  • America - 59/100
  • Spain - 58/100
  • Korea - 58/100
  • Mongolia - 57/100
  • Morocco - 57/100
  • Denmark - 55/100
  • Maya - 52/100
  • Germany - 51/100
  • Persia - 50/100
  • India - 49/100
  • Netherlands - 46/100
  • Songhai - 44/100
  • Huns - 41/100
  • Celts - 40/100


These civs are really challenging to play with at in any high difficulty. You might survive to see another nation win, but that is often the best case scenario when playing with these leaders.

  • Byzantine - 37/100
  • Carthage -  30/100
  • Ethiopia - 25/100


S-Tier Civs

Poland (S-Tier)

Poland's leader is serious about victory. 

Like it or not, Poland is probably the best all around, win-in-any-situation, civilization in the game. Never mind that their UU, the Wingedwinged Hussar, is one of the strongest cavalry units in the game there is, but Poland’s ULA is where this nation really takes the cake.

With a free social policy at the start of every era, Poland is almost guaranteed to eclipse the cultural and political development of its competitors. In fact, by the end of a standard game, this ability alone can allow a player to unlock almost the account for more than an entire tree of social policies. Their UB isn’t too bad either: They have a replacement building for the Stables that increases the gold output for every pasture and increases the  XP bonus for mounted units.

Power Rating: 98

Austria (S-Tier)

Caffeinating our way to victory 

The Coffee House may not sound like something that would really help much at first, but it is undoubtedly the most overpowered UB in the game. Replacing the windmill, it provides the usual bonus to production, and but also increases the generation of great people by 25% in each city where it is built (equivalent to the effect of the National Epic wonder).

That said, the Coffee House is not all Austria has going for it; their remarkable ULA gives the player the ability to buy allied city-states with gold. This enables Austria to acquire cities and resources, expand their borders, and defend against opposing diplomatic victories, all without entering a single war.

Power Rating: 95

Babylon (S-Tier)

Science and Defense 

If science is the name of the game; and then it's a pretty easy game when you have the power of Babylon's extraordinary ULA.  It provides a free great scientist when the player discovers writing, which is pretty good on its own, but the real perk is the 50% increase in Great Scientist growth rate.

Combined with the defensive boon from their UB, The Walls of Babylon, you can sit back, defend yourself, and accumulate enough science to annihilate anyone crazy enough to stand in your way. It may sound like a one trick pony, but high science offers more than a quick route to victory. Plus, it offers you serious militaristic, financial, and cultural advantages as well.

Power Rating: 94


A-Tier Civs

Shoshone (A-Tier)

Don't be fooled by Shoshone's traditional ways.

The Shoshone is the top the A-Tier because of their incredible early game advantages. The Pathfinder UU gives you the ability to choose your rewards from ancient ruins, which doesn’t sound like much at first, but in the hands of a skilled player, can really start you on your way to victory and set the tone for a winning game.

And if that isn’t enough to give them the leg up on the competition, their ULA means that Shoshone territory begins larger, and expands faster, than any other civ. This means more resources, more defense against encroaching civs, and less need for a high number of cities.  Skeptics are welcome to disparage their placement at the top of this list, but give them a try, and your doubts will be short-lived.

Power Rating: 88

Egypt (A-Tier)

All-around great guy

Egypt is a fantastic all-around civilization and a good fit for any player that loves to collect wonders. They build them 20% faster than anyone else, which is a huge advantage in the early in the game. Prioritizing a high science output is highly recommended to ensure you take full advantage of this exceptional ULA.

Additionally, their UB offers 2 extra happiness and gold per turn, which can increase buoy that early game progress. Combining that with their UU can also be helpful early, which is surprisingly not reliant on access to horses.

Power Ranking: 88

Aztec (A-Tier)

Montezuma's revenge? More like Montezuma's domination. 

Montezuma’s ULA necessitates aggression, which means they are best suited for the domination strategy. Make enough enemies and kill them, and you’re guaranteed one of the most vibrant cultures around.

Their UB is a neat little addition as well, giving each city that can build it a significant 15% boost to food. Their UU isn’t too much to shout about but can help win some early game wars if you’re in a particularly jungle-heavy area. It should go without saying, but if you’re looking for a peaceful game, give the Aztecs a pass.

Power Rating: 85

China (A-Tier)

Upgrade towards victory 

China’s brilliance, surprisingly, is more dependent on its UU, the Chu-Ko-Nu, than any of its other unique features. Sure, the great general bonus is useful, but the ability to fire twice in one turn makes the Chinese army’s ranged potential the greatest in the game by far, and not just during the medieval period.

The Cho-Ko-Nu’s special ability follows them as they are upgraded, creating highly effective Gatling Guns, Machine Guns, and even Bazookas, that can lay waste to two enemies in a single turn. Not to mention, their UB offers a bonus of +3 gold per turn when compared to the standard library.

Power Rating: 84

Siam (A-Tier)

Don't let the calm expression fool you, Siam is in it to win it.
Siam is not the most versatile civ, but easily one of the most specialized. Their ULA gives you 50% more food, faith, and culture from city-states, which, when paired with a full Patronage tree, can seriously change a game. The only issue, then, is finding friends.

Their UB is probably one of the best in the game, providing 3 extra culture per University which can seriously add up if you have a lot of cities. However But, their UU is pretty limited, both in its ability and time period.

Power Rating: 84

Arabia (A-Tier)

A leader with gold and oil
Arabia can be a seriously heavy hitter, but they are far better equipped for the late game due to their oil-focused unique features. This leaves them a little underpowered early on, though their trade route boosts can be helpful with producing gold.

The real benefits come with the discovery of oil, for which they receive double yield. Trade it for money or create a massive modern army—either way, it’s a huge advantage, especially in the later eras. Combined with their UB which can double some critical luxury resources, Arabia is one of the best civs to go for if you like having a full bank.

Power Rating: 83

Brazil (A-Tier)

Burning the midnight oil with a plan to win 

Brazil, like Arabia, finds itself at the bottom of this tier because most of its unique features are late-game only. Their ULA, UU, and UI are all completely useless for most of the first half of the game but provide some of the most stunning victories in the second half.

Their UI, the Brazilwood camp, is easily one of the most effective in the game, and when coupled with their ULA and a Sacred Path Religious belief, can make Brazil the ultimate culture and production powerhouse. They might not be the easiest to play with, but they will achieve some of the biggest blow-out wins.

Power Rating: 80

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